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Dr Myddelton & the Destruction of Carlow Castle, 1814

One of Dr Myddelton’s copper coins from his unsuccessful attempt to establish a new colony in Kentucky. The reverse is pictured below.

Carlow, Ireland, Sunday 13th February 1814, 9am. The explosions that shocked many of the town’s 8,000 inhabitants awake that morning were followed by a rumbling not dissimilar to an earthquake. Panic rippled through the Barrowside town. Had Napoleon’s Grande Armée landed on Irish shores!? Were the United Irishmen back from the dead?

By mid-morning, the entire town must have heard the news that Carlow Castle was no more. Or, at least, the vast bulk of it had collapsed.

The great Anglo-Norman fortress had weathered six hundred winters and survived the ravages of war throughout the medieval period, including Cromwell’s canons. In the end, it was the work of a single individual that brought it crashing down. As Saunders Newsletter reported the following weekend: ‘This accident was occasioned by the gentleman who has lately become proprietor of the castle, having undermined the foundation for the purpose of making it a more convenient residence.’ [1]

A convenient residence? Who was this grim reaper who had reduced such a sturdy bastion to rubble?

Known to posterity as Dr Philip Parry Price Myddelton, he was born in 1759 at Clifford, Herefordshire, a village on the Anglo-Welsh border. His father Philip Price was apothecary and secretary of Hereford’s County Infirmary, while his mother was Susan Parry. [2] In 1781, the young man was apprenticed to William Barrow, a leading apothecary in Hereford. [3] A few years later, he married a woman who is thought to have been a relative of his master. They had at least five children between 1785 and 1795, including his eldest son, William, born in 1787. [4]

In 1791 he acquired a physician’s diploma from St Andrews University and moved to Banbury from where he published his first work, ‘A Treatise on the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Disease.’[5]

So far, so predictable. And then came the Kentucky affair.

Kentucky was admitted into the relatively new United States of America in June 1792. For reasons that are unclear, Dr Price, as he then was, seized the opportunity to cross the Atlantic and acquire ‘certain tracts of land’ along the Ohio River in northern Kentucky on which he planned to establish a farming community. For good measure, he adopted the additional surname of Myddelton, or Middleton, while he was in America.

He became so committed to his Kentucky colony that he had about 53 silver tokens, plus an unspecified number of copper ones, minted at Matthew Boulton’s famous Soho Mint, using dies almost certainly engraved by Conrad Küchler. The coins appear to have been designed to woo prospective emigres to Dr Myddelton’s ‘British Settlement.’ [6] Indeed, by the spring of 1796, the ‘merchant’, as he was subsequently described, was distributing pamphlets in ‘Manufacturing Towns’ across Britain, containing ‘the most … flattering proposals … to induce the Farmer and Manufacturer to emigrate.’ [7]

Attempting to lure ‘useful artificers’ out of England was a criminal offence at this time. In May 1796, the ‘artful adventurer’ was summoned to appear before the King’s Bench in London. The court learned that ‘above 1500 persons’ had taken up the offer to journey to Kentucky as husbandmen and labourers. [8] Most of these ‘poor but industrious Mechanics’ had sold ‘all their little property, and with their families … quit their homes, and come up to London, upon the destructive and false notion of realizing Fortunes in a Foreign country.’ [9] These luckless souls had handed their money to Dr Myddleton as a ‘security’ for their passage to America, money they would presumably never see again.

With addresses as Philadelphia in the USA and Bloomsbury Square, London, Dr Myddelton was arrested. He was specifically charged with attempting to ‘seduce’ John Miles, an English linen weaver, to move to Kentucky against the latter’s wishes. [10] He was found guilty, fined £500 and sentenced to twelve months in London’s Newgate Gaol.

Unable to pay the fine, he languished in his Newgate cell for three years before being transferred to the King’s Bench prison. Here he met with Sarah Otto Baier, the estranged wife of an Antiguan plantation owner, with whom he was living in Westminster by 1802, along with two of his sons and Sarah’s daughters. The debts mounted and when a Sheriff’s officer arrived to take possession of the property, Myddelton and his adopted family fled to France, swiping as many household goods as possible before they left.

