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Cain Genealogy and Cain Family History Information

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About the Cain surname

The Cain surname in the United States of America may have originated from immigrants originally from the town of Caen in northwest France. The name can be traced back in the United States to roughly the late 1600s (possibly earlier).

Cain, as John Wheeler says, derives from the Gaelic Christian name Catháin, which in turn gave rise to Ua Catháin (later O Catháin) in several locations in Ireland, and to MacCathdin on the Isle of Man. The most powerful were the O Catháin clan of Co Derry, from which about a third if Cain’s descend. The next most common sources are the O Catháin clan of south Galway and the O Catháin clan who held O’Cahanes Castle on Iniscatha in the Shannon estuary. The Eoghan Ua Catháin, Abbot of Clonfert, Co Galway was most likely a member of the south Galway O Catháin clan. He may be the first recorded O Catháin. O Catháin = O’Cahan.
At the Cain DNA project we find that about 1/3rd of our members have the Y-DNA of the O’Cahan clan of north Derry & north Antrim. Following them are several smaller O’Cahan clans from other parts of Ireland, including Galway and Clare.
If one looks at the IGI, Cain and Caine from the Isle of Man appear to predominate. But this is only because the parish registers survived on the Isle of Man whereas in Ireland the church was persecuted for centuries by foreign rule, hanging of priests, burning of churches, so that in the finish the Catholic Church refused to obey an English edict to hand over their parish registers. That necessitated the researcher knowing exactly what parish church their ancestors visited, and going there in person to peruse the registers. The Church of Ireland obeyed the edict, handed over their registers, which were destroyed by artillery shelling the Fourt Courts building where rebel’s were holed up. So missing Irish Parish Register entries did not reflect that most Cains are Irish.
Cains from the Isle of Man make up one of the smaller groups in the Cain DNA project. The other sources that some claim such as Norman and Welsh may be speculation as there don’t appear to be any in the Cain DNA project. There are some from Scotland and some from England, but in small numbers. So the Gaelic Irish O Catháin would appear to account for most golfers of the name today.