The families of Bland, Bowen, Butler, Guthrie and Lenox-Conyngham
I. The Bland family
The Blands came from Sedburgh in Yorkshire and one of them married Rosamund Neville,
also from a Yorkshire family, in the 18th century. The first Bland to come to Ireland was
Thomas, who lived near Lisburn, County Antrim about 1680 and was described as ‘a warm
man and a cooper by trade’. His son Colonel John Bland built Blandsfort House in Queens
County (now Leix) in 1715 and was succeeded there by his second brother, William.
William’s fourth son, Captain Neville Bland of Dublin, had two sons – William and Captain
Loftus Otway, the father of Sarah Otway and Elizabeth. Blandsfort, Ballyroan, Portlaoise is in
1975 owned by John Bland.
Loftus Otway served under Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen, and also saw service in the
West Indies where he married Sarah, widow of J Ashbourner and daughter of Samuel Forte
of Barbados. He then lived in Bath and Elizabeth Bowen, his great-great-granddaughter (see
page 40) writes in chapter 9 of her book ‘Bowenscourt’, ‘Several Blands lived in Bath where
the Clarkes, to be near them, quite often spent the winter’. Loftus Otway died while still
serving, on 7th July 1810 at the age of 39, and there is a gravestone to his memory in Exeter
Cathedral. His son Neville Loftus also lived in Bath; he was a bachelor and when he died in
1867 his library of books was sent to Graiguenoe. The Bland names of Neville, Loftus and
Otway appear often in later generations of Clarkes.
Loftus Otway had two daughters who inherited considerable fortunes from their mother
Sarah. They were Sarah Otway, who married Charles Clarke (1803-1879) the builder of
Graiguenoe, and Elizabeth, who married Charles Carden Mansergh of Clifford, County Cork,
on the River Blackwater not far from Bowenscourt. Robert Cole Bowen (1830-1888) married
Sarah Otway Clarke’s daughter Elise as his first wife, and Elizabeth Mansergh’s daughter
Georgina as his second. Robert’s eldest son, Henry Bowen VI (1862-1930) married Florence
Colley of Mount Temple near Dublin (they had one child, Elizabeth Bowen the authoress,
from whose book ‘Bowenscourt’ much of this information is taken), and Florence’s niece
Noreen Colley married Gilbert, the younger son of George and Harriet Butler of Maiden Hall.
Loftus Otway Bland RN
A. Sarah = Clarke
B. Elizabeth = Mansergh
Marshall Elise = Robert Cole Bowen = Georgina
Harriet = Butler Henry = Florence George
Gilbert ……………………………….. = …………………………………… Noreen
II. The Bowen family
The Bowens, originally Owens from the Gower Peninsular in South Wales, first set foot in
Ireland when Colonel Henry Bowen 1st came over as a Cromwellian in about 1649. (He had
earlier been a Royalist.) After a while, Cromwell rewarded him with a tract of land in County
Cork, ‘as much as his hawk could fly over before it came down’. Luckily for Henry, the hawk
flew a longer distance than normal and he received a very solid amount of land.
Henry 1st died in 1659 and after him came John 1st and 2nd, and then Henry 2nd. He married
Jane Cole, who had both looks and fortune, in 1716, and from then on every Bowen child was
given the extra Christian name of Cole. It has been claimed that the Coles descended from
King Coel who founded Colchester and may have been Old King Cole, but the family were
definitely in Devonshire in 1273. One Robert Cole from London came over to Ireland in the
17th century and bought Ballymackey estate in County Tipperary. The Bowen home was then
Kilbolane House near Charleville which had been built by John 2nd. It was Henry Cole
Bowen 3rd (1723-1788) who built Bowenscourt which after ten years’ work was completed in
1775 to accommodate his fourteen children.
Bowenscourt, like Graigenuoe, had its attack in the time of Henry 4th (1762-1837) when the
house was but 24 years old. Luckily for the Bowens, the parson got wind of it and he ran
across the fields to the house to give warning. He woke Henry 4th who made the necessary
arrangements for the defence, leaving lights on in one of the rooms and posting armed
defenders in the unlit windows. The attackers arrived at 2 am, dismounted, banged on the
front door and started firing at the room where they saw the light. The defenders in the unlit
windows then fired at spots from which the attacker’s flashes came and succeeded in killing
the leader. The firing stopped and the attackers withdrew dragging away their leader’s body
in a sack.
