Early References to SISK

Sιamus Sisk - BA Hons History & English Studies in Late Mediaeval & Tudor, Irish History who worked in the Folklore Dept. in UCD

is of the opinion that possible early variations of the SISK name include


references to which he has found in Calendar of Documents, Ireland 1171 - 1251 and 1285 - 1292 and 1293 - 1301

Calendar of Justiciary Rolls, Edward 1 1295 - 1303 and 1305 - 1307

Calendar of State Papers, Elizabeth 1574 - 1585 and 1592 - 1596 and 1598 - 1599

Calendar of Patent Rolls, Vol 1.


Research by Paul MacCotter, Genealogist & Historian, co-editor with Kenneth Nicholls of THE PIPE ROLL OF CLOYNE.

Paul is of the opinion that the name is derived from "Secketh" meaning 6th child in Welsh. He has discovered early records of the name "Secketh" in the Aghada area and other forms of the name appear in the Barony of Imokilly (Sex and Scysg) and some references in Tipperary give the name as "Sesket".

The following article appeared in Irish Roots Magazine, Issue No. 33, 2000 Number 1, under the heading The Irish Surname Expert Readers Queries Answered By Paul MacCotter

Sisk and Seix

Brendan Sisk of Cork, a man of great persistence, is responsible for this query. Both Sisk and Seix are quite rare and most Irish people will know the former from one of Ireland's largest building companies, John Sisk and Son Ltd. The original John Sisk lived at 1 Cove Street at the time of the 1901 census, when my great-grandparents lived seven doors up. Both surnames certainly derive from a common ancestor, Saghas, the ethnic Welsh term for Saxon or Englishman. This may be satirical or may refer to an early English immigrant to Wales. Our earliest nation-wide survey can be drawn from the Justiciary Rolls of 1295-1314, whose scribes uniformly record the surname as Seys. Counties Cork and Kildare have five occurrences, with Carlow and Dublin getting one apiece. Three of the Cork references refer to men dwelling in Buttevant vicinity, including that of John Seys, whose house was burgled in 1311. The scribes of the court of Justices Itinerant, with different scribal usages to those of the Justiciars Court, record one Walter Sex, a smallholder at Kilrush, near Midleton, County Cork, in 1260, and Laurence Sex, who held two acres there, in 1303. As we shall see, these men were certainly the ancestors of the later Sisks of east Cork. Note that this surname is thus an indicator of ethnic origin, like Walsh, Fleming, etc., and there were probably several men called Saghas who settled in Ireland from Wales and who were probably not related to each other. Extensive colonial settlement into almost all parts of Ireland occurred at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion of the twelfth century, and Saghas was just one of many ethnic Welsh surnames introduced to Ireland at this period. The east Cork family were of the lower and middle orders and have left few records; what has survived illustrates the usual continuity of location over centuries. A deed of 1406 concerning lands on Great Island, in Cork Harbour, mentions a priest, Simon Sex, while in 1467 William Scysg was appointed parish priest to both parishes on the island. Another clerical member of the family was Canon Richard Secketh of Cloyne, of 1492. Our next references are to one David, son of Robert Sisk, who held lands in Aghada around 1620, while, around the same time, a family using the form Sice occur in Youghal. It is with the Aghada/Cloyne area that the name is associated with in records of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a mere few miles from Great Island and Kilrush. Returning to County Kildare, the sixteenth century Fiants record several of the name in that county under the form Sex, including the unusually styled, Edmund Sex of Bollick, in 1571. Others of the name resided in Herbertstown and the now obsolete Knockurk. I suspect the Kildare parish of Ballysax to commemorate this family, but I have not been able to confirm this at time of going to press. Perhaps understandably, the growing literacy levels of the nineteenth century saw Sex change to Seix in Kildare, where the name, though very rare, may still be found.

Paul MacCotter has a Professional Expert Surname Research Service and can be contacted at:

15 Whitethorn Avenue, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, Ireland. e-mail: pmcotter@gofree.indigo.ie


1613 David fitz Robert SISK in Aghada & Corkbeg.

from "A History of the Diocese of Cork from the Earliest Times to the Reformation", by Evelyn Bolster.

The reference in Latin, is as follows, David fitz Robert Sisk quia bis Cessatur videlicet in Corckbeg iiijs. et in Aghaddy iiijs....iiijs

Oliver Lyons says that it could mean several things eg David son of Robert Sisk because was twice found wanting namely in Corkbeg and in Aghada.

wanting could mean "not paying rent" "leaving his land fallow" "being an absentee"

He also said that the reference was from the 16th century which could tie in with the time of the Geraldines[Gaelicised-Normans, Fitzgeralds.


