Turtle Bunbury

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Always remember’, urged Walt Disney, ‘that this whole thing started with a dream and a mouse’. From another perspective, it started with Hughes d’Isigny, a French soldier from Calvados who settled in England in 1066. At the time of the Restoration, a branch of the Disney family from Norton Disney in Lincolnshire were established in Ireland. On 22 November 1666 a Patent was passed, granting land in the counties of Waterford, Louth and Westmeath to William Disney of Stabannon, co Louth, Esq, and William Disney jun, Esq.[i] The latter lived at Stabannon and married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Fowles of Dublin. They had three sons – William (ancestor of the Disneys of Churchtown, co Waterford, including Gen Sir Moore Disney KCB, and possibly connected to Walt Disney's ancestor Robert Disney but this is unprovable); Benjamin and John, and a daughter Catherine.


William and Elizabeth’s third son John Disney Esq was born about 1662. On 26 February 1703, he married Jane Brabazon, eldest daughter of James and Mary Brabazon.[ii] On 29 September 1742 John Disney Esq., Burgess was sworn Mayor of the Town and County of Galway. John died in 1749.

Jane Disney (nee Brabazon) descended from the noble house of Brabazon whose chief is the 15th Earl of Meath. (For a history of the family before this time, see Brabazons, Earls of Meath). During the Elizabethan Age, Sir William Brabazon of Leicester served as Vice-Treasurer of Ireland under Lord Deputy Anthony St. Leger and rose to become one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom of Ireland. His son Edward was an intimate friend of Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, Secretary of State under Queen Elizabeth and King James. Knighted in 1595, Edward was further elevated to the peerage as Lord Brabazon, Baron of Ardee, Co. Louth by King James in 1616. His wife Mary was a daughter of Thomas Smyth of Mitcham, Surrey, who, as Clerk of the Green Cloth, organized some of Queen Elizabeth phenomenally expensive Royal Tours.


Lord Brabazon’s eldest son William became the 1st Earl of Meath in 1627. His third son, Sir Anthony Brabazon of Tullaghstown, Co Louth, was knighted, most probably by Charles I. He married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Christopher Hovendon of Chinor, Co Oxford. Sir Anthony’s eldest son Edward Brabazon married Lady Rose Lambert and died in 1666. Sir Anthony’s second son, Captain James Brabazon was married in Drogheda to Alice Bates of North Wales (in 1676?) but killed that same year by Cornet Charles King. [iii] Captain James and Alice Brabazon were Jane’s paternal grandparents. Their eldest son William Brabazon (1658-1714) lived at Rath House, Co Louth, where the family lived until the early 20th century.


Jane’s father was the Captain’s second son, James Brabazon. Born on 8 March 1661, he was a soldier in William III's army and was wounded at the battle of Aughrim. He was 25-years-old when, on 12 Dec 1686, he married Mary Colley. She descended from the Colleys of Castle Carberry who also prospered in Ireland in Elizabethan times. Her grandfather Sir Henry Colley was knighted in 1613 and was MP for Monaghan.

Her father Dudley Colley (1621-1674) of Castle Carberry, MP for Philipstown, Co Offaly, in the first Parliament after the Restoration.

Her mother Anna was a daughter of Henry Warren of Grangebegg and a sister of John Warren, MP for Carlow in 1689, attainted for supporting the Jacobite cause.

Mary’s brother Henry Colley was father of the 1st Baron Mornington, grandfather of the 1st Earl of Mornington and great-grandfather to the Iron Duke of Wellington.

Before she married James Brabazon, Mary Colley was married to William Ashe of Ashefield, Co Meath. They may have had one son, Dudley Ashe.


James and Mary Brabazon were survived by three sons and four daughters.

Born in 1682, their eldest son James was Rector of Castlecarberry and died unmarried.

Their second son Henry was born in December 1686 but we know no more.

Their third son Anthony Brabazon (16 Dec 1698 - 6 July 1771) was married on 24 Nov 1732 to Mary, daughter of ____ Donogh and left eleven children.[iv]

Jane’s younger sister Rose married Sir Henry O Neill, Bart.

Her next sister Arabella married Brabazon Eccleston of Drumshallon, Co Louth.

The youngest sister was called Mary but we know no more.


John and Jane Disney had issue a daughter Catherine (m to William Eccleston Esq) and six sons viz Thomas (1698-1728, born in Stabannon); Brabazon; James of Galway; Theobald, in holy orders; William and George.


