Monday, 18 July 2011

Heraldry at Barmeath - Bellew family

The Bellew family have resided at Barmeath near Dunleer, Co Louth since the 1660s. The first occupant was John Bellew (1605-79).

The Bellew arms, supporters, motto and crest are embroidered probably done sometime after 1900.


By Séamus Bellew


This article looks at how the history of the Bellew family over a period of 400 years can be told from coats of arms dating from the mid-fifteenth century through to the nineteenth century and spanning seven Irish counties. The local importance of the Bellew family and their standing in the community is marked by highly decorated tombs and by the so-called ‘marriage stones’ found on several buildings and bridges. In commemorating the family’s responsibility for construction, these stones also record important links with other local families. There are several ‘marriage stones’ from the sixteenth century in counties Louth and Meath. The coats of arms on plaster in Barmeath Castle, Co Louth date from the nineteenth century. The heraldic descriptions for the various shields are given in Appendix 2. Also included is a family pedigree which is taken from two of the Bellew pedigrees in the National Library (GO, MS 173, p. 236; GO, MS 181, p. 171) parts of which have already been reproduced in this Journal (Tempest 1912, 107; 1943, 182-4). In the text some family members are superscripted with a letter to indicate their position in the pedigree.



            The Bellew family has been living at Barmeath since the reign of Charles II. The Earl of Carlingford, Theobald Taaffe, received 4,000 acres of land in Co Louth from the Duke of York on the restoration of Charles II. John Bellew helped negotiate this transfer. O’Sullivan (2000, 133-4) points out:    
   that a clear understanding had already existed between them (Taaffe and   
   Bellew), allowing Bellew to acquire certain lands included in Carlingford’s
   letters patent, is suggested by an indentured agreement, which they entered into  
   on 19 February 1669. The transaction took place less than one month after the
   passing of the letters patent, and conveyed ‘the town, village, hamlet and lands
   of Barmeath containing 398 acres’ to Bellew.
            Casey and Rowan (1993, 152) note that ‘at Barmeath part of a genuine tower house remains embedded in the present castle … its presence can now be discerned only in the unusual thickness of the window openings at the NE corner of the building. Otherwise the house is of two periods: the mid-eighteenth century and the later 1830s’. In the eighteenth century Barmeath was turned into a Georgian house. Of heraldic interest at Barmeath are the four impaled shields on stone, and inside the house, the shields on plaster in three different rooms. There is also a Bellew coat of arms over the gateway into the courtyard.
Impaled stone shields at Barmeath: There are three impaled shields associated with the ruined chapel in the demesne at Barmeath. Above the entrance to the chapel (Leslie 1911, 141; Bellew 1928, 237) are the Bellew and Dillon arms (plate 5d) for the marriage of John Bellewk to Mary Dillon, daughter of Robert Dillon, of Clonbrock, Co Galway with the following inscription:  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             This This chappell was built by Mary  Dillon Relict of John Bellew Anno Dom 16.. May their soules through the mercy of god. Rest in Peace Amen.
Bellew and Dillon
                                                                                                                                                                                             The date is broken and Davies (1944, 284) suggests it is 1679, the year of John Bellew’s death. Leslie (1911, 141) suggests the date is 1697 while the O.S. Letters give 1671 (Davies 1944, 284). On the ‘fess’ of the Dillon arms appears a ‘mullet’, indicating a third son. The Dillons of Clonbrock were descended from Sir James, the third son of Gerald Dillon, lord of Drumraney (Cox 2003, 56).                                                                                              
Also in the chapel on a red sandstone altar is the following inscription under a shield with the Bellew and Barnewall arms and mottoes (Leslie 1911, 141):            
THIS TUMBE WAS BUILT BY SR PATRICK                                         
BELLEW KNIGHT AND BARONET                                                                    
AND ELIZABETH BARNEWALL HIS                                                                 
WIFE YE 30 OF 7BER [=September] 1711                                                              
            Sir Patrickl, the eldest son of John Bellew, was created baronet on 11 December 1688. It is interesting to note that the red hand of Ulster appears on Patrick’s arms but not on his father’s. The mottoes for Bellew and Barnewall are ‘Tout vient d’en haut’ (‘All comes from above’) and ‘Malo mori quam foedari’ (‘I would rather die than be disgraced’) respectively.
            Leslie also mentions the Verdon and Bellew stone that was built into the chapel wall.  This stone (plate 2d) is now in the archway at Barmeath Castle. It is the marriage stone of Patrick Verdon, son of Christopher of Clonmore, and Joan Bellewd, daughter of John Bellewi and Joan Lynam. It has the initials P.V. and I.B. On the Verdon half a crest is also added which appears to be a lizard on a round-shaped object. Leslie (1911, 141) incorrectly attributes the stone to Vernon and Bellew. The inscription below the arms reads ‘4TO MAY ANO DO’ but no year is given.
                                                               Verdon and Bellew
            The fourth impaled shield mentioned by Leslie (1911, 141) as being in the yard was that of Joan’s sister, Margery Bellewf, who married Robert Fitzsimons in 1601. This is now placed in the archway. It has the initials RFS  IHS  MB with the Fitzsimons arms and what appears to be the Bathe arms and the date 1601. Hickey (1988-9, 132-3) has drawn coats of arms including those of Bathe and Fitzsimons which are similar to the arms that appear on this shield at Barmeath. It is not clear why the Bathe arms and not those of Bellew appear.

