The Dowley Briscoe Connection


The Briscoes are important in that they preceded the Dowleys in Tinvane House and Tybroughney. Their story, like so many others, starts with the Act of Settlement of 1662 which gave land to soldiers in settlement of arrears of wages during the Cromwellian Invasion.

Cromwell came to Ireland in 1649 to put down the rebellion of 1641. Cromwell’s eventual victory precipitated one of the largest transfers of land in Irish history and consolidated the foundations of the anglophone aristocratic elite in Ireland. Sir John Ponsonby, from Haile in Cumberland, not far from the Briscoes was one of Cromwell’s soldiers and was rewarded for his military services with a knighthood and an extensive parcel of land in south County Kilkenny. Unlike many Cromwellian soldiers, who were content to realise the financial value of the lands they were granted, John Ponsonby aspired to build up a large estate in Ireland. He was enabled to advance his ambition by the acquisition of several parcels of land in the county, in which he was confirmed in possessed by the Act of Settlement. The largest of these, previously in the possession of the Anglo-Norman family of D’Alton, after whom it was named Kildalton, was located in the Suir Valley in south Kilkenny. Ponsonby signalled his intention of make this his place of residence and of creating an estate according to the English model he esteemed by building a large house and by renaming the estate Bessborough in honour of his second wife, Elizabeth “Bess” Foliott. His first wife was a Dorothy Briscoe from Cumberland. What happened to her is not clear but it confirmed the relationship between the Ponsonbys and the Briscoes.

Ponsonby also harboured political ambitions and, having served during the 1650s as sheriff of counties Wicklow and Kildare, he was elected in the early 1660s to represent County Kilkenny in the Irish parliament. Ponsonby was not a high profile member of the House of Commons, and the refusal of Charles II to authorise a further parliament during his lifetime limited his political opportunities. However, by the time of his death in 1678, aged 60, he had successfully established the Ponsonbys in County Kilkenny and on the Irish political horizon. The Ponsonbys went on to acquire land, titles and political position in Ireland. One Lord Bessborough was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the outbreak of the “Great Famine” and died in office in 1847. By the 1870’s, the Earl of Bessborough owned 129 acres in Tipperary (mainly Tinvane), 23,967 acres in Co. Kilkenny and 10,578 acres in Co. Carlow. Both Mount Richard and Tinvane were “held from” the Earl of Bessborough. As all the Briscoe land was close to Bessborough, it is assumed that it was also “held from” the Earl of Bessborough.

The Briscoes of south Kilkenny

The Briscoes came to Ireland in the late 1600’s from Crofton Hall, Cumberland in the North East of England. Crofton Hall was located in Wigton, south-west of Carlisle. The family name at the time was spelt Brisco while all those in Ireland seemed to be spelt Briscoe.

The first Briscoe to settle in Ireland was Edward Briscoe (1651-1709) of Crofton Hall Cumberland. He was the son of John Briscoe of Wampool and settled in Tinnakilly, just north of Bessborough House and is buried in Fiddown. Many of the Briscoes were subsequently buried in the Ponsonby/Briscoe Mausoleum in Fiddown which confirms the association between the Briscoes and the Ponsonbys of Bessborough House.


The Protestant Church in Fiddown where the Ponsonby and Briscoe families are buried


The Ponsoby-Briscoe Mausoleum in Fiddown, Co. Kilkenny

Many of the male Bricoes produced very large families and over time they occupied many different properties close to Bessborough House on Ponsonby land. This would again confirm the close relationship between the two families. The map at the end of this section shows the relative position of these properties compared with Bessborough House. The Briscoe properties in south Kilkenny include, Tinnakilly, Garrynarea, Willmount, Tinvane, Clonmore, Cloncunny, Harristown, Muckalee, Tybroughney, Bleachville, Whitechurch, Garryricken, and Craigavine. Other members of the Briscoe family moved to Dublin, Waterford, Trim and Omagh while many emigrated to the US and Australia as well as moving back to England.


Willmount House, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny

At a later stage, the original Briscoes may have been joined by other family members from Cumberland, as some of the families can not be directly traced back to the original Edward from Crofton Hall. An attempt to relate all the Briscoes of south Kilkenny is given in “The Briscoe Tree” in a separate section.

