This work is dedicated to the memory of William Fennell, late of Burtown House, one of the finest gentlemen of his generation.
It is an updated version of the original extract from "The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Co. Kildare" by Turtle Bunbury (Irish Family Names, 2004). Anyone with further information or questions on the Fennell family is urged to contact the author directly.
In the wake of the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland, John Fennell, a young soldier from Wiltshire, was awarded an estate in Cahir, Co. Tipperary. His acquisition of land coincided with his conversion to Quakerism, a religious phenomenon that swept across the British Isles in the late 17th century. Over the next hundred years, his descendants established themselves as prosperous millers and gradually spread across Ireland.
An inadvertent wallop of a cricket ball altered everything when Burtown, an old Quaker house in Kildare, passed to Jemima Fennell, great-great-grandmother to the present owner. The early 18th century house lies close to the Quaker village of Ballitore, home of the illustrious Shackletons. James Fennell, the present head of the family, is co-author with Turtle Bunbury of books such as 'Living in Sri Lanka', the 'Vanishing Ireland' series and 'The Irish Pub'.
To the modern mind, the idea of Quakers conjures up wholesome images of breakfast cereals, cream crackers and milk chocolate. It was, after all, Quaker families who created such household names as Jacob's Biscuits, Bewley's coffee, the chocolate leviathans of Frys, Cadburys, Terry's and Rowntree Macintosh, the great Lloyd's and Barclay's banking house, Clarks shoes and Persil Automatic. (1a) The continuing influence of these Quaker institutions upon the world of commerce stands testament to a courageous determination to succeed in the face of often overwhelming adversity.
The Religious Society of Friends - later known as the Quakers - was founded by George Fox in North West England in the mid 17th century. Setting out to make "a fundamental recovery of the Christian vision", the Society was one of several hundred radical religious movements to arise in an age when all Europe was embroiled in bloody war. What differentiated the Quakers from other religions was their refusal to countenance the hierarchical structure prevalent in both Catholicism and the Church of England. Early Quakers believed each person to be possessed of an "inward light" enabling them to have a direct and personal relationship with God. They stood for non-violence, absolute truth and sexual equality. By 1660 the movement had nearly 40,000 members in England alone.
The first Quaker meeting in Ireland took place at Lurgan, County Armagh, in 1654. It was presided over by William Edmundson, a Westmorland merchant who served with Cromwell's Parliamentarian army during the Civil War and settled in Ireland in 1652. By 1656, there were reports that Quaker ideals were making a negative impact on the morale of the Cromwellian army then in charge of maintaining order in Ireland. Indeed, Cromwell's son and heir Henry Cromwell was so certain Quakers were undermining the discipline of his troops that he launched a purge of the entire army. Quaker pamphlets were seized and burned, preachers from England were arrested and many members of the Society were thrown into prison.
One of Edmundson's contemporaries was Colonel John Fennell (1626-1706), an officer in Cromwell's army awarded a small estate on the banks of the River Suir outside Cahir, Co. Tipperary. His estate at Kilcommonbeg lay adjacent to the present day Swiss Cottage, erected in 1810 by the Regency architect John Nash. John Fennell was born in the winter of 1626 in Steeple Ashton in the West England county of Wiltshire. It seems likely that his father Robert Fennell was involved with the woollen industry, the economic staple of Wiltshire since Norman times. On 22nd November 1649, John married Mary Davies of Cardiff, in which city the first six of their nine children were born. Presumably Mary and the children also moved to Tipperary in the lead up to the Restoration. The Fennells of Burtown House, Athy, Co. Kildare are the Colonel's direct descendents. (1b)
Precisely when or why Colonel Fennell came to Ireland is unknown. Wiltshire's proximity to the port at Bristol caused the county untold hardship during the Civil War. Contemporaries talk unceasingly of broken bridges, burning fields, ruined houses and derelict roads awash with homeless civilians, maimed soldiers and destitute widows. The Abbey at Lacock, close to the Fennells home, was one of many buildings in the county alternately occupied by Royalist and Parliamentarian garrisons. In 1649, Cromwell personally took the abbey for the Parliamentarians.
By 1660, the Quakers had established thirty meeting houses in Ireland. Twenty years later, it is estimated that there were 780 Quakers in the country, primarily in Ulster, with 295 in Leinster and 163 in Munster. In 1675, Edmundson's diary recorded a meeting at Colonel Fennell's home. "The wind coming fair we put to sea again [from Tenby] and landed at Cork where Friends were glad of my coming. When I had visited Friends' meetings in that quarter, I went to John Fennell's in company with several Friends, where we had a refreshing, heavenly meeting. Here divers Friends from [the Quaker stronghold of] Mountmellick [Co. Laoise] and thereabouts came to meet me, in whose company I returned home, where I met with my wife and children in the same love of God that had made us willing to part one with another for a season for the Lord's service and truth's sake". (2)
It is not known where Colonel Fennell was living at this time; it may well have been Kilcommonbeg. (3) The Hearth Money Rolls of 1662 state that John Fennell (or rather his tenants) was due to pay an annual tax of ten shillings for his five chimney home at Kilcommonbeg. (4) That he had built such a big house by 1662 suggests Colonel Fennell was a man of some wealth. His religious beliefs were certainly more palatable in the age of Charles II. In the wake of the Restoration, Edmundson and Fox considerably revised the Society's structure, replacing their more radical ideas with a new philosophy encouraging self-censorship and self-discipline. "Plainness in speech, behaviour and apparel" became the Quaker standard. Over time, the Society came under the influence of Quietism, a Spanish form of mysticism, which required the withdrawal of the spirit from all human effort, and complete passivity to God's will.
In 1682, William Penn - a wealthy Quaker who spent much of his younger years in south-east co. Cork - established Pennsylvania as an American state run under Quaker principles. Just over a decade earlier, he visited Colonel Fennell several times, presumably at Kilcommonbeg, near Cahir. Penn kept a daily journal of his travels while in Ireland which was later published as "My Irish Journal" and includes the following that relates to John Fennell.
