Dorsey Surname Genealogy

is the American version. The English and
Irish spellings have been
Darcy or D’Arcy. Darcy is Norman in
origin, deriving from the place-name Orsay village in Seine et Orme. In Ireland Darcy may be either Anglo-Norman
(from Darcys coming from England) or Irish.
In the latter case Darcy is an anglicized form of the
sept O’Dorchaidhe,
which translates as “descendant of the dark one.

Dorsey/Darcy Resources on

Dorsey/Darcy Ancestry

England. The
forebear of the
Darcys was thought to have accompanied William the Conqueror to England
1066. He appeared in the Domesday Book of
1086 as the Norman de Areci, owner of many manors in Lincolnshire. The name became D’Arci and then Darcy.

The Lincolnshire line,
originally based at Nocton, transposed itself into the Darcys of
Knayth, but
died out in 1418. Other lines

  • one
    Darcy line seems to have established itself at Little Malden in
    Essex by the 13th century. Their numbers
    included Henry Darcy, a vintner who became Mayor of London in 1337, and
    Darcy, a royal courtier with Edward VI in the 1550’s.
    This line ended in 1640.
  • another
    line was to be found
    at Temple Hurst near Selby in Yorkshire in the mid-14th century. Thomas Darcy
    of this line
    distinguished himself in battle, but then fell foul of politics during
    reign of Henry VIII and was beheaded in 1537. The
    direct line ended a hundred years later
    in 1637.

Darcys reasserted themselves following the marriage of Thomas Darcy and
Elizabeth Conyers in Yorkshire in 1569.
Their son Conyers Darcy reactivated the baron titles of both
Knayth and
Conyers; and their grandson of the same name was created the Earl of

Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote in the 1760’s:

is remarkable that this
family of Darcy seems to be the only male descendant of any of the
barons now remaining among the Peers.
Lord Holderness is the heir of that family.”

Lord Holderness died in 1778 without male
heirs. But he was thought to have had an
illegitimate son named Francis who was killed fighting in the American
Revolutionary War. Francis’s son Robert
was a Major-General with the Royal Engineers.

Ireland. There have
been two distinct Darcys lines in
Ireland, one Anglo-Norman and the other Irish.

Anglo-Norman. The Anglo-Norman branch got its descent from
Sir John D’Arcy of Knayth who was appointed Chief Justice of Ireland by
II in 1323. The main line, that of
Plattyn, was based at Corbetstown in county Meath. Sir
William D’Arcy was an influential
Anglo-Irish statesman of the early 1500’s, holding the title of
of Ireland.

The D’Arcy lands were forfeited in 1641 as they were Catholic,
returned to them as “innocent papists” in 1661, but forfeited again in
1690. A branch of the family held the Hyde
Park estate in Westmeath from the 1770’s.
Charles D’Arcy of that line was an eminent Anglican clergyman in
in the early 1900’s.

Irish. The
sept which gave rise to the Irish Darcy name had
its origins in Connacht,
perhaps dating
back to the early 1300’s. There were
records of the name in Leitrim, Mayo, and Galway. It
was said that
Riabhac O’Dorchaidhe from the Partraige of Lough
Carra in Mayo was “the first man
of the Uí Dorchaidhe who came to Galway” in the late

Galway has been the place
where most Irish Darcys have come from.
The Darcys in fact were one of the “fourteen tribes of Galway” that
prospered as merchants in the town of Galway.

James Riveagh D’Arcy

had been bailiff of Galway in 1578 and served as its mayor in
1602. Despite some suggestion that he came
from the Anglo-Norman D’Arcys, he was – as the DNA analysis has shown –
of Irish origin.

was the progenitor of the D’Arcys at Kiltullagh
in Athenry parish. One of his sons Martin served as High Sheriff
of Galway in
1635 but was then imprisoned and died the following year.
Another son Patrick trained as a lawyer and
wrote the constitution for a Catholic Confederacy of Ireland in the
1640’s. A later Patrick D’Arcy joined the
brigade in France in the 1750’s and married his cousin Jane D’Arcy, a
lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette.

Ireland there were other descendant lines at Newforest and Clifden in
and at Gorleen in county Mayo (where William
Knox D’Arcy
, the oil pioneer in Persia, was a descendant).

America. Maryland had the leading numbers of Darseys in
1840 and has so today.

