The Clan/Sept History
Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames when the
Strongbownians arrived. Often the two traditions blended together quite well due
to some of their basic similarities, but the incoming Anglo-Norman system
brought in some forms that were uncommon amongst the Irish. One of these
Anglo-Norman anomalies was the prevalence of local surnames, such as O Trehy.
Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where
the person lived, held land, or was born. Originally, the place names were
prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually
either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was
eliminated entirely. The local surnames of these Strongbownian invaders referred
to places in Normandy, or more typically England, but eventually for those
Anglo- Normans that remained in Ireland, the nicknames referred to places or
geographical features of the island: they became true local names. The O Trehy
family appears to have originally lived in the town of Troyes in France; the
original form of the surname O Trehy was de Troyes. The surname O Trehy belongs
to the large category of Anglo-Norman habitation names, which are derived from
pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.
Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded,
which explains the various name spelling variations of the name O Trehy that
were encountered when researching that surname. The many spelling variations
included: Troye, Troy, Try, Trye, Trohy, Trohey, Troys, Troyes, O'Trahy,
O'Trahey, O'Trehy, O'Trehey and many more.
First found in county Clare, where they were granted lands by Strongbow, Earl of
Pembroke, after his conquest of Ireland in 1172. They were recruited from the
family of Try in Gloucester where they were Lords of the manor of Alkington. The
family is said to be amongst the highest orders of French nobility.
During the middle of the 19th century, Irish Families often experienced extreme
poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule.
Record numbers died of disease and starvation and many others, deciding against
such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish
settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately,
many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still
experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these
Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because
they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and
other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the
Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more
intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early
immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name
O Trehy: Daniel, Edward, James, Jeremiah, John, Michael, Patrick and William
Troy all arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1770 and 1870; John Trye
from England arrived in Virginia in 1624. In Newfoundland, James Troy from
Tipperary settled in St. John's in 1813.
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