How did the Ducey’s get to Ireland?

While Ireland has historical anchors going back to the First Century, it was in 1171 that Henry II of England launched the first of several invasions across the Irish Sea. By 1515, upon taking the throne, it was the turn of King Henry VIII to begin plotting subjugation upon Ireland. Invasions, wars, Irish rebellions and English domination would continue for most of the following 400 years.

To date, we have no firm clues as to how the Ducey name came to Ireland. As trade via the sea increased, it is entirely possible that one of them could have sailed from Normandy to the South Irish coast between 1300 and 1600 and stayed there. But it is more probable that the first Ducey to reach Ireland came from England and that he was a descendant of the Ducie family from Staffordshire.

The earliest Ducey name in Ireland that I have been able to discover is John Ducey, listed as living at Lahardan, Co. Tipperary, in 1665. He is found on p. 15 of Thomas Laffan’s Tipperary’s Families, Being the Hearth Money Records from 1665-66-67. This book was published at Dublin in 1911. Lahardan is in the parish of Two Mile Borris, now a part of the City of Thurles.

It is possible but uncertain if that this John Ducey was the first of his family to live in Ireland. What is interesting is that his named in spelled in the Norman rather than the British style. Let’s look at some possibilities as to how of the English Duceys may have come to Ireland.

Sister Agnes Ducey’s theory is that a grandson of Sir Robert Ducie, went to Waterford County, about 1620, in the employ of Richard Boyle, a trading magnate who was named the first Earl of Cork and “Lord Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland”. Boyle is also described as England’s “first colonial millionaire,” and acquired large tracts of land in southern Ireland. His sons played an important role in repressing Irish Catholic rebellions in the 1640’s and 1650’s. Along with his two sons, one of the six captains in an army Boyle sent to defend an English colleague under siege by the Irish in the city of Cork, between 1641-43, was “Capten Dowse.” Sister Agnes concludes that this person was a mis-spelled Ducey and a grandson of Sir Robert Ducie. I think it is more probable that he was perhaps a grand-nephew. However, at the outset, he was certainly no friend of the Irish!

“Dowse” was among the many spellings of Ducey, but was also a surname in England during this period. Since Irish Duceys were mainly populated in Waterford and Tipperary counties, sister Agnes’ theory has some validity.

Baron Robert Ducie was survived by four sons. Richard, the eldest died unmarried; William (Viscount Downe of Ireland) had no heirs. Son Robert was survived by one daughter, Elizabeth, who later received the estate of her uncle William. Little is known about the fourth son, Hugh, who became a Knight of the Bath.
Baron Robert also had three brothers; John, sometimes referred to as Hugh, Henry (#3), and James (#2). We have no information about descendants of Henry or James. As well, Robert’s second son, William, who left no heir, was identified as travelling to France in 1645 and “licensed to bind an apprentice, John Ducie, to Isaac Lee, a Hamburg merchant.” Any one of these could have come to Ireland during this period, either as a trader or as a warrior against the Irish “rebels” who rallied from Waterford and Wexford from 1641-49.)

Although Sister Agnes’ research missed John Ducey at Lahardan in 1665, the earliest Duceys she found were in Waterford, where many descendants still reside. She lists two brothers, Dennis Ducey and an un-named brother, both born about 1700. She suggests that they were grandsons of “cap’en dowse”. She tells us that the un-named brother emigrated to New England in 1736, perhaps to join descendants of James Ducie, son of Baron Robert, who was slain in Virginia c. 17__.

The existing Irish Index of Wills, shows that in 1783, the first year Irish Catholics were permitted to legally will their property, a will by Dennis Ducey was registered in favor of his three sons, Patrick, William and John, all carrying the Norman spelling of Ducey. Respectively they settle in Ballinatray, Dungarvan and Ballyduff.

Patrick of Ballinatray has four sons. Patrick II, the eldest, emigrates with his wife and family to New York. Son Maurice emigrates to Newfoundland, c.1840. Son John and his family of seven children emigrate to Lindsay, Ontario, some time between 1834 and the death of his wife there in 1847. (Sister Agatha says they left in 1840, the same year Maurice departed.) Son Thomas remains in Ballinatray where he dies in 1845. However his wife and children emigrate to New York, c. 1845 and disperse to Albany, Connecticut and Michigan.

William remains in Dungarven but some of his descendants emigrate to Illinois, c. 1830 and New York, c.1848

John remains in Ballyduff but a son, Thomas emigrates to Boston in 1850, while his second son, John lands in Boston c. 1880.

The movements of these Irish emigrants to North America can be further traced in Sister Agnes Ducey’s book and on the internet. Our efforts at trying to trace the Ducey name from Ducey, France to North America ends here.

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