Oct. 28 - Nov. 2 1669: William Penn traveled to William Lawford's in Clogheen, Tipperary, travelled on to John Fennell's, then to Cashel, Clas (this would be Clas nan Gall (Pit of the Foreigners), the site near Silvermines where a number of miners were murdered in 1641), Thurles, Mountrath (Queen's county), Rosenallis, Mount Mellick, Kildare, Naas and to Dublin where the Friends held a National Meeting. Later he returned to Cork and started his negotiations with his father's tenants in SE Cork.
Jan. 13 1670: Next morning we went to John Fennell's, found Solomon Eccles there. Had a meeting. John Burnyeat and Solomon Eccles spoke. It was a most precious meeting. Many Friends were there, George Baker (of Cashel), John Boles and James Hutchinson etc. (from here Penn returned to Shanagarry)
Feb. 2 - 5, 1670: Penn travelled from Cork to Kinsale, then to Clogheen (Tipperary), on to John Fennell's again and then to George Baker's in Cashel returning to Cork after several days.
Passivity notwithstanding, it must have been difficult for the elderly Colonel Fennell to restrain himself when a Jacobite regiment under Colonel Luttrell laid waste to his lands in the wake of King James II's defeat at the Boyne in 1690. He wrote a scrupulous account of his losses detailing "the best and most or all of our household goods both of woollen and linen, some pewter and brass and all such goods as they could carry away upon horseback's and other way besides silver and brass and some plate that was in the house". He estimated his losses at "not less worth than 300 pounds". He further chronicled several raids by "thieves and rapparee men" - in September 1690, "103 head of black cattle, 24 large oxen, 26 milk cows, 53 steers and heifers all worth 200 pounds then"; in October 1690 "eight cows worth forty shilling" and later on a further "4 cows and 13 yearlings worth 21 pounds". On top of all this personal loss, he stated that he had provided King William's army with 143 pounds worth of corn and hay as well as 44 pounds worth of sheep. In total, he estimated his losses for the year to be approximately 700 pounds, a substantial figure for those times. (5)
Colonel Fennell died in 1706 and was succeeded by his 51-year-old son Joshua Fennell (1655 - 1736) who, in 1718, increased the family lands with the acquisition of 374 acres in nearby Kilcommonmore. In 1683 Joshua married Mary Phelps in Limerick who begat him sixteen children. (6) He died in June 1736 and was buried at Kilcommonbeg. His eldest son, also Joshua Fennell, was born in September 1689, not long after the battle of the Boyne, married three times and died in 1764. His most influential wife was Elizabeth Cook who traveled with him throughout south west Ireland promoting the spiritual essence of Quakerism in village markets and the homes of other Friends. By 1701, there were 53 Quaker meeting houses in Ireland and about 6000 members. The first house to be registered in Youghal was in Bow Street, now Ashe Street, and was done so on 29th January 1719 by William Fennell and Gabriel Clarke.
On account of their refusal to accept the ecclesiastical structure of the now dominant Protestant Church, the Quakers were classified as non-conformists in the 18th century. As such, they were prohibited from involvement with politics and the judiciary. An act of 1715 did allow them to serve in the militia and another in 1723 enabled them to participate in most legal proceedings without taking an oath. But primarily they focused their frugal, clean-living, hard-working minds on education, commerce and keeping a low, if peculiar, profile. They strolled around in plain, drab clothes, eschewing all notions of fashion. They refused to allow any decoration in their homes; even the china cups from which they drank were blank. When they spoke, they insisted on archaic pronouns such as "thou" and "thee", holding that the word "you" be used only when addressing God. The Protestant gentry were baffled by the Quakers refusal to address them by any title such as "Your Honour" or "My Lord". Legal reports from the 18th century are filled with exasperated judges urging a Quaker to remove his hat when seated in court. As church bells rang across the land to celebrate British victories on the battlefields of Europe, Quakers earned themselves considerable scorn by not taking part in the celebration. When the Quakers refused to pay tithes to the Established Church, the Protestant gentry responded with substantial fines and prison sentences. They were not seriously affected by the government ban on non-conformist churches as they believed religious gatherings were dependent on the persons present rather than on any physical building or "minister of God". Meetings were held at random locations monthly and quarterly, as well as at provincial level. Men discussed property; women pondered marriage arrangements and ways of alleviating distress amongst the poor, windows and orphans. It may be assumed the Fennells were regular attendants at these meetings.
By the 1780s, families like the Fennells were managing to sidestep the tithes issue by providing stocks and farm produce to the Church in lieu of money. Many Quaker families now moved on from their humble agricultural origins to become a more middle class body, prominent in textile manufacture, shipping and railway development. (7) Colonel Fennell's descendents moved into the textile industry and seem to have had considerable influence in the town that emerged around Cahir Castle in the late 17th century.
Joshua died in May 1764 and was succeeded by his sixth son William Fennell (1730 - 1808). The following June, William was married in Limerick City to Mary Lucas of Lough Burke, Co. Clare. In 1770, William established a lucrative wool-combing industry in Cahir, leasing part of the castle from Lord Cahir and providing considerable employment to the locality. The finished product was exported through Waterford port to the Gurneys of Norwich. William was subsequently appointed to the committee of the Farming Society of County Tipperary. (8) In the 1770s, William's cousin Joshua Fennell (d. 1830) established an extensive corn-milling operation in the grounds of Cahir Abbey, as well as establishing a Quaker Meeting House in the town. In 1780, William secured a lease on Lord Cahir's lands and a mill at Rehill, just north of Clogheen, Co. Tipperary. He operated this mill in partnership with the Clonmel Quaker, Samuel Rigg. By 1786, the Fennell mills at Cahir and Rehill were providing Dublin with in excess of eighteen hundred pounds of flour - one of the highest yields in Tipperary.
