Brady Surname Genealogy

The Irish name Brady is derived from the Gaelic name MacBradaigh, which means “spirited.”

Brady Resources on

Brady Ancestry

The original Irish name for Brady was MacBradaigh and they were a
powerful sept located in East Breifne, their chief holding sway over a
territory lying a few miles east of Cavan town in county Cavan.

The first use of the name Bradaigh occurred in the Annals of the Four Masters in 1256
in reference to the death of Tighearan MacBradaigh in a battle against
the neighboring O’Rourkes. The earliest recorded namebearer was
Gilbert MacBrady, the bishop of Ardagh from 1396 to 1400. There
followed other MacBrady
bishops and poets.

Bradys are mostly to be found in Ireland in Cavan and nearby Monaghan today. John Brady of Johnstown was a magistrate in Monaghan in the 1870’s and was recorded as holding land in counties Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim.

There were Bradys who had once been O’Gradys in Clare, many of whom were from Limerick¬†and descended from the Rev. Hugh Brady, the post-Reformation bishop of Meath.

America. Early
Bradys came to Pennsylvania.

Hugh and
Hannah Brady were probably the first Bradys in America, arriving in
1732 and settling in the Cumberland valley. The old Brady homestead
there has survived. Many
of their descendants fought in the Revolutionary War. Hugh Brady
a Brigadier General in the War of 1812 and Captain Sam Brady was a
well-known Indian scout. The Brady Genealogy,
begun by William Young Brady, has documented the large number of
descendants of Hugh
and Hannah Brady.

Michael and Rose

arrived from Cavan in the 1830’s. Their son Terence was a
shipowner in Bristol, Pennsylvania but died at a young age.
Another Brady family in Pennsylvania
headed west in the 1860’s and settled in Kansas. James Brady
moved further west to Idaho in 1895 and became Governor of that state
in 1909.

Elsewhere. Peter
Brady, an Irish immigrant, was a prominent local politician in
Washington, D.C in the early 1800’s. His son Peter joined the
Texas Rangers and fought in the Mexican War. He later became one
of the first settlers in Arizona.

Anthony Brady had come to upstate New York as a young boy in
1857 from northern France where his Irish parents had temporarily
settled. He became a highly successful investor in railroads and
lighting companies and left a fortune on his death in 1913.
His sons James and Nicholas carried on his business empire. Brady
was the great grandfather of Nicholas F. Brady, a former Senator from
New Jersey who became US Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and

Philip Brady was born in Massachusetts in 1860, the son of Irish
immigrants from Ulster who had escaped the potato famine. He
moved to California in the 1890’s. His descendant Tom Brady has
been the star football quarterback for the New England Patriots,
winning the Super Bowl no fewer than five times.

Australia. Matthew
Brady was a celebrated bushranger
in Tasmania in the early
1800’s, sometimes known as “the gentleman bushranger.” After two
years on the loose he was finally captured by a bounty hunter in 1826
and hanged at Hobart.

John Brady was a Catholic priest from Cavan who came out to Western
Australia in 1843. However, he was not able to withstand the
stresses of founding a diocese in a new and unsympathetic environment.
Eventually he withdrew to his native diocese of Kilmore in Ireland and
spent his last years as a hermit in France.

Another John Brady stayed. He had been apprehended for robbery in
Liverpool in 1854 and transported to Western Australia. His
descendants are still there.

Brady Miscellany

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

Brady Names

Andrew MacBrady was the first bishop of Kilmure in Cavan to
provide a cathedral church for the diocese. That was in
Philip MacBrady
was a 17th century Gaelic satirical poet and
Protestant clergyman in county Cavan.
Matthew Brady was the
Irish-American photographer who documented the American Civil War.
Diamond Jim Brady, born in New
York, became a hugely wealthy and flamboyant businessman and financier
of the late 19th century.
Jim Brady was the American
White House press secretary who survived the assassination attempt on
President Reagan in 1981.
Tom Brady has been the star
football quarterback for the New England Patriots, winning the Super
Bowl no fewer than five times.

Select Bradys Today

  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 29,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 24,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)


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