Journal Volume 1 1992

Colonel Burnaby

By Eamon O Brien

My interest in the history of the Burnaby was aroused as follows.

I remember coming down from the Greystones Golf Club and gazing into the garden of a quaint old world house with the unusual name of Khiva. When I consulted my encyclopaedia I found a good explanation. ‘Khiva, a mysterious city in far off Turkistan in Asia Minor’. This city was forbidden for foreigners to enter and made famous by the publication of a book by a Colonel Fred Burnaby in 1875 entitled ‘A Ride to Khiva’.A Ride to Khiva (book cover)

When I read the book I found it a thrilling tale of quite extraordinary adventure in which Burnaby showed wonderful courage and ingenuity, in fact at times he avoided death by a hair's breadth.

Later on after many month of endeavour I managed to procure an out of print book entitled 'The Life of Colonel Fred Burnaby by Thomas Wright, published some years after his death. I found both books very interesting for one like myself who lives in the Burnaby estate and I must try to convey to you the results of my research.

Colonel Fred BurnabyAs far as I can see Burnaby only paid a 14 day visit to Greystones in all his life and that visit was to meet his Irish fiancé’s relatives. He proposed marriage during the London Season to a young and beautiful Irish heiress, Miss Elizabeth Hawkins Whitshed, an only daughter and a ward of court. Her father had lived in Killincarrig House in Co. Wicklow. She was a girl of piquant beauty and possessor of charming manners and intellectual gifts. The marriage took place in London on June 25th 1879.

When Burnaby married into the Hawkins family the estate then became known as the Burnaby estate. All the roads in the estate are named in relation to the Burnaby family like Portland Road (an uncle of Colonel Burnaby), Whitshed Road after Colonel Burnaby's mother's maiden name, Vincent's road after a Burnaby relation who took part in the battle of Cape St. Vincent, Somerby Road after the name of the family house in Bedford, England.Elizabeth Burnaby (nee Whitshed)

Now let us look into the background history of the Hawkins Estate as it was known then to all the locals prior to the marriage. Much of the Greystones area, I reckon, was owned by the Walsh family of Old Conna and Shankill. When the insurrection of the native Irish in 1646 failed they were dispossessed of their lands and many were exiled. A free grant of land was then given by the British Crown to a Colonel Hawkins of England. He farmed the land and built the Killincarrig House now in ruins near the old mill house. Later on he built a new Killincarrig House which will now be the new Greystones Golf Club. The Hawkins and Whitshed families were later united by marriage; I often wonder was this Hawkins family any relation to the famous seadog Admiral Hawkins who raided the rich Spanish gold cargos in the Spanish Main.

Later on came the La Touche family, so the Greystones area of land was mainly owned by the Hawkins and the La Touche families.


Back to list of contents   Next page of article