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Surname:  Sexton
Branch:  Sexton
Origins:  Irish
More Info:  Ireland

Background:  This surname was established in Clare in the 11th century by a Dalnassian family serving with the household troops of the O'Brien Kings of Thurmond. In the 15th century members of the family migrated to Ulster and in the 16th century the anglicized form Sexton become common altho the original Gaelic form of the name is still commonly used by the bilingual people of Clare and Galway.

I stand, take my stand, halt, stop, last, endure, maintain, sustain. Sexton (English) secristan (Old English) is a church official in charge of vestments and religious vessels.

Arms:  Argent a chevron gules between in dexter chief a spear's head, in sinister chief a pheon, and in base a horseshoe, all azure points down.
Crest:  A pheon azure.

View the Heraldry Dictionary for help.

This interesting name has two possible origins, from an English occupational surname and from an Irish personal name. Firstly, it is an occupational name for a sexton or church warden. It derives from the Middle English "sexteyn", which comes from the Old French "secrestein", itself originally from the Latin "sacristanus". Variants of this form include Sexten, Sextone, Sexon and Secretan. The first recording of this form was in the early 13th Century. One William Sextain appears in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1327. The second origin is from the Anglicized form of the Gaelic Irish "O'Seastnain", descendant of "Seastnan", a personal name of uncertain origin; though it may have been originally a byname meaning "bodyguard" from "seasuighim", "to resist" or "defend". Variants of this form include O'Sesnane, O'Shesnan and Shasnan. Today the name is mainly found in Limerick city. Eight Sextons have been mayors there, the most notable of whom was Edward Sexton (1535). A Coat of Arms granted to a Sexton family is gold, an eagle displayed green, armed azure a bend gobony silver and gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tomas Sekerstein, which was dated 1203, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216.

Name Variations:  Sexton, O'Seasnain, Seasnain, Shasnan, O'Shasnan.

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.
Surname Database:

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