(The name is spelled many ways, it is also seen as: Tracey, Trace, Traci, Tracie, Trasey, Treacy, and Treasey.)
Tracy is a sur-name that arrived in England in 1066, in the person of Le Sire de Traci from Tracy-Bocage in Normandy, France, a captain in the army of William the Conqueror.
"Tracy" is thought to be a habitational name derived from the Gaulish male name Draccios, or Roman Latin Thracius, which originally referred to a person from Thrace, a region in the southeast corner of the Balkan Peninsula occupied anciently by an Indo-European people; an area now divided between Greece and Turkey. Others suggest that “Tracy” may be a derivative of the name “Tressan” (or “Trésain”), an Irish saint who lived in the area around Reims (France) in the sixth century. Either theory would give the English name “Tracy” roots in Northwestern Europe.
It is probably safe to say that any Tracy with an English heritage could trace a connection to Le Sire de Traci. (Though with perhaps some difficulty given the number of intervening years.)
Essentially our Tracy lineage can be broken into three segments... one of which we are sure, one of which we can be reasonably sure, and one of which we are not at all sure...
first, from today back to Henry Tracy (1769 – 1846) - and we are sure of our descent from that Henry (as sure as one can reasonably be of these things anyway);
next, from that Henry Tracy's father back to Lt. Thomas Tracy (1610 – 1685) – here our problem is in confirming the connection betweenHenry (1769 – 1846) and his father – though the likeliest paternal candidate is a Jonathan Tracy (1742 - c.1800) who was descended from Lt. Thomas Tracy (c.1610 - 1685). Recent DNA test results appear to confirm that a direct line back to Lt. Thomas Tracy is all but certain for Henry (the subject linked to Lt. Thomas by the DNA testing is directly descended from Henry, and this descent is documented accordingly). Since Jonathan's ancestry has been well documented back to Lt. Thomas, we can be reasonably sure of it (with again the same stipulation as above). Based on 'the preponderance of the evidence' (a term genalogists often use to support their theories) evidence pointing to a parental connection between this Jonathan and that Henry, we can assume with 'fair certainty' (another genealogical term) that our lineage to Lt. Thomas is as is proposed in this family history/genealogy;
and lastly, from Lt. Thomas Tracy back innumerable generations, with lesser or greater degrees of certainty (and lesser or greater degrees of noble or royal blood) to, and then through, Le Sire de Traci to (as some would have it) Woden (c.300), and then to... well, there is an old genealogy extant purporting to take the Tracy line back to Adam and Eve...
As of today, the ancestry of the "3 California Yankees, Tracys, Born c.1975" can, with some assurance by way of DNA testing results, be followed back through the first two of those groups of Tracy ancestors to 1610. That date is based on the birth year given for Thomas Tracy Sr. (Lieutenant) who it is thought by some was the scion of a Tracy family from Tewkesbury in Gloucester, England; others say he was from Norfolk, England. The Gloucester Tracy Family traces its ancestry back directly to Le Sire de Traci and the Battle of Hastings in the year 1066... and way beyond there to (probably/possibly/not really likely?) 300 CE. There is little background on Tracys in Norfolk.
It might be best to keep things in perspective and consider that there is a period of approximately 540 years - about 22 generations - between Le Sire de Traci of Normandy/Hastings and Lt.Thomas Tracy of New England. In that many years/generations there were, undoubtedly, many branchings off of the Traci/Tracy line that arrived in England with The Conqueror. After 22 generations it can be expected that by the year 1610 there would be several thousand individuals living in England (and Ireland) bearing the surname of Tracy (or a variation on it). It would appear that at least one of those individuals was settled in Gloucester and another one, at least, in Norfolk.
