Turtle Bunbury

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Captain William McClintock Bunbury was a methodical man who, after he left the Navy in 1834, chronicled much of his life in a series of small pocket journals' called Rees' Imported Diary and Almanack'. (1) The following notes are based on a transcript of his diary for 1847, which the Captain purchased for sixpence. I begin with 1847 as that was the year work commenced on the new house at Lisnavagh. Indeed, a trowel was presented to Mrs. Bunbury (Pauline) to mark the occasion on January 23rd 1847. As it happens, the Captain wrote nothing in his diary until 24th January. However, being an Almanac, we can see that January 23rd was a Saturday on which the moon entered its first quarter four hours and seventeen minutes into the day. The sun rose at 7:41 and set at 4:19. The new moon was 7 days old. William had just succeeded to his late uncle's seat in the British House of Commons and was Member of Parliament for County Carlow alongside Colonel Henry Bruen. He had also just recruited the services of the eccentric Scottish architect Daniel Robertson to build a New House at Lisnavagh. Robertson was also commissioned to landscape and design the gardens and grounds that surrounded the new house. In 1842, William married Pauline Stronge, a daughter of the influential Orangeman, Sir James Stronge, of Tynan Abbey in County Fermanagh.

On Sunday 24th January, Captain Bunbury 'left Moyle for London', arriving at 1:30 pm the following day 'just 25 hr 40 min from Moyle'. The next day, Tuesday 26th, he went to the House of Commons where the subject of the potato blight in Ireland was gathering increasing attention. It must have been exciting to visit Westminster at such a time for the present-day Parliament buildings were then under construction. Indeed, the Dublin-born sculptor John Henry Foley was chipping away at some of the new statues that would grace the entrance to the House of Lords. No further notes are recorded in the Captain's diary until Thursday 4th February when 'Pauline & children arrived'. They stayed at the Burlington Hotel [on London's Cork Street] until the 8th, dining in Grafton Street [horo?] on the 6th. (2) He noted 'heavy rain' on Monday 8th when they left the Burlington and 'got into No. 36 Cavendish Square' in Marylebone. (3) He remained there for the next ten days. On Sunday 21st February he 'went to Vere Street Chapel to celebrate the first Sunday in Lent'. (4)

Wednesday 24th February had a cold easterly wind that stayed on the streets of London for over a week. That day he went to the Queen's Levee at Saint James's Palace 'with G___t Calvert. Mrs Calvert, G__t Calvert and Edward de ______ dined with us'. The cold easterly wind was still present next day when he called on Lady Grey at her townhouse, 14 Eaton Place, off Belgrave Square. She is assumed to have been Lady Mary Grey (1770-1858), widow of Sir George Grey (1767-1828), Commissioner of Portsmouth Dockyard and younger brother of the Earl Grey who served as Prime Minister from 1830-1834. Lady Mary was a daughter of the brewer Samuel Whitbread and his second wife, Lady Mary Cornwallis, while her brother, also Samuel Whitbread, was married to Earl Grey's eldest daughter Elizabeth. It was Sir George and Lady Mary's son Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet, who waved William off on the Samarang in 1824, and who also befriended his cousin Henry McClintock in 1821. Sir George and Lady Mary's daughter Mary was married to Captain Thomas Monck Mason in Portsmouth, 1823, and they later lived Enniskerry Lodge, Wicklow and Marshall Hall, Dublin. At the time of his visit to Lady Mary, her son George was serving as Home Secretary in Lord John Russell's Whig government and heavily involved with the relief efforts to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine. The following year, Grey also had to contend with the Young Ireland Rebellion and the Chartist Rising. In 1847 Grey left his old Devonport seat and was instead returned for Northumberland North. He remained Home Secretary until the 1852 general election, when, despite enjoying widespread popularity, he lost his seat. (5) Lady Mary Grey died at Eaton Place on 9 May 1858.

On Friday 26th February, the Captain braved the cold winds to drive out with Pauline and attend the House of Commons. That day Mr. D. Browne presented petitions to Parliament from the people of Mayo 'complaining that people were dying of starvation, and praying for adequate measures of relief'. (Parlt. Report from The Times). This must have been amongst the topics of discussion when the Captain dined with Captain Smythe (his old naval friend?) and Charles Stronge (6) on Saturday 27th. It may have been a relatively quick dinner because, at 10pm, the three men attended the Speaker's Levee at the Eaton Square residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons, the tactful Whig Charles Shaw-Lefevre, later 1st Viscount Eversley, who held the post from 1839 until 1857. The Captain was back at the Vere St Chapel next day where 'the collection made for the Irish'. The Calverts dined with them again that evening.

