The de Coucy Coat of Arms
Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
This posting contains all the information I've been able to collect about the Couey family history. I update this post whenever new data is found. At the end of the post is a list of the family members in my line going as far back as I have been able to locate. As you will see, there is a significant gap in the history between roughly 1450 and 1704. If any reader can help us close this gap, I would appreciate your sharing that information.
Thank you, and enjoy the Family History!
A few years ago, I began to take some interest in my family’s history. It began as idle curiosity, keyed by an argument between my sister and I as to whether we were French or Irish. She preferred France, I preferred Ireland. This idle interest eventually became a fascination. I think it’s perhaps a symptom of upper middle age, since this was about the same time my father began to do research. I guess the fascination lies in discovery, finding mentions of the family name in the oddest places, and reading about individuals interacting with some of the larger events of history.
Another reason lies with the wondrous appearance of grandchildren. While they are very young still, I have come to recognized the responsibility I have to pass along to them some information about their past. For me, discovering the past has help to provide context to my present, and meaning to some of the urges that have driven me through the years.
I realize that there’s nothing more boring than someone else’s family history, but I’ve noticed lately that this blog is getting hits from France and Ireland, where my family has a strong history. So in the interests of providing some information to them…
The earliest mention of my family was out of an obscure French history text written in the early 19th century. The brief item described someone named “de Couey” in northern France around 946 A.D. (or C.E., if you prefer). A few texts describe a fortress of some kind that existed between 900 and 950 A.D., but apparently was destroyed. A castle was built in 1225 on a piece of land overlooking the Ailette River about 17 km north of present-day Soissons. The castle survives today, although it bears the name "Coucy."
The point at which the name changed is unclear, but different history texts describe men with identical first names and birth/death dates as either "Coucy" or "Couey." The clan apparently rose to prominence because there are other mentions of various “de Couey’s” and “de Coucy’s” as Knights who led military actions in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. One of them, a youngster named Raoul de Couey, who also was known as “Chatelain” (perhaps a title of some kind), was a troubadour who also volunteered to fight with Richard the Lion Heart in the Third Crusade. He met a violent end in 1190 at the hands of Saracens during the Siege of Acre (what is now the port of Haifa, Israel). One of those interesting snippets of history comes from, of all places, a book entitled, “What We Hear in Music” A course of study in Music History, by Victor Talking Machine Company, Mrs. Anne Shaw Faulkner Oberndorfer, 1921:
"Among the twelfth century Troubadours was a French knight, Chatelain de Couey, whose tragic fate has been often a theme for poets, the Ballade of Uhland being founded on his history.
"He loved the wife of another, and realizing his duty, departed for the Crusades, where he lost his life. To comply with his dying request, his heart was embalmed and sent to the fair lady, whose husband intercepted the gift, and it is said caused it to be served to his wife for dinner. After she had unsuspectingly eaten of this gruesome dish, her lord informed her she had eaten the heart of her lover. To this, she bravely replied that as she had consumed that which she most dearly loved she would never again eat of any thing inferior, so she declined all food and shortly after died. The words are:
When the nightingale shall sing
Songs of love from night to morn,
When the rose and lily spring
And the dew bespangles the thorn;
Then should I my voice expand,
Like a lover fond and true,
Could I but its tones command
And the tender strain pursue;
But his love who fears to tell
Notes of passion ne’er can swell."
Certainly a typical tale from that era, simultaneously romantic and gruesome.
Chatelain de Couey also wrote poetry. Here's one of his sonnets that survives:
"The first approach of the sweet spring
Returning here once more,—
The memory of the love that holds
In my fond heart such power,—
The thrush again his song assaying,—
The little rills o'er pebbles playing,
And sparkling as they fall,—
The memory recall
Of her on whom my heart's desire
Is, shall be, fixed till I expire.
With every season fresh and new
That love is more inspiring:
Her eyes, her face, all bright with joy,—
Her coming, her retiring,
Her faithful words, her winning ways,—
That sweet look, kindling up the blaze,
Of love, so gently still,
To wound, but not to kill,—
So that when most I weep and sigh,
So much the higher springs my joy."
