Chapter 1 Dulhunty Papers

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When Dr John Dulhunty arrived in Australia as Surgeon-Superintendent of the convict ship Sesostris in March, 1826, he brought with him a Coat of Arms. It was used by the family on their household silver, their personal effects and their writing paper. It was one of the first dies made for use on personal stationery by John Sands, founder of the well-known firm of printers, established in 1837. It was also used as a seal.

Strangely enough, the Coat of Arms was registered in the name of O'Carroll of Ireland.

Enquiry at Dublin Castle revealed that it was the Coat of Arms of the O'Carrolls, Princes of Ely, of which the O Dulchontas (anglicised Dulhunty) were a branch.

The necessary steps were taken to obtain a Confirmation of Arms in the name of Dulhunty, and in 1950 the Chief Herald of Ireland, having satisfied himself that the Dulhuntys of Australia were descended from the O Dulchontas and had borne the Arms for at least three generations, granted a Confirmation of Arms to the descendants of Robert Venour Dulhunty, son of Dr John Dulhunty who settled in Australia.

* * * *

According to the ancient legends of Ireland, all the Milesian Irish nobility are descended from Mileseus, King of Spain. His eight sons set out to sea and all but three perished.

The story runs that the eight brothers, who sailed a fleet from Spain, anchored in Kenmare Bay and thence proceeded to Tara, where they commanded the three kings of the Dedannans, who then ruled Ireland, to hand the country over to them. The Dedannans objected on the ground that the surprise invasion of their country left them no opportunity for defence.

The protest was referred to Ir (or Amergin), one of the brothers and the chief Druid of the Milesians. In those chivalrous days the protest was considered reasonable, and Ir's sense of fair play compelled him to ordain that the Milesians should re-embark on their ships and retire beyond the ninth wave from the shore. If, after that, they could establish their landing, the country should be theirs.

This was agreed to, and the invaders retired beyond the ninth wave.

On the second attempt the Milesian fleet was wrecked and five of the brothers were drowned. But the other three, Heber, Ir, and Heremon, landed with their men, defeated the Dedannans in two battles, and possessed the country.

Colles, in his History of Ulster, tells us that from the very slender evidence that exists, based chiefly on antiquarian research in connection with the etymology of local names, it appears that the earliest inhabitants of Ireland were of Turanian origin and known as Fomorians. How long they held possession is not known, but they gave way before the Belgic race bearing the name of Firbolgs, who in their turn were conquered by a fresh tribe of invaders, the Tuatha-de-Danaans, said to have been an Aryan Celtic race, a branch of that great stock which dominated Gaul and Spain and a large part of Southern Europe.

The Danaans are said to have held the country, which they completely conquered and occupied, for 190 years. But although they were strong men and great fighters, they were themselves conquered by the Milesians, a race of warlike Celts from Spain, of which country they had been rulers for generations.

The student of the early history of any country must be prepared to dismiss a vast amount of matter as purely mythical or legendary. But according to historians, though we need not accept all the details of the story, the Milesian conquest seems to have been a real occurrence.

Many leading Irish chieftains claim descent from the Milesians. Evidence in the form of lists of names, exists in the records of over 100 kings of Ireland. The chroniclers of this period delighted in making collections of names and pedigrees, and as Colles observes, if these contain but a modicum of truth, they at least bear testimony to the industry and zeal of the compilers, as well as to the wonderful wealth of materials from which they drew.

The chief source of knowledge of the doings of the Milesians is a compilation known as the Annals of the Four Masters, collected in the 17th century from original documents which have long since disappeared.

The Annals are accepted as the more trustworthy records of a time of which we possess little or no knowledge, and the historian Leland, writing in 1770, accepts this work and quotes largely from it. He states that Ireland "engendered 171 monarchs, all of the same house and lineage, with 68 kings and two queens of Great Britain and Ireland, all sprung equally from her loins.1 "

Leland appears to have no doubt of the general truth of the statements made in the Annals and accordingly it is recorded in history that Heber and Heremon, sons of the famous Mileseus, divided Ireland between them after their father's death, Heber taking the Southern portion.2

From Heber are descended all the provincial kings of Munster (of whom 38 were sole monarchs of Ireland) and most of the nobility and gentry of Munster. 3

The industry and zeal of the compilers is evident in the following list showing the descent from Heber of Olioll Olum, King of Munster. 4

Cian, son of Olioll Olum, was the ancestor of O'Cearbhaill (or Kerball) Ele, anglicised O'Carroll Ele.

Historians tell us that in the reigns of the Henrys and Edwards, Kings of England, many penal Acts of Parliament were passed, compelling the ancient Irish to adopt English surnames and the English language, dress, manners and customs; and no doubt many of the Milesian Irish did take English surnames in these times, to protect their lives and property, for otherwise they forfeited their goods and were liable to be punished as Irish enemies, Hence many of the ancient Irish families so twisted and anglicised their names that it is often difficult to determine mine whether those families are of Irish or English extraction, and many of them of Irish origin are considered of English or French descent. Many are recorded as having "embraced the Protestant religion, thus retaining their estates"

The O'Carrolls, Princes of Ely O'Carroll, possessed the barony of Lower Ormond in Tipperary, and those of Clonisk and Ballybritt in the King's County, and had their chief Castle at Birr or Parsonstown.

It is recorded in Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland that:

The O'Carrolls descend from Cian, son of Olioll Olium, King of Munster, who died AD234, and are the leading family of the Clan Cian race. They were chiefs of Ely O'Carroll. Teige O'Carroll was created Baron of Ely in AD 1552. Kerball was 23rd in descent from Cian. The first of the name led the Elians at the Battle of Clontarf.

In the same work we read of another Teige:

Teige O'Carroll, a celebrated chief of the clan, was slain at the Battle of Callan, AD 1407. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, and on his return visited the courts of Richard II and the King of France. In AD 1395 he defeated the forces of King Richard II which had invaded Ely under the command of Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, afterwards Lord Deputy. He was married to Joan, daughter of the second Earl of Ormonde, great-grandson o King Edward I of England.

Further colourful stories of the O'Carrolls appear in O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees:

In 1641 O'Carrolls' Castle in Kinnity, in the barony of Ballybritt, King's County, was granted to Mr. Winter by whom it was held for Charles 1st. William Parsons, son of Lawrence, and nephew of Sir William, Lord Justice of Ireland, was constituted Governor of Ely O'Carroll and Constable of Birr Castle, which he garrisoned with his followers. His father, Surveyor-General, obtained in 1620 from James I, a grant of the castle, fort, village and lands of Birr. This Castle of Birr was besieged by the O'Carrolls in 1642, but Sir Charles Coote, father of the first Earl of Montrath, who came to its relief, obliged them to raise the siege. It was taken by General Preston in 1643 and held by him for the Confederate Catholics in 1658, when it was taken for the Commonwealth by Henry Ireton, Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law.

Donogh married Dorothy, daughter of O'Kennedy of Ormond (by his wife Margaret daughter of O'Brien of Ara) and had a daughter Mor, who married her kinsman Robert O'Carroll, and had 30 sons, whom he presented "in one troop of horse, all accoutred in habiliments of war, to the Earl of Ormond, together with all his interest, for the service of King Charles the First."

The O Dulchontas, however, appear to have branched off early from the O'Carroll stem. The careful records continue:

O'Hara states that the Clan Cian were located in Ormond or the present county of Tipperary; and the heads of the family were O'Carroll, princes of Ely. The other families were McKeogh (or Kehoe), O'Corcoran, O'Dulhunty, O'Meagher, O'Connor, chiefs of Cianaght (now Keenaght) in the county of Londonderry. O'Gara and O'Hara, Lords of Lieny and Coolavin in the county Sligo, were also branches of the Clan Cian of Munster.

A list of Irish names includes:

Dulcaointis, Dulchonta: the name of an old family of Ely O'Carroll, in the present Offaly, who are of the same stock as the O'Carrolls. A Branch of the family had settled in Kerry before the 17th Century.

