O'Conner History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name O'Conner originally appeared in Gaelic as O Conchobhair, derived from the personal name Conchobhar.

Early Origins of the O'Conner family

The surname O'Conner was first found in Connacht. There were six different septs of this famous name scattered throughout Ireland, of which four continue to boast many members. However, the most important O'Connors were those of Connacht, divided into three main branches: O'Conor Don; O'Conor Roe; and O'Conor Sligo.

The Connacht O'Connors were direct descendants of Conchobhar, King of Connacht, who died in 971 AD. Furthermore, this family produced the last two High Kings of Ireland: Turlough O'Connor (1088-1156) and Roderick O'Connor (1116-1196). It was the invasion of Leinster by Roderick O'Conner on behalf of the Prince of West Brefney that caused the King of Leinster, Dermod MacMorough, to flee to England for aid. This resulted in the Strongbow Invasion of 1168, the beginning of English domination over Ireland.

Despite remaining stubbornly Catholic, the O'Connor family continued to maintain their elite position among the Irish nobility throughout the entire period of British dominance.

Early History of the O'Conner family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Conner research. Another 182 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1002, 1641, 1652, 1666, 1698, 1666, 1710, 1791, 1838, 1906, 1763 and 1852 are included under the topic Early O'Conner History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Conner 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 O'Conner that are preserved in archival documents are Connor, Conner, Conor, Connors, O'Connor, Connores, Conner, Connar, Connars, O'Connar, O'Conner, Connair, Connairs, Connaire, Connaires, Cawner, Cawners, Caunnor, Cauner, Cauners and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Conner family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Cabrach O'Conor and Hugh O'Connor, son and grandson of O'Conor Don, took a prominent part in the 1641-1652 wars Bernard Connor or O'Connor (1666?-1698), Irish physician and historian, descended from an ancient Irish family...
Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Conner Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia O'Conner migration to Australia +

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

O'Conner Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Catherine O'Conner, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Marshall Bennett" [1]
  • Mary O'Conner, aged 19, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Marshall Bennett" [1]
  • Bridget O'Conner, aged 26, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" [2]
  • Bridget O'Conner, aged 22, a dairy maid, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Nugget" [3]
  • Bridget O'Conner, aged 18, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Nugget" [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand O'Conner 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:

O'Conner Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Michael O'Conner, aged 24, a farm labourer, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878
  • Johanna O'Conner, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878
  • Bridget O'Conner, aged 17, a housemaid, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British Queen" in 1883

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Conner (post 1700) +

  • James Francis O'Conner (1861-1940), American sailor, recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Patricia T. O'Conner (b. 1949), American author of books about the English language
  • Frank Q. O'Conner, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 10.75 aerial victories
  • T. O'Conner, Australian rugby league footballer c. 1917
  • Elizabeth O'Conner (b. 1913), Australian novelist who writes under the name Barbara Lowe


The O'Conner 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: O Dhia gach an cabhair
Motto Translation: From God Every Help


  1. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MARSHALL BENNETT 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/marshallbennett1852.shtml
  2. ^ South Australian Register Monday 27th March 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Sir Edward Parry 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/siredwardparry1854.shtml
  3. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 4th July 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Nugget 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/nugget1854.shtml.


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