Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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Above: A rare photograph of the future 3rd Baron Rathdonnell shortly after the
birth of his only son William in November 1914. Tim, as he was known, was bound
for the frontlines shortly afterwards.


Known as ‘Tim’, Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury
became heir apparent to the lordship of Rathdonnell, as
well as the Lisnavagh and Drumcar estates, upon the
death of his brother Billy during the Boer War. As a young
man, the Cambridge graduate served as Private Secretary to
the Governors of Ceylon and Fiji. In 1911 he was appointed
Private Secretary to the High Commissioner of Australia.
The following year he was married in London to Miss.
Ethel Ievers, daughter of an Irishman who had become
a prominent engineer in late 19th century Ceylon.

Tim was working as Secretary to the Director of the
Imperial Insitute in Kensington, London, when war broke
out in 1914. His only son William, the 4th Baron
Rathdonnell, was born that same year. In 1915, Tim
resigned from the II and joined the army, primarily
serving in East Africa where he was mentioned in
despatches by General Smuts ‘for gallant and
distinguished conduct in the Field’. He was later
recruited for ‘special service’ in the former Austro-
Hungarian Empire, further details of which are as yet

Bill Burgess of Tobinstown, who died aged 105 in 2007,
recalled that Tim was in bad health 'for ages, for as long
as I knew him. He was never in good health from the time
he came here'. As such, he didn't take 'any interest, or
couldn't, I suppose', in the estate at Lisnavagh.

Dogged by ill-health and the premature death in London
of his wife in 1922, he seems to have spent the 1920s
based at Great Wadd in Kent. He succeeded his father as
3rd Baron Rathdonnell in 1929 and returned to live at
Lisnavagh. He travelled to Australia in 1935 but two years
later, he passed away – on the same day his only son’s
engagement to Pamela Drew was announced in the press.




Born on 3 February 1881, Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, known to some as “Tim”, was the only surviving son of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell and a grandson of Captain William McClintock Bunbury, RN, who built Lisnavagh House.

I believe he may be the man standing on the far right of frame about 40 seconds into this Pathe news clip about the 1928 Spring Show. He would have been 47 years old at this time.

When his elder brother Billy Bunbury was killed in the Boer War in 1900, young Tim * became heir apparent to the once vast estates of the combined McClintock and Bunbury families. I do not know how many acres this amounted to by the time his son, William (the 4th Baron) was born in 1914, but the estate would have been considerably reduced by Wyndham’s Land Act of 1903 which effectively obliged all Irish landowners to sell land to long-standing tenants – for which they received financial compensation from the British Government. It is to be noted that Tim's cousin Arthur McClintock of Rathvinden was a Public Trustee for the Land Commission at this time.

* I’m sometimes hesitant to use the name Tim because “Tim” reminds me of my rogue friend Tim Slingsby. As such, I sometimes call him Silvermugs because John Grogan told me that was one of his nicknames. The origin of this name is that he apparently only ever drank from a silver mug so that his teetotalling wife would not know its contents were whiskey. Cold houses did tend to make one drink more; whiskey for breakfast used to be the norm. My father posseses a silver mug with glass base which was inscribed in Laton to TKMcB, Tim's father.


It is not clear why Tim was schooled at Charterhouse rather than Eton where his father, his uncle Jack Bunbury and brother Billy were educated. He arrived in the Oration (autumn) Quarter 1894 and was in Saunderites House. In the following summer’s examinations he was placed in the Upper IV Form. In the exams of 1895 he was placed 5th equal in Mathematics, 4th in French, 4th in Latin, 11th in English & History, 2nd in Divinity. At the start of the academic year 1895, he was in the Remove (C) and, in the summer term of 1896, before he left, he was placed 8th in Maths, 3rd in French, 9th in Latin, 5th in Divinity and 4th in Special German. He was also a member of the Rifle Corps.

He left Charterhouse in the Oration Quarter of 1896 when he was 15 or 16 years old. It is not yet known why he left earlier than his contemporaries. Most of those Old Carthusians who left in OQ 1896 appear to have been two or three years older than him.[ia] Was Silvermugs particularly bright? Was he expelled? Or did he leave on account of some unhappy bullying episode? Who knows? It's unlikely to have been the latter as he sent his only son to Charterhouse in the 1920s. In his letters to young William, written in the 1930s, Tim certainly comes across as a very kindly and sagacious man.

Of the 82 boys who arrived at Charterhouse with Tim in OQ 1894 (into all eleven boarding Houses), ten were killed in action during the First World War. Built in 1927, the chapel at Charterhouse is the largest war memorial in the UK, recalling 687 dead - the highest percentage in England - including Alan Appleby Drew, whose niece Pamela would marry Tim's only son, the 4th Baron Rathdonnell. My brother-in-law is the writer Tom Sykes whose grandfather Robert Goad, born in 1900, kept a photo of his class from Eton on his desk until his death many decades later - he was one of very few in the photo to survive the war.

There is a curious coincidence here – for my family, at any rate – because Tim must have gone to Charterhouse at the same time as John Malcolm Drew, aka Jack Drew, my other great-grandfather, who was just nine months younger than him. Like his brother Alan Appleby Drew, Jack was in Gownboys. As such, I assume Tim and Jack Drew met from time to time while they were knocking around the classrooms and chapel at Charterhouse. Little did they know that they would one day have the same four grandchildren!


From Charterhouse, he went on to Cambridge where he obtained an MA, and possibly an MBA, possibly in science and technology. It was while he was a student at Cambridge that Billy’s death left him heir apparent to his father.



