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THOMAS BUNBURY (1606-1668)


The Bunburys of Lisnavagh descend from Thomas Bunbury, son of Sir Henry Bunbury (1565-1634) of Stanney Hall, Cheshire, and his second wife, Lady Martha (nee Norris). He was father to, amongst others, Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig, Tobinstown and Lisnavagh.

Sir Henry was the eldest surviving son and heir of Thomas Bunbury (d. 1601), who was involved with Lismore Castle in 1585, and his wife Bridget Aston. He succeeded his father in 1601 and was knighted by King James on 23 July 1603. (The 7th Bart mistakenly states that Henry was knighted by Queen Elizabeth although he may be correct when he says he is ‘… inclined to guess that these services to the Crown were rendered in Ireland because it is from this reign that one begins to find the first migration of Bunburys to the sister kingdom.’) One presumes the fact that Henry’s grandfather John Aston was subsequently appointed to the office of Server or Steward to Queen Anne, the Danish bride of the new King James I, helped his chance of a knighthood.

In 1605, his elderly uncle Sir William Stanley, a half-brother of his father, was implicated in the Guy Fawkes Plot; he managed to avoid arrest and died in Ghent in 1630. Through another uncle Sir Thomas Aston (d. 1613), sometime Sheriff of Cheshire, Sir Henry's numerous first cousins included Sir Arthur Aston of Fulham (d. 1624), a professional soldier / mercenary who served in Russia in the 1610s and in the Turkish war in 1621. Sir Arthur's son, another Sir Arthur Aston (1590-1649), an ally of the Earl of Ormonde, was the ill-fated governor of the port of Drogheda in 1649. Sir Thomas Aston (1600-1645), a younger brother of the younger Sir Arthur, was an outspoken Royalist who suffered defeat at the hands of Sir William Brereton in Middlewich. [i.a]


Sir Henry Bunbury married twice. His first wife (Elizabeth) Anne was a daughter of Jeffery or Geoffrey Shakerley of Shakerley and Holme, Lancaster County by his wife Jane Beeston. Anne's maternal grandfather Sir George Beeston was one of the Admirals responsible for defeating the Spanish Armada. She bore Sir Henry four daughters and a son, (Sir) Henry Benjamin Bunbury (1597-1664) of Hoole, who endured tough times during the Civil War and whose son Thomas, from whom the main English branch today descends, was created a baronet in 1681.

Sir Henry and Lady Anne also four daughters before her premature demise on 4 June 1601; she was buried at Stoke. Given that Sir Henry's father had died a month earlier, one wonders if they both succumbed to the same ailment. Plague for instance.

Mary Bunbury, the eldest, married Thomas Draper of Walton in Salop (Shropshire), with whom she had two sons Richard Draper and Henry Draper, and three daughters Sarah, Elinor and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Bunbury, Sir Henry's second daughter, was married in 1612 to John Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh - see below.

Martha Bunbury, Sir Henry's third daughter, died unmarried in 1664..

Anne Bunbury, the fourth and youngest daughter, married Sir John Keningham, another key player in the new post-Elizabethan Ireland.


Another early Irish connection comes through Elizabeth Bunbury (b. 1595-), Sir Henry's second daughter, who was married on 10 August 1612 to John Richardson (1580-1654), a Calvinist clergyman 15 years older than her, who later became Bishop of Ardagh in Ireland.
     Born near Chester, Richardson went to Trinity College Dublin as a young man, being among the very first students at the college. His contemporaries included his fellow Calvinist and close friend James Ussher, the future Primate and Archbishop, who would go on to witness Charles I’s execution and provide a date for the birth of the world. The bearded Richardson became a Fellow in 1601, held a Bachelor in Divinity by 1610, in which year he was appointed Vicar of Granard, County Longford. By early 1614, he was a Doctor of Divinity. He rose through the church hierarchy - rector of Ardstraw, Derry (1617); Archdeacon of Derry (1622-1634), Prebendary of Mullaghbrack at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh (1633) and Bishop of Ardagh (1633-1654). He was also Archdeacon of Down (1640) and Archdeacon of Connor from 1639 until his death in 1654.
      On 10 July 1635, Sir William Brereton dined with Dr Ussher and, in his book, Travels in Holland, the United Provinces, England, Scotland and Ireland, 1634–1635, described how his fellow guests included Dr Richardson ('an able man, and good scholar... an intelligent man, [who] gave me good resolution and satisfaction in many things’).' Brereton also makes a memorable remark about 'Sir Henry Bunbury's daughter, whom I went to visit after dinner; a tall, handsome, fat woman.'
     Alan Ford wrote Richardson’s entry for the New Oxford DNB which reads as follows:
    "'In Dublin Richardson combined two roles: fellow of Trinity; and godly preacher, giving weekly public lectures on the Old Testament with James Ussher at Christ Church, and serving as Prebendary of St Audeon's. Around 1617 he left for the new Ulster plantation, where Protestant preachers were urgently needed. Richardson, who had held the Rectory of Granard (Ardagh) since 1610 as a non-resident, was presented by Trinity College to the Rectory of Ardtrea (Armagh) and by the crown to Ardstraw (Derry), both in 1617, and by 1622 also held the Archdeaconry of Derry.
     Ussher thought highly of his colleague, recommending him for the see of Raphoe in 1630. Though unsuccessful, he was soon proposed by Bishop William Bedell of Kilmore as his own successor in Ardagh. Nominated on 8 April 1633, Richardson was consecrated later that year in Armagh. Because of the poverty of the see, he was allowed to retain his Archdeaconry in commendam (exchanging it in 1639 for the Archdeaconry of Connor). Richardson himself, however, was not poor, living 'very plentifully' as bishop, owning the 1000 acre manor of Carrickglass (Co. Longford), renting land in Donegal from Trinity for £422 p.a. during the 1630s (Charles McNeill, ed., The Tanner letters, 1943, 459). Whether through foresight or luck, he retired to England just before the 1641 rising broke out, and remained there, dying in London on 11 August 1654. He left Carrickglass to be sold on the death of his wife, for the support of Trinity students from the four parishes in which had served (St Audoen's, Granard, Ardstraw and Dunboe).
     Though he published in 1625 a general defence of the Protestant doctrine of justification, Richardson was an Old Testament specialist, contributing to the second edition of the Westminster Assembly's Annotations (1657). His Old Testament notes were printed posthumously, edited by Ussher and Thomas Gataker. When William Bedell was suspected as deviating from Calvinist orthodoxy in the early 1630s, Richardson was deputed by Ussher and other bishops to investigate his views. Though Bedell and Richardson, during a lengthy correspondence, agreed to differ over the efficacy of grace in baptism, the tone of their exchanges remained friendly
     John and Elizabeth Richardson had at least one child, Thomas. The bishop left Ireland on the outbreak of the 1641 rebellion and settled in London. He died on 11 August 1654, shortly after his (second) marriage to Anne, daughter of Sir Edward Bagshaw, by which he acquired the township of Fartrin, County Cavan, as part of the dowry. He bequeathed money to Trinity College. Richardson's major work, published posthumously by Archbishop Ussher, was 'Choice Observations and Explanations of the Old Testament … to which are added further and larger Observations upon the whole Book of Genesis’ (London, 1655). His portrait, engraved by T. Cross, is prefixed to his Choice Observations and visible on his Wikipedia page.
With thanks to Alan Ford.



