3.1: Quemerford: this part of Calne in Wiltshire gave its name to the Comerford family in Ireland (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2008).
The origins of the Quemerford and Comerford family in Wiltshire and their move to Co Kilkenny are traced in Chapter 2: Quemerford and Comerford family origins. From that narrative, we see that the first member of the family using the name of Quemerford village as his own surname appears to have been:
BARTHOLOMEW de QUEMERFORD, of Quemerford in Calne, Wiltshire, living ca 1230-1240, when he granted certain lands and services in Stoke (Stoke, in Calne Parish) to William the Scrivener (Scriptori) for 10 marks and an annual rent of one penny. The grant was witnessed by Walter de Bachamtune, Gilbert de Finemore, Symon Horn, Will Luvel, Reg Pal, Gilbert de Chelfurst[re], William and Hugh the merchants, Walter the Baker, Rob le Limnere, Rich de Ponte, and Will de la Grene, clerk.
In the early 1230s, Bartholomew of Quemerford, with the consent of his wife Maud, granted three crofts in Quemerford to Gervase, Abbot of Pershore Abbey, Worcestershire, in the early 1230s. The abbey is not known to have held land in Quemerford at a later stage in history. Around this time, Bartholomew de Quemerford also granted to Adam, son of Walter Chamberlong (Chamberlain), 6½ acres of land at Whetindon (in Langhelond, Maltelond, Wulvruneimere, Frogghefurlanghe, Gorfurlange, Brumelfurlang, Ellescubbe, and Holeweie), for 10 years, with power to sublet to any but “religiosi” or Jews. The two parties made an affidavit to observe this agreement “in manu Walteri de Kalest, capellani, coram viris discretis.” The witnesses were Osbert the chaplain of Cain (i.e. Calne), Simon de Caln (i.e. Calne), chaplain, Henry de Quemerford and Philip his son, William Luvel, Alexander de Tesewurthe, and Richard de Caln (i.e. Calne), clerk. Maxwell-Lyte mistakenly dates this grant to 1525.
From other documents that have survived in the Money-Kyle Family Papers collection in the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office in Chippenham, it appears that Bartholomew de Quemerford and his wife Maud had at least one son and one daughter:
1, Henry de Quemerford, of whom next.
2, Alteneya, or Alceneya, daughter of Bartholomew de Quemerford, who was living ca 1270-1280. In those years, she made a quit claim to William le Escrivyen of a rent of three half-pence from her lands in Quemerford. Instead, she was to receive one red rose each year at the feast of Saint John the Baptist in the vill of Calna, or the town of Calne. This William appears to be the same William le Escryveyn, William the Scrivener or William the Scribe mentioned in the other documents relating to the family. William the Scrivener was one of the two first MPs for Calne in 1295, alongside William de Chelfurist (William of Chilvester), and was a man of considerable importance in Calne in the late 13th century, with large property holdings in the town and surrounding area. Her transaction, with its romantic allusions, was witnessed by Henry son of Philip and by Walter son of Philip, both of whom I might presume to be the sons of Philip de Quemerford: Henry son of Philip appears at the same time as a member of the family and there is no other description of this Henry son of Philip in a Quemerford family document to distinguish him from a member of the family or from other contemporaries named Henry. The other witnesses of this quit claim were Gilbert de Finemore, Will de Patteford, John the Archer, Walter Sweyn, Roger le Draper, Hugh le Mercer, and John le Masun.
