Tuesday, 22 September 2020

The O'Neill Baronetcy (1643)

This was a branch from the Milesian stock from which the present noble family of O'NEILL claims descent.

HUGH BOY O'NEILL, from whom the territories called the Claneboys, in counties Down and Antrim, received their name, grandson of HUGH MEYTH, King of Ulster, 1122, recovered those lands from the English (which had been wrested from his family at the invasion during the reign of HENRY II), and his descendants enjoyed them until the reign of JAMES I.

When a portion was conquered by force of arms from the O'Neills, more purchased by JAMES I by them, and some part left in their possession, which has descended to the O'Neills of Shane's Castle.

His Majesty, when he instituted the Order of Baronets, had chiefly in view the subduing of the clan O'Neill in Ulster, and the Ulster hand ~ the Red Hand of O'Neill ~ was given as a badge to the order.

BRIAN O'NEILL, in consideration of his gallant services at the battle of Edgehill, was created a baronet by CHARLES I in 1643, designated of Upper Claneboys.

Sir Brian married Jane Finch, of the family of the 1st Earl of Nottingham, and dying in 1670, was succeeded by his son, 

SIR BRIAN O'NEILL, 2nd Baronet, one of the judges of the Court of King's Bench in Ireland during the reign of JAMES II, 
who married Mary, sister of Christopher, 10th Baron Dunsany, and dying in 1694, was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HENRY O'NEILL, 3rd Baronet (c1674-1759), who married firstly, Mary, daughter of Mark Bagot, of Mount Arran, County Carlow, and had an only son,

RANDAL, his successor.
He wedded secondly, Rose, daughter of Captain James Brabazon (son of Sir Anthony Brabazon, and nephew of William, 1st Earl of Meath), and had further issue,
Sir Henry was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL O'NEILL, 4th Baronet, of Upper Claneboys, County Down, who married Mrs Margaret Tompkins, by whom he had a son, William, and a daughter, Rachel; and thus terminates any recorded account of the family.

The baronetcy was presumed to be extinct; but a person emerged calling himself 

who lived a very poor man on the estate of the Viscount Netterville at Dowth, near Drogheda, from whom he rented a small farm at a quarter of its value; but, even unable to pay that, he was dispossessed. This unfortunate descendant of royalty had the patent of baronetcy in his possession, but whether he was in the line of descent does not appear. 

Baronetcies have been frequently assumed in Ireland by parties who had no claim whatsoever, but being collateral relations of a deceased and extinct baronet, may have discovered the patent among his papers.

One of the sons of Sir Francis was employed at a small inn near Duleek, in the capacity of "boots and ostler" -  sic transit gloria mundi. 

AS TO aristocratic kinsmen abandoning such claimants, again we may cite Burke's account of the support, moral and financial, given to the above mentioned Sir Francis O'Neill by his distant Protestant kinsman John, 1st Viscount O'Neill:
In that humble cottage the aged and poverty stricken baronet was visited in May, 1798 by John, the first Viscount O'Neill, and his two sons, Charles and John, the late Earl and the last Viscount ... for John, the first Lord O'Neill, princely in mind and he was exalted in station, never turned his face from a poor relation.

BACKWESTON HOUSE was once the residence of Sir Brian O'Neill, 1st Baronet.

He was a descendant of the Chiefs of Claneboy, and proved himself a gallant soldier, first in Holland and afterwards on the royalist side in the Civil War in England.

In relating the vicissitudes of the O'Neill family, Sir Bernard Burke has told how Sir Brian, with a few others, tried to rally the royal troops at the rout of Newburn, and how on the hard fought field of Edgehill he rallied the dragoons with undaunted courage, and finally saved CHARLES I from being taken prisoner.

Honours came to Sir Brian, but without corresponding wealth, and after the Restoration, he appears to have tried to add to his slender income by sending wool to France, a trade for which, on account of his constant loyalty and good service he was given a licence by the King.

Sir Brian, who was twice married, first to Jane Finch and secondly to Sarah Savage, whose mother was a daughter of Hugh, first Viscount Montgomery, of the Great Ards, died about 1670, and was succeeded by his son, who bore the same name.

Sir Brian O'Neill, the 2nd baronet, has been already mentioned in the history of Stillorgan in connection with his marriage to the widow of James Wolverston, who was a sister of Christopher Plunkett, 10th Lord Dunsany.

He was educated as a lawyer at Gray's Inn, which he entered in 1664, and, as stated in the history of Stillorgan, was appointed by JAMES II, in 1687, as one of the justices of the King's Bench in Ireland.

By his first marriage, Sir Henry O'Neill, 3rd Baronet, was father of Sir Randal, 4th Baronet, surveyor of customs at Rush, County Dublin, and died having had a son and a daughter, who both died unmarried. 

