THOMAS DE COURCY
Lord KINGSALE, Baron COURCY   

of Courcy, and Baron of Ringrone, originally by tenure; in the reign of Henry II., by Writ of Summons, and by Patent; Premier Baron of Ireland. The representatives for the time being of this noble family enjoys the hereditary privilege ( granted to John de Courcy, earl of Ulster, by John, king of England) of wearing his hat in the royal presence. Succeeded his father, John, the late lord, 24 May 1822.

ROBERT DE COURCY, 1026, was lord of Courcy, in Normandy, in which he was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD DE COURCY, who accompanied William, duke of Normandy, in his expedition to England, and was present at the decisive battle of Hastings, 14 Oct. 1066. His services were recompensed with a considerable number of lordships in England, among which was that of Stoke, Co. Somerset, which from its lord, was styled STOKE COURCY, which he held, per integram baronium, with the lordships of Newentam, Seckenden, and Foxcote, in Oxfordshire. He d. in 1098, and was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT DE COURCY, lord of Courcy, in Normandy, baron of Stoke Courcy, steward of the household to king Henry I., and to his da., Maud, the empress, m. Rohesia, da. of Hugh de Grantmesnil, baron of Hinckley, co. Leicester, and lord high steward of England. He was succeeded by

WILLIAM DE COURCY, his son, in the barony of Stoke Courcy, who was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT DE COURCY, who in the reign of king Stephen, was a principal commander at the battle of Northampton, against the Scots; m. Avicia, da. and co-h. of William de Meschines, earl of Cambridge, and by her had

WILLIAM DE COURCY, his successor, who was one of the witnesses to king Henry II.'s charter of the lands and privileges granted to the abbey church of St. Peter, Westminster; from whom descended

JOHN DE COURCY, (see Note 2 ) , Baron of Stoke Courcy, who serving with Henry II, in his Irish wars, conquered the province of Ulster, and was created Earl of Ulster, but having fallen under the displeasure of King John , was deprived of his Earldom, and confined to the Tower of London for one year, during which time it was that Philip Augustus, King of France, proposed to refer to the arbitration of single combat the disputes subsisting between the French and English Crowns, and named his champion; to whom the King John thought no subject of his of sufficient strength and valour except the imprisoned Earl of Ulster. He spurned, however, the proposal, alleging the ingratitude of the King for his past services; but was at length prevailed on, for the honour of the nation, to take up the Frenchman's gauntlet. So great, however, was his strength, and so superior his stature, that the French champion, at the last charge of the trumpets, set spurs to his horse and fled, leaving the victory to the Earl of Ulster. King Philip, desirous of seeing some proof of the Earl's reputed strength, an helmet of excellent proof was laid on a block of wood, which the Earl cleft asunder, and with the same blow struck so deep into the wood that no person present but himself could withdraw his sword. The King would now have restored his Earldom, which was held back by Hugh de Lacie, who refused to surrender it, and King John could only accede to the Earl the permission to repair to Ireland to reconquer it for himself; at the same time granting to him and his heirs male the privilege of appearing covered in the presence of the Kings of England, which the Barons of Kingsale exercise to this day. Contrary winds prevented him his succeeding in fifteen attempts to cross the seas to Ireland.

MILES DE COURCY, 1st baron of Kingsale, who was kept out of his earldom of Ulster by Huge de Lacie, to whom king John had granted it, upon his father's apprehension, and sending him a prisoner to London; and upon his claiming the earldom, as heir to his father, Lacie replied, that he would retain the charter of king John to himself, since earl John never returned to Ireland to reverse his outlawry. Lacie being a great favourite of the king, and very powerful in Ireland, Miles was compelled to quit his pretensions; but , to make him some requital, king Henry III. conferred on him the barony of Kingsale, created in 1811 Lord Kingsale, Baron Courcy of Courcy, and Baron of Ringrone, all in the county of Cork. He d. in 1223 and was succeded by his son,

PATRICK DE COURCY, 2nd lord; and he by his son NICHOLAS, 3rd lord, father of EDMUND, 4th lord, and

JOHN, 5th lord, killed in the battle of the island of Inchiduiny, Co. Cork, against the Irish chieftain, Daniel Moel MacCarty, in the year 1295. He was followed without interruption by seven generations of Barons in direct parental descent to

NICHOLAS DE COURCY, 12th lord, who d. in 1474; his two eldest sons were

  1. JAMES DE COURCY, 13th lord, his successor, who d. in 1491, leaving one son,
  2. DAVID DE COURCY, 15th lord, who beside other issue had two sons,
JOHN DE COURCY, 18th lord ; he d. in 1628; leaving, beside other issue, DAVID, whose son MILES was father of JOHN, 25th lord.

