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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Henry Bruen


Henry Bruen (1741 14 Dec 1795) was an Irish politician. In the pre-Act of Union Parliament of Ireland, he was Member of Parliament (MP) for Jamestown from 1783 to 1790, and then for Carlow County from 1790 until his death in 1795.

Henry was the second son of Moses Bruen (died 1757), from Boyle, County Roscommon. He married Dorothea Henrietta Knox, daughter of Francis Knox, in 1787. They had three sons and three daughters: their eldest son Henry (17891852), was an MP for County Carlow for most of the period from 1812 to 1852, and their youngest child Francis was MP for Carlow Borough in the 1830s.

Henry Bruen (18281912)Henry's son Henry Bruen (18281912), was MP for County Carlow from 1857 to 1880.



Extract from page 53 - Bruen of Oak Pak from the Carlow Gentry by Jimmy O'Toole

"Henry came to Carlow after a career in the Quarter Master General's office in the U.S. army, where he made his fortune. The story -embellished, no doubt, by political enemies of the family later - was that while responsible for supplying coffins, he had them designed with false bottoms, which facilitated re-cycling!

House party, Oak Park, Carlow, October 1901. Oak Park was home to the Bruen family. House parties were a significant feature of big house life. Photo from the National Library of Ireland

Whatever its source, Bruen certainly had a fortune, and during the last decade of the 1790s. he took full advantage of the forced sales of part of the Bagenal, Whaley and Grogan estates in County Carlow. He bought 3,702 acres from Thomas 'Buck' Whaley of Castletown, who had gambled away his fortune. By 1841, when the surveyor Jacob Neville prepared field maps of every Bruen farm for Henry II, the family estates in County Carlow covered 20,089 acres. Land ownership meant political muscle and in 1790. Henry Bruen I was returned to parliament with William Burton of Burton Hall, in an uncontested election. The old Anglo-Norman Butler family were not amused by Bruen's steamrolling for the nomination, feelings expressed by Lady Butler of Ballintemple in a letter to The Leinster Journal about her grandson Richard's chances of holding his seat. But she faced disappointment in her opinion that he was "determined to support an old and steady interest, and has the most flattering prospect of having again the honour he now enjoys"."

From 1775 until 1957, the family lived in Oak Park House, near Carlow town.


Pat Purcell Papers

From: Friend of Carlow <>

1795, Colonel Henry Bruen.

[4 page brochure in the PPP, among the papers bearing the stamp T. C. Crawford.]

Printed for Distribution to the Family and Friends of the late

Colonel Henry Bruen.

Oak Park Estate, Carlow.


of the Late and Lamented


1741 - 1795.

Soldier - Officer - Gentleman.

Member of Parliament.


Governor and Custos Rotulorum for County of Carlow.

ON Saturday, 19th December 1795 the funeral procession took place from his house at Oak Park Estate to his new town of Nurney of the late Colonel Henry Bruen.

The Carlow Militia quartered at Waterford, paraded for the purpose of doing military honors to the memory of their deceased Commandant.

The whole regiment were in mourning; and the late Colonel's sword, sash, gorget, spurs, etc. were bound with crape and borne by an officer.

Arms were then ordered to be reversed, and the regiment were put in march by Captain Wolsey, the band playing a Dead March.

In this order the regiment proceeded to the review-field, opposite Oak Park House where they formed a line, rested on reversed arms, and gave room for the officer carrying the late Colonel's sword etc. to pass through, the band playing and drums beating a Dead March.

The commanding officer, claimed the attention of the Regiment, and with much pathos addressed them.

Address by CAPTAIN WOLSEY [abbreviated].


BY the grief which I observe in the countenance of this Corps, I am, convinced that it joins heartily with me in the high opinion I had formed of its much lamented late Colonel ; and I shall try to suppress my feelings while I endeavour to explain to you your loss.

HE was the soldiers steadfast friend;  as a soldier, he was high indeed in the estimation of veterans, he knew and was known to them all ; and by all was respected.

At a very early time of life, as a volunteer, he carried arms on actual service; soon distinguished himself - and was promoted.

>From this period, his military career was a continued train of honourable, intrepid and generous actions; raised during the late WAR in America, to one of the highest and most important posts in the army, he acted with great gallantry, pushing himself forward in every enterprize of danger.

HIS diligence, his generosity, his hospitality, had no bounds; helping his fellow officers in their promotion; and furnishing an open, a princely table for the whole army -- an army of ABOVE TWENTY THOUSAND MEN; not merely confining himself to officers of high rank, but embracing the whole of every corps, the navy as well as the army.

THE name of - BRUEN AND ABUNDANCE - went hand in hand, were echoed and re-echoed by the unanimous voice of an approving and GRATEFUL ARMY.

SUCH were the outlines of his military life! ---

SEE him in the calm retreats of peace!

VIEW him as a citizen, establishing manufactures; rewarding industry, and rendering by his liberality, a thinly-inhabited and sterile part of Oak Park into a populous and fruitful area.

VIEW him as a magistrate ; you recollect the disturbed state of the Collieries in the neighbourhood Carlow in 1793, and their threats against the Inhabitants of Carlow; you were witness as to how the late Colonel brought these lawless people to a proper sense of their duty and restored confidence to the well-affected and loyal.

YOU saw him, in person, apprehend several men in your own County of Carlow, of the most desperate characters ; men who were a pest to society, were in possession of arms, were the terror of their neighbourhood, and had set all law at defiance.

In a word you saw him one of the most active magistrates in Carlow.

BUT, how shall I talk of him in private life?

He was the most happy, the most indulgent of husbands, the best of fathers, and a warm and faithful friend.

AND, soldiers! let me not forget on the Solemn occasion, and as the moment of his interment draws near, to remind you, above all, of his acts as a moral man and as a Christian.



he built a sanctuary to his God! -

Within the consecrated walls of the Church of Nurney of which his corpse is now about to be deposited."


[end of abbreviated version Captain Wolsey's  speech].

An awful silence followed - the regiment leaning on their reversed arms --

when the band commenced solemn music; a signal was then given, and the regiment fired three volleys with great precision, the band filling up the interval of time required for reloading.

Upon the whole we never were witness to a procession and ceremony more solemn and affecting.

The printer of this Pamphlet was George Cooke, Carlow, dated 1796.

Oak Park

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