Eustace Families Association

Our Eustice family comes from Ireland.  We do not know which city they emigrated from or when.  But our guess is around 1840`s and the city of Dublin.

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Ballymore Eustace & Coghlanstown (Ballycotelan)

By Lord Walter FitzGerald with additions by Sir Eustace Tickell

(As published in the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society; Volume VII; (1912-14) Pages 367-370 and Volume XIII (1955) Pages 270.

COGHLANSTOWN, pronounced Cocklanstown, (also called Ballycotelan) is a townland in the Parish of Ballymore-Eustace, and lies on the northern bank of the River Liffey, near Harristown Station in County Kildare, Ireland.

The name has in the course of centuries, undergone various changes; it appears in ancient documents under the following forms: Ballycotelan, Ballicutland, Bally-cutlane, Cotlanston, and finally Coghlanstown. As the sept of MacCoghlan or Coghlan, belonged to the western portion of the King’s County, we may conclude that this townland took its name from an Anglo-Norman resident probably of the name of Cotlan; at which period a castle was erected, and a church built, dedicated to St. James, as a Blessed Well, dedicated to him, is still pointed out close to the old churchyard.

Reverend Denis Murphy, S.J; in an article titled “The Eustaces of County Kildare” presented January 17, 1892 to members of the Kildare County Archaeological Society and published in the Volume I of the society’s journal states the following, “In the County of Dublin there were two Eustace families; one at Dowdingstown and one at Ballymore Eustace. The leading family of the name were those at Castlemartin which have been deprived of castles and lands by calamities of the times.” Major General Sir Eustace Tickell in an article titled The Eustace Family and Their Lands in County Kildare published in the Journal of the Kildare County Archaeological Society, Volume XIII, Number 6 (1955) speculates that Sir Maurice of Ballycotelan, Thomas FitzOliver, Constable of Ballymore Castle in 1373, and Roland FitzOliver of Castlemartin were brothers. He states, "If so, this would afford the link between the FitzEustaces of Castlemartin and the powerful Ballycotlan branch."

The Eustaces of Ballycotelan  were a very early branch of the family. For  five generations the FitzEustaces (later Eustace)  held the Castle of Ballymore. The castle at Ballymore, situated at a vital crossing of the River Liffey, it was considered to be one of the most important forts on the English Pale. The fortress protected  the territory from intrusions by the native Irish septs that lived in the vastness of the Wicklow Mountains, whom the Eustaces  and other Anglo-Normans had dispossessed in the 12th and early 13th centuries. As early as 1355, Geoffrey FitzEustace and the Sheriff of Kildare had been ordered to inspect and report upon Ballymore Castle and other defenses of the Pale.                                                                                                                                                                                

Thomas FitzOliver FitzEustace was appointed Constable of the castle  in 1373 by the Archbishop of Dublin at a salary L10 a year upon condition of residence and provision of a garrison. Thomas FitzOliver was almost certainly a brother of Roland FitzOliver, who owned Castlemartin  at the time. Thomas was appointed one of the justices in 1395, to take an assize concerning lands of the 5th Earl of Kildare, and in 1404 was one of twelve delegates appointed to control the defenses of the County. Thomas married Matilda, widow of William FitzWalter of St. Albins, but apparently left no heir,  for his line was carried on by Sir Maurice, presumably a third brother.

Sir Maurice FitzEustace, Knight;  was High Sheriff of Kildare in 1377, 1384 and 1386, and of Dublin in 1386 and 1389. He was appointed Governor of Carbury Castle, then a stronghold of the  Berminghams, described as a troublesome and warlike sept.  Sir Maurice FitzEustace married in 1378 Joan, widow of Sir James Delahyde of Moyglare, County Meath, and secondly in 1394 to Nesta Staunton, widow of Sir Robert Holliwood of Artane.

Sir Richard FitzEustace of Coghlanstown and Gaganstown, son of Sir Maurice,  was appointed Justice of the Peace for County Kildare in 1408. He was Constable of Ballymore Eustace Castle and High Sheriff in 1414 and a member of Parliament, in which capacity he was responsible for maintaining a personal liason with England.

In1417, Sir Richard FitzEustace received a pardon from the Crown for certain debts and also for marrying without license,  Catherine Preston, who was a widow (?of William Lawless) and thus a ward of the Crown. He was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1426, and was Deputy Chancellor for the next ten years. In 1427, Sir Richard had custody of the Manors of Newcastle, Lyons Saggard and Esker. By 1446, custody of these properties had passed to Roland FitzEustace, Lord Portlester. In 1444, while Sir Richard was serving as a member in the Dublin Parliament, he was elected its Messenger to England. In a fragment of Irish Annals, compiled by Duald MacFirbis in 1656, there occurs the following entry under the year 1445:

“Sir Maurice Eustace’s son died.”

