Debrett’s Peerage. No. But it is the family history of my grandmother’s family and a lineage detailed in 1866 in the Galway Vindicator and a book published by my grandmother’s uncle Charles ffrench Blake-Forster, High Sheriff Galway but who died aged 24.
There is a narrative, thankfully it is familial and the experience of listening and being steeped in a culture of the remnants of another time. It is about the people who came to Ireland to take the land and it is about the people who said we want our land back, and they achieved this i.e apart from the 6 counties in North of Ireland.
My grandmother, Marcella Blake-Forster, Ballykeale Hs, Kilfenora, Co Clare, among the last of the Blake-Forster line, met my Grandfather as he sought election for Sinn Fein in 1919. Michael Comyn KC lost that election to Eamonn de Valera. He married my grandmother, Marcella Blake-Forster and hence I can include myself as part of this family tree, produced for publication in 1866.
Aged 7, it was a journey away from home in Co Meath to a place in the west of Ireland that captivated so much of my early life. My grand-aunt Fanny (nee Frances Blake-Forster), elder sister of Marcella Blake-Forster, became my friend, my ally, my tutor, my storyteller. She taught me how to care for an older person not based on monetary cost but on the intrinsic values that can be gained from a relationship between an older person and a child. Sadly she died when I was 12 and it caused me great distress but it was only years later, when I was involved in a horse riding accident in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) resulting in a serious brain injury that impacted on memory capacity that those memories of that precious time formed the path to rehabilitation.
To explain about traumatic brain injury and how it affects me is as follows and is by way of explanation.
(What I basically have is short term memory deficits so it is difficult to form long term memories based on day to day experiences. 20 years on, I have a methodology and it seems to work. I have support from KT and the computer, internet, social media have made it possible to engage. An earlier family member named Emily ffrench Blake-Forster detailed in this Sept was not so fortunate when she too fell off the horse in Co Clare. She died. I lived and I engaged. I must share this now but I must also share how it is that I can do so.
It goes back to the 1970’s. The hall nearest the porch at Porte Hs, Ruan, Co Clare, was full of relics of old decency, a little dusty, a little under valued but they existed. There was a framed document that filled the frame. It was the Sept. My mother, a niece of Aunt Fanny, decided she was going to get herself a copy and she did but in those days, the photo-copiers were few and the photo-copying was basic. I recall sheets of paper all stuck together and eventually most probably a decade on, we had our own three copies of the family Sept in frames. Fearful of the detail fading in the 1980’s I laboriously typed up a version in hard copy and again did this when I had access to a computer 10 years later. So here it is: I hope it opens up dialogue. In my childhood, family particularly Aunt Fanny, Eileen and my mother Rose, would chat for hours about family history. They did not rely on the Sept because for them it was about people they remembered or had heard stories about, the houses, the Castles, the Mansions, many of which are now derelict, the servants, the landed estates, the inter-connectedness through marriage, the wars, the Aran Islands. It is this that traumatic brain injury has re-acquainted me with and provides me with a sense of identity that is forfeited when you are asked to live in Groundhog Day. It is this that gives me character and connectedness with my partner as his interests are the west of Ireland, history and politics.
My cousin Eileen had a most amazing memory but she also had a book written by Charles ffrench Blake-Forster. This man died at the age of 23 but he had written prolifically and was High Sheriff of Galway. The book along with a number of articles written by him show the conflict of identities, neither British nor Irish but an ardent desire to establish a historical account of origin. Few copies of this book exist and many other writings are lost. However, The Sept includes Charles ffrench Blake-Forster, Forster Street House, Galway.
The Irish Chieftains or A Struggle for the Crown (with numerous notes and copious Appendix) Author of a historical and biographical memoir of Major-General Don Hugh Ballyfarg O’Donnell; a historical sketch of the DE Berminghams,Lords of Athenry; The Annals of Athenry, or YE Cities of the Barons; the Annals of Corcomroe; Lemanagh Castle or a legend of the Wild Horse; the Annals of Kilfenora; the Annals of Knockmoy Abbey; and a historical essay entitled What are the Arms of Galway etc etc
Published by McGlashan & Gill, 50 Upper Sackville Street, Dublin London: Whittaker and Co, Simpkin, Marshall and Co Edinburgh: John Mentes and Co 1872 (Copyright and right of translation reserved by author)
Charles ffrench Blake-Forster makes the dedication
To the descendants of those dis-interested patriots who fought at the Boyne, Aughrim, Athlone, Galway and Limerick and on the continent in the service of their religion and country. This Record of The Valour and Patriotism of their Heroic Ancestors is inscribed by The Author
Google and Internet Archives have made this history available to what are known as “Digital Natives”.
