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County Kilkenny Ireland History


The Shee Family
Early Reference


The Shees, or O'Sheas
The following passages comes from Carrigan's History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, Volume III. pp. 79-82

They belonged originally to Co. Kerry ; removed thence to Cloran, in the Co. Tipperary ; and, during the 15th century settled down in Kilkenny where the anglicized their name Shethe. Robert Shee or Shethe was Sovereign of Kilkenny in 1493 and 1496 ; and was slain in battle, at Mealiffe, or Maoyaliff, Co. Tipperary, Aug. 6th, 1500, while leading 100 Kilkenny men under the standard of Sir Piers Butler, afterwards 8th Earl of Ormond, against Turlogh O'Brien. Richard Shee, his only son, Sovereign of Kilkenny in 1522, 1532, and 1536, married Joan, daughter of Elias Archer, of New Ross, and had the following male issue :

I. Edmund.

II. Nicholas, who married Beale Walsh. Their son, Henry Shee, Mayor of Kilkenny in Nov. 1610 and Feb. 1611, married, 1st Frances Crispe ; and 2ndly, ---- White, sister of the Very Rev. Dr. White, S.J., and died in 1615. He was founder of the Shee house in High Street (now occupied by Mrs. Meany), a slab in the front wall of which bears his coat of arms, impaling that of his first wife, with the initials H.S. and the inscription : "Henry Shee of Kilkeni, gentleman, & Frances Crisp, his wife's, armes.

Robert Shee, son and heir of Henry, married Catherine Archer, and died Sept. 27th, 1615. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry, who married Dorothy, daughter of Lucas Shee and grand-daughter of Sir Richard Shee, and died Oct, 19th, 1638, in his 30th year, leaving a son and heir, Robert, who forfeited under Cromwell in 1653.

III. William married Margaret Walsh, and died, according to the inscription on his tomb in St. Mary's churchyard, on the 18th April, 1584. He was father of the Reverends John and James Shee, priests, who rest beneath a Renaissance monument in St. Caince's Cathedral. He had, besides these, five other sons, from whom descended, most probably, Dr. Patrick Shee, Bishop of Ossory, and the Shees of Sheepstown and Derrynahinch.

IV. Robert, of whom presently.

V. Thomas, who married Beale Walsh.

Robert Shee, whom some authorities make the 4th, and others the eldest, son of Richard Shee and Joan Archer, served as Sovereign of Kilkenny in 1545 and 1553, and was M.P. of the town in 1559. He married Margaret Rothe, and by her had,

I. Richard, afterwards Sir Richard, his heir, of whom presently.

II. Elias, of Clonmoran, who was educated at Oxford, and is described by Stanihurst as "Elias Sheth, born in Kilkenny, some time scholar of Oxford, a gentleman of passing good wit, a pleasing conceited companion, full of mirth without gall. He wrote in English divers sonnets." He died in 1613, and is buried in St. Mary's, where his monument still remains. By his wife, Margaret Archer, he had a son, George, whose son, Elias, forfeited under Cromwell and was transplanted to Connaught. From this branch of the Shee family descended Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A., and Sir George Shee, Bart., Dunmore, Co. Galway, which latter died without issue in 1870, aged 86.

III. Marcus.

IV. Mathew.

V. Andrew.

Sir Richard Shee, the eldest of these brothers, must be reckoned among the most famous of the old citizens of Kilkenny. He was a student of Gray's Inn, and a Bencher of the King's Inns, and was Seneschal of Irishtown in 1568. In 1570 he had a grant from Christopher Gaffney, Protestant Bishop of Ossory, of the manor and lands of Uppercourt, at a yearly rent of 10 pounds. He was Treasurer of the regalities of Tipperary in 1571, and Deputy to the Lord Treasurer of Ireland, and received the honour of knighthood soon after 1582. In his capacity of lawyer he was professionally engaged for many years by Thomas, Earl of Ormond. He succeeded in acquiring an immense amount of property in the city and county, all of which is specifically set forth in two Inquisitions, one at Kilkenny in 1609, the other at Thomastown in 1623. He was founder of the Shee's Alms House in Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny. He died at his castle of Bonnetstown, Aug., 10th, 1608, and is buried beneath his own monument in St. Mary's. His end was very exemplary, as appears from the "Annual Letter" for the year 1608, written by the Jesuit Fathers of the Irish Province to the Father General of the Order [quoted in the book]. (Note: Sir Richard Shee of Uppercourt is noted as a tenant of the Earl of Ormond, 1595-6, in Tulleglis, Ardlow, Cloran, Garannemanoge and Rathcaishe in Co. Kilkenny [Red Book of Ormond, p. 88])

