Origin of the Eustace Surnames
The Eustace name came to this England as a Norman
Christian name about the time of the Conquest during the 11th
Century. In early English records we find such notables as Eustace,
Count of Boulogne, Eustace de Vesci, Eustace de Burgh and others. The
Normans used a system where “FitzEustace”, i.e. son of Eustace was
used to connect generations. Eventually the “fitz” was dropped and
by the 1500s all members of the family carried the surname Eustace and
variations. Eustace is derived from the Latin eustachius
of Greek origin meaning fruitful. It is written as Iustas
in the Irish language.
Edward Mac Lysaght in his book More
Irish Families describes Eustace as one of the most distinguished of
the names which came to Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman
invasion. He writes, “While not multiplying to the same extent as the
Burkes, Butlers, FitzGeralds, Powers and other great Hiberno-Norman
families, the Eustaces were numerous enough to be classed in Petty’s
census of 1659 among the principal Irish names in four baronies of
Mac Lysaght further states,
“The name is by no means common today - in 1864 there were 20 Eustace
birth registrations, in 1865 and 1866, 18 for each year; while in 1890
the figure was 9, compared with 330 for more common names such as
FitzGerald and 272 for Power, or to take a few less numerous names at
random; Bermingham 40, Comerford 30, Cusack 46.” To take this a step
farther, in 1890 in all of Ireland, there were 715 Ryan births recorded,
193 Hogan, 147 Cahill, 98 Jordan, 59 Caulfield, 76 Donnellan (also
Donelan), 39 Ford, 16 McAndrew and 15 Lang births. Today there are
bearers of the Eustace name in Ireland, but it has become relatively
The story of the Eustace family
is closely linked with early Irish history. From the fourteenth century
until the time of the Reformation, members of the family were in
positions of leadership as sheriffs, castle constables. The story of the
Eustaces is one which reveals the birth of a great family and of its
gradual disappearance from County Kildare during the political storms
that have passed through Ireland during the past five centuries.
The Eustace family was often
divided against itself by deeply-held religious differences and by
divergent political loyalties. It was a family whose important members
so often chose the losing side and paid a penalty for doing so. However,
the cause of the numerical reduction of bearers of the Eustace name
since 1659 is mainly due to their constant support of the Irish side in
the struggles of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
As long as the English
connection with Ireland was at a length and the effective control of the
country was in the hands of the Hiberno-Normans, as was the case up to
the middle of the sixteenth century, the name Eustace was prominent in
the sphere of Irish government. It was for a time perhaps the most
powerful in Kildare (except of course the FitzGeralds), with lands
scattered from Confey in the north to beyond the county boundary in the
south; from the Dublin and Wicklow mountains in the east to Athy and
Newbridge in the west.
There is little doubt that the
FitzEustace descendants settled in County Kildare and made it their own.
Castlemartin and Kilcullen became their primary seats. Both were held by
Arnold FitzEustace le Poer in 1317. The triangle containing Naas,
Ballymore Eustace and Old Kilcullen was almost one large family estate. Criche
Eustace or Cry- Eustace it
was called. Their castles, especially those at Ballymore Eustace,
Harristown, Castlemartin and Clongowes Wood, guarded the Pale for
several centuries, and only fell at last to the guns of Ormonde and
Cromwell. It was rare for a jury of county gentlemen to contain no
Eustace, and on at least one occasion they formed a majority upon a
panel of twelve.
The Eustace family produced, as
we shall see, many of the great men of Kildare and several who held the
highest positions in the Government of Ireland. There were many of them
sheriffs, constables of castles and the like from 1200 onwards. During
four centuries there were Eustaces appointed governors of castles at
Ballymore, Carbury, Wickmore, Kilkea, Blackwood, Ballysax and Naas in
the fifteenth century, Sir Richard Eustace was Lord Chancellor (a
position held at different times by four other Eustaces); in 1454 Sir
Edward FitzEustace was Lord Deputy; his son, Sir Roland, also Lord
Chancellor, was created Baron of Portlester. In 1462 Sir Rowland was
made deputy to the Duke of Clarence, Viceroy of Ireland. Sir Roland
together with his wife Margaret, founded the Franciscan monastery of New
Abbey in County Kildare. A century earlier, in 1356, another Eustace
founded the Dominican priory at Naas. Sir Roland died in 1496, having
occupied the position of Lord Treasurer of Ireland for 38 years. A
nephew of the first Lord Portlester was made Lord Kilcullen and later
Viscount Baltinglass. In 1480, Alison Eustace who had married the Earl
of Kildare was buried at Kilcullen.
