© Donal G. Burke 2014
The arms of John Joseph Chevers, Esquire, of Killyan House in County Galway, J.P. and D.L. and one time Captain in the 4th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, born in November 1866, was given by A.C. Fox-Davies in his ‘Armorial Families’ as Gules, three goats salient Argent with mantling of Gules and Argent. For crest he was given as bearing, on a wreath of the colours, a demi-goat as in the arms, collared Gules, horned and unguled Or and for motto ‘En Dieu est ma foi.’[i]
The arms of John Joseph Chevers, Esq. of Killyan House, as described by A.C. Fox-Davies in his 1905 ‘Armorial Families.’
The armiger was eldest surviving son and heir of Michael Joseph Chevers, Esq., J.P., D.L., High Sheriff of County Galway in 1860-1861 by his wife Annie, second daughter of Hon. Martin ffrench. Sir John Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, writing about 1863, gave the same arms for Michael Joseph as Fox-Davies for his eldest surviving son but Burke gave the father’s crest as ‘a goat Argent, as in the arms, collared Gules, armed and unguled Or,’ implying a goat salient as opposed to a demi-goat.[ii]
The arms of Michael Joseph Chevers of Killyan House, given by Sir John Bernard Burke in ‘a selection of arms authorized by the laws of heraldry’ of 1863, showing a goat salient crest as opposed to a demi-goat.
Michael Joseph Chevers was eldest of five sons and one daughter of John Chevers, Esq., of Killyan, J.P., D.L. and High Sheriff of the county in 1836-1837 and his wife Eleanor MacDonnell. The family established at Killyan House near the modern village of Newbridge in the half barony of Killian in the east of County Galway were transplanted from Macetown in County Meath by the Cromwellian authorities in the mid seventeenth century.
The arms of this Chevers family (also given as Cheevers) are an example of ‘armes parlantes’ or ‘allusive arms,’ that is, arms that, in their design, allude to the name of the armiger. In this case the principal charge, a goat, in Old French ‘chever’ (modern French ‘chêvre’) refers to the name Cheevers, earlier given as Chever.[iii] In a similar manner the seal of one John de Cheverstone, knight, unrelated to this family of Chevers, in the time of King Henry III, carried a shield of arms consisting of a bend upon which were three goats passant bendwise.[iv]
This Chevers family were established at Ballyhaly in County Wexford from the medieval period and later at Macetown in County Meath and were said to have descended from a Norman knight who fought alongside William the Conqueror in his conquest of England. The family reputedly came to Ireland in the first wave of Anglo-Norman and Flemish adventurers with Strongbow in the late twelfth century in the person of William Chever.[v]
While Daniel Molyneux, Ulster King of Arms, visited Wexford in the Summer of 1618 ‘for the purpose of enquiring into and registering the descent, arms and pedigrees of the principal gentlemen of the Shire’ the Chevers of Ballyhaly were among those who failed to answer the summons of the King of Arms. As a result, the arms of the family of Ballyhaly or of any of that name were not registered in Ulster’s official Visitation records of that year. Sir John Bernard Burke in his ‘General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales’ of 1884, however, gave the arms of Chevers of Ballyhaly, derived from the Funeral Entries in the office of the Ulster King of Arms as ‘Gules, three goats salient Argent, crined and hoofed Or.’
In a compilation of arms in the records of the Ulster King of Arms dated 1603, introduced as containing ‘all the armes of the Nobilitie and Gentrie of Ireland’ arms were illustrated for a family of Chevers as ‘a chevron between two goats heads erased in chief and one in base.’ While these arms vary from those attributed to the family of Killyan, County Galway, they exhibit similarities with impaled arms carved above a skull and crossbones on a tombstone in the churchyard of Athlumney in County Meath, traditionally attributed to a member of a Chevers family. The arms on this stone were described in the mid nineteenth century by George Victor Du Noyer in Volume 10 of his ‘Catalogue of coats of arms from tombstones’ as impaled, on the dexter side, ’party per chevron three goats passant, two and one’ while on the sinister ‘party per chevron, in chief two fleur de lis and in base a lion rampant’ with only a plain helmet in profile, with cascading mantling above the impaled shield. The dexter arms, although without certainty, have been taken to be those of a family of Chevers.
