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Overview: The Bunburys 1066 – Present


The Bunbury family descend from the Norman baron de St Pierre who came to England with William the Conqueror’s armies in 1066. Granted lands at St. Boniface’s Borough (aka Bunbury) in Cheshire, his descendents prospered under both Lancastrian and Yorkist. Henry Bunbury was knighted by King James in 1603 but his son’s loyalty to Charles I brought disaster to the family – Sir Henry Bunbury was imprisoned and stripped of his titles and lands. His children began to look elsewhere for places to reside. One brother headed for Virginia and another for Ireland where his sons settled in Counties Tipperary, Wexford and Carlow. Turtle descends from the latter branch but it is his intention to gradually include in these pages a potted history of the whole Bunbury tree from root to leaf.

The first direct connection between the Bunbury family and Ireland concerns Thomas Bunbury of Stanney (1542–1601), father of the first Sir Henry Bunbury, who was closely linked to Lismore, Co. Waterford, in the 1580s. His father was Henry Bunbury (1509–1547), Lord de Bunbury. His mother Margaret was a daughter of Hugh Aldersey, a prosperous merchant who served as Mayor of Chester in 1528, 1541 and 1546.

After Lord 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 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. Lismore subsequently passed to Sir Walter Raleigh.

Thomas Bunbury 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 Gaelic Ireland to its absolute end. Two years later, on 23rd July 1603, Thomas Bunbury’s eldest surviving son and heir, Henry Bunbury (d. 1634), was knighted by King James.

Sir Henry married Elizabeth Shakerley, granddaughter of Sir George Beeston, one of the Admirals responsible for defeating the Spanish Armada. In 1605, Sir William Stanley – Sir Henry’s uncle – was implicated in the Guy Fawkes Plot but avoided arrest and died in Ghent in 1630. Their only son Henry Benjamin Bunbury (1597-1664) was ‘the unfortunate cavalier’ who suffered in the English Civil War.

By his second wife Martha Norris, Sir Henry was grandfather to Benjamin Bunbury (1642-1707) of Killerig, Co Carlow. He kick-started the family’s connection to Lisnavagh on 13 March 1669, over 350 years ago, when he leased 512 acres at Tobinstown in the barony of Rathvilly, County Carlow, from Richard Butler, Earl of Arran, for the lifetime of himself and his family at £68 per year.

For further information on the family, see the articles below or go to the links for the family at Lisnavagh here.

Also keep an eye on Unidentified Bunburys at this link.