During the period 1535-1735, in a manner typical of the times, the surname derived from Dulchonta was spelt in a dozen different ways, from Dulhunty to Dullaghoutie. As late as 1735, in Kerry, we find "Here lyeth ye body of Phillip Carrell als Delahunty Mr, who departed this life in ye 22nd yeare of his age ye 11th of January 1735."

A copy of the Coat of Arms borne by Dr John Dulhunty was submitted to the Chief Herald of Ireland, who wrote as follows:

The arms submitted for identification in your letter of 31st March 1949 are those of O'Carroll of Ely ... They are not officially registered for any family in the name of Dulhunty or variant; it would require an arms search to determine whether they are recorded as being so used officially.

The Dulhuntys (more usually nowadays spelt Delahunty and also Dulanty) originated as a branch of the O'Carrolls of Ely O'Carroll (Offaly and North Tipperary). The name in Irish is 6 Dulchonta, so that the form you use is the nearest to the original in pronounciation. Having regard to this connextion with the O'Carrolls, the application of a family of Dulhunty having, as you probably have, proofs of user over a period of 100 years (three generations) to obtain a Confirmation of Arms would be favourably considered.

Investigation was carried on for almost two years, and in September 1950 the Confirmation of Arms, mounted and in colour, was received by the present head of the family, Robert Venour Dulhunty of Port Macquarie, in whose possession it now is.

In the picturesque Gaelic, the Arms are confirmed to Roibaerd Venour O Dulchonta The translation reads:

To all to whom these presents shall come, I, Edward MacLysaght, Esquire, M.A., M.R.I.A., D.Litt., Chief Herald of Ireland, send Greeting.

Whereas application hath been made unto me by Robert Venour Dulhunty of Owen Street, Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia, son of Robert George Dulhunty, grandson of Robert Venour Dulhunty and great-grandson of Doctor John Dulhunty who settled in Australia setting forth that certain Armorial Ensigns have been heretofore recorded in my office as appertaining to them, and further setting forth that he is desirous that such Arms as without injury or prejudice to any other he may bear and advance may be duly confirmed to him by lawful authority and praying that I should grant unto him a full confirmation of such Armorial Ensigns as aforesaid with such distinctions as I may think proper and that the Armorial Ensigns so confirmed may be registered and recorded in my Office to the end that the Officers of Arms there and all others upon occasion may take fu11 notice and have knowledge thereof.

Now, I the said Chief Herald of Ireland, having taken the said application into consideration and having enquired into and examined the circumstances an pleased to comply with the said application and do, by these Presents, acting on behalf of and by authority of the Government of Ireland, ratify and confirm unto the said Robert Venour Dulhunty and to the other descendants of his gransfather Robert Venour Dulhunty the arms following, that is to say GULES TWO LIONS RAMPANT COMBATANT ARGENT SUPPORTING A SWORD POINT UPWARDS OF THE LAST POMMELLED AND HILTED OR; and for the crest ON THE STUMP OF AN OAK-TREE SPROUTING A HAWK RISING PROPER BELLED OR and for Motto TAKE A GOOD GRIPE. The whole more clearly depicted in the margin hereof To have and to hold the said Arms unto the said Robert Venour Dulhunty and the other descendants of his grandfather Robert Venour Dulhunty for ever and the same to bear, use, shew, set forth and advance in shield or banner or otherwise observing and using their due and proper differences according to the Law of Arms and without the let, hindrance, molestation, interruption, controlment, or challenge of any manner of persons or persons whatsoever. In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal of my Office this twentieth day of September, one thousand nine hundred and fifty.
  • Edward MacLysaght
  • Chief Herald of Ireland

    The Dulhuntys were evidently among those Irish who "anglicised their names and embraced the Protestant religion", for Dr Dulhunty, Surgeon-Superintendent of the Sesostris in 1826, came from Paignton, Devonshire, was of the Church of England faith and spoke with an educated English accent. His Coat of Arms was the only visible link with a family history which reached back into ancient Ireland.

    Before coming to Australia, Dr John Dulhunty had served for thirty years as a surgeon in the Navy. Admiralty records show his services between 1790 and l802:

    The Dulhunty Coat of Arms
    The O'Carroll Coat of Arms

    CONTENTS, Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, (452kB), (1341kB), (860kB),