nota bene: This article is meant specifically for those particularly interested in details of Paul Morphy's life and ancestry and not for general consumption.
I came across a book entitled Old families of Louisiana which was edited and compiled by by Stanley Clisby Arthur who collaborated with the historian George Campbell Huchet de Kernion and was originally published in 1931 by Joseph S. W. Harmanson.
A little background: Stanley Clisby Arthur, who managed the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife, was born in Merced, Californian in 1880. He was a journalist and Spanish-American War correspondent who moved to New Orleans in 1915 and, around 1920, opened a photography studio. A nature lover, he wrote an biography of John Audubon - Audubon: An Intimate Life of the American Woodsman. During a stint as a regional director of Survey of Federal Archives, he became interested in the history of his adopted city. Old families of Louisiana was an outcome of that involvement. He died in 1963.
I could discover very little about George Campbell Huchet de Kernion. In her book, Creole families of New Orleans, Grace Eizabeth King mentions de Kernion as "a well-known authority on Louisiana genealogy."
Much of this book was based on a genealogical series on old families of Louisiana, written by Charles Patton Dimitry, that was published in the Times-Democrat in 1892.
Carles Patton Dimitry, as noted in The Louisiana Book by Thomas M'Caleb, 1894,was the " second son of Professor Alexander Dimitry, was born in Washington, D. C., July 31, 1837. He was educated, for the most part, at Georgetown College. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army as a private in the Louisiana Guards. Since the war ho has been connected with the press of Baltimore. Washington, Richmond, and New Orleans. He has written several novels, which Mr. J. Wood Davidson, in the Living Writers of the South (1869), has pronounced 'distinctly able, and all clearly above the range of the popular novels of the day.' Of The House in Balfour Street, which Mr. Dimitry published in 1868, the same critic says: '[It reminds] one, by some vague temper pervading it, of Hawthorne and Dickens, at one and the same time, while it is utterly unlike both. There is as much of the poet as of the romanticist in it.' Mr. Dimitry's last work, issued in serials in the New Orleans Times Democrat, is Louisiana Families (1892-93).] "
This article reprints most of the chapter, pp. 54-58, on the Morphy family.
In the old days of Irish chieftainry - in the days when Ireland made history of her own - the prowess of the Omurphu family was sung in castle and baronial hall by the Irish bards, as they told also of the achievements of Brian Boru, of the McDermott, the O'Connell, and the Nial. Thus Charles Patton Dimitry prefaced his review of a Louisiana family made immortal by the achievements of one of its sons, Paul Morphy, the celebrated chess player.
Transformed with the passing of the centuries, the family name of Omurphu became in time O'Murphy and finally Murphy. Established in their native land around Cork and Londonderry, and other cities in Ireland, from their early habitations many of the branches of the family found homes in other countries.
For the past one hundred and fifty years the annals of continental Europe have been dooted with the names of brilliant Catholic Irish families that have helped to make history for their times. These families were of the self-exiled class, some Stuart Royalists, some republicans departing form Ireland for their opinion's sake, at various periods from the time of the downfall of the royal house of Stuart and throughout the different unsuccessful rebellions since that period against English rule. Thus we find in history the names of General Count O'Reilly, the Spanish warrior and governor of the colony of Louisiana in 1769; Marshall O'Donnell, also in the Spanish service; Count Dillon, Marechal MacMahon, O'Neill, and Vicomte de Tyrone, of the ancient Irish earls of Tyrone, in France, and O'Higgins, of South American fame.
Among the Irish families which thus within nearly two centuries have left Ireland because of political troubles, was a branch of the Murphy family, posterity of Omurphu, and the ancestors of the Morphy family of Louisiana. Spain was their destination, and there they acquired the prestige of Spanish nomenclature which attaches to the name.
On a reverse of a card displaying he Morphy coat-of-arms - quarterly and gules; four lions rampant interchanged; over all on a fesse sable three garbs or, and with lion rampant gules holding a garm or, as a crest, - which descended to D. E. Morphy, and preceding the description of the heraldic devices was written "Morphy, alias Curphy, alias Omorphu."
In Madrid where dwelt parents of Don Diego Morphy, Sr., the first "o" the name in Louisiana, the Spaniards found it easier to pronounce the name Murphy with the "u" changed into "o" - wherefore the name Morphy, pronounced in Spanish and French as if written "Morphee," with the accent on the last syllable. But the relationship and connection with the other members of the Murphy family, who also emigrated to Spain or her colonies, and who retained the original spelling, were maintained by Don Diego Morphy and his family, for in a letter handed down through the years, it is shown that Don Diego informed his son in 1813 that he was anxious for him to form a business connection "with his cousin Matthew Laurence Murphy of Havana."
Don Diego Morphy, Sr. arrived in New Orleans in the latter part of 1803. He was born in Madrid but became a resident of Cap Français on the island of San Domingo. The Cap, as it was called, was inhabited largely by Spaniards, and while there married Mollie Creagh. Their child, named for the father was a month old when the negro outbreaks took place. In order to preserve his wife and child from persecution, and perhaps death, Don Diego had his spouse place the infant in a market basket and covered him with cabbage leaves. The mother, with basket on her arm, and under the pretext of wanting to sell vegetables to the captain of an English vessel at anchor in the harbor, succeeded in boarding the ship. A few weeks later she and her child landed in Philadelphia. It was several months later before Don Diego was able to leave the island and go to Charleston, South Carolina. He joined his wife in the Quaker City and returned to Charleston, where he lived for several years. There his second son, Ernest Morphy, and two daughters, Matilde and Eléonore, were born. After the death of his first wife, Don Diego married Louisa Peire, daughter of an old Hugonot family of Charleston. By his second wife he had Alonzo Morphy, who became a supreme court judge of Louisiana, and three daughters. They were Mrs. James Ross, Mrs. William Taylor and Emma Morphy, who married David Hincks of New Orleans, and they became the parents of Edgar Hincks, former secretary of Tulane and Newcomb Universities.
