Turtle Bunbury

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During the Celtic Tiger years, a Ramada Hotel sprang up at Killerig, County Carlow, complete with its very own 'Bunbury Suite' and 'Sir Harry's Bar'. I used to frequent the latter, purely as a place of refuge to get a little writing accomplished with a nice black pint of Guinness. And I was duly disappointed when the hotel closed, another victim of the recession that engulfed Ireland from 2008. Fortunately it is open once more, as both a golf clubhouse and a nursing home, as I write in January 2020.

The Bunbury connection to Killerig goes back to the 1660s when Benjamin Bunbury sen., a grandson of Sir Henry Bunbury, became the first to settle in the area. In the patent rolls of Charles II dated 1669, Killerig is described as ‘a castle, messuage, mill and lands, measuring 489 acres.’ That same year, just months after the death of his father in England, Benjamin obtained lands at Killerig which he appears to have leased them from either Philip, Lord Wharton, or the Earl of Arran, younger brother of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde. That same year, Benjamin married Mary Sheppard,with whom he had five sons, from whom most of the Bunburys in Ireland descend, and at least one daughter. His eldest sons were established at Johnstown, Cloghna, Lisnavagh (all in County Carlow) and at Kilfeacle in County Tipperary.

The following notes relate to his youngest son Benjamin Bunbury II who was born in 1676 and succeeded his father at Killerig upon his death on April 4th 1707. Notes on Benjamin II's early life are scarce although we do know that in 1702 he joined his brothers in signing the Act of Resumption.



The Ormonde Papers also include a counterpart of a release dated 20 April 1703 from the Duke of Ormonde to Benjamin Bunbury Jnr. of ‘Killerick’ [as distinct from Benjamin Bunbury senior] of the lands of Butler’s Grange, Co. Carlow, totalling 412 acres, for ever in consideration of a payment of £825 2s. 6d. Butler’s Grange seems to be near Tullow but I would love it if someone could provide me with a more accurate location for it? This deed is signed and sealed by Bunbury. The counterpart includes a 1 page schedule of [palatine] lands recently sold by Ormonde to enable him to pay his creditors under the terms of 1701 legislation.

[Ormonde Papers MS 48,373/14 1704, A collection of estate property deeds generated by the Butler family relating to properties in Counties Kilkenny, Tipperary and Carlow, as well as some properties in northern England (1635-c.1940), Compiled by Owen McGee, 2011]


image title

Above: An advertisment placed in the Irish Times on 13 February 1889, searching for descendants of Benjamin Bunbury
and Hester Huband. The ownership of Killerrig was being contested in court at this time between the Bunbury and Sinclair families.
With thanks to Vern Paul.


On 27th April 1705 Benjamin Bunbury II married Hester Huband, daughter of Edmund Huband of Dublin. Edmund descended from Hugo Hubold, who held the Manor of Ipsley of Obernus, Warwickshire, from at least the time of the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Edmund accompanied the Duke of Ormonde to Ireland when the head of the House of Butler was made Viceroy by Charles II. He subsequently settled in Ireland and married Hester Spring, daughter of Thomas Spring of Springfield, County Dublin. Edmund died in June 1729 leaving two sons, Francis Huband (which links him to the Hays and Parnell families of Avondale, County Wicklow) and Edward Huband (who married into the Wilcocks and Burton banking dynasty), as well as Hester Bunbury.

Another possibe sibling of Hester was the Edmund Huband who served as Sheriff of Dublin in 1753.[i] An account of this Edmund Huband from ‘An appeal to the commons and citizens of London’ by Charles Lucas in 1756 runs: ‘This Gentleman keeps a Toy Shop in Dublin, is reputed to be a Man of Substance, and his Character, as to Honesty, hitherto unimpeached. He is of a sanguine Disposition, warm in his Temper, ambitious of City Honours and Preferments, and as such a Favourer of the Board of Aldermen, who have the sole Disposal of them. He is reputed one of the best Speakers, on their Side, in the Common Council, of which he has been a Member these several Years, by the Favour and Election of the Aldermen. He was an Enemy to Lucas and Latouche, not only on a political Consideration, but from private Resentment, as the former had severely treated him in some his Writings, and as the latter had him (Mr Huband) in the Office of Warden the Guild, which Mr Huband had been voted out of, about a Week before it would, in common Course, have ended. Under these Prejudices, and with these Dispositions, was he introduced on the Floor of the Committee of Priviledges and Elections’.

Benjamin and Hester had one son, Benjamin Bunbury III, and at least three daughters, Mary Bunbury, Hester Bunbury and Hannah Bunbury, and possibly a fourth Eleanor Bunbury, about whom more below. All of his known children were baptised at St. Nicholas Without in Dublin. Mary was shown as of Mill Street.

Confusingly there was another baptism at St. Nicholas Without of a Dyana Bumbery, daughter of Benjamin and SARAH Bunbury of Mill Street, on 19th June 1710. As Gill Miller notes, Dyana 'is how the name is spelt on all the baptisms; Benjamin had a sister Diana.' So who was this Sarah? Was she Benjamin's second wife? Or was her name written incorrectly or mistranscribed from Hester?

In 1712, Benjamin of Killerrig secured the 'lands of Clonmshoneene, Ballybreene, Ballycoolune, Cranochan, one moiety or half of the lands of Killane and Myshall, co Catherlogh’ from Patrick Wall of Carlow, and Ulick Wall, his son and heir apparent, for £500. The memorial was witnessed by three ‘Carlow’ men, namely the merchant Matthew Humfrey, the ‘gentleman' Thomas Purlevent and the apothecary James Fitzpatrick. See details on the Wall family here.

