Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

Random Quote
Random Date







In about 1644, John Bunbury - a grandson of Thomas Bunbury of Lismore, son of Sir Henry Bunbury by his second wife Martha (Norris) and uncle to Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig - either went to Ireland as a chaplain or became a Colonel in Cromwell’s army.

As well as being a brother to the Thomas Bunbury was was in Oxford in the 1640s, this John Bunbury's sisters Elizabeth (1595-1612) and Anne, were married to John Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh, and Sir John Keningham, both key players in the new post-Elizabethan Ireland. Another sister Mary Bunbury married Thomas Draper of Walton while another Martha Bunbury died in 1664.

This is confusing terrain as there is almost certainly two John Bunburys ...

1) Colonel John Bunbury, who was registered as a Clerk of the Crown & Peace in Wexford in 1649. See below.

2) The Rev. John Bunbury, aka Johannes Bunbury, who became Protestant minister of Clonmany, north-west Inishowen, County Donegal, on 20 May 1636, in succession to William Paton, and remained rector until 1672. [William Shaw Mason, A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland, Volume 1, (1814, J. Cumming and N. Mahon) p. 192] In 1655 his salary was recorded in a State Paper Office as £50, equivalent to £500 in 2013. Accoording to a list of salaried Ministers of the Gospel compiled from the Commonwealth volumes in the Public Record Office, Dublin, he ‘stated in 1661 that before the Rebellion he was legally entitled to the titles of parishes in Donegal, but in the year 1650 was outed of his rightful possession 'by what law or cause your petitioner to this day knoweth not’. The same book says he was associated with Clinmany (Donegal) in 1654 (Seymour, the Rev. John D., Oxford Historical and Literary Studies, Vol. XII - 'The Puritans in Ireland.’ (Oxford: Clarendon press, 1921). Clinmany (Donegal), 1654. ( A /i, f. 58.)



‘On the 15th of October [shortly before the siege of New Ross] Cromwell left Wexford. Ballyhaly castle [in the parish of Kilturk and barony of Bargy], the residence of the Cheevers family, was besieged; it was destroyed with the exception of the towers, of which there were formerly four. It was given to Colonel Bunbury, the Cheevers family being obliged to ' transplant to Killyan, in the county of Gaiway. The castle and estates were sold by the Bunbury family early in the [18th] century. Only one of the towers remains.’ [Murphy, Rev. Dennis, "Cromwell in Ireland; a history of Cromwell's Irish campaign" (Dublin: Gill & Son, 1890), p. 179. See also Kilkenny Arch. Journal (1863), p. 319.

However, Max Chevers observes that the Cheevers who fetched up at Killyan were, in fact, the family of Walter Chevers, of Monkstown Castle, Dublin, whose estate was awarded to the regicide General Edmond Ludlow in December 1653. The Translations in Connacht, name Walter as holding lands in the Baronies of Loughrea, Dunkellin and Killian, whilst John Chevers of Macetown was transplanted to Turpanmore, Co Roscommon. For further details, see 'The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland' by John Patrick Prendergast. 'As far as the Chevers of Ballyhealy are concerned,' wrote Max in July 2019, 'I can not find any connection of them with Killyan.'

In any case, during the Cromwellian Plantations, Colonel Bunbury appears to have been granted Ballyseskin Castle. He also may have been given part of the confiscated Cheevers estate in County Wexford at Killiane Castle in the parish of Piercestown in 1656 in lieu of pay, or lands connected to Ballyhealy Castle, although this certainly requires further study.

Having received 1500 acres in lieu of pay, Colonel Bunbury seems to have sold some of his acreage at Killiane to his friend Francis Harvey (of Lyme Regis, Dorset), a fellow officer in the Parliamentary army. In 1649, Francis obtained a grant of land in County Wexford under the Act of Settlement, which were confirmed to him by Charles II; he was under threat of dismissal as a Capital Burgess of the Borough Lyme Regis, 1662, if he did not soon resume his residence there [History and Antiquities]. Francis was M.P. for the Borough of Clonmines in 1661; Mayor of Wexford, 1671; High Sheriff of that county (1673, 1674); he was buried in St Iberius' Church, Wexford, on 23 November 1692. [See here]

According to The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1864, p. 319), 'the castle of Ballyhaly was besieged by Cromwell, and, after its surrender, was along with the esates attached to it, granted to Col. Bunbury, and property on Galway assigned to the dispossessed family of Cheevers. Ballyhaly Castle was almost destroyed during the siege, with the exception of the towers, of which traditions of the neighbourhood say there were four; two of which were taken down by Col. Bunbury, and used in building Ballyhaly House. Of the two other towers, one is still nearly perfect; the other, part of which was standing when i first resided in the neighbourhood, was suibsequently carted away by the peasantry. The square tower, still extant, is in wonderful preservation. Beneath the first landing, on the staircase, is a deep pit, which may have been a dungeon, or else the draw well of the castle. The descendants of Colonel Bunbury sold it and the estates early in the last century.'

