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John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell (1798-1879)

John McClintock’s loyal but mostly unsuccessful campaigns to become Conservative MP for the Whig stronghold of County Louth – he served just one term from 1857-9 – caught the eye of Benjamin Disraeli. He was created Baron Rathdonnell in 1868. The title was one of eight Irish peerages created by Queen Victoria during the course of her reign.

John McClintock, who inherited Drumcar House, County Louth, in 1855, launched a series of mostly unsuccessful campaigns to represent County Louth at Westminster. He served just one term from 1857-9, but he caught the eye of Benjamin Disraeli and was created Baron Rathdonnell in 1868. This story follows his life and times, his links to the Bunbury family, to Drumcar Church, and his marriage to Anne Lefroy.






Freeman’s Journal, 20 May 1879

Dundalk. Monday.

“This morning the announcement of the death of the Right Hon. Lord Rathdonnell, Drumcar, was received in this town, the mournful event having taken place early on yesterday morning at his residence Drumcar. His death was quite unexpected, as his lordship had been driving along the seacoast of Annagassan and in that direction on Saturday, and on Saturday night late he became suddenly ill, and died some short time afterwards. His lordship had reached the ripe old age of eighty-two, and had latterly been in a feeble state of health.
He leaves no issue, his brother, the Rev. Mr. M’Clintock, Kilsaran, being the nearest male relative, who is at present absent travelling.
His lordship was intimately connected with the politics of this country, which, when Col. John M’Clintock, he contested no less than five times in the Tory interest, and only succeeded in being returned once, in 1857, when the Liberal party were divided.
He first contested the county in 1852 with Mr. Fortescue (now Lord Carlingford) and Mr. Tristram Kennedy, and was defeated.
In the election of 1857 he again contested the county, the outgoing members, Messrs. Fortescue and Kennedy, being put in nomination in the Liberal interest, as was also Mr. R. M. Bellew (now one of the Local Government Board) thus dividing the Liberals. In the result Mr. Fortescue and Colonel M’Clintock were returned.
He sat for the county only for two years, as in the general election of 1859 he was defeated by Mr. Bellew (Mr. Kennedy not having come forward), who sat until 1865, and when, as a reward for his services to the Whig party, he was appointed Poor Law Commissioner, he vacated the seat, Mr. M’Clintock and Mr. Tristram Kennedy contested it. After a fierce contest Mr. Kennedy was returned by an overwhelming majority. He again contested the county at the general election in July, 1865, but retired the day after the nomination.
Mr. M’Clintock’s services to the Tories, for whose cause he fought and bled well in this county were rewarded by Lord Derby in 1868, when he was raised to the peerage as Lord Rathdonnell.
On the death of the late Lord Bellew, who held the position, he was made Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotolorum of the county.
Although an out-and-out Tory and thus opposed to the vast majority of the people, he was not unpopular, and enjoyed the reputation of being a kind and indulgent landlord.”




John McClintock of Drumcar (1742-1799), John’s grandfather, who was also known as Bumper Jack.

Patience McClintock (née Patience Foster), John’s grandmother, who died in 1830.

John McClintock, 1st Lord Rathdonnell, was the firstborn son of John ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock (1770-1855) and a grandson of John ‘Bumper Jack’ McClintock (1743-1799) of Drumcar and his wife Patience Foster, first cousin of John ‘Speaker’ Foster. There is a discrepancy over his date of birth. When he died many newspapers gave it as 26 August 1798, but the brass shield on his coffin is inscribed ’19 August 1798’. [1a]

At the time of his birth, John’s father held the office of Serjeant-at-Arms to the Irish House of Commons in Dublin, in conjunction with his uncle William Foster McClintock. John ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock also held the office of High Sheriff of County Louth during the tumultuous year of 1798 and was present at the battles of Arklow and Vinegar hill. According to Sir Jonah Barrington, he was the last person to leave the House of Commons, accompanied by Speaker Foster, on the night the abolition measure was passed in March 1800. On the plus side, his compensation for the loss of the office of Serjeant-at-Arms appears to have been a hefty pension of £2,000 a year which he received for over half a century until his death in 1855.

John’s mother was Jane Bunbury, the only daughter of William Bunbury of Lisnavagh and Moyle, MP for County Carlow, and sister to Thomas Bunbury, who was also MP for County Carlow. John McClintock and Jane Bunbury were married on 11 July 1797. It is assumed they lived between Bath and Drumcar, where John’s grandfather Bumper Jack passed away in February 1799.

John ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock, father of the 1st Lord Rathdonnell, Captain William McClintock Bunbury and Kate Gardiner, as well as eight children by his second wife, Lady Elizabeth McClintock, daughter of the Earl of Clancarty.

Jane McClintock (née Bunbury) who was thrown from her horse and killed aged 22.

John’s only full-brother William (later McClintock Bunbury) was born in September 1800, while their only sister, Catherine, or Kate, arrived in early 1801. Kate can hardly have been off the bosom when tragedy struck.

On Tuesday 28 April 1801 Jane McClintock was thrown from her horse while riding up Box Hill by Ashley on the London road outside Bath with her husband and Mr Barrington. The 22-year-old mother of three was knocked out cold and, having fractured her skull and dislocated her shoulder, she died early the following morning. Her memorial in Drumcar states that her three children were ‘too young to be conscious of their loss.’ Her death mirrored that of her father – John McClintock’s grandfather – William Bunbury, who was also killed in a riding accident.

Ashley, where Jane died, is close to where the Lefroy family lived when they became friendly with Jane Austen in Bath. Jane Austen’s niece married the Rev. Ben Lefroy, whose niece Anne Lefroy would, perhaps coincidentally, marry John McClintock (later Lord Rathdonnell) three decades later.

John’s childhood took place against the backdrop of the Robert Emmet Rising and the Napoleonic Wars while he would also have been familiar with events such as the murders at Wildgoose Lodge (which took place when he was eighteen) and with people such as John Suttoe, the black servant who was still in his father’s employment in 1814. Perhaps, aged 16, he was knocking back ale and dancing to the fiddles when his father hosted 100 people to celebrate the gathering of the harvest in October 1814. Crop failure was a regular occurrence in those times so there was plentiful reason to celebrate a good harvest.




This portrait of Lady Elizabeth McClintock (née Le Poer Trench) was drawn in about 1799. She married John ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock in 1805, following the tragic death of his first wife Jane Bunbury four years earlier. She gave him eight children, five sons and three daughters. Lady Elizabeth became the matriarch of the family and passed away aged 97 in May 1877.(Image courtesy of Andrew McClintock.)

On 15 April 1805, John’s father was married secondly in St. George’s chapel, Dublin to Lady Elizabeth Le Poer Trench, third daughter of William Poer, 1st Earl of Clancarty and an aunt of Lady Harriet Kavanagh of Borris House. Lady Elizabeth produced five sons and three daughters, who were thus John McClintock’s half-siblings. Further details of these children and their families are here.

  1. Frederick William Pitt McClintock, a barrister at law, who was drowned in Strangford Lough in August 1834.
  2. Captain Charles Alexander McClintock, 74th Foot, who died aged 27 at Drumcar of malignant scarlitina on 9 December 1833.
  3. Rev Robert le Poer McClintock, MA. (1836), B.A. (1832), Rector of Castle Bellingham, Co Louth,
  4. Major (Henry) Stanley McClintock(1812-1898), JP, Royal Horse Artillery, who married his first cousin Gertrude La Touche. (See here for more).
  5. Col. George Augustus Jocelyn McClintock, 37th Regiment, of Rathvinden, Co. Carlow. (See here for more).
  6. Anne Florence McClintock married in 1827 to the Very Rev Hugh Usher Tighe,DD, Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, and Rector of Clonmore, Co. Louth. She died on 21 February 1893 at age 84.
  7. Harriet Elizabeth McClintock married in 1821 to Richard Longfield, esq, of Longueville, Co Cork, MP for that county in 1835.
  8. Emily Selina Frances McClintock married in 1841 toJohn Butler Clarke Southwell Wandesford, esq, of Castlecomer, nephew to Walter 17th Marquess of Ormonde.




By 1815 he was being educated at RMC Sandhurst. On 13 May 1818, John set out for Halifax, Nova Scotia as an officer in 74th Foot (Highland) Regiment. He served in North America until 1821. [1b] It is not clear when John actually joined the 74th. The regiment had served keenly during the Napoleonic War but was then stationed in Ireland from June 1814 until May 1818, so it did not have the chance of distinguishing itself at the crowning victory of Waterloo. (It was on its way to embark for Belgium when news of that decisive battle arrived). While at Fermoy, on 6 April 1818, the regiment was presented with new colours. The colours which had waved over the regiment in many a hard-fought field, and which had been received in 1802, were burned, and the ashes deposited in the lid of a gold sarcophagus snuff-box, inlaid with part of the wood of the colour-staves, on which the following inscription was engraved:—

“This box, composed of the old standards of the Seventy-fourth regiment, was formed as a tribute of respect to the memory of those who fell, and of esteem for those who survived the many glorious and arduous services on which they were always victoriously carried, during a period of sixteen years, in India, the Peninsula, and France. They were presented to the regiment at Wallajahbad in 1802, and the shattered remains were burned at Fermoy on the 6th of April 1818.”

John McClintock and the 74th embarked at Cork for Halifax on 13 May, leaving one depot company, which was sent to the Isle of Wight. The companies were divided between St John’s, Newfoundland, St John’s, New Brunswick, and Frederickton, where their headquarters and five companies were based. The regiment remained in North America till August 1828 when they proceeded to Bermuda. In the autumn of 1829, they left for Ireland, arriving in early 1830. In 1818 the regiment had been reduced to ten companies of 65 rank and file each, and in 1821 it was further reduced to eight companies of 72 rank and file. In 1825, however, the strength was augmented to ten companies—six service companies of 86 rank and file, and four depot companies of 56 rank and file each. The regiment remained in Ireland till 1834, during part of which time it was actively employed in suppressing the outrages consequent on the disturbed state of the country.

The Dundalk Herald would later claim that ’to the last he carried the erect and manly bearing of a soldier.’ When he left the army, he took up residence at Drumcar and became active in politics. He was known as Colonel McClintock as late as 1868.




As early as 1825, John McClintock was complaining in letters to his brother William about their father’s heavy expenses and ‘numerous tribe’. [2] He may have made his political debut in October 1826 when he spoke at an aggregate meeting of the Roman Catholics of Co. Louth held in Dundalk, although this could feasibly have been his father.

On 8 August 1827, George Canning died in office, aged 57, after just 119 days, making him the shortest serving prime minister of the UK – until Liz Truss’s meteoric rise and fall in the autumn of 2022. The




‘Married, on Tuesday, at Crondall, the Rev. William Harriott, vicar of Odiham, John M’Clintock, Esq., Drumcar, the county of Louth, to Anne, eldest daughter of the late Rev. J.H.G. Lefroy, rector of Ashe, and of Ewshot House, in this county.
Hampshire Chronicle, Monday 17 August 1829

On 11 August 1829, he was married in Crondall Church, Hampshire, to 21-year-old Anne Lefroy (1808-1889). Born on 19 July 1808, she was the eldest daughter of the Rev John Henry George Lefroy, of Ewshot House, Hampshire, by his wife Sophia Cottrell, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Charles Jeffrey Cottrell of Hadley, Middlesex.

In March 2022, Caroline McKenzie, a descendant of the Lefroy family, kindly forwarded the transcript of a legal document about the dowry proposal for Anne Lefroy. As Caroline observes, it is “a handwritten, undated and unsigned copy of comments on various points in the proposal.” This was most probably drawn up by Mrs Lefroy’s lawyer James Quilter, as the document is initialled JQ. This seems to tally with a description by the Hampshire Records Office (which has a copy of Anne Lefroy’s portrait, the one at Lisnavagh) of correspondence “with the solicitor and the father of the young man Anna wanted to marry – John McClintock of Drumcar, Ireland concerning the amount of dowry from Lefroy family – to be used to improve McClintock property.” The details follow below.

Copy of Mr McClintock’s Proposals

1 Miss Lefroy’s £6000 to be settled on younger children or if no Son on the Daughters and the whole or any part of it which may be at any time paid to J McClintock Senr to be secured on his Estate for that purpose and for any sum so paid to J McClintock Senr he to pay £5 per cent to his son. I see no ground for Mr McClintock requiring Miss Lefroy’s Fortune to be increased to £6000 and I think it would be unjust on the part of Mrs Lefroy towards her other Children so to exercise her power but I understand from Major McClintock it is not intended to forego for this.

I do not see why it should be made imperative by Mr McClintock Senr. That Miss Lefroy’s Fortune when payable should be paid over to him nor if, as I assume, he be only Tenant for life of his Estates, how he could satisfactorily secure the same thereon. Her Fortune I Conceive should be assigned to Trustees to be by them placed out on Securities in the usual manner and the discretion should be vested in them to accept Mr McClintock’s Security for the same if redeemed preferable, or otherwise.

2 In case of no Children of the Marriage or an only Son Miss Lefroy’s fortune to go to pay debts affecting Mr McClintock’s estate.


This clause appears to me very objectionable for assuming it to be proposed to give Miss Lefroy a Jointure of £400 per ann Irish (?) or £369 6 7, of British out of the Estates, she would be intitled to that Jointure only during the remaindr of her life, after Major McClintock’s death, and her Fortune (say £5000) considerably more than an equivalent, might be sunk for the benefit of persons to her, comparatively, Strangers.
3 Hotchpot Clause: Barring the Intail out of the Question – The Property is only to go to the heirs Male with the exception of Miss Lefroy’s Fortune if the Estate were ever barred Mr McClintock would make no greater Settlemt than now.


In my Letter to Mr McClintock I assume the fact to be that his Son is first Tenant in Tail of the Estes, he, Mr M, being the only previous Tent for life thereof – by supposition is not affirmed by Mr McClintock in his Proposals, but taking it for granted to be the case I do not see how & his Son by which the limitations to the heirs Male of the family need not be extinguished but on the contrary might be naturally would be extended.  I apprehend however this observation of Mr McClintock to arise from a misapprehension of the legal Terms used by me & I cannot but think it might have saved time to discussion if so suggested by me in my Letter it had been answered that the medium of Mr McClintock’s Solicitor.
4 Should Miss Lefroy become a widow her Fortune be paid in during the life of JMC Senr then she to have £50 a year for each Child to the number of six or if the whole of it is not paid in Then a proportion to each Child according to the sum paid in but no more than Six –

This exclusive of Jointure is supposing her Fortune to be ultimately £6000.

[This section marked by a X in pencil.]

I would submit on behalf of Miss Lefroy that instead of this & the first Clause of the Proposals the Int of her Fortune when realized should be paid to her for her separate use during her life & to Major McClintock if he should survive her for his life. AT the death of the survivor the Principal to go to the yr Children or if no Son to the Daughters of the Marriage – I assume from the Proposals tho’ not expressly so stated that it is intended that Miss Lefroy should she survive Major McClintock should have a Jointure of £400 per ann Irish or £369 6 7 British out of the Estates and no other Provision on Major McClintock’s side, & I cannot but think that she ought, in addition, to have the Interest of her own Fortune during the then remainder of her life.
5 Mrs Lefroy to settle during her life £60 a year. I have already made my remarks upon this point to Mrs Lefroy & she must exercise her own discretion about it.
6 Counties of Louth & Hermanagh properties containing about 2800 acres Irish measure making about 4450 English to be settled.

The rents of these Estates exclusive of any demands amount to about £3180 British exclusive of House & Demesne containing about 320 English acres.

The Estates liable to about £19,000 Irish making £17,538 9 2 British

From this Paragraph it is evident that Mr MCClintock intends that a resettlemt of the Estates should take place.

According to this statement with the deduction also of the Jointure payable to Mr McClintock’s brother the clear Rental of the Estates exclusive of the House and Demesne amounts to about £1950 per ann British and should the Jointure of Lady Eliz McClintock also become payable it would be further reduced to the extent of £369 6 7 British.


7 I hold the office of Chief Serjeant at Arms of Ireland. This produces about £2,500 British per year it is held by Patent pending Pleasure during my life and my Brother William’s who is eight younger than I am. It was liable to 450 anns Irish. These I bought up & purpose to settle an anny of 500 British. This of course in the event of my Brother outliving me. The object of this Paragraph is not from itself obvious, but I understand from Major McClintock that his Father has the Power of disposal of the proportion of 500 out of the 2500 per ann payable during his Brother’s life if he Survives, and that the remainr £2000 a year thereof is now settled on Major McClintock. I would just throw out for his consideration whether it might not be desirable for him to engage in this event of his coming into possession of that portion of the Emoluments of the Office to Insure his Uncle’s life with a view to make some further provision for the younger Children or Daughters of the Marriage if any.
8 Miss Lefroy’s Fortune to be paid to Mr McClintock Senr according as it may be raised towards liquidating debts. Remarked upon above, See Paragraph No.1.
9 £550 a year to be now Settled on J McClintock Junr. It is not stated in what mode but I presume to be made payable out of the Rents of the Estates on the resettlement thereof.
10 All Rentals Patent of Office of Serjeant at Arms Marriage Settlemts the late Mr McClintock’s Will are forthcoming and can be exhibited. also Title Deeds etc. etc. When the preliminaries are agreed upon it will of course be necessary for me to appoint a Solicitor at Dublin to examine into these.
11 The Estates are liable to a Jointure of £400 a year Irish currency making £369 6 7½ British to Mr McClintock’s mother who is still living & also to my Wife Lady Elizabeth McClintock a Similar Jointure.