(For the Norris family tree, see Appendix A below)

Sir Henry Bunbury's second marriage to Martha Norris may explain the initials 'MB' on the original cover of a Bible that once belonged to him.Printed in 1610, this is the last-known octavo-sized edition of the Geneva Bible, which was swiftly phased out with the introduction of the first King James Bible in 1611. Heavily based on the earlier translations by William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible had been the Bible of choice for both Anglican and Puritan Protestants during the Elizabethan Age. King James did not like it, which is why he commissioned his own bible. The fact that Sir Henry’s copy was such a late edition inclines me to think that Sir Henry was by now inclined to Calvinist Puritan thought, alongside the aforementioned Bishops Richardson and Ussher, perhaps under the influence of his second wife. And yet his firstborn son, Henry, would go to jail for his opposition to Cromwell’s Republic.

Sir Henry also possessed a first edition volume of some of Shakespeare’s plays, including an unknown text of “Hamlet” known as Q1, which predates all other versions and is dated 1603. [i.b]

Lady Martha was a widow of Thurstan Anderton of Lostock, Esq.

Sir Henry died on 8 September 1634 and was interred at St Mary's Church, a now redundant Anglican church in the small village of Thornton-le-Moors, Cheshire, England.

We are most fortunate that on 8 October 1634, four weeks after his death, Sir Henry's heir (Sir) Henry Bunbury (of Hoole) met with Major Randle Holme, City of Chester, Alderman and Deputy to the Office of Arms and confirmed the details of his late father's immediate family. These can be found, alongside details of the family arms and crest, in the 'Cheshire and Lancashire Funeral Certificates’ by John Paul Rylands.

Sir Henry and Lady Martha were the parents of seven sons and three daughters:

1) John Bunbury, Minister of Artes and Chaplain to the Bishop of Londonderry in October 1634. This may have been the Puritan George Downame (c. 1566—1634), or Downham, the son of a former Bishop of Chester, who was Bishop of Derry from 1616 until his death on 17 April 1634. The Chester link seems relevant. However, given that Henry states his half-brother was chaplain to the bishop six months later, he was probably referring to Bishop Downame’s successor, John Bramhall (1594–1663), another noted controversialist. Was he also the John Bunbury was was granted Ballyseskin Castle in County Wexford in return for his services as a Colonel in Cromwell’s army?

2) Thomas Bunbury, ancestor of the Lisnavagh Bunburys, who married Margaret Wilcocks and Eleanor Birkenhead, see below.

3) Sackville Bunbury, born on 31 May 1607 and later 'liveth over sea.' [Does that mean America, or Ireland?]

4) George Bunbury, christened in Stoke on 18 October 1609 and described in his mothers' will as "my fourth sonne". She bequeathed him "the sum of ten shillings" in full satisfaction against any future claim against her estate. George gained his MA in Ireland and moved to Ireland circa 1634. He is thought to be the George Bunbury who is listed as a Vicar in 1640 in the Appendix 1, Parish of Clonguish in 'St Paul's Church of Ireland Church, Newtownforbes, Co.Longford - The Church and Parish of Clonguish' by Doreen McHugh in her dissertation for Maynooth Studies in Local History. I assume he got the Longford post through his half-sister Elizabeth's husband, Dr John Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh/

5) Geffry Bunbury, settled in London.

6) Richard Bunbury, died young.

7) Dutton Bunbury, settled in London.

8) Elinor, eldest daughter, 'died a maid.'

9) Alice, married George Holland of Newhall, County Lancashire, gent, and had issue Henry, George, James, William, Robert, Martha and Katharine Holland.

10) Pricilla, unmarried at last record.



