Turtle Bunbury

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Ievers & Crawford - From Ireland to Ceylon


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Above: Bob Ievers, father-in-law of the 3rd Baron Rathdonnell.

The Ievers Connection

Robert Ievers was a high profile government minister in Ceylon during the late 19th century. He spoke Singhalese, wrote poetry, explored the ancient ruins of Anarahdapura and Sigiriya with HC Bell and also happened to be a very keen shot. His wife Kate Crawford descended from a Belfast merchant and miraculously survived a scuffle with a sloth bear. In 1912, their second daughter Ethel married Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, (later 3rd Baron Rathdonnell) who was ADC to the Governor from 1912 - 1914. They had one son, William Robert McClintock Bunbury, born in October 1914, who succeeded as 4th Baron Rathdonnell and was father of my own father, Thomas Benjamin McClintock Bunbury, the 5th Baron

Robert "Bob" Wilson Ievers (1850 - 1905) - A Brief

Robert Wilson Ievers, MA, CMG (1902), was born in 1850, the third son of a Limerick wine merchant and his Mayo born wife. (1) He was educated at Queen's University, Belfast, and then entered the civil service in 1872. I believe he may have originally gone out to Ceylon as part of the administration of Sir William Gregory, Governor of Ceylon, who resided at Coole Park in Galway. (2) In 1878, a year after Gregory's departure from the colony, Ievers was appointed Assistant Government Agent in Kegalla, Ceylon. Over the next two decades his official positions included Assistant Colonial Secretary (1885), Government Agent for the North Central Province (1889), Principal Assistant Colonial Secretary (1894) and Government Agent and Acting Colonial Secretary of the North Province of the island from 1896. He had a postal address at Jaffna and his recreations were shooting, fishing and tennis. He died on 10th February 1905, aged 55.

The Crawfords

Robert's wife Catherine (Kate) Ievers was the eldest daughter of Andrew H. Crawford, CE, of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Born in about 1813, Andrew was the third son of a Belfast merchant, Arthur Crawford, and his wife Catherine Campbell Lundy. (3) His younger brother Archibald, born in 1815, moved to Australia in 1856 and settled in Castlemaine, Victoria, where he became an Archdeacon. Following his death in 1890, an obituary to the Archdeacon published in the Mount Alexander Mail (2 July 1890) states:

"The Archdeacon leaves three brothers to survive him. His eldest brother still holds office as County Surveyor for the North Riding of Tipperary; another brother, a South American merchant, resides at Liverpool; and the third resigned, a few years ago, the post of manager of the Union Bank in Adelaide."

A Crawford family historian, Margaret Levin, has thus deduced that "as Arthur's first son, Hugh, died in 1854 and the second son Arthur is recorded as "died unmarried" we presume that it was Andrew who was County Surveyor for the North Riding of Tipperary around 1890. He may have been around 77 at the time for Archibald was born in 1815, so Andrew may have been born about 1813". (4)

At any rate, Andrew Crawford married Miss Synge and had two daughters, Kate and Beatrice. It was the eldest Kate who married Robert Ievers and is thus our great-great-grandmother. The younger sister, Beatrice, married J. Barry. Their son, Cooper Crawford Barry, married Eileen Moore and was father to two girls (Sheila and Moira Barry [5] ) and a son (Trevor Barry).

Ievers in Ceylon

Following a visit to Sri Lanka in May 2002, I established email contact with an old colonial hand named Joe Simpson, now living in Canada. In answer to a request for information on Robert Ievers he forwarded me some information obtained from "a SL-born friend in Australia, from his extensive library":

