Turtle Bunbury

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FAMILY

LISNAVAGH

 

WILLIAM BUNBURY III of LISNAVAGH (1744-1778)
MP FOR CARLOW IN GRATTAN'S PARLIAMENT

William Bunbury III was the great-grandson of the first Bunbury to settle in Ireland. His grandfather, the first William Bunbury acquired the estate at Lisnavagh at the close of the 17th century. He was born in 1744, which made him a direct contemporary of his neighbour Pierce Butler of Ballintemple who went on to be one of the founding fathers of the USA. The fact that Pierce's older brother, the future Sir Thomas Butler, was at Kilkenny College suggests Pierce went there too.

William was the fifth and eldest surviving son of Thomas Bunbury of Kill, a prominent magistrate and sometime High Sheriff of County Carlow. William's mother, Catherine Campbell hailed from Drumsna, Co. Leitrim, and was closely related to the great naval dynasty of Rowley as well as Sophia de Clifford, Governess to Charlotte, Princess of Wales. Within a few short months of his 10th birthday, William lost both his mother and his uncle, William Bunbury. The death of the latter ultimately left him heir to the Lisnavagh estate in Co. Carlow. It is not known where he and his brothers Benjamin and George and sister Leititia lived at this point. His father was married again to Susanna Isaacs who, upon the death of her brother at the battle of Fontenroy, became the heiress of Hollywood House in Co. Down. Thomas and Susanna Bunbury had several more children, the Bunbury Isaac family who would prosper in medicinal, military and ecclesiastical circles and have an unusual connection to Lily Langtry.

In the autumn of 1773, William was married in Swords to Katherine Kane, daughter and sole heiress of the prominent businessman and landowner called Redmond Kane (aka O'Cahan). The wealth brought in by this marriage would do much to ensure the Bunbury family's survival at Lisnavagh for at least the next 235 years. Meanwhile, William's sister Letitia married George Gough and so became mother to the celebrated Victorian soldier, Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough.

William was elected MP for Carlow in Grattan's famous Parliament of May 1776. However, he was tragically killed in a horse accident near Leighlinbridge less than two years later. After his death, his widow took the family to live in Bath until their eldest son, Thomas Bunbury, was old enough to come back and manage Lisnavagh. In the meantime, the property was managed by William's brothers, George Bunbury of Rathmore & Moyle, MP of Thomastown, and Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig, a magistrate who made a concerted effort to settle the nerves of the Protestant Loyalist community in County Carlow during the run up to the 1798 Rebellion. Ultimately it was William's posthumous daughter Jane who, by her marriage to John McClintock, would produce the future heir of Lisnavagh, William McClintock Bunbury.

Thomas Bunbury of Kill

One of the greatest discoveries of 2007 was a short accounts-based diary written by William's father, Thomas Bunbury of Kill, which took us from the death of Thomas's first wife in 1754 until his own death twenty years later. Born in 1705, Thomas was the second surviving son of the first William Bunbury (1674-1710) of Lisnavagh, MP of Carlow, by his marriage to Elizabeth Pendred. (1) Thomas's father died when he was just five years old and Lisnavagh passed to his elder brother, William Bunbury II (d. 1754), although his Bunbury uncles most probably helped manage the property until he reached his majority. In 1735, the 30-year-old Thomas achieved a useful double when he was appointed High Sheriff of Carlow and married Catherine Campbell, daughter of Josias Campbell of Drumsna, Annaduff, Co. Leitrim. The marriage took place on March 2nd at St. Michans of Dublin "in the presence of her parents". Drumsna was a small post-town on the banks of the Shannon and, some 3 ½ miles south east of Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Limerick. The Campbells had their base at Mount Campbell. Amongst the famly's most prominent daughters was Sophia Campbell (1750 - 1828) sometime Governess to Charlotte, Princess of Wales, who married Edward Southwell, 20th Lord de Clifford. See: Campbell of Drumsna.

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Above: Admiral Sir Josias Rowley
(1765 - 1842) was one of the
leading lights of the Royal Navy
during the Napoleonic Wars. As
cousin to the Bunburys, he may
have inspired the young William
McClintock Bunbury
to take to
the seas. The Admiral's portrait is
by Sir Andrew Morton.

The Rowley Connection

In the early 19th century, the estate at Mount Campbell passed to Admiral Sir Josias Rowley. This came about through the 1766 marriage of Letitia Campbell, daughter of Samuel Campbell of Bath and Mount Campbell, and barrister Clotworthy Rowley (1731 - 1805) of Stoke-by-Nayland, sometime MP for Downpatrick. Letitia may have been William Bunbury III's first cousin; it is interesting that his sister was also named Letitia. Clotworthy's father Sir William Rowley was Admiral-of-the Fleet while his mother Arabella (d 02.1784) was a daughter of Thomas Dawson and granddaughter of Thomas Dawson of Castle Dawson, Co. Monaghan. Upon Sir William's death in 1768, Clotworthy's elder brother succeeded as Sir Joshua Rowley, 1st Bart, and to the house at Tendring Hall. (2) Letitia Rowley died in 1776 and Clotworthy in 1805. While studying for the bar in the Temple, Clotworthy became an intimate friend of the English poet William Cowper (1731-1800), ancestor of Charles Spencer Cowper. They did not see each other again for 25 years until Rowley opened correspondence on the occasion of returning half a dozen books, which Cowper had lent him twenty-five years before. (3) The Rowleys of Co. Leitrim were one of the most remarkable naval families during the age when Britannia ruled the waves. Arabella Dawson was the grandmother to most of them. Her grandsons included Letitia Campbell's sons - the great British naval hero Admiral Sir Josias Rowley (1765-1842) and his brother Rear-Admiral Samuel Campbell Rowley (1774-1846), and their cousins Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Martin (1764-1847), Admiral Sir Charles Rowley (1770-1845) and Admiral Bartholomew Samuel Rowley (d.1811). Charles and Samuel's sister Philadelphia Rowley was married in 1798 to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton (1753-1812). Another cousin was Vice-Admiral Sir Joshua Ricketts Rowley (d.1857) while Sir Charles Rowley's son Lieutenant Burton Rowley also served in the Navy but died in 1822. As cousins of the Bunbury family, we may wonder whether these were the men who inspired the 12-year-old William McClintock Bunbury to join the Royal Navy in 1812. Letitia Campbell's second son was the most successful - Admiral Sir Josias Rowley, known as 'The Sweeper of the Seas', who commanded the campaign which captured the French Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius in 1810. (4)

