Empson of Kilkenny

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This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by mary casteleyn.

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    Anyone researching Empson of Kilkenny?  I have Richard Empson ba1737 as patriarch and it would appear he and his sons acquired many leased properties in the city throughout the latter half of the 18th century and into the first half of the 19th.  Other family names associated with them are Evans and Leech of Kilkenny and Jestin of Abbeyleix.  In particular, trying to confirm a possible first marriage of my Richard Empson to a Sarah Payne about 1760 which bore at least 4 children I think?

     mary casteleyn

    Could this be your family? From Kilkenny Archaeological Society transcriptions of Tombs in the Graveyard of St Canice’s Cathedral, 1956. There is an Empson plot with 3 stones and surrounded by iron railings. 1) Here lies interred the remains of William Empson, late of the city of Kilkenny, Apothecary. he died the 14th day of February 1820(?) aged 29 years. Also his Richard Empson his father who departed this life 23rd day of October 1820 aged 82 years. Also the remains of Mrs Ruithe Empson wife to the above Richard Empson who departed this life November 1825(?) aged 68 years. And Miss Catherine Empson who departed this life May 1815 aged 5 years, and William Empson her brother, son of Joseph Empson and grandson of the above Richard and Ruithe Empson, who departed this life 3rd May 1817 aged 21 years, also the remains of Jospeh Empson father to William and Mary Catherine Empson who departed this life the 22nd day of March 1859 aged 77 years. This is a plain altar tomb with two grecian urns at each side and one at the top and bottom (I think this means a depiction of urns on the side and top and bottom slabs).
    2) Here lie the mortal remains of Harriet Reynolds alias Doxey (?). She departed this life December 15th 1815 aged 41 Mrs Deborah Johnson, eldest daughter of the late Frank Reynolds, Esquire of the city of Kilkenny whose lovely disposition and excellent qualities, those numerous friends October 1866 in the year of her much lamented and deeply regretted. (I know this last bit does not make entire sense but that is what the transcription says – probably the stone was difficult to read). This is a floor slab.
    3) Standing stone. Here lies interred the body of Robert Empson who departed this life Febraury 24th 1763 aged 1 year, 9 months, also John Empson departed this life July 25th 1765 aged 3 years and 2 months.
    There is no map so I cannot tell you where in the graveyard this plot is situated.
    There is one altar tomb to Mrs Sarah Evans wife of Mr…….Evans of the city of Kilkenny died March 10th 1836 aged 68 yrs, and Mr …..Evans died 1818 aged 70 yrs. Another Mr Evans aged 10 yrs – date unclear). Will copy transcription for you if you need it.
    There is one slab to William Preston Leech of Larchfield, Kilkenny who died 1861 aged 73. Also daughter Eliza died 1846 aged 17 yrs and second son William Preston of Gowran died 1872 aged 34. Will copy transcription exactly if you need it.
    No Paynes appear in the index to the transcriptions.
    St Marys, Kilkenny has the following “Sacred to the memory of Joseph Evans Esq, Belevan who founded and endowed in this city an asylum for decayed servants and also an orphan house and school. His benefactions to the charitable institutions of Kilkenny were munificent. He died Aug 7th 1818 aged 72 years. This tablet was erected by his executors the Rev Peter Roe (well known in Kilkenny) and William Hartford Esq.,”. If this is your Evans connection there is an article about the Evans bequest The Old Kilkenny Review 2010. Belevan was also known as Ballyfrunk and in Ballycallan. I will copy and send to you if you would like this.
    No sign of any Empson, Leech or Payne in St Marys. Transcription done in 1956 but new book coming out about St Marys which has been restored etc.,


    Thank you so much Mary – you have indeed found the graves of my patriarch Richard Empson, wife Ruth and their son Joseph, my direct ancestor.  I visited St. Canice’s Cathedral last summer to find that so many of the stones had sadly weathered away and with St. Mary’s closed for reconstruction, I couldn’t visit there to hunt for them.  A lady in the gift shop in the cathedral had a very simple index of surnames only and could confirm there were Empsons buried there but no transcripts and only a vague reference for a large plot in front of the doors, so it is wonderful to find that there is a transcription from 1956 – hooray for local historical societies!

    However, as ever with family history, when one mystery is solved , another comes to light, so in the hope that others may read and contribute to this thread, here are my further thoughts on the above data;

    – Richard Empson married Ruth Evans by licence issued in 1778, and I’ve found children baptised for them in St. Mary’s Kilkenny 1784-1794, but no William in approx. 1791 (but there is a possible gap for him and his eldest brother Richard (ba. 1778) has no baptism record either.)