Fitzsimons and Bathe (?)



            In the nineteenth century, Sir Patrick Bellewn changed the house into a flamboyant castle to the designs of Thomas Smith. He included an entrance tower that also acted as a porte cochère. Fortunately the interior of the house retains its original Georgian plasterwork (Casey and Rowan 1993, 152-4). The shields on plaster occur in the dining room, the drawing room and in the bedroom of Richard Montesquieu Bellewp. The shields are arranged near or on the ceilings. Each one is reproduced several times especially in the dining room. The long first-floor drawing room has pretty diaper reeded ceilings of a neo-Elizabethan pattern with irregular octagonal centres (ibid., 154) in which the coats of arms are arranged. 
Patrick Bellewq was MP for Louth for 1831-2 and 1834-7 and his brother Richard Montesquieu was MP for the same county for 1830, 1832-52, 1857, 1859-65. Richard Montesquieu was offered a peerage but refused it because he was a widower and had no heirs, and the peerage was subsequently awarded to his brother Patrick in 1848. The Bellew tower nearby, in the townland of Windmill, was erected in 1835 to commemorate the fact that both Richard and Patrick were MPs for Co Louth (Bellew 1984, 315).
       The heraldic shields probably date from the 1830-40s when major renovations were carried out to the house, when the brothers were prominent as MPs. Patrick Bellew was probably responsible for the scheme of heraldic decoration at Barmeath although it appears it was Montesquieu who had the interest in heraldry since his bedroom has some of these shields. It should be noted that there are some errors in the tinctures in the strict heraldic sense. It also appears that a family pedigree was used when selecting the family shields. The omission of some family shields expected to appear in the series poses the question of how the shields were selected.
       We start with the shields in the dining room.
AUGMENTATION OF A BARONET: ‘Argent a sinister hand erect appaumé couped at the wrist gules’ (plate 3a). Patrick Bellewq was the seventh holder of the baronetcy granted to his great-great-great-grandfather, another Patrickl, in 1688.
Augmentation of a Baronet

BARNEWALL: ‘Ermine’ (‘recte’ ‘Ermine within a bordure engrailed gules’), most probably for Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Barnewall of Crickstown, second baronet, and wife of Sir Patrick Bellewl, though there are also other alliances between the Bellew and Barnewall families. The bordure is missing at Barmeath (plate 3b). The arms for this couple are also on the altar of the chapel as mentioned earlier. 
BELLEW: (plate 3c).

