Copyright Glenn Luttrell
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Son of Luttrellstown
Immigrant to America
The claim by American historians and genealogical researchers that Robert Luttrell, the immigrant to America, was directly related to the owners of Luttrellstown seems to lack documentation. Apparently, family tradition or simple conjecture provides the “proof” that has been established. However, before discounting this long-held claim, it is necessary to understand the climate of the times in which this founder of a substantial branch of the American Luttrell family lived.
The seventeenth century in Ireland was marked with upheaval in politics and religion, which really were one and the same. It was also a century of upheaval for the Luttrells of Ireland, a family established in the country four centuries earlier as representatives of the English throne. Only a century prior, Chief Justice Sir Thomas Luttrell “was a typical example of a gentleman of the English Pale of his time” and at least outwardly, an adherent to the English church.*
Within fifty years of his death however, by the beginning of the seventeenth century the Luttrells of Luttrellstown, and
their cousins, were like their neighbors, Irish and Papist.
Thomas Luttrell, owner of Luttrellstown (1597-1634) and grandson of the Chief Justice, “took a prominent part in public affairs as one of the leaders of the Roman Catholic party in the House of Commons”. “Troublesome times fell to the lot of his eldest son, Simon Luttrell (d. ca 1650), who succeeded him and who lived to see Ireland under the rule of the Parliament.”* After the uprising of the Irish Catholic gentry against English rule (Irish Rebellion of 1641), Robert Luttrell of Girstown, and Oliver Luttrell of Tankardstown, County of Meath.were attainted in 1642. A decade later Luttrellstown was seized by Cromwell’s Parliamentarians and its displaced owners resided in Dublin until the Restoration in 1663 when Luttrellstown was restored to Thomas Luttrell, heir of Simon (d. ca. 1650).
Simon Luttrell’s grandson, Simon Luttrell, inherited Luttrellstown from his father Thomas in 1674. Col. Simon Luttrell, a true Irish Catholic, was a follower of Charles II and was appointed by him as Governor of Dublin. Upon the defeat of the Irish army by the English Williamite army, Col. Simon Luttrell, a Thomas Luttrell (both described of Luttrellstown, County Dublin), Robert Luttrell (of Simonstown, County Kildare), and William Luttrell, Jr. of Dublin were outlawed (attainted) in 1691. Col. Henry Luttrell, younger brother of Col. Simon, was also outlawed for a time, but changed his allegiance to the Williamite side and was rewarded with the estates of his brother, Col. Simon Luttrell, who left the country instead of vowing allegiance to the English (Protestant) rulers.
The American researcher Dr.Terril Littrell describes the American immigrant, Robert Luttrell, as the “son of Simon Luttrell (b. 1600), Gentleman of The Bedchamber to Charles II. . .who married his cousin Ann, daughter of Viscount Gormanston.” Yet, in "Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography", Vol. IV, ed. Tyler, publ 1915, we see the claim that Robert Luttrell, immigrant to America, was the brother of Col. Simon and Col. Henry Luttrell. This places Robert a generation later than Dr. Littrell’s assertion.
The climate of the times described in the above paragraphs regarding the chaos in Ireland may have persuaded many sons of noble houses to seek a better life elsewhere. While Robert Luttrell is not mentioned in Ball’s detailed historical accounts of the occupants of Luttrellstown nor is he found on any documents in Ireland or America proving the link to the prominent Irish family, it is reasonable to allow that the claims of such connections may be true.
The Irish historian, F. Elrington Ball, notes that Simon Luttrell (d. ca. 1650), who had been displaced from Luttrellstown by the Cromwellians, “left several children, including his heir, Thomas Luttrell”. It may be significant that Ball is unaware of any of Simon’s children except the one who inherited the estate. Though they didn’t inherit the prize possession from their father, the younger children, especially the males, often were endowed with significant wealth from the estate. As previously stated, there were two Robert Luttrells who were dispossessed of their estates by the English authorities – Robert Luttrell of Girston in 1642 and Robert Luttrell of Simonstown, County Kildare, in 1691. The Robert Luttrell of Simonstown, County Kildare, attainted in 1691 could also have been an unrecorded younger brother, or uncle to Col. Simon and Col. Henry Luttrell.
It would be quite understandable why a younger son of a noble family, especially if he is in danger of losing freedom or his earthly possessions, would seek a more peaceful and profitable life for himself and his family in a “new world”. If he did so, he would probably be reticent about having it recorded in the records of the oppressive rulers he was escaping. He may even hesitate to acknowledge much of his background if his new home, although economically rewarding, was systematically intolerant to his religious beliefs.
We don’t know Robert Luttrell’s religious beliefs when he established his family in their new home of anti-Catholic Virginia in the late seventeenth century. That may have been his desire. We know he was a man of means and prospered in his new home. That may not have been possible if he widely proclaimed details of his background.
Much of the information above is from A History of the County Dublin, by Francis Elrington Ball, publ. 1902-20, 6 Volumes. Most "Luttrell" references are in Vol. 4, Ch. 1 - "Parish of Clonsilla"
Other resources include:
A Compendium of Irish Biography: Comprising Sketches of Distinguished Irishmen, and of Eminent. . . By Alfred Webb
"Illustrations, historical and genealogical, of King James's Irish army list, 1689
By John D’Alton, esq., Barrister DUBLIN:. 1855
"The Luttrell Family in Virginia" by Dr. Terril Littrell
“Catholic Church in the Thirteen Colonies” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_in_the_Thirteen_Colonies#Virginia