© Donal G. Burke 2013
(continued from Part II)
Senior descendants of William óg de Burgh of Athanchip
A number of descendants of William óg (ie. ‘the younger’) de Burgh, younger brother of Walter de Burgh Earl of Ulster and Lord of Connacht, attained greater prominence in Connacht in the mid fourteenth century than those immediately descended from Earl Walter.
The immediate descendants from Earl Walter included such branches as the Burkes of Castleconnell and others, for the most part established in Munster and also such lines as the McHubert Burkes about Isserkelly and McRedmond Burkes about Kilbeacanty in the later County Galway.
While the branches of Castleconnell and others descended of the mainline of Earl Walter were the more senior in pedigree, two rival houses of Burkes descended from William og came to rule over much of the later Counties Mayo and Galway. In the gaelicized Irish society following the decline of the Anglo-Norman colony in Ireland one of these houses provided the chieftains of much of Mayo and were known as the Clanwilliam (ie. family of William) and one provided the chieftains of the territory of Clanricarde, which covered a large part of central and eastern County Galway. The chieftain of the Mayo Burkes was known by the gaelic title of ‘MacWilliam Iochtar’ or Lower MacWilliam (Mayo lying in Northern Connacht) and the chieftain of the territory of Clanricarde became known as the ‘MacWilliam Uachter’ or MacWilliam Upper or alternatively ‘MacWilliam of Clanricarde.’ Representatives of these lines from the sixteenth century attained titles of rank and peerages more senior to those of the descendants of the original mainline.
Both rival houses of Burkes, the chieftains of Clanricarde and the chieftains of Mayo, were descended of one man, Sir William liath de Burgh, who died in 1324, son of William óg de Burgh of Athanchip. The MacWilliam Iochtar descended from Sir Edmund Albanach (‘the Scot’), fourth son but second surviving of Sir William liath, while the MacWilliam Uachter of Clanricarde descended from a younger son of Sir William liath. Both ruling houses throughout the late medieval period remained violently antagonistic towards one another.
The arms of MacWilliam Iochtar
One of the earliest recorded arms given for a chieftain of the Mayo Burkes occurs in a manuscript entitled ‘Historia et Genealogia familiae de Burgo.’ The manuscript was compiled about 1578 for Sir John Bourke, son of Oliver Bourke, who served as MacWilliam Iochtar from 1571 until his death in 1580. This Sir John commissioned a book giving the history of his family and showing the pedigree of the family from William de Burgh, the first of the family in Ireland, to Sir John. The antiquary H.T. Knox was of the view that it was possible this manuscript was compiled ‘with regard to the proposal that Sir John and his son should be made peers’ by the Crown.[i] In addition to depicting several of Sir John’s ancestors, one page illustrated what it referred to as the ‘Arms of Clann William.’ The arms depicted were ‘Or a cross Gules, in the upper dexter canton a lion rampant Sable langued Gules and in the upper sinister canton what was intended as either a hand Proper (ie. ‘flesh-coloured’) or Argent (‘white) with a short cuff.[ii] The crest upon the heraldic helmet was that of the same hand and cuff. In addition to mantling of Gules, Vert and Argent, the shield was supported on either side by two ‘bird-beaked griffins of green with red and green wings.’
The same composition of the shield was repeated as the arms of Sir John’s ancestors in their respective portraits. This reflects more the belief or claim of Sir John Bourke that the arms he claimed were also those borne by the original William and his grandson William óg of Athanchip than an accurate historical statement. It is clear, however, from early seventeenth century records in the office of the Ulster King of Arms that it was understood by that office that the arms of de Burgh Earls of Ulster showed no lion or couped hand.[iii]
The Tudor Crown gradually extended its political and military control over the west of Ireland in the middle of the sixteenth century and established the office of the Ulster King of Arms with authority over Ireland. With this increased heraldic activity the arms of the most prominent houses were recorded in various armorial compilations. A compilation of arms relating to Ireland dating from the term in office of Daniel Molyneux Ulster King of Arms about 1606 gave the arms of the chieftain of the Mayo Burkes, the MacWilliam Iochtar as ‘Or a cross Gules in the upper dexter canton a sinister hand couped at the wrist Gules.’[iv] Another contemporary compilation of arms from the office of the Ulster King of Arms, dated 1603, described as containing ‘the armes of the Nobilities and Gentrie of Ireland’, shows the arms of MacWilliam Iochtar are shown as ‘Or a cross Gules in the dexter canton a dexter hand couped at the wrist Gules’.[v]
Arms of ‘Mac William Eughter de Maio,’ after tricked arms given in Harl. Ms. 5866, dated circa 1606.