Sir Richard Shee was twice married, 1st, to Margaret Sherlock, daughter of John Sherlock, of Waterford ; and 2ndly, to Margaret, daughter of Christopher Fagan, of Dublin, Alderman. By his first wife, by whom alone he left issue, he had five sons and four daughters, viz. ;

(1) Robert, the eldest, who died in England, in his father's lifetime, leaving no issue.

(2) Lucas, of Uppercourt, his second son, but eventually his heir. In fulfilment of his father's will, he procured the charter of incorporation for the Shee Alms House in Rose Inn Street, in 1609. He was M.P., Kilkenny County, in 1613-15. He died July 27th, 1622, aged 56 years, and is buried under his own monument in St. Mary's. By his wife, Ellen, daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Mountgarret, and grand-daughter of Brian, 1st Lord Baron of Upper Ossory, he had, with other issue, a son and heir, Robert Shee of Uppercourt and Cloran, in whose house, in Coal Market, the General Assembly of the Confederation of Kilkenny held its earlier sittings, and who forfeited under Cromwell in 1653.

(3) Thomas, of Freneystown. He married Ellen Dobbyn of Waterford, and died issueless in Oct., 1636.

(4) John, sometime Mayor of Kilkenny, who died Nov. 13th, 1633, leaving a son, Richard, and a daughter, Anne.

(5) Marcus of Sheestown, ancestor of the Shees of Sheestown and Gardenmorris.

(6) Lettice, wife of John Grace, of Courtstown.

(7) Katherine, wife of Edmund Cantwell, of Moycarky.

(8) Margate, wife of James Walsh, of Waterford.

(9) Isabel, wife of David, eldest son of Robert Rothe, of Kilkenny.


The Old Parliament House
The following passages comes from Carrigan's History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, Volume III. pp. 61-62

The so-called Parliament House of Kilkenny stood in Parliament Street (till lately known as Cola Market), between the National Bank and the Court House, on the site now occupied by the entrance gate of the New Market. It is described by one who saw it shortly after its demolition, as an Elizabethan structure, "so modernised in its front elevation as in no way to attract observation of any person unacquainted with its history," but preserving, in the rere, "many of its original features, in the shape of arched doorways, massive stone chimney shafts, gargoyles, mullioned windows with drip lables ; and internally, massive chimney-pieces." It is generally supposed to have been identical with Emling's Hall or Emlyn's Hall, the town house, or one of the town houses, of Sir Richard Shee, Knight. Sir Richard resided in Emlyn's Hall till the marriage of his son and heir, Lucas Shee, with the Honourable Ellen Butler, daughter of Edmund, 2nd Viscount Mountgarret, and sister of Helena, afterwards Countess of Ormond, when he gave them this house to live in till they should succeed him in his property at his death. He died at his castle of Bonnetstown, August 10, 1608. He had married a second wife, Margaret, daughter of Alderman Christopher Fagan, of Dublin, and by his will, dated Dec. 24th, 1603, he directed that, in case she survived him, she should live, during her widowhood, wither in the castle of Bonnetstown or in Emlyn's Hall ; but by codicil to the will, dated a year subsequently, he directed that his son, Lucas, should dwell at Bonnetstown, and his widow solely at Emlyn's Hall. ...

Lucas Shee, son of Richard, died at Uppercourt, his chief country residence, in 1622, being them 56 years of age. Robert Shee, his son and heir, who succeeded him, appears to have been a gentleman of much local influence and consideration, as well from his property as from his relationship, through his mother, to the noble houses of Mountgarret and Ormond. He frequently resided in the old family mansion in Kilkenny, and was an Alderman of the city, and Mayor of same in 1633-4. In a deposition of 1642 he is also styled "late High Sheriff of the county of Kilkenny." He appears to have taken a very active part in organizing his native county for the great Catholic struggle begun in 1641. He is named, in the depositions of the period, as one of the four gentlemen, through whose influence the Lord Mountgarret, then Governor of the County of Kilkenny, was prevailed on to join the national movement ; and in his town residence in Coal Market, tradition states the great National Assembly of Oct. 24th, 1642, to have been held. ...