On Monday 1st March he was back in the Commons. Tuesday was milder and he noted that his uncle 'Kane [Bunbury] came up from Brighton' and Tighe [who was Tighe?] came; Mr. and Mrs Calvert dined with them. (7) By Wednesday the weather was cold again. He seems to have been preoccupied working 'for the Factory Bill going with Committee'. (8) (Was Tighe involved with this?). Tighe left for Brighton and the Captain dined with W. Johns [sic]. On Friday 5th March he dined with Kane at Crawford Road. He was back at St. Peters on Vere St that Sunday and off again to the Commons on Monday 8th to hear discussions on how to alleviate the ongoing famine crisis, as well as a proposed reform of the land ownership system in Ireland. On Friday 12th, he attended a meeting if Irish MPs at Lord Massarene's [possibly?] London townhouse. (9)The Great Famine was by now well underway and the question of poor relief presumably dominated the discussion. At 4:30pm on Sunday 14th, he went to Christ Hospital to see the Blue Coat Boys (10) at supper; the Duke of Cambridge was present. (11) He also seems to have had an appointment of some form in the Treasury House where his brother-in-law Charles Stronge was sometimes based.

The Irish debate continued to preoccupy him in the Commons during the generally fine week commencing 15th March - he dined with Lord Ormonde (12) at the Carlton Club on the Wednesday, at 10 Grafton Street (13) the next night - and on Friday 19th was present when the Earl of Wicklow presented a petition from the Grand Jury of Wicklow against the principle of 'Outdoor Poor Relief' in Ireland. Instead, they suggested 'praying for encouragement of emigration'. Lord Wicklow suggested the men were somewhat misguided and reasoned that advancing money for land improvements would be a better bet. 260 MPs voted for the bill and 36 against, but the Captain is silent as to which way he went.

He was in Church again on Sunday, as he was every Sunday. The Irish question was again omnipresent in Parliament next day and on Tuesday the Poor Laws and Poor Relief Bills were hotly disputed. A national fast began on the 24th, causing him to go to church again. On Friday 26th he went to see 'Uncle Kane at Brighton - found him well'. He stayed with Kane for the weekend, calling on Mr Dawsach [sic] while there. (14)

Parliament still held him on Monday 29th March when he 'voted on Irish Poor Laws', but again I am unclear whether he nodded or shook his head.This was the day that the young Conservative/Peelite MP William Gregory introduced his 'quarter acre clause' to the poor relief bill. This meant that people with one-quarter acre or above would not now be eligible for relief. One critic charged that the Gregory clause also meant that ‘all the people in the surrounding districts would become chargeable upon the poor rate, and the rate payers, Protestants as well as Catholics, would be ground to the earth by weight of taxation’. On Tuesday William McClintock Bunbury 'drove into the City with Pauline'. Next day he 'drove out with Charles Stronge. Pauline left and Edmund went to the ___toria at Exeter Hall'. (15) On 1st April - a Thursday - he wrote 'no House of Commons until the 12th' That was just as well for that morning his baby daughter Isabella had 'swallowed a Bristle of a Brush causing us anxiety'. He took it easy for the next week, more fine weather, church on Sunday, driving out with Pauline and Helen on the Monday and then 'to Hunston [sic] Bay with Pauline & the children' on Wednesday 7th. This must have been a port of some sort for next day, at 7am, he left 'Hammond Bay [sic]' for Moyle and sailed from 'Liverpool'. They arrived at Kingston at 3pm on the Friday 'after a very long passage of 15 hours from Liverpool, dined at Tighes & found my father & mother-in-law'. (16) They returned to Moyle that evening.

On Saturday 10th April it was time to see progress at Lisnavagh where he 'found the stable offices were up' and 'saw Mr. Roberston'. (17) Heavy rain fell the next day but did not stop him from attending Church at Killeshin. (18) He based himself at Lisnavagh for the next two nights, returned to Moyle on the 14th and then headed back to London on Thursday 15th. He was dining with the Calverts again the following day. His manservant [perhaps?][possibly John or Tim] went to Euston Station on Sat 17th and retuned 'with Pauline and children'. It was Pauline's 27th birthday and Edmund and the children joined them. Next day they heard Richard Whately, the enigmatic Archbishop of Dublin (1831-1863), preach and Mr Calvert dined with them that night. (19) He was back in the Commons on the 19th when the Government Education Scheme was proposed. Uncle Kane dined with them that night. The education business occupied him all week until the vote on Thursday 22nd. Kane dined with them again next night. On Saturday 24th he went to Chelsea College and called on Lord Grey's family. (20) He again dined with Mr Calvert who reciprocated next night. For the next week he seems to have constantly dined with either Kane or Calvert and attended the Commons in between. Kane stayed at Victoria House on 30th April.

