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Campbell of Drumsna, Co Leitrim, & Bath, England

St Michan’s Church on Church Street, Dublin, where Thomas Bunbury and Catherine Campbell were wed in 1735.

In 1735, Thomas Bunbury of Kill married Catherine Campbell, daughter of Josias and Lettice Campbell of Drumsna, Annaduff, Co. Leitrim. The Campbells were closely related to the great naval dynasty of Rowley, the Virginia tobacco merchant family of Martin, and to Sophia, Lady de Clifford, sometime Governess to the Princess of Wales.

The broader family included Viscount Clifden, the Earl of Shannon, Sir John Conroy and Edmond Sexton Pery, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Catherine’s brother George was killed at the Battle of Dettingen.

Any further information about this branch of the Campbell family would be gratefully received.



Marriage at St. Michan’s


In 1735, 30-year-old Thomas Bunbury of Kill, Co. Carlow, achieved a useful double when he was appointed High Sheriff of Carlow and married Catherine Campbell, daughter of Colonel Josias Campbell of Drumsna, Annaduff, Co. Leitrim. The marriage took place on 2 March at St. Michans (behind where Dublin’s Four Courts now stands) on Church Street and was conducted “in the presence of her parents“.

Thomas and Catherine were to enjoy 19 years of marriage before her death in 1754. During this time, they were most likely based at Thomas’s house of Kill, or Killmagarvogue, midway between Lisnavagh and Killerig, in Co. Carlow.

Catherine’s mother Lettice Campbell (1682-1757) was one of the Martin family – see here for more on them.


Thomas & Catherine’s Children


Thomas and Catherine Bunbury had eight sons and two daughters. Only three of the sons and one daughter survived childhood. Their names are recorded on a piece of paper contained in a journal belonging to Thomas, discovered at Lisnavagh in 2007.  [1]

Their firstborn child William was born on 2nd January 1736 but died within six weeks.

The second son Josiah, born on 2nd June 1738, was 10 years old when he took ill at Kilkenny School and died on 11 March 1748.

A third son William, born 30 January 1740, died at the age of 8 just two months after Josiah on 16 May 1748.

Their fourth son, Campbell Bunbury (Cammy), was born on 8 February 1741 and presumably named for his maternal grandfather. Cammy features prominently in his father’s diaries but alas, he died on 31 August 1760 aged 19.

The fifth son, another William Bunbury (Willy), was born on 2 May 1744 and, although killed in a horse fall at the age of 34, he had the fortune to leave behind some offspring from which my siblings and I descend.

Thomas Bunbury, the sixth son, was born 5 Jan 1745 but died in his cot on 21 September 1746.

George Bunbury, the seventh son, was born on 24 November 1747, lived at Rathmore and died in May 1820.

Benjamin Bunbury, the eighth and youngest son, was born on 11 July 1751 and died on 10 October 1823 having played a prominent role in maintaining order in Co Carlow during the 1798 Rebellion.

As to the daughters, Letitia (Letty) was born on 16 March 1749 and later married George Gough while Elizabeth (Betty) was born ‘23rd 1754’ (no month) and died aged 4 on 4 October 1758.


The Town of Drumsna


Catherine Bunbury’s father, Josias Campbell, hailed from Drumsna, a small post-town on the banks of the Shannon and, some 3 1⁄2 miles south east of Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Limerick.

What was Drumsna like when the Bunburys married in 1735? The mail-road to Sligo would have passed through. A hundred years later, Samuel Lewis described the surrounding parish of Annaduff in his A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) as presenting:

‘… some of the most beautiful scenes in the county; in one direction are seen the windings of the Shannon through a fertile district, the projection of a wooded peninsula on its course, the heights of Sheebeg and Sheemore, with the more lofty mountain of Slieve-an-erin in the distance; and in the other, the luxuriant and varied swell of Teeraroon, the adjacent part of the county of Roscommon‘.

He also noted:

‘… a pleasing walk through the woods, from which is discovered the windings of the Shannon and the lofty mountains to the north and west, conducts to a sulphurous spring issuing from the verge of a small lake‘.

By 1837, the town itself comprised of 70 slated houses, several of which are large and handsome, and a constabulary police station. The Campbells had their base at Mount Campbell, an estate which by 1834, bordered that of Sir Gilbert King‘s at Charlestown, the two being divided by the Shannon. Charlestown’s avenue of fine lime-trees ran directly into the town. Lewis described Mount Campbell was ‘the handsome residence of Admiral Sir Josias Rowley, Bart.’

