Tag Archives: Sir John Coghill

Coghills and Cramers

A Genealogical Note on the Family of Cramer or Coghill

From Materials collected by BERTRAM C.  A.  WINDLE, LL.D., F.R.S., F.S.A.

The only excuse which I can offer for the appearance of these Notes in the pages of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Journal is that they relate to a family which has long been seated in this county, and contain notices of various persons and places concerned with the City and County, and notably of one individual who enjoyed the distinguished honour of having been Mayor of Cork.   They may thus some day be of interest and value to a future continuator of the County History; and in the hope that this may be the case, I have put them together, and have ventured to offer them to the editors of this Journal.

These papers consist of:

  • a letter written from Pisa in 1826 by Thomas Cramer, a copy of which I obtained from my mother;
  • a note written by Ambrose Cramer in 1828, containing some interesting matters in connection with the relation of the family to this City;
  • a letter respecting the French family of Cramer, dated 1904; and
  • a letter respecting the American branch of the same family, dated 1905.

I owe these last three to the kindness of my cousin, Sir Egerton Coghill Bt., the head of the senior branch of the family.   To these I have added:

  • a genealogical tree of the Cramer family, compiled by Mr Ambrose Cramer, the writer of the American letter; and
  • another tree of the senior branch as far as the generation to which I belong myself, and one stage further in the case of the line of direct descent of the title. This is partly from Lodge but as Lodge’s facts are not complete, I have brought the matter to a state of greater accuracy, and made it as complete as was possible.

With respect to Thomas Cramer’s letter, I entertained some doubts as to whether it should be published in full.   It was not intended for the public eye, and it contains appreciations of his own family which the writer was quite entitled to express to a relative, but would probably not have committed to print.   However, on due consideration, it seemed better to publish the letter just as it was written.   It is many years since Thomas Cramer was gathered to his fathers, and its publication cannot affect him, while his letter gains –at least so I think – by the familiar tone in which it is written.[1]

One curious genealogical point may be made clear to those who are not in the habit of studying “family trees”.   It will be noticed that Sir Josiah Coghill (born Cramer) was twice married.   By his first wife he had three daughters, one of whom died unmarried.   His second daughter married a son of Charles Kendal Bushe, whilst Sir Josiah himself married, as his second wife, a daughter of the same Charles Kendal Bushe, thus becoming the brother-in-law of his own daughter.

As a result it follows that all the descendants of Sir Josiah, except the children of his daughter Josephine, can claim descent from that very distinguished man, C.  K.  Bushe, for a time Solicitor-General, and afterwards Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.

He was a member of the Irish House of Commons and may be seen in the well-known picture of that body in 1790, his head being immediately above those of Grattan and Flood, who are placed in the foreground.   He voted consistently against the Act of Union, and in Sir John Barrington’s ‘Red List’ there appears after his name the word “incorruptible”.   There is only one other member of the House thus described, and that is John Ball, member for Drogheda, and, oddly enough, in the picture above alluded to, he is represented as in conversation with Bushe.   Whatever views Bushe’s posterity may take about politics, they can all agree that this description of their ancestor is not the least cherished of their family possessions.   Perhaps it might be mentioned as a curious piece of family history, and as a link with the past, that the last surviving child of the Lord Chief Justice, Mrs Maria Harris, died two years ago, in her ninety-ninth year, and in full possession of all her faculties.   My mother, who died earlier in this year, often sat on the Bench with her distinguished grandfather when he was Lord Chief Justice and she a young girl.   It is, perhaps, not amiss to record these links of today with the giants of the last century in Ireland

University College, Cork

(i)           letter from Pisa in 1826 by Thomas Cramer


In compliance with your repeated desire, I proceed to execute my promise of committing to paper what information I have been able to collect relative to our family, which is, after all, very scanty and derived almost entirely from reminiscences of the conversations of my father and of our cousin the late Lady Forster, from occasional researches in books of Genealogy and Heraldry, and from the perusal of several old Registers and Chronicles of the Irish Civil Wars of the 17th Century.

My brother and my sister Homan, and also your late good father have communicated to me a few family traditions, which I avail myself of; but unfortunately from a variety of circumstances I had never an opportunity of exploring the true and genuine source of information on this subject – I mean the papers of Sir J.  Coghill Coghill, which alone can throw any light on the first establishment and alliances of our ancestors in Ireland.  Many authentic and interesting facts might also be gleaned from examining the Registers of the Prerogative Court in Dublin, and of all such Records and Archives of the County Kilkenny as are in preservation, to all of which I suppose you could easily procure access.  Without any further preamble I now attempt my sketch of our family history.

The founder of our family in Ireland was Colonel Tobias von Cramer, who commanded a regiment of cavalry under Prince Maurice in the wars of the Low Countries in the 16th Century, and after the Peace of 1609, being received into the same military rank into the service of King James the First, was employed by that monarch in Ireland where he finally settled.

He was a native of Suabia, of a noble family (from the prejudices of that age considered in Continental services essential to military command), but you must not here associate the grand ideas we attach in our country to the word nobility with the term it is understood on the Continent, where being noble implies little more than genteel birth, the privilege of armorial bearings, and exemption from certain taxes and the right of sporting one’s own property – in fact, nineteen out of twenty of the Continental nobility would in Ireland be considered very private gentlemen.

From our ancestor expatriating himself to such a wild unsettled country as Ireland then was, we may very naturally presume that he was either of a very adventurous disposition, or that he was a younger brother little favoured with gifts of fortune, and this latter conjecture seems to me not improbable, having met about two years ago, at the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle, a Baron de Cramer, who was a Suabian by either by birth or extraction (I am not positive which), who told me his family had a tradition that about the latter end of the 16th Century a younger brother of it, after extraordinary vicissitudes of fortune, had settled in Ireland, where he married a lady of great birth and property.

Whom our ancestor married I have never been able to ascertain, but his Suabian origin and time of arrival in Ireland so singularly coincide with Baron de Cramer’s tradition, that I am inclined to think he was the identical person he alludes to.