Henry 4th had no son so Bowenscourt next passed to his nephew Henry 5th (1808-1841), son
of his brother Robert and then on to his son, Robert Cole Bowen (1830-1888) who married
The first meeting between Robert and Elise was brought about by an umbrella and a
rainstorm. One afternoon when walking in Dublin with his umbrella up, he looked across the
road and saw on the opposite pavement two young ladies smartly dressed for afternoon
calling, shivering in the unexpected rainstorm. He crossed the road and offered his umbrella
but the elder, who was Sarah Clarke, refused it; he could see, however, from the look on the
younger sister’s face that she would very much like to have the umbrella, so he repeated his
offer and she gladly accepted it. From here it was quite a short way to the return of the loaned
umbrella, Robert’s call upon the Clarkes in one of those pleasant slate-fronted houses at
Blackrock, beside Dublin Bay, that they had taken for the winter, and the promise of a
The marriage took place the following winter on 3 December 1860 at St Luke’s Church in
Cheltenham, where the Clarkes were spending the winter.
Of the thirteen children of Robert and Elise, four died at under four months. The survivors
were: Henry, Robert, Sarah, Anne, Charles Otway, Mary Elizabeth, Elizabeth, St. John and
Mervyn. Elizabeth Bowen writes of her father’s generation: ‘Their skins were pale, though
pretty, their eyes blue, and their hair generally red-gold. Several of them showed Clarke
features – short noses, expressive foreheads, rather marked eye-sockets’. She says that of the
sons, Henry was the most studious (and absent-minded) and that of the daughters, Mary was
the most vivacious. Henry’s confused efforts at Graigenuoe at refilling the teapot first with
hot milk, then with coffee and finally with the sought-for hot water are a vivid memory as is
Mary’s vivacious chatter over a glass of port at 12 Egerton Place.
Mary was a keen Anglo-Catholic. One day she mentioned this to her cousin Georgina O’Brien
and received the answer ‘Nonsense, Mary! There is no such thing as an Anglo-Catholic; either
you are a Protestant, or you are a Catholic or you are a Jew!’.
The two younger sons, St. John and Mervyn went abroad. St. John went to South Africa
where he was a Resident Magistrate and where he married and had two children – Robert
Edward and Henry. Henry went to Ceylon as a teaplanter and later became head of Carsons,
a tea firm in Colombo; he and his brother are now living in Rhodesia. Mervyn Bowen went as
an engineer to Ceylon, where he was concerned, among other things, with the building of
railways. He married as his second wife a lady with a Ceylon Burgher name (Fernando) and
they retired to Fermoy, County Cork. Their son Charles was a farm pupil for a time with
Gilbert Butler and it was hoped that he might take over Bowenscourt from Elizabeth Bowen.
However, he could not afford this and is now settled near Salisbury in Rhodesia.
Elise Bowen died in 1881, at the age of 45, of smallpox which she contracted while
successfully nursing her son Henry. He had caught the disease in London on his way back
from the Grand Tour he undertook between school and university.
Robert married the following year, Georgina Mansergh, Elise’s first cousin. Elizabeth Bowen
says “Georgina’s position at Bowenscourt was a difficult one – with Elizabeth’s (Elise’s) older
children she could not hope to be welcome, (Sarah, who had kept house in the iterregnum
was then 18) and I gather that, though not in any way ill-meaning, she was rigid, and
deficient in ‘heart’ and tact”. ‘Poor Georgina’ as she was later called, survived but four years,
dying in 1886. Robert himself died two years later just short of his 58th birthday.
From Robert Cole Bowen, Bowenscourt passed to his son Henry 6th (1862-1930) who married
first Florence Colley and second, in 1918, Mary Gwynne sister of Stephen Gwynne (1864-
1950) journalist, author and MP. Florence, mother of Elizabeth Bowen, was the seventh of the
ten children of Henry FitzGeorge Colley of Mount Temple on Dublin Bay near Clontarf.