We are unable to say how long the old Parliament House continued to be used for the Confederate assemblies. It is certain that when Rinuccini, the Papal Nuncio, arrived in Kilkenny, he was received by a meeting of the Supreme Council, at Ormond Castle ; and the probability is that the assemblies of the Confederate Catholics had been transferred to the castle soon after the important meeting of October 24th, 1642. ...

The Parliament House was taken down, and the New Market opened, in the year 1862.


The Shees, or O'Sheas, of Sheestown and Gardenmorris
The following passages comes from Carrigan's History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, Volume III. pp. 226-228

They descend from Marcus, the son of Sir Richard Shee. The said Marcus Shee, of Sheestown otherwise Wassehays, was still living in Cromwell's time, and managed to retain his property in Wassehays, and to obtain grants of lands in Kilree and Wallslough, under the Commonwealth. He married Ellen, daughter of Oliver Grace of Courtstown, son of Baron Sir John Grace, and by her had five sons, viz. (1) Richard, his heir, of whom presently ; (2) John ; (3) Lucas ; (4) James, who was most probably father of Christopher Shee of Stonecarty and Rosseneany, ancestor of the Shees of Abbeyview near Clonmel ; (5) Thomas.

Richatd, his eldest son and heir, of Sheestown, married Rose, daughter of Peter Rothe. By his last will, made Oct. 8th, 1687, and proved before the end of the same year, he bequeaths his property to his son, Marcus ; remainder to his eldest grandson, Richard Shee fitzMarcus ; remainder to his second grandson, Nicholas Shee fitzMarcus ; remainder to his third grandson, John Shee fitzMarcus ; remainder to his fourth grandson, Robert Shee fitzMarcus, born since the will was drawn up, but before it was signed ; remainder to the heirs of his father, Marcus Shee ; remainder to the heirs of his grandfather, Sir Richard Shee ; he leaves 100 pounds for funeral and "charitable uses to pray for me ;" and he further bequests to his nephews, Garret Comerford, Nicholas Shee and Christopher Shee, and niece, Mary Shee. Witnesses: Thomas Cantwell, James Comerford, Christopher Shee and Garret Comerford. His son and successor (was),

Marcus Shee of Washes Hayes, was outlawed as a Jacobite, Ap. 21st, 1691. By his wife, Mary, daughter of Nicholas Pluknet, Esq., of Dunsoghly, he had ;

(1) Richard, his heir, of whom presently.

(2) Nicholas.

(3) John, of Ballyreddin, in 1722. His son or grandson, Colonel John Shee, fought and fled at Bunker's Hill in 1775 ; was a Protestant, and built the Protestant church of Bennetsbridge in 1795 ; and died in 1812, aged 75. John Shee of Ballyreddin, the Colonel's son and successor, gave the site of Bennetsbridge chapel in 1822 ; left no issue ; and was succeeded by his brother Richard, whose son and successor, James O'Shea, died in Australia, in 1890.

(4) Robert, born in 1687.

(5) Marcus, born after 1687.

Richard Shee, the eldest son of Marcus Shee and Mary Plunket, was one of the few Irish Papists to whom licenses for the use of a sword, a case of pistols and a gun, were issued in the year 1713. He died in 1748. His son, Marcus Shee, of Sheestown, was father of John Shee or O'Shea, of Sheestown. John married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Richard Power of Gardenmorris, Co. Waterford, in Sept. 1767, and by her was father of Richard Power O'Shea of Gardenmorris and Sheestown, father of Nicholas Richard Power O'Shea, Esq., J.P.,D.L. of Gardenmorris and Sheestown, who died forfeited by the rites of Holy Church, April 5th, 1902, aged 81, and is buried in Sheestown churchyard.

The old Sheestown House, the former seat of the Shee family, was thrown down in 1883.


Information compiled and contributed by Dennis Walsh.


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