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Richard Eustace, Tenant of Gorteenvacan & Ballybyrne, County Kildare


Richard Eustace, Tenant of Gorteenvacan and Ballybyrne in the County of Kildare, 1600.

The adjoining townlands of Gorteenvacan and Ballybyrne lie to the south of Castledermot, on the borders of the Counties Carlow and Kildare. In and before 1600, a Patrick FitzGerald, of Damastown, County Dublin, held the lands of Gorteenvacan from the Earl of Kildare.

On the 20th of February 1600, he sublet these lands by granting a twenty-one year lease of them to Richard Eustace of Ballybyrne, who was the son of James, the third son of John Eustace (died 1581), of Castlemartin, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Peppard (also Pepper), of “Slievemargy” (Slieve Margy, Queen’s County). On the death of Patrick FitzGerald in 1608, his son Thomas of Damastown, granted to Richard Eustace another lease of Gorteenvacan (with its sub-divisions of Raheenbrocke and Ballysallagh) for thirty-one years, to commence at the expiration of this former leased, i.e. in 1621.

The rent took a very unusual form, viz; ₤2 and “twelve cupple of good fat connies” (or rabbits), the money to be paid at the Feast of St. Michael and at Easter in equal portions, and the rabbits to be delivered at Thomas’s house in Damastown (six couple at the Feast of All Saints, 1st of November, and the remainder at Christmas.)


As far as is known, this payment in kind taking the form of rabbits is quite unique. It was also stipulated in the lease that---the said Richard Eustace “should build the said castle of Gurtinevackan substantially with lime and stone, a story height above the vaults with a battlement, and a slate roofe; and make a stone walle round about the towne (i.e. the castle and out buildings); and also make a stronge gate of oak timber and boards.”

According to a document in the possession of Miss Archbold, of Davidstown“Provided, and is agreed between the said parties, the said Richard shall keepe and breake a yonge horse for the said Thomas, as often as he shall be thereunto required.

Richard Eustace, “being sicke in bodye but of perfect mynde and memory,” did on the 15th, and again on the 28th of June, 1637, make two word of mouth Wills before Christopher Eustace, Amye Eustace, his wife, John Flosper, Arthur Eustace, Peter Eustace, “and other credible persons,” by which he desired that: ---He should be buried in the Parish Church of Castledermot. That his son and heir Rowland should get the “Gurtynvaghan” farm; and the profits of the Ballybyrne farm for the first three years should go to his daughter Margaret, and for the following two years to his daughter Elinor, “for augmentation of their persons” at the end of which period the farm was to go to Rowland for the remainder of the unexpired term of the lease (i.e. until 1652).

That all the rest of his good, movable and immovable, should be equally divided amongst his children, viz: Rowland, Peter, Edmond, Maurice, Margaret, Elinor, Elizabeth and Joan. That the executors of the estate should be Richard’s wife Margaret (Luttrell) and his son Rowland; and the overseers of the Will shall be Ulick Wall (of Pollardstown and Urglin) and Christopher Eustace.

The first nuncupative Will (Prerogative) was “proved” on the 6th August, 1638, by Tiege O’Byrne, of Gorteenvacan, gentleman, and Margaret “Birne” alias Eustace, his wife, daughter of the defunct; the second Will was proven by Rowland Eustace on 18th July 1637.

The following funeral entry is found in Ulster’s Office, (volume vii, page 208) dealing with Richard Eustace, gives additional information about his wives and children:

Richard Eustace of Gurtine in the County of Kildare, gentleman; the eldest son and heir of James, third brother of the House of Castlemartin. The said first mentioned Richard tooke to his first wife, Joane, daughter of Farganamym Birne, of Busherstown in County Catherlagh (Carlow), gentleman, by whom he had noe issue.

The said Richard took to his second wife, Una, daughter of William Wale, of Araghlin, County Catherlagh, Esquire, by whom he had issue; 7 sonnes and five daughters vidz; James, eldest sonne died unmarried; Morrice, 2nd sonne died also unmarried, Rowland, third sonne, as yet unmarried; Richard, 4th, died unmarried; Peter, the fifth; Edmond, 6th; and Morrice, 7th; all as yet young and unmarried.

The said first-mentioned Richard took as his 3rd wife, Margarett, daughter of John Luttrell, of Luttrellstown, in County Kildare, gentleman; by whom he has no issue.

The said Richard departed this mortal life at Gurtine aforesaid the 29th of June, 1637, and was interred in the Parish Church of Castle Dermot in the said County of Kildare.

The truth of the premises is testified by the subscription of the said Rowland, sonne and heir of the said defunct, who hath returned this certificate into my office to be recorded. (The Document was) taken by me Thomas Preston, Esquire, Ulester King of Armes, the 17th of February 1637.

Gorteenvacan afterwards came into the hands of the Archbolds of Timolin. It was leased in 1666 to Christopher Archbold, of that place, to a William Pinsent, of Ardree, near Athy, until a mortgage of ₤150 was paid up to him. In 1686 there were law proceedings instituted between James Archbold (who had a lease of “Gorteeneavackan alias Gurtengrowan,” from William Archbold of Timolin) and a Walter Archbold, in which the latter was the defendant.

Gorteenvacan (Guirtin Mheacan) means “the little field of the Parsnips.” Walter FitzGerald


A nuncupative will is a will or testament made by word of mouth only, before witnesses.