(One of these Fennells presumably sired Patrick Fennell . was born in 1796 in Limerick, Cahermoyle. In 1816 he joined the Young Revolutionist Party and, in 1819, led 400 men into 'Rathcate' (presumably Rathkeale?), a small town outside Limerick. He was arrested and tried for high treason and transported to New South Wales for life. Patrick arrived in Sydney Cove on board the ship “Mangles” in 1822. He went on to find favour in high places and ran a 200 acre farm at Goulburn Plains, New South Wales).
William died on 18th March 1808 aged 78 and was succeeded by his 33-year-old son, also William Fennell (1775 - 1846). On 11th August 1814, William married Susanna Moore in Clonmel with whom he had a large family. Susanna was the eldest of seven daughters born to James Moore of Clonmel, by his wife Susanna (nee Grubb). Little is known of her sisters Hannah (died young), Mary, Elizabeth, Charlotte or Jane Maria, but her third sister Anne married a Charles Wakefield, perhaps setting in motion another strong alliance for the family. Susanna's grandfather Benjamin Moore had married Hannah Fennell the previous century and settled in Waterford; James was their eldest son. (*) This younger William Fennell seems to have been a rather awkward character. In 1844, the benevolent Lord Glengall, successor to the Cahir estates, was obliged to take legal action against William, demanding he "repair the walls" at Rehill and attend to the "wretched state" of the land. William responded with a threat to sub-let the property and fill it with paupers unless Glengall renewed the lease. William died in financial disarray two years later and it seems both his freehold and personal estates were seized to pay his debts. In fairness to William, there was an agricultural recession throughout Europe in the wake of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. (9)
Amongst William the Bad's tenants were the Aherns (Aherne) of Rehill. Perhaps spurred by their landlord’s lousy management skills, and the ongoing recession, some of these Aherns immigrated to Melbourne, Australia in late 1840s, as assisted immigrants. They took up farming at Woolert close to north Melbourne (when the settlement was about 10 years old). The land was obtained by free settlers under government schemes called 'free selection' where small holdings (eg 100 acres) were acquired for a modest deposit and time payment. The idea was to form a 'peasant proprietorship' and life in the early years was hard. Farm income was supplemented by other jobs. Among these new arrivals was Bridget Ahern of Rehill who married a Marstin from London and he 'selected' in Gippsland (Central Victoria) near Traralgon. This information came from their great-great grandson, Peter Marstin.
James Fennell (1816-1890) was the only one of William and Susanna's many children who married. Although he retained an interest in Tipperary until his death - his eldest son, William, was born at Ardfinnan in 1866 - James became increasingly involved with the Quaker community on Co. Down. He later settled at the Victorian flax-spinning village of Bessbrook, just outside Newry, Co. Down. Based originally on water-power from the little Camlough river, Bessbrook was a planned settlement established between 1845 and 1870 by Quaker industrialist John Grubb Richardson. It was the earliest such model town, serving as a prototype for Cadbury's garden village at Bournville. No pub, pawnshop or police station was deemed necessary and the solid slate-roofed weaver's houses were grouped together around two great open squares with a green in the middle. (10).
James Fennell died on 9 October 1890. His widow Jemima Sarah Fennell (nee Wakefield) survived him by over five years and died on 24 May 1896. They had one son and five daughters whose stories are told in more detail in the section after this upcoming one. Their names were:
1) William James Fennell.
2) Marion Fennell.
3) Susan Ada Fennell.
4) Jane Wakefield Fennell.
5) Emma Fennell.
6) Jemima Sarah Fennell.
Linen merchant and porcelain collector
Thomas Christy Wakefield
(1772 - 1861) was
the father of Jemima Fennell.
(Photo courtesy of Sir Humphrey
Wakefield, Chillingham Castle).
It is perhaps a curious twist that the Fennell family, having moved from Tipperary to Down, should subsequently find themselves living at Burtown House outside Ballitore.
The south Kildare village was one of Ireland's most prominent Quaker strongholds. The Griese River Valley wherein it lies was purchased at the end of the 17th century by two prominent Quakers, John Barcroft (1664-1724) and Abel Strettel (1659-1732). These men were contemporaries of Colonel Fennell's son Joshua. It is said they became enchanted by Ballitore's setting while resting their horses on a journey from Dublin to Cork.
1720, a substantial Quaker community was settled in the valley and, in 1726,
the Yorkshire-born Quaker Abraham Shackleton founded the renowned
Ballitore Boarding School. The school was run on Quaker principles but open
to all denominations. Pupils came from as far away as France, Norway and
Jamaica. Perhaps its most illustrious "old boy" was Edmund
Burke, the eminent philosopher and statesman who remained friendly with
the Shackletons for the remainder of his life and often came back to stay
in Ballitore. (11)
In the cruel summer of 1798, Shackleton's granddaughter Mary Leadbetter described in her journal the effects of the United Irishmen's Rebellion on Ballitore. The Quaker community were stunned and shocked by the brutality of the rebellion and its bloody suppression. They refused to take sides, refused to celebrate, refused military protection. Instead they distinguished themselves by taking in the wounded and refugees, irrespective of side. Towards the end of May 1798, a loyalist force, including Orangemen from Tyrone, arrived in Ballitore and launched an unwarranted spate of looting and house-burning. Residents were dragged from their homes and thrashed with whips. Children were mutilated by flying bullets. The local doctor, Dr. Johnston, was taken out and executed. Crops were burned and trees felled. It was nothing short of anarchy. But at length, the soldiers moved on and an uneasy peace returned to the village. The Quaker community was at the forefront when it came to rebuilding the badly damaged village.
Half a century , in 1748, an unknown Englishman visited Ballitore and wrote: "Our eyes were charmed with the sweetest bottom where, through lofty trees, we beheld a variety of pleasant dwellings. Through a road that looked like a fine terrace walk, we turn to this lovely vale, where Nature assisted by Art, gave us the utmost contentment. It is a colony of Quakers, called by the name of Ballitore". The village itself was surrounded by large houses, built by descendents of Barcroft, Strettel,and Shackleton. And then, of course, there was Burtown.