Google outlines works of Charles ffrench Blake-Forster but this link is entire copy of the book he published in 1872. Full text of “The Irish chieftains; or, A struggle for the crown”
The Irish chieftains; or, A struggle for the crown (1872) fullscreen Author: Charles ffrench Blake – Forster Publisher: Year: 1872 Pages: 759 Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT Language: English Digitizing sponsor: Google Book from the collections of: Oxford University Collection: europeanlibraries
Description Book digitized by Google from the library of Oxford University and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb.
Back to descendant, a connection with the past! Menlough Castle, now in ruins features in the Sept. It links through time in an interesting way. Tragedy beset the Blakes but nothing to equal the hardship of those who were forced to emigrate. *Menlo was the name chosen for the Facebook head office in America because emigrants to the US had fond memories and used the name. “Galway village’s connection with Menlo Park in Silicon Valley http://www.siliconrepublic.com/business/item/35014-galway-village-s-connection
Galway City and the city of Menlo Park, California, have signed a friendship agreement in recognition of the fact that two Irish emigrants in the 19th century called Dennis Oliver and his brother-in-law DC McGlynn from the village of Menlo (Menlough, or ‘small lake’ as Gaeilge) in Galway bought a 1,700-acre tract of land in the 1850s, 48 kilometres (30 miles) south of San Francisco.
Genealogical Sketch of the Blake-Forster Sept from
“The Galway Vindicator, October 20, 1866
Anacher, Great Forester of Flanders, died in 837, and was succeeded by his son. Baldwin I, of Flanders, “The Forester”, called “Iron-arm”, on account of his great strength, some say on account of his being constantly in armour. He married Princess Judith, daughter of Charles the “Bald”, King of Acquitania and Neustria, and in other words, the greater part of modern France. He built castles at Bruges and Ghent to defend the country against the Normans. Baldwin died at Arras in 877, and was succeeded by his son. Baldwin II, of Flanders, “The Forester”, who married the Princess Alfrith, daughter of Alfred the Great, King of England. He made war against Eudes, Count of Paris who usurped the French Crown and defeated him. Baldwin died in 919, and was succeeded by his son. Arnulph I of Flanders, “The Forester”, who was succeeded in 988 by his son. Baldwin III of Flanders, “The Forester”, called “the handsome beard”, who married the daughter of the Count of Luxemburg. He was a great warrior, and defended his country against the united forces of the Emperor Henry, King Robert of France and the Duke of Normandy. He died in 1034, and was succeeded by his son. Baldwin IV, “The Forester”, called “Le Debonnaire”, who married the Princess Adela, daughter of Robert King of France, by whom he had issue:- Baldwin V, “The Forester”.
Robert Forester, surnamed the “Friesland”, from his having conquered the principality of Friesland Mathilda, Wife of William I, surnamed Conqueror of England Sir Richard Forester, called in these days by his Latinised name of Forestarious.
The Sir Richard Forester and his father, Baldwin IV, passed over to England with his brother-in-law, William the Conqueror, and received the honour of knighthood after the decisive Battle of Hastings, being then in his 16th year, from whom sprung the Forsters of Etherston and Bamborough Castles, in Northumberland, and the Blake-Forsters of Ashfield and Knockmoy Abbey, County of Galway, and Inchovey Castle, County of Clare. The Forster family were principal Chieftains in Northumberland, and allied by marriage with all the eminent Northern families – the Fetherstons, Grays of Chillingham, the Fenwicks, the Lord Barons of Ogle, the Barons of Wharton, the Barons of Hilton, the Mitfords, Barons of Mitford from whom the Earl of Redesdale, the Collingwoods of Dislington, the Radcliffs, Earls of Derwentwater, the Haggerstons of Haggerston, the Russells from whom the Duke of Bedford, and others too numerous to mention. Many of the family were distinguished for their deeds of chivalry and warlike actions, and at the siege of Acre, A.D. 1191, a party of Saracens having sallied forth, and surrounded King Richard, he would have been overpowered and made prisoner, had not Sir John Forster, who seeing from a distance the danger in which the King was placed, rushed forward with couched lance, followed by his retainers, shouting “To the rescue a Forster! a Forster!”. The King then cut down the Saracen leader, whose troops retreated before Sir John, who for his brave and timely assistance, received from King Richard a grant to bear a chevron vert on his shield. There is a monument to his memory in Bamborough Abbey bearing his effigy in full armour. In a song composed on the battle of Otterbourne, in 1388, the Forsters are placed first in the Clans mentioned,
“The Forster, Fenwick, Collingwood, “The Heron of renown “High in the ranks of Lord Percy “The war axe hewed down “The Percies in that vengeful fight “Both, both were prisoners ta’n; “But for the Douglas’ dead body, “Were yielded up again”.