Lord and Lady Erne called in to see them on rainy Sunday 2nd May. John Crichton, 3rd Earl of Erne KP (1802 - 1885) succeeded his uncle as the 3rd Earl Erne in 1842. In 1845 he was elected an Irish Representative Peer in the House of Lords, which he remained until his death on 3rd October 1885. The Captain presumably befriended him during his time in Fermanagh as Lord Erne was Lord Lieutenant of County Fermanagh from 1845 to 1885. Lord Erne married Selina Griselda, daughter of Rev. Charles Cobbe Beresford, in 1837. In later life, this Lord Erne would be remembered as the employer of the hapless Captain Charles Boycott, whose mishandling of relations with agricultural workers on Lord Erne's estate in Mayo caused a political and public order crisis and provoked the strategy that gave the English language the term to boycott. Erne was made a Knight of the Order of St Patrick in 1868 and in 1876 he was created Baron Fermanagh, of Lisnaskea in the County of Fermanagh, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. This title gave him and his descendants an automatic seat in the House of Lords.He died in October 1885, aged 83, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son John, who became a Conservative government minister.

At 8:15pm on Monday 3rd May, 'Pauline gave birth to a Boy (who intend to call Thomas after my late uncle Thos Bunbury)'. He drove to Hampstead Heath next day and told Kane the good news - 'Pauline and Child going on well'. It's not clear where she was but William was in good spirits, dining with Mrs Robert Calvert on the Wednesday and with Mrs Lefroy at 16 Lidymon [sic] Street next day. 'All going on well' he repeated in his diary every day. He dined with Kane at Hampstead on a 'very fine' Sunday 9th. The Salisbury & Winchester Journal of 8 May 1847 recorded the birth of Captain Bunbury's son in Cavendish Square.

'Nothing remarkable' happened on Monday 10th but next day his brother John and Anne McClintock arrived, presumably to congratulate Pauline on the new boy. The Captain seems to have entertained them for the next few days, driving out to see Kane with his children in between. On Friday 14th 'Pauline was moved from her Bedroom to another Room for the first time. John dined with me; went to House of Commons'. His half-brother Stanley and John both dined with him on the Saturday. He heard Archbishop Whateley speak again on the Sunday and later called on Brownrigg [sic]. His brother-in-law Maxwell Stronge arrived on Monday 17th. The following Wednesday was Derby Day and his half-brother 'Stanley went to Ireland'. He dined with Kane at Crawford St on the 20th, before returning to the Commons next day where the Government's Poor Law Bill was approved; that night he dined with John McClintock, Charles and Edward Stronge. Harriet Calvert called by on the 22nd.

On Tuesday 25th May 'Pauline churched at All Souls Ch, Langham Place' and dined at Mrs Calverts. (21) On 27th he 'went to Drawing Room' which must have been astonishing. There was thunder, lightning and heavy rain on 28th when he dined with John and Anne who no doubt attributed it to the Russians. The calm returned next day and, while driving in the Park, he 'saw the Queen'. Pauline was fit enough to attend church at Vere St next day. He was still driving to see Kane at Hampstead Heath with John and the children on 1st June and debating Irish poor laws in the Commons. (22) Their son Thomas was christened on Thursday 3rd at 'All Souls Church' in the Parish of Marlybone with Sir James Stronge, Kane Bunbury and Lady Erne standing as godparents. Alas it seems this child was fated to die prematurely. Another Thomas Bunbury was born on November 29th 1848. He survived to become the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell and President of the Royal Dublin Society.

With thanks to Brian Walker, Michael Purcell and others.



1. The diary, 'to be continued annually', was published in London by Renshaw & Kirkmman, 'Wholesale Stationers' of Budge Row and printed by William Rees in Llandovery. Captain McClintock purchased it for sixpence.

2. The Burlington Hotel on London's Cork Street opened in 1826, having been acquired by Atkinson Morley on the death of Lord Cornwallis in 1823. Cornwallis is the General whose digs get pinched by Mel Gibson in 'The Patriot'. On Cork Street the 1819 edition of Horwood's map shows only two small buildings, as in 1773. Lord Cornwallis had perhaps constructed something more substantial here by 1821. The 'New Burlington Hotel' was said to conceal 'in some measure' from public view the garden façade of the original house. From: 'Cork Street and Savile Row Area: Old Burlington Street', Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 495-517. Burlington House was built for the Duke of Devonshire and, by 1847, occupied by Lord George Cavendish.

