Leslie Ellis of Magherymore, Co. Wicklow
FROM 'THE LANDED GENTRY & ARISTOCRACY OF CO. WICKLOW' BY TURTLE BUNBURY & ART KAVANAGH (IRISH FAMILY NAMES, 2005).
“Non Sine Jure” (Not without right)
The Leslie Ellis family descends from Sir Thomas Ellis or Ellys of Wyham, a small village near Louth in North Lincolnshire. He was Deputy for Francis Manners, Earl of Rutland, Lord Deputy of Lincolnshire from 1612. As a young man, Rutland was imprisoned alongside his brothers for supporting the Earl of Essex’s ill-fated 1601 rebellion against Queen Elizabeth’s government. However, with the support of the Cecils, he swiftly regained favour and rose to become a prominent courtier during the reign of King James.[i] As Rutland’s Deputy, Sir Thomas almost certainly encountered King James during the Scottish-born monarchs many visits to Rutland’s home at Belvoir. Sir Thomas was created a baronet on 30th June 1660. His grandson, Sir Richard Ellis of Wynham in Lincolnshire, was a zealous non-conformist and author of a book entitled Fortuita Sacra which is extremely rare. Sir Richard was returned to Parliament twice for Grantham, and three times for Boston, commencing in 1722.
Sir Thomas’s fifth son, John, was father of the first Ellis to settle in Ireland. “Thomas Ellis of Monaghan, Gentleman” was born in about 1650 and settled in Ireland during the latter years of Charles II’s reign. He was one of the names on James II’s Act of Attainder. He married twice and had numerous children by both marriages. Thomas died on 9th August 1714, less than two weeks after the Hanoverian Elector was crowned King George I. He was succeeded by his 31-year-old son Francis, born from Thomas’s first marriage to a woman of unknown identity.[ii] The following year, Francis married Joan Maxwell.
Francis and Joan had several children but the two of most interest are Henry Ellis who, as Governor of Georgia, preserved peace with the Indians and helped Georgia achieve its first period of prosperity, and Robert, scion of the Leslie-Ellis family. Henry Ellis was born on 29th August 1721 and raised in Co. Monaghan. Francis was said to have been a dark and moody father and, in about 1738, his teenage first-born took leave and set forth on the high seas. He swiftly mastered the science of navigation and the art of mapmaking and, at the age of twenty-five, was offered the position of scientific observer on a ship bound for Hudson's Bay in a search for the Northwest Passage. His subsequent book about the voyage earned for him an audience with Frederick, Prince of Wales, the patronage of Lord Halifax, president of the Board of Trade; and membership in the prestigious Royal Society. He went to sea again as the captain of the trading vessel Earl of Halifax and carried out a series of experiments for members of the Royal Society.
From 1750 until 1755 Ellis operated as a slave trader, importing cargoes of slaves from Africa to Jamaica. The slaves he brought were generally men who had already lost their freedom because of war, crime, or debt. Ellis personally negotiated their purchase with the relevant African chieftains. Unlike many practitioners of the trade, he exercised the slaves on deck and fumigated their quarters below deck. He reported that none of the 312 slaves he carried in 1754 died on the passage from Africa.
During the late 1750s, Britain was desperate to show itself as an empire of sound colonial moral. As such, Lord Halifax, President of the Board of Trade, was deeply concerned about Governor John Reynolds of the colony of Georgia who had been making a terrible mess of things. Halifax resolved to send Ellis to replace Reynolds and so, in February 1757, the Monaghan man took up office in Savannah. His diplomatic tact soon quelled the factionalism that had been rife under Reynold’s term and, in 1758, he divided the colony into eight separate parishes, each one being invited to send delegates to an assembly. With the outbreak of war in North America between the French and British colonial armies, Ellis went out of his way to win the confidence of the heads of the Creek Nation. Working with both the chiefs and influential traders, he paved the way for a peaceful relationship between the Creek Nation and the British settlers to such an extent that many Creek warriors actively defended Georgia against incursions by the Cherokees in the winter of 1759-60.
