Our Name


Sections in this Chapter:

1.     Knowledge of Generations…………………………………………..….p.1

2.     Name Interchangeability…………………………..………………….…p.1

3.      Meaning/Evolution of Montague……………………………………..p.2

4.     Irish Naming Conventions…………………...………………………….p.6

5.     Montague Name Distribution throughout Ireland 1850……….p.7

6.     Family Lore and Related Rumors…………………………..…………p.11

7.     Montague Heraldry…………………………………………....………....p.18

8.     Useful Web Sites and References………………………………….…p.20

9.     Figuring out Family Relationships…………………….……………..p.21

10.   Montague/McTeague Names from Griffiths Valuation 1850..p.23

11.   Ireland's Map of Surnames 1500………………………………...……p.32

Section 1. Knowledge of Generations

In early centuries, it was the Celtic tradition to teach each person seven generations of their ancestry.  It was the primary method of identification in a society that was based on an oral tradition.  Today, we have a written tradition and a very strong identification through precise names, spellings and numbers—social security numbers for instances.  In prior centuries that was not the case as you will see with the name interchangeability that follows.  How many generations do you know? 


Paul Crilley knew four generations and his chart sent to us in 1968 appears in Chapter 17, the Correspondence chapter.  It was the pivotal “find” to linking with the name McTeague and the relatives in Ireland.


Section 2. Name Interchangeability

In 19th century Ireland the surnames McTague/McTeague and Montague were interchangeable.

This statement is from professional genealogists researching the name and possible relatives through the historical landscape.  Indeed, we have official death certificates from Ireland where the deceased was named McTeague and the son or daughter certifying the death is named Montague.  You will see this in the appendices of documents.  It was a crucial find to continuing the genealogical search.  In discussing this with relatives we found in Scotland, it came as no surprise to them that the names were used interchangeably.  They referred to McTeague as the old name.


We have information from people in Ireland who have said in the 1830's in County Tyrone, the name was Teague and then back to Montague in the 1860's.  In Derry it appears to go back and forth from Montague to McTeague.

The level of accuracy in spelling and ages declines in history.  Written identification, literacy and documentation were not as important then as now.  Indeed, you can find these issues in the USA census for 1920 where names are spelled phonetically on occasion. 


Section 3. Meaning/Evolution of Montague

We are not sure which if any of these meanings applies to us.  Certainly, there are a lot of different definitions from different sources.  Whether we are bards, poets, ollamhs, brehons, knights, Bretons, Normans or druids we do not know.

There are rumors that we are descendants of a 10th century Breton-Norman family.  Some say we are related to John Montague the reigning poet of Ireland.  There are other family rumors that we come from the Province of Brittany in Normandy, France and settled in Ireland after the 12th Century Anglo Norman invasion of Ireland.  Indeed, there is a Montague shown on the famous Roll of the Battle Abbey as: Ansger de Montaigu.  There are many books and web sites dedicated to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  A simple google search will provide a lot of information.


During the War of the Roses (1453-1487), a Lord Montagu, brother to the Earl of Warwick known as the king maker, is heavily involved on the side of the House of York.  The white rose of York versus the red rose of Lancaster.  Are we related to him?


One old theory has it that families of seven Montague brothers got scattered in the period after the 1690's and that one branch went to south Derry and others relocated to Ballygawley in south Tyrone.  The two branches, Mac Taidgh Ruadh and Mac Taidgh Dubh, became known as the red and black Montague's because of the color of their hair. The period of the 1690's was a civil war between Catholic King James II of England and William of Orange which led to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and eventually to the “Wild Geese” leaving Ireland. Apparently during this period there was an argument between the two branches of the family over who inherited land.  Imagine that!  The solution was for the Ruadhs to live on one side of the mountain and the Dubhs to live on the other. 


There are also rumors that the Montague's have a long military history.  It is rumored that the Montague's commanded cavalry under James VI of Scotland.  This would be consistent with the decree during the reign of Charles II (1630-1685) barring Catholics form holding commissions in the Irish army.  Catholics sought “employment” overseas.  Scotland was geographically as well as culturally close.


In the 1690's era, there are rumors that the Montague's fought at the Battle of the Boyne.  The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 was preceded by the “Siege of Londonderry” in 1689.  If our relatives were located in this time period where we find them in the 1800's, it is probable that they would have been involved in some capacity.  In their very thick book “A Military History of Ireland”, Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery describe the organized military history over the last thousand years in Ireland.  Given the breadth of the military it is more than likely that the Montague's were involved in the military at some point(s).  Perhaps under the direction of Hugh Balldearg O'Donnell's force of Ulster Gaels.


But, the rumors are just that, some more fanciful then others.  Still we don't know at this point.  We may never know.  If you look at Section 7 Montague Heraldry you will see several Montagues.  Are we related?  To date, we have no proof but you are free to choose your favorite heraldic symbol.


