McSwiney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name McSwiney is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."

Early Origins of the McSwiney family

The surname McSwiney 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.

Important Dates for the McSwiney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McSwiney research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early McSwiney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McSwiney Spelling Variations

Many spelling variations of the surname McSwiney can be found in the archives. One reason for these variations is that ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. The different spellings that were found include MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

Early Notables of the McSwiney 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 McSwiney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McSwiney 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 McSwiney name:

McSwiney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles McSwiney, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [1]
  • Timothy McSwiney, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1771

McSwiney migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

McSwiney Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Daniel McSwiney, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1825

McSwiney 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:

McSwiney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John McSwiney, aged 30, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Jane McSwiney, aged 24, a shop assistant, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878

Contemporary Notables of the name McSwiney (post 1700)

  • James McSwiney, American business executive

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Citations

  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)
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