Bartholomew may also have been the father of:
3, Philip de Quemerford, living ca 1250-1260. In that decade he was a witness to the sale by Henry, son of Bartholomew de Quemerford to Richard de Leicestre of a capital messuage and virgate in Quemerford, Calne, above Honeputte. The other witnesses were Walter de Calnestone, Nicholas de Lynnoc, Walter de Bachamtone, clerk, Jocerlin, Bailiff of the Hundred of Calne, John the Archer, Gilbert de Finemore, William Luvel and Williuam de Calne, clerk. Philip de Quemerford was the father of:
● 1a, Henry de Quemerford fitz Philip, or Henry Phelip of Quemerford. He was living ca 1270-1290. In the decade 1270-1280, he received a grant from John Wither of one acre in the field of Quemerford, called Yuindone in Bremerforlang. In the decade 1280-1290, he was a witness to a deed in Calne along with Gilebert de la Roche, Geoffrey le Eyr, Gilebert le Wyte, Robert le Blund, Laurence de Stodleya, Robert de Jurleby, Thomas Puke and William de la Roche.
● 2a, Walter fitz Philip, living 1270-1280, when he was a witness to the quitclaim by Alteneya or Alceneya de Quemerford involving her lands in Quemerford to William le Escriveyn or William the Clerk (see above).
HENRY de QUEMERFORD, son of Bartholomew de Quemerford, was living ca 1250 to 1260, when he sold land in Quemerford. He was paid half a mark by Richard de Leicestre for his black chief virgate in Quemerford above Honeputte. The sale was witnessed by a Philip de Quemerford, but there is no indication whether he was a brother or, less likely, a son of Henry. The other witnesses were Walter de Calestone, Nicholas de Lynnoc, Walter de Bachamtone, clerk, Jocelin, Bailiff of the Hundred of Calne, Gilibert de Finemore, William Luvel, and William de Calne, clerk.
Many of these names also appear as witnesses to Bartholomew’s earlier grant to Pershore Abbey, Worcestershire, showing the close interconnections existing in society in Calne and Quemerford at the time. The description “clerk” indicates a clerk in holy orders or priest, and Will de la Grebe and Will de Calne may have been the same priest.
A round green seal was affixed to the document, and although the inscription was effaced, a star and a crescent could be seen at the beginning of the 20th century. I have already raised the possibility that the crescent could have been a rudimentary representation of the bugle horn that appeared with three stars on the coat of arms of the Quemerford or Comerford family of Callan, Co Kilkenny, 300 years later. However, as the rules of heraldry were hardly developed at that period, at least among the class of people from whom the Quemerford family was drawn, and as there is there is such a time-gap between this manuscript and the earliest tombstone in Co Kilkenny using such a coat-of-arms, the idea cannot be pursued further.
NICHOLAS de QUEMERFORD was living in Calne in 1344 when he made a grant at Calne to Robert de Huggerford of all his lands and tenements in Quemerford in return for an annual rent of 20 shillings on 17 March 1344.
3.2: Quemerford House: Nicholas de Quemerford appears to have sold the last of the family lands in Quemerford in 1344 (Photograph © Patrick Comerford 2008).
The move to Ireland
By the beginning of the 14th century, the first members of the Quemerford or Comerford family are found living in Co Kilkenny.
3.3: Calne today: the Calne historian AEW Marsh identified how the Quemerford family left Calne at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, and settled in the area around Callan in Co Kilkenny (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2008)
Over 100 years ago, the Calne historian, AEW Marsh, identified a notable movement of people from Calne to Ireland at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century. William de Dene was seneschal of Ossory (Kilkenny) ca 1255 and ca 1260; sheriff of Wexford between 1241 and 1245, when he witnessed three of Walter Marshal’s charters to Dunbrody; and Justiciar of Ireland, 1260-1261. He fought at the Battle of Callan in 1261 and died in that year, perhaps from wounds received at Callan. Soon afterwards, his widow Roesia de Longespee married William de Calne, and was alive in 1302.
From 1283 for some years, a number of protections with clause volumus were granted to William of Calne and his wife Roesia while they were in Ireland. At times, these were varied by letters patent authorising William de Calne to nominate people to look after his interests while he and his wife were in England. William constantly varied his lawyers, who included Nicholas of Calne, Henry of Cumpton, Philip of Cummerford (sic) and Walter of Lacock, “showing that there was then quite a little colony of people from Calne and the neighbourhood settled in Ireland.”
