Dempsey Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History

Dempsey Family Coat of Arms

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Dempsey Coat of Arms Meaning

Dempsey Name Origin & History

We have several coat of arms design(s) for the name Dempsey. Click on the thumbnails to view each design.
dempsey coat of arms

Dempsey Coat of Arms Meaning

The two main devices (symbols) in the Dempsey blazon are the lion and dagger. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, or and argent .

The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!

The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.4Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 5A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.6Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 7Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.

The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 9A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P172 10Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 63 11Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P140. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 12A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P45 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 13The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P60, a sentiment echoed equally today.

The dagger, a very personal weapon occurs frequently in coats of arms, and its appearance is sometimes described in great detail. It is known by many different names, including dirk, skein and poignard. 14A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Dagger

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Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Dempsey Name

Dempsey Origin:

England, Ireland

Origins of Name:

The Dempsey surname originates from Ireland and derives from the surname O’Dempsey. Almost all Dempseys originate from this ancestor. The Gaelic version of the name was O Diomasaigh, meaning “descendant of Diomasach”, a nickname given to people meaning haughty or proud. The name was later Anglicized into Dempsey and sometimes Proundman. The surname Dempsey has also been recorded for over 500 years in England.

Variations:

More common variations are: Dempesey, Deempsey, Dempseey, Dempseye, Dempssey, Deimpsey, Dempseiy, Doempsey, Dempsy, Dempse

History:

England:

The first known recorded instance of the name is James Dempse in 1526 in York in the Guild of Corpus Christi. English Dempseys are believed to be descendants from a settlement in a medieval village named Demsey. The location Demsey is thought to be a descriptive name of the settlement on a lake (dembel).

The Dempsey family would have all their land confiscated for supporting King James II of England. Terence O’Dempsey immigrated to Cheshire, England in 1691 due to the confiscation of all the family lands.

The Dempseys of Liverpool in the 19th century was an exclusive merchant family that intermarried often.

Lancashire would be the destination of many Dempseys from Ireland in the 19th century in search of jobs.

The surname Dempsey is the 2145th most common name in Great Britain. The highest concentrations are in South Ayrshire, Glasgow City, and South Yorkshire.

Scotland:

A possible Scottish version of the name is Dempster, meaning judge.

Ireland:

The O Diomasaigh clan originates from the Clanmalier territory, now known as Offaly and Laois. The clan was a powerful family for hundreds of years. In the 12th century, the Chief of Offaly – O’Dempsey was one of the few native Irish leaders who fended off Richard de Clare (Strongbow) during the Norman invasion.

In the 16th century, the Dempsey clan would form an alliance with the English and massacre other clans who opposed the crown. In 1577 they slaughtered the O’Lalor and O’Moore clans. King James I would bequest the title Vicount Clanmalier unto Terence Dempsey for this act. However, the Dempsey clan would lose support from other Irish clans due to this and many historians believe that was the beginning of the family’s downfall.

The family would lose all their lands towards the end of the 17th century for loyalty to the English crown. Many were evicted and driven to other counties in Ireland. One historian noted that the family at one-time powerful land owners had been driven into poverty.

The Dempsey name is very common thruought Ireland today. Antrim in Ulster, Laois and Offaly have strong numbers of Dempseys.

United States:

The first Dempsey in America is thought to be William Dempsey who arrived in Philadelphia in 1726 and eventually settled in Virginia. Barnett Dempsey arrived in America in the 1780s and eventually settled in South Carolina.

One descendant of the Dempseys of Clanmalier was thought to be Michael Dempsey who immigrated to the United States in the 1830s. He would go on to fight in the Seminole Indian War in Florida.

Jack Dempsey, was a world famous heavyweight champion from Colorado.

Australia

James Dempsey was part of the Irish Rebellion in 1798, an uprising against British rule. His participation in the rebellion resulted in him being sent off to Australia. Eventually in 1809 he was given his freedom, and his residence would become a communal center for the disenfranchised Irish Catholic population in Sydney. He would go on to build the first Catholic chapel in Australia.

Here is the population distribution of the last name:

32,000 in the United States (mainly in New York), 6,000 in Ireland, 6,000 in England (mainly in London), 3,000 in Australia, 3,000 in Canada

Notable People:

Chester Dempsey (1896) American politician. He was also a farmer who owned a dairy farm in Wisconsin. From 1935 – 1939 he served as a democrat, and then switched to become a Republican and also served in the government.

Denis Dempsey (1826-1896), Irish soldier. He would receive the highest and most prestigious award from the Irish navy – the Victoria Cross. During the Indian Mutiny he ran through a burning village to gain position on the enemy.

Jack Dempsey (1895) heavyweight boxing champion. He was an iconic figure in the 1920s and held the world title for 7 years. During this period many of his fights would have financial world records.

Lawrence Dempsey (died 1690), Irish soldier fatally wounded in the battle of the War of the Two Kings.

Dempsey Family Gift Ideas

Browse Dempsey family gift ideas and products below. If there are multiple coats of arms for this surname, you will see them at the top of this page and can click on the various coat of arms designs to apply them to the gift ideas below.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Ireland). Vert a lion ramp. holding a dagger ar. Crest—Out of a mural coronet seven battle axes erect ppr.
2) Vert a lion ramp. or, betw. two swords wavy in fesse of the last. Crest—A sphinx with wings expanded ppr.

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References   [ + ]

1. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P36
2. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Vert
3. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
4. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27
5. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85
6. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
7. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
8. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
9. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P172
10. Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 63
11. Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P140
12. A Treatise on Heraldry, J. Woodward, W & A.K Johnston, Edinburgh & London, 1896, P45
13. The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P60
14. A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Dagger