Hepburns of Donegal

Hepburns in Ireland: a one-name study

This website is mainly based on research of the line of the Hepburn family which has its roots in 18th Century Donegal, Ireland and stretches through eight generations. The story, which is still unfolding, is the result of more than fifteen years of research and the help of many people.

While there are a number of very famous Hepburns (Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn and James Hepburn, the 3rd husband of Mary Queen of Scots, for example) my family line stems from much humbler beginnings as farmers and masons transplanted from Scotland to the north of Ireland in the 1700s.

Many of my ancestors could neither read nor write and they clearly worked hard to make a life for themselves in Ireland and elsewhere. I hope to create a true and representative record of their journey so the story can be passed on to future generations.

If you are a Hepburn family researcher, I hope you find this website helpful. It will continue to be a 'work in progress' and I will be adding to it on a regular basis and look forward to your feedback. Keep your eye on the Info & Databases and Biographies pages.


Much of the information relating to the early Hepburn family has been gathered at the Public Records of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in Belfast, the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin (NAI), the General Records Offices of Ireland (IGRO) and The Family History Centre of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Hyde Park London branch (LDS).

My initial interest came from the early work of my father, James Hughes Hepburn, and my grandfather's cousin, the late Andrew Hepburn of Burton on Trent, England, both who preserved family photos and letters for posterity and who began researching the family tree before the benefit of computers and search engines.

Honourable mention also goes to Elinor Elliott and Simon Elliott, who have generously contributed information about the Elliott side of the family tree and to Adele Cutler Bond who contibuted information on the Hepburns inToronto, Canada. Also to Albert Hepburn of McBride Street, Raphoe who helped confirm the information I had gathered on the Raphoe Hepburns.

I am also grateful to the countless librarians and archivists that have unfailingly responded to my requests for obscure newspaper articles and documents.

And thanks goes to my family and friends for humouring me in my ongoing 'obsession'.

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