Elizabeth, the last Bowen to live at Bowenscourt, was born at 15 Herbert Place, Dublin, on 7
June 1899 and died in 1973. Her husband Alan Cameron died in 1952 and she had to give up
the impossible task of maintaining the house on her own seven years later. Bowenscourt was
demolished in 1962.
III. The Butler Family
The Butler family is descended from Theobald Walter, brother of Hubert Walter, Bishop of
Salisbury and (in 1193) Archbishop of Canterbury, who sailed over to Waterford in 1185 with
Prince John, the King’s son. The Walters had originally come over with the Conqueror from
Normandy and Theobald’s grandfather, Henry Walter, held lands near Lancaster, at Newton
in Suffolk, and in Norfolk during the reign of Henry I. Prince John rewarded Theobald for his
services by giving him lands in County Limerick and in the Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow,
and he later gave him the hereditary office of Butler to the Lord of Ireland, which makes a
surname for his descendants. It was James Butler who was created the 1st Earl of Ormond in
1328, the year after Edward III came to the throne.
The 8th Earl was Sir Piers Butler (1467-1539) and his second son Richard was in 1550 created
Viscount Mountgarret, a title still held by the Butlers. James (1610-1688) the 12th Earl was
created Marquess of Ormond in 1642 and Duke of Ormond in 1661. He was created Marquess
after defeating Lord Mountgarret at Kilrush and he was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in
1644. It was in the difficult period of tripartite war between the Catholic Confederates, the
Royalists and the Parliamentarians. The Catholic Confederates, led by the old Anglo-Norman
as well as the purely Irish Lords, while fighting for their religion, had at the same time sworn
allegiance to the King and the Marquess of Ormond gave them several religious concessions
in the hope of persuading them to unite with the Royalists, which they were not willing to do.
Thus the Lord Lieutenant looked after Ireland for the King while being fired at from both
sides. Ormond fought the Parliamentarians under General Michael Jones, who had come over
from England with an advance party ahead of Cromwell, at Rathmines near Dublin and was
After the conquest of Ireland by Cromwell, Ormond who had proclaimed Charles II king
after the execution of Charles I, went to France and then attended on Charles II while he was
in exile in France and Germany. He returned after the Restoration and again became Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland 1661-1669 (after receiving the Dukedom as well as an English peerage)
and 1677-88. In 1683 he received and English dukedom. His last act as Lord Lieutenant was to
proclaim James II in Dublin.
His grandson, James Butler (1665-1745) second Duke of Ormonde (the ‘e’ was added at the
time of the first duke) fought in William III’s army at the Battle of the Boyne and was Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland from 1703-1707 and 1710-1713. He later developed Jacobite leanings and
after taking part in the Jacobite invasion of 1715 settled in Spain where he enjoyed a pension
from the Crown. He died in Avignon and was buried, as was the first duke, in Westminster
Abbey. His immense estates were confiscated to the Crown but his brother Charles Butler,
Earl of Arran, was later enabled to repurchase them.
The main stream of Butlers living in Ireland today are those of Ormonde, Dunboyne,
Mountgarret, Carrick and Lanesborough. The Ormondes and Dunboynes have a common
ancestor in Theobald Butler who died in 1242, whose sons Edmund and Thomas were
ancestors of the Ormondes and Dunboynes respectively.
