20 November 2014
A transcript of ‘Some records of the Comerford family
collected by a descendant’ by James Comerford (1902)
Three years ago, on 16 November 2011, the 23rd edition of the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society (2011-2012), edited by Celestine Rafferty, of County Wexford Library Service, was launched in Wexford by the Wexford historian and Smurfit Director Dr Kevin Whelan.
That edition of the journal included my paper on my great-grandfather James Comerford (1817-1902), a stucco artist, architect and trade unionist who began his career working with Pugin and McCarthy on their Wexford churches.
My paper discussed James Comerford’s private publication, shortly before his death in 1902, of a history of the Comerford and Comberford families. I referred to his personal pride in the links between his family and Comberford, half-way between Lichfield and Comberford, and how he had kept detailed accounts of his visits to Comberford, Tamworth, Lichfield and Wednesbury.
I suggested that this work had been seen through as a private printing and publishing project, shortly before James Comerford’s death, by my grandfather, Stephen Comerford, and pointed out that James had made a number of comments and corrections to the printed text in his own meticulous handwriting.
At the time, Kevin Whelan suggested that I should find some way of making this curious publication available to a wider readership.
The only copy I have found of this publication is on the open shelves of the public library. I have photographed and transcribed this small booklet, and making it available in this posting. In a footnote, I have corrected James Comerford’s transcription of the Comberford monument in the Comberford chapel, but for further details of the history of the Comberford family, it is important to read the postings on the Comberford family on the Comerford Family History wbsite.
[Cover, gold embossed lettering on blue card:]
Some records of the
collected by a descendant
XXVI. Novr. MDCCCCII
[Inside cover blank]
[Blank page with bookplate pasted onto it]
[Unnumbered page, in handwriting:]
The Church of Saint Editha, Tamworth
In the year 567 Christianity was planted among the
Anglo-Saxons in this country. Mercia the largest
of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms in 655 was out under the
spiritual charge of a Bishop. St Chad the 6th
Bishop, fixed his see in 667 within 7 miles of
Tamworth. This see was raised into an Archbishopric
in 785 with 6 suffragans under it. At Tamworth
the Mercian Kings often took up their quarters.
The first Church was destroyed by the Danes
The Church was dedicated to Saint Eadgith
(Edith), sister of Athelstan. Tamworth at the
Conquest was granted to “Marmion” by William
the Conqueror. Sir Philip Marmion the
7th Norman Lord of Tamworth Castle was the
last of his race – died 1291, therefore Scott’s
Marmion is a fictitious person.
At Tamworth King Offa built a
Exhibited at the Castle are 10 Saxon
silver coins, struck at the Royal Mint
Tamworth in the time of the Mercian kings.
These coins had never been issued and
were found in 1877 when excavating on
the site of the old Town Well – the most
perfect I have ever seen.
[Sepia photograph of the interior of Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth]
[Handwritten on blank page:]
James W Comerford
The name is variously spelt on Monuments, in Pedigrees and in Documents:
“Comberford” – “Cumberford” – “Cumberfort” –
“Comberfort” – “Cumbford” and “Comerford”
AT THE OLD CHURCH, TAMWORTH,
STAFFORDSHIRE, WHICH IS DEDICATED TO St. EDITHA,
DAUGHTER OF EGBERT
The Comberford Chapel contains a marble Tablet, bearing the following inscription:
“Hic situm est monumentum diuturniate vero temporis
“et bellis plusquam civilibus dirutum familiae non
“ita pridem florentis gentis amplae et honestae
“COMBERFORDIORUM qui de hoc municipio cum in
“aliis, tum in hoc templo aedificando optime
“meruerunt domini Cumberfordiae, inclaruere annis
“In Roberto antem novissimo stirpis Angliacae
“Staffordiensis viro genus extinctum ploratur
“qui obiit A.D. 1671 : et hic cum consorte
“domina Catherin Bates filiisque duobus Maria
“et Anna, suis haeredibus, tumulo conditus – Nomen
“adhuc viget in stirpe Hibernica, qui Regem
“Jacobum Secundum in Galliam secuta est : atque
“ibi angliacae in Provincia de champagne dominio
Above this Tablet were these arms (now gone), viz: Gules, a Talbot passing Argent (Comberford), Sa or fess between three hands erect arg (Bates), Crest out of a Ducal coronet Or a peacock’s head mantled, Gu. Doubled Or – powdered with roses Gules.
The chapel also contain an Effigy in chain mail of William de Comberford (1349) much mutilated, both legs gone, on which is an old card bearing the following remarks :
“Effigy of Warrior in chain mail with surcoat over
“haubert and sword belt, head resting on helmet,
“(other fragments of this monument may be seen
“in the muniment room). This Monument formerly
“lay under the pointed arch in north transept similar
“to that in St. George’s chapel but now walled up,
“it was in memory of one of the Comberfords, this
“transept being called ‘Comberford Chapel’.”
