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

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

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Swaney is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."

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Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Swaney dating from that time include MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

First found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain in Argyll, Scotland. His descendants migrated to Ireland as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swaney research. Another 386 words(28 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swaney History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Swaney or a variant listed above:

Swaney Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Eliz Swaney, who landed in Virginia in 1657

Swaney Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Edmond Swaney, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766

Swaney Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Swaney, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1839
  • J F Swaney, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872

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  • Mark Swaney, American politician, Green Party of Arkansas State Coordinator
  • Marianne Swaney -Stueve, American Research Assistant Professor, Sensory and Consumer Research Center Manager at Kansas State University
  • Julianna Swaney, American artist and illustrator in Portland Oregon


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  1. 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).
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  5. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  6. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  7. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  8. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  9. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Swaney Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Swaney 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 11 December 2013 at 17:47.

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