Somebody at work – hi, Elizabeth – asked whether I prefer to spell my name Darcy or d’Arcy. I started to reply, then the reply got so long that I decided to make a blog post out of it. The short version is that I myself use Darcy. The long form follows.

I used to insist on the fully-French version d’Arcy. Besides the fact that it tended to give email programs fits, and occasionally cause my records to be filed under A instead of D, spelling it out all the time was a pain. Usually what I ended up with was a hybrid form like D’Arcy, which I dislike even more than the English form Darcy. By trying for my first choice I kept getting my third, so I decided to settle for second; my signature still looks like d’Arcy but in every other context I use Darcy. As it turns out, Darcy might be the most historically-accurate form. The name in its various forms is actually quite a distinguished one from France through England to Ireland, starting before the Norman invasion.

Its descent is derived from David D’Arcy, of an eminent family in France which deduces its origin from Charlemagne, who took his surname from Castle D’Arcie, his chief seat, which lay within thirty miles of Paris.

His son, Christopher, having, with a band of his vassals, joined the crusades, died in Palestine, leaving Thomas his heir, whose son, Sir Richard D’Arcy, accompanied William the Conqueror to England.

From him descended, Sir John D’Arcy, who was high in repute with Edward II. by whom he was appointed justice of Ireland in 1323. He married the Lady Jane Bourke, daughter of Richard, Earl of Ulster, from which marriage are derived all the D’Arcies of Ireland.

Additional fun facts about Darcy (the name) and Darcys (the people who have it).

  • Despite the fact that Joan of Arc is known in French as Jeanne d’Arc, the names are not actually related (as I had thought).
  • Similarly, in addition to the French/English/Irish Darcys, one of the “Thirteen Tribes” of Galway, there are some unrelated Darcys whose Gaelic name means from the dark one.
  • There are many Darcy crests, all seeming to have the three roses but with different colors and sometimes different additional devices. I’d have to guess that the one at the first link is the “senior” form, with the others derived from this, but otherwise I’m not sure how they relate.
  • Thomas Darcy of Temple Hurst defied Henry VIII.
  • Sir D’Arcy, Duke of Leeds – a relation? No idea.
  • A Guy Fawkes co-conspirator?

Getting back to the original question, though, it appears that both the Norman/English and Gaelic names are most often rendered as plain old Darcy, with no apostrophe or unusual capitalization. If I’m connected to the former, it’s probably not to d’Arcy which was only in use for a very short time between d’Arcie and Darcy (with the linguistically abhorrent D’Arcy also more defensible historically). If I’m connected to the latter, perhaps an argument could be made for O’Dorchaidhe but more likely Darcy still prevails. Either way, the most familiar form also seems most correct as a reference to likely ancestors and relatives.