His Kentucky dreams may have been in ruins but he had plenty of other plans. In 1805 he returned to England and made his way to Stafford, a prominent shoe-making hub. Having highlighted his father’s role at the Hereford Infirmary, and claimed to be a man of property worth £2000 a year, he persuaded the Stafford Infirmary to elect him as their honorary physician. His new life unfurled when the truth about his past became known in 1807 and he unsuccessfully sued a Stafford surgeon for slander.[11] Hampered by debts once more, he was imprisoned in Stafford for a fortnight before vanishing from the archives. A contemporary description time states that he was ‘a thin man, about 5 10 inches high, with high cheek bones, of rather genteel appearance … and generally wears a light coloured coat’. The same author clearly did not realise Myddelton was English, remarking that he ‘had little of the Yankee Dialect (being an American).’ [12]

In about 1812, Dr Myddelton emerged from the pages of history once more when he took a lease on Carlow Castle from Hans Hamilton, MP for Dublin. Hamilton’s grandfather had purchased the building nearly a century earlier.[13] Over the next two years, the doctor spent a ‘vast deal of money’ on restoring ‘the noble building to more than its original splendour.’[14] Mary Leadbeater, the Quaker diarist, described it as ‘a magnificent abode’ although the English topographer and novelist James Norris Brewer, writing in 1826, maintained it had been specifically rebuilt as a private Maison de Santé, or lunatic asylum, as psychiatric institutions were known in those times. [15]

Mr. Brewer’s suggestion seems to be a muddling of the facts. At this time, Dr Myddelton was the principal medical superintendent of the ‘Hanover Park Asylum for the Recovery of Persons labouring under Mental Derangement’ in Carlow Town’. He co-founded the institution sometime before 1814 with two surgeons, Dr Clay and Charles Delahoyd. [16] The asylum stood between Kennedy Avenue and Kilkenny Road, on a site approximate to the former Penneys shop. The entrance gates can still be seen on Burrin Street to this day. (See below) The site appears to have originally belonged to Captain de La Boulay du Champ when the short-lived Huguenot colony was in Carlow, as per  Thomas Moland’s map of 1703. [16a]

Extracted from the ‘Past Tracks’ panel at Carlow railway station. Illustration: Derry Dillon.

Whatever Dr Myddelton’s hopes for the castle’s future, he evidently lost the run of himself. It is not entirely clear what he was trying to do. Some said he was seeking to open a new street level entrance on the castle’s east side. Others believed he was trying to ‘modernize’ the building ‘by piercing new windows and diminishing the thickness of the walls’ and otherwise improving ‘the requisite light and ventilation’. The Moderator claimed he ‘undermined the foundation for the purpose of making it a more convenient residence.’ [17] Mary Leadbeater was told that he ‘made excavations under part of the foundation, and planned a garden over arches that were to form the vaulted roofs of kitchens.’ [18]

All we know for sure is that he used blasting powder, a nitrate-heavy explosive, which weakened the entire structure to such an extent that the two eastern towers collapsed, along with a large portion of the adjoining walls. As J. N. Brewer put it, the ancient pile ‘which had for so many ages derided the efforts of the battering ram, yielded to this more fearful mode of assault and more than one half of the castle fell to the ground.’ Few would disagree with Brewer’s castigation of Dr Myddelton’s ‘folly and presumption’ in ‘confiding in his own skill’ and failing to ‘call professional knowledge to his assistance.’ Mary Leadbeater likewise deduced that ‘his design bespoke great haste, but failed in the execution, probably from a want of judgement or care in the workmen.’

In 1822, Francis Frederick Hayd’n added: “From the ignorance of the architect, who superintended the improvements, two of the large round towers gave way, and in a few minutes one half of this noble and magnificent structure became a heap of reckless ruins.’

Or was he unfairly blamed? An article in the Irish Magazine of 1813, republished in the Carlow Sentinel on 3 March 1832, claimed that the castle walls had actually been significantly endangered by a great frost shortly before Dr Myddleton’s experiment. And this, the article stated, is what ‘caused the fall of half the old edifice.’[19]

Amazingly nobody was killed or wounded. Brewer spoke with a witness who ‘observed that the downfall was so slow in operation that a person had sufficient time to escape from the sphere of destruction … The immense pile gradually disparted into vast masses, which broke with difficulty into fragments less mighty. Many gigantic pieces of the ruin rolled to the very doors of some humble cabins on the opposite side of a road at the base of the castle mount.’

Mary Leadbeater was told that one of the towers ‘fell so near a cabin that the wife had not power to follow her husband, who had snatched up the child and ran out … Terror held her motionless, till she saw the ruin stop within a foot of her house, when, dropping on her knees, she returned thanks to her great Preserver.’

By the time the dust settled, only the western side, comprising two of Marshal’s angular towers remained. In 1819, a prominent maltster called William Mangan incorporated the stones from the ruined east wing into eight new houses and seven large corn and milling stores in the area known as Coal Market.

Lavinia Myddelton, daughter-in-law of Dr Myddelton. For more, see here.