Thanks largely to the sleuthing skills of Aoife FitzGerald, we know a little about what was going on at Burtown during the age of the Tudors, specifically between the years 1549 to 1551. Unsurprisingly this was FitzGerald territory. The property is variously spelled Brytton, Birtown, Berton, Birton, Birdtown and Burtown in the annals.
The earliest records I've come across refer to James Fitzgerald, ancestor of the FitzGeralds of Mullaghmast, Kilmeed and Birtown, all in Co. Kildare, who married Eleanor Fitzgibbon, daughter of the White Knight. James was a brother of Garret Mor, the Great (8th) Earl of Kildare. He was also a brother of Sir Thomas of Lackagh, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1484), who was killed during the Lambert Simnel rising. (See FitzGerald / Leinster).
Following the rebellion of Silken Thomas FitzGerald in 1534, William FitzGerald of Mullaghmast was outlawed for complicity. (1534 Cal. of State papers Irl. 1509-73 page 57).
Ffiteen years later, the family appear to have been forgiven. In 1549, the second year of the young king Edward VI's reign, there is a fiant concerning a 'Pardon to Brian fitzRichard FitzGerald of Brytton [ie Burtown -ed.], John fitzRichard FitzGerald of Malamast [ie: Mullaghmast - ed.], Edmond fitzRichard and Nicholas fitzRichard FitzGerald of Brytton, horsemen sons of Richard fitzEdmond FitzGerald late of Brytton.' (Fiant of Edward VI, No 225, 1549).
In 1550, the Patent and Close Rolls year refer to 'Edward, Nicholas, Bernard/Brean of Brytton and John of Malamast fitzRichard fitzEdmond FitzGerald'. (Patent & Close Rolls, 3rd year of Ed. VI membrane 2 page 172 no 3). Another Fiant of 1550 refers to Nicholas M’Richard M’Edmond FitzGerald of Britton/Brytton Co. Kildare. (Fiant of Edward VI, no177, 1550).
The FitzGeralds were frequently in and out of trouble. On 12 February 1551, there was a "Pardon to Nicholas M'Richard M'Edmond FitzGerald of Brytton Co. Kildare, Lowe M'Donnell, M'Keygho and Walter Wallok both of the same place Keras for having stolen four cows, the property of Molmore Rowe of Bowleybege, provided due restoration be made" (1551 Cal. of the Patent Rolls Henry VIII, Edw VI and Mary and Eliz. 1, 1551, page 239 no 47, Feb. 12. 5; Fiant of Edward VI, No 668, 1551 - Pardon to Nicholas M’Richard M’Edmond FitzGerald of Brytton Co. Kildare 12/2/1550).
Again in 1554 we find a Fiant of Philip and Mary (No 34 1554) pertaining to a "Pardon to Brian fitzRichardFitzGerald of Little Bolyes, John or Shane fitzRichard FitzGerald of Mallamast, Edmund fitzRichard FitzGerald of Kylmyed and Nicholas fitzRichard FitzGerald of Youngeston Gentlemen and brothers of the said Brian. Walter fitzBrian fitzRichard son of the said Brian, Walter fitzJames FitzGerald of Little Bolyes Gentlemen."
These people were presumably deeply involved in the hideous massacre which took place at Mullaghmast on New Years Day 1577 in which over forty men were reputedly killed, including the chiefs of the Seven Septs of Leix - O'Moore, O'Lalor, O'Kelly, O'Doran, O'Dowling, McEvoy and Devoy - and the chiefs of the O'Dunne, O'Molloy, O'Connor and O'More clans. I have written of this event in more depth here.
The FitzGeralds were still in the Mullaghmast area in the summer of 1625. A document (Co. Kildare Ex Inq no 2 of Charles I Naas 13th June 1625) mentions various jurors who say that the late Nicholas fitzRichard FitzGerald late of Kilmeed was, at the time of his death, seized in his domain as offer of the town and lands of Kilmeed containing 2 messuages 140 acres granted (leased?) to him and his heirs by Gerald late Earl of Kildare, on the 10th April 1563 he was also seized of 10 acres great measure in the town and lands of Mollaghmast and that he died on the 10th August that his son and heirs is Thomas FitzGerald of Athy, there aged 30 and married that Egedia, widow of the said Nicholas, died on the 10th December 1620 and that Nicholas Wolfe of Kilcolnran claims the premises in Kilmeed as his by right. That a rent yearly of 6shillings and 8pence olit of Kilmeed is paid to the Earl of Kildare and also a rent out of Mullaghmast.
Robert C. Simington in 'The Civil Survey' (Vol. VIII Co. Kildare 1654 Ir 9149C12) notes that: "Irish papist joint proprietor of Little Birton - William and Brian FitzGerald: Proprietor of Molaghmast William FitzGerald of little Birton papist and Nicholas FitzGerald of Molaghmast Irish papist. The castle on the lands of Molaghmas belongs to William FitzGerald.
In the Cromwellian Survey of 1640, the property passed out of this particular FitzGerald family into a distantly related FitzGerald family, who were also descended from Thomas, 7th Earl of Kildare, but through his first marriage to Dorothy O’More.
