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Prominent families - Fitzgerald, Fitzthomas, Aylmer, Eustace, Bermingham, Browne, Talbot and Wogan

Prominent families - Fitzgerald, Fitzthomas, Aylmer, Eustace, Bermingham, Browne, Talbot and Wogan

Posted: 3 Oct 1999 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 22 Jun 2001 5:38PM GMT
Surnames: Fitzgerald, Fitzthomas, Aylmer, Eustace, Wogan, Gwgan, Bermingham, de Bermingham, Lawless, Fitzeustace, Bruce, Baltinglass, Joyce, Browne, Talbot
The surnames Fitzgerald, Aylmer, Eustace and Wogan are patronyms, i.e. names formed from one's father's name.

Fitzgerald is from the Norman French "fitz" (fils), for son of, and Gerald. The founder of the family, Gerald arrived in England with William the Conqueror and was granted lands in Pembrokeshire, Wales. He married Nesta, a Welsh princess, and they had four sons, one of whom, Maurice, took part in the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. He was granted the territory of Offelan, part of present-day central Kildare, and it was from this beginning that the Fitgerald family grew in wealth and power. John Fitzthomas was created the first Earl of Kildare. Though the passage of time saw constant fluctuations in the family fortunes, it was the failed rebellion in 1537 of Silken Thomas, son of Garret Og Fitzgerald, the ninth Earl of Kildare, against Henry VIII, that led to the virtual annihilation of the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, once the most powerful family in Ireland. Subsequent generations remained loyal to the English Crown, and in 1766, the family was given the title of the Dukedom of Leinster, a title they still hold today. The Fitzgeralds erected many castles, including those at Kilkea, at Woodstock in Athy, and at Maynooth, their stronghold. Today, the Fitzgeralds have no major properties in the county, and the present Duke resides in England.

Aylmer is derived from an Anglo-Saxon Christian name. They settled in Co. Kildare in the 13th century. The main branch of the family had its seat at Lyons and remained there for over 500 years. In 1422, Richard Aylmer was appointed Keeper of the Peace for Dublin and Kildare. Bartholomew of Lyons was appointed High Sheriff of Kildare in 1495, and his son, Sir Gerald, became Lord Chief Justice in Ireland. As upholders of English authority, the Aylmers took part in the Cromwellian and Jacobite wars. Sir Geralds's nephew, Richard, had three sons: Thomas, George and Gerald. George took part in the Battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, and also the siege of Limerick. He died in 1729, and his grandson, Michael, was forced, because of debts, to sell Lyons and the rest of his lands, including the lands of Cloncurry, to Nicholas Lawless in 1796. Other Aylmer family settled at Ballycannon and Courtown, Donadea, Kerdiffstown, as well as in County Meath.

Eustace is of Greek origin - Eustacius, probably meaning fruitful. They were second only to the Fitzgeralds in power and influence in Kildare. The first of the family, the Norman lord, Fitzeustace, is said to have settled at Castlemartin as early as 1200. There were several branches of the family in Kildare and Dublin. The family had castles and lands at Kilcullen, Brannockstown and Nicholastown, as well as an estate near Ballymore. Roland Eustace was created Baron Portlester in 1462 and was to play a prominent part in the War of the Roses and, later, in the government of the Pale. The main branch of the family was Catholic and James, the 3rd Viscount, protesting against the persecution of their religion, supported Mary Queen of Scots, and fought with Spanish allies near Naas. Following his defeat, he was forced into exile in Spain.

The present house at Castlemartin was built around the old Eustace Castle. The town of Ballymore-Eustace on the Kildare/Wicklow border is especially identified with the family. It was situated in an important area of the Pale, and the family established castles around the town and owned a number of estates in the area at Craddockstown, Coughlanstown, Punchestown and Blackhall.