'Sir Henry Blake, Governor of Ceylon, and Lady Blake leave England on Nov. 18 for Colombo by the P. and O. Himalaya, via Marseilles. They will be accompanied by the Duchess of St. Albans, and probably by Lady Alexandra Beauclerk. Sir Henry is taking out as private secretary the Hon. Thomas McClintock-Bunbury, the only son of Lord Rathdonnell, and, as aide-de-camp, Capt. Henry Phipps, Royal Field Art. Sir Henry Blake had the honour of being received by his Majesty the King on Oct. 24.’ (Homeward Mail from India, China and the East , Saturday 28 October 1905, p. 17).

The Limerick-born Sir Henry Arthur Blake (1840–1918) had succeeded Sir Everard in Thurn as Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the close of 1903. [ib] Tim was still his Private Secretary in 1907, as per the following:

“Towards the close of the year the Duchess of St Albans, sister to Lady Blake, arrived in the island in the company of Sir Henry and Lady Blake, who were returning to the island after a three months’ holiday in England. Captain H.R. Phipps, and the Hon T. McClintock-Bunbury, P.S.,. arrived with Their Excellencies.”[ii]


On Monday 1st February 1909 T. L. Bunbury of Lisnavagh and Robert Thorp of Kilgreany House, Bagelsalstown, made their respective declarations as High Sheriff and Sub-Sheriff of Co. Carlow, before Mr. Charles J. Johnson, Commissioner of Oaths. (Kildare Observer, Saturday February 6th 1909, p. 2). Tim, whose father and uncle had both been High Sheriff a generation earlier, succeeded Sir Richard Peirce Butler, 11th Baronet, who had been High Sheriff since 1905. Tim was himself succeeded in 1910 by William Fitzwilliam Burton.

In November 1909, he was elected a Grand Knight of the College of Philosophical Masons in Ireland.


During 1910, Tim served as private secretary to Sir Everard im Thurn (1852-1932), the Oxford and Sydney educated explorer and botanist who served as Governor of Fiji from 1904 to 1910. Sir Everard was curator of the British Guiana Museum from 1877 to 1882. In December 1884 he led the first successful expedition to the summit of Mount Roraima, in Venezuela's Gran Sabana region, along with Harry Perkins, an Assistant Crown Surveyor who was also living in British Guiana. Thurn was also a keen photographer and author of several works related to his expedition to Roraima, which were published in scientific journals. He was a well-respected figure in the scientific circles of his time, serving as the President of the Royal Anthropological Institute 1919–1920 and being made an Honorary Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. Thurn went on to become a government agent in British Guiana from 1891 to 1899, holding several positions, including: 1st Class Clerk in the Colonial Office from 1899 to 1901, before moving to Ceylon, where he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Colonial Secretary, serving as Governor of Ceylon in 1903.


On Wednesday 11 January 1911, The Sydney Morning Herald carried a story on page 5 entitled 'AUSTRALIANS ABROAD' with news from their special correspondent in London filed on 9th December. It read: "Hon. T. L. McClintock Bunbury, who has just been appointed private secretary to the High Commissioner for Australia, Sir George Reid, is the eldest son of Lord Rathdonnell of Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, County Carlow, in Ireland. For over a year Mr. Bunbury was private secretary to the Governor of Fiji, Sir Everard im Thurn, with whom he returned to England in the R.M.S. Makura a few months ago from Suva." (This was a London-based job and I am uncertain whether Tom actually visited Australia).

George Reid was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1845, the son of a Presbyterian minister who migrated to Victoria, Australia, with his family in 1852. At the age of 15 he joined the School of Arts Debating Society in Sydney, and according to his autobiography, 'a more crude novice' than he was never began the practise of public speaking. He became an assistant accountant in the Colonial Treasury in 1864 and rose rapidly and became head of the Attorney-General's department in 1878. His career was aided by his quick wit and entertaining oratory; he was described as being "perhaps the best platform speaker in the Empire", and audiences "flocked to his election meetings as to popular entertainment". When a heckler pointed to his ample paunch and exclaimed "What are you going to call it, George?", he replied: "If it's a boy, I'll call it after myself. If it's a girl I'll call it Victoria. But if, as I strongly suspect, it's nothing but piss and wind, I'll name it after you." He served as Premier of New South Wales from 1894-1899 after which he was variously Attorney General, Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister of Australia. He was Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1910 to 1916 and proved extremely popular in Britain. When his term as High Commissioner ended, he was returned unopposed to the House of Commons for the seat of St George, Hanover Square as a Unionist candidate, where he acted as a spokesman for the self-governing Dominions in supporting the war effort. He died suddenly in London in September 1918, aged 73 of cerebral thrombosis, survived by his wife and their two sons and daughter. She had become Dame Flora Reid GBE in 1917. He is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

Tim remained with Sir George until the summer of 1912, as the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer revelaed on 31 August 1912: "The Commonwealth Office in Victoria Street is about to lose one of the most amiable and popular members of Sir George Reid's staff. The Hon. Thomas McClintock-Bunbury, who has been the High Commissioner's private secretary for a long time past, and is now with Sir George and Lady Reid in Canada, has been appointed secretary to the Director of the Imperial Institute (Mr. Wyndham R. Dunstan), in succession to Major E. J. Lugard. I understand that Major Lugard is leaving England to join his brother, General Sir Frederick Lugard. Mr. McClintock-Bunbury, who is the eldest son and heir of Lord Rathdonnell, takes over his new duties on his return from America. Before he went to the Commonwealth Office he was for some time private secretary to Sir Everard Im Thurn, when the latter was Governor of the Fiji Islands and High Commissioner ofthe Pacific. Mr. McClintock-Bunbury is to be married in October."

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Above: A group at Lisnavagh from one of TLMB's albums. i think he may be standing on the right of frame.