Before coming to New Orleans, Don Diego Morphy, Sr. was vice-consul for Spain, and in New Orleans, up to the day of his death in 1814, he served as Spanish consul. Don Diego, Jr. who was made vice-consul after his father's death, in 1818 was sent to Natchez as counsel. When he returned to New Orleans he devoted himself to teaching Spanish and making translations, being a man of high intellectual attainments, a scholar, and an author. He compiled several works, among them a book on Spanish idioms and a dictionary of the French, Spanish and English languages. Don Diego Morphy, Jr., married Eulalie Dubord, daughter of Don Loreno Troisville Dubord and Eulalie Beaument de Livaudais. Don Diego, Jr. died in New Orleans in 1865. His son was Diego E. Morphy.
Judge Alonzo Morphy, a son born of the second marriage of Don Diego Morphy, Sr. studied law in New Orleans and was admitted to practice January 7, 1819, by the supreme court then comprised of Justices Matthews, Derbigny, and MArtin. He was appointed to the supreme bench by Governor Roman, August 31, 1839, but became attorney general of Louisiana in 1829 before going to the high court. Alonzo Morphy married Telcide Le Carpentier, daughter of Joseph Le Carpentier and Modeste Blache, the latter being the daughter of Don Louis Carlos Blache and Marie de Tournade. Joseph Le Carpentier had four children, Aménaide, who married Eouard Fortin; Telcide, who married Judge Morphy, and Amelie and Charles Le Carpentier who died unmarried.
Four children were issue of Judge Morphy's marriage - two sons and two daughters. Edward Morphy, the elder son, Paul Morphy who became the world's greatest chess player; Malvina Morphy, who married J. C. Sybrandt, a cotton merchant and consul for Sweden. Helena Moprhy, the other daughter, died unmarried. The Sybrandt children were: Edward Sybrandt, who moved to Savannah and died unmarried; John Sybrandt, unmarried lived in New York and Marie Sybrandt who did not marry.
Diego Eugéne Morphy, son of Diego Morphy, Jr., and Eulalie Dubord, was born in New Orleans, March 15, 1817, and became well-known in banking and auctioneering circles. He married Louise Emily Grivot, who died in 1884, leaving two sons, Albert Morphy, who did not marry, and Captain E. A. Morphy, and two daughters: Ophelia Morphy, married to C. W. M. Friedlander who, after her death, mattied her sister Camille, and lived on the Rhine in Germany. Captain Alfred E. Morphy married Eliza Seip, daughter of John Seip and Eliza Martin of Rapids parish, and their children were Albert, Eugene, Adelia Seip, Mary Elise and Clifford Charles Morphy.
Edouard Morphy, who lived in St. Peter street, was the head of one branch of the Morphy family long identified with New Orleans. He was the son of Judge Alonzo Morphy and Telcide Le Carpentier, and the brother of the celebrated Paul Morphy. Edouard was born in New Orleans December 12, 1834 and married, November 20, 1860, Alice Percy, daughter of E. S. Percy, of a family of English lineage established in Louisiana for four generations. E. S. Percy was president of the New Orleans Water Works, and his wife was Julie Blache, of an old New Orleans family, Arthur Blache, who married Miss Trémoulet, was a nephew of E. S. Percy, and the father of Edgar Blache and Octave Blache. Two of Mrs. Edouard Morphy's brothers were Henry F. Percy and Léonce Percy. Others of the Percy family lived in West Feliciana parish and in Mississippi.
The Children of Edouard Morphy and Alice Percy were a son and a daughter. This son was Edward S. Morphy, who married Emma Merlin. They had three children: one of the daughters being Juanita Morphy. The son was named Paul after his famous uncle, and an adopted daughter was Ida Magnon. Régina Morphy, the daughter of Edouard Morphy, married George Voitier.
Paul Morphy, renowned in the annals of chess playing, and noted for the possession of a peculiar mental organization which is usually attributed to genius, was the younger son of Judge Alonzo Morphy, and the only brother of Edouard. He was born in New Orleans, June 27, 1837 [June 22, 1837 -batgirl]. Very few men have lived in any epoch of the world's history who achieved the celebrity at the age of twenty-one that marked the experiences of Paul Morphy when he first came before the world as the incomparable chess player of his or any other time. Perhaps his accomplishment as a chess player and calculator was inherited, although developed to him to the highest degree, from his maternal grandfather, Joseph Le Carpentier. His father, Judge Alonzo Morphy, and his uncle, Ernest Morphy, were also devotees of chess and players of strength. Paul began playing chess at the age of ten. At twelve he played against the best experts of New Orleans. When he was thirteen he was ranked among the best players in the United States having, in 1850, defeated the celebrated Hungarian champion, Lowenthal. He went abroad and defeated the best of all countries, frequently playing blindfold against four, and sometimes eight, opponents. When there were no more champions to triumph over, he returned to his native city.
Paul Morphy never married. He lived in the old home, 80 Royal street, now known as Patio Royal, and one hot day, 1884, he was found dead in the bath room. It was said that he had taken a shower when overheated and the shock to his system produced a congestion of the brain.
The [Charles Patton] Dimitry article on the Morphy family appeared in the New Orleans Times-Democrat April 24 and May1, 1892.