Aylmers of Lyons by Hans Aylmer (1902)

THE AYLMERS OF LYONS By HANS HENDRICK AYLMER. Paper was read on the occasion of the visit of the County Kildare Archaeological Society to Lyons in the autumn of 1902.

The senior branch of this family was seated at Lyons, in the County Kildare, and continued to live there till the end of the eighteenth century, when they sold that ancient demesne and their lands of Cloncurry; to Sir Nicholas Lawless, who was shortly afterwards raised to the Peerage by the title of Lord Cloncurry.

Castle at Lyons

Castle at Lyons

We have authentic record that Rudolph and William Aylmer were seated at Lyons in the year 1300. Where had their ancestors resided during the interval between this date and their arrival Ireland at the end of the twelfth century? Though they may have been at Lyons for part of that time, I do not think they were there from the beginning; for we read that Waleran de Wellesley (son of a man of the same name, and an ancestor of the Duke of Wellington), who was a Justice itinerant in Ireland in 1261, of Brienstown, Meath, held the New Castle of Lyons, County Kildare, from the Crown in 1271, and was slain in 1308. It appears likely that the Aylmers, being already in the vicinity at Saggart, obtained Lyons between 1271 and 1300 (In the Calendar of Documents, vol. iv, in the year 1299, amongst the receipts at the Exchequer are those for several sums of money paid by Thomas Kyssoch and Walter Aylmer for the farm of Tassagard, which they held from the king. The Castle of Lyons, destroyed in 1641, was erected on the site of one which the O’Tooles, the active native assailants of the Pale in this direction, had destroyed).

I must now pass over about 120 years, during which I have not come across the name.

In the Liber Munerum, in the Patent Rolls, dated August 14th, 1 Hen. VI (1422), and in the Close Rolls of October 18th, 1422, there are appointments of Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, to be ‘ one of the keepers of the peace of the Counties of Dublin and Kildare”: another appointment is dated 9 Hen Y (1421). This appointment was renewed in 1460 to Richard Aylmer, of Lyons (either the same man or his son), in company with Sir Richard Wellesley, and two of the noble house of Eustace.

Richard Aylmer-Elinor Fleming stone in Lyons churchyard

Richard Aylmer-Elinor Fleming stone in Lyons churchyard

Richard Aylmer was constituted in 1482 Sovereign (or mayor) of Tassagard. From the Memoranda Bolls of the Exchequer it appears that he was seised of the Manor of Lyons and lands of Kill, and feoffed the same without licence: 3 Hen. VI (1425).

His son was also called Richard, and Richard the younger had a son Thomas as it appears that the custody of the lands of Richard Aylmer, deceased, was granted to Thomas, his grandson, a son of Richard the younger, Thomas then being a minor, in 86 Hen. YI (1458). Two years later a writ of dower was issued in favour of Katharine, widow of Richard Aylmer, then the wife of Sir John Kerdiff. John is the next Aylmer of Lyons; he married Helen, daughter of John Tyrrell, by Sibylla, daughter of Sir Hugh de Ley, a nephew of that Sir Adam de Hereford who had grants of territory from Strongbow, including the Salmon Leap at Leixlip, Gloncurry, Kill, Oughterard, &c. Most of these lands afterwards constituted the Aylmer estates, and they were probably acquired through this marriage

Clonaghlis churchyard

Clonaghlis churchyard

John’s son, Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, was granted, with Bamewall and other chiefs of the Pale, the lands of the Fagans in Meath, confiscated for supporting Perkin Warbeck in his rebellion (inquisition of 1494). He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Bertram (or Bartholomew) Bathe, of Dollardstown, Meath.

His son, Bartholomew Aylmer, of Lyons, was High Sheriff of Eildare, in 10 Hen. VIH (1495). He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Walter Gheevers, of Macetown. He died 17 Hen. VI (1502).

The eldest son of Richard Aylmer and Margaret Cheevers was Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, whose eldest son was also Richard. Richard the elder was (June 1st, 1685) made Chief Sergeant of Kildare. On April 19th, 1561, a fiant for letters patent issued licensing Anthony St Leger, Knight of the Garter, and others (members of the Privy Council) to alienate to Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, the Manor of Kill, Artewell, Alasty, Arthurstown, and Nicholastown, to be held for ever.

