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

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish


Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Cavanagh is Caomhanach, an adjective denoting association with St. Caomhan. The first Kavanagh, Donal, the son of Dermot MacMurrough, was fostered by a successor of this saint.

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The surname Cavanagh was first found in County Carlow (Irish: Cheatharlach) a small landlocked area located in the province of Leinster in the South East of Ireland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Kavanaghs (Cavanaghs) were descended from the MacMorough stem and were Lords of Leinster. Donoch McMorough was the King of Leinster, son of Dermod and it was from Donoch from which the Cavanaghs sprang. They were descended directly from the Heremon Line of Irish Kings. Donell, son of Dermot MacMurrough acquired the name Caomhanach, or Cavanagh. His sister Eva married Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, the leader of the English invasion of Ireland. [1]

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Cavanagh dating from that time include Cavanagh, Kavanagh, Kavanah, Cavanaugh, Keevan, Cavanaw, Kavanaw, Cavenaugh, Cavanough, Cavaneagh, Cavana, Cavena, Cavinaugh, Kavina, Kavena, Kavanaugh, Cavanach, Kavanach, Cabenagh, O'Cavanagh, O'Kavanagh, Keaveney, Geaveney, M'Cavanna and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cavanagh research. Another 193 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1889, 1667 and 1739 are included under the topic Early Cavanagh History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 87 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cavanagh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Cavanagh:

Cavanagh Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Mary Cavanagh, who arrived in Virginia in 1769-1770
  • Hester Cavanagh, aged 18, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1777

Cavanagh Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Jos Cavanagh, aged 34, landed in Wiskasset in 1803
  • Peter Cavanagh, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838
  • James Cavanagh, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844
  • Daniel Cavanagh, aged 26, arrived in Missouri in 1845
  • James Cavanagh who arrived in New York State in 1848


Cavanagh Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Owen Cavanagh, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Barnaby Cavanagh, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • John Cavanagh, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1750

Cavanagh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Anthoney Cavanagh, aged 22, a farmer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Preston" from Sligo
  • Biddy Cavanagh, aged 24, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Preston" from Sligo
  • Senty Cavanagh, aged 20, a farmer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Preston" from Sligo
  • John Cavanagh, aged 28, a labourer, arrived in Saint John aboard the ship "Robert Burns" in 1834
  • Catherine Cavanagh, aged 22, arrived in Saint John aboard the ship "Prudence" in 1838


Cavanagh Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Patrick Cavanagh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Thirteen" in 1840
  • Elizabeth Cavanagh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Thirteen" in 1840
  • Mary Cavanagh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840
  • Austin Cavanagh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nicol" in 1840
  • Patrick Cavanagh, aged 37, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Standard"


Cavanagh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Daniel Cavanagh arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857
  • Hugh Cavanagh, aged 22, a ploughman, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dorette" in 1874
  • John Cavanagh, aged 20, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dorette" in 1874
  • Michael Cavanagh, aged 18, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dorette" in 1874
  • James Cavanagh, aged 17, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dorette" in 1874


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  • John Cavanagh (1864-1957), American gentleman's hatter based in New York
  • John Cavanagh, American Director of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C. since 1998
  • Megan Cavanagh (b. 1960), American actress and voice talent, best known for portraying the voice of Judy Neutron in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
  • Howard W. Cavanagh, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Presidential Elector for Michigan, 1920; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1932; Candidate for Michigan State Senate 9th District, 1942
  • George Cavanagh, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Maryland, 1956
  • Garvan Cavanagh, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut, 1956
  • Daniel Cavanagh, American Democrat politician, Member of Wisconsin State Assembly, 1870; Member of Wisconsin State Senate, 1876-77
  • Dan J. Cavanagh (b. 1883), American Democrat politician, Member of Idaho State House of Representatives, 1933-37; Idaho Democratic State Chair, 1947-48; Member of Democratic National Committee from Idaho, 1948-50
  • Charles Thomas Cavanagh (b. 1893), American Democrat politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives, 1929-34; Member of Massachusetts State Senate Second Middlesex District, 1934-36
  • Albert J. Cavanagh, American Democrat politician, Member of Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, 1940; Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Killingly; Elected 1948

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  3. 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.
  4. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  5. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  6. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  7. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  10. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  11. ...

The Cavanagh Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cavanagh 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 23 November 2015 at 10:23.

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