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Villiers Stuart of Dromana, County Waterford – Lord of the Decies

Henry Windsor Villiers Stuart by Richard James Lane. Lithograph, 3 June 1847.

[These are notes rather than a carefully researched tale.]

On 3 July 1215, Thomas Fitz Anthony, Seneschal of Leinster, obtained from King John a grant of the custody of Cos. Waterford and Desmond which included the land of Decies, of which Dromana was its principal castle and Manor. He died ante 26 April 1227 leaving five daughters and co-heirs. Dromana has thus been in the same bloodline for 790 years.

His fourth daughter, Margery, married John Fitz Thomas, elder son of Thomas Fitz Maurice, Lord of Connelly, Co. Limerick (3rd son of Maurice Fitz Gerald, founder of the Geraldine race in Ireland and grandson of Walter Fitz Other, Constable of Windsor in 1086) by his wife, Sabina. (See Burkes on Leinster and TB on Kildare).

John and Margery had two sons, Maurice and John, and a daughter Olyvia who married Elias Ketyng. John and his eldest son, Maurice were killed at Callan on 23 July 1261. By his marriage to Maud de Barry, Maurice left a baby son, Thomas Fitz Maurice (“Thomas an Appagh”). Born in about April 1261, Thomas was 23 when, ante 7 Feb 1284, he married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas de Berkeley.[1] On 6 February 1292, the 31-year-old was re-granted the lands of Decies and Desmond. From 19 April – 2 December 1295 he served as Edward I’s Keeper of Ireland. He died on 4 June 1298 aged 37, leaving three sons and a daughter Joan.[2]

Thomas an Appagh was ultimately succeeded by his second son, Maurice Fitz Thomas (“Maurice the Great”). Born in Tralee in 1293, he was just five-years-old when his father died. In 1315 he had livery of Decies and Desmond. On 5 August that same year, the 19 year old was married at Greencastell to Katherine, 5th daughter of Richard de Burgh, the Red Earl of Ulster. This made him a brother-in-law of Robert the Bruce. In 1315 he had livery of Kerry. He served Edward III at the Siege of Calais and was created Earl of Desmond on 27 August 1329. His wife, Lady Katherine, died in Dublin two years later, leaving one son, Maurice, later the 2nd Earl of Desmond. The Earl married secondly Aveline Fitz Maurice, daughter of Nicholas Fitz Maurice, Lord of Lixnaw, and had a daughter who married James Barry Roe, Lord of Ibawne. She too passed away and the Earl took as his third wife, Margaret, daughter of Conor O’Brien of Thomond, who gave him two further sons, Nicholas and Gerald. He was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland in 1355 but died in Dublin the following January.

According to Burke’s ILG 1959, Maurice Fitz Maurice, 2nd Earl of Desmond, was born on 31 July 1336. However, since they state that he was a son of Katherine de Burgh and that she died in 1331, these dates are open to doubt. At any rate, in 1350, he took as his bride, Beatrix, daughter of Ralph, 1st Earl of Stafford.[3] Just over two years after succeeding his father, the 2nd Earl drowned while crossing the Irish Sea ante 5th June 1358. His half-brother Nicholas Fitz Maurice should then have succeeded but had by then been declared an “idiot” and, although he may have lived until as late as 1367, he never actually possessed the Earldom or had seizin of the inheritance. (What is seizin?).

Instead the Earldom devolved upon Nicholas’s younger brother, Gerald Fitz Maurice, known as “Gerald the Poet”. On 3 July 1358, four weeks after the 2nd Earl’s death, he was given custody of the lands. On 20 July the following year he was given livery, provided he “maintain” his idiot brother Nicholas.  That same year he married Eleanor (d. 1392), daughter of James, 2nd Earl of Ormonde. (Her father gave her the barony of Inchiquin in Imokilly). Three sons and two daughters followed, including John, the 4th Earl, and James, the 6th Earl. Gerald the Poet served as Lord Justice of Ireland in 1370.[4]

John FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Desmond, was born at Youghal. On 4 March 1400 he enjoyed a riverside wedding at Ardfinnan on the banks of the River Suir. His bride’s identity is not certain. She may have been Mary, daughter of Mac William Burk, or she may have been Joan, daughter of Roche, Lord Fermoy. The date of the 4h Earl’s death is also unknown but he was buried at Youghal and succeeded by his only son, Thomas Fitz John, 5th Earl of Desmond.

The 6th Earl was born in about 1386 but disgraced himself when he married Katherine Mac Cormac of Abbeyfeale. Her father, William Mac Cormac, was one of the Earl’s own dependents and “the alliance was looked on by his clan with so great a degradation that he was forced to surrender his earldom in 1418 and fled to Rouen” where he died on 10th August 1420. He is said to have left two sons, whose legitimacy was disputed – Maurice, ancestor of the Fitz Geralds of Adare, Kilcoman, Moyallen and Broghill, and John of Claragh who died in 1452.