In 1912, I think, Tim may have also been appointed ADC to the new Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry Edward McCallum (1907–13). Following McCallum’s resignation in 1913, Sir Robert Chalmers (1913–16) was appointed Governor and it seems as though Silvermugs must have retained his own office for he remained ADC to the Governor until 1914.[iiia]


On 26th November 1912, 31-year-old Tim Bunbury married 27-years-old Ethel Synge Ievers. The wedding takes place at St. Mary Abbot's Church, Kensington, with Tim's cousin the Very Rev. Frank McClintock, Dean of Armagh, officiating, assisted by the Rev. G.H.B. Coleridge, BA. See the Ievers family. The Irish Independent reported on the ‘Fashionable Marriage’ on Wednesday, November 27, 1912, adding that Tim and Ethel had four bridesmaids and 'Mr. R. Pochin' standing as best man. The bride was given away by Sir Everard Ion Thurn who hosted the subsequent reception with his wife which was ‘attended by a distinguished company’.

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Above: Ethel McClintcok Bunbury and her only child William, later the 4th Baron Rathdonnell.


Tim’s best man was Victor Robert Pochin, CBE. Born on 10th September 1879, he was the only son of George William Pochin (1843-23 Feb 1929), JP, DL, High Sheriff of Co. Leicester (1904), late lieutenant 3rd Buffs, of Barkby Hall and Edmondthorpe Hall, near Oakham, both in Lesicestershire. (I'm not yet sure if he connects to Henry Davis Pochin, the English industrial soap inventor who predominated at Tredegar, south Wales, and established the Bodnant Garden). Victor’s mother Marianne Pochin was a daughter of Robert Deey Barry of Fitzwilliam Street. She married George in November 1870 and had three children, Victor, and two daughters, Rhoda Mabel Hope and Ethel.[i] Marianne died when Victor was 17, shortly before he went to Cambridge where he acquired an MA and may have befriended Tim Bunbury.[ii] He was appointed a JP in 1906, and became a Barrister at Lincoln's Inn the following year. With an address at 9 Cleveland Row, St. James's St., SW and membership of the United University club, he went on to high office in Leicestershire - as Deputy Lieutetant (1925), High Sheriff (1941) Deputy Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Vice-Chairman and then Chairman (1960–1961) of Leicestershire County Council. In 1965 he sent my parents a copy of the A.A. Guide Book of Ireland as a wedding present and a note to say he had been best man to my father's grandfather. He died in 1972 aged 92 and earned the following obituary in The Times of London. [iii]

'The Grand Old Man of Leicestershire, Victor Pochin, Squire of Barkby, died earlier this week within a few days of his 93rd birthday. He was a man respected by all who came into contact with him- his advice on personal and county matters was wise, sympathetic, selfless and available to all who sought It. His was a life dedicated to the country, his roses and his 5,000 acres of land, part of which had been held by his family since the 13th Century. Had he lived a few months longer he would have served on the Leicestershire County Council for no less than 60 years. For 36 of these he was vice-chairman to that great character, Sir Robert Martin, from whom he took over the chair in 1960. He did this only after pressure from all members of the county council and in spite of his being over 80 years of age at that time. He was a staunch supporter of the Church and particularly his local parish, a keen sportsman, cricket being one of his great loves, shooting and fishing the others. In fact, I believe he actually caught several salmon when staying with the late Sir Harold Nutting in Scotland last year. He was also a supporter of the Quom Hunt, and they never failed to find a fox on the Barkby Shoot. The county has lost one of its best known and best loved sons. He will be remembered for many years and much missed by all who knew him.’


[i] Victor's sister Rhoda Mabel Hope Pochin, married (1 Aug. 1894) Frederick Arden Peacock (Cottesford Place, London) and had a son, Anthony Frederick Peacok (b. 1898) and daughter Violet Frances Emmie Peacock. See: The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Being a Complete Table of All the Descendants Now Living of Edward III, King of England. The Isabel of Essex Volume, Containing the Descendants of Isabel (Plantagenet) Countess of Essex and Eu, with a Supplement to the Three Previous Volumes, Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny et Raineval (marquis de), Marquis of Ruvigny & Raineval, Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny et Raineval (marquis de) (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1994)

[ii] Marianne Pochin died on 31 July 1896 (when Victor was 17). George was married secondly on 10 Dec 1898 to Mildred, daughter of John Nickisson.

[iii] The Times, September 9, 1972, p. 16.

An Encounter with a Sloth

Ethe's father Robert “Bob” Ievers was a high profile government minister in Ceylon during the late 19th century. He spoke Singhalese, wrote poetry, explored the ancient ruins of Anarahdapura and Sigiriya with HC Bell and also happened to be a very keen shot. Ethel’s mother Kate Crawford was descended from a Belfast merchant and miraculously survived a scuffle with a sloth bear. In regard to this latter incident, I found a book in the Lisnavagh library called Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon (1907) by the hunter Harry Storey. In a chapter on “Bears and Water-Hole shooting” he relays an incident concerning "a plucky sportswoman, wife of a well-known and popular sporting Government official". Though Storey does not actually name her, I am quite certain this was Kate Ievers – mother to Ethel and grandmother to Bill Rathdonnell. She was regarded as being "as keen on sport as her husband and an excellent shot but the incident I am about to relate would have shaken the nerve of many a man and no one could have shown greater courage under the circumstances than she did”. Bob and Kate were on circuit at the time, inspecting some tank-repairing work the Irrigation Department had been working on.[iv]

"News was brought of bears amongst some rocks near a tank about 3 miles away and the lady went off very early one morning, I think, to have a look for them, accompanied by a police orderly, one Tamil headman and one Singhalese headman, her husband being too busy to come with them. Arrived at the rocks, they took up their position on a fat slab between two big rocks commanding a view of a cave or hollow among a medley of rocks below them. and had not been there long when they saw a bear walk past their front and disappear among the boulders. They then waited for the bear to return to the cave and the lady was sitting well back on her slab of rock when suddenly, without any warning, a bear rushed up from behind, knocked her over on her face at once, and began biting at her head and neck, clawing away at her back all the time. She put up her left hand to protect her neck and the bear bit that savagely whilst, with her right hand, she shoved her gun down between her feet and pulled the trigger, shooting the bear through one foot, as was afterwards found”.