The Forsters of Bamborough Castle, were Lords of Blanchland, in Northumberland, and for several generations, they were Knights Bannerets, Lords Warden of Middle Marches, High Sheriffs of Northumberland, and hereditary governors of Bamborough Castle, from the reign of James I, to that of George I. The Forsters of Etherston – The head of this House, from whom those of Bamborough descended, won their honours on the field of battle, and their descendants of Hunsdon, by their profound skill in legal knowledge. But now to resume the thread of our pedigree, Sir Richard Forster, the son of Baldwin IV, was succeeded by his son. Sir Hugo Forestarious, or Forester, who marched against Magnus, King of Norway, when he invaded England, A.D. 1101. In the battle that ensued King Magnus was slain and his troops routed.
Sir Hugo died in 1121 leaving issue i) Sir Reginald ii) Sir Hugo, a person of great eminence, during the reign of King Stephen, who appointed him Chief Lord of the Royal Forests of England. In 1152 he witnessed a deed in Northumberland in which he is styled Forestarious (the latinised name of Forster). He bore for arms on a shield argent, three bugles, or, stringed gules. Sir Reginald, the eldest son was knighted by King Stephen for his valiant conduct at the battle of Standard fought August 22nd 1138. He died 1156 leaving a son and successor. Sir William Forster. He took an active part in suppressing two formidable insurrections that broke out in Wales, A.D., 1163, and again in 1165. In 1166, he took his departure for France. The people of Brittany having rebelled against their Duke Conan, but the insurrection was quelled by Henry II, with his usual promptitude, and afforded him a pretext for taking the government into his own hands. Sir William Forster was then about returning to England: but Henry becoming involved in hostilities with Louis VII, he remained and took part in all the engagements, but the war terminating by the peace concluded at Montmirail, 6th January 1169, he returned to England and died in 1176.
He was succeeded by his son. Sir John Forster, who accompanied Richard I to Palestine, where he received the honour of Knighthood for his valour. He was one of those who compelled John to sign Magna Carta in 1215. He died 1220 and was succeeded by his son*. Sir Ranulph Forster, who accompanied Prince Richard (brother of Henry III) to France in 1225, the Prince being sent by the King for the purpose of regaining his French provinces. After a year’s fighting, an armistice was agreed on, but the French King dying before its expiration, the hostilities were again renewed, but ended in very little result. Sir Ranulph died in 1256 and was succeeded by his son.
Sir Alfred Forster, who having assisted Prince Edward, after his escape from the rebel barons, in raising an army for the purpose of releasing his father, Henry III, and Prince Richard from their confinement, was appointed one of the King’s Officers. Having collected his army, Prince Edward fought the battle of Eversham, 4th August, 1265, in which he was victorious. Sir Alfred received the honour of Knighthood on the battle field. He died in 1284, and was succeeded by his son.
Sir Reginald Forster, who fought at Bannockburne in 1314, and died in 1328. He was succeeded by his son. Sir Richard Forster, who fought at Crecy, August 25th 1346; at Poictiers, September 19th, 1356; he was knighted for his valour and died in 1371, leaving a son. Sir William Forster, who took an active part against the French for Henry V, by whom he was knighted. He died in 1426 and was succeeded by his son.
Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherston Castle, Knight, who was born in 1397; married Joan Elmeden, co-heiress to the Earldom of Angus, which is now in abeyance. He was succeeded by his son. Sir Thomas Forster, Knight of Etherston Castle, who married the daughter of Fetherston-Haugh, of Stanhope Hall Durham, Chief of the Fetherston Clan. He had issue: i) Sir Thomas Forster ii) Sir Roger Forster (of whom hereafter). Sir Thomas Forster, Knight of Etherston, who married the daughter of the Lord Baron Hilton, of Hilton Castle, Durham and had issue:- i) Sir Thomas Forster ii) Patrick Forster iii) Roger Forster iv) Reginald Forster. Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherston, Knight, who was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1564, and also in 1572. He married Dorothy, daughter of Ralph, Lord Ogle, of Ogle, and Baron of Bothal, of Bothal Castle, by Mary his wife, daughter of Sir William Gascoigne, of Gawthorp, Knight in Yorkshire. He had issue: i) Sir Thomas Forster ii) Sir John Forster, Knight of Bamborough Castle (of whom hereafter) iii) Reginald (who left an only daughter) iv) Rowland (who left an only daughter) v) Robert, ancestor to the family of Forster of York (Baronets) vi) Elizabeth vii) Agnes viii) Dorothy (who married Sir Henry Neville, son of Sir John Neville, of Levaney).
Sir Thomas Forster, Knight of Etherston, married Florina, daughter of Thomas, Lord Wharton, of Wharton, and had issue:- i) Thomas Forster ii) Cuthbert Forster, who married Elizabeth Bradford, daughter of Thomas Bradford, and had issue:- i) Sir Matthew Forster, knighted April 24th, 1617 ii) Thomas Forster of Brunton Esq., who married firstly Margaret, daughter of Richard Forster, of Tugwell Hall, Esq., and had issue one daughter, Elizabeth. He married secondly Elizabeth, daughter of William Carree of Ford, Esq., and had issue:- i) Ephraym Forster ii) John Forster iii) Reginald Forster.
