The Clan/Sept History
The Irish already had a system for creating hereditary surnames established when
the followers of Strongbow settled in eastern Ireland. Although there was
relatively little friction between the two systems because they operated
according to very similar principles, the Strongbownians frequently used local
surnames. In Ireland, local surnames were almost unheard of, but in England they
were probably the most common form of hereditary surname. Local surnames, such
as Plunkett, were taken from the name of a place or a geographical feature where
the person lived, held land, or was born. The surname Plunkett is derived from
living in the settlement of Plouquenet in Ille-et-Vilaine in France. The surname
Plunkett belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which
are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or
farmsteads. Some sources indicated that the surname Plunkett is a corruption of
the Old French word blanchet, which means white. The Gaelic form of the surname
Plunkett is Pluincéid.
During an investigation of the origin of each name, it was found that church
officials and medieval scribes spelled many surnames as they sounded. Therefore,
during the lifetime of a single person, a name could be spelt numerous ways.
Some of the spelling variations for the name Plunkett include Plunkett, Plunket,
Plunkitt, Plunkit, Plunked, Plunkedd, Plunkidd and many more.
First found in county Louth, where they were granted lands when they accompanied
Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, in the invasion of Ireland.
A great number of Irish Families left their homeland in the late 18th century
and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia
and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation.
They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could
farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North
American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because
many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a
ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people
were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty,
starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on
North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population,
but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and
infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become
Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing
the name Plunkett: James Plunkett, who came to Virginia in 1655; Oliver Plunket,
who settled in Wilmington N.C. in 1804; James, Bernard, John, Patrick, Phillip,
Thomas Plunket, who all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
Motto Translated: Be quick without impetuosity.
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