Church at Lyons

Church at Lyons

At this time, as it would seem, under some terror of Royal jealousy, he conveyed away to trustees his Manors of Lyons, Kill, and Donadea, with various other lands, chief rents, and services in the County Kildare, as well as the advowsons of the livings of Lyons and Donadea and at the same time he made a gift in possession of all his chattel property to his family, while the Sheriff of Kildare made a return that he could not be found within his bailiwick (Burke’s “Visitation of Arms” (2nd series). Of these places Donadea, Clonshambo, and Clonfert still belong to the family). We are not informed what was the cause of his fear of the Royal jealousy; but it may possibly be explained by the Patent Rolls of 6 Edward VI, July 18th (1551), which granted a pardon to Richard Aylmer, of Lyons and three others, for causing the death of Donoke O’Dempsie and two others.

Richard Aylmer had previously been taken prisoner by the O’Tooles in a border fray, an account of which is given in two letters to his uncle. Sir Gerald Aylmer, Lord Chief Justice. The first letter (Garew MSS), dated June 6th, 1588, from Sir William Brabazon, the Lord Treasurer, is as follows: —

Your bedfellows are in health. As to occurrences they be nothing so fruitful as they were at your departure. … On Friday last Mr Kelwey had parliament with Tirloch O’Thuyll and Art besides the Three Castles, who had assembled to him certain husbandmen and freeholders of Eathmore, Newtown, the parish of Kill, and others, and would needs chase Tirloch and Art up to the high mountains, who then had their Kerne ready, and turned back and set upon Kelwey and drove him to the Three Castles and others with him, and set fire on the top of the Castle, so that they yielded; wherein was taken Kelwey and your young kinsman, Mr Justice Richard Aylmer, young Flattisbury, Lang, and others; and such husbandmen as the Kerne met they slew them, for they had no horses to flee, and, as I am informed, there was slain 60 householders. Thomas Lang is let forth and Mr Aylmer remaineth with them and some others; and after they had Mr Kelwey within awhile they killed him, and such of the soldiers as was with him…I was never in despair in Ireland until now.

The second letter (State Papers, Henry VIII, Ireland,” vol. iii p. 19), from Luttrell to Chief Justice Aylmer, runs thus: —

Brother Justice, I commend me unto you— your nevue Bichard Aylmer, it fer (fears) me shall not come forth onles he pay his ransom; for this last day Tirloch said playnly to my Lord of Ossory is messenger, and also to my servant Dogherty, which chancyd to be at Glendelagh, when the discomfortur was made, and durst not cum from then till this. All the default of the same mysadventur is put in Kelway, both by them of the Counte Kildare, that was then present, and also by the Tolls (Tooles) as Pluncket may schow you. Your son Bartholomew scope them hapy, for he was then with Aylmer.

The gate of the medieval settlement of Lyons

The gate of the medieval settlement of Lyons

Richard Aylmer married Elinor, only daughter of George Fleming (second son of James, 12th Lord Slane), by Margaret, sister of Piers, Earl of Ormond. A stone still lies in the churchyard, at Lyons, inscribed with their names. Besides Thomas, the eldest son, their other children were: (1) George of Cloncurry and Trim; (2) Sir Gerald Aylmer, Knight, of Donadea; (3) Edward; (4) Margaret m. James Hussey, Lord Galtrim; (5) Elizabeth m. Edward Ginlack (6) ‘ Catherine, Philip FitzGerald of Allen; (7) Anne, m. James Aylmer of Dollardstown. Thomas Aylmer brought four horsemen to the general hosting at the Hill of Tara, September, 1593. He was one of a Commission appointed by the Lord Deputy, March 3rd, 1563, to levy food for the army.

