Volume 7, Number 3

March 2010

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Terrys in Latin America of Cork origin

By Kevin Terry


This article examines the Terry family of County Cork who settled in Latin America. Their arrival in Latin America from Cork was through a circuitous route. Some Terrys of Cork origin, who settled in continental Europe, moved to Latin America from the eighteenth century. From this time there is evidence of Terry merchants from Spain trading with the Americas. From around 1600 onwards, the Irish began to immigrate to continental Europe in more significant numbers than previously. After many years of struggle and effort, England was solidifying its hold on the government of Ireland. The power of the remaining great Gaelic chieftains was broken, and the reluctance of a number of Old Anglo-Irish lords and gentry to welcome the new order, not least in matters of religion, was condemned and penalised. [1] From the mid-seventeenth century, apart from a brief interlude during the reign of King James II of England, it became increasingly difficult for Catholics to own land and to hold civic and political positions. Increasingly, some of them began to leave Ireland for continental Europe.


In the years towards the end of the seventeenth century, some 25,000 Irish left for mainland Europe. The Irish joined the armies of France and Spain. For the soldiers of the Irish regiments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, life was hard. In the case of regiments in the Spanish army, they were usually on operations in Flanders and Italy, and some contingents were even dispatched to Cuba and Mexico. [2]

Parallel to this experience, during the fifteenth century, a large number of merchant families in the port cities of Galway, Cork and Waterford had become wealthy by trading with European countries. They mostly shipped Irish butter and beef to the continent on English merchant vessels, which then returned to Ireland with casks of wine. [3] Seeing their revenues plummet with little likelihood of recovery, many Irish merchants moved their headquarters to European port cities such as Cádiz and Bilbao in Spain with which they had been trading for many years while continuing to operate in Ireland as best they could.

The majority of merchants in Ireland and Spain were small businessmen, usually employing only family members. With the base of operations shifted to Spain and business prospects in Ireland uncertain, they changed their business activity to importing goods and materials from the New World and the Far East and distributing these goods to other European countries. In the ports of Cádiz, Bilbao and Barcelona, the Irish merchants imported coffee, cocoa, rum and other products and made arrangements to send them to other European countries. To ensure that their affairs abroad would be handled effectively and reliably, the Irish merchants often sent their sons or nephews to cities in Europe, the New World and the Far East to be their agents.

One of the most successful Irish families that went into business in Spain was the Terrys. They were supporters of James II, and established themselves as an influential and wealthy family in Cádiz and El Puerto de Santa María. There were a number of Terry families involved. One family were from Limerick, where they had settled for a number of decades in the mid-seventeenth century, having moved from Cork. Another branch, based in Málaga, went to Spain directly from Cork.

The founder of the Cádiz branch was William, son of James Terry, Athlone Herald to King James II. William Terry, one of the Wild Geese arriving in France in 1693, played a major role in the growth of the export of sherry from Spain to all parts of Europe. He was also responsible for the famous Lippizaner horses of Austria. Of this family, there are details of accounts between William Tyrry and Company in Cádiz, and Edward Gibbon, in 1719 and 1720. [4]

In 1733, one of Guillermo Terry’s ships, the San Felipe – also known as El Lerri, El Terri, or Tyrri - was shipwrecked off the coast of Florida on a return journey from the West Indies to Spain. A first cousin of William, Pedro Tyrry, was born in Spain in 1700. He was the son of Patrick Tyrry, brigadier and Knight of Santiago, from Limerick and Isauel Lambert. [5] His father was brother of James Tyrry. This family originated in Cork city and Ballinterry, near Rathcormac.

Pedro was appointed Director of the South Sea Company in 1737, for Spain. Tyrry was ordered to return to Spain, prior to the declaration of war by England in 1739. [6] In the Irish College in Salamanca, there were 169 letters written by Pedro, from Madrid, to the rector, John O’Brien. These were written between 1748 and 1756. These are now in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Some of these letters refer to the slave trade. In one letter, in 1749, he offers his opinion that an expedition bound for Caracas, Venezuela, was in actual fact going to Havana, Cuba. The genealogical links are now more closely examined in the case of three Terry members, Juan Tirry y Lacy, Tomás Terry y Adán and Fernando Belaúnde Terry.

