This surname of MURTAUGH is a sept of the Scottish clan Stuart of Bute, although the name is found in Ireland in Antrim. The name was from the Gaelic Mac MUIRCHEARTAIGH, meaning 'the son of Murtagh'. Other spellings of the name include MURTAGH, McBREATY, MacMURTY, MacMURTRIE and MacMURTY. In County Roscommon it is a Mac name first anglicized Mac MORIARTY and in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1664, the name is spelt as MacQUORTE. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. The name has been made famous in the literary history of Ireland by James MacCOURT or Seamus MacCUARTA (1647-1732) whose poems were collected and published by the Rev. L. Murray. The Earls of Devon, who owned 33,000 acres in County Limerick in 1878, were of this family. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
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