Select Bernard Miscellany

Here are some Bernard/Barnard stories and accounts over the years:

Bernards and Barnards Today

South Africa



Possible Origins of the Bernard Family at Wansford in Yorkshire

There have been many suggestions for the origins of the Bernard family at Wansford in Yorkshire.

Inevitably there was a linkage with a valiant knight who accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066.  In this case the knight was Sir Theophilus Bernard of German origin whose descendants settled in Westmoreland, Yorkshire and Northamptonshire.  Another source has these Bernards of Danish descent, a Border family based in Northumberland.  Then these Bernards might have been Norman FitzBernards coming from Kingsdown in Kent.

Robert and Thomas Barnard of Nantucket

Robert and Thomas Barnard were brothers from Lowestoft in Suffolk who came to New England.  Robert arrived first, around 1640, and settled in Andover, Massachusetts.  Thomas came about ten years later.  Thomas was one of the original ten owners of Nantucket island purchased from the Indians in 1659.  These ten were allowed to pick another and Thomas picked his brother Robert.

Thomas was killed by Indians in Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1677.  He left behind a son Nathaniel.  Robert lived on in Nantucket.   He and his wife Joanna had five children.  Their son John drowned in a canoe in 1669.  In 1682 both Robert and Joanna drowned in a canoe in the Sound when it capsized as they were coming back to the island after having shopped for furniture on the Cape.  The third person on the canoe managed to hold onto the canoe until he could stand up ona shoal and right it.

Acadian Bernards in Louisiana

Two Bernard brothers came to Louisiana from Acadia in 1765 - one, Michel, with the Broussard party; the other, Pierre, with a later party.  

Michel remained on the western prairies of Louisiana where two of his sons, Jean and François, created lines at Carencro and Côte Gelée in the old Attakapas district.  Their descendants spread out along the Teche from Fausse Pointe near New Iberia all the way up to Port Barre, east of Opelousas.  Some remained at Carencro and Côte Gelée in Lafayette parish.  Others moved out into the prairies of Vermilion and St. Landry parishes. 

Pierre's descendants did not remain on the river.  His oldest son Baptiste settled on Bayou Lafourche, creating an important center of family settlement there.  His second son Pierre joined his cousins on the prairies, where one of his sons created a vigorous line in Lafayette and St. Landry parishes

Louis Bernard Who Married an Acadian

Louis Bernard, the son of a French nobleman in Brittany, came to America in the early 1780’s as a French naval midshipman.  He served in the Yorktown campaign in Virginia during the American Revolution.  

After the war Louis returned to France and fell in love with an Acadian girl at St. Malo.   According to family tradition, Louis's father refused to sanction his son's marriage to a lowly Acadian.  Louis persisted in his ardor, however, and when her family chose to emigrate to Louisiana in 1785, Louis became a crewman on La Ville d'Archangel, the ship his beloved took from St. Malo to New Orleans.  Louis followed the majority of the passengers from his ship to the new Acadian community of Bayou des Écores, north of Baton Rouge, where he married Marie-Victoire in 1787. 

After a series of hurricanes smashed the Bayou des Écores settlement in the early 1790s, Louis and Victoire joined the exodus out of the community and moved downriver to Baton Rouge where they raised a large family.  Louis died in West Baton Rouge parish in August 1843.  He was 81 years old.  Two of his sons and several of his grandchildren also married Acadians

Buckshot Bandon at Castle Bandon in 1921

James Francis Bernard nicknamed Buckshot Bandon, the 4th Earl of Bandon, was the British Deputy Lieutenant in Ireland in the early 1900’s.  His home at Castle Bernard had become known as one of the most hospitable houses in Ireland.  The house parties held by him and his wife Georgiana were legendary.

In an early morning raid on June 21, 1921 during the days of the Black and Tans, an IRA party under Sean Hales called. They intended to kidnap Lord Bandon, but Buckshot Bandon and his staff had taken refuge in the cellars. Apparently disappointed in the first object of their call, the IRA decided to burn the house.  Hales was heard to say - "Well, the bird has flown, so we'll burn the nest."

At that the Earl and his party appeared from the cellars, but it was too late.  The fire had started.  Ironically the IRA carefully took out all the furniture and piled it on the lawn before setting the building on fire.

Lady Bandon had to sit and watch the flames for some hours.  When the flames were at their height, she suddenly stood up in her nightgown and sang God Save the King as loudly as possible, which disconcerted the incendiaries.  But while they may not have stood to attention, they let her have her say and did nothing about it.

Lord Bandon was then kidnapped by the IRA and held hostage for three weeks.  The IRA threatened to have him executed if the British went ahead with executing IRA prisoners of war.  During his captivity Bandon coolly played cards with his captors who treated him well.  Still, the elderly Earl Bandon never recovered from the experience and died in 1924.

Castle Bernard continued to be the home of the Earl and Countess of Bandon as they built a small house within the castle boundary walls.  The Earl died in 1979, his wife twenty years later at the advanced age of 102.


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