Kenny Story

Rosslyn Thom

Chapter Two

The origins of the names Crowe, Evans, Coote and Eyre

by Grahame and Rosslyn Thom

Background to the Crowe family

This chapter is about the ancestors of Eliza Crowe who married Thomas Kenny on 12 January 1757, probably in Ballinrobe, co Mayo, Ireland.  Eliza’s parents were the Very Rev William Crowe DD, Dean of Clonfert and his wife Emilia Evans.

The Parish of Clonfert is now part of the Church of Ireland Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.  The then deanery of Clonfert is on the western bank of the River Shannon in County Galway.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Clonfert was established in 550 and the RC Deanery of Clonfert was established in 1152.  Eyrecourt is within the Parish of Clonfert, see later.

Little is known about William Crowe.  He was born about 1693, the son of Richard Robert Crowe (c1650-1713) and his wife Elizabeth Braughall, of Dowhill, co Limerick.  William died in 1769.

His wife Emilia, born about 1695, was the daughter of the Rt Hon George Evans, barrister, and Mary Eyre.

Background to the Evans family

In the reign of Elizabeth I the Evans family in England had eight family members in the House of Commons.  Two brothers, Robert and John Evans settled in Ireland in the early 17th century.

One of Robert’s descendants Hugh Evans lived in Ballinrobe, County Mayo in the late 17th century as did several of his children.  So its likely that the Kenny and Evans families knew each other and this connection may have resulted in Thomas Kenny meeting the Crowe and Evans families from County Limerick.

John’s son George ( -1707) married Anne Bowerman.  Their son George (1655-1720) married Mary Eyre in 1679 and they brought up a large family at Bulgaden Hall in County Limerick, about two miles north of Kilmallock.

George was a successful barrister with offices in Dublin.  He was a member of the Privy Council and represented Charleville, co Cork (about 5 miles SW of Kilmallock) in the Irish Parliament.

His son George (c1680-1749), brother of Emilia who married William Crowe, became the first Baron Carberry of Carberry, co Cork in 1715.  He was a member of the Privy Council, member for County Limerick in the Irish Parliament, and  member for Westbury, Wiltshire, in the House of Commons.  He married Ann Stafford in 1703 and their son George, grandson George and great grandson George became the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Barons Carberry.

The title then passed to George and Ann’s grandson John Evans (1738-1807) who married Emma Crowe in 1759, the sister of Eliza Kenny (nee Crowe).  Another sister of George Evans the first Baron, Jane married the Rev Chidley Coote of Ash Hill, County Limerick.

Background to the Coote family

The Kenny family is related to the Coote family through Thomas Kenny’s mother-in-law, Emilia Crowe, nee Evans, sister of the first Baron Carberry, and sister to Jane Coote, nee Evans (1682-1763).  Sir Chidley Coote, Bart, who died in 1668, was married to Ann Philips ( -1680).

In 1667 Sir Chidley Coote acquired Ash Hill near Kilmallock, County Limerick.  We do not know if this is the Chidley Coote who died in 1668 or his son Sir Chidley Coote (1644-1702) who married Catherine Sandys.  Their son, the Rev Chidley Coote of Ash Hill or Castle Coote as it had become known, married Jane Evans on 31 January 1702.  They had at least eight children including the future General Sir Eyre Coote who was born at Castle Coote in 1726.

General Coote went on to become one of the greatest military tacticians of the eighteenth century with numerous victories to his credit, including conquering India from the French in the Seven Years’ War and defeating Hyder Ali despite being outnumbered by almost twenty to one. This same victorious pattern was to be repeated in battles throughout the war.  The following is a summary of his career.

In 1744 Eyre Coote was gazetted an Ensign in the 27th Regiment. He saw service at the Battles of Falkirk and Culloden.  As a Captain in the 39th Regiment, the first British regiment to serve in India, Coote helped Clive win the Battle of Plassey in 1857.  Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 84th Regiment, Coote won the decisive Battle of Wandewash in 1760, and took part in the siege of Pondicherry in 1761. Soon afterwards Colonel Coote was given command of the East India Company forces in Bengal and In two years he had driven the French from India.

On his way home from India in 1763 at St.Helena, Eyre Coote met and subsequently married Susannah Hutchinson, the daughter of Charles Hutchinson, the Governor of St.Helena.  They had no children.  In 1764 he was presented with a £700 diamond-hilted sword by the Directors of the East India Company in recognition of his services in India.