The following documents were also pinpointed by Aoife FitzGerald and should prove useful to anyone researching this topic:
Irish Land Commission box 3224D schedule of Document lodged Estate of Caroline Haughton (documents relevant to the FitzGerald’s of Mullaghmast)
1. 5/8/1675 William FitzGerald against Wentworth Earl of Kildare
2. 16/5/1685 William FitzGerald administration with will annexed
3. 13/2/1696 Laurence FitzGerald to James Eustace copy deed settlement
4. 6/3/1696 Laurence FitzGerald's copy of his will
5. 5/1/1697 Laurence FitzGerald copy of probate
6. 1692 Morish fitzEdmond FitzGerald copy letter and Admin
7. 28/5/1698 John FitzGerald Bond and warrant
8. 9/6/1699 John Eustace to John Keegan deeds and mortgage
9. 17/8/1700 Christopher White to John FitzGerald copy articles
10. 24/10/1700 JohnFitzGerald to Patrick Wogan and Ann attached copy settlement
11. 20/5/1702 John FitzGerald to James Eustace copy article
12. 22/3/1703 JohnFitzGerald to Ignatius Fragn lease and release
13. 20/3/1703 same again
14. 10/3/1704 settlement deed official copy and will of John FitzGerald
15. 4/4/1705 John FitzGerald probate and will
16. 21/6/1702 John Nangle to Edmund FitzGerald copy and release
17. 21/6/1707 same copy assignment
18. 26/10/1709 Edmund FitzGerald deed copy admin
19. 7/12/1710 Richard Archbold to Edmund FitzGerald memoranda
20. 24/5/1716 Edmund FitzGerald to Jonathan Nayler bond for £300
21. 7/12/1715 Edmund FitzGerald to Robert Dillon bond for £300
22. 1717 Dillon v FitzGerald cet of ~
23. 10/3/1717 Edmund decd l od admin copy
24. 7/10/1717 Edmund FitzGerald to Hobart Dillon copy mortgage
25. 26/10/1717 Edmond FitzGerald to John Butler bond for £150
26. 2/4/1726 Edm. FitzGerald to Terence Geoghegan
27. 21/8/1729 Dillon v Edm FitzGerald
28. 27/11/1729 Edmond FitzGerald
29. 30/5/1730 Edm FitzGerald to Wm Cooper1731 Edm FitzGerald and another to Wm Cooper30/8/1739 Geoghegan v FitzGerald
30. 26/12/1771 Edm FitzGerald to Hubert Dillon
31. 1794 search for mortgage etc
32. 1789 state of title
33. Additional case relative to title of Mullaghmast
34. Abstract of Title
35. Draft schedule o Encumbrance
36. 1699 James Eustace to John Keige
Burtown House was built in about 1710 by Robert Power at which time it was known as Power's Grove. (12) The Powers may have acquired Burtown from a George Noble who was attainted (ie: stripped of his land and position) for supporting the pro-Catholic James II in 1689. (13)
We know little of the original Robert Power but another Robert Power of Powers Grove was made Sheriff of Co. Carlow in 1781. In 1779, Captain Robert Power of Powersgrove or Birtown Little commanded both the Castledermot Volunteers (which he raised in 1779) and the Castledermot Cavalry. It sounds like Burtown was quite a party house in those days as, in the Annals of Ballitore, Mary Ledbetter writes: "A young officer of Colonel Keatinge's regiment, after dining at Power's Grove and leaving it at a late hour, or rather early next morning, was thrown from his horse in a state of intoxication, and lived but a few days. He was the second who lost his life by the mistaken hospitality of that house."
Robert Power died aged 60 on 30th May 1795 and is buried in a small graveyard across the road from Burtown. Also buried here is Martha Power (possibly his mother) who died aged 80 on 25th June 1792 and Miss Mary Drought who died aged 50 in September 1792.(13b)
Note this report from 1808 regarding road repairs in and around Power's Cross, Moone and Kilkea, which refers to J. Christie as well as T.J. Rawson and E. Shekleton [sic].
Burtown later passed to the Houghton or Haughton family. A hand-written family tree at Burtown pinpoints the earliest association between this family and Burtown as Thomas Haughton (1738-1816) who died in Lurgan in December 1816 and whose will was proven on 23 June 1816. His name appears on the tree alongside the name 'Burtown' and his wife Miss [Hannah] Druitt. Born in Claumore on 10 October 1783, Thomas was the son of businessman and farmer Benjamin Haughton (1705-1777) of Waterstown, County Westmeath, by his wife Elizabeth Pierson (1708-1779).
It is to be noted that Benjamin Haughton's place of death when he died in 1777 is given as Mullaghmast, which stands alongside Burtown. Benjamin was the youngest son of Isaac Haughton (1663-1738) of Orton, Cumberland, who died in Knocknagaley, near Edenderry, by his wife Eleanor Wilson from Little Langdale, Westmoreland.
In fact, the Haughtons were in the Burtown neighbourhood from at least 1741 when Thomas's younger brother Isaac was born at Mullaghmast; he died aged 14 in 1855. Thomas's other brothers were born at Mullaghmast, including Samuel Pierson Haughton (1748-1828) who was the father of James Haughton (1795-1873), the Ballitore-educated social reformer and temperance activist, and a grandfather of the scientist Samuel Haughton (1821-1897).
By his first marriage to Mary Anne Manly (1753-1812), Thomas Haughton had one son Wilcocks Haughton.
By his second marriage to Hannah Druitt (daughter of Thomas Druitt and Elizabeth Turner), Thomas Haughton had one daughter Deborah Haughton (1740-1848). She was married twice and she had just one surviving child, a daughter called Mary Ann Wilcocks by her first husband Thomas Wilcocks. It looks like the Wilcocks marriage settlement was dated 24th and 25th October 1797, so keep an eye out for that document which may reveal more. After his death, Deborah married Benjamin Ball junior.
I would imagine Burtown therefore passed down the line from Thomas Haughton via his only child Deborah to her only surviving child Mary Ann Wilcocks who married Thomas Christy Wakefield Junior. Their marriage settlement seems to be dated 14 September 1817, so just over a year after Mary Ann's grandfather died.
In the mid 19th century, the property passed to Edward Thomas Wakefield (1821-1896), son of Thomas Christy Wakefield Junior and his wife Mary Ann. According to the British Census of 1881, 57-year-old Edward Thomas Wakefield was born in Harmar, Ireland. However, I have seen his place of birth given elsewhere as in Leeson Street, Dublin. His date of birth is given as 24th January 1821.
