© Donal G. Burke 2015
The arms associated with the name O Hannon or Hannon of Ireland in several widely-read modern sources are given as ‘quarterly Gules and Or, on a bend Sable three crosses patée Argent’. This would appear to be an erroneous attribution based upon the similarity of the name with a family of English origin bearing the name Hannam and there is not any evidence that any senior member of the O Hannons of east Galway in the early modern period bore arms based upon those of the Hannam family.
The arms borne by the senior branch of the O Hannons or Hannins of east Galway comprised a shield Azure a tower Argent between four stag’s or buck’s heads cabossed Argent attired Or, one in chief and one in base.[i] The arms appear tricked thus in a pedigree of the senior-most members of the name of the seventeenth and eighteenth century which shows a crest of a stag’s head caboshed but no tinctures were given for the crest. No motto was given.
The arms of the senior line of the Hannins or Hannons of the parish of Abbeygormacan after a sketch provided alongside a pedigree of the family in the records of the Ulster King of Arms. As the crest was untricked its tinctures are uncertain. (N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3, p. 283)
The arms of the Hannins as sketched and tricked in the records of the office of the Ulster King of Arms. (N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3, p. 283) © National Library of Ireland.
The pedigree begins with an un-named O Hannin described as ‘descended from the same stock as the O Kellys.’[ii] The eldest of the two sons of this unidentified O Hannin was given as Nicholas of Old Castle, Co. Galway, gentleman, and lists his having a grant dated 28 November 1618 of ‘Castleheny, Garranacarty’ and part of ‘Sunnagh, Iskerboy, etc.’[iii] The younger of the two sons was given as Donagh O Hannin, who had one quarter of Sunnagh in 1618.
The lands of the O Hannon family in east Galway lay for the most part in that part of the parish of Abbeygormacan situated in the barony of Longford, within the ancestral territory of the O Maddens and about the Augustinian monastery of St. Mary, also known as Via Nova, in that parish.
Nicholas O Hannin or Hannon of Oldcastle (also known as Castleheyney), County Galway, appears to have been the senior-most member of the name in the early decades of the seventeenth century. From a comparison of the lands he held about 1618 with those held by members of the family in the late 1630s, it is apparent that he was Nicholas, son of John son of Donagh O Hannon, the latter of whom may have flourished about the end of the sixteenth century or thereabout. The estate of Nicholas in the late 1630s comprised large tracts of land in the parish of Abbeygormacan and parcels in the parishes of Kiltormer, Killimorbologue and Tynagh, all within the barony of Longford in east Galway.
The principal family of the name was sufficiently wealthy at an earlier period to have constructed a tower-house or castle upon their lands and, while it did not survive into the modern period, it appears to have been situated within the denomination known in the mid seventeenth century as ‘In Cormacke Oge alias Castle Towne’ in the parish of Abbeygormacan.[iv] The structure itself was referred to as ‘Castleheyney’ and may have been an anglicised corruption of ‘caisleán Uí hAinnine’ or ‘the castle of O Hannon.’
In the early seventeenth century Nicholas Hannin had erected an arched wall tomb in the gable wall of the north transept in the remains of the abbey at Abbeygormacan, inscribed with the words ‘Orimvret mori mur Hoc monvmentvm erigi fecervnt D: Nicholavs Hanyn et Ranyneta Maddyn ipsivs vxor pro se: svis qve prosteris Anno Domini Jan 1637.’ Designed as the tomb of the most prominent member of the family, this Nicholas is in all likelihood that Nicholas son of John son of Donagh O Hannon.
The tomb was in an advanced state of decay in the early twenty-first century and no evidence was then discernible on-site of armorial bearings previously connected with the tomb.
The senior line descended through John Hanyn of Oldcastle, gentleman, who married Una Burke of the Burkes of Pallis in County Galway. When this John, eldest son of Nicholas Hanyne of Oldcastle died in March of 1638 and was buried at Abbeygormacan, his funeral certificate was forwarded to the Ulster King of Arms by John’s brother-in-law, Jonacke Burke but the entry in Ulster’s records, however, did not include any armorial bearings.
