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A Possible Eustace Surname Connection?

It has been surmised for several years that there has been a connection between the Eustace and Power surnames. A link to the Eustace Surname DNA Project is being provided so we can monitor the project's progress and determine if we develop any matching participants over the course of time. Included below are some document extractions which form the crux of this speculative surname relationship.


Source Extractions

  • Kildare Archaeological Journal:  "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."

  • An historical memoir of Poher, Poer, or Power: Barony of Portlester Sir Eustace de Poher died A.D. 1311. From his eldest son have descended the Lords Power and Curraghmore, and from his second the FitzEustaces, or Eustaces. "Mark that the Eustacys (sic) descended lineally of the aforesaid Lord Ustas, which were very noble men in those days of knighthood and ability." The representative of the Eustaces in the fifteenth century was Sir Rowland FitzEustace, Lord of Kilcullen, Lord Deputy to the Duke of Clarence, and Lord High Treasurer of Ireland, who, on the 5th of March, 1462, was created by patent "Lord and Baron of Portlester," to him and to the heirs male of his body. He died 14th December, 1496 leaving no male issue. His daughter, Alison, married Gerald FitzGerald, eighth Earl of Kildare.

  • An historical memoir of Poher, Poer, or Power: Barony of Kilcullen and Viscounty of Baltinglass. - On death of the Baron of Portlester, Sir Thomas Eustace, Knight, became chief of the house. In 1541, he was created Baron of Kilcullen, and in1542 Viscount of Baltinglass, to him and to the male heirs of his body. His grandson, James, third viscount, joined the Earl of Desmond in arms, in the hope of placing Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne of England; "but despite all of his exertions and gallantry, the attempt proved abortive," and he escaped to Spain in 1583, where he soon died of grief. In 1580, the viscount addressed the following letter to the Earl of Ormond: - "I have received your letter. Whereas you hear that I assemble great companies of men together, you know I am not of such power, but whatever I can make it shall be to maintain truth. Injuries though I have received, yet I forget them. The highest power on earth commands us to take the sword. Questionless it is great want of knowledge and more of grace to think and believe, that a woman uncapax of all holy orders, should be the supreme governor of Christ's Church, a thing that Christ did not grant unto his own mother. If the Queen's pleasure be, as you allege, to minister justice, it were time to begin, for in this twenty years past of her reign, we have seen more damnable doctrine maintained, more oppressing of poor subjects under pretence of justice within this land, than ever we read or heard done by Christian princes. You counsel me to remain quiet, and you will be occupied in persecuting the poor members of Christ. I would you should learn and consider by what means your predecessors came up to be Earl of Ormond. Truly, you should find that, if Thomas Beckett, Bishop of Canterbury, had never suffered death in the defence of the Church, Thomas Butler, alias Beckett, had never been Earl of Ormond." Two years after the death of Viscount Baltinglass, in 1585, an act of Parliament was passed, by which he was attainted and his estates forfeited. In the "Book of Howth" (Carew MSS.) a list is given of the "nobility of Ireland, placed by Sir Henry Sedney." The Powers are mentioned thus: - 1. Eustace, alias Powar, Viscount of Baltinglass, Lord of Kylkullen, to him and to his heirs male, A II. 8, 38 . Their ancestor, Robert L. Powar, was sent into Ireland with commission, and in his offspring hath rested here, A.D. 1176. 2. Power, Baron of Curraghmore.

  • An historical memoir of Poher, Poer, or Power: Sir Robert de Poher, of whose descendants the following pages treat, was a son of Sir Bartholomew de Poher, Lord of Black borough, Devon (temp. Hen II.), and his wife Elenour. He accompanied Henry II. himself in 1172, was Knight Marshall to that Monarch, and was granted by him in A.D. 1177, "In custodium, the City of Waterford, with all the circumjacent province; and appointed that the following lands should, for the time to come, belong to the service of Waterford, viz., all the lands which lie between Waterford and the water beyond Lismore (which comprehend the greatest part of the County of Waterford), and also the lands of Ossory." He obtained a grant of that portion of the present County of Waterford extending from the River Suir to the sea, excepting the City and cantred of the Danes, a district thence called the Poer, or Power country, thus dispossessing the O'Flanagans, the ancient Celtic proprietors. From Sir Robert de Poher have descended, as we shall see, the Barons of Donoyle, the Barons of Iverke, the Barons of Kells in Ossory, the Lords Power and Curraghmore, and Earls of Tyrone, and the Eustaces, Barons of Portlester and Viscounts of Baltinglass. When William Fitz Adelm de Burgh was recalled to England, the king appointed Hugh de Lacy Governor-General of Ireland, A.D. 1179, and joined with him, in commission, Sir Robert de Poher, Governor of Waterford and Wexford.

