Hickey Surname Genealogy

Irish surname Hickey is an anglicization of the Gaelic O’hlcidhe from the word iceadh, meaning “healer.” The
name was the result of the Hickey clan’s position as hereditary
physicians to the O’Briens. The Hickey name is sometimes spelt

Resources on

Hickey Ancestry

The O’Hickeys
claim an ancient heritage
. They emerged first as a
clan in county Clare. They were court physicians to the powerful
O’Brien royal family of
Thomond, practicing what today might be called folk medicine.
They were known for their medical knowledge
and for their surgery, skills that were passed down from father to son.

“By tradition, the O’Hickeys were noted
for brain surgery, especially the art of trepanning with silver plates
the skull fractures and other head injuries sustained in battle.”

The O’Hickeys held the clan lands of Drim,
Ballyhickey, and other townlands in the vicinity of Quin in county
Clare. By the 14th century they had also branched out into
northern Tipperary and Limerick. They were generally known more
as being scholarly than for any warrior tendencies.

The English incursion threatened them as it did other Irish
landowners. The O’Hickey’s reputation as physicians saved them in
1602. But Cromwell’s confiscations in 1654 saw their lands at
Drim and Ballyhickey being taken.

William Hickie was able to re-establish one branch of the family at
Kilelton in county Kerry, where they remained for the next two hundred
years. The death of a later William Hickie was recorded as

“On September 23, 1847 at Killelton
House in county Kerry died William Hickie, aged 80 years. He was
one of the oldest Catholic magistrates of that county, having got a
commission of the peace on the first year that Catholics were eligible.”

The Ennis Hickeys, many of whom served in India during the 18th
century, also came from the Hickeys of Drim. Notable among the
family were two sons of a Dublin confectioner, John and Thomas Hickey,
who made their marks as a sculptor and as a portrait painter.

Not all Hickeys were well-off and many emigrated when times fot
hard. Today the Hickey name is common throughout Ireland but
strongest in Clare, Tipperary, and Limerick.

England. The Hickey name
is well-known in the prosperous London suburbs of Richmond and
Twickenham. Joseph Hickey was a lawyer who arrived from Ireland and
made a name for himself in London. He and his family moved to a
new house in Twickenham in 1757. His seventh child William Hickey
was a young tearaway who spent long years in India and lived to write
his Memoirs. Meanwhile,
the Hickey name is remembered in Richmond by the Hickey almshouses on
Sheen Road which the family had endowed.

Some Hickeys came to America in the 18th century,
such as the John Hickey who came to Virginia and his son Cornelius Hickey
who settled in Tennessee. The most famous (or infamous) of these
Hickeys was the Thomas Hickey who was a guard to George
Washington. In 1776 he was implicated in a plot to assassinate
the General, was tried by court martial, and promptly executed.

Larger Hickey numbers arrived in the 19th century. James Hickey
from Cork was a prominent saloon keeper in Boston. His daughter
Mary married into the Kennedy clan. Maurice and Thomas
Hickey came from Lough Gur in Limerick in the 1850’s to Chicago and
worked there as laborers.

And some Hickeys ventured further afield. Morris and Ann Hickey
came to Hudson, Wisconsin in the 1840’s to farm. James and
Hickey (later joined by James’s father Michael Hickey) were pioneers in
NE Iowa, arriving in Palo Alto county in 1856
and raising eleven children there. James died at his home in 1914
at the ripe old age of eighty seven.

Canada. The 1820’s and
1830’s saw an influx of Hickeys into Canada. Some appeared on the
McCabe List of 1829. Others came to Quebec or were to be found in
Fitzroy township just outside Ottawa. Denis and Ellen Hickey had
arrived in Quebec in 1832 and then settled in Raleigh township in Kent
county, Ontario.

Australia. Hickeys came
first as convicts and later as free settlers. Among these
arrivals were:

  • Patrick Hickey from Tipperary,
    who was transported for life in 1828. His large family came out
    with him
    to Australia. Daughter Ann married a sheep farmer Charles
    Walker in Braidwood, NSW who looked after the family. Patrick
    himself was released in 1844 and lived onto 1858.
  • another Patrick Hickey, this time from Wicklow, who came to South
    Australia on the Lord Raglan in
    1854. He worked as a laborer in Port Adelaide.
  • and Denis and Catherine Hickey
    from Cork, who arrived in Queensland on the Hannah More n 1865. Denis
    worked as a laborer in Queensland for several years before they bought
    land and moved to Coonabarabran, NSW. Denis lived onto


Hickey Miscellany

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

Select Hickey Names

Nicholas O’Hickey was a transcriber
of Greek medical tracts in the early 15th century. A portion of
his manuscript has been preserved and is in the British Museum.
Thomas Hickey
was a noted 18th century Irish portrait painter.
William Hickey wrote his Memoirs in the early 19th
They give a very vivid picture of life in late 18th century
London, Calcutta, Madras, and Jamaica where he was posted. The Daily Express named their gossip
column after him in 1933.

Select Hickeys

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York)
  • 21,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland).



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