Edward had three daughters Judith, Rebecca and Mary as well as two sons, John and Henry. John (1682-1752) moved to Garrynarea near the Three Bridges and appeared to remain unmarried. Henry (1680-1737) married his cousin Abigail Briscoe and they lived in Tybroughney House. Henry was also known as “Henry of Backborough” which may be another name for Tybroughney. Henry and Abigail had seven children, Edward, John, Henry, Richard, Robert, Rebecca and Mary.

Edward (1713-1793) married Judith Bagnall and they had four children and the family remained in Garrynarea for at least three generations up to the mid nineteenth century. John (1715-1788) lived in Tybroughney Castle and later the Sandpits just north of Bessborough. John Briscoe (1715-1788) married Mary Jane Whitby which gave rise to a long line of Whitby Briscoes. John and Mary Jane had three children, Abagail, Edward Villiers and Henry Whitby.

It was this Henry Whitby Briscoe (1753-1808) that commissioned and was the first to live in Tinvane House. I would guess that the house was first inhabited towards the end of the eighteenth century. A census at the time describes the house as a four story building on forty acres. Henry married Ann Sneyd and they had nine children including Henry Whitby Briscoe (1777-1834) and Edward Whitby Briscoe (1795-1866) who was the originator of the Harristown Briscoes. Henry pursued a career in the army as well as being a Justice of the Peace. Henry’s brother Edward Villiers moved to Willmount on the Tybroughney Road just outside Piltown while Abigail married Edward Fitzgerald of Limerick.

The next occupant of Tinvane was Henry Whitby Briscoe (1777-1834). He was also a Justice of the Peace and married Alicia Whyte with whom he had seven children including another Henry Whitby Briscoe (1808-1881). This Henry Whitby Briscoe married Deborah Shaw and they had thirteen children. It was of this Henry that the people of Carrick are reputed to have said that he was afraid to throw a stone at any child in the town in case it might be one of his own. One of his thirteen children was another Henry Whitby Briscoe (1836-1878). This Henry Whitby Briscoe predeceased his father but not before producing three children, including Henry Whitby Briscoe (1865-1947) with his wife Caroline Ann Smyth. This was the final Briscoe in the Tinvane line as he was unmarried. He again pursued a military career and died in a military hospital in Montreal, Canada.

Edward Dowley purchased Tinvane in 1890/’91 from the Irish Land Commission, 25 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin. The first payment of £54-7-8 was due on May 1st, 1891. As the Briscoes were bankrupt at this time and the last Tinvane Henry Whitby Briscoe was unmarried and in Canada it begs the question as to which Briscoe represented the family in signing over the property to the Land Commission. My information suggests that it was the Henry Whitby Briscoe, son of Arthur Wellesley Briscoe, Leinster Road, Rathmines, Dublin. This Henry Whitby Briscoe was a barrister by qualification, but had joined the army and was drowned off Greece in 1917 when the ship in which he was travelling was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat. The signing was said to have been completed in Gibraltar.

The Piltown Briscoes of the 1940’s

The final question I have, is where did the Briscoes who attended the Piltown Boys National School in 1946 come from?. The answer to this question is that Alfrred Whitby Briscoe of Piltown was one of the many children of Edward Whitby Briscoe of Mucalee House, Harrisstown, Co. Kilkenny.

As my family lived immediately opposite the Boys National School in Piltown, I would have attended this school from a very early age and some of my fellow students were Briscoes. The photograph from 1946 below includes three of the Briscoes who were attending the school at that time. These were Percy, Alfred and Noel.

The Briscoes lived in the old Piltown schoolhouse which was located beside the current Girls National School on Pill Hill. As Noel was the same age as myself, we became friends and I spent a lot of time in their house. I remember Mr. & Mrs Briscoe being a very pleasant couple but somewhat older than my own parents. They had a large family of which most were considerably older than myself. The others that I can remember were Henry, Mervyn and Christina, but there were many others. On one occasion I recall Mr. Briscoe telling me that his ancestors originally owned Tinvane.