The Colonel was unquestionably in his time considered an excellent officer, and, if implicit credit may be given to one of our family traditions, was Governor of Ostend in the beginning of that memorable siege in the early part of the 17th Century, that lasted three years, three months, three weeks and three days, and when 136,000 persons on both sides are said to have perished before its reduction by the Spaniards.  I must, however, acknowledge I doubt the fact of such an important fortress being confided to the government of an officer having no higher rank than that of Colonel, and think it more probable he might have been Deputy-Governor or Commandant, not but there are numerous instances in the wars of that period and in the Thirty Years War of Colonels commanding corps of four and five thousand men, and in the English Civil Wars of the 17th Century we find ranks of General and Colonel frequently confounded – thus the celebrated Harrison, though he was one of the most distinguished of the Parliamentary Generals, and we are struck with the same circumstance in reading of Lambert, Pride, Desborough, and other Generals of the Republican Party.

Lodge’s Peerage refers Tobias Cramer’s Letters of Denization to 1639, but he had long before established in the country, and probably then went through the forms of denization, as did many of the recent English and Scottish settlers, to prevent any chicanery of the Government at a future period, contesting their rights of their posterity to landed property acquired by their ancestors, who, according to the strict letter of the law, would have been otherwise aliens – a precaution not ill-founded, Lord Stafford, the then Lord Lieutenant, having caused a general alarm through Ireland by researches as to the original titles many of them possessed of their estates for centuries, many of whom were forced to pay large fines and surrender one-third and even one-half of their lands to the Crown, under the pretext of their having been irregularly acquired by their first possessors.

Our ancestor died at a very advanced age in 1649, nor did his eldest son Balthazar [Balthazer], survive him above four years; of the latter we know little or nothing.  There appears, however, little doubt but that Balthazar was born several years before his father settled in Ireland, which could not have been earlier than 1610; now Balthazer had a son old enough for military service in 1641, only thirty-one years afterwards.

I remember half-length portraits of both father and son [presumably Col.  Tobias and Balthazer Cramer] in the hall of Sallymount, which have been unaccountably mislaid.   The old gentleman was represented with a beard and a ruff, and in a kind of Spanish dress, leaning on an ivory-headed cane.  The son as a young man of four and twenty in the costume of the early part of the reign of Charles the First.

I may here observe that it is very singular, and can only be explained by the little intercourse between the two countries now, that very shortly all connection appears to have ceased between the expatriated branch and the Teutonic parent stock; our immediate progenitors heard nothing of their German relatives, nor, I believe, did their fathers before them.

Some thirty years ago there was a Genevese family named Cramer Delon, that I understand have since settled in England, who considered themselves of our blood, and were remarkably civil to any of the family that visited Geneva, but I believe had no other proof of affinity but bearing the same arms.

The third representative of our family in Ireland, and grandson of our founder, whom he was named after, distinguished himself on the Royal side in the unfortunate Civil Wars of 1641, in which he attained the rank of Colonel.  As he was a very zealous Protestant, his support of the Crown probably proceeded more from animosity to the Roman Catholics than any real attachment to the Royal Family.  Generally suspected by the Irish Protestants of having instigated the rebellion, he therefore appears not only very readily to have submitted to the authority of the English Commonwealth on the reduction of the country by Cromwell, but what may have been less excusable to have taken advantage of the distracted state of the times to improve his fortune, having acquired considerable tracts of confiscated land by purchasing the Debentures of the English officers and adventurers.

It may be alleged, in his justification, that these lands were already lost to ancient possessors, and if he had not purchased them, others would, so great indeed at that time was the violence of party spirit, and such the blindness of religious zeal, that it is extremely probable that he who was in other respects a man of high honour was not on this occasion for a moment sensible that he was supporting a rapacious system of unjust spoliation.  This description of property was at that time so little valued that Ludlow says 1,000 acres of the best confiscated land in the county Dublin sold for £1,500, in the county Kilkenny for £1,000, in the county Wexford for £800, and in other counties of Leinster for £600.

Our ancestor’s acquisitions were principally in the county of Kilkenny, where he settled himself on the estate of Ballyfoyle that had previously belonged to the Purcell family, who, to judge by their Norman name, had probably acquired it either directly or indirectly by confiscation some centuries earlier.  There he made considerable improvement, and was distinguished by intelligence and activity in the discharge of the usual duties of a country gentleman.

Some editions of Debrett’s Baronetage mention him as Sheriff of the City of Dublin for 1653, but this appears to me evidently an error, the business of such a situation being totally incompatible with military avocations.   He may possibly have been mistaken for a paternal uncle of the same name, who died without issue; he himself died in 1680, having had, besides two sons, Balthazar  and Tobias, a daughter [Hester] married to Sir John Coghill, of very ancient family in Yorkshire, who, patronized by Bramall, Archbishop of Armagh, also a Yorkshireman, settled in Ireland in the reign of Charles the Second, and held many eminent legal situations.[2]

Both Balthazar and Tobias appear in the list of 3,000 Protestant gentlemen attained by King James’ Parliament.  They therefore had ample reason for supporting the cause of King William, which they appear most cordially to have done, and after the Battle of the Boyne, Balthazar, with two other commissioners, was appointed by that monarch to receive the submission of all in the county of Kilkenny who were disposed to acknowledge his authority.  Balthazar does not seem to have been forgetful of what he conceived his rights, for I find his name in a large folio, containing the claims for compensation of suffering Protestants in that war, but unfortunately his appeal was totally rejected.

In the list of attained gentlemen, his brother Tobias is described as an inhabitant of Thomas Street, Dublin, but though that part of the city is not at present the most polite, do not imagine that this derogates in the least from your ancestor’s respectability (for with him commences your branch of the Cramer family), as it was by far the most fashionable quarter at that time.  The Earl of Kildare’s town residence was in that very street, and we find by the Rawdon papers, lately published, that in the days of Charles the Second the Duke of Ormond, the Primate, and the Earl of Mountrath lodged in Skinner’s Row adjoining it.

I have not been able to learn any further particulars of Tobias, who was either father or grandfather of Ambrose Cramer, who was Mayor of Cork in 1724, and was the father of Balthazar Cramer, your grandfather, and of another son from whom is descended a branch of the family, that being some time established in Ulster, emigrated to the United States,[3] where they are numerous and all in respectable situations.

