The Esler Family by Geoff Esler

Some History of the Irish Eslers – (From booklet compiled by Dr. Robert Esler, in 1892)

Part 1 – “Emigrating to Australia”

[Note: Part 2 of the Esler family (“The Eslers Settle in Gippsland”) by Geoff Esler has been abstracted. The abstract can be found in the Bulletins link.]

“The family came originally from Meckembourg to this country”, according to G.B. Van Goor, Gonda, 1861, from whose collection the arms and crest have been furnished as those to which the family is entitled to use.

Tradition and the written records agree as to the German origin of the family, and its domicile in Scotland.

The first Irish Eslers emigrated from Scotland and settled in Ulster at the Plantation in the beginning of the 17th century.

The first settlers were three brothers. They carried with them their Scottish dialect and sturdy Presbyterianism. Each became a land owner, and as freeholders or leaseholders their descendants have remained in possession of the same lands up until the present time.

One of the brothers settled in the Valley of the Braid, County Antrim, and it is with his descendants this record is concerned.

The first official document I have discovered is a lease dated 1718, to James Esler, of the “Quarter Townland” of Lisnamurrican, for a term of 31 years, at a rental of £8 per annum.

The said James was born in 1687, and died 1765. He married and had four sons – Andrew, James, Jeremiah and William.

The second lease, granted to him also, is dated 1747, and was for the lives of his two sons – Andrew then aged 11, and James, aged 8 years. Rent £11.6.8.

Andrew was born 1736, and died 1792. He married and left one son, Robert. James, born 1739, died in December 1794. At his death the lease expired. The lands had previously been divided into four parts. Jeremiah died unmarried in 1818, aged 63 years, and left his land to the above-named Robert.

William died without male issue, and by the marriage of his daughter, his land passed out of the name.

Robert, son of Andrew, was born 15th April, 1766, died 12th September, 1835. He married Mary Craig, and had male issue three sons – James, Andrew and Robert. He occupied two portions of the land, on one of which he erected flax mills, and in 1804 built “the old house at home”. The land inherited from Jeremiah he divided between James and Andrew, and of his own portion he obtained a fresh lease in 1825, for the life of his son Robert, then aged 18 years.

James, the eldest son of Robert, born 1793, died 1873. He married Margaret McConnell (died November 15th 1888 aged 88 years) and had issue Francis, Robert, James and Mary Jane.

Andrew, born 1799, married Sarah Clarke, and has issue two daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah.

Robert, the youngest son of Robert and Mary Craig, was born 10th October 1806, and died 16th September 1884.
He married Martha Adams, only daughters of Hugh Adams, of Rokeel, 14th August, 1834 and had issue:

  • Robert – born 17th February, 1836, died 1919
  • Hugh – born 18th October 1837, died 26th April 1907
  • James – born 29th March, 1840
  • Maria – born 20th August 1843
  • John – born 14th December 1846
  • Margaret – born 11th April 1849
  • Samuel – born 21st October 1856, died 1936

Dr Robert Esler, the eldest son of Robert and Martha Adams, married four times, and had five sons: Robert Charles, Dr. Alfred, Howard, Dr. Alex, and Dr. Maberley.

  • Hugh married in Australia, had six sons and four daughters:
  • James – not married
  • Maria – (married John White) They had four sons and two daughters.
  • John – (married in Australia) No family
  • Margaret – (married John Armstrong) They had one son and five daughters.
  • Samuel – (married Jenny D. Esler in 1885) Died 24th February 1936. They had one son and five daughters. Their eldest daughter (Mrs. McAllister), born 5th December 1887, died 17th July 1928. One daughter Margaret (Mrs. Anderson) and one son, Samuel, (Invercargill, New Zealand)
  • Elizabeth – their second daughter, born 19th November, 1889, died 6th December 1966, unmarried. She was a schoolteacher.
  • James – their son, born 4th September 1891, died 11th April 1975, unmarried
  • Erminda – born 21st July 1895, still living 1981, unmarried
  • Maria – (Mrs Knox), born 20th November 1901 No family (now deceased)
  • Margaret – (Mrs. Meban), born 8th January 1905, died 15th March, 1970. They had six children

Mrs. Meban’s family consisted of the following:

  • Joseph – (engineer in Canada)
  • Patricia – (unmarried), physiotherapist in Antrim
  • Samuel – (surgeon in Canada)
  • twins Doreen – (Mrs Erwin), one son one daughter and
  • Ronald – (in business in Ballymena), two sons one daughter

It is interesting to note that Samuel, the youngest son of Robert Esler and Martha Adams, remained in Ireland to carry on the family property. His son James then carried on the farming of the lands. When James died he left the property to John Anderson, the grandson of Martha, the eldest daughter of Samuel and Jenny D. Esler.

Although the land has now passed out of the Esler family name, “the old house at home” still stands and has been kept in good order. There is a stone in the house with the cutting: “BUILT BY ROBERT ESLER 1804”. The Eslers and their descendants therefore still have a connection in Lisnamurrican, where their first recorded settlement took place in 1718.