Summary of the History of the Fanning Family Vol 1 by Walter Frederic Brooks

The Irish ancestors of Edmund Fanning of Connecticut as described in “The History of the Fanning Family” Volume 1, published 1905, by Walter Frederic Brooks. The information relevant to the Fannings from Co Tipperary is summarized.

Walter Frederic Brooks’ the “History of the Fanning Family Vol 1” 1905, has been summarized including parts that may be relevant to the Fanning family from Thurles, Co Tipperary Ireland. The full text of these books can be viewed online at

This information is from the first 52 pages. The rest of this book and vol 2 are concerned with Edmund Fanning who emigrated to America sometime around 1650 and his descendants. These first pages give a general account of the Fanning Family in Europe from Norman times to the Cromwellian Confiscations, 1652-3. My comments are in italics.

The Fanning name is on record in Ireland from the early part of the 13th century and one of influence in the counties of Limerick, Clare, Kilkenny and Tipperary, until the general confiscation under Cromwell in 1652. (Petty’s Survey commenced in 1654 recorded the names of the owners of confiscated estates).

That Edmund Fanning (Connecticut settler in 1653) is the son of Francis Fanning, Mayor of Limerick, has not been proven (in 1906) beyond a doubt but all the evidence supports this. There is no evidence to show that this Edmund was the son of Dominick Fanning (who was beheaded) as he had no son called Edmund.

Edmund’s wife, is said to have been the daughter of an Irish Earl. (In many genealogies on places like Rootsweb, her name is given as Ellen Butler but I have seen no documentary evidence for this.)

Fanning DNA Links

Recent DNA testing of an Australian direct descendant of William Patrick Fanning (born Thurles 1812 died Bulla Victoria 1876) is an exact match to descendants of this Edmund Fanning. So most likely William Patrick Fanning “Big Bill” was related to many of the Fannings from Kilkenny, Tipperary and Limerick mentioned in Brooks account and also to Fannings in Fenagh, Leitrim descended from Fannings transplanted there and also to Fannings transplanted to other counties after 1652. He is F-23 on The Fanning Family DNA Project.

I have just received an email from Pat Fannin which corrects and adds to what I have written above:

“Looking at the y-DNA results, I understand your conclusions on the connection of the Australian descendant of William Patrick Fanning to Edmund Fanning, immigrant to Stonington, Conn. in 1653. However, as I understand the test results from several Fanning lines that descend from Co. Leitrim, I can find no way to connect “Big Bill”or Edmund of Conn. to the Co. Leitrim Fannings. These appear to be two entirely separate lines of Fannings. The tests that I am referring to are: F-12, F-39 & F-42 for Co. Leitrim Fannings. Your line is F-23 and F-14, F-20 are descendants of Edmund Fanning of Conn. The Co. Leitrim descendants are of another Haplogroup from the descendants of “Big Bill” & Edmund of Conn. and could therefore not be related. The markers on these two groups also do not match. Most likely some of the Fannings transplanted to the Connaught were related to Edmund & “Big Bill”, but it wasn’t the families that have tested from Co. Leitrim, thus far. In fact, F-17 Martin Fanning, is a closer match to your “Big Bill” than are the two Edmund Fanning tests (F-14 & F-20) — see marker 27 GATAH4, which is shared by tests F-17 & F-23 and not by the Edmund Fanning results of tests F-14 & F-20″

Back to Brooks:

“Whatever cause the Fannings upheld they entered into it with spirit, determination and patriotism. These are some of the chief characteristics that have pervaded the family from the beginning- patriotism and true devotion to country and cause, regardless of consequences. It has been said no Fanning was ever a traitor to country or creed. Truly their lives were never peaceful, and their history is a story of confiscation, sacrifice, and martyrdom from the earliest times”. Page XV

The Arms of Fanning are registered in the Ulsters Office, Dublin, 1775 Ped. XI, fol.269 as follows:

A Chevron Gules, between three doves proper, for Crest, on a wreath of the colours a cherub Proper. A chevron is an inverted V and Gules is the colour red and proper is a natural colour. Motto: “In Deo Spes Mea” In God Is My Hope.

