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

Early Origins of the Sweney family

The surname Sweney 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 Sweney family

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

Sweney Spelling Variations

Many spelling variations of the surname Sweney can be found in the archives. One reason for these variations is that ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. The different spellings that were found include MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

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


United States Sweney migration to the United States +

A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the Sweney name:

Sweney Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Sweney, who arrived in Virginia in 1655 [1]
  • Elizabeth Sweney, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [1]
Sweney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Sweney, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1767 [1]
Sweney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Lawrence Sweney, aged 16, who landed in Maine in 1812 [1]
  • John Sweney, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1866 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Sweney (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Henry Sweney (1845-1918), American Republican politician, Member of Iowa State Legislature, 1883; U.S. Representative from Iowa 4th District, 1889-91
  • James Sweney, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 1886-91
  • George Sweney (1796-1877), American Democrat politician, U.S. Representative from Ohio 14th District, 1839-43
  • Alvin E. Sweney, American politician, Mayor of Longmont, Colorado, 1987-89


  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)


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