Vyger Irish Genealogy

Our search to further our Eggleton, Surgeoner, Smiley & Gracey
ancestry in Ireland and around the world building new
family relationships in sharing what we have learnt.




The Origins of the Gracey name

It is often said that GRACEY is descended from either Scottish of English stock but then there is the French Huguenot possibility.

Firstly there is the Scottish option which leads us to believe that the surname GRACEY is Celtic for shoemaker. Strictly speaking shoemaker in Celtic is actually "greusaich" although the Scots tend to spell the surname these days as GRACIE.

The English option implies that the name is derived from a misspelling of the English surname GRAYSON.  A couple of hundred years ago it was really in the hands of the parish clerk as to how our names were spelt so we ended up with GRACEY.

Then there is the French option which my wife remembers old Gracey ancestors on her side telling her that the name was from the French name DeGrace. The Degrace name was supposed to be of French Huguenot extraction with the family coming to Ireland to escape persecution in France.

Research shows the Degrace surname is of uncertain origins and may have arisen independently from different sources. Some instances of the name are thought to derive from the place name La Grace in Marne.

Spelling variations of this name include Grasse, Grase, Gresse, Grese, Gras, La Grasse, Du Grasse, Du Gras, DeGrace and many more. The name was apparently first found in Provence and was seated from ancient times.

I must admit it does not take any leap of imagination for me to see how the surname Grasse could become Gracey. So the French Connection must remain a real possibility of the origins of the Gracey surname.

French Huguenots


During the infamous St Bartholomew Massacre in 1572 more than 8000 Huguenots were murdered in Paris.

The Huguenots were now only allowed to practice their faith in 20 specified French "free" cities. France became united and a decade of peace followed. After Henry IV was murdered in 1610, however, the persecution of the "dissenters" resumed in all earnestness under the guidance of Cardinal Richelieu. Henry IV's weakling sun, Louis the Thirteenth, refused the Huguenots the privileges which had been granted to them by the Edict of Nantes. The Huguenot free cities were lost one after the other after they were conquered by the forces of Cardinal Richelieu. Every Huguenot place of worship was to be destroyed; every minister who refused to conform was to be sent to the Hôpitaux de Forçats at Marseilles and at Valance.

At least 250 000 French Huguenots fled to other countries where they could enjoy religious freedom and as many were killed leaving France. Protestants from France began coming to the Ireland and England in earnest around 1685, and increasingly after 1688. W. Cunningham writes that around 80,000 landed in England and Ireland. Some moved to America and Germany and perhaps around 40,000 remained. It is estimated that 50,000 Huguenot newcomers arrived between 1680 and 1720.