Retyped transcript of a Letter presumably to Mrs Lefroy (Sophia?) from James Quilter

7 Grays Inn Square December 10 1828

My Dear Mrs Lefroy,

Many thanks for your kind solicitude about me – I could certainly have received an answer from Mr McClintock to-night to my letter to him before yesterday, but having made an appointment to consult Mr Broke on my case this morning, I thought I would defer writing to you one day that I might tell you I had doe so. The result has been so far satisfactory that he intirely concurs with my cousin in opinion and all that he has done and recommends pursuing the course he has adopted. All inflammatory symptoms have some time subsided and the complaint is now confined to the stomach. And there I must be, I hope I shall be, content to bear it with patience probably a long time.

I have thought it best to send you a copy of my letter to Mr McClintock that you may see exactly what I wrote to him – It seems unfortunate that the understanding should have arisen that Ann’s fortune was present – I am sure you never could have given the idea yourself to the Major tho’ he might have so misunderstood it. And sure I am that from the first I took all possible pains to remove that impression from his mind.

Unfortunate as it may be I am quite and decidedly of opinion that you ought not to offer or pledge yourself to do more than you have done. Your family expenses are daily increasing and you will be considerably reduced when Charles attains his age of 23 if not sooner. No part of the Funds belonging to the residuary personal Estate can at present be disturbed, and if they could I should be very averse to embarking them on any other than their present securities. Supposing that when the Welch estate and its produce shall make up the fund sufficient to pay your Annuity in full (and I should doubt much whether it would do more) than I believe the other funds which will fall in on the death of annuitants, may be calculated at about altogether £7000 of which of course Ann’s share would be only £1000, and that would come in by driblets so that it appears to me quite vain to look upon any part of her Fortune in any other light than as expectant, happy & glad as I should be to forward her present views. I see not what other reply you can make to Mr M. than that whatever representations of a different nature were originally made they must have originated in misconception and never came from you.

Will you be so good as to correct an error I made in the statement I sent you of Ann’s fortune in one of the items, that of Mr E Lefroy’s purchase money which should be £3727:10:0 only instead of £3935.10.6. By mistake I added the timber money twice. I corrected it in the copy I sent to Mr M and also I that the Major took when he called here.

I received the receipts you sent which were all right, but that for the Legacy to Crondal Parish was not amongst them which I suppose is the one you refer to in your Postscript to your last letter.

With kind regards to all your circle, believe me always

Yours very sincerely, JAMES QUILTER

I return you Mr McClintock’s Letter. – When I hear from him which from the tenor his to you, I hardly expect till you have written again to him, I will apprise you.


Retyped transcript of a Letter from ?? to Major McClintock, 1829


My letter to Major McClintock, February 18th 1829

My dear McClintock,

I am I assure you as much annoyed as you can be to find there still remains any misunderstanding between us, or rather between you and Ann’s guardians. At her request I write you a few lines to try and explain what – from what she tells me, you still seem to think unreasonable on our part. It is not, believe me, that I for a moment doubt your word, or inclination to do everything in your power for the benefit, and that of any children you might have – but I could not in justice to her, allow her to marry without some sufficient provision being secured to her – in case she should have the misfortune of losing you, during your Father’s life-time. What I wish then is that the £100 a year jointure be settled as your Father proposes – that her own fortune be settled on her è of which you will have the disposal at her death è if she left no younger children, and that another £5000 should be settled on these younger children.

This if I mistake not is what your Father proposed in a letter you showed me of his – and it is exactly what you yourself wrote down for me to mention to him when first I wrote. If you consider the matter I do not think it will appear unreasonable.

Anne would then only have the provision of a gentlewoman in case of being left a widow whether with or without children. She would then only have about £760 Irish money – a year to live on, which you must allow is not an extravagant income. If you intend to settle your Uncle’s present on her, I can have no objection to the proposals going without this clause to your Father – but really such a settlement must be made before her marriage, for perhaps you do not know that no settlement after marriage is good for anything in case of unforeseen events. I am almost inclined to think that your Father must still intend to make some provision for younger children if you should have any. Indeed he himself proposes £50 a year to each – and £50.00 is only the principal of £5.50’s.

As I said before if your great object is to prevent any mention of a settlement on your side being made to your Father I am ready to agree to the proposals going without.

Let me assure you that all this delay is as annoying to me as it can be to yourself, and nothing hurts me more than that you should think I am the cause of it. For both your sakes I sincerely wish it ended that you might come back to us.

Ewshott House, February 18 1829




The Lefroy marriage connected John McClintock to a fascinating family. Anne’s grandmother, Madame Lefroy, had been a close friend of Jane Austen in Bath before her death in a horse fall in 1804. It seems extraordinary that John McClintock, whose mother, grandfather and great-uncle all died in horse accidents, should marry a woman whose grandmother had also perished that way.

A portrait of Lady Rathdonnell, formerly Anne Lefroy, attributed to Mayer and dated to August 1829, the time of her marriage to John McClintock. According to Amina Wright, Senior Curator at the Holburne Museum in Bath, there were a number of artists active at the time of this portrait with the surname Mayer, mostly on the continent but also in Britain.

Anne’s cousin Tom Lefroy (1776-1869), a future Chief Justice of Ireland, was the man whom Jane Austen apparently had in mind when she invented the character Mr. Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. The Bath-based society in which the McClintocks and Bunburys operated in the early 19th century was not dissimilar to that depicted in Jane Austen’s novels. There was also a Lefroy connection to Lord Byron. In 1818, the Lefroy family moved to Ewshot House, a manor near Crondall, Hampshire, which Anne’s father inherited from Henry Maxwell. The gardens had reputedly been laid out by Capability Brown. The Lefroy home, sometimes known as Itchell Manor, was demolished in 1954.

In 1828, the year before Anne married John McClintock, her 18-year-old brother, Charles Edward Lefroy discovered a hoard of 101 French and Anglo-Saxon gold coins, two jewelled ornaments, and a chain, at Crondall, not far from a hill known as Caesar’s Camp. The Crondall Hoard was the earliest post-Roman find of gold coins ever discovered in England. Charles went on to be secretary to the Speaker of the House of Commons from 1840-1856. Anne’s other siblings included Sir (John) Henry Lefroy (a celebrated surveyor and President of the Royal Canadian Institute), as well as Maxwell Lefroy, Phoebe Rickards and Sophia Hawkins, who were closely connected to the Canterbury Association, which established the colony in New Zealand. (See the Lefroy family here).

There is a portrait of Anne in the library at Lisnavagh, apparently painted in conjunction with her wedding in August 1829, and attributed to Mayer. She reputedly brought a dowry of £5000 into the family, courtesy of her uncle Edward Lefroy who had lately returned as a judge against slavery from Surinam “flush with  cash”. [3] Her father, heir to a substantial fortune, had died six years before her marriage, and three of her ten siblings had died in that time also. Her younger brother Charles was in the throes of rebuilding the family home in Hampshire at the time of their wedding. There was also heartache when Anne’s uncle Ben Lefroy, who had married Jane Austen’s niece Anna Austen, died on 27 August, two weeks after the wedding. The winter of 1829 was an especially hard one.

The Lisnavagh archives include a letter to W.B. McClintock from Lady Grey [mother of George Grey, later Secretary of State for the Home Department and for the Colonies] in which she refers to the Lefroy marriage as follows:

I sincerely hope it will prove a comfortable union and that the Lord will in mercy restore him to a Christian course of life and bring his wife also to the true fold.

Many of John’s family were Evangelical at this time so one wonders just how much John had deviated from the Christian course. He and Anne would have no children.




John  McClintock’s sister: Kate Gardiner.

In the General Election of 1831, ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock was elected MP for Co. Louth. That same year John’s only sister, Kate McClintock was married in 1831 to the Rev. George G. Gardiner of Bath.

George may have been connected to Thomas George Gardener of Doonass, County Clare, whose daughter Anne married Colonel Anthony-Peter Lefroy and was mother to Tom Lefroy, sometime paramour of Jane Austen. Curiously Elizabeth Bennett goes to stay with a family called Gardiner at the end of ‘Pride & Prejudice’. Kate Gardiner died prematurely on 5 June 1834 and was buried at St Michael’s Church, Bath.

Between 17 November 1834 and 9 December , the Duke of Wellington formed a ‘caretaker’ administration for 25 days while Sir Robert Peel, the incoming prime minister, returned from Europe.

In August 1837, Anne’s brother John Lefroy was promoted to lieutenant and sent to Chatham where he became devoted to the study of practical astronomy. His talent for magnetic observations was such that he was sent to St. Helena in 1840. In 1842 he assisted at the disinterment of the remains of Napoleon when they were removed from St. Helena to France. He later went to North America to make various meteorological and magnetical surveys, returning to England in 1853 after nine years in the Toronto observatory. There are moe details about him on the Lefroy page.




From at least 1837 until at least 31 March 1847, John and Anne McClintock were living at Dromiskin House near Castlebellingham, Co Louth. [4] In 1837 the first schoolhouse in Dromiskin was built with funds collected by Anne McClintock (the future Lady Rathdonnell). Known locally as ‘the old old school’, it ran under the jurisdiction of the National Board of Education and provided for the education of Catholic children. In 1844, Patrick Quinn, the Principal, was awarded Lord Morpeth’s Premium (awarded only in cases of special excellence). A farm known locally as the ‘Model Farm’ (presently inhabited by Mr. Tom Dooley) was provided, and young aspiring farmers were instructed in `Crop Rotation’ under the supervision of Mr Quinn. The school evolved into present-day St Peter’s National School, Dromiskin. [5]

John McClintock Junior served as High Sheriff for Co. Louth during 1840, a year in which his brother-in-law Charles Edward Lefroy started a sixteen-year run as secretary to Speaker of the House of Commons in Westminster. John was also a Justice of the Peace and a Major of the Louthshire militia. On 2 April 1840, representing ‘the inhabitants of the County Louth’, he was one of a hundred gentlemen who presented an address of congratulation to the Queen and Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace after their marriage. [6]

On the fine, snow-speckled morning of Tuesday 16 November 1841, he attended the wedding at Castle Bellingham Church of his youngest half-sister Emily McClintock (aka Emily Selina Frances McClintock) and Mr John Wandersforde, D.L., the Castlecomer coal mining magnate from Co. Kilkenny.

The family also attended a Drawing Room at Dublin Castle in February 1842.




John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell, at the time of his marriage in 1829. The portrait was restored by Justin Laffan in 2018.

The Rathdonnell Papers included correspondence from 1840-1841 by of John McClintock [this could be his father?] about a row over the running of the Dunleer dispensary, and particularly over the election of Dr Delap as dispensary doctor in place of Dr Ball. The principal correspondent is Charles Coote of Baggot Street, Dublin, while there are a number of letters from the McClintocks’ cousin and neighbour, Thomas Henry Skeffington, 2nd Viscount Ferrard, Oriel Temple, Collon, Co. Louth. [7]



In June 1841, the Drogheda Conservative announced:

Matthew Fortescue, Esq., of Stephenstown, and Major M’Clintock, of Dromiskin House, will be the Conservative candidates, and we have not the least doubt of their return.’ [8]

The newspaper had to eat its words because John was an unsuccessful candidate for County Louth in 1841. According to his obituary in the Dundalk Herald (24 May 1879):

“The Conservative party in Louth never recovered its power and prestige after Dawson’s election in 1826, and their fortunes were a low ebb in Louth on the entry of Mr McClintock into county politics because of the defection of the Clermont branch of the Fortescue family to Whiggery. The joint influence of the Fortescue and Bellew families – the latter family from their religion and position being extremely popular with the constituency – renewed it a difficult task for Mr McClintock to contest the representation. But conscious of a good cause, again and again “Honest John McClintock” fought the combined forces of Whigs and Radicals, and thoughts defeated by majorities obtained by the grossest intimidation and mob tyranny, he always came off with credit, and was successful in 1857.”

In 1845, he apparently voted in favour of Robert Peel’s proposal to increase the annual grant from the British government to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, a Catholic seminary, which suggests he was well disposed towards the Catholic church. [9]  That said, I cannot see how he had a say in the matter, as he was not an elected politician at the time? He also voted in favour of a tenant rights bill.




Thomas Bunbury, MP for Carlow.

In August 1841, John’s uncle, Tom Bunbury, MP, of Moyle and Lisnavagh, went to visit him at Dromiskin House. [10] A year later, on 29 September 1842, Tom wrote from Paris to John’s brother, William McClintock Bunbury, at Tynan Abbey, congratulating him on his engagement to Pauline Stronge and regretting that he would not be able to attend the marriage owing to my “arrangements here”. He offered a gift of £5000 as a wedding present. In the letter he also asks where on earth John had got to?

Tom died at his London residence, St. James’s Hotel on 28 May 1846, aged 72. In his will, he ‘gave, devised and bequeathed all his estates, freehold, copyhold and leasehold, to trustees therein named upon trust for his 70-year-old brother, Kane Bunbury, for life, with two thirds remainder falling to his nephew, William Bunbury McClintock and his heirs, and one third remainder to his other nephew, John McClintock Jr.’ He also left Kane ‘for his own absolute use, the furniture, books, farming stock and implements, and other effects at Moyle – the plate for his life only’, after which these were to go to John ‘absolutely’. John was also left all Tom’s furniture and effects at Bath, and at St. James’s Hotel, as well as a legacy of £50,000 sterling and £10,000 Irish currency, secured on mortgage. At this time, John was still living at Dromisken House, Castlebellingham. [11]

There are two letters in the Rathdonnell Papers (G3/4) from 1846 that were sent to John McClintock by his first cousin Alexander E. McClintock who was clearly, the family’s legal adviser. The letters concern the descent of the Kane estates:

‘I have read the will of Redmond Kane, probate of which was granted in the year 1778. The trusts upon which his landed property are thereby devised are as follows: 1. to his daughter, Katharine, for life, then; 2. to his grandson, Kane Bunbury, and his male issue, in default of which, then; 3. to Thomas Bunbury and his male issue and, in default, then to the female issue of Katharine (your grandmother). The female issue is thereby expressly introduced in the line of inheritance, and therefore there can be no doubt but that, on the death of the survivor of your two uncles without lawful issue, the estates in question will descend to you under the will of Redmond Kane …You have at present no disposing power over the estates that will descend to you on the death of your uncles, under the will of Redmond Kane; nor, on their death, would the absolute ownership be vested in you, it being further entailed on your issue and, in default, on your next brother. But you might acquire the absolute ownership by barring the entail in the usual way. …’

He then goes on to discuss the ‘Ulster Canal Company compensation money’ [and, presumably, its bearings on the McClintock estate in Co. Fermanagh. Another letter in the Lisnavagh archives written by John to his brother William and dated 19 December 1846 reads:

‘Tighe was busy last night explaining all about your house [Lisnavagh]. He says it will cost £10,000, and that Kane will pay it all. I hope so, as I suppose he will give me an equivalent, otherwise, the savings which he talks about dividing between us by his will will be all moonshine. I think you will have got the oyster and I shall get the shells. I don’t think you would conceive that just. He had better hold the balance fairly. What he does for one, either at present or future, he ought to do for the other, as I know you would wish him to do so; but I think you should say so to him. Of course, he can do as he likes with his own; but I am sure he would be sorry to show, and you would be the first to prevent his showing, any partiality for one over the other. Poor Tom said to me: “You know, William will require something more, as he will have to do things at Lisnavagh”, alluding to your building, etc; and in consequence gave you two-thirds of the residue, to which I assented, upon which he seemed pleased. This feeling having arisen in my mind, I, as a brother, don’t for a moment hesitate to express it. Kane is an easy-going man, and he may not have thought of the effect of his apparent partiality, but it is for you to point out to him, and insist upon his taking, the just and impartial course.’

Tom Lefroy (1776-1869) aka Chief Justice Thomas Langlois Lefroy, painted in 1855 by W. H. Mote. He was a cousin of Anne McClintock.

John McClintock was presumably familiar with Daniel Robertson, the architect his brother employed to build Lisnavagh. Between 1837 and 1844, Robertson designed the gothic revival house at Carrigglas for Tom Lefroy, a cousin of Anne McClintock. Tom Lefroy, a man of Huguenot descent, had been a paramour of Jane Austen in Bath during their youth. He went on to become Chief Justice of Ireland in 1852. In 1833, he acquired the Carrigglas estate and manor from its bankrupt Newcomen owners, the last Viscount having taken his own life. Carrigglas was sold by the Lefroys in the early 21st century and taken over by NAMA in 2011.

In subsequent correspondence, there are references to the existence in 1862 of a bond for £10,000 which William gave to John (and which was partially offset by William’s charges on the Louth estate), presumably as an equivalent for the £10,000 which William had received to build Lisnavagh.