The hand charge
While the lion rampant did not occur in all records of the MacWilliam Iochtar arms, the hand as an element or ‘charge’ did.
The origin of this ‘hand’ charge occurring in certain Burke arms is uncertain. It has been suggested that it represents a tradition that an early de Burgh defeated Rory son of Turlough mór O Connor in ‘the battle of Áth an Luaithrigh’ and in doing so cut off O Connor’s hand ‘with one sword blow’.[vi] The event itself appears to have been a later fabrication but the tradition was repeated by the Gaelic genealogist Dubhaltach MacFirbisigh in the mid seventeenth century in his ‘Great Book of Genealogies.’
Both MacFirbisigh and Sir John Bourke’s late sixteenth century ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo’ give an erroneous descent for the later Burkes of Clanricarde in County Galway. Both state that the mainline of the Earls of Ulster, from which the Burkes of Castelconnell, Brittas and others in Munster were descended, derived from Richard mór (ie. ‘the elder’ or ‘great’), son of that William, progenitor of the de Burghs in Ireland. While this element of their pedigrees is correct, both also state that William, the progenitor, had a second son by a second wife, also named Richard and differentiated from the elder by being identified as Richard óg (ie. ‘the younger).[vii] These two accounts erroneously state that the later Burkes of Clanricarde descended from this younger Richard.[viii] This same pedigree involving the brothers Richard Mór and Richard óg also occurs in O Clery’s early to mid seventeenth century ‘Book of Genealogies.’[ix]
The defeat of O Connor and the removal of his hand was attributed to the elder brother; Richard mór. While it is uncertain if this is the origin of the heraldic charge, the hand appears in certain late sixteenth and early seventeenth century heraldic sources in the arms of the Clanwilliam Burkes of Mayo and those of Castleconnell, etc., and not in those borne by the Burkes of Clanricarde or the MacDavid Burkes of Glinsk.[x] This may be accounted for by the erroneous contemporary belief that the latter two were not derived from ‘Richard mór’ but ‘Richard óg.’[xi] As such the bearing of the hand in the heraldic arms associated the armiger in Gaelic Ireland with descent from the senior line from whom came the mainline of the Earls of Ulster and Lords of Connacht.
It is noteworthy that Sir John Bourke’s ‘Genealogia et Historia familiae de Burgo’ included a claim that the territory of Clanricarde was rightfully the inheritance of the chieftain of the Mayo Burkes, on the mistaken grounds that the Burkes of Clanricarde were descended from the younger Richard.[xii] The contemporary pedigrees, showing a common line of descent through Richard mór between the mainline of the de Burgh Earls of Ulster and Lords of Connacht and the line from which the chieftain of the Burkes of Mayo descended, were used as evidence by the MacWilliam Iochtar of Mayo to assert his claim over Clanricarde. As the Mayo Burkes were closer to the line of the former Lords of Connacht, they claimed that Connacht was their rightful inheritance, both Mayo and southern Connacht, including Clanricarde.[xiii] Sir John Bourke’s genealogical tract gave as the residences of the MacWilliam Iochtar, Bally Loughmask, Kinlough and Ballinrobe in Mayo and included with those ‘Bally Loughrea,’ the seat of the Clanricardes at that time but MacWilliam Iochtar’s ‘when it is pleasing to God.’[xiv] The claim to their rival’s territory was aspirational only and used to inflate the status of the book’s patron.
In relation to this parchment claim, it is also noteworthy that the head of the Burkes of Clanricarde bore only a lion rampant Sable as an additional charge to the Or a cross Gules as witnessed by its illustration on a map by John Goghe dated 1567. While it is conceivable that the hand charge was used by the MacWilliam Iochtar to denote descent from Richard mór, it is possible that the inclusion of the lion alongside that of the hand may also have been used by the MacWilliams Iochtar as a heraldic assertion of that same claim over Clanricarde. This, however, is uncertain as the Burkes of Castleconnell, who were also assumed to be descended from Richard mór and were later found bearing the hand charge in the upper dexter canton did not carry the lion in their arms.[xv] Although the most senior in line of descent from the Earls of Ulster and Lords of Connacht, their territory lay in Munster and were not in constant conflict with Clanricarde and are not recorded as stressing any notional claim to that territory.
MacFirbisigh’s pedigrees have proven unreliable when dealing with the very earliest generations of the Burkes in Ireland and it is now generally accepted that the first William de Burgh in Ireland had only one son of the name Richard (‘Richard mór’) from whom the mainline of the Earls, the Burkes of Castleconnell, etc., the Clanwilliam Burkes of Mayo and the Burkes of Clanricarde were descended.
