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

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.


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.

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.


Galway Early History

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Galway research. Another 298 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1361 and 1430 are included under the topic Early Galway History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Galway Early Notables

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


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, arrived in New York, NY in 1803
  • Robert Galway, who arrived in New York in 1819
  • Samuel Galway, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840

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

Galway Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Patrick Galway arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851
  • Margaret Galway arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1851

Galway Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

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


  • Everett J. Galway, American politician, Village President of Crystal, Minnesota, 1938-43
  • 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"
  • Mr. James Francis Galway, British Quarter Master from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Galway KCMG DSO (1859-1949), English-born, 17th Governor of South Australia (1814-1920)


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.


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  6. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  7. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  8. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 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. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  11. ...

The Galway Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Galway 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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