Shea 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 Shea 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 Shea family

The surname Shea 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 Shea family

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

Shea Spelling Variations

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Shea include O'Shea, O'Shee, McShea, McShee and others.

Early Notables of the Shea family (pre 1700)

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


United States Shea migration to the United States +

Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Shea:

Shea Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jone Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678 [1]
  • Nicholas Shea, who landed in Maryland in 1678 [1]
Shea Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Edward Shea, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [1]
  • Luke Shea, who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1720 [1]
  • Timothy Shea, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766 [1]
  • James Shea, who landed in America in 1794 [1]
Shea Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Philip Shea, who landed in America in 1801 [1]
  • Peter Shea, who arrived in America in 1803 [1]
  • Mary Shea, who landed in Massachusetts in 1813 [1]
  • Michael Shea, who arrived in New York, NY in 1838 [1]
  • Jeremiah Shea, who landed in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1842 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Shea Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mike Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1902 [1]
  • Will Shea, who landed in Arkansas in 1906 [1]

Canada Shea migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Shea Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Patrick Shea, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1778
  • Mr. William Elihu Shea U.E. who settled in Carleton [Saint John City], New Brunswick c. 1784 [2]
Shea Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Richard Shea, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1803
  • Jane Shea, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1808
  • Mary Shea, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1821
  • Robert Shea, aged 36, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Simon Shea, aged 2, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Shea migration to Australia +

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

Shea Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mary Shea, aged 30, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Elgin" [3]
  • Luke Shea, aged 31, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Cheapside" [4]
  • Luke Shea, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cheapside" in 1849 [4]
  • Mary Shea, aged 30, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Elgin" in 1849 [3]
  • Catherine Shea, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Shea 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:

Shea Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • E Shea, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1843
  • Mr. Timothy Shea, Irish settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [6]
  • Mrs. Mary Shea, Irish settler with children travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [6]
  • Miss Margaret Shea, British domestic servant travelling from London aboard the ship "Echunga" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 24th December 1862 [7]
  • Mr. Michael Shea, (b. 1844), aged 24, British farm labourer travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 8th January1869 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Shea (post 1700) +

  • John Joseph Shea Jr. (1924-2015), American medical doctor, professor and surgeon
  • Major-General George David Shea (1894-1971), American Commanding General 10th Mountain Division (1951-1953) [8]
  • John F. Shea Jr. (1928-2013), American businessman, jurist, and politician, Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives (1961-1962)
  • Michael Shea (1943-2014), American fantasy, horror and science fiction writer
  • Mike Shea (1867-1927), American Major League pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in the late 19th century
  • Michael Shea (1952-1968), American child actor, best known for his role as Huckleberry Finn in 1968
  • John Gilmary Shea (1824-1892), American writer, editor, and historian
  • Jack Shea (b. 1928), American film and television director, president of the Directors Guild of America from 1997 to 2002
  • Amos Shea (1910-2002), American double-gold medalist in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympics
  • George Beverly "Bev" Shea (1909-2013), Canadian-born, American Grammy Award-winning gospel singer and hymn composer
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Master Maurice Shea Jr. (1908-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Miss Mary Catherine  Shea (1912-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Miss Ernestine  Shea (1912-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Mrs. Rita  Shea, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Mrs. Barbara  Shea, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • ... (Another 11 entries are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. John Shea (d. 1912), aged 39, English Saloon Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett [10]
  • Mr. Thomas Shea, aged 32, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking [10]


Suggested Readings for the name Shea +

  • 853 Shay Families with Roots in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania by Thomas P. Shay.

  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)
  2. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  3. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ELGIN 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Elgin.htm
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The CHEAPSIDE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Cheapside.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The INCONSTANT the Voyage - 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Inconstant.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) George Shea. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Shea/George_David/USA.html
  9. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  10. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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