PHILIP de QUEMERFORD, sometimes recorded as Philip of Cummerford, was one of these lawyers or agents from Calne who appears to have been living permanently in Co Kilkenny by the beginning of the 14th century. This Philip de Quemerford was attorney to John de Earleye in 1302. He was fined for an unknown sum along with others at Kilkenny in 1326. According to the Estreats of Kilkenny, on the Thursday after the feast of the exaltation of the Holy Cross in 1326 Philip de Quemerford was fined for an unknown sum along with others at Kilkenny.
He appears to have been the father of both:
1, John de Quemerford, of Kells, Co Kilkenny, of whom next.
2, Thomas fitzPhilip de Quemerford, of Earlstown, Co Kilkenny, of whom after John de Quemerford.
JOHN de QUEMERFORD was living at Earlstown in the Barony of Shillelogher, Co Kilkenny, on 12 February, 1346, when he was a witness to a grant by Matthew Eyleward to Maurice, son of William “le Whyte”, of an acre of land at Langeland in Erleystown, and on 2 April 1346, when he witnessed a further grant by John Whyte to Maurice le Whyte of five acres in Tybryneken in the Barony of Erley. Twelve years later, in 1358, according to Blake Forster’s pedigree quoted by Healy, he was appointed under a warrant from King Edward III to collect a subsidy from Kilkenny in the war against Art O’Kavanagh.
THOMAS fitz PHILIP de QUEMERFORD, was living in Kells, Co Kilkenny, in June 1350. On 1 June 1350, he granted to William fitzRichard Coterel of Kells a house with appurtenances in the middle of the town of Kells, “to have and to hold to him and his heirs of the chief lords of the fee by the services due and accustomed.” This grant was supplemented some days later by a quit claim from Thomas fitzPhilip Quemerford to William fitzRichard Coterel of Kells, and his heirs for ever, of all his rights in a house with appurtenances on the main street (in medio vico) of Kells, “which he has of the gift and enfeoffment of John Martyr of Kells.” These deeds had seals attached that were still perfect in the early 20th century.
A generation later we find:
(The Revd) WILLIAM de QUERYNTOUN [?recte Quemerton or Quemerford], chaplain, who on 30 May 1372 gave and granted to the Revd John Deverous (Devereux), chaplain, “80 acres of land, meadow, moor and wood, in Arblasteresgrove in the tenement of Loghmetheran ... Given at Kilkenny. Witnesses: Oliver de la Freynge, Maurice Purcell, Maurice Devenisshe, Thomas Hode and Nicholas Baathe.”
Then, a generation or two later, we find Philip Comerford, in Kilkenny in 1420, and his contemporary, William de Quemerford, who was living in Callan and working in Kilkenny at that time.
PHILIP COMERFORD was assessor for the town of Kilkenny, 1420.
3.4: Callan today: William de Quemerford held lands in the town from 1411 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)
WILLIAM de QUEMERFORD (? b ca 1371; fl 1406-1421) held lands in Callan, Co Kilkenny, on lease from the Earl of Ormonde in 1411. In November 1411, William Quemerford held lands on lease in Callan from James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond (the “White Earl”) at an annual rent of three shillings and four pence, and he was still in possession of them on 25 April 1412.
He appears to have been the same William de Quemerford who was a burgher of Kilkenny, who witnessed two civic documents in the Kilkenny City archives on 28 May 1406 and on 6 October 1419, and who was assessor for the town and city of Kilkenny ca 1421.
This William de Quemerford appears to have been the father of:
1, Richard de Quemerford, of whom next.
2, Fulk Quemerford, of whom after Richard de Quemerford.