The Normans

In 912 Rollo, chief of a group of Northmen, conquered the province of Newstria in northern France, which became Normandy. These northmen adopted Christianity and the French language. (To celebrate his conversion to Christianity Rollo is said to have had  two hundred prisoners executed.) Normandy became one of the most powerful states in Christendom. In 1066 the Battle of Hastings placed William, Duke of Normandy, on the English throne. William partitioned out the whole of England amongst his officers, who erected strong military castles and sorely oppressed the English. About 100 years after the conquest of England the Normans invaded Ireland. In 1172 Henry the second landed in Ireland and received the homage of the Irish king and Irish princes, on condition they should keep their land. Henry broke this treaty and granted the whole of Ireland to ten of his nobles, by charter and Norman law. He bestowed the Lordship of Ireland on his son Prince John in 1185. This led to wars between the Norman barons and the Irish chieftains which resulted in many Norman acquisitions.

These Normans were scarcely settled in their possessions when they adopted the language, habits and customs of the Irish, becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves.

The Norman-English monarchs gained nominal possession of Ireland and established their government in Dublin, yet their power was confined for centuries to some seaports and to a limited district around Dublin called the English Pale. The great Anglo-Norman barons and Irish chieftains ruled like independent princes over the greater part of Ireland, It was not until the reign of James I that English law was established over the whole island.

The Fanning family appears to be of Norman origins and to have come to Ireland with the first Norman settlers.

The present form of the Fanning name seems to have become established in the 16th century. Then and later we find the forms: Fanyng, Fannyng, Fannynge, Fanynge, Faning, Fanyin, Fannying, Fannyn, Fanninge, Fannen, Fanan, Fannin and Fannon.There is more variation in later records than earlier. The earliest form of the name on record is Fanyn 1234-1304.

The Fannings of Limerick and Clare

In the early part of the 13th century Richard Fanyn received grants of land in Co Clare.

Walter Fanning was appointed by Henry III to a commission held at Roscrea in 1245.

Richard Fanning was on a commission which sat in Limerick in 1275. He had land in Clare. His son Thomas was granted land in Kilkenny in 1279.

William Fanning recorded as an extensive landowner in Limerick

John Fanning a commissioner in 1348 Limerick.

Simon Fanning recorded as a landed proprietor in Limerick 1355 and Thomas Fanning also in 1409.

Nicholas Fanning was a high constable in Connello Limerick in 1426.

Richard Fanning served in the Wars of the Roses & died in 1462.

David Fanning was assessor of the city of Limerick in 1467.

Walter Fanning is recorded as a landed proprietor in the barony of Pubblebrien in 1501. He was high constable in 1499.

Richard Fanning is mentioned among the officers slain at the battle of Mourne Abbey in 1521. A battle between the forces of the Earl of Desmond and the allied chieftains of South Munster under McCarthy More.

Simon Fanning is recorded as having estates in the Barony of Pubblebrien in 1532.

In 1542 Patrick and William Fanning, both aldermen, served on a commission set up to inquire into the disposal of the property of the suppressed monasteries. Simon and Patrick Fanning were found to hold some of this property.

Nicholas Fanning was a Clerk of the Exchequer 1541.

Thomas Fanning was treasurer to Gerald, 16th Earl of Desmond was of the most powerful subject in the British Islands (owning 600,000 acres and having 500 knights in his service).

Clement Fanning was elected sheriff of Limerick city in1551. and served as Mayor on 1557-8. In 1559 he was chosen to represent the city of Limerick in the Irish Parliament. He lost a great deal of property as a result of the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond around 1573, during the reign of Elizabeth I. Fanningstown , the property of Clement Fanning was confiscated in 1589. Clement Fanning had a son Patrick.

George Fanning, son of alderman William Fanning, was elected sheriff of the City of Limerick in 1564. Alderman James Fanning was mayor of Limerick in 1584.

Patrick Fanning, son of Clement Fanning of Fanningstown , was elected sheriff of Limerick city in 1576. His son was Clement Fanning and he was sheriff of Limerick in 1595 and mayor in 1610. He had three sons: Simon, Edward and Francis. Edward Fanning had a son Nicholas who was sheriff in 1625 and mayor of Limerick in 1630. After the confiscation of his landed property he was transported to Connaught in 1653-4.

Simon Fanning the eldest son of Clement Fanning served as sheriff in 1600 and mayor in 1615. He died in 1636-7 leaving five sons: Dominick, John, Bartholomew, Richard and James.

Francis Fanning, third son of Clement Fanning, served as sheriff in 1632-3 and as mayor of Limerick in 1644. At the time of the Confiscations in 1653-54 Francis Fanning’s estates were forfeited and he received sentence of transplantation to Connaught 1653-4.

