The Cusack Family

Cusack family crest

(Crest No. 21. Plate 68.)

THE Cusack family is of French or Norman origin. Its founder was a native of Guienne, France, who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066, and fought under him at the decisive Battle of Hastings. In the year 1211, Geoffry and André de Cusack went to Ireland with King John, who gave them large grants of lands there.

The Cusack family and its branches settled in Meath, where they became barons of Clonmullen, and they also held possessions in the present Counties of Dublin. Mayo, Limerick, and Tipperary.

In course of time they became thoroughly identified with the native Irish population. The Cusacks continued to be a family of note from their settlement in Ireland down to our own time, and their record in the cause of their faith and country has been one of honor and distinction.

Nicholas Cusack, a prominent man of his time, was beheaded during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, on account of his zeal and devotion to his religion and his country. Patrick Cusack and his family also distinguished themselves in the army of the Confederates of Ireland during the war of 1641-1652; and Cromwell, on the triumph of the Parliamentarians, confiscated their estates. Although they lost them fighting in defense of Charles the First, they did not receive them back after the Restoration, Charles the Second, with the traditional ingratitude of the Stuarts, having bestowed on James, Duke of York, the lands of the Cusacks and other Catholic loyalists, that had been lost in defending his father’s life and crown.

In the war of the Revolution of 1688, the Cusacks were prominent also, both in the political and military orders. Four of the name sat as members of King James the Second’s Parliament in Dublin, in 1689, while several others of the family were officers of infantry, horse, and dragoons in the Irish army or the regiments of Montcashel, Darrington, Tyrconnell, Slane, Galmoy, Maxwell, and Clifford. One of them, Colonel Nicholas Cusack of the Lismullen branch of the family, was one of the executing party to the Civil Articles of the Treaty of Limerick. After the overthrow of James, the Cusacks were among the first to pay the penalty of their fidelity to the Stuart line and their native country. In the Williamite land confiscation of 1691 they were despoiled of their estates and their property.

Another member of this family, Richard Cusack, whose grandfather fell at the Battle of Worcester fighting against the Cromwellian rebels, entered the military service of Spain, where he soon won recognition by his talent and bravery. He left three sons, Gerald Alexander, Charles, and Richard Edmond. Gerald Alexander became a Chevalier of the Order of St. Louis, and lieutenant-colonel of the Irish Regiment of Roth, in the service of France. He died in 1743, after an uninterrupted military service of fifty-three years.

His brother, Charles de Cusack, was an officer in Lee’s Irish Regiment. He afterward entered the Spanish service as Captain of the Walloon Guards, where he rose to the rank of major-general, and was made Commander of the Order of St. Jago. He died while Governor of Melazzo, Sicily, in the service of Naples, in 1748.

Major-General Edmond De Cusack

Chevalier of the Orders of St. Louis and St. Jago.

Richard Edmond de Cusack, the third of these brothers, entered Dorrington’s, afterward Roth’s Irish Regiment, as a volunteer cadet in the fifteenth year of his age. In 1703 he participated in the siege of Kehl, the battle of Munderkingen, and the first battle of Hochstedt, or Blenheim, and fought at the second battle of Blenheim the following year. In 1705 he served as lieutenant with the army of the Rhine, and, after participating in several campaigns, fought at the great battle of Malplaquet in 1709. He took part in the attack of Arleux in 1711, and in the sieges of Douay, Quesnoy, and Denain in 1712. He was at the capture of Landau and Friberg in 1713. In 1733 he served with his command at the siege of Kehl, in 1734 at the siege of Philipsburgh, and at the combat of Clausen in 1735. The following year he was created a Chevalier of the Order of St. Louis. He served as lieutenant-colonel at the battle of Dettingen in 1743, and at the sieges of Menin, Ypres, Furnes, and Fort Knock in 1744, under the command of King Louis in person. For his bravery and distinguished conduct at the battle of Fontenoy, May 11, 1745, he was granted a royal pension of six hundred livres yearly. He was present during the same campaign at the capture of Tournay, Oudenarde, Dendermonde, and Ath. In 1747, being advanced to the rank of brigadier, he held the bridge of Walheim, one of the most important points of the campaign, with six hundred men for six weeks against a powerful force, and he displayed such valor at the victory of Laffeldt that King Louis, who was present, increased his royal pension from six hundred to sixteen hundred livres. He participated in many other campaigns and battles during the following years, and in 1758 was appointed governor of the towns of Guerande, Croisick, and Port-du-St. Nazaire, in Bretagne. He resigned the following year with the grade of major-general, with an unblemished record of fifty-six years’ military service. He was made Chevalier of the Order of St. Jago of Spain, and Commander of the Hospital of Manceid, in Armanag, a dependency of that order. He died at Corbeil, France, in 1770, aged eighty-two. His only daughter by his first wife, Isabella Bridget Fitzgerald, married the Marquis l’Espinasse-Langeac, maréchal-de-camp in the French army. Many others of this family acquired distinction and honorable positions on the Continent.

There are several of this name in Ireland, as well as in the United States and the British Colonies, many of whom have attained honorable positions. Among the latter may be mentioned Capt. William Cusack, of Philadelphia, a veteran of the late Civil War, and in every respect a worthy representative of this ancient and illustrious family.