With his health in rapid decline, Ellis was obliged to abandon Georgia in November 1760. He immediately embarked for New York where he secured from General Jeffrey Amherst a promise to send military assistance for the southern colonies. Lord Halifax rewarded him with the governorship of Nova Scotia.[iii] As it happens, Ellis never actually visited the province, having been summoned back to London to explain the state of American affairs to Lord Egremont, the cabinet minister for America. As a result Ellis played a key role in formulating American policy and particularly in the successful British conquest of Cuba. He also advised Britain to return Cuba to Spain in exchange for Florida, thus removing a Spanish threat from Georgia's borders. His friendship with the Indians persisted and, in 1763, he masterminded a historic royal proclamation that effectively drew a line down the Appalachian mountain range and forbade any settlement to the west of the mountains, thereby protecting Indian lands and trade. Ellis resigned from public affairs soon after and retired to life as a man of letters. He died on 21st January 1806 in Naples, Italy, at the age of 85. [iv]
The Ellis’s & the Leslies
Meanwhile, Henry’s younger brother Robert, born in January 1726, settled at Draper Hill, Lisnaskea, a plantation town with a flourishing flax industry, located midway between Clones and Enniskillen. He married Penelope Leslie (d. July 1823), daughter of the Reverend Alexander Leslie of Aghnaloo, Co. Fermanagh. Penelope’s grandfather, the Rev. William Leslie, was Rector of Aghavea for 50 years and descended from Alexander Leslie, 4th Baron Pitcaple, of the House of Bartolf. Robert Ellis succeeded to the family estate in Monaghan on his fathers’ death in the summer of 1773.
Robert Leslie-Ellis – The Cambridge Connection
Robert died nine years later, having had issue four sons and four daughters.[v] The eldest son, Francis Ellis (1772 – 1842) moved to England and settled on the prestigious Royal Crescent in Bath. He married Mary, daughter of William Kilbee, and had three sons and three daughters, none of whom seem to have lived very long. Their eldest son Henry William served with the 60th Regiment but died unmarried aged 32 shortly before his father’s demise. The second son Francis served with the 75th Regt and married Maria Ford but died without issue aged 31 a year after his father. The third and youngest son, Robert Leslie Ellis was a highly distinguished Cambridge mathematician and died unmarried on 12 May 1859 aged 42. The eldest daughter Everina was married at St. George’s Church, Mayfair, in December 1834 to Sir Gilbert Affleck, 5th Bart, of Dalham Hall near Newmarket, Suffolk. Cecil Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia, later purchased Dalham Hall. Indeed, the multi-millionaire purchased Dalham Hall without actually visiting it – he just saw some photos and the gamebooks, read that 1700 partridge had been shot in the first four days of the season, and signed a check! The property is now a major British stud.
After Sir Gilbert’s death in 1854, his widow, Everina, married an exceptionally gifted man by name of William Whewell. The Rev. Whewell was one of those characters who absorbs information on just about every topic, writing extensively on subjects as diverse as mechanics and church architecture, the English hexameter and the plurality of worlds. In 1841 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and it may well be that Everina met him through her mathematician brother, Robert, also a Trinity man. Whewell died in 1866, a year after Everina, following a fall from his horse.[vi] Everina’s younger sister Penelope married the Hampshire landowner Edward Wilberforce Unwin while the youngest sister Mary Jane died unmarried in 1831.[vii]
Robert and Penelope’s second son, Henry, was just eight years old when he succeeded to the family estate in 1782. Shortly before Christmas 1810, the 36 year old married Elizabeth Cupples, daughter of a clergyman by name of Thomas Cupples of Lisburn, Co. Antrim. Henry and Elizabeth lived at Mount Stewart in Co. Dublin where they raised five sons and four daughters. It is not clear what the origins of the October 1837 tragedy might have been but in that month, the Ellis’s lost 12-year-old Alexander, 6-year-old Theophilus and their baby daughter Sarah. Perhaps the family were one of the latter victims of the great Asiatic Cholera Pandemic which began in 1826 and was still prevalent in Ireland in the winter of 1837. But together with the loss of their eldest son, 23-year-old, Henry in the spring of 1835, these must have been trying times for the family.