“Accounts received from different parts of Ireland show that the disease in the potato crop is extending far and wide, and causing great alarm amongst the peasantry. Mr. John Chester, of Kilscorne House, in Magshole, Co Louth, in a letter to the Dublin Evening Post, states that he has a field of twenty acres of potatoes, which, up to the 3rd instant, had been perfectly dry and sound, when they were attacked by the blight, and three-fourths of them are so diseased and rotten that pigs decline to eat them. This, he says, is the case all through the county of Louth.”
Illustrated London News, 18 October 1845

Between 1841 and 1851, the population of every townland and village in Co Louth without exception actually went up and mid-Louth was not overtly effected. In January 1847, John’s half-brother, the Rev. Robert McClintock established a Soup Kitchen at the Glebe House in Castlebellingham, from which he ‘distributes bread and soup daily. In cases of very large destitute families they receive tickets, on which meal at half-price is retailed to them.’ [12] That same month, John’s brother William commenced construction of the new house at Lisnavagh in County Carlow

The famine certainly affected both Drogheda (where a relief committee was formed on 7 May 1846) and Dundalk (where a mass graveyard was opened by the Dundalk Union Workhouse in 1852, just off the Ardee Road). The highest number of people to be supplied with food at the soup kitchens in any one day in Drogheda Union in 1847 was 13,702, amounting to about a quarter of the population – the population relieved in Drogheda was higher than in many other unions in the country. More than a quarter of almost 8,000 Irish emigrants who arrived in Liverpool between 13 January and 16 February 1847 left from Drogheda port, a statistic that was echoed throughout the period. Ironically, food continued to be exported during this time also- 570 cattle and 900 pigs alone were shipped out during a single week in March 1847.  John McClintock. was evidently contemplating an assisted passage scheme at the same time, as per his wife’s letter, below.  In the first week of August 1847, 820 cows, 1,900 sheep, 1,200 lambs and 84 horses left via Drogheda port, while large quantities of grain were also shipped. [13]

On 31 March 1847, Anne wrote a letter from Dromiskin House to her brother (Sir John) Henry Lefroy in Canada. This was kindly transcribed and sent to me by Sharon Lefroy in April 2022.

My dearest Henry,
I should have written sooner to tell you the great pleasure the arrival of your letter of Feb 21st gave me, but that I knew that my letter would not reach you the sooner. I do indeed congratulate you with all my heart on the safe arrival of your little Boy, and most sincerely do rejoice in the first happiness. I hope and I think this addition to your circle of interests and affections will open to you both. I am sure where God gives children, He means them to be blessings, and that however they may be the causes of anxiety and sorrow, through them or their parents, yet by enjoying the affections and so opening afresh fountains of love in the heart they bring much more happiness than sorrow. And moreover that when Christian parents sincerely strive to bring them upon the nurture and admonition of the Lord, He does enable them to do it. Hear their prayers and sooner or later He  makes their children His children, not outwardly and in name, but truly and in spirit, heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. That your’s may be one of these happy ones dear Henry, you shall have my prayers- if you dedicate him to God, I am sure you will succeed and your children will be your comfort and joy. I hope we shall soon hear again from you how Emily and her baby are going on, with a full true and particular account of what he is like, whether he favors Lefroys or Robinsons, has blue eyes or black, whether Emily is nursing him, and every other particular which will help to bring him and you both more before me. I was glad he is to be named after your family, but I wish you had appended the “John” to make the name entirely our dear Fathers for I have a strong feeling that we must look to your son for a continuation of the line of the noble house, Charles having no prospects, if any. However, Anna intended to increase his nursery in July, so perhaps your child will be cut out, tho I do not expect it. How fortunate you were having got into your own cottage, but you must find it somewhat unconventional – with this young squaller. When do you begin to build? I have not much to tell you from this; our attention continues to be taken up by Relief Committee Soup (LcL) and I grieve to say the necessity for them doesn’t diminish, for tho starvation cannot exist anywhere as it did, fever and dysentery have taken its place and its perfectly awful to hear the ravages they are committing. They are really sweeping the land, carrying off thousands every week, and amongst them many of the higher classes and I fear it will overspread the country, because it seems to arise not so much from want of food, as from change of food. The new law of out of door relief is just now about to begin and we are to have a separate committee for this place of which John will be Chairman and I suppose a soup kitchen to ourselves. We have been doing whatever we could privately, but it is really impossible to meet all the claims because if our own parish is well off, as this one is, you are inundated with strange beggars. People are beginning to take great alarm at this Out Door Relief Measure, and well they may, for I am certain it will swamp a great number who have hitherto lived as wealthy men. They are opening their eyes to the effects of it by degrees, but I do not think that many of them as yet take it in all its consequences, they flatter themselves it is a temporary measure- but once hit the people feel as they will now that they have a legal claim to keep and Paddy’s indulgence will effectively secure their man, giving up the claim again. I think all the sins of Irish landlords are now rising upon judgement of them, and expect that this day two years will witness strange changes – however I am surprised that the
“clouds we do so much dread
are big with mercy and will break
In blessings on our heads”
The Fast day seems to be well and religiously observed and everyone resident is really trying to do his duty, both in economy in private, and public liberality, and I cannot but look upon them as to hear that the chastisement we are under is working that for which it has been sent. John has been looking into both his Uncle’s and Father’s property lately and meant to send great numbers from the latter to your side of the water immediately. It will be expensive, but cheap in the end and I am always urging him to make any present sacrifice to try and get through things into a more sound and healthy state. I want much to stay in Ireland this year and spend some of it in Fermanagh but I do not know that I shall prevail. We thought a little of building a cottage there but I am afraid to allow money with your Emigration. How liberally our Canadian and American brethren have behaved to us. But indeed every country has contributed more than its share. I wish I could think the funds have been as well applied as intended, but I fear they have not in the South. However there is now a very clever, intelligent man sent down to Skibbereen by the British Association to examine into things, and I hope whatever jobbing there is will be put a stop to- the Sidney Belinghams sail on Saturday for New York in a liner and told me they thought they should visit Toronto and I begged them to pay you a visit. She is a very nice ladylike woman but I do not so much like him. They live at Montreal and I want to find out what made them leave. Some people say he is a desperate Radical and embroiled himself in politics, he was obliged to come away- others that he was active on the side of good government and that governments ought to give him a place. Perhaps you can find out which is the truth. George McC is coming home in May, so I suppose you will not see him. Maxwell’s ship we hear is ordered to Port Royal. I have never seen it in the papers but Mamma mentions it. I wonder whether the box with the caps has ever reached Emily- she must tell me how they fitted and write me a long history of her nursery. How I wish I could peep into it and see my first nephew. It is provoking to think he will be three years old before he has the benefit of his Uncles and Aunts cares and whippings.! Well dear Henry, may God bless you and him and make him a blessing to you both. John sends you both his hasty congratulations and with love to Emily.
Believe me to be ever your very affectionate Sister,
A. McClintock.




1844-1846: Correspondence of John McClintock, the future 1st Lord Rathdonnell, about buying out the chief rent payable out of Drumcar. This is complicated by the fact that the head landlord, Charles Fortescue [of Stephenstown, Dundalk?], has run up debts of an alleged £80,000 on his property, and therefore has difficulty in making a good title. [14]

1838-1850: Two letters to John McClintock, later 1st Lord Rathdonnell, from his father, John McClintock Junior of Drumcar, about the McClintock estate in Co. Fermanagh (Cleenagh, Clontaverin, etc), in-roads made upon it in connection with the Ulster Canal, 1838, the difficulties attendant upon its being held under a lease from the bishops of Clogher/the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland, etc. [15]


St Fintan’s Church, Drumcar. Presumably the McClintock family had a hand in choosing to dedicate it to St Fintan, the cult of whom, according to family lore, the first McClintocks were devotees of. That said, Fintan seemingly founded the first church in Drumcar c. 600 AD.




Drumcar Rectory (courtesy of Kate Okuno)

On 15 August 1840, the parishes of Drumcar and Dunleer, united since 1682, were once again constituted as separate parishes. Cecil Smyly, the first Vicar appointed, arrived in December 1840 and was granted a licence to preach in the Schoolhouse in April 1841. [16]

On 7 March 1842, the first stone of the new church was laid on the watch of John McClintock, the future Lord Rathdonnell. [17] Christine Casey, Associate Professor of Architectural History at Trinity College Dublin, happens to live in Drumcar parish. In 2017, she explained to me how the new church of coursed rubble with limestone dressings comprising a ‘small four-bay lancet hall, buttressed, with a bellcote over the western gable and a south porch’ was modelled on John Henry Newman‘s church at Littlemore near Oxford. ‘Plans and elevations of the Littlemore church were published in 1840 by the Society for Promoting Gothic Architecture,’ writes Christine. ‘McClintock acquired a copy in 1841 and the church at Drumcar was completed in 1845: a neat illustration of the rapid spread of architectural styles in the 19th century. The chancel, with triple-light east window, is an addition of 1868 by Slater & Carpenter … In the churchyard are the now featureless ruins of the previous church and, north of the chancel, the McClintock Mausoleum [inspired by Ruskin], also by Slater & Carpenter and of 1868.’ [18]

The drawings for the chancel and mausoleum are also in the RCBL.

The East window, a stained-glass window behind the altar, is dedicated to the Rev. Francis George le Poer McClintock (1853–1924), Dean of Armagh, and is by Harry Clarke of J. Clarke & Sons, 1924, and depicts The Ascension. A letter exists where Harry Clarke is apologising for his being late with delivery of the window explaining that he had been ill. The 1st Lord Rathdonnell and his wife Anne are buried in the Gothic Ruskin-inspired Mausoleum (1868).

Canon Leslie notes:

“There is a handsome light east window. Two light windows one on each side of the chancel are inscribed: “To the beloved memory of John, First Baron Rathdonnell, born Aug. 26, 1798, Called to Rest in Christ May 17, 1879.” A light window near the pulpit on the south side has the inscription: “To the glory of God and in loving memory of the Rev. Robert Le Poer M’Clintock. At Rest June 30, 1879. Erected by his relatives and many friends.” There is a very handsome brass memorial tablet in the nave near the Vestry door to Admiral Sir Francis Leopold M’Clintock, K.C.B. The west window has a brass inscribed: “This window was placed in loving memory of Anne Lady Rathdonnell, 1890.” She was wife of 1st Lord Rathdonnell and daughter of Rev. J. H. Lefroy. There are also tablets to John M’Clintock, of Drumcar, M.P., b. 1769, d. 1855; Major Henry Stanley M’Clintock, b. 1812, d. 1898; George Augustus Jocelyn M’Clintock, &c.”

The Book of Common Prayer at St Fintan’s Church, Drumcar, presented by Elizabeth Bell at Christmas 1961. It rests on the marble lectern inside the church. Photo: Ian Armstrong.

Leslie also records:

“The chalice and 2 patens — plated — are inscribed: “Drumcar Church, 1842” while a collecting plate was inscribed “Drumcar Church, 1843.”” He quotes the cost of the construction as £1,550, of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners contributed £160. “The church was consecrated 15th May 1845, by the Bishop of Meath for the Primate. The ruins of the old church lie to the west of the present one. The interior measurement is 69 feet by 20 feet; a doorway and 4 windows remain.”

‘The Lord Primate (ie: Lord John Beresford) has appointed Wednesday the 13th instant, for holding a conformation at Castlebellingham, after which his Grace will proceed to Drumcar, the seat of John McClintock, Esq.’. (Nenagh Guardian, Wednesday, September 13, 1843, p. 3).

Its ornate marble pulpit and lectern came from Carysfort Church, also known as Christ Church Blackrock, in the south Dublin suburb of Blackrock, which was closed and demolished in 1961 to make room for a dual carriageway. Te pulpit had a stone inset “In Memory of Rev. E F RAMBAUT 1871-1893”, he being one of the last Huguenot’s to be buried in their cemetery off Merrion Row in Dublin City. Ian Armstrong believes the pulpit and lectern were also involved with the Kellyite Revival. The pulpit and lectern were acquired by a group of Drumcar parishioners headed up by the late George Eager’s father and by Ian Armstrong’s maternal grandparents, Andrew and Elizabeth Bell, who had married in the Carysfort Church.

A book given to ElizabethBell, the teacher, by Gertrude McClintock. Photo: Ian Armstrong.

Elizabeth Bell was a daughter of Barnabus Clarke and her address at the time of the 1901 census (when she was three) was Sillarhertane (Milane), not far from Dunmanway in West Cork. While studying at the Kildare Place (Church of Ireland) teacher training college in Dublin, she and her sister Barbara lived at at Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, where she came across the church she married in. She later became the teacher in Drumcar National School. The Bell family used to transport the McClintock’s to and from Dromin Junction to Drumcar House. One of the Bells married Mr Kearney, the first park-keeper of  St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Another prominent family locally were the Armstrongs, who came from Scotland, and whose extended family included Neil Armstrong, the man who reached the moon.

The church in Drumcar all but closed after its last weekly service was held there in September 2008. By that time, Rene Bell and the Treadwells were practically its only parishioners. Rene, née Gillis, was a sister of the late Alan Gillis, MEP. As of 2017, the keeper of the keys to the church is Edgar Treadwell. 

Over Christmas 2016, the floor on one side of the church collapsed, as the timbers completely rotted through, and they nearly lost the church organ. At the initiative of local parishioners, works were quickly underway to replace the floor and restore the roof. The fabric of the church is in serious need of funding. There is an argument that the church is now a ruin. As such, we may have to be wary of plunderers stealing the memorials from the walls. One memorial seemed to be gone already and that might well have been the 1st Lord Rathdonnell’s memorial.

On 4 September 2023, it was announced that, after considerable discussions, the Kilsaran Select Vestry took the decision to close the church and, presumably having secured permission from the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland (RCB) is the Trustee of all church property, the sale of the property has been set in train. Until the church is formally closed, a service of evening prayer will take place at 4pm on the second Sunday of the month.

I would propose that the church be gifted to the Saint John of Gods of Drumcar House. They might not thank anyone for it but, on the other hand, perhaps they could conceive a useful purpose for the structure and so justify its ongoing maintenance? Continued use may help stop any further deterioration.


John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell, looking cheerful.




At the age of 49, John was all set to contest the General Election in 1847. However, he withdrew from the contest, as per these extracts from the Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser, Saturday 14 August 1847.


Gentlemen— It being well known amongst you that I had some intention of offering myself for the representation of this County at the recent election, having also issued an address to that effect, I feel called upon to guard myself, and you, from misrepresentation, by a public declaration of motives in not coming to a poll.
Gentlemen, I have only retired from this contest from an unwillingness to plunge this County in all the horrors it would have involved; while the absence of many of my most steady supporters, in England and elsewhere, would have made the issue doubtful. I feel confident, that, by so doing, I shall have indisposed none of you to support me on a future occasion.
Gentlemen, there never was a time when it so much behoved us all steadily to exert ourselves to obtain representatives whose character, principles, and stake in the country would ensure their support of all those measures having for their object the maintenance of our connexion with England, and the security of our established institutions. The question is no longer a question of party, but a question of civil and religious liberty.
A few years will determine whether the floodgates of democracy are to be thrown open, and its flood destroy all that is dear to us; or whether its tide shall be stemmed, and real and abiding national improvement spring up in its place. The larger proportion of the property of this County is now, and has long been, unrepresented. To assert the independence of that portion was my object in offering myself to you.
I have now only to offer my sincere thanks to those amongst you who so cordially tendered me your assistance; and to declare readiness to come forward, on any future occasion, and aid you with my best services in maintaining the independence of the County, and true Conservative principles,
I am, Gentlemen, Your obliged and humble servant,
Drumcar, Aug. 12, 1847.

Gentlemen I BEG you to accept my sincere thanks for the high honor you have conferred upon me in choosing me as one of your Representatives. I am deeply sensible of the kind reception I have met with from the Electors, of all parties. I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, Your faithful and obliged servant,
Ravensdale Park, Aug. 12, 1847

When the 1847 election took place, the Oxford-educated Chichester Fortescue was elected to parliament for Louth as a Liberal.

In 1850, while his father was living at Drumcar, John McClintock Jnr is recorded as living at Oriel Temple in Collon, County Louth. [19]




Tristram Kennedy (1805–1885): Born at Inishowen, County Donegal, he was the twelfth child of a Church of Ireland clergyman. By his wife Sarah (née Graham), he had seven children. As High Sheriff of Londonderry City in 1828, he chaired a major debate between Protestant and Catholic clergyman, winning praise from both sides. A former attorney, he became a barrister and was a key player in reforming legal education, co-founding the Dublin Law Institute in 1839. He was a land agent on the Marquess of Bath’s estates in County Monaghan, where he “sternly refused to adopt any of the cruel remedies applied in other quarters” during the Great Hunger and allowed tenants to run great arrears. He also established seven new national schools and was closely involved in setting up the Carrickmacross lace industry. Although elected MP for County Louth as a Whig candidate in 1852, he joined the Independent Irish Party just after the election. In Parliament, his focus was either on landlord and tenant matters, or national and industrial education. See ‘Tristram Kennedy and the Revival of Irish Legal Training, 1835-85’ by Colum Kenny (‎Irish Academic Press Ltd, 1996)

1852 was a difficult year. On 25 February 1852, the 74th Regiment, his old regiment, was involved in the HMS  Birkenhead disaster when their ship was wrecked of Western Cape of South Africa. Of approximately 643 people aboard, only 193 were saved. Their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Seaton, was among the dead. This led to what became known as the “Birkenhead” Drill, enabling women and children on board to be saved.

