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Surname:  O'Henry
Branch:  O'Henry
Origins:  Irish
More Info:  Ireland

Background:  From the Germanic name Heimirich which meant "home ruler", composed of the elements heim "home" and ric "power, ruler". It was later commonly spelled Heinrich, with the spelling altered due to the influence of other Germanic names like Haganrich, in which the first element is hagan "enclosure". Heinrich was popular among continental royalty, being the name of seven German kings, starting with the 10th-century Henry I the Fowler, and four French kings. In France it was rendered Henri from the Latin form Henricus.

This name was introduced to England by the Normans, and it was subsequently used by eight kings, ending with the infamous Henry VIII in the 16th century. During the Middle Ages it was generally rendered as Harry or Herry in English pronunciation. Notable bearers include arctic naval explorer Henry Hudson (1570-1611), British novelist Henry James (1843-1916), and American automobile manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947).

O' hInneirghe (derivation as MacHenry). Unconnected with the foregoing but indistinguishable from it when both prefixes are dropped.

Either Mac Einri a Siol Eoghain family, or Mac Einri (See Fitzhenry); or a variant of MacEniry. See also Hendry. The name MacHenry is now mainly found in souht-east Ulster.

Motto:  Vincit Veritas, Truth Conquers.
Arms:  Per pale indented ar. and gu. on the dexter side a rose of the second, a chief az. charged with a lion pass. of the first.
Crest:  Out of a crown ppr. a demi lion ramp. ar. holding betw. the paws a ducal coronet or.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

There are some five thousand persons in Ireland to-day bearing the surname Henry - without O or Mac. The majority of these are Ulstermen formerly called O'Henry, the Irish form being H hInneirghe. the head of this sept was chief of Cullentra in Co. Tyrone whose territory at one time extended to the valley of Glenconkeine in Co. Derry.

Fitzhenry, sometimes abbreviated to Henry, is the name of a Norman family chiefly associated with Co. Wexford but having a branch in Connacht. The latter, becoming hibernicized like so many Norman families in Connacht, were in the sixteenth century records regarded as an Irish sept: they were tributary to the O'Flahertys of Moycullen and Ballynahinch and were called Mac Einri in Irish, which in due course was made MacHenry in English.

MacHenry is also occasionally to be found as a synonym of MacEnery, in Irish Mac Inneirghe: one of the anglicized variants of this is Kiniry which, pronounced to thyme with the English word enquiry, is phonetically nearer to the principal form than MacEnery. The sept in question was one of the Ui Cairbre group, of the same stock as the O'Donovans: they were located in the barony of Upper Connelloe, Co. Limerick, at Corcomohid, now Castletown MacEnery. This name is still quite well known in Co. Limerick.

Three James MacHenrys are noteworthy; one (1753-1816) became an American citizen and was private secretary to George Washington; another (1785-1845) was a poet and a novelist; the third (1816-1891), son of the foregoing, was a leading American financier. James Henry (1798-1876), a product of Trinity College, Dublin, was famous for his Virgilian researches. Mrs. Fitzhenry was a celebrated Irish actress towards the end of the eighteenth century. Augustine Henry (1857-1930), the Irish botanist, will be remembered by the names of the many species of trees and shrubs he discovered, chiefly in Asia, which bear the epithet Henryana.

I am indebted to Mr. T. O Raifteartaigh for the information that the Ulster Henrys have other potential origins besides the one I have suggested here: they can be O hAiniarriadh, an Oriel sept, or Mac Enri, a Siol Eoghain family of the Bannside.

Name Variations:  Henry, Henri, Henrey, O'Henry, O'Henry, Henery, Heneries, FitzHenry, Hal, Hank, Henrietta, Harriette, Harriett, Harriet, MacHenry, MacEniry, Fitzhenry.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Irish Families, Their Names, Arms & Origins; Edward MacLysaght - 1957.
The Surnames of Ireland; Edward MacLynsaght - 1957.
Behind the Name: http://www.behindthename.com/name/henry

The beautiful heraldry artwork for this family is available to purchase on select products from the Celtic Radio Store. We look forward to filling your order!


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