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An excerpt from 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 Clár) 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 and printed products wherever possible.


Notable amongst the family name at this time was Séamus mac Pilib Mac Mathghamhna (died 1519), was Bishop of Derry. Hugh Oge MacMahon (1606-1644), was an Irish conspirator, was probably of Sir Brian MacHugh Oge MacMahon, Lord of the Dartree in the county of Monaghan. Herber MacMahon (1600-1650), Bishop of Clogher...

Another 67 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McMahan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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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    Other References

    1. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
    2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    3. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
    4. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
    5. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
    6. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    8. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    10. 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).
    11. ...

    The McMahan Family Crest was acquired from the 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 26 July 2016 at 07:53.

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