John Hanyne and Una Burke had one son, Nicholas of Oldcastle and two daughters, Mary and Ranitt and following the turmoil of the 1641 Rising and the Cromwellian transplantations, this Nicholas was restored to part of the former family estates in 1677 following the restoration of the monarchy in the person of King Charles II. He had at least two sons, Nicholas and Hugh of Iskerboy. This last Nicholas, by his wife Dorothy, had an only surviving daughter Cecily, who married her cousin James Hannin of Iskerboy, the eldest of the two sons of her uncle Hugh Hannin of Iskerboy. James had ‘an only brother’ Murtagh Hannin of Sunnagh, married to Mary Madden. Murtagh died before 1712 while James, the elder brother died without issue in 1712.[v]
After the death of James Hannin the senior line was given in Ulster’s pedigree as continuing in the four children of Murtagh and Mary Hannin of Sunnagh; Dennis, Hugh, Michael and Margaret. Another of the family, one Gerard Hanyne or Hannin of Dublin City, was omitted from the pedigree but appeared as a witness to a deed dated 1713 relating to lands formerly in the possession of the deceased James Hannin in the parish of Abbeygormacan and which involved the brothers Hugh and Michael Hannin.
Dennis, the eldest son of Murtagh Hannin, married Eleanor, given in the pedigree as a daughter of O Mara, died in 1703 while Hugh made his profession in the Franciscan Order at Meelick friary in 1685.[vi] No details of children were given relating to Michael Hannin, while their sister Margaret of Iskerboy was described as a spinster at her conversion to Protestantism in June of 1712.[vii] The only issue given in the pedigree for any of that generation was Mary, the only daughter of Dennis Hannin and Eleanor O Mara, who married Mathias or Matthew, son of Nicholas Arcedeckne.[viii] Both Mary Hannin and her husband Matthew Arcedeckne, whose family had been transplanted to the parish of Clontuskert in east Galway by the Cromwellians, converted to Protestantism between 1719 and 1725.[ix]
The Hannin name disappears from among the significant landed proprietors resident in County Galway in the eighteenth century.
Arms of Hannay of Sorbie and Hanning of Somersetshire
It was not uncommon for heralds to assign similar charges to the arms of families of phonetically-similar surnames, despite their having separate and distinct origins and although it cannot be said with certainty, it would appear that elements of the composition of the arms of Hannin of Abbeygormacan may have been drawn in part from the composition of the arms of the family of Ahannay or Hannay of Sorbie, Wigtownshire in south-west Scotland.
The senior line of Hannay of Sorbie bore for arms ‘Argent three roebuck’s heads couped Azure, collared Or with a bell Gules pendant from each collar.’ The roebuck’s heads appear to have influenced the composition of the arms of the English family of Hanning of Dillington House, Somerset, a family who rose to social prominence in the mid eighteenth century and who came to bear for arms ‘Ermine, on a chief Gules three buck’s heads caboshed Or with crest of a stag’s head erased Proper.’ These same buck’s heads caboshed are similar to those borne in the arms of Hannons of east Galway, while in the early twentieth century the Ulster King of Arms would appear to have drawn upon the collared and belled roebuck’s head when granting arms to an Irish family surnamed Hannin.
Shield of Hannay of Sorbie, Wigtownshire, in Scotland.
Shield and crest of Hanning of Dillington House, Somerset.
Arms commonly attributed in the modern period
Although the O Hannons or Hannins of east Galway are of Gaelic origin, the composition of the shield commonly and erroneously attributed to members of the name (‘quarterly Gules and Or, on a bend Sable three crosses patée Argent’) is reminiscent of early Anglo-Norman design rather than that of many Gaelic arms. This would appear to be accounted for in the heraldic association of the O Hannons with a family of separate origin of the name Hannam or Hanham in England, who bore a variation of that particular shield.
The arms ‘quarterly Gules and Or, on a bend Sable three crosses patée Argent,’ commonly associated in several modern sources with the name O Hannon or Hannon.
The similarity of the name appears to have led to the equation by certain sources of the arms of Hannams or Hanhams with the family of O Hannon in Ireland. They were, however, of separate and distinct origin. There is evidence that heraldic authorities in the early seventeenth century did apply elements of the arms of families of distinct English origin to those of Gaelic origin or vice versa. An example of such a case is the armorial bearings attributed to the O Maddens of Síl Anmchadha in east Galway, the Maddens who came to Ireland from Oxfordshire about the late sixteenth century or early seventeenth century and initially resided in County Dublin and the Madans established in the town of Waterford from at least the medieval period.