BELLEW CREST: ‘On a wreath or and sable an arm embowed in armour holding a sword proper’. This is set on a blue shield, and is an example of the heraldically illogical nineteenth-century practice of using a shield (plate 3d) as a background on which to display the crest.
                                                                         Bellew Crest
BURKE: ‘Or a cross gules’, it is possible that this shield is intended for Burke, though there are some problems with this attribution: if the shield represents Lady Mary Burke, daughter of Richard, 8th Earl of Clanrickarde and first wife of Patrickm, eldest son of Sir John Bellew, second baronet, then there should be a lion rampant sable in the dexter canton. The plain Burke coat of arms with the cross alone is that of the old earls of Ulster (Burke 1884, 147).

Burke (possibly Taaffe)
CHEVERS: (plate 3e) ‘Gules three goats’ heads erased argent’, probably intended for Janet Chevers, wife of Sir Christopher Bellew u though the arms of Chevers of Ballyhaly, Co Wexford and Macetown, Co Meath are given by Burke (1884, 191) as gules three goats salient argent crined and hoofed or.
CUSACK: (plate 3f) For Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Cusack, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, wife of Sir Christopher Bellew f.
DENNIS: (plate 3g) ‘Argent three battleaxes palewise two and one gules hafted sable’. Conceivably for Anne Dennis, wife of Patrick Bellews, though why so remote a collateral relative should be included when several illustrious marriages in the main line are ignored, seems difficult to explain.

The Dennis family of Holcombe in Devon bore ‘Ermine three bills or Danish battleaxes gules’ (Burke 1884, 278), as did the Dennis family of Kinsale, Co Cork, in connection with whom Burke (ibid., 279) cites the seal on the will of the Ven. William Dennis, archdeacon of Lismore as showing this same coat with an heraldic antelope passant as crest. The monument to William Dennis, alderman of Waterford (died 17 December 1719) in the Church of Ireland cathedral in that city shows the same arms and crest, though the battleaxes are now gilded. It is interesting, however, and probably of greater relevance, to find ‘Azure three halberds or, headed argent’ ascribed to ‘Denys, Co Devon’ (ibid., 280).
ELCOCK:  ‘Argent a chevron sable between three cocks gules’, probably for Margaret Elcock, wife of Richard Bellewh of Stameen, son of Sir John Bellew (Nicholls 1972, 253). Here the tinctures appear to be incorrect (plate 3h). The Elcock arms also appear at St Peter’s Church of Ireland in Drogheda (Fitzgerald 1899, 273).

EUSTACE: This shield which appears as ‘or a saltire gules’ could be intended for Eustace, in which case it would most probably represent Eleanor Eustace who married Michael Belleww. Since the tinctures of the shields are unreliable, it is possible that this shield could represent the arms of Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare. Perhaps for Margaret Fitzgerald who married Sir John Bellewb.
                                           Eustace (Fitzgerald? though the tinctures differ)
FLEMING: ‘Vair a chief checky azure and gules’, probably for Catherine Fleming, wife of Christopher Bellewd and previously of his third cousin, John Bellewv. Like several of the other shields, this shield (plate 3i) has been incorrectly painted.

FORTESCUE: (plate 4a) Fortescue impaling an unidentified coat: (dexter) ‘azure a bend cotised argent’ (recte ‘azure a bend engrailed argent cotised or’), (sinister) ‘argent a cross gules a crescent for difference’. No identification for this coat has as yet suggested itself. The Fortescue name does not appear in any of the Bellew pedigrees in the National Library or in the National Archives. Why the Fortescue arms are at Barmeath remains an unanswered question. Thomas Fortescue (later Lord Clermont) was MP for Louth for 1840-1 and his brother Chichester (later Lord Carlingford) was MP for the same county for 1847-74. They would both have been MPs with Richard Montesquieu Bellew. It should also be noted that Hugh Fortescue, Viscount Ebrington, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1839 to 1841.   
Fortescue and Ulster
Since the article was written, I believe these arms were for Fortescue who was Ulster Herald

PLUNKETT: This shield (plate 4b) which appears as ‘sable a bend and in chief a tower argent’ could refer to (a) Maud Plunkett of Beaulieu, wife of Sir Richard Bellewc of  Roche and Castletown, (b) Margaret, daughter of Oliver Plunkett, first Baron Louth, who married Sir John Bellewe of Bellewstown, or (c) Frances, daughter of  Mathew Plunkett, fifth Baron Louth and wife of Sir Christopher Bellewa of Bellewstown. In the bedroom the bend was painted blue in error.

