Geary History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Irish surnames are linked to the long Gaelic heritage of the Island nation. The original Gaelic form of the name Geary is "O Gadhra," which is derived from the word "gadhar," which means "dog."

Early Origins of the Geary family

The surname Geary was first found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, where they were Chiefs of Coolavin aad Sliabh Lugha. [1] The surname also spelled Gara, O'Gara, and Gerry is descended from Tiachleach, Lord of South Leyney who was killed in 946 A.D. The Geary family was closely associated with the O'Haras from an early time and the chiefs of the two septs alternated as rulers of Luighne. [2]

Early History of the Geary family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Geary research. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1710, 1796 and 1727 are included under the topic Early Geary History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Geary Spelling Variations

Irish names recorded during the Middle Ages are characterized by many spelling variations. This preponderance of variations for common names can be explained by the fact that the scribes and church officials that kept records during that period individually decided how to capture one's name. These recorders primarily based their decisions on how the name was pronounced or what it meant. Research into the name Geary revealed many variations, including Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.

Early Notables of the Geary family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts Bay (now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), signer of the American Declaration of Independence. Sir Francis Geary (1710?-1796),was an "admiral, of a family long settled in Cardiganshire...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Geary Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Geary migration to the United States +

A great wave of Irish migration occurred during the 19th century as a direct result of English colonial rule and tight-fisted absentee landlords. Many of these Irish immigrants boarded passenger ships bound for North America. Those who migrated early enough were given land in either British North America or the United States; those who came in the late 19th century were typically employed in industrial centers as laborers. At whatever age they undertook the dangerous passage to North America, those Irish immigrants were essential to the speedy development of the two infant nations to which they arrived, whether they broke and settled land, helped build canals, bridges, and railroads, or produced products for consumer consumption. An examination of immigration and passenger lists has uncovered a large number of immigrants bearing the name Geary or one of its variants:

Geary Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Geary, who arrived in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1652 [3]
  • Brigit Geary, aged 3, who arrived in New York in 1654 [3]
  • John Geary, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682
  • Henry Geary, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682 [3]
  • John Geary, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Geary Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Eleanor Geary, who landed in America in 1744
Geary Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Geary, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [3]
  • Patrick Geary, who landed in New York NY in 1816 [3]
  • Mary Geary, aged 30, who landed in America in 1822 [3]
  • Mary Geary, who landed in New York State in 1822
  • Alexander Geary, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1823 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Geary migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Geary Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Dennis Geary, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
Geary Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Geary, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Catherine Geary, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1831
  • James Geary, aged 28, a blacksmith, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Reward" from Cork, Ireland
  • Peter Geary, aged 32, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Levant Star" from Cork, Ireland
  • William Geary, aged 30, a smith, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Levant Star" from Cork, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Geary migration to Australia +

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

Geary Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary W. Geary, aged 27, a cook, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Joseph Soames" [4]
  • Mary W Geary, aged 27, a cook, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Joseph Somes" in 1850 [5]
  • William Geary, aged 26, a schoolmaster, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Standard" [6]
  • William Geary, aged 24, a mason, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Bucephalus"
  • John Geary (aged 39), a gardener, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Gomelza"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Geary 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:

Geary Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Geary, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th August 1856 [7]
  • Mrs. Geary, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th August 1856 [7]
  • Mr. John Geary, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th August 1856 [7]
  • Denis Geary, aged 25, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • Michael Geary, aged 23, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Geary (post 1700) +

  • Rick Geary (b. 1946), American cartoonist and illustrator
  • John White Geary (1819-1873), American lawyer, politician, Union general in the American Civil War, 16th Governor of Pennsylvania
  • Geoff Geary (b. 1976), American Major League Baseball player
  • Anthony Geary (b. 1947), American seven-time Daytime Emmy Award winning actor for his role on the daytime drama General Hospital
  • John Geary, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Mayor of South Plainfield, New Jersey, 1930 [8]
  • James Paul Geary, American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates 32nd District, 1974; Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 15th District, 1984 [8]
  • Irving Geary, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Erie County 6th District, 1930 [8]
  • Hamilton W. Geary, American politician, Mayor of Fargo, North Dakota, 1921-25 [8]
  • E. Rodney Geary, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Minnesota, 2008 [8]
  • Dennis Geary, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 11th District, 1881-83 [8]
  • ... (Another 21 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Geary 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: Fortiter et fideliter
Motto Translation: Boldly and faithfully.


  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JOSEPH SOMES / SOAMES 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850JosephSomes.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) JOSEPH SOMES / SOAMES 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850JosephSomes.htm
  6. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STANDARD 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/standard1852.shtml.
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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