Sweeney 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 Sweeney is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."

Early Origins of the Sweeney family

The surname Sweeney was 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.

Early History of the Sweeney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sweeney research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early Sweeney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sweeney Spelling Variations

The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name Sweeney were encountered in the archives: MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

Early Notables of the Sweeney family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was John MacSween, a 13th-14th century nobleman who lost his lands in Scotland after the defeat of the forces and death of Alexander Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay in 1299. In...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sweeney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Sweeney migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Sweeney family came to North America quite early:

Sweeney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alexander Sweeney, who settled in Boston in 1768
Sweeney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Adam Sweeney, who settled in New York, NY in 1805
  • Daniel Sweeney, who settled in Philadelphia in 1808
  • Charles Sweeney, who arrived in America in 1812 [1]
  • P Sweeney, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [1]
  • Terrence Sweeney, who arrived in New London, Connecticut in 1816 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Sweeney migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sweeney Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Robert Sweeney, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Cornelius Sweeney, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Denis Sweeney, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • Kitty Sweeney, who arrived in Canada in 1823
  • Margaret Sweeney, who landed in Canada in 1823
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Sweeney migration to Australia +

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

Sweeney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Ellen Sweeney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1839 [2]
  • John Sweeney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harpley" in 1848 [3]
  • Mary Anne Sweeney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harpley" in 1848 [3]
  • Therese Sweeney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harpley" in 1848 [3]
  • Elizabeth Sweeney, aged 23, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Harry Lorrequer" [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Sweeney 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:

Sweeney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Sweeney, Australian settler travelling from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia aboard the ship "Bee" arriving in New Zealand in 1831 [5]
  • Miss Bridget Sweeney, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Victory " arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th October 1863 [6]
  • Mr. John Sweeney, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Victory " arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th October 1863 [6]
  • M.A. Sweeney, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Victory " arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th October 1863 [6]
  • Mr. John Henry Sweeney, South African settler travelling from Cape Town aboard the ship "Eveline" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 22nd January 1865 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Sweeney (post 1700) +

  • John Joseph Sweeney (b. 1934), American labor leader, President of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2009, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Daniel Bernard "D. B." Sweeney (b. 1961), American actor
  • Alison Sweeney (b. 1976), American television actress
  • Bob Sweeney (b. 1964), American professional ice hockey player
  • John E Sweeney (b. 1955), American Republican politician, representative from New York (1999-) [7]
  • Martin Leonard Sweeney (1885-1960), American judge and Democratic politician, representative from Ohio (1931-1943)
  • Charles Sweeney (1919-2004), American USAAF pilot who dropped the atomic bomb "Fat Man" on Nagasaki
  • Robert Augustus Sweeney (1853-1890), American two time recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Anne-Marie Sweeney, television broadcaster
  • Anne Sweeney (b. 1957), Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Jeremiah Sweeney, Irish Fireman from Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [8]
  • Mr. John Martin Sweeney, American 2nd Class passenger from Watertown, Massachusetts, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [9]


Suggested Readings for the name Sweeney +

  • 550 The Descendants of Redmond Peter Fahey And Cecilia Haverty and John Sweeney and Mary Dineen, 1810-1984 by Verne Raymond Spear.

  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. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Lysander.htm
  3. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The HARPLEY 1848 - PASSENGER LIST. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1848HarpleyPassengerList.htm
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HARRY LORREQUER 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849HarryLorrequer.htm
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 7) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  9. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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