McGuinness History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many of Irish names are quite familiar to most, their original Gaelic forms are often forgotten and mysterious. The original Gaelic form of the name McGuinness is Mag Aonghusa or Mag Aonghuis, which mean "son of Angus."

Early Origins of the McGuinness family

The surname McGuinness was first found in County Down (Irish:An Dún) part of the Province of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, formerly known as county St Mirren, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Early History of the McGuinness family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGuinness research. Another 140 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1539, 1543, 1584, 1640, 1703, 1797, 1798, 1868 and 1759 are included under the topic Early McGuinness History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGuinness Spelling Variations

Many different spelling variations of the surname McGuinness exist in the archives researched. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Genis, Guinness, Magennis, Guinnessy, McGuinness and many more.

Early Notables of the McGuinness family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Hugo Magennis (d. 1640) who was the Franciscan Bishop of Down and Connor; the second Viscount Iveagh, Brian Magennis who was killed in action in 1703; Richard and Richard the...
Another 38 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGuinness Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McGuinness migration to the United States +

Irish families began to migrate to North America in the late 18th century in the hopes of gaining their own plot of land. The majority of these early immigrant families were relatively well off because the transatlantic passage was costly. As a result the decision to immigrate was carefully made. Those immigrants that arrived in the late 1840s differed because their decision to leave was in direct response to the Great Potato Famine. Many of the families that crossed the Atlantic during this decade were destitute, either having spent all they had on the fare or even starting with nothing, but being sponsored by a philanthropic society. Whenever, these Irish families came to North America, they were made great contributions to the developing nations of the United States and what would come to be known as Canada: the earlier settlers as land clearing homesteaders, and the later immigrants as the muscle that would build the industries and routes of transportation so critical to a powerful nation. Research into the passenger and immigration lists has shown many early and significant Irish immigrants bearing the name McGuinness:

McGuinness Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Matthew McGuinness, who landed in New York in 1836 [1]
  • Margaret McGuinness, aged 19, who arrived in New York, NY in 1849 [1]
  • Catharine McGuinness, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Kitty McGuinness, aged 18, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • John McGuinness, aged 25, who arrived in New York, NY in 1855 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada McGuinness migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McGuinness Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Daniel McGuinness, aged 6 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Free Trader" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Daniel McGuinness, aged 18 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Sir Robert Peel" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Malcolm McGuinness, aged 2 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Sir Robert Peel" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in September 1847 [2]
  • Mr. Malcom McGuinness, aged 4 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Sir Robert Peel" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle on 25th September 1847 [2]
  • Miss. Thomas McGuinness, aged 16 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Larch" departing from the port of Sligo, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia McGuinness migration to Australia +

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

McGuinness Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Thomas McGuinness, aged 28, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Omega"

New Zealand McGuinness 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:

McGuinness Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Kate McGuinness, (b. 1855), aged 22, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Marlborough" arriving in Bluff, South Island, New Zealand on 4th November 1877 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name McGuinness (post 1700) +

  • Edward "Ed" McGuinness, American comic book artist and penciller, best known for his work on Superman, Superman/Batman and Hulk
  • Peter J. McGuinness, American Democrat politician, Member of New York Democratic State Committee, 1930-36; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1936 [4]
  • Patrick McGuinness, American politician, Supervisor of Scio Township, Michigan, 1877-79 [4]
  • Pat McGuinness, American Republican politician, Candidate for Texas State House of Representatives 50th District, 2010 [4]
  • Louis J. McGuinness, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives from Wayne County 1st District, 1950; Candidate for Michigan State Board of Education, 1951 [4]
  • John F. McGuinness, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Massachusetts 13th District, 1908 [4]
  • John McGuinness, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Torrington, 1926 [4]
  • James A. McGuinness, American politician, First Selectman of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1897 [4]
  • Cornelius P. McGuinness, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Stamford, Connecticut, 1936-51 [4]
  • James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (1950-2017), Irish Sinn Féin politician, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland (2007-2017)
  • ... (Another 13 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Richard McGuinness (d. 1914), British Fireman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking on May 29th [5]
  • Mr. Thomas McGuinness, British Leading Fireman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [5]
  • Mr. Michael McGuinness, British Leading Fireman from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [5]
  • Mr. John McGuinness, British Trimmer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [5]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. James Edward McGuinness, British Boy 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [6]


  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. ^ 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. 45)
  3. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  4. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  5. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  6. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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