William Bunbury's Immediate Forbears

William Bunbury III's grandfather, also William Bunbury I, was one of the five sons of Benjamin Bunbury (1642 - 1707), the first of the family to settle in Ireland, when he obtained lands at Killerig, Co. Carlow from the Earl of Arran in 1669. (a) According to an inscription contained on a relict of the original Lisnavagh House, the original residence was built in 1696 - midway through the reign of William of Orange. The estates themselves were formerly the property of the Duke of Ormonde and were granted to William Bunbury I and his heirs in fee farm indentures of lease and release dated 21st and 28th February 1708 respectively. William Bunbury I did not long enjoy his tenure at Lisnavagh for he died prematurely at the age of 36 in 1710, the same year as his wife, Elizabeth Bunbury, daughter of Isaac Pendred, a yeoman farmer from Sywell, Northamptonshire. (Her brother William Pendred married Cathering Eustace of Broughillstown, Carlow). William and Elizabeth left at least two sons - the heir, William Bunbury II, and the aforementioned Thomas Bunbury of Kill - and a daughter, Elizabeth who married the farmer-brewer Richard Lockwood. Little is known of William Bunbury II except that he was sometime MP for Carlow and died unmarried in October 1754. He was also responsible for the construction of St. Mary's Church in Rathvilly in 1751, where he was later buried. (a) Upon his death, I believe he left the Bunbury family estate at Lisnavagh to be held by his brother Thomas in trust for his ten-years-old nephew, aka William Bunbury III.

(a) The Rector of the Protestant Church in Rathvilly was the Rev. Edward Whitty from 1765 to 1804 and then his son, the Rev. John Whitty, from 1803 until 1844. It is not clear when Edward actually moved to Rathvilly. It can be assumed that Edward held his living from the Cooper family of Coopers Hill. In 1787, while living at Providence Lodge near Ballickmoyler in the Queen's County, the Rev. Whitty went on a mission to seize cattle from a tithe defaulter near the Kilkenny border. He was accompanied by one John Bowles, a former wig maker and sometime shoemaker who later became Whitty's agent. A mob attacked the two men. "One of the miscreants came behind the Archdeacon himself, struck him on the head and wounded him with some edged weapon, but providentially without any material ill consequence." Bowles was also threatened with hanging. (18a) Edward's house at Rathvilly was also burned during the 1798 rebellion. John Whitty was living at Providence Lodge in 1798 but was listed as a Magistrate in Carlow by 1804. Ballickmoyler was one of the host stops for the Carlow Hunt. The family are also known as Boles, Bovill and Bovills. With thanks to the inestimable Tom La Porte.

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Above: At the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745, the Duke of Cumberland lost over
12,000 of his 50,000 men to the French. Among the dead was John Isaac.
His sister, Susanna Bunbury, duly succeeded to his estate in Co. Down.

The Children of Thomas & Catherine Bunbury

Thomas and Catherine Bunbury had eight sons and two daughters. Only three of the sons and one daughter survived childhood. Their names are recorded on a piece of paper contained in a journal belonging to Thomas, discovered in 2007.[1]

Their firstborn child William was born on 2nd January 1736 but died within six weeks. The second son Josiah, born on 2nd June 1738, was 10 years old when he took ill at Kilkenny School and died on 11th March 1748. A third son William, born 30th January 1740, died at the age of 8 just two months after Josiah on 16th May 1748. Their fourth son, Campbell Bunbury (Cammy), was born on 8th February 1741 and presumably named for his maternal grandfather. Cammy features prominently in his fathers diaries but alas, after much investment in his life by his father, he died on 31st August 1760 aged 19. The fifth son, another William Bunbury (Willy), of whom we treat, was born on 2nd May 1744 and, although killed in a horse fall at the age of 33, he had the fortune to leave behind some offspring from which my siblings and I descend. Thomas Bunbury, the sixth son, was born 5th Jan 1745 but died in his cot on 21st September 1746. George Bunbury, the seventh son, was born on 24th November 1747, lived at Rathmore and died in May 1820. Benjamin Bunbury, the eight and youngest son, was born on 11th July 1751 and died on 10th Oct 1823 having played a prominent role in maintaining order in Co Carlow during the 1798 Rebellion.

As to the daughters, Letitia (Letty) was born on 16th March 1749 and later married George Gough while Elizabeth (Betty) was born ‘23rd 1754’ (no month) and died aged 4 on 4th October 1758.

The Isaac Marriage

With such a large family to look after, it was not surprising that Thomas Bunbury would start looking around for a new wife. On 19th July (or 18 April?) 1758, five years after the death of his first wife, he was married again, at St Bridget's in Dublin. His second bride was Susanna Priscilla Isaac, daughter of the late barrister Simon Isaac and heiress of Hollywood House, near Hillsborough, Co. Down. Her father had been called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1735 and inherited Hollywood House from his father, John Isaac. He had since passed away, leaving the house to Susanna's only brother, John Isaac, an officer serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Europe during the War of the Austrian Succession. The regiment was all but wiped out on 11th May 1745 during the catastrophic battle of Fontenoy. Lieutenant John Isaac was one of over 1,200 British killed by the French that day. Thomas seems to have had an outstanding stamina and his second wife begat him at least four more children for him. Their eldest son, Thomas, was born in 1760, lived at Lisbryan, County Tipperary, and married Maria Greene. Their children included Simon Bunbury Isaac of Hollywood House and the Rev. William Bunbury, grandfather of Thomas Bunbury, Bishop of Limerick. (12) Another of Thomas and Susanna's sons was George William Bunbury, a captain in the army, while their daughter Jane married the Rev. Benedict Arthure, MA., of Seafield House in Malahide. For more on this branch, see The Bunbury-Isaac Family.

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Above: William Bunbury's half-sister
Jane (Jenny) Bunbury married Rev. Benedict
Arthure of Seafield House, Malahide.
See Bunbury Isaac for more.

Death of Thomas of Kill

Thomas Bunbury of Kill finished up with seven surviving children - four from his first marriage to Catherine Campbell, three from his second to Susanna Isaac.

