Turtle Bunbury

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This section follows on from the earlier remarks about the Baron de St Pierre. It is based upon a family tree, compiled in the 19th century, which I discovered in the attic of Lisnavagh House in 1986. I have not yet had a chance to verify any of the information and, given the enormosu passage of time since these people lived, one must treat all these names, dates and suppositions with a degree of caution.


Alexander de Bonebury, lord of Bunbury, was part of the Norman elite in England during the reign of King Henry III. According to Hanshall, his father Patrick Bunbury married Letitia Fitz-Hugh, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Robert FitzHugh, Baron of Malpas, and the lordship of Bunbury was thereafter vested in their descendents. Patrick was a great-grandson to David de Bonebury (whose signature was, on escutcheon, a lion, passant).

Alexander and Leititia had two sons - William, his heir; and Joseph. Joseph de Bonebury married Margery Beeston, sole daughter and heiress of William Beeston, and seems to have adopted the Beeston name. He had three sons – Joseph (age three, temps Edward I), Henry and Robert (27 Ed I) but there is some confusion about what happened to this line. By one account, the line died out and Beeston passed to their cousin Henry. Another suggests that Margery Beeston's husband was actually called Alexander de Bunbury and that Henry who succeeded to Beeston was their son.


William de Bunbury, eldest son of Alexander, fought on behalf of Edward Longshanks against the Scots and the Welsh and died in about 1288 (16 Edward I). By his wife Matilda (or Maud), he left two sons – Hugh, his heir, and Henry. It is this second son Henry who is said to have succeeded his uncle Joseph to become Henry, Lord de Beeston, and was ancestor to the Beeston family. (Henry bore for his signature, on an escutcheon, a lion, rampant). But just to keep things neat, another source - Hanshall's History of the County Palatine of Chester - says that it was in fact William's son Richard de Bonebury who was granted the lands at Beeston.


William was succeeded by his son Hugh, Lord de Bunbury. The Bunburys were always very good at marrying the right type of people. Randle, the fabulously wealthy 3rd Earl of Chester, had a daughter called Beatrix. She married a chap called Griffith who, being Baron of Malpas, Lord of Flint, Broomfield and Moelore (in Denbighshire), was also fabulously wealthy. Hence their son, commonly called ‘Dan David’ was Baron of Malpas was twice as fabulously wealthy as either of his parents. He was also secretary to the then Earl of Chester. He in turn married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Ralph ap Eynion.

During the early years of Edward I’s reign, Hugh de Bunbury married David and Margaret Malpas’s daughter Dame Christiana Malpas which gave the Bunbury family considerable wealth. Hugh and Dame Christiana had issue at least five sons – Richard (their heir), Adam de Bunbury (a clerk, presented as Chaplain to the Rood Chapel in Tarporley, circa Feb 1301), Henry (a possible son and vicar of Neston in 1307), David and Robert, and a daughter Mabel (wife of Matthew de Hulgreve).[i]


Hugh was succeeded by his eldest son Richard de Bunbury. According to Ormerod's History, Richard de Bunbury, levied fine of the manor of Bunbury in 1365 (ie: 38 Edward III).[ii] Richard was married to Alice, who was a widow by 1579 (5 Richard II). He had issue David, Richard and Matilda.

Bunbury was a village of some importance in these times; today it has a high number of 31 listed buildings including the Mill and The Dysart Arms. Or they even have the family arms on teh wall of The Bunbury Arms. To contact the church, visit http://www.bunbury.org.uk/ while one recommended place to stay locally is The Wild Boar. With thanks to Victoria House.


David de Bunbury, Lord of Bunbury, was also Lord of Stannich, in right of his wife, the sole daughter and heiress of David de Stannich, or Stanny, near the city of Chester. They had issue William, their heir, and David, Prior of Bunbury (circa 1311), as was David’s son, also David.


David was succeeded by his eldest son William de Bunbury, of Stanny on the Wirral, who had issue, Roger and Henry. William was succeeded by his son Roger de Bunbury of Stanny who lived during the reign (ie: 1327-1377) of Edward III, a successful era that saw vital developments in legislature and government—in particular the evolution of the English parliament—as well as the horrors of the Black Death. The story runs that Roger’s ‘great skill in martialling the troops of that warlike and victorious prince, Edward III’, earned the family its coat of arms. As the date upon which Roger is deemed to have been ‘living’ is ‘36 Ed. III’, or 1341, we can for now assume that his marshalling was in response to growing conflict with France in the lead up to the Hundred Years War. According to Hanshall, he ‘added the chess rooks to his paternal armorial coat, in compliment to his skill in military tactics’. [iii] Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, 7th Bart, speculates that Roger de Bunbury could have been the man called 'Bembro' who fought - and died - during the Combat des Trente on 26th March 1351. However, sadly it looks like 'Bembro' was actually Sir Robert Bramborough, Captain of Ploermel, who was indeed killed during the battle.


