Canna History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Throughout history, very few Irish surnames have exclusively maintained their original forms. Before being translated into English, Canna appeared as Mac Cana, which is derived from the word cana, which means wolf cub.

Early Origins of the Canna family

The surname Canna was first found in County Armagh (Irish: Ard Mhacha) located in the province of Ulster in present day Northern Ireland, at Clanbrasil, a region on the southern shore of Lough Neagh.

The family supplanted the O'Graveys at the time of Strongbow's Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172 as lords of this area and became known as the Lords of Clanbrassil. One of the earliest records of the name was Amhlaibh Mc Canna (died 1155), described by the Four Masters as "pillar of chivalry and vigour of Cinel Eoghin" [1]

Early History of the Canna family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Canna research. Another 38 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1155, 1718 and 1598 are included under the topic Early Canna History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Canna Spelling Variations

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Canna dating from that time include MacCann, MacCanna, MacCan, MacAnn, MacAn and others.

Early Notables of the Canna family (pre 1700)

Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Canna Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Canna migration to the United States +

A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Canna or a variant listed above:

Canna Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Canna, who arrived in Maryland in 1674 [2]
Canna Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Antonio Canna, who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1826 [2]
  • Francisco Canna, aged 22, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1826 [2]
  • Baldomero Canna, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1877 [2]


The Canna Motto +

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: Crescit sub pondere virtus
Motto Translation: Virtue thrives under oppression.


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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