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

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

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


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 because the general population had to rely on local official's understanding of how their name should be spelt, hence spellings in records often changed through a person's lifetime. The following variations for the name Ryan were encountered in the archives: O'Ryan, Ryan, Mulrian, Mulryan, O'Mulrian and many more.

First found in County Tipperary (Irish: Thiobraid Árann), established in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, in the province of Munster.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ryan research. Another 261 words(19 lines of text) covering the years 1694, 1760 and 1709 are included under the topic Early Ryan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 37 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ryan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish families in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name Ryan to North America:

Ryan Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Edmond Ryan, aged 36, landed in New York in 1679

Ryan Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Anthony Ryan, who arrived in New England in 1743

Ryan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Ferquis Ryan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1828
  • Jacob Ryan, who landed in Maryland in 1828
  • Cornelius Ryan, who landed in Mississippi in 1844
  • David Ryan, aged 29, landed in Missouri in 1844
  • Elizabeth Ryan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1846

Ryan Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • George L Ryan, who landed in Mississippi in 1903


  • Debby Ryan (b. 1993), American teen actress, singer, voice actor and screenwriter
  • Jeri Lynn Ryan (b. 1968), German-born American actress, best known for her role as the ex-Borg Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager
  • Roz Ryan (b. 1951), American actress, singer and comedian
  • Nolan Ryan (b. 1947), retired American Major League Baseball pitcher, nicknamed "The Ryan Express", inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999
  • Irene Ryan (1902-1973), American actress most widely known for her portrayal of "Granny" on the long-running TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971)
  • Kay Ryan (b. 1945), American winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  • Clendenin James Ryan Jr. (1905-1957), American businessman
  • Tubal Claude Ryan (1898-1982), American aviator, founder of Ryan Aeronautical Company in 1934, known for the Ryan Firebee series of target drones
  • Major-General William Ord Ryan (1891-1980), American Commanding General Pacific Division, Air Transport Command (1943-1946)
  • Major-General Cornelius Edward Ryan (1896-1972), American Commanding General 101st Airborne Division (1950-1951)



  • Cordell-Ryan, Hicks-Bradford Families by John Cordell Hicks.
  • Irish Roots by Mary Zaccheus Ryan.

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: Malo mori quam fodari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.


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  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  7. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. 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).
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  10. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  11. ...

The Ryan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ryan 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 13 October 2014 at 10:18.

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