“O Dubhghusa: The origin and meaning of the surname O Dubhghusa, Doocey, Doocie, Doocy, Ducey. The name of a family in Ireland, traditionally found in counties Tipperary and Waterford.” ( Patrick Woulfe, Surnames of Ireland, 1923.)
While the Duceys are on the Dal gCais list of Irish Septs, it is difficult to find much about them there, or in Woulfe’s book. Other sources list many Duceys as living in Ireland in the 1800’s, but very few in the 1600 and 1700s. Given the information we have, this supports the theory that they were not an ancient Gaelic tribe but probably came to Ireland from England.
Note, however, that in early Irish records, the popular spelling of the family name is the original Norman version, Ducey, not the English versions of Ducie and Ducye, popular in England from 1500 to 1650. “Ducey” began to appear in England about 1650.
We can’t yet ascertain from where the first Ducey crossed the water to Ireland:
- A Ducey could have sailed directly from the Norman to the Irish coast. If so it was probably as an invader. The Normans landed in Wexford in 1169 and again at Waterford in 1171, the latter led by King Henry who was King of England and Duke of Normandy at the time. Remnants of both these groups, particularly the latter, could have included a Ducey.
- A friendly Ducie or Ducey could have crossed from England from about 1400 to 1600 for one reason or another (i.e. for trade, or an emigrant fleeing persecution at home).
- Or, he could have been an unfriendly English Ducie, working for Sir Richard Boyle, the 1st Lord of Cork, about 1630.
Sister Agnes supports this last theory, but again, she does not quite deliver the factual goods. She postulates that a reference to a “Capten Dowse” in 1642 provides the link.
She identified this “capten dowse” as a victim of incorrect spelling (something very common to unfamiliar names then and later). The reference source was Sir Richard Boyle, who initially came to Ireland in 1588. A supporter of King Charles I of England, Boyle bought huge tracts of south-western Irish land from Sir Walter Raleigh about 1602. In 1642, Boyle’s diary refers to his two sons and their troops heading out of Youghal, to defend against an Irish uprising in Cork. He mentions his six leaders or ‘captens by name, including “capten dowse.” Boyle left a great deal of his own written records behind and they show he wrote in a strong, early English dialect, reflecting spelling of the time, which lends some credence to the “capten dowse,” theory.
Sister Agnes writes this ‘Capten” could have been Richard Ducye, the son of James of Walsall, or a descendant, who entered into service with Lord Richard Boyle.
She cites business reasons for why it was a Walsall Ducye, but she offers no proof, other than to suggest he was closely related to Baronet Sir Robert Ducie, who died in 1634, and who Boyle probably knew well from London financial and political circles of the day. But her theory remains conjecture. “Dowse” was already a common name in England by then. There were many Ducies and some Duceys around by this time (1642) and some of these possibilities are listed in below.
It is extremely doubtful that “‘capten dowse” may have been Richard, as he was very rich, very comfortable, very well married and living in Walsall until we lose track of him about 1611. There is as yet, no trace of any descendants.
What we now do know from available records is that a John Ducey was named Archdeacon of the Church of Ireland at Ardfert, Co. Kerry in early 1625. However he was succeeded before year-end, without further trace.
It is plausible that an archdeacon of the English church in 1625, probably of English extraction, could have wound up working for Richard Boyle, who ran much of south-western Ireland from the early 1600s to 1642. Or, could this priest have had a son?
Four decades later, a John Ducey, most probably a farmer, is listed in the Hearth Money Records from 1665-67 as living at Lahardan, near Twomileborris, Tipperary Co.
Could this John Ducey be a descendant of either James (#1) Ducye or his brother, John (#1), (of whom we know nothing) of Walsall, the two sons of Henry Ducye (#1)?
Or could he have been a descendant of Richard Ducye, the son of James (#1) who inherited his father’s property at Walsall, Staffordshire in 1577?
Or could he have been the “John Ducie” indentified in a historical note as assigned by Robert Ducie’s brother William Ducie, as an apprentice to a German businessman in 1645? Or could he have been the “John Ducey, a surveyor of timber to the English navy” who was granted 14 days of rest in 1644?
Or could he be a descendant of the Stephen Ducye born in Normandy and granted English citizenship during the reign of Henry VIII, in 1532?
Or, could he have been an ancestor of John Ducey, a mason who built the original bridge at Tellisford, Wiltshire Co. England, in 1692?
Confusing, isn’t it? The point is, that by the early 1600s, there were a growing number of Duceys in England who did not get the kind of historical attention devoted to Sir Robert Ducie and his immediate family in Peerage records of the day. So the odds are that one of these listed above could have provided the link to the Irish Duceys.