Cleburne's Ancestors: Anglo-Irish, Well-Respected

Cleburne's Ancestors: Anglo-Irish, Well-Respected

The history of the Anglo-Irish Cleburnes mirrors much of Irish history in the centuries of British domination, except for one thing, the Cleburnes could ride in safety from one end of Ireland to the other.

By Mauriel P. Joslyn
Special to The Wild Geese Today

The ancestry of Patrick Ronayne Cleburne exemplifies Old English roots in Ireland, and marriages to native Irish.

The Patrick Cleburne Society
The Cleburne family crest

The Cleburne family had its first appearance in Leicestershire, northern England, in the Domesday Survey of 1086, listed as Cliborne. From the 11th century through the 13th, little is known except that Westmoreland became the seat of the family estates. The family became connected with Irish affairs early on.

The first established Cleburne estate in Ireland was St. John's Manor in County Wexford, when "William the Wise" came to Ireland sometime in the early 1600s. His kinsman, William Cleburne, was Dean of Ripon in 1606 and Prebendary of St. Patrick's in Dublin in 1630. This William forfeited some of his lands in Ireland after the Rebellion of 1640. Another kinsman, John Cleburne, purchased Moate Castle in County Westmeath in 1699.

Though of Anglo-Irish descent, it was said that a Cleburne might ride in safety from one end of the country to another, for they were not considered one of the "adventurers for land in Ireland" made so infamous by Cromwell's persecutions. The Cleburnes seemed to have stayed clear of any military involvement in either the 17th or 18th century wars.

To Jefferson Davis, he was the "Stonewall of the West"; to Robert E. Lee he was "a meteor shining from a clouded sky"; and to Braxton Bragg, he was an officer "ever alive to a success". He was Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, one of the greatest of all Confederate field commanders. Now WGT offers a line of merchandise featuring the graphic seen above, commemorating this Irish Confederate hero. Check them out HERE.

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In the early 1600s, William Cleburne of St. John's Manor bought land in County Tipperary and moved there. He married Eliza Cambie, the daughter of a British officer living in Tipperary, and the two family lands were joined. William died in 1684 and is buried in the Cleburne family vault at the old Church of Kilbarron in County Tipperary. The Cleburne family in Ireland remained in Tipperary until the 19th century.

Dr. Joseph Cleburne was born at Rock Cottage, in County Tipperary in July 1792. His father was William Cleburne, who died there in 1833. As a young physician, Dr. Cleburne moved to Ovens, near Ballincollig in County Cork in 1821, where he accepted a job at the local dispensary. Here me met and married Mary Anne Ronayne, the daughter of Patrick Ronayne of Great Island at Cobh. The Ronayne heritage in Cork and Waterford dated back to before the Norman invasion.

This union of old Anglo-Irish and native Irish families produced the last generation of Cleburnes to live in Ireland. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was born March 16, 1828, the second son of Joseph and Mary Anne Ronayne Cleburne. He came to America in 1850, one of many who fled the famine conditions in Ireland. In his adopted South, he went on to become a Major General in the Confederate army, and the highest-ranking Irish-born soldier in American history.

Mauriel Joslyn (e-mail: is a Sparta, Ga.-based historian, founder and head of the Patrick Cleburne Society, and author of five books on Confederate history. For information about Patrick Cleburne, visit

Selected Bibliography:

Thousands of Irishmen fought in the east in the Army of Northern Virginia. Read the stories of the Irish in that army in "Clear the Confederate Way" by Kelly J. O'Grady

(A portion of your purchase price will help support "The Wild Geese...

Copyright © 2012 GAR Media LLC. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed without prior permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to

Views: 951

Tags: Ancestry, Cleburne, Genealogy, Patrick, Ronayne

Comment by Thomas Ronayne on December 29, 2020 at 10:23pm

I would be interested and grateful to speak with anyone familiar with members of the Ronayne family residing in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.

Our research supports our relationship to General Ronayne Cleburne (historical residency in County Cork, emigration to USA during 1850’s-1890’s). I would very much like to locate other possible relatives. 

Thomas Ronayne
Greenlawn, NY


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