Leary History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name Leary is O Laoghaire, which was originally derived from Laoghaire, one of the most well-known personal names in ancient Ireland.

Early Origins of the Leary family

The surname Leary was first found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the Leary family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Leary research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 117 and 1172 are included under the topic Early Leary History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Leary Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland in the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. The standardized literary languages of today were not yet reached. Research into the name Leary revealed spelling variations, including Leary, O'Leary, O'Leery and others.

Early Notables of the Leary family (pre 1700)

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


United States Leary migration to the United States +

Irish families began leaving their homeland for North America in the late 18th century. These families were usually modestly well off, but they were looking forward to owning and working on a sizable tract of land of their own. This pattern of emigration continued until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine sparked a major exodus of destitute and desperate Irish people. These people were not leaving for a grant of land in North America because by this time the East Coast had reached its saturation point and free land was scarce. They were merely looking to escape the disease, starvation, and hopelessness that Ireland had fallen into. Although these unfortunate immigrants did not receive a warm welcome by the established populations in the United States and what would become Canada, they were absolutely critical to the rapid development that these two nations enjoyed. They would help populate the western lands and provide the cheap labor required for a rapid industrialization. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many early bearers of the name Leary or one of its variants:

Leary Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mr. Leary, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1651 [1]
  • Timothy Leary, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [1]
  • Katherine Leary, who landed in Maryland in 1679 [1]
Leary Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Michael Leary, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • William H Leary, who landed in New York in 1811 [1]
  • Alexander Leary, aged 45, who arrived in New York in 1812 [1]
  • William Barry Leary, aged 16, who arrived in New York in 1812 [1]
  • James Leary, 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 Leary migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Leary Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Edmund Leary, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1808
  • John Leary, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1814
  • Joanna Leary, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1831
  • James Leary, aged 27, a farmer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Independence" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • John Leary, aged 34, a seaman, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the barque "Pallas" from Cork, Ireland
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Leary migration to Australia +

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

Leary Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Leary, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Thomas Leary, a carpenter, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • David Leary, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [3]
  • Margaret Leary, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838 [4]
  • Daniel Leary, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1839 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Leary 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:

Leary Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Leary, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Claramont" in 1863
  • Mr. John Leary, (b. 1848), aged 22, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [6]
  • Miss Catherine Leary, (b. 1849), aged 21, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [6]
  • Mr. William Leary, (b. 1851), aged 19, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [6]
  • Miss Ellen Leary, (b. 1854), aged 16, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 23rd December 1870 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Leary (post 1700) +

  • Ronald Leary (b. 1989), American NFL football guard for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Francis Patrick "Frank" Leary (1881-1907), American Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in 1907
  • Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835-1859), African-American harnessmaker who was killed in John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry
  • Herbert Fairfax Leary (1885-1957), American Vice Admiral and commander of United States Navy forces during the Pacific Campaign of World War II
  • Chris Leary, American national television and radio show personality
  • Cornelius Lawrence Ludlow Leary (1813-1893), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland (1861-1863)
  • Robert James Leary III (b. 1963), American professional baseball coach
  • James P. Leary (b. 1950), American folklorist and scholar of Scandinavian Studies, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John J. "Jack" Leary (1857-1905), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1880 to 1884
  • James H. Leary, American two-time Grammy Award winning double bass player and arranger/composer
  • ... (Another 46 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Charles Leary, British Cook from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [7]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. James Joseph Leary, American 1st Class Passenger from Brooklyn, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [8]


The Leary 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: Laidir isé lear Righ
Motto Translation: Strong is the King of the sea.


Suggested Readings for the name Leary +

  • 2098 The Leary-Evans, Ohio's Free People of Color by Robert Ewell Greene.

  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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Argyle voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1831 with 251 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/argyle/1831
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAJASTHAN 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Rajasthan.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Lysander.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  8. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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