With the 6 Earl’s flight in 1418, the Earldom was now claimed by his uncle James Fitz Gerald, known as “James the Usurper”. James’s date of birth is not known but he is believed to have been in his 30s when, in 1420, his cousin/ uncle James, Earl of Ormonde, made him Seneschal of Imokilly, Inchiquin and the town of Youghal. Two years later, he was officially acknowledged as the 7th Earl of Desmond. His wife Mary, who died in 1435, was a daughter of Ulick de Burgo Mac William Uachtar, and gave him two sons and two daughters. Upon his death in 1463, he was succeeded as 7th Earl by his elder son Thomas Fitz James, ancestor of the later Earls of Desmond. However, in the context of this tome, we now follow the line of his second son, Sir Gerald Mor Fitz Gerald of The Decies and Dromana.[5]

It is not known when Gerald was born but in about 1452 his father granted him the lands of the Decies and the Manor at Dromana. He was thereafter known as Lord of the Decies. His wife, Margaret, was a daughter of Mac Rickard Burk. He died on 16 August 1488, leaving four sons.[6] The eldest son John Fitz Gerald succeeded as Lord. He married Ellen, a daughter of Sir John Fitz Gibbon, The White Knight. He died on 17 April 1533, at which time Henry VIII had already initiated the Reformation that would so drastically alter the course of Irish history. (When was John’s uncle Thomas FitzGerald’s monastery at Adare reformed?).

John and Ellen had a son, Gerald, and daughter, Katherine. The latter is worthy of a biography in herself because she reputedly lived to be 140 years old. Shortly after 1505 she became the second wife to her cousin “Thomas the Bald”, 11th Earl of Desmond. She survived him by an astonishing 70 years, dying in 1604 as the celebrated “Old Countess of Desmond”, the implication being that her life spanned the entire Tudor Age from Henry VII’s victory at Bosworth to the death of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Walter Raleigh knew her personally from his tenure as Mayor of Youghal in 1589. In his “History of the World”, written during his prison spell, he maintained that she was “then aged 126”. Sir Walter had, on the forfeiture of Gerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, been granted, with other lands, the Castle and Manor of Inchiquin near Youghal, subject to the lifetime jointure rights of “the Ladie Cattelyn, oulde Countess Dowager of Desmond, widdowe”. One thinks of the elderly French lady who died aged 120 four years ago.[7]

A close up of the Earl of Sussex, Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queens Mary and Elizabeth Tudor.

As to her brother Gerald, he succeeded as Lord of the Decies in April 1533 and was also seised of the Barony of Comragh in Co. Waterford. His wife Ellice was the fourth daughter of Piers, 8th Earl of Ormonde. He died on 1 May 1553 (same time as Queen Mary?) leaving three sons and a daughter.[8] His eldest son Maurice, then 23-years-old, succeeded. On St. Andrew’s Day 1558, Maurice was knighted at Waterford by the Earl of Sussex, the incoming Lord Deputy of Ireland. (How old was Sussex?). On 1 June the following year, he commenced what would be an eight year tenure as Sheriff of Co. Cork (ie: until 1567). On 27 January 1569, he was created Baron of Dromana. Four days later, he was upped again to Viscount of Decies. His wife Ellen was a daughter of Sir John Fitz Thomas Fitz Gerald of Desmond (who had assumed the earldom), 4th son of the 7th Earl of Desmond. But there were to be no sons and when Sir Maurice died on 28 December 1572, his honours became extinct and the Lordship of the Decies passed to his only surviving brother, James. Maurice and James’s younger brother Gerald lived at Balli Henni in Co. Waterford and married Ellinor, daughter of John Butler of Derryloskan, Co. Tipperary. He died young on 1 May 1509 leaving a son, Sir John, who ultimately succeeded to the Lordship of the Decies.

But returning to the previous generation, Sir James was born shortly before his paternal grandfather’s death in 1532. His wife Ellen was a daughter of MacCarty Reagh. He succeeded in December 1572 and died at Dungarvan on 15 December 1581. He was succeeded by his 15-year-old son Garrett FitzGerald . Garret was married twice – to Ellen, daughter of Lord Power & Curraghmore, and to Honora, daughter of Lord Barry – but left no male heirs at the time of his death aged 34 on 9 September 1600. As such, the Lordship of the Decies passed to his 30-year-old cousin Sir John, son of his uncle Gerald Fitz Gerald of Balli Henni. On 1 December 1607, Sir John was granted the right to hold a fair at the Whitemount rock at Dromana on both St. Bartholomew’s Day and on the vigil of St. James. On 7 October 1613 he received a re-grant of his lads from King James I under the Great Seal of England. His wife Ellen was a daughter of Maurice Fitz Gibbon, The White Knight. Sir John died aged 50 on 24 May 1620, leaving a son and six daughters.[9]

The only son, Sir John Og Fitz Gerald of Dromana duly succeeded and was the last Roman Catholic Lord of the Decies. He was knighted by Oliver St. John, 1st Viscount Grandison of Limerick, Lord Deputy of Ireland. His wife Ellinor was a daughter of the 2nd Lord Dunboyne. Upon his death on 1 March 1626, he left three sons and four daughters.[10]