Your grandfather, I believe, was the first Cramer that fixed his residence at Rathmore, where by an able and enlightened discharge of his duties as a magistrate, he acquired the general esteem of his neighbourhood.  I have more than once in my early days heard him described as of uncommonly amiable and engaging manners; he married a lady of the name of Stephens, said to have been a lineal descendant of the celebrated Robert FitzStephen, the first Anglo-Norman Chieftain that landed in Ireland, but this being your own immediate line, of course you are infinitely better acquainted with its fortunes, alliances and connection than I could possibly be, and might, therefore, at your leisure add a supplement to this little essay, illustrative of all these points, which will thus transmit to your posterity the most precise information relative to their direct ancestry.

I now go back to the elder branch.  After the reduction of the country by William of glorious, pious and immortal memory, Balthazar once more fixed his residence at Ballyfoyle, which, however, dismantled and denudated, was then by every account a spacious and venerable castle embosomed in woods; here he appears to have passed the remainder of his days in the usual pursuits of country life.

I do not know the precise year of his death, nor indeed anything more of him but that he was succeeded in his estates by his son Oliver, who continued to inherit Ballyfoyle, and married his cousin-german, Hester Coghill, sister of Drs. Marmaduke and James Coghill.  The former was judge of the Prerogative Court, a Privy Councillor, and represented the University of Dublin for more than thirty years in Parliament.

He was a man highly esteemed by his contemporaries for talents, integrity and patriotism; in the letters of Archbishop Boulter, who managed the English interests in Ireland from 1724 to 1740, that prelate speaks in a strain of peevishness and virulence of Dr. Coghill’s uncompromising attachment to Ireland, that can now but reflect a brighter lustre on his name.  In his latter years he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, consequently first responsible minister of the Crown.  It not being till many years afterwards, in the Duke of Dorset’s second administration, that public opinion rather attached this responsibility to the office of the Lord Lieutenant’s Secretary; Lord George Sackville, the Viceroy’s son, then holding that situation, and evidently directing all the affairs of Government.

Dr. Coghill’s principal residence was at Drumcondra House, where the adjoining church was built and endowed by him, and where may be seen his monument executed by Shomacher, considered as a fine piece of scupture.  The neighbouring mansion of Belvedere[4] was the seat of his brother, Dr. James Coghill, the handsomer man to judge by their portraits at Sallymount, but who never attained the reputation of his brother.

He [Marmaduke] died a King’s Councillor, leaving an only daughter, who married very young the Earl of Charleville, and after his death, Sir John Mayne, who took the name of Coghill, by neither of whom she had issue.  The estate in the Co. Kildare my brother inherits from her, containing 2,400 plantation acres, originally purchased by her father from Lord Loftus Ely, the greatest part of which at that time was an immense sheep walk, scarcely worth half a crown an acre, which he enclosed and divided into farms and otherwise so improved that I am assured the rental would now average forty shillings an acre.  I make no apology for this digression relative to the Coghills, for we are so closely allied and the name in Ireland is so entwined with ours that we may almost be considered the same family, independently of the head of the Cramers being now the representative of the house of Coghill and bearing the name.

Let us now return to Oliver Cramer of Ballyfoyle, of whom, however, I know little else than that by his wife Hester he had two sons, John Balthazar  and Oliver, and that she survived him several years.  All accounts represent her as a singular woman, uniting much natural genius with a deal of eccentricity; though she lost both her breasts from cancer it did not deter her from the freak of taking a second husband, a Mr. Helsham, of the County Kilkenny, a man much younger than herself, by whom, however, she had no issue, which has preserved to the family a good estate she possessed in her own right in that county, which now belongs to my brothers: the adjoining lands of Ontrath that I hold under the See of Ossory also formed part of her inheritance.

Whether from caprice or mistaken tenderness, she so neglected the education of her elder son, who was of a very delicate constitution, that I have been told that he could scarcely read or write, being in other respects of slender capacity as well as homely person, yet withal of such an amiable disposition and so truly honourable, generous and noble in all his conduct and sentiments as to have acquired more than general esteem.

He married the Hon. Judith Butler, daughter of the first Viscount Lanesborough, and a little anecdote on the subject which I have heard my father relate is, in my opinion, highly creditable to them both.  His external accomplishments, as I have said, were by no means prepossessing, and she, in a manner, had been obliged by her parents to receive his addresses.  Some time after their being accepted an opportunity of her forming a much more advantageous alliance occurred, and she was earnestly solicited by her family to avail herself of it and break off the match with Mr. Cramer.  This she would not consent to do, declaring that as it was fro a sentiment of duty alone she had originally promised him her heart, now that they were better acquainted and she could appreciate his worth, no consideration whatever should tempt her to act unkindly towards him.  Their marriage took place in 1724, and was followed by numerous issue.

His younger and only brother, Oliver, possessed property in the County Carlow, where he married a Miss Rudkin, a lady of more beauty than fortune; by her he left two children, Marmaduke Coghill and Hester.  The former married first a Miss Humphreys, also of County Carlow, by whom he had two or three children that died in infancy, and secondly the daughter of Jacob Warren, Esq., of Grangely, in the County Kildare, a family related to the house of Wellesley.  The descendants of this marriage are Maurice Cramer, who inherits the estate of Beamore under the will of the Countess of Charleville, Captain Cramer of the R.N., and our other cousins residing at Drumcondra.

Hester, the sister of Marmaduke Coghill, was married when very young to Charles Tisdall, Esq., of Charlesfort, in the County Meath, by whom she had two sons; the elder was father of the present Mr Tisdall, of Charlesfort, and of several other children, and her second son, distinguished for more wit than prudence, was for some time in the Army.  He was father of Charles Tisdall, residing in College Green, with whom you are probably acquainted.

Some years after the demise of her first husband, Mrs Tisdall married Sir Nicholas Forster, of the County Monaghan (father by a former wife of the present Sir Thomas); the issue of this marriage were Humphrey, killed in the landing of the British Army in Egypt in 1801, and George Forster, my brother-in-law.

