Sir Richard Bulkeley

second & last baronet (1660-1710),
of Old Bawn, Dublin, Ireland, and Ewell, Surrey

The Bulkeley Crest
The Bulkeley Crest
with permission from Northbourne Sources

The Bulkeley crest, a bull's head issuing from a ducal crown. Below it, the family arms, which consisted of three silver bulls and a silver chevron on a black background (Sable, a chevron between three bulls' heads caboshed argent). John Aubrey and Burke wrongly report these arms as containing 'bucks' heads caboshed' when clearly they are bulls - the surname being derived from from Old English bulluc (bullock) + lēah "woodland clearing).

Described as scientist, author, inventor, experimenter and horticulturist, details of the subject's life may be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography accessible through the Surrey libraries website. His great-grandfather had been Lancelot Bulkeley, Archbishop of Dublin (1568 - 1650) and grandfather Archdeacon William Bulkeley (c. 1598 - 1671).

He was born on 16 August 1660 in Dublin, the first son of Sir Richard Bulkeley, of Old Bawn, Dublin, Ireland, first baronet (1634-1685), and his first wife, Catherine, née Bysse (daughter and coheir of John Bysse, Esq., Chief Baron of the (Irish) Exchequer who died in 1662).

An allegation for Marriage Licence declared: - Sir Richard Bulkeley, of St. Margaret's, Westminster Bart., Bachr, abt 26, & Mdm. Lucy Downing, of the same, Spr, abt 20, with consent of her brother Sir G. Downing, Bart., & the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Carlisle, her cousin german, her parents being dead. The next day, 16/2/1686 ,Sir Richard Bulkeley married Madam Lucy Downing at Westminster Abbey. Their only son died as an infant.

In A History of the County Dublin: the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century, 1905, Francis Elrington Ball, tells us: -
"Sir Richard Bulkeley the second, who was deformed, was a man of learning, and graduated both at Dublin, where he was elected a Fellow of Trinity College, and at Oxford. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in its transactions there are papers by him on a self-propelling chariot which he invented, on the Giant's Causeway, and on a scheme for improving Ireland by the cultivation of maize. Amongst his friends we find John Evelyn and the antiquary, Humphrey Wanley, who was secretary to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Sir Richard was a man of deep religious feeling, and towards the close of his life was carried away by some religious enthusiasts known as French prophets, who he believed would cure him of his deformity. Although he represented the borough of Fethard in the Irish Parliament, he resided principally in England, where he had a handsome seat near Epsom. He was married to a daughter of Sir George Downing, but at his death, which occurred in 1710, left no children, and the baronetcy became extinct.

At that time Old Bawn was occupied by that much-married judge, the Hon. William Worth, [of Dublin & Rathfarnham, Baron of the Exchequer, Ireland,] who married as his third wife the widow of the first Sir Richard Bulkeley, and who took as his fourth the widow of the second baronet.

He was the son of Sir Richard Bulkeley, first Bart., of Old Bawn, co. Dublin, Ireland, by his first wife Catherine,, and succeeded as second Bart, in 1685. She had been third daughter of Sir George Downing, first Bart, of East Hatley, co. Cambridge, by Frances fourth dau. of Sir William Howard, and sister of Charles first Earl of Carlisle. Their respective ages, as stated in the Mar. Lie. Vic. Gen., dated the previous day, were about 26 and 20. He died, without surviving issue, 7 April 1710. and was buried at Ewell, co. Surrey, when the title became extinct. She died the following 9th October, and was buried with her husband. The inscription on their monument states that both were in their 47th year, which does not accord with their ages as given in the marriage license."

The 'handsome seat near Epsom'

When Barton Holliday, Silk-thrower of London, assigned his leasehold estate, comprising the Vicarage House and land, in Ewell to Sir Richard Buckeley, 7 March 1705, the latter was described as 'of St Andrew's, Holborn'. That property including the 'Rectory Impropriate of Ewell, Rectory House, new brick house and outhouses, lately built, & water grist mill etc' were subsequently sub-leased until sold to William Lewen. Alderman of London, in 1709. According to one source, however, Bulkeley's 'seat' was not disposed of by his heirs until 1718 when acquired by Sir William Lewen, who died in 1721.

Bulkeley is known to have rented a house on Great Russell Street, Holborn, during 1707 [see article on Clairvoyance in The Magazine of Science, 1847, - ].

Evidence to confirm the location of what became Sir Richard's home in Ewell can be found in James Edwards' Companion from London to Brighthelmstone (1789) - along the way from St Mary's Church: -
"On the right about 50 yards from the road is the seat of Sir George Glyn, Bart. It has a green plat in front and adjoins the church-yard on the east. In 1718, this seat was in the possession of Sir William Lewen, Knt.,lord mayor of London, and member of parliament for Pool in Dorsetshire; the house is a brick building, fronted towards the south, and the view is opened on the opposite side of the road by a pleasant garden belonging."
C S Willis, in A Short History of Ewell and Nonsuch, remarks: -
"On the site of the Rectory House [Glyn House] was a house , destroyed about 1838, of brick, with a pediment and sash windows: some of the sashes with hexagonal panes were re-used in Mr Wilkins House in High Street [No 26], and these sashes would date the old rectory about 1710. Opposite the rectory, at the corner of Ox Alley was the Vicarage...but we may note Aubrey: 'In the Time of the Usurpation under Oliver, the greatest Part of the Vicarage-House was pulled down: The Garden belonging to it extending in Depth 4 Rods, and in Breadth 4 Rods, lyes in Sir William Lewen's Garden, for which he pays 20 s. Rent a Year.'"

