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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Galvin family come from? What is the Irish Galvin family crest and coat of arms? When did the Galvin family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Galvin family history?

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."


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.

First found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they are a sept of Thomond. [1]


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.


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


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


  • Paul Vincent Galvin (1895-1959), American businessman, founder of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in 1928 which later became the telecommunications company Motorola
  • James Francis "Pud" Galvin (1856-1902), American Major League Baseball pitcher, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965
  • Charles O 'Neill Galvin (b. 1919), American lawyer and educator
  • John Galvin (1907-1963), Irish Fianna Fáil politician
  • Robert W. "Bob" Galvin (b. 1922), American retired Chairman and CEO of Motorola, son of Paul Galvin
  • General (Ret.) John Rogers Galvin (b. 1929), American retired officer and former Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts
  • William Francis Galvin (b. 1950), American politician, 27th Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
  • James Galvin (b. 1951), American poet
  • Christopher B. Galvin (b. 1950), American businessman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Motorola from 1997 to 2003
  • 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



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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. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  2. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  3. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  4. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  5. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  6. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  7. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  8. 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.
  9. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. 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 13 November 2014 at 16:22.

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