  • An historical memoir of Poher, Poer, or Power: Sir Robert de Poher, Lord of Waterford A.D. 1177, was succeeded by his eldest son, John de Poher, Baron of Donoyle. He in his turn passed the Feudal Barony, by tenure, to his eldest son, as already shown; and his third and youngest son, Mathew de Poher, in all probability erected the ancient Castle of Curraghmore or Coroghmore, and it is from him that the house originated. Mathew was succeeded by his son Eustace de Poer, who died A.D. 1311. He had two sons - Mathew, his heir (of whom presently), and a younger son, whose christian name was not been recorded, but who is remarkable as being the ancestor of a family who adopted a different surname from that of their patronymic de Poher. Being the son of Eustace de Poher, and therefore in the Norman phraseology FitzEustace de Poher, his immediate descendants retained FitzEustace, and no longer called themselves Poer. That the family of FitzEustace or Eustace derived from a Sir Eustace de Poher, is warranted by their war cry having been "Poeragh-aboo," the same as their kinsmen the Poers. Sir George Carew, well known for his versatility in Irish genealogies, referring to the Poers of Donhill or Kilmedan, notes: -"Out of his house all the Powers of Ireland, and the FitzEustaces, Viscounts of Baltinglass, descend. Again, he refers to them thus: - Eustace alias Powar, Viscount of Baltinglass, Lord of Kylcullen, to him and to his heirs male - A II.8.33.

    Their ancestor Robert Lord Powar, was sent into Ireland with commission, and in his offspring hath rested here A.D. 1176 And I also find the other interesting note regarding the family: - "A.D. 1303. Richard Bourke, Earl of Ulester and L. Eustas le Power, entered into Scotland with a great power of men and before their going the Earl made 14 knights. Then died Gerald, son and heir to John FitzThomas. Mark that the Eustacys descended lineally of the second son of the aforesaid L. Ustas, which were very noble men in those days of knighthood and ability."

    From the Eustaces descended the Lords and Baron of Kilcullen, Lord Baron Portlester, and the Viscounts of Baltinglass, all of which titles were held at various times by the family of FitzEustace or Eustace. The elder son of Sir Eustace de Poher (who died in 1311), Mathew de Poer, was living in 1340, and left by his wife Joan a son Richard, who died 1371, leaving a son David Poer, who married Elenour, daughter of Nicholas Poer, Baron of Donoyle, Lord of Kylmydan, who was summoned to Parliament by Writ as Baron, 1375, 1378, 1381, 1383, (see page 12). For the better understanding of subsequent events in the family of Curraghmore, to be referred to in detail hereafter, I wish to draw particular attention to the union by marriage of this David Poer with his kins-woman the Lady Elenour Poer. By this marriage it is quite plainly to be seen that the Poers, Lords of Curraghmore descended in the male line from Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford; and in the female line only from Nicholas Poer, Baron of Donoyle, summoned to Parliament as Baron by Writ. It has been most erroneously stated, in several works on family history, pedigrees, &c. that the Powers of Curraghmore branched from the Donhill line in the person of Nicholas Poer, Baron by Writ. This is contrary to the actual fact, which is that they derive from him only through his daughter Elenour, and therefore could never legally possess the Barony by Writ, as their inheritance; but to this subject I shall refer again. David Poer had issue by his wife Elenour, a son, Nicholas Poer, evidently called after his maternal grandfather, the Baron of Donoyle. He was succeeded by his son, Richard Poer, Lord of Coroghmore, who was Sheriff of the County Waterford for more than twenty years.