Roger died without issue and was succeeded by his brother Henry de Bunbury, who had issue, Richard de Bunbury, Lord of Bunbury, and Stanny. According to the University of Southampton’s The Soldier in later Medieval England Project, three Bunburys served during the French expeditions of the early 15th century. Richard de Bunbury, Esq, served as a Man-at-arms under Henry V in the summer of 1415 but was described as ‘sick’ so may not have fought during the great victory of Agincourt that October. (TNA_E101_45_1; m13). Two years later John Bunbury served as an archer under Henry V’s younger brother Humphrey Bolingbroke (1390-1447), the popular Duke of Gloucester. (TNA_E101_51_2; m42). Humphrey had a reputation as a successful commander. His knowledge of siege warfare, gained from his classical studies, contributed to the fall of Honfleur. For his services, he was granted offices including Constable of Dover, Warden of the Cinque Ports and King's Lieutenant. His periods of government were peaceful and successful. In the next generation, another Roger Bunbury was an archer serving under Captain Sir John Lewis in the 1441 French campaign of Richard, Duke of York. (TNA_E101_53_33; m8) Richard de Bunbury married Alice Dutton, daughter of Edward Dutton and died in 1459 (37 Hen VI).


Richard died in 1459 and was succeeded by his son John Bunbury, perhaps the man who fought in France for the Duke of Gloucester. John was living in 1446 (24. Hen VI). His wife Catherine was a daughter of John Hooks, of Flint. According to Wotton and Kimber’s Baronetage, ‘the Welch call her daughter to Jenkins Hollis ap Flint’.[iv] He died in 1470 (ie: 9 Edw. IV), and was succeeded by his son John.


John Bunbury of Stanny lived 17 Hen VII. In 1465 (ie: 5 Ed IV) he married Agnes, daughter of William Norris of Speake, Co Lancaster, Esq. A William Norris lined out for Henry VII’s Lancastrian army at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. They settled in the manor of Bunbury for her jointure. He died in 1506 (ie: 21 Hen VII).


John’s son Richard Bunbury of Stanny was living in 1497 (ie: 12 Hen VII). He married Blanch, daughter of Sir Thomas Poole, of Poole in Cheshire, by his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Stanley of Hooton. Blanch’s brothers included Sir Thomas Poole (who married a sister of Sir Edward Fitton, sometime Treasurer of Ireland, which may be the original Irish link), Sir William Poole, and Randle Poole (who became a priest).


For more on this click here.

Richard Bunbury died in 1542 (ie: 32 Henry VIII) and left issue, Henry Bunbury (1509 – 1547), Lord of Bunbury. This man provides the first direct connection between the Bunbury family and Ireland through his son Thomas Bunbury of Stanny (1542–1601), father of the first Sir Henry Bunbury. Henry’s wife Margaret was a daughter of Hugh Aldersey, a prosperous merchant who served as Mayor of Chester in 1528, 1541 and 1546. They had Thomas, Edmund and Elizabeth (who married Henry Birkenhead of Huxly).

In his 'Memoir and Literary Remains', Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, 7th Bart, speculates that the knighthood granted to his Bunbury ancestor may have been connected to services 'rendered in Ireland; because it is from this reign (ie: Elizabeth) that one begins to find the first migration of Bunburys to the sister kingdom. This migration appears to have continued through the 17th century; and the families of our name which stil remain in Ireland, or have held estates there, are numerous.' The 7th Bart also points out that Chester had 'the most constant and intimate communication with Ireland' at this time, more so than any other English town, and that it was 'the favourite resort and lounging place of the Irish gentry, before Bath became the fashion with them.' (p. 234)

After Henry de Bunbury’s death in 1547, Margaret married again. Her second husband was Sir Rowland Stanley of Cheshire, who would go on to be the oldest knight in England by the time of his death aged 96 in 1614. Sir Rowland and Lady Margaret Stanley were the parents of Sir William Stanley (1548-1630), one of the most esteemed soldiers in the Elizabethan army during the 1560s and 1570s. Thomas Bunbury was also raised in this household and it is believed both boys were raised as Catholics. In 1585, Sir William was rewarded for his gallantry with a feoffment of the manor and castle of Lismore, Co Waterford. His half-brother Thomas Bunbury was named as one of the three executors of this trust. However, in 1587, Sir William stunned English society when he switched to the Spanish side one the eve of the Armada.

Whether Thomas Bunbury knew of Sir William’s divided loyalties is unknown. He died on May 5th 1601, some six months before Lord Mountjoy’s English army annihilated the combined Spanish-Irish forces at Kinsale and effectively brought Celtic Ireland to its absolute end.


Upon the death of Henry, Lord de Bunbury, in 1547 (ie: 38 Henry VIII), he was succeeded by his eldest son Thomas Bunbury. Thomas was married to Bridget Aston, daughter to John Aston (1572 - 13/5/1615), of Aston, Runcorn, Cheshire. Thomas died on May 5 1601, and was succeeded by Sir Henry Bunbury.