The arms of a family of Chevers given in Harl. Ms. 6096, a compilation of arms of the Nobility and Gentry of Ireland dated 1603.
The estate of Macetown in County Meath was acquired by the senior line of the Chevers name through the marriage of Sir Christopher Chevers of Ballyhaly with the heiress Anne Plunkett in the sixteenth century.[vi] His eldest son, John of Macetown, was the senior-most member of the family at the end of the sixteenth century. Married to Catherine, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Travers of Monkstown Castle in County Dublin, John Chevers has three sons; Christoper, Henry and Richard and three daughters and died in 1599. His eldest son, Christopher of Macetown, born in 1580, married firstly Elenor, daughter of Sir Christopher Nugent, Knight, Lord of Delvin, by whom he had six sons and three daughters. He married secondly Jane, daughter of Jerome Bath of Edickstown, County Meath, by whom he had three sons. This Christopher died in November of 1640 and was buried in the chapel at Macetown. Details of his marriages and offspring were provided to the office of the Ulster King of Arms by his eldest son John and recorded alongside an exemplification of his impaled arms in the Funeral Entries of that office.
The arms of ‘Christopher Chivers of Mastowne in the County of Meath, Esquire’ showing his paternal arms impaled with those of the family of his first wife Elenor Nugent, after his Funeral Entry in N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 72, p. 193. The arms of his younger brother ‘Henry Chevers of Mountaine’ (ie. Monkstown), County Dublin who died in 1640 were shown impaled in his Funeral Entry with those of his wife’s father Sir Richard fitzWilliams of Meriyong, Co. Dublin but differenced by the inclusion of a crescent at centrepoint to identify him as the second son (N.L.I., Dublin, G.O. Ms. 72, Funeral Entries, p. 75). While the arms of Henry of Monkstown were entered untricked and untinctured, the entries of Christopher of Macetown who died in 1640 and his wife Elenor Nugent, who died in 1636 (N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms. 79 Funeral Entries, p. 4) gave the three goats salient of the shield as Argent but not ‘crined or hoofed Or.’
John Chevers of Macetown, eldest son of Christopher Chevers by his first wife Elenor Nugent and senior-most descendant of Sir Christopher Chevers of Ballyhaly, was dispossessed by the Crowmwellian authorities in the mid seventeenth century and ordered to transplant to Connacht, where he was allocated lands about the parish of Killian in east Galway.[vii] Under the Act of Settlement following the restoration of the monarchy, the Chevers were confirmed in possession of their new lands about Killian.
This John Chevers, prior to his death, was given as seated at Turpanmore in County Galway.[viii] He was married twice, firstly to Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Bealing and secondly, to Joan, daughter of Edward Sutton and had a number of sons and daughters including Edward, his eldest son, Andrew, his second and John, his third son.[ix]
While Sir John Bernard Burke gave Edward as the son of John Chevers by his second wife, Ruvigny in his ‘Jacobite Peerage, baronetage and knightage’ was uncertain whether he was son by his first or second wife.[x] A protracted legal case dating from the early decades of the 1700s relating to lands of the Chevers in County Galway described him, however, as the eldest son and heir of John Chevers of Turpanmore by his wife Joan. Edward succeeded his father about 1688 and adhered to the cause of the Roman Catholic King James II in the war between the Jacobites (supporters of King James) and the Williamite supporters of the Protestant William of Orange and his wife Mary.[xi] In 1688 James was deposed and William and Mary proclaimed King and Queen and in March of 1689 James landed in Ireland in an attempt to regain his crowns of England, Ireland and Scotland.
In August of that year King James created Edward Chevers Viscount Mount Leinster and Baron of Bannow and as Lord Mount Leinster he served as Aide de Camp to the King at the battle of the Boyne in 1690.[xii] Following the defeat of the Jacobite army in 1691 the title of Mount Leinster was not recognised by the English crown on the basis that it was created after the King had been deposed.
