Archive for the ‘Durkee’ Category

We have several early immigrants in our family tree that came from Ireland, but most of them from the Protestant north. However, there is one notable exception … William Durgy, the first Irishman in Boston!

William Durgy was born in Ireland about 1632, possibly surnamed O’Durgy, and perhaps from County Meath as indicated by the surname. William was sent as a slave to the Barbadoes by Lord Oliver Cromwell after being captured in battle.[1] He was freed by King Charles II after 7 years of slavery. He arrived in the Mass. Bay Colony upon The Redemption, arriving in Ipswich on Nov 9, 1663 as the indentured servant of Thomas Bishop of Ipswich.[2]

Also working in the Bishop household was Martha Cross, daughter of Robert and Hannah (Jordan) Cross. Papa Robert sued young William for abusing his daughter and William countersued claiming that Robert withdrew his consent to their marriage. William won the suit and Martha’s hand; John Durgy was born two weeks later. William and Martha had a total of 10 children.

The surname soon appeared in the records as Durkee and most of the Durkee families in American are descended from John and his brothers Thomas and William.

John married Elizabeth Parsons of Gloucester who died soon after the birth of their 11th child, Mary, and John married Hannah Bennett a year later. By 1725, we find this Durkee line in Windham County, Connecticut where John Durkee Jr.’s fourth child was born. John Sr. died there in 1739.

Mary, the eldest daughter of John Jr. and wife Mary Lee of Manchester Mass,  married John Armstrong Jr. and their children were born in New London County, Connecticut. The eldest daughter, Olive Armstrong, married John Tenney. The family migrated to Hanover, Grafton County, New Hampshire, as did many Connecticut families. Their fourth child and eldest daughter Lydia married our patriot ancestor David Wright on September 16, 1783, after the end of the Revolutionary War.

So there is our oldest claim on the wearing of the green on St. Patrick’s Day but in honor of all the Ulster Scots ancestors, be sure to place a shot of single malt beside your pint of Guinness.


[1] Brian Lee Merrill, Internet post “White Slaves” at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mysouthernfamily/myff/d0011/g0000086.html

[2] Society of Genealogy of Durkee, Bernice B. Gunderson, ed., Durkee Family Newsletter, Vol. 5 No. 2, p. 27.


Read Full Post »