John and Jane’s second son, the Rev. Brabazon Disney, DD, was born in Stabannon, Co Louth, in 1711. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, he was Regius Professor of Divinity at the college from 1769 until 1776, a time when the 1st Duke of Gloucester was the College’s Chancellor. Brabazon Disney was later rector of Kilmore in the diocese of Armagh, and was appointed Chancellor of Armagh Cathedral in 1780. He died in 1790. His wife Patience was a daughter of Henry Meade Ogle Esq, MP for Drogheda, and bore him three sons, William (of Somerset, Co Dublin), the Rev Brabazon Disney, and Thomas.


The Rev. Brabazon Disney’s second son and namesakeseems to have enjoyed a steady rise through the Church of Ireland hierarchy being variously Rector of Killary (1788 to 1797), Vicar of Staholmock & Cruicetown (1788-1830) and Rector of Syddan (1788-1823). When Staholmock, Cruicetown and Syddan were united in 1823, his eldest son, Brabazon William Disney, succeeded as Vicar. In 1815, Brabazon Disney succeeded Moore Smith to become Rector of Slane.[v] One of his final acts was to enlarge and rebuild the original Church of St Patrick (built 1712) in Slane, completed in 1830. Upon his death on 31 May 1831, Brabazon Disney was succeeded at Slane by his son John James Disney. The Rev Brabazon Disney was married in 1793 to Eliza, daughter of John MacMollon, Esq, KC.


Brabazon William Disney, BD, was the eldest son of the Rev Brabazon Disney by his wife Eliza. Born on 13 July 1797, possibly 1791, he was variously Rector of Syddan, Rector of Stackallen in the Union of Paynestown; and Archdeacon of Raphoe.[vi] He was also Rector of Innismot which existed until 1833, despite the fact it had no church and only five Protestant parishioners. In 1845 he became Dean of Armagh[vii]. He quickly settled down to complete an eight volume ‘Occasional and Practical Sermons’, published in 1847.[viii]

On 9 October 1827, B.W. Disney married Anne Margaretta Beauman, scion of a Bohemian soldier who served with Ginkel and settled in Wexford in 1691. Her father William Beauman lived at Rutland Square in Dublin while her uncle CJ Beauman lived at Hyde Park in Co Wexford. In 1796, her father married her mother Charity, widow of Tennison Edwards of Old Court in Wicklow, and daughter of John Barrington. Anne’s brother John Beauman was in Holy Orders and was Vicar Choral of St Patrick’s Cathedral and Vicar of Julianstown, Co Meath, and died unmarried on 15 April 1828 which is just six months after Anne and B.W. Disney married. Anne’s only sister Maria was married in 1819 to Sir John Kennedy of Johnstown-Kennedy and died on 7 Nov 1828 (13 months after Anne’s wedding), leaving 5 sons and 1 daughter.

Anna Disney died in London on 25 February 1869. Brabazon William Disney died in 1874. Their [only?] daughter Jane Disney (1816-1854), married Richard Halloran (1806-1869), merchant and shipowner of Glenarm, son of George Halloran who died in Culfreightrim in 1846). The Halloran family had dropped the 'O' from the name after the 1798 troubles but resumed its usage when they moved to the Colonies. Jane died young in Glenarm in 1854 and is buried in St Patricks Church of Ireland there. Richard and Jane had ten children before her untimely demise, of whom George Stewart O'Halloran (1845-1910) was great-grandfather to Alan Martin who comissioned this piece. A younger brother, Brabazon Disney O'Halloran (1850-1901), was Chief Postmaster for Whangarei.


Born in 1805, John James Disney was the second son of the Rev Brabazon Disney by his wife Eliza., In 1831, he succeeded his father as Rector of Slane, co Meath. In 1829, he married his cousin Anne Eliza, daughter of Thomas Disney Esq.

