Sullivan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Sullivan family

The surname Sullivan was 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. [1]

Early History of the Sullivan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sullivan research. Another 167 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1560, 1618, 1590, 1660, 1700, 1745, 1700, 1784, 1700, 1710, 1800 and 1710 are included under the topic Early Sullivan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sullivan Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Sullivan family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Donall O'Sullivan Beare (1560-1618), Chief of the sept of his name in the district of Beare, co. Cork, who "engaged actively in the hostile movements in Ireland against the government of England in the last years of Queen Elizabeth." [2] Phillip O'Sullivan Beare (1590-1660), was a soldier in the Spanish army who is best remembered as a historian; and Colonel John O'Sullivan (b. 1700) was a companion to the "Young Pretender" who led the Irish Brigade at Culloden in 1745. Owen Roe O'Sulliavan (1700?-1784) was Gaelic poet, called in Irish Eoghan Ruadh, or Red-haired...
Another 103 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sullivan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sullivan migration to the United States +

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 [3]
  • Onoris Sullivan, who landed in Virginia in 1656 [3]
  • Teage Sullivan, who arrived in Maryland in 1658 [3]
  • Florence Sullivan, who arrived in South Carolina in 1669 [3]
  • Jeremy Sullivan, who landed in Maryland in 1670 [3]
Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alice Sullivan, who landed in Virginia in 1715 [3]
  • Joan Sullivan, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1745 [3]
  • Austis Sullivan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [3]
  • Honour Sullivan, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1746 [3]
  • David Sullivan, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1765 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Corn Sullivan, aged 17, who landed in New York, NY in 1803 [3]
  • Dennis H Sullivan, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1811 [3]
  • Sylvester Sullivan, aged 21, who landed in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Silvester Sullivan, aged 22, who arrived in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Michael J Sullivan, aged 15, who arrived in America in 1822 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Sullivan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Frank Sullivan, who landed in Mississippi in 1902 [3]

Canada Sullivan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sullivan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Daniel Sullivan, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Daniel Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749
  • Dennis Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Darby Sullivan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Michael Sullivan, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Sullivan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Sullivan, who arrived in Quebec in 1803
  • John Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1808
  • John Sullivan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • Patrick Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • James Sullivan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1819
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Sullivan migration to Australia +

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

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 [4]
  • James Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • Michael Sullivan, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [5]
  • John Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • John Sullivan, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Sullivan 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:

Sullivan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Edward Sullivan, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1836
  • John Sullivan, who landed in Mahurangi, Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Ellen Sullivan, aged 29, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • John Sullivan, aged 10, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • Daniel Sullivan, aged 8, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lloyds" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Sullivan (post 1700) +

  • Leon Howard Sullivan (1922-2001), American Baptist minister, civil rights leader and social activist, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Ann Sullivan (1929-2020), American animator, who primarily worked for Disney Animation; she died from COVID-19
  • Dennis Burns Sullivan (1941-2015), American food executive, President of Vlasic Pickles
  • Patrick Joseph "Pat" Sullivan (1950-2019), American professional football player and college coach, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1991
  • David "Sully" Sullivan (1963-1991), aged 28, American crew member fromNew York City of the Andrea Gail, lost during the "Perfect Storm" of 1991; the crew members' plight was inspiration of the 1997 book and a 2000 film adaptation of the same name
  • Franklin Leal Sullivan (1930-2016), American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher who played from 1953 to 1963
  • 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
  • ... (Another 29 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Flight 191
  • Nancy T Sullivan, American from San Diego, California, USA, aged 32, who worked aboard American Airlines Flight 191 and died in the crash [8]
Halifax Explosion
  • Miss Helen  Sullivan (1910-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Miss Ethel  Sullivan (1912-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Mr. Daniel  Sullivan (1877-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Mrs. Mary  Sullivan (1879-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • Mr. Gerald  Sullivan (1914-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [9]
  • ... (Another 3 entries are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Frank D Sullivan (b. 1906), English Stoker 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from Ilkestone, Derbyshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [10]
  • Mr. Albert Sullivan (b. 1911), English Stoker Petty Officer serving for the Royal Navy from Manchester, Lancashire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [10]
HMS Prince of Wales
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Florence Sullivan, Irish 2nd Class passenger residing in Boston, Massachusetts, USA returning to Ireland, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [12]
  • Mrs. Julia Sullivan, Irish 2nd Class passenger residing in Boston, Massachusetts, USA returning to Ireland, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [12]
  • Mr. George Sullivan, American 2nd Class passenger from Groton, Connecticut, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [13]
  • Mrs. Emily Sullivan, American 2nd Class passenger from Groton, Connecticut, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [13]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. S. Sullivan, aged 25, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 9 [14]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Aubry R. Sullivan, American Coxswain working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [15]


The Sullivan 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: Lamh foistenach abú
Motto Translation: The steady hand to victory.


Suggested Readings for the name Sullivan +

  • 85 Wild Bill Sullivan, King of the Hollow by Ann Hammons, Adam's Ancestors by Thomas Nathan Clark.

  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Agamemnon voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1820 with 179 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agamemnon/1820
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  7. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1826
  8. ^ Flight 191's Victims - latimes. (Retrieved 2014, April 16) . Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1985-08-04/news/mn-4349_1_fort-lauderdale-area
  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. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  11. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  12. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  13. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  14. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  15. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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