The Robinson Garden at Earlscliffe, Baily, Co. Dublin, Ireland

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Earlscliffe residents 1844 to 1896

Cornelius Egan

We believe that the house at Earlscliffe was built around 1844. We don't know who built it or owned it that stage, but we do know that in 1848 the property was owned by Cornelius Egan, Alderman of Dublin, under a 99-year lease of 1847 from the Earl of Howth (which is possibly where the name Earlscliffe came from?). [1] [23]

Cornelius Egan was born about 1800 [18] and by 1824 was a Corn Merchant.  He married Grace Cahill in 1832 and was Alderman of Dublin City Council by 1841. Around the time that he owned Earlscliffe he also owned a wholesale merchant company (Cornelius Egan & Co) selling hops, seed, malt and corn. [19]

He had 10 children with Grace Cahill. One son, also called Cornelius, died tragically in Howth in 1853 after his gun accidentally exploded whilst shooting. [20]

We don't know much more about Egan and Earlscliffe, but we do know that there were legal dealings with Egan and his executors and William McDougall of Drumleck, Howth (see map above).[2]

Egan also owned St Lawrence House in Howth from at least 1852 until his death on 2nd July 1863. [24] [28] St Lawrence House was later converted into a hotel, which closed in the summer of 2000 and is now an apartment complex.

Egan is buried at St. Fintan's cemetery, Sutton.

In terms of Earlscliffe, we are uncertain as to whether Egan owned it until it was sold in 1864 as we only have evidence that he owned it up to 1850 [23]. However, I am still researching this, so watch this space!

Captain William Bunbury McClintock Bunbury

The next person we have details of who owned the house was Royal Navy Captain William Bunbury McClintock Bunbury. [3]  The Captain first rented it in 1862 , either from Egan or from someone else. The house was possibly chosen because his own or his wife's health required sea-bathing.  By 1864 he had certainly bought the house. [4]

As a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, McClintock Bunbury had sailed on HMS Samarang and, in the 1830s had navigated the coast of South America with Charles Darwin. [5] During this time McClintock Bunbury secured the first post on HMS Samarang for one of his young cousins, Francis Leopold McClintock, the arctic explorer who later discovered the Prince of Wales Island and Prince Patrick Island and also discovered the fate of the explorer John Franklin who had perished looking for the Northwest Passage [6]

Captain McClintock Bunbury later became MP for Carlow [7] and built the house and gardens at Lisnavagh in County Carlow shortly after his marriage to Pauline Stronge in 1842. [8] 

Although the Captain inally owned Earlscliffe in 1864, he wasn;t there long as unfortunately he died on the 2nd June 1866. His wife, Pauline,  continued to own and live in Earlscliffe for some years until her death in 1876. [5] In Turtle Bunbury's excellent website exploring the history of the Bunbury family, it is mentioned that living at Earlscliffe was good for the health of the Captain's wife. [9]

The house was put up for auction in 1877 by their son, Thomas Kane McClintock-Bunbury, for around 2,000. However, it wasn't sold until 1878 when the price had dropped to 1,500.  [10] 

Dawson Thomas Knox

It is not known exactly who bought the house in 1878, but as Earlscliffe was owned by Dawson Thomas Knox  in 1881[22], it is assumed that he bought the house from the McClintock-Bunburys three years earlier.

Dawson Thomas was born 4th May 1845,  the son of Reverend Thomas Knox and Eliza Winckworth Bent. He worked for the Irish Land Commission as the Deputy Superintendent of the Church property Department. [25]

We don't know anymore about Dawson Thomas, but the house also seems to be linked to various other members of the Knox family at that time including Ellis Henry Knox [11], Cheney John Maunsel, [12] and Commander Vesey Knox, RN!

Ellis Henry Knox was a Clerk in the Office of Commissioners of Church Temporalities in Ireland. We don't know any more about Ellis Henry, except that Emily Knox, his half sister and a Professor of Music[16] , lived at another house nearby on Ceanchor Road (Couleen) until she died on 19 Feb 1952 aged 76.[13] 

We do know that Ellis Henry Knox died in Earlscliffe on the 20 Jun 1892 at the age of 49. [14]

A few years later, Dawson Thomas Knox died 25th Jan in 1895 [14][26] and the Knox family put the house up for auction in the summer of 1895. [15]

