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Thurles – Ancestral Home of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, son of Walter ButlerWalter of the Rosaries,” was probably the first of the family to take up residence in Thurles Castle. Thomas was summoned to England in 1619 to answer charges of treason, but the ship conveying him was wrecked off the coast of Skerries and he was drowned on 15th December 1619. His wife was Elizabeth Poyntz, daughter of Sir John Poyntz, Bart., of Acton in Gloucestershire, and the celebrated Lady Thurles (see pic). They had been married since 1608 and were the parents of three sons and four daughters.

broyf-copyAfter Viscount Thurles’s death, his widow, Lady Thurles, married again, about 1620, one Captain George Mathew of Radyr and Llandaff in Glamorganshire, Wales, by whom Lady Thurles had a further two sons and a daughter. Captain George Mathew died at Tenby in Wales in 1636. His widow, Lady Thurles survived him by 37 years and died in Thurles in May 1673. Her body was interred  beside St. Mary’s Famine Museum Church in Thurles. A period portrait, oil on canvas, of Lady Thurles is in the possession of the Tipperary County Library at the Source building in Thurles.

(Please click on both images for higher resolution)

Lady Thurles was a loyal and staunch Catholic, but also a loyal and staunch Englishwoman (Royalist). From the time of her marriage with Viscount Thurles until her death in May 1673, she resided in Thurles Castle, except perhaps for short period (1658-1660) during the Cromwellian regime.

Generations later, the 3rd Duke of Abercorn’s daughter married Earl Spencer, grandfather of the Lady Diana Spencer who married Prince Charles of England. Thus Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and Elizabeth Poyntz, Lady Thurles are direct ancestors of Lady Diana Spencer.

Prince Charles of England is a direct descendant of Viscount and Lady Thurles through their eldest son, the Duke of Ormond. The Duke’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Chesterfield, and their daughter Elizabeth Stanhope married John Lyon, 4th Earl Strathmore. Later in direct line was the 14th Earl Strathmore whose daughter, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI; and these are the grandparents of Prince Charles.

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13 comments to Thurles – Ancestral Home of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

  • Proinsias Barrett

    Very impressive research, a fact I have often delivered in conversations about 17th century Ireland, now I can guide the sceptics here, well done.
    This and other major historical facts pertaining to Thurles, like the major Norman defeat and reversal of Strongbow by the forces of Ard Ri Roderick and Donal Mor O’Brien in 1174, should really be played up a lot more in the Thurles tourism stakes.
    But it is a great pity that the remains of the Black Castle in Thurles are left to the crows (and the occasional interested glance of a ‘developer’ or two, who would gladly see the structure pulled down.) The castle, an early Anglo-Norman tower-house/keep structure presumably built over existing native/Viking structures, as Irish historical Annals reveal another great battle fought at Thurles circa 930AD between the Northern and Southern Clan Ely, allied with the Viking inhabitants of Thurles and Caithream Ceallachain Caisil of Clan Eogan, newly elected King of Munster, allied with the Clan Eoganacht. The Annals tell us that during the battle the chief of the Clan Ely was captured and submitted to Ceallachan and that all the Viking inhabitants of Thurles were slain. This is an important reference to Thurles being a significant fortified pre-Norman town, and is a lost revenue potential for the town of Thurles in the form of historical and cultural tourism.
    Surely the remains of the Black Castle could be respectfully re-enforced and roofed (maybe as a Fas project), with the future intent of a full or partial restoration. The opportunity to construct a cut stone faced structure opposite the gate tower at the bridge, thus recreating the twin towers which once existed at the Suir river entrance, was lost some years back to a neo-modern type structure which is out of character in its surroundings. Thurles has great historical tourism potential if only a concerted effort could be made to bring its physical history to life.

  • Hi Proinsias,
    I agree totally with you that Thurles remains totally hidden in relation to its historical importance. One hopes now with Mary Hanafin in charge of Tourism, things will change for the better.
    She will certainly get support in this “neck of the woods”. Thank you for your comments.

  • […] but when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II comes to Ireland, the most obvious place to take her is to her ancestral home, here in Thurles, […]

  • […] Queen Elizabeth II, although she has never visited Thurles, has strong ancestral connections with the town and is a direct descendant of Viscount and Lady Thurles through their eldest son, the Duke of Ormond. The Duke’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Chesterfield, and their daughter Elizabeth Stanhope married John Lyon, 4th Earl Strathmore. Six generations later in direct line was the 14th Earl Strathmore whose daughter, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI; and these are the grandparents of Prince Charles. Thurles is therefore expected to be included as a stop off point in any proposed future visit. […]

  • They are not asleep in Moneygall, or waiting for outsiders to do the work for them.

  • […] father Prince Charles is a direct descendant of Viscount Elizabeth Poyntz (Lady Thurles) through their eldest son, the […]

  • […] Armstrong played the harp for Thurles native, Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II, during her Royal […]

  • […] should be remembered that Prince William is a direct descendant of Viscount and Lady Thurles, (latter buried in St Mary’s Church here in Thurles Co Tipperary) through their eldest son, […]

  • […] connections the town holds with the British Royal Family, Thurles being the latter’s true Ancestral Home. Indeed their many ancestors are buried in St. Mary’s Famine Museum Church and its outer […]

  • Michael Matthews

    A very interesting article. My uncle William Matthews traced our family history back to George Mathew and lady Elizabeth Poyntz, using church records, so they are Great, great ,, Grandparents its really nice to read this information and now that I know where Lady Elizabeth is buried I shall bring my family to visit.

  • Micheal Fox

    Micheal Matthews: George Mathew was originally from Wales and lady Elizabeth Poyntz was from England. They are both my 9 great grandparents. George Mathew is from the great knight sir David Mathew of Wales 1411-1493. My 14th great grandfather. He was in the battle of Towton and saved King Edward IV life in that battle. Our ancestry of Mathews in Wales goes back a very very long way.

  • Micheal Fox

    Michael Matthews. I traced our direct Mathew male line back too 1100 AD in Wales. Though our Mathew last name was first used in 1411 from David Mathew. (He was the first to use a modern name) David’s fathers name and all before him was pre modern Welsh.

  • Michael Matthews

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you so much for your comment. I am only reading it now. That’s very interesting my uncle William actually mentioned that story about our ancestor taking an arrow for the king, so that adds up. I didn’t know which battle so thank you for that info. Actually my email address is alsatticladders@gmail.com if you have any more information i would very much appreciate it.

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