The eldest son, Sir Gerald Fitz Gerald, was the first of the family to be brought up Protestant. During his minority he was tenant in chief to Sir Edward Villiers, President of Munster, who held the wardship. After Sir Edward’s death, the wardship was sold back to Sir Gerald’s grandmother, Ellen, daughter of the White Knight. His wife Mabel was a daughter of Sir Robert Digby of Coleshill, Warwickshire, by his wife Lettice, only child of Gerald, Lord Offaly, eldest son of the 11th Earl of Kildare.  They had a son, John, and two daughters.[11]

Sir Gerald died on 6 August 1643 and was succeeded by his young son John. Born in about April 1642, Sir John was to have a short life of 22 years. In that time he was MP for Dungarvan and married twice. His first wife Katharine was a daughter of John, 5th Lord Power & Curraghmore. Prior to her death on 22 August 1660, she bore him a daughter Katharine. Sir John then married secondly Helen, daughter of Donogh MacCarthy, 1st Earl of Clancarty, but he died on 1 March 1664.

For the first time since Thomas Fitz Anthony’s death in the early 13th century, there was no male heir apparent to Dromana and the lands of the Decies. Sir John’s only child, Katharine Fitz Gerald, succeeded as Lady of the Decies. She was the ward of King Charles II and, as such, was raised in his glamorous court. On 20 May 1673 the teenaged orphan was “unwillingly married”, as his second wife, to her cousin, Richard, 6th Lord Power & Curraghmore. In consequence of the marriage, Richard was created Viscount Decies and Earl of Tyrone the following October. However, the marriage was later annulled and Katharine married Edward Villiers. Edward was the eldest son of George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison, of Limerick, Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard from 1662 to 1689. Edward’s mother Audrey was daughter and co-heiress of John, 1st Baron Boteler of Brantfield. Through his maternal grandfather, Baron Boteler, Edward inherited the manor of Bramfield in Hertfordshire. Edward assumed the surname of FitzGerald after his marriage and was Brigadier General and Lieutenant Colonel of the Queen’s Regiment of Horse. He served in Tangier against the Moors. He predeceased his father and died in 1693 leaving issue two sons and two daughters. Their eldest son John later succeeded as 5th Viscount Grandison. Their elder daughter Mary married Brigadier General Stuart; the younger daughter Harriet married Robert Pitt and was mother of William Pitt, 1stt Earl of Chatham (the Prime Minister?).

On 6 January 1700, three weeks after the death of her 82-year-old father-in-law, the 4th Viscount Grandison, Mrs. Katharine FitzGerald of Dromana received a Royal Warrant granting her the title and precedence of the Viscounty. The Viscountess Grandison of Limerick then married Lieutenant General Rt. Hon. William Steuart. Her husband was a Colonel of the Norfolk Regiment, MP for Co. Waterford (1703 – 1714) and Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Ireland in 1711.

The Viscountess Grandison died aged 63 on St. Stephen’s Day 1725. Her widowed husband, general Steuart, married Mrs. Alstone the following month but was himself dead before the summer of 1726 was finished. Her 41-year-old firstborn son John (by her marriage to Edward Villiers) duly succeeded to Dromana. Born in 1684, John was 15-years-old when he succeeded his grandfather as 5th Viscount Grandison. At the time he was a schoolboy at Eton. He went on to study at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Between May and December 1705 he stood as MP for Old Sarum. He was subsequently appointed to the Privy Council and was Governor of the City and County of Waterford. In February 1706 he married Frances, daughter of Edward Cary of Caldicote, Mon., by whom he had two sons, James and William, and a daughter, Elizabeth. On 11 September 1721, he was created Earl Grandison. The “Good Earl John” was responsible for greatly improving the Dromana estate by plantations and also built the village of Villierstown. Alas, his sons did not survive to carry on the good works. The eldest son John, styled Lord Villiers, was educated at Eton and MP for Co. Waterford from 1730 to his death on 12 December 1732. On 10 July 1728, he married Jane, daughter of Richard Butler of London, but he died four years later and his three children all died in infancy.[12] The younger son William was born in January 1715 and educated at Eton and Trinity Hall Cambridge. He succeeded his brother as Lord Villiers in 1732 but died aged 24 seven years later.

The 5th Viscount died in London on 15 May 1766 having been married for over 60 years. His widow, Lady Frances, died 18 months later. The Earldom duly became extinct but he was succeeded as Viscount by his cousin William, 3rd Earl of Jersey. His Dromana estates passed to his only surviving child, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was probably in her early 20s when the death of her two brothers left her heir apparent to the Dromana estate. On 12 June 1739, six months before her brother William’s premature demise, she married Aland John Mason, MP for Co. Waterford from 1749 until his death on 26 March 1759. On 10 April 1746, she was created Viscountess Grandison of Dromana, Co. Waterford, with remainder to the heirs male of her body. Her only child George was born five years later. After Mason’s death in 1759, she married secondly on 15 February 1763, Major General Charles Montague Halifax, Colonel of the 2nd Regiment. On 19 February 1767, nine months after her fathers’ death, she was further created Viscountess Villiers and Countess Grandison. She died on 29 May 1782 and was succeeded by her only surviving son, George.