On Tuesday 5th May 1767, the Freeman's Journal reported that his eldest son, 'William Bunbury of Lisnevagh in the County of Carlow, Esq, is appointed a Justice of the Peace of the said county.

In October 1767, Thomas was asked to stand at the by-election in Carlow following the death of Benjamin Burton, MP, son of Captain Francis Burton, who died at Glenarm. (According to Finn's Leinster Journal, Burton's £10,000 fortune devolved upon his uncle, Sir Charles Burton). Thomas addressed the electors but declined to contest against John Hyde (Burton's son-in- law, married to Sarah Burton) who was duly elected alongside (Sir) Thomas Butler of Ballintemple.

The connection with the Burton family was strong at this time. The Burton Papers include a bond (P1/0218) dated 8th May 1772 from Charles Burton, eldest son of Sir Charles Burton, and William Bunbury, Lisnavagh, county Carlow, esquire, to John Crampton, city of Dublin, gentleman, in the sum of £200. Sum of £100 to be paid by Burton and Bunbury to Crampton on 1 August next.' Appended is note by John Doherty that he entered a judgement in the Court of Common Pleas in relation to this case during the Trinity Term, 1772.

Thomas Bunbury of Kill died on 13th July 1774, ten months after the marriage of his son and heir, William, to Katherine Kane. A copy of his will is held by the Irish Land Commission. (18)

THE MURDER OF JAMES KELLY, 1770.

Indented to the death of James Kelly, Cooper of Castle Hill, Carlow.
The Oath of William Paxton, Barber Surgeon and Bachelor of Physic sworn before William Bunbury, Esquire, on the 2nd day of January 1771. William Paxton of the Town of Carlow, Barber Surgeon and Bachelor of Physic. Saith that on T [?] the 25th day of December 1770 he was called to the house of James Kelly, Cooper, of Castle Street, Carlow, by William Quirke, Ale House Keeper, of Castle Street, Carlow, upon entering the house of James Kelly he found James Kelly lying dead on his bed and having externally and internally carefully examined the said deceased body found two wounds on his head made by a heavy instrument the skull was cracked open and some tissue protruded, the bed was covered with the dried blood of the deceased and he verily believes that James Kelly was killed by some person with evil intent and not having the fear of God before [ ? ]. It is the belief of William Paxton that James Kelly had been dead for some hours and that his life was lost while in sleep on his bed. (signed) William Paxton. Barber Surgeon and Bachelor of Physic.
Witnesses called were :- Thomas Gibbs, Shopkeeper, Bridewell Lane, Matthew Curran, Tailor, Bridewell Lane, Anthony Johnson, Gentleman, Castle Street, William Quirke, Ale House Keeper, Castle Street, Mary Kelly, Castle Street, Ann Keatin, Castle Street, James Sutcliff, Soldier, Carlow Barracks.
[Summation of three page report of Inquest held in 1770, difficult to decipher, this is one of the earliest Inquests in the Disraeli Papers.]
Transcribed by Selina Lawlor. Transcribed by Selina Lawlor from the Pat Purcell Papers).

VILLAINOUS DUNG-LAYERS, 1771

In early January 1771, William joined the Butlers of Ballintempel and other Justices of the Peace for County Carlow in appending his name to a notice to the Carlow Sessions warning that anyone caught ‘lay[ing] any dung, straw, or other offensive matters, on any of the public high roads or streets , within the Town or County of Carlow’ would be subject to prosecution.[i]

[i] Finns Leinster Journal, Saturday, February 02, 1771; Page: 3. To the JUSTICE OF THE PEACE for the County of CARLOW. Carlow Sessions the 17th of January, 1771. IT is requested by the Bench of Justices this day assembled, whose names are hereunto subscribed, that each of you on every succeeding Quarter Sessions of the Peace to he holden at Carlow, do direct a letter to the Chairman presiding at said Sessions, giving an account of the several examinations and recognizances taken and returned by each of you respectively, that, the Bench may be fully apprised of the several matters returned to the Clerk of the Peace. And it is also requested (as we are determined to do) that you will return to the Clerk of the Peace such examinations, one day at least before the first day of the Sessions, that the business of the County may be expedited. And we the undernamed Justices are determined to prosecute every person, that shall lay any dung, straw, or other offensive matters, on any of the public high roads or streets;within the Town or County of Carlow. CLEMENT WOLSELEY, Sheriff. WILLIAM BERNARD, THOMAS BUTLER, SIMONS MERCER, WILLIAM BUNBURY, WILLIAM PAUL BUTLER, ARTHUR BAILLIE, THOMAS GURLY.

A Prudent Marriage

Although William had an independent fortune, his standing was much enhanced by his marriage to 20-year-old Katherine Kane, the daughter and sole heiress of a wealthy Dublin businessman. Judging by a miniature portrait we have of Katherine at Lisnavagh, she was a rather beautiful young lady, with wide-set eyes, sweet lips and a mop of blonde hair. The marriage brought the substantial Kane estates into the Bunbury family possession - and they had a gross rental of £2,819 in 1840. These lands had been assembled by Katharine's father, Redmond Kane (d.1778), sometimes referred to as Redmond Keane, a Monaghan man who lived in a seaside villa at Mantua, Swords, Co Dublin. Redmond had been mixed up in all sorts of clever deals since the 1760s, taking advantage of the Penal Laws to quickly and cheaply establish his title over large tracts of land for a nominal sum, aided by the Dublin based "Protestant Discoverer", Charles King, who would later go on to be one of the trustees of Redmond's will. Anthony Malcolmson suggests he was an attorney who may have been a convert to the Church of Ireland. Malcomson even suggests Redmond might have been a crypto-Catholic. It is my belief that his only son was killed at Castle Bellingham in County Louth in October 1765 when his overcoat was caught in the wheels of a port-chaise carriage. (19) The death of his son left Katherine as his sole heiress. The marriage of William Bunbury and Katherine Kane took place in Swords on Thursday 28th September 1773. Over the next five years, the couple created four children - two sons and two daughters - until William's tragic death in 1778.

image title

Above: Redmond Kane, nee O'Cahan, the
well-fed father-in-law to William Bunbury,
whose wealth would descend to the
Bunburys of Lisnavagh.

