Back From The Edge

We’ve been to Ireland looking for ancestors and got more than we bargained for; hot in pursuit of deceased episcopalian ministers, we ran to earth an Andrew Buck.  He was the first of a long line of ordained members of the established church, not the anti-establishment hero I had hoped for.  Nevertheless, in 1742 he had entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizar (subsidized student of exceptional ability but humble means).  He became a doctor of divinity but never seems to have had a parish though we found reference to him as being “of the Hibernian Academy”.  This was not a euphemism for University of Life, it still exists.

The modern man at the, now Royal, Hibernian Academy was on holiday; perhaps he was chasing his own ancestors in Spain so, assuming that my ancestor had died, we made haste to search graveyards.

Alan (long suffering spouse/driver/ambulant thesaurus/spare pair of eyes and rememberer of all things important – well nearly all) was triumphant: finding the shattered remains of the gravestone of my Great (x5) Uncle Jonathan in the ruined churchyard in Clontarf.

Ruins of Grt (x5) Grandpa's church, Clontarf

Ruins of Grt (x5) Grandpa’s church, Clontarf

Crown adorns St John's new church, Clonfarf

Crown adorns St John’s new church, Clonfarf

Finding the graveyard had been the hardest part: the first church, of the right name was of the wrong denomination and in the midst of a funeral for which, on a sunny day on holiday, we were inappropriately dressed; we did not stay for tea.  The second church had its roof off and would not let us in.  Anyway, where the graves should have been there were tennis courts with attractive people playing ball.  This was an inter-regnum; the new LADY vicar was to be installed with the new roof and meanwhile, a sinner told us, our relative would be down the road in the ruined churchyard.  There, to be sure, he was, with his wife, my Auntie Anne.

Great(x5)Uncle Jonathan reminds us of our mortality

Great(x5)Uncle Jonathan reminds us of our mortality

We were just as lucky in Limerick where we hoped to track down Andrew’s humble origins; the lady at the Cathedral (Church of Ireland) is still looking but not before remembering the name Jonathan Buck (probable grandfather of the one Alan found in Clontarf).  She had looked him up for an exhibition about silversmiths in Limerick that had recently finished at the Hunt Museum, just down the road.

The young man at the Hunt was delighted; there had been a book of the exhibition – A Celebration of Limerick Silver; it had not sold well; they had reduced it from E40 to E10; he remembered because he had bought loads to give as impressive Christmas presents but there was one left!

Celebrating Limerick silver with Guinness and sandwiches we discovered (shock/horror) the Dutch connection.

We read that, just maybe, the oldest Buck of them all, one George Bockendoght, a victim of abbreviation in the mid 1600’s, was probably imported from the low countries by the Earl of Orrery.  He came to boost the economy after Oliver Cromwell had just personally expelled, one way or another, the skilled Catholic Irish and the Royalist English — it was a bloody affair and to top it all, and to reassure us that nothing has really changed, they had a currency crisis and needed more coins struck!

There we are!  Not descended from a heroic peasant from the wild and beautiful west coast but a new man, arriving in the wake of genocide to institute quantitative easing.

Wild West Coast

Wild West Coast


6 thoughts on “Back From The Edge

  1. Fascinating narrative and such an interesting hunt. It’s amazing that your were able to stay on the trail through such varied circumstances! The photo of his gravestone and the one of the Wild West Coast are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • He was what we call Episcopalian, like Church of England or church of Ireland, part of the establishment, and allowed to marry and, indeed my Dad Geoff was a direct descendent on the male line. Seems he may have emigrated to Ireland in search of religious freedom, of maybe an inside curve!

  2. Christine Buck says:

    Interesting reading about your hunt for Rev Andrew Buck.
    I am a descendant of his Son Rev John Buck and have spent many years collecting bits of information about him. Curious as to which Jonathan Buck the headstone belongs to?

    • The Headstone is for “Johnathan Buck, born Sep:20: 1751 (?) died May 5th (?) 1806, also his wife Anne, born 1759 died Sept 1804” though barely legible now. He was a landscape artist and I think he was the elder brother of John (1755-1842), rector of Desertcreat in Clonoe who I guess is your ancestor. I seem to have descended from the younger half-brother Robert, born to Andrew and his second wife Maria Campbell after a big gap. I have not been able to find any documentary evidence of Andrew’s parentage but my best guess is that he was the oldest of the large brood of Bucks produced and baptised in Limerick by Jonathan(1691-1766) and Phebe/Febe/Faith (different spellings) between 1727-1742, Andrew was born 2 years earlier than the eldest of these (7 died in infancy) and he may have been baptized elsewhere.
      Andrew was associated with the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan who was an educational innovator and very rich – he started an experimental school which Andrew Buck took over as principle but it failed. Turns out this was the Hibernian Academy.
      I’d be fascinated to hear what you have found out.

      • Christine Buck says:

        I think I have the signature of the Jonathan who belongs to that headstone on a marriage document for his brother Rev John in 1783. Andrew was also a friend of Sir Edmund Burke, and his son John married Catherine the daughter of Elizabeth and Richard Griffith who were both writers. Can you contact me direct rather than through this blog?

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