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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish

Where did the Irish Cain family come from? What is the Irish Cain family crest and coat of arms? When did the Cain family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Cain family history?

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name Cain originally appeared in Gaelic as O Cathain.


The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name Cain were encountered in the archives: Cain, Caine, Kane, Kain, Cahan, O'Cahan, Kean, Keane, O'Keane, Ceane, Cean, Kahan, O'Kean, O'Kane, O'Kaine, Kaine, Keann, Cainn, Cainne, Kainn, Cahann, O'Cain and many more.

First found in Derry, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cain research. Another 281 words(20 lines of text) covering the year 1196 is included under the topic Early Cain History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Cain Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Cain family came to North America quite early:

Cain Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Christopher Cain or Cayne who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1639, died in 1653, he had two sons, Jonathon and Nathaniel
  • Claes Jansz Cain, who landed in New York in 1647
  • Charles Cain settled in Virginia in 1654

Cain Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Cain, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763
  • Peter Cain, who landed in North Carolina in 1764
  • Ernst Cain, who landed in America in 1780

Cain Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Cain, who arrived in America in 1803
  • Robert Cain, who arrived in America in 1805
  • Michael Cain, who landed in America in 1808-1809
  • Percival Cain, aged 19, arrived in New York in 1812
  • George Cain, aged 32, landed in New York in 1812


  • Dean George Cain (b. 1966), American actor
  • Matthew Thomas Cain (b. 1984), American Major League Baseball player
  • James Mallahan Cain (1892-1977), American author and journalist
  • Herbert James Cain (1912-1982), Canadian professional ice hockey left winger
  • Elizabeth "Liz" Cain (b. 1962), former Australian pair skater
  • Major Robert Henry Cain (1909-1974), British Soldier awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII
  • John Cain (b. 1931), Australian Labor Party politician, 41st Premier of Victoria (1982 to 1990)
  • Ashley Thomas Cain (b. 1990), English footballer


  • A History of our Cain Family of Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee.


  1. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  2. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  5. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  6. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  7. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  11. ...

The Cain Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cain Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 25 March 2014 at 17:32.

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