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


Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Swaney is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."

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Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name Swaney dating from that time include MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

First found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain in Argyll, Scotland. His descendants migrated to Ireland as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Swaney research. Another 137 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early Swaney History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 133 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Swaney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Swaney or a variant listed above:

Swaney Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Eliz Swaney, who landed in Virginia in 1657

Swaney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Edmond Swaney, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766

Swaney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • James Swaney, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1839
  • J F Swaney, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872

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  • Julianna Swaney, American artist and illustrator in Portland Oregon
  • Marianne Swaney -Stueve, American Research Assistant Professor, Sensory and Consumer Research Center Manager at Kansas State University
  • Mark Swaney, American politician, Green Party of Arkansas State Coordinator
  • W. B. Swaney, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 1956
  • Rose Marie Swaney, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Hawaii, 1980
  • Daniel B. Swaney, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1944 (alternate), 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960; Candidate for Presidential Elector for Pennsylvania, 1956
  • Alexander G. Swaney, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Edinburgh, 1922; Tsinan, 1926


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  1. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  2. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. 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.
  5. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  8. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  9. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  10. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  11. ...

The Swaney Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Swaney 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 8 December 2015 at 10:17.

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