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McFadden – Scottish sons of little Patrick

The name McFadden is a common one in Ireland and Scotland, and is also found in England, America, Canada and Australia. There are variations to the spelling, with MacFadden the most common alternative, but several others can be found.

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The name originated in Scotland in the years before the 14th century. It comes from the ancient Gaelic name Páidin. This meant ‘little Patrick’. The name Mac Páidin meant the ‘son of little Patrick’. The ‘Mac’ prefix was used by ancient Celtic clans to signify that someone was the son of their clan leader. In time they became the leader and the name of the clan changed.

History of the Irish name McFadden. Image copyright Ireland CallingOver the centuries, as both Ireland and Scotland became more anglicised, Mac Páidin evolved into the name we know today, McFadden.

Scottish and Irish Celts were closely linked

The Scottish Celts and the Irish Celts have a deep and intertwining history. There were numerous emigrants and settlers from Scotland to Ireland, and Ireland to Scotland throughout the centuries.

The name McFadden would have found its way to Ireland as early as the 14th century. It is most common in Ireland in Ulster, suggesting many of the Scottish McFaddens chose to settle there.

Several more McFaddens would have moved to Ireland in the years after Oliver Cromwell invaded the country. The land owned by Irish Catholics was confiscated and much of it was given to Scottish settlers.

The name began to spread around the world in the 16th century, when Europeans first moved to start a life in the ‘new world’ of America. This migration was accelerated greatly by the ‘Great Famine’ in Ireland in the mid-19th century, when millions were forced to leave to survive the mass starvation and disease.

By this time, the British authorities had begun to take written records of people’s names for tax purposes. These records were taken by English clerks and so most of the variations of the name got interpreted, and recorded, as either McFadden or MacFadden.

Famous McFaddens throughout the world

There have been many high achievers called McFadden throughout history.

Bob McFadden was an American voice actor who starred in several 1960s animated TV shows. He was the voice of Astromutt and Cool McCool as well as working on other classics such as Milton the Monster, The Coneheads and Thundercats.

Mary McFadden is an American fashion designer and writer. She has worked for industry giants such as Vogue magazine and Christian Dior in a career that has seen her based in New York and Cape Town amongst others. She has had her collections shown at all the major fashion capitals of the world and has appeared on the Eleanor Lambert Vanity Fair Best Dressed List.

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James McFadden was a professional footballer from Scotland. He played for Everton in the English Premier League and was renowned for his tight ball control and dribbling abilities. He scored the winning goal in a famous Scottish win, when they beat Holland 1-0 in a playoff to qualify for Euro 2004. Unfortunately, Scotland lost the second leg 6-0 and failed to make it to the finals of the tournament.Susan McFadden. Photo copyright Eva Rinaldi CC2

Brian and Susan McFadden

Brian McFadden is an Irish singer songwriter. He was part of the boyband Westlife who enjoyed great success in the British and Irish charts in the 1990s and 2000s. Since the band split up, McFadden has made various television appearances, including as a judge on the Australian X Factor.

Susanna McFadden is the younger sister of Brian. She is also a skilled musician and has starred in stage productions of Grease, Singin’ in the Rain and Legally Blonde: the Musical. She joined the Irish girlband Celtic Woman in 2012.


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