George Mason-Villiers, 2nd Earl of Grandison, was born on 13 July 1751 and educated at Eton. On 21 October 1771, the 20-year-old assumed by Royal License the name of Villiers. On 10 February 1772 he married Gertrude, third daughter of the 1st Marquess of Hereford.[13] Two years later, he was elected MP for Ludlow, which seat he retained until 1780. On 5 November 1785 he was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland. His only child Gertrude was born in the spring of 1778 and the death of his wife five years later once again left the Dromana estates without a male heir.

The 2nd Earl died aged 49 on 14 July 1800 and was succeeded at Dromana by his only surviving child, 22-year-old Lady Gertrude Amelia. On 1 July 1802 she married Lord Henry Stuart, sometime Minister at Weimar and fifth son of the 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bute. Lord Henry (19 August) and Lady Gertrude (30 August) died within two weeks of each other just seven years later, leaving three sons, Henry, William and Charles, and a daughter, Gertrude.[14]

Henry Villiers-Stuart was born on 8 June 1803 and orphaned at the age of six. He assumed with his brothers and sister the additional name of Villiers. On 12 January 1826, he married Theresia Pauline Ott of Vienna. Later that year, the 23-year-old Lord of the Decies was elected MP for Co. Waterford, having “greatly distinguished” himself by his support for Daniel O’Connell and Catholic Emancipation. In 1828 he sold Bramhill, the Hertfordshire estate which had come into the family when Katharine Fitz Gerald married Edward Villiers five generations earlier. In 1831, Henry was elected MP for Banbury. In that year he also commenced what would be a 43-year tenure as HM’s Lord Lieutenant of County Waterford. On 10 May 1839 Queen Victoria elevated him as Baron Stuart de Decies of Dromana-within-the-Decies, Co. Waterford. Theresia died on 7 August 1767 and the Baron died, aged 71, on 23 January 1874. He left a son, Henry, and daughter, Pauline.[15]


Henry Windsor Villiers-Stuart (1827-1895)


Upon Baron Stuart’s death in January 1874, the Dromana estates passed to his only son, Henry Windsor Villiers-Stuart. Half-Austrian, half-Irish, he was born on 13 September 1827. In 1845, the 18 year old secured a commission as Ensign in the 26th Regt. At some stage (before or after 1845?) he served as a cadet in Prince Liechtenstein’s Regiment (5th Regt. Of Light Horse) and he was also in the Austrian Imperial Army … presumably his life was much tied up in the events leading to the Austro-Prussian War? He studied at Durham University, obtained his MA in 1852 and became Vicar of Bulkington, Warwickshire, that same year. Three years later he transferred to the Vicarage of Napton, Warwicks. In the summer of 1865, the 38-year-old clergyman was married to Mary, second daughter of the Venerable Ambrose Power, Archdeacon of Limerick and fourth son of Sir John Power, 1st Bart, of Kilfane. The first of nine children came the following year. His Austrian mother died in August 1867; when was that war?! In 1871 he resigned his Holy Orders in accordance with the Clerical Disabilities Act of 1870 in order to stand for Parliament. In that year he also commenced a two year tenure as Vice Lieutenant for County Waterford. He was subsequently elected MP for the county on two occasions, 1873–4 and 1880–85. He succeeded to Dromana in 1874 but failed to establish his succession to the peerage when the Committee of Privileges met in 1876; there were many doubts expressed about the validity of his parents marriage.

Henry was an author of many works including Nile Gleanings, Egypt after the War and other works. In 1882, he was commissioned by the Government to visit Egypt and write a detailed report on the condition of the population in the wake of the battle of Tel-el-Kebir. Later that same year he introduced into the House of Commons the Labourers Cottages & Allotments (Ireland) Bill which received the Royal Assent on 18 August. He was High Sheriff for Co. Waterford in 1889.

Henry died aged 68 on 12 October 1895. At the Dungarvan Petty Sessions following his death, RJ Ussher addressed the magistrates and stated the following:

‘The time Is not long gone by since a degree of famine stirred the country in the winter of ‘79 and ’80, and Mr Villiers Stuart, solely from his own kindness, borrowed a sum of £6,000, which I believe will never be of any benefit to him on his estate, to give employment to the distressed labourers of the country, and not alone then but on many occasions Mr Stuart has taken a deep Interest in the welfare of this country, and especially in the labouring classes, Mr Stuart was man of uncommon abilities, a man of extraordinary culture and powers of mind, of great literary tastes, and a man of singular attainments. Bat one leading feature of his character was his attachment to his country and the interest he took in all matters relating to the county Waterford and its people.’
Waterford Standard, 23 October 1895, p. 3.

Henry’s widow Mary survived him by 12 years and passed away in September 1907.

Henry and Mary had five sons and four daughters. It is worth noting that these children were all ¼ Austrian. To the eldest son, Major Henry Charles Villiers-Stuart of Dromana, we shall return.

