Earliest References to the Surname

The church would seem to provide  the most interesting early references to the surname and examples are described by Philip  Donnelly in his book The Parish of Banagher (1).


Parish Priest Sean O Cartàin   -1419

Curates 1401- Donall O Cartàin

    -1465  Padraig O Cartàin

 “In 1401 Donal O Cartàin was vicar of Banagher (citing Derry Clergy & Parishes JB Leslie (Enniskillen 1939)). He obtained a dispensation as the son of a priest, was made a canon of the Derry diocese with a probend (stipend) on 13th August. He became rector of Aghadowey in 1414, while still a vicar in 1431 (sic).  In 1431 Donald O’Carthean (probably the same as the one described by Philip Donnelly in his Bne named under 1401) obtained the position of vicar at the same time as he was rector of Aghadowey. Rome was beginning to grant dispensations to sons of priests. No doubt there was good reason but it had the effect of greatly increasing the practice of priests having sons who were encouraged to seek their father’s benefice. Rome also put no obstacle in the way of clerics holding several positions simultaneously. About the year 1465 the vicar of Banagher Patrick O Korton, died. His successor was John O Hennacha who looks like a member of the O’Heaney family, relations of Murieach O Heaney, the founder of the church. Comedinus O Hegyll, the rector of Banagher, died and John O Keartean a priest is provided to the parish on 5th May 1419.


A system of papal recognition of appointments which had been developed in extraordinary ways during the critical yeas of the Avignon exile and the Great Western Schism. The clergy became accomplished Rome runners, lengthy and expensive as the process was. When a young man, usually of an influential family like the O’Cahans O’Cartins or OHeneys received the tonsure to make him a cleric, off he would go to Rome or Avignon looking for a benefice containing the land he coveted.


The following extract from surnameb.com (2) typically  mixes up the MacCartan and Cartin but usefully cites an Owen MacCartan at Derry Cathedral in 1659.


 A family of French refugees called Kartane, but later anglicised to Carton, fleeing the persecution of protestants on the continent, settled in Dublin in about the year1680. Later the name spread to Wexford and nameholders were probably responsible for establishing the village called Carton in County Kildare.


 Early recordings include Owen MacCartan at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, County Derry, on June 23rd 1659, Hester Carton, christened at the church of St John the Evangelist, Dublin, on April 17th 1666, George Carton christened at St Pauls, Covent Garden, London, on June 26th 1691, and Katharine Kartane, christened at St Peters church, Dublin, Ireland, on May 21st 1697.


The first recorded spelling of the MacArtan name is believed to be that of Teag MacArtan, chief of Kinelarty, County Down, in the year 1350.

 An ogham stone with a Mac Cairthin inscription was found at Paynestown, County Meath and is now in the National Museum. This stone marked the grave of an ancient chieftain pre 7th century. (3)



As mentioned above, a vicar of Banagher  had his name rendered as Patrick O' Korton.


O'Korton  recurs in New York  with the record in 1910 of Henry O Korton who was a Postcard Dealer there. A letterhead of the business was available for sale on Ebay on 16th August 2012. (4)


Rorie O'Cartan

The Hearth money returns for Cumber parish show Rorie O'Cartan of Culdoige (Kildoag) as having one hearth. and Patrick O'Cartan of Culdoige (Kildoag) as having one hearth each. (5)

1 The Parish of Banagher   Philip Donnelly ISBN 0948154 993 Library UU Coleraine


3 2 http://dnausers.d-n-a.net/dnetcRrI/SAINT%20McCARTAN.html

4  http://www.ebay.com.sg/itm/1910-Letterhead-Henry-O-Korton-Postcards-Dealer-NY-/300250525215

5 Extract by Bobby Forrest from  the  1663 Hearth money returns and emailed  2008. Bobby Forrest is the author of

Historical Gleanings from the Parish of Magilligan, Co Londonderry: 1600-1800AD.