The Mayburys of County Kerry, Ireland: The Evolving Story


This page was researched and written by Michael A. Smithson of Sydney, Australia.

In the introduction to the chapter on The Mayburys of County Kerry in The Mayburys, readers were cautioned that the story of the Mayburys in Kerry was constantly evolving as research continued into this fascinating branch of the family. In a surprisingly short time, research has uncovered new documents that have challenged our understanding of the first four generations of the Kerry Mayburys, and these are summarised in this article.


A recent re-examination of the Petty Papers held in the British Library has clarified the chronology of seventeenth century Maybury immigration to Kerry.

The most comprehensive reference to the earliest Mayburys in Kerry is a list, probably compiled between 1675 and 1677 by Thomas Crookshank. Crookshank was an agent for Sir William Petty, the founder of a plantation and ironworks in the barony of Glanarought, County Kerry, in the 1760s. The list entitled 'The Workmens names and qualifications brought to Glanerought most of them at Sir William's charge which were forced to leave their worke by the hard wage of Mr Heald', identified three hammermen, Thomas, Francis and John Mayberry.1 Attention has focussed on Thomas Mayberry, who heads the roll of hammermen, the first group in the list.

Unfortunately, references to the Mayburys in other documents in the Petty Papers do not mention first names. Most appear to refer to one Maybury hammermen in particular. In 1671, John Petty, the brother of Sir William Petty, wrote to Sir William's agent in Kerry, John Rutter, asking him to remember 'my lawd' to 'Mr Maybury, Mr Pinnion & Mr [Juske?] and all the Iron Tribe'.2 When members of the 'Iron Tribe' abandoned Petty's mismanaged ironworks, Sir William commented in a letter dated 17 December 1672 that Maybury was once again at Enniscorthy and the Wexford ironworks would profit as a result.3 He was echoed by Rutter who wrote, in a letter dated 28 December, that Maybury and the others had returned from whence they came, and pondered on the value of superior workmen.4

What emerges from these references is that one of the Mayberrys on the list of departed ironworkers was a key worker, if not a leader, among the ironworkers, Petty's description of the ironworkers as a tribe was apt because work groups were mobile, traditionally close-knit with their members often related. One could assume that the leading Mayberry was Thomas Mayberry who headed the list. Yet, it should be noted that 'Mr Pinnion' (otherwise, Henry Pinyon), a finer also mentioned by John Petty, did not head the roll of finers on the list. As will be seen below, it is also important that Maybury came from Enniscorthy, Wexford; one wonders if the other two Mayberrys also came from Enniscorthy.

The Petty Papers also provide a likely date for the arrival in Glanarought of William Mabury. On 25 May 1686, Thomas Dance wrote to Richard Orpen requesting, at the end of instructions regarding the disposal of 'staves' from Tuosist, that Orpen forward the remainder of Mabury's bond.5 It is likely that this bond was connected to William Mabury's lease of Dromoughty in the parish of Tuosist, referred to in William Maburys's affidavit of 1 January 1692/3. 6 However, the juxtaposition in the letter of discussion of staves from Tuosist and reference to Maybury's bond payment could point to the bond being connected to timber extraction in Tuosist. If so, Mabury would be the first of several family members to be engaged in the Kerry timber industry. Although it may be mere coincidence, William Mabury appears in the Petty estate records in the midst of Richard Orpen's restoration of iron-working operations in the Kenmare area after Sir William Petty had wound up the Glanarought Ironworks in 1677.7 So, the case for William Mabury being an ironworker is still open. Whatever it was that drew William to Kerry, Dance's letter almost certainly places William Mabury in the Kenmare area in 1686.

