Tracy Surname Genealogy
The Gaelic word treasach
meaning “warlike” or “fighter” gave rise to various O’Treasaigh
The earliest name reference was
in 1008 when it was recorded: “Gussan, son of Ua Treassach and lord of
Ui-Bairriche, died.” O’Treasagh was most often anglicized as
Treacy, sometimes as Tracey,
and often in its travels to America as Tracy. All three spellings
Tracey, and Tracy – exist today.
Tracy also has a Ango-Norman origin, from the place-name Tracy in
Tracy/Treacy Resources on
- Tracey Clan
Tracy/Tracy/Treacy clan website.
- Tracy and Campbell Tracys
of Connecticut and Georgia.
- The Tracy Family History
Tracys in the American West.
The Tracy line in England derived from an illegitimate son of
Henry I who took his mother’s name de Tracy and was granted the estate
of Toddington in Gloucestershire. His son, Sir William de Tracy, was
notorious for being one of the four assassins of Sir Thomas a Becket in
Despite this ignominy, the Tracys through his daughter continued at
Toddington and were frequently recorded as sheriffs and knights of
Gloucestershire in the succeeding centuries. Sir William Tracy
was one of the earliest champions of the Reformation under Henry VIII
and secured the manor of Stanway. However, the family were
Royalist during the Civil War, were heavily fined, and lost their
position. The Tracys did retain the Irish title of Viscount of
Rathcoole until the line became extinct in 1797.
There were initially three distinct O’Treasaigh septs:
- one in SE Galway, although they were dispersed from there at an
- the second in west Cork, a branch of which migrated to Limerick
- and a third in county Laios near the Carlow border, although
these were also dispersed over time.
The Trassy and O’Trassy spellings were recorded in the 1659
Tracey, and Treacy appeared in Griffith’s Valuation of the
mid 19th century. Tracy has retreated in favor of Treacy since
that time. Sean Treacy, the young IRA leader at the time of the
Irish War of Independence, came from Tipperary.
The main Treacy groupings today are in east Galway and west Cork and in
counties around Laios. Further north the spelling becomes
Tracey; while Tracy is found in Dublin.
America. The early Tracys
in America were of English origin, with William Tracy of the
Gloucestershire Tracys in Virginia in 1620 and Thomas Tracy, a ship’s
carpenter, who came to New England in the 1630’s and was among those
who helped settle the Connecticut river valley and found the town of
Norwich, Connecticut in 1660. Descendants of Thomas Tracy
- two brothers, Phineas and Albert, who were New York state
politicians in the early 1800’s.
- and a third brother Edward who left New England for Macon,
Georgia where he prospered. He served as its second mayor in
1826. His sons Edward and Philemon Tracy were
Confederate officers who perished during the Civil War.
Another line via Wheeler Tracy settled in Gouldsboro, Maine.
The first Irish Tracy in America was probably Patrick Tracey who had
left Wexford penniless for Massachusetts in the 1740’s and prospered in
shipping at Newbury. His son Nathaniel, an ardent American
patriot, was one of the first Yankee privateers to harass and capture
British shipping. However, when the war ended, conditions
changed and Nathaniel soon found himself bankrupt. He retired to
a farm in Newbury.
Most later Tracys in America were of Irish extraction, the most famous
of them being Spencer
Tracy the Hollywood actor who was born to an Irish Catholic
family in Milwaukee.
Australia. Biddy Tracy,
orphaned in Galway, came to Victoria in 1841 and married John
Andrews. Her life story was handed down in family papers.
Brother Patrick Treacy was a Roman Catholic educationalist from
Tipperary who in 1868 established Australia’s first permanent Christian
Brothers community in Melbourne. By the time he retired in 1900
he had set up 27 of these schools in Australia.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
William de Tracy was notorious as
one of the four English knights that assassinated Thomas a Becket in
Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.
Sean Treacy was a young IRA
leader during the Irish War of Independence. He was shot dead by
the British during a shoot-out in 1920.
Dick Tracy was a popular
American comic book character devised by Chester Gould in the 1930’s.
Spencer Tracy was a renowned
Hollywood actor who career spanned the 1930’s to the 1950’s.
Select Tracys/Treacys/Traceys Today
- 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 13,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
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