This very unusual surname is recorded in an equally unusual series of spellings. These apparently include Ganny, Goney, Gueny, Gunney, Gaynie, Gooney, Gwinney, Joney, Yonnie and Younie! There are doubtless others as yet undiscovered or unresearched. Although we are not absolutely certain, the spelling forms and surviving recordings suggest that the origin is Irish and developments of Guiney or Guinee, originally O'Guiney, a surname found in the counties of Cork and Kerry. However there are other claimants including the similar MacGuiney, a version of MacGeaney, from County Cavan towards the north. The name is believed to mean "the son of the fettered one". However spelt the name is quite rare and early recordings even rarer, particularly in Ireland. This is partly because most Irish registers were destroyed in 1922 when the IRA in an act of vandalism, set fire to the Dublin Public Records Office, thereby condemning the past to conjecture. From the surviving "Famine Records" we have the recordings of James Gunnie, who left Ireland on the ship "Ottawa" on May 12th 1846, Bridget Ganny, on the ship "Liverpool" on April 7th 1847, and George Yonnie, in the ship "Hynderford" on June 4th 1847. All were bound for New York. The earliest example of the spelling may be that of James Younie, who married Jane Allison at St Annes church, Soho, London, on June 4th 1791.
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