How does this information affect our understanding of the early days of the Mayburys in the Kenmare area? The first observation to be made is that there was a fourteen year interval between the departure of the first recorded Mayburys in Kerry in 1672 and the arrival of William Maybury in 1686. There is no evidence of any resident Maybury in the Kenmare area during those fourteen years; an examination of Sir William Petty's rent roll of 1684 reveals no Maybury lessee on his estate. 8 This certainly does not strengthen the case for William being a child of one of the three Mayberry hammermen or for him being left behind at Kenmare when the hammermen departed in 1672. Indeed, if we take into account William Mabury's own statement made in 1692/3 that he was 'brought at first out of England by Sir William Petty', the connection between William and the Mayberry hammermen, who were brought over from Enniscorthy, is substantially weakened.9 On the other hand, some of the Mayberry hammermen may have been in England, rather than Enniscorthy, prior to 1671 and brought a young William Mabury with them to Kerry.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to dismiss evidence of continuing contact between Kerry and the first Mayberrys. Francis Mawberry was mentioned in the will of Thomas Crookshank, Petty's agent at Kenmare, in 1677.10 Richard Orpen was in communication with Francis Mabery at Enniscorthy in 1693. 11 There is also the repetition of the first names of the three Mayberry hammermen among Kerry Mayburys: particularly John and especially Francis. It is also difficult to ignore that William Mabury bore a surname traditionally associated with iron-working in England and Ireland.

It can only be said that a cautious researcher would seriously consider the possibility that William Maybury may not have been as closely related to the Mayberry hammermen of the 1670s as previously assumed. One might look for William's origins elsewhere, even reconsidering James Maybury of Muckross's claim that William 'was a descendant of the Maybury family of England, from whence his early ancestors settled in Wales' as it is well-known that Maybury ironworkers frequently brought their skills to the latter country.12

One further, but unrelated question was cleared up by an examination of documents signed by William Mabury from 1697/98 to 1712. A report of a document signed 'in a very shaky hand' by a William Mabury raised the possibility that there were more than one William involved in these transactions.13 However, the signatures on the original documents were closely examined and all were signed by the one William Mabury.

Access to a complete volume of Goddard Henry Orpen's book, The Orpen Family, (a volume whose distribution seems confined to the Northern Hemisphere) has clarified details concerning William Mabury's wife, Rachel Orpen's family. Goddard Henry Orpen discounted much of the romantic early Orpen genealogy contained in Burke's Commoners. Rachel and her brother, Richard's father, Robert, may have lived in Ireland, but the claim that he was related by marriage to influential Gaelic families is very tenuous.14 As for Rachel's supposed grandfather, Richard, if he was who he was claimed to be, he probably died of plague rather than on the battlefield of Naseby in 1645.15 Then there is the matter of Richard Orpen, William's brother-in-law, and the race to Kenmare in 1691 following the Williamite War that had seen the expulsion of Protestant planters from the Petty Estate. Richard, it seems, won the race to Kenmare and assumed that he would resume his position of agent in Kerry. His rival, Captain Topham, definitely a Protestant and not a Catholic, ran instead to influential ears and was appointed chief agent in Kerry.16 Thus was set the scene for the struggle between Topham and Orpen to gain the Kerry agency, in which William Mabury played his part to secure Richard Orpen's victory in 1694 and the return of his own land at Dromoughty.

In summary, a review of the evidence has distanced William Mabury, the progenitor of the Kenmare Mayburys who arrived in Kerry c.1686, from the three Mayberry hammermen employed by Sir William Petty in the first few years of the 1670s; and provides no conclusive evidence that William was an ironworker himself. One can only say that the origin and the relationships of William Mabury, progenitor of the Kerry Mayburys, remain a mystery. While yet further research into the Petty Papers held at the British Library may provide answers, perhaps more productive ground awaits researchers who are able to access Petty's letterbooks held in the Osler collection, McGill University Library, Montreal, Canada.


Research among the archives at Bowood House, Wiltshire, England, recently conducted with the kind permission of the Trustees of the Bowood Collection, has provided invaluable information on the third and fourth generations of Mayburys at Kenmare, Kerry, especially on the family of Augustus Maybury of Gortescrehane.