In about 1845 Edward Wakefield was married in Trinity College Dublin to a 20-year-old English girl, Mary Jane Unett. Their daughter, Marion Charlotte Wakefield, was christened in Bristol on 18th December 1850. They are thought to have had a second daughter Florence. In anticipation of inheriting Burtown from his from his maternal Grandmother's family, he changed his name to 'Edward Wakefield Haughton'.
It is not known when exactly Edward died but his cause of death was apparently recorded by the Quakers as the result of an evil-minded cricket ball. As such, Burtown passed to his sister Jemima Fennell, wife of James Fennell.
Quite why Marion and Florence were left out of the loop is unknown. There are reports of a Marion Wakefield living in somewhat reduced circumstances in Cloncore, Co. Armagh. This Marion had a sister named Florence and is believed to have been the daughter of Edward Thomas Wakefield.
Burtown must have been rented out in the 1860s and 1870s to a series fo different families - Paterson, Slator Rooke, Eckford, D'Arcy - or else it was a popular place to hang out and have babies. James proposes that maybe the house was too big for Quakers and they moved to Rathside although the earlist newspaper reference I have to Fennells in Rathside is 1891.
However, the Haughtons were evidently still major players at this point, as per this advertisement for lands at Mullaghmast, which appeared in the Leinster Leader on Saturday 17 October 1891. (One wonders if the dwelling-house mentioned is Rathside ...).
COUNTY OF KILDARE
For Sale by Private Treaty
Order of the Administratrix of the late Thomas Walsh, of Mullaghmast,
In One Lot.
PARTS of the Lands of Mullaghmast, in the Barony of Kilkea and Moone, in the County of Kildare, containing in the 155a 3r 29p Irish measure or thereabouts,held under Leasee bearing date the 3rd January, 1883, made to the late Thomas Walsh, for a term of 31 years from 1st May, 1883, subject to the gross rent of £206 13s 7d, but which rent the landlord, Samuel Wilifred Haughton, Esq., of Carlow, has agreed to reduce to £l80 a year to an approved and solvent purchaser.
The Lands adjoin the celebrated Rath of Mullaghmast, and are well known as some of the best in the county of Kildare. They have been in the possession of the Walsh family for over a century. About 40 acres of the lands are of the best and earliest fattening and finishing grass Lands in the neighbourhood. About 15 acres are in tillage, and the residue consist of first-class feeding Lands tor both cattle and sheep.
The Farm is easily approached on every side, being almost surrounded by public roads, and there is an abundant supply of water on the Lands, which are well fenced and sheltered.
The Dwelling-house is nicely situated, and the Offices are substantial, and are suitable to amixed tillage and feeding farm.
The Lands lie within half a mile of the thriving village of Ballytore, six miles from Athy, Baltinglass, and Dunlavin, eight miles from Kicullen, ten miles from Carlow, eleven miles from Newbridge, and fifteen miles from Naas, and are within three miles of Colbinstown, a station on the Baitinglass Branch of the Great Southern and Western Railway.
No Farm better circumstanced, with immediate possession, subject to a very moderate rent, and held under a kind and indulgent landlord has recently been offered for sale the county.
Private Proposals for the purschase will be received by the undersigned up to One o clock pm, on Monday, the 26th day of October, 1891, when, if a suitable offer shall have been received, the purchaser shall be declared.
For further particulars and cards to view apply to:
WILLIAM MOONEY, & SON, Solicitors,
16 Fleet-street, Dublin; and Mullingar.
James and Jemima Fennell had a son, William James Fennell (1866-1928), and five daughters, Marion, Susan Ada, Jane Wakefield, Emma and Jemima Sarah.
William, a farmer, was born at Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary, on 15th July 1866.
On 13th August 1890, seven weeks before his fathers' death, he married Isabel Shackleton at St Mullins Church, Timolin, Co. Kildare. (14) She was a daughter of Richard Ebenezer Shackleton of Belan Lodge, Moone, Co. Kildare, and first cousin of the great Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Her grandson William Fennell recalled her as "deeply religious" and "a noted gardener to the end of her days - my abiding memory is of her kneeling and weeding in her beloved rock garden".
William James was appointed a Justice of the Peace in the 1920s, becoming the first member of the Quaker family to participate in a military, political or judicial career in more than 250 years. Family legend has it that William, "a keen horseman, was asked to leave the Quaker persuasion because of his fondness for driving a carriage with uniformed flunkeys on the back". He died aged 62 in 1928. His widow appears to have carried on living at Burtown House. She survived her husband by eighteen years and died in 1946.
William and Isabel Fennell had two sons - William James (Jim) and Richard - and four daughters.
The younger son, Richard Fennell, moved from Kildare to South Africa when a young man and settled in the majestic Valley of the 1000 Hills in Natal. In 1927 he married a Durban girl Muriel Patricia (Pat) Williams.
His sister May Fennell (Mary) also moved to South Africa and, in 1915, married Captain Thomas Wilfred Reynolds, son of the sugar magnate Charles Partridge Reynolds, owner of the Sezela Sugar Estates and a close friend of Prime Minister Louis Botha. Legend has it that Charles was wanted by the South African government for mistreatment of slaves and ran away to Mexico. He is, said to have been murdered by the jealous husband of a woman he was having an affair with. His body was apparently pickled and returned to South Africa for burial in the Reynolds family graveyard. Charles was a brother of Arthur Titren Reynolds who died young out hunting. He is said to have been crossing a stile when his gun went off. He was a friend of Lord Baden-Powell and a photograph exists of his daughter Bessie in B-P's lap. Among Thomas's five siblings were Lillian and someone who married a Bonham-Carter.
Another sister, Wenda Fennell (Gwendolen), married Major Lionel Peel Yates, Chief Constable of Dorset; their son Larry (Henry Lawrence) Yates married a daughter of Admiral Sir Lumley Lyster, who commanded the raids on the Italian naval bases in Ethiopia in 1940.
The eldest sister Eirene Fennell ran an egg enterprise at Burtown during the Great War and died unmarried. Bill Martin, who appeared in the fourth volume of 'Vanishing Ireland', has memories of her which were recorded in an interview with James and Turtle in 2012.
