Select Hickey Surname Genealogy

The 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 Hickie.

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Ireland.  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 follows:

"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 remains 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 Margaret 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 1925. 
Select 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 century.  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 Today
  • 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).

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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