The History of the Power Family Name


William Power
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The Power family name is believed to have originated from 2 or possibly 3 sources:

Please also visit the diagram that accompanies this summary.

1. Genealogists are of the opinion the most likely source is that the name derived from the inhabitants of a village or rural area in the ancient French province of Picardy known as Pois or (latinised) Poix. The term meant 'fish' or a 'well stocked river'. Inhabitants of Picardy migrated to Britain during the 1120s and people from Pois were known by that name. Eventually it degenerated into Poer.

2. The village poor. People suffering poverty were stigmatised with the term poor no matter what other name they might have carried. Bishop Roger, bishop of Salisbury in 12th century, whom some believe was the progenitor of the English and Irish Power family, derived his name from this source. He was a "poor" priest brought over from Avranches in Normandy by King Henry 1st about 1130 and (eventually) rose to the exhalted position of chancellor. While Bishop Roger is known to have had children, genealogists can find no evidence of a continuing genetic line.

3. The papal count, Edmond de La Poer Power, in the 19th century, claimed the family descended from the ancient comte de Poher in Bretagne (Brittany) which became extinct in 937. The count's claim was expanded by Gabriel O. C. Redmond in 1891 in his book: The Family of Poher, Poer or Power. A noted genealogist at the time, Dr J. Horace Round, refuted the count's claim and said, "the name had no more to do with a Bretton comte than had Smith to do with Smeeth, which means a level plain". Nevertheless, Redmond quoted various earlier genealogists to support the count's assertions.

If count de La Poer Power's claims are correct, the family's genealogy may extend as far back as the Merovingian Frankish conqueror of ancient Gaul, Clovis. Direct descendants of Clovis fled to Brittany during the Carolingian usurpation of the Frankish empire and his descendant, Gemege, married the count of Poher, c. 900. In the male line, the counts of Poher also descend from Conmore, who probably fled to Brittany from Wales during the time of the Saxon invasion, about the year 480.

The Castle of Donoyle

        This castle was built about 1200 by Sir Robert Poer, believed to have been one of the sons of Sir Bartholomew Poer, lord of Blackborough, Devon, England. Sir George Carew, noted genealogist and historian of the 19th century, says: "out ofRuinsm.jpg this house all the Powers of Ireland and the FitzEustaces, viscounts of Baltinglass (County Wicklow), descend". The Donoyle ruins are situated at Dunn Hill in County Waterford, Ireland, near the villages of Annestown and Tramor. Sir Robert, an adviser to King Henry II (who authorised the continuation of the Norman conquest into Ireland in 1169/70) established a feudal lordship over his territory after being granted vast estates in Counties Waterford and Wexford by the king about 1170 - he accompanied the king into Ireland in that year. Sir Robert's descendants inherited the feudal barony and held the territory until defeated in battle about 1640 by Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentary army. Cromwell laid siege to the castle, which was defended by the wife of John, the 16th baron. When her garrison was defeated Cromwell blew up the castle and she was buried under the rubble. At the time John was defending another of the family's castles at Kilmeadan, a few kilometres away, which was totally destroyed. He was captured and is believed to have been hung from a nearby tree.


        The estate of Powerscourt near Enniskerry, in County Wicklow, was originally held by Simon Poer, believed to beRuin2sm.jpg another of Sir Bartholomew's sons, who also came to Ireland during the anglo-Norman invasion. It's believed he built the original (not the existing one) castle early in the 12th century on the sight of the present building. Within a few generations, however, this territory was back in the hands of the native Irish clan of O'Toole. Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt, in 1903, wrote the O'Tooles were in possession during "the long period when the Wars of the Roses made English control over Ireland weak and inefficient". The present building was completely gutted by fire in 1974 but the present owners, the Slazenger family, are planning to completely restore it - at a cost of $10 million pounds.


The Curraghmore Manor

        The Curraghmore estate was granted to Richard Power, distant cousin of the baron of Donoyle, when he was elevatedManorsm.jpg to the peerage as Lord Power and Curraghmore on 13th September, 1535. The British Museum holds a copy of the titledeed. This family lost all its titles when John, 9th Lord Curraghmore, was declared an 'outlaw' following the suppression of the 'Jacobite' rebellion in 1688-90. The estate is now held by the de La Poer (Beresford) family. Lord Waterford, Marquis of Haverfordwest in Wales is the present tenant.

        The gardens of this estate are opened to the public every Thursday afternoon and are well worth a visit. The Powerscourt gardens, once among the top 5 in Europe and still magnificent, are open every day.

    This information is extracted from the book "Morgan and a History of the Power Family" by Bill Power, 1997. If anyone would like further details please contact Bill Power .