Diarmuid O Murchadha, author of "History of Crosshaven" and "Family Names of County Cork" thinks the SISK name may have developed from the surname SEIX / SEIXE / SEX ; as there is no 'x' in Irish, the sound often became 'se' - as with FOX, which became BOSC(ACH). It was a fairly common surname in S. Leinster (Kildare / Kilkenny) in the 16th century, and there were at least two families in S. Tipperary - at Buolick and Carrick - on - Suir (Henry Seix, gent.) SEIX in turn may have come from SAXE (meaning Saxon) ; there was an Adam Saxe living near Any (Knockainy) , Co. Limerick in 1307.


Some early Sisk Headstone Inscriptions can be found in the following document, ASSOCIATION for the Preservation of the Memorials of Ireland 1904. Journal for the year 1904 (see Corkbeg and Inch Churchyards)


The Geraldines : In 1537 an Act of Parliament decreed all Geraldine countries forfeit to the crown.

Measures were introduced 1583 - 86, to Plant the Geraldine Munster estates. Head planters became known as "Undertakers" as they undertook to

1 Pay their annual rent

2 Farm about one third of their land under supervision.

3 Bring over English tenants (Catholic or Protestant) to farm the remainder.

4 Provide equipment & training for some of their retainers for military service.

5 Order their lives in the English manner : avoiding intermarriage with the native Irish and the practice of their manners and customs.


Note on SISK in CARRIGALINE Families of the Catholic Parish of Carrigaline-Crosshaven, County Cork 1826-1880. Extracted from the Parish registers and edited by Francis Thompson, 23rd July 1986.

SISK / SHISK / SCHISK The Irish pronunciation of this name was formerly approximately 'shisk'. The Sisks of Carrigaline - Crosshaven appear very often as witnesses and sponsors at weddings and baptisms, so often, in fact, that bearers of this name must have played some special role in the community, perhaps in connection with the mills in Carrigaline village or as agents for the Roberts family.

SISKs in the NATIONAL MOVEMENT Extracts from "History of Crosshaven" by Diarmuid Σ Murchadha -

page 73 National Movements :- Despite the naval connections and the intimidating shadow of Fort Camden, the national tradition of underground resistance lived on. The Fenian movement had many local adherents, not all forgotten. Amongst them were the Barrys of Hoddersfield, Sisks of Gortnanoon and one of the Mackesys on whose grave in Templebreedy men of the Irish Republican Brotherhood used lay wreaths in later years. Fenian guns were brought from Cork and hidden in Barrys'. Possibly they were intended for an attack on the Coastguard station. The Cork Examiner 11th March 1867, reported : It is stated that an attack was expected on the Crosshaven Coastguard station on Friday night [8th March] and that military had been despatched there from Camden Fort, to protect the station. It does not appear, however, that any attack was made.

Though the military efforts of the Fenians were quickly extinguished their memory and ideals lived on. When the first G.A.A. club was formed in Crosshaven in the 1880's (with M. Kennefick and J. McDonald as officers) it was named the J. P. Leonard club in memory of a noted Fenian who was born at Spike and lies buried near Cobh.

In more recent times the struggle for independence had its local supporters too, headed by the late Edward Sisk, a Commandant in the 9th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade, I.R.A. At his farmyard occurred the only fatality in the area when a workman named Thomas Hennessy from Bandon was shot by a party of Cameron Highlanders who were searching the house. Just outside the parish in the townland of Fountainstown was born Liam de Rσiste, one of the notable figures in the Gaelic League and National Movement. In his early days he used attend meetings of the National League in Crosshaven. He was one of the chief organisers of the Volunteers in Cork and in 1921 presided over the Treaty debates in Dαil Θireann. His neighbour and close friend, Miah Ahern, came to live in Crosshaven where his public house became a rendezvous for local nationalists. Miah himself became a well known member of Cork County Council.

History of the Sisk Families of America

Extraxts from Luther L. Sisk's, "Sisk Families".


Some members of Sisk families believe the name is Irish, because of the concentration of Sisks in Ireland. Others say it is Welsh. A few say it's Northern European--Polish, for instances. Nobody seems to know for sure.

In a "Know Your Name" column in the Atlanta, Ga., Journal, Dec. 8, 1968, a paragraph was devoted to the name Sisk: "This is probably a simplified from of the old Wendish occupational name, Sischke, meaning 'reaper, harvester'. The Wends are a Slavic people who originally occupied the region between the Elbe and Oder Rivers in Saxony and Prussia."