John stood as Tory candidate for County Louth but was defeated in the July election – despite spending a well above average £3500 on his campaign, a pretty penny. On 3 July 1852, a McClintock campaign poster stated: ‘To the Electors of Louth … I am pledged to no party’.

According to the Dundalk Herald (24 May 1879), 1852 was the first time he contested the county – although I have already said he contested it earlier, so that’s an oddity. His opponents being Messrs. Chichester Fortescue [a pal of Edward Lear] and Tristram Kennedy.

“We think what is known in history as the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill agitation was in progress at the time,” continued the Dundalk Herald, “and sectarian feeling was powerfully aroused against Mr McClintock, and at the close of the poll the numbers were:

Fortescue ….. 1,152
Kennedy ……. 995
McClintock … 885

The election of 1852 is remarkable also for the first appearance of another local politician on the scene – Mr Philip Callan. Mr Fortescue little thought that his thick and thin supporter in 1852, the organiser of mobs which broke the windows of tenant-right voters and thrashed the bodies of bodies of tenant righters in Ardee, would be the instrument of his defeat in Louth in 1874.”

Soon after the defeat, an election address was published by 114 persons, describing themselves as the ‘Roman Catholic Farmers, Tradesmen and Labourers of John McClintock’s estate at Drumcar‘. In it they take objection to accusations made against the latter that he was a ‘bigot‘ and ‘had an inane hatred of the Catholic religion‘. They pointed out that ‘he had contributed to the construction of the Catholic church at Dillonstown, that he had never preferred a Protestant to a Catholic tenant and that when some tenants fell into arrears with their rents, he did not, as other landlords had done, evict them‘.  [20a]

1852 ended badly for Co. Louth when a storm on Christmas Day sent two cranes working on the behind-schedule Boyne Viaduct crashing down, bankrupting Evans the construction man. Sheep-wool was used to plug some of the gaps beneath the viaduct piers into which water was leaking. The first train finally crossed, over-budget and over-schedule, on 5 April 1855 to provide a seamless link between Belfast and Dublin, a massive boost for Victorian Ireland.




According to the Dundalk Herald (24 May 1879):

“Two years later (ie: 1854) an opportunity was offered to Mr McClintock to effect a certain defeat upon Mr Fortescue; But Mr McClintock from, we fear, too chivalrous a feeling, did not come forward. A vacancy arose in the county through the acceptance of office by Mr Fortescue [who became a junior Lord of the Treasury in 1854 under Lord Palmerston, a post he held until 1855], which rendered his real action necessary. He was opposed by Mr McNamara Cantwell, a Dublin attorney, and part owner of the “Freeman” newspaper. He rallied to his support, as an old Repealer and Nationalist, all the Radicals of Louth, and the contest was the fiercest and best contested since Dawson’s election in 1826.

“MacNamara’s harangues had inflamed the populous against the Whigs, and Mr Fortescue’s acceptance of office was looked upon as a downright piece of treachery. McNamara, confident of success, and backed up by determined supporters, could not withdraw; neither could Fortescue, as his political fortunes and his marriage with the Countess of Waldegrave depended upon his retaining his seat. [20b] The appearance of a Conservative candidate on the scene would destroy all Fortescue’s hopes, and even if the Conservative would not be successful, Fortescue’s defeat was certain.”

“But Mr McClintock made no sign, and the votes of the Conservatives of Louth went to swell the majority of Fortescue, who despite … of Conservative backing had a majority of only 154 over MacNamara… (hard to read parts here) … mistake on the part of the… But evidently their social feelings got the better of their politics – they preferred a vote for the local gentlemen, even though a Whig, than for a Dublin attorney. They then little knew how they were helping a to power a man who was afterwards to reward them with the Disestablishment of the Irish Church and the Land Act – for there is not the slightest doubt that in his legislation for Ireland in the last Parliament, Mr Gladstan was mainly swayed and influence by the opinions of Mr Fortescue.”




On 20 July 1852 Anne McClintock’s younger sister Sophia Anna Lefroy married the Rev. Ernest Hawkins (1801-1868), an English Anglican churchman and mission administrator who became canon of Westminster. He was also a key figure in the Canterbury Association, which planned the colony in New Zealand. Anne’s brother Henry Maxwell Lefroy was secretary of the Canterbury Association, while another sister Frances Phoebe Lefroy married George Kettilby Rickards, who was also a Canterbury Association member.


Drumcar House was built by ‘Bumper Jack’ McClintock in about 1777. The wings, portico and window surround were added later.




In April 1856, the Rev. Cecil Smyly retired as Rector of Drumcar having been granted a licence to preach in the Schoolhouse in April 1841. He relocated to Grange (Carlingford). He was succeeded by the Rev. George Studdert, the 39-year-old fourth and youngest son of George Studdert (1783-1854), Divisional Magistrate of Police in Dublin. The Rev. Studdert’s mother was Letitia Blacker (d. 1831), eldest daughter of the Very Rev. Stewart Blacker of Carrickblacker, Dean of Leighlin. His parental grandfather and uncle, both called Thomas Studdert, lived at Bunratty Castle, County Clare. George was born circa 1818 and educated at Trinity College Dublin, obtaining a BA in 1840 and an MA in 1845. He remained at Drumcar until 1861.


Memorial at Drumcar Church, County Louth, to John ‘Old Turnip’ McClintock, his first wife Jane (née Bunbury) and their daughter Catherine Gardiner.




Sir John Henry Lefory, KCMG, CB, FRS, brother-in-law of the 1st Lord Rathdonnell, painted by Ossani in 1879. He was a distinguished magnetic scientist who became President of the Royal Canadian Institute. In 1857 he was gazetted Inspector-General of army schools, whereby all matters connected with regimental education were placed under his direction, and he at once organised a large staff of trained school masters.

The Marquess of Downshire wrote to Lord Derby in 1852, recommending John’s father Old Turnip for a peerage but it never happened. It is notable that the Marquess refers to William McClintock Bunbury’s political career but says nothing of his older brother, aka John. Perhaps Old Turnip might have won his peerage in in due course, but he was already very senior, and he died on 12 July 1855, at Drumcar, in his 85th year. John must have had cause to reflect on the Carlow Sentinel’s obituary which referred to Old Turnip as ‘a patriot in the true sense of the term, being consistently opposed to the Union.’

On 12 July 1855, Sir John H Lefroy, brother-in-law to John McClintock, wrote a letter to a friend (sibling?) called Emmie, in which he suggested that all was not well in the McClintock family at the time of Old Turnip’s death. Had he turned against his firstborn son in favour of his family by his second wife?

‘I was very glad to get your note this morning and to hear such good accounts. You were a good little soul to write me a long letter so soon. I hope you got mine I did not address Spring Cottage. I took tea yesterday at Anne’s [ie: his sister Anne McClintock, née Lefroy]. They were in some indignation with the Master’s Will. He leaves John the bare walls and bare acres; but no part of the Furniture – cellar, plate, etc. – not the crops; there are doubts whether he can give away the latter legally. It is an ungracious act. McC has for years given up as much to his family and it does not appear to have been softened by any mark of affection or gratitude to him, but I cannot feel indignant at it myself. The McC’s will have a very large fortune, and the second family a very small one. I am not so much in love with {illegible word} as to wish the see the Father of both families refrain from anything it is legally in his power to do for his widow of half a Century’s union and her children. They have been over 50 years married. John is expected back today or tomorrow.’ [21]




Box 2/9 of the Rathdonnell Papers includes a printed pamphlet of 1857, with MS alterations and comments, stating the high Ultramontane position of the Roman Catholic priesthood in Meath elections, 1850, together with a poem extolling John McClintock as a candidate for Co. Louth, 1857. John was nearly sixty at the time of this election. The Dundalk Herald recalled in his obituary of 1879:

“At the general election of 1857 Mr McClintock again entered the field in the Conservative interest, and with better hopes of success than in 1852, as three Liberals were put in nomination. Mr RM Bellew was the new candidate, and a great efforts were made to induce Mr Kennedy to withdraw, but the more advanced Radicals and tenant righters would not permit it, and a determined contest ensued. Every possible exertion was made, as was evidenced by the fact that over 700 votes more work polled in 1857 then in 1852. At the close of the poll the numbers stood –

Fortescue …. 1,376
McClintock … 1,057
Bellew ….. 894
Kennedy…. 406

Mr McClintock at length obtained the honour of representing his native county. He held the seat only two years when the general election of 1859 intervened consequent on the Conservatives entering office after the defeat of Lord Palmerston. The Whig candidates were Messrs. Fortescue and Bellew, the Radicals not daring to put forward Kennedy again after his hollow defeat in 1857.
They threw in their fortunes with the wigs, and the combined interest was too powerful and Mr McClintock was defeated.”

Or, another version of the above:

“At the general election in 1857 there were contests in county and town Mr McClintock, defeated in 1852, was prepared to renew the struggle and this time, with better assurance of success, Mr Montesquieu Bellew also entered the lists, supported by the powerful influence of Barmeath while the tenant right candidate Mr Tristram Kennedy relied on the votes of the tenant farmers and Mr Fortescue on his long and faithful services The result must have been exceedingly gratifying to this gentleman as also to his excellent brother Lord Clermont the former representative of the county. The votes were:

Mr Chichester Fortescue 1,376
Mr M’Clintock 1,057
Mr Bellew 894
Mr Tristram Kennedy 406
Mr Fortescue and the Conservative candidate Mr McClintock were therefore declared the sitting members.”[22]

Fortescue served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in Lord Palmerston’s cabinet between 1857 and 1858 and 1859 and 1865.

Dundalk was visited by his Eminence Cardinal Wiseman during his visit to Ireland in 1858. He was accompanied by Lord Bellew from Barmeath and his entrance into Dundalk on Friday 3 September 1858 was one of the greatest public demonstrations ever made.




‘In 1859 the representation of the county was again contested. The Whig Party determined to return the two members while the Conservatives felt they had an equal claim to send both members representing their views on political matters. Accordingly, in addition to Mr M’Clintock of Drumcar, they put forward Frederick J Foster Esq whose family long resident and respected had fair claims to seek the suffrages of the freeholders. The result however was not consonant to their wishes for though Mr M’Clintock was supported by a much more numerous constituency than on any former occasion, 1,138 votes being recorded in his favour, he was left in a minority while Mr Foster in sporting phrase was no where. The numbers polled were
Mr Fortescue 1,379
Mr Montesquieu Bellew 1,208
Mr M’Clintock 1,138
Mr Foster 23.’



In March 1861, the Rev. George Studdert was transferred to Ardee where he became Rector. On 8 October 1861, seven months later, he married Caroline Amelia Priestly, daughter of Edward J Priestly, later Deputy Inspector General of Constabulary in Ireland. They had two daughters, Elizabeth (who married Dr. O’Flaherty) and Anne, who died as an infant. Caroline died on 9 March 1898 and George followed her less than 5 weeks later, on 14 April 1898.

George Finlay succeeded George Studdert as Rector of Drumcar on March 25th 1863. He was educated under Mr. Allen. He was 16 when he entered T.C.D. He left in July 1873 for Clones and, remarkably, ended up spending quarter of a century in Bishopscourt, the house where my wife Ally grew up.




Along with the Earl of Roden, Lord Clermont (Fortescue), Brown & Co and other principal inhabitants of Dundalk, John McClintock was one of the key shareholders in the Dundalk Corn Exchange and Market Company, founded in 1856 ‘for the purpose of supplying these desirable objects’. The company accordingly purchased the old gaol premises for £2,000, on which site it proposed to erect a corn exchange, a public exchange, and a news room, with other commodious rooms attached for public purposes as also fish poultry egg vegetable fruit and general markets which on a moderate calculation would pay four per cent on the proposed capital of 5,000. Before the buildings were completed however a new joint stock company called The Dundalk Commercial Buildings and Market Company Limited was formed in the year 1861, and opened in July 1862: capital £7,000 in 70 shares of £100 each. [23]




A letter from William McClintock-Bunbury to his brother John, dated 1864, refers to an ‘unhappy scene‘ at Drumcar which particularly affected relations between their wives and makes it imprudent for Pauline McClintock- Bunbury’s wife to see Anne, John McClintock’s wife, in the present delicate state of Pauline’s health. [24]




“In 1865,” wrote the Dundalk Herald in his 1879 obituary, “took place what everyone anticipated, the acceptance of a job by Mr Bellew. He was comfortably provided for by a Poor Law Commissionship and there was a vacancy in the county. Mr McClintock at once came forward and for a time it seemed as if he would have a walk over for he had won golden opinions from all men. His moderation, courtesy and excellent character as a kind and considerate landlord were known and admitted throughout the county.”

Drumcar, March 27th, 1865.
GENTLEMEN, A VACANCY having occurred in the Representation of our County, owing to the acceptance by Mr. Bellew, of the Office of Poorlaw Commissioner, I again offer myself for the honour of Representing you in the House of Commons.
I say again , for nearly eight years ago, you conferred that honour upon me.
If re-elected, I shall give an independent support to the great Conservative party, as I believe it to be honestly disposed to promote the prosperity of Ireland.
I trust the principle which has ever guided me in all dealings with my own tenants, is a sufficient guarantee that I should, in any question involving the occupation of land, be actuated by a true sense of justice.
As stranger I would not offer myself to any constituency, but l have been constant resident amongst you.
I have served you before.
Since that time I have been defeated; yet do I again seek your suffrages, though, as you are well aware, in doing so I have no personal object to gratify, beyond the honor of being your Representative.
I hope to pay my respects to many of you as I can, but, as the time may be short, before the day of nomination I trust that any omission on my part may not be attributed to neglect or want of courtesy.
Thanking you, Gentlemen, much for all your former kindness to me,
I remain,
Your obliged and faithful servant,
Newry Examiner and Louth Advertiser 
– Saturday 1 April 1865

“But,” continued the Dundalk Herald, “it would never suit the then local political hacks that a Conservative, no matter how high his personal character, should be returned for Louth, and the former discarded candidate, Mr Kennedy, was induced to come forward.”

“He did so with great reluctance. He was a comparatively poor man, but poor as he was his supporters had bled him pretty freely in previous contests. In fact he would not stand at all until his supporters commenced a subscription to pay his expenses. Then the turmoil broke out. If Mr McClintock were the most rabid Orangeman from the North, or the most notorious evictor of tenants, instead of a gentleman of recognised moderate politics and a pattern as a resident landlord he could not experience worse treatment. The mob in town and county were lashed into fury by the harangue of Radical agitators and the unceasing efforts of Kennedy’s agents among them. Mr Philip Callan took a leading part – the Mr Philip Callan, who according to his own sworn testimony in public court was in a few short years afterwards to sell the said Tristram Kennedy to O’Reilly Dease for a sum of £500. The leading Whigs also forgetful of Mr McClintock’s conduct in 1852 – his abstinence alone then from the contest, ensuring Mr Fortescue’s success, went with the Radicals and supported Mr Kennedy, and who threw the united exertions of Whigs and Radicals combined defeated Mr McClintock.
At the general election of 1865, Mr McClintock again addressed the constituency in a very moderate address. The nomination took place in the Court House amid a dreadful uproar. Mr Callen again rendered himself conspicuous by his violence, and in open court made an extravagant charge against Mr Burton Brabazon, Mr McClintock’s conducting agent.
Another conspicuous politician in court was Mr Peter Goodman, who gesticulated fiercely and roared loudly in the middle of the gallery, all the time brandishing a leather horse colour, or muzzle, in the face of Mr McClintock, and for which it is said he subsequently had his reward from Mr Fortescue, Mr McMahon, that gentleman’s agent, refusing to recognize his claim. To the honour of the memory of the late Rev Mr Marmion, PP, be it said, that when the tumult was at its highest, the Rev-gentleman stepped forward on the platform, denounced the conduct of the hired mob, and bore testimony to Mr McClintock’s humanity and generosity. “Never,” said Mr Marmion, “had I occasion to bring a cause of charity under Mr McClintock’s notice, that I did not meet with a generous response, and the eviction of a tenant on his estate is unknown.”
The nomination over, every preparation seemed to be made for a contest, Mr Brabazon had resigned the office of sub-sheriff to enable him to act as Mr McClintock’s conducting agent. But owing to some cause, unknown to any but Mr McClintock and his intimate friends, he withdrew from the contest, and Messrs. Fortescue and Kennedy had a walk over. It is probable the violent scene at the nomination in the courthouse and the memory of violence at previous elections induced Mr McClintock to spare the county from the tumult of a contested election and his friends from mob violence – a foretaste of the lengths the mob were prepared to go being furnished by the attack upon one of his principal supporters, Thomas Bradford, of Carnbeg, who was set upon in the streets of Dundalk, and savagely beaten, one of Mr Bradford’s legs being fractured in the course of the assault; but the very men who engaged in that brutal act – or parties of the same principles, are now the intimate political friends and associates of the son of Mr Thomas Bradford, the nominator of Mr McClintock. [Memories of his uncle Tom Bunbury’s violence-riddled election in Carlow in the 1830s must have been to the fore].
It is probable that advancing years – he was then closing up to his seventieth year – had something to do with Mr McClintock’s reluctance to enter on an election contest.” [25]

Tristram Kennedy.    Liberal.            1,002 votes.
John McClintock.     Conservative.     923 votes.