A wooden tablet, emblazoned, in Stoke Church near Stanney records: "Here lyeth the body of Thomas Bunbury, Gent, fourth son of Sir Henry Bunbury of Stanney, Knt. He first married Margaret, sole dau of Wm Wilcocks, of the Oakes, in the county of Salop, Gent; and had issue Martha, Henry, Elizabeth, and Anne. She died [October] 1632, aged 37. He afterwards married Elinor, fifth daughter to Henry Birkenhead, of Backford, Esq, and had by her eleven children, whereof six died in their minority. Thomas, Dulcibella, Joseph, Benjamin and Diana, only survived him. He died the 9th day Dec. anno 1668, aged 63 years, and she died the 20 of Dec 1675, aged 70 years.’

Born in May 1606, Thomas Bunbury appears to have been just fourteen years old when he was married, on 2 May 1620, to Margaret Wilcocks, daughter of William Wilcocks (sometimes Wilcox) of The Oakes in the county of Salop (Shropshire), gent. [i] According to the above tablet, they had several children before her death in October 1632 at the age of 37. I am unsure what became of these early children. [ii]



After Margaret’s death, Thomas Bunbury was married secondly in early 1634 to Eleanor Birkenhead, or Birkhead. Born on 29 November 1605, she was the fifth daughter of Henry Birkenhead of Huxley and Backford, whose wife was also a Bunbury. According to that marble monument at the church in Bunbury, Thomas and Eleanor had 'eleven children, whereof six died in their minority. Thomas, Dulcibella, Joseph, Benjamin and Diana only survived him.'

Henry Birkenhead, a sequestrator and non-Cestrian during the Commonwealth, was "a lawyer in the Chester Exchequer and staunch Parliamnetarian in 1642", lending further credence to the idea that this branch of the Bunbury family were more partial to Cromwell than the House of Stuart. [iii] He was also presumably father or at least a very close relative to the Henry Birkenhead or Birkhead (1617-1697), known as the Founder of the Oxford Chair of Poetry.

Eleanor's sister Bridget Birkenhead married John Chetwode who was, I believe, a pal of Jonathan Swift, while another sister Mary Birkenhead married William Downes of Shrigley and Worth.



Old Sir Henry died at Stanney on 8 September 1634 and was interred at Thornton in le Mores Church in County Chester. His eldest son Henry Benjamin Bunbury, a half-brother to Thomas (and thus half-uncle to Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig), duly succeeded to the family estate at Stanney at the age of 37.

According to 'Cheshire and Lancashire Funeral Certificates’ by John Paul Rylands, he married Ursula, daughter of John Baley (Bailey/Bayly) of Hodsden in Hertfordshire. They had six sons and five daughters 'for whom he made a handsome provision notwithstanding the many hardships put upon him for his unshaken loyalty to King Charles I and all the royal family’ (Wootton)

During the English Civil War, several prominent Cheshire gentlemen drew up the Bunbury Agreement (23 December 1642) to keep the county neutral but the initiative petered out when Sir William Brereton and Dunham Massey, the leading Parliamentarians in Cheshire, rejected its terms, prompting Charles I to send Sir Thomas Aston to secure the county for the Crown. A party of Royalists staying at nearby Cholmondeley House torched the church at Bunbury on June 20th 1643. [‘Tracts relating to the civil war in Cheshire, 1641-1659; including Sir George Booth's rising in that county’ (Manchester: The Chetham Society, 1909), p. 75, 93.]

Hanshall states that Henry Bunbury was ‘an active loyalist, and had his estates sequestrated by the Republicans for five years, during which period he was closely imprisoned at Nantwich. He was allowed as sustenance only a fifth of the produce of his lands, and when he was set at liberty a fine of £2,200 was levied upon them. His entire loss was about £10,000, exclusive of his Hall at Hoole, near Chester, which was destroyed during the siege of that city.' The 7th Bart added that not only had his mansion house been 'pillaged and burned to the ground ... by the Parliamentary forces when they were besieging Chester in 1645' but his estates were also 'ravaged'. Platt's History and Antiquities of Nantwich states that he had ten children at this time. There is some sort of a claim by Sir Henry for £868 on p. 38 of George Ormerod, 'The history of the county palatine and city of Chester’. It is notable that Bruens of Stapleford (and later Carlow) were among the other Cheshire families who suffered in the war.

Was he still in prison when his wife Ursula died on 20 March 1652, aged 53? The 7th Bart writes: 'The old hall at Stanney had been neglected during the many years whilst the head of the family resided at Hoole. It was dilapidated and parts seem to have been pulled down. Such as it now was, however, it became of necessity the dwelling-place of the impoverished Henry Bunbury, after his release from prison.' In Webb’s Itinerary, written in 1662, he records ‘the pleasant and sweet seat’ of Sir Henry Bunbury. Writing in 1823, Hanshall added: 'The Old Hall still remains and is a singularly curious room, with a heavily ornamented roof of wood. On the wainscoat at the upper end are inscribed a series of verses now nearly defaced. The building is surrounded by extensive barns and grainaries [sic]. When this building began to decay the Bunburies fixed their seat at a more modern building.’ (See below. Stanney Hall was degraded to a farm house but traces of its ancient splendour were visible to Sir Henry Edward Bunbury when he succeeded to the estate in 1821).

Henry survived Ursula by twelve years, passing away on 1 February 1664, aged 66. 'This unfortunate cavalier,' remarked the 7th Bart, 'lived to see the restoration of Charles II, but not ro recieve any reward for his loyalty, or remuneration for his losses. His son Thomas Bunbury probably continued to urge the claims of his father and himself in vain, during many years, till in 1681 he was obliged to content himself with the barren honour of a baronetcy.' (Memoirs, p. 235).

A memorial to Henry and his ‘most loving wife’ Ursula was erected in Stoke Church (near Stanney) by their four younger sons and two daughters.

Henry and Ursula’s six sons were:

1) Sir Thomas Bunbury, baronet (1618-1682), see below.