There is the case of one Ingelram de Couey, who managed to marry into the English Royal family of Edward III before going off to ravage Swiss Cantons until defeated by peasants at Buttisholz in 1375. Also there is mention of Enguerrand de Couey, who waged war in Italy in 1384.
At some point during the 30 Years War, one of many Catholic-Protestant conflicts that wracked France (and Europe as a whole) in the 16th and 17th centuries, one segment of the family apparently decided to flee the carnage and left for Ireland. They may have been part of the Calvinist group known as "Huguenots," some 10,000 of whom left for Ireland in the 15th and 16th centuries. The exact date they left is unclear, the only clue being the first mention of a male named “Cooey” or “Couey” born in what is now Northern Ireland in 1704, possibly in County Antrim. Now, in our modern context, Ireland might seem a strange place to go to escape violence between Catholics and Protestants, but Irish history has waxed cool and hot and the family’s appearance in Ireland may have been in one of those “cool” eras.
Th Huguenots were Protestant followers of John Calvin, who founded the Reformed Church around 1550 in France. A section from the Wikipedia history of Huguenots states:
"Above all, Huguenots became known for their firey criticisms of worship as performed in the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the focus on ritual and what seemed an obsession with death and the dead. They believed the ritual, images, saints, pilgrimages, prayers, and herarchy of the Catholic Church did not help anyone toward redemption. They saw Christian faith as something to be expressed in a strict and Godly life, in obedience to Biblical laws, out of gratitude for God's mercy.
"Violently opposed to the Catholic Church, the Huguenots attacked images, monaticism, and church buildings. Most of the cities in which the Huguenots gained a hold saw iconoclast attacks, in which altars and images in churches, and sometimes the buildings themselves were torn down. The cities of Bourges, Mantauban, and Orleans saw activity in this regard." Of course, the Huguenots suffered similar retaliations from Catholics, as well.
"The King (Louis XIV)...declared Protestantism illegal with the Edict of Fountainebleau in 1685. After this, huge numbers of Huguenots (with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000) fled to surrounding Protestant countries (including around 10,000 to Ireland)." This information certainly fits within the estimated time frame of the Couey move from France.
At that point, the documentation becomes a bit clearer. The unknown Couey had at least one son, William (born 1730 or 1735), and one daughter, Christian (born 1727). William married a Irish woman named Jane or Janet in 1752 in Derry. But Ireland of the 18th century, although relatively peaceful, was oppressively feudal. Peasants leased land from wealthy Barons, who demanded all their production for export, leaving little for them to eat. A potato famine around 1740 and growing unrest about the land situation, and a resurgence of Catholic-Protestant conflicts, probably convinced the Couey’s to once again hit the road.
The McClure and Couey families are linked by the marriage of John McClure, Sr. and aforementioned Christian Couey. In 1752, the McClures were living in the village of Fasnameagh, County of Antrim, which is near Ballymena. It is certain that the Couey's were settled in this area as well. In the McClure family genealogy, is the following paragraph:
"The McClure and Couey families immigrated to South Carolina as Protestant refugees on the encouragement of the Bounty Act, which was passed by the General Assembly of the Colony of South Carolina on July 25, 1761. The Act offered land to poor protestant refugees who chose to take advantage of this opportunity to establish residence in colonial South Carolina. Land was offered on the basis of 100 acres for teh head of the family and 50 acres for every other individual in that particular family unit. Additionally, four pounds sterling was to be paid to defray the expense of the passage from Europe to South Carolina for individuals above twelve years of age, and two pounds sterling paid for refugees under twelve and above two years. The money was to be paid to the owner or master of the vessel unless the refugee had already paid for his passage. It was required that each refugee provide a certificate from either civil or church officials stating that he was indeed a Protestant and of good character. No other colony offered such favorable terms, so in 1761 a flood of emigration from Ulster (Northern Ireland) began." According to the McClure history, both families left Newry Harbor in County Down, Ulster on Monday, May 4, 1767. They arrived in Charles Town (Charleston, SC) on Saturday, August 22, 1767, after a voyage lasting 111 days."
