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The Late Colonel Kane Bunbury – the Carlow Sentinel – November 14th 1874

Colonel Kane Bunbury, whose death we announced in our last publication, and whose obsequies we chronicle today, was the last lineal male representative of the houses of Moyle and Lisnavagh; but the representation of his name and family, through the female line, are happily continued in the person of his great nephew, Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, Esq. Other branches of the original stock flourish at Lisbryan, in the county of Tipperary, and at Charleville, in the county of Cork.

The family is one of great antiquity in these Kingdoms. The surname was originally ST. PIERRE. One, at least, of that cognomen accompanied William the Conqueror to England and shared the rewards of his enterprises in the Norman fixity of the country. The original patronymic of St. Pierre became gradually disused, and in the beginning o the 15th century we find the name of BUNBURY substituted for it, that designation having been probably assumed from its earlier holders from the locality of their settlement – Bunbury in Cheshire. One of the family, Henry Bunbury of Stanny, in the same county-palatinate, received the honour of knighthood from Queen Elizabeth; and as the virgin monarch was so chary with her favours and as discriminating in their bestowal, we may reasonably conclude ‘the belted squire’ Sir Henry to have been a man of merit and note in his ay. He married twice: by his first wife, who was a Shakerly, he had a son called after himself, from whom the Baronets Bunbury, of Stanney, sprang; and by his second spouse, Martha, daughter of Sir William Norris, Knight of Speke, he had a son Thomas, who by Eleanor, daughter of Henry Birkenhead, was father of Benjamin Bunbury, Esq, supposed to be the first settler of the family in Ireland, and located at Killerig in the County of Carlow.

Mr Benjamin Bunbury, who served as High Sheriff for the County of Carlow in 1695, was the father of five sons, the third of whom was William Bunbury, Esq., of Lisnavagh, who died in 1710, leaving issue two sons: William, who died unmarried in 1754; and Thomas, who settled at Kill, in the County of Carlow.

Mr Thomas Bunbury married, firstly, in 1735 (being at that time High Sheriff of the County), Catherine, daughter of Josiah Campbell, of Drumsna, in the County of Leitrim, and had issue, William, his heir (the father of the venerable gentleman just deceased) and two younger sons, George and Benjamin, besides a daughter, Letitia, who married George Gough, Esq., Lieutenant-Colonel of the Limerick Militia, and by him was mother of the late renowned Field Marshal Viscount Gough. His second wife was Susanna Priscella, sister of John Isaac, Esq. (killed at Fontenoy), and by her he had a son, Thoma, who married Miss M. Green, and a daughter, who became the wife of the Rev. Benedict Arthure.

Mr William Bunbury, the eldest son of the first marriage, succeeded to Lisnevagh and the other estates in the county, and filled the office of its High Sheriff in 1760. In 1773 he married Catherine, daughter of Redmond Kane, Esq, a wealthy and eminent citizen of Dublin, by whom he had Thomas his heir; Kane (the subject of the present sketch) and Jane, who married in 1797, John McClintock, Esq., of Drumcar, in the County of Louth, and of which marriage there were issue two sons, viz, John, enobled in 1868, as Baron Rathdonnell, in the Peerage of Ireland; and William, who assumed the name and arms of Bunbury, and died universally lamented at Lisnevagh, on the 2nd of June 1866.

On the 18th May, 1776, Mr William Bunbury was elected, in conjunction with William Burton, Esq., of Burton Hall, representative in Parliament for the County of Carlow, after a contest with William Paul Warren, Esq. The unsuccessful candidate petitioned the House of Commons against the return, on alleged grounds of undue influence and treating, and a day was appointed for hearing the petition, but before that moment arrived, Mr Warren asked leave of the House to withdraw his complaint, and the order for hearing was discharged. Mr Bunbury, however, did not long enjoy his senatorial honours, as his death took place on the 18th of April, 1778, the result of a melancholy accident, in having been thrown from his horse. The vacancy thus created was filled by the election of Beauchamp Bagenal, Esq, as Knight of the Shire in room of the deceased. After a lapse of sixty-three years the representation of the county in the Imperial Parliament reverted to his son, the late Thomas Bunbury, Esq., of Moyle, who at the memorable election of 1841 was returned, as colleague with the late Colonel Bruen, after a bitter and protracted contest on the part of Messrs. O’Connell and Yates, and sat for the county until his death, which took place in London on the 28th May, 1846.

