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ACCOUNT OF THE FAMILY OF STRONGBOW.
(See page 37.)
THE first of this noble family was Richard, the eldest son of Gislebert, Earl of Brion in Normandy, and was called Richard Fitz-Gilbert. He came over with William, Duke of Normandy, and by his personal bravery contributed very essentially to the success which attended the Conqueror in the memorable battle of Hastings In the survey called Domesday he is styled Ricardus de Tonebrugge, from his seat at Tunbridge in Kent, which town and castle he had obtained in exchange for his castle at Brion in Normandy; from his extensive lordship in Suffolk he also procured the title of Ricardus de Clare. He married Rohese, daughter of Walter Giffard, Esq. Earl of Buckingham, and was murdered by Torwerth, brother of Morgan of Caerleon, in the pass of Coed Grono, Monmouthshire.
He was succeeded by his eldest son Gilbert, who was also surnamed de Tonebrugge. By his marriage with Adeliza, daughter to the Earl of Clermont, he had issue four sons; the eldest of whom, named Richard, succeeded him in his titles and honours. His second son, Gilbert, received considerable grants of lands in Wales, and was afterwards
created Earl of Pembroke by King Stephen, A. D. 1138. He died in the year 1148, leaving issue Richard, surnamed Strongbow, his son and heir.
Such is the genealogical account of our hero given by Dugdale, who adds, that before he undertook the Irish expedition he had been stripped of his paternal inheritance by King Henry II. from which circumstance he might probably have been induced to risk such an adventure.
The genealogy of this illustrious chieftain seems to be involved in some degree of mystery and obscurity; but to those who are conversant with the Irish history, and particularly with its earliest annals, it will be no matter of surprize if they discover doubt, contradiction, and even fiction.
The most esteemed English writers, at the head of whom I must with justice place Sir William Dugdale, agree in giving to Richard Strongbow only one wife, who was Eva, daughter and heir to Dermod Mac Morogh, King of Leinster, and only one daughter, (the issue of that marriage) named Isabel, who was married to William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke. But the Irish historians add most liberally a first wife, a son, and another daughter to Strongbow's family; they do not, however, tell us the lady's name. They say, that the son, a youth of 17 years, being present at the battle fought between Strongbow and O'Ryan at Odrone, was so alarmed at the savage howlings and furious onset of the Irish that he took to flight; upon which, his father, having reproached him for his cowardice, caused him to be put to death, by ordering, most barbarously, his body to be cut off in the middle. Giraidus, in giving an account of this engagement, makes use of a very singular and doubtful expression, which may or may not be applied to the death of this unfortunate young man. "Ubi (in passu Odrona) commisso gravi conflictu interfectis tandem hostium multis, præter juvenis unius casum, cum suis omnibus ad campana comes indemnis evasit."
Maurice Regan does not mention this battle, and his silence, as well as the equivocal expression of Giraldus, (which appears to allude to this event,) might be accounted for by the connection between each of them and Strongbow. Sir James Ware does not allude to the circumstance, but Sir Richard Coxe quotes it from another Irish historian, and recites the epitaph that formerly existed on the tomb of this supposed son of Earl Strongbow, in Christ Church, Dublin, and which will be given in my Journal.
I have lately seen a drawing of this youth, representing his effigy cut off in the middle *, taken by one Dinely, who accompanied the first Duke of Beaufort in his progress through Wales into Ireland, about the year 1684, and whose book is preserved in the library of the same noble family at Badminton. The effigy of the supposed father of Earl Strongbow is represented by the side of his son. I make use of the word supposed, because from the armorial bearings that are sculptured upon the shield of this cross-legged
Richard Stanehurst, a native of Dublin, who wrote an account of Irish transactions in Latin, in the year 1581, gives, at page 171, a very circumstantial account of the death of Earl Strongbow's son, and states, that in his time the effigy and tomb, both of the father and son were visible in the church of the Holy Trinity (now Christ Church) at Dublin. He moreover wonders that this event, so generally known, should have escaped the notice of Giraldus.
"Hoc a Giraldo Cambrense obscuratum miror, cum tamen omnium sermone celebratissimum, sit, et Strungboi monumentum, quod in sacrâ Trinitatis æde etiam usque ad hoc tempus extat, hujus facti memoriam significantius repræsentat. Etenim
ibi videre licit lapidum sepulchrum,
The historian Hanmer, in his Irish Chronicle, p. 147, records the same story, and adds the epitaph beforementioned.
knight, it is certain that they never belonged to the Clare family. Their arms were, or, three chevronels gules: such they are stated to be by the old Welsh historian Enderbie; and I have seen a manuscript by George Owen, a celebrated Welsh antiquary, in which he says, that he saw the seal of Richard Strongbow, bearing the above arms. I have not been fortunate enough in my heraldic enquiries to find out the owner of the arms that are sculptured on the shield of this knight in Christ Church, which are," argent, on a chief azure, three crosses pattie fitché of the field." It appears therefore probable, that the heralds attributed this last coat to Strongbow from the authority of the tomb and effigy in question, which were ascribed to him by Sir Henry Sidney in the year 1570, but which certainly never belonged to him. It is clear, I think, that the earl died and was buried at Dublin, but still his body might have been afterwards removed to Gloucester, where Leland records an inscription to his memory. See Journal, p. 141.
The existence of a daughter seems to rest chiefly on the evidence of Maurice Regan*, who says, "A. D. 1173, the king being departed, the earl Richard returned into Fernes, and there gave his daughter in marriage to Robert de Quiney †, and with her the inheritance of the Duffren, and the constableship of Leinster, with the banner and the ensign of the same."
In order to reconcile these contradictions in history, we may suppose that Strongbow had both a son and a daughter; but we cannot allow them to have been legitimate,
* Maurice Regan was secretary and interpreter to Dermod Mac Morogh, King of Leinster, who wrote an account of the invasion of Ireland in antiquated French verse, and which (with other tracts relating to that country) have been published in English prose by Mr. Harris, in a volume entitled Hibernia.
+ Sir James Ware also mentions this marriage, but to Robert de Quincy, not Quincy. This family is mentioned by Dugdale, in his Baronage, as honoured with the title of Earls of Winchester.
nor have we sufficient authority to give the earl any other wife than Eva beforementioned.
"The earl was somewhat ruddy and of sanguine complexion, and freckled face; his eyes grey, his face feminine, his voice small, and his neck little, but somewhat of a high stature; he was very liberal, courteous, and gentle; what he could not compass and bring to pass in deed, he would win by good words and gentle speeches. In the time of peace he was more ready to yield and obey than to rule and bear sway. Out of the camp he was more like to a soldier's companion than a captain or ruler; but in the camp and in the wars he carried with him the state and countenance of a valiant captain. Of himself he would not adventure any thing, but being advised and set on, he refused no attempts; for of himself he would not rashly adventure or presumptuously take any thing in hand. In the fight and battle he was a most assured token and sign to the whole company either to stand valiantly to the fight, or for policy to retire. In all chances of war he was still one and the same manner of man, being neither dismayed with adversity nor puffed by prosperity."
IT was intended to have given here a brief description of this monastery, accompanied with a plate; but after a very minute research into various works upon the antiquities of Ireland, we have not been able to find any account