"Around 1873 Robert "Bob" Wilson Ievers was a young civil servant attached to the Colombo Kachcheri. J.R. Toussaint in his "Annals of the Ceylon Civil Service states that Bob was one of the best speakers of Sinhalese in the Service. He did some archaeological work on Anuradhapura and his reports are available in the National Archives. He wrote also the "Manual of the North Central Province". In his administration report of 1888 he wrote: "The claims of archaeology and the excavation of some and the preservation of other ruins, affords a pleasing and useful change from the monotony of the Kachcheri and Court routine". He carried out further excavations on the Mirisavetiya Dagoba in 1888 using money donated by a Siamese Prince and employing prison labour. Although he had the support of Governor Sir Arthur Gordon, he ran into criticism when he began tunneling into the Abhayagiri Dagoba, instead of restoring it and he was compelled to stop work at this site. He was a good friend and supporter of the archaeologist H.C.P. Bell who had similar interests and was later appointed Archaeological Commissioner in 1890. It appears that like Bell, Bob was also a keen sportsman.

Whilst Government Agent of Ceylon's North Central Province "Robert "Bob" Ievers had a gang of "Good Fellows" all pulling together, such as Alex Murray, R.B. Hellings, J.B.M. Ridout, H.F. Tomalin, F.W. Johnson and Bell. They lived in harmonious isolation. Around 1890 Bob contributed in verse to an article "The Anurdhapura Anthem" which appeared in The Times of Ceylon of 1917 in the Christmas number after Bob had passed on. Once he admitted to his friend Bell that he had scratched his own name on the Sigiriya Gallery wall, something that his friend detested!"

In about 1902 Bob was appointed Acting Colonial Secretary. However subsequently he fell ill and had to leave the island and died in 1905. Most of the above was extracted from the book "H.C.P. Bell " by B.N. Bell and H.N. Bell.(6)

I have found further references stating that Bob was one of the few Singhalese speakers in the Civil Service. He was also a member of the Cathedral Choir.

"He will be remembered for the great interest he took as Government Agent of the North Province and improving the breed of horses in the island of Delft. On his appointment as Acting Colonial Secretary he brought down a pair of these diminutive animals and was frequently seen driving them in the streets of Colombo. His favourite recreation was shooting, a pastime in which his wife joined him, much to the horror of an older generation whose ideas of propriety were much stricter than our own. His wife, Mrs. Ievers [ie: Kate Crawford] was, it is believed, the only lady in Ceylon to be mauled by a bear. This happened at Vavurniya. Ievers published a book, Mammals of the North Central Province, and contributed various articles to the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society". (7)

At one point Ievers estimated the number of elephants in North Central Province to be 170. As government agent to Anuradhapure, he was the man who issued licenses to those wishing to shoot. "He was a good sportsman and knew what he was talking about".(8)

In April 2020, I was contacted by the Anuradhapura-born ethnographer Lokubanda Tillakaratne, who worked for UCLA’s Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars. He confirmed that Bob was one of the great British government officials in the North Central Province. 'I have a copy of his Manual of the North Central Province which is very dear to me as it is the best piece of writing about the North Central Province (my province) up to the end of 19th century. Professor Leach heavily used Ievers writings for his book 'Pul Eliya’, a village in the province where Ievers was the Government Agent.’ Lokubanda is writing a book about Caste Court system (Rata Sabhawa) that existed in North Central Province until 1935.

In regard to Mrs. Iever's mauling by a bear I found a book in the Lisnavagh library called Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon (1907) by the hunter Harry Storey. In a chapter on "Bears and Water-Hole shooting" he relays an incident concerning "a plucky sportswoman, wife of a well-known and popular sporting Government official". Though Storey does not actually name her, I am quite certain this was Kate Ievers - mother to Ethel and grandmother to Bill Rathdonnell. She was regarded as being "as keen on sport as her husband and an excellent shot but the incident I am about to relate would have shaken the nerve of many a man and no one could have shown greater courage under the circumstances than she did". Bob and Kate were on circuit at the time, inspecting some tank-repairing work the Irrigation Department had been working on. (9)

"News was brought of bears amongst some rocks near a tank about 3 miles away and the lady went off very early one morning, I think, to have a look for them, accompanied by a police orderly, one Tamil headman and one Singhalese headman, her husband being too busy to come with them. Arrived at the rocks, they took up their position on a fat slab between two big rocks commanding a view of a cave or hollow among a medley of rocks below them. and had not been there long when they saw a bear walk past their front and disappear among the boulders. They then waited for the bear to return to the cave and the lady was sitting well back on her slab of rock when suddenly, without any warning, a bear rushed up from behind, knocked her over on her face at once, and began biting at her head and neck, clawing away at her back all the time. She put up her left hand to protect her neck and the bear bit that savagely whilst, with her right hand, she shoved her gun down between her feet and pulled the trigger, shooting the bear through one foot, as was afterwards found".