Francis had a son Edward or Edmund (the names Edward, Edmund and Edmond are synonymous) who also was to be sent to Connaught. (The province of Connaught is located on the north west coast of Ireland and comprises the counties of Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon) His name is given as Edward Fitz-Francis Fanning on the Transplantation Certificate. This Edward, son of Francis, emigrated in 1653 or soon after to America and settled in Connecticut. Edward was born in Ireland about 1620, was married there about 1649 and died in Stonington, Connecticut on 19th August 1683.

There are different pedigrees for the emigrant Edward Fanning in Rootsweb and I don’t know what sources have been used. According to Brooks this Edwards ancestry is as follows:

Clement Fanning of Fanningstown, his son was Patrick Fanning, sheriff Limerick City 1576 died 1612.Patrick’s son was Clement Fanning, sheriff of Limerick 1595 and mayor 1610. He had three sons Simon (dies 1636-7), Edward and Francis. Simon had five sons: Dominick, John, Bartholemew, Richard and James. His eldest son Dominick served as Mayor of Limerick three times and was executed in 1651 for taking part in the great Rebellion. His head was placed over St John’s gate where it remained for several years. Francis was the father of the Edmund who emigrated to America.

Numerous high offices were held by those of Fanning name in Limerick county prior to 1652.

In the County of Clare a Dominick Fanning, a Nicholas Fanning and a Thomas Fanning had lands confiscated.

The Fannings of Kilkenny and Tipperary

Tipperary separated from Limerick as a separate county around 1254. John Fanning is the first of the name to be recorded in 1285 in the County of Tipperary.

Thomas Fanning was granted land in Kilkenny in 1279. Gilbert Fanning was in possession of lands in Kilkenny in 1316. Thomas Fitz-Gilbert received a grant of the Manor of Mohober in 1332. Mohober, in the Parish of Lismalin, Barony of Compsey, County Tipperary, was for several centuries a manor of the Fannings.

Hugh Fanning was appointed by Edward III a commissioner of the peace for the County of Tipperary in 1358. He was granted lands in the Manor of Ballingarry.

In 1545 Henry VIII granted lands in Kilkenny to Oliver Fanning. In 1570 he is mentioned as holding land by knight’s service in the Manor of Knocktopher.

William Fanning was a landed proprietor in the Barony of Kells, County of Kilkenny in 1570. He died in 1570. He left his estates in trust to James, son of Thomas Fanning of Ballingtaggart, County of Tipperary; Robert, son of Walter Fanning of Mohober, County of Tipperary; and Richard Fanning of Kappaghintallagarry. His second son William succeeded to the estates.

William Fanning is recorded in 1570 as an extensive landed proprietor in the Manor of Killenaule, Barony of Slvievardagh, County of Tipperary. (Source: Calendar of the Carew Maunuscripts, 1515-1574, p.404)

In 1600 the Fannings are recorded as among the principal landowners in the Barony of Slievardagh, County of Tipperary (Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts, 1589-1600, p.513)

William Fanning of BallyMcCloghny was constable of the Barony of Gowran, County of Kilkenny, in 1608.

Geoffrey (or Jeffrey) Fanning of Fanningstown, Ballingarry, County of Tipperary was elected in 1642 to represent the Manor of Glengall in the Confederate Parliament and served in the assembly until its dissolution. After the Cromwellian conquest he retired to the Continent, where he served under Charles II until the Restoration in 1660, when he returned to Ireland. He was granted part of his estates confiscated during the Crowellian regime. This grant confirmed in June 1668 was upwards of 2000 acres in the Baronies of Slievardagh and Compsey, as well as the manor house and land at Ballingarry.

After the Confiscations of 1652

In 1652 a law was passed by the English Parliamednt confiscating upwards of ten million acres of land in Ireland. The owners to be transplanted to Connaught. Certain desolate parts of the Counties of Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim were set apart for the transplanted.

The following Limerick Fannings received transplantation certificates for County Leitrim:

Nicholas Fanning, Francis Fanning, Edward Fitz-Francis Fanning, Madalen Fanning, Martin Fanning, Mary Fanning, William Fanning, Thomas Fitz-Clement Fanning, Edward Fitz-James Fanning, Michael Fitz-James Fanning, and Thoma Fitz- Patrick Fanning. (Fitz is of Norman origin and denotes son of).

