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

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

The story of the Gunn family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name Gunn was derived from Gunni, a descendant of Einar and of the great peace Kings of Uppsale in Sweden, progenitor of this great Clan. Gunni was the son of Gillanders, one of the six northern Earls who besieged King Malcolm IV of Scotland at Perth in 1160. The Gunns, the Sinclairs, the Mackays and the Gordons ruled the far northern reaches of Scotland. The Gunns' territory centered in Caithness and Sutherland.


Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Gunn has been spelled Gunn, Gun, Guinne (Gaelic) and others.

First found in the Orkneys. But perhaps to North Americans the most interesting aspect of Gunn history is the discovery of a Coat of Arms, which is undoubtedly of the Gunn Clan, in Westford, Massachusetts. Chiseled into a rock face, it has been reliably dated back to 1395. This was almost one hundred years before Columbus discovered America. Archaeologists first assumed this marking was the work of an early Indian tribe, but closer examination and the clearance of the scrub, revealed a knight in full armor, a huge sword and a shield on which the Gunn Coat of Arms was displayed. How did a Knight of the Gunn Clan manage to be buried in Massachusetts years before Columbus discovered America? For the answer, historians went back to the Orkneys. They knew that the Jarls of Orkney, many centuries before had recorded that they wintered in their Viking missions in a land running with fire from the rocks (Nova Scotia, also on the east coast of North America, has bituminous rocks, which can catch fire and melt down the ravines to the sea). They also knew that the Gunns were related to and rode and sailed with the Jarls of Orkney. The pieces of the puzzle fit together fine, but few historians had realized to that point that the Viking discoveries of the New World had penetrated as far south as Massachusetts. This carving is one of the few real evidences of their pioneering expeditions. It is also the earliest record of a Gunn Clan Coat of Arms.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gunn research. Another 342 words(24 lines of text) covering the years 1231 and 1438 are included under the topic Early Gunn History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Some of the Gunn family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 111 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Gunn:

Gunn Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Jasper Gunn, who landed in Connecticut in 1635
  • Thomas Gunn, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635
  • Joseph Gunn, who landed in Massachusetts in 1636
  • Daniel Gunn who settled in Boston in 1651
  • William Gunn settled in Jamaica in 1651

Gunn Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • James Gunn, who landed in Virginia in 1715
  • Willm Gunn, aged 32, landed in Virginia in 1773

Gunn Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Richard Gunn, who arrived in America in 1806
  • Isabella Gunn, aged 25, landed in Massachusetts in 1813
  • Patrick Gunn, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816
  • Bernard Gunn, aged 60, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834
  • Bernard, Gunn Jr., aged 9, landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834


  • Trey Gunn (b. 1960), American musician best known for his membership in the rock band King Crimson from 1994 to 2003
  • Timothy M. Gunn (b. 1953), American fashion consultant and television personality
  • James Edwin Gunn (b. 1923), American Science Fiction author
  • Sean Gunn (b. 1974), American actor
  • Thom Gunn (1929-2004), Anglo-American poet
  • Chanda Leigh Gunn (b. 1980), American Olympic ice hockey bronze medalist
  • James Gunn (1753-1801), US Senator from Georgia
  • James Gunn (1843-1911), US Congressman from Idaho
  • Moses Gunn (1929-1993), American Obie Award-winning stage actor
  • Adam Gunn, American Olympic sliver medalist for decathlon at the 1904 Summer Games



  • Family Record of the Descendants of James and Harriet Gunn by Bruce Alan Gunn.
  • My Findings by Lilian Vesta Brown Johnson.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Aut pax, aut bellum
Motto Translation: Either peace or war


Gunn Clan Badge
Gunn Clan Badge

Buy JPG Image

A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Gunn
Eanrig, Eanruig, Enrick, Galay, Galdie, Galey, Gallay, Galley, Gallie, Gally, Ganson, Gauenson, Gaueson, Gauldie, Gaunson, Gavenson, Gavinson, Gawenson, Gaweson, Geeorge, Geeorges, Geeorgeson, Georg, George, Georges, Georgeson, Gilgun, Guine, Guinne, Gun, Gunce, Gunn, Gunnce, Inrig, Jamesion, Jameson, Jamieson, Jamiesoun, Jamison, Jammesion, Jammeson, Jammieson, Jammiesoun, Jammison, Jammyson, Jamyson, Janeson, Jimisolm, Jimisom, Jimisomb and more.


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  1. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  2. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  3. Moody David. Scottish Family History. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0806312688).
  4. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  7. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  8. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  11. ...

The Gunn Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gunn 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 22 October 2014 at 10:31.

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