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All Irish surnames have underlying meanings that can be traced back to their fullest points when the names first appeared in a Gaelic form. The name McGrath originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Graith or Mag Raith; these are both derived from the personal name Craith.

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The surname McGrath was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

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 McGrath are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include MacGrath, MacGraw, MacGrauth, Magrath, Magraw and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGrath research. Another 173 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1600, and 1650 are included under the topic Early McGrath History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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More information is included under the topic Early McGrath Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name McGrath:

McGrath Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Phillip McGrath settled at Trinity in 1757
  • William McGrath, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763
  • John McGrath was a cooper in Torbay in 1782
  • Thomas McGrath, who arrived in America in 1798
  • John McGrath, who landed in America in 1799

McGrath Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Edward McGrath, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1802
  • Richard McGrath, who landed in America in 1806
  • Patrick McGrath, who arrived in America in 1811
  • James McGrath, who arrived in America in 1811
  • Bernard McGrath, aged 25, arrived in Massachusetts in 1812
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McGrath Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • James McGrath, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Thomas McGrath who settled in Salmon Cove, Newfoundland in 1752
  • James McGrath was a fisherman out of St. John's, Newfoundland in 1764
  • Mr. Owen McGrath U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1784
  • Jeremy McGrath settled in Placentia, Newfoundland in 1794
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McGrath Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Michael McGrath from Limerick settled in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1816
  • Anne Hardin McGrath, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Ellen McGrath, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1834
  • William McGrath, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1834
  • Anne McGrath, aged 20, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Breeze" from Dublin, Ireland
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McGrath Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Ann McGrath arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Calphurnia" in 1849
  • Bridget McGrath arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Margaret McGrath arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Thomas McGrath, aged 16, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander"
  • James McGrath, aged 18, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander"
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McGrath Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Martin McGrath, aged 34, a shoemaker, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Catherine McGrath, aged 27, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Mary McGrath, aged 1, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Peter McGrath, aged 33, a shoemaker, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jessie Osborne" in 1867
  • Mary McGrath, aged 27, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jessie Osborne" in 1867
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  • Matt McGrath (1875-1941), American winner of a gold and two sliver Olympic medals for hammer throw at 1908, 1912, and 1924 games
  • Douglas Geoffrey McGrath (b. 1958), American Academy Award, BAFTA and two-time Writers Guild of America Award nominated screenwriter
  • Robert Emmet "Bob" McGrath (b. 1932), American singer and actor, best known for his role as Bob Johnson on Sesame Street
  • Patrick Joseph McGrath (b. 1945), American clergyman, Bishop of San José in California (1999)
  • John P. McGrath, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1940, 1944, 1948 (alternate)
  • John P. McGrath, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1952
  • John W. McGrath, American politician, Justice of Michigan State Supreme Court, 1891-95; Chief Justice of Michigan State Supreme Court, 1892; Candidate for Circuit Judge in Michigan 3rd Circuit, 1899
  • Joseph McGrath, American Democrat politician, Massachusetts Democratic State Chair, 1937; Member of Democratic National Committee from Massachusetts, 1939; U.S. Collector of Customs, 1941
  • Lawrence J. McGrath, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from New Canaan, 1932
  • Loretta McGrath, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut, 1932
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McGrath Historic Events



Empress of Ireland

  • Mr. John McGrath, British Assistant Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Captain Matthew McGrath (1879-2014), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 2014

Halifax Explosion

  • Mr. Michael Stephen  McGrath, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mrs. Mary  McGrath (1890-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Master Clifford  McGrath (1915-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMS Prince of Wales

  • Mr. Herbert H Mcgrath, British Able Seaman, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Charles Gilbert Mcgrath, British Marine, who sailed in to battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died during the sinking
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  • Genealogy of the Nicholsan Sisters and Related Families: Clennan, Cushing, Keegan, McCormally, McGrath, Ryan, Langley by Eileen E. Langley.
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Citations



    Other References

    1. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    2. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
    3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    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. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
    8. 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).
    9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    10. 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).
    11. ...

    The McGrath Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McGrath 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 May 2016 at 10:08.

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