Select Walsh Surname Genealogy

Walsh is a semi-translation of the early Gaelic Breatnach, meaning Welsh or Briton, which ecame Brenach, Waleys, Walensis, and finally anglicized as Walsh.

Select Walsh Resources on The Internet

England.  While the Walsh name is generally considered to be Irish, there were some English antecedents. The family name le Waleys (meaning from Wales and an early form of Walsh) was to be found in west country and other records by the 13th century.  Henry le Waleys was Lord Mayor of London in 1273.  The Walshes of Cathanger in Somerset and the Walshes of Little Sodbury in Gloucestershire were prominent local gentry in their areas in the 16th century.

Later Walshes in England may have been of Irish or English origin.  John Walsh, the London-based music publisher of the 1690’s, was Irish.  The origin of Enoch Walsh who went out to India around 1688 is uncertain.  His career there with the East India Company was inglorious:

“Enoch Walsh was removed from the company’s service in 1700 for debt and inattention to the company’s affairs.  He fought a duel with Ralph Hartley in 1702.  He subsequently died aboard the Tavistock.”

But his grandson John Walsh was secretary to Lord Clive and returned to England a rich man.  He acquired the Warfield Park estate in Berkshire.

  The name Walsh was used to describe the Welsh who had arrived in Ireland in the wake of Strongbow's Anglo-Norman invasion of 1170. The name appeared in early records as Breatnach, as Walensis, and then as Waleys.  The Annals of the Four Masters recorded in 1208: “David Breatnach, Bishop of Waterford, was slain by O’Faelan of the Desias.”

These Walshes for many years were regarded as English by the Irish and Irish by the English.

Walshes in Mayo were particularly numerous.  It was the most common surname in the county in 1890.  In 1588 Lawrence Walsh had compiled a pedigree of the Mayo Walshes, showing them to have been descended from Haylen Brenach or Walensis, the son of Philip the Welshman, who had arrived in Ireland in 1170.

In Kilkenny there were the Walshes of the Mountains and the Walshes of Balynacooly:
  • the forebear of the Walshes of the Mountains was likewise said to have been descended from Walensis in 1170.  Their stronghold was Castlehale and the Walsh mountains in Kilkenny was named after them.
  • the Walshes of Balynacooly were a subsidiary branch which began in the late 1500's.
Both these Walshes lost out heavily during the Cromwellian confiscations.  James Walsh of Balynacooly commanded the ship which brought James II to France after the defeat at the Battle of the Boyne. 

Another early Walsh pedigree, this time in Rathronan in Tipperary, began with William Walensis in the 13th century.  And the Walshes were also established in the 14th century at Ballygunner in county Waterford.

Generally the Walsh name arose independently in many different places, one reason for its profusion as a surname today.  Outside of Dublin, the name is particularly prevalent in Mayo, Kilkenny, Waterford, and Wexford.

.  Some Irish Walshes emigrated to France during the penal times in Ireland.  Antoine Walsh, the son of a Waterford shipbuilder, went to St Malo.  He was in charge of the Doutelle, the ship that landed Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland in 1745.  His eldest son, Count Walsh de Serrant, founded a family that still prevails in France.

Robert Walsh from Cork fought on the American side in their War of Independence and later settled in Paris, opening the first of the American literary salons there.

.  Master Andrew Walsh came to North Carolina from Ireland around the year 1800.  He was a teacher and one of the few people at the time there who could read and write.  He moved his family around Wilkes county, among the many townships, living in homes of people who had hired him to educate their children.  He has left many descendants in North Carolina.

In the 19th century, many Walshes headed for the big cities such as New York and Boston. 

The Walshes were one of the Irish gangs of New York in the 1850's.  Michael Walsh from Cork, who had come to New York with his parents, worked as a newspaper reporter and campaigned against the squalor and poverty that he saw on the streets.  Meanwhile Blanche Walsh, the daughter of an Irish saloon keeper, was one of the most popular New York actresses of the late 19th century.

Three Boston sons of immigrant parents made good:
  • David Walsh was once Governor and four times US Senator for Massachusetts  
  • Father Edmund Walsh was a Jesuit priest who made his mark in international relations  
  • while, more recently, Marty Walsh became the Boston mayor in 2014.
Canada.  There was a Walsh family from Wexford who came to Newfoundland in 1786 and settled with other Irish arrivals at Cape Broyle.  John and Ellen Walsh were recorded there in the 1800 census.  Walshes are still to be found in the area. 

In 1873 James Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, joined the Canadian Royal Mounted Police.  He was deemed to have failed in his dealings with Sitting Bull and the Sioux Indians on behalf of the Canadian government.  However, he later turned up at the Yukon at the time of the gold rush there.  Fort Walsh and Mount Walsh in Yukon were named after him.

Select Walsh Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Walsh Names

Thomas FitzAnthony Walsh from Kilkenny was Governor of Leinster in the 13th century.
Rev. Thomas Walsh was the much persecuted 17th century Archbishop of Cashel.
David Walsh was the first Irish Catholic Governor of Massachusetts in 1914.
Bill Walsh was the highly successful football coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Courtney Walsh was one of the great fast bowlers in the West Indies cricket team of the 1980's and 1990's.

Select Walshes Today

  • 73,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 43,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts)
  • 103,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
Walsh is the #4 ranked surname in Ireland.

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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