Their only child, the Rev. Brabazon Thomas Disney was born 11 November 1831. Hugh Disney's "Disneys of Stabannon" (privately published in 1995) states:

'He was the fourth consecutive generation to be named Brabazon. His uncle was Brabazon, Dean of Armagh, his grandfather was Brabazon, Rector of Slane and his great grandfather Brabazon, Professor of Trinity College - all of them clergymen. Educated at St Columba's College at Stackallan only four miles from Slane, before entering Trinity College as a pensioner, aged 18 on 1 July 1850. After three years at Trinity he walked out and an indulgent father bought him a commission in the 67th Regiment of Foot which ended within a year as a result of a romantic episode with a senior officer's wife. He then returned to Trinity where he graduated BA within a year and became curate at the parish church of Farahy [Cloyne in Kildorrey] Co Cork on 30 May 1858. Within 7 months of his arrival he had wooed the eldest daughter of the big house and on 8 January 1859 married 20 year old Sarah Cole Bowen. [She was the eldest of Henry Cole Bowen of Bowen’s Court, co Cork. Sarah was thus a sister of Robert Bowen of Bowens Court and great-aunt of the celebrated author Elizabeth Bowen who writes about them in her works.]
BTD then moved back home to Slane to be curate to his father for 5 years. His next move in 1865 was his appointment as Rector of Farahy across the fields from Bowen's Court (Sarah's childhood home). After 6 years they moved closer to Cork when BTD became Rector of Monkstown. In 1877 he was next sent to Abbeyliex as a mere curate (possibly as a result of an amorous indiscretion) and had to wait 4 years before he was made up to rector in 1880. Like his uncle Brabazon he was made chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant. BTD and Sarah spent over 20 years as Rector of Abbeyleix before he retired in 1898. At the time of the 1901 census, Thomas Brabazon Disney and his wife were listed at St. Anne's Hill Hydro in Kilnamucky, Blarney, Co. Cork. He died the following year on 2 November 1902 aged 71 at Claycastle, Youghal, Co Cork and in accordance with his wishes was buried at Abbeyleix. Mary survived until Nov 1918. Both are buried in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Abbeyleix. (With thanks to Richard Reid).

In January 2020 Michael O'Connell purchased some copies of “The Graphic”, an illustrated weekly English newspaper, from 1882 with a little blue ink stamp that read “Revd Brabazon T.Disney Abbey Leix."



The Rev. Brabazon Disney’s second son Thomas Disney Esq of Rock Lodge co Meath, was an officer in the army. He was married in 1791 to Anne Eliza, only daughter of William John Purdon Esq, by Jane Coote his wife of the Mountrath family. He died in 1851 having had eight sons and five daughters.[ix] I think their daughter Catherine (1806-1853) was the lady with whom the brilliant mathematician and astronomer Sir William Rowan Hamilton fell in love but she was instead married to a clergyman (Rev William Barlow, sometime Vicar of Carlingford and Rector of Creggan) fourteen years her senior. Click here for the extraordianry tale of Hamilton and his bridge graffitti. In March 2017, I was contacted by Anne van Weerden of Utrecht who has produced an essay about Hamilton's private life in which she cast doubt on the accuracy of his sad and alcoholic reputation; her essay can be found here.


"Disneys of Stabannon: a review of an Anglo-Irish family from the time of Cromwell", Hugh Disney, 1995.
"Disneys of Norton Disney 1150-1461", Hugh Disney, 2002.


[i] According to the Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1844-45.

STABANNON, a parish in the barony of Ardee, Co Louth, Leinster. It contains the villages of Dromgoolestown and Stabannon. Length eastward 3 miles; breadth from I to 2 ¾; area 4,376 acres, 3 roods, 11 perches. Pop in 1831: 2,221, in 1841: 1,234. Houses: 402. Pop of the rural districts in 1841: 1,884, Houses: 324. The land is of prime quality. The highest ground is at Drumcashel fort and has an altitude of 250 feet above sea level. The river Dee runs along the southern boundary. The principal scats are Drumcashel house, Mountview, Roodstown house, Charleville and Braganstown house, and the principal hamlets are Ruthstown, Pollbrook, Ballyregan and Narrowlane. The road from Ardee to Castle Bellingham passes through the interior.

The village of Stabannon stands on this road 3 miles south west of Castle Bellingham, and 4 ¼ east-north-east of Ardee. Area, 17 acres. Pop in 1831 279 in 1841 243 Houses 57 This parish is a vicarage in the diocese of Armagh. Vicarial tithe composition, £200; glebe 12 10s. The rectorial tithes are compounded for £298 10s and are impropriate in the vicars choral of St Patrick's Dublin.