“In the meantime, the two headmen were wildly firing off their guns in all directions apparently for not one shot hit the bear (luckily, perhaps, for our heroine for it is a wonder she was not shot too) until the Tamil, with the last cartridge he had, hit the animal in the head, I think, and killed it. Dreadful to relate it was then found that the police orderly, a smart young fellow, had been shot dead in the melee but how or by whom it was impossible to say; and it is a great marvel that more damage was not done as the two headmen lost their heads entirely for the time and blazed off their guns as fast as they could load them. The injured lady actually walked the 3 miles back to camp where, no doubt, her husband would be terribly upset at this time. I met them both a few weeks afterwards at a rest-house on their way to Colombo to see a doctor about the lady's left wrist, which was stiff and unusable after the mauling, and she then told me all about the incident, only regretting that her injuries would cause her to lose the season for further shooting that year!"

Ethel’s Sisters

Ethel’s elder sister Nena (Beatrice) Ievers obtained an MD from Edinburgh University and married a Ceylonese civil servant Norman Izat. His father, Alexander Izat, CIE, MICE, was Chief Engineer of the Daund-Manmad (opened 1878) and Bhavnagar- Gondal (1880) railway lines and later became Director of the Bengal & North-Western Railway Company. Nena and Norman had three children - Mary Izat [v], Katherine Izat[vi] and Alan Izat [vii] – who would thus have been first cousins of The Baron.

The younger sister Kathleen Crawford Ievers (Kitty) married B. de Glanville of the Ceylon Civil Service. I believe this was Bertram George de Glanville, born in 1885 and educated at Taylor’s School, Crosby, and Worcester College in Oxford. [viii] He joined the Ceylon Civil Service as a cadet in 1908 and worked his way up the ladder to the offices of magistrate and district judge. In 1929, the year the Silvermugs succeeded as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, Bertram became Chairman of the Colombo Port Commission (and was till there when “The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List” was released in 1932). The CPC was established in 1913 (ie: when Silvermugs was there) to administer the affairs of the Port and to collect customs from passing ships. [ix] They were responsible for developing the harbour, dredging the water and extending the warehouses, quays and waterways in the port. Kitty bore B[ertram] four sons (Ranulph [x], Geoffrey [xi], Robert [xii] and John) and two daughters (Joan [xiii] and Moira Dorothea [xiv]). These were also first cousins of The Baron.


In 1912 he became Assistant Secretary along with G. A. I. Bosanquet to the Director of the Imperial Insitute in Kensington, London. From 1903 to 1924, the director was the noted chemist Sir Wyndham Rowland Dunstan (1861-1949), C.M.G., F.R.S., a man of great foresight who greatly extended the laboratory work and intelligence services of the institute and took much interest in reorganizing its public exhibition galleries. He also orchestrated major surveys of the mineral resources of India, Nigeria, Nyasaland and Ceylon, and it may well have been through this latter survey that Tim came to hear of the late Bob Ievers or, more relevantly, his daughter Ethel. Although Tim did not become Assistant Secretary until 1912, he may have met Dunstan during his visit to Ceylon in 1912 and he surely traveled with him during his return visit in 1914. Dunstan was also President of the (3rd) International Association of Tropical Agriculture which took place in the last week of June 1914 and which Silvermugs attended. [iiic]

When Lord Wolsey was buried in St Paul's on Monday 13 March 1913, Silvermugs was among those in attendance and was described by The Times as 'representing the Director of the Imperial Institute' (iiib)

The Imperial Institute was established in 1887 (on the back of the Colonial and Indian exhibition of 1886) to promote research which would benefit the Empire. Originally there was a sharp focus on scientific research that supported the industrial and commercial development of the dominions and colonies. From 1893, the Imperial Institute was located in a building on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, designed by T.E. Collcutt and built by John Mowlem & Co from 1887-1894. An Act in 1902 placed the Institute under the Board of Trade. In 1907 management was transferred to the Colonial Office, and in 1925 to the Department of Overseas Trade (under the Board of Trade). At this time the UK had a policy of Commonwealth Preference in its trade relations. Tim may have had a suitable scientific background and there's a growing suggestion that he obtained an M.?. and that he was somehow linked to the Scientific and Technical Department with the Superintendent of Laboratories. [iiid]

The 85-metre tower, Queen's Tower off Exhibition Road, is now the last remaining part of the Imperial Institute; the remainder was demolished in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for Imperial College. Originally, there were three copper-roofed Renaissance-style towers, but only one survives.

On 22 December 1915, the Hon. T. L.. McClintock Bunbury, M.A. (Cantab.), resigned his post as Assistant Secretary to ‘in order to undertake military duties’.[iiie] The Colonial Office has a letter from January 1916 referring to the appointment of A J Hedgeland, formerly of the War Trade Department, to succeed him as Assistant Secretary.[iiif] Bosanquet was simultaneously promoted Secretary.

Birth of the Baron

On 23rd November 1914 Ethel gave birth to her one and only child, William Robert McClintock Bunbury, later the 4th Baron Rathdonnell and this author's paternal grandfather. The Times noted that the birth took place at 50 Drayton Gardens in South West London. It is to be noted that on 23rd November 2014, the 4th Baron's only son Ben Rathdonnell hosted a small party in honour of the centenary.

