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

Origins Available: English, Irish

When the Anglo- Normans began to settle in Ireland, they brought the tradition of local surnames to an island which already had a Gaelic naming system of hereditary surnames established. Unlike the Irish, the Anglo- Normans had an affinity for local surnames. Local surnames, such as Irish, were formed from the names of a place or a geographical landmark where the person lived, held land, or was born. The earliest Anglo-Norman surnames of this type came from Normandy, but as the Normans moved, they often created names that referred to where they actually resided. Therefore, English places were used for names when the Normans lived in England, and then Irish places when the Anglo- Normans had been settled in Ireland for some time. Originally, these place names were prefixed by "de," which means "from" in French. However, this type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname, if the place name began with a vowel, or it was eliminated entirely. The Irish family originally lived in the counties of Armagh or Antrim. As one might expect, the surname simply refers to a person from Ireland.


The surname Irish was first found in Shropshire, where they settled very early in their history.

Scribes and church officials generally spelled a name as it sounded; as a result a person's name could be spelt innumerable ways in his lifetime. Different spelling variations of the Anglo-Norman surname Irish were found in the many archives researched. These included Irish, Irishe, Ireys, Irysh, Iris and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Irish research. Another 205 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1273 and 1379 are included under the topic Early Irish History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th and 19th centuries, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off and but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship, or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name Irish:

Irish Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Henrie Irish, aged 16, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • John Irish, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1637
  • John Irish, who sailed to New England between 1620 and 1650
  • Jone Irish to Virginia in 1653
  • Jone Irish, who landed in Virginia in 1653

Irish Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • James Irish, who landed in New England in 1711
  • Pegg Irish to Potomack, Maryland in 1731
  • William Irish, who landed in America in 1760-1763
  • William Irish to America in 1763

Irish Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Irish, aged 27, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Thomas Irish, who arrived in New York in 1841
  • G Irish, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851

Irish Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Levi Irish, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760

Irish Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Peter Irish was registered as a United Empire Loyalist who fled to Canada as a result of the American Revolution

Irish Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Edward Irish arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Trafalgar" in 1847
  • Thomas Irish arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Trafalgar" in 1847
  • Samuel Irish arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1848
  • Richard Irish, aged 23, a carpenter, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "William Hammond"
  • George Irish, aged 25, a carpenter, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "William Hammond"


  • Edward S "Ned" Irish (1905-1982), American basketball promoter, president of the New York Knicks (1946-1974), inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964
  • Carolyn Tanner Irish (b. 1940), American clergyman, the 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah
  • Ned Irish (1905-1982), American basketball promoter
  • Sir Ronald Arthur Irish (b. 1913), Australian business executive, Chairman of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia)
  • Mark Irish (b. 1981), English rugby player
  • George Irish, Montserrat academic, professor of Caribbean studies
  • Fred Irish, Arizona football coach, 1896-1906


  • John Irish, His Life and Ancestors, 1086-1677 by George E. Irish.

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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  3. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  7. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  8. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  11. ...

The Irish Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Irish 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 18 February 2015 at 03:00.

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