Select Lennon Surname Genealogy

The Lennon surname has come either from the Gaelic Leannan meaning "little cloak" (some say "lover") or from the personal name Lonan, a diminutive of lon or "blackbird."

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Ireland.  It is thought that the O'Leannain clan came originally from Galway on the west coast of Ireland. They later anglicized their name to Lennan, Lennon and other variants; while the O'Leannains of Mayo tended to become Leonards. 

The O'Lennans became best known in early times in Fermanagh.  Teag O'Lennan was recorded in 1380 in the Annals of the Four Masters as the erenagh of Eniskillen.  This office of erenage was a hereditary one, as the holder of church property and the maintainer of priests.  The O'Lennans of Fermanagh held that title and the O'Lennans of Lisgoole near Enniskillen produced a number of distinguished ecclesiastics.

Early anglicized spellings were Lennan, Lannan, and sometimes Lennane and Linane.   The first recorded Lennon spelling did not in fact appear until 1733.  However, in the next hundred years Lennon began to displace the other spellings.
By the 19th century the largest numbers of Lennons were in Armagh and many of the Lennon emigrants came from there.  Others, like John Lennon's ancestors, were from county Down.

The christening of Thomas Lennon, the son of Malachi and Catherine Lennon, was recorded in the parish of Drum in Roscommon in 1797.  Lennons are still there.  The Lennons of Drum held a homecoming reunion in 2003 for those who had emigrated during the famine.

England.  John Lennon, the Beatle, was born and grew up in Liverpool.  His ancestors came from county Down in Ireland and had moved to Liverpool by 1850.  Rumor had it that grandfather Jack had worked as a professional singer with the Kentucky Minstrels in America, but it has no basis in fact.  Jack lived and died in Liverpool.  The best-known Lennon name in Liverpool prior to John Lennon was Lennons, a small supermarket chain begun by a Lennon from Northern Ireland.

America.  Among the Lennons who came to America in the mid 19th century were: 
  • Barney and Mary Lennon who came in the 1840ís and settled in Buffalo, New York.  Barney was a watchman at a grain elevator who fell off a wharf and drowned in 1868.  His grandson (via one of his daughters) was Wild Bill Donovan, the head of OSS during World War Two. 
  • James and Mary Lennon who arrived in 1849 and made their home in Outagamie county, Wisconsin
  • and Ellen Lennon who left Roscommon with her twelve children and grandchildren on a lengthy journey in 1852 which took them via Dublin, Liverpool, New Orleans, Chicago, and eventually to Joliet, Illinois.
Patrick and James Lennon left Armagh with their families for America in 1847, but they did not stay there.  These Lennons were on a boat to Peru and ended up in Australia in 1856.

Bert Lennon grew up in an Irish family in St. Louis.  In 1917 he met a German dancer named Betty Heinrich whom he married and they set off for Venice in southern California.  Here they raised eight children and later came fifty six grandchildren.  Their talented offspring included:
  • the Lennon Brothers, a popular swing band of the 1940ís
  • the boxing ring announcers Jimmy Lennon and Jimmy Lennon Jr
  • Bill Lennon and the Lennon Sisters
  • while Michael and Kipp Lennon formed the band Venice in 1977.
Argentina.  Edward Lennon arrived with his family in Buenos Aires in 1842 and was one of the country's first Irish immigrants.  He worked hard on his arrival and in time became a substantial rancher in land to the north of Buenos Aires.

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

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John Brown Lennon was a US labor leader in the early 1900's.
The Lennon Sisters were a singing group who debuted on American TV in 1955 and had a long-running career.  They were born in Los Angeles of Irish/German ancestry.
John Lennon from Liverpool was the celebrated Beatle and "Workingclass Hero" who was shot dead outside the Dakota building in New York in 1980.
Neil Lennon from county Armagh was an international football player for Northern Ireland who became the football manager of Glasgow Celtic.

Select Lennons Today
  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous in Glasgow)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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