An 18th-century legal document, discovered in 2016, shows the music legend Elvis Presley’s ancestors left County Wicklow, for a new life in America around 1775.

A court document from the 18th century provided proof that Elvis Presley had Irish roots. The man with the magic hips beloved by so many died on August 16, 1977. Today we remember the rock n' roll legend's Irish heritage.

The paper, which dates from 1775, shows that William Presley, the singer’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, left Leinster for a new life in America, the Irish Times reported.

Presley, a farmer, originally came from the townland of Stranakelly near Shillelagh, County Wicklow. 

According to the court document, he claimed he had been savagely assaulted by a group of men in Hacketstown, in neighboring County Carlow.

In Carlow Court of Assizes on August 25, 1775, Presley said he had been “violently insulted, assaulted, beat and abused” by a group of Wicklow men.

The men used their “whips and fists, dragged him down by the legs,” and when down, gave him “several kicks in his body and face,” all “without any provocation.”

Presley told the magistrate that the men were “swearing they would have his life.” 

He said was now in “great dread and fear of his life.”

He also named the perpetrators: “Andrew Morris of Mullannashea; Francis Morris of Whiterock; Samuel Morris of Cross; Thomas Morris, William Wilson, Thomas Matthers and Several Other Persons whose names Deponent knoweth not.”

The magistrate said he would list the case for a further hearing, although what happened next in court remains unknown.

Presley set sail for New Orleans

Later that year, Presley left Ireland for America with his son Andrew, settling first in New Orleans. He later moved to Tennessee, where he died in 1802.

The historical paper will be auctioned in Dublin in Whyte’s Auctioneers Eclectic Collector sale on May 14. The document has an estimated value of €500-700.

The connection between William Presley and the rock and roll musical legend was discovered by genealogists three years ago, reports the Irish Times.

Auctioneer Ian Whyte said: “Elvis’s great-great-great-great-grandfather left Ireland after being attacked . . . this document proves the link and explains why Elvis was born in America.”

William Presley’s granddaughter Rosella “never married but had several children and one of these was a son called Jesse Presley.’

In 1913, Jesse married Minnie Mae and had their son Vernon Elvis Presley in 1916.

“Vernon married Gladys Love Smith in 1933 and their son Elvis Aaron Presley was brought into the world in January 1935.”

Of course, the Irish people didn't need this court document to prove Elvis' Irish connection. The King of Rock n' Roll is celebrated greatly in Hackettstown. Check out this brilliant video on the Elvis Festival:

* Originally published in 2016, last updated in Feb 2023.