T268 – Bird family history

Part of 268

In a self bound volume of the history of the families of Cumberland and Westmorland, printed about 1700 is an account of the owners of Broughton Hall in Cumberland.

Henry, descent of Bird Oswald a Dane who founded his home on the Great Wall about AD800 (a Viking) married about 1164 Joan Teasdale, heiress of Broughton Hall.

Several pages in the book deals with the family genealogy, trees are given. Quarrels between the Hall and the castle, especially during the time of the celebrated Countess, owner of the castle which ended on the Bird or Byrds having to pay a token fine in kind or in money to the Countess. (Bird Oswald is still marked in maps of the Great Wall.)

After being in possession of Broughton Hall for 500 years the history ceases abruptly. Ten sons fought for King Charles, the family plate was melted down, 8 or 9 sons were killed.

My father, rev Frederick Louis Byrde told me that no Byrde should ever allow people to say that Charles II was ungenerous or mean. He granted 3 considerable estates to them in recognition of their services to the Stuarts.

  1. Land in London from Oxford Street to part of Berkley Square – Bird Street which leads out of Oxford Street is the only survival of the transaction. The law suit between Bird and I suppose Grosvenor (who was not at that time Duke of Westminster) lasted 100 years – papers about the case are in the British Museum. The money ran short and also a vital paper was found to be missing.
  2. Land in Devonshire (I forget the name) only 3 daughters were left to the Bird or Byrde then. Called the three heiresses – each took her portion into her husband’s family.
  3. Abbey lands in Norfolk or Suffolk, ‘no place attached’. The lands had been taken by Henry VIII. The land ceased (to) belong to the family – reason obscure.

Elizabeth Hicks.
In the wars between the French and the English in America the family of Hicks moved from Virginia. Red Indians tomahawked the parents, two sons and two daughters, Elizabeth 10 years old – said to be beautiful, with beautiful hair, was spared. The chief put her into the care of his chief squaw. Before the move a Captain Gilmore had offered Elizabeth’s father £500 if he would keep her safely with him until his return as he wished to marry her when she was old enough. 1 brother Hicks escaped when the family was killed off.

During the two years that Elizabeth was with the Indians she hoped that her brother would rescue her. A Henry Bird, a Captain with Wolf at Quebec heard of her, he and another officer captured her from the Indians.

Henry kept Elizabeth shut up in a house at Detroit Canada in the care of a lady for 2 years.

He married her there when she was 14 years. She rode ponies and milked cows when with the Red Indians and her imprisonment was terrible. She kept a diary which unfortunately was burnt – the spelling was shocking and her sentences illegible.

Two sons were born to Elizabeth and Henry in Canada, from one is descended Admiral Byrde. Birds are mentioned in the Creevy or Creecy papers, the lead Montreal now stands on what belonged to Henry, who sold it before its value was realised. Several other children were born to Elizabeth at Goytrey house in Monmouthshire, where she insisted on milking the cows.

A son or grandson of hers was one of the Prince regent’s gay set and lost a great deal, the Abbey lands may have been paid for a gambling debt.

Joshua Reynolds was a friend of one of the sons and painted their mother at Goytrey.

De Fer – at the time of the French Revolution De Fer and her brother Pierre escaped from France to Kent in a fishing boat. The rest of the family were guillotined.

A Captain Henry Bird stationed at Canterbury fell in love with the French girl who was teaching French to live. Pierre returned to France to see about the family estate and was never heard of again. Henry and ? were married in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. When stationed at Windsor the daughters of ? and Henry were (w Private) – as is. The daughters of George III. One gave, I think it was Adelaide Bird a carved ivory knife with a steel blade – probably Italian; this was given to me by my father, William Byrde.

The christian names of the children have now Frederick and Louis amongst the Augustus, Henrietta etc and Charles etc in the family genealogies.

Bird or Byrde spelt either way were great soldiers, undistinguished – not one became a general. They fought in the thirty years war, the wars of the Austrian succession. Peninsular war, Napoleonic wars, one was at Waterloo.

A boy of 18 was drowned at the battle of the Nile, China wars. On his return from China a Col. Henry Byrde bought land in Ceylon – he brought from China a great quantity of porcelain, bedroom and table and drawing room china. This was all marked with the family coat of arms in England. Most was sold after the death of my grandfather, Colonel Henry Louis Byrde, JP, deputy Lieutenant of Monmouthshire. He went back to the old spelling of Byrde. A brother of his, I think a Charles was wounded in the Crimea war. He was the youngest Major. He went to Ceylon to plant on some of the family estate.

My grandmother would not allow any of her sons to go into the Army. My father and his brother became Clerics. Richard was headmaster of All Hallows Devon.

Note: when I sang in a concert in Penrith Cumbria in ’98 the Penrith newspaper said “one of the Byrde’s of Broughton Hall which had been in the family for 500 years”. Cumbria had a long memory. The celebrated Lord Chancellor took his title from “Broughton” when he lived at Broughton Hall.


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