And yet, as Max Chevers notes: 'The TCD released Down Survey maps make no mention of John Bunbury under Landowner.'

One also must ask how long he was in the Wexford area as a John Bunburye [sic] was witness to a bond of 30 October 1640 between of Powldarig, Co Wexford, gent., and Dame Alice Colclough of Tyntern [aka Tintern Abbey], of £60 for performance of covenants in a lease for 90 years of theJohn Colclough parsonage of Killmore, County Wexford. His four fellow witnesses were Nicholas Devereux, Arthur Creed, Robert Sympson and Jo: Griffith. [Ainsworth, John F., and Edward MacLysaght. “Survey of Documents in Private Keeping, Second Series.” Analecta Hibernica, no. 20, 1958, p. 13]

The name of John Bunbury's wife is unknown but he is thought to have left seven children - Walter (who died in the autumn of 1690 [i]), Elizabeth (who married Mr Hatch), Ellie (who married Mr. Moore), George (no further information), Anne (no further information), the Rev. Thomas Bunbury (1628–1682) and Henry (who died unmarried in Dublin in 1682.[ii]).

A document emerged in November 2014 suggesting that brothers George and Henry Bumbry purchased land in the Carlow-Wicklow area from John Richmond, an officer in Cromwell's Parliamentarian Army in the 1650s. Were these John Bunbury's sons?

We also find mention of a George Bunbury who married Ann Green in Dublin in 1668 and may have been father of Walter Bunbury, MP for Clonmines.



The Rev. Thomas Bunbury (1628–1682), son of John, lived at Ballyseskin and was married in 1668 to Anne Codd, daughter of Nicholas Codd of Castletown, Co Wexford. He died some months after his brother Henry in 1682.[iii] According to one account, Nicholas Codd wasas "not only a Protestant but a Cromwellian as well. At the outbreak of the rebellion in 1641, he fled to Wales with others, leaving his house, goods and corn in the charge of his brother William. William Esmond, who was one of the Confederate leaders, and others came armed with muskets and forced themselves into the house and seized a third of Nicholas Codd's corn for the use of the Irish. Colonel Nicholas Codd was the last of his family to hold the Castletown estate, which was sold in 1712 to Colonel Thomas Palliser for £3,597.8/-."

Thomas and Anne were the parents of six sons - John, Richard, Thomas, Walter, Nicholas, Henry – and two daughters, Sarah and Anne.

The eldest, John Bunbury, died unmarried.

The third son the Rev. Thomas Bunbury of Balesker [sic] was married in 1699 to Margaret Tench (nee Hatch) and had a daughter, Anne Bunbury, who married Colonel Philip Savage of Kilgibbon, Co. Wexford.

The fourth son Walter Bunbury (1664-1749) was MP for Clonmines during the first Parliament of Queen Anne and married Dame Elizabeth Irwin in 1719. To him, I return below.

The fifth son Nicholas was a Major in Sankey's Regt, later the 39th Dorsets. He may be the fellow referred to in the Registry of Deeds (40148/37/403/23218) for a lease on Ballyseskin in 1722.

The sixth son, Henry Bunbury was father to Lettice Bunbury (who married Henry Archer of Ballyhoge), Anne Bunbury (who married Cadwallader Edwards of Ballyhire) and Sarah Bunbury (who married Benjamin Hughes of Hilltown). Sarah and Benjamin Hughes had two daughters - Sarah, who was married in 1768 to William Todd Blake of Ballharn, Gorey, and Mary.[iv] The names Hughes and Archer were intertwined the Lockwoods. The Bunburys descendants lived in Ballyseskin for many years. A valuation of Tenements from 1853 lists H.K.G. Morgan as leassor of a house, offices and land totalling 101 acres to Bunbury Archer.

The youngest daughter Anne married Colonel William Hore, of Harperstown.


Born in 1664, Walter is thought to have been the fourth son of the Rev. Thomas Bunbury (1628–1682) of Ballyseskin by his marriage to Ann Codd. Confusingly he appears to have lived at Moyle in County Carlow which was later home to a different branch of the Bunbury family.

Walter was MP for Clonmines (with James Butler) during the first Parliament of Queen Anne. He may have been connected to the Bunbury Cup, the oldest surviving Irish racing trophy, a silver cup presented to the winner of a race that was apparently “run for on ye Heath of Ballycolloe (ie: Portlaoise) in Ye Queen’s County (ie: Co Laois), Ye 7th may 1702’. The silver cup and cover were made in Dublin by Christopher Waggoner and, like the first Epsom Derby, was won by a member of the Bunbury family. It was gifted to the New York Metropolitan Museum of History by Irwin Untermeyer.