[Memorial dated 26th & 27th October 1712 & registered on 22nd January 1712. Patrick WALL of Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, Esq and Ulick WALL, son and heir apparent of said Patrick WALL – in consideration of £500 sterling grant lands of Clonmshoneene, Ballybreene, Ballycoolune, Cranochan, one moiety or half of the lands of Killane and Myshall, co Catherlogh. To:- Benjamin BUNBURY of Killerrig, co Catherlogh, Gent. Witnesses: James FITZPATRICk, Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, apothecary, Matthew HUMFREY, Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, merchant and Thomas PURLEVENT of Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, Gent. Signed: Benjamin BUNBURY [seal] (Thanks to Susie Warren).


In 1713, Benjamin Bunbury was appointed high sheriff for Carlow. In November 1713, Jeffry Paul of Ballyraggan, County Kildare, was returned alongside Sir Pierce Butler of Garryhundon, 4th Bart, for the County of Catherlogh .[i] Major Thomas Burdett of Garryhill, who had challenged Sir Pierce’s electoral victory in 1703, once again objected to the result and presented a petition to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, alleging ‘unfair and improper pressure on the voters’ by ‘some gentlemen, and particularly the popish gentlemen of the said county, Mr. Walter Bagnall, Mr. William Cooke, Mr. John Baggott, and several other papists.’ Burdett also pointed a finger at Benjamin Bunbury, high sheriff, accusing him of interfering in in the election process in 'a zealous and most industrious manner', menacing, managing, seducing, and creating freeholders,' and of employing ‘partial, undue, and illegal practices’ to ensure Paul’s electoral victory.

A further reference on page 16 of 'The Carlow Parliamentary Roll' by Robert Malcolmson, M.A.T.C.D., states 'that Benjamin Bunbury Esq. high sheriff of the said county' had been found guilty of the above charges. The complaint was referred to the Committee of Privileges and Election but nothing seems to have come of this. Perhaps the challenge was lost amid the events surrounding the death of Queen Anne and the Hanoverian Succession in August 1714. In the ensuing election, Burdett was elected to the borough of Catherlogh and appears to have dropped the petition. Parliament was dismissed following the death of Queen Anne on 1 August 1714. Seven weeks later, George, Elector of Hanover, was formally crowned as sovereign of the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

A useful source, which I have not yet looked at, would be 'Thomas Burdett Esq: the Case of Thomas Burdett'; occasioned by a printed paper entitled 'The Case of Joseph Bunbury, Esq, late High Sheriff of the Counbty of Catherlogh', referred to in 'The History and Antiquities of the County of Carlow', John Ryan, 1833 page 261.

[i] Parliament was dissolved on 6th May, 1713, and a new parliament assembled in Dublin, on 25th November, 1713. The Carlow Parliamentary Roll: Comprising Lists of the Knights of the Shire, Robert Malcolmson, p. 14.


Benjamin was the beneficiary to a memorial dated 26 & 27 October 1712, and registered on 22 January 1712:
Patrick WALL of Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, Esq and Ulick WALL, son and heir apparent of said Patrick WALL – in consideration of £500 sterling grant lands of Clonmshoneene, Ballybreene, Ballycoolune, Cranochan, one moiety or half of the lands of Killane and Myshall, co Catherlogh.
To: Benjamin BUNBURY of Killerrig, co Catherlogh, Gent
Witnesses: James FITZPATRICK, Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, apothecary, Matthew HUMFREY, Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, merchant and Thomas PURLEVENT of Catherlogh, co Catherlogh, Gent.
Signed: Benjamin BUNBURY [seal]

[Book 10, page 251, memorial no 3597, Image 429. With thanks to Susie Warren]



Benjamin Bunbury II died on January 3rd 1716 aged 39 and was buried alongside his father at St Mary's in Carlow, where their grave is still extant (although cracked) alongside the church wall just on the right as you enter the main entrance gate. His widow Hester Bunbury was married secondly in late 1718 to John Spring, clerk, of Ligginstown, Co: Kildare. Hester’s brother Francis Huband, a Dublin brewer, stood as witness to the marriage.[ii]



Benjamin Bunbury III was still a minor when succeeded to his father's Killerrig estate in 1716. I wonder was this the property located just by the R726 and R418 crossroads?

According to a deed of July 1731, Benjamin III married his first cousin Mary Bunbury, second daughter of his uncle Mathew Bunbury of Kilfeacle.* They had a son Benjamin IV and two daughters Anne and Mary before his death in 1747, as recorded in the Genltleman’s Magazine on 28 June 1747. I think this last Benjamin was the Benjamin Bunbury, only son of Benjamin, late of Killerig, admitted to Honourable Society of the Middle Temple on 16 June 1763.

It is possible that he died in November 1782 as there was an announcement in the Dublin Hibernian Journal of Monday 18 November 1782 - Died in Carlow, Mr Benjamin Bunbury. The death notice also appeared in the Freeman's Journal of 16-19 November 1782.

To further confuse things, Killerrig appears to have passed to yet another Benjamin Bunbury, a son of William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh and brother of Jane (Bunbury) McClintock of Drumcar. I understand that Killerrig House later passed to the Corrigan family, which included John Corrigan of Leighlinbridge who worked his way up the ranks of the Grand Canal Company in the 18th century to become Harbourmaster.

And who was the Abraham Bunbury who also had an interest in Killerrig at the time of Tithe Applotment Books in the 1830s?


(1) Dublin Deed 70 32 47232 dated 10th & 11th July 1730. Registered 13 December 1731. There is a record in Bruce Chandler's report of a Mary Bunbury marrying a Benjamin in 1766, in Emly & Cashel Diocese records of Protestant marriages, but this is too late a date to have been Benjamin of Killerig.

