*All Good Things Come to an End; A Brief History of the Eustaces of Ballymore:* *Part I; By Ronald F. Eustice in Savage, Minnesota*
For nearly five centuries the Eustace family --- after the FitzGeralds --- was the second most powerful in Kildare. Eustace lands were scattered from Confey in the north, southward to the townlands of Castlemore and Newstown near Tullow in Carlow, and from the Dublin and Wicklow mountains in the east to Athy and Newbridge in the west. The triangle which included Naas, Ballymore Eustace and Old Kilcullen was almost one large family estate ; * Criche-Eustace* or *Cry-Eustace* it was called.
Eustace castles, especially those at Ballymore Eustace, Harristown, Castlemartin and Clongowes Wood, guarded the Pale for several centuries, and only fell at last to the guns of Ormonde and Cromwell. It was rare for a jury of county gentlemen to contain no Eustace, and on at least one occasion in 1537, Eustaces formed a majority of seven upon a panel of twelve1. The family produced many of the great men of Kildare and several held the highest positions in the Government of Ireland. There were two Lords Deputy named Eustace, three Lords Chancellor, two Lords Treasurer and the High Sheriff of Kildare on at least forty-five occasions. We will meet several of the most notable Eustaces in future issues. In Archbishop Allen’s Register2 it is recorded for the period 1256-66, that “Eustace, son of Godfrey” paid wax rent, with a note by the Archbishop “*perhaps for Barrettstown*.” If this person is a member of the family he is the earliest family member identified in records. The Justiciary Rolls3 of Edward I and II, in items dealing with Cos. Kildare and Meath, contain references to the names Eustace and FitzEustace. These include: Richard, a Burgess of Kells, 1291 ; Richard and John, son of John, 1305; Richard, a Juror, 1306; Geoffrey and John concerned in events near Castlemartin, 1308 and 1310; Sir Richard, a Juror, 1310/12; and Thomas murdered by Nicholas Aunsell, tried at Naas, 1313. * * *Sir Eustace LePoer*, Baron of Kells was Justice Itinerant in 1285, and invaded Scotland in 1296, 1301 and 1303. According to the Book of Howth4, he entered Scotland with a great power of men. The Book of Howth states that the *Eustacys* descended lineally of the second son of the foresaid L. 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 FitzEustace which was borne by his descendants until changed to Eustace soon after the introduction of surnames in 1465. By 1317, *Arnold FitzEustace LePoer* owned Castlemartin and the neighboring townlands of Kilcullen, Brannockstown and Nicholastown, all just south of the Liffey5.
In 1326, *John Fitz Eustace* held from the Archbishop two carcurates6 in Dowdenstown. John FitzEustace founded the Dominican Priory at Naas in 1356, with its church being dedicated to St. Eustachius. The priory served as a house of worship until all Irish monasteries were surpressed by order of Henry VIII during in 15407. Four years later John, his eldest son had custody of Cradockstown during a minority. In 1373, Nicholas probably a younger son, was granted by John Halle, the lands of Donore; northwest of Naas, and Blakestown, County Wicklow. Sometime before 1330, a FitzEustace (perhaps Robert FitzEustace who was Lord Treasurer of Ireland in 1327 or Oliver, son of Robert), was settled at Castlemartin. Roland FitzOliver, of the next generation was living at Castlemartin in 1383. It is possible that Thomas FitzOliver of Ballycotelan who was appointed Constable of Ballymore Eustace in 1373, was his brother8. In 1355, Geoffrey FitzEustace and the Sheriff of Kildare were ordered to inspect and report upon Ballymore Castle and other defenses of the Pale. The castle at Ballymore was situated at a vital crossing of the Liffey and thus considered to be one of the most important forts on the English Pale. In 1361, the head rents of Dowdenstown and Tipperkevin were granted by the Archbishop to William Greuett, who sold them in 1401 to Nicholas Eustace of Dublin who had connections in Confey. At that time the lands were held by Richard, grandson of John FitzEustace 9. As early as 137310, we find *Thomas, son of Almaric (Oliver?) FitzEustace*, appointed by Thomas, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, constable of the castle of Ballymore, with a salary of *£*10 per annum, provided he live there with his family. For the next five generations the FitzEustaces (later Eustace) held the Castle of Ballymore which protected the territory from intrusions by the native Irish septs that lived in the vastness of the Wicklow Mountains, who had been dispossessed in the 12th and early 13th centuries. The sons and grandsons of the Castlemartin FitzEustaces gradually spread north, south and east, for we soon find the following prominent members of the family well established on their various estates11: *Robert of Craddockstown*, High Sheriff of Kildare in 1375, · *John of Newland*, alive in 1377 and High Sheriff in 1434, · *Sir Maurice of Ballycotelan* (Coghlanstown), High Sheriff of Kildare · and of Dublin, and died about 1402, *Sir John of Blackhall* · (Calverstown), High Sheriff of Kildare and died in 1405.