Tristram Kennedy was duly re-elected as a Liberal candidate at the by-election in 1865 and held the seat until 1868 when he stood down, after a sectarian campaign waged by Matthew O’Reilly Dease, the successful Liberal candidate.




The general election was held between 11 July and 24 July. Under Lord Palmerston, the Liberals (as the Whigs were now known) increased their already large majority over the Earl of Derby’s Conservatives to 80. In the summer of 1865, Honest John McClintock launched yet another campaign to be an MP. This indicates that he wasn’t as strict a Tory as one might have thought, and that he apparently had the approval of a lot of Catholics in Drumcar.


Gentlemen  – Understanding that it is in accordance with the true interests of our County that a constant resident, and one connected with it by family and property should be  your Representative, I again offer myself to your consideration.

In addressing you on a former occasion, I stated, that when I had the honour of representing you, I gave a general but independent support to the Government then in office, as I considered they were inclined to pursue a liberal and enlightened policy; and in the event of my now being chosen by you, it shall be my object to support any measure that may be introduced for the amelioration of the ills of Ireland, or lead to raise the condition of our Country, from whatever party such measures may emanate.

Two of the essentials for the improvement of Ireland, I consider, are the encouragement of the Agricultural Interest, and the increase of Native Manufacture, whereby such employment shall be secured for our people as may induce them to remain at home. Should it please you to return me to Parliament, I shall endeavour to promote these objects, and cheerfully assist in any amendment of the law relative to the occupation land, which will secure to the Tenant Farmer equitable and full compensation for whatever beneficial improvements he may effect.

I am, Gentlemen,

Your obedient servant, JOHN M’CLINTOCK


4th July, 1865

However, his decision to stand as an Independent rather than a Conservative promoted a diatribe from his distant cousin Vere Foster (1819–1900), a Liberal, who had actually stayed at Drumcar, along with his diplomat father Augustus Foster back in 1841. He had championed emigration during the 1850s,  paying the fares and other costs for 1,250 female emigrants and 2–300 men and boys, and frequently accompanying the emigrants to North America. His assisted emigration project wound up when he was accused of selling the girls into prostitution, a callous lie. He also played a key role in developing the Irish primary school system and became first president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation from 1868 to 1872. In 1865, the year he took on John McClintock, he paid for the printing of 50,000 copybooks for schools. In his biography of Vere Foster for the Dictionary of Irish Biography, Desmond McCabe writes: ‘These simple schoolbooks revolutionised Irish primary education and remained as standard school manuals until the 1900s or later. Profits were religiously reinvested by him in the scheme.’ [26]

Vere Foster’s letter was published in the Dundalk Democrat, and People’s Journal on Saturday 8 July 1865:

Friends and Fellow Electors —
It appears that Mr M‘Clintock declines to abide by the issue of the late severe contest, which resulted so gloriously in the election Mr [Tristam] Kennedy, at the sole expense of the constituency, a most noble and rare instance of public virture [sic], honorable alike to the constituency and to the object of their choice. Relying on his wealth, and on the influence of his landlord friends, he intends to impose upon us another struggle. Let me entreat of you then most earnestly not to relax in your efforts to vindicate freedom of election and the independence our county. Thus shall we secure the fruits of our late victory, and other constituencies be encouraged by our example. If you consider that Kennedy and Fortescue, Fortescue and M‘Clintock, or Kennedy and  M’Clintock best represent your interests, vote accordingly. Vote for the man of your choice alone, or not at all. Which ever of the three candidates who have solicited your suffrages leasts [sic] represents, or whichever of them misrepresents, your political sentiments and interests, let him find his place unmistakably at the foot of the poll, so that he shall never have the heart and assurance come forward again, and let us carry the election of the other two by a sweeping majority. Since we are driven to the disagreeable necessity of a contest let us act with union, vigor, and determination, and the victory will again be ours. My principles, and I believe those of the great majority of the people of Louth, are tenant right and religious equality, the triumph of both of which I consider essential to the prosperity of our country. The principles of the conservative party with which Mr M’Clintock is identified are, as I understand them, the maintenance of existing institutions in Church and State unreformed—the right of landlords to confiscate their tenants, improvements, which I call tenant wrong, and the ascendancy of the Established Church of the minority, a minority consisting of one seventh part of the people in all Ireland, and of one fifteenth part only in this county. These preposterous grievances and anomalies would not be tolerated for a single day in either England Scotland, not to mention the United States, or indeed any other civilized country. The Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Marlborough, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently disclaimed with indignation the purpose imputed to them of an intention to interfere with the freedom of election of their tenantry. I understand that in our own county Lord Clermont, Lord Massareene. Lord Louth, Lord Bellow, Sir John Robinson, my brother Sir Cavendish Foster, my cousin Mr William F Vesey Fitzgerald, and other landlords of our county, have also expressed their intention of respecting freedom of election. All honor and respect to them for doing so. Let your watchwords be freedom of election, no coercion. Let no man accept bribes to betray the people’s cause. Sustain your own principles and the cause of Ireland. Be early at the poll. Be sober, orderly, united and determined to win. Again I say, vote for the men of our choice or not all. Vote for Kennedy and Fortescue, Fortescue and Kennedy. Union is strength—and down with M‘Clintock, down, down at the foot of the poll, so that he shall never have the heart  and assurance to disturb the peace of the county again.

In selecting Mr Kennedy as their candidate of choice, the Dundalk Democrat, and People’s Journal wrote on the same day, Saturday 8 July 1865:

“Mr M’Clintock’s address is quite different from that which he issued in April last. Then he resolved to ‘give an independent support to the great Conservative party, as they were honestly disposed to serve Ireland.’ Now, however, he seems to shift his mooring and throw the ‘great Conservative  party’ overboard, for he will support ‘measures’ that may ameliorate ‘the ills of Ireland, from whatever party such measures may emanate.’ Two of these he looks upon as ‘the encouragement of the agricultural interest, and the increase of native manufacture.’ Now, what is the meaning of all this change in Mr M’Clintock’s tactics? Is he going to sail under false colours? Is he about to carry ‘two faces under a hood?’ We should rather see him sticking manfully to his colours, than to find him a conservative with the conservatives, and a liberal with the liberals. We tell him that he ‘cannot serve two masters,’ and if he is on for contesting Louth, let him go into the fight carrying the conservative banner, for no one believes that he is or ever will be anything else.”

This prompted a response from 114 persons, describing themselves as the ‘Roman Catholic Farmers, Tradesmen and Labourers of John McClintock’s estate at Drumcar’. Published in the Drogheda Argus and Leinster Journal on Saturday 15 July 1865, it the signatories objected to accusations made against the latter that he was a ‘bigot’ and ‘had an inane hatred of the Catholic religion’. They pointed out that ‘he had contributed to the construction of the Catholic church at Dillonstown, that he had never preferred a Protestant to a Catholic tenant and that when some tenants fell into arrears with their rents, he did not, as other landlords had done, evict them’. [27]



We, the undersigned Roman Catholic Farmers, Tradesmen and Labourers residing on the Estates of JOHN M’CLINTOCK, Esq., of Drumcar, beg leave to address you in reference to the many False and Calumnious Reports respecting him, which are now put in circulation to serve a purpose.

We have, with sincere regret, silently listened for a long time to these reports, and we cannot but feel indignant that such reports should be not only circulated, but even believed by persons who should know Mr. M’Clintock well. There are two sides to every story ; and we trust, that when we lay the plain, unvarnished truth before you, you will at least inquire, before you rashly credit these reports.

It is stated that Mr. M‘Clintock is a bigot, and has an innate hatred to the Catholic Religion, but if this were true his bigotry and hatred are curiously exemplified by his voting when before in Parliament, for the continuance of the Maynooth Grant, and by his generous contribution of £10 to the Dillonstown Chapel, giving planks, scaffolding, &c , to the Committee, when it was being built—thus saving much expense to the Parish.

We have it asserted, and with exultation, that he belongs to that party in the House of Commons, usually called Lord Derby’s party, but we maintain that he is tied or bound to no party, that he wants neither place or pension, and that if he is returned, he goes to Parliament a Free and Unfettered Member, always ready, and ever wilting to support any measure (to use the words of his own address) “for the Amelioration of the Ills of Ireland.”

The majority of us who append our names to this Address, can state with truth, fearless of contradiction, that our ancestors have for many generations lived under the M’Clintock Family, and we have never heard that in all that time they ever preferred a Protestant to a Catholic tenant. The remainder of us reside on property lately purchased by Mr. M’Clintock, and instead of resorting to any harsh measures as many have done and raising the rents, he has on the contrary in the spirit of a just and equitable landlord, actually in many cases, reduced them; and to such tenants who either emigrated or left, he always permitted them to sell their holdings to the highest bidder, thus giving Tenant-right in the fullest sense of the word.

It has happened on the Drumcar Estates, that some of the old Roman Catholic Tenant Farmers hare from various causes been reduced in their means to such a degree as to be unable to hold their farms. Well did Mr. M’Clintock go and seize on their little property for the arrears due or did he bring the Sheriff and turn them out on the high road, and tell them to go to the Workhouse?

No, no, he did no such thing; but he told them to live in their own houses – that he would forgive the arrears due—took their farms on his own hands, and gave them a yearly pension sufficient to keep them comfortable until the day of their death.

We say to you, Farmers of 10, 12, or 15 acres, is this Tenant-right, or what is Tenant-right? Would to God you all had such landlords.

Well, what does he do with his Roman Catholic labourers, who from age or infirmity become unable to earn a livelihood? Does he let them go and beg from door to door, and die in the Workhouse, or at the back of a hedge?

Very, very far from this is Mr. M’Clintock’s conduct. He sends them home to their fireside, pays them their full weekly wages, month after month, and year after year, until they sink quietly into their graves, and in this way they live and die under the care and attention of the best and kindest employer that ever lived in Louth.

We ask the labouring men who will go to the Election to Ardee and Dundalk, with sticks and stones in their hands, to read this, and judge for themselves. And in all that we have said in this Address, we now challenge the greatest enemy that Mr. McClintock has to point out one lie, or contradict one word from beginning to end. We beg to state that in this Address we are not actioned by any antagonism to Mr. Kennedy or Mr. Fortescue, but we feel that it is due from a grateful tenantry to a good, a generous, and benevolent landlord. that we should come forward and state the truth respecting him, in opposition to the False and Calumnious Statements made against him now, merely on account of his candidature, and we do of our own free will, without acquainting Mr. M’Clintock of this Address.

[The names and addresses of the 114 signatories then follow]

The above One Hundred and Fourteen Names are each and every one the Heads of Families, and, allowing Six Persons as the average of each Family, it is evident that there are very close on Seven Hundred Roman Catholics living happy and contented on the Estates of HONEST JOHN M’CLINTOCK.’

However, the campaign against him was clearly effective;

We deeply regret to learn that Mr M’Clintock, the Conservative candidate, yielding to the advice of his committee, has decided on retiring from the contest in Louth, rather than expose the electors to a frightful system of terrorism and violence. Belfast NewsLetter, 24 July 1865. [28]

Chichester Samuel Fortescue.      Liberal.            628 votes
Tristram Kennedy.                         Liberal.            607 votes
Frederick John Foster                   Conservative      8 votes
John McClintock.                           Conservative      6 votes

By the time that absolute whitewash was done, John evidently needed a little vitamin sunshine. On 22 August 1865, The Newry Commercial Telegraph reported:

‘John McClintock, Esq., DL, Mrs McClintock and suite, have left Drumcar for London, on their way to the Continent.’ [29]

In 1865, his old political adversary Chichester Fortescue, who was admitted to the Privy Council in 1864, was made Chief Secretary for Ireland under Lord Russell, a post which he again occupied under William Ewart Gladstone from 1868 to 1871 (this time with a seat in the cabinet). The Dundalk Herald maintained that Fortescue did more than any man to influence Gladstone regarding the Disestablishment of the Irish Church and the Land Act.




In the summer of 1866, he was one of the principal mourners at his brother William’s funeral in Rathvilly. In September 1866, the Daily Telegraph reported that 70-year-old John McClintock was likely to become a new peer and would ‘probably assume the title of Baron Drumcar’. [30] On 18 November 1866, he was made Lord Lieutenant for Co. Louth and the town of Drogheda, which posts he retained until death thirteen years later in 1879. [He was also Colonel of the Louth Militia (check).]

At the time of the captain’s death in June 1866 the Liberal government were falling from power, having split over the specifics of the proposed Reform Bill. The so-called Abdullamites within the Liberal party objected to the extremities of the bill and declared they were sticking to the principles of their late lamented party founder and leader, Lord Palmerston, who had led the party to electoral victory before his death in 1865. However, following the bill’s defeat in June, the Reform League host a lot of major rallies, kick-starting the trade unions with 150,000 arriving at Trafalgar Square on 29 June 1866, requiring either the police or the army to maintain order. This was Lord John Russell’s second administration; he had been prime minister during the latter part of the famine in the 1840s. Gladstone was his head honcho in the House of Commons; Gladstone’s father had made his fortune from slave plantations in British Guyana and Jamaica.

It was Disraeli more than anyone who brought the Liberals down. However, with a rally of 200,000 in Hyde Park on 23 July 1866 and other pressures, the Tories were then obliged to champion the Reform Bill, which doubled the number of voters to two million. A little like Wellington overseeing the Emancipation of Catholics in 1829, the Reform Act was not a natural fit for the Tories.




On 2 March 1868, Colonel John McClintock chaired a meeting of the Protestant Defence Association in Drogheda, which earned him the wrath of the Dundalk Democrat:

‘People thought that the Colonel was more liberal than to put himself at the head of intolerant bigots. He was liberal enough at one time to vole for the Maynooth Grant and for a tenant right bill; and having done these things, many were of opinion that he would progress in liberality. But he has now spoiled all his good works by going to Drogheda on Monday last, and presiding at the meeting of the “defenders.” Does he understand what he was doing on that occasion? If he is ignorant of if, we must enlighten him little. He knows that there are not many Protestants in and around Drumcar. They may number ten or twelve. Well, he went to Drogheda to insist on having the parson who instructs these ten or twelve Protestants, paid by their Catholic neighbours! Was not that pretty conduct on the part of Colonel John M’Clintock! What would he think if he or the ten or twelve Protestants were compelled to pay £300 or £400 a year to the Rev Mr Markey, the parish priest? We suspect that he and they would roar out lustily against such plunder.’ [31]




The McClintock Crest as depicted in stained glass in a window at Drumcar Church, County Louth.

There were rumours that John McClintock would stand again in 1868 but he did not, which the Dundalk Herald [24 May 1879] attributed, in part, to his age. The rumours ‘died away, and poor Tristram Kennedy having been thrown overboard, deserted by Mr Callan, and all clerical and lay supporters, Messrs Fortescue and Dease, enjoyed a walk over. Since then, Mr McClintock took no part in politics and with his disappearance from the local political arena, the hopes of Conservative representation of Louth vanished.

Lord Beaconsfield, then Mr Disraeli, was not however unmindful of Mr McClintock’s services. Before he retired from office in 1868, Mr McClintock was created an Irish Peer, taking his title “Rathdonnell,” from the first estate possessed by the McClintock family in the Count Donegal, and on the death of Lord Bellew he was made Lord Lieutenant of the county and Colonel of the Louth Rifles.’ The circumstances of the title follow below:

In February 1868 Lord Derby resigned due to ill health and Disraeli became the fortieth prime minister of Great Britain or, as he put it, ‘I have climbed to the top of the greasy pole.’ One of his achievements during what was to be a relatively short premiership was to dispatch the successful expedition against Tewodros II of Ethiopia under Sir Robert Napier, in which Sir Harry Flashman also served. Under his guidance, the Reform Act had ended up even more radical than the Liberals had intended for various reasons, eliminating all the rotten boroughs, and ensuring that one could no longer simply be elected on the back of one’s name or family. One would henceforth have to actually visit one’s constituents and hear their concerns, God forbid.

Another legacy of this tenure was the creation of a new Irish peerage: Baron Rathdonnell.

On 21 November 1868, Disraeli wrote to the Queen:

‘Mr Disraeli with his humble duty to Yr Majesty.
There are now four Irish peerages extinct; and Y r Majesty has the power on the extinction of three, & after a certain period, wh: has now lapsed, to create a new Irish Peer. [32]
May Mr Disraeli recommend to Yr Majesty, Mr McClintock, Yr Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Louth, & for a long period, member for that County? He is a gentleman of high character, & of extensive & unembarrassed possessions, & a constant resident on his estate.
Although the fury of the priesthood prevents Mr McClintock from now exercising his natural influence, in ordinary time she is esteemed & beloved by his Catholic neighbours, & was on the point of supporting Mr Preston, [33] son of Lord Gormanston, the Premier Viscount of Ireland, & a Conservative altho’ a Roman Catholic, for the County of Louth: but the turbulence of the present moment renders this impossible.
In a more tranquil period, the McClintock family is something to rally around, & Mr Disraeli feels sure that the elevation of this gentleman to the Irish Peerage by Yr Majesty will be viewed by all loyal subjects of Yr Majesty in Ireland with grateful respect.
The three vacancies in the Irish Peerage wh: enable Her Majesty to create a peer
Earl of Clare Jan 10 1864
Visct Palmerston Oct 18 1865
Baroness Keith Nov 12 1867
The fourth extinction
Earl of Moira (Marq: of Hastings).’ [34]

The reference to ‘the turbulence of present moment’ relates to the impassioned arguments over the fate of the Church of Ireland, the established church, which was funded by direct taxation, a matter that was greatly resented by the Catholic majority. Gladstone’s proposal to disestablish the Irish Church entirely had united the Liberals under his leadership, while causing such divisions among the Conservatives that, even as he wrote to the Queen about McClintock, Disraeli’s government was falling apart.