Edward refused the benefit of the Articles of Limerick following the surrender of the Jacobite army, choosing instead to join King James II in exile in France. He was outlawed in 1696 but under the mistaken name of Christopher Chevers, causing some confusion and protracted legal difficulties relating to his family estates but his outlawry ‘for foreign treason committed against her late Majesty Queen Anne’ was legally effected in 1712, some time after his death.[xiii] Married to Anne, sister of the prominent Jacobite Brigadier Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, he had no male heir when he died in 1709 and the title and ‘all his honours became extinct.’[xiv]
Of Edward’s brothers, the line of Andrew ‘of Cregan, Co. Galway’ became extinct and the line seated at Killian descended from their brother John, married to Ellis or Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Geoghegan, Esq. of Castletown, County Westmeath.[xv] During the Jacobite-Williamite War this John had served as a cavalry captain in the Jacobite army and remained in Ireland after the war. He appears to have been that John Chevers of Derrynemanahan, County Galway whose claim for inclusion under the Articles of Limerick and Galway was adjudicated in November of 1694.[xvi]
John Chevers and Ellis Geoghegan had at least six sons and two daughters; Michael, Edmund, Christopher, Mathias (also known as Matthew), Augustine, born in 1686 and Hyacinth.[xvii] Their daughter Margaret married Richard Burke of Glinsk in north-east Galway while an unnamed daughter married one Hugh O Connor resident in Spain. Mathias remained loyal to the Jacobite cause and joined the army of the Catholic monarch of Spain. He was created a Knight of Santiago and attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Spanish army and was listed among the Irish officers in that army who proposed to sail for Scotland to fight for the Stuart pretender to the Crown in the 1745 Scottish Rising.[xviii] He was still serving in the Spanish service in 1769 and died without issue in October of 1771.
Edmund, the second son of John and Ellis Chevers, was given as ‘of Leckafin,’ married Bridget Telberton and had at least one son, William and two daughters Margaret and Ellis. Augustine, fifth son of John and Ellis Chevers, was reputed to have been reared by his uncle Edward in France.[xix] A Roman Catholic cleric, Doctor Augustine Chevers was appointed Bishop of Ardagh in July of 1751 and thereafter translated to the See of Meath by Pope Benedict XIV in August of 1756. Persecution of Catholicism by the authorities in Ireland was such that he wrote to the Bishop of Arras in 1765 from ‘his hiding place’ and was required during the winter months to reside with his friends in Connacht (in particular about Glinsk and Keelogues, the residences of his relatives the Burkes of Glinsk). Following the marriage of his niece Margaret Chevers, daughter of Edmund, to James son of Con O Neill of Ratoath in County Meath in 1766 or early 1767 he came to reside for a time at their residence at Crackenstown near Ratoath.[xx]
The difficulties he experienced in Ireland saw him write in July of 1769 from Keelogues to his brother Mathias (whom he addressed as ‘Matt’) in service in the Spanish army, expressing his wish that, had it not been for his old age and ill health, he would embark for Spain to join his brother, then stationed at Fuenterrabia ‘or in any other part of Spain.’ He also wrote in that same month to his nephew William Chevers, captain of an Irish regiment in Spain, son of his brother Edmund, to whom he gave the following advice; ‘my dear child, my advice to you is to live abroad, and never see your native country. This advice I gave my dear brother Matthew. He kept close to it and I hope you will do the same.’[xxi] (This Captain William Chevers was serving in the Spanish army in the early 1770s and had property about Loughrea. He was in Ireland in September of 1773 on leave of absence from that army and thereafter left the Spanish service. He received a pardon about 1774 from the English authorities for having served in what was regarded as a hostile army. He died without issue in 1778.)[xxii]
Dr. Augustine Chevers, Bishop of Meath died at Randalstown in August of 1778 aged 92 years and was buried at ‘on the south side of the old churchyard of Donaghpatrick.’[xxiii]
The family of Killian remained Roman Catholic. Michael of Killian, the senior-most member of the family as eldest son of John Chevers and Ellis Geoghegan, married a daughter of O Flynn of Turlough, County Galway and had three sons and a daughter. His daughter married Michael Blake of Kiltulla castle in County Galway. Of his three sons, the two eldest, John and Christopher died without issue and the family properties descended through the youngest son Hyacinth Chevers of Killian.[xxiv]
About 1782 Hyacinth Chevers married Mary, daughter of Patrick Lynch of Cottage, County Galway and had at least three sons; John, born in 1790, Christopher Hyacinth and Patrick and a daughter Eliza, married to James D’Arcy of New Forest, County Galway and Rockvale, County Clare.[xxv]
Hyacinth was succeeded by his son John of Killyan House, County Galway, J.P., D.L. and High Sheriff of County Galway in 1836-7. He married in 1822 Eleanor, daughter of John MacDonnell of Caranacon, County Mayo and had five sons and a daughter; Michael Joseph of Killian, Christopher of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister at Law, Joseph, Patrick-Edward, Hyacinth and Maria.[xxvi] In compliance with the will of their maternal uncle both Christopher and Joseph adopted the additional surname of MacDonnell.[xxvii]
The Chevers of Killyan held extensive estates in Counties Galway and Mayo in the nineteenth century, holding 6,116 acres in County Galway and 264 in County Mayo in the 1870s. In 1911 over 5,600 acres of their estates in County Galway were vested in the Congested Districts Board and in 1915 262 acres in County Mayo.
