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De Burgh of Oldtown

Replies: 11

Re: De Burgh of Oldtown

Posted: 1096364526000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1105019058000
Surnames: De Burgh
Herewith the final version of my conclusions...

<b>De Burgh of Oldtown<b>

The de Burghs claim descent from Charlemagne through Jean, Comte de Konign and Baron de Tonsburgh in the late 10th century. Amongst their more prestigious forbears were Baldwin de Burgh, King of Jerusalem (1118 – 1131) and Ode, Bishop of Bayeux, for whom the Bayeux Tapestry was made. The first of the family to settle in Ireland was William de Burgh, a steward of Henry II, who personally received the submission of the Kings of Connaught and Meath at Athlone in 1172. In return he was made Governor of Wexford and “Dominus” or Lord of Connaught by Prince John, Lord of Ireland. Tradition states the de Burgh arms were granted when one of the family killed a leading Saracen while fighting alongside Richard the Lionheart. The crusading monarch is said to have dipped his sword in the dead man’s blood and made the shape of a cross over his fallen shield, saying “these, Knight, be thine arms forever”. As William was married to Richard’s daughter Isabel, widow of Prince Llewelyn of Wales, it seems plausible that he was the man to whom the arms were first granted.

In 1192, William allied with Donal O’Brien, King of Thomond, against the MacCarthys. He subsequently married O’Brien’s daughter Anne by whom he had a son, Richard, in 1201. When John ascended the English throne in 1199, William’s younger brother Hubert de Burgh (1165 – 1243) was appointed King’s chamberlain. Hubert was to become one of the most influential men in England during the reign of King John. His successful defence of Dover Castle against a French invasion in 1216 gave him the necessary power to stand as sole Regent of the minor Henry III on the death of John, a position he retained until Henry came of age in 1227.

William’s premature death in 1204 left Richard a four-year-old orphan and it may be presumed that his wealthy uncle subsequently raised him at one of his many castles in England. Although Hubert had sons of his own, he was an assiduous promoter of his nephew whose conquest of Ulster was launched during Hubert’s regency. By the age of 14, Richard was already one of the principal barons in Ireland. His father had been granted lands in Connaught by O’Brien in 1195 but, despite vigorous campaigning, had been unable to realize it. Backed by his uncle, then Justiciar of England, Richard launched a prolonged war of conquest on Connaught in 1226. Within a year he had taken control of 25 cantreds in Connaught, the remaining five near Athlone being reserved to Henry III and leased to King Felim O’Connor. On his return to Dublin in 1228, Richard was appointed Justiciar of Ireland, a position he retained until Hubert’s fall from power in 1232. Richard died campaigning with Henry III in Gascony in 1243.

Richard was succeeded as Lord of Connaught by his eldest son Walter, later Earl of Ulster. Walter’s brother William Óg de Burgh, ancestor of the Clanwilliam Burkes, lords of Mayo, was a celebrated warrior in the 13th century, fighting in France, Scotland and the Middle East. However, in 1270, his attempt to secure his fathers’ lands in Connaught resulted in colossal defeat by the King of Connaught at the battle of Athankip. William Óg was captured and executed. Nearly fifty years later his only son William Liath de Burgh avenged his death at Athenry (1316), one of the bloodiest battles in Irish history which effectively ended the power of the O’Connor chieftains.

Arguably the most influential member of the de Burgh family in the medieval age was Richard, the “Red Earl” of Ulster, only son of the above-named Walter. An enormously ambitious man, he spent most of his formative years campaigning against both the native Irish septs in Ulster and Connaught and the Geraldines of Desmond and Kildare. In 1302 his daughter Elizabeth married Robert the Bruce of Scotland. The Red Earl opposed the invasion of Edward the Bruce in 1315 but his kinship with the Scotsman led the citizens of Dublin to doubt his loyalty and he was imprisoned for several months. In later life he retired to the priory at Athassel, county Tipperary, where he died in June 1326. His grandson, William the “Brown Earl” of Ulster, was assassinated in 1333, leaving a baby daughter, Elizabeth as heiress. She later married Prince Lionel of Clarence, son of Edward III, and through their daughter Philippa the legal ownership of the Earldom of Ulster and lordship of Connaught was transmitted to the Mortimer family and ultimately to the English Crown.

