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Starr of Ardcanny, County Limerick.

While looking into the origins of the Star family (active in nineteenth century Dublin) from which I am descended, I have also found details of other Stars and Starrs who were probably not related to them.  Included in this category are the eighteenth century Starrs of Shannongrove and Mountpleasant, two townlands within the parish of Ardcanny in County Limerick.  What follows is a summary of what I know about this particular family.  If anyone knows anything further, or can shed more light on them through having (unlike me) personal knowledge of the area, I would be greatly interested.

In Dublin Journal 2 April 1745 page 2 there is a notice, seeking employment, from ‘John Starr, his wife, one son and one daughter, the English family that came over with the Right Hon Lord Tullamore four years ago, and served his Lordship till he went abroad, and since then have served Lord Kingdon at Mitchelstown in the County of Cork’.  Research into English records might suggest which English Starr family John belonged to.  It is clear he was a land steward with experience in land drainage and reclamation, while his wife was a ‘Dairy Maid who makes cheese after the English manner’.  The Lord Tullamore they had ‘served’, was John Moore (1712-1764), who became first Earl of Charleville in 1758. 

When a marriage settlement (Memorial No 93924 of 23 December 1748, Vol 138 p 486) was made between Richard Hamilton and Georgina Bury, the second daughter of William Bury of Shannongrove, John Starr of Shannongrove, ‘servant’ to William Bury, acted as a witness, while Charles Moore was a trustee to the settlement.  Clearly, by 1748, John had found a new employer, resulting in his family moving to Ardcanny parish.  Charles’ nephew was John Bury, according to,_1st_Earl_of_Charleville

The four-storeyed Bury family mansion, Shannongrove, overlooks the Shannon estuary and was built ‘in a Dutch-Palladian style’ in about 1706-1709 ( the nearby townland of Mountpleasant (and also still extant), is ‘H2256’, a ‘neat farmhouse’ which ‘The Ordnance Survey Name Books record … was built in the mid 18th century by a Mr Star’ (both houses referred to in  Presumably this is where the Burys’ steward, John Starr and his family lived.

I am fairly confident about the relationship between John and the later Starrs in this area.  John had two children by 1745, so (this is only a guess) could have been born around 1720.  In the index of Irish wills there is a will by John Starr of Mountpleasant listed for 1782, which may well refer to him, and which would suggest he died then or soon after.

I think the will indexed under 1778 by William Starr of Shannongrove refers to the son of John senior.  Betham’s Genealogical Abstract number 227 describes the will as ‘dated 10 March 1777 pd [proved?] 3 March 1790 – wife Catherine S otherwise Cowell – son Arthur – daughter Mary – daughter Jane – Hugh Gough gent married to daughter Mary’.  William appears to have lived from perhaps the early 1740s until early in the 1780s.  Definitely, when Mary married Hugh Gough in 1784 she was described as ‘daughter of the late William Starr’ (in The Hibernian Magazine and The Gentleman’s and London Magazine).

Catherine was perhaps William’s second wife, and therefore not the mother of Arthur (I don’t know what became of him) or of Mary and Jane.  This could explain why ‘Catherine Cowell, widow, Dublin’ appears in the index of wills for 1782.  In this scenario (which is unproven) she would then have married William in 1782 or 1783.  A mariner called (at least at this date) ‘Patrick Star Cowell’, who was married at Liverpool St Peter to Dicas Charlotta O’Neile in an Anglican service at Liverpool St Peter on 15 October 1783, could be a son of Catherine by an earlier marriage.

In a 1771 notice, ‘William Starr of Shannongrove, Co Limerick, informs the public that the deal yard at Newtown Perry [in Limerick town] formerly held in company by him and John Boudy of Mungret Lane, is now solely his property’ (Limerick Chronicle 13 May 1771).  I think Catherine’s (second?) husband was this ‘William Starr timber merchant’ whose partnership with ‘Mr Edward John Boudy was dissolved 21st November last’ (Limerick Chronicle 25 February 1773).  Memorial 190407 of 26 February 1772, Vol 285 p 562 refers to a Deed of Lease and Release between: John Boudy merchant of Limerick City and his only son Edward John Boudy; Edward Hurst gent of Shannongrove and his eldest daughter Ann (who Edward John was marrying); and the trustees John Hurst and William Starr, both gents of Shannongrove.

I know from Betham’s reference that this was also the ‘William Starr of Shannon Grove’ whose daughter Mary in December 1784 (Saunders’s News-letter 18 December 1784) married Hugh Gough (1753-1850), the younger brother of Lieut-Col George Gough (1750-1836) (see the Gough family tree in Visitation of England and Wales). 

When Hugh Gough died in London aged 96 he was described as ‘one of the oldest Burgesses of the Corporation of Limerick’ (The National Magazine Vol 1).  During the Great Famine he wrote to the Limerick Chronicle (23 December 1846) bemoaning his tenants’ non-payment of rent.  His wife, ‘Catherine Gough of Hanover Street, Peckham’, outlived him, for her death is recorded in Limerick Chronicle 23 June 1852.  Her Christian name (if indeed Catherine, rather than Mary) was perhaps his second wife.  There was a William Star Gough, ‘son of late Hugh Gough of Limerick City’ who died aged 72 in Grosvenor Place, Camberwell in 1861 (Limerick Chronicle 28 June 1861) and a Leonora Jane Gough, ‘daughter of late Hugh Goff’ (sic) of Limerick, who died in Camberwell in 1867 (Limerick Chronicle 26 October 1867).  ‘William Starr Gough, Esq’ appears mid-century in Griffith’s Valuation as a landholder in Ballydoole townland, between Shannongrove and Mountpleasant.

