William Butler Yeats: Family Records

JERVIS YEATS (d.1712) arrived as third generation successful linen-merchant; Benjamin, his grandson, m. MARY BUTLER, of the Duke of Ormonde family, who brought 560 acres at Thomastown, Co. Kildare; his son Rev. JOHN YEATS (1774-1846), winner of Berkeley Medal in Greek at TCD; rector in Co. Sligo, 1805, to his death; a friend of Robert Emmet; m. JANE TAYLOR, whose brother was influential in Dublin Castle; his son WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS (1806-62) was a good horseman; became curate of Moira, Co. Down and then rector at Tullylish, nr. Portadown; d. Sandymount Castle, 1862; m. in 1835 JANE GRACE CORBERT, dg. of GRACE ARMSTRONGand WILLIAM CORBET; his son JOHN BUTLER YEATS (1839-1922) born at Tullylish, followed by eight other children; to his eldest son [the most agreeable of companions and the finest of gentlemen’; John Butler educated at Seaforth nr. Liverpool, then Atholl Academy, Isle of Man, where he was in the same class as the stand-offish POLLEXFENboys, CHARLES (1838-1923) and GEORGE (1839-1910); attended TCD; friendly with John Todhunter; spent time at Sandymount Castle with his uncle ROBERT CORBET, who later committed suicide from the Irish mailboat at the failure of his business in 1873; Auditor of the Law Students Debating Society; inherited house in Dorset St. and Thomastown lands on death of his father in 1862; m. on 10 Sept. 1863 to SUSAN MARY, dg. of WILLIAM POLLEXFEN (1811-92), whom he met in Sligo on graduation in 1862; this WILLIAM, son of a keeper of Cornish forts at Berry head, ran away to sea and established a merchant shipping firm; in The Dasher sailed to Sligo, met and married ELIZABETH MIDDLETON (1819-92), a cousin and the dg. of a widowed Pollexfen who had been brought to Sligo by WILLIAM MIDDLETON, a Sligo smuggler and sea-captain; became partner with her brother in the prosperous firm of Middleton and Pollexfen, adding the Sligo Steam Navigation Co.; the POLLEXFENS, WILLIAMand ELIZABETH, lived first at Merville nr. Sligo, then at Charlemont, a house overlooking Sligo harbour, from 1886; WILLIAMwas buried at St John’s Church, Sligo, where he daily superintended the preparation of his tomb; Also ALICE POLLEXFEN, the aunt who sent A. P. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism to WBY in 1884 or 1885; JOHN BUTLER and SUSAN YEATS settled first at George’s Ville [sic], Sandymount (“The Quarry Hole”) [for further addresses associated with W. B Yeats, return to “Life” in Ricorso, above]; HENRY MIDDLETON, a cousin of W. B. Yeats, was a recluse in Sligo and the model for John Sherman in Yeats novel of that name where the Sherman and Howard families are like the Yeatses and Pollexfens. SIBLINGS AND COUSINAGE, ROBERT CORBET (d.1872 [var. 1873]), owned Sandymount Castle, where he lived with GRACE ARMSTRONGand JANE ARMSTRONG CLENDENIN[G]; JACK BUTLER YEATS (1871-1957); SUSAN MARY (‘Lily’; 1866-1949), b. Enniscrone, nr. Sligo, and ELIZABETH CORBET YEATS (‘Lollie’; 1868-16 Jan. 1940), b. Fitzroy Rd., later running Dun Emer Press in Dundrum, and later still the Cuala Press in Churchtown, Co. Dublin; and a baby JANE GRACE (d.1875), who died in London; also cousins CHARLES and GEORGE POLLEXFEN, and a nephew, GEORGE MIDDLETON, living at Rosses Point, and with whom W. B. Yeats yachted as a child; W. B. Yeats m. [BERTHA] GEORGE HYDE LEES, whom he invariably called “George” (d. 23 Aug. 1968); with CHILDREN, ANNE YEATS (b. 24 Feb. 1919; d. 4 July 2001); MICHAEL YEATS (b. 22 Aug. 1922), Senator and Chairman of Irish Senate,1969-73; mbr. of European Parliament, 1976- .

Note: John Butler Yeats had a younger brother called Isaac Butt Yeats. In latter years after the death of his wife Susan he engaged in a protracted correspondence with Rosa Butt, the daughter of Isaac Butt, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and founder of the Home Rule Movement.

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