(2) National Burial Index has a Benjamin Bunbury being buried 3.3.1784 at St Mary's Churchyard in Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire. Is this the same man? or what about the Benjamin Bunbury who appears in the Lismore Papers National Library Calendar, viz. MS 43,371/ 19 Letters to John Ussher from John Shea, Mary Hayles, John Kearney, John Damer, Benjamin Bunbury, H. Alcock, and others regarding the estates of the Earl of Cork and Burlington, 20 items 1745-6


In January 2014, I was contacted by Ruth Hayward, the biographer of Charlotte Dee, mistress to the Duke of Cumberland. Charlotte Dee's father was James Dee, a merchant based in Portugal, while her mother was Eleonor Lenon, a daughter of John Lenon and Eleonor Bunbury. Born circa 1710, the latter Eleonor was probably a fourth daughter of Benjamin and Hester Bunbury; she may have been named for Benjamin’s grandmother Eleanor Birkenhead who married Thomas Bunbury, son of Sir Henry. [iii] In about 1720, Eleonor Bunbury married John Lenon, with whom she had a son Thomas Bunbury Lenon (born circa 1725) and two daughters, namely Eleanor and Susanna Bunbury Lenon (who married Joseph Foster and was mother to Luke Foster). John Lenon is said to have died in 1780 aged 90.

Eleanor Lenon was born in about 1720 and married on 18 April 1739 at the British Factory Lisbon (Trading House) in Portugal to James Dee, a successful wine merchant & Vice-Consul of Lisbon. He may have been descended from the Elizabethan mathematician / astrologer Dr John Dee. James and Eleanor had a son John and four daughters (Anne Caroline, Elizabeth, Eleanor and Deborah Charlotte), all born in Portugal. The fact their youngest child Charlotte, born in 1756, had the first name Deborah may also be relevant; the name was certainly popular with the Bunbury family. Elizabeth Dee married Edward Taylor and was somehow connected to the Clara Amelia Harriott who married Major Thomas Bunbury, the New Zealand man.


Charlotte Dee was about 25 years old when she was married in 1782 to George Johnstone and left Portugal for England. George Johnstone, who was over fifty when he married his young bride, died in 1787. In 1789, Charlotte's portrait was painted by Thomas Lawrence. The following year, she was married secondly to Charles Edmund Nugent - later an Admiral - in 1790. Charlotte was the mistress of the Duke of Cumberland for 20 years and they had a "secret" child. The Duke was the fifth son of George III. He was called Prince Ernest at the time he and Charlotte met in 1794 but was created a Duke five years later. Their daughter Georgina was brought up as Admiral Nugent's daughter.

In 1837, many years after Charlotte's death. the Duke became King of Hanover. As Ruth observes, Queen Victoria was 'a mere woman', she "could not inherit this title and office, and he was the next male in the line of succession. He's had a very bad press, but he comes over as a likeable person in the letters he wrote to Jonathan Wathen Waller - the subject of my first biography - whom he habitually addressed as "Dear Phippy"."

When 25-year-old Charlotte Dee came to London from Lisbon after her marriage to George Johnstone early in 1782, she brought with her as a companion her sister Eleanor Dee, known as Leonora, then aged 32. She also met up with her sister Elizabeth Taylor (nee Dee), then aged 39, who was already established in England with children born in the 1760s, who were not much younger than Charlotte herself. Charlotte was for 40 years a companion / lady-in-waiting to Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, a niece of George III.

Leonora Dee (nee Lenon) died in 1802, aged circa 80-82.

THOMAS BUNBURY LENON (c. 1725 - c. 1797)

Thomas Bunbury Lenon married (Gertrude) Margaret FitzMaurice, a lady much younger than him. Margaret was born on 18 February 1757. Margaret was a daughter of Harman Fitzmaurice (b. 1704). For more on this branch, see here.

Harman FitzMaurice, a son of James FitzMaurice (b. 1670) and Catherine Harman, was born in Kilmihil, County Clare and died at Knockbrack, near Abbeyfeale, County Limerick. James had inherited the substantail Harman estates in Carlow following his marriage to Catharine.

It has been suggested that Margaret Fitzmaurice was born at Springfield Castle in Limerick. However, Catherine Fitzmaurice of Bandon, who has records of the family in an old bible, says the bible entry does not show her place of birth. Margaret's aunt Anne, a sister of Harman, married their first cousin John Fitzmaurice, the man who built Springfield Castle, so Anne and John certainly lived in the castle but they had no family so, as Catherine says ‘who knows? - perhaps they all lived there for a while’. Catherine Fitzmaurice of Bandon writes: ‘I don't know where any of her brothers and sisters were born but I know that most of the siblings died in Carlow [where the Harman estates were]'.

By 1788, Thomas Bunbury Lenon had set himself up as a wine merchant on Burrin Street, Carlow. (Lucas Directory Carlow, 1788). He was no doubt using the contacts and keen knowledge of the trade he had picked up from James Dee (his stepfather or brother-in-law!) in Portugal. He died on 20 February 1797 aged 72.[iv]

Thomas Bunbury Lenon, who was into his fifties by the time he started having children, had eight children with his wife Margaret.

1. James FitzMaurice Lenon, (b.a. 1778) married Sophia Curtis (died 1839), daughter of Dr Rev Curtis of Mount Hanover, Duleek, County Meath. He was more than likely the Rev Richard Curtis, the son of John Curtis and Martha Towers, daughter of Thomas Towers of Archerstown, Meath & Borrisokane, Tipperary.

(In 1755 Martha's sister Sarah Towers married Sir Quaile Somerville 2nd Baronet. Their daughter Martha Matilda Somerville married Gustavus Hamilton (1749-1816), 5th Viscount Boyne on 1 April 1773 and was mother to Gustavus Hamilton (1777-1855), 6th Viscount Boyne, who married Harriet Baugh (daughter of Benjamin Baugh) on 4th August 1796 . Harriet was at Mount Hanover when her daughter was born in May 1807. As of 2018, Mount Hanover can be rented on Airbnb. See also here.)