The destruction of the fortress did not derail marriage plans of Dr Myddelton’s son William Myddelton who was married in Carlow on 15 April 1814, just eight weeks later. His bride was Levina McMahon (1790-1857) eldest daughter of Charles Moore McMahon, attorney and public notary, of Carlow, and his wife Isabella Clarges. [20] At the time of the 1798 Rebellion, Charles Moore McMahon was lieutenant of the Garryhunden cavalry and infantry, which was under the command of Sir Richard Butler (captain) and his son Thomas Butler (2nd captain). It is probably just a curious coincidence but Sir Richard’s uncle, Pierce Butler (1744 –1822), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, had strong connections to Philadelphia (where Dr Myddelton had an address in 1796) and was married in 1771 to Mary Middleton, the wealthy heiress of Thomas Middleton, a South Carolina planter and slave importer.

In 1816, Dr Myddelton’s life was plunged into chaos once again. One of the patients at the Hanover Park Asylum was Hester Hinds, the wife of a Dublin attorney, John Hinds, who had been deemed ‘deranged in her mind, in a degree bordering insanity.’ [21] In January 1816, Dr Myddelton learned that Mrs Hinds was pregnant. Suspicion fell on him when he then escorted her to the home of his friend Dr Henry Rogers in Kiltegan, County Wicklow. Dr Rogers was told that the pregnant lady was hiding from her husband, ‘a gentleman of a most violent and outrageous temper,’ and that her name was ‘Mrs Hamilton’ – the name may have been a nod to the family from whom Dr Myddelton had leased Carlow Castle.

Mrs. Hinds delivered a baby boy in June 1816. The child was subsequently sent to the Foundling Hospital. That same summer, Dr Myddelton was the victim of an unspecified accident that confined him to crutches for three months.

The Burrin Street entrance to the Hanover Park Asylum, later Slococks and Hanover House, in Carlow town where Dr Myddelton practiced.

All hell broke loose when Mrs Hinds’ husband arrived at Dr Rogers house, unearthed what had happened and sued Dr Myddelton for £5,000 damages. The case blasted into the public sphere on 14th December 1816 when Dr Myddelton was summoned for trial at the Court of Common Pleas in Dublin before the notorious Lord Norbury. He was charged with engaging in ‘Criminal Conversation’ with Mrs. Hinds.

The ensuing trial made was nothing short of sensational. Firstly, Dr Delahoyd, Myddelton’s partner, told the court that Mrs Hinds had informed him that Dr Myddelton was the baby’s father and that she was the victim of abuse. It was subsequently revealed that Dr Delahoyd had not only abandoned his wife and sired a baby with one of the ‘servants’ at Hanover Park Asylum but he was also in an intimate relationship with Mrs. Hinds, and thus he was also a potential father of the baby.[22] Indeed, Dr Delahoyd was stated to have run a ‘seraglio’ (harem) in which he enjoyed sexual relations with both Mary Ryland, the cook, better known as Cora, and Catherine Connoly, the housekeeper, who was herself intimate with ‘a lunatic patient called Alonzo.’ Also in the mix was a Doctor Montpryval, who was said to have slept with Mrs Hinds. Tales of three in a bed romps, with ample wine and spirits, became the tittle-tattle of choice for the global media over Christmas 1816. John Hinds seized the opportunity to publish a pamphlet containing all the juicy details of the ‘iniquitous depravity’ surrounding his unfortunate wife.[23]

Already confounded by so much conflicting evidence, the jury were thrown into utter indecision by Lord Norbury’s final instruction: ‘If you think he [Myddelton] can be acquitted, I shall be extremely well pleased’.

Unable to reach a verdict, the case was dropped. Dr Myddelton did what he could to put his asylum back on track. On 1st January 1817, he announced that he had ‘expelled ALL the profligate and fraudulent actors in a late most atrocious conspiracy to destroy both his character and his property’ and asked readers to read ‘the subsequent and voluntary confession of Mrs. Hinds’, which acquitted him of all wrong-doing. He urged people to keep sending patients to the Hanover Park Asylum.[24] However, the weight of the scandal proved too much and he ultimately closed the asylum, returned to America and resumed his medical career.

Having lectured on pulmonary disorders, he moved to Bath in England in about 1824, from where he published ‘A Preliminary Dissertation Illustrative of a New System of Pulmonary Pathology’ (1825) and ‘An Essay on Gout’ (1827).[25] The latter earned him a sober but unconvinced review in The Lancet. [26]

He appears to have married again in late life, a lady named Eliza, who gave him four more children in the late 1820s. Those final years were not without heartache – his daughter Mary Aldridge died aged 43 in December 1828, during a premature childbirth.[27] The following September, he and Eliza lost their youngest son, Charles, aged just 18 months.[28] In March 1830, Dr Myddelton’s eldest son William died aged 43. Married just after the collapse of Carlow Castle sixteen years earlier, William had gone on to become rector of the small village of Claines, Worcester, and, somewhat ironically, chaplain of the Worcester County Gaol. [29] Dr Myddelton survived his son by six months and died in St Sidwell’s, near Exeter, on 8 September 1830. [30]

