Desmond History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Strongbownians added their own naming traditions to the eastern region of Ireland to which they arrived. The impact of this new tradition was not extremely disruptive to the pre-existing Irish tradition because the two had many similarities. Both cultures made significant use of hereditary surnames. And like the Irish, the Strongbownians often used prefixes to build patronymic surnames, which are names based on the given name of the initial bearer's father or another older relative. Strongbow's followers often created names that were built with the prefix Fitz-, which was derived from the French word fils, and ultimately from the Latin filius, both of which mean son. They also used diminutive suffixes such as "-ot," "-et," "-un," "-in," or "-el," and occasionally even two suffixes combined to form a double diminutive such as "-el-in," "-el-ot," "-in-ot," and "-et-in," to build patronymic names. The surname Desmond is derived from the Norman personal name Gerald, which consists of the Germanic elements "geri" or "gari," which mean "spear," and "wald," which means "rule." The name features the distinctive Irish patronymic prefix fitz, which means son of in Anglo-French. This is derived from the Old French word "fils," which ultimately comes from the Latin word "filius." The Gaelic form of the surname Desmond is "Mac Gerailt."

Early Origins of the Desmond family

The surname Desmond was first found in Munster, where they were granted lands by the Earl of Pembroke during his invasion of Ireland in 1172.

Saint and Bishop Gerald (d. 731), of Magh Eo, now Mayo, "was, according to the life published by the Bollandists, and attributed by Colgan to Augustin Magraidin (1405), a monk from the neighbourhood of Winchester, who, with some companions, migrated to Ireland, in order to lead a solitary life. Another account connects his leaving England with the defeat of St. Colman, bishop of Lindisfarne, at the conference at Whitby on the Easter question. The party landed in Connaught and made their way northward to Sligo. Gerald built a church in Mayo which he called Cill n-ailither, or the Church of the Pilgrims." [1]

Otho Geraldino, one of the chief commanders of Williams the Conqueror landed in England at the time of the Conquest and was created a Baron for his efforts. As Norman constable of Pembroke, South Wales, he went into Ireland with Strongbow in the Anglo- Norman invasion. Two generations later, Maurice was the first to use the name Fitzgerald. He was granted lands in Munster in the south of Ireland. [2]

Maurice Fitzgerald (d. 1176), was the Welsh conqueror of Ireland, "the son Nesta, daughter of Rhys the Great, king of South Wales. He was thus half-brother to Robert Fitzstephen and Meiler Fitzhenry, and brother of David II, Bishop of St. David's. His father Gerald, according to later genealogists, was grandson of Walter Fitzother, who figures in 'Domesday' as a tenant at Windsor and elsewhere, and lord of manors in Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Middlesex, and Buckinghamshire." [1]

Early History of the Desmond family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Desmond research. Another 332 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1333, 1411, 1316, 1716, 1513, 1537, 1411, 1809, 1883, 1398, 1513, 1487, 1534, 1534, 1528, 1589, 1612, 1660, 1634, 1664, 1660, 1660 and 1661 are included under the topic Early Desmond History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Desmond Spelling Variations

During the lifetime of an individual person, his name was often spelt by church officials and medieval scribes the way it sounded. An examination of the many different origins of each name has revealed many spelling variations for the name: Fitzgerald, Geraldines, Desmond, Gerald, Geralds and others.

Early Notables of the Desmond family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was Gerald Fitzgerald, 4th Earl of Desmond (d. 1398), Justiciar of Ireland, the son of Maurice Fitzthomas, the first earl of Desmond. Gerald Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare (d. 1513), was son of Thomas Fitzgerald, seventh earl of Kildare. Gerald Fitzgerald (1487-1534), 9th Earl of Kildare, was impeached of high treason and died for his causes at the Tower of London 1534. Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, called...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Desmond Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Desmond migration to the United States +

Ireland's Great Potato Famine left the country's inhabitants in extreme poverty and starvation. Many families left their homeland for North America for the promise of work, freedom and land ownership. Although the Irish were not free of economic and racial discrimination in North America, they did contribute greatly to the rapid development of bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Eventually, they would be accepted in other areas such as commerce, education, and the arts. An examination of immigration and passenger lists revealed many bearing the name Desmond:

Desmond Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Desmond, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1827 [3]
  • Timothy Desmond, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1844 [3]
  • Mr. Desmond, aged 34, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1849 [3]
  • Catherine Desmond, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1854 [3]

Canada Desmond migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Desmond Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • George Desmond, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
Desmond Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Cornelius Desmond, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1829
  • Ellen Desmond, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Michael Desmond, aged 33, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Independence" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Margaret Desmond, aged 40, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • John Desmond, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Thomas Hanford" from Cork, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Desmond migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Desmond Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Desmond, British Convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1835 [4]
  • Mr. Patrick Desmond, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 25th April 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Thomas Desmond, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "John Banks" [6]

New Zealand Desmond migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Desmond Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Henry Desmond, aged 27, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Westminster" in 1843
  • Mr. Patrick Desmond, Irish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 27th April 1860 [7]
  • E. Desmond, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir George Grey" in 1864
  • Mr. William Desmond, (b. 1829), aged 45, Irish labourer from County Cork travelling from London aboard the ship "Tweed" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [7]
  • Mrs. Jane Desmond, (b. 1844), aged 30, Irish settler from County Cork travelling from London aboard the ship "Tweed" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Desmond (post 1700) +

  • Viola Irene Desmond (1914-1965), Canadian Civil Rights Advocate, she was unjustly convicted of a minor tax violation for not leaving a whites-only area of the Roseland Theatre, Nova Scotia in 1946; she was granted a posthumous pardon, the first to be granted in Canada, she will be featured on the $10 Canadian bank note in 2018
  • William Desmond, American politician, Member of Illinois State House of Representatives 8th District, 1903-05 [8]
  • William W. Desmond, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Woodstock, Illinois, 1939-53 [8]
  • W. J. Desmond, American Republican politician, Candidate for Wisconsin State Assembly from Milwaukee County 1st District, 1902 [9]
  • Walter J. Desmond, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Long Beach, California, 1913-22 [10]
  • Thomas Charles Desmond (b. 1887), American Republican politician,Member of New York State Senate, 1931-58 (27th District 1931-44, 32nd District 1945-54, 33rd District 1955-58) [11]
  • Terry Desmond, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1980 [12]
  • Phillip Desmond, American Democrat politician, Chair of Bibb County Democratic Party, 2003 [13]
  • Minot S. Desmond, American politician, Delegate to New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention from Manchester 2nd Ward, 1948 [14]
  • Martin J. Desmond, American Republican politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 14th District, 1928 [15]
  • ... (Another 29 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Desmond 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: Crom aboo
Motto Translation: Crom for ever.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1840
  6. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 30th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) John Banks 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/johnbanks1855.shtml
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) William Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) W. Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Walter Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Thomas Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Terry Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Phillip Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  14. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Minot Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  15. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2017, April 12) Martin Desmond. Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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