Vyger Irish Genealogy

Our search to further our Eggleton, Surgeoner, Smiley & Gracey
ancestry in Ireland and around the world building new
family relationships in sharing what we have learnt.




Origins of the Surgeoner name

The name Surgeoner, like many other names (e.g. Baker, Butcher, Thatcher, etc.) was used to denote a man's profession and can be traced back to English mediaeval times. Surgeoner is reported to be derived from the Anglo-French word 'surgien', meaning a medical man, but not in the modern sense. He would have performed crude operations, mostly amputations. But the profession was ahead of the times and most medical work was performed by such people as barbers (who presumably had cutting tools). It wasn't until the reign of Elizabeth I (16th century) that surgery became a recognized profession.  The earliest name is a Thomas le Surigien (1255), followed by a Robert le Surgien (1279). The name comes into its own with a record of one William Rydale Surgener, a Freeman of York in 1422 . There's a John Sudgener recorded in 1580.

To add another element to the possible origins of the name you have the word SOJOURNER which means to dwell temporarily or someone “not of this parish”. So the name may also have been derived from this term meaning someone residing temporarily or passing through. "To dwell for a time. To dwell or live in a place as a temporary resident or as a stranger. Not considering the place as a permanent habitation; to delay; to tarry".

During the 17th century, the English brought about the plantation of Ulster encouraging those loyal to the crown to populate Ulster. The aim of the crown here was to try to bring about some sort of stability in Ireland. At least one Surgenor, or family of Surgenors (or similar spelling), came here and settled most probably in the parish of Ahoghill. James Surgener was recorded as being resident in the old Ahoghill Parish in 1669. The only Surgeoner family I am aware of in Southern Ireland is one who descended from Antrim and settled in Galway. The majority of families would still reside in County Antrim with many of them still living in the greater Ballymena area.

Having said that Surgenors from Northern Ireland and Scotland have now spread to all corners on the world. You now find descendants in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and I even know one in Japan and all have their roots in Northern Ireland and Scotland.