Select Cassidy Surname Genealogy

The Irish surname Cassidy and its variants Cassiday, Casaday, Cassedy, and Casidy are anglicized forms of the Gaelic name O'Caiside, a derivative of cas, meaning "curly headed."  The name originated in county Fermanagh.

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Select Cassidy Ancestry

Ireland.  All Cassidys came originally from Fermanagh, where for centuries they were prominent not in warfare but in peace, culture, and scholarship.  Their ancient home was Ballycassidy, just north of Enniskillen.  The bardic poet Giolla Mochuda Mor O'Casside was famed among the men of learning of his time. He wrote the poem Banshenchas (The Lore of Woman) in 1147 which tells of the history of women in the world. 

From the 1300's, when the Maguires assumed control of Fermanagh, the Cassidys acted as their hereditary physicians and were, during that time, the authors of several medical tracts.  They were also one of the church families of Fermanagh.  However, after the Scottish plantations in the early seventeenth century, the Cassidys, like nearly all the leading Gaelic families in the province, lost their power as chiefs. 

There are still Cassidys in Fermanagh.  But many moved away to the nearby counties of Meath, Cavan, and Donegal; and others emigrated.

England and Scotland.
  That Cassidys are to be found in Glasgow and Lancashire is not surprising as these were the closest immigrating points for Irishmen seeking a better life.  This description of James Cassidy from Enniskillen may have been typical of many who crossed the Irish Channel:

"James was an agricultural laborer and would have lived with his family in a cottage made of rough stone with a thatched roof.  There would have been separations for a kitchen and a bedroom which allowed little for home comforts.  The food was chiefly potatoes, fish, pottage, milk, butter, and eggs. As a farm laborer, James was earning no more than 10d per day."

James left Fermanagh in 1840 with his wife and three children for Glasgow where they all worked in the cotton mills.  His grandson was able to escape these mills.  James Rice Cassidy set up his own theatrical company with his wife Lilian and toured the north of England, to great acclaim, in the early 1900's. 

Another who made it was John Cassidy from county Meath.  He had moved to Manchester and became a well-known sculptor
in the inter-war years through his various public works.  

America.  The first arrivals may well have been indentured servants.  Catherine Cassidy was a servant of John Hutchins in Virginia in 1703. 

Peter Cassity arrived later in the century.  His family moved onto Kentucky in the 1780's.  Patrick Cassidy fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War and was granted land in Newry, Pennsylvania - which he named after his hometown in Ireland. 

Many more Cassidys came in the 1840's after the potato famine and again in the 1870's and 1880's.  These Cassidys settled for the most part in the Irish communities in Brooklyn.  

Two sons of these immigrants did well:
  • Lewis Cassidy, who moved with his family to Philadelphia at an early age, studied law and later became Attorney General of Pennsylvania. 
  • John Cassidy profited more fortuitously.   He was paid handsomely for standing in as a Civil War volunteer in place of the Spreckels sugar fortune heir.  He invested his money in cottages on Shelter Island, a place which later became a fashionable gathering spot for New York society. 
In the 20th century, from these roots, came the actor Jack Cassidy and his actor/singer son David Cassidy.  Daniel Cassidy, who grew up in a NY Irish neighborhood, compiled the 2007 best seller, How The Irish Invented Slang.

The Cassidy claIm to Wild West fame is mainly fictional.  Butch Cassidy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in fact born Robert Parker, the son of Irish immigrants from Lancashire.  Hopalong Cassidy was the fictional creation of Clarence Mulford.  But Neal Cassady, icon of the 1950's Beat generation, had come from an Irish Quaker Casady family who had immigrated to America in the early 19th century.  

Canada.  William and Jane Cassidy from Donegal were early arrivals, in 1819, in St. John, New Brunswick. They settled in what is now called Cassidy Lake.  Although their original homestead has burnt down, there remain the foundations, apple orchards, cemetery and church that they built. 

Patrick and Margaret Cassidy came from county Cavan in the 1820's.  They later moved on to farm in Illinois.  Thomas Cassidy from West Meath appeared on the 1829 McCabe list of workers on the Rideau canal to connect Montreal with Toronto. He and his family stayed to farm in Wakefield township, Quebec. 

New Zealand.  Thomas Cassidy from county Meath was one of the earliest arrivals into New Zealand.  He had been transported to Australia for seven years for stealing a pig.  After serving his term he embarked for New Zealand in 1829 and arrived in the north Auckland area where he married the daughter of a local Maori chief.  From this marriage have come a large number of descendants. 

Hugh Cassidy from Donegal came to New Zealand in the 1860's and ran hotels and a coach service from Hokitika on South Island for many years.  His son Michael ended up a lawyer and apparently a shrewd one, "charging exorbitant fees to those who could afford them and nominal ones to those who couldn't."

Select Cassidy Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Cassidy Names

Giolia Mochuda Mor Caiside was an early bardic poet of Ireland. 
Caiside (Rory O Cassidy) was archdeacon of Clogher Cathedral in the early 1500's.     
Thomas Cassidy
, an expelled Augustinian friar and later soldier of fortune, wrote a racy autobiography which was popular in Ireland in the eighteenth century.
Lewis Cassidy rose to become the Attorney General of Pennsylvania in the 1880's. 
Con Cassidy
was one of the great Donegal fiddle players of the 20th century. 
Cardinal Edward Cassidy, born in Australia, was one of the leading Vatican emissaries in the late 20th century.
David Cassidy of New York Irish roots is an American actor, singer, and guitarist. 

Select Cassidys Today
  • 21,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lanarkshire)
  • 8,500 in America (most numerous in New York).
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada) 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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