Arms of the first Viscount Bourke of Mayo
On the advancement by Letters Patent in 1627 of Sir Theobald Bourke, son of Sir Richard Bourke to the title of Viscount Bourke of Mayo, the lion rampant Sable was included in his arms together with the couped hand charge. [xvi] Theobald, 1st Viscount Bourke of Mayo, married Maude, daughter of Charles O Connor of Sligo (and sister of Dermot O Connor who in 1600 killed Richard and Thomas Bourke of the Castleconnell family) and died on 25th June 1629.[xvii] His funeral entry in the office of the Ulster King of Arms displays his arms, beneath a coronet of rank, impaled with those of his wife’s family as ‘Per fess Or and Ermine, a cross Gules, in the dexter canton a lion rampant Sable and in the sinister a hand couped at the wrist.[xviii] His funeral entry did not display a crest or supporters.[xix]
The crest of feathers
This Sir Theobald was commonly known as ‘Tiobóid na long’ or ‘Theobald of the ships’ and the antiquary H.T. Knox noted that, prior to his elevation to the peerage, the arms of Theobald appeared in the margin of a grant of land made to him by King James I. On that occasion the composition of his shield was illustrated as identical with that of his funeral entry. His crest was depicted in the land grant as a ‘panache’ or ‘a pointed bunch of feathers issuing from a ducal coronet. The bunch is coloured Gold on one side and Red on the other.’[xx]
The crest borne by the earliest of the de Burghs in Ireland in the medieval period is not known with any certainty. While later Viscounts Bourke of Mayo would bear a crest other than that of the panache of feathers, H.T. Knox also noted that there existed a tradition among the MacDavid Burkes of Glinsk in North-East Galway that the crest borne by members of the MacDavid branch, consisting of a coronet and feathers, was the original crest of the de Burghs until a chained mountain cat was adopted by some at a later stage. [xxi] While this is uncertain, it is supported by a depiction of the arms of one of the early Earls of Clanricarde, dating from about 1603 showing a crest consisting of a ‘panache’ or pointed bunch of straight feathers Argent rising to a point from a coronet of rank Gules.[xxii] The de Burgh association with the panache and coronet is further supported by the depiction of the tricked arms of the de Burgh Earl of Ulster in a compilation of Irish arms made by William Smith Rouge Dragon Pursuivant circa 1613 in which the panache Argent rising from a coronet Gules appear as the Earl’s crest. A panache was not uncommon among early crests and it is noteworthy that a panache rising from a coronet occurred on the seal, dated circa 1400, of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March and Ulster.
Arms of Ulick Burke, Earl of Clanricard and Baron of Dunkellin, after tricked arms of Harl. Ms. 5885, dated circa 1603.
Arms of the Earl of Ulster from N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 58, a compilation of tricked Irish arms made by William Smith Rouge Dragon Pursuivant circa 1613. The arms are shown coloured for clarity. © National Library of Ireland.
Later Viscounts Bourke of Mayo
The first Viscount Mayo’s immediate descendants continued with the same arms, the eldest son Rt. Hon. Miles Viscount Bourke of Mayo inheriting the title. David Bourke, second son of the first Viscount married Mary, daughter of Nicholas Heward ‘sometime Chamberlain of the Exchequer’ by whom he had issue. This David was a merchant resident in County Dublin at his death in July 1630. His arms consisted of his paternal arms impaled with those of Heward but with a crescent at centre-point for difference to distinguish him heraldically as the second son.[xxiii] His funeral entry also appears in a second manuscript in the office of the Ulster King of Arms but without the crescent, the arms impaled with Heward in all likelihood regarded as being sufficient to identify the individual.
These arms continued as those of the initial Viscounts Bourke of Mayo. The arms of the Rt. Hon. Miles Viscount Mayo, great grandson of the first Viscount, who married Jane, daughter of the Rt. Hon. Francis Lord Baron of Athenry composed of the same paternal composition impaled with those of Bermingham. At his death in 1681 his impaled arms were given with a crest, above a coronet of rank and cap of maintenance of what was exemplified as a lion sejant Proper with a crown or coronet about its neck.[xxiv] (Certain later descriptions of this, however, describe this as a cat a mountain sejant guardant Proper collared and chained Or, but the crest of the Rt. Hon. Theobald Viscount Bourke of Mayo, who died in 1742, carried a crest which was illustrated as though the animal was a lion sejant with a collar or crown rather than a cat a mountain sejant guardant.)[xxv] For supporters this Miles, 5th Viscount Bourke of Mayo carried as dexter supporter a sphinx party per fess Proper and Or as the dexter supporter and for the sinister a bearded man in chain mail to his thighs, a sword about his waist and in his sinister hand a pole-axe Proper. For motto he bore ‘Avdaces fortuna juvat.’
