The following article was taken from Vol. III (1860-61) of THE JOURNAL OF THE KILKENNY AND SOUTH-EAST OF IRELAND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY. The paper was submitted to the Society at the General Meeting, held in the Society’s Apartments, William-street, Kilkenny, on Wednesday, May 9th 1860.
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Mr. John O’Reilly, Jun., contributed the following registry of births, marriages, and deaths, in the family of Mr. William Shee, of Sheepstown, county Kilkenny:
“ ‘My daughter Mary born a Sonday ye 14th July 1734 at 2 a clock in the morning & was babtised by father Phill Purcell Mr. Vall Smyth of Damme & Mr Wat Butlers Lady stood gossops, pray God make her his servant.
“ ‘My Sone James was born Sonday ye 21st Septembr 1735 between 4 & 5 in the afternoon he was babtised by father Phill Purcell ye 25. Uncle Frank Shee and Cosn Chevers gossops ; pray God make him his true servant.’
“ [Written later] ‘ My son Jams sailed from Dublin ye 4th day of april 1748 on board ye friendship of London Captain Ross commander bound for Rotterdam. God protect and direct him.’
“ ‘ My sone Frances was borne Saturday ye 21st of Janvar about 5 in the morning he was baptised by father Phill Purcell Pierce Corr and my mother Huish gossops.’
“ ‘ [Written later and a portion lost] ‘ My son Frank Shee sayl’d from
Cork abord the Betty from London, Captain Brown Commander for Haver de [torn away]
[torn away] I pray God of his infinite [torn away]
[torn away] him and preserve him from [torn away]
[torn away] invisible [torn away]
[torn away] March ye 5th about [torn away]
[torn away] the child being weak was babtised [torn away]
[torn away] a Carmilit Fryer sd Pendergast [torn away]
[torn away] gossops, he died ye 10th [torn away]
[torn away] my Father Shees . [torn away]
My Son Henry was born 7br (sic) ye 30th 1740 between 6 & 7 in ye morn-
p. 91 image 121
ing, baptised 8br ye 5th by father Patt Murphey, Mr Robert Langrish & Mrs Read Rosenarow gossops I pray God make him his Son.
“ ‘My Daughter Margret was born ye 6th of Decembr 1743 at the our of 4 in ye afternoon babtised ye 11th by father Patt Murphy Mr John Meade & Mrs Conan stood gossops.
“‘My sayed daughter died ye 8th of Sep’r following & is burried at Derry[ . . .]
“ ‘My Daughter Rose was born tusday ye 11th of Sepr about 6 in ye morning, crisened by father Patt Murphy, Redd Purcell [torn away]
Mary Shee gossops my [torn away]
Purcell. I pray God [torn away].
“ ‘Sunday November ye 10th , my Daughter Mary was marryed to Mr Patt Kennedy of Waterford by the Revd Pat Murphy [torn away]
[torn away] them.
“ ‘Monday December 31st 1753, my Cosn Captain John Hennesy of Boulklyes died at Sheepstown of a obstruction in his livers & and is buried at Derryne[. -. . ] “ ‘Pray God have mercey on his soul.
“ ‘I was marryed to Mr Shee ye 1st of October 1732 by ye Bishop of Ossory.
“ ‘My Dr father Mr George Huish died 26th October 1745, the lord Jesus have mercy on his Soul.’
“ The foregoing interesting record of Kilkenny family history is one
of a class of documents very rare in Ireland, and, therefore, the more va-
luable. It is a register of the births, the marriages, and the deaths in a
Catholic family, of the better class, during the dark days when the penal
laws existed. It also tells of the abandonment of Ireland (where, at the
time, every honourable career but trade was shut against them) by the sons
of the family as they approached to manhood, and their departure ‘be-
yond seas,’ either to swell the ranks of the Irish brigades, or to obtain
the education forbidden them at home; and this notwithstanding the
heavy penalties for so doing, which might have been imposed on their
parents or guardians. These penalties made it neither safe nor pru-
dent to commit to writing such confessions as the document contains, and
hence the scarcity of those of a similar character. These penalties will be
found stated at length in the Act 7 William III., c. 4, and were in full
force during the early part of the time when the register commenced.
