McGann History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the McGann family

The surname McGann 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 McGann family

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

McGann 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 McGann that are preserved in archival documents are MacCann, MacCanna, MacCan, MacAnn, MacAn and others.

Early Notables of the McGann family (pre 1700)

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


United States McGann migration to the United States +

Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the McGann name:

McGann Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew McGann, who landed in America in 1810 [2]
  • John McGann, aged 1, who arrived in New York, NY in 1848 [2]
  • Mary McGann, aged 40, who landed in New York, NY in 1848 [2]
  • Mrs. William McGann, who arrived in America in 1857 [2]

Canada McGann migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGann Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss. Mary McGann, aged 2 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "George" departing 13th April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 12th June 1847 but she died on board [3]
  • Mr. Patrick McGann, aged 3 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "George" departing 13th April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 12th June 1847 but he died on board [3]

Australia McGann migration to Australia +

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

McGann Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael McGann, English convict who was convicted in Durham, England for 11 years, transported aboard the "Belgravia" on 4th April 1866, arriving in Western Australia [4]

New Zealand McGann 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:

McGann Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. McGann (McGaan), Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Schiehallion" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th December 1875 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGann (post 1700) +

  • Lawrence Edward McGann (1852-1928), Irish-born, American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois (1891-1895)
  • Dennis Lawrence "Dan" McGann (1871-1910), American Major League Baseball player, known as Cap McGann he played first base from 1896 to 1908
  • Ambrose J. McGann (1868-1941), American Major League Baseball infielder and outfielder who played for the Louisville Colonels in 1895
  • C. Steven McGann, the United States Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu
  • John Raymond McGann (1924-2002), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church
  • William C. McGann (1915-1977), American film director
  • Michelle McGann (b. 1969), American professional golfer
  • Josephine M. McGann, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1944 (alternate), 1956 [6]
  • John P. McGann, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Nassau County 2nd District, 1942 [6]
  • Frank T. McGann, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for Circuit Judge in Michigan 3rd Circuit, 1935 [6]
  • ... (Another 16 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. James McGann (d. 1912), aged 26, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [7]


The McGann 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)
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 87)
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/belgravia
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  7. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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