2) John Bunbury who died unmarried ‘in the service of his King and Countrie in Ireland in 1642’ according to the inscription on his parents memorial in Stoke church (near Stanney) - but he is not to be confused with Colonel John Bunbury of Wexford.

3) Henry Bunbury married Eleanor Birch, widow of Mr Holcroft of Holcroft, Lancashire, but left no issue.

4) William Bunbury married Mary Skevington, second daughter to Sir Richard Skeffington (Skevington) of Fisherwick, Staffordshire, and died on his 47th birthday, 23 October 1676. Mary lived to be 82 and died in 1711. Their oldest son Charles Bunbury died unmarried while their second son William Bunbury was a Fellow of Brazennose College, Oxon, and Rector of Great Catworth in Huntingdonshire. The younger William married Anne Chernocke, daughter of Sir Williers Chernocke of Hulcot in Bedfordshire, Bart, with whom he had three sons and three daughters. Sir Richard Skevington, Mary Bunbury’s father, died in 1647, exhausted by the trauma of the Civil War. (A monument to him exists in Church of Broxbourne, and suggests that he found his life 'such a burthen, as caused him to retire to this place for ease, where his God, the God of peace, appointed him to rest from his labours.’) Mary Bunbury’s sister Elizabeth married William Ferrar of Dromore, County Down, but had no children. Mary’s older brother Sir John Skeffington also strengthened the Irish connection when he married Mary, daughter and heiress of Sir John Clotworthy, Lord Viscount Masserene, of Antrim, after which the Viscountcy of Masserene passed to his heirs.

5) Joseph married Leticia Neal, daughter to Sir William Neal of Ireland, Bart, who had been Governor of Hawarden Castle during the Civil War; Sir William resisted a four week siege by Parliament before King Charles I urged him to surrender the castle in February 1646. Sir William was subsequently incarcerated for taking part in Sir George Booth’s rebellion in 1659, a Royalist conspiracy that followed the resignation of Richard Cromwell and the ending of the Protectorate in 1659. Leticia’s mother, name unknown, was a sister to Major General Randolph Egerton, a prominent Royalist supporter who lived at Betley in Staffordshire. Originally from Cheshire, the Egertons had been seated in Staffordshire since early in the 15th century. Joseph and Leticia had one son, also Joseph Bunbury, and two daughters Helena and Anne.

6) Richard, the youngest, who appears to have died unmarried.

Henry and Ursula’s five daughters were:

1) Susan who married, first, William Davys of Ashton and, secondly, William Cowley of Dodleston in Cheshire.

2) Mary, who died young.

3) Anne, who died young.

4) Elizabeth

5) Ursula who married Edward Morgan of Goulden Grove, Flintshire, a son of the ‘noble’ Captain Morgan who was slain at Winnington Bridge in 1659, by Elizabeth Whitley of Aston. Ursula died in 1709, aged 72. Her husband died in 1682, aged 38. Their children included Edward and Elizabeth Morgan.



There is mention of a Thomas Bunbury, D.D., of Balliol College, Oxford, who succeeded Dr. Joseph Denison in the vicarage of St. Mary's Church in Reading. He was driven out of Reading by the Presbyterians, when that town came under their possession, and fled to Oxford for protection. He was given a license under the public seal of the university to preach the word of God throughout England.

Into the mix here we must note the Bunbury's Catholic cousin Sir Arthur Aston who, in 1631, was commissioned by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to raise an English regiment; they fought, without distinction, in the secondary theatres of Germany. Sir Thomas Aston, Sir Arthur's grandfather, was a brother-in-law to the Thomas Bunbury who was connected to Lismore Castle. Sir Artur commanded a regiment for King Charles during the Second Bishops’ War but his Catholicism made people uneasy. As commander of Reading, Sir Arthur's dictatorial behaviour made him unpopular and he continued to irk people when he was made Governor of Oxford in late 1643; he lost a leg falling from a horse at Horspath in September 1644 and was relieved as governor.

Is it relevant that Thomas Bunbury, DD, was connected to both Reading and Oxford?

Sir Arthur went on to become Governor of Drogheda in Ireland where he fought for the Confederacy; he reluctantly agreed to a surrender, only to have his head horribly smashed in with his own wooden leg by Parliamentarian soldiers convinced it was full of gold.



While Henry Benjamin Bunbury languished in prison and had his house burned for supporting Charles I, other Bunburys appear to have batted for Cromwell's Republic ... I have already mentioned John Bunbury who was granted Ballyseskin Castle in County Wexford in return for his services as a Colonel in Cromwell’s army.

In January 2014 the Carlow historian Michael Purcell emailed me an extract of a land settlement indenture from 1652 which read:

“… lands on the south of the river Burren adjoining the town of Catherlough & nominated my wellbeloved friends and attorney Benjamin Bumbury and Thomas Bumbury with Copal Norris and heirs or assignees for ever to enter and take possession of all such lands, tentenments, hereditaments with appurtenances.”

I am simply not knowledgeable enough on 17th century politics to know what any of this means. Who was this ‘wellbeloved’ attorney Thomas Bumbury who was acquiring land in Carlow according to a 1652 indenture? Was he the future Sir Thomas Bunbury? And who is this Benjamin Bunbury? An as yet unidentified brother of Thomas? [Born in 1642, the future Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig would have been ten years old at the time of the deed so he hardly fits the bill? His brother Thomas Bunbury (of Virginia) would have been eighteen but still surely too young to be an attorney.] It's a famously confusing era to make sense of.