The second son, Gerald Villiers-Stuart, was born in January 1869 and educated at Haileybury. On 11 August 1893, The Social Review (Dublin) noted Gerald’s attendance at an afternoon dance at Lyrath, County Kilkenny, given by Sir Charles and Lady Cuffe. On 25 August 1894, Irish Society (Dublin) observed: ‘H. Villiers Stuart, Esq., J.P., D.L., has returned to Dromana, from Cowes. He is being visited by his second son, Mr Gerald Villiers Stuart, with his wife, from America.’ On 19 September 1903, the Cork Examiner  reported on a meeting of the Cork Industrial Development Association as follows:

‘Mr S A Kenefick, of Columbus, Ohio, USA, appeared before the Council and stated he had been successful in prevailing upon Mr Gerald Villiers Stuart, of Columbus, who has resided in America for a considerable number of years, and established a successful manufacturing business there, to sell out his interests in that country and return to his native land and start a factory there. Mr Stuart is now clearing up his affairs in America, and will return to Ireland early next year. The Council promised to obtain all the necessary information for the working, etc, of this factory, and have same prepared for Mr Stuart on his arrival, as well as giving his industry, once it is begun, ail encouragement they can. A vote of thanks was passed to Mr Kenefick for his kindness in bringing this matter before the Council.’

S.A. Kenefick was Stephen Alexander Kenefick. He was perhaps the S. A. KENEFICK, who served as Hon. Sec. of the Cork Coursing Club in 1876-1877, with an address at 2, Sandy Hill Terrace, Cork. I also have one eye on his connection to the Wm. Kenefick Construction Company of Kansas City (Mo-) which, according to the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 6 May 1910, ‘has built and completed lines for the New York Central, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, Pennsylvania, Rock Island, Illinois Central, Missouri Pacific, Atchison, . Louis and San Francisco, and other systems.’

On 14 July 1904, the Waterford Mirror and Tramore Visitor noted Gerald Villiers Stuart of Richmond was on the Grand Jury for the Waterford Summer Assizes. On 14 March 1906, the Waterford Standard noted:

‘The people of Cappoquin were on last Saturday night treated to a very pleasing entertainment in the Hall, Mill Street, when drama in one act, entitled ‘The Governor’s Pardon,’ and a musical tragedy, styled ‘Labelled Laudanum,’ written by Gerald Villiers Stuart, in both of which a good deal of ability was undoubtedly displayed, were performed before an extremely large and select audience. The proceeds were to go to the funds of the Cappoquin Rowing Club, of which institution Major Villiers Stuart is captain, and in which his brother, Gerald Villiers Stuart, has taken a very kindly interest, being one of its leading members since he came home from America.’

Sometime between 1903 and 1906, “The Staying Guest,” a play by Gerald was “written for and acted to Louise Duchess of Devonshire and house party at Lismore – otherwise not yet produced.”  This would seem to be for this event, as chronicled by the Waterford Standard of 23 May 1906:


Seldom has a more delightful entertainment been given in Lismore than that of Friday night, which was witnessed by the following distinguished party from Lismore Castle:- The Duchess of Devonshire, Prince and Princess Litchesten, the Countess of Limerick, Sir Hugh and Lady M’Calmont, Sir Charles Hartop, Sir Richard and Lady Musgrave, Mr R Maguire, Mr, and Mrs, and Miss Penrose.

Amongst others in the hall were :—Lady and the Hon Violet Graves, Captain and the Hon Mr Stuart, Mrs G Stuart, Mrs Chearnley and company, the Dean of Lismore, Father Kerwin, Rev B Little, Mrs Beresford, Mrs and Miss Carrey, Mrs and Miss Lloyd, Mr and Mrs Beecher, Mr, Mrs, and Miss Godfrey, Mr, Mrs, and Miss Power, Glencairn, etc.

The entertainment consisted of two plays from the pen of Mr Gerald Villiers Stuart, ana a concert. The first play was of light comedy, entitled, ‘Staying Guests,’ and was full of clever humorous situations; and the second was of the American Drama type, entitled, ‘ln the Balance.’ Both plays were well conceived, and the characters well maintained by a talented amateur company. Particular mention might be made of the grace and charm with which Mrs Ackland, as ‘Edith Peidmont’ and ‘Dorna Fitz Gerald’ and Miss Winifred V Stuart as ‘Ellen’, the parlour-maid enacted their parts. Captain Dunlop as editor of ‘The Real Lady,’ created much laughter by his clever portrayal of this character Mr Preston, Captain Chearnley, and G V Stuart were equally successful in their parts.

The concert was sustained by Miss FitzGerald, Miss Chearnley, Miss Parker, Mis Sheehan (Fermoy), Mr Crinlessher, and Mies Peggy Redmoad.

The Duchess of Devonshire and her party showed their appreciation by their marked applause of various items, and complimented Miss FitzGerald on her singing, and particularly the Countess of Limerick, herself one of the greatest musical critics in Ireland. Mr Lindsay Seymour, organist Lismore Cathedral, ably presided at the piano. At the  close of the entertainment, Mr Stuart was called before the footlights and loudly applauded as the talented author of the plays.’

