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

Early Origins of the Sweeny family

The surname Sweeny 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 Sweeny family

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

Sweeny Spelling Variations

Those scribes in Ireland during the Middle Ages recorded names as they sounded. Consequently, in this era many people were recorded under different spellings each time their name was written down. Research on the Sweeny family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

Early Notables of the Sweeny 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 Sweeny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sweeny Ranking

In the United States, the name Sweeny is the 9,766th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]


United States Sweeny migration to the United States +

During the 19th century thousands of impoverished Irish families made the long journey to British North America and the United States. These people were leaving a land that had become beset with poverty, lack of opportunity, and hunger. In North America, they hoped to find land, work, and political and religious freedoms. Although the majority of the immigrants that survived the long sea passage did make these discoveries, it was not without much perseverance and hard work: by the mid-19th century land suitable for agriculture was short supply, especially in British North America, in the east; the work available was generally low paying and physically taxing construction or factory work; and the English stereotypes concerning the Irish, although less frequent and vehement, were, nevertheless, present in the land of freedom, liberty, and equality for all men. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Research into passenger and immigration lists has brought forth evidence of the early members of the Sweeny family in North America:

Sweeny Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Girlugh Sweeny, who landed in Maryland in 1678 [2]
Sweeny Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Connel Sweeny, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [2]
  • Prudence Sweeny, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [2]
  • Richard Sweeny, aged 38, who landed in New York in 1812 [2]
  • Myles Sweeny, aged 27, who landed in New York in 1812 [2]
  • Philip Sweeny, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Sweeny migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Sweeny Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Bryan Sweeny U.E. who settled in St. Andrews, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 [3]
Sweeny Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Charles Sweeny, who arrived in Canada in 1812
  • Thomas Sweeny, who arrived in Canada in 1812
  • John Sweeny, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1831
  • Daniel Sweeny, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Billow" in 1833
  • James Sweeny, aged 25, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Ambassador" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Sweeny migration to Australia +

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

Sweeny Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Daniel Sweeny, (Sweeney), (b. 1793), aged 29, Irish horse trainer who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 3rd September 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. Daniel Sweeny, (Sweeney), (b. 1804), aged 18, Irish cooper who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 3rd September 1822, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • James Sweeny, English convict from Staffordshire, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [5]
  • Ellen Sweeny, aged 23, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Grand Trianon"
  • Elizabeth Sweeny, aged 19, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Sweeny 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:

Sweeny Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Alfred Sweeny, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jura" in 1861 [6]
  • Bertha Sweeny, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jura" in 1861 [6]
  • Ethelbert Sweeny, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jura" in 1861 [6]
  • Michael Sweeny, aged 35, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Catherine Sweeny, aged 35, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Sweeny (post 1700) +

  • Ordinary Seaman Robert Augustus Sweeny (1853-1890), American sailor and two-time Medal of Honor recipient
  • Major General Charles W. Sweeny (1919-2004), American pilot who flew the "Fat Man" atomic bomb to Nagasaki
  • Bob Sweeny (1918-1992), American actor, director and producer of radio, television and film
  • Alison Sweeny (b. 1976), American television actress
  • Ciarán Sweeny (b. 1971), Irish designer, producer, broadcaster, and writer
  • Claire Jane Sweeny (b. 1971), English actress, singer, and television personality


  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Agincourt voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1844 with 226 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agincourt/1844
  6. ^ 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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