The French Prophets

This cult has already been mentioned. Sir Richard Bulkeley was said to be 'strangely deluded and led away by the unreasonable infatuations of a set of enthusiastical pretenders to prophecy, who first appeared amongst the French Camisars and Hugenots; with these he engaged so deeply, that not only his estate partly supplied their extravagances, but he prostituted his excellent pen in defence of their frenzy, and misapplied his great capacity and good sense, by submitting them to their groundless delusions, and was only prevented by death from selling his estate to distribute amongst them'. The most exhaustive account of the subject is Hillel Schwartz's The French Prophets: The History of a Millenarian Group in Eighteenth-Century England but an outline of the group's activities may be found at .

Pillory Disapointed
Woodcut from a broadside Pillory Disapointed (sic), or the False Prophets Advancement - 1707
[Prosecuted at the expense of the French churches, as disturbers of the public peace, and false prophets, they were sentenced to pay a fine of twenty marks each, and stand twice on a scaffold with papers on their breasts, denoting their offence: a sentence which was executed accordingly at Charing Cross, and the Royal Exchange. ]

His illnesses and demise

Dr Schwartz mentions that Sir Richard was "afflicted with sciatica, 'hectic fevers' and gonorrhoea.. [an] hypochondriac struggling with headaches or fevers one day in three, often bedridden..." Brought up in an extremely devout household, Bulkeley was convinced that he could be made whole by divine intervention and claimed to have been cured of continuous headache, the stone and of a rupture (so that he he ceased to need a truss).

Owing to his financial support of the French prophets, and later of Abraham Whitrow's breakaway movement [which 'preaches up the doctrine of levelling, or that the rich must part with all their estates, and become poor, if ever they designed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven'], Bulkeley went heavily into debt. In An Historical Account of My Own Life, Edmund Calamy wrote of him as 'a gentleman of learning who was very short and crooked, but fully expected, under this dispensation, to be made straight in a miraculous way, though he happened to die before the miracle was ever wrought upon him, to his no small mortification and disappointment. This gentleman, before he fell in with these people, was, by such as were well acquainted with him, reckoned niggardly and penurious; yet afterwards, he proved liberal and open-handed, and communicated freely of his wealth for the support of the new dispensation, under the direction of one that was a great friend to it, to the emptying a considerable number of his crowded bags'.

Hillel Schwartz's book contains an observation by Bishop George Berkeley: 'Sir Richard was resolved to sell his estate and give all to the poor. But I am told the Chancery opposed him as non compos [mentis]'.

He died at Ewell on 7 April 1710, after a sudden illness, and subsequently his country house in Surrey was sold in order to meet the financial obligations he had left. Sir Richard was buried in the chancel of the old church at Ewell, 'within the rails, below the altar, under a black marble with his coat-armour thereon engraven'. His widow, Lucy, married her late husband's stepfather during August following Bulkeley's death, but she died six months after her former husband and was interred beside him at Ewell.

Entries in the Parish Registers show: - 'Sir Richard Bulkeley, Bart., buried April 12 (died April 7) 1710 & The Lady Lucy Bulkeley , alias Worth, buried October 13 (died October 9) 1710.'

Their ledger stone was inscribed: -
Here lieth the body of Sir RICHARD BULKELEY, Bart. Who departed this life, April the 7th, 1710, in the 47th year of his age.
And also of Lucy his wife Who departed this life October the 9th, 1710, in the 47th year of her age.
Remains of the Bulkeley gravestone
Remains of the Bulkeley gravestone.
re-laid close to the foot of the old church tower in St Mary's churchyard, Ewell.
Image courtesy of Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum

Irish Registry of Deeds, Abstracts of Wills Vol.1, 1708 - 1745 includes: -
BULKELEY, SIR RICHARD, Old Bawn, Co. Dublin, Bart. 26 July 1706. Precis, 1 p., 9 Sept. 1710. Died at Elwell, Surrey. Francis Bulkeley, Portamell, Anglesey, exor. and devisee.
Although there is an extensive list of Irish estates, no mention is made of English assets. His Will , disputed by a number of his relatives, was registered by claimants and legatees in October 1710.

 Family History
 War Memorials

 What's New


Donate to The History Centre
HV Usill
HV Usill
Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
Page Family
Page Family
TH Snow
TH Snow
JA Larby
JA Larby
J Harrison
J Harrison
Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion
New Stables
New Stables