Bowles DNA Project
The Feltis Family of Carlow
Joseph Bowles married Jane Feltus in Carlow in 1808 but there are more connections to be sorted out yet.
The Feltus name is quite uncommon in both Ireland and England. According to Edward MacLysaght in The Surnames of Ireland (1973), Feltus was "a local corruption, of comparitively recent introduction, of the English Felthouse found in counties Carlow and Wexford". However, I have found it in a very few instances in co. Kent, England as far back as the 1600’s including in Ickham where I believe my own Bowles family originated. This might indicate an earlier connection between my Bowles family’s and the Feltus family. ref. The Feltus name seems to have first appeared in county Carlow in the late 1600’s which is about when I believe my own Bowles arrived there and in fact it seems likely that they lived within just a few miles of each other.
Note: the Feltus name also appears just across the county border in Wexford and also in Westmeath and Galway but as my primary interest is in the origins of Jane Feltus of Carlow I have limited my research to only those in County Carlow although I have included some Wexford references from the Griffith Valuation and the Tithe Assessment lists as they were readily available.
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The earliest reference I have for this family in co. Carlow is a Henry Feltus (b. about 1670) who was a member of the prosperous Protestant landowner community in South co. Carlow which included the Watson, Cooper and Boles families (see map). A “Petition from Protestants of the co. of Carlow on the Act of Resumption” dated Jan. 14, 1701/02 (that’s an old format date for what we would now write as Jan. 14, 1702) requested the return of religious freedoms and swore allegiance to the King of England. Full text of the petition
The signers included Henry
Feltus, John Cooper, two Thomas Cooper’s, Sam Cooper and Jonathan
Watson. The signers we have been able to identify were
well-to-do landowners in that region. That
places Henry within a rather prosperous community.
We know that Henry had at least one son, Cuthbert (b. ~ 1722). There may well have been more, few records from that period have survived.There is more about Henry in "Journals for the Preservation of the Memorials for the Dead": County Carlow Memorials Full reference "Henry Feltus, and Henry Blake, Esqrs., natives of England, settled at Kilmaglish, Barony of Forth, in the reign of William the III (note: William III reigned 1688-1702). Feltus held about 1,000 acres of land. He had a son named Henry, who married Elizabeth, daughter of the above-named Henry Blake. Issue: Cuthbert, who settled at Myshall. He married Jane, daughter of Adam Bloomfield, Esq., of the County Tipperary, uncle to the present Lord Bloomfield, Cuthbert died on 3rd November, 1799, aged 77 years. His widow died in 1821. Their issue was: John, died s.p. (i.e. without children); Henry, died s.p.; and Adam, married Rebecca, daughter of Benjamin Ball, of Seisin Park, County Wicklow, Esq. Issue: (1) Benjamin Bloomfield; (2) Elizabeth, married to the Rev. Nicholas Fenwick, son of the Rev. Cuthbert Fenwick, of the County of Northumberland." So we know that Henry Sr. had Henry Jr. who had Cuthbert who had at least one son who had children, Adam Bloomfield Feltus. It's also still possible that both Henry Jr. and Cuthbert had other younger sons, they may have just not been known to the local historian who wrote the above 100 years after the event. The following record for Cuthbert Feltus (1722-1799) is at the Fenagh Parish Church: “Here lieth the body of Cuthbert Feltus of Hollybrook in this county Esqr. who depd. this life the 3rd day of Novr. 1799 aged 77 years. Here also lieth the body of Mrs. Jane Feltus alias Bloomfield his wife who depd. this life the 26th day of March 1821 aged 72 years. Here lieth the body of Adam Bloomfield Feltus Esqr. of Hollybrook son of Cuthbert Feltus Esqr., who depd. this life on the 25th of May, 1849 aged 67 years. Beloved soul while in this mortal shrine Grace wrought thy change from mortal to divine.” Hollybrook House which was built by Cuthbert Feltus south of Myshall, co. Carlow is still standing today as a private residence. ref. ref.
We know that Cuthbert was a landowner and perhaps not one of the most compassionate ones in those difficult times. In fact we know that he was singled out as a target by the White Boys ref., a number of whom were arrested and tried for haughing (i.e. cutting the hamstrings of) his cattle in June 1775. ref.
From this same period we have the pension papers for a George Feltis of Carlow (b. ~ 1761) who was discharged from the army after being injured while "hunting White Boys" in Limerick in 1792. He would have been related to Cuthbert but we don't know how yet.
I don't have a copy yet but the National Archives also has the pension papers for a William Feltus, b. between 1758 and 1776 in Carlow who served in the 7th Dragoon Guards and was discharged between 1801 and 1819 at age 43. (NA (Kew Gardens) WO 97/46/149)
For inheritance purposes, official records of the time list the line of descent through the eldest son but little note is made of younger sons of the family although it's quite likely that both Henry and Cuthbert had other sons. We know that there was a Richard Feltuce who was buried in nearby Dunleckney in January 1809 at age 71 which would put him in the same generation as Cuthbert.
The Feltuce family at Dunleckney went through various spellings of their surnames including Feltis and Feltus over the years, all three spellings occur within the same documented family, but they were almost certainly closely related to the Feltus family of Hollybrook.
They were a Protestant family who, like Cuthbert, also benefitted from the laws of the land of the day which in this case permitted the seizure of land from Catholic tenants which would then be turned over to Protestant tenants. ref. In this case a James Feltus of Dunleckney is mentioned in 1835 as having received ownership of a farm previously occupied by some displaced tenants at Ballywilliamroe near Dunleckney. This might actually have happened several years earlier as James Feltus is listed in the Tithe Assessment made in 1825 as already holding land at Ballywilliamroe and even earlier, the Dunleckney parish records show a list of children confirmed in 1821 including a Mary and William Feltuce of Ballywilliamroe. A James Feltus is listed in the records Of Dunleckney (Church of Ireland) as having christened 10 children there between 1809 and 1836. The other family mentioned in that article as having received re-distributed Catholic land were the Evans. The baptismal record for Dunleckney also includes several baptisms between 1810 and 1819 for a Richard Feltuce married to an Elizabeth Evans. This Richard and James would probably be the grandsons of the Richard Feltuce buried there in 1809.