Juan Tirry y Lacy, Marquis de Cañada

Juan Tirry y Lacy, born in Spain, was descended from the Terrys of Cork city and Ballinterry, near Rathcormac. His parents were Guillermo and María. His grandparents, on his father’s side, were Juan and Francisco María, both Terrys and first cousins. His paternal great-grandparents were James Terry of Limerick and Mary Stritch. Juan, residing in Cuba, inherited the title Marquis de Cañada, in 1824. [7] In 1759-1760, Juan’s father, Guillermo, now the Marquis of Cañada, visited the Americas and West Indies. [8] There is evidence of one John Tirry, in 1658, who was working for the King of Spain in paying his army in Flanders, and also having the protection of the English lord protector to traffic in the Barbados and other islands. [9]

In 1787, the commander Juan Terry y Lacy, who was a navy officer, presented a report to the Count of Santa Clara, on how to organise the colony on the Isla de Pinos, modern day Isla de la Juventud. [10] Juan Tirry y Lacy was responsible for mapping the Isla de la Juventud, where he went with the mission of analysing the pine trees to see if they could be used for the ships in the Spanish navy. In honour of his contributions to geography, the northernmost point of the island was called Punta de Tirry. Juan was made a Knight of Santiago in 1793 and in the following year he married María Jesus Loinaz y Lizundía. In Havana, Juan Tirry was the engineer general, was twice mayor of the city and Governor of Matanzas in 1816, a city where one of the streets bears his name. The title Marquis Cañada de Tirry, which he inherited in 1824, he retained until he died fifteen years later. [11] His son, Don Guillermo Tirry y Loynaz, born in Havana in 1799, was subsequently Marquis of Cañada.

Tomás Terry y Adán

In the case of Tomás, first the Spanish link is detailed. Don José Terry and his wife Dońa María Mendoza had a son: Don José Antonio Terry y Mendoza, born in Cádiz, who went to Peru and to the city of Caracas, Venezuela. [12] He married twice. His first wife was Doña María Ortega, a native of Extremadura. They had the following children:

- Josefa: She was a native of Curaçao. She married Don Tomás Arcay y Arritegui, a native of Granada and son of José Manuel and Inés.

- Antonio.

- Guillermo: A native of the island of Curaçao. He met his demise in Havana, in the parish of Monserrate, on 25 September 1879. He married Doña Caridad Latté in Cienfuegos.

- Eduardo: A native of the city of Puerto Cabello, on the Casta Firme, married in Cienfuegos in 1850 to Doña Ana Franciscade Borja y Ballagos, a native of Holguín and daughter of Don Francisco Del Mármol y Valdés-Llarcés and Doña Ana María Ballagas y Guerra.

- José Domingo:  He was baptised on the island of Curaçao, in the Catholic Church on 17 December 1826. He married Doña María Felipa Figueroa y Véliz on the island of Cuba, a native of Nueva Bermeja and daughter of the graduate Juan José Luis de Figuero y Hernández, Registrar and Provincial Lord Mayor of Jaruco, and Doña Ana Jarefa Véliz y Ganzález. They had the following children: José Domingo, who was a pharmacist, Alfredo who was baptised in Cienfuegos in 1860 was also a pharmacist. Eduardo, was baptised in Cienfuegos in 1867, married Dońa Inés María Arcay y Terry, daughter of Don Tomás Arcay y Arritegui and Dońa Josefa Terry y Ortega.     

- Don José Antonio Terry’s other wife was Dońa Tomasa Adán y Espańa, a native of Caracas and daughter of José   and Manuela. They had a son, Don Tomás Terry y Adán, born in the city of Caracas, Venezuela, on the 24 February 1808 and was baptised in the parish church of San Pablo. He went to the island of Cuba and established himself in Cienfuegos in 1830. [13]

Tomás Terry y Adán was the most successful of the planters in Cuba in the mid-nineteenth century. He became the great boss of Cienfuegos, the ‘Cuban Croesus’. He enjoyed a very good name with his slaves and employees: he was friendly with Congolese people and gave them money to found clubs in the towns of Cruces and Lajas. [14] He moved to New York in the 1860s and from there to Paris. [15] Tomás married Dona Teresa Dorticos y Gómez de Leys, a native of Oberon, France, in 1837. Teresa’s family were French settlers from the Bordeaux area of France, who founded Cienfuegos in 1819. They had twelve children,

- Teresa, who married Don Nicolás Acea.

- María Del Carmen. She obtained the title of Marquesa of Perinat by royal despatch in 1893. She married Don Guillermo Perinat y Ochoa in 1863.

- Natividad who married Baron Alberto de Blanc, Italian diplomat and Minister of Promotion.

- Emilio, who was a lawyer and married Doña Silvia Alfonso y Aldama,

- Eduardo, who married Dońa María Isolina Sedano y Agramonte, in 1877.

- Antonio, who married Grace Dalton. A daughter of this marriage, Doña Natividad Terry y Dalton married in Paris in 1902, Prince Guy-Charles de Fancigny-Lueinge e Coligny.

