I was given the following information regarding Genealogy of Mee (Cavan)
It refers to the Irish Mee's.
Two Pedigree Charts of English families have come into my possession. One of these
relates to the descendants of a Thomas Mee (b 1636) who married a daughter of Thomas
Pierce, Mayor of Gloucester, and whose great great granddaughter, Mary Mee married the
second Viscount Palmerston, who was Prime Minister of England in the reign of Queen
Victoria. The compiler of this chart concludes that the name was derived (sometime
prior to 1636) from 'Mey' or 'le Mey' , "a name prominent in Gloucester and Hereford in
the 15th and 16th centuries." He was evidently not aware of the fact that the name Mee
was common in these centuries in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.
The other Pedigree Chart was compiled by Charles Cowper Mee of Warwickshire (England)
included in his book of extensive Genealogical Research. In 1914 he published twelve
copies of a book on the Genealogy of Mee Families in England. one copy of which he
deposited in the British National Library in London. I obtained a copy of the enormous
Pedigree Chart, (also some Xerox copies of pages of the text ) of related families in
the counties of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Gloucester, dating from 1404 to 1916.
It is interesting that this enormous chart includes the forbears of the Gloucester Mee
from whom is traced the Palmerston Maternal Chart. The chart originates with William
Mee, in the employment of John de Leicester in A.D. 1404; Richard Mee, Derby, 1415, who
fought at Agincourt in the retinue of Baron Grey of Derby; and John Mee, Derby, 1415.
Charles Mee makes the assumption, as did the compiler of the Palmerston chart, that the
Mee name was derived from 'Mey', 'le Mey' or even 'Measham' I have checked most of the
best known British Genealogical Dictionaries and found that few even included the name,
but those which did thought it was derived from 'Mey' whilst one frankly says, "This
surname is quite beyond me".
I brought this claim to the notice of Dr. Edward MacLysacght, the Irish Genealogical
expert and Chief Genealogical Officer and Keeper of transcripts in the National Library
of Ireland for fourteen years, and who has done genealogical research for over thirty
years. He deals with the Mee Name at some length in his More Irish Families, giving it
as an anglicized form of the Gaelic Sept of O'Miadhaigh, and locates the original Sept
in County Westmeath. In this he agrees with an earlier Genealogist Father Wolfe, who
also gives the meaning of the original Gaelic name is 'honorable.' Dr. MacLysacght,
although he is now nearly 90, very generously replied in June, 1977 (in his own firm
handwriting) and said "Mee is unquestionably a name of Gaelic Irish origin." He
referred to details given in his books and explained how O'Miadhaigh evolved into Mee.
My own Irish "School Certificate" of 1923 granted by the Education department of the
then Irish Free State, tells me that my name is "Seamus O'Miadhaigh".
"Dr. Edward MacLysacght has an international reputation as a genealogist. He has
written several dictionaries on the origin of Irish names and in "More Irish Families"
he comments on the surname Mee; "The Gaelic Sept O'Miadhaigh whose name was Anglicized
as O'Miey, Mee, Mea and even May, was located in Teffia, Co., Westmeath, where the
place name Clonyveey (Cluain Ui'Miadhaigh, i.e. O'Miadhaigh struck off the head of the
Hugh deLacy in 1186"
"An earlier authority on surnames, Father Patrick Woulfein his 'Irish Names and
Surnames' writes, "O'Miadhaigh; - O'Miey, O'May, Mea, Mee, descendant of O'Miadhaigh
(Honorable) an old West Heath surname, still found in the Midlands" It was an
O'Miadhaigh who terminated the career of Sir Hugh de Lacy, the profaner and destroyer
of many Churches, by cutting off his head with the bow of an axe at the castle of
Durrow in 1186.
Dr. Edmund Curtis in his 'Medireview Ireland' also refers to this incident which is
apparently recorded in the famous 'Annals of the Four Masters' and writes, "de Lacy met
a violent end at the hands of a young man Gilla-Gan-Mathiar O'Miadhaigh of Bregmuna
(abetted by two others, O'Cethernaigh and O'Braoin) who struck off the de Lacy's head
with an axe and running swift as a hare sped safe away."