Having thus brought down the posterity of Oliver Cramer to our time, I now return to his brother Balthazar, who had by his wife, Judith Butler, a numerous offspring, of whom only four lived beyond childhood: – John Balthazar, the first Baronet of the family; a second son named, I believe, Oliver, who by the will of his grand-uncle, Doctor Marmaduke Coghill, inherited his Yorkshire property, took the name of Coghill, and settled at Coghill Hall, where, dying without male issue, the estate as regulated by Doctor Coghill’s will, went to his elder brother, who also took the name of Coghill.

The third son, my father [Marmaduke Cramer], was not born till a year after the Doctor’s death, otherwise from his apparent wish of grafting his name on a second branch of our family, he might probably have given him the reversion of the English estates.

The fourth child was a daughter, Catherine, married to the son of Archdeacon Smyth, of Gaybrook, in the County of Westmeath, the issue of which marriage was the late Ralph Smyth Esq., who by his second wife, the daughter of Sir Robert Staples, Bt., was the father of the present possessor of Gaybrook.

My grandfather [Balthazer John] was the last of the family that inhabited Ballyfoyle.  After his marriage, having attached himself immediately to his wife’s family, and his health requiring constant care, he resided almost continually in Dublin, where he had a home in Dawson Street.  He died in 1741, and was interred in St. Andrews Church, the ancient burial place.  His widow inhabited a villa near Rathfarnham, and survived him about eight years.

You, like myself, have probably heard of their eldest son, the first Sir John Coghill, lively, frolicsome, and sportive beyond even the gifts of an Irish gentleman; he sat in several of our National Parliaments, and generally voted with the opposition.  He spoke occasionally, but his elocution was not brilliant, to judge by the pointed satires and lampoons of that day, where he is repeatedly stigmatized as a babbler.

He married the younger daughter of Josias Hort, Archbishop of Tuam, by his wife, a Lady Fitzmaurice, daughter of the 21st or 22nd Lord Kerry; Lady Coghill was thus, by her mother cousin-german of the late Earl of Kerry and the first Marquis of Lansdowne.  I believe my uncle was not a little indebted to the latter for his baronetage conferred in 1788, as was his brother-in-law, the late Sir John Hort, for his title, which dates from the preceding year.  I was even told by the late Sir John Coghill that his father had been offered an Irish Peerage, but declined it on account of the inadequate fortune of his younger children.

In the early years my uncle resided principally at Bella Vista, in the County of Kildare, but after inheriting Coghill Hall almost entirely in England.  Ballyfoyle, long neglected, received from him its final degradation.  Many pleasant groves and extensive woods of fine old timber that yet surrounded it formed a considerable ornament to that part of the County of Kilkenny.  These he unmercifully had cut down, and so complete was the work of devastation that I am assured it would require no little effort of fancy to conceive it possible it ever could have been the noble seat it certainly was in the beginning of the last century.

Sir John Coghill died of gout at Bath in 1790.  He had the mortification in the preceding year, on the death of the Countess of Charleville, of finding all his hopes frustrated of adding her rich inheritance to his other demesnes, expectations he was fully authorised to entertain, both as being heir-at-law, and from her apparent partiality to his children.  However, by her last will she bequeathed her Kildare, Tipperary and Dublin estates to my father and his issue (merely assigning their reversion to him and his posterity), and her land in the County Meath to the late Mr Coghill Cramer, whose son, Mr. Maurice, of Charlemont Bridge, now possesses them.

Besides two sons my uncle left a numerous issue of daughters; of these some are since dead and others remain in single blessedness, and five were married; one to Mr. Mitchell, a clergyman; another to Captain Ottley of the R.N., since dead; a third to Col. Sankey of the Dublin Militia, since dead; a fourth to an English gentleman, since dead, of the name of Hynde; and a fifth to Major-General Sir Charles Doyle, who does or lately did command the military district of Limerick.

Some years after the death of his father [1796], the late Baronet [Sir John Thomas Coghill] sold Coghill Hall to a Lady Conyngham, and with the purchase money bought Randalls in Surrey, which I understand his brother [Admiral Sir Josiah Coghill] has disposed of; he also purchased an immense tract of land on the banks of the Mississippi from Marquis de la Fayette, which it is now thought may prove a more advantageous speculation than his friends originally supposed.

He was one of the British subjects detained as hostages by Bonaparte from 1803 to 1814, but this captivity was not very severe, as he was allowed nearly the whole time to reside in Paris, and even latterly to travel in Italy – a favour granted to no other prisoner, notwithstanding their earnest solicitations to obtain it.  In this tour he acquired a collection of Etruscan Vases, of such exquisite beauty as to have been since engraved with much typographical luxury, forming a costly volume known to the Dilettante by the title of the Coghill Vases.[5]

He died in Caen in Normandy in 1817, and was succeeded in his title and estates by his brother, Captain Cramer of the R.N. [Admiral Sir Josiah Coghill]  By his will be has bequeathed the reversion of all his landed property, in the event of the present Baronet dying without male issue, to his nephew, Hastings Doyle, but with the condition of adopting the name and arms of Coghill.

Shortly after Sir John’s death his brother purchased and settled at Ballyduff, and has thus once more reseated the family in the County of Kilkenny, and terminated its long absenteeship – a circumstance you may recollect that was particularly satisfactory to us all, and for which I shall ever esteem and respect him.  My letters this year inform me his lady has at last given him a son and heir.[6]  This consequently removes every immediate fear of the extinction of our elder branch, which by its aliances can claim a very particular illustration, the present Baronet being through his mother (a granddaughter of Lord Kerry [Lady Elizabeth Fitzmaurice], whose ancestors had frequently intermarried with the house of Thomond, lineally descended from Brian Borough,[7] [Boru, ancestor of the O’Briens] King of Munster and supreme Monarch of Ireland), and through his grandmother, the Honble. Judith Butler, great grand-daughter of Col. Edward Neville, younger son of the sixth Lord Abergavenny, of Gloucester, sixth son of King Edward the Third.

Consequently, Sir J [Josiah] Coghill can claim descent from that Monarch, and through him from William the Conqueror, Alfred and Egbert, also from Philip le Bel, St. Louis and Hugh Capet, Kings of France, and from the Kings of Castile and Scotland.