"In the meantime, the two headmen were wildly firing off their guns in all directions apparently for not one shot hit the bear (luckily, perhaps, for our heroine for it is a wonder she was not shot too) until the Tamil, with the last cartridge he had, hit the animal in the head, I think, and killed it. Dreadful to relate it was then found that the police orderly, a smart young fellow, had been shot dead in the melee but how or by whom it was impossible to say; and it is a great marvel that more damage was not done as the two headmen lost their heads entirely for the time and blazed off their guns as fast as they could load them. The injured lady actually walked the 3 miles back to camp where, no doubt, her husband would be terribly upset at this time. I met them both a few weeks afterwards at a rest-house on their way to Colombo to see a doctor about the lady's left wrist, which was stiff and unusable after the mauling, and she then told me all about the incident, only regretting that her injuries would cause her to lose the season for further shooting that year!"


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Above: Ethel McClintock Bunbury (nee Ievers) and her only son William (later 4th Baron Rathdonnell).

Ethel- The Lady Rathdonnell That Never Was

Robert and Kate Ievers had three daughters - Nena Beatrice (b. 1883), Ethel (b. 1885) and Kathleen (b. 1886). Robert died in 1905 when the girls were still in their teens. Seven years later, in 1912, 27-years-old Ethel Ievers married a 31-year-old Anglo-Irish aristocrat who was just commencing a 2-year tenure as ADC to the Governor of Ceylon. On 23rd November1914 she gave birth to their one and only child, William Robert McClintock Bunbury. Shortly after this, she moved to Ireland.

Born in 1881, Tim McClintock Bunbury hailed from one of the more affluent families in Victorian Ireland. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he became heir to the substantial estates throughout Ireland following the death of his elder brother Billy in the Boer War in February 1900. By 1907 he had secured a position as Private Secretary to the Limerick-born Governor, Sir Henry Arthur Blake (1840 - 1918).(10) "Towards the close of the year the Duchess of St Albans, sister to Lady Blake, arrived in the island in the company of Sir Henry and Lady Blake, who were returning to the island after a three months' holiday in England. Captain H.R. Phipps, and the Hon T. McClintock-Bunbury, P.S. arrived with Their Excellencies." (11)

In November 1909, he was elected a Grand Knight of the College of Philosophical Masons in Ireland. In 1912, I believe, he was appointed ADC to the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1907 - 1913). Following McCallum's resignation in 1913, Sir Robert Chalmers (1913 - 1916) was appointed Governor and it seems as though Tim must have retained his own office for he remained ADC to the Governor until 1914.(12)

Alas, Ethel McClintock Bunbury died young in 1922 and so little is known of her. Certainly my father and his three sisters have virtually no knowledge of their grandmother. I'm told Ethel had lush red hair, a trait which would pass through to two of her three granddaughters. The late John Grogan, an old Ceylon hand, once told me she was a devout Christian and much given to berating those who drank. (Her husband was nicknamed "Lord Silvermugs" on account of his penchant for drinking whiskey and soda out of a silver mug so she couldn't see!).(13) Some say Ethel died of loneliness when she and her small boy moved to Ireland at the start of the Great War. She had grown up in Ceylon, basking in the glories of imperial tea and tennis parties, sunshine and servants. Her father-in-law, Thomas Kane, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, was one of the most influential members of the Unionist movement in the southern half of the country. Ireland was in a state of turmoil when Ethel and her new husband first went to stay with his parents at their second home, Drumcar in County Louth. All across the east coast guns were being landed for Protestant and Catholic militia. The soldiers at the Curragh camp were mutinying. Dublin had become the stomping ground of trade unionism, republicanism, suffragettes and anti-war movements. And the British Government had finally agreed to let the country be ruled from Dublin, albeit with Britain's Sovereign Supremacy held intact. If Home Rule was granted to Ireland, as planned prior to the outbreak of the Great War, then there was every chance that the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell would be appointed Minister of the new government. As President of the Royal Dublin Society, his credentials for the Ministry of Agriculture must have drawn the notice of Lloyd-George's wartime coalition.