Unfortunately, his destructive tenure of Carlow Castle marked the start of a sad era in its history as the people of Carlow turned their back on it. It was soon surrounded by houses designed so that their back yards rather than their front view beheld the ruined fortress with its missing towers. Much of the property was absorbed into Corcoran’s Mineral Water Factory in the 20th century. Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, custodianship of Carlow Castle is assumed to have passed from the Crown to the Irish Free State, and it is now in the care of the Office of Public Works. The castle took a hiding in Storm Ciara on 9 February 2020, during which part of the foundations of one of the two remaining towers collapsed. The part that fell had been restored in the 1950s, evidently not very well.

With thanks to Michael Purcell, Maria O’Brien, Rod Kerr and Dr Kieran O’Conor.


For a full overview of the history of Carlow Castle, see here. Readers might also enjoy Turtle’s interview on the history of Carlow Castle on KCLR Live with Eimear Ní Bhraonáin on 26 May 2021.


A poem by a friend of F. F. Hayd’n, recorded in ‘The medical mentor, and new guide to fashionable watering places‘ (1822):


Those walls which in ruin now lie,
And towers fast mould’ring away,
Once proud raised their head tow’rds the sky,
With banners both gallant and gay ;
And this Hall which is silent and lone,
Once echo’d with joy and delight,
And here in mild splendour oft shone,
The Nymph, and the Bard, and the Knight.


And here was a struggle for fame,
Here victory beam’d on the brave,
And the last spark of liberty’s flame,
Its warmth to each warrior gave,
Oh! It fired their bold hearts with the deed,
That immortal’d their names in the land,
For blest are the heroes who bleed,
When their Country the tribute demand.


But past is the hour of its grandeur,
The spirit of chivalry’s flown,
And the strains so endearing and tender,
To Catherlock’s tow’rs are unknown;
Should a Bard of poor Erin appear,
To notice the spot passing by,
The tribute he pays is a tear,
And the music he breathes is a sigh. 



[1] Saunders’s News-Letter  19 February 1814, p. 2. The very first edition of The New Monthly Magazine likewise remarked: ‘‘That venerable relic of antiquity, the castle of Carlow, has been levelled with the dust, in consequence, as it is said in the Irish prints, of the proprietor having undermined the foundation in order to make it a more convenient residence.’

[2] Philip Price’s credentials are in the Hereford Journal, 26 July 1781, p. 2. The ‘Parry’ connection makes me wonder if there is a connection to James Parry (1712-1770), author of ‘The true Anti-Pamela: or memoirs of Mr. James Parry, Late Organist of Ross in Herefordshire. In which are inserted, his amours with the celebrated Miss – of Monmouthshire. Written by himself. In two parts complete. Part I. Memoirs of his Life and Amours. Part II. A journal of his Adventures in a cruise against the Spaniards, on board the Revenge privateer, Capt. Wimble. With his Genuine Letters of Love and Gallantry.’

[3] Hereford Journal – Thursday 19 July 1781, p. 3.

[4] Three family trees on Ancestry with Dr. Myddelton (though they have kept him as Price) record his wife as Ann Bailis, married  on 2nd May,1779, in Clifford, Hereford, with a son James born in 1795. The marriage date seems too early to me so I don’t know how accurate this is.

[5] See his Treatise on the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Diseases The first record of Philip Parry Price shows him as a doctor in Hereford seeking to clear any ‘pecuniary claims’ against him. [Hereford Journal, 11 April 1792, p. 2] In 1793, he was a physician at Banbury, publishing treatises on the diagnoses and prognosis of diseases. Northampton Mercury, 3 August 1793, p. 4]

[6]Myddleton Tokens’, Professional Coin Grading Services.  See also ‘Heritage Auctions’ article.

[7] Norfolk Chronicle – Saturday 28 May 1796, p. 4. Myddelton was reputedly ‘a person possessed of a large property in America [who] had come over to this country [ie: Britain] for the purpose of engaging as many artificers he could to emigrate’ to ‘certain tracts of land’ that he claimed to own in Kentucky. His London address appears to have been 9 Bloomsbury Square. It is to be noted that the writer Isaac D’Israeli lived at No. 6 Bloomsbury Square from 1817 to 1829 and for part of that time his son, the future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli lived with him. What connection was the PM to D’Israeli of the school in Bough, Rathvilly, County Carlow?

[8] Cambridge Intelligencer – Saturday 28 May 1796, p. 2.

[9] Norfolk Chronicle – Saturday 28 May 1796, p. 4.

