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

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

While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name Cullen is "Mac Cuilinn" or "O Cuilinn," which are from the word "cuileann," which means "holly." They descend from Heber, who with his brother Heremon ruled Ireland. [1]


Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Cullen are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include Cullen, Cullan, Cullane, O'Cullen, Cullain, Cullin, Cullon, McCullen, MacCullen, O'Cullane, Culen, Culan, Culain, Cullaine, Culaine, MacCulen, MacCollin, MacColin, O'Colen, O'Collen, O'Cuilin, O'Cuillin, O'Culane, O'Culen, O'Culhoon, O'Culloon, MacCullen, Cullain, Culon, Cullon, Culling and many more.

First found in the southeast of Ireland, in the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford. Although all but one of the many distinct septs have become extinct, this remaining sept currently provides Ireland with nearly 8000 members, enough to make Cullen the 84th most common name in Ireland. Descended from Olioll Flann Beag, king of Munster, the Cullens made their original homeland at Glencullen, in Wicklow, and they have remained there to the present day, despite the threat of their more powerful neighbors, the O'Tooles and the O'Byrnes. They were an influential family, as indicated by the inclusion of Cullen of Cullenstown among the leading gentry of Wexford in the Clongowes manuscript of 1598. Due to the prominence of this sept, a number of similarly-named minor septs also adopted the name Cullen, including O Cuileamhain of south Leinster, which is also rendered Culloon or Culhoun, and Mac Cuilin of Leitrim, which is also Anglicized MacCullen.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cullen research. Another 139 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1659, 1300, 1517, 1542, 1803 and 1878 are included under the topic Early Cullen History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 29 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cullen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Cullen family name:

Cullen Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Marcus Cullen, who arrived in Maryland in 1679

Cullen Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Patrick Cullen settled in West New Jersey in 1772

Cullen Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Mary Cullen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Allen Cullen, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • William Cullen, who arrived in New York in 1818
  • Henry Cullen who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1820
  • L. Cullen settled in Baltimore in 1820

Cullen Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • F N Cullen, who arrived in Arkansas in 1905
  • Sarah Cullen, who landed in Alabama in 1921
  • Philip Cullen, who landed in Alabama in 1928


  • Countee Cullen (1903-1946), American poet and one of the leading figures of the "Harlem Renaissance"
  • Peter Brett Cullen (b. 1956), American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures and television programs
  • Matthew David "Matt" Cullen (b. 1976), American professional NHL ice hockey center
  • Maurice Cullen (1866-1934), Canadian painter
  • Thomas Gordon Cullen CBE (1914-1994), influential English architect and urban designer
  • Michael John Cullen (b. 1945), New Zealand politician, the 16th Deputy Prime Minister
  • William Douglas Cullen KT, PC, QC, FRSE, Hon FEng (b. 1935), Baron Cullen of Whitekirk, he served as Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session
  • Robert Cullen FRSE (1742-1810), Lord Cullen, Scottish judge
  • William Cullen FRS FRSE FRCPE (1710-1790), Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist
  • Peter Claver Cullen (b. 1941), Canadian voice actor



  • The Cullens of Sheboygan County Wisconsin, 1850-1900 by Katherin Cullen King.

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  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)

Other References

  1. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  4. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  6. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  9. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  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 Cullen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cullen 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 19 August 2014 at 21:21.

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