- This very interesting surname appears to be of medieval French or Norman origins, but is in part Gaelic - Irish. It derives from O'Devoy, itself an Anglicized spelling (circa 1550) of the ancient "O'Dubhuidhe". The O'Devoys were one of the original seven septs (clans) of Leix, and it is recorded that they were the lords of Creamhlhain (now Maryborough) from time immemorial. Their resistance to Norman-British rule over many centuries led to the sept being transplanted to County Kerry in 1607. However, this ruling appears to have had little success, the name not being recorded there either in the 1659 Census of Ireland, or now. The name means literally "the descendant of the dark one", and at various times it has been recorded as Deevy, O'Devy, O'Dyvoy, and O'Dyvoie, the most famous nameholder being John Devoy (1842 - 1928), one of the original Fenians, and founder of the present state. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edmund Divey (alias Devoy), which was dated 1681, will registered at Smithstown, County Kilkenny, Ireland, during the reign of King Charles 11, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.