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

Origins Available: English, Irish

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

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Shea is O Seaghdha, which is modified to O Se. The surname is derived from the word seaghdha which means hawk like but has a secondary meaning of stately.


A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Shea include O'Shea, O'Shee, McShea, McShee and others.

First found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shea research. Another 232 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1500 are included under the topic Early Shea History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 30 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Shea:

Shea Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Jone Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678
  • Nicholas Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678

Shea Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Edward Shea, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Luke Shea, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1720
  • Timothy Shea, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766
  • James Shea, who landed in America in 1794

Shea Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Philip Shea, who landed in America in 1801
  • Peter Shea, who arrived in America in 1803
  • Mary Shea, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813
  • Michael Shea, who arrived in New York, NY in 1838
  • Jeremiah Shea, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842

Shea Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Mike Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1902
  • Will Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1906


  • Second Lieutenant Charles W Shea, American officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Cornelius P. Shea (1872-1929), American labor leader
  • John Shea (b. 1949), Emmy award winning American actor
  • Robert Joseph Shea (1933-1994), American author
  • John Joseph Shea, American Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, eponym of the USS Shea (DM-30)
  • Joseph Francis Shea, NASA manager & aerospace engineer
  • Francis Joseph "Spec" Shea (1920-2002), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1947-1955
  • George Beverly "Bev" Shea (1909-2013), Canadian-born, American Grammy Award-winning gospel singer and hymn composer
  • Amos Shea (1910-2002), American double-gold medalist in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympics
  • Jack Shea (b. 1928), American film and television director, president of the Directors Guild of America from 1997 to 2002



  • Shay Families with Roots in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania by Thomas P. Shay.

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  1. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  2. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  3. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  4. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  6. 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.
  7. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  8. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  9. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  10. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  11. ...

The Shea Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shea 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 5 June 2014 at 16:23.

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