Brophy Surname Genealogy

name was derived from the Irish Ui
or O’Broithe sept of
uncertain meaning. The ancestral seat of
this family was Ballybrophy in present-day Laois in the Irish midlands

Brophy Resources on

Brophy Ancestry

Brophy sept had its roots in the ancient kingdom
of Osraige in Leinster. In the Brophy early history, this
sept were
driven north by the Anglo-Norman invasion in the late 12th century from
Kilkenny to the territory of Upper Ossory in present-day Laois. They made their family seat at
Ballybrophy. The territory was held by
the Fitzpatricks who had ingratiated themselves with the English during
16th century but then had their lands forfeited after the Jacobite
defeat in

Griffith’s mid-19th century Valuation of Ireland, the
two leading counties of Brophy households
were Kilkenny and Laois. Significant
numbers also existed in Dublin and Tipperary.

One Brophy family traces itself
back to the Roscrea area in Tipperary around the time of the Great
Famine. Some of these Brophys departed for
England or
America. Catherine Brophy was a young
orphan girl who was sent to Australia in 1856.
Dublin descendants have included the Brophy Brothers Ceili Band.

England. John Brophy came to Liverpool from Ireland
with his wife Agnes sometime in the 1890’s.
He worked on the docks and was later an earthenware dealer. His son John escaped his dull adolescence in
that city in 1914.

the age of fourteen (lying about his age), he managed to
join the British army at the outbreak of war.
His lie was never detected and he went on to serve four years in
infantry. In 1919 he was just eighteen
when he was demobilized and walked out with a limp brought about by

He became a writer. He was the
author of some forty books, many of which were based on his experiences
the war. His daughter Brigid Brophy was
an even more well-known writer and social critic.

William Brophy, a plasterer, and his wife
Mary from Tipperary came to England in 1887 and eventually settled in
Liverpool. Their son Francis Brophy enlisted in the
War, but did not survive it.

Brophy arrivals in America
during the 19th century included:

  • Michael
    Brophy from Carlow who arrived in New
    York on the Dublin Packet in 1816.
  • James
    Brophy from Kilkenny who came on the Caledonia
    in 1843 and made his home in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Thomas
    Brophy from Dublin who
    arrived a year later and worked for the New York Central Railroad
    Company for
    close on fifty years.
  • Mathew
    Brophy who arrived from Ireland on the Albert Gallatin
    in 1850 and settled in
    Davenport, Iowa
  • Patrick
    Brophy from Carlow who came in 1877 and moved out to
    Butte, Montana four years later. There
    he started a successful wholesale and retail grocery business.
  • James
    Brophy from
    Laios who came to Iowa in 1883 before later moving to Colorado where he
    his home in Yuma county.
  • and,
    the best known, John Brophy from a family of
    miners in Lancashire, who came with his family as a young boy to the
    Pennsylvania coal mines in 1892. He
    started work there at the age of eleven and rose through the union
    ranks to run
    as President of the United Mine Workers of America by 1926.

Arizona. Michael Brophy from Kilkenny had taken part
in the Irish uprising of 1798 and been executed by the British. His descendants, however, ventured into the
American southwest. The first record of
them there was in 1851 when Francis Brophy, who had enlisted in the US
Army in
Mexico, died at Cebolleta in New Mexico.
Other Brophys followed from the 1860’s onward.
Hank Brophy was a member of the John Kinney
cattle rustling gang in southern New Mexico in the 1870’s.

William Brophy
arrived in Arizona in 1881 and joined his brother James at a ranch in
Sulfur Springs Valley. He was later
successfully involved in a number of mining and banking ventures in
before departing for France in 1917 to serve with the Red Cross during
War One. After his death in 1922 his
widow Ellen founded Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit
high school, in Phoenix.

William’s son Frank was a banker and rancher who
acquired in 1935 the Babacomari

in southern Arizona where he bred and trained racehorses and raised

Canada. Brophy is a well-known name in
Maritime provinces of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
William Brophy was a local Newfoundland Assembly
politician in the 1920’s. Brophy
and Brophy Place in
St. John’s were named in
his honor. More recently, Father Ed
Brophy from St. John’s has become known for his short-story writing.

earlier, around 1818, there were Brophys attached to the Newfoundland
Regiment. Thomas Brophy later moved to
Halifax, Nova Scotia. John Brophy, the well-known
ice hockey
coach, was born in Halifax in 1933.

Australia and New
Zealand. Some
early Brophys were
forcibly transported to Australia:

  • William
    was convicted for pig stealing
    in Limerick in 1828 and transported to Australia on the Governor
    the following year. He received
    his certificate of pardon in 1835, but died in
    Sydney in
  • while
    Hugh Brophy, a leading Fenian agitator in Dublin, was transported
    for political reasons to Western Australia in 1868, the last year for
    shipment. Brophy was pardoned the
    following year. But he never returned to
    Ireland and died in Melbourne in 1919 at the grand age of 90 years.

about the gold boom, Kyran Brophy left the
family farm in Laois and departed for Melbourne on the Constantine
in 1859. He was unsuccessful at the Ballarat
goldfields, but more successful two years later at the Otago goldfields
in New
Zealand where his party cleared £800 per man in twelve months. He settled to farm in Pleasant Valley, South

Daniel Brophy
Kilkenny also made it to the Ballarat goldfields, in his case in 1855,
and he
stayed. He turned out to be a shrewd
investor in local mining ventures and soon prospered.
As a sincere Catholic and Irish nationalist,
Brophy won high repute among his fellow Catholics.
In 1868 he played a leading part in raising a
fund to relieve the Irish political prisoners sent to Western Australia

Select Brophy Miscellany

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

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was appointed Prior of the Augustinian monastery of Aghamacart in
Ireland in 1481.
John Brophy was
a leading American trade unionist, first
with the United Mine Workers of America in the 1920’s and then with the
the 1930’s and 1940’s.

John Brophy
was a well-known Canadian
ice hockey player and coach, supposedly the inspiration for the Paul
Newman ice
hockey movie Slap Shot in 1977.

Brigid Brophy

was a 20th century British novelist, critic and campaigner for social

Select Brophys Today

  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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