Taaffe family genealogy

Of the Counties of Louth and Sligo

Arms: Gu. a cross ar. fretty az.

This family settled in Ireland since the reign of Edward I. We read in Burke’s Armory, that:

“Nicholas Taaffe, by Deed dated at Clontarf, A.D. 1284, gave in pure alms to God, the Blessed Mary, and the Knights Templars in Ireland, his lands of Killergy in Ireland, and died 30th October, 1288, leaving two sons—1. John Taaffe, Archbishop of Armagh, and 2. Richard FitzNicholas Taaffe. Richard Taaffe, who was seated at Ballybraggan and Castle Lumpnagh, was Sheriff of Louth, in 1315, 9 Edward II., when Hugh De Lacie, the younger, Earl of Ulster, was sentenced to be hanged and quartered at Drogheda, for inciting Edward Bruce to invade Ireland. He was the founder of the Taaffe family of Ballybraggan, Athclare, Ballyneglough, the Viscounts Taaffe, the Taaffes of Smarmore, and other branches.”

The Ballybraggan family descended from Christopher Taaffe, eldest son of John Taaffe, Esq., of Ballybraggan, temp. Queen Elizabeth, who was fifth in descent from Sir Nicholas Taaffe, Sheriff of the co. Louth in 1441. John, eldest son of the said Christopher Taaffe, had livery of his father’s estates in 1633; but joining along with his son, Christopher Taaffe, in the Rebellion of 1641, his lands were forfeited.

The Taaffes of Ballyneglough, in the county Sligo, and of Grayfield and Brooklawn, in the county of Mayo, were descended from Patrick Taaffe, Esq., of Ballyneglough, second son of Christopher Taaffe, Esq., of Ballybraggan, and brother of John Taaffe, who forfeited his estates in 1641. Of this branch of the family was Christopher Taaffe, Knight of St. Louis, Colonel of Foot in Dillon’s Regiment in the Service of France, born in 1725, son of James Taaffe, of Grayfield, county Mayo.

The Viscounts Taaffe were descended from Sir William[1] Taaffe, of Ballymote, Knt. (died 1630), second son of John Taaffe, Esq., of Ballyraggan. Sir William’s son, Sir John Taaffe, was, in 1628, created Baron of Ballymote and Viscount Taaffe, but died before 1642; this Sir John Taaffe was the father of Theobald, who was created the first Earl of Carlingford.

The Smarmore (co. Louth) branch of the family descended from Peter Taaffe, Esq., of Pepperstown and Dromine, co. Louth, third son of John Taaffe, of Ballybraggan.

Of the Taaffes, Earls of Carlingford (extinct 1738), Sir Theobald,[2] second Viscount Taaffe (son of Sir John, who, in 1828, was created Baron of Ballymote and Viscount Taaffe, who was son of Sir William Taaffe, of Ballymote), was, in 1661, by Charles II. created Earl of Carlingford. This Theobald was twice married; first to Mary, daughter of Sir W. White, of Leixlip, and had, with other children:

  1. Nicholas, the second Earl of Carlingford, who fell at the Battle of the Boyne, in 1690, in command of a regiment of Foot, under the banner of King James II.; d.s.p.
  2. Francis, the third Earl, entered the Austrian Service, became Chamberlain to the Emperor Ferdinand, a Marshall of the Empire, and Councillor-of-State, and d. in August, 1704.
  3. John, of whom presently.
  4. Anne.

The second wife of Sir Theobald, was Anne, dau. of Sir W. Pershall, Knight.

2. John: son of Theobald; was a Major in King James’s Army, and was slain at Derry. He married, and had:

  1. Theobald, of whom presently.
  2. Lambert, who was slain at Cremona, in 1701.
  3. Mary.

3. Theobald: elder son of John; was the fourth Earl of Carlingford; d.s.p. in 1738, when the Earldom became extinct, but the Viscountcy reverted to his cousin and heir male.


[1] William: Sir William Taaffe, of Ballymote, distinguished himself on the Government side in the O’Neill wars, temp. Queen Elizabeth, and was knighted for his services at the siege of Kinsale, A.D. 1601. In December, 1602, he commanded the Irish in the Queen’s pay in Carbery, and defeated a body of the enemy which was under the command of “the Apostolic Vicar, Owen MacEagan,” killing 140 men, including the commander. In the ensuing confiscations of the territory of the MacCarthy’s, Sir William Taaffe “had not the least share of her Majesty’s bounty.” He died on the 9th February, 1630, and was buried at Ardee.

[2] Theobald: This Sir Theobald Taaffe, Viscount Taaffe, and Earl of Carlingford, fought for Charles I. against the Parliament, in England, and subsequently assisted the Marquis of Ormond in his negotiations with the Confederate Catholics for a cessation of arms. Lord Taaffe commanded Ormond’s infantry at the battle of Rathmines (co. Dublin), in 1649, and was defeated. He was one of the deputies who, in 1651, went to the Continent to offer the sovereignty of Ireland to the Duke of Lorraine, and was excepted from pardon for life and estate by Cromwell. After the Restoration he received sundry grants of land, and was, by Charles II., created Earl of Carlingford. He died 31st December, 1677, and was buried at Ballymote. His brother, Lucas, was a Major-General in the army of the Catholic Confederation, and was Governor of New Ross in 1649.

Sir Theobald’s cousin, Viscount Nicholas Taaffe, was born in Ireland in 1677. He became Field-Marshal in the Imperial Service; was Chamberlain to the Emperor Charles VI. and his successor; and fought with distinguished bravery during the war against the Turks, in 1738. Late in life he took a prominent part in the agitation for Catholic Emancipation in Ireland, and in 1766 published his Observations on Affairs in Ireland from the Settlement in 1691 to the Present Time. Mr. Wyse, in his Historical Sketch of the Catholic Association, speaks of Viscount Nicholas Taaffe as “the German statesman and general, the Irish sufferer and patriot.” He died at his seat of Elishau, in Bohemia, on the 30th December, 1769, aged 92. His descendant, the eleventh Viscount Taaffe, is an Austrian Count, and Chamberlain to the Emperor of Austria.—Webb.