Thomas Forster, of Etherston, Esq., eldest son of Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherston, and his wife, Florina, daughter of Lord Wharton, married Isabella, daughter of Thomas Brewster, of Lucker and had issue:- i) Matthew Forster ii) Thomas Forster iii) John Forster iv) William Forster Matthew Forster, of Etherston, Esq., was High Sheriff of Northumberland in the 18th year of the reign of James I. He married Kathrina, daughter of Radi Gray of Chillingham, ancestor of the Earl of Tankerville and had issue:- i) Thomas Forster ii) Matthew Forster iii) Jane Forster iv) Maria Forster v) Dorothy Forster. Thomas Forster, of Etherston, Esq., High Sheriff of Northumberland, in the reign of Charles I. He married Frances, daughter of Sir William Forster, of Bamborough Castle, and was succeeded by his son. Thomas Forster, of Etherston, Esq., High Sheriff of Northumberland 1703 who married Isabella, daughter of William Orde, of Sandy Bank Esq., MP, for Durham and left issue:- i) Thomas Forster of Etherston, Esq., who died on March 31st, 1763, in the 20th year of his age, without issue:- ii) Isabella Forster, heiress to her brother, who married John Widdrington, of Haxley, Northumberland, Esq. ON HER DEATH THIS LINE OF THE HOUSE OF ETHERSTON BECAME EXTINCT.
Now to return to Sir John Forster, Knight Banneret, Lord Warden of the Middle Marches, Lord of Blanchland, and Governor of Bamborough Castle, second son of Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherston, Knight, and his wife, Dorothy, daughter of Ralph, Lord Ogle of Ogle. Sir John Forster married Jane, daughter of Sir Cuthbert Radcliffe, who was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1528, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Henry, Lord Clifford. In 1575, Sir John Forster was a distinguished military leader in the feuds between the English and Scottish borderers, and after the battle of Musselburgh, was appointed Governor of Bamborough Castle. He was Lord Warden of the Middle Marches in 1561, and is said on his tomb in Bamborough Abbey, to have held that office for 37 years. Sir John had issue:- i) Sir Nicholas Forster ii) Juliana Forster who married Sir Francis Russell, Lord Warden of the East Marches of Scotland, created Lord Russell, son of Francis, Earl of Bedford, who was sworn of the Privy Council in the reign of Elizabeth. Francis, Lord Russell, by his wife Juliana, was father of Edward, Earl of Bedford and Baron Russell, who married Lucy, daughter of John Lord Harrington. iii) Mary Forster, who married Henry Staypelton, eldest son of Sir Robert Staypelton, of Wighill, in Yorkshire. iv) Grace, who married Sir William Fenwick, High Sheriff of Northumberland in the 20th and 31st years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was mother of Sir John Fenwick, Bart., MP for the County of Northumberland, in the 17th year of James I.
Sir Nicholas Forster, Lord Blanchland, Knight Banneret, Governor of Bamborough Castle, and Lord of the Manor, was High Sheriff of Northumberland in the 44th year of the reign of Elizabeth. He married Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir Anthony Radcliffe, Knight. He died on July 22nd, 1613, and was succeeded by his son. Sir Claud Forster, of Bamborough, Knight Banneret, created baronet by James I, on July 7th 1619. He was High Sheriff of Northumberland, in the 10th year of the reign of that sovereign. He married the daughter of Sir William Fenwick, Baronet, M.P., for Northumberland, 6th and 8th Charles II. Sir Claud died in 1623, and was buried in Bamborough Abbey. He had issue:- i) Sir William Forster ii) Thomas Forster (of whom presently). Sir William Forster married Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Selby, of Twizel Castle, Baronet by his wife Eleanor, daughter of Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax of Denton, in Yorkshire. Sir William was returned in the list of intended Knights of the Royal Oak, in the time of Charles II. He had issue:- i) William Forster, born July, 1666. MP for Northumberland, in 1688, 1691 and 1699. Died without issue in 1700. ii) John Forster, MP for Northumberland. iii) Ferdinando, died 1701, without issue iv) Nicholas, died young v) Eleanor, died young vi) Dorothy died young vii) Frances, who married Thomas Forster, Esq., of Etherston, her cousin viii) Mary, who died unmarried ix) Dorothy, who married July 1700, the Right Hon. The Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, and Lord Baron of Stene, in the County of Northampton. She died 1715 without issue.