The youngest sister, Isabel Fennell, married a decorated hero of the Great War, Brigadier William (Bobby) Robinson, MC.
The eldest son William James (Jim) Fennell was born at Rathside, a dower house near Ballitore, on 18th June 1897. He was educated at Charterhouse from 1911 to 1914, being in Robinites (LQ1911- SQ14). He then served with the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War, arriving into France on 2nd October 1915 and subsequently being awarded as 1915 Star. Alas, this most brutal of wars was all about artillery. It was the bombs and mortars that terrified and terrorized the soldiers and citizens of Europe, the exploding shrapnel that caused the greatest injury and loss of life. Jim started as 2nd Lieutenant but was later promoted to Lieutenant. He survived the war and returned to Ireland. He may have left the army on 2nd March 1922.
On 24th February 1936, Jim was married in Hong Kong to Cynthia
Maud Allen, daughter of Charles Turner (C.T.) Allen of Kidborough
Farm in Sussex, a property later owned by the Beegees guitarist Maurice
Gibb. Their His marriage was recorded in The Carthusian of March 1936 as follows:
FENNELL—ALLEN.—On February 24th, at Hong- Kong Cathedral, Captain William James Fennell, Royal Artillery, elder son of the late Mr. W. J. Fennell, of Burtown House, Athy, Ireland, and of Mrs. Fennell, to Cynthia Maud, elder daughter of Mr. Charles T. Allen, C.I.E., and Mrs. Allen, of Warninglid, Sussex, and Cawnpore, India.
Jim continued his service in the Royal Artillery as a Lieutenant Colonel during the Second World War, he had a son William, and two daughters, Cecilia and Frances. He retired from the army in 1945. He died at Burtown on 17th February 1963 and was succeeded by his only son William, then 21 years old. His widow, Cynthia passed away at Curragh Lawn in November 1994. Cecilia, their eldest child, worked for the King and Queen of Greece but died of cancer aged 32.
James Fennell, the present master of
Burtown House, is one of Ireland's
leading photographers and a frequent
collaborator with Turtle Bunbury.
Jim and Cynthia's only son William Moore Fennell was born in Ireland on 2nd August 1941. Like his father, he went to Charterhouse and he was also in Robinites House (CQ 1955-CQ 1959). He then went to Cirencester. In 1963, the 22-year-old succeeded his late father as head of the family.
On 22nd June 1968, Will Fennell married the artist Lesley Walsh at Trinity College Chapel. Lesley is a daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel John (Mainwaring) Walsh and his wife, Wendy Walsh, the celebrated botanical artist who passed away in 2014. You can read her obituary from The Irish Times at this link.
Will Fennell passed away in the early hours of Saturday 1st November 2008. He was survived by his wife Lesley and their three children - Harriet, James and Becky.
Harriet is married to Piers Landseer and lives between Prague, London and Ireland. They have a daughter, Phoebe.
Becky is married to the writer Nick Wilkinson and lives in County Meath with their son Jasper and daughter Poppy.
James Fennell, the present head of the family, is one of Ireland's foremost photographers. He studied at Ireland's College of Marketing and Design before working as an apprentice to leading international fashion photographer Perry Ogden. James set up on his own as a freelance photographer in 1996. He specializes in interiors, portraits and travel photography, working with leading publications worldwide. His knowledge of locations in Ireland is highly prized by many in the Irish media. His books, include 'The Irish Pub', the 'Vanishing Ireland' series, 'Living in Sri Lanka', 'The Irish Country House', 'The English Country House' and 'Irish Furniture'. He lives in Burtown House with his wife Joanna, two daughters Bella and Mimi, and son, William. See the James Fennell Website for more.
With thanks to the late William Fennell, Harriet Landseer, James Fennell, Jonathan Shackleton, Aoife FitzGerald, Bobby Ashe, Peter Must, Sir Humphry Wakefield, Naomi Lloyd, Hillary Lamb, Andrew Bunbury, Jeff Record, Robert Moore, Ron Knight, Emily Holme, John Knightly, Peter Marstin, Emily Holme, Dr RS Harrison, Gillian Fennell, Catherine Smith (Charterhouse Archivist) and Tom Russell.
The Richardsons of Bessbrook - Ulster Quakers in the linen industry (1845-1921), Richard S Harrison.
This study in Irish commercial and industrial history has as its core theme the Richardsons of Bessbrook, Co. Armagh, one of the several Irish Quaker families of Ulster and the Lagan valley who were involved in the linen industry from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. The Richardson linen-spinning enterprise at Bessbrook was set up as the Great Famine of 1845-49 threatened. In their purpose-built town they endeavoured to promote the best conditions for their workers, as well as for the productivity of their firm. Although this study is primarily a business history, the introduction brings out the philanthropic and physical background of Bessbrook. John G. Richardson its founder, was a promoter of temperance and his son, James N. Richardson III, was elected in 1880, as Liberal MP for Co. Armagh.
Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers (Second edition, 2008),
Richard S. Harrison.
This revised and expanded second edition of a book first published in 1997 offers sketches of a wide range of Irish Quakers, mostly 18th- and 19th-century figures. The information provided in these biographical pieces is a mixture of family history, information on commercial life and anecdotal material. In addition to the expected entries for different Bewleys, Pims, Jacobs, Newsoms, Richardsons and others, there are many names listed not now remembered as Quakers. It covers Quakers from all four provinces and most major towns and cities are well as Quakers who emigrated to North America. Coffee merchants, grocers, soap-boilers, spademakers and others emerge in a lively, familiar way. Activists in concerns dear to Quakers are here, in anti-slavery, prison reform, famine relief, anti-hanging and temperance. Whilst many English and American Quakers are remembered internationally, Irish Quakers are mainly of significance in Irish history, but even then they reveal numerous traits shared with a wider Quakerdom, in its emigration patterns, its transatlantic, commercial and philanthropic links. Richard S. Harrison is a member of the Religious Society of Friends and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He has written several books on Quaker business and Cork themes. This book is now available through all good bookshops. Copies are also available at a 10% discount via www.fourcourtspress.ie
The Annals of Ballitore: Being a Compiliation of Mary Leadbeater's 'Annals of Ballitore' and Betsy Shackleton's 'Ballitore Seventy Years Ago', by Mario Corriean (Editor), Karel Kiely (Editor), Michael Kavanagh (Editor)
1a. The jury is out about Pimms No. 1 which was the creation of James Pimm, a tenant farmer from Kent; his son Richard may have been employed as an apprentice by Samuel Haughton, a Quaker, on the construction of the Dublin-Kingstown line.