Previously, our understanding was that three Maybury individuals, Augustus, William and John, were sons of Richard Maybury. This was based on the evidence contained in Burke's Commoners and the inheritance by the three brothers of property held by William Mabury and Richard Maybery. It was also believed that Richard Maybery had married a Petra Duckett, making her the mother of the three brothers. After Henry Petty, the first Earl of Shelburne, had the 'Grand Lease' orchestrated by Richard Orpen in 1697 put aside, much of the Mayburys' property came under threat. The three brothers signed a series of documents, from 1763 to 1773, to secure their possession. They were joined as signatories in the 1773 documents by 'Francis Maybury, Gent., administrator of William Maybury, Gent., deceased'.17 It was previously concluded that William Maybury II had died and been replaced by his son, William Maybury (III) of Cleady. The connections of Augustus Maybury, identified as 'Augustus Maybury of Gortescrehane' in 1773, have also been subject to detailed enquiry. The case was made that Bastable Maybury, identified in Burke's Commoners as Richard Maybery's son, was in fact Augustus Maybury's son. This was based, in large part, on the evidence of property transfer; land inherited by Mary Maybury of Kilgortaree, presumably Bastable's only child, transferred by marriage to Cornelius (Corless) Hawkes.

A good deal of this was confirmed when certain papers were located at Bowood House. These papers documented a dispute, in 1796-7, between Cornelius Hawkes, on one side, and Augustus Maybury's widow, Mary, and her son, William Bowen, an executor of Bastable Maybury's estate, on the other. However, the papers also overturned several key understandings and vindicated the details provided by seventeen year-old Richard Hawkes Maybury in his 'An Account of Richard Hawkes Maybury's Forefathers' written in 1865.

The first revelation concerned the supposed death of William Maybury II in 1773 and his replacement by his son, William Maybury (III) of Cleady. This assumption proved groundless, not only from the evidence contained in the Hawkes' case papers, but also from an examination of the original documents signed by Augustus, William and John Maybury between 1763 and 1773. If William Maybury II had died by 1773, a new signature - that of William Maybury III of Cleady - should have appeared on the documents of that year. Instead, William's signature remained unchanged from 1763. In addition, a memorial submitted by Corless Hawkes in 1796 stated that Augustus Maybury had taken out the last lease over the townland of Gortnadullagh with his brother William Maybury. That last lease was taken in 1773. This evidence has caused William Maybury II, supposed father of William Maybury III of Cleady, and an assumed generation of Cleady Mayburys to be deleted from the Kenmare Maybury family tree.

Of course, this raises questions about the identity of the William Maybury who died around 1773. It is apparent that this William Maybury had an interest in the property held by Augustus Maybury and William Maybury at Gortnadullagh, the only lease drawn up in 1773 bearing the signature of 'Francis Maybury, Gent., administrator of William Maybury, Gent., deceased'. Speculation leads one to consider that this unknown William, while definitely not a sibling of the three brothers, was a close relative - perhaps a cousin or an uncle. A promising line of enquiry leads to Cloghereen, Killarney, where two brothers, William and Francis Maybury lived. In 1773, the year that the mysterious William Maybury died, William Maybury of Cloghereen embarked on a series of property investments around Killarney. Further research into the Mayburys of Cloghereen may establish if 'William Maybury, Gent., deceased' was the father of these two brothers.

The second revelation concerned the marriage of Richard Maybery, son of William Mabury and father of Augustus Maybury, William Maybury and John Mayberry. Richard Maybery did marry a Duckett, a sister of William Duckett, but she was not Petra Duckett, daughter of Samuel Duckett and sister of another William Duckett. Bastable Maybury, son of Augustus Maybury, married Petra Duckett, daughter of Samuel Duckett and Margaret Palmer, on c.20 January 1779. 18

