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

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish

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

The old Gaelic name used by the Sullivan family in Ireland was O Suileabhain, which is partially derived from the word "suil," which means "eye." The surname probably means either one-eyed or hawk-eyed.

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One name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer because one must realize that attempting to record a Gaelic name in English is a daunting task at the best of times. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the Sullivan family name include O'Sullivan, Sullivan and others.

First found in the territory of Cahir in County Tipperary (Irish: Thiobraid Árann), established in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, in the province of Munster. The Sullivan spelling is by far the most common name in Munster, and is predominantly found in the counties of Cork and Kerry, with a smaller but still significant population in County Limerick.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sullivan research. Another 301 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1590, 1660, 1700, 1745, 1748, 1784, and 1837 are included under the topic Early Sullivan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 57 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sullivan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The 18th and 19th centuries saw many Irish families immigrate to North America in search of land and opportunities. The largest influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and British North America came during the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine laid waste to their homeland. Hundreds of thousands left the island in an attempt to escape the starvation and disease it brought. Although the arrival of such a large number of destitute Irish was not welcomed by the established population in the United States and what would become known as Canada at the time, these Irish were an essential element to the rapid development of these growing industrial nations. They filled the demand for the cheap labor needed for the work in factories and in the construction of bridges, roads, canals, and railways. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many immigrants bearing the name of Sullivan or one of its variants:

Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Jael Sullivan, who landed in Massachusetts in 1654
  • Onoris Sullivan, who landed in Virginia in 1656
  • Teage Sullivan, who arrived in Maryland in 1658
  • Florence Sullivan, who arrived in South Carolina in 1669
  • Jeremy Sullivan, who landed in Maryland in 1670

Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Alice Sullivan, who landed in Virginia in 1715
  • Joan Sullivan, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745
  • Austis Sullivan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
  • Honour Sullivan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746
  • David Sullivan, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1765


Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Corn Sullivan, aged 17, landed in New York, NY in 1803
  • Dennis H Sullivan, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Sylvester Sullivan, aged 21, landed in New York in 1812
  • Silvester Sullivan, aged 22, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Michael J Sullivan, aged 15, arrived in America in 1822


Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Frank Sullivan, who landed in Mississippi in 1902

Sullivan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Michl Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Jno Sullivan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Anthony Sullivan, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Darby Sullivan, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1752

Sullivan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Bess Sullivan, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Edmund Sullivan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1823
  • Elener Sullivan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1823
  • Margaret Sullivan, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Mary Sullivan, who arrived in Canada in 1823


Sullivan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Timothy Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • James Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • Michael Sullivan, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • John Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Austraila
  • John Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia


Sullivan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Edward Sullivan landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1836
  • John Sullivan landed in Mahurangi, Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Ellen Sullivan, aged 29, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • John Sullivan, aged 10, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • Daniel Sullivan, aged 8, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842


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  • Mrs. Emily Sullivan (d. 1915), American 2nd Class passenger from Groton, Connecticut, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Mr. George Sullivan (d. 1915), American 2nd Class passenger from Groton, Connecticut, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Nancy T Sullivan, American from San Diego, California, USA, aged 32, who worked aboard American Airlines Flight 191 and died in the crash on May 25, 1979
  • James F. Sullivan (b. 1857), United States Navy sailor, recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Leroy James Sullivan (b. 1933), American firearms inventor, including the M16 and the Ruger Mini-14
  • James Sullivan (1744-1808), American lawyer and politician, 7th Governor of Massachusetts (1807-1808)
  • Grant Sullivan (1924-2011), American actor, best known for his starring role as investigator Brett Clark in the television series, Pony Express
  • Harry Andrew Sullivan (1888-1919), American Major League Baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1909 season
  • Daniel A. "Dan" Sullivan (b. 1951), American politician, Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska (2009-)
  • Charles L. Sullivan (1924-1979), American politician, attorney and military pilot, 24th Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi from 1968 to 1972

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  • Wild Bill Sullivan, King of the Hollow by Ann Hammons.
  • Adam's Ancestors by Thomas Nathan Clark.
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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: Lamh foistenach abú
Motto Translation: The steady hand to victory.

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  1. 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).
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  6. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  7. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  10. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  11. ...

The Sullivan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sullivan 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 28 June 2015 at 06:34.

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