Hunt and De Vere Family, 1755-1888

Repository: Limerick City Archives

Identity Statement

TitleHunt and De Vere Family, 1755-1888
Archive ReferenceIE LA P22
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1755-1888
Extent Medium6 boxes


Creator(s): Vere Hunt Family

  • Administrative History ↴

    The first member of the Hunt Family to settle in Ireland was Vere Hunt esquire, who arrived in Ireland as an officer in the Cromwellian army, and settled in 1657 on lands in Curragh, county Limerick, and Glengoole, county Tipperary. Vere Hunt was succeeded by his son John Hunt, born in 1633 and his grandson Reverend Vere Hunt. Reverend Vere Hunt married Constantia Piers in 1712 and died in 1759. Constantia and the Reverend Vere Hunt had four children. The eldest was Vere Hunt of Curragh, county Limerick and of Glengoole, county Tipperary. This Vere Hunt married twice, firstly Miss Chadwick, who died childless, and secondly on the 2 July 1860, Anne Browne. Anne Browne was the daughter of Edmund Browne Esquire, of New Grove, county Clare, and a niece of Thomas Browne. She had three brothers Thomas, William, and Monteford and four sisters. Her brothers were all ambitious military men. Her brother Monteford, after an ill-advised marriage to Louisia Mysnall, went to America to pursue a military and political career. He was appointed commander of the Loyalist corps called the Prince of Wales American Regiment, with rank of brigadier general and fought during the Anglo-Franco war and the American War of Independence. He also served as a rather notorious lieutenant Governor of West Florida between 1768 - 1769, and afterwards was appointed governor of Bahamas. He died without heir, having lived apart from his wife for many years. Captain William Browne also fought as a loyalist in the American War of Independence, and he joined with his brother Monteford in a number of business ventures in America. He never married. The third brother, Thomas Browne fought in Germany during the Seven Years War, and married Miss Wetty in 1764. He had three sons Thomas, who died as a child, William who was killed at war and Edmond who died in 1817, thus being the last direct male member of the Brownes of Newgrove. Sir Vere Hunt was the eldest son of the afore mentioned Anne Browne and Vere Hunt (and a nephew of the Browne brothers William, Monetford and Thomas). Vere Hunt had one brother, John Fitzmaurice, and one sister Jane. He has been described as ‘a man of strong character, heavy drinking, roistering and running into debt but he was also a man of considerable ability in both intellectual pursuits as well as business' [Joan Wynn Jones, The Abiding Enchantment of Curraghchase. 'A Big House Remembered' (Cork, 1983)]. In 1783 he was appointed a majority in the Fencibles raised at the close of the American Wars and one year later he married Elinor ("Ellen"), daughter of Lord Glentworth, the protestant bishop of Limerick, and sister of Edward Pery, the 1st Earl of Limerick. In December 1784 Vere Hunt was elevated to baronetcy, becoming Sir Vere Hunt, Bart. Subsequently he became High Sheriff of county Limerick and was commissioned to raise two levies in succession at the opening of the French wards. Whilst on sojurn in Southampton, he was appointed to the colonelcy in the 135th regiment. However as illustrated through his papers, he experienced immense difficult in securing payment from the Government for his military activities. Sir Vere Hunt was returned to the Irish Parliament in 1797 for the Borough of Askeaton. This borough was disenfranchised by the Act of Union. Hunt voted in favour of the union and was promised compensation for the loss of his seat. After prolonged political haggling, he was appointed as weigh-master of Cork, at a sinecure of £600 per annum. Hunt was also a member of the Grand Jury of county Limerick. As a landlord, Sir Vere Hunt focused mainly on the land held by the family at Glengooole, county Tipperary. He exerted much effort in attempting to establish New Birmingham, as a mining town to service his coal mine at Glengoole. Additionally he also purchased an Island of the coast of Devon, called Lundy Island. He was attracted because there were no taxes or tithes to be paid on the Island. Like later generations of his family, Sir Vere Hunt had a great interest in