In 1705, he was listed as a member for Bannow in Co. Wexford, appearing in ‘the Commons of Ireland [which] assembled in Parliament in the Third Year of Her Majesty Queen Anne’.[v]

He was a government supporter in the early days but by 1711 would appear to have gone to the Whigs. Certainly a report of that year indicated Tory relief that Walter would lose his seat "but there will be a "good man" (ie: a Tory) in his stead". He lead an active life, being listed on 28 committees between 1703 and 1709. He voted against the Money Bill of 1709.

One wonders was he this chap: 'Walter Bunbury was given an LLD honoris causa in the summer of 1709, but was not issued with the certificate until 31 May 1712'.[vi]

Shortly after Christmas 1719, Walter Bunbury of the City of Dublin became the fouth husband of Dame Elizabeth Irwin, alias Broughton, widow, also of the City of Dublin. Amongst the witnesses to their marriage was Walter’s brother Major Nicholas Bunbury of Sankey's Regiment.[vii]

Dame Elizabeth’s brother is named as Sir John Murray in a 1720 will (below), suggesting she was born a Murray, although Walter Bunbury is named as a son-in-law in the 1727 will of Lady Rebecca Peyton of Great Britain Street, Dublin, widow of Sir John Peyton, while a Hannah Murray, widow, of Dublin, is named as Lady Peyton’s niece in the same will.[viii]

Dame Elizabeth was a much married lady. Her first husband appears to have been Sir Gerard Irwin of Castle Irvine, and Lowtherstown, who served in the Jacobite army in the 1689-1691 conflict.[ix]

“Finding that the overtures made on his behalf to the Enniskillen men were rejected, Sir Gerard went to Dublin and was made Lieutenant-Colonel to the regiment of horse that the Earl of Granard was about to raise in the interest of King James. Being empowered to raise a troop in Fermanagh, he came down to the town of Cavan with such a number of pistols, carbines, swords, and other necessary equipments for the men whom he was about to enlist, that he alarmed the Protestant inhabitants. The fact having become known, Daniel French and Henry Williams set out from Belturbet with sixty horse, captured the arms at Cavan, and sent Sir Gerard himself a prisoner to Lord Blayney. His lordship did not retain him, but sent him on as a prisoner to Enniskillen. He told the Enniskilleners that he never meant to serve King James, and that his journey to Dublin was only a scheme to obtain accoutrements for a troop which he wished to raise in the service of the Prince of Orange. If he spoke the truth about himself, he was a traitor great and mean as Lundy. As the fortunes of King James waned, he threw himself heartily into the winning side; and after the siege of Derry was raised, he collected a troop of horse, with which he joined General Schomberg, and subsequently died, where so many brave men perished, in the camp at Dundalk”.[x]

Following the death of Sir George Irwin, Elizabeth appears to have married Dr. Dudley Loftus. He had previously been married to Frances Nagle, with whom he had a daughter, Lettice Loftus.[xi]

By 1716, Dr. Loftus was also dead. That same year, Elizabeth obtained a decree against a Thomas Bolton. Two years later, she obtained a judgement against Robt Adair, Kt, in her name of Elizabeth Broughton and claimed part of the Irwin estate of her late husband.[xii] This suggests that she now had a third husband, Mr. Broughton.

According to a document from 1734, she managed to squeeze in another husband between Mr. Broughton and Walter Bunbury, namely Robert McNeal.[xiii]

Dame Elizabeth had considerable personal estate by the time of her marriage to Walter Bunbury. As such it was agreed that her property would be made over to a James Kennedy as trustee.

In 1721, Walter and Dame Elizabeth were involved in a chancery case against Dr. John Bolton, Thomas Bolton, Charles and Lettice Bladen, which was to be heard before the House of Lords’ on 24th November, 1721.[xiv] The Bladen researcher Karen Proudler says this was part of ‘a two generation “feud” between Bunbury / Bladen families in Ireland spanning 1690s - 1730s.’ Perhaps Walter was seeking a share of Elizabeth's endowments from her previous marriages. Karen also alerted me to a complaint registered in the House of Lords on 17 July 1721, four months before the chancery case took place, which presumably relates to the same Walter Bunbury:

“Complaint that Walter Bunbury, a menial servant of the Earl of Clarendon was arrested and imprisoned in Ireland at the suit of one Adams who, as also the attorney had used expressions derogatory to the honour and privileges of the Peers of Great Britain ....”[xv]

Walter Bunbury died in 1749. I don’t know the names of his descendants but Peter Bunbury advises that they later married into the Fonnerau family and his line was extinguished.