Another commanding residence was that of the Messrs. Walsh on the hill above the town while, a little below the town, on the Roscommon shore, was Clonteen, a lodge belonging to the Marquess of Westmeath.


Samuel Campbell of Mount Campbell


Catherine Bunbury’s eldest brother was Samuel Campbell of Mount Campbell, Drumsna, Co. Leitrim and Bath. His wife Mary was a daughter of John Upton of Castle Upton, M.P. for Antrim, and sister of Clotworthy, 1st Baron Templemore. Samuel Campbell died on 19 Jan 1792, while staying at the house of his younger daughter Sophia, Baroness Clifford, in Stanhope Street, Mayfair. [2]


Letitia Campbell & the Rowley Connection


Patrick O’Brian based the story of his
book ‘The Mauritius Command’ on the
real adventures of the Campbell’s
sea-faring cousin, Admiral Sir Josias Rowley.

On 5 May 1763, Samuel and Mary’s elder daughter Letitia Campbell  – first cousin of William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh – was married at St James’s Church to Clotworthy Rowley (1731-1805), of the Inner Temple. Clotworthy was the third son of Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Rowley, K.B., while his mother Arabella (d 02.1784) was a daughter of Thomas Dawson and granddaughter of Thomas Dawson ofCastle Dawson, Co. Monaghan. [3]Clotworthy, who lived at Stoke-by-Nayland, would become M.P. for Downpatrick, as well as a barrister-at-law.

The Rowleys of Co. Leitrim were one of the most remarkable naval families during an age when Britannia really did rule the waves. Arabella Dawson was the grandmother to most of them. Her grandsons included Letitia Campbell’s sons the great British naval hero Admiral Sir Josias Rowley (1765-1842) and his brother Rear-Admiral Samuel Campbell Rowley (1774-1846), and their cousins Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Martin (1764-1847), Admiral Sir Charles Rowley (1770-1845) and Admiral Bartholomew Samuel Rowley (d.1811). Charles and Samuel’s sister Philadelphia Rowley was married in 1798 to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton (1753-1812).

Another cousin was Vice-Admiral Sir Joshua Ricketts Rowley (d.1857) while Sir Charles Rowley’s son Lieutenant Burton Rowley also served in the Navy but died in 1822. As cousins of the Bunbury family, we may wonder whether these were the men who inspired the 12-year-old William McClintock Bunbury to join the Royal Navy in 1812.

While studying for the bar in the Temple, Clotworthy became an intimate friend of the English poet William Cowper (1731-1800), ancestor of Charles Spencer Cowper. They did not see each other again for 25 years until Rowley opened correspondence on the occasion of returning half a dozen books, which Cowper had lent him twenty-five years before. [4] Upon Sir William’s death in 1768, Clotworthy’s elder brother succeeded as Sir Joshua Rowley, 1st Bart, and to the house at Tendring Hall.  [5]  Letitia Rowley died in 1776 and Clotworthy in 1805, having had issue four sons and a daughter.

Admiral Sir Josias Rowley & his Siblings


Admiral Sir Josias Rowley (1765-1842) was one of the leading lights of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. As cousin to the Bunburys, he may have inspired the young William McClintock Bunbury to take to the seas. The Admiral’s portrait is by Sir Andrew Morton.

Clotworthy and Letitia Rowley had four sons and a daughter.

The eldest son William died unmarried in 1811.

The third son Samuel became a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy and is commemorated within Annaduff parish church.  [6]

The fourth son John Rowley was incumbent rector at Virginia, County Cavan and prebendary of Christ Church, Dublin. [7]

The daughter Mary Rowley married Charles Vigogne of Wicklow.

The second son was the most successful, namely Admiral Sir Josias Rowley, 1st Bt, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean 1833-37, who inherited the Mount Campbell estate. Known as ‘The Sweeper of the Seas‘, Sir Josias commanded the campaign which captured the French Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius in 1810. Perhaps he was the guiding light who introduced his young cousin William McClintock Bunbury to the joys and perils of life at sea.

Admiral Rowley was born in Leitrim in 1765 and joined the Navy twelve years later. His Mauritius campaign was used by author Patrick O’Brian as the setting for one of his Aubrey-Maturin series books, The Mauritius Command, where Jack Aubrey actually takes the place of Rowley in the novel. From 1810 until October 1814, Rowley commanded the America (74 guns) in the Mediterranean. During the summer of 1815 he was again in the Mediterranean with his flagship Impregnable (98 guns), under Lord Exmouth, but he returned to England at the end of the war.

