Hennessy Surname Genealogy

is an Irish surname, being the anglicized form of the Gaelic O’hAonghusa, meaning descendant of Aonghus
or Angus (the chosen one). Two septs in
different parts of Ireland bore
this name.
The anglicized O’Hennessy spelling was in place in the 17th century,
although it has largely been displaced by Hennessy (while some have
even revived the
ancient O’hAonghusa name).
Hennessy and
are the main spellings today.
Hennessey is a spelling variant found outside of Ireland – in
parts of
the UK, in parts of the US (in particular in Massachusetts), and in

Hennessy Resources on

Hennessy Ancestry

Hennessy septs were to be found in Offaly in
the Irish midlands and in county Cork in SW Ireland.

Offaly. The sept in
county Offaly
pre-dated the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1170. From their base at Kilbeggan near the hill at
Croghan, the O’Hennessys controlled with the
O’Holohans the territory in northern Offaly close to the border with

“Another chief who is known to us is O’Hennesy who rules
over clan Colgan. His lands are fair beyond those of the Fenians
of Fal. He closely adjoins the borders of Croghan.”

These O’Hennessys subsequently spread into
Tipperary and Clare.

Cork. Another sept of the same name
was to be found
initially near Rosscarberry in west Cork.
It was from this sept that the Hennessy families, numerous in
Cork, traced their descent.

Hennessy stronghold was Dunmahon castle in northern Cork.
Built in the early 1500’s, it was situated
on a rocky outcrop above the Blackwater river near the Nagle mountains. Cromwell destroyed the castle in the 1640’s
and the Hennessy lands became forfeit.
Three of the name were attainted.

Later Hennessys in this area suffered under English penal laws of the
early 1700’s. Charles Hennessy departed the Blackwater valley for
Ostend in 1730 to
trade with other exiled Irish merchants there.
And, more famously, Richard Hennessy left his home at
Ballymacnoy House
near Mallow in 1740 to join
Dillon’s Irish Regiment in the French army (although he never did
fight in battle). Despite his departure
have continued to live at Ballymacnoy House to this day.

Hennessy, an eighth-generation
descendant of Richard Hennessy, has restored the house to its former
glory in
recent years. In 2015 he welcomed,
together with his brother Maurice, fifty five wine producers and
from the Cognac region to their family home.”

There have been
Ballyhennessy townships in Cork, Kerry, and Clare.
Sir John Pope Hennessy, a Victorian colonial
administrator who served as the Governor of Hong Kong, came from
in Kerry, although he grew up in Cork.
His elder brother Henry was a physics professor.

France. Richard Hennessy, on retiring
from service in
the French army, made his home at Cognac in the Charente department of
France. In 1765 he set up a distillery
there to produce brandy. The distillery
continues to this day, as does the Hennessy line in the company. Richard’s son James Hennessy, although never formally naturalized
as a French
citizen, became a peer of France and married into the Martell family
that was
already famous for its cognac.

the 1970’s Kilian Hennessy, a fifth generation descendant of Richard,
was the
CEO of Hennessy and spearheaded the Moet Hennessy merger (it is now
part of the
LVMT luxury brand conglomerate). Kilian
remained on the company’s advisory board until his death in 2010 at the
age of

America. Early Hennessy arrivals from
Ireland were in
Virginia and North Carolina.

A Hennessee family
was first recorded in the late 1700’s in Tazewell county, Virginia. They were closely associated with a Harrison
family and the two families moved together to Tennessee in the 1800’s
and to
Oklahoma and Texas in the 1900’s

. David Hennesy married
his wife Margaret in
New Hanover county in 1745. One son
James departed for Canada after the Revolutionary War.
Another line led to the Rev. David Hennessy
of the Beard’s Creek Baptist church in North Carolina and later to
Louisiana. Sometimes the spelling in
Louisiana became

Patrick Hennessee came to
Virginia in the 1750’s and then settled in Burke county, North Carolina. Family lore has him as part of the Offaly
Hennessys. One of his sons James
migrated to Tennessee. Another son John
stayed in Burke county and operated a ferry across the Catawba river. Many of the Hennessees moved away from the
area in 1918 after a family tragedy.

1913 Gus Hennessee was involved in a dispute with a man which resulted
in his
injury and the death of the other man.
Gus was acquitted as it was decided that it was self-defense. But five years later 1918 Gus was shot dead
by an assassin as he was stepping off a train.
The family was devastated and most of them
moved away.”

. Death by shooting also
characterized David
Hennessy and his son David, Irish immigrants in New Orleans in the second half of the 19th century. Both were shot dead as policemen, the second
David in contentious circumstances in 1890.

Canada. Hennesseys in
Newfoundland date from the 1760’s when Michael Henessee arrived at St.
from Tipperary. He was a farmer. The Hennessey numbers there expanded in the
19th century. Thomas Hennessy and his
family came from Fermoy in county Cork to Peterborough, Ontario in 1825
the Peter Robinson settlement program.
Thomas died soon afterwards in Emily township.
But his sons thrived and married there.

Africa. A Hennessy family from
London arrived in South Africa
the 1890’s and endured the siege of Kimberley during the Boer War. Alfred Hennessy was later knighted
for his services as the founder of South Africa’s Royal Automobile Club.

Australia. Early Hennessys in Australia were convicts:

  • Richard Hennessy was given a
    sentence for stealing a horse in Tipperary and transported in 1822. He did receive a ticket of leave in 1834, but
    died five years later in Mudgee, NSW.
  • while
    Micheal Hennessy was convicted (probably unjustly) of stealing
    money from a guest at his mother’s boarding house in Tullow, Cork. He was transported in 1828 and got his
    certificate of freedom seven years later. He
    later married and settled in the bushland region of
    Kurrajong in
    western Sydney

Hennessy from Offaly
was an assisted immigrant who came to
Melbourne in 1840.

James and Margaret Hennessy arrived as free
settlers in the 1850’s from Waterford, also to Melbourne.
Their son David, born in 1858, initially
joined his father’s bakery business in Fitzroy, but later grew wealthy
from a
number of speculative investments in Australian mining ventures. By 1890 he was able to retire from business,
tour the world, enter politics, and indulge in philanthropy.

Hennessy Miscellany

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

Hennessy Names

the Hennessy brand of
brandy when he started a distillery in Cognac in 1765.

Sir John Pope Hennessy
Victorian colonial
administrator who served as the Governor of Hong Kong.

Patrick Hennessy
a 20th century Irish

Select Hennessys Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 17,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)





Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply