Maher 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 Maher is O Meachair, derived from the word "michair," which means "hospitable" or "kindly."

Early Origins of the Maher family

The surname Maher was first found in County Tipperary (Irish: Thiobraid Árann), established in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, in the province of Munster, where they traditionally belong to the barony of Ikerrin. The family has retained this area as their homestead as over 50% of them come from here. [1]

"The O'Meaghers were formerly powerful Chiefs possessing the Barony of Ikerrin, in County Tipperary, of which O'Meagher was Lord. The Meaghers or Mahers are principally found in County Tipperary at present." [2]

Early History of the Maher family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Maher research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1551, 1635 and 1705 are included under the topic Early Maher History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Maher Spelling Variations

One explanation for the many variations is that scribes and church officials frequently spelled the name as it sounded: an imprecise method at best. Understandably then, various spellings of the surname Maher were found in the many archives researched. These included Maher, O'Meagher, Meagher, O'Maher, Mahir and others.

Early Notables of the Maher family (pre 1700)

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

Maher World Ranking

In the United States, the name Maher is the 1,798th most popular surname with an estimated 17,409 people with that name. [3] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Maher is ranked the 236th most popular surname with an estimated 187 people with that name. [4] And in Australia, the name Maher is the 247th popular surname with an estimated 14,035 people with that name. [5] New Zealand ranks Maher as 960th with 778 people. [6]


United States Maher migration to the United States +

Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Maher family name:

Maher Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Maher, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [7]
Maher Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Roger Maher, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745 [7]
Maher Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mich Maher, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [7]
  • Elizabeth Maher, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817 [7]
  • John Maher, who arrived in Albany, NY in 1834 [7]
  • Phillip Maher, who arrived in New York in 1835 [7]
  • Patrick Maher, aged 28, who arrived in Missouri in 1840 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Maher migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Maher Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Richard Maher U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 [8]
Maher Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Jane Maher, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1807
  • Martin Maher, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1812
  • John Maher, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • John Maher, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1822
  • Thomas Maher, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1822
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Maher migration to Australia +

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

Maher Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Mathias Maher, (b. 1798), aged 22, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for life for forgery, transported aboard the "Earl St Vincent" on 6th April 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1865 [9]
  • Thomas Maher, a shoemaker, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Richard Maher, a carpenter, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. James Maher, (Davison, William), (b. 1798), aged 32, English cabinet maker who was convicted in Devon, England for life for returning from previous transport, transported aboard the "Burrell" on 22nd July 1830, arriving in New South Wales, he was originally transported on the "Guildford" 22nd August 1823, he tried to abscond again in 1835 [10]
  • Miss Bridget Maher, (b. 1813), aged 24, Irish house maid who was convicted in Westmeath, Ireland for 7 years for receiving stolen goods, transported aboard the "Diamond" on 29th November 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Maher 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:

Maher Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Maher, (b. 1807), aged 40, Irish settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [12]
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Alice Maher Née Stapleton, (b. 1821), aged 26, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [12]
  • Mr. Charles Maher, (b. 1845), aged 2, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [12]
  • Mr. Bartholomew Maher, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Inchinnan" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 27th May 1852 [13]
  • Bartholomew Maher, aged 42, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Maher (post 1700) +

  • John A. Maher, American politician, Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Kaitlyn Ashley Maher, American child singer and actress
  • Brett Maher (b. 1989), American CFL football placekicker
  • William "Bill" Patrick Maher (b. 1946), American bronze medalist rower at the 1968 Summer Olympics
  • William "Bill" Maher Jr. (b. 1956), American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, author, and actor
  • George W. Maher (1864-1926), famous American architect, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (1916)
  • Sean Maher (b. 1975), American actor
  • Patrick Maher (b. 1965), best-selling American writer
  • Mary Maher (1940-2021), American-born Irish trade unionist, feminist, and journalist, founder of the Irish Women's Liberation Movement and the first women's editor at the Irish Times newspaper
  • Greg Maher (1967-2016), Irish Gaelic footballer
  • ... (Another 14 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Patrick Maher, British Greaser from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [14]
HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Royal Oak
  • Christopher Maher (1920-1939), British Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [16]
Senghenydd colliery
  • Mr. James Maher (b. 1876), Welsh coal miner from Senghenydd, Caerphilly, Wales who was working at the Senghenydd colliery when there was an explosion on the 14th October 1913; he died
SS Newfoundland
  • Mr. John Maher, Newfoundlander from St. John's, who on the 30th March 1914 he was part of the Seal Crew of the "SS Newfoundland" leaving the ship to intercept the Stephano which took him to the hunting grounds, he disembarked to begin sealing, but was caught in a thickening storm, attempting to return to the Newfoundland he and the 132 crew made camp for two days the sealers were stranded on the ice in a blizzard attempting to return to the ship, he survived


The Maher 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: In periculis audax
Motto Translation: Bold in danger


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Matheson, Robert E., Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numeric Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution. Dublin: Alexander Thom & Co., 1894. Print
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  4. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-st-vincent
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/burrell
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 1st July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Diamond
  12. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  13. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  14. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  15. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  16. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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