1914, of course, was a calamitous year to be born because the world had gone to war just a few months before William's birth and the war didn’t stop for five years. Ethel moved to Ireland before Christmas and William was christened on January 15th the following year, presumably in Ireland although there is no mention of him in the parish register for Rathvilly. Among the gifts he received at his christening was a silver dish presented by Godmother, Isabella K. Colvin, now in the Lisnavagh dining room. Isabella was one of his three aunts, the others being Mamie Bramwell and Pauline Dalgety.

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Above: Undated image of Tim Rathdonnell (right) and Colonel Phillips.

Ethel– The Lady Rathdonnell That Never Was

Alas, Ethel McClintock Bunbury died young in 1922 and so little is known of her. Certainly Dad and his sisters have virtually no knowledge of their grandmother. John Grogan, an old Ceylon hand since passed away, heard stories of her and suggested to me that she was a devout Christian and much given to berating those who drank, particularly her goodly husband who hence earned his moniker Silvermugs.

Some say Ethel died of loneliness when she and her small boy moved to Ireland at the start of the Great War. I guess she had grown up in Ceylon, basking in the glories of imperial tea and tennis parties, sunshine and servants. Her father-in-law, Tom Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, was one of the most influential members of the Unionist movement in the southern half of the country. Ireland was in a state of turmoil when Ethel and her new husband first went to stay with his parents at their second home, Drumcar in County Louth. All across the east coast guns were being landed for Protestant and Catholic militia. The soldiers at the Curragh camp were mutinying. Dublin had become the stomping ground of trade unionism, republicanism, suffragettes and anti-war movements. And the British Government had finally agreed to let the country be ruled from Dublin, albeit with Britain’s Sovereign Supremacy held intact. If Home Rule was granted to Ireland, as planned prior to the outbreak of the Great War, then there was every chance that the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell would be appointed Minister of the new government. As President of the Royal Dublin Society, his credentials for the Ministry of Agriculture must have drawn the notice of Lloyd-George’s wartime coalition. In Ballsbridge, he provided lemondade to the ill-fated Sherwood Forresters as they marched to their doom at Mount Street Bridge in Easter 1916.

It can’t have been easy to fit into this Anglo-Irish world for the young Ceylon gal who had lived her own equally bizarre isolated life before coming to Ireland. Less than a decade after her arrival, young Ethel had passed away. She can’t have seen her husband who, 33 years old when the war began, spent so much of the war on assignment in East Africa, Austria and Italy.


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The Times, Monday November 20th 1916 - Tim McClintock Bunbury served in
East Africa (Tanzania) during this campaign. Mentioned in despatches the same
day this report reached The Times, one assumes he was involved in these actions.



I found an envelope entitled ‘ON HIS MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE’, dated to July 1920 and addressed to Major Hon TL McClintock Bunbury, Spec List, c/o Secretary Room 506, War Office, SW1. Inside was a card the size of a wedding invitation headed ‘The War of 1914 – 1918’ sent from the War Office, Whitehall SW, on 1st March 1919. It was sub-captioned ‘Special List’. T/2nd Lt Hon T.L. Bunbury (the name hand-written) ‘was mentioned in Despatches from Lt Gen The Hon JC Smuts dated 22nd November 1916 for gallant and distinguished services in the Field’. ‘I have it in command from the King to record His Majesty’s high appreciation of the services rendered’.

This is signed by the Secretary of State for War – Winston S Churchill.

In 1916, General Jan Smuts commanded some 13,000 South Africans including Boers, British, and Rhodesians as well as 7,000 Indian and African troops, against a small German army in German East Africa (Tanzania) commanded by the brilliant Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, aka The African Kaiser or the Lion of Africa. The German general was a remarkable man - he spoke fluent Swahili language, appointed black officers and stated 'we are all Africans here’. By September 1916, the German Central Railway from the coast at Dar es Salaam to Ujiji was fully under British control. Smuts then began to withdraw his South African, Rhodesian and Indian troops and replaced them with askaris of the King's African Rifles.

One assumes Tim was tied up with an expedition uner General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien which set out to fight the Germans in East Africa (present day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) in 1916. During the Zulu War, Smith-Dorrien had a most dramatic escape from Isandlwana when he crossed the Buffalo River, with 20 Zulu impis in hot pursuit, by holding onto the tale of a loose horse. Less than fifty British survived the battle. He also served in the Anglo-Boer War. At the start of the Great War, he commanded the British Expeditionary Force II Corps with which he made a celebrated stand at Le Cateau, by which he arguably saved the lives of thousands of British. However, he was castigated and dismissed by Lord French for disobeying his orders. He also came in for criticism for advocating withdrawal from the Ypres salient after huge numbers of British were killed by German poison. The general was stricken with pneumonia on the voyage south to South Africa and had to call it quits. Jan Smuts then took charge of the East Africa Force. Major Dermot McCalmont of Mount Juliet, who had been Smith-Dorrien's ADC, served as Assistant Military Secretary (Brevet Major) of the East Africa Force. Smith- Dorrien later became a celebrated after dinner speaker, specializing in the tale of his Zulu escape.

By the start of 1917 more than half the British Army in the theatre was composed of Africans, and by the end of the war, it was nearly all African troops. Smuts himself left in January 1917 to join the Imperial War Cabinet at London.

General von Lettow-Vorbeck was never defeated in battle, and only surrendered after learning about the Armistice in November 1918. In 1935 Hitler offered him the ambassadorship to the Court of St James's in London, following a recommendation from Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen. The general apparently told the Führer to "go fuck himself.” Somehow he lived to be 93, dying in Hamburg just after The Beatles began performing in the city.