Given the scarcity of the Feltus name in Ireland (I have not found it in any other part of Ireland until much later), their residences only a few miles apart, their Protestant religion, their role as landowners and their use of the uncommon given names Henry, Adam and Benjamin in both families, it is reasonable to assume that the Cuthbert Feltus branch of Hollybrook House and the Richard Feltuce line of Kildrenagh are both descendant lines of Henry Feltus. Hopefully, the proof of this link will surface some day.
Other early references for Feltus in Carlow include a James Feltus, horsebreaker, of Staplestown who baptized a son Peter in Carlow in 1775 (so James b. ~ 1755 or earlier) and who died in 1786 ref. . Staplestown was a very small community of just a few houses quite a few miles further north in Carlow. However, that still connects back to our Feltus line. Stapeltown was owned then by Beauchamp Bagenal who had his main estate at Dunleckney ref. (which had been in the Bagenal family since 1585), almost the next townland to Cuthbert Feltus' Hollybrook and where we find Richard Feltuce in the mid-1700's. This makes James an excellent candidate for a son of Richard Feltuce.
The Rev’d. R. J. Barlow’s notebook listing Tithe Arrears in Myshall, co. Carlow for 1833 includes a declaration on the front page from the two Commissioners of Composition for the parish of Myshall and Diocese of Leighlin. The commissioners were responsible for the Act for the Establishing of Compositions for Tithes in Ireland and declared that the book contained a true and particular account of all lands valuations and compositions. The two Commissioners signed under the date Dec. 18, 1827 as: Adam B. Feltus Esqr. Of Hollybrook and George James of Clonee, Esqr. ref. See also Feltus Properties Listed in the 1827 Tithe Applotment
Lewis' Dictionary of 1837 lists Hollybrook near Bealalaw townland in Myshall Parish as the home of A. Bloomfield Feltus, Esq.
The co. Carlow Registered Voters List of Feb. 1, 1838 lists Adam B. Feltus at Hollybrook House with a value of 50₤ and a Date of Registry (to vote) of Oct. 13, 1832. The property value is listed as only a landowner with property valued at 10₤ or more had the right to vote.In 1831 Adam B. Feltus played a role in an Incident at Newtown Barry when. in his role as a magistrate of co. Carlow, he took 16 of his men and 3 policemen from Myshall to Newtown Barry to support the magistrates there at the sale of three heifers which had been seized from two local tenants for failure to pay their church tithes. The magistrates already had a force of over 100 armed yeomen under the command of a Captain Graham and about 37 policemen. While Feltus was trying to negotiate an arbitration of the issue, the crowd had grown, protests were made against the use of armed men with bayonets mounted against an unarmed peaceful protest, insults were shouted, a stone or stones were thrown, a shot was fired and then the yeomen opened fire on the crowd. Graham denied that he ever gave an order to fire but many men in their own defence claimed that he did. When the smoke cleared, although the numbers vary greatly, there was a large body count. The Coroner's Inquest lists the names of 11 bodies but others had been removed by their families before they were identified. When this matter was discussed in the House of Lords it was stated that "twenty-two individuals were known to have been shot by the Yeomanry". Hansard None were found to have any weapons in their possession. Captain Graham and two others were charged with the deaths but the presiding magistrate instructed the Grand Jury that they should find that the men were only doing their duty and that was the jury's decision on the case. Hansard The testimonies at the Coroner's Inquest two days later, including Adam B. Feltus' testimony, have survived to give us a full account of the events. See The Incident at Newtown Barry.
Adam's son Benjamin Bingham Feltus carried on the family's Protestant Tough Landlord tradition when in 1847, during one of the worst of the land clearance periods in Ireland, he joined in with ejection orders for his tenants with overdue rent payments. ref. ref. The second reference shows that the tenant's lease in Raheenleigh went back to an Indenture and Lease signed in 1809 with Adam Bloomfield Feltus which confirms their direct line of descent.
There are also references to a Benjamin Bloomfield Feltus who was a noted poet and satirist of the time but I believe they are actually references to Benjamin Bingham Feltus. The following clipping shows that the poet was claimed to be the son of Adam Bloomfield Feltus of Hollybrook in 1842 and there is a Benjamin Bloomfield Feltus reference from 1846. ref. We know that Benjamin Bingham Feltus occupied Hollybrook by 1851 and he is also mentioned in the tenant ejectment papers mentioned above as holding Adam Feltus' land as early as 1847.
From The Poets of Ireland: a biographical dictionary with bibliographical particulars by David James O'Donoghue
It's possible that Benjamin Bingham F. was the son of Benjamin Bloomfield F. and that he inherited from his father in 1846/47 but it's more likely that they were just the same person and the middle initial B. for Bingham was sometimes confused with Adam Bloomfield Feltus' middle initial of B.
That's all that I have for the Feltus family in Carlow. Quite close by there was also a Feltus family right across the county border at Annagh, co. Wexford. They are quite obviously connected to the Carlow line so I have included them in the pages on the Tithe Applotment and Griffith Valuation records and also have added a note at the bottom of the Feltus Family Tree page.
Later (1800's) Feltus/Feltis references in Westmeath, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Antrim, Kildare, Monaghan and Galway probably all stem from the Carlow line but I haven't followed them up yet.