It’s not clear where he was during the Bombardment of Algiers, when the teenage William McClintock Bunbury (later of Lisnavagh) saw his first action. From 1818 to 1821 he was commander-in-chief on the coast of Ireland; and from 1821 to 1826 he was MP for Kinsale, Co. Cork. In 1825 he was made vice-admiral. He was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean from December 1833 to February 1837. He died unmarried and without heir to his titles on 10 January 1842 within the Mount Campbell family estate at Drumsna, Co. Leitrim, and was buried at the nearby Annaduff parish church. In the 1911 Census, a William Rowley was in residence at Mont Campbell. The house was acquired by the Franciscan Sisters after the Irish Civil War but levelled by the Land Commission in the 1940s.


Sophia, Lady de Clifford – Governess to the Princess of Wales


William Bunbury’s cousin, Lady de Clifford, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Born in 1750, Samuel and Mary’s second daughter Sophia went on to become one of the great aristocratic matriarchs of the Georgian Age. A first cousin of William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh, she was Governess to Charlotte, Princess of Wales.

On 29 August 1765, Sophia was married at St. George’s Church on London’s Hanover Square to 33-year-old Edward Southwell, 20th Lord de Clifford. [8]  They had a son, Edward, 21st Lord Clifford (20 June 1767 – 30 Sept 1832) [9]  and three daughters, Sophia, Lady Sydney, [10]  Hon. Catherine Coussmaker, [11] and Elizabeth, Countess of Albermarle. [12] I suspect this poem may be connected to the young ladies.

Lord Clifford died on 1st Nov 1777. His widow, the Dowager Lady de Clifford, passed away on 3 August 1828 in South Audley Street, London and was buried on 14 August 1828 in Henbury, Gloucestershire. [13]

Captain George Campbell (d. 1743)


A dead soldier at Dettigen

Catherine Bunbury’s second brother George Campbell was fated to die during the War of the Austrian Succession. He was a Captain in the 33rd regiment, known as ‘Johnson’s Jolly Dogs’, after its colonel. It would later become The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding). In 1742, the 33rd was part of the army sent to Germany to join its Dutch and Austrian allies. It duly participated when George II personally led the Pragmatic Forces to victory over the French at the Battle of Dettingen on 16 Jun 1743. However, Captain Campbell was one of fifteen British officers killed in the battle. From his regiment, Lieutenants Strangeways, Maxwell and Fletcher were also killed, along with two sergeants, a drummer and 23 other men, while fifty were wounded.


The battle of Dettigen, 1743

Letitia Campbell & John Wilson


Catherine Bunbury’s eldest sister Letitia Campbell was married at St Michan’s on 10 Feb 1738/39 to John Wilson of Tully, Co. Longford and had two sons and 4 daughters. John’s grandfather Robert Wilson acquired the lands of Tully during Cromwellian times. John and Letitia’s son, Francis Vernon Wilson, lost the lands during the 1780s as he had agreed to provide financial backing to the chief collector of the Dublin port authority. The lands were lost when the deal fell apart and defalcations in the amount of £9,000 were to be collected.

F.V. Wilson was also grandfather to Sir John Conroy, nemesis of Queen Victoria, as per my salacious tale here. The Wilson family remained in Ireland for several generations until William Henry Wilson emigrated to Montreal from Dublin during the troubles of the early 1920s. His son William Henry Michael (Mike) Wilson and grandson William Henry Hamilton (Will) Wilson were living in Toronto in 2019. Will has worked out that he and I are eighth cousins and that our dates of birth are just three days apart!


Margery Campbell & John Frend


Catherine Bunbury’s second sister Margery Campbell was married in 1728 to John Frend of Dunkerrin, King’s Co., son of Benjamin Frend and his wife Bridget (née Kynaston).


Jane Campbell & William Deane


Catherine Bunbury’s younger sister Jane Campbell was married on 14 July 1745 at St Michan’s to William Deane, LL.D., solicitor, officer of the Court of Chancery and member of the Royal Irish Academy, of Granby Row, Dublin, who d. Nov 1793. [14] A prominent figure in Dublin, Deane established a works to make bottles and glass. Their daughter Sarah married the architect Abraham Hargrave.


Alice Campbell & George Martin


Catherine Bunbury’s youngest sister Alice Campbell was married in 1747 to their first cousin, George Martin (1722-c.1811), eldest son of Colonel John Martin of Dublin and Virginia. George was a merchant and operated out of Bristol and Dublin. They had a son John, born 1755, and daughter, Jane.


