Currie/Curry Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Currie/Curry Meaning
There are two spelling variants, Currie and
, of approximate equal numbers today.
Currie has Scottish origins, originally from place-names.
There was a Currie in Midlothian, thought to
have derived from the Gaelic word curraigh
meaning a wet plain or marsh, and a Corrie in Dumfriesshire, after the
Gaelic coire or cauldron. Then
again Currie was an anglicization form of the Gaelic MacMhuirrich clan which first began to appear as
Currie in the 18th
The Irish Curry form was an anglicized form of the
Gaelic Comhraidhe, a personal name of
uncertain meaning. As a surname this became O’Corraidh
and O’Corra before Curry.
Currie/Curry Resources on

Currie/Curry Ancestry

A Corrie or Curry family originated from the
place-name Corrie at Annandale in Dumfriesshire. An
early Corrie here was Walter de Corrie, aka
de Curry, who was recorded in the 1296 Ragman Rolls.

This family lost their seat
at Corrie in the 16th century, but a branch established themselves as
Currie at
Duns in Berwickshire. William Currie
held lands called Currie Parks in the
early 1600’s. From his son William who
died in 1681 came:

  • James Currie, the biographer of the poet Robert Burns
  • and William Currie, a distiller and
    who had settled in London.

William’s line
though his eldest son Mark produced Captain Mark Currie, an early
Australian explorer, Sir Frederick Currie, a diplomat in India, and
the Currie baronets which
followed. The line through his younger
son Isaac produced Raikes Currie, an early promoter of the South

The Currie name at Greenock on the mouth of the
Clyde dates from the late 1600’s. Later
Curries from Greenock were:

  • James Currie who was born there in 1724. His descendant
    Daniel Currie emigrated to Canada in 1820.
  • Sir Donald
    Currie, born there in 1825, who became a famous ship-owner. He founded the Castle Line in 1868 and later,
    through amalgamation with his rivals, the Union Castle line to South
    Africa in 1900.
  • Alexander
    Currie who operated a sugar refinery there in the mid/late 1800’s.
  • while G.H.
    Currie blacksmiths, founded in 1851, is now run by the fifth and sixth
    generations of Curries.

Highland Curries. The origin of the Highland
Curries was the MacMhuirrich clan
which first
surfaced on the western isles of Scotland in the early 13th century. For almost five hundred years they were the
Gaelic bards and warriors that served the MacDonalds of the Isles. Their story was recounted in William Currie’s
1977 book With Sword and Harp.

However, after the Jacobite defeat at
Culloden in 1746, Gaelic names became discredited.
The name MacMhuirrich could then be seen in a
variety of forms, such as McMurich and McVurrich, before adopting the
anglicized Currie

This name was to be found in
particular in the Kilcalmonell and Killean parishes of North Kintyre in
Argyllshire. John Currie was a merchant
at Clachan in 1817, according to a tombstone erected at that time. James Currie of Balilone and Garrachoran near
Clachan was granted leadership of these Curries in 1822.

“There was a beautiful and much-loved Gaelic
song Clachan
written by a schoolmaster Angus Fletcher in
praise of Jean
Currie, a lass of great beauty who lived in neigboring Glen Lean.”

Other Curries were on the isle of Islay and
South Uist. Archibald Currie was an
excise officer on Islay but was drowned around the year 1805 while
from Islay to Colonsay. Alexander Currie
of South Uist departed for Cape Breton in Canada in the 1820’s. He too had an unfortunate ending, also from

There has been a rule of thumb that says that the Curry name is
Irish in origin;
while Currie comes from Scotland.
However, this is not strictly true as the spellings have been so
interchanged over the years that the rule does not necessarily apply

Irish. The
Gaelic O’Comhraidhe
has been the root of many Irish Currys.
most numerous and well-known sept


that of Thomond with their centre in county Clare,
recorded there as early as 1317. Eugene
O’Curry from Dunaha in Clare was a
noted 19th century scholar of Irish history.

From Clare the name may have spread southward into Cork (as Corr
or Corry) and into Kerry. There was also
a smaller O’Comhraidhe
sept in Westmeath where they were the chiefs of

O’Corras were to be found on the
Tyrone-Fermanagh border, for instance at Lissan parish in Tyrone in the
century. The name, often subsequently
Curry, became numerous in central Ulster.
Dr. John Curry, the
century physician, was a descendant of an O’Corra family in Cavan.

Scottish. In
Ulster many of the Currys were of Scottish ancestry.
Antrim had the largest numbers. In the 19th century there
was a
concentration to the north of Ballymoney in the barony of Carey.

The main spelling in America has been Curry, possibly because
the earlier arrivals were Scots Irish and spelt themselves Curry.

Scots Irish. William
Curry and his family came to
Pennsylvania from Antrim in 1736 and made their home in Augusta county,
Virginia. Son Robert acquired land
the 1750’s on Naked Creek and his home there remained with the Curry
until 1946. The line from James Curry who arrived from
Antrim in
1762 and was a colonel in the Revolutionary War moved to Kentucky after
war’s conclusion.

