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


The roots of the name Gun come from the Viking settlers of ancient Scotland. The name was derived from Gunni, a descendant of Einar and of the great peace Kings of Uppsale in Sweden, progenitor of this great Clan. Gunni was the son of Gillanders, one of the six northern Earls who besieged King Malcolm IV of Scotland at Perth in 1160. The Gunns, the Sinclairs, the Mackays and the Gordons ruled the far northern reaches of Scotland. The Gunns' territory centered in Caithness and Sutherland.

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The surname Gun was first found in the Orkneys. But perhaps to North Americans the most interesting aspect of Gunn history is the discovery of a Coat of Arms, which is undoubtedly of the Gunn Clan, in Westford, Massachusetts. Chiseled into a rock face, it has been reliably dated back to 1395. This was almost one hundred years before Columbus discovered America. Archaeologists first assumed this marking was the work of an early Indian tribe, but closer examination and the clearance of the scrub, revealed a knight in full armor, a huge sword and a shield on which the Gunn Coat of Arms was displayed. How did a Knight of the Gunn Clan manage to be buried in Massachusetts years before Columbus discovered America? For the answer, historians went back to the Orkneys. They knew that the Jarls of Orkney, many centuries before had recorded that they wintered in their Viking missions in a land running with fire from the rocks (Nova Scotia, also on the east coast of North America, has bituminous rocks, which can catch fire and melt down the ravines to the sea). They also knew that the Gunns were related to and rode and sailed with the Jarls of Orkney. The pieces of the puzzle fit together fine, but few historians had realized to that point that the Viking discoveries of the New World had penetrated as far south as Massachusetts. This carving is one of the few real evidences of their pioneering expeditions. It is also the earliest record of a Gunn Clan Coat of Arms.

Medieval scribes most often spelled names by the way they sounded. spelling variations, are thus, very common in records dating from that time. Over the years, Gun has been spelled Gunn, Gun, Guinne (Gaelic) and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gun research. Another 342 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1231 and 1438 are included under the topic Early Gun History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Some of the Gun family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The Scottish settlers spread out along the fertile land of the east coast of what would become the United States and Canada. They and many of their children went on to play important roles in the forging of the great nations of the United States and Canada. That heritage has been recovered by many in this century through Clan societies and other Scottish historical organizations. Archival documents indicate that members of the Gun family relocated to North American shores quite early:

Gun Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • William Gun, who landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Margery Gun, who landed in Virginia in 1642
  • Stephen Gun, who arrived in America in 1654-1679
  • John Gun, who arrived in Maryland in 1659

Gun Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Bernard Gun, aged 25, arrived in Mobile County, Ala in 1844
  • C Gun, aged 20, landed in New York, NY in 1850

Gun Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. Peter Gun U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784

Gun Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Donald Gun, who arrived in Canada in 1815

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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: Aut pax, aut bellum
Motto Translation: Either peace or war

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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  3. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Gun Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gun 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 8 April 2015 at 09:04.

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