Sloan Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Sloan Meaning

Sloan has Gaelic origins.  The name comes from the Gaelic name Sluaghadhan, meaning “leader of a
military expedition” and from shaughadh
“expedition” or “raid.”  Sloan is the anglicized form.

The word appears in early times in both Scottish and Irish
records.  A certain Sluagadagh went forth to Rome around the year
966, according to the Chronicle of
the Picts
in Scotland.  The Annals of the Four Masters recorded
the name of Maelpatrick O’Shuaghadh, a Celtic bard, in 1015 in
Ireland.  Sloan
developed later as both a Scottish and Irish surname.

Sloan, Sloane
and Slone
are the main spellings today.

Sloan Resources on

Sloan Ancestry

Early examples of the Sloan surname date from the 16th century:

  • William Slowane who held a tenement in Dalkeith, Midlothian in
  • John Aslowane who was a burgess in Edinburgh in 1562
  • and John Sloane who held lands in Traquair, Peebleshire in 1565

However, the greater frequency of the name at that time was on the west
coast of Scotland.  Sloans there included Donald Showan the
sheriff of Ayr, John Sloan a merchant in nearby Maybole, and the
Sloans at Kirkcudbright near Galloway.  A branch of this family
migrated to Ulster, while James
Sloan was a prominent Glasgow merchant in the early 19th century.

William Sloan
from Dalry in north
Ayrshire was a 19th century missionary to the Faroe Islands.
After his death in 1914 his
youngest son Andrew continued the practice there.  An Ayrshire
farmer Andrew Sloan started Sloan’s Dairies in 1911 for milk delivery
in the
Glasgow area.  The business expanded and
continued until 1972 when it was sold to Express Dairies.

Today the Sloan name in Scotland is
most common in Ayrshire and around Glasgow.

.   The Sloan name is mainly to be found in the
Ulster counties of Down and
Antrim.  In fact in the southern part of county Down known as the
kingdom of Mourne
, Sloan is the second most common surname
in the

Sloans of Catholic Irish origin form the larger number here.  One
Sloan family has been traced to the 18th century and Henry Sloan,
born in Drummonds in Kilkeel parish.  His descendants continue to
farm there. Other Sloans were and are to be found at Attical,
Glenloughlan, and Greencastle.

There were Protestant Sloans as well.  Alexander Sloan had arrived
from Kirkcudbright in the early 17th century as one of the Scottish
planters.  He settled at
Killyleagh to the north of Mourne by Strangford Lough.  He was of
the landed or merchant class and held the
office of Receiver General.  Sir Hans Sloane of this family
was an avid collector and bequeathed his collection to the British
Museum.  His name lives
on as Sloane Square in London.

There were few Sloans from England.  The largest number of Sloans
in the late 19th century were to
be found in Cumberland and Lancashire in NE England, reflecting either
Scottish or Irish Sloan arrivals.

America.  Sloans in
America came from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as a few from
Europe (possibly Slones from Slovenia).  The largest number,
however, came from Ireland.

These Sloans in the 18th century included:

  • into Massachusetts.  William Sloan came from Ulster to
    Massachusetts in the 1720’s.
    He and his family were later one of the first settlers of Lyme, New
  • into Pennsylvania.  Hanover, Pennsylvania
    contained many Sloans, starting with John Sloan who died there in
    The Sloans of Rockbridge county in Vriginia, first evident in the
    1750’s, were thought to have come via Pennsylvania.  Samuel Sloan
    was an early settler in Westmoreland county in 1768. Captain
    John “Bigfoot” Sloan of the same county was an officer in the
    Revolutionary War and a well-known Indian fighter.  Andrew Sloan
    arrived in Pennsylvania after the War was over.  His descendant
    Earl Sloan was the
    inventor of Sloan’s
  • and into the Carolinas.   Caleb Sloan from county
    Antrim came to North Carolina in the 1730’s.  David Sloan from
    county Down arrived there some fifty years later and settled in South

and New Zealand.

From north Ayrshire came
Alexander Sloane and his wife Annabella in 1849.  He
became a successful cattle farmer at
Mulwala, NSW.  His son Thomas continued
his father’s merino stud farm.  But he is
best remembered for his collection of ground and tiger beetles and his
published work on new varieties of these beetles.

Walter Sloane arrived in Auckland, New
Zealand as a young lad from
Glasgow in 1862.  He was an inn keeper
there but died apparently in Sydney, Australia.


Sloan Miscellany

Sloan, Sloane, and Slone.  Sloans in Ireland could be Catholic or Protestant, the Catholic being
Irish and the Protestant originating from Scottish incomers.  One
story is that the Protestant arrivals added the “e” to Sloan so that
they could be distinguished from the Catholic Sloans.  In certain
parts of America it was said that “the Sloanes were rich, the Sloans
were the regular crowd, and the Slones were the poor folk.”

Sloan is the most common spelling of the name.  There are Sloans
and Sloanes in Britain and Ireland.  Sloane hardly appears in
America.  But Slone does.  The Slone name can be found in
Kentucky and West Virginia. Slone may also refer to an immigrant from
Slovenia or may be a shorter version of the Sloniminsky Eastern
European name.