The de Burghs of Oldtown descend from Éamon Albanach (Edmund the Scot), son of William Liath de Burgh, the victor of Athenry. In the 1330s, Éamon Albanach led the Clanwilliam Burkes of Mayo in a brutal war of attrition against his cousin Éamon na Féasóige (Edmund the Bearded), second son of the Red Earl, who commanded the Clanricarde Burkes of Galway. In 1338, Albanach’s men managed to drown Féasóige in Lough Mask and so take control of both the Clanwilliam and Clanricarde lands. Upon his death in 1475, Éamon Albanach was succeeded by his son, Sir Thomas Bourke who married a daughter of the O’Conor Don. In 1420 Sir Thomas’s grandson John de Burgh of Shruel defeated the O’Brien chieftain and acquired by exchange O’Brien’s sister as a wife and a substantial land grant at Dromkeen, near Pallas Green, in County Limerick. Dromkeen remained in the de Burgh family for the next 420 years.

The Reverend Ulysses Burgh was eighth in descent from John de Burgh of Dromkeen. Little is known of the generations between save that Ulysses’ father, Richard, was also in Holy Orders. Ulysses became Rector of Grean and Kilteely in 1672, rising to become Dean of Emly in 1685. Prior to the outbreak of the Jacobite War in Ireland in 1689, Ulysses fled to London with his family. He returned to Ireland with his sons Richard, William and Thomas in 1690 and all four men appear to have served in William of Orange’s army at the siege of Limerick. His loyalty led to the burning of Dromkeen by the retreating Catholics. However, after William was proclaimed king, Ulysses was generously compensated for his loss and consecrated Bishop of Ardagh on September 11th 1692.

Bishop Burgh of Ardragh fathered eight sons and three daughters by his wife Mary, daughter of William Kingsmill of Ballibeg, Co. Cork. The eldest son Richard succeeded to Dromkeen and also joined the Church. The second son, William, a friend of Jonathan Swift, became Comptroller and Accountant General of the British Army in Ireland and married a daughter of Thomas Parnell; their daughter Elizabeth was mother to John Foster, the great Georgian orator and last Speaker in the Irish House of Commons. It is for Elizabeth that Burgh Quay in Dublin is named. Bishop Burgh’s youngest daughter Dorothea married the Reverend Thomas Smyth, Bishop of Limerick, and was thus ancestress of the Viscounts Gort. However, it is Bishop Burgh’s third son, Thomas, who most concerns us here for he was the first of the family to settle at Oldtown.

Thomas Burgh of Oldtown (1670 – 1730) is regarded as one of the first great Irish military engineers and rose to become Surveyor General for the country. He was born in 1670 and educated at Delany’s School in Dublin. He entered Trinity College Dublin on November 22nd 1685 but probably fled Ireland with his father in the run up to the Williamite wars. On March 8th 1689 a Thomas Bourk [sic] was commissioned as Lieutenant in Lord Lovelace’s Regiment of Foot, which served with the Duke of Schomberg’s army in Ireland. He may have been appointed to the Irish Engineers as early as February 1691 but, following the Williamite victory, he appears to have joined the Royal Regiment of Foot commanded by the Earl of Orkney and left for the continent. On 1st August 1692, he received a commission as Captain and he subsequently saw action at the battles of Steinkirk (1692) and Landen (1693). At the Siege of Namur in 1695, he was employed as an engineer, probably under the command of the Dutch artillery expert, John Wynant Goor. Two years later, he was ranked as one of the top twenty five engineers in the British Army and the third most senior in the Irish Establishment.

Between 1697 and 1700, Thomas worked under Surveyor-General William Robinson whom he replaced on 10th July 1700, at a salary of £300 per annum, having displaced the second engineer of Ireland, Richard Corneille. On February 12th 1701, he was given charge of overseeing the construction and renovation of all military buildings in Ireland, a commission repeatedly renewed over the next twenty seven years. During this time, he expanded barracks throughout Ireland, completed the rebuilding of Dublin Castle and constructed numerous fortifications and lighthouses along the Irish coastline. His proposal to dredge Dublin Harbour and build a fortified basin to hold ships was ultimately rejected but he continued to be a forceful advocate that Ireland’s inland waterways be made navigable.