Like all absurdly rigorously (sic) laws, they were, in a great measure, practi-
cally inoperative, through the good feeling of those who had the execution
of them. Thus we find the Protestants, Mr. Langrish, of Knocktopher,
and Mrs. Read, of Rosenarow, standing ‘ gossops’ for the Catholic child
born in 1740, which child was baptized by Father ‘Patt’ Murphy ‘ con-
trary to the statutes and the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King,
“ The family to which the register relates resided at Sheepstown, other-
wise BALLINAGERAGH, near Ballyhale, in the county of Kilkenny. Sheeps-
town, according to an inquisition held at Rosbercon in 1620, was held
from the then Viscount Mountgarret by Pierce Rooth, merchant of Kil-
kenny. By a subsequent inquisition it was found to be held by John
Rooth Fitz Pierce from the King, by knight’s service.
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“ The close connexion (sic), religiously and politically, which our local his-
tory points out to have existed between the Rooths and Shees, was, no
doubt, cemented by marriage alliances between members of both families,
and in this way Sheepstown became the residence of one of the four
younger sons of Sir Richard Shee, of Bonnetstown, who married into the
“ The first name of local historic interest that occurs in the register
is that of ” Mr. Vall Smyth, of Damme. ’ This gentleman, it will be
found by reference to the first volume of the ‘ Transactions’ of this Society, 1
was descended from a family originally settled at Longashen, near BRISTOL.
William Smyth was the first of the name who settled in the county of Kil-
kenny, into which he came under the protection of the first Duke of Or-
“ For the faithful services performed by the Smyth family to the house
of Ormond, and which are detailed in letters under the hands of the
first and second Dukes (for which see the ‘ Transactions,’ as above quoted)
a grant of arms was conferred on the family, which had been settled at
Damagh for some time previously, where they built a mansion-house, a
portion of which is now converted into a farm-house. William Smyth,
the founder of the family, built St. Michael’s Church near his house, and
the grave-yard was the place of interment of his family.
“ The dedication of the church to St. Michael was intended, no doubt,
to preserve a memorial of the Bristol origin of the family, there being a
church dedicated to the Saint in that city. A tombstone in the church-
yard 2 gives a succinct history of the family from its foundation in Ireland.
It ends with the record of the deaths of ” John Smyth on y e 8th day of
June, 1708, aged 41 years; Jane Smyth, alias Read, wife to said John,
dyed on y e 28th day of August, 1747, aged 71 years. ’ In reply to the
statement that the Smyth family had ceased to exist in the county of Kil-
kenny for nearly a century, George Lewis Smyth, Esq., of Parliament-
street, London, communicated the following: — 3
“ ‘ The heirs of that Valentine Smyth, so emphatically commended by
the Duke of Ormond, continued to possess Damagh until a younger son,
taking advantage of the penal laws against the Roman Catholics, wrested
the estate from his elder brother, by becoming a Protestant. ’ 4
1 First Series, p. 261.
2 Transactions,” vol. i., (first series), P- 200.
3 Transactions,” vol. ii. (first series), P- 187.
4 The following is the circumstance which afforded a pretext for the
enactment under which the proprietor of Damagh was dispossessed
of his property by his younger brother :
“ 2d Die Decembris, 1695 A petition of Roger Shiell, Gentleman, being
a Protestant, and the eldest son of a Papist, praying House to appoint
a Committee to prepare the heads of a bill, to prevent his being dis-
inherited by his said father, was presented to the House, and read. ‘
The following is the father’s reply :–
“ A petition of William Shiell, setting forth that he is very willing,
without an act of parliament, to settle his estate on his Protestant
sons, and none else ; and that he has no design to disinherit his
eldest son Roger Shiell, as being a Protestant, though he is less
dutiful to him than his other sons; that in regard his real estate is
not worth above ten pounds per annum, and that the allegations
of his son Roger are false, that this House would examine the
truth of the allegations on both sides, was presented to the House. ”
“ Journals of the Irish House of Commons.”