At foot of this Monument are two small figures representing his son and daughter.
William de Comberford, 1329 – John, about 1400. Vide Mur. Tablet.
“Here is placed a Monument, though much defaced by
“lapse of time and mise (probably mischance) by civil
“wars of the great and noble (though not now so
“flourishing as in former days) family of the
“Comberfords, to whom this borough owes much
“for other benefits, as well as for help in building
AT THE CHURCH AT WEDNESBURY –
On the Stone on the floor of the Church, within the Communion Rails, are the figures of a man in armour and a woman in the dress of the time, and one son and four daughters, at their feet with the following marginal inscription :
“Of your Charyte praye for the Soule of Ihon Comberfort
“gentylman and Em’ his wyffe the whyche Ihon
“departed the XXV day of Aperylle in the yere of
“our Lord God MCCCCCLIX of whose soule God
Over South Door is a list of charitable bequests, among them,
“William Comberford, Esq., and Lord of this Manor give
“the sum of Twenty Pounds by Will to be bestowed
“for every Good Friday on the poor in bread,
On the 6th Bell is inscribed :
“William Comberford, Lord of this Manor, gave this
In the time of Philip and Mary, Humphrey Comberford is certified as holding the Manor of Wigginton. He also owned the Manor of Comberford : 30 messuages, ten cottages, one watermill, 1,000 acres of land, 200 pasture, 100 wood. He was succeeded by his son, Thomas Humphrey Comberford. He married Dorothy Beaumont who died 1502.
Comberford Hall at Comberford, which is two miles distant from Tamworth, a modern building now occupied by one of the Peel family, was the ancient seat of the Comberfords, from or soon after the Conquest.
They also had a mansion called “ The Moat House ” at Tamworth and a seat at Wednesbury which came to them through marriage with the Beaumonts, who ancestor was a son of Louis VIII. of France, this was used as a sort of town house. On the ceilings of this house are several Coats of Arms of the Comberfords – Gu. a Cross engrailed Or – five Roses of the Field (Warwickshire branch), also Gu. a Talbot passant argent (Staffordshire branch).
Dr. Plot says Colonel Comberford caused the burbot (a fish like an eel but with a flat head with two beards on it, sometimes called an eelpout), which was taken at Fazeley Bridge in 1656 to be drawn from life and placed in the Hall.
Henry Comberford, D.D., was precentor of Lichfield Cathedral, December 19, 1555, and in 1559 was deprived of all benefits on account of his religion and ordered to remain in Suffolk at a great distance from his friends. In 1579 he was a prisoner, at the age of 80, for his religious opinions were dangerous to the State. Lord Shrewsbury, writing to Lord Burley from Sheffield Castle, January 20, 1572, says “I caused my man to apprehend one Thomas Comberford of Comberford Gent. he was concerned in the conspiracies of Queen Mary against Queen Elizabeth.”
William Comberford entertained Prince Charles (afterwards Charles I.) at the “Mothall” (Moat House) in 1619, at the same time that the King, James I, was entertained at the Tamworth Castle, the owner of which was knighted but the same honour was not granted to William Comberford.
From Erdeswick’s Survey of Staffordshire – “Comberford, standing on the east side of the Tame, is a member of Wigginton, which stands further off by the space of a mile : and yet in Comberford (it being a manor of itself, although a member of another) is the seat of a very ancient race of gentlemen, taking the name of the place.”
[Facing Page 4:]
[Sepia photograph of the Moat House]
[blank reverse of photograph]
“Of Wigginton, was Lord, about Henry the First or Second’s time one Thomas fil. Roberti as appears by the Copy of a Deed following :”
“Thomas filius Rob’ti hominibus suis et amicis, salutem –
“sciant omnes, tam qui sunt, quam qui futuri sunt,
“me concessisse Alano de Comberfort et haeredibus
“suis virgatam terroe et dimid’, quae fuit Rogeri de
“Wiggintonia tened’ a me et haeredibus meis,
“servico unius librae Piperis –
“Test. Rob fil Galf : Rob Pinguant, Rogero Capellano
“Will’o de Hales. Rogero de Hadeford, Godfrido
“Briano Sacerdote – Nicholao de Licefelde et multis
Alanus de Comberford was Lord of Comberford in Henry, the First or Second’s time. He had issue another Alan, who had issue Roger, who had issue William, who had issue John, who had issue Thomas, who had issue Humphry, who has issue Thomas, who had issue William and had issue Humphry who had issue William who had issue Humphry who had issue, all four living 1596.
By evidence in Wyrley 36, Henry VIII., genealogy was as follows :
Dorothy Beaumont == Humphry Comberford
Thomas Comberford 1596 Elizabeth
Humphrey Comberford died 5 April 8 James I.
