Thursday, 21 February 2008

Changes in surnames

Surnames can and do change over the generations, meaning that some lateral thinking may be required to succeed in tracing our ancesters to earlier generations. This is well illustrated by Karen Conderan's family. I am grateful to Karen for sharing the following information. Karen's great-great-grandfather was John CONRAN of County Carlow, Ireland. John CONRAN's son Patrick emigrated to Canada. There his name appears under a variety of spellings in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century directory listings. Finally it appears as CONDERAN which it has been consistently since. Having run into a brick wall tracing her family back before Patrick, Karen was fortunate to find baptismal records for Patrick CONDERAN and his brother James showing CONRAN as the original spelling of their surname. So as Karen says, we should really consider all the possible variations in spelling - an extra letter after the D, and especially dropping the letter D - if we run into a dead end. It worked for her!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Origins of the CONDR*N surname

I'm grateful to Robert CONDRON for the following information on the origins of the CONDRAN, CONDRON etc. surname (posted to the CONDRON Rootsweb mailing list 31 Jan 2008):

The Irish surname Condron is patronymic in origin, being one of those names derived from the first name of the father. Thus the name means "son of Condron". The name finds its roots in the Irish surname O Conarain, the prefix "O" denoting one who is the descendent of or the grandson of Conarain, the personal name of the original bearer. The Irish name was then anglicized as Conron or Condron, the "O" being dropped, probably as it was a reminder to the bearer that he was one of a conquered nation. Condron is a relatively modern variant, as all known references to the name before 1700 take the forms Coneran, o'Conran and O'Coneran.

Families bearing this name originated in County Offaly, where the name was common and it was also popular in the adjoining counties of Leix and Kildare, as can be seen in the Ormond Deeds, the Tudor Fiants and Petty's "census". In Munster the surname is recorded, in the form Coneran, in the survey of County Fermanagh, made in 1603. There people bearing this name are mentioned as coarbs, that is the abbot or "heir" of the saintly founder, of the "parish church of the Mill" in the barony of Tirkennedy. However the surname has not survived there, as is has in Lenister. The place name Ballyconran in County Wexford suggests that there were once influential families bearing this name living there also.


One of the pleasures of genealogy is that one occasionally makes contact with hitherto unknown relatives. Hence it was a great pleasure recently to be contacted by Nick CONDRAN. It turns out that Nick CONDRAN's great-grandfather Ernest CONDRAN (b. 1893, Nottingham) and my grandfather Frank CONDRAN (b. 1890, Nottingham) were brothers. Nick tells me that of the small number of CONDRANs in England and Wales in 2002, 13 are descendants of or related by marriage to descendants of Ernest CONDRAN.