The names of the children all reflected the Briscoe names in use over the years in the different families. As Garrynarea and Tinvane Briscoes had disappeared from the area at that time, it is reasonable to assume that the Piltown Briscoes are part of the Harristown Briscoes. The Briscoes in the photograph were the children of Alfred Whitby Briscoe (1902-1989).

Back Row: Mickey Kinley, Percy Briscoe, John Hunt, Matt Talbot, Dan O’Brien, Finbar Doran, Leo Connell, Joe O’Shea, Mervin Briscoe.
Third Row: Bernard Kelly, Billy Quinn, Watty Keane, Tony Hawe, Pat Oakie, Tony O’Brien, John Oakie, Pat O’Shea, Paddy Murphy, Billy Hearne.
Second Row: Seamus Cuddihy, Alphie Briscoe, Frank Breen, ?. O’Brien, Noel Briscoe, Aidan Byrne, Joe Wall, Billy Murphy, Paddy O’Sullivan, Watty Walsh, Jimmy Talbot.
Front Row: Thomas Dowley (Beech Farm/Ballyknock), Leslie Dowley (Piltown/Tinvane), Richard Keating, Liam Grace, Mickey Halloran, Seamus Comerford, Kevin Ryan, Watty Walsh, Barney Knox.



Leslie J. Dowley

33 thoughts on “The Dowley Briscoe Connection

  1. James Louis Douglas Parminter

    I found your site very informative and it expanded my knowledge of the Briscoe family from which I too am descended, through my grandmother, Gladys Mary Briscoe, daughter of Henry Whitby Briscoe (died at sea Arcadian off Greece 1917 and Mary Zoe Robinson. Genealogy is my hobby (more an addiction). I live in the Philippines, but originally I am from Dublin and served in the Irish Defence Force for over 23 years.

  2. Murray Waldren

    This may answer a couple of your questions.

    1. ALFRED WHITBY BRISCOE (son of EDWARD WHITBY Briscoe) was born 23 January 1902, and died 13 October 1960. He married CHRISTINA O’DONNELL.

    i. EDWARD WHITBY23 BRISCOE, b. 14 June 1930, Thomastown, Ireland; d. 2003; m. JULIA MARY (SHEILA) PHELAN, July 1956, Waterford.
    ii. EILEEN P BRISCOE, b. 1931, Thomastown, Ireland; m. U, 1955, Waterford, Ireland.
    iii. KATHLEEN E BRISCOE, b. 1932, Thomastown, Ireland; m. U, 1955, Waterford, Ireland.
    iv. PETER A BRISCOE, b. 1934, Thomastown, Ireland.
    v. MERVYN WHITBY BRISCOE, b. 1935, Thomastown, Ireland.
    vi. CHRISTINA BRISCOE, b. 1937, Thomastown, Ireland.
    vii. ALFRED WHITBY BRISCOE, b. 1939, Thomastown, Ireland.
    viii. NOEL WHITBY BRISCOE, b. 1941, Thomastown, Ireland.
    ix. HENRY M BRISCOE, b. 1943, Thomastown, Ireland; m. MARY VERONICA GAULE.
    x. GWENDELINE M BRISCOE, b. 1946, Thomastown, Ireland.
    xi. ARTHUR WHITBY BRISCOE, b. 1947, Thomastown, Ireland.

    1. Edrina Briscoe Conway

      Arthur Whitby Briscoe was not a son of Alfred Briscoe (my grandfather). Missing from your list is Frederick Briscoe and Hylton Briscoe.

      1. Edrina Briscoe Conway

        As far as I am aware most of the family were born in Harristown, Co. Kilkenny not Thomastown as stated above

        1. GG

          Exactly what I thought, does anyone know any of them? I’ve come across a memorial ring for the great grandmother

  3. Edrina Briscoe Conway

    I found this very interesting and fascinating. The Briscoes in the photograph are my uncles. Percy is deceased now, but Mervyn, Alfred and Noel are still living. My father was Edward Whitby Briscoe. My name is Edrina Whitby Briscoe. We lived in Piltown for a while in the 70’s. The family history I have always known as my father was the eldest of his family and traced the family tree, but I really enjoyed seeing the photograph of my young uncles.

