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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Plunkett family come from? What is the Irish Plunkett family crest and coat of arms? When did the Plunkett family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Plunkett family history?

The Irish already had a system for creating hereditary surnames established when the followers of Strongbow settled in eastern Ireland. Although there was relatively little friction between the two systems because they operated according to very similar principles, the Strongbownians frequently used local surnames. In Ireland, local surnames were almost unheard of, but in England they were probably the most common form of hereditary surname. Local surnames, such as Plunkett, were taken from the name of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born. The surname Plunkett is derived from living in the settlement of Plouquenet in Ille-et-Vilaine in France. The surname Plunkett belongs to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Some sources indicated that the surname Plunkett is a corruption of the Old French word blanchet, which means white. The Gaelic form of the surname Plunkett is Pluincéid.


During an investigation of the origin of each name, it was found that church officials and medieval scribes spelled many surnames as they sounded. Therefore, during the lifetime of a single person, a name could be spelt numerous ways. Some of the spelling variations for the name Plunkett include Plunkett, Plunket, Plunkitt, Plunkit, Plunked, Plunkedd, Plunkidd and many more.

First found in County Louth (Irish: Lú) the smallest county in Ireland, located on the East coast, in the Province of Leinster, where they were granted lands when they accompanied Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, in the invasion of Ireland.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Plunkett research. Another 227 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1410, 1463, 1503, 1492, 1555, 1649, 1602, 1680, 1644, 1629, 1681 and 1920 are included under the topic Early Plunkett History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 231 words(16 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Plunkett Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name Plunkett:

Plunkett Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Edward Plunkett, aged 20, landed in Barbados in 1635
  • Rowland Plunkett, aged 18, arrived in Barbados in 1635
  • James Plunkett, who came to Virginia in 1655

Plunkett Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Plunkett, who landed in New York in 1834
  • Edward, George, Mathew, Patrick, and Thomas Plunkett, who all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860
  • Robert Plunkett, who landed in California in 1875

Plunkett Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • John Plunkett, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749

Plunkett Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • James Plunkett, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Trafalgar" from Galway

Plunkett Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Charles Plunkett, English convict from Staffordshire, who was transported aboard the "Anson" on September 23, 1843, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • William Plunkett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Aboukir" in 1847
  • John Plunkett arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Aboukir" in 1847
  • Isaac Plunkett, aged 29, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Velocity"
  • Catherine Plunkett, aged 18, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"


  • Gregory M. Plunkett (b. 1965), American botanist
  • James William "Jim" Plunkett (b. 1947), former American NFL football quarterback for Stanford University, where he won the Heisman Trophy
  • Rear Admiral Charles Peshall Plunkett (1864-1931), American officer of the United States Navy, eponym of the Gleaves-class destroyer USS Plunkett (DD-431)
  • Rev. Robert Plunkett (d. 1815), American academic, 1st President of Georgetown University (1791-1793)
  • Walter Plunkett (1902-1982), American Academy Award winning Hollywood costume designer, known for his work on the films Gone with the Wind and Singin' in the Rain
  • Roy J. Plunkett (1910-1994), American chemist who discovered polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) in 1938, inducted to the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1973
  • Maryann Plunkett (b. 1953), American Tony Award winning actress for her performance as "Sally Smith" in Me and My Girl
  • William Caudwell Plunkett (1799-1884), American politician, 20th Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1854 to 1855
  • Sir Horace Curzon Plunkett KCVO, PC, DL, JP, FRS (1854-1932), Irish statesman and agricultural reformer
  • Joseph Mary Plunkett (1887-1916), Irish nationalist, poet, and leader of the Easter Rising in 1916



  • Ten Thousand Plunks; A Partially Documented Record of the Families of Charles Plunkett of Newborn County, South Carolina by Emma Plunkett.

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: Festina lente
Motto Translation: Be quick without impetuosity.


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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  6. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  7. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  10. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  11. ...

The Plunkett Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Plunkett Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 8 January 2015 at 12:49.

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