The second son, of whom we now treat, received his baptismal name from his maternal grandfather; but the precise date, or the place of his nativity, have not been recorded in any public account of the family which we have consulted. His parents, as we have seen, were married in 1773; the father died in 1778, and as there were the elder son and one daughter at least issue of the marriage, we may fairly fix the birth of the younger son, Kane, in the year 1777, a date which is corroborated by the tradition of the family. At his period Mr William Bunbury, MP, was attending his Parliamentary duties in Dublin, and it is probable that his son was born in the vicinity of the metropolis, most likely at Mantua, near Swords, at that time the residence of Mrs Bunbury’s father, Redmond Kane, Esq., who did not long survive the death of his son-in-law. The youthful family, however, enjoyed the blessings of a prudent and loving mother, as well as the counsel and protection of their uncles, Messrs. George and Benjamin Bunbury, and the affectionate solicitude of their aunt, the wife of Colonel Gough, and of other relatives and friends – With such advantages, the sons were well and early trained for the position they were destined to occupy in future life.

Kane Bunbury, in his 17th year, was gazetted, on 1st January 1794, to a Cornetcy in the 7th or Princess Royal’s) Regiment of Dragoon Guards, with whom her continued associated until his final retirement from the services. In the month of August in the same year, his cousin Hugh, the son of Colonel Gough, of the Limerick Militia, who was two years his junior, commenced his career as an Ensign in his father’s regiment, from which he was a transferred to a Lieutenancy in the Line in the month of October following. The earlier promotion of the youthful cousins did not keep pace with their respective entrances into the service; for while the Cornet had obtained his troop and was gazetted as Captain by the 1st January 1797, the future Field Marshal did not command a company before the month of June 1803. How different however was the military lot of each in their meridian services “’mid the chauces of war”. Captain Kane Bunbury witnessed the deplorable campaign of 1798, in the miserable and abortive Irish rebellion of that year, when his regiment was in active service; but he happily escaped the bloody scenes in which so many of his companions in arms were necessarily engaged. He became a Major on the 25th of October 1809; Lieutenant-Colonel on the 4th of June 1815 and, as Colonel Kane Bunbury, he retired from the service in 1823. [NB: That was the year his uncle Benjamin Bunbury of Moyle passed away].

In the meantime, his cousin Gough’s promotions were as follow: Major, 8th August 1805; Lieutenant-Colonel, 29th July 1809; and Colonel, 13th August 1819; his services were these: He was present at the capature of the Dutch fleet in Saldanha Bay, was engaged in the the campaign in the West Indies, at the attack on Porte Rico, and in the Brigand War, in St Lucia, before he gained his well earned promotion in the Royal Irish Fulsiers, a corps which he subsequently commanded at Talavera (where he was severely wounded and had a horse shot under him); at Barossa; and at Tarifa, which he defended against unparalleled odds with the most indomitable courage and singular success, animating his men at every point , and rousing them to the charge and annihilation of their assailants by their native tunes of ‘Garryowen’ and ‘Patrick’s Day’. At the battle of the Nivelle, another hard-fought hold, Colonel Gough was again severely wounded. But the crowning triumphs of his military genius were achieved long after his kinsman Colonel Bunbury had retired into private life. In 1840, Major General Sir Hugh Gough (as he had then become) was despatched from India to take command of the troops employed in China, and the result of his operations in the subjugation and, to a great extent, the civilization of the Celestial Empire, are matters of history. In 1843, he was invested with chief command in India, and there the great victories of Maharagepoor and Pantar, and the brilliant successes at Ferozepore, Moodkee, and Sobrson, of Chillianwallah, and of Googerat, attest, in his own words, “that what Alexander attempted the British army has accomplished”. Full of honours as of years, a Viscount, GCB, Field Marshal and, what he prized more than all his titles, a Knight of St Patrick, the valiant commander, the kindly Christian gentleman returned to his native land to close the evening of his days, and that close was, to borrow the anticpatory language of his biographer, the Rev. Samuel O’Sullivan, “as peaceful as the morning was busy and honourable, and the noontide glorious”.