Two years later, on 23rd July 1603, Thomas Bunbury’s eldest surviving son and heir Henry Bunbury was knighted by King James. (The 7th Bart mistakenly states that Henry was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.) One presumes the fact that Henry’s grandfather John Aston was subsequently appointed to the office of Server or Steward to Queen Anne, the Danish bride of the new King James I, greatly helped his chance of a knighthood. (Henry’s uncle Sir Thomas Aston (1600-1645) was the outspoken Royalist who suffered defeat at the hands of Sir William Brereton in Middlewich.[v])

Sir Henry married Elizabeth (or Anne) Shakerley, granddaughter of Sir George Beeston, one of the Admirals responsible for defeating the Spanish Armada. Sir Henry died at Stanney on 8th September 1634 and was interred at Thornton in le Mores Church in County Chester.


Their firstborn son (Sir) Henry Benjamin Bunbury (b. 1597) was father of the first baronet and grandfather to Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig. In 1605, his uncle Sir William Stanley was implicated in the Guy Fawkes Plot but avoided arrest and died in Ghent in 1630.

During the English Civil War, several prominent Cheshire gentlemen drew up the Bunbury Agreement (23 December 1642) to keep the county neutral but the initiative petered out when Sir William Brereton and Dunham Massey, the leading Parliamentarians in Cheshire, rejected its terms, prompting Charles I to send Sir Thomas Aston to secure the county for the Crown.

Henry Benjamin Bunbury was an active Royalist, for which he had his estates sequestered by the Republican forces for five years, during which time he was 'closely imprisoned in Nantwich'. According to Hanshall, 'he was allowed as sustenance only a fifth of the produce of his lands and when he was set at liberty, a fine of £2,200 was levied upon them. Platt's History and Antiquities of Nantwich states that he had ten children at this time. Henry's entire loss was about £10,000, exclusive of his Hall at Hoole, near Chester, which was destroyed during the siege of that city.' The 7th Bart added that not only had his mansion house been 'pillaged and burned to the ground' but his estates were also 'ravaged'. 'This unfortunate cavalier,' continues the 7th Bart, 'lived to see the restoration of Charles II, but not ro recieve any reward for his loyalty, or remuneration for his losses. His son Thomas Bunbury probably continued to urge the claims of his father and himself in vain, during many years, till in 1681 he was obliged to content himself with the barren honour of a baronetcy.' (p. 235).


Later Bunburys of this line include Sir Harry Bunbury (a Jacobite sympathiser who was an initimate friend of Farquhar the dramatist), Sir Charles Bunbury (the Admiral of the English Turf and husband of Lady Sarah Lennox, for whom the Derby race was so nearly named), the American General Harry Lee, the explorer Henry St. Pierre Bunbury (for whom Bunbury in Australia is named), the Georgian cartoonist and painter Henry William Bunbury, the botanist Sir Charles Bunbury and the Tory politician Sir Henry Bunbury who, as Under-Secretary of State for War, informed Napoleon that he was to be exiled in perpeuity in St. Helena.




[i] From Ormerod's History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, Vol. II, p. 395, Pedigree of the Bunbury Family, confirmed by William Dugdale in the Visitation of 1663. See: http://cybergata.com/roots/5619.htm

[ii] Ormerod's History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, Vol. II, p. 395, Pedigree of the Bunbury Family, confirmed by William Dugdale in the Visitation of 1663,

[iii] The history of the county palatine of Chester, J H. Hanshall (1823), p. 614.

[iv] The baronetage of England, by Thomas Wotton, Edward Kimber, Richard Johnson (1741).

[v] The following, about the younger Sir Thomas Aston, is from Rylands: The Newsletter of the Special Collections Division of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (Spring 2002, issue no. 3):

Broadside Petition for Episcopacy in Cheshire

Sir Thomas Aston (1600-45), A Petition Delivered in to the Lords Spiritual and Temporall, by Sir Thomas Aston, Baronet, from the County Palatine of Chester concerning Episcopacie. [London] Printed, Anno Dom., 1641.

The Royalist Sir Thomas Aston was born on 29 September 1600, the heir to an ancient Cheshire family. His father, John Aston, had been sewer to the wife of James I. Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, Thomas was made a baronet in 1628. He served as High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1635, and as MP for Cheshire in the Short Parliament of 1640.

Sir Thomas was a staunch churchman who loathed the rise of nonconformism. When the Cheshire petitions against episcopacy were in circulation in the early 1640s, Sir Thomas and his friends initiated a counter-petition. The broadside entreats that the institution of bishops dates back to the time of the Apostles, and urges that ‘such dangerous discontents amongst the common people’ should be suppressed. The petition is subscribed by ‘Foure Noblemen. Knight Baronets, Knights and Esquires, fourescore and odde. Divines, threescore and ten. Gentlemen, three hundred and odde. Free-holders and other Inhabitants, above six thousand’, all of the county of Cheshire. Wing records only two other copies of this edition.

Sir Thomas is perhaps best known for his brave but undistinguished role in the Civil War. He commanded the Royalist army that was defeated by Sir William Brereton at Middlewich on 13 March 1643, and later suffered defeats at Macclesfield and in Staffordshire. He died from a fever, brought on by his war wounds, on 24 March 1645.

The younger Sir Thomas Aston also published The Short Parliament (1640): Diary of Sir Thomas Aston, edited by Judith D. Maltby, London, The Royal Historical Society, Camden fourth series, volume 35, 1988. The Short Parliament was in session from 13 April to 5 May 1640.