Cruise family in Ireland

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2019), Letters, Volume 27

Sir,—In relation to my letter (HI 27.4, July/August 2019), may I offer some new evidence that Augustino de Cruce should not be regarded as the ‘progenitor’ of the Cruise family in Ireland. Your columnist Fiona Fitzsimons bases her evidence on Augustino witnessing a grant from Strongbow c. 1176, recorded in the Register of the Abbey of St Thomas (p. 370). Eneclann’s website ( states that Augustino was one of Strongbow’s knights but provides no firm evidence for this claim.

The Cruise surname in early medieval Irish records is often styled de Cruys, de Crus, de Crues and other variations, but seldom de Cruce. In Latin, Cruce is the ablative singular form of crux, or cross. Used with the preposition ‘de’, therefore, de Cruce means ‘of the cross’. This religious connotation is supported by the existence of Friar Philip de Cruce in the Christ Church deeds in 1229.

A comparison of the 1176 Strongbow grant with the 1177 foundation charter of St Thomas’s Abbey proves illuminating (Thomas Leland, The History of Ireland, vol. 1, p. 127). Both deeds share certain high-profile witnesses, including Raymond le Gros, John de Clahull and Walter de Rydelesford, all mentioned in Expugnatio. Ecclesiastical witnesses listed concurrently in the 1177 charter include the following bishops: ‘Eugenio Midae episcopo’, ‘Neemia episcopo de Kildare’ and, most tellingly, ‘Augustino Waterfordiensi episcopo’.

The bishop of Waterford from 1175 to 1182 was Augustinus Ua Selbaig, an Irishman appointed directly by King Henry II (see entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography). Trying to establish genealogical certainty concerning individuals who lived 850 years ago is always a risky business, but I think that on the balance of probability Augustino de Cruce was actually the bishop of Waterford, and therefore not the founder of the Cruise dynasty in Ireland. As before, Stephen de Crues in 1185 remains so far the earliest documented member of the family in Ireland, and his descendants are well represented in medieval records. His lands in Naul were held in capite, or directly from the king, as evidenced by his son Robert paying homage to Henry III in 1227 for seisin of these lands. Second place may more tentatively be given to Sir Maurice Cruys, a Norman knight who died in 1216, according to the still-extant 1619 effigial graveslab of his lineal descendant Gerald Cruise of Brittas, Nobber, Co. Meath (RMP ME005-071004). There is copious primary evidence for family links between the Cruises of Naul and Nobber throughout the medieval period right down to the time of Cromwell. Ms Fitzsimons’s original assertion that Augustino was the ‘progenitor’ or founder of the Cruise family in Ireland cannot stand without proper genealogical proof, of which there is none.—Yours etc.,



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