The Act for vesting the estates of Catholics in the nearest Protestant
relatives claiming them, grew out of the proceedings consequent on
the above petition.
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“ The dispossessed party did not, however, lose his interest with the
Butler family ; on the contrary, he rented from his patrons more than one
townland in the neighbourhood of Carrick-on-Suir, where he resided.
On the relaxation of the penal laws, the estate of Westcourt, near Callan,
was purchased, in fee, by Valentine Smyth, of Carrick-on-Suir. ‘ He
was, I believe, the grandson of the person who was deprived of Damagh,
and instituted a suit in Chancery for the recovery of that property, with-
out avail. He died at the Lodge, in Callan, which stands on part of the
“ Edmund Smyth, who died so late as 1822, in France, had been agent
for the Ormond estates for some years. The estate of Westcourt de-
scended to his eldest son Edmund, and passed through the Incumbered
Estates Court in 1855.
“ The ‘ Vall Smyth’ of the register was, most probably, the person
ejected from Damagh by his younger brother, and son to John Smyth, who
died in 1708.
“ Of the family of ‘ Huish,’ to which the writer of the register belonged,
we can find no record as having existed in Kilkenny. 1 It probably be-
longed to either Wexford or Carlow, of either of which counties she may
have been a native. We are led to form this opinion by the fact of the re-
lationship which existed between Mrs. Shee and the Chevers family, and
by a note in the ‘ Annuary’ of this Society for 1855 (p. 66), where it is
stated that — ‘ Chievers is the name of a Flemish family which settled at
an early time in the county [Wexford]. William Chevre is one of the
witnesses to the charter of Tintern Abbey (Charta, &c., Hib.). Patrick
Chievers held a knight’s fee of the Earl of Pembroke, and witnessed this
nobleman’s charter to Wexford in 1317. Edward Chievers was created
Viscount Mount- Leinster by James II.’ 2 The following extract from the
‘ Journal of the Irish House of Commons,’ A. D. 1662, Car. II., is an evi-
dence of the residence of a branch of the family in Carlow :–
“ 5 Die Martii, 1662.– Upon consideration had of the petition of Peter
Bath, Merchant, alledging that Thomas Burdett, Esq., late Sheriff of the
county of Catherlagh, a member of this House, suffered one John Chei-
vers, under an execution of three hundred pounds at the petitioner’s suit,
to make an escape, and praying, that the privillege of the said Burdett
be waved, to the end he may bring his action against him.’
“ There did exist a branch of the Chevers family in Kilkenny, how-
ever, for, by an inquisition held at the Black Abbey, in that city, on
the 6th of September, 1637, John Chevers was found in possession of
1 The name of Huish is an extremely rare one in this country, though
Mrs. Shee was evidently, from her family connexion, an Irishwoman.
I never recollect meeting the name but once, and then it was sub-
scribed to an advertisement of the ” London and North- Western
Railway Company,’ concerning trips to Killarney. Perhaps it may
turn out that the ” Mark Huish” of the railway line in question may
also be of the line of Shees.
2 There is a letter in the first volume of the new series
of the ” Transactions” of the Society, p. 102, from Patrick Furlong to
his nephew, Christopher Chievers. The letter is dated the 29th of June,
1593, and is concerning the presence of certain Spanish pirates then
on the coast of Wexford. The writer was Mayor of Wexford, and uncle
to Christopher Chievers. The latter resided at Killiane Castle, of which
he was owner. Edward Chievers, Lord Mount- Leinster, of King James
the Second’s creation, was of this family.
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Maylardstown, which he held in soccage; 1 but from the fact of Huish not
being a Kilkenny name, it is probable that ‘ Cosn Cheevers,’ a near and dear
relative, was brought from her native country to stand sponsor for the
first-born son of Mrs. Shee.
“ In the two instances where the burial-place of the Sheepstown family
is alluded to, the name of the place in the original MS. is partly illegible.