Michael John Chevers successor at Killyan, his eldest surviving son John Joseph, served as High Sheriff of County Galway in 1893 and in January of 1894 married Frederica Sophia Elizabeth Mary, youngest daughter of Henry Owen Lewis, D.L., of Ennisken, County Monaghan.
At the time of the National Census of Ireland of 1911 there were eight persons of the name residing at Killyan House, all Roman Catholics; John Joseph Chevers, as head of family, then aged forty four years, who described himself as a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant and his wife Frederica, aged thirty four years and born in England, married for seventeen years, their daughter Annie, aged eleven years, Michael John Joseph, aged eight years, daughters Ellis aged four, Frances aged three and son John, aged one year and son Hyacinth Chevers, then a nine month old infant. Also at Killyan at that time were nine servants, including a governess. Ten years earlier their eldest daughter, Frederica (given as Frieda in the Census), then aged four years, was living at the house, as was their eldest son Norman Michael Joseph, then aged two years, both of whom were living in 1911 but not present at Killyan House at the time of the National Census. The couple also had another two daughters, born after 1911, named Mary Madeline and Ellen Patricia.
The family remained seated at Killyan House until 1935 when the last remaining sections of their lands were purchased by compulsory order by the Irish Land Commission.[xxviii] Having already lost his third son John in 1923 at the age of fourteen years, John Joseph Chever’s eldest son and prospective heir, Norman Michael, died in August of 1935. Killyan House was demolished in 1936 and the last head of the family to reside at Killyan House, John Joseph Chevers, was resident at Jacobean House, Folkestone in England by 1937.[xxix] He died in January 1947 aged eighty years.
For further details relating to this family, refer to ‘Chevers’ under ‘families.’
[i] Fox-Davies, A.C., Armorial Families, a Directory of gentlemen of coat-armour, 5th edition, Edinburgh, T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1905, p. 263.
[ii] Burke, Sir B., A selection of arms authorized by the laws of heraldry, London, Harrison, 1863, p. 188.
[iii] N.L.I., Dublin, D. 137, Grant to Thomas de Vel to Nicholas Chever of land in Slekachely, c. 1240.
[iv] Birch, W. de G., Catalogue of Seals in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II, London, Longman & Co., 1982, p. 636, no. 8545.
[v] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238.
[vi] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238; Burke, Sir B., A genealogical history of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerage of the British Empire, London, Harrison, 1866, pp. 11677.
[vii] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238; Fagan, P. (ed.), Ireland in the Stuart Papers, Vol. II: 1743-65, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1995, pp. 81-2. Certificate of noblesse of Matthew Cheevers’ dated October 1747.
[viii] Brown, J., Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs in the High Court of Parliament from the year 1701 to the year 1779, Vol. II, Dublin, E. Lynch, 1784, pp. 225-236, case 39.
[ix] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238; Brown, J., Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs in the High Court of Parliament from the year 1701 to the year 1779, Vol. II, Dublin, E. Lynch, 1784, pp. 225-236, case 39.