The Simpsons of Mount Campbell


The Campbells and Rowleys must have been close relations of the Simpson family. In 1811, Edward Simpson of Mount Campbell, Drumsna (eldest son of Pierce Simpson of Drumsna and nephew of Mrs. Charles Waldron) married Jane Nesbitt, daughter of Matthew and Mary Nesbitt of Derrycarn, Co. Leitrim. (Matthew was High Sheriff for Co. Leitrim in 1798).

After Edward Simpson’s death, Jane married secondly (1839) her neighbour, the Rev. Robert King, Rector of Kilmore, second son of Sir Robert King of Charlestown, Co. Roscommon.

Mary Nesbitt’s brother-in-law, Charles Waldron, married Jane, eldest daughter of Edward Simpson (d. 1759) of Mount Campbell and Drumsna by his wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Storey of Belturbet, Co. Cavan. They had one son and four daughters.

Charles Waldron succeeded his father, Francis Waldron, at Cartron [sic] House, Co. Leitrim. [15]


With thanks to Rosemarie Rowley and others.




[1] This diary consists of a small brown leather diary and starts shortly after the death of Thomas’s first wife Catherine Campbell on 24th November 1754. It concludes shortly before Thomas’s death. Four pieces of paper were sealed into one side and contain the names of Thomas’s wives and children.

Thos Bunbury married to Catherine Cample [curious spelling – TB] Mar 2nd 1735.

      • Wm Bunbury eldest son born 2nd June 1736 who died in six weeks.
      • Josiah Bunbury second son born 2 June 1738, Died 11th March 1748 at Kilkenny School.
      • Wm Bunbury third son born 30th January 1740, Died 16th May 1748.
      • Campbell Bunbury fourth son born 8th February 1741; Died 31st August 1760.
      • Wm Bunbury fifth son born the 2nd May 1744, died the 17th April 1778 very much regretted.
      • Thos Bunbury sixth son born 5th Jan 1745, died 21st Sept 1746.
      • George Bunbury, seventh son born the 24th Nov 1747; Died May 1820.
      • Letitia Bunbury, first daughter, born 16th March 1749.
      • Benjamin Bunbury eighth son born 11th July 1751, died 10th Oct 1823.
      • Elizabeth Bunbury, second daughter born 23rd 1754; Died 4th Oct 1758.

The Mother of the above children died the 24th Nov 1754.

Thomas Bunbury the 2nd time married Susanna Priscilla Isaac the 20th April 1758.

Jane Bunbury born 19th January 1759 Lady Mount Alexander and Lady Ann Burton Godmothers and Simon Isaac Esqr Godfather.

Thomas Bunbury born the 10th Aug 1760. Miss Montgomery Isaac Godmother, Coun’r Theo. Wolfe & Chichester Bolton godfathers.

Thomas Bunbury Esq, Father of the above Children Departed this life at Kill the 13th day of July 1774 about half after two o’clock. Susanna Priscilla the mother of the above children died the 23rd of April 1797’.

[2] P.C.C. will dated 18 Jun 1791 and proved 29 March 1792.

[3] See ROWLEY of MOUNT CAMPBELL – Landed Gentry of Ireland 1912 Edition.

[4] ‘William Cowper was born on 15 November 1731 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England to Reverend John and Anne (Donne) Cowper. During his school years, he first became interested in literature, and he published his first poems and wrote Latin verse. Cowper later apprenticed with a solicitor and was successfully admitted to the Bar, although he continued to engage in writing and other literary pursuits.Through the nepotism of this cousin Major Cowper, in 1763, he was given a government appointment. But the pressures of the examinations required for the position led him to a near-suicide, and finally the renunciation of his post. His family sought help for him at a private sanatorium, where he would spend a year and a half recovering. For the rest of his life Cowper would suffer bouts of depression and rely on family and friends to nurse him back to health. In addition, Cowper was plagued by money problems, and entirely depended on the generosity of the same family and friends to provide for him. After leaving the sanatorium, Cowper became devoutly Christian, and moved to Huntington where he befriended Reverend Morley Unwin and his family. In 1765 he began lodging with the Unwins, both because of their close ties and the poor state of Cowper’s economic affairs. Even after Reverend Unwin’s accidental death, Cowper remained with the family and established a close mother-son relationship with Mrs. Unwin. She would prove very supportive of his writing. Cowper’s most well-know works include Olney Hymns (1779) [a collaborative effort with John Newton], John Gilpin (1782), The Task (1785), and translations of Homer (1791). He died on 25 April 1800 in East Dereham at the age of 68’. See: Neilson Campbell Hannay, ‘Collection of William Cowper’ (C0134) 1711-1965, bulk 1750s-1799. A Finding Aid Prepared by Hugh Witemeyer, William G. Whitehead ’65, Charles Ryskamp and Karla J. Vecchia (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections , Princeton University Library, 1964-1965, 2004).