On the plus side, the surviving siblings were all married and had children. We will turn to the eldest surviving son, Robert Francis Ellis anon. His younger brother, Thomas Cupples Ellis, was born shortly before Daniel O’Connell secured the emancipation of the Irish Catholics in 1829. On 21st June 1860 he married Augusta, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Lancaster, Rector of Grittleton, Wilts.[viii] Their third son, Ernest Ellis, JP, FSI, was born in 1867, practiced as a chartered accountant and lived at St. Austin’s outside Gorey, Co. Wexford. On American Independence Day 1894, he married Harriet Johnson-Smyth and had a daughter, Eva. Harriet’s father Matthew lived at Ingram on Lisburn’s Harmony Hill in Co. Antrim; this was a largely Presbyterian community given to farming and linen manufacture.[ix] On February 5th 1900, Harriet’s brother, Major Thomas Johnson-Smyth was killed in action fighting the Boers in the operations on the Upper Tugela.
As to Robert and Thomas’s three surviving sisters, Jane married the Rev. Isaac Ashe, Rector of Kildress, Co. Tyrone; Penelope married the Rev Richard Christie, Rector of the pretty village of Castlecombe in Wiltshire (not far from her sister in law Augusta’s home in Grittleton) and the third, Elizabeth, married Rear Admiral John Adams, sometime Governor of Ascension Island. His was not necessarily the most jovial of postings. Ever since Napoleon’s death, the small turtle-plenty volcanic island had been used as a quarantine grounds for crews with yellow fever, with a small station for the provision of supplies.
Robert Ellis of Magherymore
Henry Ellis died aged 72 on 27th April 1848 and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 26-year-old Robert Francis Ellis. Robert was only 15-years-old when his three siblings died in October 1837. Four years later he enrolled at Trinity College Dublin from where he graduated with a BA in the spring of 1845. On 25th March 1851 he married Elizabeth Mary Hawkins (d. 28 March 1883). She was the only daughter of Dublin barrister James Hawkins (1797 – 1880) of St. Fenton’s, Baldoyle, Co. Dublin by his wife, Isabella Law.[x] Robert settled at Sea Park (now called Magherymore), Co. Wicklow. Magherymore means “great field of adoration”.[xi] He served as JP and High Sheriff for Co. Monaghan (1867) and Wicklow (1868). According to the 1876 census, Robert’s Wicklow estates amounted to 1197 acres. His son Frances died aged 23 shortly before Christmas 1878, his mother passed on the following summer and his wife passed away in March 1883. At Robert’s death on 12th January 1899, he left four surviving sons and a daughter.
To the elder son, Lt Col Henry Leslie Ellis , we will return anon. The second son Robert Leslie Ellis was married aged 31 in the summer of 1884 to Emily Eleanor (d. 25 Aug 1910), daughter of Col. Robert George Archibald Hamilton Gun-Cuninghame, DL, of Mount Kennedy, Co. Wicklow. He died on 25th September 1903 and Eleanor followed seven years later. They had no surviving children. Another son Alexander Ellis was born in November 1856 and died unmarried in South America. The youngest son William Whewell Leslie carried the name of his cousin Everina Whewell but also died unmarried on 10 June 1906 aged 47. The only daughter Emily was born in 1864 and married on 6th January 1897 to Richard Middleton Hill, BA, of Dilton Ley, Limpley Stoke, Bath. Richard’s father, Canon R H Hill, was sometime Headmaster of Beaumaris Grammar School in Anglesea. Two years after their marriage, Richard was appointed Chief Constable of Cornwall. They had a son, Richard, and two daughters Maria and Doreen.
Colonel Henry Leslie Ellis
Born on 10th February 1852, Colonel Henry Leslie Ellis was 47-years-old when he succeeded his father at Magherymore (formerly Sea Park), Co. Wicklow. Educated at Harrow and the Royal Military College Sandhurst he served first with the Inniskilling Dragoons (obtaining rank of Major) and later rose to become Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Bucks Hussars. In Ireland, he served as a JP, DL and HS (1902) for Co. Wicklow. He was also a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquarians. On 7th April 1894 he married Margaret Rolleston, daughter of Rev. Septimus Rolleston, Rector of the Cornish village of St. Minver. The family seems to have had a strong link to Cornwall at this time; two years later, Henry’s sister married Richard Hall, the future Chief Constable of the county.
