ONE AUTHORITY STATES THAT MILES DE COURCY MAY HAVE BECOME LORD COURCY OF KINSALE ABOUT 1340, THOUGH CONSIDERS IT MORE PROBABLE THAT THE PEERAGE WAS ACQUIRED FIFTY YEARS LATER.
The family of COURCY claims alliance with most of the royal houses of Europe, paternally through the Dukes of Lorraine, and maternally through the ducal house of Normandy.
LOUIS IV, King of France, born in 920, wedded, in 939, Gerberga of Saxony, daughter of HENRY THE FOWLER, King of Germany, by whom he had two sons, Lothair, who succeeded to the French throne (and with whose son, LOUIS V, the race of monarchs descended from Charlemagne ceased), and
CHARLES, Duke of Lower Lorraine; whose immediate descendant,
ROBERT DE COURCY, Lord of Courcy in Normandy, in 1026, was succeeded by his eldest son,
RICHARD DE COURCY, who accompanied his sovereign WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, into England, and distinguishing himself at the battle of Hastings, participated largely in the Conqueror's spoil, having been allotted numerous lordships; amongst which was that of Stoke, in Somerset, and thence denominated Stoke Courcy (Stogursey).
His lordship died in 1098, and was succeeded by his son,
ROBERT, as 2nd Baron of Stoke Courcy, who founded the nunnery of Cannington, Somerset.
This nobleman was steward of the household to HENRY I, and to his daughter, EMPRESS MATILDA; by the former of whom he was appointed one of the greater barons of Westminster.
His lordship espoused Rohais, daughter of Hugh de Grandmesnil, Lord of Hinckley, Leicestershire, and Lord High Steward of England, by whom he had five sons, and was succeeded by the eldest,
WILLIAM, 3rd Baron of Stoke Courcy, and royal steward to HENRY I.
This nobleman, having no issue, was succeeded by his brother,
ROBERT, 4th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who, during the reign of KING STEPHEN, had a principal command at the battle of Northampton against the Scots.
This feudal lord wedded Avice, daughter and co-heir of William Meschin, and was succeeded by an only son,
ROBERT, 5th Baron, father of
WILLIAM, 6th Baron of Stoke Courcy, and royal steward to HENRY II; who died in 1171, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
SIR JOHN DE COURCY (1150-1219), 7th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who having distinguished himself during the reign of HENRY II, in that monarch's wars in England and Gascony, was sent into Ireland, in 1177, as an assistant to William FitzAdelm in the government of that kingdom.
Sir John having prevailed upon some of the veteran soldiers to accompany him, invaded the province of Ulster, with twenty-two knights, fifty esquires, and about three hundred foot-soldiers, and, after many hard-fought battles, succeeded in attaching Ulster to the English monarchy.
By many prosperous battles fought with great risk to his life, he subdued Ulster to the obedience of HENRY II.
He stretched the bounds of the English Pale as far as Dunluce, in the most northern parts of the province, which he endeavoured to secure by building castles and fortresses in convenient places.
For this important service Sir John was formally created, in 1181 (being the first Englishman dignified with an Irish title of honour) EARL OF ULSTER, and Lord of Connaught; with a grant by patent to him and his heirs, that they should enjoy all the land in Ireland he could gain by his sword, together with the donation of bishoprics and abbeys; reserving from him only homage and fealty.
In 1182, he was constituted sole governor of Ireland.
By his reputation and conduct he brought the whole kingdom in one year into such regularity and order that " a man with a wand, having treasure about him, might travel along the country with safety."
His lordship continued in high favour during the remainder of the reign of his royal master, and performed prodigies of valour in Ireland.
This splendour and rank having excited the envy of Hugh de Lacy, appointed Viceroy of Ireland by KING JOHN, Sir John, the Earl of Ulster, was seized while performing penance unarmed and barefooted in the churchyard at Downpatrick, County Down, on Good Friday, 1204.
He was sent over to England, where he was condemned to life imprisonment in the Tower of London.
KING JOHN granted to de Lacy all of Sir John's possessions in Ireland, and, in 1205, created him EARL OF ULSTER.
After Sir John had been in confinement about a year, a dispute happening to arise between KING JOHN and PHILIP II of France, concerning the Duchy of Normandy, the decision of which being referred to single combat, KING JOHN, more hasty than advised, appointed the day, against which the King of France provided his champion;
but the King of England, less fortunate, could find no one of his subjects willing to take up the gauntlet, until his captive in the Tower, Sir John de Courcy, was prevailed upon to accept the challenge.
However, when everything was prepared for the contest, and the champions had entered the lists, in the presence of the monarchs of England, France, and Spain, the opponent of the Sir John, seized with a sudden panic, put spurs on his horse and fled the arena; whereupon the victory was adjudged with acclamation to the champion of England.