William, his wife, three sons, and a brother or cousin took title to land in the Long Canes region, interestingly, settling in an area populated by people from France, rather than sections of people from the U.K. From there, the family expanded rapidly. Each one of William’s sons had between 10 and 14 children, all of whom had similarly large families as well. Today, the family is scattered across all 50 states and Canada. Couey’s are most populous in Georgia in the area around Chattooga County and the city of Rome, and in Gwinnet County, as well. There are other concentrations in Wisconsin, mainly around Chippewa Falls.
This branch of the family has broadened our heritage, certainly something that happens often in this new globally interconnected world. My wife Cheryl had a Japanese Father and an Okinawan Mother. Our son married a wonderful lady from Korea. Our oldest daughter married a young man from Peru. My sister is married to an Australian. Yes, he seems to be of British stock, but I have wondered at times if he wasn't from another planet.
Coueys can be found in many professions, science, education, the law, medicine, businessmen and women, (one of the founders of Applebees Restaurants, as a matter of fact), and public service. As soldiers, Couey men fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, on both sides of the Civil War (there were two present at Gettysburg), both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.
And yes, there are one or two dark branches to this tree as well.
In my search for information, I have sought out some of these distant relatives, others I have met in passing encounters, on a Navy ship in Pearl Harbor, on a commercial airline flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and in a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland. These have been enjoyable encounters, made much more so by the knowledge of the family’s history that I’ve acquired over the years.
Mostly though, my explorations have given meaning to my own personal history. My life long, I have been afflicted by the desire to roam. There was nothing more attractive to me than what might lie beyond the horizon. Now, with the understanding of history, I know that this restlessness, this desire for adventure is a common thread that runs deep in my family’s past. The passion I have for politics can be traced all the way back to those French Knights who enthusiastically embraced the responsibilities of leadership, even going into battle to defend what they thought was right and just.
There is a clarity to my life these days, an understanding of myself and others who share my name. Knowing our past has clarified our present, and given a glimpse into the future for my grandchildren. At some point in the future, when they are old enough to understand its value, I will bequeath to them the gift of their past, with the sincere hope that they will carry that knowledge into the future, to generations as yet unborn.
Name dob dod Children
Herve or Herive, Archbishop of Rheims unk 922 a.d. Founder of the Fortress de Couey in 900 AD
Seulf or Seuphes, Archbishop of Rheims unk 7/8/925 ad Lord of Fortress de Couey 922-925
Herbert II, Count of Vermandois unk 934 ad Lord of Fortress de Couey 925-934
Bernard, Count of Senlis unk unk Lived ca 934 AD
Hugh the Great, Count of Paris ca 949 ad
Artaud, Archbishop of Rheims unk unk ca 949 ad
Alberic de Couey unk unk Lord of Couey Castle 1059-1079
Enguerrand I unk unk 1080-1116 Seized Lordship by marrying Ade de Marle
Thomas de Marle 1116-1130, killed by Count of Vermandois, Raoul I the Brave
Enguerrand II unk unk 1130-1149
Raoul de Couey unk 1190 Volunteered for Richard the Lion Heart's army in the 3rd Crusade, 1190 a.d.
Enguerrand III unk unk 1191-1242
Raoul II de Couey unk unk 1242-1250, killed at Battle of Mansura
Robert de Couey unk unk Lived in France, early 1200's; Architect for construction of Notre Dame Cathedral, 1210
Albertle de Couey unk unk Lived in France, late 1200's
Enguerrand IV 1250 1311 1250-3/20/1311
Enguerrand V 1321 1311-1321
Dreux de Couey unk unk Lived in France, early to mid 1300's
Enguerrrand VI 1335-1347
Enguerrand VII, Earl of Bedford 1347-2/18/1397 Married Isabella, daughter of King Edward III in 1365
Thomas de Couey unk unk Lived in France, early to mid 1400's
? Cooey 1704 Ireland 1790-1800 Christian (female) (1727), William (1730 or 1735) , Samuel (1732), Jannet (1734)
William Couey b 1730 or 1735 Ireland d 1790 Abbeville, SC Married Jane/Janet (b 1737 Ulster) 1752 Derry
John C. Couey b1754, Ireland
Joseph Couey b1764 Ireland
William Couey b1755 Ireland
Family arrived Charles Town (Charleston), SC 1767
Joseph Couey b 1764 Ireland d4/18/1844 Chatooga, GA Married Ann 1792
Samuel Couey 11/5/1787
Jane Couey 11/6/1789
Mary Ann Couey 2/6/1795
Joseph S. Couey 8/14/1797
William Young Couey 9/12/1800
Elizabeth Couey 8/8/1802
John E. Couey 1/5/1805
Andrew McSelland Couey 1/21/1807
James Trotty Couey 3/29/1810
Mary Ann Couey 12/7/1813
James Nelson Couey 5/10/1816
Joseph S. Couey b 8/14/1797 SC d2/7/1840 Randolph Cnty, IL Married Mary Foster 1815?
Joseph Bryson Couey 8/17/1827 (GA) dod 6/8/1866
Samuel Thomas Couey 3/25/1830
Sarah J. Couey dob 1830 dod 1833
James Foster Couey 11/1817
John B. Couey dob 1821
William Pressley Couey dob 1823 dod 1905
Silas Harper Couey dob 1836 dod 1912 or 1913
James Foster Couey b11/18/1817 Decatur, GA d5/7/1905 Fresno, CA Married 1836 Betsy Elizabeth McFarlin, Randolph County, IL
Joseph P. Couey 10/21/1836 Randolph County, IL
George Marian Couey 11/2/1837 Randolph County, IL
Sarah Ann Couey 1/10/1839 Randolph County, IL
James M. Couey 4/27/1841 Chippewa Falls Coueys>>>>>>>>> Joseph Sebastian Couey: 1876- Robert J. Couey: 1907- , Ralph R. Couey, Sr.: 1941-1981, Ralph R. Couey, Jr.: 1966-
Andrew Alexander Couey 12/23/1842
William Graham Couey 12/27/1844
Henry E. Couey 1846
Lewis Couey 1/1848
Mary E. Couey 1850 Wisconsin
Margaret Ellen Couey 1851 Wisconsin
Lucy Couey 1856 Wisconsin
John W. Couey 4/1858 Wisconsin
William Graham Couey b12/27/1844 Sparta, IL d1920 Chinook, MT Married Adele Rounds 1868 Randolph County, IL
Clarence J. Couey
Worth G. Couey
Oliver Isiah Couey 8/20/1870 Wisconsin
Frank Couey 1872
Amy Couey10/15/1875 Crawford County, WI
Alta Couey 1878
Ralph Emerson Couey 3/20/1891 Excelsior, WI
Ralph Emerson Couey b3/30/1891 Excelsior, WI d8/15/1946 Milwaukee, WI Married Hazel V. Lindsey
Duane Emerson Couey 9/13/1924 - 3/26/2004
Robert Lee Couey
Yvonne Maydell Couey
Maxine Lois Couey
Duane Emerson Couey b9/13/1924 Milwaukee, WI d3/26/2004 Indep., MO Married Edith Griswold (B:7/1/1926) 1947
Patricia Louise Couey b8/24/1952
Married Geoffrey Henshaw, Melbourne, Australia 4/1982
Ralph Floyd Couey 5/23/1955
Ralph Floyd Couey b5/23/1955 Paris, TN Married Cheryl A. Yanamura (B:8/2/1954), Pearl City, HI 6/17/1978
Robert Taketo Couey 8/31/1979 Married Yukyung Kang, 8/2003
Nikomi Reiko Couey 8/25/1981
Married Daniel Villon (B:1/5/1982), 12/13/2005 Son: Jaden Jesse Villon 12/13/2005, Son: Daniel Matias Villon 10/22/2007, Daughter Zoe 10/22/2009 (d 4/2010)
Crystal Miyuki Couey 6/21/1983 Married Andrew Scharlott (B: 6/2/1981) 4/14//2007
Jamielyn Sachiko Couey 6/23/1985
Robert T. Couey b8/31/1979 Indep., MO Married Yukyung Kang (B:10/4/1980), Seoul, ROK 8/23/2003
Diana Kang Couey 8/6/2006, Ian Robert Couey 1/12/2011