The Lisnavagh Inheritance

I think William had been living in the old house at Lisnavagh for some years by now. Lisnavagh was certainly his address in 1769 when, aged 25, he served as high sheriff for County Carlow. In 1771, he joined his father and the gentry of Carlow on the Grand Jury at the Assizes. William succeeded to the Kill estates on the death of his father on 13th July 1774. At this stage he was presumably also in possession of his uncle's Lisnavagh estates. I do not know how many acres he owned at this time but he must have been one of the wealthier members of the landed gentry in County Carlow.

THE BOND WITH JOHN CRAMPTON

On 8 May 1772, William Bunbury and Charles Burton, eldest son of Sir Charles Burton, made a Bond to John Crampton, city of Dublin, gentleman, in the sum of £200. Sum of £100 to be paid by Burton and Bunbury to Crampton on 1 August next. Appended is note by John Doherty that he entered a judgement in the Court of Common Pleas in relation to this case during the Trinity Term, 1772. [Burton Family Papers - P1/0218]

 

image title

The above is a miniature portrait of Thomas
Bunbury as a young boy, presumably about
the time of his father's death.

He is also reputedly the handsome
young man in the portrait below, held at
Lisnavagh, and erroneously attributed to
Sir Joshua Reynolds.

image title

A New Generation

William's father, Thomas Bunbury, died at Kill on 13th July 1774, five months before his daughter-in-law Katherine delivered a bouncing boy whom they named Thomas in his honour. Born on Monday 21st November, this Thomas Bunbury would go on to inherit Lisnavagh and become MP for County Carlow.
A daughter Elizabeth was born on June 4th 1776, just days after his election to Parliament.
A second son, (later Colonel) Kane Bunbury was born on 25th July 1777. His birth most likely took place at the Kane family residence of Mantua. Perhaps Katherine was resting with her family while William went about his parliamentary business.
In October 1778, six months after William's tragic death, his young widow Katherine gave birth to her fourth and last child - a posthumous daughter, Jane. She would go on to marry John McClintock of Drumcar and was mother to the first Baron Rathdonnell and Captain William McClintock Bunbury.

NB: Taylor & Skinner's Maps of 1783 show the Bunburys at Lisnavagh and Moyle. Curiously, the property just
south of Rathmore is called Rathdonnel (then owned by the Newhavens) while the next one down
is Bettyfield (Bazlee Esq). Also of note, the Minchins of Bough, who inter-married with the Bunburys.

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Above: William Bunbury's sister, Letitia,
wife of Colonel Gough and mother of
Field Marshal Viscount Hugh Gough.

Letitia Bunbury & the Gough Connection

On 18th January 1775, William's only full sister, 22-year-old Letitia Bunbury married George Gough of Woodstown, Co. Limerick, and began producing sons at a rate of knots. The fourth, Hugh, born in November 1779, was the famous Victorian military campaigner, Field Marshal Lord Hugh Gough. He was reputedly educated at home, under his mothers’ “pure and refining influence, by a private tutor.” Further details of the Gough family can be found at Turtle's History of the Gough Family. Letitia survived until 1829.

PRESLEY OF STRANAKELLY

Research by Carlow historian Michael Purcell revealed that a William Presley was forced to flee his home at Stranakelly (a townland west of Tinahely and south of Hacketstown) in 1775, after 'a band of yeomen and many other evil disposed persons did riotously, routously and unlawfully make an assault and did beat, wound and ill treat him so that his life was greatly despaired of.’ The facts, printed on faded parchment records, show that the attack took place with swords and sticks and the attackers were of the Morris, Wilson and Maher families. Shipping records soon after this event show that William and his brother Andrew Presley left Ireland for New Orleans in America. There is a story that Elvis Presley was William's great, great, great, great grandson. Indeed, I was initially part of the camp that promoted this connection, including an article in the Irish Daily Mail and a mention on the national airwaves in 2014. I was also delighted when Hacketstown started its own Elvis Festival and derived a little cheer from the possible connection. Alas, a letter from the genealogist Paul Gorry in the Carlow Nationalist of 10 May 2016 poured cold water on this, concluding that the connection is purely speculative. That's alright Mammy, as they say.

VIOLENT TIMES IN TULLOW (from Pat Purcell Papers)

Patrick Sullivan of Tullowbegg who being duly Sworn and Examined Saith that on the Eight of April 1774 between the hours of Eight and Nine of the Clock at Night as he was walking thro Tullowbegg [I think this is along the present day thomas Traynor Road outside Tullow] he was then and there Overtaken by two or more persons coming behind him and put an handkerchief Over his Eyes and into his Mouth and dragged him into a Quarry adjoining, where with a knife or Razor the said persons then and there felloniously wounded him. Cut off part of both his Ears, Maimed and disfigured him, and wounded him in his h ? , where they attempted to haugh him by which usage he lost a great quantity of blood and often fainted away and fearth the loss of his life and health by such abuse, all without any provocation and Saith that he verily believes that William Kenny the Younger of Tullow, Butcher, and Patrick Nowlan of Templeowen, Ale Draper, were two of the persons principally concerned in Committing the said felony.
Patrick Sullivan having known the said persons for a Considerable time, and observing their appearance and Colour of their Cloths as they ran away.
(signed) Patrick, hisXmark, Sullivan.
Sworn before me this 9th day of April 1774. (signed) Fran Hopkins.

WHIPPING OF A WHITE BOY

In May 1775, Finn’s Leinster Journal informed its readers that William Steuart, William Paul Butler, Thomas Gurley and William Bunbury ‘and several other Gentlemen of said town and county’ had captured ‘one Dowling, a notorious White Boy’, and escorted him to the county jail.[i] Four months later, Thomas Dowling and another White Boy called Martin Kavanagh were subsequently ‘whipped from Fenagh to the church’ in front of the High Sheriff, the sub-sheriffs and most of the county’s gentry.[ii] Also watching was Sir Edward Newenham, regarded as 'Ireland's most vocal supporter of the insurgent Americans at the time'. The two White Boys were also whipped in Myshall and Ballon and sentenced to six months imprisonment. At the same Carlow Assizes in which they received these sentences in September 1775, a man known as Slasher Bryan was also given six months for assaulting W. P. Butler.

[i] Finn’s Leinster Journal, Saturday May 20th 1775, page 3. The Freeman' Journal of 23-25 May 1775 carried the same report.

