MacAnn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Throughout history, very few Irish surnames have exclusively maintained their original forms. Before being translated into English, MacAnn appeared as Mac Cana, which is derived from the word cana, which means wolf cub.

Early Origins of the MacAnn family

The surname MacAnn was first found in County Armagh (Irish: Ard Mhacha) located in the province of Ulster in present day Northern Ireland, at Clanbrasil, a region on the southern shore of Lough Neagh.

The family supplanted the O'Graveys at the time of Strongbow's Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172 as lords of this area and became known as the Lords of Clanbrassil. One of the earliest records of the name was Amhlaibh Mc Canna (died 1155), described by the Four Masters as "pillar of chivalry and vigour of Cinel Eoghin" [1]

Early History of the MacAnn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacAnn research. Another 38 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1155, 1718 and 1598 are included under the topic Early MacAnn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacAnn 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 MacAnn family name. Variations found include MacCann, MacCanna, MacCan, MacAnn, MacAn and others.

Early Notables of the MacAnn family (pre 1700)

Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacAnn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the MacAnn family

To escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, thousands of Irish left their homeland in the 19th century. These migrants typically settled in communities throughout the East Coast of North America, but also joined the wagon trains moving out to the Midwest. Ironically, when the American War of Independence began, many Irish settlers took the side of England, and at the war's conclusion moved north to Canada. These United Empire Loyalists, were granted land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula. Other Irish immigrants settled in Newfoundland, the Ottawa Valley, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, however, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America and Australia. Many of those numbers, however, did not live through the long sea passage. These Irish settlers to North America were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. Irish settlers made an inestimable contribution to the building of the New World. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name MacAnn or a variant listed above, including: Arthur, Bernard, Charles, Edward, Francis, Henry, Hugh, James, John, Mary, Michael, Owen, Patrick, Peter, Roger, Thomas and William MacCann, who all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.



The MacAnn 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: Crescit sub pondere virtus
Motto Translation: Virtue thrives under oppression.


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)


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