I know not who Copal Norris was, or even what ‘Copal’ means. It may simply have been his given name, or was it an abbreviation of 'Episcopal', suggesting someone was acting on behalf of a bishop? [The Bishop of Ossory was based in Kilkenny, the Ormonde stronghold.] The area referred to 'south of the River Burren' is assumed to have been around Mortarstown where Borlum (also Roseville House), the Otterholt and the Dolmen Hotel now stand along the old Carlow-Kilkenny road. The family continued to own lands in Mortarstown into the 1890s.

The Norris connection is quite possibly relevant because Benjamin's grandmother, Lady Martha Bunbury, wife of Sir Henry, was born into an influential Catholic family from Liverpool called Norris, or Norreys as it is sometimes spelled. [For more on the Norris family, see Appendix A below]. And bear in mind that the Bunburys were also closely related to Sir William Stanley, among the most infamous English Catholics of them all during Queen Elizabeth's reign!

Another 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. Was this the same George Bunbury? Was there Henry another brother we have not yet registered? Or was this some other branch, tied in with Colonel John Bunbury of Wexford?

One should also bear in mind a 'Mr Bomberry’ who was named alongside Lieutenant Colonel Stevens, a Mr Cooper and a Mrs Cottle as people who left the lands of James Delahyde at the beginning of the 1641 rebellion and went to England. This was in the testimony of Morris Neale of [New] Ross, sworn before Thomas Dowse and William Woodward in 1653. (The Examination of Morris Neale of Ross, 1641 Depositions, MS 819, fols 286r-286v)

I am unsure who wrote these lines originally but they throw my traditional understanding of our family history a little. This suggested that the Bumbury [sic] family were not just in Carlow a decade before I previously thought, but also that they acquired their initial landholdings through the despised Cromwellian land settlement, or the 1652 Act for the Settlement of Ireland. How did Benjamin and Thomas connect to Colonel John Bunbury who also profited from the Cromwellian settlement.

Clearly these Bunburys were of a different political pursuasion to - is it their half-brother? - Henry Benjamin Bunbury with his burning mansion in Cheshire ... and, if so, also to their grandmother Norris's Catholic relatives. It happens. That's what civil wars are about. Perhaps some day, further clues will spill into the plot enabling us to make sense of these muddied waters. [iv]



Thomas died on 9 December 1668 aged 63, and Eleanor on 20 December 1675, aged 70. They had eleven children, including at least four sons and six daughters.

Their first son Thomas Bunbury was born on 21 October 1634 and subsequently made his career as a tobacco baron in Virginia where he became ancestor to the Bumbreys, one of the oldest black families in the United States today.

In 1636, Eleanor produced triplets, christened George, Susan and Alice, although all three died soon after birth.[v] Next was John Bunbury born 1637 who also died shortly after birth.

Their eldest surviving daughter, Dulcibella Bunbury, was born in 1638 and died aged 48 on 5 July 1686. Her will was proved by her only surviving sister, Diana, widow of Richard Bunbury. Dulcibella left her signet ring to her brother Benjamin. [vi]

Benjamin Bunbury, later of Killerig, ancestor of the Bunbury family in Ireland, was born in 1642 and was the elder twin of Joseph Bunbury. Ormerod records that the twins were christened/baptised at Stanney in Cheshire on 13 September 1642. Joseph also spent time in Ireland, marrying Hannah Desmineers (or Desminiere) of Dublin in 1666, but later returned to England. [vii]

The youngest child, Diana, was born on 23 September 1644 and married her first cousin Richard Bunbury.[viii] Elsewhere, Benjamin's sister Diana is said to have settled in Ireland and married a Mr Berib, Esq, of Co. Carlow.


Two more Bunburys, possibly Benjamin's brothers, who moved to Ireland at this point were William Bunbury who lived at Moyle, Co. Carlow, and John Bunbury (King's Inn, 18 May 1698) who lived at Mortarstown but these two need to be examined further. Lower Mortarstown adjoined Cloghna and was close to the old Butler / Carew castle at Cloughgrenan, just outside Carlow on the banks of the Barrow. Mortarstown had belonged to the Bradston family until Francis Bradstone was attainted by James II's Irish Parliament. It later passed to Col. Kane Bunbury.





1646 (12 Aug): Archbishop Giovanni Rinuccini, papal nuncio to the Irish Confederate Catholics, condemns their adherence to Ormond’s peace terms for failing to fully recognise Catholicism.

1649 (Aug): Oliver Cromwell arrives in Dublin with his New Model Army (20,000 men), a huge artillery train and a large navy. Drogheda and Wexford fall. Jones defeats Ormond at Rathmines, ending royalist hopes of taking Dublin. Kilkenny also falls in August.

1650 (30 July): Edward Parry, Church of Ireland Bishop of Killaloe, dies in Dublin from the plague.

1650: Archbishop Ussher of Armagh, who preached in Lincolns Inn, “carefully trolled the Bible totting up the lifespans of everyone descended from Adam and Eve", as Neil McGregor puts it in "A History of the World in 100 Objects". He then combined that with other data to reach his conclusion that the world began at night for on Sunday 23rd of October 4004 BC! And everybody believed him for ages!

1652 (12 Aug): ‘Act for the Settling of Ireland’ allows for the transplantation to Clare or Connacht of proprietors whose land is confiscated by Cromwell to meet promises to adventurers and soldiers; also known as the “To Hell or Connacht” Act.