The vicarages of Stabannon and RICHARDSTOWN constitute the benefice of Stabannon. Pop in 1831, 2.758. Gross income £212 10s; nett £188 6s. Patrons of Stabannon, the vicars choral of St Patrick's Dublin and of Richardstown, the archbishop of Armagh. The church was built in 1826 by means of a loan of £784 12s 3 d from the late Board of First Fruits. Sittings 110; attendance 30. The Roman Catholic chapel has an attendance of 800; and in the Roman Catholic parochial arrangement is united to the chapel of Kilsaran. In 1834 the Protestants of the parish amounted to 53 and the Roman Catholics to 2,042;; the Protestants of the union to 70 and the Roman Catholics to 2,536 and 2 hedge schools in the parish had on their books 75 boys and 45 girls. (The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland Adapted to the New Poor-law, Franchise, Municipal and Ecclesiastical Arrangements, and Compiled with a Special Reference to the Lines of Railroad and Canal Communication, as Existing in 1814-45).

[ii] Marriage Licence dated 26 Feb 1703.

[iii] See Archdall’s Lodge’s Peerage, Vol 5, p. 274. See also ‘Brabazon of Mornington’ in ‘A genealogical and heraldic dictionary of the landed gentry of Great Britain and Ireland’ by Bernard Burke.

[iv] The children of Anthony and Mary Brabazon were:

I James of Mornington, b 15 June 1736, m Mattilda, dau and heir of Thomas Edwards of Ravagh co Tyrone and dsp

II PHILIP of whom presently. Born 22 Nov 1738, m 28 May 1772, Elizabeth, dau of George Adams of co Meath and by her (who d 6 July 1793), left at decease (5 Jan 1828), a son William-Philip Brabazon of Mornington.

III Anthony, b13 Dec 1739, died young.

IV. Colley Disney b 15 Feb 1740

V. Anthony b 28 March 1842 dsp.

VI John b 24 Oct 1747

VII. Wesley b. 14 Sept 1752

VIII. Jane m 1st to George Disney and 2ndly Harry Brabazon of Drogheda. She d at Rath 10 Nov 1778.

IX. Mary

X. Lawrence d young

XI. Katharine Frances m July 1768 to William Brabazon Esq and died 20 Feb 1796.

[v] Slane is an 18th century union consisting of Slane, Fennor, Grangegeeth and Monknewtown.

[vi] In 1829, William Brabazon became Rector of Syddan, retaining the post through the disestablishment of the church until 1872. The Church of Syddan (St David) was built by a bequest of Elizabeth Ball.

[vii] Patent dated Sept 20, instituted Oct 11

[viii] See: Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae (1851) By Henry Cotton

[ix] The eight sons and five daughters of Thomas and Anne Eliza Disney were:

i BRABAZON lieut col formerly of the 7th fusiliers, dsp in 1833.

ii William John, RN, killed on board HMB ‘La Hogue’ by an accident.

iii Thomas barrister at law of Beneavin, Fingal, co Dublin, b 1799, m 1847 Dorothea Jane, dau of Rev Edward J Evans, known as Dora, and had two sons William (b 1848) and Henry Robert Evans (b 1855). Dora's brothers included Edward Kentish Evans and Rev. John Evans.

IV Robert Anthony of Dublin, m 1840 Caroline, dau of the late Rev R Disney and has two sons and six daus.

V Edward Ogle, in holy orders, rector of Killeshil, Co Tyrone, b 1804, m 1854 Matilda, dau of Rev George Miller DD and has issue Edward Henry (b. 1856) and George William (b 1859)

VI. Henry Purdon, in holy orders, dunm 1854. In 1847, Henry Purdon Disney became Rector of the Parish of Killochonnigan based in the Church of St Kineth which was consecrated in 1823.

VII James, in holy orders, m 1851 Susan, dau of W Paton Esq and has one son and one dau.

VIII. Lambert capt 2nd Lane militia, b in 1809, m in 1835 Anna Henrietta, dau of William Battersby Esq, & has issue Thomas William (b. 1836), Lambert John (b. 1841) and Caroline Frances

IX Jane m in 1813 to John Barlow Esq of the co Dublin.

X Anna m to the Rev J J Disney of Slane.

XI. Catherine m to the Rev Wm Barlow.

XII Caroline dunm in 1839.

XIII Louisa m to the Rev Henry T Hobson.

With thanks to Alan Martin, Susie Warren, Tom La Porte, Roger Nowlan, Matthew Fowler, Sarah McKearney, Katie Morris, John Mitchell, James Waddell and others.