Sir William Forster’s issue having all died young, the representation of his family devolved on his brother. Thomas Forster Esq., of Bamborough, M.P. for Northumberland, in 1707, who was succeeded by his son:- General Thomas Forster, who was MP for Northumberland, in 1709, 1711, 1714, 1715; but was expelled for having joined the Earls of Marr and Derwentwater in their rebellion, raised for the purpose of establishing the Stewarts on the Throne, was arrested and sent to Newgate, from whence he escaped and died in exile at Boulogne Sur-Mer in 1738. On his death this branch of the ancient family of Bamborough and Blanchland became extinct. Bamborough Castle being forfeited by General Forster on account of this being head of the rebellion was purchased by his Uncle-in-law, Lord Crewe, Lord Bishop of Durham, he being allowed by Government to purchase it for a small sum, in order to prevent the right heirs from questioning the title as General Forster was never tried and convicted. Now, to turn to Sir Roger Forster, the second son of Sir Thomas Forster, of Etherston, and his wife, the daughter of Fetherston-Haugh, Chief of the Fetherston Clan. He settled in Hunsdon, in Herts, and married the daughter of Hussey, who was beheaded for the insurrection of 1537 against Henry VIII. The Hussey family were descended from Hubert Hussey, a Norman noble who married the Countess Helen, daughter of Richard V., Duke of Normandy and had issue:- i) John Forster, whose grandson, Roger had issue only two daughters ii) Thomas Forster, Esq., Gentleman, Usher Queen Mary of England. Thomas Forster, Esq., married Margaret Browning, daughter of Browning of Chelmsford, Essex, Esq., and had issue:- i) Sir Thomas Forster, born 1549 ii) Robert Forster iii) Richard Forster.
Sir Thomas Forster, Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench was knighted by King James I at Whitehall Palace, 7th February 1604. He died May, 1612, and was interred in the chancel of Hunsdon Church. He married Susanna, daughter of Thomas Forster, Esq., of Iden, in Sussex and had issue:- i) Thomas Forster, Esq., his heir ii) Sir Robert Forster, Sir Robert Forster, of Battle, in Sussex, Knight, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and afterwards of the King’s Bench. He afterwards settled at Egham, in Surrey; he was knighted by King Charles I on 30th January, 1639. He married first Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Buxton, Knight of Eastbourne, in Sussex and had issue:- i) Thomas, who died young ii) Thomas Forster, Captain in King Charles’ Army. Married Adis, daughter of William Manlesford, in Suffolk, Esq, and and had issue:- i) Robert Forster, who died unmarried ii) Thomas Forster, Esq., of Egham, in Surrey iii) Charles Forster, Esq. iv) Francis Forster v) A daughter vi). A daughter Sir Robert Forster married secondly, Anne, daughter of John Sackville, Esq., of Seloscome, in Sussex, by whom he had issue:- i) Captain Robert Forster, living in 1632, and two daughters.
Now to return to Thomas Forster, Esq., of Hunsdon, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Forster, Knight. He married Anne, daughter of William Baskerville, of Wansbory, in Wiltshire, whose other daughter was married to the Honourable Thomas Petre, son of Lord Petre. William Baskerville was descended from the ancient family of Baskerville, or Erdisley, in Hereford, of who the celebrated Camden says:- “Erdisley, where the ancient and famous family of Baskerville have long inhabited which bred in old times so many nobel knights”.
The learned Sir Bernard Burke in his History of the Commoners, Vol 1, Page 89, of the Baskervilles, says:-
“That they are one of the most ancient and honourable in England; its name is on the roll of Battle Abbey; it ever has maintained the highest rank amongst the gentry, and BOASTS THE BLOOD OF THE PLANTAGENETS. Sir Bernard Burke also prints Percy’s pedigree of the Baskerville’s PROVING that THEY and their descendants derive their descent from the Kings of France, of England, of Scotland, from the Princes of North and South Wales, from the Counts of Flanders, and from Charlemagne, Emperor of the West”. Sir Bernard Burke also alludes to Sir James Baskerville, of Erdisley (Ancestor of William Baskerville, of Wansborough), who married Katherine Devereux, daughter of Walter Devereux, Baron Ferrars, of Chartley, consequently the Baskervilles through the alliance from Edward I, who married Eleanor, daughter of Ferdinand III, King of Castile, who derived from C.I.D., the celebrated champion of Spain, against the Moors.
To Island of Ireland
Thomas Forster had issue by his wife Anne Baskerville:- i) Thomas Forster, Esq., of Hunsdon ii) John Forster iii) Edward Forster iv) Captain Francis Forster, of Clooneene, County of Galway, Ireland v) Charles Forster vi) Philip Forster 6 daughters.
