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County Donegal, Ireland

All records of Malseed immigration that I have seen mention county Donegal, Ireland, as the origin.  I have also personally heard from Malseeds in the US, Australia, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Canada who have said their ancestors came from county Donegal.

Edward MacLysaght, in his book, "The Surnames of Ireland", says of Malseed, "This name is found in Co. Donegal; it is probably of Dutch origin."  (He doesn't explain  where he got the Dutch origin theory.)

The four provinces of Ireland. County Donegal is part of the province of Ulster - the northernmost of Ireland's four provinces. (Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught)

Ulster consists of Northern Ireland plus the three counties of Donegal, Monaghan, and Cavan, that chose to remain with the Irish Republic when the island was partitioned.

Republic of Ireland flag.

History of Malseeds in Donegal

Malseeds have been living in County Donegal since at least 1614.  I have been collecting information concerning the location of Malseed families in the county to see if I could narrow the area down to particular parishes.  Look in Donegal Information for a history of the Malseed (Molsed, Molseed, Maltseed, Maultsaid) name in Donegal to see the current results of my survey.  The maps presented there show the spread of the family name from parish to parish over a period of about 250 years. 

Look on the Irish Records page. I have birth, death, burial, marriage, probate, census, gravestone, etc. records from a variety of sources in Ireland and Northern Ireland which will be collated, formatted, and posted here.  Much of the information is from Rathmullan and Ramelton (Rathmelton) in County Donegal.

Where were Malseeds before Ulster? 

There are several different theories of Malseed origins:

Scotch-Irish Huguenots Soldiers Kenneth DeMal
Flemish Dutch Vikings  


Scotch-Irish (or Scot Irish or Ulster Scot)

My father considered us to be Scotch-Irish.  In the US, we call the Scottish immigrants who came from Ireland the Scotch-Irish.  Another name is "Ulster Scot".

After the Ulster Plantation was founded in the north of Ireland in 1610, many lowland Scots migrated to Ulster.  This established the Presbyterian presence in the province.  (My family was indeed Presbyterian, typical of the Scotch-Irish, although somewhere along the way, we became Baptists.)  Most Malseeds in Ireland were Presbyterians.

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Based upon the reports (cited in  Donegal Information) about John Molsed, planter, who was leased land at Plaster in All Saints parish on 1 November 1614, Ian McLeod of Tasmania, Australia, writes:

"John Molsed was part of the first large-scale state-organized Protestant Plantation of Ireland, which took place during the reign of King James I of England [James VI of Scotland]. I have read that the settlement under James I was predominantly of people of Scottish and Flemish origin.

My conjecture is that John Molsed, or his not-too-distant ancestors, came to Scotland from Flanders.
In the period prior to James I Britain received many Protestant Flemish immigrants, refugees from religious persecution by the French. The surname Fleming derives from this time; it was applied to many of these immigrants. One of John Molsed's fellow settlers was a John Fleming.

The name Malseed/Molseed is not a Scottish or an English one. That leaves a country in mainland Europe, and Flanders seems to me to be the most likely.

Family lore, in Australia and in Ireland, has it that the the Malseeds were originally Dutch.. The Flanders theory is not necessarily inconsistent with that belief. Part of what is now The Netherlands was once part of Flanders.

Finally, a Soundex search in came up with the birth, recorded in Tilburg, Netherlands Vital Records, in 1804, of a Maria Catharina Constantia Mahlstedt. Tilbug is located in the southern Dutch province of North Brabant, near the border with Belgium, and would once have been in what was then Flanders. Malseed is not a vast leap from Mahlstedt!"

Note: If John Molsed migrated to Scotland first from Flanders, the Flemish theory could also satisfy the Scotch-Irish theory, and if he were Huguenot, the French Huguenot theory could also be at least partially satisfied.

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The family of James Malseed (Shankill, County Dublin), believes that the Malseeds are of French Huguenot origin.  I have found some information that would support that theory, and I have also found information which one could use to refute the theory.  That information is presented on the Huguenot Information page.

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Note the reference under Huguenot Information to Huguenots in Holland.  Perhaps this is where MacLysaght came up with his Dutch origin theory.  In fact, when Linda and I were in Williamsburg, Virginia, a few years ago, we went into a heraldry shop as Linda was looking for a “Baxter” tartan necktie.  In the course of our talking about the Malseed name and the Dutch theory, the proprietor of the shop mentioned the use of Dutch soldiers by William of Orange.  (Coincidentally, Williamsburg is the home of the College of William and Mary, chartered in 1693.)  Of course, the soldiers need not have been Huguenots.  See comments under Soldiers.

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Soldiers (of Cromwell or of William of Orange.)

Since both Oliver Cromwell and William of Orange brought foreign soldiers to Ireland, a possibility is that Malseeds were among those soldiers.  However since these incidents were in the mid and late 1600s, John Molsed (1614) pre-dates both, and Archibald Malseed (1665) pre-dates William of Orange.

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Robert David Malseed reports:  

"...what my professor at USF thought about our family name.  His specialization was in Viking History and medieval politics.  He thought that the name is originally Viking or Norman, (Normans are Vikings, but settled in Northern France and because they came from Scandinavia they were called Norse men). He theorised that our ancestors settled in Northern France or Germany or Holland and then during the Normans invasion of England in 1066 went over to Ireland.  In Ireland they established themselves as Farmers / Warriors in the Letterkenny area."

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Kenneth deMal of Scotland

Aaron Orr proposes that Malseeds are the descendants of Scottish lawyer Kenneth DeMal.

"Originally Norman French, Le Duc DeMal and his son Kennet or Kenneth de Mal came to the England of William the Conqueror.   Kenneth was an expert in Norman Law.  At that time Kenneth II of Scotland requested William to send him an instructor who could teach him the differences between Scottish law and the new Norman legislative orders.  Willie, being no slouch where politics was concerned, sent Kenneth deMal (after all his first name was the same as the King of Scotland's and that was a plus). Ken did such a good job that King Ken allotted a fairly large portion of Scottish land to lawyer Ken.  He also ensured that Ken the lawyer get to marry a beautiful, noble and influential lady attached to the Scots court.  The family came along and multiplied. The Scots were a bit put out by having to call the group deMal so with that native sagacity and verbal ingenuity that often causes Scots to put names on others, they decreed that The children Of Mal (as the French name suggests) should be known as The Seed of Mal.  Eventually this became Malseed."

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Wherever Malseeds came from before inhabiting county Donegal, they seem to have left no one behind.  If you have another theory of our origin, or have evidence supporting any of the above theories, please let us know.

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Page Last Updated: 14 March 2007

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