His dexter supporter is on occasion described as a ‘harpy’ a mythological creature composed of the head and breasts of a woman and body and wings of an eagle or vulture-like bird. However, the exemplification of his arms and that of others of his immediate line clearly display this supporter as a sphinx, having the head of a woman, body, legs and tail of a lion and wings of an eagle-like bird.
The arms of his brother Luke, who died in 1684, were erected without crest or motto within an oval shield and wreath on a tablet erected to his memory in the friary at Kilnalahan (ie. the modern village of Abbey) in South East Galway.
Arms of ‘Captaine Luke Bourke, son to the Rt. Honorable Theobald Lord Viscount of Mayo’ at Kilnalahan Abbey.
The title lay dormant following the death in Pall Mall, London in January 1767 of John 8th Viscount of Mayo.[xxvi] His arms were given in eighteenth century style as ‘Parti per fess Topaz and Ermine, a cross Ruby, the first quarter charged with a lion rampant Diamond and the second with a dexter Hand couped at the wrist and erect Ruby’. For crest, ‘on a cap of maintenance a lion sejant Pearl, gorged with a golden ducal collar’ and for supporters ‘the dexter an harpie (recte: sphinx) guardant with wings and a lions body Topaz, a human face, neck and breast Proper and armed Ruby. The sinister, a man in armour to the middle of his thighs, having a sword Proper in a belt Ruby and about his neck a square white band, his hands naked, sandals Diamond and in his exterior hand a battle axe Proper’ and motto ‘a cruce salus.’[xxvii]
Earls of Mayo
When a near relative of the last Viscount did not come forward to present a claim to the title, the Crown re-created the title for one John Bourke, claiming to be a distant kinsman of the last Viscount. This John Bourke had held for some time the office of First Commissioner of Revenue in Ireland and had been created Baron Naas of Naas in County Kildare in 1776. In 1781 he was created Viscount Bourke of Moneycrower in County Mayo. Four years later he was advanced to the title of Earl of Mayo.
This new line of Earls and Viscounts of Mayo incorporated a slight variation in ther arms from those of the title’s first creation. John, 4th Earl of Mayo, born in 1766, succeeded his father to the title in 1794 and bore for arms; ‘per fesse Ermine and Or, a cross Gules, in the first quarter (dexter canton) a lion rampant and in the second (sinister) a dexter hand couped at the wrist, both Gules.’ For crest he carried ‘on a chapeau Gules, turned up Ermine, a lion sejant guardant Argent.’ For supporters he bore ‘two men in complete armour, each holding in the exterior hand a pole-axe Proper.’ For motto ‘a cruce salus.’[xxviii]
Continued at Part IV
[i] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, p. 351. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo’
[ii] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, p. 351. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo’
[iii] Both Harl. Ms. 6096 (N.L.I. Dublin POS no. 1427) and Harl. Ms. 5866 (N.L.I. Dublin POS no. 1426) dating from about 1603 and 1606 show the arms of the de Burgh Earls of Ulster under a coronet as ‘Or a cross Gules.’
[iv] British Museum, Harl. Ms. 5866 (N.L.I. Dublin POS no. 1426)
[v] British Museum, Harl. Ms. 6096 (N.L.I. Dublin POS no. 1427)
[vi] Ó Muirile, N. (ed.), MacFirbhisigh, D., Leabhar Mór na nGenealach, The Great Book of Irish Genealogies, compiled (1645-66), Vol. III, Dublin, de Búrca, 2003, pp. 112-3. No. 798G.5; Knox, H.T., The de Burgo Tribes of Galway, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 3, no. 1, 1903-4, p. 57. The Crest of Clann David; O Reilly, T., Historia et Genealogia familiae de Burgo, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. XIII, 1926-7, pp. 102, 129.
[vii] Ó Muirile, N. (ed.), MacFirbhisigh, D., Leabhar Mór na nGenealach, The Great Book of Irish Genealogies, compiled (1645-66), Vol. III, Dublin, de Búrca, 2003, pp. 104-5. No. F98C.1-C.3.
[viii] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, p. 352. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo’; Ó Muirile, N. (ed.), MacFirbhisigh, D., Leabhar Mór na nGenealach, The Great Book of Irish Genealogies, compiled (1645-66), Vol. III, Dublin, de Búrca, 2003, pp. 104-5, 128-9, F798C.1-3, F808.1; O Reilly, T., Historia et Genealogia familiae de Burgo, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. XIII, 1926-7, p. 129.