[ii] Freemans Journal, Saturday, September 02, 1775; p. 3. The Hibernian Magazine, September 4th, 1775 observed ‘the following gentlemen: Wm. Burton, and Clement Wollely, Esqrs. Governors cs the county, Sir Edward Newenham, Sir Charles Burton, Mr. Vigors, Mr. Whelan, Col. Eustace, Mr. Perkins, Col. Bunbury, Mr. Dillon, Mr. Justice Carpenter, Mr. Cramer, and forty other gentlemen of property.’ There seems to be no mention of William Bunbury, unless he is the man described as a Colonel. There was no attempt to rescue the two men, 'though there was no military, and the place of execution was in the midst of the gang.' Mr. Cook, an officer of excise 'attended with sixteen protestant tenants compleatly armed.' Dowling and Kavanagh were 'to be whipped twice more, and we hear the fame respectable gentlemen will attend their Worthy high sheriff.'

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Starting on Wednesday, March 13, 1776 (and running
throughout April and May of that year), Bunbury and
Burton took out an advertisement in Finns Leinster
Journal
which ran as follows: 'To the Gentlemen, Clergy
and Freeholders of the County of CARLOW. We humbly
beg Leave to offer ourselves Candidates for the Honour
of Representing you in Parliament, on the next General
Election, and request the Favour of your Votes and Interest.
If we shall be thought worthy of that Confidence, you may
rely on our disinterested Conduct in Parliament, and our
constant Endeavours to promote the welfare of your
County. We are, with great Respect,
GENTLEMEN,
Your most obedient humble Servants,
WILLIAM BURTON, WILLIAM BUNBURY'.

 

the Rise of a New Political Star

In 1776, Arthur Young, the celebrated agriculturist, visited Ireland and spent some time in County Carlow witnessing the farming operations of Mr. Browne of Browne's-hill, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Jas. Butler of Ballybar, Mr. Bernard, and Captain Mercer.

On Monday Feb 5th 1776, the Freeman's Journal announced the candidacy of William Bunbury of Lisnavagh and William Henry Burton of Burton Hall for the upcoming Parliamentary Elections of 18th-23rd May 1776. Bunbury (338 votes) and Burton (417 votes) were duly returned for County Carlow. The results were challenged by the defeated candidate, William Paul Warren who had mustered 246 votes. On 15th October 1777, Mr. Warren presented a petition to the House of Commons alleging (amongst other things) 'that as well before as during the election, threats and menaces were made use of by the agents of, and others on the part of, said William Burton and William Bunbury, to intimidate such of the freeholders of the county who had intended, and had declared their intentions of voting for the petitioner, from doing so; that several persons who were Papists, and others who had married Popish wives, and several other persons who had no freehold in the country, were received and permitted to vote for the said William Burton and William Bunbury; that all or most of the persons who voted for them were induced to do so by the undue means aforesaid, and also by means of the said William Burton and William Bunbury's entertaining such voters publicly at several public houses in the town of Carlow, the expense of which was defrayed by the said William Burton and William Bunbury, contrary to the late Act of Parliament'. An order was passed that the petition should be heard on 2nd December but in the meantime, on 25th November, 'the order for hearing was discharged and leave given to withdraw the petition, and the same was withdrawn accordingly'. (Pat Purcell Papers)

ROAD REPAIRS (ESTIMATES) 1777

The following documents come from the Pat Purcell Papers.

County of Carlow ~~ Philip Germane of townland of Rathvilly and John Tool of Coolmana Both Farmers in said County Do Swear they have Lately viewed and measured 98 Perches on The Road Leading from Baltinglass to Tullow Beginning at Patt Bulgers Gate and Ending at William Bunburys Woodfield Gate [ii] All in the Barony of Rathvilly and that it will Require the sum of 13 pound, and 3 pence Effectually to Repair the said 98 Perches With Gravel or Small Stones. Being at the Rate of 3 shillings, halfpenny by the Perch which they Verily believe is the Best the said 98 Perches can be Effectually Repaired for.
(signed ) Philip Germain. John - his X mark - Tool.
Sworn before us this 26th Day of March, 1777. William Bunbury, Thomas Gurley[i], Robert Browne.

County of Carlow ~~ Simon Lawler of Kill and William Lawler of ---ville (?) Both Farmers in said County Do Swear they have Lately viewed and measured 97 Perches on The Road Leading from Baltinglass to Tullow Beginning at Patt Bulgers Gate and Ending at Rathlan ford [iii] All in the Barony of Rathvilly and that it will Require the sum of 16 pound, and 6 pence Effectually to Repair the said 97 Perches 21 feet and fourteen foot With Gravel or Small Stones. Being at the Rate of 3 shillings and 6 pence by the Perch which they Verily believe is the Best the said 97 Perches can be Effectually Repaired for.
(signed ) Simon Lawler, William Lawler.
Sworn before us this 26th Day of March, 1777. William Bunbury, Thomas Gurley.

County of Carlow~~George Cummins of Rathtoe and William Kinshela of Tinryeland Both Farmers in said County do Swear they have lately viewed and measured 78 Perches of the Road leading from Ballon to Tullow beginning at Thomas Nowlands[iv] Gate and Ending at the Gable end of Widow Mary Nowlands House. It will require the sum of 11 pound, 19 shillings and 3 pence, halfpenny, Effectually to Repair the said 69 Perches, 21 feet with Gravel and small Stones. Being at the Rate of three shillings by the Perch which they Verily believe is the best the said road can be Effectually Repaired for ~~~
(signed George Cummins, William Kinshela.
Sworn before us this 26th Day of March 1777 (signed ) William Bunbury, Thomas Gurley.

FOOTNOTES

[i] Thomas Gurley was great-great-great-grandfather to George Bernard Shaw. Robert Browne was great-great-great-grandfather to the present-day Robert Browne-Clayton. And William Bunbury was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!
[ii] The location of the Woodfield Gate is presently unknown although there is a Woodfield on the road between Baltinglass and Kiltegan.
[iii] The ford could be the stream which forms the county boundary on the back road from Rathvilly to Baltinglass. 150 years ago, the Bunbury family owned much of that land.

[iv] Thomas Nowland was probably Thomas Nowlan of Balliloo (close to Tinryland) whose will was proved in 1779. His wife may also have been the "Catherine Nowlan", widow of Balliloo, whose will was proved a few years after 1779.