Mary’s sister, Jane Starr, must be the ‘Miss Starr’ of Shannongrove who married Charles Fitzgerald of Rockville, Limerick in June 1792 (Farrar’s Index to Irish Marriages (via Find My Past), and Finns Leinster Journal 23 June 1792).  One of their sons, Lieut William Star Fitzgerald, ‘brother of Captain Fitzgerald’ (Limerick Evening Post 22 January 1828) was ‘Lost off Jersey in the same vessel with lord Harley’.  Fitzgerald’s wife, ‘Frances, eldest daughter of the late major Lewis of the Northumberland militia’ died along with him.  ‘They had been married in Paris, only in the 8th of December preceding’ (Annual Register Vol 70 p 214, and Saunders’s News-letter 28 January 1828).

Returning to William Starr, the evidence that follows suggest either that William switched to an entirely different profession well before ending his involvement in the timber trade in 1772, or that there were two different (though related) Williams.  I favour the scenario that they were one and the same man, who, in the 1766 Religious Census return for the parish of Ardcanny (NAI PRIV/M/147) was listed as ‘Mr William Starr and family who is Master of the Provintial [sic] School’ (17 members – I presume this includes servants) along with the School’s eighty ‘Nursery children’.  In Watson’s Dublin Almanac of 1789 page 106 the ‘provincial nursery’ at Shannongrove is listed as having 84 children.  By this time it will have been under the management of William Starr’s widow.

 In June 1804 the death occurred ‘Sunday last, at Shannon grove, in the county of Limerick, in an advanced age, Mrs Starr, relict of William Starr, Esq’ (Saunders’s News-letter 19 June 1804).  Consequently, there was an advertisement in which ‘The Incorporated Society give notice, that there is at present a vacancy for a master and mistress in Shannon-Grove Nursery, County of Limerick, in consequence of the death of Mrs Catherine Starr, late mistress thereof’ (Saunders’s News-letter 26 June 1804).

I am puzzled by a note in the papers of Dr John Young, the Catholic Bishop of Limerick (Archivum Hibernicum Vol 68 (2015): 168-293: LDA/B1/JY/2/92 Note from P Dynane to Young, 21 November 1801) which includes ‘William Star’ among ‘the names of those preparing to be received the following Sunday into the Society of Christian Doctrine … they were formed into a society on 13 December 1801’.  This was a network of Sunday Schools through which ‘all the children from the different districts in the parish come together, and, after Divine Service, are arranged in classes, and a society which we call ‘The Society of the Christian Doctrine’ and which exists in every parish, teach the children under the superintendence of the clergymen’.  This would appear to be an Anglican network that Shannongrove Nursery might well have linked into, but I think William Starr died in the 1780s.  Is this, then, in fact a reference to Catherine (that is, Mrs William Starr), or to some other relation, or even to someone entirely unrelated?  

I don’t know what became of John Starr senior’s daughter (Christian name unknown), who was alive in 1745 and probably then only an infant.  It is possible she never married, dying in her eighties, for there was a Prerogative Court will listed for a Catherine Starr of Shannon Grove in 1825.  This cannot refer to William Starr’s wife Catherine, who had died in 1804.  I know of no other Catherine Starr who it might be.

There is, then, a second John Starr, who I take to be the younger son of John Starr senior and the younger brother of William Starr.  The evidence suggesting this is not conclusive, but it is strong.  This John was born in about 1747, died aged 69 on 28 January 1815, and was buried in a vault at Ardcanny cemetery (Ireland, Gravestone Records, transcribed by Jane Lyons, accessed through FindMyPast).  A birth date around 1747 fits with John Starr senior only having had one son before 1745.

If (as I have suggested) John Starr senior died in or soon after 1782, it was probably John Starr junior who was the witness (named in Memorial No 212487 of 1 May 1789, Vol 323 p 110) to the ‘Lease between William Bury Esq of Dublin City and Garrett Fitzgerald Esq of Shannongrove, to extend for the lives of his three sons’.  (I don’t know what relationship these Fitzgeralds had, if any, to the Charles Fitzgerald who married Mary Starr in 1792.)  Betham’s abstract concerning the proving of William Starr’s prerogative will in 1790 also referred to a ‘Mr John Starr of Mountpleasant’, perhaps as the executor.  Again, without a definite date for the death of John Starr senior, I cannot be certain, but I think this was a further reference to John Starr junior. 

I have found nothing to suggest this John was married or had any children, but he perhaps had a strong influence on the fortunes of his brother’s descendants.  The marital link forged in 1784 between the Starrs and the military Gough family may have followed on from friendships made by ‘John Star of Shannon Grove’ in his role as a lieutenant in the Limerick Fencibles in 1782 (Tipperary Clans Archive, through FindMyPast).  I take this to be, most likely, William’s younger brother (then aged about 35), rather than their father (around sixty).  But that is as far as I dare venture with the evidence I have. 

Paul Star, Dunedin, New Zealand.  23 March 2024.      

Paul Star

Saturday 23rd Mar 2024, 07:35AM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi Paul, 

    that is fantastic  detailed research. Hopefully you will find some one with more information for you.



    Croom Parish Liasion, IrelandXO Volunteer

    Wednesday 8th May 2024, 08:04PM

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