Show ContentsKerwin History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Many variations of the name Kerwin have evolved since the time of its initial creation. In Gaelic it appeared as O Ciardhubhain, which is derived from the words "ciar" and "dubh," both of which mean "black."

Early Origins of the Kerwin family

The surname Kerwin was first found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island. The family of ancient Irish extraction have been seated at Blindwell in County Galway from time immemorial. [1]

Early History of the Kerwin family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerwin research. Another 93 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1530, 1531, 1534, 1535, 1550, 1551, 1602, 1589, 1661, 1642, 1653, 1642, 1650, 1721, 1686 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Kerwin History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerwin Spelling Variations

Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Kerwin are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Kirwan, O'Kirwan, Kerovan, Kyrvan, O'Quirivan, Kirwin, Kerwin, Kerwan and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerwin family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was John Óge Kirwan, Mayor of Galway (1530-1531); Thomas Kirwan, Mayor of Galway (1534-1535); Richard Kirwan, Mayor of Galway (1550-1551); Stephen Kirwan (d. 1602), an Irish prelate, Bishop of Clonfert; Reverend Francis Kirwan (1589-1661), Bishop of Killala, but was later exiled...
Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerwin Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerwin Ranking

In the United States, the name Kerwin is the 10,889th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Kerwin migration to the United States +

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Kerwin family in North America:

Kerwin Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Robert Kerwin, who arrived in New England in 1770 [3]
Kerwin Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Kerwin, aged 24, who settled in Pennsylvania in 1820
  • John Kerwin, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1854
  • John Kerwin, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1854 [3]

Australia Kerwin migration to Australia +

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

Kerwin Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Kerwin, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "South Sea"
  • John Kerwin, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Thomas Arbuthnot"

Contemporary Notables of the name Kerwin (post 1700) +

  • Lance M. Kerwin (1960-2023), American actor, known for Outbreak (1995), Enemy Mine (1985) and Salem's Lot (1979)
  • Daniel Patrick Kerwin (1874-1960), American outfielder in Major League Baseball
  • Thomas Vincent "Tom" Kerwin (b. 1944), retired American professional basketball player
  • Cornelius M. "Neil" Kerwin (b. 1949), American educator in public administration
  • James Kerwin (b. 1973), American film and theatre director
  • Brian Kerwin (b. 1949), American actor
  • Joseph Peter Kerwin (b. 1932), former NASA astronaut with over 28 days in space aboard Skylab 2 [4]
  • James E. Kerwin, American politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly from Passaic County, 1913 [5]
  • Edward J. Kerwin, American Democratic Party politician, Presidential Elector for New York, 1932 [5]
  • Dennis P. Kerwin, American politician, Delegate to New York State Constitutional Convention 19th District, 1894 [5]
  • ... (Another 13 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Kerwin 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: Mon Dieu, mon Roi, et ma patrie
Motto Translation: Mon Dieu, mon Roi, et ma patrie.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. 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)
  4. NASA Astronauts Homepage. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Joseph Kerwin. Retrieved from
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook