Origins of the Surname
s you may
already know from Edward MacLysaght's work on Irish Families, the Norman name "de Lucy", originating
from the town of Luce in the Orne region of Normandy, France, was prominent in Ireland in the fourteenth century;
for Anthony de Lucy was Justiciar in 1332. The name also appears earlier in the Gormanston Register, at Carlingford
in 1305. There is however no evidence that there are any present representatives of the de Lucy families in Ireland
and it is therefore believed that we are Gaelic in origin, the surname being Ó Luasaigh in Irish. This may
be a corruption of MacCluasaigh, which is now also obsolete. Around 660 the poet St. Colmán ua Cluasaigh
from the monastery at Cork wrote one of the earliest examples of the written Irish language. Between 1302 and 1307
a grant was made to Thomas Ó Lousy of the Archdeaconry of Cashel. A Robert Mac Clwos of Cork obtained "English
Liberty" in 1560 and later in the century several persons called MacCluosse appear in the Elizabethan Fiants
living in Co. Cork. In the Fiants for 1601 are recorded a James Lowsse, Gullishie Ó Lwoshie, Tige and Donell
Ó Lwosie of Muskerry and Gillpatrick Ó Lowsie of Ballivorney. Also mentioned are Gulestie Ó
Lwoshie of Mashanaglas, Owliffe Ó Lwosie of Kilmidie and Shane Ó Lwosie of Ballyvoyrane; all of County
Cork. In 1649 one of the "46 officers" was a Charles Lucey, listed as a commissioned officer owed arrears,
who served Charles 1st. or 2nd. in the wars of Ireland prior to 5th June 1649. As Luosy it is found in the Kinsale
presentments of 1712, among the "Popish" inhabitants against which execution was obtained (robbery warrants
against Dennis Luocy and Tiege Luosy). In 1865 including variations in spelling, all the total number of 43 Irish
birth registrations occurred in Munster, 39 in Cork. Similarly in 1890 of the 42 registrations, 35 were in Cork
and 4 in Kerry. The calculated population of Irish Luceys in 1890 was 1,882. In 1876 no Luceys owned land over
rior to 1800 the Luceys
were resident around Ballyvourney and Kilnamartery, both west of Macroom, Co. Cork and around the 1820's also at
Inchigeelagh (Iveleary or Eveleary) further West, Ballymakeery, Clondrohid, Coolmountain, Kilmichael, Nohovaldaly
and Dromtarriff (Drumtarriff), NW of Millstreet. Later in the century births were also registered in Co. Kerry
- Glen Flesk, Ardfert, Castleisland and in Co. Cork - Slievereagh, Millstreet and Boherbue. Early prominent residents
who left wills were Maurice Lucey (Cork City Merchant 1782), Thomas Lucey (Cork merchant and tailor 1770) and Catharine
Lucey (1771 of Cork). Daniel Lucey (tobacconist and chandler) is also noted in the Macroom directory of 1824.
s you may
know the difficulty with genealogical research in Ireland is that almost all parish and census records were destroyed
in 1922. Between 1750 and 1800 Ireland began to suffer from a rapid over population and rural crisis. The people
rented minute plots of land, with little substance and capital, known as cottiers, from tenant farmers on inferior
uplands above good farming land. Rent was paid off in labour with potatoes grown for subsistence and pig fattening.
An increasing number of peasants had to take conacre (land hired for a single season) at inflated rents. By 1830
only a third of the rural labourers could count on permanent employment. Seasonal migrant labour became more common,
for example from West Cork to Waterford, Limerick and increasingly from the 1820's to the English haymaking and
harvest seasons. As population grew, dependence on the potato grew.
heir cabins were constructed
of mud and consisted of one room. 60-75% of all houses were of this type, with a hole in the wall for light, no
glass and a board to stop it up, often in isolated communities of twenty houses or less. On death all holdings
were sub-divided among the children. In the early 1800's coach road-building opened up West Cork and Kerry, areas
previously almost completely isolated. The majority spoke Irish and were illiterate. I suspect our Lucey ancestors
were caught in an Ireland of extreme poverty, social tensions and unrest.
April 1847 there were many food riots, violence and a flight to the cities. 20,000 paupers invaded Cork City. Ireland
was not a place to which to return. In May and June 1847 a M. and P. Lucey (aged 24 & 27, labourers) emigrated
from Liverpool on the ships Adam-lodge and Constitution respectively to the U.S.A. Also a John (1860), John (1868),
William senior and junior (1834) and Anthony (1838) were naturalized in Philadelphia. Another Lucey emigrated to
San Francisco with his wife. The less well off emigrated to Liverpool, the Clyde, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport
from Cork and Skibbereen and on landing literally swarmed across Britain seeking food and spreading disease, reaching
Bath in November 1847 and passing through Bristol to South Wales to the West Country.
England and Wales prior to the commencement of National records in 1836 the surname Lucey occurs almost exclusively
in London (records date from 1540) and Ashburton Devon (records from 1630). The name Lucy is obviously intermixed
and occurs in these areas with Dynock, Gloucestershire, the Charlecote Lucy's and their connection with Shakespeare,
in addition. These appear to be separate sources of the same surname. The Devon Luceys were extinct by 1800, while
the Lucey form remains today by far the most common in Ireland, the majority still resident in Co. Cork. In the
1830's and 1840's the majority still lived in Bermondsey with further families located in the City of London, Ledbury,
Weymouth, Clifton and Stoke Damerel in the West, and Huddersfield in the North. Ledbury and Huddersfield appear
also to be centres for the Lucy family.
the native habitat of Ireland, which is roughly between Macroom and the Kerry border, they are rather obviously
one clan, and cousinage can usually be traced from one family to another. There is even supposed to be a Lucey
or physical type which is probably at least partly true. In some places they are known as the 'black Luceys'. The
prefix 'O', which is found in all early records of the family, except where it is called 'Mac', is most unusual
among Norman families who usually, in Gaelic, take the 'De' as in de Burgo or de Paor or other familiar names.
The probability is that the Luceys were a branch or sept of the McCarthy clan, and that they were called Lucey
by Normans and English to whom their name sounded like Lucy.
he earliest Irish records
of the name are in the time of Queen Elizabeth and relate to legal action taken against members of the family for
their part in McCarthy wars and rebellions. Here the form of the name is found earliest as Mac Luasaigh and a little
later as Ó Luasaigh. There is a tradition of the Luceys coming from somewhere north of Cork to take military
service with the McCarthys. If this is true, they almost certainly came from the North of Ireland or from the Isles
of Scotland as the McSweeneys came. This would make them Scottish or North of Ireland Gaels and it has been suggested
that there is something a little foreign or exotic, in a Cork sense, about the Luceys as a whole. If they came
down as gallowglasses with the McSweeneys at that time to take service with the McCarthys, it is possible that
the name is cognate or related to the name McCluskey which is found in Limerick, Galway, Donegal and Scotland,
and which is quite probably a gallowglass name.
hat is certain
is that the name goes back in West Cork at least as far as the sixteenth century and has always been connected
with McCarthy lands and McCarthy fortunes. The usual Cork spelling of the surname is of course LUCEY. If the name
is Norman, this is incorrect. If it is Gaelic, one takes one's choice of two Anglicisations LUCEY or LUCY.
|I am interested in all contacts researching the surnames LUCEY & LUCY. From early
sources in England & Ireland, some back as far as 1066, I have a database and many genealogies of individuals
with these surnames and would be very interested in making contact with all those with similar interests. Many
links are with the USA, Canada, South Africa & Australia. I also have a register of all births, marriages &
deaths in England & Wales for LUCEY/LUCY from 1836. Please contact me on the e-mail address below to see if
I can be of assistance.
PS: I also have a special interest in the SIGOURNAY & SIGOURNEY surnames.