There was an enlisting site at Magherymore. One of those to sign up here was 17-year-old Robert Bell of Templemore, Co. Tipperary. A private in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, he was killed in a gas attack on Mousetrap Farm in the Ypres on 24th May 1915.
In January 1918 the trade union movement that had been growing in Ireland since before the war made its presence felt at Magherymore. Encouraged by the newly formed “County Wicklow General Labourer’s Association”, the farm labourers went on strike for eleven weeks. The union was objecting to Colonel Leslie-Ellis’s employment of non-union labour. Henry died on 12th April 1918 and Margaret on 13th May 1931.
Magherymore in the 21st Century
Henry and Margaret had three sons and a daughter. The eldest son Francis Rolleston Leslie was born on 14th January 1895. He inherited Magherymore on his father’s death in 1918 but, with Anglo-Irish hostilities breaking into open warfare, he seems to have left Ireland and leased the house to a doctor who housed psychiatric patients there. Francis later moved to Illinois and died unmarried in Chicago on 1st November 1939. The second son, Lance, ultimately succeeded and is dealt with anon. The third son Charles Stanhope Ellis, was born in November 1904 and married on 6th April 1940 to Joan Mary Nash, daughter of Arthur Nash of Knightsbridge. They had a daughter, Margaret Ellis, born on 12th September 1944. Henry and Margaret’s only daughter, Joan Leslie, was born on 26th February 1898 and married at the age of 23 during the same week of December 1921 that British and Irish delegates agreed to the Treaty that ended the Anglo-Irish War. Her husband was Robert Kenneth Atthill Kennedy of Leskinfere, Gorey, Co. Wexford. Robert’s father, the Rev. Mervyn le Ban Kennedy, was Rector of Concordia in Argentina in 1904 but subsequently returned to look after the rectory at Kilmeaden in Co. Waterford.
The eventual heir, “Lance” (John Lancelot) Leslie Ellis, was born on 4th March 1902 and educated at Castle Park, Dalkey, and Woodseat, Staffordshire. Perhaps this had something to do with his Rolleston cousins as the village of Rolleston is also in Staffordshire. His father died while he was still at Woodseat in 1918. On 24th April 1928 Lance married his cousin Joyce, younger daughter of Captain Herbert Reginald Montgomery Hawkins, JP, of St. Fenton’s, Co. Dublin.[xii] In 1941 Lance and Joyce opened a guesthouse at Seaview House on Church Hill in Co. Wicklow which ran until the building was destroyed by fire in 1949. Lance and Joyce subsequently parted company with Lance remaining at Seaview and Joyce relocating to Kilmacangoue. Lance passed away in 1960. The house was later sold to the Columban Sisters and is now their Irish HQ.
Lance and Joyce had a son, “Terry” (Henry Terence Lancelot) and two daughters, Juliet and “Jill” (Valerie Gillian). Terence was born in Ireland in June 1941 and studied agriculture at Gurteen College in Co. Tipperary. He went to the North Island of New Zealand to work as a herd tester and there met a young woman from Woodbridge, Suffolk by name of Lynne Hockley. The couple married and had three children, Lucille, Mark and Francis. Lucille works as a contract milker near Whangeri in New Zealand and has two daughters, Jessica and Nicole. Mark is a bar manager and Francis is a maths teacher and graduate of Waikato University.
On 1st October 1952, 22-year-old Juliet married Lieutenant Commander Jack Cottam, RN, of Dunfermline, son of Jack Cottam of 121 Greyhound Road, London. Jack Jnr. passed away in 1997 but Juliet lives in Southampton and was good enough to have a read through this chapter prior to publication. Her son, Anthony James Leslie Cottam, was born in 1956, graduated from Southampton University and is now a Senior Partner with KPMG. In 1981, he married Glynis Roberts of Dalkey; they have a son, Andrew, born in 1985, and now live in Dorset. Her second son, Brian Terence Cottam, was born in 1961 and, as of 2005, was working as a metallurgist with Rolls Royce Aero engines in Derby. In 1988, he married Debra Jones and they have two children, Carys Jane (b. 1992) and Philip Michael (b. 1995). Juliet’s daughter, Linda Anne Cottam, is based in Salisbury.