This entry must refer to the death of Sir Richard who was succeeeded by his son Sir Robert FitzEustace, Knight.

Sir Robert FitzEustace, was appointed Constable of Ballymore Castle on his father’s death in 1445 and was Sheriff of Kildare during the years 1452, 1456, 1470,  and 1472. Sir Robert  was appointed Constable of King’s Castle, Wicklow. The next year he became one of the original Brethren of St. George under the Earl of Kildare and Lord Portlester, whom he seems to have helped in their dangerous controversy with the King in 1476.

Sir Robert FitzEustace was temporarily dismissed from the post of Constable of Ballymore Castle for refusing to live in what must have been a strangely uncomfortable castle, built mainly for defense and the housing of sheep. Sir Robert and his heirs, for ever had been confirmed in the castle constable post for an annual fee of 10 by Richard Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin, 1417-49, but the grant was declared void by the King’s Justice Commissioners in 1524, and the post was not held by the family after 1577.

The Memoranda Rolls show that in 1453, the Sheriff of Kildare was ordered to arrest Sir Robert FitzEustace, Esquire, son of Sir Richard, owing to sums of money due to a merchant in Dublin, with instructions to imprison both him and Philip, son of Henry FitzEustace. In 1471, Sir Robert was Constable of King’s Castle in Wicklow.

He died in 1486 having had four sons: Sir Maurice his heir; James (d. 1522) of Gaganstown and of Roestown, Co. Meath, who had a son Nicholas (see below); and Oliver and Richard who both died young. His daughter Margaret married Robert Talbot of Belgard, Co. Dublin and their son John married Eleanor Eustace of Clongowes Wood.

At the time of Sir Robert FitzEustace’s death, his possessions were: The Manor of Ballycotlan (678 a. with 3 castles, water-mills, etc.); Gaganstown with Castle and Court Baron; Ardinode (223 a. with castle, stone tower, water-mill, and etcetera); Rochestown, Bardore, Fianstown (?) and Jogogeston (?); from the Archbishop 40 acres in Ballymore; from the Lord of the Manor of Naas, Jigginstown (260 a with two castles water-mill, etc.); and from the Eustaces or Kerdiffstown, Donode (225 a. with castle, etc.). Donode is just north of Coghlanstown and the site of the castle is now called The Moat, a rath some 70 feet high

Sir Maurice Eustace succeeded his father as Constable, and in 1499 was High Sheriff. In about 150 he married Lord Portlester’s daughter Joan widow of the 2nd Baron of Dunsany. Like his grandfather, he was trained in the law, an advantage which he put to unscrupulous use when dealing with his mother-in-law’s property, but the results were later discovered and rectified. He died in about 1520 leaving: Christopher, his heir; James who was pardoned in 1549, but died soon afterwards; Thomas imprisoned in 1534 at Dublin with his aunt Janet Delahyde, Portlester’s daughter, and probably died without issue; Margaret who married James Fitzgerald of Osbertstown, Constable of Lea Castle; and Anne who married first Sir Richard Eustace of Harristown, brother of the 1st Viscount, and secondly Sir Maurice Fitzgerald of Lackagh. He was killed in 1520 when Lord Deputy by the O’Moores at cross Morris, near Lackagh. The carved cross marking the site was probably erected by his step-daughter Margaret Eustace, who had married George Barnewall of Arroldstown, son of Christopher of Crickstown, Co. Meath.

Christopher Eustace, son of Maurice, was born about 1502, and in 1525 married Elizabeth daughter of John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimlestown, and widow of George Plunkett of Beaulieu. Their only child Joan married Nicholas Taaffe of Athclare, Co. Lowth. Christopher joined the Silken Thomas rebellion and was captured and hanged in 1537, his estates being forfeited. Thomas FitzGerald was a first cousin to Christopher Eustace, their grandfather being Roland FitzEustace, Lord Portlester. The subsequent history of  Christopher’s family will be dealt with later (see Brannockstown).

Nicholas Eustace, Christopher’s nephew, succeeded Sir Maurice as Constable, and during his tenure Ballymore was plundered by the Geraldines. On his death in 1577 the line became extinct.

The Eustaces had held Ballymore Castle and their neighboring estates for more than two centuries, but are now remembered only by the name of the little town that stands around the site of the once important castle (just east of the present bridge), perhaps a lasting memorial, for the inhabitants sternly refuse to omit the suffix Eustace. Two massive old crosses standing in the churchyard and another by the wayside a mile and a half west of the town commemorate past members of the family, but their origin is unknown. One of the crosses is inscribed— “I.H.S” and Erected by A. M. WALL, Nov. the 9, 1689.” doubtless the date of its re-erection. Inside the Church of Ireland at Ballymore Eustace lies the effigy from Kilcullen (q.v.) which was brought there in 1919 by Sir Erasmus Burrowes.