Perhaps it was in reaction to the destruction of his family home in 1691 that Thomas Burgh became such a vigorous builder. He did not merely restrict himself to military architecture. The City of Dublin made him a Freeman in 1704 in recognition of his ongoing efforts to beautify the rapidly evolving capital. His first known building is the Royal Barracks (now Collins Barracks) on Dublin’s north side. Among his other civic legacies were the original Custom House on Essex Quay, Dublin Castle, the Trinity College Library (1712 – 1732), the Linen Hall, the Kilmainham Infirmary (1711), St. Werburgh’s Church (1715), the Royal Barracks and Dr. Steeven’s Hospital (1721 – 1733).

In 1696 he acquired a property outside Naas called Oldtown. The site lay near a holy well where St Patrick reputedly baptised Oillill and Illann, the sons of King Dunlang of Leinster. In 1709, he designed and oversaw the construction of a new house at Oldtown, one of Ireland’s first Palladian winged houses. The building comprised of a two storey central block flanked by two storey wings. The centre block was adorned with pairs of Ionic pilasters, rising to just beneath the windows of the first floor. The wings were likewise adorned with Ionic pilasters, all of which carried substantial entablatures. Thomas’s masterpiece was to remain the pride of his descendants until the centre block was destroyed by fire in the 1950s and the family moved into one of the wings.

By 1721, Thomas Burgh was a very wealthy man. From 1706 to 1714 he had held the office of Lieutenant of the Ordnance of Ireland which, together with the Surveyor-Generalship, made him far the most influential officer in the Irish Ordnance. In 1713 he was elected Tory MP for Naas, which seat he held until his death in 1730. He became a governor of the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham in 1707 and, from 1717, a trustee of Dr. Steeven’s Hospital. Aside from the wealth he had accumulated from his many and ongoing engineering commissions, he and his partner Richard Stewart were operating a very lucrative colliery at Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, which brought him in £2000 in 1721 alone. He was also benefiting from the growing affluence and pretensions of his fellow squires. As early as 1702, he was advising the Quartermaster-General Richard Gorges on how to build garden walls at Kilbrew, Co. Meath. That same year he was recruited as a consultant in the building of Archbishop King’s Dublin residence; he helped design Marsh’s Library seven years later. The O’Brien family called on him for the construction of the original Dromoland Castle at Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co. Clare. He may also have had a hand in the 1724 design of Oakly Park outside Celbridge for Arthur Price, later Bishop of Meath and Archbishop of Cashel.

On 10th July 1700, Thomas married Mary Smyth, second daughter of the Reverend William Smyth, Bishop of Raphoe, Kilmore and Ardagh. Her mother Mary was a daughter of Sir John Povey, Chief Justice of Ireland in the reign of Charles II. By her he had five sons and four daughters. The family lived between the country estate at Oldtown and their Dublin townhouse at 37 Dawson Street (now rebuilt). Thomas died at Oldtown on December 18th 1730 at the age of sixty. Burgh was evidently an affable employer. For much of his working career, he employed the same team of smiths, joiners, bricklayers, plasterers, painters, carpenters, slaters and glaziers.

Colonel Thomas Burgh was succeeded by his 23-year-old son Thomas II, MP for Naas from 1731 until his death in 1759. He was educated at Dr. Sheridan’s in Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, advancing to the Middle Temple in 1728. His first wife, an English heiress, Margaret Sprigg of Clonvoe, left him a daughter Alice who married into the Fox family. In June 1752 he married secondly Catherine, daughter of the politician, Sir Richard Wolseley of Mount Wolseley, Co. Carlow. Thomas’s sister Elizabeth married Ignatius Hussey of Donore, Co. Kildare, and was mother of the Right Hon. Walter Hussey Burgh, one of the most eloquent and charismatic lawyers in Ireland during the late 18th century. In June 1783 he was appointed to the lucrative judicial position of Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, one of the Four Courts in Dublin. However, less than six months later, the 40-year-old contracted an illness while inspecting a gaol in Armagh and died. Another upcoming barrister and Burgh kinsman John Foster, Baron Oriel, immediately succeeded him at the Exchequer.

Thomas and Margaret Burgh had two sons, Thomas III and Richard, and two daughters, Mary and Catherine. Born on 23rd January 1754, Thomas was only five years old when his father died and he succeeded to Oldtown. After graduating from Trinity College Dublin, he was called to the Irish Bar in 1779. As part of the Duke of Leinster’s party, the soft-spoken Kildare man was elected MP for Harristown and Athy in the Irish House of Commons. A close ally of his cousin John Foster, Thomas increased the family wealth by becoming one of the chief undertakers of the Grand Canal. In the summer of 1784 he married Florinda Gardiner, a granddaughter of Luke Gardiner, the property tycoon who developed what became central Dublin in the 1740s and 1750s. Her sister was married to Lord Clancarty and her brother Luke Gardiner had been elected MP for Co. Dublin the previous year. It was in that capacity that Luke introduced the first Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1782, partially dismantling the penal laws. Luke was created Viscount Mountjoy in 1795. In June 1798 he was killed by rebel pikemen while trying to negotiate a surrender at New Ross.