According to the "Dictionary of Family Names," by Smith, the names "Siskin" or Sisking" are German and mean "sweet child".


"Portrait and Biographical Record of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton, and Lin Counties, Missouri, [Chicago:Chapman Bros. 1893] a biography about one of the Bartlett Sisks.

"His ancestors were originally from Ireland, whence representatives of the family emigrated to America many years prior to the Revolutionary War, and settled in Virginia. Timothy Sisk, the son of those emigrants, was probably born and reared in Culpeper County, Va. The next in line of descent was Bartlett Sisk, who was born in Culpeper County, Va. about 1753."

This information was relayed to me by Larry Sisk, Charlotte, North Carolina

This document is reproduced in Luther L. Sisk's, "Sisk Families".


Early Sisk Arrivals to Virginia 1600’s:

Cavaliers and Pioneers/Abstracted by Nell Marion Nugent contains several “Sick” and “Sickes” as passengers to Virginia from the British Isles.

Vol.2 : Wm. Sickes came with Thomas and Henry Batts and 117 others to Charles City Co. ca.29 Apr.1668.

Richard Sick came with John Walker and 11 others to New Kent Co. c.21 Oct. 1687.

Vol.3 : Joseph Sickes received a land patent for 12 acres in Norfork Co. in Elizabeth River Parish 14 July 1718 adjacent land of William Sickes. Thomas Sickes or Sukes owned land adjacent to Edward Creekmore in Norfolk Co. 16 Aug. 1715. Others also listed as landowners were Joseph Sike and John Sike in Norfolk Co. Richard Sikes was transported by William Edwards along with 27 others to place not named but near Black Wter. Thomas Seikes also was a landowner in Norfolk Co. 16 Aug. 1715 when John Conner bought land.

Vol.5 : Thomas Sicks received a patent for 42 acres in Norfolk Co. 15 Oct.1741. Virginia Colonial Abstracts/By Beverley Fleet, Vol.1 : Robert Sickes. Witness to land deed dated 11 Aug. 1660 and recorded 20 Nov.1660 in Lancaster Co. This article was supplied by Sandra Conwill.



A Consilidation of Articles from The Journal of the American Irish Society


In Two Volumes

Vol II

Indexed by Thomas L. Hollowak


In the chapter “PROCTOR’S ARTILLERY IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR” Michael J. O’Brien states that “The names of many of it’s members may be found in the Pennsylvania Archives, but in only one list the nativity of the men is shown. This list comprises 206 men, divided by nationality as follows:

Native American………………………… 43%

Irish……………………………………… 37%

Germans…………………………………… 11%

English…………………………………… 6%

Scotch……………………………………… 2%

Welsh……………………………………… .5%

Canadian…………………………………… .5%


It is not possible, from the records available, to determine the actual Irish proportion. Following the list of 206 men in the Pennsylvania Archives, there are other lists where the nativity of the men is not stated at all, but, that many of them were Irish is shown by the following names, exclusive of those in the above tabulation:

my note: there follows a long list which includes many obvious Irish names and also includes

John Sisk


The book, "The Surnames of Ireland," by Edward MacLysaght, published by Barnes and Noble, New York, in 1969, includes the name Sisk: "For the past 200 years this name has been closely associated with East Cork. Its origin is uncertain. It has been suggested that it is a modern variant of the medieval surname Seix of Counties Kilkenny and Kildare, but there is no evidence for proof."