Members of the Eustace family continued to live in the neighborhood, and there are frequent references to them in the records. For instance, Oliver, Anne and Jane Eustace forfeited their lands during the Commonwealth (1641), and at least two of the Eustaces of Robertstown had property there, through the marriage of Charles of Naas (d. 1732) to Elizabeth Borrowes of Ardinode. Also see Barretstown, Dowdenstown and Tipperkevin which are all in Ballymore Eustace Parish and are located two or three miles north of the town square.


The Convert Rolls which list conversions of Catholics to Protestantism show the following for Ballymore Eustace:

  • Mary Eustace, Ballymore Eustace, certified 9 November 1761, enrolled 12 November 1761.
  • Mary Eustace, otherwise Drake, of Ballymore Eustace, d. Dublin, conformity 27 July 1761.

Early parish records at Ballymore Eustace Catholic Church list the following Eustaces:

  • Anne and Dorothy Eustace as well as John Moore, witnessed the July 6, 1785 marriage of John Keane to Joanne Keating of Tipperkevin.

  • William Eustace and Anne Eustace were witnesses to the August 10, 1788 marriage of William Clarke and Eleanor Walsh.
  • Edward Eustace of Donode, married Sarah Ferris, Nov. 14, 1790. They had at least three children baptized at Ballymore Eustace, but the sponsors do not include mention of the name Eustace.

o        Judith Eustace, baptized Dec. 21, 1791

o        Timothy Eustace, baptized Dec. 14, 1793

o        Martha Eustace, baptised April, 1797

  • Anastatia Eustace, daughter of John and Mary Eustice was baptized Sept. 21, 1820.
  • Martha Eustace and Philip O’Toole were sponsors at the baptism of Mary, daughter of Nicholas and Brigid Keary on August 28, 1821.
  • Thomas Eustace and Catherine Connolly were sponsors at the Dec. 26, 1826 baptism of Timothy, son of Bartholomew and Brigid Flynn.

Father Lawrence O’Donoghue, who served as Parish Priest at Ballymore Eustace for many years indicated that the Eustace name also appears in parochial registers of Manor Kilbride in Blessington Parish about 6 miles northeast of Ballymore Eustace which commence in 1852. He also says there are Eustaces in registers for Corofin, County Clare and County Carlow for this same period., The name Eustace occurs on the 1914-18 War Memorial at Ballymore Eustace.

The Churchyard of Coghlanstown, containing extensive ruins of a Church dedicated to St. James, lies near the Stonebrook demesne, on the opposite side of the public road, and four miles from Kilcullen bridge in the Ballymore-Eustace direction. The Church ruins, though greatly overgrown with ivy, are in a very fair state of preservation. Internally they measure 50 feet in length by 17 feet in breadth; the walls are 3 1/2 feet thick.


In the West Wall there is a built-up doorway with a window above it; the gable is surmounted by a little belfry.

In the North Wall there is an arched entrance leading into the Church, with a small, square niche on either side of it. Close to this entrance, inside the Church, there is a doorway leading to a flight of steps which wind up to another doorway in the wall about seven feet from the ground. Externally there is a square projection where this staircase is placed. This peculiar and unusual feature in ecclesiastical architecture was connected with a pulpit, which was reached from the staircase. Between “the pulpit stairs” and the east wall is an ogee-headed window, and near the latter a square niche known as ‘‘a Locker,” which was placed to the left of the altar.


In the East Wall there is a handsome little ogee-headed window of two lights; there is also a square niche to the right of where the high altar stood.


In the South Wall, near the east end, is a niche called “a Piscina,” out of which the perforated saucer-like stone has been removed; two more ogee-headed windows in good preservation are pierced in this wall; and then opposite to the entrance in the north wall there is a wide, arched recess, lit by a narrow round-headed window, causing a projection in the wall on the outside; this recess probably served as a Baptistery. The head of a rude, square font, pierced in the middle, lies sunk in tb8 in R ground near the recess; it is formed out of a rough block of are n granite about 2 feet square.


There are no interments visible inside the Church ruins. Outside in the burial-ground there are only two objects of

any interest—a granite cross base and a seventeenth-century limestone cross-shaft. The cross-base is situated in the north-eastern portion of the burial-ground; it consists of a roughly squared granite boulder, 82 inches by 21 inches, having a socket in it 10 inches deep, with sides measuring 15 inches by 9 inches; the cross itself is not to be found inside the churchyard.


The limestone cross-shaft is stuck in the ground in the south eastside of the churchyard; i was erected to the memory of one of the Eustace family in the seventeenth century. In its present fractured condition it is 2j feet in length, with sides of 10 and 7 inches ; at the upper end it is encircled by a projecting portion which contains the socket (53- by 2f inches) in which the head of the cross was fixed. Along the projecting band ran an inscription

These pages Ronald Eustice, 2008