The heraldic association of families of similar sounding names but of separate and distinct origin to that of Hanham also occurred in Scotland, an example of which was the granting of arms by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1989 to the Venerable Peter Douglas Hannen, Priest of the Anglican Church of Canada for and in memory of his father the Hon. Francis Raymond Hannen, Judge of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec. In this case the arms granted were a variation upon those of Hannem or Hamham of Wimborne, with a shield ‘quarterly Gules and Or, on a bend Sable three ermine points bendways between two cotises all Argent.’
The Hanham arms
The Hanhams are reputed to derive their descent from one Peter de Hanham who appears to have flourished about the mid thirteenth century and said to have originated from Gloucestershire. His grandson Peter was Lord of the manor of Exton in Somersetshire in 1322.[x] The heraldic Visitation of Dorsetshire undertaken in 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, recorded the arms of two closely related branches of this English family, identified as Hannam or Hanam of Purse Caundle and of Wimborne.[xi]
The branch seated at Purse Caundle about 1565 was represented by William Hannam of Purse Caundle, gentleman, eldest son of Richard of Horsington, eldest son of William Hannam of Horsington in Somersetshire, gentleman, by his wife Margarett, daughter and heir to John Long of Purse Caundle in Dorsetshire. William Hannam of Purse Caundle was the senior-most member of the Hanam family at this time and married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Dyer of Wynkanton in Somersetshire. His arms were given in that year as quarterly, 1 and 4 Hannam (as attributed to the branch of Wimborne in the same Visitation), 2 and 3, Long, impaling his wife’s paternal arms of Dyer; Sable, three antelopes passant Argent attired Or.[xii]
William of Purse Caundle had at least four sons and two daughters by Elizabeth Dyer; James, William, Benjamin, Sylvester, Dorathe and Mary but this line would later become extinct and the senior line became that of William’s younger brother John of Wimborne.[xiii]
The 1565 Visitation pedigree of Hannam of Wimborne describes the father of William and John as Richard of Purscandell (ie. Purse Caundle), Co. Dorset and married to the daughter of one surnamed Longe of Wiltshire. The pedigree recorded in the same year for the branch seated at Purse Caundle appears to give this same Richard as ‘of Horsington’ and married to a daughter of one John Tryptry of Somersetshire.[xiv]
The branch of Wimborne was represented in 1565 by Richard Hannam of Wimborne, gentleman, eldest son of John of Wimborne, second son of Richard Hannam of ‘Purscandell, County Dorset.’ This Richard of Wimborne was attributed arms in the Visitation of ‘quarterly 1 and 4, quarterly Or and Gules, on a bend engrailed Sable, three crosses patée fitchée of the first; 2 and 3, Sable crusily fitchee and a lion rampant Argent (for Long) and for crest ‘a griffin’s head erased Or.’ [xv]
The paternal arms of the senior representatives of the Hannam families of Purse Caundle and of Wimborne in Dorsetshire in 1565.
Richard of Wimborne by his wife Bridget Newton left an only daughter and the senior line thereafter descended from his younger brother Thomas of Wimborne. [xvi]
Later generations of the Hannam family used the variant form of Hanham, with Sir William Hanham of this family was created a baronet by King Charles II in 1667. Sir William Thomas Hanham, Bart. died in 1791 and was succeeded by his uncle, the Rev. Sir James Hanham, Bart. of Dean’s Court, near Wimborne and Neston Park in Wiltshire.[xvii]
The arms of this Rev. Sir James Hanham, Bart. were given by Rev. William Betham as ‘Quarterly Or and Gules, on a bend engrailed Sable three crosses patée, fitchée of the first and for crest, on a wreath of the colours, a griffon’s head, ducally gorged, Or.’[xviii]
This Rev. Sir James was succeeded in 1806 by his son Rev. Sir James Hanham, Baronet, Rector of Winterborne Selston in Dorsetshire. The arms of this Rev. Sir James were given by G. W. Collen when updating Debrett’s ‘Baronetage of England’ as identical to those of his father, with the exception of the bend, which was not described or illustrated as engrailed. Both carried the hand badge of Ulster to denote their position as baronets.[xix]
The shield and crest of Rev. Sir James Hanham, 7th Baronet, Rector of Winterborne Selston, as given by W.C. Collen in ‘Debrett’s Baronetage of England’ of 1840. Earlier heraldic Visitations and publications give the bend Sable as engrailed.