James and Sophia had a son Thomas Bunbury Lenon (1805-1888) who lived all his life in England and married Frances Jeffreys in London on 21 Aug 1833.[v] Thomas was mentioned in the 1825 will of Elizabeth Taylor (nee Dee), his first cousin once removed, although she may well have thought of him as a nephew.
2. Major George Johnstone Lenon
3. Lieut. Thomas Bunbury Lenon, RN, born circa 1782. Lost at sea.
4. John FitzMaurice Lenon (c. 1784-1821)
5. Eleanor FitzMaurice Lenon
6. Charlotte Dee Lenon
7. Harman Dee Lenon
8. Hannah Dee Lenon

As Brian Lenon, a family descendant, observes: 'Three had Dee as their middle name, three had FitzMaurice, one Bunbury, and a George Johnstone. He certainly didn't want to offend any relatives.' The one called George Johnston Lenon would appear to have been named for the husband of his half-sister Charlotte, although the boy was born before the marriage.


Susanna Bunbury Lenon was the younger of the two daughters born to John Lenon and Eleonor Bunbury. She married Carlow clockman Joseph Foster. Their descendant Jenny Street Grant tells me: 'I often wonder how Susana and Joseph Foster first met. Did she take a clock into him to have it repaired?' The only records showing Joseph being in Carlow are Luke's baptismal record and the mention on Susana's death record which says "relic of Joseph Foster (dec'd 1781)".

In any event, Joseph and Susana Foster had a son Luke and quite probably, a second son Benjamin. To take them in reverse order, Benjamin Bunbury Foster (c. 1762-1838) is reported to have been living in Browne Street, Carlow in the "Reports from Committees, Fictitious Votes (Ireland), Select Committee on Fictitious Votes, 1837-1838". He died in Carlow in 1838 at the age of 76. It's thought he was married to the Mrs. Mary Foster, described as 'relict of the late Mr. Bunbury Foster, of Carlow', whose death was reported in the Limerick City Chronicle of 22 June 1842. (Thanks to Sharon Oddie Brown). There is a possibility he was the recruiting sergeant named Benjamin Foster who enlisted in the 45th Foot in 1782, aged 20, later serving in the 8th West India Foot, and was based in Waterford when discharged at the age of 50 in 1812. His Army Service Record says he lost an eye and was virtually blind in the other, and that he was a shoemaker by profession. (Thanks to Jenny Grant)

Luke Foster (1769-1828), the watchmaker, had a shop on Tullow Street, Carlow. In 1779 he reportedly owned a dwelling house on Soloman's Lane [sic], later known as Bridewell Lane, in Carlow Town. The lane, near Shaw's, runs adjacent to/parallel to Tullow Street, so it's most likely that Luke (and, later, his wife Margaret) lived behind their shop. The premises in which the Fosters plied their trade in the 18th and 19th centuries is now (2018) a jewellery shop. Deeds pertaining to the property from 1790 name both Benjamin Bunbury and George, Prince of Wales. Other memorials / indented deeds connected to Luke Foster suggest he was renting land from Richard Eyre (?) of Tipperary where he built a dwelling house.

In 1785 Luke married Margaret Tyrrell, daughter of Edward James Tyrrell, gent., of Dublin, and his wife, Margaret Norris. The older Margaret appears to have been the daughter of Richard Norris, a bookseller, who ran a Coffee House in Crane Lane, Dublin and also at The Indian Queen, which appears to have been on Castle Street / Dame Street. Saunders’s News-Letter of 23 August 1773 refers to the Coffee House on Essex Streets being ‘lately Tyrrell’s’. Was this the same as Norris’s? I do not know. Norris’s was on the corner of Crane-lane, Essex Street. Perhaps it was the site of the old Dolphin Hotel, now a courthouse, which claims to be where the first Irish coffee was invented. In the summer of 1774, Norris’s Coffee House had been taken up by a Mrs Sterling, who ‘intends to carry on the Tea and Coffee Business, having, for the Accommodation of such Gentlemen as are pleased to honour her with their Custom, removed the offensive Smell in the Coffee-Room.’ (Hibernian Journal, 1 August 1774 ) In May 1779, an anonymous letter in the Dublin Evening Post claimed that Norris’s was frequented by ‘Robbers, Highwaymen, and all Denominations of Sharpers’ prompting a sharp rebuttal of a letter by the lessee of the coffee house, who offered ten guineas for the ‘mercenary Scribbler’ to appear before ‘any Magistrate' and support his or her 'scandalous assertions.' (Dublin Evening Post, 25 May 1779)

When Margaret Norris made her will in September 1774, she appointed her brother Rev. Richard Norris and her son Edward James Tyrrell as executors; they proved her Will in the Prerogative Court on 4 June 1776. The Rev. Richard Norris (abt 1730-1789) married Jane Coddington, great-granddaughter of Capt Nicholas Coddington of Holm Patrick, Co Louth. Given that Richard spent most of his life in Drogheda, this does suggest a potential link to the Foster family of Collon and Dunleer, including Speaker Foster. Richard's daughter Mary married Matthew Anketell and was mother to William Anketell Esq of Anketell Grove, County Monaghan. As it happens, William's daughter Maria married the Rev John Bunbury, the son of Sir James Richardson-Bunbury, Bart of Co Tyrone. A memorial deed dated 8 May 1793 between Alexander Montgomery, Mathew Anketell and William Foster (younger brother of the Speaker) could conceivably be a clue to the Foster connection ... In January 1785, Richard Norris of Drogheda advertised for a male French master, offering £40 a year (or £30 if unmarried).

The younger Margaret's siblings were Richard Tyrrell (1753-1757), Edward James Tyrrell, Esq, of Dublin (1754-1813), Mathew Tyrrell (abt 1757 - abt 1814) and Frances Tyrrell (1759-1767). (The baptisms for the four children were found on www.churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie). Edward James Tyrrell may have been the 'Edward Tyrrell' of 1 Cork Hill, by Dublin Castle, who offered a 10 guinea reward in May 1795 for the return of his small read leather purse which he had ‘dropped in the street’ or, one suspects, had picked from his pocket. (Saunders’s News-Letter, 9 May 1795) In 1781, an Edward Tyrrell was promoted to Ensign in the 66th regiment, in place of Geale. Curiously, Benjamin Bunbury, Gent, was promoted to Ensign in the 66th in place of Sweetman on the same day (Dublin Evening Post, 12 July 1781). I think this was a coincidence and that this was Major Benjamin Bunbury (1760-1827) of the Cranavonane branch.

