De Courcy family genealogy

Arms: Ar. three eagles displ. gu. ducally crowned or. Crest: On a ducal coronet or, an eagle displ. ar. Motto: Vincit omnia veritas.

This family name has been variously rendered Courcy, Courcie, Curcy, Cursie, and Curcie; and, according to Lodge, is allied to most of the princes of Europe. It derives its descent in the male line from the House of Lorraine, of the race of the Emperor Charlemagne, who died A.D. 814; and, in the female line, from the three first Dukes of Normandy. Tracing the descent from Charles Martel, the following is the pedigree:

1. Charles Martel, had:

2. Pepin, King of France, who had:

3. Charlemagne (or Charles the Great), King of France (d. 814), who had:

4. Louis (the third son), who had:

5. Charles (b. 823), who had:

6. Louis II. (b. 844; Emperor, 878), who had:

7. Charles III., who had:

8. Charles, Duke of Lorraine, who had:

9. Charles, who had:

10. Wigelius De Courcie, who had:

11. Balderic Teutonicus,[1] who mar. the niece of Gilbert, Earl of Brion, in Normandy (and daughter of the Earl of Clare), and had six sons and seven daughters. The third of these sons was:

12. Robert De Courcy, Lord of Courcy, in Normandy, who married and had:

13. Richard De Courcy (d. 1098), who accompanied William, Duke of Normandy (afterwards known as William the Conqueror), in his expedition to England, and was present at the decisive battle of Hastings, fought on Saturday, the 14th October, 1066; after which the said Richard was granted several lordships in England, one of which was that of Stoke, in the co. of Somerset, which, with the other lordships, he held per integram baroniam. This Richard mar. and had:

14. Robert, Lord of Courcy, in Normandy, and Baron of Stoke-Courcy, who was “Sewer” or Steward of the Household to King Henry I., and to the Empress Maud: by the former of whom the said Robert was in 1133 made one of the greater barons at Westminster; and in that year was, with Stephen, Earl of Moreton (afterwards King Stephen), and others of the nobility, a witness to the Confirmation Charter of the said King Henry to the Prior and Convent of St. Bartholomew, London; this Robert was the founder of the Nunnery of Cannington, in Somersetshire; he married one of the six daughters of Hugh Le Grantmesnil,[2] Lord of Hinckley, in the co. of Leicester, who was Lord High Steward of England, and who died 22nd February, 1098. This Robert mar. and had:

15. Robert De Courcy, Baron of Stoke, who was the principal Commander of the English forces against the Scots at the battle of Northampton. He mar. and had:

16. William, Lord of Islip (d. 1171), who mar. Juliana, dau. of Risherim De Aquila, and had two sons and a daughter:

  1. Sir John De Courcy, first earl of Ulster, of whom presently.
  2. Jordan De Courcy, or, as he was also called, Jordan Teutonicus, who was the ancestor of the De Exeter Jordan[3] family; and who in 1197 was killed in Ulster by an Irish retainer.
  3. The daughter was married to Sir Almeric Tristram, ancestor of the Earl of Howth.

Sir John De Courcy having served King Henry II. in his wars in England and Gascoigne was sent by that Monarch to Ireland in 1177. Of the Anglo-Norman invaders of Ireland, Sir John De Courcy was one of the most renowned. He was a man of great strength, of gigantic stature, and indomitable courage. Holingshed states that De Courcy rode on a white horse, and had three eagles painted on his standards, to fulfil a prophecy made by Merlin, viz., “that a knight riding on a white horse, and bearing birds on his shield, should be the first of the English who, with force of arms, would enter and conquer Ulster.”

De Courcy had his chief castle at Downpatrick; he assisted William Fitz Adelm in the government of Ireland, from 1177 to 1179. Among the Religious Houses endowed by De Courcy was the Abbey for Benedictines at Downpatrick, circa 1180, to which he gave a Charter which was witnessed by his brother Jordan De Courcy; and St. Andrew’s Monastery, in the Ards.[4]

In 1181, he was created Earl of Ulster, to which dignity was attached the lordship of Connaught; he was the first of the Anglo-Norman invaders of Ireland whom Henry II. dignified by any title.

In 1182, De Courcy married Africa, daughter of Godred, King of the Isle of Man; and he unsuccessfully invaded Connaught in 1188. His great rivals were the De Lacys, Lords of Meath, with whom he had many contests.

While, according to the religious devotions of that period, walking unarmed and barefoot five times round the churchyard of Downpatrick doing penance before the shrines of three of Ireland’s greatest saints there buried, namely, Saints Patrick, Columkille, and Bridgid, Sir John De Courcy, who was accompanied only by his two nephews—sons of his brother Jordan De Courcy—was attacked by De Lacy’s followers; when the two nephews were slain while defending their uncle, and he, having nothing to defend himself with but the pole of a Cross which he had picked up from the ground, was overpowered and made prisoner after a desperate struggle, in which, we are told, he slew thirteen of De Lacy’s men.[5]

Through the influence of De Lacy, sustained by King John, Sir John De Courcy was banished from Ireland; he died an exile in France, A.D. 1210.—See Darcy McGee’s History of Ireland.