This was presumably at Lismore Castle. [The Duchess was in Lismore for the visit of King Edward in 1904.] Gerald served as a Captain with the Army Service Corps during World War One. He lived at Kilbreagh Tower in Cappoquin and made a name for himself as a playwright and author (Land of Day Dreams, The Drums of Doom etc). He was also Deputy Lieutenant and CC (presumably for Co. Waterford). On 31 March 1891 he followed a British fashion and married an American lady, Maud Hutcheson. Her father Joseph Hutcheson lived at Columbus, Ohio. They had three boys and a girl, all ½ American. Maud died on 11 March 1940.

Gerald and Maud’s eldest son Percival Grandison Villiers-Stuart was born in April 1892 and served as a Captain with the 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment during the Great War. He later served with the South Persia Rifles in S. Persia and in World War Two as a Major with the Pioneer Corps. He was unmarried in 1959 and had an address with Motorways Ltd., Knightsbridge). He died in 1963, probably in London.

The second son Desmond de la Poerwas born in September 1893 and served with the Australian forces during World War One. He was killed in action at Messines Ridge in Flanders on 7 August 1917. According to the Irish Independent of 2 October 1917, p. 4:

‘Desmond de la Poer Villers Stuart, fell in battle on the Western front under the name of Pte. Manders. 7107 Australian imperial Forces, which name he assumed on reenlisting after being invalided out of another unit; second son of Capt. Gerald Villiers-Stuart. and Mrs Villers-Stuart, Richmond House, Cappoquin, aged 20.’

The youngest son Fitzgerald was born in May 1902 and educated, like his father, at Haileybury. On 10 April 1937 he married Helen, daughter of Frank Daly, Peace Commissioner, of Ardnalee, Cork. They had an address at 31 Kensington Square in London and, by 1959, had a 16-year-old son Patrick Desmond studying at Eton and a 17 year old daughter Grania. Gerald and Maud’s only daughter Muriel was born in 1898 and married in 1922 to Lt Col. Ronald Harvey Gem of the Royal Signals. They had children prior to his death on 9 March 1957. By 1959, she had an address at 18 Eldon Road in London. Maud died on 11 March 1940 and Gerald passed away aged 82 on 4 February 1951.

The third son, Maurice Ambrose Villiers-Stuart, was born on 20 September 1870 and educated at Clifton and Cooper’s Hill Engineering College. Perhaps on the back of his father’s works in Egypt in 1882, Maurice worked with the Survey Department of the Egyptian Civil Service. On 20 March 1895, the 25-year-old married Rose, daughter of Charles Clark of Swanage in Dorset. They had one son, Gerald Ambrose, born in June 1897, who also studied at Clifton and Cooper’s Hill. During World War One, Gerald served with the Egyptian Camel Corps, the ASC and the 56th HAA Regt of the Royal Artillery. Rose Villiers-Stuart died on 10 May 1922. Her son was married five months later to Bridget D’Oyly, third daughter of Francis Jemmet of Ashford, Kent. Maurice himself married again in 1926 to Constance ____. 1932 must have been a difficult year for Gerald – his wife, Bridget, died on 20 May and his father, Maurice, on 25 August.  On 25tAugust 1834, the second anniversary of his father’s death, he married Ruby Mary, eldest daughter of John Newell of Hillside, Todmorden, Lancashire. During World War Two, he commanded the RASC and RAOC. By 1959 he was based at Stafford Place, Fore Street, Tiverton, Devon. (Remember Dave Harbottle’s brother is war expert…) .

The fourth son Horace Gervase Seymour was born on 8 December 1872 and educated at Charterhouse. On 4 March 1903, the 31-year-old was married, like his brother Gerald, to an American. His bride was Mary, daughter of Norman King of Peora, Illinois. He died on 12 July 1952, leaving issue a son, Michael, and two daughters, Barbara and Kathryn. Michael Fitzmaurice was born on11th February 1911 and educated at Stowe. During World War Two, he served with the RNVR (despatches). On 15 May 1943 he married Elizabeth Jane Marion, only daughter of George Hurst Fowler, JP, of Eureka, Kells, Co. Meath. They had a son Garrett Michael (April 1959) and three daughters, Susan Mary (March 1945), Virginia Jane (July 1946) and Katherine Penelope (June 1951-2004). By 1959, Michael and Elizabeth had an address at Loughside, Greenisland, Co. Antrim. Michael’s eldest sister Barbara was born in December 1903 and married, in January 1928, to Brigadier Charles Leslie Morgan, OBE, of Cardiff. She had one son and one daughter. The younger sister Kathryn Honora was born in October 1908 and married, in April 1934, to Edward William Grazebrook, eldest son of George William Ward Grazebrook (see Burke’s 1952, Grazebrook of Stourton Castle). They had children and, by 1959, an address at Mardocks Mill, Warside, Herts.