SIR THOMAS BUNBURY, 1st BART (c. 1618-1682)

Sir Thomas Bunbury, 1st Bart (c. 1618-1682) was appointed Sheriff of Chester County on 12 November 1673, although the appointment seems to have been confirmed or renewed on 3 December 1673. He was married, firstly, to Sarah Chetwood, daughter to John Chetwood of Oakeley in Staffordshire, by whom he had several children but the only survivors were the future Sir Henry Bunbury and a daughter Mary (Wooton says she was Ursula) who married Edward Green of Poulton-Cum-Spital, a township in Bebington ancient parish in the Wirral Hundred. There is a memorial in Stoke Church (near Stanney) to one of Thomas and Sarah’s daughters Lydia, who died aged eleven on 6 June 1675. Sir Thomas was married secondly to Mary Kelsall, daughter to Humphrey Kelsall, gent, of Heath and Bradshaw, Chester, by whom he had two daughters, Priscilla and Lucie. He was created a baronet in 1681 and died on 22 August 1682.



His son Sir Henry Bunbury, 2nd Bart, married Mary Eyton, daughter of Sir Kenrick Eyton, a Welsh lawyer and prominent Royalist.



Sir Henry died in 1687 and was succeeded by his 11-year-old son, Sir Henry Bunbury, 3rd Bart (1767-1733). Known as Sir Harry, he was a Tory MP for Chester and Commissioner of the Revenue for Ireland from 1711 to 1715. He was one of four Englishmen reappointed a commissioner of the new revenue board at the beginning of George I’s reign (the others being Sir William Strickland, Horatio Walpole, and Phillips Gybbon), as well as three Irishmen, William Conolly (now Speaker), Thomas Medlycott and Thomas Southwell. Like Walpole, he was a Tory which put his place in jeopardy. According to Patrick Walsh in his book “The Making of the Irish Protestant Ascendancy: The Life of William Connolly, 1662 to 1729 “(Boydell & Brewer, 2010), the bulk of the business and patronage of the revenue board was in fact carried out by the three Irish commissioners. Walpole and Sir Harry Bunbury both “seem to have treated their places almost as sinecures; the former was only continued at the board because of the patronage of his nephew Robert Walpole (the future prime minister), who needed to keep his troublesome uncle happy, while Bunbury was removed in September 1715 for allegedly engaging in correspondence with the Jacobite court.” Elsewhere it is said that Sir Harry was found in possession of seditious pamphlets, which he may have been distributing.

Since the burning of The Hall in Hoole in the Civil War, the Bunburys - including Sir Harry’s father and grandfather - had lived in the Old Hall at Stanney. However, as the 7th Bart notes, things changed in about 1724 'when "merry Sir Harry" took up his abode in the small house, which was then christened “Rakes Hall.” This was the ‘modern building’ that Halshall referred, constructed in the early Georgian age. Its name, as Hanshall notes, recalls 'the bon vivants who frequented it, was jocosely called "Rake Hall" and still retains its nomenclature. On a pane of glass in the kitchen window, dated Dec 15, 1724, is recorded the names of the following visitants then present, viz. Sir Charles Bunbury, Sir R Grosvenor, Sir William Stanley, Sir Francis Poole, Amos Meredith, Colonel Francis Columbine, Edward Mainwaring, Thomas Glazeour, Scberington Grosvenor, Seimour Cholmondeley, William Poole and Charles Bunbury, jun.’ (Hanshall, p. 614). The Rev Sir William Bunbury sold Hoole Hall to Dr Peploe Ward in 1757, as well as most of the family property at Bunbury. He used the money to buy a new estate at Mildenhall and Great Barton in Suffolk. (Hoole is famous as the birthplace of RAF pilot and charity founder Leonard Cheshire, VC).

When Sir Harry died on 12 February 1733, his obituary remrked: 'On Monday last died, at his Seat of Stanny near Chester, Sir Henry Bunbury, of Bunbury in Cheshire, Bart, descended from a Norman Commander, who came over at the Time of the Conquest, and shared the Fortune of Hugh Lupus, first Norman Earl Chester, since which Time the Family have liv'd in very honourable Repute: Sir Henry married Susannah, only surviving Daughter of William Hanmer, and Sister to Sir Thomas Hanmer, of Hanmer in Flintshire, Bart, by whom he has had several Children, and is succeeded in Dignity and Estate by his eldest Son, now Sir Charles Bunbury, Bart. Sir Henry was elected a Member of Parliament for the City of Chester in 1700, and continued with Honour to serve that City till the present Parliament was elected [ie: 1727], when he resigned: in the Year 1715 he was by Queen Anne appointed one of the Commissioners of the Revenue in Ireland.’ (Stamford Mercury, Thursday 22 February 1733.)

Lady Susanna Bunbury, the wife of Sir Harry, was a a daughter of William Hanmer of Bettisfield Park, Flints., and his wife, Peregrina, daughter of Sir Henry North, 1st Bt., of Mildenhall, and sister and coheiress of Sir Henry North, 2nd Bt. She was also a sister of Sir Thomas Hanmer (1677-1746) who was married on 14 Oct. 1698 to Lady Isabella Bennet (d. 7 Feb. 1723), daughter and sole heiress of Henry Bennet, M.P., 1st Earl of Arlington. (Portrait of Sir Thomas Hanmer here.) Henry Bennet served as Secretary of State to King Charles II for 12 years, and was so good at sourcing royal mistresses for the king that his majesty not only created him the Earl of Arlington of Harlington but also granted him 10,000 acres of County Laois in Ireland. [Frances Stuart, La Belle Stuart, was among those whom he brought to the king.] These lands had been seized from Viscount Clanmalier, head of the O’Dempsey clan, for his role in the 1641 Rebellion. It included the townland of Cooletoodera, renamed Portarlington in 1666. Isabella Bennet was just five years old when she was wedded in 1672 to her first husband, nine-year-old Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, an illegitimate son of Charles II and his mistress, Barbara Villiers.* Grafton, for whom the Dublin street is named, was killed at the siege of Cork in 1690.