RECOLLECTIONS OF THE SENTINEL

In Col. Kane Bunbury's obituary of 14th November 1874, The Carlow Sentinel wrote: "On the 18th May, 1776, Mr William Bunbury was elected, in conjunction with William Burton, Esq., of Burton Hall, representative in Parliament for the County of Carlow, after a contest with William Paul Warren, Esq. The unsuccessful candidate petitioned the House of Commons against the return, on alleged grounds of undue influence and treating, and a day was appointed for hearing the petition, but before that moment arrived, Mr Warren asked leave of the House to withdraw his complaint, and the order for hearing was discharged. Mr Bunbury, however, did not long enjoy his senatorial honours, as his death took place on the 18th of April, 1778, the result of a melancholy accident, in having been thrown from his horse. The vacancy thus created was filled by the election of Beauchamp Bagenal, Esq, as Knight of the Shire in room of the deceased. After a lapse of sixty-three years the representation of the county in the Imperial Parliament reverted to his son, the late Thomas Bunbury, Esq., of Moyle, who at the memorable election of 1841 was returned, as colleague with the late Colonel Bruen, after a bitter and protracted contest on the part of Messrs. O’Connell and Yates, and sat for the county until his death, which took place in London on the 28th May, 1846."

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Above: The Irish Parliament in 1780, shortly after William
Bunbury's death in a horsefall .

This was an important time in Irish history with Volunteer forces mustering at home and the Revolution gathering momentum in the American Colonies across the Atlantic Ocean. The legendary Beauchamp Bagenal would appear to have had some influence on William's electoral success. As well as his wealthy Kane in-laws, William was well connected to the other MP for Carlow, William Henry Burton, a grandson of the 1st Earl of Bessborough. He was thus connected with the Ponsonbys and would most likely have sided with the Opposition during his short stint on College Green.

Alas, little is known about William's potential parliamentary conduct for he was killed in a horse accident in the spring of 1778. (20) His voting record certainly suggests that was his bent - in 1777 he voted against the Trade Embargo and in 1778 he supported Grattan's motion for Retrenchment of the military peace-establishment. Grattan was also then opposed to the war being waged with the American colonies. (21) A number of land reforms were also undertaken at this time. The Bogland Act of 1771 had already allowed Catholics to hold leases of up to 61 years (as opposed to 31) on unproductive land. In 1778, the Gardiner's Relief Act allowed Catholics unlimited interests in land, provided they took an oath of allegiance and inherit land in the normal way. Four years later, in 1782, Catholics were allowed to inherit, purchase or otherwise receive freehold and leasehold interests in the same way as Protestants.

See: The British Isles and the War of American Independence, Stephen Conway (Oxford University Press); Understanding the American Revolution: Issues & Actors, Jack Greene (University Press of Virginia).

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Above: William Bunbury was killed while hunting
near Leighlinbridge in 1778.

The Death of William Bunbury III

On 18th April 1778, William Bunbury III of Lisnavagh was thrown from his horse while riding near Leighlinbridge and killed. [1] We know nothing more of the event, save that he was 33 years old and his wife would have been about three months pregnant. What can he have been thinking at the time? I hope his death was quick. Was he perhaps involved in a hunt for White Boys with men such as William Paul Butler of Broomville whom he would presumably have known well? Or was it simply an accident?

It seems entirely plausible that he was fox hunting at the time. A famous fox covert lies on the hill just south of Nurney village. The hill slopes to the west and south and is located about a mile east of Leighlinbridge. Willy Burton, his fellow member of Parliament hunted with a pack of Kerry beagles at this time, in the old tradition of Irish landlords. Burton later inherited some of the Bishopscourt pack from the Ponsonbys of Co. Kildare and converted to English foxhounds. Perhaps William Bunbury was out hunting with Burton’s Kerry beagles when he fell? Or perhaps he was with John Watson of Ballydarton whose wolfhounds would track down and kill the last authenticated wolf in Ireland - a grey wolf, canis lupis - on the slopes of Mount Leinster in 1786.

His family buried him at St. Mary's in Rathvilly.

On Tuesday 27th October following, his widow gave birth to a second daughter, Jane, who would become the wife of John McClintock of Drumcar, Co. Louth. By a bizarre twist, Jane would perish in almost the exact circumstances when thrown from her horse in Bath 23 years later.

William's vacated parliamentary seat for Carlow was filled shortly afterwards by the redoubtable Beauchamp Bagenal. Redmond Kane was also gone within a year, his estates to be held in trust by the Hon. Barry Barry, Sir James Nugent and Charles King until his grandson, Kane Bunbury, then 3, was old enough to inherit. Failing that, his land was to devolve upon his eldest grandson, Thomas Bunbury, then 5, who had already inherited the vast Bunbury estate. In the meantime, Katherine Bunbury duly entered possession of Lisnavagh and set about securing the rents and profits due her as a tenant for life.

1. The Gentleman's and London magazine: or monthly chronologer (J. Exshaw., 1778) for noted: 'April 19th. Suddenly William Bunbury Esq one of the knights of the shire for the co Carlow'. Beauchamp Bagenal was promoted to knight in his place.

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A New House at Lisnavagh

It transpires that William had grand designs on a new Georgian house at Lisnavagh at the time of his death. The Lisnavagh archives contain a series of sketches, elevations and other plans pertaining to a new house at Lisnavagh and dated 1778. The front of the house was to be 101 feet wide and the roof was surmounted by urns. It would have been rather a fine house; its two small wings, the doorway and the urns would have made it look quite grand indeed. The architect was Oliver Grace. Mark Bence Jones refers to Grace as the architect for Lyons whilst Desmond Guinness says that he 'supervised the completion of Cashel Cathedral in 1783 for Archbishop Charles Agar'. I have forwarded drawings of the house to the Irish Architectural Archive and the Irish Georgian Society. The foundations for this house still exist in the Reservoir Wood at Lisnavagh and would have sited the house on the top of a hill. However, when his grandson William McClintock Bunbury did finally build a new house at Lisnavagh, he chose a different, lower site, perhaps because a nautical soul like W.McCB understood winds in a way his grandfather did not. The Brick Tank beside the 1778 foundations is believed to have been 19th century and was probably connected to the 1840s house.