ST. LAWRENCE: The blades are shown (plate 4c) in dark blue, perhaps as an attempt at a steel colour. Presumably for Margaret St Lawrence, wife of Sir John Bellewa.
                                                                      St Lawrence
WARREN: (plate 4d) ‘Quarterly per fess indented argent and gules in the first quarter a cinquefoil, and in the fourth a sixfoil, both of the second’. Presumably for Mary, daughter of James Warren of Warrenstown (now Dillonstown), Co Louth, wife of Patrick Bellewj. No doubt both flowers should be cinquefoils. Such a coat with two cinquefoils is recorded for Warren of Naas, Co Kildare (Burke 1884, 1079) though Burke describes the horizontal division as dancettee (ibid.). This coat seems to be based on that of the old Barons FitzWarine, and bears no resemblance to the checky coat of the entirely distinct house of Warren or Warenne, earls of Surrey. The presence of the Warren arms on the churchyard wall at St Peter’s in Drogheda further authenticates the identification (Fitzgerald 1899, 275-6).

UNIDENTIFIED: ‘Per bend argent and sable on a bend also per bend of the second and or three shells gold (plate 4e).

            Next we consider the shields in Richard Montesquieu Bellew’s bedroom that include those of Bellew and Plunkett. 
PRESTON: Possibly for Elizabeth Preston, wife of Philip Bellewt. The Preston shield could be due to Montesquieu’s niece, Ismay, who was the first wife of Jenico Preston, fourteenth Viscount Gormanston, they married in 1861. The Bellew arms (for Ismay) appear on the oak armorial chimney-piece in the entrance hall in Gormanston Castle, Co Meath. Georgina Connellan, second wife of Jenico, carved the coats of arms on the chimney-piece. Among the coats of arms on the chimney-piece are those of Dartas (similar to the shield on the Duleek tomb (plate 1f), for Jane Dartas, wife of Christopher, third Lord Gormanston (MacDonnell 2002, 99).


STRANGE: (plate 4f) ‘Azure two lions passant gardant in pale or’, probably for Mary, daughter of Richard Strange of Rockwell Castle, Co Kilkenny, mother of Patrick, first Baron Bellew q and Richard Montesquieu Bellew p.

UNIDENTIFIED: (plate 4g) ‘Gules two swords in saltire proper pommels and hilts or’. Of the families listed by Papworth (1961), as bearing two swords in saltire in various tinctures, none appears in the Bellew pedigree. The arms as they appear at Barmeath are those of the see of London (Burke 1884, 619). 

UNIDENTIFIED: (plate 4h) ‘Three battleaxes palewise in fess proper, hafted gules’. The neutral greenish colour of the field does not resemble any heraldic tincture. It is probable that this shield was intended to depict the arms of the Dennis family. 


Drawing Room: There are a number of shields in the drawing room that have already been considered in the other rooms of the house. One new shield appears in the drawing room.
RODRIGUEZ impaling ZUNIGA: (plate 4i) (dexter) ‘azure a saltire or between four fleurs-de-lis, two in chief and two in base argent’ (recte ‘gules a saltire or between four fleurs-de-lis argent), (sinister) ‘sable a bend argent and over all an orle of chain’ (recte ‘argent a bend sable and over all an orle of chain or’). The tinctures appear to be incorrect for both families on this shield. The colour of the chain on the shield at Barmeath is grey which is not a heraldic tincture. It is of interest to note that while many of the shields are repeated several times throughout the house, the Rodriguez and Zuñiga shield only appears once, perhaps it was added later than the rest. This coat is for Anna Fermina de Mendoza y Ríos who married 19 Jan. 1829 Sir Patrick Bellewq, the first Lord Bellew. Anna was born in London to Anna Maria Parker and the astronomer and mathematician, José de Mendoza y Ríos. Even though the name Zuñiga does not appear in the de Mendoza y Ríos pedigree, Ortiz (2002, 157; website, gives a good but unusual reason for the presence of the arms of Zuñiga on the sinister side, translated it runs as follows:
José (Joseph) de Mendoza y Ríos was born in Seville on 29 January 1761.  He was the son of Don Joseph-Ygnacio de Mendoza y Guerrero and Doña María-Romana Morillo y Ríos.  In accordance with a custom of the time, for personal reasons, and perhaps also for reasons of social prestige, he chose to use, as his second surname, that of his maternal grandmother, Ríos, and not Morillo, that of his mother.  His godfather was the Count of Mejorada, Don Jerónimo Ortiz de Sandoval y Zuñiga, whose ancient family was linked to the history of the church where he was baptised.

