The original Gaelic form of Higginson was O hUgin, which is derived from the word uiging, which is akin to the Norse word viking.
The Irish race has had a large impact on world history, in spite of the size of the tiny Emerald Isle and its present-day population. Their contributions have included world leaders, statesmen, artists, poets and scholars. Interlaced with the chronicles of this great land, is the history of the Irish sept Higginson. Analysts have found information by using historical documents such as church baptismals, parish records, and ancient land grants, and researching works written by O’Hart, MacLysaght, O’Brien, and Woulfe. Research suggests that the family name Higginson was first found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, where they held a family seat from early times.
The name, Higginson, occurred in many references; spelling variations of this name included Higginson, Hickinson, Hickenson, Hickeson and Higgenson, and these could change frequently, even between father and son. The Anglicization of Gaelic names was a major cause of spelling variations, as well as spelling mistakes frequently made by church officials and clerks.
Much of the early history of Ireland has been lost in the sands of time; however there is an abundance of legends involving ancient Celtic Kings, Queens and heroes. The Celts did not commit their knowledge to writing and instead they relied on a strong oral tradition to remember and pass on events in their history. Another purpose of this oral tradition was to celebrate past warriors at feasts and celebrations, and to prepare new ones for battle with tales of glory.
As a result the stories became more fantastic the more they evolved, and how strongly they are based on fact is uncertain. There are many different viewpoints on the issue though, and some historians still have faith in the old legends. There was an early invasion of Ireland in about 1000 B.C. by a Celtic race from the South, likely from the area of Spain. The books by O’Hart state that these people, the Milesians, were descended from King Milesius of Spain.
He turned his attention northward to Ireland to fulfill an ancient Druidic prophecy during a 26 year famine, that he believed was his punishment for not attempting to fulfill it earlier. He sent an army to explore this fertile island and when he found that his uncle had been murdered by three resident Irish Kings, of the Tuatha de Danaan, Milesius gathered another army to take revenge. He died, though, before he embarked on the trip, leaving his remaining eight sons to conquer Ireland.
They named the land Scota or Scotia, after their mother. That name was taken and applied to Caladonia, now known as Scotland, when the Scots invaded there in the 5th century. One theory about the origin of the name Ireland is that it came from ‘Ir-land,’ the land of Ir, the second son of Milesius, and one who never made it to the Island, but whose son did and was allotted a share of the land.
The great Gaelic name of Higginson emerged in later years in the county of Sligo. This distinguished Irish family descended from Higgins which was a branch of the southern O’Neills of Ireland who were descended from King Niall of the Nine Hostages. Early in the 13th century the Higgins reversed the usual flow and settled on the English Welsh border in Hereford, Worcestershire, and Shropshire, and from this source descended the notable family of Higginson of Saltmarshe in Herefordshire.
They also branched later in 1764 to Mile End in Middlesex. By the 17th century many of the name had returned to Ireland but this time as settlers in the “Adventurers for Land in Ireland.” They settled at Lisburn in County Antrim and at Ballycran in Wexford.
Notable among the family at this time was Isabel Hickinson who was buried at St. Johns Church, Dublin.
The Great Migration
In about 1167 Dermott MacMurrough, King of Leinster, was defeated in a feud and requested aid from King Henry II of England, who opportunistically allowed him to enlist the help of his subjects. Richard de Clare, or Strongbow, became Dermott’s greatest ally. He landed in Ireland in 1170 and solidified the earlier victories of other Norman Lords with the presence of his great force. The success of the Normans in Ireland prompted the King of England to arrive with his own army in 1172, and reaffirm the allegiance of his subjects, as well as establish himself as the overlord of the other kings and chiefs in Ireland. He succeeded, and in so doing, permanently linked England to the affairs of Ireland.