Two days after his letter recommending McClintock, Disraeli was invited to dine with the Queen at Windsor. McClintock was presumably among the topics they discussed, as well as the likelihood of an election, although he simultaneously asked the Queen if she might ‘be graciously pleased to create’ a peerage for his wife (‘who has a fortune of her own’), namely Viscountess Beaconsfield, ‘a town with wh: Mr Disraeli has long been connected, & which is the nearest town to his estate in Bucks, wh: is not yet enobled.’ [35] The Queen happily agreed, and Disraeli’s wife became a Viscountess.

On 3 December 1868 John McClintock wrote to Disraeli from the Carlton Club to thank him for having recommended him to the Queen ‘to fill the vacant Irish Peerage, by the title of Baron Rathdonnell.’ He also asked him to procure the Queen’s permission that his title ‘may descend to any Heirs, the male issue of my late brother Captain William McClintock Bunbury who for many years past represented the Co Carlow on Conservative principles … I am most anxious that the Title might be extended, after my death, to my late brother’s eldest son, to whom my landed property, in several counties in Ireland, will descend, which together with my own in Co. Carlow will form a considerable possession.’ [36]

On Sunday 6 December 1868, Disraeli wrote to Charles Freemantle from Downing Street:

‘Dear Freemantle, The Queen approves of Ld Rathdonnell’s title being extended to the male issue of his late brother, as expressed in the enclosed. Loose not a moment in tomorrow in seeing, that this is alright. And if you have time, write a letter to Mr McClintock.’ [37]

The following day, the Prime Minister wrote to Freemantle again: ‘I am summoned to Windsor for my audience and taking leave, & shall not be back till 6 o’ck: when let me hear from you if necessary. Push Larcom’s Bartcy & Lord Rathdonnell’s peerage with limitation to his nephew, as I wrote to you yesterday.’[38]

On 9 December, Rathdonnell wrote to Montagu Lowry-Corry (Disraeli’s private secretary and a kinsman of Mathew Forde) to thank him for informing him of the Queen’s consent ‘to limit the succession of my Brother’s male issue’ and asked him to thank Disraeli for his ‘great kindness’. [39]

All this coincided with the general election on 7 December 1868, the first since the passage of the Reform Act, which had enfranchised so many male householders. As such it was also the first election in which more than a million votes were cast; nearly triple the number of votes were cast compared to the previous election. Rather as Churchill might have expected to win the post-war election in July 1945

Disraeli assumed his support for the Reform Act would win over the working class. However, when the act was passed, the Abdullamites re-joined the Liberals and galvanized support, including the trade unions, so that, au contraire, the working class did not hail him as their champion and the Liberals, led by his arch-rival Gladstone, increased their large majority over the Conservatives to more than 100 seats. And so the year ended with Gladstone commencing the first of his four terms as Prime Minister while Rathdonnell got his title in the nick of time before the Tories were plunged back into the political wilderness.

On 21 December 1868, John McClintock was formally created Baron Rathdonnell in the Peerage of Ireland ‘in recognition of his services to the Protestant and Conservative causes’. [40] His official title is Baron Rathdonnell of Rathdonnell, Co. Donegal, recalling the old ringfort of Rathdonnell in Trentagh, Co. Donegal, which was one of the first McClintock properties in Ireland. [41]

Located close to Letterkenny in the parish of Kimacrenan, this former stronghold of the O’Donnell chieftains was presumably seized when they lost their power after the Flight of the Earls in 1607, at about the time the McClintocks first arrived in Trentagh. The title was granted through a law that allowed one new peer of Ireland for every three peerages of that kingdom which became extinct. The preceding peerage created before Rathdonnell was that of Fermoy in 1856 which had proved such a fiasco many thought the Irish peerage was actually defunct. Lord Downshire had recommended him for a peerage in 1852. Having the elderly and much respected Field Marshall Lord Gough as your cousin, not to mention the Earl of Clancarty, can only have boosted his chances. Also, Sir Francis Leopold McClintock was appointed naval aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria during 1868 and such connections between the McClintock and Royalty can only have heightened their chances of a peerage. Indeed, McClintock and his wife met the Prince and Princess of Wales when they came across for the Punchestown Races.

Although he had no son, ‘the title conferred on this wide-spread and well-connected family will not become extinct, as there is a special remainder to the sons of his late brother’, Captain William B McClintock Bunbury, RN, MP, the eldest of whom was Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury.

The title was one of eight Irish peerages created by Queen Victoria during the course of her reign, the others being the Baronys of Athlumney, Dunsardle, Fermoy, Clermont, Bellew, Oranmore and Curzon. The Marquess of Abercorn was promoted to the Irish Dukedom at about this time. [42]




Rathdonnell in Australia seems to have been named by Dr Aeneas McDonnell who built a two-storey brick house here, taking the name from Rathdonnell, meaning house of Donnell. Dr McDonnell supported nurse Elizabeth Kenny in her treatment of polio. He drove and owned the first car manufactured in Queensland by Trevethan Bros., Neil Street. Rathdonnell, which occupies the intersection of Margaret Street and Hume Street, was famed for a magnolia tree that was removed in 1965, alongside Rathdonnell House itself and a nearby surgery and post office to make way for a service station. [43]




On 18 March 1869, John – erroneously referred to as “Viscount Rathdonnell” – was one of a hundred nobles and “upwards of a thousand Deputy Lieutenants, magistrates and country gentlemen” with Irish connections who signed a letter to The Times protesting against the proposed disestablishment of the Church of Ireland. He attended a meeting of the Diocesan Council of Armagh, presided over by the Lord Primate, and was among those subsequently elected to represent the laity. On 10 June he attended another debate on the future of the Church, presided over by the Duke of Rutland. The issue was discussed over lunch in Willis’s Rooms, London, given by the supporters of the United Church of England and Ireland. He was again amongst the more prominent attendees at crisis talks in September hosted in Dublin’s Molesworth Hall.

Tomar’s Sword, reported in the Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW ), 15 April 1871. The full transcript is opposite.

On 17 February 1870, the Belfast News-Letter observed that ‘Lady Rathdonnell and suite have arrived at Buswell’s family hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin, from Drumcar, County of Louth.’ On 20 April 1870, the Nenagh Guardian alerted readers that Lord Rathdonnell, as Lord Lieutenant of Co. Louth, would succeed the late lamented Earl of Roden in the office of Custos Rotulourm of that county. Sure enough he was formally appointed to the role on 5 May. That same year, he reported an important antiquarian discovery at Drumcar in the shape of Prince Tomar’s Sword. The Freeman’s Journal (Sydney, NSW ), 15 April 1871, p. 6, carried this account.

A correspondent of the Irish Times, writing from Dundalk, says:- The most important and interesting antiquarian discovery that has taken place in this country for many years has just occurred on Lord Rathdonnell’s estate, at Gernonstown, county Louth.
At a place now called Greenmount, and in former days Drumeath or the Battle Ridge, there exists an ancient tumulus, of Danish mound. Irrespective of the traditions attaching to the mound, it is in itself an extraordinary geological curiosity, for the pebbles, sand and gravel of an ancient sea beach can be traced from it up to the Castlebellingham Railway Station. It was often a matter of surprise to many in the neighborhood that no attempt had been made to ascertain whether the tumulus contained any memorials of the days when the Danes were indeed “proud invaders.” But, perhaps, what lead to its remaining undisturbed for centuries was owing to the singular fact that although Danish forts and raths are scattered throughout Ireland, not a single Scandinavian relic of inscription has been found in this country, though many have been found in Scotland and the Orkney Islands. However, some few weeks ago, Lord Rathdonnell and his brother-in-law decided that an exploration of the tumulus should take place, and their decision has met with ample reward in the discovery of the most interesting character.
The men employed first made an excavation at the southern side of the mound, and in a short time came upon a broad passage flagged on the top, and running horizontally into the mound and ending about fifteen feet from the place where it was first entered. A large pit was sunk down into it until the termination of this passage was reached. The mound was found to consist of the materials of the ancient sea beach, sand, gravel, and water-worn or rounded stones; but through these was mingled some charcoal and many broken and half-burnt stones, human teeth, portions of skulls, and a large portion of the other bones of the human body. About eleven feet from the surface or top of the mound the excavators came upon a small bronze plate lying upon what the finder likened to an edging or snuff-colored dust or burned paper.
This plate on being carefully cleaned was found beautifully ornamented on one side in silver tracing, with the involuted “chorls” and twistings so common on the vey ancient Irish monuments, and particularly at Monasterboice, formed by the interweaving of a triple cord. On the other side it bore in clear and well defined Runic characters and inscription, which has been translated as follows: – “Tom (or Tomri) of S____ … is this sword.” [Annoyingly the newspaper report is hard to read here!!-ed.] The snuff-coloured paper lying about the plate was … the remains of the sword-belt.  
The … transmitted to the Society of the Antiquaries at Copenhagen, and the opinion of the best Runic scholars is to the effect that this plate, or portion of a sword, belonged to “Tomar of the Torque” of Dublin, Ear Tanist to the King of Lochlaun, in the ninth century of the Christian Era, and the Danish Chieftain alluded to by the poet Moore as having the collar of Gold torn from his neck by King Malachy. This Prince Tomar is frequently alluded to in the Annals of the Four Masters, and also in the ” Book of Rights,” where he is mentioned as receiving tribute, and it also contains a quotation from the Annals of Ulster, which sates [sic] that A.D. 847 Malachy fought a battle with the Pagan Danes at Fora, and Earl Tomar, the next in power to the King of Lochlaun, was slain, and with him also 1,200 men fell. Dr. O’Donovan states that Moore’s version is incorrect, for Tomar’s Torc, or ring, which was preserved by the Danes of Dublin as an heirloom, was carried off from that city by Malachy II in 994, long after the death of Prince Tomar, and Malachy, therefore, could not win the collar from a chieftain long dead. The question still remains, why was Tomar interred at ancient Drumeath, or how came a portion of his sword to be found there?
The matter will come before the Archeological Society of Kilkenny at the meeting and no doubt a satisfactory answer will be furnished to all who take an interest in the ancient history of Ireland.’

On 3 March 1871, the Freemans Journal reported that the Rathdonnells were, along with the Lord Chancellor, the foremost guests at a dinner party at the Vice-Regal Court with Earl Spencer, the Lord Lieutenant, and his wife. Eight days later, the same paper reported that the death of the Marquis of Westmeath had created a vacancy in the Irish Representative Peerage which, according to the Mail, was likely to be filled with the election of Lord Rathdonnell. But he did not get the seat. On 3 December 1872, the Limerick Chronicle likewise reported that the new Representative Peer, in the room of the late Lord Clarina, will be ‘either Lord Rathdonnell or Lord Crofton.’ He did not get it then either.

In 1873, I assume Lord Rathdonnell had one eye on the development of Greenore across the bay from Drumcar, on the shore of Carlingford Lough. Opened by Earl Spencer, the Viceroy, it was a purpose-built tourism centre, complete with ferries, a railway station, hotels and horse drawn traps to bring guests to participating in is for lunch and such like.

In 1874, his old foe Chichester Fortescue, who had been President of the Board of Trade since 1871, was elevated to the peerage as Baron Carlingford, of Carlingford in the County of Louth. Carlingford later served under Gladstone as Lord Privy Seal between 1881 and 1885 and as Lord President of the Council between 1883 and 1885 but the two men parted ways over the Home Rule campaign. In 1882, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of St Patrick.




In October 1873 was asked to provide a reference for John Joseph Edge Williams , the son of Thomas Williams, his land steward at Drumcar. John was  born in Co Wicklow, circa 1849. His mother was Sarah Edge of Knockrath. Thomas and Sarah were married in Rathdrum Protestant Church, Co Wicklow on 24th May 1845. John Edge-Williams, as he became known, enlisted in the Royal Irish Constabulary on 24 August 1867, recommended by Sub Inspector Horne. Measuring 5ft 7 3/4 ins, he was assigned to County Wexford on 16 February 1868. He successfully applied to join the Queensland Police Force in 1874, with the service number 33387. His reference from Lord Rathdonnell ran as follows:

Dunleer Co Louth 6 Oct 1873.
Lord Rathdonnell wishes to recommend young Mr Williams to the notice of the Omagh Railway Company, as a respectable young man and calculated to perform any duty in the Railway department: he is son of Mr Thomas Williams, Steward to Lord Rathdonnell.
To the Chairman, Joint Station Committee, Railway Station, Omagh.
John’s sister Eleanor Williams was married twice, firstly to William Charles and then to Henry Goodwin in Rostrevor. His younger sister Mary Jane married Robert Keegan and lived in Gordy.

With thanks to Marilyn Grogan, Kay MacKeogh and Shay Kinsella. 




In 2024, Adams offered for sale as fee farm grant, dated 1876, from Lord Rathdonnell to Thomas Connolly (of Castletown), of lands at Possedown, County Kildare, ‘three leaves, in a clerks hand, on vellum; together with a solicitors cash ledger.’ The lot was withdrawn from sale. I suspect Possedown tallies with the 248.61 acre townland of Posseckstown, just north of the Celbridge-Straffan road, directly north of St Patrick’s Hill.




Colonel Kane Bunbury, John’s uncle.

When his nephew and designated heir Tom McClintock Bunbury expressed political ambitions in 1874, he wrote to him from Bath on 2 February, urging Tom to ensure he had financial backing of his great-uncle Kane Bunbury ‘for you cannot stand unless at a good expense’. Rathdonnell also counselled ‘I am afraid you are rather late in the field – I should not be guided solely by Dunlop [presumably of Monasterboice], I say this between ourselves’.

Both John and Tom were in attendance at Kane’s funeral on 4 November 1874. Ten days later, the Carlow Sentinal reported: ‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell and suite have arrived at Moyle, Carlow, from Drumcar, County Louth.’ [44] As John had been at the funeral, he must have gone back to Drumcar in the meantime. On 31 November John was present for a special sessions meeting at which a new baronial constable and cess collector for the barony of Ardee was elected in place of the late Mr. Harmon. [45]

In January 1876 he convened a meeting of the magistrates of County Louth to congratulate the Queen and Princess on the recovery of the Prince of Wales. He attended the Queen’s Levee at St James’s Palace on 22 May.




Anne McClintock (née Lefroy), Lady Rathdonnell, was apparently petrified of Russians. In 1878 the expression ‘By Jingo!’ came into existence as part of the anti-Russian music hall songs. I am sure Lady Rathdonnell sang along. According to her great-nephew, CEC Lefroy, she was “a constant student of Prophecy” and became convinced that Russia was the “Great Beast” of the Book of Revelations. CEC Lefroy described Drumcar thus.

Anne McClintock, née Lefroy, became Baroness Rathdonnell in 1879.

“In the year 1877, Uncle John was a gentle, very sensitive, lovable old man of nearly 80. His heart’s desire has always been for peace and quiet. Of very talkative people he would say, “they would bother a rookery”. He was a Conservative to the backbone; a lover of old days and old ways. The social, political and moral changes, which he perceived to be taking place in the World (even then), disturbed him greatly. “Shocking”. “Shocking. “Shocking”. Were the words which frequently fell from his lips. To me he seemed to take very kindly from the first. For two summers before he died (in May 1879) I spent my holidays at Drumcar. I can well imagine his evident pleasure in tipping me with a half-a-sovereign when he said good bye to me, for what he plainly felt would be the last time of seeing me- and such it proved.

[Aunt Anne] had been very handsome in her youth and bore herself with much grace and dignity (also authority) in her old age. She was widely known in County Louth as “Queen Anne”. She certainly ruled her domain in a queenly manner. As the eldest member of her family she had always played a great part in its life, for she possessed remarkable will-power and strength of mind. In earlier years she and Uncle John had traveled much on the Continent and had spent several winters in Italy and had moved among intellectual and cultured people. It was her energy and deep political convictions which got Uncle John into Parliament for Count Louth and in the end secured the peerage for him.

After Uncle John’s death she gave a home for ten years to our sisters Annie and Freda. It was a home with great ideals of life and its responsibilities. The conversation, whether of past, present or future, was always pitched high; always worth listening to. Deeply religious, ready for merriment and hearty laughter; a buoyant, courageous, hopeful nature. All through life she was in touch with interesting people. I remember meeting several times in Chester Square the Hon. Frederica Plunket, famous then as the first woman to climb the Matterhorn, and her sister the Hon. Kate Plunket, now equally famous for having lived 112 years. It must be gratefully recorded that during her ten years of widowhood Aunt Rathdonnell saved no less than £80,000, which she distributed very widely among various nephews and nieces, a wonderful boon and blessing to them all”.

In the winter of 1877, Lord Rathdonnell was listed as a subscriber to the Turkish Compassionate Fund, established by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts as a relief fund for the Mohammedan victims of the Turko-Russian war, who, driven out of their homes, sought refuge in Constantinople, the capital of their monarch, the sultan.




