The Clan/Sept History
The surname MacHugh in Ireland have evolved from the Gaelic Mac Aodha, which
means son of Aodh or son of Hugh.
The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to
the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames
were not rigidly fixed by this period because the general population was
illiterate and could not specify an exact spelling for their names. The
following variations for the name MacHugh were encountered in the archives:
McHugh, MacHugh, McCue, MacCue, MacKew, McKew and others.
First found in Connacht, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.
Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish Families in the 19th
centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced
thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish
settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these
immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long
and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those
who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of
the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants
were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also
provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects
so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have
documented the arrival of various people bearing the name MacHugh to North
America: Elizabeth McKew, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1767; Charles
McKew who settled in Turks Gut (now Marysvale), Newfoundland in 1871; Andrew
McKew, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1866.
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