Gunn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the Gunn family stretches back through time to the Viking settlers who populated the rugged shores of Scotland in the Medieval era. The name Gunn 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.

Early Origins of the Gunn family

The surname Gunn 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.

Early History of the Gunn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gunn research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1231, 1438, 1753, 1732, 1740, 1753 and are included under the topic Early Gunn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gunn Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are extremely common among Scottish names dating from this era because the arts of spelling and translation were not yet standardized. Spelling was done by sound, and translation from Gaelic to English was generally quite careless. In different records, Gunn has been spelled Gunn, Gun, Guinne (Gaelic) and others.

Early Notables of the Gunn family (pre 1700)

Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gunn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Gunn family to Ireland

Some of the Gunn family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Gunn migration to the United States +

Those who made the voyage were greeted with ample opportunity to acquire land and a political climate far away from the oppressive monarchy of the old country. They settled along the east coast of what would become Canada and the United States. In the American War of Independence, those who remained loyal to England traveled north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In this century, many Scots living in North America have begun to recover their rich heritage through festivals, highland games, and Clan societies. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Gunn:

Gunn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jasper Gunn, who landed in Connecticut in 1635 [1]
  • Thomas Gunn, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635 [1]
  • Joseph Gunn, who landed in Massachusetts in 1636 [1]
  • Daniel Gunn who settled in Boston in 1651
  • William Gunn, who settled in Jamaica in 1651
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Gunn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Gunn, who landed in Virginia in 1715 [1]
  • William Gunn, aged 32, who landed in Virginia in 1773 [1]
Gunn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Gunn, who arrived in America in 1806 [1]
  • Isabella Gunn, aged 25, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813 [1]
  • Patrick Gunn, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [1]
  • Bernard Gunn, aged 60, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834 [1]
  • Bernard, Gunn Jr., aged 9, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Gunn migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Gunn Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Joseph Gunn, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Mr. David Gunn U.E. who settled in Lancaster [South Glengarry], Ontario c. 1784 [2]
  • Mr. George Gunn U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, New Brunswick c. 1784 member of the Penobscot Association [2]
  • Mr. James Gunn U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]
Gunn Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Angus Gunn, aged 21, who arrived in Canada in 1812
  • Alexander Gunn, aged 50, who arrived in Red River, Canada in 1812
  • Catherine Gunn, who landed in Red River, Canada in 1812
  • Christian Gunn, who arrived in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • Alexander Gunn, aged 50, who landed in Churchill Factory, Canada in 1813
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Gunn migration to Australia +

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

Gunn Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Samuel Gunn, British convict who was convicted in Norfolk, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Calcutta" in February 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Mr. Robert Gunn, Scottish convict who was convicted in Aberdeen, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Camden" on 21st September 1832, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Alexander Gunn, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Buckinghamshire" in 1839 [5]
  • Miss Janet Gunn, (Sutherland) who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 4th September 1847, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • William Gunn, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Baboo" in 1848 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Gunn 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:

Gunn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Gunn, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1843
  • Mr. Robert Gunn, British settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [8]
  • Mrs. Mary Jane Gunn, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [8]
  • Mr. A. Gunn, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Blundell" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 21st September 1848 [9]
  • Mrs. Gunn, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Blundell" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 21st September 1848 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Gunn (post 1700) +

  • James Edwin Gunn (1923-2020), American Hugo Award winning science fiction writer, editor, scholar, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, both at the University of Kansas
  • Adam Gunn, American Olympic sliver medalist for decathlon at the 1904 Summer Games
  • Moses Gunn (1929-1993), American Obie Award-winning stage actor
  • James Gunn (1843-1911), US Congressman from Idaho
  • James Gunn (1753-1801), US Senator from Georgia
  • Chanda Leigh Gunn (b. 1980), American Olympic ice hockey bronze medalist
  • Timothy M. Gunn (b. 1953), American fashion consultant and television personality
  • Trey Gunn (b. 1960), American musician best known for his membership in the rock band King Crimson from 1994 to 2003
  • Thom Gunn (1929-2004), Anglo-American poet
  • Sean Gunn (b. 1974), American actor
  • ... (Another 45 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Leslie Gunn, British Leading Stoker, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [10]
RMS Lusitania
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. Joseph Alfred Gunn (d. 1912), aged 28, English Assistant Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett [12]


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


Suggested Readings for the name Gunn +

  • 1340 "Family Record of the Descendants of James and Harriet Gunn" by Bruce Alan Gunn, "My Findings" by Lilian Vesta Brown Johnson.

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/calcutta
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/camden
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BUCKINGHAMSHIRE 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Buckinghamshire.htm
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/cadet/
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) BABOO 1848. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848Baboo.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  11. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 10) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  12. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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