O'Shay 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 O'Shay is O Seaghdha, which is modified to O Se. The surname is derived from the word seaghdha which means hawk like but has a secondary meaning of stately.

Early Origins of the O'Shay family

The surname O'Shay was first found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

The O'Shee variant claims Kilkenny as their ancestral home. At one time they were one of the most important of the ruling families of Kilkenny. Robert O'Shee was sovereign of the area in 1493. This family alternated using the "O'" prefix as not, as later his son Richard Shee, the Sovereign of Kilkenny (1545-1546) and (1553-1554) was Member of Parliament for Kilkenny in 1559.

Early History of the O'Shay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Shay research. Another 98 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1500 are included under the topic Early O'Shay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Shay Spelling Variations

Many spelling variations of the surname O'Shay 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 O'Shea, O'Shee, McShea, McShee and others.

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

Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Shay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Shay family

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 O'Shay name: Daniel, James, John, Patrick, Thomas McShea all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860; Bartholomew, David, Edward, Lawrence, James, John, Michael, Timothy O'Shea all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860..


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

  • Edward T. O'Shay, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Rockford, Illinois, 1949-80 (acting, 1949-50) [1]


  1. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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