Tuesday, 17 January 2017

1st Viscount Taaffe

THE TAAFFE FAMILY OWNED 1,277 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY LOUTH


The members of this noble family resided, for a series of years, in the Austrian dominions, and filled the highest and most confidential employments, civil and military, under the imperial government, doubtless from having been, from theretofore, as Roman Catholics, debarred the prouder gratification of serving their own.

The Taaffes were of great antiquity in the counties of Louth and Sligo, and produced, in ancient times, many distinguished and eminent persons; among whom was Sir Richard Taaffe, who flourished during the reign of EDWARD I, and died in 1287.


Contemporary with Sir Richard was the Lord (Nicholas) Taaffe, who died in 1288, leaving two sons: John Taaffe, Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1306, and

RICHARD FITZ-NICHOLAS TAAFFE, whose eldest son,

RICHARD TAAFFE, was seated at Ballybraggan and Castle Lumpnagh.

This gentleman served the office of sheriff of County Louth in 1315, and to his custody was committed the person of Hugh de Lacy, the younger, Earl of Ulster, after his condemnation for high treason, in inciting the invasion of Ireland, by Edward Bruce, until the execution of that unfortunate nobleman at Drogheda.

From this Richard lineally descended

SIR WILLIAM TAAFFE, Knight, of Harleston, in Norfolk, who distinguished himself by his services to the Crown, during the Earl of Tyrone's rebellion, in 1597; and subsequently maintained his reputation against the Spanish force, which landed at Kinsale in 1601.

Sir William died in 1630, and was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN TAAFFE, Knight, who was advanced to the Irish peerage, in 1628, by the title of Baron Ballymote and VISCOUNT TAAFFE, of Corren, both in County Sligo.

His lordship married Anne, daughter of Theobald, 1st Viscount Dillon, by whom he had (with other issue),
THEOBALD, his heir;
Lucas, major-general in the army;
Francis, colonel in the army;
Edward;
Peter, in holy orders;
Jasper, slain in battle;
WILLIAM.
His lordship died in 1642, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THEOBALD, 2nd Viscount (c1603-77), who was advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF CARLINGFORD, in 1662.

This nobleman espoused zealously the royal cause during the civil wars, and had his estate sequestered by the Usurper.

After the Restoration, he obtained, however, a pension of £800 a year; and, upon being advanced in the peerage, received a grant of £4,000 a year, of the rents payable to the Crown, out of the retrenched lands of adventurers and soldiers, during such time as the same remained in the common stock of reprisals, and out of forfeited jointures, mortgages etc.

His lordship was succeeded at his decease by his eldest surviving son,

NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl and 3rd Viscount, who fell at the battle of the Boyne, in the command of a regiment of foot, under the banner of JAMES II; and, leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his brother,

FRANCIS, 3rd Earl (1639-1704), the celebrated Count Taaffe, of the Germanic Empire.

This nobleman, who was sent in his youth to the city of Olmuts, to prosecute his studies, became, first, one of the pages of honour to the Emperor Ferdinand; and, soon after, obtained a captain's commission from CHARLES V, Duke of Lorraine, in his own regiment.

He was, subsequently, chamberlain to the emperor, a marshal of the empire, and counsellor of the state and cabinet.

His lordship was so highly esteemed by most of the crowned heads of Europe that, when he succeeded to his hereditary honours, he was exempted from forfeiture, by a special clause in the English act of parliament, during the reign of WILLIAM AND MARY.

His lordship died in 1704, and leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his nephew,

THEOBALD, 4th Earl, son of Major the Hon John Taaffe, who fell before Londonderry, in the service of JAMES II, by the Lady Rose Lambart, daughter of Charles, 1st Earl of Cavan.

He married Amelia, youngest daughter of Luke, 3rd Earl of Fingal; but dying without issue, in 1738, the earldom expired, while the viscountcy and barony passed to his next heir male,

NICHOLAS, Count Taaffe (c1685-1769), of the Germanic Empire, as 6th Viscount.

This nobleman obtained the golden key, as chamberlain, from the Emperor CHARLES VI, as he did from His Imperial Majesty's successor, which mark of distinction both his sons enjoyed.

His lordship, as Count Taaffe, obtained great renown during the war with the Turks, in 1738, and achieved the victory of BELGRADE with high honour.

He married Mary Anne, daughter and heiress of Count Spendler, of Lintz, in Upper Austria, a lady of the bedchamber to Her Imperial and Hungarian Majesty, and had issue,
John, predeceased his father;
Francis, dsp.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1762-1830), 7th Viscount, who espoused, in 1787, the Countess Josephine Haugwitz, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his successor;
Louis;
Clementina.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

FRANCIS JOHN CHARLES JOSEPH RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1788-1849), 8th Viscount, who wedded, in 1811, the Countess Antonia Amade de Várkony, and had issue.

Successor to the claim

  • Richard Taaffe (1898–1967), entitled to petition for restoration of the viscountcy, but never did so.
Carlingford arms

Lord Taaffe was seated at Ellischau Castle, Bohemia.

Under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917, his name was removed from the roll of the Peers of Ireland by Order of the King in Council, 1919, for bearing arms against the United Kingdom in the 1st World War.

In 1919, he also lost his title as Count of the Holy Roman Empire, when the newly-established republic of Austria abolished the nobility and outlawed the use of noble titles.

Independent of the legal situation in the UK, the monarchy was abolished in Austria in 1918, and in 1919 the newly established republic of German Austria abolished all noble titles by law.

Heinrich, Count Taaffe, 12th Viscount Taaffe, thus lost both his titles and ended his life as plain Mr Taaffe.

He married, in 1897, in Vienna, Maria Magda Fuchs, and they had a son, Richard (1898–1967).

Upon the death of his first wife in 1918, he married, secondly, Aglaë Isescu,, in 1919, at Ellischau.

He died in Vienna in 1928, aged 56.

EDWARD CHARLES RICHARD TAAFFE (1898–1967) was an Austrian gemmologist who found the first cut and polished taaffeite in November 1945.

Mr Taaffe inherited neither the viscountcy nor the title of Count, as Austria had generally abolished titles of nobility in 1919.

With Richard Taaffe's death in 1967, no heirs to either title remained and both the Austrian and the UK titles became extinct.

Portions of the Taaffes'  County Sligo estate were offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1852.

In 1866-67, John Taaffe offered for sale his estate at Gleneask and lands at Drumraine, in the barony of Corran.

In 1880 John West Pollock offered over 500 acres of the Taaffe estate in the barony of Corran for sale in the Land Judges' Court.

The Gleneask estate derived from an 1808 lease between Henry King and John Taaffe; while the Drumraine lease dated from the same period from the Parke estate.

The Taaffe family are also recorded as the owners of 833 acres in County Galway in the 1870s.

The family also held extensive properties in counties Louth and Meath.

The Congested Districts Board acquired over 5,000 acres of the Taaffe estate in the early 20th century.


SMARMORE CASTLE, near Ardee, County Louth, is claimed to be one of the longest continuously inhabited castles in Ireland.

Records show that William Taaffe was seated here in 1320, after his family arrived in Ireland from Wales at the turn of the 12th century.

Successive generations of Taaffes continued to make Smarmore Castle their main residence in Ireland until the mid 1980s, when the property was sold.

The castle is divided into three distinct sections comprising an early 14th century castle-keep with extensions on either side built ca 1720 and 1760 respectively.

The castle is built of local stone and its walls are eight feet thick.


The 18th century courtyard behind the castle was formerly the stables for the estate.

First published in October, 2012.  Carlingford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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