Captain Francis Forster, son of Thomas Forster of Hunsdon, Esq. (Grandson of Lord Chief Justice). He was Captain of Dragoons in the army of King Charles I, in Ireland A.D. 1649. He was one of those called the “49 Officers” denominated so for having served Charles I prior to the 5th June 1649. His certificate is enrolled in the Record Office, Dublin. He settled in the County of Galway and on the restoration of Charles II, 1660, received his arrears of pay. It is mentioned in three records that he was a PURCHASER OF LANDS in the counties of Galway, Clare, Roscommon and Mayo. He also possessed extensive property in the town of Galway, and had a patent from Charles II, for the lands of Clunfall, in the barony of Cloonmacnoon, in the County of Galway, Dromshurna, in the barony of Moycarnon, County of Roscommon, for his mansion house and estates in Clooneene, with their CHIEFRYS AND MANORIAL RIGHTS, for Caherbroder, Ballyboy, Rue, Hollywood, Knocklaurence, Killany, near Kinvarra, and Caherforvas, near Rahaeane, and various other lands in the County of Clare, and Barony of Corcamro. In this patent, he is styled by King Charles “his faithful subject, Francis Forster”. In 1688, in the new Charter given for the town of Galway, his name is amongst those styled, “Esquires”. Francis Forster died on September 23rd, 1698. He married Mary, daughter of Sir James O’Donnellan, Chief Justice of Connaught, in 1637, son of O’Donnellan of Ballydonnellan, Chief of Clanbrassal, by his wife Elizabeth O’Donnell, daughter of R. O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnall, whose brother was Red Hugh, the celebrated hero, who was a “lion in strength, a Ceasar in command”, according to the annals of the Four Masters. The O’Donnells were descendants of Niall “of the Nine Hostages”, Monarch of Ireland; through his son, Conal Culban.
Captain Forster left issue:- i) James Forster, Esq., his heir ii)A daughter, married to Martyn, of Tillyra Castle, in 1676 iii)Mary, who married Macnamara of Moyriesk, Co. Clare. The Macnamara’s derive from Cass, King of Thomond, a.d. 402 iv) Sarah Forster married O’Kelly of Mullaghmore Castle, killed at Aughrim, 12th July, 1691. The O’Kelly’s of Mullaghmore Castle, were descended from William O’Kelly, son of Thady Dubh O’Kelly, of Gallagh Castle, Chief of Hy-Maine. v) A daughter married R. Blakeney of Castle Blakeney vi) A daughter married Charles Morgan Esq., of Kilcolgan Castle. The Morgans claim descent from Caracticus, King of Wales.
James Forster Esq., of Clooneene and Rathorpe, High Sheriff of the County of Galway in 1689-90; he had a patent for lands in the barony of Cloonmacnoone, viz, the lands of Caltraleagh, in 1677. He married Ellen Burke, daughter of Gerald Burke, of Tyaquin and Ironpool, County of Galway. The Burkes of Tyaquin, were one of the principal branches of the illustrious House of De Burgo. Colonel Burke, of Tyaquin, was famous in his day for his military exploits; he was the last in the war of 1691, who surrendered to De Ginckell in Galway. James Forster left issue:- John Forster, Esq., of Clooneene, who died in 1703 without issue; Captain Francis Forster, of Rathorpe, who succeeded to the estates on the demise of his brother; Mary Forster, married John O’Brien Esq., of Coriduff, County Clare. This family are descended from the same ancestor as the present Lord Baron of Inchiquin. A daughter married to William Stacpoole of Mountcashel Castle, Co. Clare. Margaret Forster, unmarried in 1720.
Captain Francis Forster, of Clooneene, and Rathorpe, served in Clifford’s Dragoons for the cause of James II, and at the battle of Aughrim, 1691, being attacked by three of the enemy, he despatched two of them, but his horse being shot and falling on him, he would have been slain had not an Irish soldier named O’Flanagan, who, seeing the danger Captain Forster was in, shot dead his remaining foe. After the battle he gave O’Flanagan land at that part of his estates called Hollywood. Captain Forster gave the use of his house, in Cross Street, Galway, to the Dominican Nuns, who were turned out of it in the year 1715, by order of the Mayor of Galway. When the persecution ceased, they returned again to Captain Forster’s house. Captain Forster married on the 17th August, 1700, Mary MacDonnell, only daughter of Captain James MacDonnell, of Kilkee, Co. Clare, an officer in King James’s army, who was the son of Daniel MacDonnell, who was the son of the honourable Cormac (Charles) MacDonnell, third son of the noble Randal MacDonnell, of Dunluce Castle, Earl of Antrim. Cormac MacDonnell’s brother, Randal, was created Marquis of Antrim by Charles I, and his second brother, Alexander MacDonnell, became afterwards the Earl of Antrim. The father of Cormac, Randal, Earl of Antrim, married Eilice O’Neill, daughter of Matthew O’Neill, Baron of Dungannon, son of Con O’Neill, Prince of Ulster. She was also a sister of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone. The grandfather of Cormac MacDonnell was the celebrated Chieftain “Sorley Boy”, head of the Sept of MacDonnell in Ireland. The Antrim MacDonnells derive from Clla-Uas, who was Monarch of Ireland, and afterwards became “Lord of the Isles” in Scotland, John MacDonnell, of his family married the Princess Margaret, daughter of Robert II, King of Scotland, and granddaughter of Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland. The wife of Cormac MacDonnell was the daughter of Donal More O’Brien, of Ennistymon, son of Conor, LAST KING OF THOMOND, in 1531.