William Comberford 17. 5 April. 8 James I.
The following petition is among the Archives of the Public Record Office in London and is a public document.
TO THE KING MIST EXT MATIE
The Humble Petic’on of Captn
THAT yor Petr faithfully served yor Royall Father pf ever blessed memory 2 yeares in England, and beyond seas was Comander of a foot Company under his Royall Highnes the Duke of Yorke in Flanders all along & faithfull to yor Sacred Mattie which he manifested by his being in yor Maties Life-guard ever since yor Maties happy restoration, until now he is a supernumerary dismist with many more.
THAT the premises being knowne to sundry persons of Honor and Loyalty to yor Matie and your Petr having deeply shared in the calamitys of the late distracted times.
YOR PETR most humbly prayeth or sacred Matie to appoint him Lieutenant to one of the companys of Foot in your Maties Standing Army in Ireland.
AND YOR PETR SHALL EVER PRAY ETC.
(Endorsed) Captn Comerford’s
to be a lieutenant.
Among the Irish branches which are descended from those members of the family who are descended from those members of the family who accompanied King John to Ireland and settled there in his reign, and from the branch mentioned on the Tablet in Tamworth Church, several rose to distinction.
The head of this branch was “Duke of Munster” but he and his family lost everything at and after the battle of the Boyne – his estates being sequestered and his title taken away for having supported and fought for King James the II. [inserted in handwriting and initialled JWC: Another branch of the family were Barons of Danganmore whose Estates were also confiscated.]
Another member of that branch of the Family, Patrick Comerford became Commander in Chief of the Spanish Army, in the 18th century.
Another recently was made Bishop [inserted in handwriting: of Carlow] (Roman Catholic).
A History of Ireland up to the time of Henry II. was written by T. Comerford, edited by James Comerford, and published in Dublin in 1766.
[Here an illustration of the coat of arms]
The Motto is an old Norman-French hunting cry.
“ SO HO ” is still used in England in coursing when beating for hares. The person who first spies the hare sitting in her form cries out “ SO HO.” “ DEA NE,” originally one word, and in recent years spelled “DIANE,” is an old Norman-French word still in use in France, and is to be found in the Academy Dictionary, and the meaning given is “ Bruit de Chasse.”
There are several MSS. In the British Museum relating to the Comberford Family collected by Erdeswick, the first Historian of Staffordshire, and mentioned in his “ Survey of Staffordshire,” 1717.
[Obverse side of blank inserted page:]
[Sepia photograph of Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth]
Tamworth in the Roman
period was in the Province called
“Flavia Caesariensis” and traversed
by the great Roman Road called
Watling Street – Under Saxon
rule, it was the chief Royal Seat
in Mercia and during the reign
of Edward the Martyr had a
Royal Mint which was continued
by subsequent Normans.
[Loose-leaf page obverse:]
Headed: Aug 16
Handwritten details of James Comerford’s travels.
[Loose-leaf page reverse:]
Handwritten transcript and notes by James Comerford of the Comberford monument in the Comberford Chapel in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth.
Patrick Comerford adds:
There never was a title of Duke of Munster, and it was never held by a member of the Comerford family. Nor was there a title of Baron of Danganmore, altnough it was claimed by successive members of the family. In addition, the Patrick Comerford in Spain referred to by James Comerford must be John Comerford.
The plaque in the Comberford chapel was transcribed by James Comerford with a number of errors. The plaque actually reads:
Hic situm est Monumentum diuturnitare vero
temporis et bellis plusquam civilibus dirutum
familiae non ita pridem florentis. Gentis
amplae et honostae Cumberfordiorum
Qui de hoc Municipio cum in alliistum.
In hoc Templo aedificando optime meruerunt.
Domini Cumberfordiae melaruere annis septigentis.
In Roberto autem novissimo stirpis Angliacae
Staffordiensis viro Gentis extinctum pleratur.
Qui obiit A.D. 1671 et hic cum consorte
Domina Catharina Bates filiisque duabus
Maria et Anna suis Haeredibus Tumulo
conditur Nomen adhuc viger in stirpe
Hibernica, quae Regem Jacobum Secundum
in Galliam secuta est; atque ibi Angluniae
In Provincia de Champagne Dominio
Translated, this inscription reads:
“This place is truly a fitting monument to a family brought low by wars rather than civic affairs, and that no longer flourishes here. The generous and honest family of Cumberfords richly deserve the gratitude of this town in many things, including in the building of this church. The Lords of Cumberford, who survived for seven hundred years, became extinct with the death of Robert, last scion of the Staffordshire branch in England, when he died in AD 1671, and was buried here with his wife Lady Catherine Bates and their two daughters and heiresses, Mary and Anne. Henceforth, the name lives on in the Irish branch of the family, which followed James II into exile in France, and there they became the Lords of Anglunia in the Province of Champagne. Erected in 1725.”