How did Margaret and Luke meet? Was he learning his watchmaking trade in Dublin, somewhere nearby to Norris's Coffee House? Did he frequent Norris's Bookstore?

Jenny Grant, a descendant of Luke and Margaret, found documents relating to a Chancery Bill following the non-repayment of a £500 loan made to a number of people by Margaret's father back before 1738. (As she notes, 'It's not surprising that Edward Bunbury Foster was eager to follow up the case and claim his inheritance. The Bill was amended and entered into Chancery on the 30th of December 1814. It's quite possible that this relates in part to the "Deed and Memorial" which Margaret mentions in her letter to EBF that was in the hands of the Rev. Morgan. EBF named his own son Edward James, no doubt as a nod to his grandfather and uncle.') Jenny adds in July 2020: 'That £500 trickled down through many a high-profile hand over the decades between 1765 when Edward Tyrrell first loaned the money to Alex Woods Jnr in 1756 and when the notice of the Decretal Order was put into the newspaper in 1817. Included amongst these mortgagers & mortgagees were George & Burton Tandy from Drogheda, another possible link to the Norris family. While my EB Foster wasn't of the Landed Gentry, I'm beginning to understand why he felt he was a cut above the rest when he arrived in Australia. His grandfather no doubt mixed with these people who were possibly big book buyers and coffee drinkers!'

Saunders Newsletter of 4th January 1817 included details of a Decretal Order of His Majesty's High Court of Chancery in Ireland made in the cause of Luke and Margaret Forster, dated 13th July 1816, which appears to relate to the will of Edward Tyrrell, presumably Margaret's brother who had died three years earlier. While I don't understand the meaning of it all, the decree also specifically names Alexander Woods the younger, as well as Jane Peacock Read and Elizabeth Tandy. The decree was signed by Thomas Ball on 20th December 1816.

In 1791, Margaret gave birth to a son Edward Bunbury Foster, known as EB, who was followed by a daughter, also called Margaret. There was also another son, who was probably called Henry or Jospeh, and who lived in Carlow. (*) According to an inscription in EB's diary, his parents still lived at Bridewell Lane when he was young. In March 1802, Luke had a close shave when Robert Lawler, a mason from Leighlinbridge, came into his shop to have a silver watch valued. Luke recognised the watch as one he had cleaned 'and set to Rights' some years earlier for a gentleman called William Bennett from Ballyknockan, Leighlin, Co. Carlow. Bennett was murdered in November 1797 and his watch went missing that night. Luke effectively attempted a citizen's arrest on Lawler, bringing him to the home of John Bennett, High Sheriff of County Carlow, but Bennett was not at home and Lawler made good his escape in the meantime. [7]

When Elizabeth Taylor (nee Dee) died in Surrey in 1826, she did not forget the family of her first cousin Luke Foster in her will. Towards the end of her will, after she’d bestowed numerous £5 bequests on each of her servants, she bequeathed £5 to Margaret (the widow of Luke Foster), £5 to Margaret's unmarried daughter Margaret, £5 to Margaret's son Joseph living at Carlow (*), £5 to Margaret's son residing in London (ie: Edward Bunbury Foster) and £5 to Mr Benjamin Foster (Luke Foster’s brother, as above?).

Luke and Margaret are thought to have been buried at St Mary's, Carlow, where the grave of the first Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig from 1707 is deemed to be the oldest surviving one. Jenny Street Grant tried to find them during a visit in April 2017, without success, but gamely concluded they are 'resting there just under the grass'.

An article published in the Carlow Nationalist on 26 July 1996 quoted a letter from Dave Stromer of Memphis, Tennessee, who claimed that Luke Foster was an uncle to the American songsmith Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864), author of 'Beautiful Dreamer', 'I Dream of Jennie', 'O Susanna', 'Hard Times' etc), about whom I penned a chapter in my book '1847'. Stephen was a son of William Barclay Foster, one of the most prosperous merchants of Pittsburgh, and a grandson of James Foster, an Irish emigrant who co-founded Dr. McMillan's Canonsburgh Academy in 1791. Much as I'd love Mr Stromer's claim to be true, I think Stephen's family were from Ulster but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on them as ain't no smoke without fire ... and I believe Edward bunbury Foster also aluded to this connection in Australia. Among Stephen's family were Morrison Foster, who was largely responsible for compiling Stephen's works and wrote a short biography on him, and Ann Eliza Foster who married a brother of the bachelor US President James Buchanan, whose parents were from Donegal.

* The ‘son living at Carlow’ was Joseph Foster (Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland, Memorial #458154), one of three Carlow watchmakers listed in Pigot's Directory of 1824, where his address was given as Tullow Street. Saunders Newsletter of 13 June 1823 quoted an article from the Carlow Paper which read: 'NATIVE GENIUS.– Mr Joseph Foster, of this Town, Watchmaker, has executed one of the most perfect pieces of mechanism we ever saw – it is a Chiming Chronometer; which while it tells thehours accurately, keeps up a continued succession of the most harmonious tones, resembling voluntaries, during pleasure; and can be, at any time, stopped for set playing by a string.' The other two Carlow watchmakers in 1824 were Henry Dyer (also of Tullow Street) and Richard Watters (Dublin Street). There is also record of a Joseph Lemon, a Carlow watchmaker, who was bound to keep the peace for an unidentified crime in 1822. Was this Joseph a son or brother of Luke? A list of ‘Insolvent Debtors’ waiting for their petitions to be heard on 8 August 1833 was published in both the Dublin Morning Register and the Freemans Journal on 19 July 1833. It included 'Joseph Foster, late of the town of Carlow, county Carlow, watchmaker.' In 1835, Joseph Foster was recorded as a householder on Dublin Street in the Select Committee on Fictitious Votes Ireland. Maybe the earlier records relate to Joseph, Luke’s brother and the later ones to another Joseph, Luke’s son. [There was also a Henry Foster (c. 1794-1833) who died in Dublin (COI) at the age of 39.]