The fifth and youngest son, Patrick Villiers-Stuart, was born on 27 April 1879 and educated at Charterhouse and Sandhurst. In 1907 he served as ADC to Sir Arthur Lawley, Governor of Madras. On 26 February 1908 he married Constance Mary, only daughter and heir of Joshua Fielden, DL, JP, of Beachamwell Hall, King’s Lynn, Norfolk (see 1952 Burke’s LG). Their only child, a daughter christened Patricia Frances Mary Fielden Stuart was born on 28 September 1910. During World War One, Patrick served with the Royal Fusiliers, being mentioned in despatches three times. In 1916 he was awarded the Chev. Legion of Honour. In 1918, he won the DSO. He was the British Military representative at Sofia in 1918 and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was subsequently CC (1929) and DL (1937) for Norfolk. In August 1939 his daughter Patricia married the sculptor Oscar Nemon, though her married name was now Nemon-Stuart, with whom she had children and lived at Pleasant land, Boar’s Hill, Oxford. Patrick died on 23 May 1949 and his widow returned to live at the Fielden home of Beachamwell Hall.

The eldest daughter Mary Therese was born on 25 August 1875 and was awarded the Kaisar-I-Hind Gold Medal and LG St J. On 16 February 1904 she became the third wife of Sir John William Pitt Muir-Mackenzie, KCSI, ICS, acting Governor of Bombay in 1907. Presumably this ties in with Patrick’s role as ADC to the Governor of Madras this same year, and sister Gertrude’s marriage to the Chief Justice of Bombay. Sir John was the youngest son of Sir John Muir-Mackenzie of Delvine, 2nd Bart (see Burke’s Peerage). He died on 25 October 1916 (eight years after wedding) and she died aged 51 on 9 March 1926. They had no children.

The second daughter, Gertrude Gwendoline, was born on 20 January 1878 and, on 28 December 1914 to Sir Basil Scott. Sir Basil, youngest son of Henry Scott of Bombay (see Burke’s LG 1952, Scott of Glenaros), was Chief Justice of the High Court of Bombay from 1908 – 1919. They had children before his death on 9 March 1926. Gertrude was awarded the OBE in 1954 and had an address at Dar el Quas, tangier, Morocco in 1959.

The third daughter Mary was born on 16 July 1881 and married, on 10 July 1907, to Captain Hugh Taylor of the Scots Guards. Her mother died two months later. He was the eldest son of Thomas Taylor, JP, of Chipchase Castle, Northumberland (see Burke’s 1952 edition). They had children before Hugh was killed in action on 18 December 1914. His widow survived him just eight years and died on 2 October 1922 aged 41.

The fourth and youngest daughter, Winifred Frances, was born on 12 February 1884. She was the first of the four sisters to marry, 7 Jan 1907, her husband being Lt Col Frederick Beadon Leyland, DSO, MVO, JP, of Weston hall, Nuneaton, Warwicks. He was the eldest son of Frederick Dawson Leyland of Woolton Hall, Liverpool. They had issue one son and three daughters.

Returning now to the eldest son, Major Henry Charles Windsor Villiers-Stuart of Dromana. He was born on 3 August 1867, four days before the death of his Austrian grandmother. He was educated at Harrow (along with Churchill?) and Christ Church, Oxford, during which time his father was making such an impact in both Parliament and Egypt. He was married shortly after his 28th birthday to Grace Francis, only daughter of John Adaire Richard Newman, DL, of Dromore House, Co. Cork. (See that family, 1959 BLGI). Details of their wedding can be found here. He was severely wounded during the Boer War but survived to become a Major of the S. Irish horse and Captain of the Waterford Artillery. In 1898 he was High Sheriff for Co. Waterford of which county he was also HM Lieutenant and JP. He died aged 41 on 8 September 1908, leaving issue a son, ion, and two daughters, Geraldyn and Nesta. His widow, Grace, remarried on 25 July 1910, Sir Alexander Kay Muir, 2nd Bart, (see Burke’s Peerage), but she died herself on 31 July 1920. Sir Alexander died 4 June 1951.

Henry and Grace’s eldest daughter Geraldyn Mary was born on 7 June 1896 and married, on 16 June 1917, to Ronal Cory-Wright, MC, second son of Sir Arthur Cory Cory-White, 2nd Bart (see Burke’s Peeage). They had issue before his death on 27 December 1932 and, by 1959, she lived at Oakridge, Little Gaddesden in Herts. The younger daughter Nesta Mona was born on 17 November 1897 and married on 14 February 1928 to Lt. Col. Desmond Martin FitzGerald, Royal Norfolk Regiment, only son of William Herbert Edward Fitzgerald of Framingham House, Norfolk (see Fitzgerald of Coolanowle, 1959 ILG). They had two sons prior to their divorce in 1950. By 1959 Nesta had an address at Flat 2, Stanfield, Higher Warberry road, Torquay.

Henry and Grace’s only son Ion Henry FitzGerald Villiers-Stuart was eight years old when he succeeded his father at Dromana. His birth on 23 November 1900 may well have coincided with his father’s serious injuries in the Boer War. He went on to Harrow. He was Master of the Fox Hounds for Waterford. On 15 February 1928 he married his first wife, Elspeth, only daughter of Major Frances Richardson, DSO, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, of The Coombes, Marston Trussel, Market Harborough. Their only son James Henry Ion was born that November. Elspeth died on 8 April 1943 and Ion married secondly on 5 December 1945 Emily, former wife of the 4th Baron Hemphill (see Burke’s Peerage), daughter of F. Irving Sears of Webster, Massachusetts. Ion died just over two years later on 5 February 1948. By 1959, his widow Emily had an address at 89 Onslow Square in SW7.