The statutes of Kilkenny in 1366 was aimed at the Anglicization of the country and the
termination of Gaelic culture. It was after this date that most Irish surnames, etc.
were anglicized, O'Miadhaigh became Mee, etc. Many dropping the 'O' and the 'Mac'
within their walls. After the war of 1689 the use of the English language became
general and it is interesting to note that this was supported by the R.C. Church on the
grounds that Gaelic was a barrier to educational progress. The earliest known record
of the name in its Mee form in Co. Cavan is contained in a will extract (Irish
Genealogist) of widow Martha Mee, who died at Butlers-bridge in 1693. She had four
sons (daughters not mentioned of course) the eldest of whom , John, was in England when
she died. The younger boys were Joseph, Martin and Henry. John Probably inherited his
father's property or whatever, following the custom of primogeniture and consequently
his descendants got a better start in life than those of his younger brothers, also
consequently it has been comparatively easy to trace John's descendants. Some of them
gained University degrees (two were scholars of T.C.D.) and entered the Professions,
Church, Law, Army (one rising to the rank equal to the modern Major-General) If this
line survived into this century by male issue its descendants would probably be in
England, as it disappeared from, Co. Cavan before or about 1800.
So far I have been unable to find any trace of the immediate descendants of Joseph,
Martin and Henry. Some if not all of these brothers must have survived into the middle
of the 18th century and most probably were responsible for the considerable 'crop' of
Mee families in Co. Cavan at the end of the 18th century and first half of the 19th
century. Many descendants of these families emigrated, several to New Zealand towards
the end of the 19th Century, where their descendants have now produced a
considerable 'crop' of Mee families, particularly in the South Island. I imagine that
descendants of the Cavan Mee’s might also be found in England, Australia, America and
certainly in Canada to which five grandsons of Henry Mee of Innismore emigrated at the
beginning of this Century.
The problem is to bridge the gap between Martha's three youngest sons or their
immediate descendants and the earliest known forbears of the present Cavan and N.Z. Mee
families, some of whom reach back some distance into the 18th century. There were
eight Mee’s, probably all related (Henry and Samuel of Corrafin, Henry of Drumany,
James, Robert and Samuel of Innishmore, Alexander and Henry of Corrabressan) who voted
as Tenants of Lord Farnham in the Voters' Lists in 1814. (Circa). All of these must
have been born in the 18th century. Robert of Innishmore was probably the husband of
Catherine Mee who died at Parse and who was born in 1754. There were also several
Mee’s recorded in the Kilmore Registers who must date back into the 18th century;
- Henry who married Ann Marscott in 1804, also James and Jane, Robert and Martha, both
couples had children baptized in 1817-23. There was also a John Mee, of Bunn, whose
son Henry aged 28, married in 1860 Alicia daughter of John Morton, Hotel Keeper,
Belturbet. Also, Widow Mee, of Innishmore, aged 70, buried at Annagh 1823.
I have just checked again with the Annagh Burial Register and found that Henry Mee
(Drumany or Innishmore) was apparently born in 1766 and James Mee (Innishmore) was born
in 1763. John Mee (Corcanadas or Derryheen or Innishmore) was born in 1775. It looks
to me as if Innishmore was the 'cradle of the race'.
Someone may discover the occupation and origin of Martha's husband. Probably his name
was Joseph and his father's name was John, which can be assumed from the names of his
first and second sons. It was the custom to name the eldest son after his grandfather
and the next after his father (some connection perhaps with the old 'O' and 'Mac' rule).
Since some of John's descendants were connected with the army - Marshall was a
volunteer officer with the Cavan Militia in 1725-1758 (the year of his death) , and
also the 61st Foot (Nixon and Lucas) is associated with the family. I tried to follow
up this clue. I found that the 61st Foot later became the 1st Battalion, Gloucester
Regiment, so I thought that perhaps Martha’s husband was a Gloucestershire Mee who had
come to Cavan Militar Barracks with the Regiment and had been killed at the battle of
the Boyne in 1690. But in a very helpful letter from Headquarters of the Gloucester’s
I was disappointed to learn that the 2nd Battalion Gloucester first went to Ireland in
1763 and the 1st Battalion (61st Foot) in 1719. but this letter confirmed that Matthew
Nixon who married Marshall Mee's widow, was an Ensign in the 61st Foot in 1766 and
that he was a resident of Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan and a Justice of the Peace, also that
David Lucas was assistant Surgeon in the 61st Foot. and died at Peshawar in 1850.
There was a William Mee of Kilrush. Co., Westmeath whose will of 1656 (no details) is
listed in Prerogative Wills and several Mee’s in Cork and Dublin listed in the Index of
Prerogative Wills for the 18th Century. (Wills apparently destroyed in the Four courts
fire of 1922.) Martha's husband might have been connected with any of these families
or indeed might have been born in Co. Cavan, but the fact that his eldest son John was
in England when his mother died and married Miss Marshall of Leicestershire makes one
think that there must have been an English connection. He might have been a descendant
of one of the Mee families listed in the Chart compiled by Charles Mee who gives no
information of many males born 15-16th centuries in the Derby families. To trace the
origin of Martha's husband (and of Martha herself) and the descendants of three of
their sons should be quite a challenge to any of the younger generation of Mee's who
may become interested in Genealogical research.