Captain Forster made his will in 1730 – proved in 1731 – and, as he directed in his will, was buried with his ancestors at Kilmacduagh Abbey“; he left issue: i) James Forster, his heir ii) John Forster, who became Solicitor-General and settled in North America iii) William Forster, who went to the Continent, joined the French Army, and, in reward for his services was created a Count, by title of “THE COUNT DE FORESTIER”. iv) Edward Forster, of Kilbricken, County of Clare, Esq., a famous duellist who went to France on a fighting tour with Macnamara, of Moyriesk, County of Clare. v) Thomas Forster, of Lurga, County of Galway vi) Simon Forster, of Fidane, County Galway, Esq., who married Mary, daughter of Philip Lynch, of Refiladown, Esq., Philip Lynch’s other daughter was mother of James Fitzgerald, Esq., father of Lord Fitzgerald and Vesey. Simon Forster had issue:- i) James Forster, of Fidane, Esq., who married daughter of Peter Butler, of Bunahow, County of Clare, Esq., and had issue:- i) Simon Forster ii) John Forster iii) Robert Forster iv) Francis, Surgeon to the 59th Regiment, who left a large sum of money to be divided amongst the widows of his parish v) Peter Forster, who had an estate in the Island of St. Christophers. He also left a sum of money to the poor of his native parish of Beagh, County of Galway. And four daughters.
James Forster, eldest son and heir of Clooneene and Rathorpe, married Mary daughter of Nicholas Ffrench, Esq. His administration was granted in march 1752 to his son. He had issue:- i) Francis Forster ii) Captain John Forster iii) Geoffrey Forster, of Rose Hill iv) Mary, married to James Burke, of Strawburg, County of Clare, whose third daughter was the wife of Dominick D’Arcy O’Brien, of Ennistymon, Esq. Mary Forster is mentioned in the will of her uncle, Charles MacDonnell, of Kilkee, in 1743.
Francis Forster, Esq., of Clooneene (now called Ashfield), married Annastatia Blake, ONLY CHILD AND SOLE HEIR of Sir Ulic Blake, Bart, of Menlough Castle, by his wife Mary, the DAUGHTER AND SOLE HEIR of Robert Blake, of ARDFRY, Esq., County of Galway, by his wife, Annastatia Daly, daughter of Denis Daly, who was Justice of the Common Pleas, and a Privy Councillor in the time of King James II. Robert Blake, of Ardfry was the lineal descendant of Sir Richard Blake, M.P. for Galway, in 1639, and Chairman, or Speaker of the Confederate Catholic Council of Kilkenny, in 1649. Lady Mary Blake sold her estate of Ardfry to Joseph Blake, first Lord Wallescourt, but retained part of her father’s estates in the town and county of Galway, amongst others Trainbane estate, where she died.
Sir Ulic Blake, her husband died in the year 1766, having issue ONLY ONE DAUGHTER, HIS SOLE HEIR, who, with her Mother, Lady Mary, retained the possession of the Castle and demesne of Menlough etc., etc., etc. It appears that in 1748, Sir Thomas Blake, father of Sir Ulic, made a will directing that in the case that his son had no MALE issue, it was to revert to remaindermen; and first, he names two gentlemen, living in the town of Galway, named Blake, as remaindermen, who both died without issue. Secondly, he named another remainderman in these words:- “I leave to Thomas Blake, of Brindrim, in the County of Mayo, the reversion” but DOES NOT STATE THAT ANY DEGREE OF RELATIONSHIP EXISTED BETWEEN HIMSELF OR THE REMAINDERMEN. In 1766 Thomas Blake, of Brindrim, returned from Bordeaux, and claimed the estates under the WILL, MAURICE AND JOHN BLAKE, OF GALWAY BEING THEN DEAD AND HAVING LEFT NO ISSUE. This claim being resisted by Lady Blake and her daughter successfully. Sir Thomas Blake finally proposed to give the sum of £8,000 to Annastatia Blake-Forster and her husband to get possession of Menlough Castle, and a deed of compromise was accordingly executed which bears the date of 1772. Lady Blake, on her daughter giving birth to a son and heir, Robert Blake-Forster, agreed with his father to make a STRICT SETTLEMENT of all her extensive estates after her decease on her grandchild, WHICH SETTLEMENT IS DULY ENROLED in the record office, Dublin.
