Costello Surname Genealogy

Costello sounds Italian, but isn’t.
The root of the name is Irish, from Oistealb
which is the Gaelic rendering
of Jocelyn and in Gaelic is a personal name meaning “resembling a deer.” The Jocelyn in question was the Anglo-Norman
knight Jocelyn
de Angulo
who had
come to Ireland at the time of
Strongbow. His descendants settled in
and adopted the Gaelic name Mac Oistealb or Mac
Costello is the main spelling today. A variant in Ireland
is Costelloe.

Costello Resources on

Costello Ancestry

Ireland. The Costello family
appeared on record in Ireland in 1193 when the Annals of the Four Masters recorded:

“Inishcloghbran was
plundered by the sons of Osdealb.” The
first known holder of the surname was believed to have been Cumumhan
Casarlaigh in about 1252; whilst in the ‘modern’ spelling it may have
Teag MacCostello, chief of the clan in 1565.

family held lands in county Mayo, in the barony of Costello (named for
in the east of the county, until the end of the 16th century. Much of their time was spent in feuds with the
their neighbors. In 1565 the principal seat of the
Costellos was at
Castlemor near Ballaghadereen.
by the time of Cromwell, most of their estates in the barony had been

Costello, a colonel in the Spanish
army, had returned to Ireland after the Restoration and, disappointed
by his
failure to recover the family estates, devoted the rest of his life to
vengeance on the new Dillon proprietors. Proclaimed
a rebel and an outlaw in 1666, he
carried out ‘a vendetta of raids and burnings against Viscount Dillon’
until he
was shot dead by Dillon’s soldiers in March 1667.”

The Costello castle at Castlemor
had been destroyed and the family had to move to more modest quarters
at Edmondstown House
in the northern part of the barony.
There they were to remain. In
1864 Arthur Costello built a new house by Edmondstown in the style of a
Scottish manor house where he entertained lavishly. However,
the expenditure all but ruined him and he died in poverty en
route to Dublin, the last of the Costello line.

The Costello name remains a common surname in Mayo and Galway where
it is often spelt with an extra “e” at the end. Roughly 20% of
Costellos in Ireland today are Costelloes.

England. Many Costellos
migrated from Ireland to England. The best-known son of
this migration, the singer/songwriter Elvis Costello, adopted the
Costello name

Costello name was first stamped on America through Maurice Costello,
the son of
Irish immigrants Tom and Ellen Costello who had come to Pittsburgh in
1870’s. Maurice started off in local
vaudeville and got his big break in film in 1912. As
he recounted:

had wealth and a
volume of fan mail arriving daily – love notes, mash notes, telegrams
appointments, telephone calls, gifts, flowers, offers of marriage,
I could not help it. I was the first
great screen lover, the first star, I belonged to the public.”

His daughter
Dolores, who married the actor John Barrymore, and Helene also became
stars of the silent era.

Costello in America is often thought to be an Italian name, because of
the number of Italian-Americans – such as the comedian Lou Costello and
the crime boss Frank Costello – who have adopted the Costello name.

Canada. Thomas
and Mary Costello who left their family home in Kerry for Canada in
1825 have a
large number of Costello descendants in Canada today. They
originally settled in Douglastown on the Gaspe Peninsula. Costellos later moved west to Calgary
where they were among its early settlers.
Costello was Mayor of Calgary from 1915 to 1919.

and New Zealand
. Two Costellos who came to Australia, John and
Patrick Costello, made their mark on their new country, despite

  • John
    Costello arrived with his parents Thomas and Mary from Tipperary to
    Sydney in
    1837. Four of their five children had died
    during the voyage but Johnthe youngest had managed to survive. His restless nature took him to ranching in
    Queensland and even to the Northern Territory; but drought, fever, and
    fires took their toll and he eventually settled in the early 1900’s in
    pastures at Tocabil in western NSW. Michael
    Costello’s 1930 book Life of John
    told his story.
  • Patrick
    came with his sister Mary as assisted migrants from
    Leitrim to
    Melbourne in 1841. His life was to be
    urban, as a building
    contractor and local politician. He too
    had his reverses, being jailed for a year and expelled from Parliament
    in the
    early 1860’s for irregularities. He was
    later encumbered by debt. However, he
    managed a return to politics in the early 1890’s as Mayor of Melbourne.
    A descendant is the Australian Federal
    Treasurer of the 1990’s, Peter Costello.

and Ann Costello arrived in New
Zealand via Australia from Tipperary in the 1840’s.
They raised nine children on the Coromandel
Peninsula on North Island (one of whom, Michael, drowned there in a
accident). A number of Costellos left Kerry for Invercargill, South Island in the

Costello Miscellany

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

Costello Names

Teag MacCostello, chief of the Costello clan in Mayo in 1565,
was the first to bear the Costello name.
Maurice Costello,
Irish-American born, was a leading figure in American vaudeville in the
late 1890’s and early 1900’s. His daughters Dolores and Helene
became stars of the silent screen.
Frank Costello, born Francesco
Castiglia, was an American Mafia crime boss of the 1930’s.
, born Louis Cristillo, was one half of the famous
Abbott and Costello comedy double act that entertained American
audiences in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
John A. Costello, born in
Dublin, was twice Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, in 1948-51 and
Elvis Costello, born Declan MacManus, is an
English singer/songwriter of Irish roots.

Select Costellos Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 11,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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