GERALD DE COURCY, his successor, 19th lord, who d. without issue in 1542 and was succeeded by his brother,

PATRICK DE COURCY, 20th lord, d. in 1663, leaving, besides other issue

JOHN DE COURCY, his successor, 21st Lord; he d. in 1667, leaving two sons

PATRICK DE COURCY, 22nd lord, who d. at nine years of age, in 1669 and

ALMERICUS DE COURCY, 23rd lord, who was outlawed in 1691, but it was soon reversed, and, 25 Oct. 1692, he took his seat in the house of peers. His lordship one day attended king William III's court, and being admitted into the presence-chamber, asserted the privilege of being covered before his majesty, by walking to and fro with his hat on his head The king observing him, sent one of his attendants to inquire the reason for his appearing before him with his head covered; to whom he replied, he very well new in whose presence he stood, and the reason why he wore his hat that day was, because he stood before the king of England This answer being told the king, and his lordship approaching nearer the throne, was required by his majesty to explain himself, which he did to this effect:

" May it please your majesty, my name is COURCY, and I am lord Kingsale, in your kingdom of Ireland; the reason of my appearing covered in your majesty's presence is , to assert the ancient privilege of my family, granted to sir John de Courcy, earl of Ulster, and his heirs, by John, king of England, for him and his successors for ever."

The king replied, he remembered such a nobleman, and believed the privilege he asserted to his right, and giving him his hand to kiss, his lordship paid his obeisance, and remained covered.
Tom's Note : This all seems a bit of a fairy tail, for more discussion read the Baron's view.

He d. 9 Feb. 1719, without issue, when the barony devolved on his first cousin,

GERALD DE COURCY, son of MILES DE COURCY, 3rd son of PATRICK, 20th lord; (which Miles was a member of King James's parliament, 1689, for the borough of Kingsale;) m. Elizabeth, da. and at length sole heiress ( after her brother's death, 13 Dec. 1698) of Anthony Sadleir, of Arley Hall, co. Warwick, esq., and by her (who d. 18 Jan. 1722) had issue

GERALD DE COURCY, 24th lord, m. 13 May 1725, Margaretta, only da. and h. of John Essington, of Ashlyng, co. Herts, and Grossington Hall, co.Gloucester, and had issue d. without issue male, 1 Dec. 1759, when the baronies devolved on

JOHN DE COURCY, 25th lord, ( descended from the 4th son of the 18th lord,) m. 26 Oct.1746, Martha (d1803)., da. of William Heron, of Dorchester, esq., and had issue,

His lordship, 1762, was presented to his majesty, and had the honour of asserting the ancient privilege of his family, of wearing his hat in his majesty's presence.

His lordship d. 3 March 1776, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN DE COURCY, 26th lord, m., 31 Oct. 1763, Susan, da. of Conway Blennerhasset, of Castle Conway, co. Kerry, esq., and by her (who d. 13 Dec.1819) had issue,

  1. John, major and lieut-col. 1st foot guards, d. 4 June 1813, from excessive fatigue with the army in Spain.
  2. Thomas, in holy orders, the present lord.
  3. Michael, capt. R.N., d. 22 July 1813, having m., 10 March 1801, miss de Lisle, and leaving issue, John-Stapleton , and other children
  4. Gerald, some time lieut-col. And major 8th infantry, m., 20 Jan.1807, Elizabeth Clarkson, da. of John Bishop, of the island of Barbados, esq., and had issue.
  5. Almericus, lieut. R.N., d.27 Nov. 1814.
  6. Martha m., 1 June 1792, sir Andrew Agnew, bart.
  7. Elizabeth, m. 7 Nov. 1799, sir Charles Dashwood, K.T.S., capt. R.N.
  8. Susan, d. 18 Oct.1803.
  9. Anne-Geraldine, m. ,24 may 1821, John-James Hamilton, of Ballymacoll, co. Meath, esq.
  10. Mary, m., 15 Sept.1814, William Beamish, of Beaumont, Ireland.
THOMAS DE COURCY, in holy orders, the present (1829) lord.

Heir Presumptive : JOHN-STAPLETON DE COURCY, esq., nephew to his lordship 
Creation : 1181 
Motto : Vincit omnia veritas

Truth conquers all things. 


Sources : Debrett's Peerage, 1829 edition., Burke's Peerage and The Genealogy of the Existing British Peerage, by Edmund Lodge, Esq, Norroy King of Arm. (1832 edition) .

Note 1 : by some reckonings, the present 35th Baron is known as the 30th. Debrett's seem to support the former and Burke's the latter. I have adjusted to conform to Debrett's.

Note 2 : "The Genealogy" has John as 4th in line of descent from Richard 


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