literature and theatre. In his younger days, Sir Vere Hunt conducted a professional travelling theatre company in the south of Ireland. He also made attempts to establish a provincial newspaper and to re-print the Pacata Hibernia and other famous Irish Historical works, Throughout his life Sir Vere Hunt experienced great difficulty in managing his finances and his various businesses. Indeed he was frequently in debt and was forced to spend much of 1803 in the Debtors prison, in Fleet street, London. He died on 11th August 1818. His sister Jane married John Hamilton Lane, of Lanes Park, near New Birmingham and Killenaule, barony Slieveardagh, county Tipperary. His brother John Fitzmaurice Hunt married firstly Jane, daughter of William Henn, county Clare, and secondly, Francis, daughter of Cot Evans of Cavass, county Limerick. John Fitzmaurice was High Sherrif of Limerick in 1802. Sir Vere Hunt and his wife Ellen had one son, Aubrey. Aubrey De Vere was born Vere Hunt at Curragh, county Limerick on 20 August 1788. He was educated at Harrow with Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel. On 12 May 1807, when aged only nineteen, he married Mary, the eldest daughter of Stephen Edward Rice of Mount Trenchard, near Foynes county limerick. He stood for election to Parliament in 1820 and was in favour of Catholic emancipation. On 15 March 1832, by Royal Licence he assumed by letters patent, the surname and arms of De Vere only. He had a reputation as an enlightened and responsible landlord. However he appears to have had very little personal involvement with his Glengoole property leaving its management to his agents, which included Vere Lane, his cousin who lived in Shelbourne Lane during the 1840's. Instead Aubrey devoted his time to re-building the house at Curragh Chase and to his literary works. Aubrey did not publish much work until after his thirtieth birthday, and his most ambitious works were a number of verse dramas, of which the best is probably the posthumously published Mary Tudor. He died in July 1846, and his wife Mary died on 11 February 1856. Aubrey and Mary had eight children, five boys and three girls. The eldest child, Vere de Vere (3rd baronet) was born 12 October 1808. He married Mary Lucy, daughter of Rowland Standish Esquire, of Sclalely Costte County, Cumberland and Farley Hall. He like a number of siblings converted to Catholicism and he died on 16 January 1892. Stephen Edward De Vere was born on the 26 July 1812. He was MP for Limerick, 1854-9, and also High Sheriff of county Limerick 1870. During the famine period, he actively campaigned to improve conditions for Irish people emigrating to the United States and Canada. In April 1847 he travelled in steerage with a party of Limerick people who emigrated to Canada. He wrote a letter regarding the terrible conditions on board and the difficulties faced by emigrants on reaching their destinations, which was read aloud in the House of Lords by Earl Grey, the Secretary for the Colonies. This letter resulted in the Passage Act being amended and the upgrading of accommodation on the emigrant vessels. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1847, and was described by his brother Aubrey as a liberal, who approved of Gladstone's Land Acts. He died unmarried on 10th November 1904. The third son was Aubrey Thomas De Vere (4th Baronet), who was born on 10 January 1814 and in 1832 entered Trinity College Dublin. After graduating in 1837, he travelled around Europe and was frequently in England where he became friends with many of the eminent literary men of the day, including Woodsworth, Tennyson, Carlyle, Sir Henry Taylor, and Cardinal Newman. He was a deeply pious man who never married. After long consideration, he left the Anglican faith in 1851 and was received into the Catholic Church. Aubrey De Vere became a well-known poet and literary critic, producing throughout his life, four volumes of essays, two of travel, one of Recollections, six of poetry and two poetic dramas, and a translation of Horace. His concerns with the problems in Ireland, and the suffering of his tenants during the famine is reflected in his writing English Misrule and Irish Misdeeds. He died on 21 January 1902. The fourth son of Aubrey and Mary was William born on the 20 April 1823. He became a captain in the Royal