Kearns History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gaelic, otherwise known as Early Modern Irish, was used in Ireland from around the year 1200 until the 18th century. It is from this language that we found the first references to the name Kearns as O Ciarain or Mac Ciarain. These names are derived from the word "ciar," which means "black" or "dark brown."

Early Origins of the Kearns family

The surname Kearns was first found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the Kearns family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kearns research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kearns History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kearns Spelling Variations

Before widespread literacy came to Ireland, a name was often recorded under several different variations during the life of its bearer. Accordingly, numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Kearns family name. Variations found include Kieran, O'Kieran, Keiran, Keighran, O'Keiran, Kerin and many more.

Early Notables of the Kearns family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Kearns Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Kearns migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Kearns:

Kearns Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anthony Kearns, aged 23, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1804 [1]
  • Elizabeth Kearns, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • James Kearns, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • Nancy Kearns, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812 [1]
  • Patrick Kearns, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Kearns migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kearns Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • James Kearns, who settled in King's Cove, Newfoundland in 1824 [2]
  • Catherine Kearns, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Patrick Kearns, aged 32, a miller, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Sea Horse" from Galway, Ireland
  • Patrick Kearns, aged 26, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Dorcas Savage" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Nicholas Kearns, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1843
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Kearns migration to Australia +

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

Kearns Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Laurence Kearns, a carpenter, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Miss. Catherine Kearns, Irish country servant who was convicted in Monaghan, Ireland for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Australasia" on 26th June 1849, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Anne Kearns, aged 24, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Fitzjames"
  • Jane Kearns, aged 18, a farm servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Nimroud"
  • Emma Marie Kearns, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Sumner"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Kearns 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:

Kearns Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Charles Kearns, aged 23, a bricklayer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • Mary Kearns, aged 23, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • William Kearns, aged 8 mths., who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" in 1842
  • Matthew Doyle Kearns, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" in 1842
  • Mr. James Kearns, British settler arriving as the 1st detachment of Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps travelling from Tilbury, Essex aboard the ship "Ramillies" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th August 1847 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Kearns (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Sherrard Kearns (1907-1962), American actor, best known for his role as Mr. Wilson in the CBS television series Dennis the Menace (1959 to 1962) [5]
  • Charles Cyrus Kearns (1869-1931), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio (1915-1931)
  • Michael P. "Mickey" Kearns, American politician, Member of the New York State Assembly (2012-)
  • Michael Kearns (b. 1950), American actor, writer, director, teacher, producer, and activist
  • Robert William Kearns (1927-2005), American inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper; he won patent infringement cases against Ford and Chrysler after he had demonstrated the technology to them, only for them to reject it and later use that patented technology themselves
  • Austin Ryan Kearns (b. 1980), American Major League Baseball player
  • Thomas Kearns (1862-1918), American mining, banking, railroad and newspaper magnate
  • James William Kearns (b. 1957), American writer of the film John Q, which starred Denzel Washington
  • Carroll Dudley Kearns (1900-1976), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, 1947-63 (28th District 1947-53, 24th District 1953-63) [6]
  • Bob Kearns, American politician, Candidate for Maryland state comptroller, 1998 [6]
  • ... (Another 33 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Miss Florence A.  Kearns (1893-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [7]


The Kearns 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: Fidens et constans
Motto Translation: Stand firm on trust.


  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. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/australasia
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  5. ^ Joseph Kearns. (Retrieved 2013, November 26) Joseph Kearns. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kearns
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  7. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance


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