The Devlin Family

Devlin family crest

(Crest No. 43. Plate 47.)

THE Devlin family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Eocha Dubhlein, or Doivlen, brother of Fiacha Straivetine, first King of Connaught of the race of Heremon and son of Carbre Liffeachair, King of Ireland, A. D. 264.

The ancient name was Dubhlein and signifies “Defiance.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present County of Tyrone. The O’Devlins were Chiefs of Muintir Dubhlin, near Lough Neagh, on the borders of Derry and Tyrone. O’Dubhlein, or O’Devlin, was a chief also in Corran, in the present County of Sligo. This family of Corca-Firtri, in the County of Sligo, is to be distinguished from the O’Devlins of Muintir-Devlin, on the west side of Lough Neagh, in the County of Tyrone, adjoining that of Londonderry.

Perhaps the most noted of this name was Anne Devlin, the niece of Michael Dwyer, the Wicklow Chieftain, and the faithful friend of Robert Emmet. She was born about 1778. When Emmet was perfecting his plans at Rathfarnam she was in his service and gave him important assistance. After the collapse of the insurrection she acted as intermediary between Emmet, who was hiding in the mountains, and his friends in Dublin. After her arrest she was subjected to the most brutal tortures by the military authorities to compel her to reveal Emmet’s place of concealment, but she steadfastly resisted. She was several times strung up and hanged until nearly dead and her body jabbed with bayonets until covered with blood, but her fidelity was proof against both brutality and blandishment. She was liberated after two years’ imprisonment.

In 1843 Dr. Madden visited with her the scene of her service with Emmet, more than forty years before. “The extraordinary sufferings endured,” he writes, “and the courage and fidelity displayed by this young woman have few parallels, even in the history of those times. This noble creature preserved through all her sufferings, and through forty subsequent years, the same devoted feelings of attachment to that being and his memory which she had exhibited under the torture in her solitary cell in Kilmainham Jail.” She modestly shrank from obtruding herself on the public because of her heroic devotion to the patriot-martyr. In her old age, through adversity and misfortune, she lived a solitary life, almost forgotten and unknown, except among the humble people. She died in Dublin in September, 1851, and a monument has been erected over her grave in Glasnevin, through the action of Dr. Madden.

There are many of the name in the United States who have acquired prominence in the professions and in business. Among the latter may be mentioned the late Jeremiah Devlin, the well-known New York merchant, and Mr. Joseph A. Devlin, the wealthy contractor of that city.