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About the study
History of the name
There are a number of Hepburn's who have espoused greatness. Some of the most well known include:
- Katharine Houghton Hepburn (1907 - 2003) was an American actress of film, television and stage. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Dr. Thomas Norval Hepburn, and Katharine Martha Houghton. Katherine holds the record for the most Best Actress Oscar wins with four, from twelve nominations. Memorable films include; The Lion in Winter, Morning Glory, The Rainmaker, The African Queen, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond.
- Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was an Academy Award- and Tony Award-winning Anglo-Dutch film and stage actress. In 1999, she was ranked as the third greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. She also served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston in Brussels, Belgium, the only child of the Englishman Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston and his second wife, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch aristocrat. Audrey's father later prepended the surname of his maternal grandmother, Kathleen Hepburn, to the family's and Audrey's surname became Hepburn-Ruston.
- James Hepburn, Duke of Orkney, 4th Earl of Bothwell (c. 1534 - 1578) was Hereditary Lord High Admiral of Scotland. He is best known for his association with and subsequent marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, as her third husband. James was the grandson of Adam Hepburn, Lord Hailes of the Clan Hepburn of Hailes line.
The majority of Hepburns have historically been found in Scotland and continues to be a prominent surname in Midlothian (Edinburgh), the original seat of Clan Hepburn.
Between 1864 and 1959 there were 605 Hepburn and variant births registered with the General Register Offices in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
According to the Office of National Statistics database there are some 2692 Hepburn, 296 Heyburn and 92 Hayburn surnames in use in England, Wales and the Isle of Mann as of September 2002.
Distribution of the name
The Scotch-Irish Hepburns in Northern Ireland trace their ancestry to Scotland descending from Scottish Lowland Presbyterians who were encouraged by the English government to migrate to Ulster in the seventeenth century. Economic pressures, including steadily increasing rents on their land, frequent crop failures, and the collapse of the linen trade, coupled with the belief in greater opportunity abroad, caused many of these Scotch-Irish Hepburns to leave for the American colonies during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
In the Griffiths Valuation survey of Irish property ownership conducted by the Irelands Valuation office from 1848 to 1864 there were 63 Hepburns and variants recorded, predominantly in counties in the north of Ireland (1 Cork, 1 Wexford,1 Fermanagh, 2 Carlow, 2 Dublin, 6 Donegal, 6 Derry, 7 Tyrone, 10 Roscommon, 11 Down, 19 Armagh).
Information held on the Hepburn One-name study website (www.hepburnofdonegal.com) includes:
- All of the entries from the Irish General Records Office Index list for Hepburn Births 1864-1959;
- Griffiths Valuation list of Hepburns and variants 1848-1864;
- The one-name study also included numerous entries from 1901 Irish Census and individual biographies.