       The presence of the Rodriguez coat of arms on the sinister side can be accounted for from a pedigree in the National Archives (Bellew papers, 1121/1/14, unpaginated).  José de Mendoza y Ríos is recorded as Don José Ignacio Rodriguez de Mendoza son of Don José Ignacio Rodriguez de Mendoza and Doña María Morillo y Ríos. Starting with José, father of Anna Fermina, the surnames on the male line are given as Rodriguez de Mendoza for five generations going back as far as José’s great-great-grandfather, Don Pedro Rodriguez de Mendoza. Don Pedro was the son of Don Gonsalvo Rodriguez and Doña María de Mendoza.
[Since the article was written it appears that the arms appearing on the right hand may after all be for de Mendoza and not Zuniga?]
The Rothe coat of arms that appears on a portrait in the study at Barmeath, provides a link with George Rothe Bellew (1899-1993), who was Garter King of Arms (1950-61) (website, the Peerage.Com, 2005). Thomas Rothe of Kilkenny is portrayed with the Rothe and Grace arms in the background. A great-grandniece of Thomas, Rose Rothe, married James Bryan of Jenkinstown, Co Kilkenny. This couple were ancestors to Augusta Bryan, wife of Edward Bellewr, 2nd Lord Bellew, grandfather of George Rothe Bellew. Also in the study the Rothe coat of arms appears in the background of a portrait of David Rothe, bishop of Ossory from 1620 to 1650.
Barnewall:       Ermine, a bordure engrailed gules (Burke 1884, 51).
Bellew:            Sable, fretty or (ibid., 68).
Burke:             (Earl of Clanrickard) Or, a cross gules, in the dexter canton a lion rampant
sable (ibid., 147).
Chevers:         (Macetown, Co Meath) Gules, three goats salient argent crined and hoofed
or (ibid., 191).
Cusack:           Per pale or and azure a fess counterchanged (ibid., 254).
Dennis:            Ermine, three bills or Danish battleaxes gules (Burke 1884, 278).
Dillon:             (Clonbrock, Co Galway) Argent, a lion rampant between three crescents,
within the horn of each an estoile gules, over all a fess azure (Crotty 2000,
Elcock:            Gules, a chevron argent between three cocks of the last, each standing on
a mound (Burke 1884, 319).
Eustace:          Or, a saltire gules (ibid., 332).
Fleming:          (Lord Slane) Vair, a chief chequy or and gules (ibid., 360).
Fortescue:       Azure, a bend engrailed argent cotised or (ibid., 369).
Plunkett:         Sable, a bend argent in sinister chief a tower triple-towered of the last
(ibid., 809).
Preston:           (Lord Gormanston) Or, on a chief sable three crescents of the first (ibid.,
Rodriguez:      Gules, a saltire or between four fleurs-de-lis argent.
Rothe:             (Co Kilkenny) Or, on a mount in base proper a stag trippant argent attired
gules in front of an oak tree vert (Burke 1884, 873).
St Lawrence:   (Lord Howth) Gules, two swords in saltire argent, blades upwards proper
hilts and pommels or, between four  roses argent barbed and seeded proper
(ibid., 889).
Strange:          Gules, two lions passant argent (ibid., 979).
Warren:           (Naas, Co Kildare) Quarterly, per fess indented argent and gules in the
first and fourth quarters a cinquefoil of the second (ibid., 1079).
Zuniga:            Argent, a bend sable and over all an orle of chain or.



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