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.
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.
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.