IV. The Butler-Clarke marriages
James 2nd Baron Dunboyne (c. 1600) had as his fifth son Theobald who had two sons – James
of Killoskehan and Drom (temp Charles II from whom are descended the Butlers of Drom
and Castlecomer), and Pierce, Rector of Glenbeigh (d. 1710) from whom are descended the
Butlers of Llangoed and Maiden Hall, as follows:
James 2nd Baron Dunboyne (c. 1600)
James of Drom (temp Charles II) Pierce of Glenbeigh (d. 1710)
Richard (b. 1701)
James of Priestown (b. 1746)
Revd Richard of Priestown and
Big Toby m. 1751 Pierce (d. 1774)
Burnchurch m. 1792 (d. 1841)
William Captain Richard
Revd Edward John of Maiden Hall
Theobald Anne = Clarke
(b. 1790) Katherine = Clarke
Edward of Llangoed George (1859-1941)
(b. 1851) = Battiscombe = Clarke
William of Drom
Charles (Butler Kearney) = Clarke
Amelia = Clarke
The first Butler-Clarke marriages were to the brothers of Charles Clarke (1803-1879) by the
children of Captain Richard Butler of Castlecomer - Anne, who married Captain Richard
(1804-1868) as his second wife and Katherine, who, after marrying Captain William Trench,
married Patrick Clarke (1786-1845) as his third wife (see Chapter 2).
The next pair of marriages were between Robert Clarke’s children who were first cousins of
Marshal Neville Clarke (1828-1884) and the children of William Butler of Drom - Amelia,
who married Charles Eldon Clarke (grandfather of Cholm, Elia and Bryan) in 1866 and
Charles (grandfather of James and Catherine Butler Kearney, Joyce Corsellis and June Cooke)
who married Georgina Hannah Clarke in 1873 and took the name Butler Kearney on
inheriting property from a cousin in 1876. The fifth Butler-Clarke marriage was that of
George of Maiden Hall (1859-1941) to Harriet, sister of Charles Neville Clarke (1866-1942).
Revd Richard Butler DD of Priestown and Burnchurch had in all seven children of whom
three were parsons, James the eldest, Richard and Edward. Richard (of Trim) became Dean of
Clonmacnois but James (of Priestown) and Edward and Dr Butler himself had to leave
Ireland as a result of the Tithe War which culminated in an attack on Burnchurch Glebe in
1831. Dr Butler returned after three years but his sons never went back to Ireland. Revd
Edward went to Cheltenham and married four times. By his third marriage he had a son
Edward of Llangoed who married Emily Battiscombe and had two daughters Blanche and
Judith. Judith lives at Aberllynfi, Glasbury.
James of Priestown, after leaving Ireland, became Anglican Chaplain at Bad Homburg in
Hesse, then one of Europe’s most fashionable health resorts. Some 140 years later, his great
great granddaughter, Valerie Pitman inherited Priestown and shortly afterwards married The
Hon. Ginger Wellesley, son of Lord Cowley, direct descendant of Gerald Valerian the
younger brother of the Duke of Wellington. This marriage formed a new Butler-Colley link as
the Wellesleys were originally Colleys.
Henry Colley of Castle Carberry, County Kildare, who died in 1700, had two sons. The
younger son Richard, 1st Baron Mornington, changed his name from Colley to Wellesley and
was the grandfather of the Duke of Wellington. The elder son Henry d. 1723 had a daughter,
Mary, who married in 1747 Arthur Pomeroy 1st Viscount Harberton, and had three sons.
These became 2nd, 3rd and 4th viscount and it was the 4th Viscount’s son George Francis
Pomeroy who changes his name to Colley. His son Henry FitzGeorge Colley was the father of
Florence Bowen and of George Pomeroy Arthur Colley, Noreen’s father, who owned Castle
Carberry until about 1920 but lived at Corkagh, Clondalkin, near Dublin. Noreen, who
married Gilbert Butler, was the eldest of his six children (see OM page 44).
V. The Maiden Hall Butlers
Dr Butler built Burnchurch as his Glebe while he was still Vicar of trim, County Meath, as
well as Rector of Burnchurch, County Kilkenny. The Burnchurch Glebe was built four miles
from the church; it was evidently considered more important to have the house near the farm.