To be transplated from Tipperary were Edmond Fanning of Gortfy, William Fanning of Farrenroe, Nicholas Fanning of Clonegall and from Kilkenny James Fanning of Knocktopher.

All the above Fannings settled in the Parish of Feenagh in County Leitrim and were never restored to their estates.

On the Restoration of Charles II some lands and estates were restored. Goeffrey Fanning received a grant of his manor house and 2000 acres of land in Tipperary County. William Fanning of the County of Kilkenny received 531 acres of land in the Barony of Ballymoe, County of Galway in 1668.

Not one member of the Limerick Fannings is on record as receiving any compensation for the loss of his estates.

A Lieutenant John Fanning served in the Spanish army under the banner of the exiled Charles II and was killed in Prague 1648. He may have been from the Tipperary branch of the family.

In 1652 the estates of the Kilkenny Fannings were also confiscated

It is under the circumstances of the Cromwellian confiscations and transplantings that Edmund Fanning and his wife Ellen emigrated to America and settled in Connecticut around 1853.

Author: Kathleen

I have done an Ancestry DNA test and also have uploaded my test results to GedMatch. My GedMatch kit numbers are A029138 and T470174. Please contact me if we are a match. kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom

17 thoughts on “Summary of the History of the Fanning Family Vol 1 by Walter Frederic Brooks”

  1. Hi,

    My name is Alison Fanning,my father John Fanning was born in Limerick and his father also known as John fanning was born in Roscommon Ballagahdreen.The Fannings were from French Park region in Roscommon and my great grandfather Patrick Fanning was also.I found your article interesting.

    1. Glad you found it interesting. So far I haven’t found any direct connections between my ancestors and Fannings in Limerick or Roscommon but there well may be going back further. Thanks for contributing.

    2. Do you have any male Fannings from your family that might be interested in participating in the Fanning DNA Project?

  2. Just wondering if there was an Laughlin fanning born in 1660 to a Thomas fanning,who was born in 1636? I keep coming up with these names! Thomas was married to Francis Ellis who was born in 1665, she there is no way she was the mother of Laughlin! Was Thomas married before, or was Laughlin born out of wedlock?

    1. I don’t know anything about Laughlin Fanning although I think I remember reading somewhere that he was born in Co Tipperary. DNA tests have shown that my Fanning ancestors are not descended from Laughlin but Edmund Fanning so I have not researched Laughlin.

  3. Hello! Thanks for the reply! I too am from the Fanning line, But after Joseph Fanning 1737, I keep coming up with A Laughlin fanning, and his wife Elizabeth! After them it’s Edmund Fanning and Ellen Butler. Laughlin born 1698 in Tipperary. Maybe you can see on ancestry, because everyone else has a Laughlin also on their trees, but I know this can’t be correct, because I’ve checked numerous records, but come up with know Laughlin Fanning, but instead I believe a James or Jacob fanning.

    1. Most of the trees on Ancestry have no sources so it is impossible to evaluate the information or check it or follow up. There is a lot of cut and paste of info on ancestry which adds to unsourced and sometimes plain wrong information being passed on and on.
      I know from a DNA test that my Fanning line is related to the Edmund Fanning who ended up in Connecticut. From gravestones at Ballycahill Cemetery Co Tipperary I have found my earliest ancestors dating back to 1731. I have looked but have been unable to bridge the gap between the two. I have also read on Fanning posts that Laughlin is not related to Edmund Fanning, of Connecticut. This is based on DNA evidence. So if you are descended from Edmund Fanning forget about Laughlin. Good luck Kathleen

  4. Hello again, and thanks for the reply! I knew that Laughlin was not a relation to me, but I still can’t figure out after 1737 Joseph, who his father was. I also keep getting a Thomas Amis fanning, Edmund Fanning and Ellen Butler. The papers my mother gave me are from 2 different Fanning lines. One is from the Fannings out west, and the other is from the Fanning’s in Virginia. But mined you, all had the same names almost, and the same names of the wives. One John Fanning 1791 in Wythe Virginia, was married to an Elizabeth Skiles (This is from the Fannings in Virginia), the other John fanning 1791 was married to Elizabeth Skiles from the Fannings out west! The Fannings out west go all the way a Clement, Patrick, Nickolas , Francis, and Dominick Fanning’s. Then Edmund and ellen, then Capt. James Fanning. These Fanning’s are really confusing me, to were I’ve had to re-do my tree numerous times, because the dates or either the names don’t match up.

