Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name MacSween is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."
Early Origins of the MacSween family
The surname MacSween was first found in County Donegal
(Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland
in the province of Ulster
, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain
in Argyll, Scotland
. His descendants migrated to Ireland
as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.
Early History of the MacSween family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacSween research.Another 137 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early MacSween History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacSween Spelling Variations
People who were accounted for by scribes and church officials often had their name recorded many different ways because pronunciation was the only guide those scribes and church officials had to go by. This resulted in the problem of one person's name being recorded under several different variations, creating the illusion of more than one person. Among the many spelling variations
of the surname MacSween that are preserved in archival documents are MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.
Early Notables of the MacSween family (pre 1700)
Prominent amongst the family at this time was John MacSween, a 13th-14th century nobleman who lost his lands in Scotland
after the defeat of the forces and death of Alexander Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay
in 1299. In... Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacSween Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacSween family to the New World and Oceana
became inhospitable for many native Irish families
in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine
of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name MacSween to North America: Adam Sweeney, who settled in New York, NY in 1805; Alexander Sweeney, who came to Boston in 1768; Biddy Sweeney, who arrived in St. John, N.B. aboard the Brig Ambassador in 1834.
Contemporary Notables of the name MacSween (post 1700)
- Carole MacSween, American ice dancer who competed with Robert Munz in the 1960s
- John Angus MacSween (1939-2006), Scottish butcher and entrepreneur who helped popularise haggis as an international dish
- Sir Roderick Norman McIver MacSween (1935-1984), Scottish pathologist, Professor of pathology at University of Glasgow, 1984 to 1999, President of the Royal College of Pathologists (1996-1999)