RICHARD de QUEMERFORD, of Maioweston, Callan, Co Kilkenny, held his lands from the Earl of Ormond at a chief rent of 16 pence, and who was in possession of them in November 1434. He was, perhaps, the ancestor of the Ballybur branch of the family [see Chapter 4: Comerford of Ballybur Castle and Kilkenny City].
Richard de Quemerford was a contemporary of:
FULK QUEMERFORD (?ca 1408-1452), Bailiff of Waterford (1438-1439), and Mayor of Waterford (1443, 1448-1449). Both Fulk Quemerford and Peter Forestall were killed at Tramore, Co Waterford, on 19 June 1452, when they both led the citizens of Waterford in a pitched battle against the Powers of Waterford. [See Chapter 7: The Comerfords of Castleinch and Waterford]
3.5: Reginald’s Tower, Waterford: Fulk Quemerford was Bailiff and Mayor of Waterford in the 1430s and 1440s, the first member of the family to hold high office in the city
In the century that followed, branches of the Comerford family became established in Ballybur, Callan, Inchiholohan, Ballybur and Ballymacka in Co Kilkenny; by the mid-15th century, members of the Callan and Inchiholohan or Castleinch branch of the family were prominent in the civic life of Waterford city, and soon after members of the family were living first in New Ross and later throughout Co Wexford.
Footnotes and references:
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Chippenham, 1720/52; HMC, iv (1907), pp 98-99.
 VCH Wilts 17 (2002), ‘Calne: Manors and other estates,’ loc cit, citing Bowood Mun., map 19; ibid, survey of tithable lands, 1728; WRO 1171, box 8, survey of tithable lands, c. 1760; National Archives, E 210/3693 (Exchequer Records, King’s Remembrancer, Ancient Deeds Series); HC Maxwell-Lyte, A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, vol 1 (1890), pp 21-33, Deed A 238, quoted in ‘Deeds: A 201 – A 300,’ pp 21-33; see http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=64194 (23 June 2008).
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/67; HMC iv (1907), p. 101.
 Marsh, pp 12, 26, 41-42.
 Money-Kyrle Family papers, Chippenham, 1720/67; HMC iv (1907), p. 101.
 Money- Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/54; HMC 4 (1907) p. 99.
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/133; HMC 4 (1907), p. 108.
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/82; HMC 4 (1907), p. 104.
 Money-Kyrle Family papers, Chippenham, 1720/67; HMC, 4 (1907), p. 101.
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/54; HMC 4 (1907), p. 99.
 Patrick Comerford, “The Comerford Family ... origins,” Old Kilkenny Review 24 (1972), p. 32; see HMC 4 (1907), p. 99.
 Money-Kyrle Family Papers, Chippenham, 1720/133; HMC 4 (1907) p. 108.
 Duiske Charters, no. 59; Pipe Roll, 45 Henry III.
 Chart. St. Mary’s, 164-66.
 Orpen, 3, 94.
 Chart. St. Mary’s, Annals, 2, 316; Orpen, 3, 139, 142.
 Cal. Just. Rolls, I, 383, 402.
 Marsh, p. 181.
 E. Curtis (ed), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 6 vols (Dublin, 1932-1943), 1, p. 247.
 Ormond 1, p. 331.
 Ormond 1, p. 332.
 Healy 1, p. 61, quoting Blake Forster, p. 476, n. 68.
 Ormond 1, p. 357.
 Ormond 1, p. 357.
 Ormond 2, #181, p. 126.
 HG Richardson and GO Sayles (eds), Parliaments and Councils of Ireland (Dublin, 1947), vol 1, p. 132.
 Ormond 2, pp 301, 311.
 Ormond 2, pp 301, 311; C. McNeill (ed), Liber Primus Kilkenniensis (Dublin, 1931), pp 87, 89; Richardson and Sayles, p. 177.
 Ormond 3, p. 111.
 HMC 10, v (1885), p. 330.
 HMC 10, v (1885), p. 298; Hansard, p. 115.
 Carew v (London, 1871), p. 471; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
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