The Hawkes case papers also go a good way in explaining how Augustus Maybury came to hold the townland of Kilgortaree - he married Mary, the widow of Robert Bowen of Kilgortaree. In his discussion of the Hawkes case, Henry Pelham, Lord Lansdowne's agent, identified William Bowen, executor of Bastable Maybury's estate, as the son of Augustus Maybury's wife by a former husband.19 The Hawkes case papers name Augustus' wife as Mary (also known as Molly).20 In Burke's Commoners, William Bowen is shown to be the son of Robert Bowen and Mary Bastable, although the assertion that he married Hannah, daughter of Augustus Maybury is questionable (as will be discussed below).21 The Bowens had held townland of Kilgortaree at least since 1713 when it was in the possession of William Bowen. 22 Around 1743, Robert Bowen, most probably a relative of William, had taken over as tenant at Kilgortaree.23 By 1763, and probably earlier, Robert had died and the Widow Bowen was in possession of Kilgortaree and its mill.24 It is apparent that Augustus married the widow Mary (Bastable) Bowen because Kilgortaree was recorded as tenanted by a Maybury by 1766, almost certainly Augustus Maybury who held it until 1785. 25 The marriage also explains the name of Augustus Maybury's only son, Bastable.

The Hawkes case papers cast light on the events of 1785, a tragic year for the Kilgortaree Mayburys, when Augustus, then his son Bastable died within months of each other. Bastable's widow, Petra, remarried a year later, to Thomas Palmer in around 2 September 1786 (date of Marriage Articles).26 The papers also confirm what had already been deduced, that Bastable and Petra's only child, Mary Maybury, inherited a good deal of the land inherited by Bastable from his father, Augustus, in 1785.

Returning to William Bowen, Mary (Bastable) Bowen's son brought to her marriage with Augustus Maybury, it is now difficult to accept the claim made in Burke's Commoners that William married Hannah, daughter of Augustus Maybury.27 If Hannah was the daughter of Mary (Bastable) Bowen and Augustus Maybury, a marriage to her half-brother William Bowen would be impossible. Even more doubt is cast on such a union by the Hawkes case papers that establish that Hannah Maybury was married to someone else. The papers mention two daughters of Augustus Maybury: Hannah and Peg (Margaret?), as well as their husbands: Myles Reardon of Cahir and William Gill of Whiddy, Bantry Bay.28 Unfortunately, it is unclear who was married to whom. There are several possibilities that may explain the entry in Burke's Commoners: the Hannah identified in Burke may be the daughter of a yet unknown Augustus Maybury; or Hannah may have been the child of Augustus Maybury from an earlier, unrecorded marriage and William Bowen became her second husband; or it was another William Bowen who married a widowed Hannah Maybury; or the entry in Burke's Commoners is incorrect. Perhaps further research will clarify this matter.

Hannah and Peg (Margaret?) appear not to have been the only daughters of Augustus Maybury. The Hawkes case papers also identify a grandson of Augustus, Richard Aldwell. As Richard was a beneficiary of Augustus' estate, it is expected that he is evidence for a daughter (probably deceased) who had married an Aldwell. 29

As for Cornelius Hawkes' claims over the townland of Gortnadullagh, they were dismissed and Lord Lansdowne allowed Augustus' widow, Mary, to continue possession of this land. However, research continues into Maybury holdings at Gortnadullagh. Augustus' brother, William Maybury of Cleady, had held his share of Gortnadullagh until his death in 1794; thereafter it was in the hands of his sons, Augustus and James. In 1796, there were changes at Gortnadullagh. A John Maybury took part of the Cleady Maybury share of the townland. Then, in 1802, representatives of Mary Maybury took over the administration of her holdings at Gortnadullagh, suggesting that she had either died or became infirm.30 If researchers can identify this John Maybury and discover the fate of Mary Maybury's share of Gortnadullagh after 1803, several of the Kerry Maybury mysteries discussed in 'The Mayburys' may yet be solved.