Wogan is an anglicising of the Welsh name Gwgan, meaning a scowl or frown. The first Wogan came to Ireland with Maurice Fitzgerald during the Norman invasion. In 1295, Sir John Wogan became Governor of Ireland. Edward II granted him the lands and manor of Rathcoffey in 1317, and later the castle, manor and territory of Kildare. In 1581, Richard Wogan was executed for his part in the failed rebellion of Lord Baltinglass and the family lands were forfeited, although the following year some lands were returned to Richard's son. The Wogans intermarried with the Brownes of Clongoweswood and the Talbots of Malahide. Stephen Browne restored Castle Browne (Clongoweswood) as a residence and married a Rathcoffey Wogan, as did his son Michael. In 1788 Thomas Wogan Browne rebuilt the house. It was sold in 1813 by General Michael Browne to the Society of Jesus. Today, the house is a Jesuit College for seondary-level students and amongst its former pupils is James Joyce.

The toponym Bermingham or de Bermingham originates from the lands given to this particular Norman family in England. Two members of the de Bermingham family came to Ireland with Strongbow. They settled in the barony of Carbury and along the northwestern borders of Kildare and Offaly and the family held these lands for over 500 years. The family rose to prominence following Sir John de Bermingham's defeat of the forces of Robert Bruce in Ireland in 1328, earning him the Earldom of Louth. During the reign of Henry VIII a number of attacks were made on their stronghold at Castle Carbury and it was destroyed. However, Henry later bestowed the title of Baron of Carbury on Sir William Bermingham in 1542, and when William died in 1562, without an heir, the title and lands reverted to the Crown.

FitzGerald in Kildare? bef. 1830, then Tipperary

Posted: 5 Jan 2001 12:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 7 Oct 2001 8:36PM GMT
Surnames: Fitzgerald, Fitz-Gerald, White
I'm looking for my great-grandfather's family in County Tipperary. He was Richard Harry Fitz-Gerald b 1855 Co.Tipperary, immigrated to America c.1880-1885.
His death certificate says his father was Thomas C. J. Fitzgerald b. Hishiens or Kishiens (but I think this was supposed to be Kilsheelan?) Co. Tipperary and Mary White b. Golden (Golden Hills?) Co. Tipperary. I estimate Thomas C. J. and Mary White Fitzgerald's marriage to be c.1850 and their birth dates to be c.1830.

Richard Harry Fitz-Gerald was educated at Harrow School in England, but I don't know the dates.

In the U.S., Richard Harry Fitz-Gerald was of the Episcopal faith, but I don't know if that was true in Ireland. I wrote to the Co.Tipperary Bru Boru Heritage Centre, but they would/could not help me since I mentioned "Episcopal" on the form - they said they only research Catholic records and returned my check.

My grandfather and son of Richard Harry Fitz-Gerald used to say that Richard (or his father Thomas? or even his grandfather?) was "next in line to be Earl of Kildare but that he did not want the title and left" (left Kildare?, left Leinster? left Ireland?). There are lots of holes in this tale. (My grandfather may have been prone to embellishment.) The 20th Earl of Kildare became the 1st Duke of Leinster before Thomas C.J Fitzgerald would have been born. Tipperary is in Munster. Thomas C.J. Fitzgerald was born in Tipperary. In order for this to be true, he would have to have been talking about Thomas C.J's father at the very latest who could well have left Leinster for Munster. On the premise of "where there's smoke", I checked some of the peerage web sites, but in any likely spot to have such a tale be true, they did not bring the lineage down to a Thomas C.J. Fitzgerald (lots of potential spots with no marriages or children listed).

Also on the "where there's smoke" premise, I keep an open mind about the potential, then, that the ancestors of Thomas C.J. Fitzgerald may be from County Kildare in Leinster.

I'm sorry I do not have any more to offer on my Fitzgeralds in Ireland - I've spelled out every detail I have here - and I know personally every living descendant of Richard Harry Fitz-Gerald in the U.S. (so if you don't already know me personally as your cousin, I cannot help you in the U.S.), but if you have any clues for me, I would appreciate hearing from you. Email gullette@writeme.com

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