[10] Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 28 May 1796, p. 4. Cumberland Pacquet, and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser – Tuesday 14 June 1796, p. 4.

The King against Myddleton, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench: From Michaelmas Term, 26th George III [1785] to Trinity Term, 40th George III [1800] Both Inclusive. With Tables of the Names of Cases and Principal Matters, Printed for P. Byrne, Philadelphia, 1811, p. 739, at here.

On Wednesday the 18th, Philip Parry Price Middleton, Esq, was indicted for unlawfully contracting with, and seducing and endeavouring to persuade, one John Miles, an artificer, to leave this kingdom and go to America, against the form of the statute. It appeared that Mr Middleton was a person possessed of a large property in America, and that he had come over to this country for the purpose of engaging as many artificers as he could to emigrate there. He was found guilty. The penalty is 500l. and one year’s imprisonment.” (The Monthly Magazine, Volume 1, 1796)

[11] Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 17 January 1807, p. 1.

[12] See: ‘The trial before Chief Justice Sir James Mansfield and a special jury of Merchants, at Guildhall, between Philip Parry Price Myddelton, plaintiff, and Francis Hughes, defendant, for slander’, Printed by J. Drewry, and sold by A. Morgan, [1807] and available via contemporary newspaper or via here.

[13] There is a story of some soldiers kicking a football in the castle grounds, in the 1840s and uncovering a box of silver and coins which they walked away with. [story via Michael Purcell]

[14] The Moderator, 24 February 1814.

[15] ‘“The beauties of Ireland: being original delineations, topographical, historical, and biographical, of each county’, Volume 2, by James Norris Brewer (Sherwood, Jones, & co., 1826) included a section called ‘THE DEMISE OF CARLOW CASTLE’ in which he recorded:

‘This noble pile was constructed on a slight eminence upon the west side of the town overhanging the river Barrow. It was of a square form flanked with a circular tower at each angle. The doors were remarkably low and narrow and the apertures for the admission of light consisted chiefly or entirely of loop holes. From the grandeur of its proportions, and the favourable character of its situation, which allowed a free view of its massy towers and rugged sides from the various roads which lead to the town, this august pile constituted a feature of peculiar magnificence in the architectural display of Carlow.
But folly and presumption have recently deprived the pictorial examiner and the antiquary of an object so well calculated for their gratification. The manor of Carlow including this noble monument of antiquity passed in consequence of an unredeemed mortgage from a late Earl Thomond to the family of a Mr Hamilton, his Lordship’s law agent, who are the present proprietors.
By this family a lease of the castle was granted in the year 1814 to a physician named Middleton who had formed the project of establishing in a Maison de Santé for the reception of lunatics and who speedily commenced operations with a view of rendering the building amenable to his purpose.
As the loop holes in the walls were not sufficient to give the requisite light and ventilation, and as the thickness of the walls contracted undesirably the space of the rooms, this person, confiding in his own skill, undertook to enlarge the windows and diminish the thickness of the walls without calling professional knowledge to his assistance. For the latter object he laboured by a process rather new in practice, namely that of blasting the walls with gunpowder.
He had proceeded far in his improvements when the pile, which had for so many ages derided the efforts of the battering ram, yielded to this more fearful mode of assault and more than one half of the castle fell to the ground. Only the western side, comprising two of the angular towers is now remaining.
This tremendous downfall occurred at the hour of nine in the morning, a time at which the workmen had suspended their labour, and happily no life was lost.
The huge masses of ruin incumber the whole of the mount, except the west side, and mix with cottages at its base, which are inferior in size to many of these ponderous fragments. A man who was a witness of this unusual accident described the spectacle to the present writer in very lively terms, and observed that the downfall was so slow in operation that a person had sufficient time to escape from the sphere of destruction (as was the case with himself) after viewing the portentous and amazing nodding of the towers. The immense pile gradually disparted into vast masses, which broke with difficulty into fragments less mighty. Many gigantic pieces of the ruin rolled to the very doors of some humble cabins on the opposite side of a road at the base of the castle mount.

[16] Hanover was named thus from at least 1806 when Mrs Byrn of Hanover, Carlow, leased 16 acres of land, as per Dublin Evening Post – Saturday 18 January 1806, p. 4.