1b. It would be interesting to establish a connection between Colonel Fennell,
the Parliamentarian, and Major Fennell, the Confederate officer arrested
for treason in 1650. On April 27th 1650, Cromwell arrived at Clonmel
with a view to eliminating the town's 12,000 strong Confederate garrison.
Major Fennell accepted £500 Sterling from Cromwell and opened the
gates to a force of 500 parliamentarians. However, Black Hugh O'Neill, the
Confederate leader, discovered the plot, shut the gate and arrested Fennell.
The 500 soldiers were slaughtered while Fennell confessed on promise of
a pardon. Over the next two weeks, Cromwell failed to capture Clonmel, losing
2500 men - more than he had lost at all his other battles in Ireland combined.
2. A Journal of the Life of William Edmundson: A Servant of the Living God and a Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ.
3. There is also mention in this period of a Robert Fennell, possibly
the Colonel's brother, overseeing the construction of the original Charleville
Castle at Rathuirc, Co. Cork, in 1661. This Robert appears to have served
in the Parliamentarian army of Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, an
eminent statesman and playwright whose brother Robert Boyle was the famous
physicist who established Boyle's Law. One wonders is this the same Robert
Fennell, merchant, of the North Abbey, Shandon, County Cork, who reported
financial losses in the aftermath of the 1641 Rising. (Cork County Depositions,
Trinity College Dublin).
4. "Quakers in Ireland", Isabel Grubb (London, 1926), pp.
5. In 1662 the Irish Parliament declared that every dwelling in Ireland
be subject to a tax of two shillings per hearth. This tax was to be paid
by the tenants, not the landlords. As such, Colonel Fennell need not have
worried unnecessarily that his residence at Kilcommonbeg boasted five hearths.
6. "Tipperary Families: Being the Hearth Money Records for 1665-1667",
Thomas Laffan. (Dublin, 1911).
7. As there are now over one hundred Fennells in Ireland, it may be assumed
the other sons settled elsewhere and sired families of their own. Colonel
Fennell's descendents seem to have had considerable influence in the town
that emerged around Cahir Castle in the late 17th century.
8. In 1831, Quaker businessmen continued to show their commercial mettle
by launching such profitable enterprises as the Dublin & Kingstown Railway
Line and the St George Steam Packet Company. Others became active in promoting
prison reform and the abolition of slavery and warfare.
9. Clonmel Gazette, 2 - 6 April 1803.
10. For this and many other references, I am indebted to Michael Ahern's
article, "The Fennells of Cahir".
11. Another Quaker prominent in Bessbrook in 1869 was Henry Barcroft
of the Bessbrook Spinning Company who in 1869 patented the Bessbrook
self-twilling machine which greatly aided the process of damask weaving.
It proved enormously popular and Bessbrook's linen damasks made a great
impact at the international exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. "The
Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland", WA McCutcheon (Associated
University Presses, 1984), p. 307.
12. Shackleton's school closed down in 1836 but the local economy picked up again with the construction of the Crookstown Mill by John Bonham in the 1840s. The population of the village was 441 in 1841 (as compared to 290 in 1986).
13. According to the following extract from "Illustrations, historical and genealogical, of King James's Irish army list, 1689" about CAPTAIN JOHN NOBLE: "At the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Richard Noble of Dublin married Maria Ryan, heiress of a castle and some premises at Naas, in the County of Kildare. This officer [ie: Capt. James Noble], it would seem, was a descendant of that marriage, and the inquisition had on his attainder described him as John Noble of Blackhall, County of Kildare; while a Greorge Noble of Birtown, in the same county, was also then attainted. So early as in the reign of Edward the First, Philip le Noble appears on Irish record, and in the time of Henry the Fourth, John Noble was the incumbent of Drumcar, County of Louth." As it happens, Drumcar was later home to the McClintock family and the 1st Baron Rathdonnell.
Birtown Churchyard. "This burial-ground is pear-shaped, and enclosed by a wall; there are but few
inscribed stones in it, and the only trace left of the former church is a cut-
stone door-jamb now used as a headstone. The house called in the inscription
Power's Grove is now known as Birtown House. The place where the Powers were
formerly buried is marked by two table-tombs bearing the following
" Here Lieth trie Body of Mrs. MARTHA POWER of | Power's Grove, who departed this Life the 25th | Day of Iune 1792 in the Eightieth year of her | Age. Here also Lies the Body of Miss MARY | DROUGHT who departed this Life the ..Day of | September 1792 In the Fiftyeth year of her Age."
"Sacred to the Memory of ROBERT POWER | Esqr. of Powers Grove who departed this Life | the 30th Day of May 1795, Aged 60 years."
'In the field in which the above burial ground is situated there is also a Pagan burial moat'
From: Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland FHL# 1279252
The Drought family were evidently closely connected as the abstracts at http://www.scribd.com/doc/55986663/Will-Abstracts-in-the-Genealogical-Office-Dublin,also indicate their connections to Burtow ... this may yield further clues about how the land passed from Power to Wakefield.
14. The Haughtons were a Quaker family in Kildare and may have had a connection
to the Haughton Mills in Celbridge. There may also be a connection
to Samuel Haughton, President of the Royal Irish Academy from 1886
to 1891, and twenty years secretary of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland.
15. James and Jemima Fennell are buried in the Friend's Meeting House graveyard