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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name Ryan originally appeared in Gaelic as O Maoilriain.

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The surname Ryan was first found in County Tipperary (Irish: Thiobraid Árann), established in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, in the province of Munster. According to O'Hart, the family claim descent from the Heremon Kings of Ireland through the MacMorough pedigree, specifically Cormac, brother of Eoghan who was ancestor of O'Righin; anglicized Mulrain, O'Ryan, Ryan and Ryne. [1] However, MacLysaght claims the family claim descent from O Maoilriain located in Owney, formerly called Owney O'Mulryan which forms two modern baronies on the borders of Limerick and Tipperary. [2] As both authorities were Chief Heralds of Ireland in their own time, we must leave the reader to ponder which of the two is more likely.

The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period because the general population had to rely on local official's understanding of how their name should be spelt, hence spellings in records often changed through a person's lifetime. The following variations for the name Ryan were encountered in the archives: O'Ryan, Ryan, Mulrian, Mulryan, O'Mulrian and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ryan research. Another 261 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1694, 1760 and 1709 are included under the topic Early Ryan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ryan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish families in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name Ryan to North America:

Ryan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Edmond Ryan, aged 36, landed in New York in 1679

Ryan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Anthony Ryan, who arrived in New England in 1743

Ryan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Ferquis Ryan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1828
  • Jacob Ryan, who landed in Maryland in 1828
  • Cornelius Ryan, who landed in Mississippi in 1844
  • David Ryan, aged 29, landed in Missouri in 1844
  • Elizabeth Ryan, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1846


Ryan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • George L Ryan, who landed in Mississippi in 1903

Ryan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mr. John Ryan U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he became a Freeman in 1785 was a King's Printer for New Brunswick, he died in 1847
  • Mr. John Ryan U.E. who settled in St. Stephen, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. Michael Ryan U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Mr. William Ryan U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he became a Freeman in 1785 was a Cooper

Ryan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Ellen Ryan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1809
  • Grace Ryan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • Eleanor Butler Ryan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1830
  • Denis Ryan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1833
  • David Ryan, aged 26, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the barque "Independence" from Kinsale


Ryan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Patrick Ryan, English convict from Devon, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • William Ryan, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on July 3, 1822, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Henry Ryan, a carpenter, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mary Ryan, aged 20, Irish convict from Cork, who was transported aboard the "Andromeda" in 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Ryan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Birman" in 1840


Ryan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Michael Ryan, aged 24, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Mary Ann Ryan, aged 33, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1840
  • Michael Ryan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852
  • Eliza Ryan, aged 25, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852
  • Patrick Ryan, aged 6, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852


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  • Paul Ryan (1949-2016), American comic book and comic strip cartoonist, known for his work for Marvel Comics and DC Comics
  • Daniel Leo Ryan (1930-2015), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois from 1984 to 1999
  • Miss Mary Ryan (d. 1915), American 2nd Class passenger from New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Major-General Cornelius Edward Ryan (1896-1972), American Commanding General 101st Airborne Division (1950-1951)
  • Major-General William Ord Ryan (1891-1980), American Commanding General Pacific Division, Air Transport Command (1943-1946)
  • Tubal Claude Ryan (1898-1982), American aviator, founder of Ryan Aeronautical Company in 1934, known for the Ryan Firebee series of target drones
  • Clendenin James Ryan Jr. (1905-1957), American businessman
  • Kay Ryan (b. 1945), American winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
  • Irene Ryan (1902-1973), American actress most widely known for her portrayal of "Granny" on the long-running TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971)
  • Nolan Ryan (b. 1947), retired American Major League Baseball pitcher, nicknamed "The Ryan Express", inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999

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  • Cordell-Ryan, Hicks-Bradford Families by John Cordell Hicks.
  • Irish Roots by Mary Zaccheus Ryan.
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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: Malo mori quam fodari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.

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  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)

Other References

  1. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  2. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  5. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  6. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  7. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  8. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Ryan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ryan 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 18 May 2016 at 07:18.

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