[* I was doubtful about Isabella Bennet being so young when she married so I took the plunge and made contact with Edward Wortley, the archivist at Euston Hall, where the Graftons lived. He confirmed that she was first married aged five and then the marriage was “repeated” on 7 November 1679. John Stocks Powell, the historian, remains doubtful.]

A renowned orator, Sir Thomas Hanmer served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1714-15. He had succeeded his uncle as 4th Baroent (complete with the Flintshire estates) in 1701 and also inherited Mildenhall through his mother. At the accession of George I, he was offered the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he refused. In a letter to the Old Pretender, Atterbury slammed Hanmer and his allies: 'The most despicable party in England are the Hanoverian Tories, a handful of men without dependants or credit, and whom both sides equally agree in exposing.’ The elder Horace Walpole was no less disparaging: 'His person, parts, and principles were all of a piece; he had a very handsome mien and appearance, but tis said he could not please the ladies; he could make an eloquent, elaborate, and plausible speech, but never was thought a man of business, or knowledge. He would act and vote with the Tories and yet said he was no Jacobite; he declared himself for the Hanoverian succession, and would never act or vote in support of it; he died at last, poor gentleman, without having much obliged or disobliged any person or party, and rather pitied than either hated or beloved.’ The younger Horace Walpole likewise remarked that he was 'a dainty Speaker, who was first married to the Dowager Duchess of Grafton, and afterwards espousing a young lady, the first night he made some faint efforts towards consummation, and then begged her pardon for her disappointment.’ Following Isabella’s death in 1723, Sir Thomas Hanmer was married secondly in 1725 to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas Folkes of Barton, Suffolk. They had no children.

Sir Harry Bunbury was touted to run again after the death of Sir Richard Grosvenor, MP for Chester, in July 1732 but was himself dead in less than 9 months. (Derby Mercury, Thursday 27 July 1732).

See further records of Sir Harry here. The monuments to Sir Henry Bunbury, 3rd Baronet (1676–1733) and Sir Charles Bunbury, 4th Baronet (1708–1742) are recorded by Hanshall.

Other descendants of the English branch include Sir Charles Bunbury, Admiral of the Turf; the artist H. W. Bunbury; Sir Henry Bunbury who gave Napoleon the news of his impending exile to St Helena; and Captain Bunbury for whom the Australian town is named. The latter also provided the name for the Bunbury Airwave, billed as the world’s first inflatable surf reef … unfortunately the trial run version of ripped in December 2019 (off Bunbury’s Back Beach in Oz) but or was that merely a ploy to get us all to notice it, a bit like Elon Musk is said to have done with his unbreakable truck ... I’ve already had some training in this area as my ridiculous name is also used by several Californian surfing gentlemen.

For the memoirs of the botanist Sir Charles Bunbury, click here.




[i.a] The following, about the younger Sir Thomas Aston, is from Rylands: The Newsletter of the Special Collections Division of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (Spring 2002, issue no. 3):
Broadside Petition for Episcopacy in Cheshire
Sir Thomas Aston (1600-45), A Petition Delivered in to the Lords Spiritual and Temporall, by Sir Thomas Aston, Baronet, from the County Palatine of Chester concerning Episcopacie. [London] Printed, Anno Dom., 1641.
The Royalist Sir Thomas Aston was born on 29 September 1600, the heir to an ancient Cheshire family. His father, John Aston, had been sewer to the wife of James I. Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, Thomas was made a baronet in 1628. He served as High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1635, and as MP for Cheshire in the Short Parliament of 1640.
Sir Thomas was a staunch churchman who loathed the rise of nonconformism. When the Cheshire petitions against episcopacy were in circulation in the early 1640s, Sir Thomas and his friends initiated a counter-petition. The broadside entreats that the institution of bishops dates back to the time of the Apostles, and urges that ‘such dangerous discontents amongst the common people’ should be suppressed. The petition is subscribed by ‘Foure Noblemen. Knight Baronets, Knights and Esquires, fourescore and odde. Divines, threescore and ten. Gentlemen, three hundred and odde. Free-holders and other Inhabitants, above six thousand’, all of the county of Cheshire. Wing records only two other copies of this edition.
Sir Thomas is perhaps best known for his brave but undistinguished role in the Civil War. He commanded the Royalist army that was defeated by Sir William Brereton at Middlewich on 13 March 1643, and later suffered defeats at Macclesfield and in Staffordshire. He died from a fever, brought on by his war wounds, on 24 March 1645.
The younger Sir Thomas Aston also published The Short Parliament (1640): Diary of Sir Thomas Aston, edited by Judith D. Maltby, London, The Royal Historical Society, Camden fourth series, volume 35, 1988. The Short Parliament was in session from 13 April to 5 May 1640.

[i.b] Sir Henry's Geneva Bible included a 1611 dated title to the “Whole Book of Psalms Collected into English Meter,” by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins. For 'Hamlet' link, see Correspondence of Sir Thomas Hanmer, London, 1838, p. 38.

[i.a] Ormerod's History of Cheshire (now available on CD) gives Margaret Wilcocks as the first wife of Thomas Bunbury.

[ii] Reference from the Monuments in Stoke Church courtesy of Peter Bunbury.

[iii] Crisis & Order in English Towns, 1500-1700 (Routledge, 2013), by Peter Clark & Paul Stack, p. 228. A book called 'Henry Birkhead, Founder of the Oxford Chair of Poetry: Poetry and the Redemption of History' (Studies in British Literature) by Joan H. Pittock on Amazon may explain more.