Thomas III and Florinda had eight sons of whom two drowned and a third was killed in action while serving with the Royal Navy. The third son Walter Burgh was Vicar of Naas and married Elizabeth Langrishe. The seventh son John was a major with the 93rd Highlanders and married Emma Hunt. The youngest, William, Rector of Ardboe, Co. Tyrone, and St. John’s of Sandymount, Dublin, fathered an impressive eighteen children of whom Maurice was Archdeacon of Kildare and Hubert took Holy Orders and lived in the Vatican.

Thomas and Florinda’s eldest son, the Reverend Thomas Burgh was for many years Dean of Cloyne. On 4th May 1811 he married Lady Anna Hely-Hutchinson, daughter of Francis Hely-Hutchinson and sister of the 3rd Earl of Donoughmore (see “Woulfe of Forenaghts”). Like the Gardiners, the Hely-Hutchinsons made a name for themselves in the late 18th century by their sympathy for the Catholic cause and support of Free Trade. They had nine sons and three daughters of whom Francis was a lieutenant colonel with the Dublin City Artillery, Henry married Elizabeth Hendrick of Kerdiffstown House, Florinda married Thomas Tristam, Chancellor of the Diocese of London and Charlotte married Colonel James Tighe of Rossanagh. The Rev. Burgh succeeded to Oldtown in 1832. He died on 4th September 1845; Lady Anna passed away on 27th December 1857.

The Reverend and Lady Anna Burgh’s eldest son was another Thomas. On 6th March 1848 Dublin Castle presented this Thomas with a patent by which his heirs and descendents were granted the right “to resume their ancient name of de Burgh”. Thomas de Burgh lived at Oldtown and married Jane, daughter of a Major Campbell-Graham, 1st Royal Scots, of Scarva House, Co. Monaghan. Three sons, Thomas, Ulick and Hugo, and a daughter followed.

The eldest son Thomas John de Burgh was born on 1st November 1851. As a young man, he served as a lieutenant in the 57th (Middlesex) Regiment (aka the “Die-Hards”), taking part in the 1879 campaign against the Zulus. A fellow officer of the 57th, Lord Gifford, VC, was responsible for the capture of Cetewayo, the Zulu king. He was sometime Deputy Lieutenant, Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff (1884) for County Kildare. On 23rd April 1878 he married Emily Anne de Robeck, eldest daughter of the 4th Baron de Robeck (qv). He later secured a commission in the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, under Lord Baden Powell, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During the Boer War, he commanded the 17th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry. On 23rd December 1900 he was wounded at Houtkraal. Thomas died in 1931 having had five sons, Hubert, (Sir) Eric, Maurice, Charles and Tom, and three daughters, Helen, Zoe and Una.

Thomas’s brother Ulick was also a military man, serving in the Egyptian campaign of 1892 and later as Inspector General of Remounts at British Army headquarters. By his wife Anna Paget he had a son Desmond who served with the RAF in both World Wars but was killed on active service in January 1943. The third brother Hugo lived at of Ballinapierce, County Wexford, and married Mabel Beaumont of Tarnely Lodge in St. Alban’s. Hugo was killed in April 1900 during the siege of Wepener in the Orange Free State, leaving two sons – Lieutenant Colonel Hugh de Burgh, OBE, MC and Ulric de Burgh, an officer with the RAF – and a daughter Madge Anstruther. In April 1900 Thomas’s only sister Anna married Commodore Dashwood Goldie Tandy, RN.

The Great War of 1914 – 1918 brought tragedy to innumerable households throughout Ireland. In the autumn of 1914 the dreaded letter arrived in the post at Oldtown informing Thomas and Emily of the death in France of their youngest son Tom, a lieutenant with the 31st Lancers. Prior to his death Tom is mentioned in despatches for distinguished conduct under enemy fire. Three of Tom’s elder brothers received the DSO. The eldest, Captain Hubert de Burgh, was awarded both the DSO and Legion of Honour in 1917 for his services in the Royal Navy. On 28th November 1917 he married Mary Buchan, daughter of John Adye Buchan of Whitehall, Kingsbridge in South Devon. They had a son John and two daughters Deirdre and Rosaleen.