It can't have been easy to fit into this Anglo-Irish world for the young Ceylon gal who had lived her own equally bizarre isolated life before coming to Ireland. Less than a decade later she had passed away. She can't have seen her husband much because he was away during the war, reputedly on special assignment in Austria and Italy. In 1914, for instance, Captain Tim McClintock Bunbury, was mentioned in despatches for his services in the campaign in German East Africa. Later in the war he was serving on the Italian Front for which he was awarded both the Croce di Guerra and the Order of the Crown of Italy. (14) In 1918, he was awarded the British Red Cross Society Medal for War Service. It has often been suggested that Tim was not a very healthy man; no doubt his wartime experiences did not help but he enjoyed cigarettes and whiskey. And his parents were such a formidable pair that she appears meek and mild in their presence, a sort of Isabella Linton if you've ever read Wuthering Heights. She does however appear regularly in the Drumcar - Lisnavagh guest book during the war years. I am not sure where she was when not at Lisnavagh.

After the war, Tim appears to have returned to Ireland when appointed High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1919, a year when anti-English sentiments were reaching fever pitch across Ireland. He was awarded an MBE at the close of 1919. However, he was then recruited for "special service" in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire about which little else is known. Ethel died on 4th March 1922 aged 38 and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Liverpool. She left an 8-year-old son William Robert McClintock Bunbury. (15) Within weeks of her death, Ireland was plunged into a brutal civil war between the Free State Army and those who felt the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty fell far short of Republican ambitions. When Tom passed away in 1937, he was buried in Liverpool alongside Ethel.

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Above: Nena Izat, daughter of Bob Ievers and sister of Ethel McClintock Bunbury.

Ethel's Sisters

Ethel's elder sister Nena (Beatrice) Ievers obtained an MD from Edinburgh University and married a Ceylonese civil servant Norman Izat. His father, Alexander Izat, CIE, MICE, was Chief Engineer of the Daund-Manmad (opened 1878) and Bhavnagar- Gondal (1880) lines and had risen to be Director of the Bengal & North Western Railway Company. Nena and Norman had three children - Mary (16) , Katherine (17) Izat and Alan (18) - who would thus have been first cousins of my grandfather.

The younger sister Kathleen Crawford Ievers (Kitty) married Bertram George de Glanville of the Ceylon Civil Service. Bertram was born in 1885 and educated at Taylor's School, Crosby, and Worcester College in Oxford. (19) He joined the Ceylon Civil Service as a cadet in 1908 and worked his way up the ladder to the offices of magistrate and district judge. In 1929, the year Etel's father-in-law died, Bertram ucceeded to the Chairmanship of the Colombo Port Commission (and was till there when "The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List" was released in 1932). The CPC was established in 1913 (ie: when TLMB was there) to administer the affairs of the Port and to collect customs from passing ships.(20) They were responsible for developing the harbour, dredging the water and extending the warehouses, quays and waterways in the port. Kitty bore Bertram four sons - Ranulph (21), Geoffrey (22), Robert (23) and John) and two daughters (Joan (24) and Moira Dorothea (25). These were also first cousins of my grandfather.