To complete this genealogical essay, I must now make some mention of my father’s branch of the family, with which you are so well acquainted that a very concise account will suffice.  He was born in 1739, took orders at the age of 23, having the best founded hopes of very high church preferment through the patronage of his cousin, Lord Lanesborough, whose influence with the Irish Government was then very considerable; these expectations from political causes were never realised.

In 1763 he married the daughter of Alderman Thomas Taylor, who had served the office of Lord Mayor of the City of Dublin in 1751, and was father of the late John Taylor, well known for his years on the turf, and who sat in our last two National Parliaments, being extremely attached to the Ponsonby party, and he uniformly voted with the opposition.

About 1768 my father settled at Sallymount, then a very small demesne that had previously belonged to Mr Myler, a Roman Catholic gentleman, and originally formed part of James the Second’s appanage when Duke of York.  By a singular coincidence he some years afterwards inherited the Charleville estate, lying within three miles of the place; and being about the same time promoted to the Chancellorship of Christ Church, he acquired the living of Kilcullen attached to it, which is the Parish Church of Sallymount.

After the Insurrection of 1798 my father principally resided at Dublin, where he died in 1802.  I believe his death was not a little hastened by the uneasiness and agitation he had suffered from the political convulsions of our unfortunate country in the preceding years.

My worthy brother, the Rev. John  Cramer, succeeeded him in his Kilkenny and Kildare estates, and during these last years has entirely resided at Sallymount, which he has considerably improved.  In 1794 he married the daughter of Sir Thomas Roberts, Bart., by whom he has six children now living.  Of these five are sons, all stout props of the family, but not of the name [Cramer], my sister-in-law having in 1801, on the death of her younger brother, Randal Roberts, inherited the Glassonbury estate in Kent, when she and her husband, according to the regulations of the Duchess of St. Albans’ will, took the name and arms of Roberts; but as that estate by her father’s second marriage has again reverted to Sir Thomas’ male issue, I cannot conceive why my brother and his children do not resume their family name, which is indeed a subject of surprise to all their acquaintance.

The task you have enjoined me, my dear cousin, is now completed.  I have transcribed, as accurately as my memory and distant situation will permit, the principal information I have been able to collect relative to the Cramer family.

Much, of course, is extremely vague, and what can be obtained proves little more than that since its establishment in Ireland it has been uniformly respectable, well connected by its alliances, and distinguished through all its branches by men of worth and honour.  In fact, at no period have we heard of any individuals of it being of dubious probity or of an indifferent character.  These my dear cousin, are just causes of honest pride; and though the family with future generations may possibly increase in illustration or opulence, I doubt if we can make for it a better wish than that it may ever preserve its hitherto fair reputation.


Pisa, October 1st, 1826.

(ii)       a note written by Ambrose Cramer in 1828,


Name, Ambrose Cramer, married Susanna Brow, near Middleton, in the County Cork, and I understood had sixteen children.  All I recollect of them was Richard Cramer, a Capt. In the Army and died in Philadelphia; came there from the West Indies for the benefit of his health.  Ambrose Cramer, a lieutenant of a man-of-war.  My father had a large family; many died young.  I was the eldest of the whole family.  Alexander Hamilton Cramer in the British Navy.  Theophilus S. Cramer, a surgeon in Barbadoes, and married a lady of the name of Eliza Swoke, and got a good estate with her; he died young and left three children.  Hugh Cramer went to Georgia in this country [USA], married there, died and left several children.  Mary and Susanna Cramer, two daughters, married and were both widows.  James Cramer a son of my grandfather, his youngest son, went to the West Indies, and died in Dominica there.  All I recollect of my brother Aleck was at the cove of Cork on board Ld. Howe’s Fleet, when he went to relieve Gibraltar; wrote a letter to his uncle Balthazar Cramer and could not find an opportunity to send; threw it overboard, and the person directed to picked it up one day when he was off the Old Head of Bengore, dried the letter and sent it to my father.  I read the letter.

I forgot to mention in its proper place the number of daughters my grandfather had that I recollect.  Catherine Cramer married a gentleman in the town of Newry (Thos. Searer), which place my grandfather was collector of, and here J.T.C.’s [John Thomas Coghill’s?] father lived for at least seven years.  He and I slept in one bed.  Jane Cramer and Elizabeth Cramer both died unmarried; long dead.

 I now give some account of my mother’s relations.  My mother’s name was Elizabeth Smith.  Baron Hamilton and his brother, a bishop, my mother and their brother’s and sister’s children; and my wife’s name, Elizabeth Johnston, whose mother was from the same stock, and by her we were related to the late General Ross, killed at Baltimore.  My grandfather was fifteen years old at the Battle of the Boyne, and lived seventy years after it.  He had a very extensive business at Cork, and built several houses there, and there was a place called Cramer’s Lane, on which he had a good deal of property; very wrong to give up business for a place in the revenue.  He was first made Collector of Lisburn; then after some time he removed to Newry.  My father had a post (revenue) in different places – a poor way of living.  I would rather be an American farmer.

My grandfather sold his collectorship several years before he died, and lived on the interest of his money, and left it to his two unmarried daughters.  Mrs Searer was left eleven hundred guineas by Dr. Coghill, and she lived with him some time.


(iii)   a letter respecting the French family of Cramer, dated 1904

[original French version]


Lorsque mon gendre m’a envoyé votre lettre du mois Octobre dernier je l’ai lue avec grand interêt, mais j’etais absent de mon domicile ordinaire en Suisse et je n’avais pas sous la main les documents necessaire pour vous répondre.

Christian Cramer de Strasbourg, mort en 1622, avait un fils.

Jean Ulrich, médecin né à Strasbourg en 1610, qui vint s’établir à Genève le 29 Mars, 1634, et y épousa Gabrielle fille de Sp. Isaac Caille, docteur médecin, il fut reçu bourgeois de Genève le 10 Novembre, 1668, avec ses fils – Gabriel, Jacques, André, et Jean Antoine (qui fut l’ancêtre de notre branche).  Il y mourut en 1687.