The death of his elder brother, unmarried and without issue in 1846, placed Colonel Bunbury, in his seventieth year, in possession of the Carlow family estates, and from that time to the period of his demise he was a constant resident on his property. How ell he discharged the duties of his position it is needless to repeat. He never aspired however to any territorial or official honours. From his advanced years, he declined the Shrievality, and the same reason forbade the acceptance of a Deputy Lieutenancy and the Magistracy. The more quiet and unobtrusive engagements of private and domestic life, the improvement of his estates, the comfort of his tenantry and dependents, the amelioration of their condition, and the exercise of innumerable offices of charity and goo will, are the traits which signalise the character and hallow the career of the departed worthy. He renewed with Lord Gough, while that nobleman lived, the days of “auld lang syne”, when they were striplings together, and mutual visits of courtesy and affection were interchanged by the veteran friends. Colonel Bunbury was destined to follow the remains of Lord Gough to the grave in 1869. Another and a younger relative, his nephew, the late Captain M’Clintock Bunbury, whose career had been an honour to his country as it was a pride to his friends, had in the inscrutable ways of Providence been removed to his rest a few years previously. That these losses affected and chastened, if not saddened, the old man’s heart, we may readily suppose if we ventured to pry into the secrets of a sensitive nature. In the even tenor of a peaceful life, lengthened far beyond the ordinary span – with all,

“That should accompany old age –

Honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,”

With undiminished health and a vigour of body and mind rarely enjoyed, the patriarch survived many of his race, and lived to see others, the sons of his departed friends, rise into youth and enter into manhood with all the promises that can render their lives estimable, honourable and useful. Without a pang of suffering, in a gentle effort of exhausted nature, his spirit returned to its Maker, on the 2nd of November 1874 in the 98th year of his mortality.

Ninety eight years – a century almost! What a space in the history of the world, much less of an individual, do a hundred years embrace. So apposite, in the present instance, are the reflections of Sir Bernard Burke, the accomplished Ulster King of Arms, in his remark on the career of Lord Gough on the occasion of the Investiture of the Order of St Patrick, that we venture to quote them here, as applicable to the subject of this imperfect sketch:-

“When he was born, the independence of the United States of America had yet to be achieved. Napoleon and Wellington were then schoolboys. George III and Queen Caroline, both still young, were holding their stately receptions at St. James’s, and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, their gay and fascinating Court of the ancien regime at Versailles. The Queen of France was ‘just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she began to move in, glittering like the morning star, fl of life and splendour and joy’. Edmund Burke and William Pitt and Charles Fox were the names on every politicians’ mouth; and Goldsmith and Johnson and Gibbon reigned supreme in literature. Frederick the great was still alive and Voltaire had only been a few months dead’.


The remains of this universally esteemed gentleman, whose lamented demise we recorded in our last issue, were interred on Thursday last, in the family vault at Rathvilly Church. Notwithstanding the early hour announced for the funeral to leave Moyle (nine o’clock), it was one of the largest that has taken place in this country for many years past, all sections of the community being numerously represented in the morning cortege. Between three and four hundred scarfs and hatbands were distributed amongst the tenantry and employees on the Bunbury estate, most of whom walked in procession before the hearse from Moyle House to the high road, where they filed off and joined the large concourse who followed the remains (which were enclosed in a suit of three coffins) to the Churchyard, a distance of some ten miles by the Tullow Road. The outer coffin was covered with black cloth and bore on plated shield the simple inscription, “COLONEL KANE BUNBURY, died November 4, 1874, aged 97 years”. The Chief mourners were Lord Rathdonnell, Lord Viscount Gough, Mr Thomas M’Clintock Bunbury, Mr John Bunbury, Captain Bunbury (Lisbryan), Mr William Johnson and Mr James Smith. On reaching Rathvilly, the coffin was carried into the church by the tenantry, when the opening portion of this solemn burial service was read by the Rev. Samuel Quinton. It was then borne to the entrance of the family vault, and the remainder of the burial service having been read by the Rev. James P. Garrett, it was lowered to its last resting place. The funeral arrangements were most satisfactorily carried out by Mr. Boake of this town.