Ireland in 1778

Ireland was plunged into economic recession at the close of 1778, a situation that prompted a near total meltdown by the following Spring. It was the worst recession the country had seen - or would see - for decades. War had not only disrupted commerce but also cut off a number of the traditionally lucrative smuggling routes.

Provost Hely Hutchinson of Trinity College believed upwards of 20,000 manufacturers were without work and dependent on charity in Dublin alone. In the country, the shortage of money left most seasonal workers (ie: the majority of the tenant class) unable to find work and thus rents dried up. The price of livestock and land also collapsed and some MPs were so bankrupt they could not afford to bring their families to Dublin when Parliament reconvened. Endless letters and missives suggesting Free Trade as the solution to the crisis were dispatched from Ireland to Lord North's cabinet - including one from the future Prime Minister, Lord Rockingham, who was the principal Opposition grandee and owner of half of Co. Wicklow's farming land. However, with Lord North in a bout of depression, Westminster remained silent on the issue.

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Above: William's younger brother Benjamin Bunbury took
over the running of Lisnavagh from 1778 to 1823.

Benjamin Bunbury (1751 - 1823) & the Immediate Fate of Lisnavagh

When William's widow Katherine retired to Bath after her husbands premature death in 1776, her brothers-in-law George Bunbury and Benjamin Bunbury took over the running of Lisnavagh. This was presumably a sort of Joint-Protectorship during the minority of William's small son, Thomas. In 1782, George placed Lisnavagh up for rent for a term of 14 years. Benjamin, who was running the estate by the time of the battle of Waterloo, also seems to have succeeded to the Bunbury estate at Killerig, County Carlow, where his great-grandfather and namesake had settled in the reign of Charles II. Benjamin was William's younger brother and the third surviving son of Thomas Bunbury of Kill by his first wife, Catherine Campbell. Born in 1751, he enjoyed a brief military career. He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 17th Light Dragoons in June 1766 but, for reasons unknown, did not accompany the regiment to American in 1775. He sold his commission in May 1776. It has been suggested that 'either he did not fancy serving in North America, or else was opposed to the war for political reasons'. He was married to Margaret Gowan, daughter of the Rev. George Gowan. They had three children, none of whom appear to have had any issue. Their eldest son, Thomas Bunbury, was born in 1785 but died aged 17 in 1802 and is buried in Rathvilly. A second son George Bunbury was born in 1787 and died unmarried. He is presumably the unfortunate 17-year-old 'George Bunbury efq of Ireland' who is recorded in The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 75 (1805), Part 1, as dying on 23rd January 1805 ‘of a decline, at his lodgings in Exmouth, Devon'. Benjamin's daughter, Katherine Bunbury, who was born in 1789 also died unmarried. (22) Benjamin became a man of considerable influence during the era of the 1798 Rebellion and his story is told seperately - see Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig.

 

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Above: "South View of the City of Bath" based on a steel engraved
print after a picture by G.F.Robson, originally published in
Picturesque Views of English Cities
, 1828.

The Widow Bunbury

After William's death, his widow, Katherine Bunbury (nee Kane), left the family estates to be run by her brother-in-law Benjamin and resettled in the City of Bath with her four young children where they almost certainly came across the Lefroy and Austen families. (24) She spent much of the ensuing decades in Bath, living on an annual pension from Lisnavagh, as did her eldest son Thomas right up until the 1840s. From her new residence, Katherine petitioned the Commissioners of Union Compensation claiming her father, Redmond Kane, had purchased leases of houses and lands in the Swords area in order to create and maintain an electoral interest. In 1805 she was recoded as still holding "part of the leases - another part is held by the representatives of the Hon. Edward Molesworth, for a term of 41 years. The gross yearly rent amounts to £266 and upwards. She felt she was entitled to '£3000 compensation at least'. (25) Mrs. Katherine Bunbury died aged 82 at No. 23 on the Circus of Bath in 1834.

 

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Above: The late Teal Bunbury at Lisnavagh

With thanks to Peter R Bunbury, Trevor Labey, Michael Purcell, Jack Storey, Sharon Oddie Brown, Bill Rowley, Donough Cahill, John & Audrey Arthure, Roger Nowlan, Anne Buckley and Brendan Morrissey.

Footnotes

1. Thomas is variously described as 'of Lisnavagh, Moyle and Kill', all in County Carlow. For the most part, he seems to have been known as 'Thomas Bunbury of Kill'.

2. The Rowley family are also related to the Lords Langford. BP1934 (Rowley of Tendring).

3. 'William Cowper was born on 15 November 1731 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordskire, England to Reverend John and Anne (Donne) Cowper. During his school years, he first became interested in literature, and he published his first poems and wrote Latin verse. Cowper later apprenticed with a solicitor and was successfully admitted to the Bar, although he continued to engage in writing and other literary pursuits.Through the nepotism of this cousin Major Cowper, in 1763, he was given a government appointment. But the pressures of the examinations required for the position led him to a near-suicide, and finally the renunciation of his post. His family sought help for him at a private sanatorium, where he would spend a year and a half recovering. For the rest of his life Cowper would suffer bouts of depression and rely on family and friends to nurse him back to health. In addition, Cowper was plagued by money problems, and entirely depended on the generosity of the same family and friends to provide for him. After leaving the sanatorium, Cowper became devoutly Christian, and moved to Huntington where he befriended Reverend Morley Unwin and his family. In 1765 he began lodging with the Unwins, both because of their close ties and the poor state of Cowper's economic affairs. Even after Reverend Unwin's accidental death, Cowper remained with the family and established a close mother-son relationship with Mrs. Unwin. She would prove very supportive of his writing. Cowper's most well-know works include Olney Hymns (1779) [a collaborative effort with John Newton], John Gilpin (1782), The Task (1785), and translations of Homer (1791). He died on 25 April 1800 in East Dereham at the age of 68'.
Neilson Campbell Hannay, 'Collection of William Cowper' (C0134) 1711-1965, bulk 1750s-1799. A Finding Aid Prepared by Hugh Witemeyer, William G. Whitehead '65, Charles Ryskamp and Karla J. Vecchia (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections , Princeton University Library, 1964-1965, 2004).

