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


Irish surnames have had their original forms altered in many ways. Before being translated into English, Galvin appeared as O Gealbhain, derived from the words "geal," which means "bright," and "ban," which means "white."

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The surname Galvin was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clįr) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they are a sept of Thomond. [1]

The spelling of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was rarely consistent. This inconsistency was due to the scribes and church officials' attempts to record orally defined names in writing. The common practice of recording names as they sounded resulted in spelling variations such as Galvin, Gallivan, O'Galvin and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Galvin research. Another 363 words (26 lines of text) covering the year 1317 is included under the topic Early Galvin History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 22 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Galvin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many destitute Irish families in the 18th and 19th centuries decided to leave their homeland, which had in many ways been scarred by English colonial rule. One of the most frequent destinations for these families was North America where it was possible for an Irish family to own their own parcel of land. Many of the early settlers did find land awaiting them in British North America, or even later in America, but for the majority of immigrants that arrived as a result of the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s the ownership of land was often a long way off. These Irish people were initially put to work on such industrial projects as the building of bridges, canals, and railroads, or they worked at manufacturing positions within factories. Whenever they arrived, the Irish made enormous contributions to the infant nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the earliest immigrants to bearer the name of Galvin were found through extensive research of immigration and passenger lists:

Galvin Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • David Galvin settled in Maryland in 1776

Galvin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Nicholas Galvin, aged 19, landed in Massachusetts in 1812
  • Peter Galvin, aged 36, arrived in New York in 1812
  • J. Galvin settled in Baltimore Maryland in 1822
  • Edward Galvin, who landed in New York in 1822
  • Martin Galvin, who arrived in New York in 1839


Galvin Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Denis Galvin, aged 19, arrived in Canada in 1823
  • John Galvin settled in Quebec, Canada, in 1825
  • James Galvin, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Trafalgar" from Galway
  • John Galvin who landed in Canada in 1839

Galvin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Galvin, a weaver, arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Catherine Galvin, aged 19, a farm servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry"
  • John Galvin, aged 36, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "John Bunyan"
  • Mary Galvin, aged 30, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Trafalgar"


Galvin Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • M. Galvin arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864
  • Catherine Galvin arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864
  • Michael Galvin arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864
  • James Galvin arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ulcoats" in 1864
  • James Galvin, aged 22, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Howrah" in 1874


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  • John Rogers Galvin (1929-2015), American army general, 6th Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Member of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century
  • Mr. Michael Galvin (d. 1915), American 3rd Class passenger from New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Christopher B. Galvin (b. 1950), American businessman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Motorola from 1997 to 2003
  • James Galvin (b. 1951), American poet
  • William Francis Galvin (b. 1950), American politician, 27th Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
  • General (Ret.) John Rogers Galvin (b. 1929), American retired officer and former Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts
  • Robert W. "Bob" Galvin (b. 1922), American retired Chairman and CEO of Motorola, son of Paul Galvin
  • Dennis Galvin, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Massachusetts, 2008
  • E. R. Galvin, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 7th District, 1855
  • E. S. Galvin, American politician, Member of South Dakota State Senate 40th District, 1889-90

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  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)

Other References

  1. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  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. 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).
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  7. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  8. 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.
  9. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  11. ...

The Galvin Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Galvin 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 11 February 2016 at 12:53.

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