  • An historical memoir of Poher, Poer, or Power: A memoir of the Power family would by no means be complete or exhaustive, without a more detailed account of Lord Arnold de Poer, Baron of Kells, who, in spite of his influence and wealth, fell a victim of the age in which he lived. Before relating the story of his imprisonment, however, and the causes which led up to it, perhaps it will be well to show his exact descent from Sir Robert de Poher, the first of the name in Ireland. At the beginning of this historical sketch, he is casually referred to, and his descent from Walter de Poher, Lord of Dunbratyn and Rathgormyke, and Feya D'Eincourt is given; but, according to some authorities, his direct ancestor was John, elder brother of Walter aforesaid. This Walter was certainly either a son or grandson of Sir Robert; and as I shall proceed to point out, the probability is that he was a grandson, being the second son of Sir Robert. Although Giraldus Cambrensis, in his very complimentary notice of Roger Poer, "the young and beardless, yet withal lusty, valiant, and courageous gentleman," does not in any way show his connection with the Irish patriarch of the family, Sir Robert; nevertheless, two of our most trustworthy authorities on old family descents, viz., Lodge and Playfair, show him to have been a younger son of Sir Robert de Poher. O'Farrell, in his Linea Antiqua, ventures a supposition that he "was likely the brother or one of the sons "of Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford, 1177. Now, as Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford, was the founder of the Donoyle and Kilmedan House, and Carew says "out of this house all the Powers of Ireland and the FitzEustaces descend," the conclusion necessarily to be drawn from O'Farrell and Carew, is that Sir Roger was a younger son of Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford, in no way can the four authorities quoted, Lodge, Playfair, O'Farrell, and Carew, be reconciled in their statements. Lord Arnold's descent is traced by Lodge and Playfair from Sir Roger through his elder son John, and not from Walter, of Dunbratyn, who was his second and younger son, and whose line became extinct in the person of Mathew Poer, heir to Eustace, Lord Poer, who was summoned to Parliament as Baron, A.D. 1295. As shown in the early part of the memoir, Bennet de Poer, son of Walter of Dunbratyn, was Lord of Grace Castle in right of his wife Margaret, daughter of William le Gras [Grace], and as Lord Arnold inherited Grace Castle, he must have been heir to Walter, son of Mathew, who succeeded to Eustace Lord Poer as already shown, and which Walter died issueless. This Walter was the great grandson of Bennet de Poer, and Margaret Grace, and with him the issue of Walter of Dunbratyn became extinct, and his lands, including Grace Castle must have passed to Lord Arnold. The early part of the Power pedigree requires some slight alteration to define clearly the Curraghmore line, and the following revision is correct, and tallies with the various authors quoted. Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford, had four sons, viz.:

    1. Sir John de Poher, Baron of Donoyle, eldest son, who inheriting the great possessions of his father, established himself at Donoyle, a castle on the seacoast, built there by Sir Robert, in all probability, soon after the Conquest, to guard his newly acquired grants.

    2. Sir Eustace de Poher, Benefactor to the Dominican Monastery of St. Saviour's Dublin, who probably took the cowl and died without issue.

    3. Sir Roger, and (4) Bartholomew, who continued the English line. Sir Roger, the son, who married a niece of Sir Armoricus de St. Laurence [ancestor of the noble House of Howth] and probably daughter de Tristram, and Cecilia his wife, and had two sons, John (of whom presently) and Walter, Lord of Dunbratyn and Rathgormyke, who is placed as a son, instead of a grandson, of Sir Robert in the early part of the memoir, and whose line, as already shown, became extinct in the person of Walter, his great grandson. Besides these four sons, Sir Robert had a daughter Elenor, wife of Sir Alexander de Raymond, Knight of the Hall, Co. Wexford. In the Redmond Pedigree, she is called the daughter of Richard Poer, but as there was no Richard Poer at so early a date, it is probable Richard is a clerical mistake for Robert, and an error occurred in making her the daughter of Walter of Dunbratyn. John, the elder son of Sir Roger, was living in 1197, and from him the Curraghmore House derived its origin. It is probable that Sir Robert granted to his son Roger, Curraghmore and the manor thereof, and that either he or his son John built the castle of Curraghmore. The following is the pedigree as given by Lodge. Robert, Lord of Waterford, had a son Roger, who had a son John, living 1197, whose son Mathew, was father of Eustace, who died 1311, who had a son Arnold, who died in 1328, leaving a son Robert, whose son Eustace was father of Mathew, direct ancestor of Richard Poer, Lord of Coroghmore, who died in 1483. Playfair agrees with Lodge in all the generations down to Robert the son of Arnold, whom he makes the father of Mathew, who had a son Richard, father of Nicholas, summoned as Baron in 1375, whose son he states was Richard who died in 1483. Playfair is palpably wrong in this part of the descent, because, as already shown, the Hose of Curraghmore derived only in the female line from Nicholas, the Baron in 1375, through the marriage of David Poer, grandfather of Richard, Lord of Coroghmore, who died in 1483 with Elenour, his daughter. The correct pedigree therefore of the Curraghmore line, after thus sifting the authorities on the subject, is clearly defined thus. Sir Robert, Lord of Waterford, had a third son Sir Roger, whose eldest son John, living in 1197, was succeeded by his son Mathew. This Mathew had a son Sir Eustace, who about the year 1300 was granted the barony of Kells in Ossory. From a younger son of this Eustace, the FitzEustaces originated. His eldest son and heir was Arnold, the Lord Arnold of whom so many entertaining records exist. He was Baron of Kells, and seneschal of Kilkenny, and it was he who took a prominent part against Edward Bruce, and not John de Poher, 5th Baron of Donoyle, as accidentally appears stated in the account of that chieftain. By his wife Agnes, an heiress who had dower A.D. 1337, he had two sons, the younger of whom Robert was Treasurer of Ireland in 1327, and the elder Eustace, his heir, succeeded as 3rd Baron of Kells. As already related in the early pages of the memoir, he was hanged as a traitor A.D. 1345, and his vast estates confiscated, of which, however, those in the County Waterford were restored to his heir. The Barony of Kells was granted to Walter de Bermingham "because he took a great part with him (the king) against the Earl of Desmond, with the aforesaid Lord Ufford, which barony belonged some time to Eustace Poer that was drawn and hanged at the Castle of the Island." For a fuller account of him, the reader is referred to the back pages of the memoir. By his wife the Lady Mathilde de Bermingham, he had a son Mathew, whose only son David Poer married Elenour the daughter of Nicholas Poer, Baron of Donoyle and Lord of Kylmydan, who sat as a Baron in Parliament in 1375, and three times afterwards. By this marriage there was a son Nicholas, whose son Richard Poer Lord of Coroghmore, was sheriff of Waterford, and died in 1483. From him the line has already been distinctly and clearly deduced down to the Lady Katherine Power of Curraghmore, wife of Sir Marcus Beresford, Bart. and to the different houses of Rathgormyke, Clondonnel, Monolargie, and Gurteen.


