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Family spelling variants includes Conwy, Macconway, Connaway, McConway, McConomy, Conaway, Conmee, McConaway, Ó Conbhuidhe, Ó Connmhaigh, Ó Conbhuidhe
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CONWAY Family History
The surname Conway has Celtic roots, with the 'con' element meaning 'hounds' (from which the modern Welsh forms 'ci' and 'cwn', meaning 'dog' and 'dogs' respectively, derive).
The second origin derives from the old Welsh words for chief ('cyn') and water ('gwy') – Cynwy being the original name of the river Conwy in north Wales.
In Ireland the surnames Ó Connmhaigh and Ó Conbhuidhe have been anglicised to Conway. Ó Connmhaigh was found principally in counties Clare and Limerick and later in West Cork and Offaly as well as in Cavan and Roscommon. The presence of Conway in considerable numbers in Co Kilkenny in the 1659 'Census' suggests the name spread there also.
Ó Conbhuidhe derives specifically from the Irish 'cu buidhe' or yellow hound. Two families of the name existed in early times: that of the Uí Fiachrach (descendants of Fiachra, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages, circa 4th century) who inhabited the barony of Tireragh in Co Sligo; and that of the Uí Mhaine (descendants of Maine Mór, an ancestor of the Orghialla i.e. Oriel) in Co Galway.
Other Irish surnames anglicised to Conway include Ó Connmhacháin found early on in Sligo, and later in West Ulster and Offaly; Mac Conmidhe which probably derives from 'cú Midhe' or hound of Meath. This name was found mainly in counties Derry and Tyrone in the 17th century.
The Irish birth registration figures for 1890 show most Conways were living in counties Mayo, Tyrone, Dublin and in Munster generally.
In Wales, the Conway name is strongly associated with the town and borough of Conwy in north Wales, Conway being the anglicised version of the Welsh name. It is today also the name of a Welsh county. This name in turn derives from the river Conwy that flows from Llyn Conwy (Lake Conwy), near Penmachno, to the sea near to the town of Conway.
The surname of the Conway family of Bodrhyddan, Flintshire, north Wales, however is derived from Sir William Coniers, high constable of England under William the Conqueror. One of his descendants, Sir Henry Conway, married Ellen (or Angharad), the daughter of the Lord of Prestatyn. Another descendant, Jenkyn Conway (d.c.1432) married into the powerful Wynn family of Gwydir, Llanrwst.
Unsurprisingly therefore, in Wales the surname was historically associated with the most northerly portion of the country, in particular of course the wider Conway area where it was recorded as a surname during the 16th century, for example a George Conway was baptised in Conwy parish church in 1545, and a Gyles ap Thomas Conway (Gyles son of Thomas Conway) who was baptised in the same church in 1583.
Such early references are also seen on the Hawarden and Cilcain parish registers in Flintshire. In the 17th century, the surname was also recorded elsewhere in north Wales, including for example in Llanycil, Merionethshire (the baptism of an Anna, the daughter of Harris and Jane Conway in 1647) and Llanasa, Flintshire (the baptism of Dorothea, the daughter of Henry and Margaret Conway in 1663).
In Scotland, the surname is an anglicised form of Mac Conmheadha or Mac Connmhaigh.
British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning (1903) by Henry Barber
Conwy or Conway family, Dictionary of Welsh Biography, https://biography.wales/
A Guide to Irish Names (1964) by Edward MacLysaght
Patronymica Britannica (1860) by Mark Antony Lower
Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison
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