The French king being informed, however, of Sir John's powerful strength, and wishing to witness some exhibition of it, his lordship, at the desire of KING JOHN, a sturdy helmet was laid on a block of wood, which Sir John cleft asunder, and with the same blow struck so deep into the wood, that no person present except himself could withdraw his sword.
The King was so well satisfied that this signal performance, that he not only restored Sir John to his estates and effects, but desired him to ask anything within his gift, and it should be granted.
His Majesty would now have restored his earldom, which was held back by Hugh de Lacy, who refused to surrender it.
KING JOHN could only accede to Sir John de Courcy the permission to repair to Ireland to re-conquer it for himself; at the same time granting to him and his male heirs the privilege of appearing covered before the Kings of England.
To which Sir John replied, that having estates and titles enough, he desired that his successors might have the privilege to remain covered in the presence of His Majesty, and all future kings of England, which request was immediately conceded.
Contrary winds prevented his succeeding in several attempts to cross the Irish Sea.
Sir John de Courcy died in France in 1219, and was succeeded by his only son,
MILES DE COURCY (-c1230), who, being unable to recover his father's earldom, was created, in 1181, BARON KINGSALE, in Ireland, as a compensation for the earldom of Ulster, which was retained by Hugh de Lacy.
His lordship was thereafter obliged to reside in Ireland, and neglected to claim the English barony of Stoke Courcy.
For five centuries afterwards the honours descended regularly.
JOHN, 18th Baron, died in 1628, leaving four sons,
GERALD, his heir;The eldest son,
David, grandfather of JOHN, 25th Baron.
GERALD, 19th Baron, died without male issue, about 1642, leaving a daughter, MARY, who wedded firstly, John Galway, of Kinsale; and secondly, Donogh O'Driscoll.
His lordship was succeeded by his brother,
PATRICK, 20th Baron, who died about 1663, leaving four sons and three daughters, viz.
JOHN, his successor;The eldest son,
Miles, father of GERALD, 24th Baron;
Alice; Elizabeth; Margaret.
JOHN, 21st Baron, died about 1667, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
PATRICK, 22nd Baron (c1660-69); who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,
ALMERICUS, 23rd Baron (c1664-1720); outlawed in 1691, for his adhesion to the fortunes of King JAMES II; but the oulawry was very soon removed, and his lordship took his seat in the Irish parliament in 1692.
This nobleman, in observance of the ancient privilege of his house, appeared in the presence of WILLIAM III covered, and explained to that monarch, when His Majesty expressed surprise at the circumstance, the reason thus:
Sire, my name is Courcy; I am Lord of Kingsale in Your Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland; and the reason of my appearing covered in Your Majesty's presence is, to assert the ancient privilege of my family, granted to Sir John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster, and his heirs, by JOHN, King of England.The King acknowledged the privilege, and giving Lord Kingsale his hand to kiss, his lordship paid his obeisance and continued covered.
He died in 1720, without issue, when the title reverted to his first cousin,
GERALD, 24th Baron (1700-59), grandson of Patrick, the 20th Baron.
This nobleman, upon being presented to GEORGE I, in 1720, had the honour of kissing His Majesty's hand, and asserting his ancient privilege.
His lordship espoused Margaretta, only daughter and heir of John Essington, of Ashlyns, Hertfordshire, by whom he had,
Mary;His lordship thus leaving no male issue, the Barony devolved upon his second cousin,
JOHN, 25th Baron (c1717-76), who married, in 1746, Martha, daughter of the Rev William Heron, of Dorchester, Dorset, by whom he had issue,
JOHN, his successor;His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
Michael, Admiral in the Royal Navy;
Mary; Martha; Elizabeth; Anne.
JOHN, 26th Baron, who wedded, in 1763, Susan, daughter of Conway Blennerhasset, of Castle Conway, County Kerry, by whom he had issue,
John, died 1813;His lordship died in 1822, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
THOMAS (Rev), his successor;
Michael, Captain RN;
Martha; Elizabeth; Anne Geraldine; Mary.
THOMAS, 27th Baron (1774-1832); at whose decease, unmarried, the title devolved upon his nephew,
JOHN STAPLETON, 28th Baron (1805-47), who wedded, in 1825, Sarah, daughter of Joseph Chadder, and had issue,
JOHN CONSTANTINE, his successor;
Florence Helena; Catherine Adela.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's kinsman, Joseph Kenneth Charles de Courcy (b 1955).
- John Constantine de Courcy, 29th Baron (1827–65);
- Michael Conrad de Courcy, 30th Baron (1828–74);
- John Fitzroy de Courcy, 31st Baron (1821–90);
- Michael William de Courcy, 32nd Baron (1822–95);
- Michael Constantine de Courcy, 33rd Baron (1855–1931);
- Michael William Robert de Courcy, 34th Baron (1882–1969);
- John de Courcy, 35th Baron (1941–2005);
- Nevinson Mark de Courcy, 36th Baron (b 1958).