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Irish Surname - Campbell

A lot of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. This ancient Scottish name has its origins in the Scots Gaelic "Caimbeul" meaning "crooked mouth". 'Crooked or wry mouth' was a term often used to describe a man whose mouth inclined a little on one side. Another possible derivation of the Campbell surname comes from the anglicisation of the Irish Mac Cathmhaoil, meaning 'son of the battle chieftain'.

Gillespie O'Duibhne was the first to have borne the name, and founded clan Campbell at the beginning of the 13th century. The vast majority of Irish Campbells are descended from the Scottish family and the name came to Ireland when the Gallowglass moved into Ulster and later on with more traditional settlers who arrived in the seventeenth century. After the Plantations the Tyrone native Gaelic MacCathmhaoil clan also adopted Campbell as the anglicised version of their name.

The surname Campbell is one of the thirty most numerous in Ireland, with over two-thirds of those living in Ulster. Campbell families are prevalent in Donegal, Cavan, Armagh, Down and Antrim.

Alternate Surname Spellings

Cambell, Campbell, Cambel, Camble, Cammell.

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Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.