[x] Ruvigny and Raineval, Marquis of, The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Grants of Honour, Edinburgh, T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1904, p. 125.
[xi] Brown, J., Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs in the High Court of Parliament from the year 1701 to the year 1779, Vol. II, Dublin, E. Lynch, 1784, pp. 225-236, case 39. This legal case dated 1720 relating to lands formerly in his possession stated that John of Turpanmore died ‘soon after’ a legal transaction of May 1682.
[xii] Ruvigny and Raineval, Marquis of, The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Grants of Honour, Edinburgh, T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1904, p. 125.
[xiii] Brown, J., Reports of Cases upon Appeals and Writs in the High Court of Parliament from the year 1701 to the year 1779, Vol. II, Dublin, E. Lynch, 1784, pp. 225-236, case 39.
[xiv] Ruvigny and Raineval, Marquis of, The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Grants of Honour, Edinburgh, T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1904, p. 125.
[xv] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238.
[xvi] Simm, J.G., Irish Jacobites, Analecta Hibernica, No. 22, Dublin, Stationary Office of the I.M.C., 1960, p. 92, 105v.
[xvii] Augustine served as Roman Catholic Bishop of Ardagh and of Meath. Augustine and Hyacinth are not given as sons of John Cheevers by Burke in his ‘A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland’ but Augustine is given as son as John by Fagan in his ‘Ireland in the Stuart Papers.’ Fagan, P. (ed.), Ireland in the Stuart Papers, Vol. II: 1743-65, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1995, p. 81, footnote 61. Both Augustine and Hyacinth are given as younger sons of John Chevers and Ellis Geoghegan by Sir John Bernard Burke in ‘A genealogical history of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, London, Harrison, 1866, pp. 116-7.
[xviii] Fagan, P. (ed.), Ireland in the Stuart Papers, Vol. II: 1743-65, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1995, pp. 39-40; Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238.
[xix] Cogan, Rev. A., The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, Vol. II, Dublin, Joseph Dollard, 1867, pp. 163-174.
[xx] Cogan, Rev. A., The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, Vol. II, Dublin, Joseph Dollard, 1867, pp. 163-174.
[xxi] Cogan, Rev. A., The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, Vol. II, Dublin, Joseph Dollard, 1867, pp. 163-174.
[xxii] Cogan, Rev. A., The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, Vol. II, Dublin, Joseph Dollard, 1867, pp. 163-174; Burke, Sir B., A genealogical history of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, London, Harrison, 1866, pp. 116-7.
[xxiii] Cogan, Rev. A., The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, Vol. II, Dublin, Joseph Dollard, 1867, pp. 163-174. No tomb or headstone marked his burial place.
[xxiv] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238. Christopher married Frances, daughter of William Nugent, Lord Riverston. (O Byrne, E., The Convert Rolls, The Calendar of the Convert Rolls 1703-1838, with Fr. Wallace Clare’s annotated List of Converts 1703-78, edited by Anne Chamney, Dublin, I.M.C., 2005, p. 409.)
[xxv] Christopher Hyacinth Cheevers, second son of the late Hyacinth Cheevers esq., of Killyan House, Co. Galway’ married Elizabeth Maria, eldest daughter of Richard Lynch, esq. of Dublin in St. Peter’s Church, Dublin, on the 8th February 1842. Freemans’ Journal, marriages, 10th February 1842.
[xxvi] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238.
[xxvii] Burke, Sir B., A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part I, London, Harrison, 1862, p. 238.
[xxviii] Cunningham, J., Conquest and Land in Ireland: The Transplantation to Connacht, 1649-1680, Royal Historical Society studies in history: New Series, Vol. 82, Suffolk, Boydell & Brewer, pp. 150-1.
[xxix] The Tablet, The International Catholic News Weekly, dated 11th September 1937, p. 28, Town and Country. ‘Miss Frances Chevers, who was married to Mr. T. Cunningham-Sutherland of Imperial Airways, is the fourth daughter of Mr. John Joseph Chevers of Jacobean House, Folkestone. Until recently the family lived at Killyan in Galway, which was granted after the Restoration to John Chevers, who had been transplanted from Meath to Connaught by Cromwell.’