Eustace DNA Project Notes

As of 4 May 2007, one of the Eustace DNA Project participants claims a lineage to the Viscount Baltinglass/Portlester family and his pedigree can be traced to the 1300s. This pedigree has been verified by several independent sources and is considered to be one of the project's DNA benchmarks. The participant's DNA profile is matched on 17 out of 17 markers by five other participants and 16 out of 17 markers by over 20 others. One member who matches 16 of the 17 markers was born and raised approximately five miles from Ballymore Eustace, the seat of the FitzEustace family, and tradition says his family descended from Portlester. It is clear these groups of participants are related and can trace their lineage back to the Kildare Eustace.


Comments from the Eustace DNA Project Administrator

Sir Bernard Burke, in Genealogical History of Dormant Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire (London 1883) identified John FitzEustace, a Norman lord who accompanied Strongbow to Ireland, as the ancestor of the Eustace family.

Major General Sir Eustace Tickell presented a different opinion. Tickell, a Eustace descendent who had access to many family records, published a series of scholarly articles on the family in various issues of the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society. In a 1955 article titled, The Eustace Family and Their Lands in County Kildare, he wrote:

"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 was named after him. One of these, Sir Eustace Le Poer, Baron of Kells, was a Justice Itinerant in 1285, and invaded Scotland in 1296, 1301 and 1303."

The Book of Howth includes a listing of noble English families settled in Ireland and has the following; "Eustace, alias Powar, Viscount Baltinglass, Lord of Kilcullen, to him and to his heirs male Ao H. 8 33o (33rd year of Henry VIII). Their ancestor Robert Le Poer was sent into Ireland with commission, and in his offspring hath rested hers, A.D. 1176."

Also in The Book of Howth under the date 1303 we read, "Richard Bourke, Earl of Ulster and Lord Eustas Le Power, 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."

This theory seems to provide further support for Tickell's hypothesis.

Further evidence for Tickell's conclusion can be gathered from the following taken from The Irish Builder - 1891:

Being the son of Eustace de Poher, and therefore in the Norman phraseology FitzEustace de Poher, his immediate descendants retained FitzEustace, and no longer called themselves Poer. That the family of FitzEustace or Eustace derived from a Sir Eustace de Poher, is warranted by their war-cry having been "Poeragh-aboo," the same as their kinsmen the Poers. Sir George Carew, well-known for his versatility in Irish genealogies, referring to the Poers of Donhill or Kilmedan, notes: -"Out of his house all the Powers of Ireland, and the FitzEustaces, Viscounts of Baltinglass, descend. Again, he refers to them thus: - Eustace alias Powar, Viscount of Baltinglass, Lord of Kylcullen, to him and to his heirs male - AH.8.33 (33rd year of Henry VIII's Reign). Their ancestor Robert Lord Powar, was sent into Ireland with commission, and in his offspring hath rested here A.D. 1176. I also find the other interesting note regarding the family: - "A.D. 1303. Richard Bourke, Earl of Ulster, and L. Eustas le Power, entered into Scotland with a great power of men, and before their going the Earl made 14 knights. Then died Gerald, son and heir, to John FitzThomas. Mark that the Eustacys, descended lineally of the second son of the aforesaid L. Ustas, which were very noble men in those days of knighthood and ability."

However Y-chromosome DNA testing of male members of the Powers family contradicts Tickell's theory.

This apparent inconsistency concerning early ancestry possibly can be explained as follows; John FitzEustace, the Norman lord was connected with Hugh de Lacy who had been appointed Justiciar of Meath, together with Le Poer. When Hugh De Lacy was assassinated in 1186, it would have been natural for the presumably younger John FitzEustace to transfer to the service of his late master's colleague and likely he or a descendent, inter-married with the LePoer family.

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