  4. Seamie Briscoe

    Fascinating insight into the Briscoe family of that place and time. Interested in the comment that Edward Briscoe was the first Briscoe to settle in Ireland?
    Where does this leave the other ‘settled’ Briscoe’s throughout the rest of the country. There is no definitive trace of the family in this article to any other part of the country from Edward’s settlement, that is if he was the first Briscoe to come to Ireland?

  5. fredrick whitby briscoe

    I seem to be the missing link leslie. I Was born in 1942 .I was the ginger one .then Hilton was the last one. Not sure what year he died .but you did great job Leslie.where did u get the school photo.I grew up with all this group it brought Great memories back thanks a lot. Freddy

    1. Liam Doyle

      Great to see the 1946 photo of Piltown N.S. pupils and Freddy Briscoe’s reply. On freezing cold winter mornings, Freddy was in charge of stoking up an apparatus which threw out some heat to the rest of the classroom. Freddie used make sure he overloaded it with coal so that the apparatus belched out smoke in clouds, resulting in a classroom evacuation and a halt to all lessons for half an hour!! We had some fun at Mr. Mulqueen’s ( Principal )
      expense in those heady days of the mid 1950s.

    2. Eamon Casey

      Hi Freddy, Leslie, great days back then with peery Mulqueen and his artwork for his favourite poem Hy Brasil and of course that roman short sword and his stone age axe head, memories, the photo is before our time as we were in Templeorum/Mountain Grove about then
      Eamon Casey

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  7. Tony Whelan

    Hello Leslie

    My Great Grand mother was Eugenie Eliza Briscoe 1855 to 1944. When growing up, I was always fascinated and interested in stories from my mother and her sister, who lived with Eugenie in Henry Street in Waterford City until the time of her death. They have fond memories of Eugenie and can recollect stories from her of when she grew up in Tinvane House in Carrick on Suir. I would also strongly recommend the Morrison Briscoe connections as mentioned by Dale Hart – it is very in depth and detailed. My mother & Aunt still live in Waterford City & I live near Annestown in Co. Waterford – we have not gone very far from our roots in Carrick. Thank you for filling in a few more blanks and updating me on more details from my family history – it is greatly appreciated – well done.


    1. Janet Todd (nee Shannon)

      Hello Leslie and hello Tony Whelan- new found relative!
      Eugenia Eliza Briscoe is ALSO my great Grandmother, she married Edward Shannon. Their son John Joseph Shannon is my Grandad. I have a picture of Henry Street which my Dad, Patrick Edward Shannon, says must be the house Tony refers to. My Dad is 92 on Jan 6th 2017. Edward and his wife Catherine (sometimes called Kathleen or Kitty) moved to England in 1927 and went on to raise 6 children here. I have Edward’s passport with a stamp for 1944 when Dad says he went back when his Mum, Eugenia died. Sadly,I know nothing about Eugenia’s life, or the fact that her sister lived with her in Henry Street and would be thrilled to find out anything more.
      Thankyou so much for compiling the Briscoe family line, it has answered many questions I had.
      Kind regards Janet Todd (Shannon)

  8. Tom Briscoe

    The Mervyn Briscoe you can see in the school photo (back right) is still alive and kicking. He’s my granddad and he currently lives in Coventry, England.

      1. Edrina Briscoe Conway

        I remember my late father Edward Whitby Briscoe saying that of Mervyn, great to hear it from someone else!

  9. Joanna Algeo

    My ggg grandfather John Briscoe lived in Banagher, Co Offaly where he died in 1886. Any ideas on his origins? I don’t know the names of his parents but I think there was a connection with Arthur Henry Briscoe (son of an Edward Briscoe) who lived in the Kildare area and died in 1897.

  10. Vanessa Briscoe

    So intresting to read , wish I knew more about my grandads parents to find connection with the Briscoe’s who lived in Dublin. Great read though.