Attempts to link these and other known FitzEustaces living in the fourteenth Century, with the main Castlemartin branch would be largely conjectural, therefore in future issues we shall treat the families as separate branches, but of a common stock 12. With a few notable exceptions the Eustaces have nearly disappeared from Kildare, and their name has become somewhat rare in Ireland itself. In future issues, I will recap some of the events that caused the departure of this once great family from County Kildare. Notes & Citations: 1. An Inquisition was held in Dublin in the year 1537, to ascertain what the heirs-general of the Earl of Ormonde held of the King in the Kildare Manors of Castelwarnyng (Castlewarden), Owghterad, and Clinton’s Court. The twelve jurors belonged to the County Kildare and out of that number just over half of them were Eustaces. Their names are given thus ; William Eustace, of Moone, Gent, Maurice Eustace, of Castlemartin Gent, John Eustace, of Newlande, Gent, Roland Eustace of Molaghcashe, Gent ; Richard Eustace, of Cradockstown, Gent , Richard Eustace, of Kerdeston, Gent, Richard Wogan, of Rathcoffee Gent, James ffitzGerald, of Ballysonan, Gent, Gerald ffitzGerald, of Clane, Gent, Edmund Eustace, of Miloteston,Gent, James fitzMoryshe, of Blackhall, Gent, Patrick Whit, of Miloteston, Gent. [Dublin Exchequer Inquisition, No. 80 of Henry VIII., Dublin, August, Henry VIII., 29th Year; W. FITZGerald. 2. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 8 (1958), Page 388. 3. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 7 (1958), Page 307. 4. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 6 (1955), Page 272. There are many references which link Eustace LePoer to the Power family of County Waterford. *Note that Y-chromosome DNA testing of male members of both the Eustace and Powers families do not show similar profiles. Perhaps the connection between Eustace and LePoer is from a marriage of a LePoer daughter to a Eustace who is believed to have been among the original Norman Knights who came with Henry II in 1182.* 5. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 6 (1955), Page 273. 6. A carcurate was 100-120 acres (say 160-200 statute), but excluded woodland, pasture, and bog. The Dowdenstown townlands are now 447 acres statute and Tipperkevin is 280 acres. Head-rents were 10/- in 1326 and 57/- in 1361. 7. We shall learn in future articles, Thomas Eustace, (1480-1549) 1st Viscount Baltinglass benefited greatly from Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries and was granted New Abbey as well as Baltinglass Abbey in Wicklow. It is reported that upon his death he owned half the lands in Wicklow. 8. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 6 (1955), Page 273- 275.
9. Ibid 10. Murphy, Reverend Denis, S.J; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol I, (1893), Page 117. 11. Tickell, Sir Eustace F; Journal of the Kildare Archeological Society; Vol. XIII, No 6 (1955), Page 273. 12. Ibid, Page 274; Tickell states that it is very probable that Sir Maurice of Ballycotelan, Thomas FitzOliver (Constable of Ballymore in 1373) and Roland FitzOliver of Castlemartin were brothers. If correct, this would provide the link between the FitzEustaces of Castlemartin and the powerful Ballycotelan family.