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.

Home Objectives


Genealogy Who's Who? Eustace Families Post Eustace Families Association Contacts

Kildare Families

Back to Irish Families
Maps of County Kildare Ballymore Eustace: Passing Years
King James' Irish Army The Old Kilcullen effigy
Castlemore and Newstown, County Carlow Robertstown Family
Baltinglass Rebellion Cromwell's Act of Resettlement of 1652
Biographical Sketches of Eustaces of Kildare  

The Eustace Family & Their Lands in County Kildare

By Major-General Sir-Eustace F. Tickell

(As published in the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society; Volume XI1I, No. 6 (1955)

In several of his valuable contributions to this Journal, the late Lord Walter Fitz Gerald regretted the virtual disappearance from the County of many of the old Kildare families, among which be always cited the Eustaces, upon whose history he submitted several articles. As a descendant of the main Castlemartin and Harristown line, the present writer now owns some of the old family papers, and these have but recently been sorted out. Though sadly incomplete, these papers confirm. many of the facts already published in this Journal and provide us with others. At the cost of much repetition, this seemed to be an opportunity to collect the Eustace story, so far as it could be traced, into one paper. It is a story closely linked with Irish history since the fourteenth century, the story of the birth of a great family and of its gradual disappearance from the County in the storms that have passed through Ireland during the last five-hundred years.

This was a family often divided against itself by deeply- held religious differences and by divergent political loyalties, a family whose important members so often chose the losing side: It was for a time perhaps the most powerful in Kildare (except of course the FitzGeralds), with lands scattered from Confey in the north to beyond the county boundary in the south; from the Dublin and Wicklow mountains in the east to Athy and Newbridge in the west. The triangle containing Naas, Ballymore Eustace and Old Kilcullen was almost one large family estate

Criche-Eustace  or  Cry-Eustace  it was called. Their castles, especially those at  Ballymore Eustace, Harristown, Castlemartin and Clongowes Wood, guarded the Pale for several centuries, and only fell at last to the guns of Ormonde and Cromwell. It was rare for a jury of county gentlemen to contain no Eustace, and on at least one occasion they formed a majority upon a panel of twelve. Theirs was a family that produced, as we shall see, many of the great men of Kildare and several who held the highest positions in the Government of Ireland. The family produced two Lords Deputy, three Lords Chancellor, two Lords Treasurer and the High Sheriff of Kildare on forty-five occasions. With a few notable exceptions they have now almost disappeared from Kildare, and their name has become a rare one in Ireland itself.

It was an inquiry into the causes of the rise and then the fall of this large family, and especially into what in fact did happen to their lands, that led to the original draft of this Paper, or rather to the collection of the bare facts that it contains. These facts have been drawn from many sources, not the least being of course the past volumes of this Journal. (The Eustace references in the Journal are extremely numerous, but a list of the principal ones will be given in an Appendix.) The writer is neither an archæologist nor genealogist, and has but seldom visited Ireland. He would therefore be most grateful if those more qualified than he, would draw attention to any errors, wrong conclusions or important omissions from this Paper, which was not originally intended for publication and is submitted with great diffidence.

Origin of the Eustace Family

We can dismiss as purely legendary the vague claims that have been made to a direct descent from early bearers of the name. There was Saint Eustachius, venerated 20th Sept.a Roman centurion of the first century, converted to Christianity by the miraculous vision of a stag who bore a crucifix between his antlers. Saint Eustachius (Eustace) is the patron saint of Newbridge College and was venerated September 20th (until his sainthood and very existence was questioned by the Vatican in 196X.) . There was Count Eustace of Boulogne, one of the four Norman knights who dispatched the wounded King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, and the father of Godfrey de Bouillon, who captured  Jerusalem from the Turks. There was Godfrey's elder brother Eustace, the grandfather of the young Eustace (son of King Stephen) who while he lived was heir to the throne of England. There was also Godfrey's younger brother, also named Eustace, who is said to have landed at Waterford on his return from the First Crusade. There is however little doubt that no Eustace, as such, was among the early settlers in Ireland.