 Sur l’arbre genealogique de notre famille que je posséde il est dit; qu’un autre fils de Christian Cramer quitta Strasbourg pour aller s’établir en Irlande où cette branche existe encore (1816) en la personne de Cramer Coghill, chevalier Baronet, homme de mérite et propriétaire aisè.  D’après vos renseignements ce second fils de Christian Cramer serait le Colonel Tobias qui aurait été reçu Irlandais en 1639, et qui serait incontestablement le frère de notre ancêtre, nous en ignorions le pré nom.

Quant à l’origine de notre famille, nous ne possédons aucun document positif, mais nous la croyons originaire du Holstein et venue s’établir à Strasbourg à une epoque qui nous est inconnu.

Nos armoiries sont: parti, au premier d’argent à la main de gueules sortant d’un nuage d’azur à dextre, et tenant un rameau de laurier de Sinople, au second d’azur à une ancre d’argent mise en pal.  Ces armoiries suivant Galiffe, l’auteur des Genealogies genevoises, Tome iii., page 147, doivent avoir été concedées pour quelque grand exploit naval.

Quant au renseignements que nous posédons sur Christian Cramer père de notre ancêtre et de celui de votre mère, un de mes oncles, Auguste Cramer ancien Syndic né en 1795, mort en 1855, a écrit dans un manuscrit de notes et de souvenirs ce qui suit: – “Le document suivant, don’t l’original doit être chez Mr. Cramer Ashton en Angleterre contient sur Christian Cramer auteur de notre famille des particularités interessantes.  (Je l’ai copiée sur l’original en 1830 chez M. Cramer Pietet qui m’a dit plus tard l’avoir confie à son dit neveu).”

L’original est en Allemand je vous en donne la traduction faite par mon oncle: – “Nous Christophe Wauner, Tribun, Echevins et Consul de la louable Tribu des Maréchaux en cette ville libre Royal de Strasbourg sur le Rhin, reconnaissons et faisons ce qui suit.

“Il y a longtemps que Christian Cramer qui faisait un commerce de metaux en étains et autre marchandises, a été nomme de notre dit Tribu et d’une charge à l’autre, il a été élu successivement juge, puis en 1620, échevin et en 1622 Tribun, charge dans laquelle il est mort la même année.  Et comme maintenant Monsieur son fils et Messieurs ses petits fils ont demandé par écrit à nous Tribun Echevins et Conseillers de la Tribu un document sur ses emplois et sur sa conduite honorable et que nous n’avons aucun motif de la refuser, biens au contraire le désir d’acceder à leur demande.  Nous declarons sur notre obligation comme Tribun Echevins et Conseillers de la Tribu, et avec l’agrément de nos gracieux Magistrats de cette ville; que feu Christian Cramer a rempli les dits emplois honorifiques avec distinctions en sorte que si Dieu lui avait accordé une plus longue il aurait été sans doute promu et elevé à des emplois plus distingués encore.

“Nous Tribun, Echevins et Conseillers de la Tribu des Marichaux avons delivré la present en temoignage de vérité et y avons appliqué notre sceau suivant l’usage.  Donné à Strasbourg, lundi 24 Avril, l’an de grace 1684.”

Mon oncle ajoutait: – “On sait que l’Alsace a été réunie à la France par la traité de Munster en 1648, mais que la ville de Strasbourg re l’a été qu’en 1681; ses inhabitants etaient presque tous Lutherens à cette époque depuis pres d’un siecle.

“J’ai fait demander par un ami en 1842 quelques récherches dans les archives des Tribu ou autre dépots Municipaux à Strasbourg afin de constater davantage les droits de bourgeoisié de notre famille.  On m’a repondu que les registres et archives des Tribu sont entàpes en désordre dans un des combles de la Mairie, et on m’a envoyé la copie d’une piece des Archives de la Tour aux Pfennings qui est une reconnaisance de Christian Kremer fondeur et bourgeois de cette ville, datée Strasbourg 1e Mars, 1612, portant: que dans la Maison don’t il est propriétaire Grande (Langestrasse) contigue par derriere au Muntzhof, il a obtenu à bien plaire de Messieurs les intendants des Batiments de la Messieurs les Tribuns de la Tour aux Pfennings la permission d’ouvrir des jours sur la Muntzhof qu’il s’engage à supprimer à première réquisition.  L’archiviste qui à la copie authentique de cette piece y a joint la facsimile de la signature de Christian Kremer et son sceau qui est un écu on l’on reconnait distinctement une montagne dans le bas et au depuis deux mains tenant celle de droite un ancre celle à gauche une branche; au depuis de l’écu les initiales C. et K.; entre deux une grande étoile et des deux côtes une petite.”

Le Cramer Ashton dout parle mon oncle et entre les mains de qui devait se trouver l’original du document ci depuis cité, descendait de Gabriel Cramer, un des fils d’Ulrich notre ancêtre qui a formé une branche qui s’éteint dernièrement à Genève en la personne de Henri Cramer fils de Cramer Pietet mais qui a des descendants en Angleterre.  Cramer Ashton etait le fils de Noble et Spectable Jean Antoin Cramer, professeur en droit en 1757, mort en 1817, qui avait épousé Henriette Courtet, don’t il eut trois fils reconnus Anglais.

John Henri né en 1796.  Louis, officier de marine né en Angleterre en 1794, mort aux Indes en 1828.  Jean Antoine né en 1792, mort en 1848, professeur á Oxford, doyen de l’église de Carlisle, marié à Henriette Ashton, dout il eut trois fils sur lesquels vous porriez avoir des renseignements ou sur leurs descendants, ils ont hérité il y a quelques années de la fortune assez considerable de leur cousin Henri, mort sans enfants à Genève.

Le No. du journal le Graphic du 24 Novembre, 1900, donne le portrait et la biographie de Major Jocelyn Henry Cramer qui venait de mourire de la fièvre à Prahsu, Afrique Occidentale, et qui très probablement est un des descendants de Jean Antoine, professeur à Oxford.

