This surname of CONWAY which is found in all four provinces, most usually denotes descent from the sept Mac Donmheadha, or Mac Connmhaigh, from County Clare, some of whose members were recorded with the prefix O' rather than Mac. In the 16th Century members of a Welsh family named Conway came to Ireland where they settled mainly in County Kerry with estates at Killorglin and also in County Dublin. Undoubtedly some minority of Conways in Ireland today will descend from these settlers. Originally this was a Welsh habitation name from Conwy, the fortified town on the coast of north Wales, itself named from the river on which it stands. This is of Brittany origin, perhaps from a word meaning 'reedy'. In Scotland the name is also locational from Conway in the parish of Beauly, recorded circa as Coneway and in 1291 as Convathe. It probably gets its name from the Gaelic 'coinmeheadh' meaning billet or free quarters, being so named as the district in which the local lord's household troops were billeted. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Early records of the name mention John de Conweye 1268, Ireland. A notable member of the name was Henry Seymour Conway (1721-95) the English soldier and politician, nephew of Sir Robert Walpole. He was an MP for various pocket-boroughs, and saw active service at Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1875). In the Jacobite Rising of 1745 he was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cumberland at the battle of Culloden. He was appointed lieutenant-general in 1759, was secretary of state from 1765 to 1768, and governor of Jersey from 1772 to 1795.
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