  11. D James

    This is wonderful! Late in life I’ve started to investigate ‘the Irish Connection’, and am currently reading Memoirs of the Kilkenny Hunt, and the exploits of Henry Whitby Briscoe (1808-1881) as Master (1770-76) though I gather he took the Curraghmore hounds before that (1859-1870). Cringed as to why he didn’t throw stones at children….! I’m not a Briscoe, but descended from the Shaws, with whom there were at least two marriage connections. Henry Whitby’s wife was the daughter of Robert Shaw, Rector of Kilkenny – and grand-daughter of William Shaw, whose sister Rebecca married William Briscoe, close neighbour, in 1755. Sandpitts was their family home for a while, leased from the Ponsonbys, so I was intrigued to find John Briscoe died there in 1788 – was he visiting, or did he actually live there? I’m troubled by the marriage of Judith Briscoe, daughter of Edward Briscoe (of Crofton, died 1709), because Richard Shaw’s will is online, and I am very doubtful he was the son of William Shaw ( who fought at the Battle of the Boyne). Richard Shaw’s will (especially the lands he is bequeathing to his widow and children) clearly shows him to be descended from the ‘Shaws of Clonmel’ – earlier than our family, as ‘Cromwellian adventurers’. You will likely find that Judith’s eldest son was Robert Shaw, Mayor of Clonmel three times, rather than Robert Shaw of Sandpitts (we were not nearly so successful in the 18th century!) – which is why I find out more about my ancestors through their marriage connections! Many thanks again, it’s been extremely useful.

    1. cheri

      I just found this site and find it very interesting because I also descend from the Irish Shaws, Richard Shaw and Judith Briscoe. I was, however a little confused about the doubt of Richards marriage to Judith. I’ve always read that they lived at sandpits as well. That line seemed very clear to me. Any clarification would be very much appreciated.

  12. Chad

    I am descended from a Henry Briscoe of Kilkenny who had a son William who also had a son name William. The latter William emigrated to Gloucester, Forest of Dean, in the early 1800’s. does anyone have further information on this Henry Briscoe?

  13. Frank Briscoe

    This is truly fascinating to me, a Briscoe from Texas. I came to Ireland last week for a friend’s wedding in Killarney, and am on my way to Carlisle and the Lake District of England to learn what I can of my family history there. Although some of my family dispute it, most of our Texas line believe an ancestor — Dr. John Briscoe — left Crofton Hall about 1635 to accompany a colony being established by Lord Baltimore in Maryland.

    But in Killarney, several of my new Irish friends were asking about my family connection here. I had absolutely no idea I had one until I found this site. Thanks very much for your work.

    Frank Briscoe

  14. Sharon Eyres

    I am Sharon Eyres from NZ, my 3rd Great Grandfather is William Briscoe born 1825 Kilkenny married to Sophia Sarah Mountjoy, he was a son of William Briscoe and Johanna Alyward, who was the son of Henry Briscoe and Jayne Hayes. Henry was a son to Edward Briscoe and Judith Bagnall. I have studied many sides to my family so thrilled to come across this particular part which I have not seen. My 2nd Great Grandmother Elizabeth Ann Briscoe had come out to NZ w her husband Joseph IV Thomas Mountjoy, much to the heart ache of her father William Briscoe, I have a copy of the letter which he wrote her to tell of his heartache for her leaving. I would love to learn more so about our Ireland connections and wish to further this research. Sincerely Sharon

  15. Sharon Eyres

    I had downloaded your Xcel spreadsheet of the Briscoe Family to see staring right back at me my 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd Great Grandparents all labeled in black and white. Elizabeth Ann Briscoe daughter Cassandra Mountjoy married Ernest Eyres, their only son was Dudley Francis Briscoe Eyres who is my Grandfather. Thank you Im thrilled to have come across this indeed.

  16. Robert Wayne Briscoe

    I’ve traced my genealogy back to Gamaliel Briscoe (1683-1755) and Mary Craven (1697-1774). We think we are connected to a Edward Briscoe (1654-1685) and a Dorothy (1658-?) who lived in Dublin, Ireland. If any of you have information about these individuals, I’d like to have it. I would like any genelaogy you can give me. I’m collecting all Briscoe’s I can find. to try to connect into the Brisco/Brisko line in Crofton.

    I was told by my grandfather that if you spell your last name BRISCOE that we were related.