  5. I should also let you know that the papers my mother gave me from the Fanning’s in Virginia was compiled by I’m guessing one of her cousins by the name of Leland Gilbert Fanning. It was written in July of 1974.

  6. My great grandfather Edward was born in Graiguenamanagh Co. Kilkenny in 1825. He married Brigid White from Thomastown and migrated here to Orange, NSW, Australia in the 1850s. Their descendants are in law, medicine and politics. I want to get a DNA test as they stayed in contact with family in Kilkenny and Tipperary. Which one is best? Regards

    1. Hi Paul,

      Great to hear from another Fanning!

      I would go with Ancestry DNA. I have got the most out of their matches and they have by far the biggest database.

      Just be aware that a lot of trees and info input to Ancestry has no sources and is simply copied and not checked.
      A lot of people who have tested have no trees and a lot don’t answer when contacted.
      But apart from all this it has by far been the best.
      They also have a father’s Day special at the moment.

      You can also upload your Ancestry DNA tests to other sites like My Heritage, Gedmatch and Family Tree DNA for free.
      My Heritage has the most Irish people. But again not a lot of trees.

      I got my brother to do a YDNA test with FTDNA and it traced my Fanning ancestry back to Edward Fanning who left Tipperary in 1653 and settled in Stonington Connecticut USA.
      In my Fanning Haplogroup there are two very close matches Thomas White and his brother Francis Michael White from Kilkenny.
      We have corresponded but not able to find any connection but they say DNA doesn’t lie.
      So I was very interested to see Bridget White in your ancestry. White doesn’t seem to be such a common Irish surname either. I wonder if we will come up as matches.
      All the best

  7. Dear Kathleen
    Thanks so much for getting back to me so promptly and I will go with your suggestion of Ancestry DNA. I have recently retired and it seemed a good as time as ever to get back onto the family history trail.
    As you know Thomastown where Brigid came from is close to Graiguenamanagh.
    Some years ago we were visited by a young woman, a Fanning, from Tipperary who was a descendant of Michael Fanning, a senator in the first Irish parliament and the licensee of Lincoln’s Inn in central Dublin, a favorite hangout for politicians, writers and musicians.
    His family were related to my Kilkenny Fannings and they used to correspond until the old folk died.
    My great grandfather, Edward, left Ireland because his nationalist sympathies were getting him into trouble. At one point he had to flee to Co. Monaghan.
    His father, Michael, had left Ireland even earlier for the USA and became a California 49er. When Edward and Brigid came to Australia it was to the gold fields. They decided to split the risk, hence Michael to the USA and the gold fields while they came here. Unfortunately they never saw each other again but other Fannings from Tip. and Kilkenny did write and a couple visited. Anyway when Covid is over I will return to Ireland to do more research but hopefully better prepared. I look forward to reading the Brooks history and any other sources you can recommend. Kind regards. Paul

    1. Dear Paul,
      I am blown away by what you have just written!!! I am also related to Michael
      Fanning 1866-1950 who was the Irish Senator, which means we are related. He is my second cousin three times removed.
      I have written a post on him in my blog.

      I will email you in a couple of days as I have lots of questions and also a lot I can tell you about the Fannings.

      My email may end up in your junk folder, so keep am eye out for it.

      Cheers Kathleen

  8. Hi Kathleen
    That would be great.
    I have more questions than answers so would enjoy looking at anything you can provide. Most of our family history has come from oral history but very reliable people.
    My work took me to Europe a lot including a couple of trips to Ireland.
    On one occasion we went to Graigue and met a Mr. Joyce, a very well known Irish historian and a lovely man.
    He said the Fannings in Graigue, were related to those in Tip, but much earlier were even earlier linked to Co. Mayo. Fanning was actually a very old Irish name that had been anglicized.
    Certainly my older Fannings said a Jack Fanning and a Patrick Fanning had separately visited Orange from Tip. to see family in the early 20th century. They maintained a correspondence.
    Our visitor in 1994 was a nice young Irish woman.
    Her grandfather told her about the Fannings in Orange and their relationship to Tip. and Kilkenny. I introduced her to some of the very old family members and she was stunned by the physical resemblances.
    So I guess a DNA test is in order. Thanks again Kathleen.

  9. Hello, my greatgrandmother was Helena Fanning from Nicholas St, Limerick. She married William White. Her marriage certificate states she was a Shipwright, as was her father.
    Kay White
    PS. My fathers family came from Craigue, Co. Tipp

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