Later in the war Tim was serving on the Italian Front for which he was awarded both the Croce di Guerra and the Order of the Crown of Italy.[xv] For the greater part of 1918, he was with the British Mission at the Italian "Comando Supremo", alongside Charles Hordern whose letters appear on this page. There is also a letter at Lisnavagh from Sir Charles Delme-Radcliffe, a man with Canadian connections who commanded the International Mission in Italy after the Great War. He wrote to the 4th Baron after Tim’s death in 1937 saying that he “served me right well during the war in Italy. I was very fond of your mother too. She was a wonderful person. I knew her when she came out to join your father at North Klagenfurt in Carinthia”.

In 1918, Tim McClintock Bunbury was awarded the British Red Cross Society Medal for War Service.

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Above: Tim receives thanks from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.


In November 2013, I chanced upon a curious document in the archives dated March 1910 and relating to “Major the Hon. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, MBE’. After the First World War (or possibly during its latter stages), he was seemingly dispatched to post-war Carinthia, the southernmost 'crown land' of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a landscape of mountains and lakes within the Eastern Alps. (See Appendix 1 below for letter from Charles Hordern). I'd always heard that he'd been recruited for “special service” in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire after the war, but I knew little else.

Southern Carinthia was dominated by Slovenes, who spoke their own dialect. In November 1918, the Slovenians under Franjo Malgaj and Rudolf Maister, assisted by the regular Yugoslave army, occupied southern Carinthia and claimed it for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, as alluded to in the certificate). The kingdom was also known as Yugoslavia.

I suspect Major Bunbury was part of an Allied Commission, headed by U.S. Lt. Col. Sherman Miles, sent to review the situation. With a nod to item no. 10 of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, they proposed a referendum in the disputed area so the inhabitants could decide if they wished to remain with Austria or become part of Yugoslavia. An armistice was duly drawn up and, gradually, the occupying forces pulled out of Carinthia.

Southern Carinthia was divided into two zones. Zone A was formed out of the predominantly Slovene-inhabited zones, while Zone B included the City of Klagenfurt and the immediately surrounding rural areas where German speakers formed a vast majority. As suggested by the Allied Commission, a Referendum was held on 10th October 1920 in which almost 60% of Zone A’s population voted to remain with Austria. If they had decided for Yugoslavia, another referendum in Zone B would have followed.

There is much to learn about Major Bunbury’s connection to all this but in his letter to the 4th Baron in 1937, Charles Hordern writes: 'We last met at Klagenfurt (Austria) in 1920, when, as the forerunner of a Plebiscite Commission, I took over from him the last remains of the old Mission in which we had served together two years before, and closed it down. His last act there was to drive me round & introduce me to some of the kindly local people who were friends of his, so that I might not feel alone after his departure to England. That was characteristic of him, & deepened the affection I already had for him; and though we never met again I have never forgotten him.'


In 1919 Tim was appointed High Sheriff for County Carlow, a difficult post in a year when anti-English sentiments were reaching fever pitch across Ireland during the War of Independence. But was Tim even in Ireland at this time!? The office of High Sheriff was probably in Carlow Court House.

Tim was awarded an MBE at the close of 1919.


It has often been suggested that Silvermugs was not a very healthy man. No doubt his wartime experiences did not help but he also smoked heavily and was fond of a drink. And his parents were such a formidable pair that Ethel appears meek in their presence, a sort of Isabella Linton if you’ve ever read Wuthering Heights. She does however appear regularly in the Drumcar – Lisnavagh guest book during the war years. I am not sure where she was when not at Lisnavagh.

Ethel’s Death

Ethel passed away on 4th March 1922 at the age of 38. She was buried in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey. It's believed to be Plot 75, close to the Ravenshaw Family Monument on St. Andrew's Avenue. [Grant No. 14012 gave Allotment No. 186586 to Capt. the Hon. T. L. McCB on 11th April 1922] She left an 8-year-old son William Robert McClintock Bunbury. Within weeks of her death, Ireland was plunged into a brutal civil war between the Irish Free State Army and those who felt the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty fell far short of Republican ambitions.

In a letter to his old war colleague Charles Holdren just over six years later, Tim opened up a good deal about the affects of Ethel's premature death:

'I have owed you a letter for several years. You were kind enough to write to me when my wife died and I am afraid I did not answer; I could not. I realize now that I was pretty well knocked out by an event which I had never contemplated; I grasped only one thing: that my boy was motherless and that everything in me had to go out to him. I hope you will forgive me for not answering. Perhaps you can sympathize.'

Great Wadd

I am slowly working my way through various letters and other manuscripts but it would seem to me that a particularly strong bond evolved between William – or Bill as his friends called him – and his father in the years after Ethel’s death. But perhaps they hardly saw each other at all! My father says they spent a lot of time at Great Wadd near Staplehurst in Kent, where Tim was certainly living at the time of his mother's death in April 1925. His sister Mimi Bramwell was at Shermansbury, which I think was only 47 miles west, by Horsham.

Great Wadd is located between Frittenden (where there’s an Episcopal church of St. Mary’s) and Staplehusrt. It was part of the Great Wadd Farm, a substantial hops farm, occupied by Albert Joy of Kent at the time of the 1881 census. Albert and his wife Mary Chlora had 12 or 13 children, including two sons who traveled to U.S. One of these sons was Algernon Joy who had a son born in US but Algernon's wife did not like America and they returned to Kent. His brother Ernest James Mace Joy duly went to the US alone; his wife joined hmi later with her newborn son, Harold E Joy, who was subsequently a superintendent of one of the large Rubber Companies in Akron. By 1886, when Mary Chlora died, the Joys were living at Hungerden House, further out from Great Wadd. This information came from Marjorie Walker, granddaughte of Harold Joy's younger brother Eli.


