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


While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name Cullen is "Mac Cuilinn" or "O Cuilinn," which are from the word "cuileann," which means "holly." They descend from Heber, who with his brother Heremon ruled Ireland. [1]

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The surname Cullen was first found in the southeast of Ireland, in the counties of Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford. Although all but one of the many distinct septs have become extinct, this remaining sept currently provides Ireland with nearly 8000 members, enough to make Cullen the 84th most common name in Ireland. Descended from Olioll Flann Beag, king of Munster, the Cullens made their original homeland at Glencullen, in Wicklow, and they have remained there to the present day, despite the threat of their more powerful neighbors, the O'Tooles and the O'Byrnes. They were an influential family, as indicated by the inclusion of Cullen of Cullenstown among the leading gentry of Wexford in the Clongowes manuscript of 1598. Due to the prominence of this sept, a number of similarly-named minor septs also adopted the name Cullen, including O Cuileamhain of south Leinster, which is also rendered Culloon or Culhoun, and Mac Cuilin of Leitrim, which is also Anglicized MacCullen.

Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Cullen are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include Cullen, Cullan, Cullane, O'Cullen, Cullain, Cullin, Cullon, McCullen, MacCullen, O'Cullane, Culen, Culan, Culain, Cullaine, Culaine, MacCulen, MacCollin, MacColin, O'Colen, O'Collen, O'Cuilin, O'Cuillin, O'Culane, O'Culen, O'Culhoon, O'Culloon, MacCullen, Cullain, Culon, Cullon, Culling and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cullen research. Another 139 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1659, 1300, 1517, 1542, 1803 and 1878 are included under the topic Early Cullen History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cullen Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Cullen family name:

Cullen Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Marcus Cullen, who arrived in Maryland in 1679

Cullen Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Patrick Cullen settled in West New Jersey in 1772

Cullen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Mary Cullen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Allen Cullen, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • William Cullen, who arrived in New York in 1818
  • Henry Cullen who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1820
  • L. Cullen settled in Baltimore in 1820


Cullen Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • F N Cullen, who arrived in Arkansas in 1905
  • Sarah Cullen, who landed in Alabama in 1921
  • Philip Cullen, who landed in Alabama in 1928

Cullen Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Isaac Cullen U.E who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1783
  • William Cullen was a property owner in St. John's Newfoundland in 1794 and had been settled there for 17 years

Cullen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Nancy Cullen, aged 19, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1833
  • John Cullen, aged 32, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Lady Douglas" from New Ross
  • Bridget Cullen, aged 40, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo

Cullen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Cullen, English convict from Somerset, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 17, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Edward Cullen, a stonemason, arrived in Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • M. Cullen arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harpley" in 1849
  • Patrick Cullen, aged 34, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Ascendant" in 1851
  • Elizabeth Cullen, aged 34, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Ascendant" in 1851


Cullen Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Jas Cullen landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Bengal Merchant
  • James Cullen, aged 20, a farm servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bengal Merchant" in 1840
  • William Cullen landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1842
  • William Cullen, aged 23, a farmer, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Fifeshire" in 1842
  • William Cullen arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857


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  • Matthew David "Matt" Cullen (b. 1976), American professional NHL ice hockey center
  • Peter Brett Cullen (b. 1956), American actor who has appeared in numerous motion pictures and television programs
  • Countee Cullen (1903-1946), American poet and one of the leading figures of the "Harlem Renaissance"
  • Mrs. Maude Cullen (1882-1914), Canadian First Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Miss Isobel Maude Cullen (1908-1914), Canadian First Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Master Albert Edward Cullen (1912-1914), Canadian First Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mr. Charles Cullen, aged 45, English Bedroom Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 11
  • Adam Frederick Cullen (1965-2012), Australian artist, recipient of the Archibald Prize in 2000
  • Christian Mathias Cullen (b. 1976), New Zealand former rugby union footballer
  • Henry Cullen FRSE FRCPE (1758-1790), Scottish physician

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  • The Cullens of Sheboygan County Wisconsin, 1850-1900 by Katherin Cullen King.
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  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)

Other References

  1. 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).
  2. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  7. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  8. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  11. ...

The Cullen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cullen 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 May 2016 at 12:48.

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