Maryland. Edward
Darcy was among the first
settlers of Anne Arundel county in Maryland in 1649, having come there
with other Puritans from
He drowned in an accident off the Isle of Kent in 1659.
His ancestry has been the subject of much
debate, the DNA analysis suggesting that he probably came from Ireland
than from England.

Darcy became
with Edward’s sons and other Darcys that have come to
America have tended to follow suit. Edward and John Dorsey were
prosperous planters in Maryland. Among their descendants were:

  • on John’s side came Samuel Dorsey who moved south to
    Louisiana in the
    1830’s where he became a wealthy plantation owner. He lost most
    of his land
    holdings during the Civil War. His wife Sarah was a
    well-known Southern writer.
  • while on Edward’s side came John Dorsey who settled in
    Fayetteville, Georgia in the early 1800’s. Two descendants were
    John Manson Dorsey, whose ghost was said to haunt the family home, and
    his brother Rufus Dorsey who became a county judge in Atlanta.
    Rufus’s son Hugh, also a lawyer, was a state prosecutor who served as
    Governor of Georgia from 1917 to 1921.
  • also on Edward’s side came much later, it is thought, the Big
    Band Dorsey brothers. Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey grew up in
    Pennsylvania in the early 1900’s.

The lineage of the family was covered in the 1947 book The Dorsey Family by Dorsey, Dorsey
and Nimmo.

Another place for Dorseys was North Carolina. The name began to
appear there in various counties in the mid/late 1700’s.

Andrew Dorsey, recorded there in Rowan county in 1766,wais thought to
have originated from Maryland. Joseph Dorsey, who fought with his
five sons in the Revolutionary War, was also said to have moved from
Maryland to North Carolina before finally settling in Georgia.
Elisha Dorsey, born in 1773, was a founder member of the Gilboa
Methodist church in Burke county. His line was traced in David
Dorsey’s 1975 book Elisha Dorsey of
Burke County, North Carolina.

John and
Marie Dorsey were Irish immigrants who had come to Vermont in the
1830’s and later migrated
westward to Ohio. Their son Stephen prospered
after the Civil War and moved to Arkansas where he was elected its
Governor from 1873 to 1879. He
got rich through corrupt mail contracts,
narrowly escaping prosecution, and retreated
to his Mountain Spring cattle ranch in New Mexico. The nearby town of Clayton was named after
his son.

African American.
Dorsey can also be an African American name, found initially in
Maryland and later, and nore notably, in Georgia:

  • there were a number of Dorsey tobacco plantations in the Howard
    district of Anne Arundel county, Maryland. Family stories talk of
    an escaped slave named Dorsey who fled Maryland for Canada in the
    1850’s and changed his name to Thomas. Other Dorseys remained in
    the state. Decatur Dorsey distinguished himself in fighting
    during the Civil War. One Dorcey family at Sykesville today holds
    a reuntion every Labor Day.
  • Georgia provided D.A. Dorsey, the son of former slaves, who
    migrated to Florida in the 1890’s and made his fame and fortune in
    Miami. When he died in 1940, flags were lowered to half-mast all
    over Miami. Georgia also provided Tom Dorsey, known in his early
    years as Georgia Tom, who is widely regarded as the father of black
    gospel music.

Australia. James and Mary Darcy immigrated from Tipperary
in Ireland in the 1850’s and made their home in West Maitland,
NSW. Their grandson Les Darcy, born there in 1895,
became one of the greatest middleweights that ever fought. He
died tragically at the young age of 21.

Dorsey/Darcy Miscellany

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

Dorsey/Darcy Names

an Irish Catholic
leader in the Confederacy wars of the 1640’s and wrote the constitution

a Confederate Ireland.

Mr. Darcy
the famous
fictional character in Jane Austen’s Pride
and Prejudice.

William Knox D’Arcy
, an
Englishman, struck oil in Persia
(now Iran) in 1908 and was one of the founders of the Anglo-Persian Oil
that became BP.

was a bandleader
during the Big Band era of jazz. He was
known as
the “sentimental gentleman of swing” because of his smooth-toned
trombone playing.
Arnold Dorsey
the birth name of the singer who burst into stardom in the 1960’s as Engelbert

Jack Dorsey
the co-founder and CEO
of Twitter

Select Dorseys/Darcys Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Maryland)
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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