Lady Elizabeth McClintock (née Le Poer Trench) as a rather formidable looking family matriarch. At the time of her death, aged 97 in May 1877, she was living at Corrig House, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) in County Dublin.

On 30 May 1877, John Rathdonnell’s 97-year-old stepmother Lady Elizabeth McClintock passed away. On 12 July 1877, the Freemans Journal noted Lord and Lady Rathdonnell had arrived at Kingstown from England.

John McClintock, 1st Lord Rathdonnell, died at Drumcar early on the morning of Sunday 18 May 1879, aged 82. According to the Glasgow Herald (20 May 1879):

‘His Lordship was quite well on Saturday, and was out driving along the sea coast. Late at night he became suddenly ill, and died shortly afterwards.’ The Drogheda Herald added that his lordship was ‘for a few years past not of a very active temperament’ but the news of his death still came as a surprise. ‘he appeared to be in his usual health on Saturday, and enjoyed an extended carriage drive. In the evening he dined and appeared in his usual good spirits, but after dinner the end came quick and fatal, and his lordship passed to his rest without the slightest trace of pain or struggle, apoplexy being apparently the cause of death.’

Following his death, the magistrates assembled at the Moyle Petty Sessions paid a high tribute to his memory by adjoining the business of the Sessions until after his funeral.

He was interned on Saturday, ’the funeral being attended by every person of rank and influence in the County of Louth and adjoining counties. For a week after his death, his remains lay in state in an apartment that was fitted up with ‘much splendour and taste’ by the staff of Messrs. Patterson & Co., who had charge of the funeral arrangements. The remains were enclosed in the customary suite of coffins accorded to persons of his rank – an inside shell of polished mahogany, then a leaden case, and outside all a polished oak coffin, with beautiful mouldings and elaborate brass mountings. On a brass shield was engraved the following simple inscription:-

Born 19th August, 1798,
Died 17th May, 1879.”

On the coffin lid rested three beautiful wreaths, placed there by Lady Rathdonnell, and the Baron’s coronet in scarlet velvet and gold of the deceased.


The McClintock mausoleum (c. 1868) at Drumcar, Co. Louth. “This superbly solid architectural monument is built to satisfy the dictates of a taste formed by Ruskin’s ‘Seven Lamps of Architecture’ and ‘The Stones of Venice’. An octagon of the stone, with broad and squat stepped diagonal buttresses at each corner and a slated pyramid roof surmounted by a wrought-iron finial cross. An Early Gothic triforium, with heavy arches, robust colonnettes and stiffleaf capitals, frames a slit window, with pairs of sculpted shields in stone on either side.” (Christine Casey and Alistair Rowan, “The Buildings of Ireland – North Leinster” (Buckley, 1993), p. 249-250).


The McClintock mausoleum (c. 1868) at Drumcar, Co. Louth, where the first Lord and Lady Rathdonnell are amongst fourteen McClintock adults and one child buried within.

Mr H. F. McClintock left money in his will in 1959 to keep up the mausoleum but this presumably ran out as it was already badly damaged by ivy and ash trees by 2007, while the door had also been kicked in. This is when my brother William and I visited Drumcar, after a memorial service for Sir Leopold McClintock, along with our distant cousins Sylvia Wright and Michael Leopold McClintock and their other halves.

It was the first time I realized that the church itself had tabernacles in memory of so many of our forbears including an entire window dedicated to Anne Rathdonnell. As Brother Davy told us when he escorted us around Drumcar House, the mausoleum to the rear had been somewhat vandalized. While we were there, there was a glorious autumnal hue to the sky, with the copper beeches weeping above the graves of Emily, Gertrude and their brother Frank, as well as their cousin Lt Col Charles McClintock (b. 1844) whose grave was lop-sided. William and Sylvia concocted a plan to liaise with Mrs. Bell of the nearby rectory and have the pretty building fixed up, and William offered to make a new door, keeping the old decorative hinges.

My three siblings and I attempted a clean-up of one Saturday in 2009, I think, in a bid to keep the building waterproof and weatherproof for a while longer … That same soggy wet Saturday, the centre spread of the Irish Daily Mail consisted of a story I wrote suggesting that Queen Victoria was the illegitimate daughter of an Irishman, Sir John Conroy. While I pulled the ivy from the mausoleum walls, it occurred to me that the 1st Lord might very well appear from the Far Side and give me a good whack on my ass with his cane for my treasonable thoughts.

The mausoleum itself was locked at this time and we were unable to get in, although my brother William slipped his camera through a small slip of a window and managed to snap what appeared to be a broken and desecrated tomb. Had grave robbers been down to see if the Rathdonnells were buried with any jewelery? Didn’t people know better than that – Irish Protestants would never be buried with their wealth! It turns out that the tomb might not have been quite so violently desecrated as we thought. A family friend who was familiar with the interior explained that this single slab, now broken, covered over a hole. Wooden steps run from the hole to a lower level inside which are fifteen coffins for McClintocks. (We couldn’t think why the three McClintocks buried just outside the mausoleum didn’t make the grade). The mausoleum was a popular destination for local beer swillers and they may have broken the slab but the coffins are believed to be intact. The steps are quite possibly rotten. Some effort was put into restoring the mausoleum in the 1970s; re-slating the roof which was a very tricky operation what with it being a pointy roof without any real grip potential. Sylvia McClintock also played a role when she requested the church fell a bushy tree that was in danger of falling on the building. Edgar and Charlie Treadwell replied that they were not allowed cut trees without the express permission of the RCB in Armagh. So they reclassified the bushy tree as a bush and down it came!

Before the removal of the remains from the family mansion in Drumcar demesne, his ‘more intimate friends’ were permitted to enter the chamber where the remains lay.

‘At 12 o’clock the remains were removed from the mansion, the coffins being borne upon the shoulders of the oldest tenantry of the Drumcar estate [poor old fellows!!], and this is said, by the special desire of the deceased peer, as intimated before his death. About forty of the tenantry were told off for this purpose, all being supplied with complete suits of mourning and scarves and hatbands. The coffin was initially borne to the lawn in front of Drumcar where a procession was formed before proceeding to the church on the demesne. Immediately following the remains were the chief mourners – Thomas Kane M’Clintock Bunbury, Esq, nephew and heir of deceased; Sir Leopold M’Clintock; Dr M’Clintock, Dublin; Alexander M’Clintock, Board of Works, Dublin, and Sir Allan Bellingham, Bart, Dunany.
The pall was of purple velvet, richly embroidered in gold and silver. Along the sides was the following scriptural quotation in raised letters of gold and silver – “For as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive. “
It was borne by Lord Claremont, Lord Bellew, Sir John S. Robinson, Bart., William Ruxton, Esq., W. De Salis Filgate, Esq., DL; C. Cobbe, Esq., JP, Malahide; Captain Foster, and William Woolsey, Esq., JP, Castlebellingham.
Then followed the general attendance, the largest and most representative that has taken place in Louth for many years.
The remains were received at the entrance to Drumcar Church by the Rev R. H. Shaw, rector, and Rev Jefferey Lefroy, Dean of Dromore, brother-in-law of the deceased peer. The Service for the Dead to be said in Church was read by the Rev Mr Shaw and at the conclusion the choir sang the 14th Hymn, “Abide with Me.” The church, which was draped in mourning, was thronged to its utmost capacity.
The remains were then removed to the splendid octagonal mausoleum adjoining the church, and built quite recently by the deceased. Here the remainder of the Service was read by the Dean of Dromore, who concluded with the Benediction. The female domestics of the later peer, before the coffin was lowered to the vault beneath the mausoleum, pressed forward and literally covered the coffin with wreaths of flowers, in addition to those beautiful wreaths placed previously upon it by Lady Rathdonnell.’

The Irish Times also named some 35 of the leading men who attended the funeral. Jack McClintock Bunbury and Henry Bruen, MP, were also named among the principal mourners by the Freeman’s Journal, while Frederick Wrench, Alderman Knaggs and miscellaneous Brabazon, Filgate, Tipping, Fitzherbert, Foster and Coddingtons are also named elsewhere. An unidentified newspaper states that ’the tenants and peasantry also attended in numbers and their demeanour made it apparent that the feeling amongst them was general – namely, that in the death of Lord Rathdonnell, they had lost one to whom the poor and needy never appealed in vain.’ Rather oddly this last account concludes: ‘The loss of Lady Rathdonnell, which is supposed to be consequent, is also deeply deplored.’ I assume they mean the loss she had suffered? She survived him by ten years.


Lord Rathdonnell’s death was recorded in most newspapers in Britain and Ireland at the time. A number of obituaries were pasted into the scrap book compiled by the Kilwarlin McClintocks (shortly destined for Red Hall). ’The deceased nobleman was most popular,’ stated one, ‘and he was beloved by all. His demise has cast a deep gloom over the county and neighbourhood of Drogheda.’ Another remarked: ‘During a life exceeding the allotted four score years, the deceased nobleman lived an example worthy of imitation for pure, unblamable life and through consistency of principles, beloved by those whose happiness it was to know him.’

His obituary appeared in The Annual Register of 1880:

‘John McClintock, 1st Baron Rathdonnell, was born in 1798. He began life in the army, but soon quitted it for civil life, although at the time of his death he was colonel of the Louth Militia, for which county he was elected after repeated contests in 1857 as the Conservative member. He sat, however, for only two years. In 1868 he was granted the Irish Peerage of Rathdonnell, with remainder to the son of his brother, Captain William McClintock Bunbury, for some time member for County Carlow. Lord Rathdonnell, although a strong Conservative in politics, was personally popular. He was Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the county of Louth, and of the town and county of Drogheda. In 1829 he married Anne, eldest daughter of Rev. I. H. G. Lefroy of Ewhott House, Hants. The Glasgow Herald also noted that he had ‘contested the county in the Conservative interest no less than five times, but only succeeded in being returned on one occasion—namely, in 1857—when the Liberal interest was divided. He was defeated, however, at the next general election in 1859.’ [46]

His nephew Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, who had already inherited most of the Bunbury estates, succeeded as 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, as well as to Drumcar House and all the McClintock estates. According to one newspaper in 1879, this provided an aggregate rental estimated at £20,000 per year. The size of Tom’s Irish estates subsequently increased to 18,923 acres (gross annual value: £15,400). Broken down into counties, this comprises of Carlow (8058), Louth (3000), Tyrone (2886), Fermanagh (2600), Meath (1215), Monaghan (1006), Dublin (600) and Kildare (558). Tom’s brother Jack has a further 3098 acres at Moyle (g. an. Val. £2741).




Memorial window at Drumcar Church, County Louth, in memory of Lady Rathdonnell, née Anne Lefroy.

Anne survived him by a decade, during which time her brother General Sir John Lefroy visited and made an exceptional discovery, as relayed in Bassett’s Louth County Guide and Directory: [47]

Greenmount, one mile south of Castle Bellingham, is a place of more than ordinary antiquarian interest. On the way there is a row of neatly-kept cottages, with fronts partly covered by rose bushes. The mount is on the estate of the Dowager Lady Rathdonnell, and is probably of Danish origin. It occupies the top of a hill, which at the north side is precipitous, and consists of a tumulus and flat embankment. Some years ago General Sir J. H. Lefroy, while on a visit to his sister, Lady Rathdonnell, at Drumcar, excavated the tumulus, and found a bronze plate with runes, a bronze celt, a bone harp-peg, and an apothecary’s weight. The plate was presented to the Royal Irish Academy, and the rest of the articles are in possession of the Dowager Lady Rathdonnell. General Lefroy wrote an interesting paper on the subject, which was published in the Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. For several months after the excavations were made hundreds of visitors from different parts were drawn to the mount by curiosity. The story current in the neighbourhood is that General Lefroy was “called to the wars” before he had completed his self-imposed task, and that some day he is to return to it. Greenmount is supposed to have been used as an assembly-place by the first Parliament ever held in Ireland.’

The Right Hon. Anne, Dowager Lady Rathdonnell, died at Drumcar on 22 December 1889, aged 82. Her obituary appeared in the London Illustrated News of 4 January 1890, which valued the personalty of ‘Lady Rathdonnell of Drumcar, County Louth, and 80, Chester-square‘ at £45,000. [48]

In June 1893 (14-16 and 19), the considerable £5,000 marriage settlement made on Anne at the time of her 1829 marriage to John McClintock came before the Queen’s Bench when Her Majesty’s Attorney General, informant, took on Tom Rathdonnell and the Rev. T. C. Seymour, defendants. This is a long and convoluted trial and I am open to being corrected here but the bones of it is that Tom claimed a sum of £4000 following his aunt’s death. It would seem the Revenue were seeking estate duty and stamp duty from the settlement and alleged that Tom was basically tax dodging contrary to the terms of the 1881 Customs Act. However, Palles CB held in Tom’s favour and reckoned he should not to have to pay any duty on the settlement. Tom was represented by S.S. & E. Reeves & Sons, solicitors. [49]

One of the light windows beside the chancel in Drumcar Church is inscribed:

“To the beloved memory of John, First Baron Rathdonnell, born Aug. 26, 1798, Called to Rest in Christ May 17, 1879.”

The west window has a brass inscribed:

“This window was placed in loving memory of Anne Lady Rathdonnell, 1890.”




The Lych Gate at Drumcar. (Photo: Kieran Brennan).

The historically significant Drumcar Lych Gate near the church was built circa 1895 by the village carpenter John Connor, great-grandfather of Seán Ó Broin. Leslie, writing in 1911, says: “Lord Rathdonnell erected a handsome lych gate at the entrance of the churchyard about 16 years ago.”

John Conor’s daughter stated that Lord Rathdonnell (aka Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury) became enamoured of the concept while on honeymoon in Switzerland, although I am not certain they actually honeymooned in Switzerland. He apparently brought a picture of it back on a box of matches which he presented to Mr Connor as a blueprint. Mr Connor agreed on the condition that he could use the best oak tree on the Drumcar estate. It was substantially damaged by vandals in 2015 and required a lot of work. The tiny local Church of Ireland congregation have an ongoing struggle with the expense of repairs and maintenance. I gave a fund-raising talk to a full house of 240 people at Bellingham Castle for the Annagassan Historical Society on 5 April 2017. This raised over €2,400 for the fund which, as the Reverend Canon Joyce Moore put it, will help “restore this building to its original purpose – the worship of god”. A link to the talk can be found at the top of this page. In return I was presented with two fine candlesticks by the Reverend Moore. These transpired to be carved by Tommy Mulroy of Annagassan from the remains of Mr Connor’s lych-gate and, hence, from what was once the finest oak on Drumcar.

There are photographs of the lych-gate and mausoleum in the introduction to the architectural heritage of County Louth published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government (2008), p. 98. The date of the mausoleum is given as 1868. In relation to the lych-gate, it is stated that Drumcar and the Anglican Church at Littlemore (associated with John Henry Newman before his conversion to Catholicism) were both embellished by the construction of lych-gates. The McClintocks were also influenced by the Gothic Revival. Were they of a similar mindset to the 3rd Earl of Dunraven or what is the connection here?!




Adam’s Country House Collections 2015 recorded as Lot 552 the sale of a Fee Farm Grant from Lord Rathdonnell to Thomas Connolly of Castletown concerning lands at Possedown, County Kildare. The lot comprised three leaves, in a clerk’s hand, on vellum, together with a solicitor’s cash ledger.

A signed Quiver book at Drumcar, presented to Fanny Tubman by Lady Rathdonnell. Fanny is thought to have been was the Drumcar teacher who brought all the Drumcar school children, to Phoenix Park to see Queen Victoria in 1901. Photo: Ian Armstrong.




Gert McClintock (left) and Emily McClintock (right), the twin daughters of Major Stanley McClintock and his wife, Gertrude. In later life, they were reputedly the oldest twins in Ireland. These photos are from the album of Lord George A. Hill of Ballyare, County Donegal. (Photo courtesy of Karen Ievers). Audrey Arthure recalls an old gardener at Drumcar who remembered Gertrude and Emily. For more on the sisters, see here.

In about 1903, the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell sold Drumcar to his cousin, Frank McClintock (1853-1924), Rector of Drumcar and Dean of Armagh, for £6,000. Mr McDowell of Louth acted as solicitor; his grandson Harry McDowell told me that Tom Rathdonnell was so fed up writing checks to McDowell that, when the sale was complete, he suggested he take the grand piano in lieu of payment, which they did. Harry grew up listening to that piano, but it was later sold out of their family.

Tom Rathdonnell also sold Willistown and other parts of the Louth estate to tenants via the Land Commission, 1908-1909, as well as Greenmount, Castle Bellingham, to Walter Selby Butler (1845-1939), who was apparently the sitting tenant. He was the third son of Sir Richard and Lady Matilda Butler of Ballintemple, County Carlow. Trained at Sandhurst, he joined the 8th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles Corps, formerly the Carlow Militia, of which his brother Sir Thomas Butler was colonel. In 1885 he married to Alice Lucy Fowler, daughter of Edmund Fowler of Abberley, Edgbaston, in the suburbs of Birmingham. Edmund Fowler may have been the manager of the Birmingham Wagon Co. (later the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Co.).

