Gavan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Many variations of the name Gavan have evolved since the time of its initial creation. In Gaelic it appeared as O Gaibhtheachain, which is derived from the word "gaibhtheach," which means "anxious."

Early Origins of the Gavan family

The surname Gavan was first found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Gavigan, Gavin, or Gavahan surname is derived from the Irish Chieftain Gabhadhan who was descended from King Colla da Crioch, one of the three Colla Kings who ruled Ireland and died about 360 A.D.

Interestingly, early Cornish records listed reference to some of the family in the parish of St. Hilary, Cornwall. "Prior to the days of Elizabeth, the barton of Treveneage belonged to an ancient family called Gaverigan, from whom it passed during that reign, with a co-heiress to the Godolphins." [1]

Early History of the Gavan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gavan research. Another 76 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1689, 1640, 1679 and 1929 are included under the topic Early Gavan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gavan Spelling Variations

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the Gavan family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Gavigan, Gavin, Gavihan, Gavahan, Gavan, Gavagain, Gavagan, Gaven, Gavin, Gavighan and many more.

Early Notables of the Gavan family (pre 1700)

Another 39 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gavan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gavan migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Gavan:

Gavan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Gavan, aged 30, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [2]
  • Mary Gavan, aged 14, who arrived in New York in 1854 [2]
  • Bridget Gavan, aged 26, who landed in New York in 1864 [2]

Australia Gavan migration to Australia +

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

Gavan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Martin Gavan, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 28th July 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Margaret Gavan, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Nashwauk" [4]
  • Bridget Gavan, aged 22, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Escort"

New Zealand Gavan 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:

Gavan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Michael Gavan, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Taranaki aboard the ship "Hermione" in 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name Gavan (post 1700) +

  • Paul Gavan, Irish politician who is a Sinn Féin Senator from Limerick (2016-)
  • George Gavan Duffy (1882-1951), English-born, Irish politician
  • Sir Frank Gavan Duffy (1852-1936), son of Sir Charles, Chief Justice of Australia from 1931 to 1936
  • Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (1816-1903), Irish journalist and politician from Monaghan, who later became 8th Premier of Victoria, Australia
  • Charles Gavan Power (1888-1968), Canadian politician, who served in the Canadian House of Commons (1917-1955)
  • Gavan Francis Disney (1949-2018), Australian television producer, best known for being an executive producer of the variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday
  • Gavan Naden, English award winning journalist and author
  • Gavan Herlihy (b. 1947), former New Zealand politician, Member of Parliament for the National Party from 1996 to 2002
  • Gavan Daws (b. 1933), Australian-born, American writer, historian and filmmaker
  • Gavan Neil Levenson (b. 1953), South African professional golfer

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Peter Gavan, Irish Trimmer from Mayo, Ireland, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and died in the sinking [5]


  1. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 23rd March 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/elphinstone
  4. ^ South Australian Register Monday 14th May 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Nashwauk 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/europa1855.shtml
  5. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 10) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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