Sloans in the Kingdom of Mourne.  The Kingdom of Mourne forms a coastal plain in the southeast of county Down.  Mourne covers some 70 square miles in a narrow strip which is no more than
five miles in width.  It is bordered on one side by the boggy
foothills of the mountains of Mourne and on another by the Irish
Sea.  If you or your ancestors are from this part of Ulster in
what is today Northern Ireland, the chances are that your name is Sloan
or you are related to a Sloan.

Sloan after
Cunningham is the second most common name in Mourne.  The greater
number of these Sloans appear to have been native Irish and
Catholic.  Perhaps some of them were Gallowglass mercenaries for
the Scots, allowed to settle on the “waste lands” of Mourne in the 16th
century which they reclaimed.  They preserved old Celtic
customs.  In 1878 a Victorian writer watched as a family of Sloans
carried their mother’s coffin three times around an old Celtic rath
before they buried her.

There are also
Protestant Sloans in the area, descendants of Scottish planters in the
17th century.  The most notable of them have been the Sloans or
Sloanes of Killyleagh (or White’s Castle) to the north of Mourne at
Strangford Lough.

William Sloan in the Faroe Islands.  Why should William Gibson Sloan leave his home on
the west coast of Scotland for a small windswept island under Danish suzerainty
halfway between Norway and Iceland?

had become a missionary.  While in
Shetland, Catholic-born Sloan had come in contact with local Plymouth
Brethren and
became exposed to the “believers baptism” and “the breaking of
bread.”   Sloan converted and became
“baptized by immersion in the water” and thence “broke
bread” with the local Shetland Baptists.

was in this belief that he in 1865 decided
to become an evangelist to the Faroe Islands, which he had heard about
Shetland fishermen who earned their living by fishing in the vicinity
of these islands.

many years, his work in Faroe had
little effect.  But eventually a few
people started gathering in Sloan’s Hall which he had built at Tórshavn.  The congregation eventually grew into the
biggest independent congregation in the islands, second only to the
church.  Approximately 12% of the
population now belongs to the local Brethren Congregation that had been
by “Old Sloan” as he was referred to in the Faroe Islands.

William Sloan died in Torshavn in 1914 at the age of
seventy six. 

Sloan’s Liniment.  Earl Sawyer was the inventor of Sloan’s
Liniment.  His Irish grandfather had
immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1780’s after the Revolutionary War
was over
and his parents had moved west to Zanesfield, Ohio where Earl himself
was born
in 1848.

As a youth he went to Missouri where he joined his brother
in buying and
selling horses.  He had previously
dabbled in veterinary medicine and, while thus engaged, prepared an
experimental liniment for disabled animals.
By chance he discovered that the remedy he
applied to their ailments and bruises would also relieve human beings
similarly affected.  He placed his
preparation on the market as “Sloan’s Liniment.”

Its increasing use placed it in the forefront
of similar remedies and it soon became widely known.
In 1903 he organized the Dr. Earl S. Sloan,
Inc. manufacturing company, of which he was the president and sole
owner.  At the time of his death the company had annual sales of
approximately $750,000.

The Disappearance of Walter Henderson Sloane.  Walter Sloane
had arrived in Auckland, New Zealand as a young lad from Glasgow in
1862.  He married Maggie Robertson six
years later
and become a hotel keeper (the Queen’s Ferry Hotel) in Auckland.  However, around 1898 Walter just faded from
all records in New Zealand when he was in his mid fifties.

In 1913 a Mark Walter Stonehill died in Sydney, Australia. In his will
he stated that he
was commonly known as Walter Stonehill Sloane, late of Auckland where
he was a hotelkeeper.  But the only Sloane
who practiced as a hotel
keeper in Auckland was Walter Sloane and there were no persons with the
of Stonehill in Auckland between 1880 to 1910.

If this was a match then he must
have been quite naughty.  He married Ada
Elizabeth Stonehill and taken her surname, despite being still married
in New
Zealand! At the time of the filing of his will in 1910 he listed his
as an ‘electrical engineer.’  His estate
worth less than £21.


Sloan Names

  • Sir Hans Sloane was an 18th century Irish physician and collector, whose collection became the
    foundation of the British Museum.  Sloane Square in London was named after him.
  • Samuel Sloan, born to Irish immigrant parents, was the 19th century Philadelphia-based architect
    and best selling author of architecture books.
  • Tod Sloan was an American-born jockey who made his mark in both America and Britain at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Alfred P. Sloan was the long-time CEO of General Motors and the man who, after Henry Ford,
    transformed the US automobile industry.
  • The Sloane Ranger, a term invented in the 1980’s, described the upper-class lifestyle of a woman
    who lived in the neighborhood of Sloane Square, a fashionable area of London.

Select Sloan Numbers Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 18,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Sloan and Like Surnames 

These are surnames from the Scottish Lowlands.  Some are clan names; some – like Gordon, Graham and Hamilton – have Anglo-Norman antecedents that crossed the border into Scotland; and some – like Douglas and Stewart – were very powerful in early Scottish history.  Stewart in fact became the royal Stuart line.




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