In the first only ‘Derry’ remains, and in the second, recording the
death and burial of Captain John Hennesy ‘ of Boulkleys,’ ‘ Derryne.’
There can be little doubt that this means Derrynehinch, a very ancient
grave-yard, within half a mile of Sheepstown.
“ There are not now, however, any remains of monuments erected to
any of the Shee family in Derrynahinch, for an obliging correspondent in-
forms me that he ‘ examined all the tombstones in Derrynahinch old
church-yard, and could not find one with the names of either Shee or
Hennesy, although there are some with dates so far back as 1717.’
“ This Captain Hennesy is likely to have been a relative to M. Hen-
nesy, Lieutenant- Colonel of Lee’s Regiment of the Irish Brigade in the
French service.O’Conor, in the appendix to the ‘ Military Memoirs of
the Irish Nation,’ quotes two letters written by M. Dangervilliers to Co-
lonel Hennesy; one of the 16th November, 1731, the other of the 27th
September, 1732. The letters relate to an Irish soldier of Lee’s, who, having
killed a comrade, took sanctuary in the Church of the Capuchins at St.
Omers, and communicate the King’s determination not to permit religious
houses to shelter foreign soldiers under such circumstances. This reso-
lution of the French King was properly forced on him by the combative
propensities of the Brigade men, whose ardour for fighting, while in peace-
ful quarters, may have inclined them to recall some feuds of their old
country to keep their hands in practice. When accidents did occur, can
we blame the Irish members of French religious houses, if they threw the
mantle of charity over their brave countrymen, and sought to save them
from the consequences, both by their prayers and the protection of their
“ Captain John Hennesy, who lies in Derrynahinch, without a stone
to mark where he rests, was one of those who composed Bulkley’s regi-
ment at Fontenoy, where it took the colours and two field-pieces from the
second regiment of English foot guards. At the battle of Lawfeld, which
took place on the 2nd of July, 1747, the Irish Brigade distinguished it-
self very much, and amongst the officers rewarded for their conduct on
the occasion was M. Hennesy, Captain of the Grenadiers of Bulkley’s
1 There was another residence of the Chevers family
in the county of Kilkenny, as the following extract from the ” Post-
chaise Companion,” Dublin, 1803, asserts : ” On the left of the road to
Durrow, near Ballycondra, are seen the ruins of the Castle of Ballyseskin,
formerly belonging to the family of Chevers.” The ruins, we believe, still
exist, and are in the parish of Aharney.
2 Very many Irishmen were at the head of various religious communities
down to the period of the first revolution in France. Not to multiply
instances, an ” ingenious” English gentleman found an Irishman Prior of
the Benedictine Priory of Chalons, where Abelard died and was interred,
previous to the removal of his remains to the Paraclete.
The Englishman indulges in the following choice specimen of the mode
of speech called a ” bull,” concerning the Irish prior alluded to: –” The
prior was an Englishman, though a native of Ireland none of those idle dis-
tinctions reigning abroad, which so often bred discontent at home.”–
“Annual Register,” 1768, p. 170.
p. 95 image 125
regiment, who had the commission of Lieutenant- Colonel conferred on
him. This appears to have been only brevet rank, and if the Captain
Hennesy, distinguished for his conduct at Lawfeld, was the same man
who died at Sheepstown, the circumstances of the times sufficiently ac-
count for his Colonelcy not being obtruded on public notice in Ireland.