Luke and Margaret's son Edward Bunbury Foster was born and christened in Carlow circa 1791. He was presumably named 'Bunbury' after his father's grandmother, Eleanor Bunbury, although, as Jenny Street Grant adds: 'It also may have meant recognition from wealthy relatives in their Wills, as was the case with Elizabeth Taylor (nee Dee)!' Known as EB, Edward became a highly skilled watch and instrument maker, working in Westminster and then Australia. On 6th June 1813, he was married to Ellen Taber (possibly Tabor) at St James, Westminster, London. (Her full name was Eleanor Jane Taber, born in 1791 in London, while her father James Taber, a bricklayer, was born in Wiltshire.). They lived at 33 Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, where they had a daughter, Susannah (born 1 March 1814 at Tufton St, St James) and a son, Edward (born 28 January 1816 at Charles St, parish of St Margaret's, Westminster). Ellen died on 31 July 1824 and is buried in the churchyard at St Mary's, Lambeth, in London.

Curiously, 33 Cockspur St was later occupied by another celebrated maker of watches, clocks, chronometers and regulators - John Dent (1790-1853), builder of Big Ben. What a pity it was not Edward Bunbury Foster who designed Big Ben and then we could speculate that he named the clock for his grandfather Benjamin Bunbury! [9] Starting life as a tallow chandler, Dent was employed by both the Vulliamys and the Barrauds making clocks and watches. In 1830 he entered into a partnership with J.R. Arnold and in 1840 he set up on his own account at 33 Cockspur Street, vacated by Bunbury Foster at least twelve years earlier. Dent was the builder of "Big Ben", the celebrated Westminster clock, and made many fine chronometers, watches, and high commercial grade clocks. His stepson, Richard Edward Dent, took over the firm in 1853 and ran it until 1920, specialising in Coromandel Marine Chronometers and Victorian Mahogany Wall Regulators.


On 22 October 1828, EB and his son Edward left London on the 266-ton ship Thompson, arriving in Port Jackson, Sydney, Australia, on 19 April 1829.[8] Father and son navigated the 6 month trip to Australia using a chronometer which the elder Edward had made himself. [Was this based on the one Joseph Foster was credited with six years earlier?] EB kept an informative and amusing diary of the arduous trip, a copy of which later passed to Pat Purcell and may now be in the possession of Pat's nephew, Michael. Whilst ashore in Capetown, South Africa on Saturday 31 January 1829, he wrote in his diary: 'On presenting my card [to His Excellency the Governor, Sir Lowrey Cole] he immediately recognised me (having repeatedly spoken to him while in Cockspurshire).

On 24 May 1830, Edward Bunbury Foster of 100, Pitt Street, Sydney, was appointed an Inspector of Slaughterhouses, and of Cattle slaughtered, under the Act of the Governor and Council, No. 4, 1830, by his Excellency the Governor. (Sydney Gazette, 25 May 1830). In August 1832 he was assigned a convict by name of Jakes George, who had arrived on the Lady Harwood, as a waiter. (Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 29 November 1832). In February 1834 he was the focus of a strange event regarding the tethering of his horse:

'Mr Bunbury Foster, Inspector of Slaughterhouses, appeared on a summons to answer an information for tethering his horse by the bridle to the Military Barrack gate at the Treasury Office, on the 6th of February. A constable, named Smith, deposed to the fact; and in answer to a question from Mr Foster, whether the horse was not tied to that part of the gate where the carriageway crosses the footpath, denied that such was the case. The Bench, however, without requiring any proof, even whether the carriageway does away with the footpaths, dismissed the case. Habitual infringers of this provision of the Act will do well to remember this loophole.' (Sydney Gazette, 27 Feb, 1834).

There was good news ahoy though because EB's daughter Susannah Foster left Plymouth, London on 18 November 1835 on board the City of Edinburgh, and after travelling via the Cape of Good Hope (as her father and brother had done), she arrived into Sydney on 30 March 1836. Interestingly, as Jenny noted, there was a Henry Taylor traveling with his wife and daughter on the same voyage - could they have been related to Elizabeth Taylor (nee Dee)?

In 1835 EB's address was 100 Elizabeth St, Sydney (now one of Sydney's busiest streets). In November 1843, he was again elected Inspector of Slaughterhouses for the City of Sydney. (Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 1843). However, six months later, he resigned, to be succeeded by Charles O Middleton. (Colonial Observer Sydney, 9 May 1844). One assumes this was connected to his impending bankruptcy as reported in the 'New Insolvents' section of the Sydney Morning Herald of 14 April 1845: 'Edward Bunbury Foster, late cattle inspector, now watchmaker. Debts, £113 1s 91/2d.; assets – personal property, 6 pounds. Balance deficiency, £107 1s 9 1/2d. Hutchinson Bell, Official Assignee.' He henceforth continued to practice as a watchmaker, from his Sydney base at 287 George Street. One of his clocks is at Old Government House in Parramatta. His residence at that time was Black Wattle Swamp, Petersham, Sydney.

