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

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish


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

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Many variations of the name McMahon were found in archives from the Middle Ages. Names during the Middle Ages were typically recorded as they sounded and in many cases, one's surname spelling changed with each record.The spelling and language in which the people's names were recorded was often up to the individual scribe. Variations of the name McMahon found include MacMahon, MacMann, MacMahan, MacMohan and others.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McMahon 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 McMahon History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Irish families fled the English-colonized Ireland in record numbers during the 19th century for North America. Many of those destitute families died from disease during, and even shortly after, the long journey. Although those that immigrated before the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s often were granted a tract of land, those that arrived later were generally accommodated in urban centers or in work camps. Those in the urban centers would labor in the manufacturing sector, whereas those in work camps would to build critical infrastructures such as bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Regardless of when these Irish immigrants came to North America, they were critical for the rapid development of the young nations of the United States and Canada. Early immigration and passenger lists have recorded many early immigrants bearing the name of McMahon:

McMahon Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Morgan McMahon, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746

McMahon Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Alex McMahon, who landed in America in 1805
  • Grizzy McMahon, who landed in America in 1805
  • Martin McMahon, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817
  • Philip McMahon, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1821
  • Thomas McMahon, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822


McMahon Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Felix McMahon, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1752

McMahon Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Francis McMahon, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1817
  • James McMahon, aged 20, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Edward Reid" in 1833
  • Margaret McMahon, aged 29, arrived in St. John aboard the ship "Protector" in 1834
  • John McMahon, aged 16, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Breeze" from Dublin
  • Kitty McMahon, aged 30, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Betsy Heron" from Belfast


McMahon Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Matthew McMahon, Canadian convict from Montreal, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Patrick McMahon, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Alexander R McMahon arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Eliza" in 1840
  • Peter McMahon arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Morley" in 1840
  • Margaret McMahon arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Morley" in 1840


McMahon Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Bernard McMahon arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Whitby" in 1841
  • Margaret McMahon, aged 24, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • James McMahon, aged 1, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • Thomas McMahon, aged 28, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Eveline" in 1865
  • Francis McMahon arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "City of Auckland" in 1870


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  • Jenna McMahon (1933-2015), born Mary Virginia Skinner, American Emmy Award winning writer, producer, actress and comedian, known for her work on The Carol Burnett Show (1967), The Facts of Life (1979) and Mama's Family (1983)
  • Major-General William Claude McMahon (1895-1990), American Deputy Chief of Staff, 6th Army (1947-1949)
  • Brigadier-General Leo Thomas McMahon (1893-1987), American Commanding General Artillery XXIII Corps (1945)
  • Brigadier-General John Eugene Jr. McMahon (1890-1971), American Commanding Officer Artillery, 77th Division (1942-1943)
  • Edward Leo Peter "Ed" McMahon (1923-2009), American entertainer, best known for his work on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
  • Jennifer McMahon (b. 1968), American novelist
  • Garry McMahon (1937-2008), Irish Gaelic footballer for Kerry (1958-1962)
  • Mr. Patrick Mcmahon, Irish Fireman from Monaghan, Ireland, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Mr. Patrick Mcmahon (d. 1915), Irish Fireman from Monaghan, Ireland, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Mr. Martin McMahon (d. 1912), aged 20, Irish Third Class passenger from Craghbrien, Clare who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking

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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. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  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. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The McMahon Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McMahon 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 19 April 2016 at 16:17.

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