D’après votre lettre la descendance de Tobias Cramer ne ressort pas clairement.  Sa fille Hester épousa le chevalier Sir John Coghill, don’t elle eut 4 enfants et sa fille Hester I., épousa un Oliver Cramer, quel est il?  Si vous pouvez me donner la descendance exacte de Tobias vous me seriez plaisir.

Notre famille a toujours occupé une place honorable dans le governement de la republique de Genève tant qu’il etait aristocratique, et d’apres Galiffe: “a produit un nombre singulier de savants don’t quelques uns ont été fort distingués et surtout le grand Mathematicien” (Sp. Gabriel Cramer, né en 1704, mort en 1752).

La branche ainée d’étant éteinte il y a quelques années par la mort de Henri Cramer, il ne reste plus a Genève que celle à laquelle j’appartiens.  Mon père avait 4 frères, tous morts que leurs femmes, je reste le seul survivant male de ma generation, mais il reste encore survivants males fils de mes cousins germains, et j’ai de plus un fils qui à 3 enfants don’t 2 garçons. La femme de mon arrière grand père etait fille de Abraham Wesselowsky, noble russe aide de camp de Pierre le Grand, refugié à Genève, il eut 3 autres filles qui se marrièrent en Angleterre et devinrent Mesdames Clason, Simpkinson, et Jack.

Je souhaite que ces details sur notre famille puissent vous interesser, et si vous en desirez d’autres je suis tout disposé à vous completer.

                                                                                                                    Bien à vous,   


[English Translation by Julian D S Lyon]


When my son-in-law sent me your letter of last October I read it with great interest but I was away from my usual residence in Switzerland and I did not have to hand all the requisite documents to be able to respond to you.

Christian Cramer from Strasbourg who died in 1622 had a son:

John Ulrich, a doctor, born in Strasbourg in 1610, set himself up in Geneva on 29th March 1634 and married there Gabrielle, daughter of Isaac Caille, medical doctor; he was received as a citizen of Geneva on 10th November 1668 with his sons, Gabriel, Jacques, André and Jean Antoine (who was the ancestor of our branch).  He died there in 1687.

On the family tree in my possession it is mentioned that another son of Christian Cramer left Strasbourg to set himself up in Ireland where that branch still exists today (1816) in the person of Cramer Coghill, knight baronet, a man of merit and free property.  According to your information this second son of Christian Cramer was the Colonel Tobias who was accepted as Irish in 1639 and who was indisputably the brother of our ancestor and whose given name we did not know.

With regard to the origin of our family we do not possess any positive documentation but we believe the family originated in Holstein and moved to Strasbourg at some time we know not when.

Our coat of arms is:[on the first part, Argent (silver) with a hand (of mouths/muzzles/heads) emerging from an Azure (blue) cloud to the right and holding a Sinople (green) laurel branch; on the second Azure (blue) with an Argent (silver) anchor ‘mise en pal’ (two sections divided vertically ‘in pale’].  These arms, according to Galiffe, the author of the (Genevan genealogies) Volume iii, page 147, must have been awarded for some great naval exploit.

According to the information we possess in respect of Christian Cramer, father of our ancestor, and that of your mother, one of my uncles, Auguste Cramer former Syndic (member of the Syndicate), born in 1795, who died in 1855, wrote the following in a manuscript of notes and memories: – “The following document, the original of which must be with Mr Cramer Ashton in England, contains interesting details in respect of Christian Cramer, founder of our family. (I copied this from the original in 1830 which was with Mr Cramer Pietet who told me later he had given it to his above-mentioned nephew).”

The original is in German; I am giving you the translation made by my uncle: – “We, Christophe Wauner, Tribune, ‘Echevins’ and Consul of the worthy Tribunal of Marshals in this royal free city of Strasbourg on the Rhine, recognise and enact the following:

“It is a long time ago that Christian Cramer, who ran a business of tin/pewter metals and other merchandise, was nominated to our afore-mentioned Tribunal and from one role to another, he was elected successively judge, then in 1620, (échevin) and in 1622, Tribune, in which position he died the same year.  And as now his son together with his other young sons have requested in writing to us, Tribune, (Èchevins) and Counsellors of the Tribunal, to provide a document in respect of his employment and honourable conduct and as we have no reason to refuse, indeed on the contrary we are pleased to accede to their request.  We declare according to our duties as Tribune, (Èchevins) and Counsellors of the Tribunal and with the consent of our gracious magistrates of this city; that the late Christian Cramer occupied the said honourable roles with distinctionof a kind whereby if God had accorded him a longer (life) he would without doubt been promoted and elevated to even more distinguished works.

“We, Tribune, ‘Echevins’ and Consul of the Tribunal of Marshals have delivered this document in testament of truth and have applied our seal hereto according to custom.  Granted at Strasbourg, Monday 24th April 1684.” [perhaps this should have read 1634?]

My uncle added: – “We know that Alsace was reunited with France by the treaty of Munster in 1648, but that the city of Strasbourg (did not join?) until 1681; its inhabitants had almost all been Lutherans at this time for almost a hundred years.

“I asked through a friend in 1842 for some research to be done in the Tribunal’s archives or other municipal stores in Strasbourg in order to establish the advantage of our family’s rights of citizenship.  They replied to me that the registers and archives of the Tribunal are in a state of disorder in one of the basements of the Town Hall and they sent me the copy of an item from the Archives de la Tour at Pfennings which is a recognition of Chistian Kremer, founder and citizen of this city, dated Strasbourg 1st March 1612 stating that: in the House of which he is the proprietor Grande (Langestrasse) and fronting to the rear onto Muntzhof, he obtained at the pleasure of the Messieurs the Inspectors of Buildings of the Messieurs the Tribunes of the Tower at Pfennings permission to open during the days onto Muntzhof which he undertook to abolish at the first time of asking.  The archivist who authenticated the copy of this item also added a facsimile of Christian Kremer’s signature and his seal which is a shield whereon one can distinctly identify a mountain at the bottom and above it two hands holding, in the right hand an anchor and in the left a branch; above the shield the initials C. and K.; between the two a large star and at each side a small one.”