Thomas Curry, probably of Scots Irish origin, was born in
Philadelphia in 1745. His son William,
also a colonel in the Revolutionary War, was later a prosperous
owner in Georgia and Alabama. William’s
son JLM Curry was an Alabama political leader who prior to the Civil
War was a
zealous secessionist. After the war he
repositioned himself as a proponent of public education.

George Curry had migrated by that
time from Kentucky to Louisiana where he was a plantation manager. After the Civil War George was an early
leader of the Klu Klux Klan until he was killed by carpet-baggers in
1871. From these unpromising beginnings,
his son
George migrated west to New Mexico three years later.

“At the age of just
thirteen George Curry accepted an invitation to go to New Mexico with a
train. Returning he fell in love with a
beautiful Indian maid named Moon Eyes.
But she soon died. Curry later
reminisced: “Had Moon Eyes lived, it might have changed the course of

George fought with Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the
Spanish American War
and was appointed the Governor of New Mexico territory in 1907. Curry county in New Mexico was named in his

Scots. There were
also Scots
Curries who came during the colonial era:

  • John and Marion Currie from Dumfries,
    for instance, came to Cumberland county, Pennsylvania in the 1730’s. Their descendants moved to North Carolina in
    the 1750’s and later to Tennessee.
  • the Rev. William Currie from Glasgow married
    Margaret Ross in Philadelphia in 1738. He
    died in Valley Forge in 1803 at the grand age of ninety
  • while
    James Currie from Edinburgh arrived in Rockbridge county, Virginia
    around 1774
    and moved onto Ohio in 1808.

Curries from Argyllshire and the western isles of
Scotland started migrating to North Carolina in the 1770’s:

  • Murdoch Currie from
    Colonsay had arrived possibly in the 1770’s, but was recorded as dying
    in North
    Carolina in 1775.
  • Angus Currie from Colonsay came to Robeson county in
    1791. John Currie came to the same
    county in 1805.
  • while Laughlen Currie from Kintyre arrived in Moore
    county, also
    in 1791.

One factor behind this migration was the clearances being
undertaken at
Colonsay in 1791. Those evicted boarded
the George Washington which
transported them directly to Wilmington, North Carolina.

African American. Curry has, for
whatever reason, become an
African American surname. One early
record was that of James Curry of Person county, North Carolina. He was runaway slave who recounted his story
in 1838. Stephen Curry the basketball
player is a famous African American Curry of today.

Many early Curries were to be
found in the Maritime provinces.

Maritime Provinces. Joshua Currey was a
Loyalist from Westchester
county, New York who crossed into New Brunswick in 1783.
Granted land in Gagetown, he settled there to
farm. There is a family Bible, kept by
his son Zebulon
Currie, whose entries began with his own birth in 1795.

were also early Curries on Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The 1798 census recorded a Donald and Angus
Currie from Scotland living there.
Malcolm Currie arrived from Colonsay around 1805; William Currie
came to
Freetown, PEI in 1815. John Currie
arrived in Newfoundland from Argyllshire also around 1815 and was the
keeper of
the Harbour Grace jail. His family was
plagued with deaths, most of his children having died before his own
death in

Elsewhere. A
Curry Loyalist family,
originally from
Ireland, came to Glengarry county, Ontario around the year 1790. They left their name there to Curry
Hill. Another of this family, Ephraim
Curry, moved to Westmeath township in Grenville county.

Sir Arthur Currie
was a Canadian general on the Western Front during World
War One.
His grandfather had come to Canada
from Ireland in 1838 as John
Corrigan. On arrival he converted from
Catholicism to Methodism and changed his name to Curry.
Arthur Currie modified this name further to Currie in 1897,
thereby taking out the Irish connection

Archibald Currie from Dunoon in Argyllshire
was a pioneer of the town of Lismore along the Richmond river in
NSW. He had arrived in Australia in 1853
as crew on a sailing vessel, having apparently deserted.
He was to live in Lismore 63 years, mainly working
in the timber business, until his death in 1916. His
brother Duncan had joined him in 1860 and
took up farming. Duncan’s home at Dunoon became known as the macadamia
capital of Australia. He lived until

Curry in Australia would normally
be Irish in origin. Some early arrivals
were convicts, such as Patrick Curry from county Clare who was
transported to
Australia in 1825. After his release in
1830 he settled to farm in Camden, NSW.
He lived to be eighty and was married three times.

John Curry from Tyrone
came freely with his family on the Oriental
in 1850. A later John Curry
was from England, a Durham coalminer. He
arrived with his family in 1870, but had a troublesome voyage across.


Currie/Curry Miscellany

Currie and Curry Today

Numbers (000’s) Currie Curry Total
UK    17    10    27
America     6    23    29
Elsewhere    18    10    28
Total    41    43    84

Jean Currie and Clachan Glandurel.  The bard who composed this Gaelic love song is sad, because he has parted
from the girl he loved.  The song (in
translation) began:

“My girl of the smooth fair
complexion and the beguiling eyes
Who has grown healthy and active,
Sad were my
steps when we parted
At the village of Glendaruel.”