The Rathdonnells then moved permanently to Lisnavagh, their family home in County Carlow. An indication of why this was so can be found in the ‘WHAT “THE WORLD” SAYS’ section of the Reading Mercury (Saturday 31 August 1901):

‘Lord and Lady Rathdonnell are at Lisnavagh, their place in Carlow; Drumcar, their home in Louth, having been let for the last year. Mr. McClintock Bunbury, their only surviving son, has lately started for South Africa with his sister, Mrs. Colvin, who has gone out there to join her husband, Captain Colvin, 9th Lancers. Lord Rathdonnell’s eldest son, who was in the Scots Greys, was one of the earliest victims of the war.’

The last members of the family to reside at Drumcar are thought to have been the Dean’s sisters Emily McClintock (1846-1930) and Gertude McClintock, daughters of Henry Stanley McClintock and his wife Gertrude La Touche. Their brother Lt.-Col. Charley McClintock (1844-1921) may also lived in the house for a time. Tragedy invaded the parish in the Great War when 34-year-old Lieutenant Thomas William Winspeare Foley, Leinster Regiment, was killed alongside Tom Kettle at Ginchy on 9 September 1916. He was the son of the Venerable Archdeacon William Malcolm Foley, the Rector of Drumcar, and his late wife Elizabeth, and husband of Zelie Louise Elisabeth Foley, of Hazelgrove, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Yorks. Private Robert Hussey, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, son of Robert Hussey, of Charleville, Dunleer, died on 13 August 1916, aged 21, and was buried at St Fintan’s, Drumcar.

My grandfather, the 4th Baron Rathdonnell, was a frequent visitor to Drumcar House during his childhood in the 1920s. His father, the 3rd Baron, also retained the right to appoint the incumbent rector of Drumcar until at least 1930.[50]

In 1931, the year after Emily’s death, the Land Commission acquired the bulk of the estate under the Land Acts for local distribution, leaving the house with a demesne of circa 365 acres. In his book ‘The House on the Ridge of the Weir’, Harold O’Sullivan states that the McClintock’s sold the Drumcar demesne to the Corrie (or Corry?) family of Kingscourt, County Cavan, in 1940, after which the Corries set up a sawmill and began clearing the timber. A second theory, opined by Hugh McMahon, is that shortly after St John of Gods purchased the estate from the McClintock family, they sold all the timber on the estate to Corries. Hugh lived near the entrance to the Drumcar estate at this time. As a boy, he and his friends often played in the demesne woodlands, amid the Douglas Fir, beech, elm, ash, walnut and greengage that are assumed to have self-seeded from ones planted in the walled garden. In the spring of 2017, Hugh recalled the clearing of the Drumcar woodland seventy years earlier, both inside and outside the demesne. As he recollects, there was a sawmill at Drumcar but that was only used by the McClintock family. The Corries took all the timber away in log form to be processed elsewhere. All trees were felled with “cross-cut saws” and dragged out to the roadside by a pair of Clydesdale horses, a red one and a white. When the Corries were finished with the two horses several years later, they disposed of them to the Verdons of Drumcar who used them to pull carts. Hugh later observed that the horses, when hitched up to a cart, used to automatically lean forward and “go up on their toes” as they expected to be dragging a heavy weight like a tree trunk.

Emily McClintock on steps of Drumcar; Gertrude McClintock. (Images courtesy of Bernadette Shevlin). For bigger versions of these images click here.

The Drumcar timber was then taken away by lorry, either to the Ardee Furniture Factory, as Hugh McMahon recalls, or to manufacture railway sleepers for the Great Northern Railway Company, as is generally stated. In the address he gave at the official launch of the St John of God’s Jubilee Year Celebrations at Drumcar on 1 March 1996, Dr Padraig Faulkner recalled: ‘Trees were cut down, planks were made of them, and the planks taken on large drays to the Dunleer station and sent to a variety of destinations.’ [51] As my father observed in May 2017:

“Alas that was a familiar scene in England and here in the 1930’s and in some cases after WWII. Chancers bought up big places, the more neglected the cheaper, ripped out the fireplaces, stripped the colonnades and statues and felled all the timber; they then attempted to sell it for what they had paid! Browne’s Hill and Oak Park near suffered that fate here and the woods at Coolattin.”

One of the last Drumcar trees to be felled was the big old Elm tree at the T-junction beside the Rectory, at the entrance to Myles O’Reilly’s farm). According to Hugh it was about 3mt (10 feet) in diameter. He remembers the day it was cut down clearly, 2nd May 1947, as this was the day of his confirmation and the felling of this beloved giant particularly upset him. Once all the trees were taken out, a tracked bulldozer with a single “plough tine” was brought in to rip out the roots of the trees. [52]

All this coincided with the passage of the Forestry Act, 1946 which made it unlawful for “any person to uproot any tree over ten years old or to cut down any tree” without first notifying the Gárda Síochána station, effectively placing a vestige of a preservation order on such treed. It all makes my Drumcar candlesticks seem that much more precious.

Mr Corrie did not live in Drumcar House which was in bad repair by 28 June 1946 when the St John of God’s moved in, under the direction of the Rev. Brother Beningnus Callan, Provincial, and the Rev. Father Prosper Nolan. The McClintock family home duly became the St Mary’s Monastery of the Order of Hospitaller of St John of God of Drumcar while its interior was entirely renovated and re-modelled by Kelly and Jones. [53]

NB Sometimes referred to as Mac Clintock.




The Rathdonnells earned an unlikely cameo in a romantic novel called ‘A Tale of Two Lovers’ by Maya Rodale (Avon, 2011), from the “Writing Girls” historical romance series) is described as ‘a wonder, chronicling the deliciously passionate twists and turns that ensue when The London Weekly’s fearless gossip columnist, the “Lady of Distinction,” ruins her reputation by slandering the notorious Lord Roxbury, leaving them both no recourse except marriage…to each other!’ The relevant extract reads as follows:

“My lord. Will you be needing to dress for the ball at Lord and Lady Rathdonnell’s tonight?” Timson asked.

“Rathdonnell? Ball?” Roxbury echoed. It’d been some time since an invitation graced his home.

“You had replied favorably to the hostess when she sent her invitations out.”

“When was that?”

“A few weeks ago,” Timson said with a shrug.

“Ah. Before.”

Timson wisely elected not to say anything. Like anyone else, he read the papers.

“Well, I don’t know if I shall attend,” Roxbury said grandly, sipping his brandy. Since he might not take a wife after all, that certainly negated any reason for him to go.

Yet, a glance around the study at the fire in the grate and all the fine things gave him second thoughts.

Timson leaned against the doorframe, utterly bored.

“The invitation has not been revoked, which suggests that Lady Rathdonnell is half hoping that I will come if only to provide amusement for her guests and fodder for the gossip columns.”

Timson sighed.




With thanks to William Bunbury, Andrew Bunbury, Bernadette Shevlin, Audrey Arthure, Olive Brown, Tom Barr, Sylvia Wright (née McClintock) and many others.




[1a] He was a thus a direct contemporary of Nicholas Callan (1799-1864), inventor of the induction coil (or horseshoe electromagnet) in 1836, and Professor of Natural Philosophy at Maynooth College. Fr Callan was born at Darver, 13 km north of Drumcar, on 22 December 1799, into a prosperous farming family with brewery interests. See: ‘Nicolas Callan – A Scrupulous Life of Faith and Science, by Brian Hopkins and Peter McClintock, History Ireland, January – February 20 22, page 22.

[1b] Cannon, Historical Record of the 74th Regt, p.105. The 74th Regiment of Foot was a Highland regiment originally raised as the Argyll (or Argyle) Highlanders in December 1777 by Colonel John Campbell of Barbreck, who had served during the Seven Years’ War. The recruits were to be at least 5′ 4″ tall and aged 18 through 30. Of the original 1082 men authorized, 982 were raised: 684 Highlanders, 282 Lowlanders, 12 English and 9 Irish. At the first muster on 13 April 1778, 77 men were underage, 192 men were overage, 149 men were too short and 17 were in gaol. They were first sent to Halifax in August 1778, where it was garrisoned with the 80th and 82nd regiments. In the spring of 1779, the regiment was split into ten companies, eight companies being sent to Penobscot, Maine, and the grenadier company, under Capt. Ludovick Colquhoun of Luss, along with the light company, under Captain Campbell of Bulnabic, being sent to New York. The connection to Colquhoun of Luss is interesting as Luss is where the McClintocks are said to have come from.

[2] G/5/2.

[3] According to ‘The Weekly Notes‘ of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales 1952 (p 142) she brought a sum of £5000 upon her marriage – Google Books has more on this.

[4] Dromiskin House was home to the McMahon family by c. 2010.

[5] Records of SCH007/ St Peter’s National School, Dromiskin, via Louth County Archives Service.

[6] The Times, Friday, Apr 03, 1840; pg. 5; Issue 17322; col F.

[7] G3/2.

[8] Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail – Saturday 12 June 1841

[9] His vote for the Maynooth Grant is stated in the Dundalk Democrat, and People’s Journal – Saturday 07 March 1868.

[10] Thomas Bunbury. Esq., M.P., has left town for Dromiskin House, county Louth, the seat of his nephew, Major M’Clintock. Dublin Evening Post, 3 August 1841.

[11] William Skey, “The Heraldic Calendar Alist of the Nobility and Gentry Whose Arms are Registered, and Pedigrees Recorded in the Herald’s Office in Ireland‘ (1846).

[12] Drogheda Conservative Journal – Saturday 30 January 1847.

[13] The statistics came via Ned McHugh’s informative work, ‘Famine and Distress in Drogheda during 1847’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society , 1986, Vol. 21, No. 2 (1986), pp. 157-178. Thanks also to the late Gus MacAmhlaigh and to Brian Hopkins whose father’s family came from near Ballaghaderreen on the Mayo/Roscommon border and were decimated by An Gorta Mor through death and emigration.

[14] G3/3.

[15] G3/1 1838.

[16] These details are provided in James B Leslie’s church history ‘Armagh clergy and parishes’ (Dundalk: William Tempest, 1911).

[17] Drogheda Conservative Journal – Saturday 18 June 1842, p. 3.

[18] Christine Casey, “The Buildings of Ireland – North Leinster” (Buckley, 1993), p. 249-250.

[19] Thom’s Directory 1850.

[20a] The House on the Ridge of the Weir, Harold O’Sullivan.

[20b] The Countess was a charismatic singer’s daughter. Fortescue became her fourth husband in 1863. Asked which day of the week she had been married, she is said to have replied ‘Oh, my dear, I have been married nearly every day of the week’.

[21] This interesting letter was sent to me in December 2009 by Sharon Lefroy. Sir John was her great-great-grandfather. The letter begins: ‘My dearest Emmie’ and  concludes:
I took Emmie today to the Dowlings after a game at hide and seek with the family at large. Little Frazer was hid in the tall clothes basket and made Jack-in-the-Box to his own and their infinite delight. Harry goes to Cleveland Gardens. I dine on my way home at Dowlings. Magdalen has standing orders not to expect me if I am not home by 8. A small parcel has come from Sir John from Strongitharus (sp?), apparently a seal. Shall I send it? Also a few billet-doux like the one I sent yesterday morning.
Best love to all the party; I am glad the letters were so agreeable and look for mine next week.
Ever your affectionate
JH Lefroy
A telegraph dated to pm yesterday says we had silenced all [Redan?] against the Ministry.’

[22]The history of Dundalk, and its environs from the earliest historic period to the present time, with memoirs of its eminent men’, John D’Alton, James Roderick O’Flanagan).

[23] The history of Dundalk, and its environs from the earliest historic period to the present time, with memoirs of its eminent men, By John D’Alton, James Roderick O’Flanagan (1864).

[24] G/5/4.

[25] Dundalk Herald, Sat 24 May 1879.

[26] Mary McNeill, ‘Vere Foster, 1819-1900: An Irish Benefactor’ (David & Charles, 1971)

[27] 67B.

[28] The story was copied to Cork Examiner (Monday 24 July 1865), Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet (Monday 24 July 1865)

[29] With thanks to Charley McCarthy.

[30] Quoted in the Nenagh Guardian, 26 September 1866 (p. 4).

[31] Dundalk Democrat, and People’s Journal – Saturday 07 March 1868.

[32] See: “Benjamin Disraeli Letters: 1868”, Vol. X, by Michel Pharand, Ellen L. Hawman, Mary S. Millar, Sandra den Otter, M.G. Wiebe (University of Toronto Press, 2014). There were actually three Irish peers created in 1868 – the Duke of Abercorn (10 Aug), the Marquess of Hamilton (10 Aug) and Baron Rathdonnell (21 Dec).

[33] Jenico William Preston (1837-1907), GCMG, 14th Viscount Gormanston 1876, 60th King’s Royal Rifle Corps 1855-60, high sheriff of Co Dublin (1865) and co Meath (1871), chamberlain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1866-8) and governor of the Leeward Islands (1885-7), British Guiana (1887-93) and Tasmania (1893-1900).

[34] 5235.

[35] 5236.

[36] HC/I/A/88a. 5235n1.

[37] 5276.

[38] 5277.

[39] HC/I/A/88b.

[40] Webster.

[41] Rathdonnell is surrounded by drumlins and low hills. It is close to the terrain where St Columba, himself an O’Donnell, is said to have been from (Lough Gartan) and to have built his first church (Kilmacrenan). Located close to Letterkenny in the parish of Kimacrenan, this former stronghold of the O’Donnell chieftains was presumably seized when they lost power after the Flight of the Earls in 1607, at about the time the McClintocks first arrived in Trentagh. A branch of the McClintock family was living at Rathdonnell House during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Rathdonnell House, built adjacent to the ringfort, was occupied by Samuel King who died of apoplexy aged 52 on 15 October 1831. (Death Notices, Kilmacrenan Parish, Co. Donegal. Transcribed from the Londonderry Sentinel 1829-69.)  Rathdonnell House was home to Sir Anthony Edward Wolseley Weldon, 7th Bt., who died unmarried on 9 January 1971 at age 68. One of three queens with Derek Hill and Henry McIlhenny, he was an Old Carthusian, which earned my father an invite when he was in Derry in the early 1960s. Sir Anthony was a Squadron Leader AAF and Royal Air Force Regiment WW II, Staff Officer to Governor Trinidad, OSTJ. He succeeded as the 7th Baronet Burdett, of Dunmore, Co. Carlow [I., 1723] on 29 June 1917. When he died, he was buried in St. John’s Graveyard, Athy, County Kildare.

It is to be noted that there are at least two other ‘Rathdonnells’ which may have helped inspire John McClintock to adopt the name. The hot favourite is a 723-acre townland of Rathdonnell / Rathdaniel (Ráth Dónaill), near Tinure, about 6 miles south west of Drumcar House, John McClintock’s home, County Louth. The second is a the 592-acre townland of Rathdonnell / Rathdaniel) (Ráth Donnaíl) which appears on Lewis & Taylor’s map of Ireland between Rathvilly and Baltinglass, close to the home of his mothers family, the Bunburys of Lisnavagh, and takes in Bough. For more on the Carlow one, see here.

There is also a 145-acre townland of Rathdonnell (here), just north of Ballina, County Mayo, on the east of the Moy estuary.

[42] As the Marquise de Fontenoy wrote: ‘Irish peers, however, who are not representative peers, enjoy a distinct advantage over non- representative Scotch peers. For, whereas, the latter are ineligible for a seat in the House of Commons, and are debarred from taking part in any parliamentary election as voters, having, in fact, no franchise, although heavily taxed, the Irish non-representative peers can both vote at elections and occupy seats in the House of Commons.’

[43] Info via John Larkin, Toowoomba, published in The Chronicle, 21 Dec 2019.

[44] Carlow Sentinal, November 14th 1874.

[45] Freemans Journal, Tuesday, December 1, 1874 Page: 6.

[46] The Annual Register (Vol. 121, p. 189, Edmund Burke, Rivingtons, 1880).

[47] Date unclear, but reprinted by County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society, 1998, p. 216.

[48] It is to be noted that Lieut.-Colonel Hugh Bonham-Carter (1834-1896), Coldstream Guards, also gave his address as 80, Chester-Square at this time. He was a father of Air Commodore Ian Malcolm Bonham-Carter (1882–1953) who served as Duty Air Commodore in the Operations Room of Headquarters RAF Fighter Command during World War Two and who may thus have become well acquainted with another Lady Rathdonnell! Hugh’s brother Henry was great-grandfather to the actress Helena Bonham-Carter while another brother Alfred was great-grandfather to the actor Crispin Bonham-Carter.

[49] For full details of this case, see Q.B. & Ex. Divisions. Vol. XXX11, p. 575, AG v. Rathdonnell. With thanks to Nicholas McNicholas.

[50] ‘DIOCESAN NOTES. The Rev. Walter Bothwell, B.D., has been instituted into the pariah of Drumcar, Diocese of Armagh, vacant by the resignation of Rev. Canon Foley, who has retired. The right of appointment to the incumbency is vested in Lord Rathdonnell.’ Northern Whig, Friday 18 July 1930. How long did his lordship retain that right!!?

[51] O’Sullivan, p. 166. Padraig’s unpublished “Dunleer, an historical archive” mentions the McClintock family several times but has no record of the demise of the estate.

[52] With thanks to Luke Torris, Annagassan Historical Society.

[53] Further particulars about the sale may be found in ’The House on the Ridge of the Weir’ by Harold O’Sullivan (Drumcar Park Enterprises).