Great Wadd,
29 March, 1928
My dear Hordern,
I see that you recently gave away your daughter in marriage. May I, through you, send her an old Irish message – many happy days and years. I hope she will have every happiness and that no clouds will hide the sunlight from her life.
I have owed you a letter for several years. You were kind enough to write to me when my wife died and I am afraid I did not answer; I could not. I realise now that I was pretty well knocked out by an event which I had never contemplated; I grasped only one thing: that my boy was motherless and that everything in me had to go out to him. I hope you will forgive me for not answering. Perhaps you can sympathise.
If ever you are in this direction, I hope you will look me up. I am 11 miles south of Maidstone. I am supposed to be a farmer (some say I am no farmer) of 80 acres. At any rate, I have a home and an occupation.
The Admiralty spun my boy for an eyesight defect from Dartmouth, and in September he is for my old house at Charterhouse. I hope he will be able to have another shot at the Navy from there in four years. At all events, when he is at Charterhouse, we shall talk the same language and have much ground in common.
I hope all is well with you. Please remember me to your wife.
Yours very sincerely,
T. L. McClintock Bunbury
P.S. Please excuse a typed letter. I have had to take to a typewriter again on account of eyes.


Tim seems to have lived at Great Wadd until he succeeded to Lisnavagh upon his father's death on 22 May 1929. Six months later, the Kent & Sussex Courier of Friday 6 September 1929 published the following sales notice:

Under instructions from Lord Rathdonnell.
GREAT WADD FARM, with frontage to the main Maidstone Road. midway between Cranbrook and Staplehurst. 81a. Or. 35p.
OF HOP, ARABLE, PASTURE and FRUIT LAND (Principally Grass) with an ATTRACTIVE and INTERESTING OLD HOUSE with much massive Oak Timber, beautiful moulded Beams, with all necessary modern conveniences, Central Heating. Bath, Lounge Hall, Dining Room, Garden Room. Kitchen well fitted, Pantry, Dairy. Front and Back Staircases. 5 Bedrooms. Store Room and comfortable Rooms in the Roof with Oak Floors. Cupboards with Hot Water Pipes.
Stone Crazy Paving Paths.
New Hop Kiln and Cooling Room. Tiled Barn, Cattle Shedding and Yards. Stabling, Waggon and Implement Lodges. Company’s Water.
To be SOLD by AUCTION by MESSRS. WINCH & SONS in conjunction with MESSRS. ROPER. SON & CHAPMAN at
THURSDAY, 19th SEPTEMBER, 1929, at 3 o'clock.
With Possession on Completion of the Purchase Particulars. Conditions of Sale and Plan of Messrs. Reid, Sharman and Co.. Solicitors, 36. Bedford Row. London. W.C.I; Roper, Son and Chapman, 347, High Street. Hounslow, W.; Winch and Sons, Cranbrook.

A month later, the farm itself was sold as per this notice in the Sussex Agricultural Express, Friday 18 October 1929:

(Having let the farm) HAVE received instructions from the Rt. Hon. Lord Rathdonnell to
the whole of the FARMING STOCK, comprising two waggons, dung cart, alley bodge, wheelbarrow, horse rake, swathe turner, two-horse mower, corn, coke and root mills, weighing machine, chaff cutter, ploughs, harrows, shims, brake, powdering machine, hop tackling, harnesses, rick and waggon cloths, three tents, corn cleaning machine, revolving summer house, etc.,
also the FURNITURE, viz ; a Mahogany telescope table, oak sideboard, Chesterfield couch, lounging, oak and other chairs, Chippendale pedestals, pile and Indian carpets and rugs, oak writing table, rosewood inlaid Sutherland table, folding card fable, brass log box, two-valve wireless set, oak and mahogany inlaid chests of drawers, tapestry screen, convex mirror, carved oak and mahogany wardrobes, washstands. toilet tables, glasses, bedsteads and bedding, oak gate-leg table, silver and Sheffield plated items, linen, curtains, glass, ornaments, electric, clock, dinner ware, breakfast and tea service, kitchen and scullery utensils, etc.
Sale to commence at 11 o'clock.
Catalogues may be had of the Auctioneers, Messrs. Roper, Son and Chapman, 247 Highstreet, Hounslow, W; Messrs. Winch and Sons, Cranbrook. Kent.

When my grandfather took my father out of Charterhouse in the 1950s to visit Colvin relations in Surrey or East Sussex, there was never any mention of Great Wadd although we have files relating to the property from the 1930s. My father believes his father and grandfather were also, for a time, living at Straw Hall in Carlow, subsequently absorbed into urban Carlow and the now closed beet factory, close to the Educate Together school where my daughters were at school. Presumably this was part of the Oak Park Estate at the time. Perhaps this was the fine large house beside the Business Gateway Park Centre, directly opposite The Holy Angels Centre, which was owned by Bruen.

And they were also regular visitors to Drumcar.


Tim's mother, Lady Rathdonnell (nee Katherine Ann (“Kate”) Bruen) passed away in Algeria in 1924. Based at Great Wadd, he was closely involved with her funeral arrangements. See here.


In May 1929, Tom Rathdonnell passed away at the age of 81. Tim duly succeeded as 3rd Baron Rathdonnell. He took his 13-year-old son with him on a trip to India that Christmas. I believe Tim aquired a new lover about this time but am delving deeper into this.

On 12 August 1930, Horace Smith-Dorrien, the Zulu and Boer War veteran who had perhaps been Tim's commander in Africa in 1916, was killed in a car crash near Chippenham in Wiltshire, England.