The shield and crest of Sir John Alexander Hanham, 9th Baronet, of Dean’s Court, Wimborne, M.A., B.L., J.P., as given by A.C. Fox-Davies in his 1895 edition of ‘Armorial Families.’ Nephew of Captain Sir William Hanham, 8th Baronet, he succeeded his uncle to the baronetcy in 1877 following the latter’s death without issue. Prior to the birth in 1898 of his eldest son and eventual heir John Ludlow Hanham, the ninth baronet’s heir presumptive was his younger brother Captain (later Colonel) Phelips Brooke Hanham. Both Sir John Alexander Hanham, Bart. and Colonel Phelips Brooke Hanham, sons of Captain John Hanham, bore a crest of ‘a griffin’s head erased Or, beaked Sable.’
Berchmans and William Hannin
Arms were granted to individuals of the name Hannin in the records of the Ulster King of Arms in the early twentieth century but it is uncertain if there is any direct connection between this family and the Hannins or Hannons of Abbeygormacan. The Register of Arms in the then Office of the Ulster King of Arms erroneously recorded the grant of arms in August of 1933 to Berchmans Hannin of Mullingar, County Westmeath, Esquire and his brother William Francis Hannin of Colombo in the island of Ceylon, Esquire, Major in the Ceylon Planter’s Rifle Corps, sons of John Hannin of Shannon Harbour in the King’s County, Esquire.[xx]
The entry in the Register of Arms gives the surname as ‘Mannin’ but this is clearly a clerical error as the first named brother is more correctly J.B.J. Berchmans Hannin, born in 1876 and who appears at the age of thirty five years in the records of the 1911 Census of Ireland as a Bank Manager, born in the King’s County, a Roman Catholic and resident at Headfort Place, Kells in County Meath with his wife Alice, a Presbyterian and their son Thomas J.B.S. Hannin. The draft confirmation of arms from Ulster’s office in 1933 correctly gives him as Berchmans Hannin.[xxi] His brother, born in Banagher, King’s County in 1877, appears in the Edinburgh Gazette of May 1937 as Lieutenant Colonel William Francis Hannin, M.C., V.D., Ceylon Planter’s Rife Corps Reserve and the recipient that year of a Commandership of the Order of the British Empire.
These Hannin arms were blazoned ‘Gules a tower triple towered Argent, supported by two lions rampant Or, on a chief of the second, a harp bearing a figure of Hibernia Vert.’ For crest they were granted, on a wreath of the colours and helmet mantled Gules doubled Argent, ‘an elk’s head erased Gules, collared and belled Or.’ For motto ‘Deus Fortitudo mea.’[xxii]
Arms granted to Berchmans Hannin of Mullingar, County Westmeath by Sir Nevile Wilkinson, Ulster King of Arms in August of 1933 and erroneously entered and indexed in the Register of Arms as ‘Berchmans Mannin.’ NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 111d, p.99 and 801, p.4a.
The parents of J. B. J. Berchmans Hannin and his brother William were John Hannin and Teresa Pauline Hannin alias Meara, both Roman Catholics born in King’s County, the former about 1839 and the latter about 1847. In 1901 both John Hannin and his wife Teresa were resident in Ekone Terrace in Clontarf in Dublin City with their twenty-four year old daughter Ethel. John, aged sixty-two years in 1901, gave his occupation as ‘Agent and Justice of the Peace of King’s County.’ John Hannin, father of the two armigers, is likely to have been son of another John Hannin, recorded in ‘Thom’s Directory of Ireland’ in 1851 as Postmaster at Shannon Harbour and to have acted as a Sub-Agent there for the Guinness Company. He also appears to have been that same John Hannon, Esq. whose death was recorded by ‘The Loughrea Illustrated News‘ as having occurred at the age of eighty-eight years on the 26th November 1874 at Ballinasloe. His obituary therein described him as having been ‘for many years the respected and efficient agent of the Grand Canal Company.’[xxiii] He would also appear to be the same John Hannin who served as Chairman of the Ballinasloe Town Commissioners in 1855.[xxiv] The ‘Cork Examiner’ carried the obituary of Bedilla Hannin, wife of John Hannin, Esquire, at Shannon Harbour, King’s County, whose death was reported to have occurred at the age of 72 years on 5th July 1868.[xxv] Although her name was given in the newspaper as Bedilla, she would appear to be the same individual buried in the graveyard of Meelick Church in County Galway, not distant from Shannon Harbour, whose headstone records her as Bridget Hannin alias Bourke, who died on 4th July 1868, aged 70 years, the wife of John Hannin. (A small brass memorial plaque was erected within the same church to the memory of the Hannin family of Banagher.)