Dame Elizabeth in 1753. Her will states that she was by then the wife of the mysteriously named Saint George the Martyr, Southwark, Surrey.[xvi]

Dame Elizabeth made a will at this time, with a codicil, dated 20th February 1720 (1720/21) which she signed as ‘Eliz. Irwin’. She mentioned her husband Walter Bunbury, her brother Sir John Murray, her sister Lillias Byrne, her niece Hellen Fox, her daughter-in-law Lettice Bladin (sic) alias Loftus, her late husband Mr. Broughton. ‘She desires to be buried in the parish church in Lambeth’. [xvii]

With thanks to Grayson Thornton, Max Chevers, Peter Bunbury, Karen Proudler, Hugh Murphy, Paul Hoary & others.


[i] Walter’s will was dated 2.8.1690, and proved 12.9.1690. This Walter may have been a son of George Bunbury and Ann Green who married in Dublin in 1668.

[ii] Henry Bunbury’s will was dated 19.7.1682 was proved 7.8.1682.
(Dublin Deed
83 23 57387)

[iii] The will of Thomas Bunbury of Ballyseskin, Co: Wexford was dated 16.11.1682 and proved 9.2.1683. (Dublin Deed
83 23 57387)

[iv] A son of Captain Daniel Blake, William Todd Blake who amongst those named in the will of Lieutenant-Colonel William Eyre, chief engineer of America, who was cast away on the rocks of Gilli, on his passage home, in November 1764.

[v] ‘The antiquities and history of Ireland, by Sir James Ware, printed by A. Crook for E. Dobson and M. Gunne, 1705, p. 164.

[vi] Register of Testimonials, 1712–49 (TCD MUN/V/17/1), fo. 2r. Thanks to Michael Potterton.

[vii] 30 388 18923 28th/29th December 1719 Dame Elizabeth Irwin als Broughton widow of City of Dublin is a marriage agreement between Walter Bunbury also of Dublin.

[viii] PEYTON, REBECCA LADY, widow of Sir John Peyton, Dublin, Bart. 19 Feb. 1727. Narrate, J p., 28 Jan. 1730. Her niece Mrs Jane Cooper. Her nephew Rev. Archdeacon William Williamson. Her niece Mrs Catherine Cayer. 1 Her cousin Mrs Dorothy Mortimer. Her son-in-law Mr Walter Bunbury. Her niece Hannah Murray, then of the city of Dublin, widow, extx. Legacies to poor of St. Mary's and St. Audeon's parishes, Dublin. Her dwelling house in Great Britain Street, Dublin, and real and personal estate. Witnesses : John Ford, John Curtis, grocer, William Crowe, gent., all of Dublin. Memorial witnessed by : William Crowe, John Lyons, servant to John Maddison of Dublin, gent. 65, 202, 45097 Hannah Maddison (seal) Abstracts of Wills: 1708-1745 (Stationery Office, 1984) - http://books.google.ie/books?id=JznvAAAAMAAJ&q=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&dq=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=oA7LUPLfDc-7hAejroCwCA&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAjgU

[ix] "Aberdeen Journal" Notes and Queries, Volume 2, Aberdeen Daily Journal" Office, 1910, p. 28 - http://books.google.ie/books?id=1EQwAQAAMAAJ&q=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&dq=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FAPLUOLkBYHIhAfXo4CoBQ&ved=0CGAQ6AEwCQ

[x] CHAPTER VI, Derry and Enniskillen in the Year 1689 - The Story of Some Famous Battle-Fields in Ulster, by Thomas Witherow.

[xi] Notes and Queries, William White (Oxford University Press, 1910), p. 28, 76. http://books.google.ie/books?id=mWgEAAAAYAAJ&q=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&dq=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FAPLUOLkBYHIhAfXo4CoBQ&ved=0CFsQ6AEwCA

[xii] 33 18 19491 31st October 1721.

[xiii] 83 23 57387 - 18th May 1734 indicates she was married to Sir Gerrard Irwin, then to Dr Dudley Loftus, thirdly to Robert McNeal, and fourthly to Walter Bunbury.

[xiv] See http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/2806489

[xv] Journal of the House of Lords 1660-1724. Edward Hyde (3rd Earl of Clarendon 1661-1724) was a colleague of Martin Bladen’s - being appointed Envoy Extraordinary to Hanover in 1714.

[xvi] Dame Elizabeth Bunbury’s Will is listed with the London National Archives under PROB 11/804 and is dated 16.11.1753. She is listed as being Elizabeth Bunbury commonly called Dame Elizabeth Irwin formerly Broughton, wife of Saint George the Martyr, Southwark, Surrey.

[xvii] "Aberdeen Journal" Notes and Queries, Volume 2, Aberdeen Daily Journal" Office, 1910, p. 28 - http://books.google.ie/books?id=1EQwAQAAMAAJ&q=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&dq=%22Walter+Bunbury%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FAPLUOLkBYHIhAfXo4CoBQ&ved=0CGAQ6AEwCQ