Col Coote became the member for Leicester in 1768 in the House of Commons and followed this by representing Poole in Hampshire until 1780.  In 1770 he bought West Park, near Fordingbridge, Hampshire.

It is likely that Coote was instrumental in assisting his cousin William Kenny gain an appointment as a Cadet in the East India Company in 1775.

In 1775 Eyre Coote was promoted to Major General and in 1779 appointed Commander-in-Chief in India and made Lieutenant General.   In 1781 Sir Eyre attacked Hyder Ali, who at that time was causing considerable trouble for the British administration. He was besieged at Cuddalore, but broke out and defeated Hyder Ali at Porto Novo. He then took Tripassoor, and defeated Hyder Ali again at Pollilore. At Sholinghur, he finally ended the career of Hyder Ali, but ill-health forced his return to Bengal and his retirement in 1782.

General Sir Eyre Coote died at Madras in 1783 and his body was taken back to England on HMS Bombay Castle, landed at Plymouth and taken with great ceremony to West Park to be buried at Rockbourne Church.  In 1784 a monument to him was erected in Westminster Abbey by the East India Company.

William Kenny’s first son was baptised Eyre Evans Kenny in Madras in April 1784, possibly so named in recognition of the late General Sir Eyre Coote.

Background of the Eyre family

Mary Eyre, who married George Evans in 1679, was the daughter of John Eyre
(1623 -1685) of Eyrecourt Castle, County Galway, and his wife Mary Bigoe ( -1716).  Mary was the daughter of Phillip Bigoe, Sheriff of Kings County.

John’s parents were Giles Eyre (1572-1655) Sheriff of Wiltshire 1640, and Jane Snelgrove who lived at Brickworth, Wiltshire.  This family were members of the old Wiltshire family of Eyre, which to quote Burke’s Landed Gentry “enjoyed for several centuries the highest distinction within its native county, and was of consideration in the State, most of its chiefs for the past three hundred and fifty years having had seats in Parliament, and four of them being learned in the Law and becoming Judges, two of them as Lord Chief Justices of the Common Pleas.”

Giles was a very strong supporter of the Parliamentarian Party, and together with three of his sons were members of the council of Oliver Cromwell.  Two sons, John and Edward, accompanied the Cromwellian General Ludlow to Ireland, and founded the Eyre branches in Galway.  Edward became Sheriff of Galway.

John, a Colonel, was granted a large parcel of land in Galway in recognition of his part in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.  He built Eyrecourt Castle in about 1670 and nearby was established the town of Eyrecourt.  The most striking features of this spacious mansion were its ambitious wood carvings, massive door cases and a baroque staircase said to be one of the first grand staircases in Ireland.  Around 1950 the staircase was purchased by William Randolph Hearst and the house was left to become a ruin.  It is said the staircase is now in crates in a museum in Detroit, USA.

There are records showing that the Eyre ancestors can be traced back to Humphrey Le Heyr of Bromham, Wiltshire, who married Gillicia in the 12th century, whose descendants lived in such places as Wedhampton, Northcombe, Broughton Gifford, and Salisbury in Wiltshire.

William Kenny – Four generations

William Kenny
born c 1757, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, Ireland


Thomas Kenny 1734-1812, of co Mayo
married 1757
Eliza Crowe 17??-1814


Courtney Kenny 1702-1779, of co Mayo
married 1731
Anne Rogers 17??-1782

William Crowe c1693-1769 DD, Very Rev, Dean of Clonfert , co Galway
married c1713
Emilia Evans c1695

Great grandparents

Thomas Kenny 16??-1725 of co Mayo
married 1698
Frances Courtney 16??-1766

John Rogers Rev of co Down

Richard Robert Crowe c1650-1713
Elizabeth Braughall

George Evans c1650-1720 MP, of Bulgaden Hall, co Limerick
married 1679
Mary Eyre daughter of John Eyre MP of Eyrecourt, co Galway

Other relatives

George Evans and Mary Eyre were the parents of the first Baron Carbery (1680-1749) and Jane who married the Rev Chidley Coote (1678-1730), the parents of General Sir Eyre Coote (1726-1783).

From above it can be seen that William Kenny was named after his grandfather William Crowe and that his brother Erye Evans Crowe Kenny was named after his great grandmother Mary Eyre, his great grandfather George Evans and probably his great grandfather Richard Robert Crowe.  As Emilia Evans and Jane Evans were sisters, William was a first cousin once removed of General Sir Eyre Coote.  Also as Emilia was the sister of the first Baron Carbery, the Baron was William’s great uncle.

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Chapter Three

William Kenny