[5] The Rowley family are also related to the Lords Langford. BP1934 (Rowley of Tendring). It is to be noted that Ambrosio O’Higgins, father of Chilean independence hero Bernardo O’Higgins, grew up on a Rowley estate at Summerhill, Co. Meath, to which his parents moved, from Sligo, in the 1730s or 1740s.

Record of William Rowley, DL, of Mount Campbell, who died in 1917. (Freeman’s Journal, 31 October 1917) See footnote 7.

[6] Sir Josias Rowley’s brother, Rear Admiral Samuel Campbell Rowley was born on 19 January 1774. In 1805, he married Miss Mary Thompson, dau of _ Thompson of White Park, Co. Cork or Co. Fermanagh. She passed away sometime after and the Admiral was married secondly on 4th November 1830 to Mary Frances Cronyn, daughter of Edmund Cronin of Newtown, Co. Kilkenny. (BurkeLG: 609, Crone, IS 14, Marshall 4, NC 14:350, O’Byrne).

[7] John Rowley m. (30.09.1826) Catherine Clarke (dau of Joseph Clarke of Kilburn Priory) and had issue. Their son William Rowley, DL, of Mount Campbell, was the last of the line and died in 1917.

[8] Born on 6 June 1732, Edward was the son of Edward Southwell and Catherine Wilson, and grandson of Lady Catherine Tufton, eldest daughter of the 6th Earl of Thanet.

[9] Edward, 21st Lord Clifford, married Lady Mary Elizabeth Bourke, daughter of Most Rev. Joseph Deane Bourke, 3rd Earl of Mayo and Elizabeth Meade, on 19 February 1789 at St. Anne’s Church, Dublin. He died on 30 September 1832 at age 65 in Brighton, without issue, and the title fell into abeyance.

[10] Sophia Southwell (10 June 1771 – 9 Nov 1795) married John Thomas Townshend, 2nd Viscount Sydney of St. Leonards, son of Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney of St. Leonards and Elizabeth Powys, on 13 April 1790. She died on 9th November 1795 aged 24. Her only daughter Sophia married Lt.-Col. Hon. Peregrine Francis Cust, son of Sir Brownlow Cust, 1st Baron Brownlow of Belton and Frances Bankes, on 15 January 1833 and died on 6 December 1852, without issue. The 2nd Viscount later married a daughter of the Earl of Leitrim.

[11] Catharine Southwell (1775 – 19 July 1802) married Colonel George Kein Hayward Coussmaker (d. 11 July 1801). They had a son George (d. 1821) and daughter, Sophia Coussmaker, Baroness de Clifford. Sophia was born on 4 November 1791 and baptised at St. Marylebone Church, London. On 21st August 1822, she married Commander John Russell, son of Lord William Russell and Lady Charlotte Anne Villiers, at St. George’s Church, London. She succeeded to the title of 22nd Baroness de Clifford [E., 1299] on 4 May 1833, suo jure. She died on 3 January 1874 at age 82 at 14 Lewes Crescent, Brighton. Her will was probated on 12 February 1874, at under £100,000.

[12] On 9 April 1792, Elizabeth Southwell (11 Jan 1776 – 14 Nov 1817) married William Charles Keppel, 4th Earl of Albermarle (14 May 1772 – 30 Oct 1849), son of General Sir George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albermarle and Anne Miller, at St. George’s Church, London. The Countess of Albemarle died in childbirth on 14 November 1817 at age 41 in Mr. Coke’s house, Holkham, Norfolk, and was buried in Quidenham, Norfolk. She gave the 4th Earl some nine children, including the 5th and 6th Earls of Albermarle and Admiral Sir Henry Keppel (1809-1909).

[13] See DE CLIFFORD – Burke’s Peerage.

[14] Prerogative Court of Ireland will dated 11 Nov 1793 and proved 20 Dec 1793.

[15] See ‘Storeys from Ireland‘ by Jack Storey. Also: The Waldrons of Illawarra & Their Connections, by Rev. O. B. McCarthy, ‘The Australian Genealogist’, Journal of The Australian Society of Genealogists (May 1950).