Navy and married Sophia (daughter of John Allen) on the 8 July 1852. He died on 2 February 1869. The fifth son was Francis Horatia ("Horace"). He was born on the 12 October 1828 and served as a major in the British army. On 4 November 1856, he married Anne- Celestine, youngest daughter and eventual heiress of James Hardiman Burke, esquire, county Galway and sister of the famous Australian explorer Robert O' Hara Burke. They had three daughters together. In 1865, at the age of thirty-six, he was serving as a Royal engineer at Woolwich in England. One of the soldiers under his command, frustrated at being reprimanded by Horace, fired at him from a window in the barracks, as Horace stood in the courtyard beneath. The bullet pierced his lungs and after a few weeks, he died on the 22 August 1865. His wife married secondly in 1873 to Reverend Chas Maxwell. The three daughters of Aubrey and Mary were called Elinor ("Ellen") Jane Alicia Lucia, Mary Theodosia Cecil and Catherine Louisa. Elinor "Ellen" was the only daughter to survive to old age. She married Hon. Robert O' Brien, the son of Sir Edmund O'Brien on the 14 February 1835 (and brother of William Smith O'Brien leader of the Young Ireland Party). She had an especially close relationship with her brother Aubrey, with whom she corresponded regularly and discussed religious and literary matters. Mary Theodosia Cecil was born on the 20 November 1817 and died at age of twelve as a result of a drowning accident in the River Shannon near Mount Trenchard. Catherine Louisa died on 24 February 1834 as a result of a fever. In 1898 Sir Stephen De Vere and his only surviving brother, Aubrey, both unmarried, conveyed their respective estates to their eldest nephew, Major Aubrey Vere O'Brien. The male line of Irish de Vere's expired on Sir Stephen's death in 1904. Curragh Chase then fell to the widow Major Aubrey Vere O'Brien and and her son, Robert Stephen O'Brien. In anticipation of this they assumed by Royal licence in 1899 the surname and arms of De Vere. Robert Stephen Vere de Vere died in 1936, and was survived by his wife Isobel, who died in 1959. On Christmas Eve 1941 Curragh Chase House was destroyed by a fire. In 1957, the estate was purchased by the state and is now used as a Forest Park and Activity Centre. * Hunt, Sir Vere (1st baronet, d. 1818) * De Vere, Sir Aubrey, 2nd baronet (1788-1846) * De Vere, Mary (née Spring Rice) (d. 1856) * De Vere, Vere 3rd baronet (1808-1892) * De Vere, Stephen, 4th baronet (d. 1904) * De Vere, Aubrey Thomas (1814-1902) * De Vere, William (1823-1869) * De Vere, Francis Horatio ‘Horace' (1828-1865) * De Vere , Mary Theodosia Cecil (1817-1830 * De Vere, Catherine Louisa (1820-1834) * O'Brien (née De Vere), Ellen (c. 1813-1899) The main family home of the Hunt Family, dating from 1657, was at Curragh, county Limerick. It consisted of 380 plantation acres (800 acres) and its name was changed to Curraghchase, by Sir Aubrey De Vere (2nd baronet) , at the same time that he changed his name by Royal Licence to De Vere in 1833. Aubrey de Vere focused on developing the scenic aspect of the estate and demesne rather than its' farming potential. He bought in landscape gardeners, and created a lake on the grounds by damming up a stream. The house was accidentally destroyed by fire in December 1941. The grounds at Curraghchase were bought by the State in 1957. Some of the state forest is used as a public amenity and includes tourist trails, camping and caravan park facilities, which make the area a popular tourist attraction. The lands in Glengoole, barony of Slieveradagh county Tipperary were also acquired by the Hunt family dating from 1657. Sir Vere Hunt founded the town at Glengoole, and changed it's name to New Birmingham . He failed in his attempts at developing the town into a mining town. Sir Vere Hunt also acquired additional property of the coast of Devon, namely Lundy Island. He bought it at Auction from John Cleveland in March 1802 for £5, 270. Sir Vere Hunt planted in the island a small, self-contained Irish colony with its own constitution and divorce laws, coinage and stamps. He failed in his attempt to sell the Island to the British Government as a base for troops, and his son Sir Aubrey De Vere also had great difficult in securing any profit from the property.
  • Archival History ↴

