Current etymological and criminological knowledge (e.g. Oxford University Press Dictionaries Onlne 2013 and Pearson, G. 1983 – pp. 74-74) has it that the word hooligan entered into common English usage in the 1890’s as the lyrics to a song published in 1898.
Until now, it seems that nobody has found the word hooligan published anywhere prior to 1898. However, change is inevitable (except from vending machines of course) and today's latest Internet dating techniques and research methods, some of which I have been developing recently (and publishing a small number of the emerging results here on Best Thinking), allow us to get closer to the historical truth than ever before.
Amazingly, Pearson ‘s dating of the earliest verifiable origin of the word hooligan in the English language is out by at least 61 years!
I can reveal here today that the first known published use of the word hooligan is now 1837 . See: Lover, 1837. P. 74:
Newly discovered earlier text of the word hooligan. Mike Sutton Feb. 6. 2013
Of likely interest to etymologists and criminologists is the new discovery that - contrary to current knowledge assertions made by major dictionary’s (e.g. Collins English Dictionary 1986) that the word hooligan is simply slang for a rough lawless young person and that it is a possible variant of the Irish surname Hoolihan, or else derived from a Victorian street gang known as the Hooley gang ( see Pearson 1983 p. 255) - we now see that it is also a possible 19th century Irishization of the Chinese name Wooi Gan. The text below relates to the official record of investigations into vote rigging etc (Reports From the Committees 1839):
I have many more previously ‘undiscovered’ pre- 1898 examples of the published use of the word hooligan in my files, which I will be reporting on in the scholalry literature followng in-depth research into its previously 'unknown' contextual published deployment.
I expect as more books are scanned as part of the Google Library project that more previously ‘undiscovered’ evidence will appear to fill in the rich unknown history of the origins of the word hooligan and that we will find many earlier usages of it before 1898. Please refer to my earlier blog post on the likely impact of this: Clck here
NOTE:Wyss is better known as the Author of A Swiss Family Robinson, although some debate centres around whether he was in fact the author of the 1864 book, which was published posthumously by Paul, because some scholars attribute that later work to Johanna Spyri, author of Heidi – but that’s another myth busting story altogether.
Collins English Dictionary (1986) London. Collin
Paul, A. and Wyss, J. (1864) Willis the pilot : a sequel to The Swiss family Robinson; or, Adventures of an emigrant family wrecked on an unknown coast of the Pacific Ocean, interspersed with tales, incidents of travel, and illustrations of natural history. Boston : Lee and Shepard.
Lover, S. (1837) Legends and Stories of Ireland: Second Series. Paternoster Row. Baldwin and Cradock.
Pearson, G. (1983) Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears. Hampshire. Macmillan.
REPORTS FROM COMMITTEES (1839) EIGHT VOLUMES CARLOW BOROUGH ELECTION. Session 5 February 27 August 1839. VOL VI