    – Joseph Empson married Margaret Jestin in 1823 in Abbeyleix so little Catherine dying in 1915 cannot be their daughter!  Nor can her brother William dying in 1817(?) be their son, so I need to hunt for an earlier marriage for Joseph now.  However, I wonder if the year of death for this William should be 1847 as this would correspond with a known son of Joseph who died aged 21 in this year and is known to buried in St. Canice’s?

    -Reynolds/Doxey(?)/Johnson are all new names to me but the old railings noted around all 3 tombs have to be significant so will need to follow these up.

    – The infant deaths of Robert and John Empson in the 3rd grave are very intriguing.  I had found a Richard Empson and his wife Sarah (nee Pyne from the 1760 marriage licence) baptising children in St. Mary’s, Kilkenny, Robert (1768), John (1769), William (1771) and Sarah (1772)  but I think that I may have found a reference to Robert in a 1784 deed?

    – I did find out a little bit about Evans in relation to the Evans Asylum on Evans Lane that used to exist in Kilkenny but I haven’t been able to make a definitive connection, so I would be grateful for a copy of the Evans bequest article, thank you.  Ruth Evans, wife of Richard Empson would have been born about 1757 which is a good candidate for being the first child of Isaac Evans and Frances Leech married by licence in 1756 and also the names of 2 of Ruth’s children.

    Empson, Leech and Evans do appear to be significant family names in the City of Kilkenny around this period but it is proving hard to establish how many branches of each name may have co-existed.  I’m labouring through the Registry of Deeds townland indexes for the city at the moment too but you know sometimes you can have too much of a good thing – there are lots of deeds in these names!

    Thank you once again for helping me find out more about this family branch.

     mary casteleyn

    I have had a good root around in my Kilkenny stuff but have not found much else useful to you. There are seven pages for the article and I will send them to you as attachments via email. You probably know this already but Captain Thomas Evans was granted 1653 by Cromwell the lands of Kilcreen, parish of St Patrick, Kilkenny (from Irish papist David Roth) and also the lands in Durrow parish of Cahir/Cagher (formerly belonging to Keallagh McSahne Fitzpatrick) and Newtown and Raheenbrannagh (formerly belonging to Lord Baron of Upper Ossory).
    Apologies if you have this but there are two relevant Evans in Alumni Dublinenses – George Evans entered 1733 aged 18 son of Edward, Coriarius, born Kilkenny, MA Vern 1740/41. And William Evans, entered 1676 aged 14, son of Thomas Armiger, born Kilkenny. Created Bart 1682. He must the Evans of Kilcreen; that appears in Burke’s Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies.
    Finally the protestant graveyard of St Kierans, Kells has the following which given the names might eventually be of interest. An upright and well carved stone. In Remembrance of Lieut Col F.W. Evans Johnson DSO, Royal Irish Fusiliers died Jan 1953 aged 73 and his beloved wife Vera born in 1888 died 1967. “Faugh a Ballagh”. Carved by Molloy Callan. On right hand corner of the stone is the name John Slade.
    Will keep an eye out in Kilkenny for your family names.



    I’ve been checking back through some earlier evidence that I collected on burial index entries for Empsons in St. Canice’s, Kilkenny using the old search interface to RootsIreland when you could at least see some information on records before having to buy them pay as you go.  I found 4 relevant records – only very minimal information, but I’m trying to corroborate the gravestone transcripts you found for me in which I think there maybe some errors.  So for the record, here’s my thoughts;

    • William Impson (sic) buried in 1820  = match for  the first named occupant of the Empson tomb.
    • Mary Empson buried aged 5 in 1845 not 1815 = match for the little girl named Catherine & Mary Catherine in the transcripts above, which would make her a daughter of my Joseph and Margaret Empson.  Also it makes sense that she died after 1825 and not in 1815 as she is listed after her grandmother, Ruth Empson on the headstone?
    • William Empson buried aged 21 in 1847 not 1817  = a match for Mary’s brother who is listed after her.
    • Joseph Empson buried aged 79 in 1859 – this record transcript has a bit of a red herring attached to it because it has Mallardstown listed as the cemetery?

    Given that I found the gravestones all completely weathered away, I’m very grateful to the person who did manage to capture something from them in the 1950’s and not surprising that some of the numbers were difficult to read.  But I don’t think I need to look for an earlier marriage for my Joseph Empson now.



     mary casteleyn

    I think I would agree with you about the misreading of the years. Some of those early figures for 4 can be very flowery with a strong down line at an angle and only a very very short cross line at the bottom. With weathering, and inexperienced eye, this can end up looking like a figure 1.
    Joseph Empson is more of a mystery. I have the Mallardstown book. This includes graveyards of Tullamaine and Newtown – all near Callan. I can find no Empson in here. These graveyards seem Catholic to me. I may be able to check this Joseph Empson reference; it could be a burial entry rather than a headstone. Mary

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