He then thinks of the time they spent together,
and says that even if King George gave him a place among the nobility,
he would
prefer to be near her.  He knows that the kirk session might not
approve of him,
but says that no matter what happens he will be true to the girl.

The words of
the song were composed by a young unmarried minister, Angus Fletcher of
Dunoon.  The woman who was the subject of
the song – Jean Currie – owned the farm of Coire-Chathaidh near Dunoon.  She later married and became Mrs Black.

Dr. John Curry of Dublin.  John Curry
was a distinguished Catholic physician and writer born in Ireland
early in the 18th century.  He was
descended from the O’Corra family of Cavan who lost their estates in
the wars
of 1641-1652, and 1689-1691.  His
a cavalry officer in James’s army, fell at the battle of Aughrim.

by his religion from obtaining a
degree in Ireland (on account of the stringency of the Penal Laws
Catholics), John Curry went to Paris where he studied medicine for
years.  Returning to practice in Ireland,
he rose to eminence as a physician; and he took up his pen in defense
of his

incident that
impelled him to do so was thus related by his editor, Charles O’Connor:

“In October 1746, as he passed through
the castle yard on the memorial day of the Irish rebellion of 1641, he
met two
ladies and a girl of about eight years of age.
Stepping on a little before them, she turned about suddenly and,
with uplifted
hands and horror in her countenance, exclaimed:

‘Are there any of those bloody
Papists in Dublin?‘

incident, which to a different hearer would be laughable, filled the
with anxious reflections.  He immediately
inferred that the child’s terror proceeded from the impression made on
her mind
by the sermon preached on that day in Christ Church, from whence these
had proceeded.  Having procured a copy of
the sermon, he found that his surmise was well founded.”

combated such bitter prejudices in a Dialogue,
the publication of which created a great sensation.  It was
replied to by
Walter Harris.  Dr. Curry rejoined in
his Historical Memoirs.  In 1775 he published
anonymously An
Historical and Critical Review of the Civil Wars in Ireland

Mr. Wyse,
Mr. O’Conor, and a few more, Dr. Curry was one of the founders of the
Catholic Committee, which in 1760 met privately at the Elephant Tavern
Essex Street in Dublin.  This was the
forerunner of the powerful Catholic Associations which seventy years
afterwards, under O’Connell, achieved Emancipation.

died in 1780. Two of his sons were army officers
in the Austrian service.

James Curry’s Voyage to America.  The Curry family embarked at Belfast for America on board the ship Good
sometime in 1762. A large colony accompanied, including
several brothers with their families and other relatives.

The ship was a fast sailer which had once
made the voyage in five weeks.  But this
trip the vessel had been overloaded so that, what with head winds and
counter-currents, her passage across the Atlantic was prolonged to

Disease, starvation and death meanwhile made sad havoc among the
passengers and crew. The greater part died and were buried at sea,
among them
the four youngest children of James Curry. The ship finally made
and the James Curry family stepped ashore with but three, where seven
have been in number.

The family seems then to have at once started with other
relatives for Virginia.  One of the
brothers went to Pennsylvania and another, from which the Methodist
divine the
Rev. Daniel Curry was reportedly descended, settled in New York.

John Curry’s Voyage to Australia.  John Curry
was a Durham coalminer.  At the age of
39, he departed in 1870 with his wife Margaret and young family on the Percy for a new life in Australia.

The Percy sailed from England to Pernambuco,
Brazil before heading southeast past the Cape of Good Hope and,
assisted by the
Roaring Forties, the vessel arrived in Melbourne after 104 days.

However, not all was well onboard.  There had been nine deaths on the voyage from
suspected typhus, fever and the effects of overcrowding.   The ship was placed in quarantine at the
sanitary station on arrival in Melbourne for a period of eight days.  Margaret Curry in fact gave birth to a baby
boy during this period and was held there for
another week after the rest of the passengers had been towed on board
the Percy to Hobson’s Bay.

Family legend has it
that John Curry tried his luck at the Victoria goldfields.
But he then moved onto the coal mining in
Newcastle, NSW.



Currie/Curry Names

the bard

was the founder in the
early 13th century of the MacMhuirrich later Currie clan in the western
of Scotland.
Dr. John Curry
was an
eminent Dublin physician and organizer of the first Irish Catholic
Committee during the penal code period of the 18th century.

Sir Donald Currie
the Scottish ship-owner who successfully amalgamated
shipping companies to form the Union Castle line in 1900.  

Currie, of Irish extraction, was a
prominent Canadian general on the Western Front during World War One.

Stephen Curry is a
basketball player for the Golden State Warriors, considered one of the
best basketball shooters ever.

Select Currie/Curry Numbers Today

  • 27,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 29,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 28,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


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