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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, Irish

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

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Shea is O Seaghdha, which is modified to O Se. The surname is derived from the word seaghdha which means hawk like but has a secondary meaning of stately.

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A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Shea include O'Shea, O'Shee, McShea, McShee and others.

First found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shea research. Another 232 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1500 are included under the topic Early Shea History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 30 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Shea:

Shea Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Jone Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678
  • Nicholas Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678

Shea Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Edward Shea, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Luke Shea, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1720
  • Timothy Shea, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766
  • James Shea, who landed in America in 1794

Shea Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Philip Shea, who landed in America in 1801
  • Peter Shea, who arrived in America in 1803
  • Mary Shea, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813
  • Michael Shea, who arrived in New York, NY in 1838
  • Jeremiah Shea, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842


Shea Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Mike Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1902
  • Will Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1906

Shea Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Richard Shea, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1803
  • Jane Shea, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1808
  • Robert Shea, aged 36, arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Simon Shea, aged 2, landed in Canada in 1823
  • Bridget Shea, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1828


Shea Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary Shea, aged 30, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Elgin"
  • Luke Shea, aged 31, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Cheapside"
  • Luke Shea arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cheapside" in 1849
  • Mary Shea, aged 30, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Elgin" in 1849
  • Catherine Shea arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849


Shea Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • E Shea landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Michael Shea, aged 26, a ploughman, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waitangi" in 1874
  • Michael Shea, aged 24, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874
  • Ellen Shea, aged 24, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874
  • Daniel Shea, aged 3, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874


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  • John Joseph Shea Jr. (1924-2015), American medical doctor, professor and surgeon
  • Major-General George David Shea (1894-1971), American Commanding General 10th Mountain Division (1951-1953)
  • John F. Shea Jr. (1928-2013), American businessman, jurist, and politician, Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives (1961-1962)
  • Michael Shea (1943-2014), American fantasy, horror and science fiction writer
  • Mike Shea (1867-1927), American Major League pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in the late 19th century
  • Michael Shea (1952-1968), American child actor, best known for his role as Huckleberry Finn in 1968
  • John Gilmary Shea (1824-1892), American writer, editor, and historian
  • Jack Shea (b. 1928), American film and television director, president of the Directors Guild of America from 1997 to 2002
  • Amos Shea (1910-2002), American double-gold medalist in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympics
  • George Beverly "Bev" Shea (1909-2013), Canadian-born, American Grammy Award-winning gospel singer and hymn composer

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  • Shay Families with Roots in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania by Thomas P. Shay.
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  1. 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.
  2. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  3. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  4. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  5. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  6. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  7. 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).
  8. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. 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. 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.
  11. ...

The Shea Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Shea 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 24 August 2015 at 14:49.

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