As to what the name means, there are many definitions.  Like the rumors, we have no way of knowing, so pick your favorite definition.  Meaning/Evolution of the name:


1. English (of Norman origin): habitational name from a place La Manche in France, so named

 from Old French mont 'hill' (see Mont 1) + agu 'pointed' (Latin acutus, from acus 'needle', 'point').

2. Irish: English surname adopted as equivalent of Gaelic Mac Taidhg, a patronymic from the

 byname Tadhg (see McTigue).  From: Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford

  University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4

    3.  Irish Names and Surnames, Rev. Patrick Woulfe, 1923:  "MacTeigue, MacTigue, MacTeague, MacTague, Montague, Teige, Teigue, Teague, Tague, Tigue, Tighe; 'son of Tagu (actually a Gaelic word that I don't know how to spell in English, ed.)' (Poet, Philosopher); a common surname in Ulster and North Connacht. A family of this name was ancient chiefs of Muinntear Siorthachain, in Co. Westmeath; but there are, doubtless, many distinct families so called."  Another variant is described:  "M'Heig,  M'Keige, MacAig, MacHaig, MacCaig, MacCaigue,  MacKaige, MacKague, MacKage,          MacKeag, MacKeague, Keag, Keague, etc."


   4.  The Surnames of Ireland, Edward MacLysaght, 1969: "MacTeague, MacTeige, MacTigue,  Tighe, MacCaig, MacKeague. (Mac Taidhg). This name has many variant spellings. It is not that of an actual sept, except in Co. Galway, where MacTeiges are a branch of the O'Kellys, but arose from the perpetuation of an ephemeral surname formed from the Christian name Tadhg, Teigue. It is chiefly found in Mayo and Donegal."


     5.  A Census of Ireland c. 1659, lists McTeige as one of the principal Irish names in "the Bar of  Clanwilliam". There are 25 McTeige Titulados (gentry families).


   6.  Irish Family Names, Brian de Breffny, 1982: "Tighe: This Connacht surname derives from the Irish forename Taidhg which became the name of four distinct O Taidhg septs. The Registrar of Births reported in the last century that in Cootehill Union, Co. Cavan, the surname Kangley was used interchangeably with Tighe. This must be for the curious reason that ceangal is the Irish translation of the English word tie which has the same pronunciation as Tighe. The surname McTigue which is found principally in Co. Mayo and its variants McTeague, McTague, McTeigue, McTeige, in Connacht and Ulster and McKeag in Ulster, also derive from the forename Taidhg. There was a Mac Taidhg sept in Co. Galway. It appears that Tighe was used interchangeably with McTeague and McTeigue in Bawnboy Union, Co. Cavan."


    7.  More Irish Families, Edward MacLysaght, 1960: "MacTigue, Teague, Tighe, (O) Tighe:

MacTigue and Tighe are the two most usual anglicized forms of the surname Mac Taidhg, other variants being MacTeague and MacTague. Teague is the form generally used in Ulster, but MacTeague, with the prefix, is commoner in Co. Donegal and MacTague occurs chiefly in Co. Cavan. The MacTigue and Tighe forms, found in Connacht, are more numerous: Co. Mayo is their principal habitat. There was found, however, no actual sept of Mac Taidhg: like MacShane, MacTigue as a surname came into being in a number of places independently, and was at first an ephemeral appellation formed from a father's Christian name which at some point became fixed.


O Taidhg, on the other hand, was a genuine patronymic, which, in fact, belonged to as many as four distinct septs, whose present day representatives, where they survive, are now either Tighe or have become MacTigue or Mac Teague by attraction. An example of this is to be seen in the case of Donnchadh O Taidhg, Archbishop of Armagh from 1560 to 1562, whose name appears in some records as Donat MacTeague. He was presumably of the Ulster sept of O Taidhg of Oriel origin, erenaghs of Termonkenny, Co. Down, located also in Feara Li (barony of Coleraine). James Tighe (1795-1869) was of this sept. There were three other O Taidhg septs. Before the Anglo-Norman invasion an O Taidhg was chief of Imail, a territory in what is now Co. Wicklow, subsequently occupied by the O'Tooles. Then there was the sept located in Connact in the country of the O'Connors, to whom they were akin: they are frequently mentioned in the Annals and O'Teige is described in a manuscript written by Donogh O'Mulconry in 1228 as chief of the household of the King of Connacht. Lastly, the Thomond sept whence came Tadhg O Taidhg, Bishop of Killaloe, whose death in 1083 is recorded in the Four Masters. I wonder was John O'Tayg, of Cnockanveegh, Co. Tipperary, from whom 30 sheep value 8d. each were stolen in 1307, one of these. The Justiciary Rolls, which so often afford an interesting picture of life in medieval Ireland, do not in their relation of this case help to answer the question, which might equally be asked about Thomas O'Taig, an Ormond tenant at Carrick in 1444. The use of Taddeus in Latin documents to denote the surname tends to increase confusion between Mac and O: thus Father Patrick MacTeig O.P. is called simply Patricius Taddeus in a processus datariae relating to the see of Kildare in 1629.