On 14 November 1849, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on an inquest that had been 'held at Aitkenhead's - The Emu Inn, Bathurst-street, on view of the body of Ellen Ryan. Mr EB Foster, of Bathurst-street, deposed that deceased had been in his service for a number of years, and was addicted to intemperate drinking; on Saturday last, she was unwell, some medicine was procured for, and administered to, her; on Saturday night she went to bed about 8 o'clock, and in a few minutes afterwards jumped up in bed, and appeared to be insensible; on Sunday morning, witness went for Dr Cook, but on his arrival she was on the point of death. Dr Cook having deposed that in his opinion death was the effects of long continued habits of intemperance, the finding of the Jury was, died from pre-existing disease, the effects of intemperance.'

In 1842 Edward Junior married Caroline Horsley in Sydney. They had three sons - Edward, Charles and George.




On 20th August 1836, EB and Ellen's daughter Susannah was married at St James, Sydney, to Charles Drew Street of Invermein, a surgeon who arrived in Australia on the Noormuhul, a whaling ship under the command of a Captain Robert Taber on April 29th 1832. [10] Charles's father Thomas Street was also a surgeon, as was his brother Francis Gale Snelling Street who came to Australia sometime later. Aside from Edward Bunbury Foster, the other witnesses to the Street-Foster wedding were C J Foster, J A Duvauchelle, Louisa Jane Davies and Margaret Emma Davies. Charles was declared bankrupt on 30th March 1842. In 1993, a commemorative postage stamp was issued featuring one of Edward Bunbury Foster's 'complex' clocks.



'Mr Charles B. Foster.– it will be remembered that Master C. B. Foster was formally a pupil of Mr Alpen, professor of music in this town, and that with the view of acquiring a more extensive knowledge of the profession he was destined to follow, proceeded to Melbourne. It affords us pleasure now, as it has done on previous occasions, to note the progress of our light young fellow townsman. The latest compliment paid to Mr Foster is described in the following paragraph taken from the Argus of Monday last: "A very pleasing event took place on Saturday night at Hockin's Assembly Rooms, when the members of the German Liedertafel invited their honorary pianist, Mr C. B. Foster, to dine with them previous to his departure for New Zealand. Mr Foster has now been engaged by Mr Simonsen as pianist and conductor for the new Opera Company which has been recently organised, and takes its departure this day (Monday) for the country above named. We feel glad on this account, because when Mr Foster came here recently we recognised his talent, and have endeavoured between that time and this to do full justice to it. He would not have been selected for the work he had now undertaken unless it were for superior skill. It may please some readers to know that although Mr Foster comes here but recently from the North of the Murray, he is a native of our Victorian Williamstown. The dinner we refer to was greatly enjoyed. The kindliest feelings prevailed throughout. The toast of the evening was proposed in most felicitous terms by Mr Eugene Ascherberg, who, on behalf of the society, presented the guest with the society's medal in gold, with a gold clasp attached, bearing a complimentary inscription. In Mr Foster's reply, he gave prominence to the wish to be back again once more among the members of the Melbourne German Liedertafel, and expressed, in most handsome terms, his obligation to, and high admiration of, the superior talents of the conductor, Mr Julius Siede. When the speechmaking was done, the remainder of the time was spent in pleasant converse, diversified occasionally by solo and part singing by the members of the society, and some charming performances at the pianoforte by Mr Foster. – Border Post. (Ovens & Murray Advertiser - Victoria, 2 March 1876).


With thanks to Ruth Hayward, Hilary Jarvis, Meredith Downes of Australia (who first contacted me in August 2008, wondering if I knew anything of her forbear, Edward Bunbury Foster), Jenny Street Grant (another descendant, who first contatced me in 2014), Peter Bunbury, Bob Fitzsimons, Gill Miller, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Maria O'Brien, Michael Purcell, Michael Brennan, William Squair, Brian Lenon, Edward Hill and the team at Carlow Rootsweb.


[i] Copy of confirmation of arms to the Rev. Hugo Richard Huband, Chaplain in the Falkland Islands, second son of Capt. George Joseph Huband of Canonbrook, Co. Dublin, son of Wilcocks Huband, son of Joseph Huband, son of Edmund Huband, Sheriff of Dublin 1753, June 15, 1908. See http://sources.nli.ie/Record/MS_UR_039407/Details

[ii] Deed 26 74 14699 dated 10.12.1718 refers to a marriage settlement between Hester Bunbury widow and relict of Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig, Co: Carlow and John Spring, of Ligginstown, Co: Kildare a clerk. Registered 16.1.1719 and witnessed by Francis Huband. (Thanks to Peter Bunbury).

Francis Huband, son of Edmund, baptized in St. Nicholas Without, Dublin, on 2 March 1694 according to http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details/5a16c10158073 and married in St. Andrew’s, Dublin, to Ann Hayes on 11 May 1723 according to http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/details/5323cd0530786 Anne was a daughter of John Hayes of Ballenyclack, Co. Wicklow, and his wife Mary (nee Wilcocks). Francis Huband is believed to have died in 1727, leaving at least one son John Hayes Huband, and Ann remarried Robert Wilcocks of Palmerston. Further details of the Hayes family and their connections to the families of White, Parnell, Montgomery and Blair at http://genforum.genealogy.com/hayes/messages/7960.html

[iii] In the Will of Eleanor Dee the elder, there are four spellings of Eleanor listed in the margin.

[iv] Thomas Bunbury Lenon was born c 1725 if his age at death in 1797 (72) is to be believed. Brian Lenon proposed the year of his death was 1799.

