Show ContentsGerry 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 Gerry is "O Gadhra," which is derived from the word "gadhar," which means "dog."

Early Origins of the Gerry family

The surname Gerry 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 964 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]

"The O'Garas were lords of the territory of Luighne, now forming and giving name to the barony of Leyney or Lieny, in the county of Sligo, whence they were expelled by the MacSurtains and the Mac Costelloes, families of Anglo-Norman descent." [1]

Once more into the archives we delved to find life in early times was fraught with battles and deaths. By example, some of the first entries of the family include: Tiachleach O'Gara, slain in 964; Rory O'Gara, tanist of Leyney, slain; Rory O'Gara, heir presumptive died in 1059; Donlevy O'Gara, lord of Leyney, killed by Brian O'Hara; O'Gadhra, lord of Layney, slain at battle of Ardee; and O'Gara, lord of Sliabh-Lugha, died. [1]

Early History of the Gerry family

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

Gerry Spelling Variations

The scribes who created documents long before either the Gaelic or English language resembled their standardized versions of today recorded words as they sounded. Consequently, in the Middle Ages the names of many people were recorded under different spellings each time they were written down. Research on the Gerry family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.

Early Notables of the Gerry 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 Gerry Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gerry Ranking

In the United States, the name Gerry is the 9,333rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

United States Gerry migration to the United States +

Under the rule of England, land ownership in Ireland changed dramatically, and many native Irish families found themselves renting out land to farm from absentee owners. This was one of the prime reasons that immigration to North America began in the late 18th century: Irish farmers dreamed of owning their own parcel of land to work for themselves. At this point, the immigrants were at least of modest means for the passage across the Atlantic was often quite dear. In the 1840s the Great Potato Famine created an exodus of people of quite different means. These people were most often destitute: they either sold anything they had to gain a passage or they were sponsored by philanthropic societies. Many of these immigrants were sick from disease and starvation: as a result many did not survive the long transatlantic journey. Although those settlers that did survive were often despised and discriminated against by people already established in these nations, they were critical to rapid development of the powerful industrial nations of the United States and the country that would later become known as Canada. An examination of immigration and passenger lists shows many persons bearing the name of Gerry or one of its variants:

Gerry Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Arthur Gerry, who arrived in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1638 [4]
  • Jon Gerry, who arrived in Virginia in 1638 [4]
  • Edward Gerry, who landed in Maryland in 1675 [4]
  • Lawrence, Gerry Jr., who landed in Maryland in 1675 [4]
  • Lawrence Gerry, who arrived in Maryland in 1675 [4]
Gerry Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Gerry, who landed in America in 1802 [4]
  • Patrick Gerry, who arrived in America in 1807 [4]
  • William Gerry, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [4]
  • Nancy Gerry, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [4]
  • Fr W Gerry, who arrived in America in 1844 [4]

Australia Gerry migration to Australia +

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

Gerry Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Edward Gerry, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "General Hewett"
  • James Gerry, aged 25, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "General Hewett"
  • Rose Gerry, aged 17, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Lady Ann"

New Zealand Gerry 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:

Gerry Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Ann R. Gerry, (b. 1857), aged 21, Cornish settler departing on 18th November 1878 aboard the ship "Boyne" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 26th February 1879 [5]
  • Mr. Nicholas Gerry, (b. 1856), aged 22, Cornish farm labourer departing on 18th November 1878 aboard the ship "Boyne" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 26th February 1879 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Gerry (post 1700) +

  • Martha B. Farish Gerry (1918-2007), American Thoroughbred racehorse owner
  • Robert L. Gerry 111 (b. 1937), American businessman and petroleum industry executive
  • Robert L. Gerry Jr. (1911-1979), American polo player
  • Robert L. Gerry Sr. (1877-1957), American thoroughbred horse owner & breeder
  • Peter Goelet Gerry (1879-1957), American lawyer and politician
  • Elbridge Thomas Gerry. (1744-1814), American statesman and diplomat
  • E. Peabody Gerry, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, 1903 [6]
  • David M. Gerry, American Democratic Party politician, Chair of Lycoming County Democratic Party, 1937 [6]
  • Curtis Gerry, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Maine, 1956 [6]
  • C. H. Gerry, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1912 [6]
  • ... (Another 12 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Frederick Gerry, British Stoker 2ne Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse (1941) and survived the sinking [7]

The Gerry 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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. 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)
  5. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from
  6. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 1) . Retrieved from
  7. HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook