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James Magnier of Aherlow

Arms:  Vert, in chief a horse Argent, three bugle horns Sable.
Horse represents: Prepared for all employment for country.
The bugle horns represent strength and fortutude.

Motto:  Equis Virisque: “ With horse and foot, with all one’s might.”

  The colors:  Or = gold, generosity; Vert = green, hope and joy; Argent = white or silver, peace and sincerity; Sable = constancy.

Crest:  A bugle horn, Sable.  Represents strength and fortitude.

The Magner family has been breeding and showing horses for centuries.

The establishment of Coats of Arms was introduced into Ireland by the Normans in the eleventh century and was adopted by some Gaelic families. These armorial bearings originated during the late medieval period as a means of recognition on the battlefield.  Their use gradually became the badge of identity for a family and were used in documents as personal seals and to identify property.

A coat of arms is strictly hereditary within a single family in English and Scottish heraldry.  The crest and shield were granted to one individual not to everyone with the same surname.  In Ireland, the shield was often regarded as the property of the tribal sept.  

Sept and Clan

     The terms clan and sept have often been confused.  Ireland never had a well developed clan system like Scotland.   "Sept" is more appropriate as a collective term describing a group of persons or immediate ancestors who bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory.  Clan is often used today to  indicate the family group.  Source:  Edward MacLysaght, Irish Families, Dublin: 1991.  Bibliography  

     Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the eleventh century, though some were formed as early as the year 1000. Brian Boru, high king of Ireland, who died at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, is often erroneously credited with decreeing that the use of surnames should become a requirement among his subjects. In fact the system developed spontaneously in Ireland, as it did elsewhere, as a result of the need for personal identification in an increasing population.


"The Magner Coat of Arms hereby illustrated is officially documented in Burke's General Armory.  The original description of the arms shield is as follows:

    AR. on a mount vert a swepe (or Balista) AZ, charged with a stone PPR.  A chief per fesse embattled or and GU.    When translated the blazon also describes the original colors of the Magner Arms as:
        Silver:  On a green mound, a blue catapult charged with a stone;
        Upper third divided horizontally, gold and red, embattled below.
        Above the shield and helmet is the crest which is described as:  On a green mound an eagle rising natural colored, crowned with a gold eastern crown."
       Thanks to Jim Magner.  

Note:  This coat of arms is recorded in Burkes under the name Magnall of London and Manchester.

1 John Burke and John Bernard Burke: General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison and Sons, 1884.

Information from the Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms of the College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, London dated October 8, 1974:

After an examination of the official records of the College of Arms concerning your surname, I am able to report to you as follows:
"In the first instance I find that Armorial Bearings were confirmed by William Hawkins, Ulster King of Arms, in 1782 to a family of Fitzgibbon.  This family descended from one James Fitzgibbon who married in the 16th century, Elizabeth, daughter of William Magner of Castle Magner in the county of Cork.  The Armorial Bearings so confirmed to the Fitzgibbon family include a quartering for Magner.  This quartering or Coat of Arms may be blazoned as:

       Argent (silver/white) a swepe azure (blue) charged with a stone gold.

A quartering is only transmitted by a woman to her descendants if she is an heiress to her father, that is to say she has no brothers or no brothers with surviving issue.  The inference therefore is that there were no male Magner descendants of the above William Magner.

A swepe is also termed a mangonel and is a form of engine used by the ancients for throwing stones.  It consists of a wooden frame with a pivoted crossbar which has one end terminating in a cup into which stones or rocks were placed.  The choice of this particular charge is clearly intended as a punning allusion to the surname.

With the exception of the above, I do not find any Grant of Armorial has been made at any time to any one of your surname.  Similarly no Magner pedigree has at any time been formally registered here.

However, reference is made to persons of the surname in the Official Funeral Certificates of the Irish Heralds.  Among these certificates I find the following.

  • Morish Roche of Ballyminony in the county of Cork died in July 1634, leaving, with issue, a daughter Margaret who married Edward Magner of Teamplo-Connelly in the county of Cork.
  • Thomas Roche of Farty in the county of Cork died in November 1638, leaving an eldest son Richard Roche who married Margaret the daughter of William Magner of Castle Magner in the county of Cork.
  • William O'Brien of Killenecurra in the county of Cork died 28th September, 1640; his second daughter was Onora who married to Richard Magner of Aghada in the county of Cork.

In the Killcully churchyard in the county of Cork there was a Memorial inscription stating that "this is the burying place of James Magner and family.  Here lieth ye body of James Magner who departed this life December 7th 1772."

Again in the lists of marriage license bonds for the diocese of Cork and Ross there is a reference to one such license being issued to Thomas Magner and Catherine Hall in 1665.

Although there is an absence of any Magner pedigree, the above clearly demonstrates that there was a family of some substance living in the county of Cork during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.  I also find that one James Magner was a Captain in the 28th Massachusetts Regiment and features in a list of Officers of the Irish Brigade who served under General Meagher in the American War of 1861-1865.

The difficulty with establishing an Irish pedigree is that the Central Repository of Ireland's Public Records was set on fire and burned in 1922.  The main bulk of the State, Domestic and Ecclesiastical Records of the country were then destroyed."

     Thanks to Jeffrey Magner for the above information.


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