1 Petty Papers, British Library, Add. Ms.72857, folio 171 recto.
2 John Petty to John Rutter, 23 May 1671, Petty Papers, British Library, Add. Ms.72859, f.3 verso.
3 Sir William Petty to John Rutter, 17 December 1672, Petty Papers, British Library, Add. Ms. 72858, f.71r.
4 John Rutter to Sir William Petty, 28 December 1672, Petty Papers, British Library, Add. Ms.72861, f.28v.
5 Thomas Dance to Richard Orpen, 25 May 1686, British Library, Add. Ms.72863, f.70v-71r.
6 Orpen, Goddard Henry Orpen, The Orpen Family. Being an account of the life and writings of Richard Orpen of Killowen ... together with some researches into his forbears in England and brief notices of the various branches of the Orpen family descended from him, Butler & Tanner: Frome & London, 1930, pp. 99-100.
7 Thomas Dance to Richard Orpen, 23 Oct 1686, British Library, Add. Ms.72863, f.88r.
8 Rent Roll of Sir William Petty's Estate for the Year 1684, The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.
9 Orpen, The Orpen Family, p.99.
10 Crookshank will, proved 19 Oct. 1678, Transcripts of Chancery Bills and Wills (relating mainly to S.E. Ireland), Vol. 2, Society of Genealogists of London (12 Vols.). Copies in PRONI, Belfast. Petty settled this will in 1685.
11 Thomas Dance to John Coggs, 26 September 1693, letter-book, Petty Papers, Add 72864, f. 70r.
12 William W. Scott, History of Passaic and Its Environs, Volume III, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1922, p.376. See also Donald E. Collins, The Mayburys.
13 Gerard J. Lyne, 'Land Tenure in Kenmare and Tuosist 1696-c.1716', in Journal of the Kerry Archaeological & Historical Society, No.10, 1977, p.42.
14 Goddard Henry Orpen, The Orpen Family, Butler & Tanner: Frome & London, 1930, p. 22.
15 ibid., p.38.
16 ibid., pp. 88-91.
17 Gerard J. Lyne, 'Landlord-Tenant Relations on the Shelburne Estate in Kenmare, Bonane and Tuosist 1770-1775', Journal of the Kerry Archaeological & Historical Society, No.12, 1979, p.32.
18 Articles of Intermarriage between Bastable Maybury, Augustus Maybury, Samuel Duckett and Petra Duckett, 20 January 1779, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', c.1797, No. 75, attachment 13, Co. Kerry 1792-1803, The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.
19 Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', c.1797, Co. Kerry 1792-1803, No. 75, The Trustees of the Bowood Collection, p.III - IV.
20 Affidavit of Thomas Duckett of Clonmel, 13 October 1796, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', attachment 6, The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.Joint Affidavit of Myles Reardon, Richard Aldwell and John Harrington, 15 Dec 1796, attachment 8, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.
21 Burke, Commoners, p.ix.
22 Papers relating to College estates, Munster, Trinity College Dublin manuscript collection, Mun/P/23/1508. This document is undated, but as William Mawberry is shown in it as holding Currabeg, it would date prior to 1722. In fact, the document is most probably associated with the Trinity College vs Lord Shelburne legal case of 1713, acted upon in 1714. William Bowen is also shown on a list of people to be served injunctions in the College vs Shelburne case c.1713 (Mun/P/23/1101).
23 23 Jan 1743/4, Trinity College Dublin, Mun/P/23/1453.
24 List of Orpen sub-tenants (post 1743, but pre-1766 - most certainly pre-1763 as Richard Mayberry is shown to hold Curraghbeg and part Gortalinny).
25 Survey and valuation conducted around 1766 by Mrs Elizabeth Lavery, College Chief Tenant of Gortagass, Trinity College Dublin manuscript collection, Mun/P/23/1509.
26 Petition of Thomas Palmer of Cahir, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', No. 75, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', p. 3, Co. Kerry 1792-1803, The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.
27 Burke, Commoners, p.ix.
28 Joint Affidavit of Myles Reardon, Richard Aldwell and John Harrington, 15 Dec 1796, attachment 8, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.
29 Joint Affidavit of Myles Reardon, Richard Aldwell and John Harrington, 15 Dec 1796, attachment 8, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', The Trustees of the Bowood Collection. Affidavit of Thomas Duckett of Clonmel, 13 October 1796, attachment 6, Henry Pelham, 'A Report on the Several Petitions & Memorials of Thomas Palmer, Corless Hawkes etc', The Trustees of the Bowood Collection.

January 2012