The name Tighe presents a good example of pseudo-translation of Irish surnames. Kangley, a rare Breffny (Cavan) name is Mac Ceanglaigh in Irish; ceangail is the Irish verb for tie, hence Tighe has been used as a synonym for Kangley!


The best known family of Tighe in Ireland, that of Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny, is unconnected with any of those mentioned above. The first of these came from Market Deeping in England and, becoming sheriff of Dublin in 1649, M.P. in 1656 and three times mayor, was the ancestor of a long line of sheriffs, D.L's and M.P's. One of these, Henry Tighe (d. 1836), M.P. for Inistioge, was the husband of Mary Tighe (nee Blatchford) (1772-1810), a poetess whose work went into six editions."


   8.  Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, Donal F. Begley, 1987:


"The Office of the Registrar-General... asserted that none but those actually engaged in registration work could have any idea of the practical difficulties ... owing ... to the great variations in names in Ireland. Two reports ... were issued ... for the guidance... The first was printed in 1890 under the title "Varieties and Synonyms of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland"...  The Report itself is statistical in nature, and based upon ... births...... the estimated number of persons of each surname in the population can be ascertained by multiplying the number of entries in the table by the average birth rate, which for 1890 was 1 to 44.8.  The table highlights local patterns in the spelling of surnames, a factor which could, in extremis so to speak, be used as a rough guide to the origin of certain families. To take an example of a single surname: the form McTigue occurs in Mayo with MacTague in Cavan and McTeague in Donegal.  The table itself lists the following:  Montague (8 births), 9 registered in Ireland, of which 1 was in Leinster and 8 in Ulster. "Counties in which Principally Found" lists only Co. Tyrone.  Begley also notes:  "... This phenomenon of the dual-form surname, e.g., John Kelly/Sean O Ceallaigh, is, of course, a product of our bilingualism. ...


As a general rule anglicization was effected by a phonetic rendering of the parent Irish into English...

The haphazard nature of the anglicization of surnames in due course produced a bewildering crop of variations and peculiarities which manifest themselves at all levels of our national records... entirely different names could be used synonymously by the same person or by members of the same family. ... Some of the most baffling variations were in fact corruptions first caused by illiteracy..."


   9.  Edward MacLysaght... a 6th edition in 1991 of The Surnames of Ireland, contains very detailed introductory material:  "Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames... it developed spontaneously ... as the population increased and former practice ... proved insufficiently definitive.   At first the surname was formed by prefixing Mac to the father's Christian name or O to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor.."


  10.  Irish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins, Edward MacLysaght, 1957, 1978: "... a system of nomenclature exists ... whereby the father's Christian name is added to a man's legal name. ... This ... has misled some writers unfamiliar with Irish conditions. ...


There are many examples in the sixteenth and seventeenth century records of persons whose names ... are a veritable genealogy. John MacMahon MacWilliam MacOwen MacShane was, of course, John MacMahon... Ignorance of this practice .... probably accounts for the extraordinary number of MacShanes and MacTeiges returned as surnames in such records as the 1659 census... The Ormond Deeds ... contain a great many names formed by prefixing Mac to a Christian name. ... Of all these surnames the only two to be found in any considerable numbers ... to-day are MacShane and MacTigue...   ... it must not be forgotten that a not inconsiderable number of people in the lower stratum of society did not use hereditary surnames even as late as 1650.


Quite often the anglicization of a Gaelic surname resulted in the adoption in English, whether consciously or not, of one which carried a certain social cachet.... Montague for MacTadhg or MacTague probably arose in the same way, the sound Montag at some period giving way to Montagew through ocular influence of the spelling."


 1616, John O'Donovan trns., 1854, 1966. The index of this work identifies a number of McTeiges, ranging from 1156 to 1583. At some point perhaps I should look them all up, but I list just one entry from 1583:  "Mac Teige of Ormond, i.e., Conor of the Harbour, the son of Teige, grandson of Mahon

 Don O'Kennedy, died. He was a ready, tranquil, and domestic man, without reproach from his birth. Philip, the son of Dermot O'Kennedy of Ropalach, was then styled Mac Teige."


Editor O'Donovan footnotes: "Mac Teige - this was a name assumed by a branch of the O'Kennedys, seated in the barony of Lower Ormond, in the north of the county of Tipperary."


the 1700's, Ireland gained more people from immigration than it lost ( Macmillian Atlas of Irish History). Immigrations records show Huguenot families named Montague immigrating to Ireland, for instance.      

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