Show ContentsGary History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Gary has changed considerably in the time that has passed since its genesis. It originally appeared in Gaelic as Mag Fhearadhaigh, derived from the word "fearadhach," possibly meaning "manly." [1]

Early Origins of the Gary family

The surname Gary was first found in Connacht (Irish: Connachta, (land of the) descendants of Conn), where they held a family seat from ancient times. [2]

Over in Devon, England, "The ' Domesday ' manor of Kari, in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Heath, was the first recorded seat of the Gary family ; and one branch continued to reside there so late as the reign of Elizabeth. As early, however, as the reign of Richard II. it ceased to be their principal home. Sir William Gary then settled at Clovelly, and his brother Sir John, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, acquired, with many other manors, that of Cockington, only to lose them all by deciding for Richard against the Commissioners. His attainder was reversed in favour of his son Robert, who gained the favour of Henry V. by vanquishing an Aragonese knight in Smithfield. Two generations later the family were again in difficulty. Sir William Gary, grandson of Robert, was an ardent Lancastrian ; and one of those who, after the fatal battle of Tewkesbury, took refuge in the Abbey Church. Two days later the refugees were treacherously beheaded. The usual forfeiture followed; but Sir William's eldest son, Robert, obtained restoration from Henry VII. He was the ancestor of the present stock of Devonshire Carys. From his half-brother spring the ennobled Carys, represented by Lord Falkland." [3]

Early History of the Gary family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gary research. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1585, 1667 and 1668 are included under the topic Early Gary History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gary Spelling Variations

Scribes and church officials, lacking today's standardized spelling rules, recorded names by how they were pronounced. This imprecise guide often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Gary are preserved in documents of the family history. The various spellings of the name that were found include Garry, Garrihy, Hare, O'Hare, O'Heihir, MacGarry and many more.

Early Notables of the Gary family (pre 1700)

Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gary Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gary Ranking

In the United States, the name Gary is the 1,159th most popular surname with an estimated 27,357 people with that name. [4] However, in France, the name Gary is ranked the 3,520th most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [5]

United States Gary migration to the United States +

Ireland saw an enormous decrease in its population in the 19th century due to immigration and death. This pattern of immigration began slowly in the late 18th century and gradually grew throughout the early portion of the 19th century. However, a dramatic increase in the country's immigration numbers occurred when the Great Potato Famine struck in the 1840s. The early immigrants to North America were primarily destined to be farmers tending to their own plot of land, those that came later initially settled within pre-established urban centers. These urban immigrants provided the cheap labor that the fast developing United States and soon to be Canada required. Regardless of their new lifestyle in North America, the Irish immigrants to the United States and Canada made invaluable contributions to their newly adopted societies. An investigation of immigrant and passenger lists revealed many Garys:

Gary Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Walter Gary, who arrived in Virginia in 1643 [6]
  • Richard Gary, who landed in Maryland in 1650 [6]
  • Stephen Gary, who landed in Maryland in 1650 [6]
  • Jane Gary, who landed in Maryland in 1651 [6]
  • Judith, Gary Sr., who arrived in Maryland in 1651 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Gary Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Dennis Gary, who arrived in New York, NY in 1849 [6]

Canada Gary migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gary Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
  • Jean Gary, who landed in Canada in 1642

New Zealand Gary 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:

Gary Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Gary, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 14th October 1860 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gary (post 1700) +

  • Russell Craig Gary (1959-2019), American football defensive back who played for the New Orleans Saints (1981–1986) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1986–1987)
  • Martin Witherspoon Gary (1831-1881), American Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War
  • Lorraine Gary (b. 1937), retired American actress, best known for her role as "Ellen Brody" in Jaws, Jaws 2, and Jaws: The Revenge
  • Guilian Austin Gary (b. 1980), American college football coach and former player
  • Frank Boyd Gary (1860-1922), American politician, United States Senator from South Carolina
  • Charlos Gary (b. 1968), American cartoonist and comic strip author, best known for creating a series entitled Working It Out
  • Arthur Gary (1914-2005), American radio and television announcer
  • Linda Gary (1944-1995), American voice actor and voice-over artist
  • Mitchell J. "Mike" Gary (1900-1969), American athlete, coach and athletic director
  • Lieutenant Donald Arthur Gary (1901-1977), American officer awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945, eponym of the guided missile frigate USS Gary (FFG-51)
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

SS Alcoa Puritan
  • E.W. Gary, American Utility from Portland, Maine, who was working aboard the SS Alcoa Puritan (1942) traveling from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Mobile, Alabama when it was torpedoed by U-boat U-507; he survived the sinking [8]

The Gary 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: Fear garbh ar mait
Motto Translation: Here is a good rough man.

Suggested Readings for the name Gary +

  • Irish Roots by Mary Zaccheus Ryan.
  • Our Jolly Granpas: The Jolly, Gary, Cockle, O[l]mstead, Vancleave, Demarest, and Allied Families by Mrs. Iver Longeteig.

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  8. - (Retrieved 2018, February 8th) on Facebook