1. His eldest brother, John Henry Ievers, served with the Royal Irish Constabulary and died in Australia in 1878 at the age of 31. The Ievers family of Mount Ievers also made a substantial impact in the Australian province of Victoria during the 19th century. Click here for more.
2. British Ceylon was a colony in which Irishmen were prominent. As engineers and planters, botanists and explorers, military attaches and civil servants. One of the most celebrated Governors was Sir William Gregory, husband to the great Lady Gregory, patron of WB Yeats and, perhaps relevant to the family, J. Millinton Synge. During his tenure (1872 - 1877), the Galway landlord initiated the restoration of thousands of defunct water tanks across the island, enabling the population to once again irrigate their parched mouths and rice paddys with monsoonal rainwater during the long dry seasons. When the island's coffee industry was hit by a devastating blight in 1875, Gregory's office encouraged the plantation of tea and rubber instead. Today the tea industry still accounts for about 15% of exports. It was also during Gregory's term that rubber trees were planted on the island, enabling planters to meet an increasing global demand that would mushroom with the evolution of the motor car. He converted the Royal Pleasure Gardens of Kandy into the world famous Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, a wonderful 60-hectare oasis of trees and shrubs. Lord Mountbatten enjoyed many a pensive stroll here while head-quartered at Kandy during the last world war.
3. Arthur Crawford's father Hugh Crawford died at Orangefield, co. Down, in 1819; his will describes him as a "Merchant of Belfast". Crawford's offices were at 130 North Street, Belfast.
4. Contact Margaret Levin at mannerim@ozramp.net.au for more.
5. Moira Barry married a man named Oulton
6. In the book "Tombstones and Monuments in Ceylon " there is reference to a Henry Rogers Ievers who died in Ceylon on 2.9.1864 and who is buried in St Peter's Church in the Fort, Colombo. He was a Lt in the Royal Artillery who died aged 32 yrs. He married in Colombo on 14th June 1860, Elizabeth Anderson. She was very tall and he was very short. He must have been of the same family as RW Ievers, CCS, CMG.
7. "Annals of the Ceylon Civil Service", JR Toussaint (1937).
8. "Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon", Harry Storey (1921).
9. "Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon", (1907), H. Storey, p. 303.
10. In "Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon" (1907), Arnold Wright says that "the establishment of the Queens House includes the Governor's Private Secretary Mr T.L.M. Bunbury….." (p. 94).,
11. Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, "Remembered Yesterdays" (1929), p.120.
12. In 1916, Chalmers stepped down and the Governorship passed to Sir John Anderson (1916 - 1918).
13. I found a legible letter from Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe, who commanded the International Mission in Italy after the Great War, to my grandfather written after the death of TL McClintock Bunbury in 1937.
From: Brig-Gen Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe, KCMG, CB, CVO, No. 3 Waldron Apartments, 837 Burdett Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
To: The Rt. Hon Lord Rathdonnell at Lisnavagh but forwarded by Rathvilly Post Office to him c/o the Cavalry Barracks in York.

Dear William,
I hope you remember my name though you were a very little boy when I last saw you at Brissendedn [sic?] in Kent.
I am very grieved at the news about your Father which his and my old friend, Miss Alexander, gave me today. I was very fond of your Father, who served me right well during the war at the front in Italy. I was very fond of your mother too. She was a wonderful person. I knew her when she came out to join your father at Worth-Klagurfurth [sic] in Cariathia [sic] when I was commanding the International Mission after the War.
Will you let me extend to you the expression of my great grief and sympathy with you in your loss? I came out here in 1930 and shortly after got laid up with heart-attacks - I spent 9 months in one Hospital and odd times of complete disability in others, but now am getting so much better that I am in hope of complete recovery.
Hitherto, for a long time, I have been unable to write any letters - I have been meaning to write to your Father for a long time but did not feel quite equal to doing it. I got your Father's address and that of your aunt, Mrs. Bramwell, from Miss. Alexander. It is too late, alas! to communicate with your Father, so I write to you.
Some years ago, your Father reminded me that he had a lot of papers of mine, confidential papers relating to the staff work of my Mission in Italy during the War. I lost my home in England and had no place to put them, but your Father very kindly promised to take care of them until I could look for them again. Could you tell me whether you can lay your hands upon them and could send them over to me at this address? I shall be so glad to have them as I mean to [undertake] to make a compilation of my reminiscences relating to the war.
Yours very sincerely,
C Delme Radcliffe