While the origin of this family of Shannon Harbour and Ballinasloe and the inspiration for the design of these Hannin arms is uncertain, it may be noteworthy that the principal charges of the shield, a tower supported by two lions, are also the principal charges in the arms of a number of armigers of Gaelic origin, including the senior-most of the name O Kelly of east Galway. Similarly, the motto resembles to a degree that used by many armigers descended from the O Kelly chieftains of Uí Maine, ‘Turris fortis mihi Deus,’ the latter a clear reference to the tower charge on that family’s shield. The crest of this Hannin family, however, would appear to have its origin in the roebuck’s heads found in the arms of the Hannays of Sorbie and their cadet lines.
For further details relating to this family, refer to ‘families.’
[i] NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[ii] NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[iii] Cal. Pat. 16 James I, p. 416; NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[iv] MacGiolla Choille, B. (ed.), Books of Survey and Distribution, Vol. III, County of Galway, Dublin, Stationary Office for the I.M.C., 1962, p. 185.
[v] NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[vi] Fennessy, I., OFM, The Meelick Obituary and Chronicle (1623-1873) (with index), Archivium Hibernicum, Vol. LX, 2006-7, p. 409; NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[vii] Byrne, E. and Chamney, A. (ed.), The Convert Rolls, the Calendar of the Convert Rolls, 1703-1838 with Fr. Wallace Clare’s annotated list of converts, 1703-78, Dublin, IMC, 2005, p. 116; NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[viii] NLI, Dublin, G.O. MS. 205, Will Pedigrees, Vol. 3 p. 283.
[ix] Byrne, E. and Chamney, A. (ed.), The Convert Rolls, the Calendar of the Convert Rolls, 1703-1838 with Fr. Wallace Clare’s annotated list of converts, 1703-78, Dublin, IMC, 2005, p. 2.
[x] Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, W.S. Betham, London, Vol. II, pp. 410-1.
[xi] Metcalfe, W. C. (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire A.D. 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, Exeter, William Pollard & Co., 1887, pp. 17-18.
[xii] Metcalfe, W. C. (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire A.D. 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, Exeter, William Pollard & Co., 1887, pp. 17-18.
[xiii] Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, W.S. Betham, London, Vol. II, pp. 410-1; Metcalfe, W. C. (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire A.D. 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, Exeter, William Pollard & Co., 1887, pp. 17-18.
[xiv] Metcalfe, W. C. (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire A.D. 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, Exeter, William Pollard & Co., 1887, pp. 17-18; Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, W.S. Betham, London, Vol. II, pp. 410-1.
[xv] Metcalfe, W. C. (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire A.D. 1565 by William Harvey, Clarenceux King of Arms, Exeter, William Pollard & Co., 1887, pp. 17-18.
[xvi] Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, W.S. Betham, London, Vol. II, pp. 410-1.
[xvii] Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, W.S. Betham, London, Vol. II, pp. 410-1.
[xviii] Betham, Rev. W., The Baronetage of England: or the History of the English Baronets and such Baronets of Scotland as are of English families, London, W.S. Betham, Vol. II, pp. 410-1.
[xix] Collen, G. W. (ed.), Debrett’s Baronetage of England, London, William Pickering, 1840, pp. 258
[xx] NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 111d, Grants and Confirmations of Arms, p. 99.
[xxi] NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 801, p.4a.
[xxii] NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 111d, Grants and Confirmations of Arms, p. 99.
[xxiii] The Loughrea Illustrated News, 1 December 1874.
[xxiv] Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 6 October 1855, p. 4; Galway Mercury and Connaught Weekly Advertiser, 3 November 1855, p. 3.
[xxv] The Cork Examiner, 8 July 1868, p. 3.