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County Kilkenny Ireland History


The Archer Family
Early Documented History


The family of Archer is of great antiquity in the city of Kilkenny (source: Carrigan, iii. 339); and one of the earliest records is that of a Walter le Archer who witnessed grants in Okerle, Madnegal and Culdunan [all apparently near the city of Kilkenny] circa 1230 (source: Ormond Deeds, i. 78).

In the 1247 feodary for a place called 'Archery' a William le Archer is cited holding 1/4 knight's fee. This place name may be equated with Archerstown, or nearby, where the modern townlands of Archersgrove and Archerslea, in St. Patricks parish, and Archersrath in St. John's parish, mark an early presence of the family.

Another Walter le Archer, provost of Kilkenny, was a witness in a grant at Kilkenny dated September 13, 1299, and his name appears again as a witness circa 1300 and 1312 (source: Ormond Deeds, i. 342, 355, 460).

The 1317 feodary, of which there are two slightly different versions, shows that a William larcher was holding the 1/4 knight fee at Archereston [Archerstown]. A William Larcher is recorded as a witness to a grant dated June 10, 1327 and given at Kilkenny, however he may be a different William.

The second version of the 1317 feodary shows a John le Red holding the 1/4 fee at Archeriston, perhaps indicating a change of possession about this time. By the 1355 the feodary records a Thomas, son and heir of Henry Flemyng holding 1/8 knight's fee at Archerstoun.


The 1247 feodary (The de Valence Purparty) was taken from "Chancery Miscellanea", P.R.O., London (File 88/4, no. 70), collated with a list in the Calendar Patent Rolls.

The 1317 feodary (share of Hugh le Despenser and Alianora his wife) was taken from "Chancery Miscellanea", P.R.O., London (File 9/24). Variants of this records (possibly of a later date) are from the British Museum, Additional Manuscripts MS. 4791.

The 1355 feodary (de Despenser purparty) was an assignment of dower to Juvetta, who was the wife of John son of John de Hohum de Bondeby of all lands which were of the said John in co. Kilkenny, 6 July, 29 Ed. III (1355). Taken from the Calendar of Patent and Close Rolls, Ireland, p. 57b.

Primary sources:: Knights' Fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, Irish Manuscripts Commission, with commentary by Eric St. John Brooks, Dublin Stationery Office, 1950. Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Volume I, Edmund Curits, ed., Dublin, 1932.


The following is extracted from Rev. Carrigan's History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, published in 1905.

The Anglo-Norman family of Archer, or Le Archer, appears in the records of Kilkenny (city), for the first time, in 1307, when Walter le Archer is named as one of the jurors who "extended" the Countess of Gloucester's property in the Burg of Kilkenny. In 1345 Walter Archer was Portreeve of Kilkenny (city), and from thence to the year 1652 the name Archer is found no fewer than sixty-four times in the lists of civic Magistrates, as Porteeves, Sovereigns, Mayors, Sheriffs, Coroners, &c. On the 3rd Dec., 1557, the Bishop of Ossory, the sovereign of Kilkenny, David Rother, Robert Shethe and Walter Archer, has a royal commission "to enquire of all chalices, ornaments, bells, houses and lands, belonging to parish churches and chapels in the County Kilkenny, and in whose hands they are now, and to return their inquisition into chancery." [Fiants of Philip and Mary]

This Walter Archer, who is probably the Walter Archer fitz John, deceased Dec. 1st, 1575, and buried with his wife, Johanna Hacket, in St. Mary's Church, had the following issue:

(1) Walter Archer, senior, who was Sovereign of Kilkenny in 1590, and died May the 10th, 1606, being then seised of the manor of Brickinclaragh and other lands in Co. Kilkenny, and of many messuages in Kilkenny city. By his wife, Elizabeth Bermingham, he left:
    (a) Walter Archer, junior, his heir. He died Jan. 4th, 1625-6 leaving by his wife, Elizabeth (daughter of Henry Shee, Mayor of Kilkenny), Henry (father of Walter who forfeited lands), Thomas, James, John, Patrick, and Catherine.
    (b)John; (c) Beale; (d) Mary.

(2) John, of Corbetstown, died 1617. His wife Honor Shee, daughter of Robert Shee, died in 1616. Their monument may be seen in St. Mary's. Their eldest son and heir, Walter, born in 1577, forfeited under Cromwell in 1653.

(3) Thomas, Sovereign of Kilkenny, in 1597, and Mayor, in 1611, died Jany. 14th, 1617-18, and is buried with his wife Margaret Cranisbrough, in St. Mary's. He had issue six duaghters, viz.: Johanna, Anne, Margaret, Lettice, Catherine and Rose.

(4) Pierce or Peter, living in 1574; (5) Robert, living in 1613; (6) David, Constable of Gowran in 1608.

Besides this branch of the family, whose burial place was "in St. James' Chapple, in Our Ladie Church," there were other Archers of prominence in Kilkenny, who rest in "Our Lady Chapell in St. Patrick's Church," and whose monuments, now much damaged, shall be described in the chapter dealing with St. Patrick's Parish.


Some examples of Archers holding office in Kilkenny city:

John Archer, sovereign of the town of Kilkenny - 1439
Walter Archer, sovereign of Kilkenny - 1544
Thomas Archer, elected mayor, but removed - 1611
Patrick Archer, mayor - 1611-2
Walter Archer, mayor - 1621 & 1625 & 1627
Henry Archer, mayor - 1628-9
Thomas Archer, mayor - 1641
Walter Archer, mayor - 1643-4

Note: A Roger Archer is cited as mayor of Waterford in 1361.


Information compiled and contributed by Dennis Walsh.


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