14. When did Tim start his service in Italy? Did he speak Italian? If he was then assigned to Austria, can we assume he was concentrating on Alpine matters? Among those others serving on the Italian Front in 1918 were Ernest Hemmingway and Major Robert Gregory, the pilot son of Yeat's patron and friend, Lady Gregory. Hemmingway wrote of his experiences there in Farewell to Arms which begins with a dramatic account of the disastrous fall of Caporetto (October 1917) when the Italian army in the Julian Alps was overwhelmed by an Austro-German offensive, in which young Rommel played a leading part. Hemmingway was not actually at Caporetto but was severely wounded in the defensive actions which followed. Major Gregory was awarded the MC and appointed to the Legion d'Honneur. He was shot down and killed over Italy on 23rd January 1918. He became the subject of W.B. Yeats An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.
15. When the 3rd Baron Rathdonnell died suddenly in 1937, The Times issued the following obituary on Thursday September 30th 1937: Lord Rathdonnell died on Tuesday in his 57th year. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury was educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College Cambridge and served in the War in German East Africa and on the Italian Front, being mentioned and made MBE and receiving the Italian War Cross and the Order of the Crown of Italy. After the war he was on special service in Austria. He was High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1919. In 1929 he succeeded his father as 3rd Baron in the peerage of Ireland. His wife died in 1922 and he is succeeded by his only son, the Hon. William Robert McClintock Bunbury, born in 1914. The cremation at Liverpool will be private. No flowers.
16. Mary Izat married Frank Pilditch and had a son David.
17. Katherine Izat (d. April 2005) married Michael King (d. 2003) and had two sons, Duncan (who died c. 2002-3) and Graham, and a daughter, Deborah.
18. Alan Izat (d. 2000) married Joan Kinnear (d. 1998) and had two sons Anthony and (Norman) John. I have been in contact with John Izat (NJAI@aol.com) since 2nd June 2004. He confirmed that his grandfather, hitherto "N. Izat" was in fact "Norman Izat".
19. A contemporary was RJAPG de Glanville, also born in 1885, called to the bar in the Bahamas in 1914, private secretary to His Excellence William Hart Bennett, CMG, administrator of the Bahamas (1909) and Sir W. Grey-Wilson, KCMG, Governor (1912).
20. The Port of Colombo has existed for many centuries but, due to its vulnerability to the South Western monsoons, was superseded by the Port of Galle as a landing place for passenger ships during the 19th century. In 1874 the British Government initiated work on the SouthWest breakwater. This major development led to the shift of traffic from Galle to Colombo. The evolution of Colombo as the business centre of Ceylon commenced thereafter and all imports and exports came through the Colombo harbour. The commercial and mercantile sector grew within the Fort of Colombo. The Macan Markar jewellery business, established in Galle in 1860 shifted to Colombo in the early 1870s.
"The Port of Colombo 1860- 1939", Dr K. Dharmasena (an economist). Published in 1980
21. Ranulph de Glanville married Daphne Pethides. Their first child, Susan, was born in 1943 and was followed by three sons, Derek, Michael and Christopher. The family grew up in Cyrprus where Ranulph and Daphne lived from 1946 and where they are both buried. Susan Francis (nee de Glanville) recalled her father telling how, as a child, he had often spent his school holidays at Lisnavagh with his first cousin, William, when he couldn't get home to his parents in Ceylon. Susan and her Wexford-born husband Tim Francis last visited Lisnavagh in the late 1970s. They presently live in Exeter, Devon.
22. Geoffrey de Glanville married Angela Benison.
23. Robert de Glanville married Joan Davidson and was killed in action in 1941.
24. Joan de Glanville married Vivian Sauvagny and had a son Philip.
25. Moire Dorothea de Glanville married E.M.C. Wait and had a daughter, Angela Jean, and son, Jonathan.