Jill Leslie married Peter Burhouse and had two sons, Christopher and Timothy. As of 2005, she was liveing in Buckinghamshire and operated as a self-employed gardener.
[i] In 1618 Rutland personally brought charges of witchcraft against three sisters who he believed responsible for the deaths of his two young sons.
[ii] Thomas’s second wife was a widow, Elizabeth White, daughter of John Harpur.
[iii] Amongst Henry’s other portfolios, he was a Vice Admiral, High Sheriff and Provost Marshal the islands of Grenada, Tobago St. Vincent & Dominica.
It has been suggested that Ellis Island was named for Henry. It was in fact named for Samuel Ellis, a prosperous Manhattan merchant who owned this island in the 1770s.
[iv] W. W. Abbot, The Royal Governors of Georgia, 1754-1775 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959).
Edward J. Cashin, Governor Henry Ellis and the Transformation of British North America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994).
Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia: A History (New York: Scribner, 1976).
Harold E. Davis, The Fledgling Province: Social and Cultural Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976).
Tom Waller, "Henry Ellis, Enlightenment Gentleman," Georgia Historical Quarterly 63 (fall 1979): 364-76.
[v] The third son, Robert, died in 1799 aged 24. The fourth son Lieutenant Alexander Ellis, 4th Regt, died in 1796 aged 20. The eldest daughter, Jane, married the Rev. William Maxwell, DD, of Falkland, Co. Monaghan, and died in 1847. Her sister, Isabella, married William Mayne of Freame Mount, Co. Monaghan but died young in 1795, leaving issue. A third sister, Sarah, died unmarried in 1809 while the youngest, Penelope, was married in 1818 to the Rev Francis Lawrence Gore, DD, and died on St Patrick’s Day 1848.
[vi] Isaac Todhunter William Whewell, D.D., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge : an account of his writings with selections from his literary and scientific correspondence, Mrs Stair Douglas The Life and selections from the correspondence of William Whewell D D and Menachem Fisch and Simon SchafferWilliam Whewell: a composite portrait
[vii] Edward and Penelope Unwin’s grandson Captain Edward Unwin was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage at Gallipoli in 1915.
[viii] In July 1885, Thomas and Augusta’s eldest son Henry Herbert Maxwell Ellis married Louise Van Metre, an American of Dutch origin by name; their children settled in Sacramento, California. Their fourth son Arnold Claud Lancaster Ellis was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy Reserves. In 1899, Arnold married Georgina, daughter of Rev. James Sullivan, Rector of Askeaton, Co. Limerick; their two sons Henry and Arnold died young and their daughter Florence never married. Their eldest daughter Emily married Frederick Adolphus Brabazon Turner of Clonattin, Co. Wexford and died in March 1952. The younger daughter Violet married the Rev Ernest O’Connor and died in August 1954.
[ix] Ernest and Harriet’s daughter Eva was born in 1899 and married twice. On 9th February 1927, she married Lt Col George Meredyth Grogan, DSO, (1867 – 1942), a veteran of the Boer War and World War. He was a son of Rev. John Grogan, MA, Rector of Balrothery, Co. Dublin, and grandson of John Grogan (1770 – 1832) of Ballytrain, Co. Wexford, by his marriage to Sarah, daughter of Charles Dowling Medlicott of Youngstown, Co. Kildare (See “The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of Kildare”). The Reverend’s uncle, the Rev. William Grogan (1778 – 1854) was married to Anne, daughter of Richard Saunders of Newtown Saunders, Co. Wicklow. The Reverend’s eldest brother, Sir Edward Grogan, 1st Bart, (1802 – 1891) was created a Baronet in 1859, married a daughter of Sir Beresford Burston McMahon and lived at Moyvore, Co. Westmeath. Eva and George Grogan ‘s son Major Hume Grogan, Irish Guards, was born in 1931, succeeded to St. Austin’s and is father to James.
