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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

In its ancient Gaelic form, the Irish name McMahan was written Mac Mathghamhna, which later became Mac Mathuna. Both names are derived from the word "mathghamhan," which means "bear."


The surname McMahan was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clįr) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where the MacMahons were lords of Corca Baisgin; and possessed the greater part of the baronies of Moyarta and Clonderlaw.

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname McMahan. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include MacMahon, MacMann, MacMahan, MacMohan and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McMahan research. Another 219 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1119, 1715, 1780, 1519, 1606, 1644, 1600, 1650, 1643, 1650, 1660, 1737, 1707, 1715, 1715, 1737, 1680, 1747, 1727, 1737, 1737 and 1747 are included under the topic Early McMahan History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 217 words (16 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McMahan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name McMahan, or one of its variants:

McMahan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Lawrence McMahan, who arrived in Mississippi in 1844
  • Ross McMahan, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1849
  • Mary McMahan settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1849
  • R. M. McMahan settled in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Andrew McMahan, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1850

McMahan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • William McMahan, who landed in Quebec in 1784

McMahan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Michael McMahan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1840


  • Clinton O. "Mickey" McMahan (1930-2008), American trumpeter with the Lawrence Welk orchestra from 1966 to 1982
  • David Bruce McMahan, American Chief Executive Officer of convertible securities firm McMahan Securities Co. L.P
  • Kevin McMahan (b. 1983), American NFL football wide receiver
  • Jeff McMahan (b. 1954), American philosopher, professor at Rutgers University
  • Dr. Martin Alan McMahan, associate professor at Biola University
  • Ronnie McMahan (b. 1972), former professional American basketball player
  • Jeff McMahan, American Democratic politician from the US state of Oklahoma
  • Jack Wally McMahan (b. 1932), American former Major League Baseball pitcher who played in 1956 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Athletics


  • The Name & Family McMahan by Sara McMahan Fuller.

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: Sic nos sic sacra tuemur
Motto Translation: Thus we guard our sacred rights.


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  1. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  7. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The McMahan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McMahan 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 18 March 2016 at 08:07.

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