Charles Delahoyd of the parish of St Marylebone in London was married by license on 7 Dec 1797 to Ann Phillips of St James Piccadilly Middlesex. There is a reference, dated 7 June 1799, to a Sun Fire Office insurance policy of Charles Delahoyd, 37 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, surgeon and apothecary. He subsequently left his wife and children in England (Swansea) and moved to Carlow, settling on Byrne Street. In 2013, I was in touch with an Australian lady called Lyn who sought further information on Delahoyd. She wrote: ‘My 3 x great grandfather Dr Frederick BEAVAN was apprenticed to [Delahoyd] at some time prior to his admittance to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1809. Frederick was born about 1785 but I don’t know where. His family was living in Swansea from at least about 1802 and I suspect he was an assistant Naval surgeon in 1804 from the Naval List as oral tradition does indicate a time in the Navy at the time of Trafalgar. I am trying to ascertain his place of birth so if I can locate Charles DELAHOYD’s whereabouts I might be a little closer. DELAHOYD seems to be a rare name. I searched the Cambrian online index, The Times, the 17th and 18th century Burney collection and Free BMD for a death with no luck.

[16a] John Kelly, ‘The Lost Colony – The Carlow Huguenots’, 2019, Carloviana, the Journal of Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society. See here.

[17] The Moderator 24th Feb 1814: ‘From Carlow we are informed that that magnificent piece of antiquity, Carlow Castle, fell on Sunday morning last; fortunately there was not a single soul hurt, though the noise terrified the neighbourhood almost as much as the shock of an earthquake. This accident was occasioned by the gentleman who has lately become proprietor of the castle, having undermined the foundation for the purpose of making it a more convenient residence. There had been a large sum laid out lately on the supposed improvement of this venerable edifice; but, alas! all is now levelled with the dust. This castle was the residence of Sir John de Vallier [? – ed.], a little before the usurpation of Cromwell, who during his visit to Ireland, attacked it, and after a spirited resistance from Sir Thomas Longfield [wrong? – ed.], then Governor, it was obliged to surrender to the potent arm of the renowned Oliver Cromwell, and has since been in a dismantled state, until Dr. Middleton, by expending a vast deal of money on it, within these last two years, had restored the noble building to more than its original splendour.’

[18] ‘The Annals of Ballitore, A Memoir of Mary Leadbeater’ by the Ballitore-born Quaker Mary Shackleton: ‘Though not in our immediate neighbourhood, we lamented the fall of great part of the castle of Carlow on the 13th of February. Doctor Middleton, lately come thither, rented it, and expended some thousands in attempting to make that noble pile not only habitable, but a magnificent abode. He made excavations under part of the foundation, and planned a garden over arches that were to form the vaulted roofs of kitchens; and a poor mechanic remarked that he was making a Babel. His design bespoke great haste, but failed in the execution, probably from a want of judgement or care in the workmen. Providentially it was on the first day of the week that the two towers which had been undermined fell; they fell so near a cabin that the wife had not power to follow her husband, who had snatched up the child and ran out, Terror held her motionless, till she saw the ruin stop within a foot of her house, when, dropping on her knees, she returned thanks to her great Preserver.’

[19] The Carlow historian Michael Purcell may also have come across some vital clues as he explained. ‘One day when I had completed my research on the history of Carlow Castle I was in the local history section of Carlow County Library reading the Carlow Sentinel newspaper dated 1832 when I read the following article from The Irish Magazine of 1813 claiming that it was a severe frost that brought down the castle in 1813. I had not seen this account before and as I had already completed my research I decided to include it here, without checking the story, in the hope that others may do some research on it. Is it possible that the frost of 1813 weakened the structure to such an extent that it was responsible for the total collapse the following year when the refurbishment was being carried out:

THE CARLOW SENTINEL. 3rd March 1832. Poetry

The following lines were written for the Irish Magazine of 1813. – The hopes, expressed by the author, of the Castle being again inhabited, were short lived, for the frost of the above year caused the fall of half the old edifice; the whole of the new additions; and of the authors fond anticipations.

The evening was clad in a mantle of grey,
The silver moon play’d on the breast of the lake,
The gates of the castle were closed with the day,
And the Warder alone on his watch was awake.

“Twas now the still hour when with hearts light and gay,
The night birds accustom’d their revels to hold,
In the gloom of the hall where in happier day,
Loud echo’d the deeds of the Chieftains of old.

“Twas now, as was usual, the screech owl awoke’
All is dream to the mournful bird of the night,
His mansion of joy where merriment spoke,
No more will he view with a heart of delight;

His nestlings unfledged in a prison must dwell,
Whom, heart broken-thought! he must never see more;
And alas! More hard, he must list to the knell,
While his consort his ogue to Elisium is bore.

O’Moore! mighty Irish Chieftain, tho’ narrow thy tomb,
Thy deeds and thy glory will still strike the ear,
And the lyre new strung will be heard in the gloom,
For to Erin thy country thou’lt ever be dear;

That the ramparts you trod will again seem to rise,
Remembrance will cherish the thought with a smile,
And the song of the bard as it mount to the skies,
Will sooth the gone Chief of the “Emerald Isle.”