Sir Henry O'Neill, by his second marriage, left Sir Francis O'Neill, of Kellystown, in the county of Meath, 6th Baronet, who married Miss Fleming, of County Louth.
  • Sir Bryan O'Neill, 1st Baronet (d 1670);
  • Sir Bryan O'Neill, 2nd Baronet (d 1694);
  • Sir Henry O'Neill, 3rd Baronet (c1674-1759);
  • Sir Randall O'Neill, 4th Baronet (d 1779);
  • Sir William O'Neill, 5th Baronet (c1754-84);
  • Sir Francis O'Neill, 6th Baronet (c1730-99).
First published in April, 2011.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating, although it seems to say that Sir Francis lived with his eldest son (also Francis); presumably he, and all his other sons - which are implied, predeceased the former Francis, as the baronetcy died with him.


Ryan Conroy said...

Thanks so much for posting this. Working on a family tree.

The first Conroy to come to Canada was James Gervé, who was married to Elizabeth Ó'Néill who was the daughter of Charles Henry St. John Ó'Néill, the Earl Ó'Néill. Do you know if Sarah Savage or Jane Finch was mother to Bryan the 2nd Baronet Ó'Néill? Any idea if Bryan 1st Baronet Ó'Néill's full name could be Brian Modartha macEóghain Ó'Néill?

Also I am making an assumption that Henry 3rd Baronet Ó'Néill was father to John Ó'Néill, First Viscount Ó'Néill who was a member of the Irish House of Commons, and father to Charles Henry St. John.

My grandfather Edward Patrick Conroy inherited the signet ring (Elizabeth was either an only child or oldest daughter) and from there the eldest male line went to him and then to my uncle Neill. Unfortunately my grandfather suffered from alzheimer's and took the ring golfing and lost it in his later years. We still have some interesting documents in the family though including and old sketched picture of Shane's Castle.

Thanks again, and if you can help me to clarify any of that or tip me off to any good info sources I would really appreciate it.

After that is trying to unravel the mystery of the Conroy's (or likely Ó'Mulconaire's) pre-1800 which will likely be a lot tougher but there is a pretty good chance they actually descended from Bishop Ó'Mulconaire who accompanied Aodh Buidhe Ó'Néill to Rome during the Flight of the Earls. Although that almost certainly has nothing to do with these two meeting, what I do know about the Conroy's is that they were an important Catholic family from County Roscommon and that James Gervé was excommunicated from the family for taking up law instead of the clergy. Connecting two dots like I have been able to do with the Ó'Néill side would sure be a lot easier than starting only from one side.

Ryan Conroy said...

Hey Tim:

Thanks for the response. I since figured it out, I made an error of assumption that the Baronetcy and Earldom were somehow related due to a common name of a brother of the third baronet and someone I am descended from. I have found enough historical background to confirm all the names now. Its tricky with the Irish/English as well as all the different possible spellings particularly in Irish. At first I was trying to be particular with my searches but sometimes you just have scroll through thousands of search results.

Charles Henry St. John, the Earl Ó'Néill, was actually descended from Seáan an Franca 'French John' Ó'Néill, and those were the last two people to attempt to restore Shane's Castle in 1739 and 1815 respectively, but both were thwarted by fire.

Ryan Conroy said...

Here is the completed descent line from Niall Mór to present day including the parts I had trouble with including the Viscounts Ó'Néill you mentioned:

15. Niall Mór macConn O'Néill, Lord of Clandeboye, a. 1482 d. 11 Apr 1512

14. Feidhlimidh Bacach macNéill Ó'Néill, Lord of Clandeboye, a. 1529 d. 1533

13. Sir Brian macFeidlimidh Bacach Ó'Neill a. 1556 d. 1574

12. Sir Seáan macBriain Ó'Néill a. cir 1595 d. 1617

11. Sir Énrí macSeán Ó'Néill, d. 1638

10. Brian Ó'Néill

9. Séaan an Franca Ó'Néill, d. 1739

8. Charles Ó'Néill, d. 16 Aug 1769

7. John Ó'Néill, Viscount Ó'Néill, 16 Jan 1740 - 18 June 1797

6. Charles Henry St. John Ó'Néill, 2nd Viscount Ó'Néill, Earl Ó'Néill, Lord Protector of Antrim, b. 22 Jan 1779 d. 25 March 1841

5. Elizabeth Teresa Ó'Néill, b. Dec 1842 d. 1905 wife of James Gervé Conroy (Ó'Maolchonaire) b. 12 April 1836 d. 28 Jan 1915

4. Charles Henry James Conroy, b. 1871 d. 21 Dec 1946 husband of Mary Weathers b. 1875

3. Edward Patrick Conroy, b. 6 Jan 1915 d. 3 Aug 1996 husband of Mary Josephine Collins (Ó'Cullaine) b. 4 April 1915 d. 25 Sep 2000

2. Charles James Conroy, b. 29 Jan 1951 husband of Linda Frances Lorna Conroy born Walker later Wilson b. 9 December 1949

1. Ryan Dónal Conroy, b. 1977

Unknown said...

My mother is an o neill and found the headstone of sr Henry o neill in monknewtown graveyard....local to kellystown house where they originally lived.he was married to rose brabazon.....who,s father put them out under penal law v Catholic landowners....still legible enough to see sr Henry of neill and his children on headstone. Have paper saying Francis was son.