The Cramer Ashton to whom my uncle refers and in whose handsthe afore-mentioned document should be found, was a descendant of Gabriel Cramer, one of the sons of Ulrich our ancestor who formed a branch in Geneva which was finally extinguished in the person of Henri Cramer, son of Cramer Pietet but who has descendants in England.  Cramer Ashton was the son of the noble and respected Jean Antoine Cramer, professor of law in 1757, who died in 1817 having married Henrietta Coutet with whom he had three sons recognised as English.

John Henri, born in 1796.  Louis, naval officer born in England in 1794, died in the Indies in 1828.  Jean Antoine born in 1792, died in 1848, professor at Oxford, doyen of the church in Carlisle, married to Henrietta Ashton with whom he had three sons in respect of whom you could have information or in respect of their descendants; some years ago they inherited the sizeable fortune of their cousin Henri who died without issue in Geneva.

The issue of the journal le Graphic of 24th November 1900 gives a portrait and the biography of Major Jocelyn Henry Cramer who had just died of fever at Prahsu in East Africa and who was probably one of the descendants of Jean Antoine, professor at Oxford.

According to your letter the descendancy of Tobias Cramer is not clear.  His daughter Hester married the knight Sir John Coghill by whom she had 4 children and her daughter Hester I., married an Oliver Cramer, who is he?  If you could give me the exact descendancy from Tobias you would give me great pleasure.

Our family  always occupied an honorable place in the government of the the republic of Geneva whilst it was aristocratic and, according to Galiffe: “produced a singular number of wise men of which some were highly distinguished especially the great Mathematician”. (Gabriel Cramer, born in 1704, died in 1752)

The branch having been extinguished for some years by the death of Henri Cramer, there is no other Cramer branch in Geneva except the one to which I belong.  My father had four brothers, all dead as are their wives, I remain the only surviving male of my generation, but there remain male sons of my (paternal) cousins and I also have a son who in turn has three children of which two are boys.  The wife of my great grandfather was the daughter of Abraham Wesselowsky, the noble Russian aide de camp of Peter the Great who was exiled in Geneva; he had three other daughters who married in England and became Mrs Clason, Mrs Simpkinson and Mrs Jack.

I hope that these details of our family are of interest to you and if you would like any more I would be pleased to oblige.

Best wishes


(iv)     a letter respecting the American branch

                                                                                                                301, Erie Street

                                                                                           Chicago, Ill., Nov. 15th 1895


I received your very kind letter, and was very much interested by it.  Mr J. H. Coghill, of New York, very generously sent me a copy of his Coghill Family. It is a very valuable book, and reflects great credit upon the compiler.  I hope at some future date to see Mr. Coghill.  He resides at New York, about 24 hours’ journey from here.

I should very much like to see the portraits you speak of, as a good many of their names most likely have been told me when a lad at my grandfather’s knee.  My grandfather, A. M. C. Cramer, [Ambrose Marmaduke Coghill Cramer] was a most enthusiastic warm-hearted Irishman, and delighted in gathering his children about him and relating tales of Ireland and his father and people, and we took great pleasure in these tales.  He has been dead many a year, and all his brothers.

I do not know exactly where my relationship comes in with you, and think it remote.  My branch starts with Tobias Cramer, brother to Balthazar and Hester Cramer, who married Sir John Coghill, and your branch starts with Balthazar.  It is the same blood.  My name Ambrose is first heard of in our family record in 1724, Ambrose Cramer, Mayor of Cork.  Since that date there had always been one named Ambrose.  I know the family is German, and not very long ago had a notice sent to me, “That for saving the Church of Polycarp at Smyrna from the Turks, Ambroise Herman de Cramer, Austrian Consul at Smyrna in 1799, was created Chevalier of the Order of Christ by Bull of Pope Pius VII.  March 5th every year a Mass is celebrated to his memory”.  I have no doubt on account of the similar name that our Cramer family that went to Ireland was of the same extraction.

I wish to know all I can relative to my family.  Mrs Homan’s book would be invaluable to me in making up my Cramer book.  I have heard of Mrs Homan, I think, in a letter dated Pisa, 1826, from Thomas Cramer.  He says “my sister, Homan”, and at some time speaks of “our cousin the late Mrs Forster”.  Most likely some of Mrs Homan’s descendants are living and have the book.  I would not wish to bother them by enquiries; but if I knew where to locate them, I would write to some one in the place and try to have a copy made.  It is very kind of you to offer to have a copy made if yours comes to light, and I assure you I appreciate it very much.  Under ordinary circumstances I could not accept your going to any such trouble, but I know of no other way to get information that I really desire.

I note position and occupancy of the various places I wrote of as being vaguely connected in my mind with our family.  It is too bad that they have slipped away.  In this country it is much easier to make than to hold.  I suppose your good uncle must have been a friend of Sir Richard Boyle[8] and acted upon his precept of “What shall I do for posterity; posterity never did anything for me”.

I am,

        Yours sincerely

                                AMBROSE CRAMER

To Sir John J. Coghill, Bart.,

            Glen Barrahane, Ireland

[1] Perhaps it should be mentioned that the footnotes to this letter are mine, and not Thomas Cramer’s [the square bracketed notes are by Julian D S Lyon made (July 2001) in transcribing these texts for his own purposes]

[2] He is mentioned in several places in “The Bellingham Diary[written by Colonel Bellingham in the 17th Century], where it is stated that “he was Master in Chancery in Ireland.  He was the seventh in decent from John Cockhill, of Cockhill, who was in the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV living at Russesborough”.

[3] See letter (iv) and “tree” (v) of this branch at end.

[4] This house, in which many of Sir J. Coghill’s children were born, is now St. Patrick’s Training College for Teachers.  It contains one of the finest eighteenth Century inlaid mantel-pieces in existence, and I have little doubt that this was erected by that very distinguished connoisseur, Sir John Coghill.

[5] Sir John was a man of some note on the Continent, and a most interesting and amusing account of one of his journies with Mdme. Recamier will be found in her life. The “Coghill Vases” is a handsome volume, now extremely difficult to obtain.  What became of the priceless collection of vases themselves is a mystery which has never been cleared up.

[6] The late Sir John Jocelyn Coghill of Glen Barrahane, Catletownshend, Co. Cork.

[7] Sic.

[8] Sir Boyle Roche