- Francisco, who married Doña Antonia María Sánchez y Sarría. They had the following children: Odette, who married the Prince of La Tour St. Auverge; Natividad, who married Count Estanislao de Castellane; Francisco, who belonged to the French Air Force in the First World War in 1914 and married Nelly Ormond and had a daughter Elena Terry y Ormond; Andrés, who married Doña Carmen Gutiérrez y García. They had the following children,

- María Isabel, who married Don Fernando Varona y Gonzalez Del Valle,

- Andrés, who married Dońa Blanca García-Montes y Hernández. They had a son Don Tomás, who married Doña Herminia Saladrigas y Fas. [16]

- Tomás,

- Jose Eduardo,

- Juan Pedro and

- Isabel [17]

The famous French decorator Emilio Terry was also a descendant of Tomás.

When elections were held in Cuba, in 1866, Tomás Terry y Adán was returned for Cienfuegos. [18]

After making a fortune as a sugar merchant and planter, Tomás Terry became a powerful financier on the government bond and currency markets of continental Europe. He later moved much of his capital from Europe to the United States, putting millions into shares of mining and railroad companies on the New York stock market. [19]

He moved to New York in the 1860s before finally settling in Paris.  He was probably the richest man on the island in the late nineteenth century, leaving $25m at his death in 1886. [20] Of his children, Emilio Terry was the owner of two sugar estates, at the beginning of the twentieth century. On Cuba’s independence he served as Minister of Agriculture. Antonio was the owner of another sugar estate. [21]

Fernando Belaúnde Terry

Before considering Fernando Belaúnde Terry, some information is given on his ancestors on his mother’s side, the Terrys. One Antonio Terry y Adriano came to Peru in 1765. He was the son of Antonio Terry and Angela Adriano. He came from Finale, which used to belong to Spain, and later to Genoa, before the reign of Italy was established. The family moved to Finale for two generations from Cádiz, Spain, where they remain (in Cádiz) also up today. [22]

Antonio Terry y Adriano married in Cádiz, Spain, Antonia Álvarez Campana. They had the following children: Bernarda, José, María, Pedro, [23] Pablo, José (II), José Antonio, 1763. [24] José married Rosa de Salazar y Pardo de Figueroa. A son married Jacoba Del Real y Solar, and they had a son Teodorico Terry del Real.

Antonio and Angela moved at a later stage to Peru, and in 1780 Antonio made a will. A descendant of Antonio Terry and Angela Adriano was Don Fernando Matias Terry, of Cádiz. Don Fernando and his second wife Dona Maria Teresa Urizar had four children, three of whom went to Central America. These were Elena, Emilia, and Santiago. [25] Teodorico Terry del Real, mentioned above, married in Arequipa, Peru, 1883, Jesús Garcia Pacheco y Vásquez de Oricaín and had the following children: Teodorico was a military engineer, married Rosa Elejalde Chopitea. [26] A son of this marriage was Teodorico Terry Elejalde, Pedro (1889-1964) an engineer, Ernesto, Hortensia, Lucila, who married in Lima, Peru, 1907, Rafael Belaúnde Diez-Canseco. One of the children of this marriage was Fernando Belaúnde Terry, architect and future President of Peru; Jesús, Blanca Rosa, Flor de María, and Graciela, who married Guillermo Rey y Lama. [27]

Fernando Belaúnde Terry was born in 1912. His mother was Lucila Terry y García. [28] He was President of Peru for two periods, between 1963 and 1968 and again between 1980 and 1985. A successful architect, he served in the chamber of deputies (1945-1948), formed the Popular Action Party in 1956, and ran unsuccessfully for president in the same year. He succeeded in 1963. He effected social, educational and land reforms; opened up the rich interior to settlement by constructing a vast highway system across the Andes; established a self-help programme for the country’s indigenous inhabitants; and encouraged industrial development. However, an inflationary spiral set in, and Belaúnde antagonised nationalistic army leaders by failing to expropriate U.S. controlled oil fields and operations. Deposed by an army coup in 1968, he fled to the United States, where he subsequently taught architecture at Harvard and Columbia. Restored to the presidency in 1980, he attempted to combat inflation by denationalising industries and encouraging foreign investment in the petroleum industry. [29] Belaúnde died in 2002.

This is one example of members of a Cork family, who emigrated from the sixteenth century for financial, religious and political reasons. Coming to France, Spain and Italy, for a period, some descendants finally settled in the new world. They brought their expertise in trade and commerce and political acumen. They settled in Cuba and Peru as detailed in this article.

Kevin Terry


1 Frank D’Arcy, Wild Geese and Travelling Scholars, Mercier Press, 2001.

2 Matthew J. Culligan & Peter Cherici, The Wandering Irish in Europe, Constable London, 2000.

3 Matthew J. Culligan & Peter Cherici, The Wandering Irish in Europe, Constable London, 2000.

4 The particulars and inventories of the estates of the late Sub-Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Directors of the South-Sea Company: and of Robert Surman late Deputy-Cashier, and of John Grigsby late Accountant. Together with the abstracts of the same.Vol 1, London, 1721.