    On Loan from the De Vere family
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Permanent Loan

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Vere Hunt Family ↴

    Browne Family, New Grove, County Clare (1755-1767) consists of family correspondence mainly between Monteford and his father Edmond, and uncle Thomas. Includes letter describing Monteford’s experiences on route to Charleston, South Carolina to fight against the Cheekeroo Indians, in the Anglo-Franco war (P22/6).

    Sir Vere Hunt (c.1761-1818) includes correspondence (1760-1816) between Hunt and his wife Ellen, and son Aubrey, family members, friends, business associates, political figures; letters relating to his political, military and social life; letters regarding his efforts to establish New Birmingham as a mining town. Includes Diaries (1796-1818); includes papers relating to his Estate in Tipperary and Limerick (1788-1819) such as estate maps, leases, agreements, rental receipts, legal papers relating to dispute with his brother John Fitzmaurice, and labourer’s accounts; includes papers relating to Lundy Island Estate (1807-1823) regarding the purchase of Lundy Island from John Cleveland and negotiations regarding the sale of the Island to the British Government; includes Financial Papers and Accounts (1739-1818) consisting of bonds and loans, statements of his assets and liabilities, theatre accounts, bank accounts, cash books, and papers relating to loans and credit received from various bankers and creditors. It is worth noting that Nicholas Mahon, Dublin banker and confidante of Daniel O’Connell, was among those who gave loans to Vere. Military Papers (1795-1811) consisting mainly of a record of his attempt to receive payment for his work raising regiments in Ireland in the late eighteenth century. These records include detailed lists of men raised and certified as part of Sir Vere Hunt’s levy in 1796-7. It also includes commentary on the widespread corruption at the Duncannon Fort Depot and records of his accounts with Ormsby and Leahy (army agents); includes Miscellaneous Material (1804-1818) relating to his appointment as weigh master of Cork, and Grand Jury Presentments.

    Correspondence of Lady Ellen Hunt (1790-1818)

    Aubrey de Vere (1799-1837) includes correspondence (including letter from Sir Walter Scott), diaries. Includes estate administration (1821-1836) including workmen’s accounts, letters from his agent and tenants on Lundy Island regarding harsh living conditions, and papers relating to sale of Lundy Island to John Benison. Includes papers relating to his personal finances 1807-1838 such as bills and receipts, and literary papers.

    Children of Aubrey De Vere and Mary Spring Rice includes correspondence between, estate papers, and literary papers of Aubrey and Stephen De Vere. Topics discussed include Irish political landscape, the Irish famine, Gladstone’s land acts, religious and spiritual matters

    Other Family Papers (1786-1880) including lists of family heirlooms and papers.

    The collection gives an overview of a Limerick family from the late eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth century. There are many intertwining themes among the papers of the various family members such as an interest in literature and theatre, Irish politics, benevolent landlordism, conversion from Protestant to Catholicism, and the threat of financial ruin. The collection is therefore useful to researchers who are biographers of individual family members and for researchers examining the development and history of places such as New Birmingham, Lundy Island, and Curraghchase, county Limerick. It also is useful to researchers of military activities in Ireland in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. It is also useful collection for researchers examining topics such as benevolent landlordism and estate management, the role of the De Vere and Hunt family in local and national politics, and in military and social affairs. These papers, particularly the correspondence and diaries of Sir Vere Hunt, provide many vivid images of Irish affairs, conditions, and personalities throughout the nineteenth-century. The collection is also important for local historians of Limerick city and county as it includes many references to the gentry and political figures of the environs such as the Spring-Rice (Monteagle family), Pery Family, O’Brien (Inchiquin), and Massey Family.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    Browne Family, New Grove, County Clare
    Sir Vere Hunt
    Correspondence of Lady Ellen Hunt
    Aubrey de Vere
    Children of Aubrey De Vere and Mary Spring Rice
    Other Family Papers

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions By Appointment
Conditions Governing ReproductionNo reproduction permitted
Creation Dates1755-1888
Extent Medium6 boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list available on Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteJacqui Hayes
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions40575