The surname Sisk is not of Irish origin, neither is it British. A study of Baker' s British Surnames' does not reveal the name in either the Anglo-Norse, Anglo-Norman or in the British list. There is , in the family, a vague suggestion that they were Quakers. This may be due to the fact that sometime about 1850 an ancestor, John Sisk , became a living-in apprentice to a Quaker plasterer named Richard Martin. However, there is no mention of anyone named Sisk in any of the published works concerning that sect. The nearest form of the name appearing on the Continent is Sikkes in Holland and Sicks in Germany. An examination of the various existing documents in connection with the Huguenots and with the Cromwellian Plantation proved equally fruitless. So also did the available documents concerning the Restoration of 1660 and the resulting Act of Settlement, nor is there any information to be gleaned from the Civil Survey and Valuation of 1663-1664. Next came William of Orange, ' of glorious and immortal memory '. The family may have arrived in the army of the Dutch General, the Duke of Shomberg, but an examination of the List of Claims of 1700 shows that at least one of them had arrived in Ireland before 1690. Claim No. 700 Registered in Chichester House, Dublin, records the assignment of a lease dated 17th February, 1687 from an Alderman Daniel Crone to a Nicholas Foord of a house located in the North-East quarter of the City of Cork. The importance to us of that entry is firstly, the date, 1687, and what is more important, is the fact that the lease was witnessed by a Thomas Shisk. The spelling of surnames varied in those days. Crone may have become Crane or Cronin, Foord changed to Ford, and Shisk may have become Sisk. This is more likely. The date is important. The Catholic James 11 still had a shaky hold on the Crown of England. The Dutch War of Independence raged in Flanders and the Netherlands, and many sought refuge in England and Ireland. Thomas Shisk, or Sisk, may have been one of those refugees. Investigation has shown that the more prosperous members of the family moved into East and North Cork. While the Registers of Wills and Marriage Bonds for the Diocese of Cork contain no mention of anyone named Sisk, they are mentioned in the these Registers of the neighbouring Diocese of Cloyne. The wills of the Sisk family mentioned are: Date Name Location 1731 John Kilworth ( North-East ). 1766 William Ballytibbet ( East). 1780 Martin Ardbeg (North ). 1805 David Ballyhedly ( North). 1810 Margaret Midleton ( East ) . 1815 James Whitegate ( East ). 1827 James ( Snr. ) Fermoy ( North ) In the Cloyne Marriage Bond Register are recorded : Catherine Sisk and Michael Kerwin,...... 1781. Bridgett Sisk and James Smyth, ...... 1798. Maria Sisk and Samuel Noel Baker, ...... 1823. Michael Sisk and Marion Sophia East, ..... 1849.

Unfortunately, the Register does not show wether these Sisks were from East or North Cork. However, the Marriage Register of the Diocese of Cork and Ross ( 1716-1844 ) gives us the following information :

Mary Sisk and William Gray, ...... 1760. Catherine Sisk and Edward Frost, ..... 1763. Margaret Sisk and Stephen Fussell,.....1838. Thomas Sisk and Mary Robson, ...... 1844. A note in Dr. Casey's O' Keif Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and Upper Blackwater', vol.4, page 203, says that this Register is ' generally deficient in Roman Catholic marriages and in marriages prior to 1740. The fact that the family name appears in these registers of wills and Marriage Licences does not imply that they were members of the Established Church, although it is possible that some had adopted that religion. Penal Laws were in force, and all Marriage Bonda and Wills had to be deposited in the archives of the Protestant Cathedral of the Diocese. It was also the law that anyone leaving property in more than one diocese had to deposit the will in the archives of the Cathedral of the Arch-Diocese of Armagh. . In the year 1766, the Established Church carried out a cencus of all families in every parish in Ireland. The information concerning the Diocese of Cloyne has been published. This shows : Glanworth Parish ( North Cork ) Laurence. David. Aghada Parish ( East Cork ) Maurice. James. Thomas. Michael. Daniel. Andrew. Richard.

Cloyne Parish ( East Cork ) James.

Clonpriest Parish (East Cork, near Youghal) Edmond

The register is divided into two sections, the first contains the names of the Protestant families, and the second the Papist families. All these Sisk families are described as Papists. The Sisk's of Aghada appear to have been numerous. It is interesting to note that in 25 years, between 1815 and 1840, there were 69 Sisk children baptized in Aghada Catholic Church. It is also of interest to note 35 of these children were male and eleven of them bore the christian name, John. The census for the Diocese of Cork and Ross is not forthcoming, but we do know, from the abstract taken from the Marriage Register, that the Sisk's lived in the Diocese as early as 1760.

The Registersof Marriage and Baptisms in the Cathedral of St. Mary's Cork, show that some members of the Sisk family lived in the North Parish in the eighteenth century. The Marriage of John Sisk and Maria Healy is recorded in January 1757, and the birth of Catherine, daughter of Edmond Sisk and Margaret Gibbon, in January 1775. Early in the next century, in November 1813, David, the son of James Sisk and Mary Murphy, was baptized.