5 Catálogo de las Disposiciones Testamentarias de Cádiz, Folio 159-160, Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cádiz; other accounts have Pedro’s mother as Isabel Rocha from Limerick, see José Manuel de Molina, Terry (Tirri), www.andalucia.cc/habis/terry.htm.

6 Rafael Donoso Anes, Un análisis sucinto del Asiento de esclavos con Inglaterra (1713-1750) y el papel desempeñado por la contabilidad en su desarrollo, Anuarío de Estudios Americanos, Julio-diciembre, 2007; (translated for the writer by Aoife Terry); Ernest G. Hildner, Jr.,' The Role of the South Sea Company in the Diplomacy Leading to the War of Jenkins’ Ear, 1729-1739', The Hispanic American Historical Review, 18:3, 1938.

7 Rafael Fernández Moya, (translated by Annette Leahy), 'The Irish Presence in the History and Place Names of Cuba', Irish Migration Studies in Latin America, Vol 5 No 3, 2007, p192 ;Tirry genealogy information supplied by F. Javier de Terry y del Cuvillo.

8 José Beltrán, La Antigüedad Como Argumento. Historiografía de Arqueología e Historia Antigua en Andalucía.

9 John Thurloe, A collection of the state papers of John Thurloe, Esq; secretary, first, to the Council of State, and afterwards to the two Protectors, Oliver and Richard Cromwell, London, 1742.

10 El Municipio de Isla de Pinos, Guije.com; Rafael Fernández Moya, (translated by Annette Leahy), 'The Irish Presence in the History and Place Names of Cuba', Irish Migration Studies in Latin America, Vol 5 No 3, 2007, p192.

11 Rafael Fernández Moya, (translated by Annette Leahy), 'The Irish Presence in the History and Place Names of Cuba', Irish Migration Studies in Latin America, Vol 5 No 3, 2007, p192.

12 Slightly different accounts come from different sources; from the web one Pedro Terry indicates that José Terry Alvarez Bell was born in Cádiz in 1755, moved to Peru and then later to Guayra. He is the father of Tomás Terry y Adán. Pedro Terry indicates the ancestors of Tomás.

13 Francisco I. Santa Cruz y Mallen, Historia de familias cubanas, 6 vols. Havana, 1940-1950.

14 Hugh Thomas, Cuba, Picador, 2001, p86.

15 Private correspondence with Lodovico Blanc, United States.

16 Francisco I. Santa Cruz y Mallen, Historia de familias cubanas, 6 vols. Havana, 1940-1950.

17 Private correspondence with Ludovico Blanc, United States; Will of Don Thomas Terry (from the web). Francisco I. Santa Cruz y Mallen, Historia de familias cubanas, 6 vols., Havana, 1940-1950.

18 Hugh Thomas, Cuba, Picador, 2001, pp142-143.

19 Mary Speck, 'Prosperity, Progress, and Wealth: Cuban Enterprise during the Early Republic, 1902-1927', Cuban Studies Vol 36, 2005, pp50-86.

20 Mary Speck, 'Prosperity, Progress, and Wealth: Cuban Enterprise during the Early Republic, 1902-1927', Cuban Studies Vol 36, 2005; Hugh Thomas, Cuba, Picador, 2001. The New York Times, 21 November 1886, valued his estate at $50,000,000.                                                       

21 Mary Speck, 'Prosperity, Progress, and Wealth: Cuban Enterprise during the Early Republic, 1902-1927', Cuban Studies Vol 36, 2005, pp50-86.

22 Message posted by Teodorico Terry Elejalde on the web in 1999.

23 Notes on one hundred families established in Peru - Luis Lasarte Ferreyros archive of Juan Miranda Costa.

24 http://gw.geneanet.org/fracarbo

25 Private correspondence with F. Javier de Terry y del Cuvillo, and translated by Aoife Terry.

26 Message posted by Teodorico Terry Elejalde on the web in 1999.

27 In Peru Terry is one of the most renowned families.  Its members have been very important for the development and progress of Peru. Magistrado of the Constitutional Tribunal is Guillermo Rey Terry; Message posted by Teodorico Terry Elejalde on the web in 1999.

28 Geneall.es.; parents of Lucila were Teodorico Terry y del Real and María Jesús García Vásquez Pacheco y Oricaín.

29 The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.

Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2010

Published: 02 March 2010
Edited: 23 September 2010

Terry, Kevin 'Terrys in Latin America of Cork origin' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 7:3 (March 2010), pp. 381-386. Available online  (www.irlandeses.org/imsla1003.htm), accessed .

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