the next century the first of the many Eustace attainders occurred:
James Eustace, the 3rd Viscount Baltinglass was a leader in the Earl of
Desmond’s rebellion in favour of Mary, Queen of Scots, as a Catholic
against Protestant Elizabeth I, James Eustace, together with his kinsman
and members of the Gaelic septs of County Wicklow had signally defeated
Lord Grey in 1580 at Glenmalure. They shared in the general ruin
following the collapse of Desmond’s rebellion. While Desmond was
defeated, the Eustaces fought on in the hills for over a year and were
eventually defeated. As a result, practically a whole generation was
wiped out. The viscount and his two surviving brothers escaped abroad
but died within a year or so. Their children must have been spared as
the family has survived to the present day when they are probably
numerically the strongest of any of the name. Their titles and land were
forfeited under attainder, some land was restored, but no titles. One of
the descendents, William Eustace of Naas was pardoned by Elizabeth’s
successor James I and lived in London as Viscount Baltinglass but was
not entitled to in law.
Eustace, the son of William of Naas, married Elizabeth Bigland, daughter
of Mary Strickland who was one of the four Marys attendant to Mary,
Queen of Scots. A drinking cup given by that unfortunate queen to Mary
has been handed down through that branch of the family. Throughout the
religious troubles that have marred the history of Ireland the Eustaces
have suffered whichever faction gained power Catholic, Protestant,
Puritan, they all plundered one or other of the family. Sometimes there
was a reversal of fortune and lands were recovered but more often not.
1642 attainders include about 20 Eustaces mostly of County Kildare, with
a few on its eastern border in Counties Dublin and Wicklow. For a period of three hundred years, the family owned or
controlled much of the land in County Kildare including Coghlanstown,
Harristown, Castlemartin, Clongoweswood etc. On the Kildare-Wicklow
border, the name is perpetuated at the village of Ballymore Eustace,
which translates as the “Big Town of the Eustaces”.
who always notably loyal to Charles I and Charles II, who escaped any
penalty for his public activities was Maurice Eustace (ca. 1590-1665).
Maurice was speaker of the Irish House of Commons in 1639 and Lord
Chancellor in 1660. His nephew Sir Maurice Eustace (d. 1693) commanded
one of the infantry regiments in James II’s army, in which there were
six officers named Eustace, as well as several in other regiments. Sir
Maurice was one of the 22 attainders and forfeitures in 1691(on this
occasion 12 were in County Kildare, 8 in County Carlow and 2 in County
Wicklow). Many of these dedicated Eustace supporters of James II,
followed their leader to France.
most tragic and barbaric story is that of Maurice Eustace, whose father
Sir John of Castlemartin wanted him to be a soldier. The son, however,
resolved to become a priest and was secretly ordained. The secret was
revealed by a younger brother and a servant. Maurice was hanged at
Dublin on his father’s orders in 1581. He is recorded in the Catholic
Church’s official list of martyrs.
Eustaces have been notable chiefly as sheriffs, soldiers, lawyers and
administrators. Rev. John Chetwode Eustace (c. 1760-1815) who was one of
the first professors in Maynooth College, is worthy of mention in the
field of literature. The family’s most continuous record of public
service is that of High Sheriff of County Kildare. Members of the family
have held the position on about forty-five occasions. The family also
produced two Lords Deputy, three Lords Chancellor, and two Lords
of the Irish family now live in England. Perhaps as many as half the
Eustaces in England are of Irish extraction.
the United States, the Most Reverend Bishop Bartholomew Eustace
(1887-1956) became the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Camden,
New Jersey. Bishop Eustace was born in New York City of Irish parents.
Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, New Jersey is named in
D. Eustice (1928-1976), a descendent of a County Longford family, served
as sheriff of Waseca County, Minnesota. He was elected president of the
Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and was fatally injured in the line of
duty in 1976. One of his major accomplishments was the organization of
the Sheriff’s Boy’s Ranch at Austin, Mower County, Minnesota.
Eustace is Google's VP of Engineering
where he is responsible for all aspects of the company's product
research and development activities. He joined Google
in the summer of 2002.
In addition to directing Google's
engineering efforts, Alan is actively
involved in a number of Google's
community-related activities such as The Second Harvest Food Bank and
the Anita Borg Scholarship Fund.
Alan Eustace is
an author of 9 publications and holds 10 patents. He earned a Ph.D. in
Computer Science from University of Central Florida.