[v] Thomas Bunbury Lenon II married Frances Jeffreys, daughter of the Rector of Barnes, in 1833. The following record of their marriage by Gill Miller shows that the various cousins, related to Eleanor Lenon, were still in close contact a generation or two after Eleanor's death. Charlotte Dee's granddaughter Anne Elizabeth, nee Johnstone was there, as was her daughter Georgina Bankes (ostensibly nee Nugent) & her husband George. Anne, Georgina & TBL were not far apart in age although technically of different generations.
Gill Miller writes: "Their marriage record shows that the ceremony was performed by Edmd. H. Bucknall Estcourt who was the husband of Anne Elizabeth Johnstone ... The witnesses to the marriage were Anne Elizabeth Bucknall Estcourt, Georgina Charlotte Bankes (more of her in a moment), George Bankes (husband of Georgina Charlotte), John Jeffreys and two people who look like Mary Byrne and J. Byron. Of the witnesses, Georgina Charlotte (Nugent) Bankes was either the daughter of Deborah Charlotte Dee and her husband Charles Edmund Nugent (the illegitimate son of Edmund Nugent) or the daughter of Deborah Charlotte Dee and the Duke of Cumberland. The Bankes family estate was Kingston Lacy in Dorset. George Bankes’ brother William was a friend of Lord Byron and one of the other witnesses to the TBL II & Frances Jeffreys marriage was a J. Byron. At least I thought it was a J until I found Lord Byron’s signature and in my opinion what is written on the record mirrors pretty much Lord Byron’s signature but he had died some 9 years earlier. Maybe the witness was his cousin George who inherited from him and was Lord of the Bedchamber between 1830-37. The cousin, Admiral George Anson Byron had a wife, Elizabeth Mary Chandos Pole. Maybe the Mary Byrne signature is really Mary Byron and the cousin Byron’s wife and I am misreading her name as Byrne??"
Ruth Hayward adds: 'Anne Elizabeth was Charlotte Dee's granddaughter - the younger of the two daughters of Sir John Lowther Johnstone, b 1783 - the only child of Charlotte Dee & George Johnstone. To his mother's dismay, JLJ married his Scottish girlfriend Charlotte Gordon in 1804 (as soon as he was no longer a minor) and they had three children: Charlotte Margaret, Anne Elizabeth and Frederick George. The boy inherited the baronetcy when only one year old as JLJ died on Christmas Eve 1811.'

Thomas and Frances Bunbury Lenon were parents of:

a) Lt. Col. Edmund Henry Lenon (1830-1893) who was awarded the Victoria Cros at the Battle of Taku Forts, China, in 1859.

b) Capt. John FitzMaurice Lenon, R.N, (1834-1899) who was baptised in Mortlake 1 Aug 1834 and married Jane Lucy Haywood.

c) Arthur Lenon (1842-1914) who married Emily and settled in Camden, NSW, Australia. They had children Thomas Bunbury Lenon and Caroline Frances (who married a Thomas Masters). It seems the son T. B. Lenon died in the Anglo-Boer War as Jenny Grant found a record in the NSW State Records. There was also an "in memorium" in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 19th of April 1901 which said:

LENON - In loving memory of my dear brother, T. B. Lenon, who died of enteric fever at Bloemfontein whilst on native service in South Africa on April 26th, 1900. Inserted by his loving sister, C. F. Masters.

7. Pat Purcell Papers via Carlow Rootsweb: Luke Foster, Watchmaker, Tullow Street, Carlow states before Henry Rudkin, J.P. that, on Wednesday 10th March 1802, Robert Lawler, a Mason, of School Park, Leighlinbridge, came to his shop in Tullow Street and presented a Silver Watch to him to have it valued. 'Upon Examinant seeing said Watch He knew it to be the Property of William Bennett, Esq. Deceased, This Examinant having Cleaned said Watch and set it to Rights ~ And Examinant saith He heard and Believes said Watch was Robbed from said William Bennett on the night He was murdered at Ballylougham (? ) in the County of Carlow more than four Years Since ~~ Examinant further saith He Instantly brought said Robert Lawler and the Watch to the Lodgings of John Bennett Esq. High Sheriff for the County of Carlow In Order to hand said Lawler over to Justice But not finding the Sheriff then at Home, said Lawler forced ..?..... to make His Escape from this Examinant ~~ Examinant further saith He in a very short Time after met said Sheriff and Related to Him what had happened and He showed to Him said Watch which is now in His Possession as Examinant Believes, Sworn 13th day of March 1802. (signed) Luke Foster (signed) Henry Rudkin. Examinant bound in the Sum of £50 to Prosecute when called upon ~~~~~.*

8. Bounty Immigrants 1828-1842 CD.

9. The main bell at the Great Clock of Westminster is officially known as the Great Bell. It is, of course, better known by the nickname Big Ben, which is often mistakenly applied to the Clock Tower. The original bell was a 14.5-tonne (16 ton) hour bell, cast on 6 August 1856 in Stockton-on-Tees by John Warner & Sons. The bell was never officially named, but the legend on it records that the commissioner of works, Sir Benjamin Hall, was responsible for the order. Another theory for the origin of the name is that the bell may have been named after a contemporary heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt. It is thought that the bell was originally to be called Victoria or Royal Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria, but that an MP suggested the nickname during a Parliamentary debate; the comment is not recorded in Hansard.

10. Although a direct link has yet to be proven, as Jenny Street Grant writes: "It really does seem just too much of a coincidence that both Edward Bunbury Foster's wife and the captain of the Noormuhul were both Tabers/Tabors ... Capt Robert Tabor was born in London in 1802 the son of John Joseph Taber and his wife Catherine Frances Medhurst, and went on to become a Master Mariner. He married Emma Wells in 1829 at St Martin in the Fields, London and they subsequently had two children, Frances Emma (1836-1923) & Mary Ann(1838-1840). The family of three emigrated to Australia and arrived into Sydney on the Hanover in 1854. Robert Tabor died in 1857 in Glebe, Sydney, NSW, informant Emma F (daughter). His father's name is given as Joseph on this record when it was actually John Joseph. I suppose this was to distinguish him from his own brother John Joseph. They also seem to reverse their names in various records, ie sometimes his wife is Catherine Frances and other times she's Frances Catherine, and of course the information given on death records in particular is only as good as what's known by the informant! Robert's wife Emma died at Surry Hills in Sydney in August 1880, and Frances Emma/Emma Francis died a spinster in 1923 in Auburn, Sydney."