Thomas and Emily’s second son General Sir Eric de Burgh, KCB, OBE, was born at Oldtown in 1881. Nearly a century later, his grandson Chris de Burgh penned a ballad to his memory called “Old Friend”. Eric served in the Boer War as a teenager, joined the Indian Army in 1904, won a DSO in 1916 and rose steadily through the ranks to become General of the British Army in India in 1939. In October 1923 he married Mary Fanshaw, only daughter of General Sir Edward Fanshawe, KCB, of Rathmore, Naas. She died in the summer of 1934, leaving two small daughters, Maeve and Rosemary. General de Burgh retired from the army in 1941 and lived for a while at Ard Cairn outside Naas. In 1960 he purchased the rundown Bargy Castle in Wexford where he lived until his death in 1973.

In April 1946, his eldest daughter Maeve married Colonel Charles Davison, MBE. Colonel Davison was born in the Channel Islands and raised on his family’s ranch at Estancia in Argentina. On the outbreak of World War Two, he volunteered for the Special Operations Executive, a newly-formed unit specialising in covert operations and sabotage. As a member of SOE, he twice parachuted behind Japanese lines in Burma, where he spent some years organising Burmese guerrillas in operations against the Japanese occupation army. After the war, he and his wife returned to Argentina where their two sons Richard and Chris were born. The family returned to Ireland in 1960 and the young Davison boys went to live with their grandfather, General de Burgh, at Bargy. After the General’s death, the Davisons renovated Bargy and ran it as a hotel; young Chris soon found himself entertaining guests with his guitar. While his brother Richard became a lawyer, Chris adopted his mothers’ maiden name and began releasing singles, commencing with the excellent “Spanish Train” in 1975. Known to the world as Chris de Burgh, he has now sold more than 40 million albums and performed at over 2,500 concerts worldwide. His anthemic “High on Emotion” was No. 1 in 10 European countries. His signature song, “Lady in Red”, reached No. 1 in 25 countries and sold eight million copies around the world. “Lady in Red” is also acknowledged as one of the Top 20 most played songs in America. In December 2003 his 19-year-old daughter Rosanna Davison was crowned Miss World in Sanya, China, becoming the first Irish woman to scoop the beauty pageant.

Thomas and Emily’s fourth son Captain Charles de Burgh, DSO, was born in 1886. In 1908 he joined the Mobilization Department of the Admiralty under his first cousin Admiral de Robeck. He orchestrated submarine movements during the Great War, won a DSO in 1917 and subsequently commanded HMS Cyclops (1926 – 27) and the 6th Submarine Flotilla (1928 - 29). He married Isabel Campbell. Their daughter Lydia became well known for her portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne.

Hubert and Joan de Burgh’s only son, Major John de Burgh, was born on 17th February 1921 and educated at Stowe. He served with the 16th/5th Lancers in World War Two, was mentioned in dispatches, won an MC in 1943 and retired with the rank of Major in 1950. On 29th September 1952 he married Clare Shennan, daughter of Major Kenneth and Lilah Shennan of Shipton Oliffe in Gloucestershire. Lilah’s brother Major Bowes Daly, MC, was sometime ADC to the Viceroy of India and Master of the Galway Blazers. Together they established Oldtown as one of Ireland’s foremost studs. On Major de Burgh’s 33rd birthday, his wife presented him with a son, Hubert. A daughter Caroline arrived the following year and a son, William, three years later.

In 1999 Major John de Burgh put Oldtown demesne on the market. His eldest son Hubie de Burgh, formerly bloodstock manager for Shadwell Stud, Newmarket, and of the bloodstock interests for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, at Derrinstown Stud. He now owns Huma Park Stud near Maynooth and runs a bloodstock agency, De Burgh Equine Ltd. His brother William runs a successful business in California and his sister Caroline is married and lives in Wales.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Turtle_Bunbur... 1087299404000 
Jim 1088056879000 
Turtle_Bunbur... 1088506534000 
timhawley69 1318186613000 
timhawley69 1318188384000 
Pat Burke 1088585716000 
Turtle_Bunbur... 1101924213000 
Turtle_Bunbur... 1096364526000 
MelindaVeirs5... 1217203059000 
hellsgrannie1 1337100364000 
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