Robert Keating, in his examination at Kilmainham, May 28rd, 1575, testified that the Earl of Kildare caused Alen, of St Wolstan’s; Elmer, of Lyons; and Garrett Sutton, of Connelly to be spoiled, “because they did and might hinder him of the rule and government that he looked for.” Thomas Aylmer, of Lyons, by his wife Alison, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, Lord Chancellor, had a large family. The second son was Bichard Aylmer, of Hart well. The third was John Aylmer, of Ballykenane, the founder of the branch of the Aylmers of Ballycannon and Courtown. The eldest son, Bartholomew, of Lyons, married Cicely, daughter of Bobert Phiphoe, of Hollywood. He died about 1597, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas Aylmer, of Lyons, who by his wife Mabel, daughter of Sir Patrick Barnewall, Bart, of Turvey, had an only daughter, Ellen or Catherine. He died in 1689, when the property devolved upon his brother, George Aylmer, of Lyons, who died in 1648-9. He was succeeded by Thomas Aylmer, of Lyons (ob 1681-2), who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Andrew Aylmer, of Donadea, to whom the Duke of Ormond was brother-in-law, a fact which may in part account for the Aylmer family recovering a good deal of their property which had been confiscated in the time of the Commonwealth.

Lyons House and Lyons Castle viewed from Lyons Hill

Lyons House and Lyons Castle viewed from Lyons Hill

George Aylmer, of Lyons, was son of the above Thomas Aylmer. He adhered to King James II, holding the Commission of Lieutenant Colonel in King James’ Guards, and fought in Hs cause. He sat together with John Wogan, of Rathcoffey, as M.P. for County Kildare, in King James’ Parliament of 1689. It is probable that he took part in the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, and in the siege of Limerick. He was comprehended in the Statutes of Limerick, in 1691, on the surrender of that place by the gallant Sarsfield. One article of that celebrated Treaty preserved to all officers and soldiers in arms under any Commission from James II such estates as belonged to them at any time during the reign of Charles II. Lyons was therefore saved from confiscation. He died, and was buried at Lyons, in 1729. His brothers, Bichard and Gerald, were both attainted as Jacobites. Two sisters, Elizabeth and Cicely, died nuns in France. Almost the whole Lyons family may thus be said to have been expatriated by this disastrous Revolution. George Aylmer’s son, Sir Gerald Aylmer, Knight served in King James’ army during the siege of Derry, but was taken prisoner by the besieged in a sally, called the Battle of Windmill Hill, along with Lord Netterville and many others. In this engagement about 200 of the Irish were killed, including General Bamsay; Lord Netterville and Sir Gerald Aylmer were badly wounded. “They were treated with kindness, and the respect due to their rank, being confined in a private house. (Graham’s History fo the Siege of Derry, p144). Ultimately Aylmer was exchanged in 1691.

He married Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Michael Moore, of Drogheda. He died in the same year as his father (1729), having been in possession of Lyons for only seven weeks. His eldest son George survived him only three years, whereupon the estates devolved on his second son Michael, while still a minor.

Rent roll for Michael Aylmer at Lyons

Rent roll for Michael Aylmer at Lyons

This Michael, the last Aylmer, of Lyons, married three times, his wives being ladies of position and wealth. But the age of extravagance he lived in, and to which he became a victim, was instrumental in destroying a family which had survived the shocks of war and revolution. His first wife was Honora, daughter and co-heiress of Matthew Hore, of Shandon, Co Waterford; and Aghrane, Co Galway.

She died six months after the marriage. In 1765 he married Margaret, only daughter of Thomas Butler, of Kilcash (of the noble house of Ormonde). This ought to have been a good match; but, unfortunately, the lady’s father by his will settled his estates on a distant cousin. The surviving daughters of Michael Aylmer by his second wife were Mary, who married, in 1785, Valentine, 1st Earl of Kenmare, and Margaret, who married, in 1788, Robert French, of Rahasane, Co Galway.

Michael Aylmer, last of the Aylmers of Lyons, in 1787

Michael Aylmer, last of the Aylmers of Lyons, in 1787

On the death of his second wife, being still without a son, he married Mary de Burgh, daughter of Thomas, brother of the 10th Earl of Clanricarde, by whom he had a son, who succeeded to the representation of the senior branch of the family, but not to its broad acres or its ancestral home. Michael Aylmer, pressed by his debts, sold Lyons, which had belonged to his family for 500 years; and the rest of his lands, including the townland of Cloncurry, in December, 1796, to Sir Nicholas Lawless, subsequently created Lord Cloncurry.

He died at Brussels in 1808, aged 80. His son by his third wife, Gerald, had two sons, Michael Valentine, and Henry Aylmer, of Painestown, County Kildare. Michael Valentine’s son, Gerald Joseph Aylmer, is the present head of the Aylmer family.

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