MacNamara History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Surnames of Irish origin have experienced many changes in their spellings and forms. Before being translated into English, MacNamara appeared as Mac Conmara, which means "hound of the sea" or "warrior of the sea."

Early Origins of the MacNamara family

The surname MacNamara was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where MacConmara or MacNamara was chief of the territory of Clan Caisin, now the barony of Tullagh. The family was also sometimes styled chiefs of Clan Cuilean; derived from Cuilean, one of their chiefs in the eighth century. This ancient family have traditionally held the high office of hereditary marshals of Thomond.

Early History of the MacNamara family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacNamara research. Another 136 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1402, 1426, 1402, 1797, 1768 and 1826 are included under the topic Early MacNamara History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

MacNamara Spelling Variations

Official documents, crafted by early scribes and church officials, primarily contained names that were spelled according to their pronunciation. This lead to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations, creating an illusion that a single person was many people. Among the many spelling variations of the surname MacNamara that are preserved in the archival documents of the time are McNamara, McNamar, McNamarra, McNamard, Sheedy and many more.

Early Notables of the MacNamara family (pre 1700)

Another 44 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacNamara Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States MacNamara migration to the United States +

In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name MacNamara, or one of its variants:

MacNamara Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Math Macnamara, who arrived in Virginia in 1705 [1]
MacNamara Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Macnamara, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1808 [1]
  • Roberto Macnamara, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1812 [1]

Australia MacNamara migration to Australia +

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

MacNamara Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Francis Macnamara, (Hill), (b. 1810), aged 21, Irish convict who was convicted in Kilkenny, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 2nd February 1831, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1861 [2]
  • Bridget MacNamara, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [3]
  • James Macnamara, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lady Bruce" in 1846 [4]
  • Thomas MacNamara, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ascendant" in 1849 [5]

New Zealand MacNamara 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:

MacNamara Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J. MacNamara, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Belle Creole" in 1853
  • Mr. Macnamara, Australian settler travelling from Melbourne, Victoria aboard the ship "Dunedin" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 12th March 1860 [6]
  • Mr. D.T. MacNamara, (b. 1843), aged 25, Australian settler travelling from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia aboard the ship " Auckland" arriving in Bluff, New Zealand in 1868 [6]
  • Minnie MacNamara, aged 17, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Salisbury" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name MacNamara (post 1700) +

  • Dame Annie Jean Macnamara DBE (1899-1968), Australian medical doctor and scientist, best known for her contributions to children's health and welfare and her polio research which helped lead to vaccine
  • Stephen MacNamara, American professor and former chief of staff to Florida’s House Speaker, the Florida Senate President and the Governor of the State of Florida
  • Brinsley MacNamara (1890-1963), pen name of John Weldon, an Irish writer, playwright, and the registrar of the National Gallery of Ireland
  • Thomas James Macnamara (1861-1931), British teacher, educationalist, and politician, Minister of Labour (1920-1922)
  • Dame Jean Macnamara (1899-1968), Australian medical scientist, known for her contributions to children's health and welfare
  • James Macnamara (1768-1826), British naval officer who served during the American War of Independence and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
  • Caitlin Macnamara (1913-1994), birth name of Caitlin Thomas, British writer, wife of Dylan Thomas
  • Ian MacNamara, Australian radio radio announcer
  • Arthur Macnamara (1831-1906), British squire and magistrate

Halifax Explosion
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Robert T Macnamara (b. 1922), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Richmond, Surrey, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [8]

  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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th February 2022). Retrieved from
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1835 with 132 passengers. Retrieved from
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LADY BRUCE 1846. Retrieved from
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The ASCENDANT 1849. Retrieved from
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  7. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from
  8. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook