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William Durkee (abt. 1633 - 1703)

William Durkee aka Dirky, Durge, Durgy, O'Durgy
Born about in Irelandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 20 Dec 1664 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusettsmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 70 in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusettsmap
Profile last modified | Created 13 Nov 2009
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According to the Society of Genealogy of Durkee,[1] William Durkee (Durgy) was born in Ireland about 1632. He may have been the first Irishman to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He arrived there on 9 November 1663 as the indentured servant of Thomas Bishop, having been in the Barbadoes, probably as a slave of Cromwells.

His origins in Ireland are not documented. An earlier version of this profile said he was from Drogheda, County Meath, but no evidence for this has been identified. Some other previous versions of the profile said he was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but there is no evidence of a birth in New England. It is possible that he was inferred to have been born in Ipswich because in later life he was described as "of Ipswich."

William Durkee
Birth Date: 1633
Marriage: 1664 to Martha Cross
Death: 1703
Burial: unknown

Also found listed as Durgy and O'Durgy when first coming to America. (William /O'Durgy/[2][3]) Listed as Turkee when in Ireland.

Early Years

William Durge (Durkee) was an Irish soldier captured by Cromwell's forces in Ireland c. 1660 and turned over to the Bristol sugar merchants to be a white slave on the sugar plantations in Barbados. One white slave = 1000 Lbs of sugar for the army. Upon restoration of the Stuart Monarchy with the return of Charles II from the Netherlands, it was decreed that slavery of whites would herewith be banned. Thus Durge (Durkee) was freed and stranded with many others in Barbados, called "the Redlegs" by the natives because of their sunburn. A visiting merchant, Thomas Bishop, took a liking to Durge and took him back to Ipswich MA in 1663 to work as his servant. As far as Mr. Butler knows, Durge was the first Irish Catholic immigrant to Massachusetts. A year after his arrival, He married Martha in December 20, 1664 in Ipswich, Martha Cross, b. Feb 14, 1643, d. Jan 11, 1726/7 in Windham County Connecticut.

William Durkee was the very first Irish Catholic to settle in Massachusetts. He was fined for not attending the Protestant church. He was sentenced to receive 25 lashes or pay a fine of 5 pounds for each Sunday he missed church. The fine was paid for by his Owner, Thomas Bishop.

Athough he was persecuted by the Puritans for his religious beliefs - his wife however, remained a Protestant and raised their children as Protestants.

Durge's two sons became Congregational ministers. Most, if not all Durkees in North America are likely descended from William Durkee. [4]

When he married Martha in 1664, the Crosses objected bitterly to the marriage. When William was questioned by the court as to his ability to support a wife, he answered he received a salary of 15 meals a week, and was willing to divide them with her.

What became of William is a mystery. He is recorded as being in Dover, New Hampshire in 1684 and his name appears on Essex County land deeds as late as 1713. No cemetery reveals his resting place.

Martha reared her family in the Protestant faith, and their eldest son, John, became a Deacon.

The Story of William and Martha


Martha Cross B: 15 March 1643 (Martha is daughter of Robert Cross & Anna (Hannah) Jordan) The Cross & Jordan lines are well proven by interesting wills.

“In 1664, a problem came up in Robert Cross’s family. His daughter Martha became pregnant out of wedlock with William Durkee being the father of the expected child. Martha felt that she was cast out of her father’s favor so she moved in with her sister Elizabeth Nelson. Elizabeth went to her parents and found them “in a sad and sorrowful condition, very much harried in spirit, not knowing which way to turn or what to say.” They were advised that a marriage was thought to be the best solution to the sad problem. Robert Cross, however, would not let the situation end and he sued William Durkee for abusing his daughter. William then sued Robert Cross for withdrawing his consent to the marriage after giving his permission. William and Martha were married soon afterwards.” [5]

The original Court records regarding this sad situation is as follows: (I have left the spelling just as it appears in the original court documents.)

Writ dated Feb. 22 1664, signed by Robert Lord for the court, and served by Theophilus Wilson, constable of Ipswich. Margrit Biship testified that being asked by Martha (Cross) whether she should go home to her father, deponent told her that it was best for her to do so, “at that William being discontented, she desired me in the presence of God to beare witnesse that she would have no other man but he furthermore she said why will not you trust me as well as I have trusted you hitherto. And hereupon she went away to her father.” Sworn in Court

Grace Searl testified that she heard Martha Crosse say, when her friends came for her, that she told William that if she went away she would come again and would not forsake him. Sworn in court.

Thomas Biship testified that Martha Crosse desired him several times to speak to her father that she and William Durgy might be married. Sworn in court.

Mary Biship testified that Martha said it was her greatest comfort that her father had given his consent to her marriage, which was to take place on the nineteenth of the present month. Sworn in court. “Honored Sier you may Esilie understand how the Case stands conserne my daufter: & I give them leve to marie. Yor Seruant Rob. Crosse.” “Naybor Booship: to you & your wife this is to let you understand our mindes is so the Case standing as it dous: wee leue your seruants to your dis----and for the-----you may poot it to ana period as soone as you please: we shall no ways hinder it: ----hates are sore oprest: wee ar as full of sorro the----ous & goyd you in the thing: Yours: Robert Cross; “The 12 of the 7th month 64” On the reverse of the foregoing paper: “For heer muche respected frende Mr. Robert Crosse att Ipswich in newe Ingland. These present with Care.”

Writ dated, Sept 22, 1664, signed by Daniel Denison for the court, and served by Theophilus Wilson, constable of Ipswich. Goodman Storie deposed that “Martha Crosse being at her Sister Nellsonnes house neere to Goodman Storie, Martha being in sore destresse of mind in the Considoration as shee Conseued she had binn cast out of her fathers favor: & familie: was so haried & distressed in mind; that her Sistor Nellsonn came downe to mee much affected lamenten with tears yet much affected my hart to heare her, who sayd I thought my Sistor would haue died to night but shee thought shee could not live another in that Condition; I being much affected with her Condition sayd: Why doe you not goe to your father & make your condition knowen unto him; to which shee answered Oh I dayer not goe to speack a word in her behalfe then I sayd: will you goe if I goe downe with you? Then Goodey Nelson sayd I, with all my hart; So wee went downe to Goodman Cross and there wee found them in a sad & sorrofull Condition verie much harried in there sperite not knowing which way to turen or what to say; & as my aprehenson then lead mee did treat with them about the sufferen them to marey the which hee did agree that was the way then we thought to bee the best.” Sworn in Court;

March 1664: Martha Dirky, for fornication, was ordered to be whipped unless she bring a note from the treasurer, of three pounds paid to him.

September 1664: Robert Cross Verses William Dirkey. For abusing his daughter. Verdict for plaintiff: “William Nelson deposed that William Dorkei said, at deponent’s house, after Goodman Stories had been at his father’s that he wished he had never spoken as he had, owning the child to be his, but he had eighteen meals a week and would spare six of them to keep the child.”

“Joseph Biship deposed that he heard William Durgee say that he had rather keep the child than keep her, but he presently said if he kept one he would keep the other, and they agreed to be married the next day.”

“October 1664: William Dirkey, presented for fornication, was ordered to be whipped not exceeding twenty stripes, and to put in security of 201i. to save the town of Ipswich harmless from the charges of keeping the child, or else go to prison. Thomas Biship, surety.”[6]

Despite the difficult situation between my Grandfather William Durkee & Robert Cross, the marriage took place;


Husband: William Durkee
Wife: Martha Cross
Children of William Durkee & Martha Cross)
  1. John Durkee B: 3 January 1664 D: 11 September 1739 m. (1) Elizasbath Parsons M: 22 March 1685 & (2) widow Annah Low M: 4 June 1709[7] This son may have been named after Robert Cross’s father of whom is thought to have been John Cross. I believe this is the first child for William & Martha. He was born just after their marriage.
  2. James Durkee B: about 1667 m. Susanna Davis?[8] No more is known of James Durkee at this writing
  3. Martha Durkee B: August 1668 D: 30 August 1748 m. 19 July 16 Thomas Fuller [9]
  4. Thomas Durkee B: about 1672 - 1757; m. wife (1) Elizabeth Lord M: 5 March 1700; wife (2) Rebecca Lamb M: 1728[10]
  5. Jane Durkee B: January 1674 m. John S. Martin 22 Apr 1710[11]
  6. Mercy Durkee, born June 1675. Died 1 August 1730. Mercy & George Martin Jr. Int: 4 June 1709[12][13]
  7. William Durkee Jr. B: about 1676 William Durkee & Rebecca Gould M: 13 January 1704[14][15]
  8. Mary Durkee B: 1678 m. Joseph Peck[16]
  9. Henry Durkee B: May 1681 Henry is said to have died young;
  10. Ann Durkee B: Oct 1680[16]
  11. John Durkee m. Mrs. Annah Low 1711;[17]

Note: Thomas Cross was a Doctor and removed to Connecticut after his 2nd marriage.

Note by  : The IGI File claims that William Durkee & Martha Cross had two sons named William. The first William was born and died before 1676 and this son of whom was born about 1676 was the namesake of the first William who died young. I can find no record of another William being born into this family! The will, if there was one, for William Durkee has not been found; Consequently, I have not listed two Williams in this family, although temple ordinances have been done for two Williams![18]



Date: 1712
Place: DOVER, STRATFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE[citation needed]

Research Notes

Note H624Reportedly was a Irish chieftain who was captured by Oliver Cromwell, enslaved and sent to Barbados. When freed there, he endentured himself to a sea captain for passage to New York.

Not the son of John Turk and Sarah Batham who were married on 4 Jun 1750 at Peasmarsh, Sussex, England.[19]


  1. Origin of the Durkee Family, The Society of Genealogy of Durkee website, archived at on 3 September 2013. The Society of Genealogy of Durkee supported the work of Bernice Gunderson, compiler and author of The Durkee family genealogy, published in 2 volumes, 2009-2012. The organization appears to be inactive, as of June 2020.
  2. Source: #S14801
  3. Source: #S16590
  4. R. B. Palmer, May 2012.
  5. "Cross: Three hundred years of One Line.” Compiled by Elizabeth Preston Baty; Book: 929.273 C884 bep;
  6. Records And Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: Volume III: 1662-1667: Book: 974.45 P2e;
  7. Vital Records of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts: pg: 116; “John Dirkye, son of William B: Jan 3, 1664. Ct. R.;: New England Marriages Prior To 1700 by Torrey;
  8. New England Marriages Prior To 1700: It is very likely that James (spelled Durgin) married Mrs. Susanna Davis, widow of David Davis by 16 January 1699 at Durham, New Hampshire; This marriage is probable because the William Durkee family removed to New Hampshire!
  9. Vital Records of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts, pg: 125:listed as: “Martha Durgie, d. William & Martha, Aug. ---, 1668.”Family Tree Maker
  10. New England-New York Ancestors Before 1850, pg: 140; Ancestral File; History of Robert Cross
  11. Vital Records of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts; (Ipswich Marriages) “Jane Durke & John Martin, int. Apr. 29, 1709. C.R.4.
  12. Ipswich Marriages pg: 147
  13. the marriage is listed as follows: Mercy Durke & George Martin Jr. int. June 4, 1709
  14. Ipswich Marriages pg: 147: Listed as: “William Durgey & Rebecca Gould, int. Jan. 13, 1704”
  15. Source: #S16590 Data: Text: Date of Import: Oct 31, 2003
  16. 16.0 16.1 : International Gen. Index File
  17. Vital Records of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts: The marriage is listed as: John Durke of Gloucester and Widow Annah Low, int. 26 Jan, 1711.
  18. The Durkee Chronology: ] William Durkee]
  19. Sussex Family History Group. Extract from the Sussex Marriage Index: Place: Peasmarsh, East Sussex, Date: 4 Jun 1750: Subject: Sarah BATHAM Spouse: John TURK
  • Durkee manuscript by Elmer E. Butler, Newtonville, Mass, April 14, 1940. Located, New England Genealogical Society, Boston. (Every Durkee should read this; it should be published)
  • Records And Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: Volume III: 1662-1667: Book: 974.45 P2e;
  • "Cross: Three hundred years of One Line.” Compiled by Elizabeth Preston Baty; Book: 929.273 C884 bep.
  • Source: S14801 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ancestral File. Copyright (c) 1987, June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998; Ancestral File Number 2KN4-M4
  • Source: S16590 Title: William DURKEE.FTW
  • Else L. Hambleton. Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth Century Essex County, Massachusetts. Taylor & Francis, 2004. pages 120-122.


  • Thanks to David McAvity for starting this profile.
  • WikiTree profile Durkee-60 created through the import of EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING.ged on Oct 14, 2011 by April Mavros. See the Changes page for the details of edits by April and others.
  • Timothy Leno, firsthand knowledge. See the Changes page for the details of edits by Timothy and others.
  • Jay Byrne, Click the Changes tab for the details of edits by Jay and others.
  • Robert Palmer, firsthand knowledge. Click the Changes tab for the details of edits by Robert and others.
  • ODurgy-1 was created by David McKnight through the import of DavidEricMcKnight9gen.ged on Jul 3, 2014.

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Comments: 5

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I am removing the connection to John (Turke) Durge (1610-) as his claimed father. It appears that the only "evidence" for this connection is that (1) a man of that name existed, because he died (date not indicated) in Dulwich, Surrey, England (not Ireland), and (2) someone created an Ancestry Family Tree that shows this relation. This is no basis for quality genealogy.
posted by Ellen Smith
#1. How do you know this person was b. in Drogheda, Meath, Ireland? Ireland yes, but the specific place is not in the biography and someone just added a category for Drogheda.
  1. 2. the bio says he didn't migrate until 1660 and then to Barbadoes. He didn't arrive in New England until shortly before his marriage in 1664. He is not part of the Puritan Great Migration. I am removing him from the project.
posted by Anne B
ODurgy-1 and Durkee-6 appear to represent the same person because: How much more information is needed to make convincing evidence that the vestigial profile at ODurgy-1 is intended to represent the same person as Durkee-6? ODurgy-1 is based on Ancestral File Number 2KN4-M4. That AF includes 120 different records. The 120 records have inconsistent data, but it's clear that they represent the William Durkee/Durgy/Durge/O'Durgy from Ireland who married Martha Cross in Ipswich Mass. in 1664, apparently after time in Barbados as a slave (biographical details that also appear in ODurgy-1). Yes, the Jan 1664 death date in ODurgy-1 is impossible, but that doesn't make him a different person. (The death date appears in AF records that also give the marriage date in Dec 1664.)
posted by Ellen Smith
ODurgy-1 and Durkee-6 are not ready to be merged because: Not enough information to confirm these are the same person
posted by Ann (Thompson) Johnson
ODurgy-1 and Durkee-6 appear to represent the same person because: Same person. Really!

But the death information for ODurgy-1 is all wrong. That's the date of his marriage (not a date of death), and it's way too early for anyone to have died in Windham, Connecticut.

posted by Ellen Smith

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Categories: Irish Slaves | Ipswich, Massachusetts | Massachusetts Project-Managed