According to Giraldus Cambrensis, Sir John De Courcy died without leaving a son to succeed him; but, according to other authorities, he had a son Miles,[6] who abandoned his claim to the Earldom of Ulster. He was then created “Baron of Kinsale.”

18. Miles De Courcy, first Baron of Kinsale: son of Sir John; mar. and had:

19. Patrick, the second Baron of Kinsale, married the daughter of Miles De Cogan, who, say the Four Masters under A.D. 1316, was:

“The noblest baron in his time in Ireland;”

and had:

20. Nicholas, who mar. Mabella, dau. of —, and had:

21. John, who mar. and had:

22. Miles, the seventh Lord De Courcy, who mar. Annora O’Brien, and had:

23. John, the eighth Lord, who mar. and had:

24. William, the ninth Lord, who mar. and had:

25. Nicholas, the tenth Lord De Courcy, who mar. and had:

26. Patrick, the eleventh Lord, who mar. and had:

  1. Nicholas, of whom presently.
  2. Edmund, a Franciscan Friar, consecrated Bishop of Clogher, and afterwards of Ross; d. 1518.

27. Nicholas, the twelfth Lord or Baron of Kinsale: son of Patrick; mar. Mora O’Mahony, and had:

28. David De Courcy, the 15th Baron[7] of Kinsale, who, in 1508, mar. Joan Roche.


[1] Teutonicus: By Norman writers Balderic Teutonicus was so styled, possibly because he had spent some time with his friends in Germany; and was also described as a stout and warlike commander.

[2] Grantmesnil: According to Mill’s “History of the Crusades,” Vol. I., Third Edition, published in 1822, two brothers, William and Alberic De Grantmesnil, greatly distinguished themselves during the Crusades. For further information respecting the families of De Courcy and De Grantmesnil, see Dugdale’s Monasticon; and Ordericus Vitalis, Historian of those times, viz., A.D. 1000 to 1098.

[3] De Exeter Jordan: The reader who desires more information respecting the “De Courcy” and “De Exeter” families, is referred to the following authorities:—“Roll of Battle Abbey;” “Doomsday Book;” “Giraldus Cambremis;” “Dugdale;” “Madox’s History of the English Exchequer;” Hume’s and Smollet’s “History of England,” &c.

[4] Ards: In Vol. I., p. 13, of Lewis’s “Topographical Dictionary of Ireland,” we find that Ardglass (“ard-glass;” Irish, the high green) is a sea-port, post-town, and parish in the barony of Lecale, county of Down, and province of Ulster; five miles and a half S. E. by E., from Downpatrick; and is so called from a lofty green hill of conical form called the Ward, situated to the west of the town. From the remains of several castles it appears to have been formerly a place of some importance: “Jordan’s Castle” is memorable for the gallant and protracted defence that it made during the insurrection of the Earl of Tyrone, in the reign of Elizabeth; and derived its present name from its loyal and intrepid proprietor, Simon Jordan, who for three years sustained the continued assaults of the besiegers, till he was at length relieved by the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, who sailed with a fleet from Dublin, and landed here on the 17th June, 1611; and after relieving the garrison pursued the insurgents … ; and Jordan was rewarded for his services by a Concordatum from the Queen.

[5] Men: As evidence of the great strength of members of the De Courcy family even in the 15th century, the Four Masters, under A.D. 1472, make special mention of a MacJordan who was descended from a branch of that family:

“MacWilliam Burke marched with an army into Hy-Maine, to aid Teige Caoch O’Kelly, and after gaining power over the Hy-Manians, from the Suck (river) westward, and taking hostages from them, great punishment was executed against them ultimately; for six-and-twenty soldiers, along with the grandson of Walter Burke, the sons of MacMaurice, the sons of MacJordan, the son of MacAnveely, and others having fled (or strayed) from their forces, were taken, and all put to death by the Manians, except alone MacJordan, who made his escape, though wounded, through his valour; MacWilliam returned home in sorrow.”

[6] Miles: In the History of Ireland, by John James McGregor, Second Edition (1829), it is stated that “The persecution by the De Lacys against the De Courcys, after the imprisonment of Sir John De Courcy in 1203, was so great that the De Lacys procured the assassination of the natural son of De Courcy, viz., John De Courcy, Lord of Raheny or Ratheny and Kilbarrock, county of Dublin.”

This name Miles, originally “Meiler,” and more lately “Myler,” is now rendered “Myles;” and is to this day a favourite name in the Jordan family, as well as in other families in Ireland.

[7] Baron: In consideration of their ancestors the successors of the barons of Kinsale were allowed the peculiar privilege of wearing their hats in the Royal presence: a right which, we are told, the baron of Kinsale exercised on the occasion of King George the Fourth’s visit to Ireland, A.D. 1821.