Then Carlovia rejoice that again you’ll behold,
The glory of Catherlough rise on the lake,
While the harp now aloud strikes an anthem so bold,
That the Chiefs of the tomb will in ecstasy wake.

Then long may her head be erect in the wind,
And the pride of her greatness ne’er sink in decay,
But many time in the womb of futurity find,
Her banners still high in the sunshine of day.

From The New Monthly Magazine, Volume 1 (Feb 18-March 18).

[20] See attorney reference from 1786 here. Isabella was a daughter of Major George Clarges, 5th Dragoons, and his wife, Lavinia St. Leger. Her brother George apparently died in a brawl with his quartermaster while serving in Canada. She married Charles Moore McMahon in Dublin on 5 June 1784. Isabella was buried in Carlow on 14 April 1828. Isabella and Charles’s other children included:

  • Alexander St. Leger McMahon (c 1790- 21 Aug 1866)
  • Catherine McMahon was married in Carlow on 10 October 1822 to Captain Thomas Robert Shervington, 99th Foot, who died in 1826. [‘DIED, On the 16th Feb, within three days’ sail of the Mauritius Captain Thomas R. Shervington, of the 99th Foot, son-in-law of Charles Moore M’Mahon, Esq. of Carlow.’ Dublin Morning Register – Friday 16 June 1826). The name is sometimes spelled Shirvington or Shervinton. A (posthumous!?) son Thomas Robert Alexander Shervinton was baptised at Carlow on 25th September 1826. Catherine died at Clontarf on 17 March 1869 age 75 (Dublin Evening Post).

Levina Myddelton was a witness at a sad drowning inquest reported by the Worcester Journal on 7 May 1846. She died in 1857 as per this notice in the Worcester Herald – Saturday 14 November 1857: ‘Nov. 6th, at her house, Britannia-Square, Mrs. Levina Myddelton, widow of the Rev. William Price Myddelton, M.A., formerly curate of Claines, and chaplain of the Worcester county gaol, aged 67.’ And also from Cork Examiner, 11 November 1857: ‘On the 6th inst., at Worcester. Levina, widow of the Rev. Wm. Price Myddelton, M.A., and eldest daughter of the late Charles Moore McMahon, Esq., of Carlow, Ireland.’

William and Dublin-born Levina had at least 5 children:

  1. Philip Price Myddelton, BA Queen’s College, Oxford (1817-1859) who died in Jersey.
  2. Mary (1818), born in Claines, Worcestershire, died in Worcester between 1891 and 1902.
  • Levina (1821-1902), born in Claines 4 Oct 1821, died Worcester 6 Apr 1902, who left her estate to Shervinton relatives (Shervington is variously also spelt Sherrington but in the Probate record of Levina Myddleton in 1902 it is spelt Shervinton) (‘MYDDELTON.—On the 6th instant, at Brittania-square, Worcester, in her 81st year, Levina Myddelton. daughter of the late W. Pryce Myddelton, rector of Glaines [sic], Worcester. London Evening Standard, 8 April 1902.)
  1. William baptised in Claines on 19 Mar 1826, died in Worcester 9 Sep 1846 (Worcester Journal)
  2. John born in Claines about 1828, in the 1841 Census with his mother, William, Mary and Levina, s probably the John who died in Worcester in 1849.

(With thanks to Rod Kerr)

[21] Belfast Commercial Chronicle – Wednesday 18 December 1816, p. 4.

[22] An excellent account of the trial was published in the American Register, Vol. II, (Philadelphia: Dobson & Son, 1817), p. 298-301. Before he was implicated in the scandal, Dr Delahoyde told the court that Mrs Hinds had confided in him that she had been abused by Myddelton and that she was pregnant. Delahoyde told the court he thought ‘her mind was wandering from the truth’ but, when she insisted, he brought Myddelton to meet her. During this encounter, he said she again accused Dr Myddelton of raping and impregnating her, at which Dr Myddelton ordered her removal from his presence. ‘She retired weeping, complaining of, and lamenting, her misfortune.’ (Madras Courier, 3 June 1817). To prevent a scandal breaking out, Dr Delahoyde ‘urged her removal’ and suggested a female attendant accompany her to her retreat, at which point, said Delahoyde, Myddelton brought her to Rogers … this was one of the alternative versions of events the jury had to consider.

[23] John Hinds, ‘Crim. Con: A Full and Impartial Report of that Most Extraordinary and Interesting Trial, with Speeches of Counsel and Judge’s Charge, in the Case Wherein J. Hinds was Plaintiff, and P.P. Middleton, Defendant, in an Action for Damages for Crim. Con. with the Plaintiff’s Wife, Tried in the Court of Common Pleas, Dublin, on the 14th and 16th December, 1816’ (R. Keightley, 1816). [Crim con is the abbreviation for Criminal Conversation, trials usually connected to divorce…but not actual divorce trials.] See also Madras Courier, 3 June 1817.

