Charles Bernard - Carlow


Introduction to the Bernard Family of  Carlow, Laois and Offaly, Ireland

Charles Bernard of Carlow  born circa 1638 - died 1668 (Children: Thomas John and Philip)

Thomas Bernard and Deborah Franks (Children: Charles, Franks, Elizabeth, Joseph and Anne)

Philip Bernard (1668-1721) Philip Bernard

Charles Bernard of Laois (Queen’s Co). (Eldest son of Thomas and Deborah)

Franks Bernard of Carlow (Second son of Thomas and Deborah)

Joseph Bernard of Carlow (youngest son of Thomas and Deborah)

Thomas Bernard of Castletown, Offaly (Son of Joseph and Mary)

John Bernard of Carlow (Son of Joseph and Mary)

William Bernard of Carlow (Son of Joseph and Mary)

Thomas Bernard of Carlow (Son of William and Mary)

Arthur O’Brien Bernard of Carlow and the Isle of Man (son of Thomas and Anne)

Bernards of Tullow, Aghade, Newstowne and Rathrush, Co Carlow


Charles Bernard of Carlow is the first Bernard that I have been able to confirm with whom I have legitimate connections.  According to my research, I believe that Charles Bernard is the son of John Bernard of Carlow, grandson of John Bernard (Sen.) and a brother of Joseph Bernard and William Bernard. He would have been born about 1638.

Charles Bernard married Elizabeth Sheppard, daughter of Philip Sheppard, in 1664/65. (Sheppard name variants are found frequently e.g. Sheapherd, Shepperd, Shepherd, etc.). There is no record of a Philip Sheppard in Ireland in the 1659 Census of Ireland so it is possible that he and/or his daughter Elizabeth came from England between 1659 and 1664. 

Although there were other Sheppards in Carlow, they probably came to Ireland with Oliver Cromwell.

"In the inrolment certificates (in the chief Remembrancer's office) of landed property, granted to soldiers, &c. in the reign of Charles II [1660-1685]., we find the names Captain Thomas Shepard, William Shepard, John Shepard, and Robert Shepard. These Christian names have been all in use with the county of Carlow family"

One of their descendants was: "James Shepard, Esq., of Tankardstown, otherwise Paulville, in this county, (died September, 1767), married Susanna, daughter of James Garrett, Esq., of Janeville. (1)

Names of the Shepard family frequently occur as churchwardens, &c., in the registry-book of Tullow parish.

It has been difficult to authenticate Charles Bernard's heritage as records are scant and there are several conflicting versions of his ancestry and marriage in various additions of Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry:

In the 1912 edition of A Genealogical History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1912, by Sir Bernard Burke.

"Charles, the son of Thomas Bernard Esq. and his wife Catherine, of Abington, Northamptonshire was born in 1615. He was the grandson of Francis Bernard, Esq., of Abington, in Northamptonshire, the representative of an old and eminent family".


After extensive searching I can find no evidence of Francis Bernard of Abington having a son Thomas or a grandson Charles.  There is no account of these people in the history of the Bernards of Abington which provides details of the family in The Bernards of Abbington and Nether Winchendon, N Higgins).

As I have found many inconsistencies in Burke's account of the landed gentry in Ireland I have discounted the information regarding ancestry of Charles Bernard as presented by Burke.

There is further confusion regarding his marriage.  Earlier editions of Burke's A Genealogical History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland refers to the wife of Charles Bernard as Elizabeth Sheppard and she is stated to be the daughter and heir of Philip Shepherd, Esq.  Burke claims that Charles married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Phillip Sheppard, esq., and by her (who married 2ndly – Bunbury and 3rdly Richard Humphreys Esq.) he had issue….  (1847 and 1853 editions)

Elizabeth Sheppard, widow of Charles Bernard did not marry a Bunbury, although Thomas Bernard son of Charles did marry Deborah (nee Sheppard) who was previously married to Edward Humphrey and was the step daughter of Benjamin Bunbury.  Although Elizabeth may have married Richard Humphrey I can find no evidence of that marriage. Richard Humphrey was the original settler of the Humphrey family of Co. Wicklow.  He had six sons: John, Gorman, William, Edward, Henry and Thomas.   His will was dated 1655 and proved in 1668.  His sons were probably of the same age as Elizabeth (Sheppard) Bernard.It is unlikely that Elizabeth would have married Richard Humphrey after her husband Charles Bernard died. 

In later editions of the Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry (1858 onwards) the reference to Elizabeth's later marriages are omitted.

Charles Bernard and Elizabeth Sheppard were married about 1664/5. They had 3 sons: 

  •  John Bernard, second son of Charles Bernard. Born about 1666 John is not mentioned in the will of his brother Thomas (1720) so he probably died before 1720.

After the death of Charles Bernard in 1668, his widow, Elizabeth (Sheppard) Bernard was left with three very young children. Although Burke suggests that Elizabeth married Richard Humphrey I have not found a record of that marriage.


(1)    The History and Antiquities of the County of Carlow By John Ryan

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