3. 36 Cavendish Square appears to have been a boarding house; by 1861 it was certainly advertised in The Times for 'Board and Residence'. The house was later home to the celebrated surgeon Christopher Heath (1835 - 1905). He married (1) Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Jasper Peck; and (2) Gabrielle Nora, daughter of Captain Joseph Maynard, R.N. He died on Aug. 8th, 1905, leaving a widow, five sons, and one daughter. His fourth son, P. Maynard Heath, F.R.C.S., became Surgeon to the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children. The house has been rebuilt since.

4. Also known as the Chapel of St. Peter's and close to The White Swan where a major sexual scandal occurred in 1810.

5. The Times, Thursday, Feb 25, 1847; pg. 5; Issue 19482; col B.

6. Charles Walter Stronge, CB, was the third of Pauline's five brothers, and worked with the Treasury. He was born on 29th June 1816 and a single man when he dined with the Captain. On 12th September 1860, he married Harriett (d. 22 Nov 1893), daughter of William Eades. He died 30th Jan 1898. His son - and Tom Rathdonnell's first cousin - was Walter Cecil Stronge (15 May 1860 - 11 Nov 1930), who was married on 10th October 1888 to Violet Ada (d. 11 Sept 1958), dau of Major General Sir Benjamin Travell Phillips. Walter and Violet left two sons - Brigadier Humphrey Cecil Travell Stronge, CBE (1945), DSO (1919 and Rupert Maxwell Stronge, Assistant Native Commissioner of S. Rhodesia.

7. Kane Bunbury, maternal uncle to Captain McClintock.

8. 1847 Factory Act: The Ten Hours Movement was a campaign in the 1830s which led to the passing of the Ten Hours Act. Richard Oastler led the campaign outside of Parliament and John Fielden and Lord Shaftesbury led the campaign inside Parliament to limit working hours in textile mills for all women and adolescents between 13 and 18 years of age. After the 1844 Factory Act the agitation for a Ten Hour Bill continued. Early in 1846 Lord Ashley again brought forward a measure cast in this mould, which, on his defeat at the General Election that year, was taken up by John Fielden, and ultimately pressed to a division, when the Government escaped defeat by the narrow majority of ten. The next year the Whigs were in office, and Lord John Russell, Prime Minister. John Fielden reintroduced the Bill, and its progress through Parliament was one continued triumph. With the enactment of the law the long struggle for a Ten Hours Bill is generally held to have come to a close. It limited the hours of labour to sixty-three per week from the 1st of July 1847, and to fifty-eight per week, from the 1st of May 1848, which with the stoppage on Saturday afternoon was the equivalent of ten hours work per day. On June 1 1847, Lord Ashley wrote in his diary: "News that the Factory Bill has just passed the Third Reading. I am humbled that my heart is not bursting with thankfulness to Almighty God--that I can find breath and sense to express my joy. What reward shall we give unto the Lord for all the benefits He hath conferred upon us?--God in His mercy prosper the work, and grant that these operatives may receive the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord!"

9. In March 1847, Punch published 'A Suggestion to M. Soyer, or, The Ticket for Soup' in which they suggested M. Soyer be called 'the Gastronomic Regenerator of Ireland'. 'His receipt for cheap soup is the best practical suggestion which has been yet made for the relief of that unlucky island. It has, however, been objected against M. SOYER's soup, that it contains an insufficient quantity of meat. We have a plan to propose, by which this defect may be remedied. Nay, we will show how animal matter may be plentifully introduced into the soup with positive gain instead of expense to the country. Let gam be applied to this purpose. We shall be told that it will require all the game in the kingdom. Exactly so. Two great savings will thus be effected; one in crops to the agriculturist, the other in prosecutions and prison-expenses to counties. For if the Irish eat up the game, the game will not eat up the farmer; poaching will be impossible, and the Game Laws become a dead letter. We therefore, for once, recommend a series of battues for the benefit of the starving Irish. Let us not be told that this is an unseasonable proposal. Famishing people can eat stranger food than game out of season. March hare will make very sensible soup. Our scheme we know will spoil sport; but it is rather better to sacrifice that than human life. Instead, therefore, of making game of SOYER's soup, we say, let SOYER's soup be made of game. And the extirpation of game by the instrumentality of SOYER will add appropriate lustre to a name associated with Reform'.

10. Reading Blue Coat School is a public school for boys, with a co-educational sixth form, located in the village of Sonning along the River Thames. It may well be that the Captain was educated here in his early days in which case I must look more closely at the school.

11. Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (Adolphus Frederick; 24 February 1774 - 8 July 1850), was the tenth child and seventh son of George III and Queen Charlotte. He held the title of Duke of Cambridge from 1801 until his death. He also served as Viceroy of Hanover on behalf of his brothers George IV and William IV. His granddaughter, Mary of Teck was the Queen consort of George V.

12. John Butler, 2nd Marquess of Ormonde, KP was born in 1808, making him eight years the Captain's junior. His cousin, John Wandesforde-Butler was married to the Captain's half-sister, Emily Selina McClintock. The Marquess was the son of James Wandesford Butler, 1st Marquess of Ormonde and Grace Louisa Staples. On 19 September 1843, he married Frances Jane Paget, daughter of General Hon. Sir Edward Paget, GCB and Lady Harriet Legge. This suggests a kinship with the family of Admrial McClintock's wife and Captain Bunbury's former sea-faring boss on the Samarang. The 2nd Marquess died aged 48 on 25 September 1854 and was succeeded by his son, James Butler (1844 - 1919) who was married to Lady Elizabeth Grosvenor, daughter of the 1st Duke of Westminster. They died without issue and the title passed to the next brother, James Arthur Wellington (1849-1943) who married Ellen Sprague. It is worth noting that the Ormondes had another son, James Hubert Henry Thomas Butler, born in 1847 who died aged 20 in 1867. There were aso several daughters including Lady Mary Grace Louisa Butler (1846-1929) who married the Hon. William Henry Fitzwilliam, and Blanche Buler (1854-1914) who married with Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Ellison Edwardes, son of 3rd Baron Kensington. The 2nd Marquess's youngest son, the Rev.James Theobald Butler (1852 - 1929) married Brydon, only daughter of Rev. Cosmo Reid Gordon, D.D. and had issue.

13. Later home to Jewish television hero Lew Grade.

14. This may be the same M. Darnach [?] who wrote a letter pertaining to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and who seems to have been tied up with JH Lefroy. See: Letter from M. Darnach?, Royal Chelsea Hospital, Chelsea, London, to Colonel Mundy; 30 Dec. 1854

15. This may have been to see Handel's 'Balshazzar' which was on at Exeter Hall on March 21st but received a drubbing from The Times critic the following day. Her companion was probably her first cousin, Edmund Pery Sexton Calvert of Furneaux Pelham (b 26.10.1797, d 18.06.1866). On 8th August 1844 he married Elizabeth Campbell (dau of General Sir John Campbell). It could, however, be Pauline's fourth brother Edmond Robert Francis Stronge.

16. William's half-sister Anne McClintock was married to the Very Reverend Hugh Usher-Tighe, DD, Dean of Derry and Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle.

17. Daniel Robertson, architect of Lisnavagh.

18. I'm not sure why the Captain would have gone to church at Killeshin. Located on the Carlow-Castlecomer road, the church is largely twelfth century in date, although some parts show evidence of later rebuilding, including a late Gothic east window. Killeshin was an important centre for learning and culture from the 6th century when St Comghan founded a monastery. Destroyed in the 11th century all that remains is a beautifully carved 5th century Hiberno-Romanesque doorway. There is no trace of the 105ft round tower, once amongst the tallest in Ireland, which stood next to the monastery. Apparently it was demolished by an 18th century landowner who was afraid that the tower could collapse and injure his cattle. It is said that ten counties can be seen from the hill above Killeshin.

19. Archbishop Richard Whately was a Fellow and tutor of Oriel College, Oxford. He published a witty work aimed at extreme skeptics, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte (1819). In 1822 he gave the Bampton Lectures at Oxford entitled The Use and Abuse of Party Feeling in Matters of Religion. As archbishop of Dublin (from 1831) he worked to free religious instruction from sectarianism and urged state endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy. He was an influential supporter of the Broad Church party. Among his many works are Elements of Logic (1826) and Elements of Rhetoric (1828). See his Life and Correspondence, ed. by his daughter, E. J. Whately (1866); memoirs by W. J. Fitzpatrick (2 vol., 1864).

20. I would suggest that Chelsea College was the Royal Chelsea Hospital

21. All Souls Church was an Anglican Evangelical Church designed by George IV's favourite architect, John Nash, and consecrated in 1824 by the Bishop of London.

22. At this time, Parliament was also debating the Town Police Clauses Act, 1847, (chapter 89, section 28) which made such crimes as hanging washing in the street, beating a carpet and flying a kite punishable by a £1,000 fine.