Francis Forster was successfully High Sheriff for the County of Galway and Clare. He died in February, 1788, at Rose Hill House, near Gort, County of Galway and Clare, one of his residences. He left issue:- i) Robert Blake-Forster, born 11th June 1769 ii) James Blake-Forster, who died without issue at Rath, 1813. Robert Blake-Forster, Esq., of Ashfield and Knockmoy Abbey, County of Galway, married in 1787, Anne eldest daughter of Colonel Denis Daly of Raford, in this County, by his wife Letitia, daughter of Donnellan, Esq., of Ballydonnellan. Dennis Daly was the son of Denis Daly Esq., of Raford, by his wife the Lady Anne de Burgo, daughter of Michael Tenth Earl of Clanricarde, whose Aunt the Lady Honoria, daughter of John, Ninth Earl of Clanrickarde, was married first to Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, the brave defender of Limerick, secondly the Duke of Berwick, her descendants by him are the Duc de Fizjames in France and the Duke of Alba in Spain. The mother of this Denis Daly was Annastatia D’Arcy, of Iltullagh, aunt of the celebrated Count D’Arcy, a general in the French army. The O’Daly’s are of the same origin as the princely family of the O’Donnells of Tyrconnall. They settled in Connaught in the 12th Century, and were famed for bravery and oratory. O’Daly, lately Captain General of Catalonia, in Spain, is of this family.
R. Blake-Forster died 24th August, 1799, at his mansion house of Ashfield, and was interred with his ancestors at Kilmacduagh Abbey, County of Galway. He left issue:- i) Francis Blake-Forster ii) Denis Blake-Forster iii) Robert Blake-Forster iv) James Blake-Forster, Esq., an officer in the Royal Navy, who lost his arm at the bombardment of Algiers, on the 27th of August, 1816. He was then 18 years of age, and a Lieutenant on board the Severn Frigate. He was one of the officers on board the Bellerophon, when Napoleon was received on board that vessel. v) Anne, who married William Butler, Esq., of Bunahow, County of Clare. vi) Emily, who married D. MacNevin Esq., and had issue:- i) Thomas MacNevin, barrister-at-law, Esq., author of “The Irish Volunteers” and “The Confiscation of Ulster”. He was one of the seven who wrote for the “Nation” newspaper.
Francis Blake-Forster, Esq., of Ashfield and Knockmoy Abbey, in this county, was born at Raford, the seat of his grandfather, on 26th November 1787. He married on the 15th October, 1810, the Honourable Rose Ffrench, daughter of the Right Honourable, Lord Baron Ffrench, of Castle Ffrench, in this county, who was one of the Catholic deputies sent to England in 1793. The nobel family of Ffrench derive from Harleon, son of Robert, Duke of Normandy. Sixty-one of this family held the offices of Mayors or Sheriffs of the town of Galway. Fifteen of the Ffrenchs took and subscribed to the Catholic Oath of Union, in 1641.
In the struggle for Catholic Emancipation, Blake-Forster took an active part, and on 24th June was chosen Chairman of the great meeting at Ennis, which resulted in the representation being contested; he was one of the committee appointed to conduct the return of Daniel O’Connell. He died on the 10th November 1837, and was interred with his ancestors, at Kilmacduagh. Francis Blake-Forster left five children – two sons and three daughters – who still survive. One son was Captain Blake-Forster, J.P., of Forster Street House, in this city and Ballykeale, Co. Clare. Captain Francis Blake-Forster, J.P., of Castle Forster, who married in 1846, Mary Josephine, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Henry Comerford, Esq., J.P. of Ballykeale House, Co. Clare. He left issue:- ii) Captain Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster, i) Charles Ffrench Blake-Forster. Author of Irish Chieftains, High Sheriff of Galway in 1874, died in his 23rd year unmarried.
Captain Francis O’Donnellan Blake-Forster of Castle Forster, Kinvara, County Galway and Ballykeale House, Co. Clare, who was High Sheriff of Galway in 1878. He married in 1879, Marcella, eldest daughter of Robert Johnston, Esq., J.P., of Arran View, Doolin, Co. Clare, and co-heiress of Sir Burton Macnamara. i) Francis Blake-Forster, of Corr House, Co. Clare, who married in 1914, Ethel R. Taaffe. He is the present head of the family O’Donnellan Blake-Forster ii) Robert Blake-Forster iii) The O’Donnellan (Donie) Blake-Forster married Julia iv) Catherine Blake-Forster, who married in 1910, John St. George Lucas Esq., J.P., Sandfield, Co. Clare. v) Mary Blake-Forster, who married in 1911, David Crawford Pearson, Esq., M.D., Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. vii) Frances R. Blake-Forster, who married in 1918, Arthur Matthew Kelly Esq., Porte, Co. Clare. viii) Marcella Blake-Forster, who married Michael Comyn, KC
Written as transcribed from the Genealogical Sketch of the Sept of Blake-Forster published in the “Galway Vindicator” 1866 dated October 20th. The present two generations will be detailed as an addition at later stage.
Revised: 23rd July 2004 Added to WordPress 26/03/15