He, when declining health prevented his pursuing a military career, re-
turned to die amongst his kindred, and the pious prayer, ‘ Pray God have
mercy on his soul,’ shows how kindly the old soldier was regarded by
“ The fact of ‘ Cos John Hennesy’ being an officer in the Irish
Brigade sufficiently indicates why ‘ My Sonne James sail’d from Dublin
bound for Rotterdam.’ It would not have been prudent, two years after
Fontenoy, for a young recruit to sail direct for a French port. Some
years later, Frank, the second son, sailed direct for ‘ Havre-de —-;’ the
vigilance of the Government being then relaxed in some measure, though
in 1750 a sergeant of the Irish Brigade was hanged at Tyburn for enlist-
ing men in London for the French service. 1
“ The simple prayers of this Irish mother for the protection of her
children from ‘ visible and invisible dangers’ are very affecting, and were
not unheard, for their careers in the land of their adoption were prosper-
ous ones, and their descendants now exist in honourable positions in
“ A correspondent of the ‘ Kilkenny Journal,’ who some time ago gave
a notice of Baron de Shee’s elevation to a Chevaliership of the Legion of
Honour, and also of his distinguished services as a cavalry officer in the
French army, alluded to the Baron’s descent from William Shee, of
Sheepstown, who died in 1758, and who was husband to the lady who
kept this family registry. The gentleman who communicated the sketch
to the ‘ Kilkenny Journal’ states that Henry Shee, son of the above Wil-
liam, ‘ married a Miss Nichols, whose mother was daughter to Richard
Shee, of Roseneamy, from whom in the fourth degree is descended James
Shee, Esq., of Abbeyview, Clonmel ; her sister, Sarah Nichols, was mar-
ried to James Butler, of Fethard, Esq., and their issue was Richard But-
ler, the first Earl of Glengall. Redmond Shee, the son of Henry Shee, and
the father of the present Baron, by his wife, the daughter of Michael
Murphy, the founder of the Presentation Convent in Kilkenny, left his
native country in 1782, and went to France to his relative, the Field-
Marshal Clarke, Duke de Feltre, who was also from the county of Kilkenny.
In 1791, at the age of 16, he entered Berwick’s regiment, and in 1809
was made a Colonel in the 13th Regiment of Chasseurs, and in 1817 was
General of Brigade, and for his services was created Baron by the first
Napoleon. During the Peninsular war he took the Marquis of Anglesey
prisoner.’ The sketch goes on to say that subsequently, during a debate
on the Catholic question, the Marquis alleged the Baron’s gallantry as a
reason for throwing open the highest posts in the British army to Catho-
1 His name was Reynolds, and while his irons were being knocked
off in the pressyard of Newgate, he declared that he went to be
hanged with as much satisfaction as if he were going to be married,
and that he was innocent. Probably many others, similarly engaged,
escaped. A man was hanged the same month on Pennendon Heath,
near Maidstone, for the same offence against the law.
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“ The Baron Redmond de Shee, Anglesey’s friend, died about the year
1837 at St. Germain-en-Laye. His only surviving issue, the present
Baron who was recently created Chevalier of the Legion of Honour,
spent some of his childhood in Kilkenny, at the late Mrs. Leech’s school.
He is married to Valentina, the daughter of the Marquis d’ Anach, of the
Chateau de la Cour Senlisse, Department Seine et L’Oire.
“ So far, in substance, is the account tracing back the present Baron’s
pedigree to Henry Shee, third son of William Shee and the lady who was
married to him ” ye 1st of October 1732, by ye Bishop of Ossery.’ The
writer appears to have overlooked the fact, or not to have been aware of
it, that there were two elder brothers of Henry Shee’s, who had, appa-
rently, settled in France, and from either of whom the distinguished legi-
timist, Count Dalton Shee, is most probably descended, as well as other
Shees, besides the Baron, who hold high posts in the French army.
This, however, may be, and probably is, a mere supposition, and, there-
fore, it is much to be wished, for the sake of our local biographical his-
tory, that the writer of the sketch of the Baron, which appeared in the
‘ Kilkenny Journal,’ who appears to have peculiar facilities for the task,
would apply himself to giving a detailed account of the connexion between
the Irish and the French Shees, and that of their famous relative Clarke
(Napoleon’s Minister-of-War) with them. This would also include some
notice of ‘ De Montmorency Morris (Herve),’ Adjutant-Commandant,
whose name also is a Kilkenny one. The position which he held in the
Imperial War Office under Clarke, would appear to show a connexion be-
tween them either of kindred or country, while the interest that they
both displayed in providing O’ Conor with materials for the history of
the Irish Brigade from the archives of their department, evince their sym-
pathy with his undertaking. 1
“ One thing is certain, that the military connexion between the Shees,
of Sheepstown, and France did not commence with Redmond’s departure
in 1782, to join his relative, Marshal Clarke. 2 Either James or Francis,
his uncles, will most probably be found on the muster-roll of the Irish
Brigade as fellow-soldiers of Captain John Hennesy, ‘ of Boulklye’s,’ who
was their mother’s cousin.