4. Perhaps Sir Josias Rowley was the guiding light who introduced his young cousin William McClintock Bunbury to the joys and perils of life at sea. Admiral Rowley was born in Leitrim in 1765 and joined the Navy twelver years later. His Mauritius campaign was used by author Patrick O'Brian as the setting for one of his Aubrey-Maturin series books, The Mauritius Command, where Jack Aubrey actually takes the place of Rowley in the novel. From 1810 until October 1814, Rowley commanded the America (74 guns) in the Mediterranean. During the summer of 1815 he was again in the Mediterranean with his flagship Impregnable (98 guns), under Lord Exmouth, but he returned to England at the end of the war. It's not clear where he was during the Bombardment of Algiers in which engagement the teenage William McClintock Bunbury (later of Lisnavagh) saw his first action. From 1818 to 1821 he was commander-in-chief on the coast of Ireland; and from 1821 to 1826 he was MP for Kinsale, Co. Cork. In 1825 he was made vice-admiral. He was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean from December 1833 to February 1837. He died unmarried and without heir to his titles on 10th January 1842 within the Mount Campbell family estate at Drumsna, Co. Leitrim, and was buried at the nearby Annaduff parish church. Sir Josias Rowley's brother, Rear Admiral Samuel Campbell Rowley was born on 19th January 1774. In 1805, he married Miss Mary Thompson, dau of _ Thompson of White Park, Co. Cork or Co. Fermanagh. She passed away sometime after and the Admiral was married secondly on 4th November 1830 to Mary Frances Cronyn, daughter of Edmund Cronin of Newtown, Co. Kilkenny. (BurkeLG: 609, Crone, IS 14, Marshall 4, NC 14:350, O'Byrne).

11. John Rowley m. (30.09.1826) Catherine Clarke (dau of Joseph Clarke of Kilburn Priory) and had issue.

12. Who then is the Thomas Bunbury who married a Mary Bernard? She is described as daughter of Joe Bernard of Lucan, and carried on the Lisbryan clan which goes down to the modern generation of Eva, George, and Frederick Thomas and Mary nee Bernard had a son Thomas who married a Frances Smith d/o George Smith of Gurteen - is this the connection to Ashley Smith?

18. Thomas Bunbury, Kill, 1781, Will & Grant LC 639, Box 344 & LC 2024, Box 1236.

19. Faulkner's Journal states that on the night of Friday 11th October 1765 a "Master KEANE", described as the "only Son of Redmond KEANE, Esq." was killed at Castle-Bellingham "by his Cloaths getting into the Wheels of a Post-Chaise". For further information on the Katherine Kane's family, see The Kanes of Mantua by Turtle Bunbury. It was by this manner that Redmond Kane secured the lands of Drumsnaught in Co. Monaghan from the Bishop of Clogher in 1760. This included the lake at Drumsnatt (aka Drumsnaught) where St. Molua founded a monastic site in 600AD. The Ulster Canal runs nearby. This is where Oscar Wilde's half-sisters, Emily and Mary "Wylie", are buried. The girls died tragically while dancing by the fire at nearby Drumaconner House in 1871. One thinks of 'The Dreadful Story of Harriet & Her Matches'. It is said they were illegitimate and thus their deaths were kept quiet so as not to shame Sir William Wilde. Oscar was 17 at the time, just about to start at TCD. (3) The lake is also known for its 'peist mór', a spooky monster who lives in the lake and is shaped like ... an upturned-boat!?! See Theo McMahon, 'The Deaths of Emily and Mary Wilde, 1871', Clogher Historical Society (2003).

20. William fell from his horse and died during the Duke of Buckingham's Lord Lieutenancy. This was an age in which the feud between the Ponsonby (Bessborough) and Boyle (Shannon) clans was still bubbling. Lord Townsend, the previous Lord Lieutenant, had grown so bored of the in-fighting that he brought an end to both family's control and closed the "undertaker" system which had previously given the Irish elite control of affairs. From the late 1760s, the assumption of direct vice regal power from England encouraged the Opposition to roar out increasingly elaborate rhetoric against the "pernicious English influence". That said, it was the aim of most Viceroys to keep Ireland's legislative program to the highest degree possible consistent with the interests of Irish landlords as well as the broader empire. See pp. 17 - 18 of 'Grattan's Failure', Mansergh, for a useful background of Irish Parliament during the age of William Bunbury III and John McClintock III, MPs.

21. EDITH MARY JOHNSTON-LIIK, Editor, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800, Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002.

22. There are records of another Benjamin Bunbury, only son of Benjamin, late of Killerig, admitted to Honourable Society of the Middle Temple on 16th June 1763. And Burtchaell's Trinity Alumni register lists a Benjamin Bunbury, son of Thomas, born in Dublin, who went to TCD aged 17 on June 3rd 1776. He may well be the same Benjamin Bunbury admitted to the Hon. Soc. of the Middle Temple on March 9th 1780.

24. We have Katherine's locket and a miniature portrait at Lisnavagh.

25. Proceedings of Commissioners under Union Compensation Act of Ireland (Boroughs) Sessional papers, 1805, Vol. vii . Or more fully: Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Commissioners of compensation under the union compensation act of Ireland. A return, presented to the House of Commons (from the commissioners under act 40, Geo III, cap 34) of all claims for compensation : on account of representative franchises which they have admitted, to what amount, and under what conditions they have compensation awarded, and what claims for allowances, on a similar account, they have disallowed and rejected. Dublin, 1805.

26. "Generous compensation for boroughs which would no longer be represented helped to weaken opposition to the Union. Compensation totalled £1,260,000 and was paid to supporters and opponents alike - the Marquis of Downshire, against the Union, got £57,000 for 7 seats he controlled. Examples of 'Union engagements' include: for Sir John Blaquiere (the promise to make him a peer was not kept) £1,000 a year for his wife and daughter, £700 annual pension for himself and another £300 a year from 1803; sinecures of between £250 and £800 a year for 27 MPs; eleven MPs who were lawyers were promoted or were given other judicial rewards; and £300 a year for Theobald McKenna, a pamphleteer, for his literary services". From 'The Act of Union', Jonathan Bardon, ©The Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis, 2003.

27. E.M. Johnston, History of the Irish Parliament 1692-1800; George Dames Burtchaell, Genealogical memoirs of the members of Parliament for the county and city of Kilkenny (Sealy, Bryers & Walker, 1888)].

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