The Clan/Sept History
While many of Irish names are quite familiar to most, their original Gaelic
forms are often forgotten and mysterious. The original Gaelic form of the name
MacGenis is Mag Aonghusa or Mag Aonghuis. Both of these mean son of Angus.
In the Middle Ages, a name was often recorded under several different spelling
variations during the life of its bearer. Literacy was rare at that time and
none of the languages to be found in the British Isles had achieved any great
semblance of standardization. Variations of the name MacGenis found include
Genis, Guinness, Magennis, Guinnessy, McGuinness and many more.
First found in county Down, where they held a family seat from ancient times.
Irish emigration to North America began modestly in the late 18th century. At
this time, Irish Families made the journey to British North America and the
United States by choice and after careful consideration: they were primarily in
search of a suitably large stretch of land to call their own. This pattern would
change most dramatically during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For
example, the years 1825-1845 saw approximately 450,000 heading to British North
America and 400,000 to the United States, but in 1947, at the height of the
famine, it is estimated that more than 104,000 Irish immigrants went to British
North America and more than 119,000 to the United States. An examination of
passenger and immigration lists has revealed many early immigrants bearing the
name MacGenis: John Guinnessy, who settled in New York in 1849; William Guinnes
who settled in Barbados in 1663; Pat and Mary Guinnessy who settled in Quebec
with their ten children in 1849..
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