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  • [1] A sale notice for Earlscliffe in the Irish Times July 6 1895 mentions that it is "held as to part for 143 years from 1st November 1844, under a lease dated 15th December 1847, and a reversionary lease dated 1st May 1895..."
  • [2] From the Lisnavagh Archives (G 8/12). As relayed to me by Turtle Bunbury in July 2009. As an aside, a later owner of Earlscliffe, John Pentland Mahaffy, married the daughter of William McDougall in 1865.
  • [3] National Register of Archives, Record Reference D/4132/G/, NRA catalogue reference NRA 40262 McClintock-Bunbury
  • [4] Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory~1864, as listed in "Extracts From Various Trade Directories 1834 To 1910"
  • [5] . Turtle Bunbury, a descendent of the Captain's family, has confirmed that Pauline Stronge died in 1876. This fits in with the entry in [2] above which states that the last date that she is known to have lived at Earlscliffe was in that year. It is also confirmed in the Wills and Administrations entry here: which states that she died on the 1st Jan 1878.
  • [6] As related in the book "The Arctic Fox - Francis Leopold McClintock, Discoverer of the fate of Franklin", David Murray, 2004. Cork: The Collins Press, ISBN 1-55002-523-6
  • [7] The House Of Commons Constituencies - County Carlow,
  • [8] Family History, Stronge Of Tynan Abbey, Co. Armagh
  • [9]
  • [10] As told to me by Turtle Bunbury in correspondence (July 2009). An advert in the "The Freeman's Journal", May 1 1877 describes Earlscliffe as a "charming residence with ornamental grounds and garden, the whole comprising 4a. 3r. 29p" and that the "present proprietor has expended a considerable sum in valuable and judicious improvements". Turtle has a well laid out and fascinating site about the many generations of the Bunburys and it is well worth a visit. See
  • [11] Debrett's Peerage Page 521 with an entry that reads: "Ellis Henry, b. 1842; is a Clerk in Office of Commissioners of Church Temporalities in Ireland. Residence, Earlscliffe, Howth, co. Dublin"
  • [12] Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory~1886, as listed in "Extracts From Various Trade Directories 1834 To 1910"  It states that a D Knox lived there. This is Dawson Thomas. The dates listed were 1886, 1891 and 1892. Also, various Irish Times notices seem to indicate that a C Knox lived here. Could that be Cheney?
  • [13] The story of Emily was originally told by Olive Stanley Clarke to David Robinson in the 1980s. However, there are some interesting facts about the Knox household at Couleen. The 1911 census shows that Cheney John Maunsel Knox (Ellis Henry's brother) lived in 9 Percy Place in Dublin with his sister Emily Knox and they had a servant called Kate Cassidy (from the 1911 Census found on3rd Oct 2015).  Certainly Kate died in Couleen on the 15th Sept 1947. See also the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966.
  • [14] Ireland, Civil Registration Deaths Index, 1864-1958
  • [15] The house was advertised in the Irish Times July 6 1895 pg 9. Earlscliffe was described as a "first class Residence, in perfect order, with every residential attraction, situated on the sunny side of Howth, facing Kingstown, and adjoining the sea shore, standing upon about five acres. Immediate possession." It also said that the "climate on the south slope of Howth is well know for salubrity, being well protected from north and east winds. Earlscliffe occupies the choicest position on the south slope of Howth, the most enviable marine residential position in the County of Dublin."
  • [16] From the 1911 Census found on3rd Oct 2015
  • [17] John Pentland Mahaffy: Biography of an Anglo-Irishman, W B Stanford and R B McDowell, Publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd,  1971, ISBN 0 7100 6880 8
  • [18] Slaters 1870 commercial directory as quoted on here:
  • [19] Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland 1846, pg 82
  • [20] As reported in the Worcester Journal, 5th November 1853.
  • [21] In the Morning Post, London, 28th Dec 1885, there is something about Commander Vesey Knox of Earlscliffe
  • [22] In Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of Ireland (1881) it states that Dawson Knox was in Earlscliffe and again in Slater's Royal National Directory of Ireland (1894)
  • [23] Griffith's Valuation 1848 and 1850 show that Egan occupied houses and land marked as 2a and 2b on the map, where 2b is shown as Earlscliffe House and lands.  Incidentally, a number of previous residents have wondered which was the original name of the house; Earlscliffe or Earlscliff, as both spellings can be seen in various documents over the years. The map shown above from 1848 shows the house named as Earlscliffe, so we are assuming that this must have been the original name.
  • [24] Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory 1852, to 1864.
  • [25] Thom's Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1894, Law Directory page 846.
  • [26] Ireland, Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Registers, 1733-1923 for Dawson Thomas Knox has an entry for his death in Volume V (1860-1899) as on the 25 Jan 1895. This is confirmed in the Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1858
  • [27] states Dawson Thomas Knox was born on 4 May 1845. He was the son of Reverend Thomas Knox and Eliza Winckworth Bent. 
  • [28] Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1863

Disclaimer. Parts of the data found in these history pages has been derived from sources currently available on the internet. In researching the previous owners of Earlscliffe, certain assumptions have been made as to the validity of this internet data. If you believe that some of this data is inaccurate, please contact .

This page was last updated on 02-Apr-2016 .

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