“ The allusion to the ‘ Carmilit Fryer, sd Prendergast,’ baptizing the
child in the neighbourhood of Knocktopher during the penal days, corro-
borates the statement that the Order has never been absent from that
immediate locality since the suppression of the Abbey.
1 The following attestation is appended to O’Connor’s ” Military Memoirs
of the Irish Nation :” —
“ His Excellency the Duke de Feltre, Minister of War, was so
kind as to communicate to me the original memoir above cited, of
which this is a perfect copy, which I attest.
“ DE MONTMORENCY MORRIS (HERVE)
” Colonel ” Adjutant Commandant.
“ Paris, 1st September, 1813.”
2 One of the ancestors of the Due de Feltre was J. Clarke,
Esq., who occupied a somewhat similar position of trust under the
Ormond family, to that held by the founder of the Smyth family in Ireland.
The Rev. Dr. Brown, Master of Kilkenny College, in a highly interesting
account of that famous establishment, contained in the ” Transactions,”
vol. i., first series, p. 125, quotes a letter from Thomas Otway, Bishop of Os-
sory, to J. Clarke, Esq., dated on the 18th August, 1686. The letter indicates
the approaching struggle between the partisans of James and William, and
makes allusion to its effects on the interests of the endowed school of Kilkenny.
p. 97 image 127
“ The document under consideration was left at her death by Miss
Anne Elliott, who recently died in Kilkenny, and who was a second cousin
of the Duke de Feltre, with whom she had spent some time in France in
her younger days. She also left two beautifully executed medallion
portraits, in embossed bronze, of the Duke and his wife, besides a miniature
on ivory of a young man in a hussar uniform, apparently of the early
French revolutionary period, probably that of Redmond Shee.
“The original of the document, and also the likenesses, are now in the
possession of Mrs. Croseby, late of Johnstown, county of Kilkenny, sister
to Miss Elliot.
“ It may be added, that the old Castle of Sheepstown was only recently
pulled down, to form a quarry to build an ugly dwelling-house, by a Mr.
Kelly, who purchased the property in the Incumbered Estates Court. It
had previously, however, passed out of the hands of the Shees into the
possession of a family named Breathwicke. ”
PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
MCGLASHAN & GILL, 50, UPPER SACKVILLE-STREET.
Internet Archive – Proceedings and Papers of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society for the year 1860. Twelfth Session : Vol. III.-Part I. New Series.
Havre-de-Grace, Normandy, France
The city was founded in 1517, when it was named Franciscopolis after Francis I of France, and subsequently named Le Havre-de-Grâce (“Harbor of Grace”). Le Havre simply means the harbour or the port. . . .
On 19 November 1793, the city changed its name to Hâvre de Marat and later Hâvre-Marat in honor of the recently deceased Jean-Paul Marat, who was seen as a martyr of the French Revolution. By early 1795, however, Marat’s memory had become somewhat tarnished, and on January 13, 1795, the town’s name became simply Le Havre.
Havre-de-Grace, Conception Bay, Newfoundland
Interestingly, the history page for the town of Harbour Grace states that it was “founded by Francis I of France in 1517, [and] is thought to have derived its name as a transfer from Harve de Grace, the name used for LeHarve, France.” There is no reason to believe that the Newfoundland community was the destination of Frank Shea or that he is connected to the Newfoundland Sheas.
Henry Shea who became involved in Newfoundland business and politics was apparently from Carrick-on-Suir. He named one of his sons Edward Dalton Shea, perhaps in tribute to an admired countryman, who just happened to share his surname? For more on Henry Shea see his bio at Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.