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Loftus Family Vault
 
Jane Loftus (1540-1595)
Jane Loftus née Purdon of the Race of Lurgan, Louth and wife to Abp. Adam Loftus for thirty five years was the first to be laid to rest in the family vault, having born him twenty children, seven of whom died in infancy.  Jane was married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as were most of her offspring but, in many ways, Jane’s life and origins are a mystery; her family were established Anglo-Irish (parents Adam Purdon and Jane Little).  She married Adam at the age of twenty (not young for those days) and at a time in Adam’s life when he was catapulted into prominence in Ireland, having only been there a year of so.  For reasons of family or mere serendipity, her eldest son and all those who followed bore the name Dudley, the name of her eldest brother, and a name that remained in the family until my father died in 2001.  Dudley was a controversial name in Elizabethan times and you can’t help but wonder why it was prominent in the family at this time, given Adam’s close association with Queen Elizabeth I herself.  Who were the Purdon family?  Sixteen of Jane’s descendants were to join her in the family vault: these included five of her children, five of her great grandchildren and six of her great-great grandchildren. 
 
Mary Conway (?? – 1595)
If Jane is a mystery, Mary Conway (née Purdon) is a curiosity: she died a month after Jane and was sufficiently intimate with the Loftus family for Adam Loftus to grant her a place next to his wife in the Loftus family vault but not, it seems, her husband Robert Conway (DCL).  It is thought that she was a cousin of Jane’s and remained a life-long friend and kinswoman even after her marriage to Robert – The relationship must have been a close one indeed.
 
Captain Adam Loftus (1565 – 1599)
Four years after Mary was laid to rest, Abp. Adam Loftus buried his own son in the family vault, something no father should have to do.  Captain Adam Loftus was Adam’s third son who died a bachelor aged 34 defending his father’s home at Rathfarnham Castle from disaffected raiders of the O’Byrne family sallying forth from their strongholds in the Wicklow Mountains.  The young Captain of horse would not be the last to die in this way, as history inevitably divided the family into those who supported Catholic emancipation and those who opposed it.
 
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 Sir Edward Loftus (1563 – 1601) and Anne Loftus (?? – 1601)
Sir Edward Loftus died at the age of 38 at the siege of Kingsale; dying for what he believed in.  He was Abp. Adam’s second son, the second also to predecease him.  Appointed a Serjeant at Law, he was knighted by the Lord Lieutenant for his part in the wars in Ireland.  His wife of 15 years, Anne (née Duke), was carrying their daughter and tragically died in child birth two months after his own decease.  The daughter died a few days later without, it seems, having been christened, as she is not registered in the family vault.  Anne was laid to rest in the vault by her father-in-law in July of 1601.  Her husband was not to join her in the vault until the following year for reasons unknown.
 
Archbishop Adam Loftus (1533-1605)
Archbishop Adam LoftusMuch has been written about the talented but zealous Archbishop (Abp) Adam Loftus whose life was suffused with intrigue and controversy.  Adam was born in 1533 the second son of a monastic bailiff in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales who died when Adam was only 8, leaving his estates to his elder brother Robert.  As an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he reportedly attracted the notice of the young Queen Elizabeth, as much it seems by alluring physique as through the power of his intellect, having shone before her with his powers of oratory. There is good reason to believe that this particular encounter may never have taken place but they certainly met more than once and the Queen was to become his patron, a relationship that was to last her entire reign, coming to Adam’s rescue at a number of times in his life when other less tolerant patrons might have withheld sanction.  Adam Loftus was appointed as one of the Queen’s Chaplains before she sent him to Ireland around 1559 as Chaplain to the Lord Deputy, where he was rapidly promoted to Primate of Ireland, becoming Archbishop of Armagh at the unprecedented age of 28.  Following a catastrophic clash with Shane O’Neill, the real power in the province during these years, he came to the See of Dublin in 1564 and was offered the Deanery of St. Patrick’s Cathedral “in lieu of better times ahead”.  As Archbishop and Protestant Primate of Ireland and later Lord Chancellor, Keeper of the Royal Seal, etc. Adam became the most powerful administrator in Ireland, which he seems largely to have accrued to the benefit of his family.  Much has been written about Adam during this time, which has no place here, but between 1584 and 1591, he had a series of clashes with Sir John Perrot on the location of an Irish University.  Perrot wanted to use St. Patrick’s as the site of the new University, which Adam sought to preserve as the principal place of Protestant worship in Dublin as well as a valuable source of income for himself.  Adam won the argument with the help of his ever patient Patron, and Trinity College was born at its current location, named after his old college at Cambridge (with Adam its first Provost in 1593) leaving St. Patrick’s Cathedral unassailed.  It was fitting, therefore, that Adam should be buried in the building he helped to preserve for future generations, with the many faces of his portraits still hanging within the learned walls of the University which he co-founded.  Having buried his wife and two sons in the vault he had prepared for his wife, Abp. Adam Loftus was 71 when he finally died at his Episcopal Palace in Kavan Street  “worn out with age” and was interred with his family in the same vault.  The descendents of Adam’s eldest son and heir, Sir Dudley Loftus, are living today and include the Loftus family of Mount Loftus, as well as the Tottenham-Loftus family now living in Canada.
 
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