[24] Dublin Evening Post – Thursday 30 January 1817, p. 1. His letter read:


For the Recovery of Persons labouring under Mental Derangement, and for ameliorating the condition of those who may be deemed incurable.

DR MYDDELTON, now the sole Proprietor of this Establishment, begs leave to inform the Public, that he has, at length, expelled ALL the profligate and fraudulent actors in a late most atrocious conspiracy to destroy both his character and his property, merely because he could no longer submit to their notorious depravity, and if any doubt of Dr. Myddelton’s innocence of the base accusation, could have remained on the most sceptical, prejudiced; or interested mind, on a late trial, it must now be completely removed by the subsequent and voluntary confession of Mrs. Hinds, to the persons with whom she resides.

Dr MYDDELTON also takes leave to state, that he has very superior accommodations for Patients of both sexes, in distinct houses, and grounds for recreation. The Female Patients, and their respective attendants, are under the constant superintendence of a separate Matron; and the Male Patients possess similar advantages, under the immediate inspection of Dr. MYDDELTON himself.

By his arrangements, and peculiar mode of treatment, Dr. Myddelton s never reduced to the necessity of resorting to any sort of coercion with any of his Patients, even the most violent, whose paroxysms are readily subdued by other means. Dr. MYDDELTON can give references of the first respectability to the Friends of Patients who have been under his care, and who have often witnessed, and as often acknowledged, the confidence he inspires by his systematic humanity, and unremitting attention, to the health and. comforts of those unhappy sufferers in that sad class of human afflictions; and the Inhabitants of this town and neighbourhood can bear ample testimony of his uniformly rigid moral conduct during the many years he has resided amongst them.

Carlow, 1st January, 1817.

It was still going when Dublin Evening Post was published on Thursday 17 April 1817.

[25] See remarks on his pulmonary dissertation in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 12 January 1826, p. 1.

[26] ‘An Essay on Gout in which its actual Predisponent Proximate and Exciting Causes are clearly denned and its preventive and curative indications fully demonstrated upon new pathological principles, to which are added Observations on the Modus Operandi of Bath Waters in Gouty Habits” by PPP Middleton, MD, Author of a “Treatise on the Diagnosis Prognosis of Diseases Clinical Reports of Select Medical Cases and a New System of Pulmonary Pathology’ (Fourth Edition, Bath Geo; Wood and London, Baldwin and Co, 1827 8vo, pp 97). According to the 1827 edition of ‘The Lancet’ (Vol 12, p. 534): ‘The object of Dr. Myddleton’s book is to recommend the Bath waters, as well as an oxygenated bath, or fomentation, in the treatment of gout, in which he informs us that he has employed the latter with surprising advantage.’

[27] ‘On the 27th ult. whilst on a visit to Hereford, in premature child-birth, in her 43d year, most deeply deplored by an extensive circle of friends, Mary, wife of the Rev. William Aldridge, Bearfield, Wilts, and daughter of Dr. Myddleton, Heavitree.’ Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 6 December 1828, p. 3. The Rev William Aldridge (1796-1857), an English Congregational minister who was ‘converted early in life’, died in late 1857 as per Hereford Times, 9 January 1858. See also: John McClintock and James Strong, ‘Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature’, Volume 11 (Harper, 1991) p. 94; Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 11 December 1828, p. 3.

[28] DIED – Charles, youngest son of Dr. Myddelton, St. Sidwell’s, aged 18 months. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 19 December 1829, p. 3).

[29] ‘March 3d, at his house in Britannia-square, Worcester, aged 43, most deeply lamented by his afflicted family, and sincerely regretted by a large circle of friends, the Rev. William Myddleton, M.A., formerly of Queen’s College, Oxford, eldest son of Dr. Myddleton, of this city [Exeter]. The clergy of Worcester and the neighbourhood, most kindly volunteered to extend that regard for the deceased, which they entertained during his life by attending his remains to the grave, as the last sad tribute of respect to the memory of their exemplary and lamented brother.’   Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 13 March 1830, p. 2.

[30] Dr Myddelton was still delivering lectures on pulmonary pathology through until February 1829. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 18 October 1828, p. 1; Western Times , 14 February 1829, p. 2) See also: Cara Dobbing, Alannah Tomkins, ‘Sexual abuse by superintending staff in the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum: medical practice, complaint and risk’, History of Psychiatry, Volume: 32 issue: 1, pps: 69-84. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 16 September 1830, p. 3. At the time of his death, Eliza also had a one-year old daughter Louisa and a newborn baby, Philip Parry/Perry Price Myddelton, who was baptised the day after his father’s death but died the following month.



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