[iv] A digitial manuscript detailing whom lands were disposed in 1641 can be found at http://www.irishmanuscripts.ie/digital/surveydistributionv4/files/641.html; John Ryan’s 1833 The History And Antiquities of The County Of Carlow. CHAPTER XXI provides a detailed picture of the land ownership and other matters in the county from 1605 - 1625. Thanks to Paul Horan. See http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlcar2/Antiquities_1833_XXI.htm
[v] Their deaths are recorded in to Sir Henry Noel Bunbury's pedigree.
[vi] There is a memorial in Stoke Church, Cheshire which reads:- 'Here lyeth the body of Dulcibella Bunbury eldest daughter to Thomas Bunbury of Stanney, Gent by Eleanor his second wife who was fifth daughter to Henry Berkenhead of Backford Esq: She died the 5th July MDCLXXXVI (1686) aged XLVIII years (48)'. The Will of Dulcibella Bunbury, which names a large number of relations and friends, was dated 13th June 1686 and proved at Chester by her sister Diana, the widow of Richard Bunbury, on the 28th August following. She desires to be buried 'at Stoke in the chancell as nigh to my father as possible. I cann & doe hereby humbly request Sir Henry Bunbury that he be pleased to let me lye there & not doubting that he will grant my desire herein I leave unto my cozen [first cousin twice removed] Henry Bunbury his sonn and heire one eleven shillings piece of old gold'.
[vii] A pedigree of the Desminieres family was compiled by W. B. Wright, published in The Irish Builder Vol. 29 (1887), pp. 71, 339. See also British Library MS. 3,682; "Researching Huguenot Settlers in Ireland” by Vivien Costello, The BYU Family Historian, Vol. 6 (Fall 2007) p. 83-163.
[viii] Diana Bunbury is also buried in Stoke Church.


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Lady Martha Bunbury was Sir Henry Bunbury’s second wife and she grew up at Speke Hall in Lancashire, seven miles from Liverpool. She was one of at least nine children – two sons and seven daughters – born to Edward Norris (c.1539-1606) and his wife Margaret Smallwood, daughter and coheir of Robert Smallwood of Westminster, London.

Martha’s grandfather, Sir William Norris (or Norreys), was knighted in 1531 and served variously as Mayor and MP for Liverpool, as well as High Sheriff of Lancashire and a Justice of the Peace for Cheshire. Sir William died in 1568, 'shortly after he had been formally reconciled to Rome, and was buried at Childwall.’ As his eldest son, William, was killed in 1547, he was succeeded by his third but eldest surviving son Edward, then 28, who was Martha’s father. The Norris family 'remained Catholic until the mid 17th century and after they had conformed continued to sit for Liverpool.’

The marriage to Sir Henry Bunbury was Martha’s second. Her first husband was of Thurstan Anderton of Lostock, Bolton, Lancashire, England, heir of his brother James Anderton of Lostock.

Martha’s oldest brother William Norris was made a knight of the Bath at the Coronation of King James I. Sir William married Eleanor Molyneux, daughter of Sir William Molineaux of Sefton, Lancashire, and died in 1626. According to Thomas Heywood, editor of ‘The Norris papers’ (Chetham Society, 1846), Sir William was a spendthrift. [i] Recognizing this before his death, his father left Speke in trust for ten years and then to be ‘delivered’ to Sir William and Eleanor’s small son instead. However, as the 23rd Earl of Leete might say, there was ‘precious little to inherit’ by the time William came of age. Sir William had ‘pawned everything down to two suits of clothes; he even obtained from his mother, for many years, the money left her to buy clothes; and here is a letter imploring, in the most abject terms, a little delay from one of his creditors.’

The younger William Norris – Martha Bunbury’s nephew - was married to Margaret Salisbury [Salusbury], whose father Sir Thomas Salisbury had been executed in 1586 for his part in the Babbington Plot. William succeeded his father in 1626 and, ‘with his two sons Edward and Thomas zealously fought for the King in Lancashire’ during the Civil War. In September 1649, William was obliged to play host at Speke to Colonel John Moore, one of the regicides who signed Charles I’s death warrant earlier that year. Colonel Moore, ‘who was waiting for a wind to pass with his regiment into Ireland’, would go on to become Governor of Dublin where he died of a fever in 1650. William Norris apparently died on 20 July 1651.

I guess “Copal Norris” could have been either of William Norris’ sons. If so, it’s more likely to have been Thomas. According to ‘The Norris Papers’, the elder son Edward had already been disinherited, possibly for being a Papist, and died in 1664, leaving an only daughter. As such, what was left of the family fortune passed to his second son Thomas who, born in 1618, married Katherine, daughter of Sir Henry Garway, sometime Governor of the Levant Company, about whom there is much more in ‘The Norris Papers’. Thomas died sometime before 1687.

Martha’s other brother Edward Norris married Margaret, widow of Edward Ireland of Lydiat, County Lancaster. As to Martha’s six sisters, Perpetua Norris married Thomas Westby of Mowbrick, Lancaster; Anne Norris married, as his third wife, Sir Thomas Butler of Bewsey Hall, Warrington, Lancashire [seemingly no connection of the Irish Butlers] and she married, secondly, Thomas Draycot of Paynesley, Salop; Mary married Thomas Clifton of Westby, Lancaster; Margaret married Edward Tarbock of Tarbock; Emilia married William Blundell of Crosby and Winifred married Richard or William Banester of Wem, Shropshire (Salop).

NB: They should not be confused with the family of the unmarried Sir John Norris, or Norreys (1547-1597), one of Queen Elizabeth’s leading army men during the suppression of Ireland? Sir John’s father was Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys (1525 –1601) of Rycote in Oxfordshire, and Berkshire, while his grandfather, Sir Henry Norreys, was beheaded in 1536 for alleged adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn.

NB: See The Norris papers’ (Chetham society1846) online on Google Books. Also, Norris of Speke.