    Robert Briscoe,
    Austin, Texas

  17. Sharon Eyres

    I have found this all very informative indeed and helped considerably with my own research.
    Edward BRISCOE m Judith BAGNALL are my 6th GGrandparents
    Their son Henry BRISOCE m Jayne HAYNES are my 5th GGrandparents
    Their son Wm BRISCOE m Johanna AYLWARD are my 4th GGrandparents
    Their son Wm BRISCOE m Sophia Sarah MOUNTJOY are my 3rd GGrandparents
    Their daughter Elizabeth BRISCOE m Joseph IV MOUNTJOY are my 2nd GGrandparents (immigrated to NZL)
    Their daughter Cassandra MOUNTJOY m Ernest Alfred EYRES are my GGrandparents
    Their only child Dudley Francis BRISCOE-EYRES m Margaret Anstice are my Grandparents
    Their only Son, John EYRES m Mariana RUIHI are my parents

  18. Peter Tyrrell

    I came across this website recently and found it very interesting. Christina O’Donnell who was married to Alfred Whitby Briscoe was my great grand aunt. She was born in December 1903 to Peter O’Donnell and Kate Walsh in Curraghdobbin, Killmurry which is about a ten minute drive North of Carrick-on-suir. Peter O’Donnell and Kate Walsh had the following children.
    1. Bridget Philomena (Phyllis) O’Donnell in 1892 that married Michael Guiry, a son of Jerome Guiry of Peppardstown House and Beatrice Mary Hughes. Phyllis died in 1974.
    2. Josephine O’Donnell (my great grandmother) in about 1894 who married Jerome Meagher of Tullohea House, son of James Meagher of Springmount House, Cahir and Margaret Guiry of Moorstown, Colman, Fethard. General Thomas Francis Meagher of the Sword’s grandfather Thomas was one of the Meaghers of Tullohea who were descendants of Richard Fitzwilliam Butler of Poulakerry Tower House and Gerald Fitzgerald, Lord Decie of Dromana.
    3. Pierce O’Donnell, a twin of Josephine’s in about 1894.
    4. John O’Donnell in about 1896 who married Monica O’Donnell and who died in 1969.
    5. Mary (Molly) O’Donnell in about 1898 who married Edward Shannahan in 1942 who was a basket maker in Carrick-On-Suir.
    6. Kathleen O’Donnell in 1899 who was a nurse in England that died of TB.
    7. Eily Frances O’Donnell in 1902 that married Bryan Guiry in 1922, a son of Jerome Guiry of Peppardstown House and Beatrice Mary Hughes.
    8. Christeenia O’Donnell in 1903 that married Alfred Briscoe of Harristown, Piltown, son of Edward Whitby Briscoe in 1929.
    Their mother Kate Walsh was a daughter of John Walsh of Curraghdobbin and Bridget Dooley. Peter O’Donnell was born in 1864 in Ballyglassoon, Piltown to Pierce O’Donnell and Bridget Aylward. Pierce was born in 1826 and his father was Thomas O’Donnell of Curraghlane, Powerstown, Kilkenny who was born in 1785 and died in 1835 and Pierce’s mother was Mary Marum of Galmoy who was born in 1796 and died in 1871, a niece of the Bishop of Ossory, Kieran Marum and a daughter of Thomas Marum. Thomas O’Donnell’s parents were James O’Donnell who was born in 1740 and died in 1820 and Mary Butler. His parents were Andrew O’Donnell who was born in about 1695 and Honour Fannan who was born in 1700 and died in 1772. Andrew’s father was Walter O’Donnell of Ballywalter, Callan who was born about 1665. The townsland gets it’s name from him.
    Peter Tyrrell.

    1. Edrina Briscoe-Conway

      Fascinating to read your post. I am Edrina Briscoe-Conway, daughter of Edward Whitby Briscoe and granddaughter of Alfred Whitby Briscoe and Christina (Teenie) O’Donnell. Your post brought back memories of visiting my grandaunt Molly (Shanahan) and Percy O’Donnell in Ballyglassoon when I was a child. I also have memories of visiting Peppardstown House. Many visits were also made to Philomena Meaghar (Tyrell). Happy memories, thank you.

  19. Ted Briscoe

    Edward Whitby Briscoe died ABT 1919 and his family of 25 children owned both pilltown and harristown, his children included I believe Alfred Whitby Briscoe. Most left Ireland after the world war 1 emigrating to Canada, the USA and England. Though I believe pilltown is still within the family.


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