After George Grogan’s death in 1942, Eva married secondly Arthur Donel MacMurrogh O’Morchoe, The O’Morchoe, chief of the distinguished Wexford sept of Oulartleigh. He was a Captain with the Leinster Regiment (Royal Meaths) in 1914 and was ADC to Major General Edward James Montague-Stuart-Wortley during the battle of Loos. After the war, he entered the Colonial Service in 1924, serving as ADC and Private Secretary to the British Resident in Zanzibar (1930 – 31) during which time Britain secured a monopoly on the port’s clove industry. He later served as Commissioner of Police on the Gold Coast and on the General Staff of the War Office during World War Two.
[x] The Hawkins were a distinguished family who settled in Ulster during the 17th century. Among them were two Ulster King of Arms, William Hawkins (1698 – 1736) and his son, John (1701 – 1758). Elizabeth’s grandfather was the Rev. John Hawkins, MA, (1757 – 1841) of Dublin and her grandmother was Anne Montgomery of The Hall, Co. Donegal. One of her great uncles was Admiral Sir James Hawkins-Whitshed, 1st Bart, (1761 – 1849) of Killincarrig, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Sir James was Admiral of the Fleet in 1844, created a Baron of the Kingdom of Hanover by King Ernest in 1843 and awarded a gold medal for his distinguished services off Cape St Vincent. Another uncle, the Rev. Thomas Hawkins, DD, (1766 – 1850) was appointed Dean of the Chapel Royal in Dublin in 1831.
[xi] In March 2002, Mealy’s auctioned, Cervus Giganticus Hibernicus, a pair of outsize Irish deer or elk antlers and head found in a marsh at Magherymore and reckoned to be 4,000 to 6,000 years old (€8,000-€12,000).
[xii][xii] Joyce’s father was Captain Herbert Reginald Montgomery Hawkins, JP for Co. Dublin and Dorset, Lieut 3rd Hussars, Captain of Dorset Regt, b. 5 Feb 1869, educ Eton, m. 1stly (1894) Hilda Nugent Bankes (d. 10 Jan 1934), 3rd dau of Henry Hyde Nugent Bankes of Wraysbury, Bucks, and a protégé of the Bankes family of Kingston Lacy, Dorset.
Joyce’s eldest brother was Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hawkins, KBE (1952), CB (1940), MVO (1925), DSO (1917). Born in July 1895 and educated at RNC Osborne and Dartmouth, he served in WW1 and then as ADC to the Earl of Athlone when he was Gov Gen of S. Africa (1924 – 27), made Lt Cmdr (1925), Cmdr (1931), Capt RN (1928), he commanded HMS Kent from 1943 – 45, was Cdre of RN Barracks at Portsmouth from 1945 – 47; Rear Admiral 1947, Vice-Controller of Admiralty from 1947, Vice Admiral 1950, Flag Offr Malta 1950 – 52, Admiral (ret) 1952. On 21st Feb 1926 he married Lady Margaret Montagu-Douglas-Scott eldest daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch and sister of the late Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. They had a son James and two daughters Alice and Renira.
Joyce’s next brother Brigadier Victor Francis Staples Hawkins, DSO (1944), MC (1916) commanded the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1914 and was Lt Col of the 5th Infantry Brigade in Burma in WW2.
Her younger brother Audley died in an accident in Canada in 1926 aged 22.
Her sister Ierene was married twice – first, in 1920, to Brig William Holcroft Blood, MVO, of the House of Blood in Co. Clare (divorced 1935) and then to Lt Col. Dallas Campbell of Sunnybank, Moffat, Dumfriesshire, son of John Francis Campbell, Master o the Royal Mint in Australia.
On 12th Dec 1934, 11 months after Hilda’s death, Captain Hebert Hawkins was married secondly to Catherine King, dau of Col James Edward Kitson, CB, of Harberton, Exmouth, Devon. Captain Hawkins died on 12 Jan 1946 and was succeeded by his son, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hawkins.