Galway History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

When the Anglo- Normans began to settle in Ireland, they brought the tradition of local surnames to an island which already had a Gaelic naming system of hereditary surnames established. Unlike the Irish, the Anglo- Normans had an affinity for local surnames. Local surnames, such as Galway, were formed from the names of a place or a geographical landmark where the person lived, held land, or was born. The earliest Anglo-Norman surnames of this type came from Normandy, but as the Normans moved, they created names that referred to where they actually resided. Therefore, English places were used for names when the Normans lived in England, and then Irish places after these particular Anglo- Normans had been settled in Ireland for some time. Originally, these place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. However, this type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname, if the place name began with a vowel, or it was eliminated entirely. The Galway family originally lived in either of two places. The Galway family of Ulster derives its name from the region of Galloway in southern Scotland, which lies nearby. However, the southern Galway family probably derives its surname from the city or county of Galway in Ireland.

Early Origins of the Galway family

The surname Galway was first found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they were granted land by Strongbow after the invasion of 1172.

Early History of the Galway family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Galway research. Another 78 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1361 and 1430 are included under the topic Early Galway History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Galway 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: Galwey, Galswey, Galway, Gallway, Gallwey and many more.

Early Notables of the Galway family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Galway Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Galway migration to the United States +

In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Galway:

Galway Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Galway who settled in New York State in 1803
  • lames Galway, aged 18, who arrived in New York, NY in 1803 [1]
  • Robert Galway, who arrived in New York in 1819 [1]
  • Samuel Galway, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [1]

Canada Galway migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Galway Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Galway, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1832
  • Michael Galway, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1832
  • Mr. John Galway, aged 23 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Marinas" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Patrick Galway who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Isabella" departing 17th July 1847 from Killala, Ireland; the ship arrived on 17th September 1847 but he died on board [3]

Australia Galway migration to Australia +

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

Galway Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Galway, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851 [4]
  • Margaret Galway, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851 [4]

New Zealand Galway 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:

Galway Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • E. Galway, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilawur" in 1875
  • Ellen Galway, aged 18, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1879

Contemporary Notables of the name Galway (post 1700) +

  • Everett J. Galway, American politician, Village President of Crystal, Minnesota, 1938-43 [5]
  • Martin Galway (b. 1966), Northern Irish composer of chiptune video game music for Commodore
  • Sir James Galway OBE (b. 1939), Northern Irish virtuoso flute player from Belfast, nicknamed "The Man With the Golden Flute"
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Galway KCMG DSO (1859-1949), English-born, 17th Governor of South Australia (1814-1920)
  • Galway Kinnell (1927-2014), American poet awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Galway family +

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. James Francis Galway, British Quarter Master from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [6]


The Galway 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: Vincit Veritas
Motto Translation: Truth conquers.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 29)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 77)
  4. ^ State Library of South Australia. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) ASIA 1851 from London 12 05 1851 and southampton with Captain Roskell, arrived Port Adelaide on 1-09-1851. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Asia.htm
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  6. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html


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