[ix] Pender, S., The O Clery Book of Genealogies: 23 D 17 (R.I.A.), Analecta Hibernica, No. 18, 1951, p. 193, No. 2324. ‘Uillig enaigh chaoin m. Riocaird m. Riocaird an fhorbair m. Uilliam Leith m. Riocaird oig m. Uilliam concuuerer.’
[x] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, p. 351. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo.’
[xi] Pender, S., The O Clery Book of Genealogies: 23 D 17 (R.I.A.), Analecta Hibernica, No. 18, 1951, p. 194, No. 2327. While MacFirbisigh gave MacDavid Burke as descended from either Richard Mór or Richard óg, O Clery gives that chieftain descended from Richard óg, son of the first William in Ireland.
[xii] O Reilly, T., Historia et Genealogia familiae de Burgo, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. XIII, 1926-7, pp. 105, 129. While the ‘Historia et Genealogia familiae de Burgo’ states at one location that ‘Richard, the Second, MacWilliam of Clann Rickard’ was the second son of Richard Mor, and for that reason, as the Clanricarde Burkes were supposed to be descended from this second Richard, the territory of Clanricarde was rightfully the inheritance of the MacWilliam Iochtar, this appears to be a confusion of the name as elsewhere in the same tract Richard Mor is given only two sons; Walter first Earl of Ulster and William og, ancestor of the MacWilliam Iochtar and the ‘second Richard’ was given as the younger brother of Richard Mor. This last account corresponds with MacFirbisigh’s principal pedigrees at 798C1-3 and 808.1 and the claim by the Mayo Burkes that the Clanricarde Burkes descended of a line separate from the line of Richard Mor and the lordship of Connacht.
[xiii] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, pp. 352-3. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo.’ ‘Richard, the second MacWilliam of Clann Ricaird – he is not of the family of the heirdom, for he is the second son of Richard son of Richard Mor; and for that reason Clann Ricaird belongs to MacWilliam Iochtar, because it is he that is of the family of the rightful heir, as Richard the first.’
[xiv] Knox, H.T., The History of the County of Mayo to the close of the sixteenth century, Dublin, Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., 1908, pp. 352-3. Appendix V ‘Historia et Genealogia Familiae de Burgo.’
[xv] N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 35 p.29.
[xvi] J. Lodge, M. Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland, or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, with engravings of their paternal coats of arms, James Moore, Dublin, 1789, Vol. IV, p.236.
[xvii] J. Lodge, M. Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland, or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, with engravings of their paternal coats of arms, James Moore, Dublin, 1789, Vol. IV, p.236-7.
[xviii] J. Lodge, M. Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland, or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, with engravings of their paternal coats of arms, James Moore, Dublin, 1789, Vol. IV, p.236.
[xix] N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 68 Funeral Entries, p. 147. The children of the first viscount were given in his funeral entry as Rt. Hon. Miles Viscount Bourke, David, Theobald, Richard, Mary, Onora and Margaret. He was buried at Ballintubber, County Mayo.
[xx] Knox, H.T., The de Burgo Clans. The Clann David Burke and the Family of William, Sheriff of Connaught, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 3, no. 1, 1903-4, pp. 57-8. ‘The Crest of Clann David.’
[xxi] Knox, H.T., The de Burgo Clans. The Clann David Burke and the Family of William, Sheriff of Connaught, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 3, no. 1, 1903-4, pp. 57-8. ‘The Crest of Clann David.’
[xxii] British Museum, Harl. Ms. 5885 (N.L.I. Dublin POS no. 1426)
[xxiii] N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 68 Funeral Entries, p. 147. Also given, but without the crescent, and with the lion and dexter hand Sable in N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 79, p.159 (entry no. 501).
[xxiv] N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 183 Lord’s Entries, p. 31. He was buried at Ballintubber.
[xxv] N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 183 Lord’s Entries, p. 127. He carried the same supporters and motto as the 5th Viscount.
[xxvi] J. Lodge, M. Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland, or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, with engravings of their paternal coats of arms, James Moore, Dublin, 1789, Vol. IV, p.248.
[xxvii] J. Lodge, M. Archdall, The Peerage of Ireland, or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, with engravings of their paternal coats of arms, James Moore, Dublin, 1789, Vol. IV, p.249.
[xxviii] Collen, G.W., Debretts Peerage of Great Britain and Ireland, William Pickering, London, 1840, pp. 498-9.