Walt Disney’s Irish Roots

Niall Cullen, Findmypast

The surname “Disney” doesn’t sound very Irish. It derives from the Normandy French name D’Isigny, which is probably why Walt Disney’s Irish family history can be easily overlooked.

Records on Findmypast, including the exclusive Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885 reveal a little more about cartoon mogul’s past.

Walt Disney’s great-grandfather Arundel Elias Disney was born in Kilkenny c.1801. In 1832 Arundel Elias married Maria Swan and she soon gave birth to their son Kepple, Walt’s grandfather.

Arundel and Maria would go on to have 16 children, including Kepple.

You’ll discover the Disney family listed in records on Findmypast including Griffiths Valuation, the Landed Estate Court Rentals and also the Tithe Deafulters in their family homes of Clone and Rathbeagh, Co.Kilkenny.

Arundel and his brother Robert, along with their families, later emigrated to Canada via Liverpool. Arundel even built a windmill on the Miatland River in Southwestern Ontario with limited success!

Kepple, Walt Disney’s grandfather, married another Irish immigrant called Mary Richardson in 1858 and settled in Bluevale, Ontario where Elias, Walt Disney’s father was born the following year.

The family was soon on the move again and in 1878 they eventually settled in in Ellis, Kansas, USA.

Elias remained on his father’s farm until 1884 and then over the following years would live in Colorado, Denver, Florida and Chicago before eventually settling in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Flora and their 5 children, one of which was Walter “Walt” Elias Disney, born December 5th 1901.

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