It is, I think, fairly certain that the Eustaces were a junior branch of the family of Le Poer, now represented by the Marquess of Waterford. Four brothers Le Poer, of Norman origin, landed in Ireland with Henry II in 1171, and were granted lands in Ossory (Waterford). Their crest was the stag of St. Eustachius, probably their patron saint, and several of the family were named after him. (The Eustace battle-cry is said to have been "Poer-a-boo, which was also the battle cry of the LePoer family). One of the LePoer brothers, Sir Eustace Le Poer, Baron of Kells, was a Justice Itinerant in 1285, and invaded Scotland in 1296, 1301 and 1303. According to The Book of Howth, he entered Scotland with great power of men. Mark that the Eustacys (sic) descended lineally of the second son of the foresaid Lord Eustas, which were very noble men in those days of Knighthood and ability." He died in 1311, and his son, Arnold, seems to have assumed the name of FitzEustace, which was borne by his family until changed to Eustace soon after the introduction of surnames in 1465. He was Lord of the Manors of Oughterard and Castle Warden, thus showing that the Le Poers had spread north from Waterford into County Kildare by the end of the thirteenth century. We also hear of a Sir Arnold Le Poer (along with several others of his name, including Sir John, son of Robert LePoer.) slaying Lord John Bonneville at Ardscull further south in the County as early as 1309. By 1317, Arnold FitzEustace Le Poer certainly owned Castlemartin and the neighbouring, townlands of Kilcullen, Brannockstown and Nicholastown, all just south of the Liffey. We also know that a FitzEustace was settled at Castlemartin before 1330; perhaps he was the Robert FitzEustace who was Lord Treasurer of Ireland in l 327.

We can thus assume with a fair degree of certainty that the Eustace estates in County Kildare originated at least as early as the start of the fourteenth century, (They had been granted lands near Naas in 1355) and were based upon the family stronghold of Castlemartin at the great bend in the Liffey, and that this had been built by a member of a junior branch of the powerful Le Poer family from Waterford, who had been granted or had seized lands in Kildare. One of these FitzEustaces founded the Dominican Priory at Naas in 1356, with its church dedicated to St. Eustachius (see Naas).

The Justiciary Rolls of Edward I and II, in items dealing with Cos. Kildare and Meath, contain references to the names Eustace and FitzEustace. These include: Richard, a Burges of Kells, 1291,; Richard and John, son of John, 1305; Richard, a Juror, 1306; Geoffrey and John concerned in events near Castlemartin, 1308 and 1310; Sir Richard, a Juror, 1310/12; and Thomas murdered by Nicholas Aunsell, tried at Naas, 1313. The author knows of no authentic references earlier than these.

During the next half-century the sons and grandsons of these Castlemartin FitzEustaces spread north, south and east, for we soon find the following prominent members of the family well established on their estates:

  • Robert of Craddockstown, High Sheriff of Kildare 1375

  • John of Newland, alive in 1377 and High Sheriff in 1434

  • Sir Maurice of Ballycotelan (Coghlanstown), High Sheriff of Kildare and of Dublin, and died about 1402

  • Sir John of Blackhall (Calverstown), High Sheriff of Kildare and died 1405.

Attempts to link these, and other known FitzEustaces living in the fourteenth century, with the main Castlemartin branch would be largely conjectural; it is therefore proposed to treat their families as separate branches, but of a common stock. (I think that it is very probable that Sir Maurice of Ballycotelan, Thomas FitzOliver (Constable of Ballymore 1373) and Roland FitzOliver of Castlemartin were brothers. If so, this would afford the link between, the FitzEustaces of Castlemartin and the powerful Ballycotlan branch.) We shall follow through the main line of Castlemartin and Harristown (including Portlester, Baltinglass and Robertstown) and then deal with the above and with other branches and the detached possessions that arose later. (There is, I believe, a document that shows a FitzEustace as "' Baron of Castlemartin "' as  early as 1200, but I have failed to trace it and doubt its accuracy.) Under the name of the principal townland of each estate we shall try to trace its origin, its history so far as it is known, and finally the circumstances of its disappearance or loss. In some cases the information available to the writer is very meagre and can no doubt be supplemented by those with greater local knowledge.

The branches and estates so dealt with are given below, neighboring and inter-related branches being grouped. Modern spelling will be adopted throughout.

These pages © Ronald Eustice, 2007