Shennan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient Dalriadan kingdom consisted of the Hebrides islands, and the rugged mountains of Scotland west coast. The name Shennan began in this region; it was a nickname for a person noted as possessing great wisdom, or an elderly person. The surname is derived from the Irish Gaelic name O Seanain, which comes from the word sean, which has the double meaning of old and wise.

Early Origins of the Shennan family

The surname Shennan was first found in Kintyre, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Early History of the Shennan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shennan research. Another 112 words (8 lines of text) covering the year 1548 is included under the topic Early Shennan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Shennan Spelling Variations

Medieval spelling was at best an intuitive process, and translation between Gaelic and English was no more effective. These factors caused an enormous number of spelling variations in Dalriadan names. In fact, it was not uncommon to see a father and son who spelled their name differently. Over the years, Shennan has been spelled Shannon, Shennan, Shennane and others.

Early Notables of the Shennan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Shennan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Shennan family to Ireland

Some of the Shennan family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand Shennan 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:

Shennan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • R. Shennan, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Gloucester" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 28th December 1858 [1]
  • J. Shennan, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Gloucester" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 28th December 1858 [1]
  • Mrs. Shennan, British settler travelling from London with 2 chlildren aboard the ship "Gloucester" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 28th December 1858 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Shennan (post 1700) +

  • K.J. Shennan, British assistant diesel mechanic at Mawson Station in 1963, eponym of Mount Shennan, Antarctica
  • Stephen Shennan, English professor of theoretical archaeology, and is director of the Institute of Archaeology
  • Robert Duncan James "Bob" Shennan (b. 1962), British radio executive, Controller of BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music (2009-)


The Shennan 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: Virtute Duce
Motto Translation: With virtue for guide.


  1. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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