Turtle Bunbury

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HISTORY

FAMILY HISTORY

SMYTH OF HEADBOROUGH

For the earlier history of this family, see Smyth of Ballynatray.

William Smyth of Headborough

Richard Smyth of Ballynatray’s elder brother William Smyth was ancestor of the Smyths of Headborough in Co. Waterford. It is not known when the family acquired the property but he built a house on a hillside, overlooking the spot where the River Bride flows into the Blackwater. He married his cousin Anne, daughter of Richard Smyth of Bridgefield in Co. Cork.[4]

Their eldest son, Major Boyle Smyth (1692 – 1730) was returned as MP for Youghal in Queen Anne’s short second parliament of 1713. A Tory, his name was on the black list drawn up in the build up to the Hanoverian Succession. Headborough ultimately passed to Major Boyle’s brother, Captain Percy Smyth. Captain Smyth married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Jervois of Brade, Co. Cork. A son, William, and three daughters followed. Esther, the middle daughter, married James Bernard, MP, of Castle Bernard and was mother to Francis, 1st Earl of Bandon. Anne, the youngest daughter, married the imaginatively named Hibernicus Scott of Lisnaleen, Flaxford, Co. Cork.

Percy Scott-Smyth

Captain Percy Smyth was succeeded at Headborough by his only son, William. He married Elizabeth Fowke, daughter and co-heir of Digby Fowke. The marriage had no surviving children. William’s eldest nephew Francis was already in line to inherit Castle Bernard and become Earl of Bandon. Thus the property passed to William’s next nephew, Percy Scott-Smyth, eldest son of Anne and Hibernicus Scott. Percy’s sister Anne married the Rev. Edward Spread, Rector of Youghal, while his only brother, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Scott, served in the 18th Foot but died unmarried in the West Indies. Percy married Sarah Kingston, daughter of Samuel Kingston of Bandon, Co. Cork. Her mother was a daughter of Robert Gookin, sixth in descent from Sir St Vincent Gookin.[5] They had two sons, William and Percy, and four daughters of whom only Esther, the youngest, survived long enough to marry. Indeed, short lives seem to have been the fate of this generation for when Percy died in 1826, his son and heir William did not long survive him.

Reconstruction of Headborough

As such the lands of Headborough passed to Percy’s second son, also Percy. He dropped the Scott from his surname and joined the Church of Ireland. On 4th September 1827 he married Catherine, daughter of John Odell of Carriglea, Co. Waterford. Her mother, also Catherine, was a daughter of Dr. Matthew Young, Bishop of Clonfert. Shortly after the marriage, Percy extended the original 17th century country house at Headborough to its present proportions. As well as renovating Headborough, he also built a summer residence, later the Monatrea House Hotel. The Rev. Smyth died in 1846 leaving an only child, Percy.

Percy Smyth of Headborough (1839 – 1910)

This next Percy Smyth of Headborough and Monatrea was a boy of six when his father died. Fortunately his mother, a Bishop’s daughter, survived until May 1882, by which time he was married with five children. He obtained a BA, sat as a JP and was High Sheriff of Waterford in 1872. In the summer of 1865 he married Mary, eldest daughter of Robert Perceval Maxwell of Finnebrogue and Groomsport House in County Down.[6] Mary’s mother Helena Anne was the only daughter of William Moore of Moore Hill, Tallow, Co. Waterford. Percy and Mary were to have rather a poignant end for they died within three days of each other in March 1910. On returning from Mary’s funeral across the mountains between Youghal and Knockanore, he disembarked from his carriage to lighten the load for his horses. The exertions of the climb, combined with the emotions of the day, gave him a heart attack. Thus he died on the way home from his wife's funeral.

The Perceval Maxwell Connection

Percy and Mary left five surviving children.[7] However, this was to be the last generation of the Smyths of Headborough. When Percy’s third and youngest son Rivers Smyth died in 1946, he left Headborough to his cousin Patrick Perceval Maxwell. His widow Lyna Smyth continued to live at Headborough until 1952. In 1929, Patrick married Magdalen (‘Madge’) King-Hall, journalist and author of ‘How Small A Part Of Time’ and ‘The Life And Death Of The Wicked Lady Skelton’. This was subsequently made into a film, ‘The Wicked Lady’, starring Margaret Lockwood and James Mason. Born in 1904, she was the younger daughter of Admiral Sir George King-Hall. After the marriage, Patrick went to work for the Sudan Cotton Plantation Syndicate. In 1932 the couple returned to England and for a few years lived in London before moving to Co. Down, where they raised three children and Patrick ran a farm. ‘How Small A Part Of Time’, published in 1946, is based on the 18th century lives of Anne and Eliza Coughlan of Ardo House, near Ardmore. Her tragic novel ‘Tea At Crumbo Castle’, published in 1949, was set at Strancally Castle.[8] Patrick and Magdalen moved to Headborough after the death of Lyna Smyth in 1952. Patrick died in 1968 aged 67. Magdalen died in 1971 aged 66. They are buried in a fountain churchyard nearby.

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