Early Directories of Cork are unreliable. They are very incomplete and only contain the name of the more prosperous members of the community. West's Directory of 1809/10 includes a Daniel Sisk, Cooper, of Abbey Street, in the section dealing with 'Gentry, Merchants and Traders'. In the Post Office Directory of 1842-3, there is no mention of the name in that portion dealing with the city itself, but in the section dealing with the Country 'Nobility, Gentry and Clergy', there is a mention of a Matthias Sisk, Captain R.N., residing in the Village of Blackrock adjacent to the City. The name Matthias Sisk also occurs on an Administration Bond for Midleton area in 1817. -------------------------------


1766 CENSUS - Cork



No. 14 Maurice Sisk No. 70 James Sisk No. 92 Thomas Sisk No. 124 Michael Sisk No. 158 Daniel Sisk No. 163 Andrew Sisk No. 164 Richard Sisk {Inch} No. 177 John Sisk No. 180 Michael Sisk No. 189 James Sisk No. 190 Edmond Sisk No. 208 Edmond Sisk No. 212 Robert Sisk No. 240 Michael Sisk No. 245 William Sisk{Ballytibbot} No. 246 Matthias Sisk{Ardrabeg}

Total of Popish families 294. (Sisk families = 16/294 = 5.44% = 1:20) Possibly the same number of Sisk women married could mean a Sisk in 1:10 households)


{Country}James Sisk {Town}none


James {Clonmel, Gt. Island}


Edmond {Clonpriest}


David Laurence

Information extracted from the Tithe Composition Applotment Books
compiled between 1823 and 1838 as well as Griffith's Valuation 
(1848 to 1864). It covers most of the leaseholders of titheable land 
recorded in the Tithe Applotment Books  plus every householder and
occupier of land recorded in Griffith's Valuation, with the exception 
of Dublin City where large numbers of occupiers were omitted from the 
In all 29,229 different surnames are covered with a precise parish 
location for the 915,543 householders recorded in Griffith's Valuation. 
A total of 3,008 Civil Parishes were researched and the surname Sisk 
was discovered in 0.86% of these or 26 parishes.
        The following list reveals the numerical strength as well as 
the location by Civil Parish [Poor Law Union] and Barony of the 
surname Sisk for the years indicated. The omission of a number in the 
first column reveals the presence of  the surname Sisk in that parish 
when the exact count is unknown. This also applies in cases where a 
second year is printed ( in brackets ) to show the presence of the 
name Sisk in a parish at an earlier date. 

County Cork
6       Cloyne 			[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852
5       Corkbeg 		[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 (1834)
5       Inch 			[Midleton]	Imokilly, 1852 (1833)
3       Aghada 			[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 (1833)
2       Garranekinnefeake 	[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 (1834)
1       Clonpriest 		[Youghal] 	Imokilly, 1852
1       Midleton 		[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1853
1       Rostellan 		[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 (1825)
1       Titeskin 		[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 
1       Trabolgan 		[Midleton] 	Imokilly, 1852 
        Kilmacdonagh 		[Youghal/Midleton] Imokilly, (1834)
3       Templebreedy 		[Kinsale] 	Kerrycurrihy, 1850 (1833)
2       Ballinaboy 		[Kinsale] 	Kerrycurrihy, 1850 (1833)
2       Barnahely 		[Cork] 		Kerrycurrihy, 1850 (1830)
1       Ballymartle 		[Kinsale] 	Kerrycurrihy, 1850 (1834)
1       Kilmoney 		[Kinsale] 	Kerrycurrihy, 1850 (1834)
1       Kinsale 		[Kinsale] 	Kinsale, 1852
1       Ballyfeard 		[Kinsale] 	Kinalea, 1851 (1827)
         Templemichael 		[Kinsale] Kinalea, (1826)

1       Marmullane 			[Cork] 	Kerrycurrihy, 1850 
1       St. Nicholas 			[Cork] 	Cork, 1852

2       Litter 				[Fermoy] 	Fermoy, 1851 (1834)
1       Kilgullane,                     [Fermoy]    	 Condons & Clangibbon                                           (misspelt Schisk)

1       Doneraile 			[Mallow] 	Fermoy, 1851
1       Brigown 			{Mitchelstown] Condons & Clangibbon, 1852 (1830)

	County Limerick

1	Kilbehenny			   (misspelt Sisque)

County Tipperary
3       Templetenny 		[Clogheen] 	Iffa & Offa West, 1850 (1825)
         Tubbrid 		[Clogheen] 	Iffa & Offa West, (1826)

           County Dublin
2       North Strand, Mountjoy Ward, [Dublin City]
         North Strand                [St. Thomas]                 

            County Down 
1       Castleboy                           (misspelt Sesk)


The SESK Family of Newfoundland have 
established that their origins lay in 
James & William Sisk cir 1805.
"A Genealogical History of the Milesian Families Of Ireland"

researched c. 1880, suggests Sisk is of Danish origin and that they arrived in Ireland c. 980


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