Other descendant branches of this Norman ancestor's family migrated to Ireland where an indigenous Irish Tracy family of ancient lineage had already been around since about the eighth century CE. (Note that is about 900 years beore the Battle of Hastings.) With all the years between then and now it is reasonable to assume that any likelihood of certain differentiation between the origins of Tracy lineages out of England and Ireland would be difficult to ascertain. (And it presumably would have been a two-way migration between Ireland and England.) The DNA testing referred to above currently suggests a stronger connection to England and Northern Europe than to Ireland. Perhaps in the future DNA studies will be able to provide some clarity for those to whom it is really important to know.
It would be genealogically convenient for us to be able to tie into the Gloucester branch of the family that can actually trace, step-by-step, parent to grandparent, through all of those 22 generations of English Tracys, back to that family's progenitor. It would also be a stroke of quite good fortune for this family genealogist if that were actually the branch of the Tracy family we are connected to. And maybe we are, but realistically a connection to Norfolk is much more likely. However, family history before our Tracy ancestor's arrival in New England is way beyond the scope of this family history/genealogy. And it must be pointed out that Thomas' connection to any of those backgrounds, in spite of extensive research into the matter, is still unproven or at best somewhat tenuous. You can read the theories of Thomas' origins here...
This section of OUR TRACY TREE OF ANCESTRY deals with the members of the Tracy Family that are likely to be part of our direct ancestry based upon first-hand knowledge or fairly convincing circumstantial evidence. The evidence of relationship is described in the entries associated with each of the individuals. Of course there are a number of other families whose genes are very much a part of our Tracy family's story, one of the daughters from each of those families having married a Tracy of our line. We have so far found over 60 family names in our direct Tracy family ancestry... Flack, Martin, Donham, Neal, and Baugh among the more recent of them. Then also of course, there are the paternal and maternal lines of each of those daughters... and so on for each preceding generation. Many of those family names and some of the stories of those families are incorporated with those of the Tracys.
An interesting sidenote: Another Colonial Era Tracy was a Stephen Tracy. He was a Pilgrim; a 'delayed Saint', i.e. one who did not arrive on the Mayflower but was nonetheless a Pilgrim, both in philosophical/theological terms and in immigration history terms. Stephen emmigrated from Norfolk, England, by way of Leiden, Holland, and arrived in New England 1623. (He probably arrived before Lt. Thomas since Thomas doesn't make his first appearance in New England's Colonial records until 1634.) Stephen has had his family line of descendants quite well established, down to and past the time of Henry Tracy who was born in 1769, and he can be definitely eliminated as a direct ancestor of that Henry. (In other words, our Tracy surname does not come down to us from Stephen.)
According to the highly regarded genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus, FASG (1887-1970) Stephen Tracy and Lt. Thomas Tracy were probably related - uncle and nephew respectively, and both probably from Norfolk, England. (Stephen is said to have had a brother named Christopher who could have been Thomas' father, and Christopher is a name given one of Thomas' grandsons and a name used frequently in the following generations.)
Cuyler Reynolds (1866 - 1934), Author, Albany City Historian, First Curator of Albany Institute of History and Art (and Director 1899 – 1909), and generally considered to have been one of Albany's major historians, gives a genealogy of Stephen Tracy, Pilgrim, which proposes that Stephen was the youngest son of Samuel Tracy. Samuel is said to be the younger brother of Paul Tracy. Both Samuel and Paul (and their brother Nathaniel) were sons of Richard Tracy, Esq., of the manor of Stanway. If such a lineage is true (and actually it's more hopefully convenient than proven... though they most likely were somehow related) Stephen and Thomas would have been cousins. (Refer to the theories about "origins here..." link above.)
Often times Stephen's descendants and Lt. Thomas' were in the same "neck of the woods" in Connecticut in the mid to late 17th and all of the 18th centuries, and in New York State at the beginning of the 19th century... sometimes living just a few miles apart in neighboring towns, and sometimes in the same town. This proximity of Tracy households sharing among them many of the same given names has made research interesting, and at times more than a little confusing.
The links above on the left will direct you to the person pages of the members of our Tracy Family, but a reasonable starting point would be with either Lt. Thomas Tracy himself, or with Charlie Tracy, paternal grandfather of The 3 Tracys born c. 1975.