When Dr Butler died in 1841, the Burnchurch house and farm were sold separately. His sixth
son John bought Maiden Hall, a house built in the early 18th century, and he also bought
back Dr Butler’s farm where, in the meantime, the house now called ‘Scatorish’ had been
From John of Maiden Hall the estate passed to his son George who married Harriet Clarke of
Graiguenoe Park with issue:
i. Cicely (1899-1973)
Herbert Doudney, teaplanter in Ceylon without issue, who
lived at Laviston House where George Butler’s sisters had
ii. Hubert (1900- )
Susan (Peggy) sister of Sir Tyrone Guthrie (see section VI)
(A) Julia (b. 1935) = Dr Richard Crampton with
three children in the USA, Cordelia 1962, Suzanna 1964,
and Thomas 1968.
iii. Joanna (1903- )
Gerald Lenox-Conyngham, teaplanter of Anaverna ( see
section VII) with issue:
(A) Melosina (b. 1941)
Vere (b. 1942) = Alicia Coombs with three children,
Lucinda 1967, Edward 1970, and Thomas 1974.
Eleanor (b. 1946) = Nicholas Grene with two children,
Daniel 1972, and Sophia 1974.
iv. Gilbert (1910- )
Noreen Colley (first cousin of Elizabeth Bowen (see OM
page 40)) with issue:
Jessica (b. 1940) = Lord Rathdonnel with four children,
William 1966, Andrew 1968, Alexander 1974, and Sacha
James (b. 1942) = Gillian Becher with two children,
Thomas 1973, and James 1974.
Hubert Marshal Butler, fruit farmer, broadcaster, translater of literature from the Russian and
Serbo-Croatian, Irish country scholar and author of ‘Ten Thousand Saints’ a study in Irish
and European origins, and chairman of the Butler Society, took over Maiden Hall on the
death of George in 1941. George Gilbert, President of the Royal Dublin Society in 1975, took
over Scatorish and farmed the 600 acre estate from 1935. His son James lives at Cooltrand, a
house built in 1973 on Annamult Farm on the southwest edge where Dr Butler’s fourth son
had a 130 acre farm in 1830.
VI. The Guthrie family
Dr Thomas Guthrie DD Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was
born in 1803, joined the Free Church in 1843, became Vice President of the Evangelical
Alliance, an apostle of the Ragged School movement and a champion of the under privileged.
There is a statue of him in Princes Street, Edinburgh. One of his many children, David, joined
the Ministry and married Hannah Kirk of Keady, County Antrim, whose second son Thomas
b. 1868 in Liberton, married the second daughter of Sir William Tyrone KCB Commissioner
General and Queens Messenger and Martha Monaghan. Sir William’s father was the famous
actor Tyrone Power who was drowned in the SS President.
Thomas b. 1868 became Chief Surgeon to the Tunbridge Wells General Hospital and had two
children, William Tyrone b. 1900 and Susan Margaret (Peggy) b. 1905. Tyrone (d. 1970) writer,
producer and lecturer was knighted for services to the theatre. He worked with the OUDS,
the Scottish National Players, the Festival Theatre Cambridge, the BBC, Sadlers Wells and the
Old Vic. He produced plays in Australia, Finland and in Israel for the Habimah Theatre and
founded the Guthrie Theatres in Stratford Ontario and Minneapolis. He devoted much effort
and money to stimulating employment locally and left Annaghnakerrig and its contents to
the nation as a writer and artists workshop.
VII. The Lenox-Conyngham family
The family is descended from William Conyngham a Scottish Protestant who settled in the
townland of Ballindrum in 1609. The estate of Spring Hill in that townland was conveyed to
the family by the Salters Company in 1675. George Conyngham of Spring Hill (d. 1756)
married in 1751 Anne the daughter of Dr Peacock of Cultra and had three sons who died
without issue, the estate passing to his nephew George Lenox who adopted the additional
surname of Conyngham. He was the great-great-grandson of James Lenox MP for Derry who
was distinguished at the siege of that city. His eldest son, William Lenox-Conyngham DL JP
High Sheriff, married Charlotte Melosina daughter of the Rt. Hon. John Staples PC. William’s
son, Sir William (1824-1906) KCB DL JP High Sheriff, married Laura, daughter of George
Arbuthnot of Elderslie and had a younger son Edward Fraser of Anaverna (1867-1952) who
married Elizabeth Madeline, daughter of William Gunning of Cookstown.
Edward Lenox-Conyngham’s elder son was Gerald Hamilton RNVR of Anaverna, a
teaplanter in Ceylon, who married Joanna, daughter of George and Harriet Butler of Maiden