James Henry Ion Villiers-Stuart, Lord of the Manor of Dromana-within-the-Decies and Patron of the living of Villierstown, was born on 30 November 1928. He was educated at St Columba’s College and the Royal Agricultural College of Cirencester. On 15 April 1952, he married Emily Constance Lanfear, daughter of Major Charles Plenderleath Graham of The Paddock, Kinsale, Co. Cork (see that family). They also had an address at Renville Hall, Oranmore, Co. Galway (ask Inigo?). They enjoyed a Golden Anniversary together but he died recently. They had two daughters – Caroline Elspeth (1 April 1953) and Barbara Emily (b. 7th August 1955).

The VS’s are said to have had 75,000 acres c. 2010 and now have just 30. Barbara married Nicholas Grubb.


End Notes


[1] Margaret married secondly Reynold Rosel or Russel and was still living in 1320.

[2] The eldest son, Thomas Fitz Thomas, was born c. 2nd April 1290 and dsp ante 2 April 1309. The third son was commonly called Sir John of Attrassell and died between 1319 and 1324 leaving issue. The daughter, Joan, married John, Lord Barry, “kittogh”.

[3] Beatrix married secondly (1 Jan 1359) Thomas, Lord Ros of Hamslake, Yorkshire, who dsp 8th June 1384. On 20th August 1385 she married thirdly Sir Richard de Burley, of Birley, Herefordshire, who dsp at Villaljoando in Leon on 23rd May 1387 being then Chief Marshal of the English Army. Beatirx died on 13th or 14th April 1415 – when was Agencourt).

[4] The middle son, Maurice FitzGerald, died without issue in 1410. The elder daughter Joan married Maurice Fitz john, Lord of Kerry and Lixnaw. The younger daughter Catherine married John Fitz Thomas, ancestor of Mac Thomas of Knockenone.

[5] Thomas and Gerald’s elder sister Honora married Thomas Fitz Patrick, Lord of Kerry, known as “Thomas the Stammerer”. Their younger sister Joan married Thomas Fitz John, 7th Earl of Kildare, founder of the Trinitarian monastery at Adare.

[6] It is not known what became of the second son Gerald or the fourth son Thomas. The third son Maurice married Anne, daughter of James Fitz Gerald, 3rd son of Thomas, 7th Earl of Kildare.

[7] Katherine’s daughter, Katherine, married Philip Barry Og.

[8] The only daughter Mary married Sir Oliver Grace of Leagan Castle and Ballylinch, Co. Kilkenny.

[9] (1) Katharine m. James Prendergast, JP, of Newcastle, Co. Tipperary; (2) Ellinor m. James Butler of Nodstown; (3) Anne m. Tibbot Butler; (4) Mary m. Patrick Courcy, 20th Lord Kinsale, grandfather of 24th Lord Kinsale; (5) Ellen m. Gerald, 19th Lord Kinsale; (6) Ellice m. 1 Thomas, 2nd or 4th Lord Caher, who d. 31 Jan 1625 so she m. 2 Sir Thomas Esmonde, 1st Bart, and d. 16 Jan 1645.

[10] Burkes has virtually no further reference to the younger children save their names – John, Maurice, Ellen, Margaret, Giles and Mary. Margaret is said to have married a Roche and Giles married John Power of Kilmeadon.

[11] The elder daughter Lettice married Richard Franklyn of Coolbagh, Co. Wexford; the younger daughter married Thomas Walsh of Piltown, Co. Waterford.

[12] His widow, Lady Jane Villiers, subsequently married Lucius Charles, 7th Viscount Falkland, and died on 20th December 1751.

[13] Burke’s Peerage. Also Desart Court story.

[14] The second brother, William Villiers-Stuart, was born on 21st August 1804. On 1st June 1833 he married Katherine Cox (d. 14 Sept 1879), only daughter of Michael Cox of Castletown, Co. Kilkenny. William and Katherine subsequently inherited the Palladian mansion. He was DL, JP, High Sheriff (1848) and MP (1835 – 1847) for Co. Waterford. He also served as Captain of the 12th Lancers and as Lieutenant Colonel of the Waterford Militia Artillery. He died on 7th November 1873 leaving issue (see Bute, M., Burke’s Peerage).

The younger brother, Charles Villiers-Stuart, was born on 11th September 1808. In November 1830, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Rear Admiral John Rouet Smollett of Bonhill, Dunbartonshire (See Burke’s LG 1952). He died without issue on 19th December 1871. His widow survived him until 27th January 1889.

[15] Pauline was born in May 1830 and married aged 31 (2nd July 1861) to Sir Charles Frederick Denny Wheeler-Cuffe, 2nd Bart, DL, of Leyrath, Co. Kilkenny. (See Burke’s Peerage). She dsp 5th July 1895 and he d. 15 Jan 1915. Wasn’t one of these guys an explorer of sorts?