Above: EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS On 21 June 1932, the 31st International Eucharistic Congress began in Dublin. It
was the largest public event to happen in the new Irish Free State, reinforcing the Free State’s image as a devout
Catholic nation. The high point was when over a million people gather for Mass in Phoenix Park.


Nominal Roll of Labour employed at Lisnavagh

8th September 1932

Barry, M. Farm. Stockman
Byrne, Jack. Farm. Yardman
Clarke, Joe. Farm
Clarke, B. Farm
Clarke, Frank. Stables
Connors, M. Farm
Connors, L. Farm
Cran, Dick. Garden
Cullen, Mick. Woods
Curren, Tom. Woods
Curry, Bill. Farm
Dowdall, C. Stables
Dowling, Joe. Farm
Dowling, Atty. Farm (read his interview from 'Vanishing Ireland, Volume 1'
Dowling, Jack. Farm
Dowling, T. Farm
Dowling, Pat. Farm
Elliott, Jack. Woods
Faulkner, C. Head Gardner
FitzPatrick, Mrs. -------
Forans, Mick. Farm
Giff, Henry A. Land Steward
Giff, Henry. Farm
Giff, Mrs. Farm (Dairy & Poultery)
Halligan, Tom. Smith
Halligan, M. Woods
Hagerty, Tom. Smith’s Mate
Kelly, Dan. Farm

[List stops here but looks like there are more who should be here lettered K-Z).

Dick Cran, who lived in the garden, wasa younger brother of William Cran, who also joined the Lisnavagh staff in about 1930. William then married Mary Parr, who also worked at Lisnavagh, and they were parents to Paul Cran, later Group Finance Manager of the Maxol Group. Paul Cran subseqeuntly presented my father with an album of photos that his mother took with a brownie box camera while at Lisnavagh. The Crans later went to Powerscourt and then to Glencormac House (Jameson family). William served in the RAF during WW2 and then returned to Glencormac. The Crans moved to Luttrelstown in 1959.


On April 28 1933, Tim and William attend the wedding of Viscount Milton (later Earl FitzWilliam) and Olive Plunket in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. The wedding can be seen on Pathe.


4 Elsmere Road,

17th October 1934

Dear Lord Rathdonnell,

Immense thanks for your kind and welcome letter received several weeks ago. I was pleased indeed to learn that the B.E.S.L. badge [British Empire Service League] reached you safely, and I had great pleasure in conveying your good wishes to the Committee at their weekly meeting. Your letter to Mr Nieuwenhuis was read and thereafter I was asked to let you know that the contents were hailed with acclamation. The hope was expressed that in the not distant future the branch would once again enjoy the privilege of a visit from your lordship, and your son too.

A copy of our little book “The Springbok” should reach you each month, and I hope that you will sometimes find items of interest therein. You will, I am sure, be pleased to learn that our big “recruiting push” has added at least 150 to our Membership. At present we hold second place in the Union, and we are ambitious to soon arrive at first place!

“Tubby” Clayton *, founder of the Toc H., visited the B.E.S.L. on the day your letter reached here, and Kimberley had the unique distinction of being the first Branch of inviting him to become a Life Member, which he kindly consented to do.

I had the thrill a few minutes ago of listening right here – in my own dining room – to our dear old General Smuts making his Rectorial Speech at St Andrew’s University in Scotland – truly, we live in an age of wonders!

I am glad to say that Mrs Beek [?] continues towards recovery, although slowly. She has borne her great sufferings with real Irish stoicism – she was quite proud of your remark that “The Connolly’s are not people to give in.” She asks me to convey her cheeriest greetings to you.

In spite of the severe depression existing here, consequent on the Diamond Mines still remaining closed, Kimberley lately had quite a “wake up” when the first South African Motor Car race, a distance of 100 miles over a seven mile course, was staged here. It was preceded by a Motor Cycle race over the same course, and I am glad to say that notwithstanding numerous “thrills and spills”, and many hairbreadth escapes, everything passed off in a most successful manner.

Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that a huge Air Rally took place here the same afternoon in which 36 aircraft participated – they had come from all parts of Africa. The South African Air Force delighted the many many thousands present to a bombardment with live bombs of an “Arab Village” - although the people must have been tired out attending the motor races in the morning, they still thronged in their thousands to the airport in the afternoon. The Air Rally was the largest of its kind yet staged in this country, and it was estimated that at least 5000 motor vehicles had brought visitors here from all parts of the country.

23rd October. I am sorry that I did not finish this letter earlier. I passed on your kind message to old “Bob” Mark, and he much appreciated your good thoughts towards him when you write to Miss Fletcher. On the 18th instant the Mayoress (Mrs W H Gasson), with the Mayor’s Chaplain, and one or two others interested, visited Gladstone cemetery for the purpose of placing a wreath on Lieut Fletcher’s grave – it had been sent out by his sister in England. I am sure she will feel happy at the thought of such a kind action on the part of the Mayoress. I gave your message to Mr Haddock, and he promised to wrote to you. He was ever so pleased to receive your greetings. I hope that you have been blessed long ere now with seasonable rain, in abundance, and, please Providence, that you may never have “to take to showing with sherry”!! To your son, we wish to say Good Iron! In regard to his examinations, it was good indeed to know that he knew the terrain of the S.A. battlefields better than his instructor did. I must now fade out, so do so with all kindest good wishes to your lordship and to your good son – God bless you both, in which prayer Mrs Beet wishes to be associated,

Yours sincerely,

A. G. Beet [Beek?]

* Tubby Clayton was an Australian born Anglican clergyman who founded Toc H, an international Christian 'everyman's club' for solderis of all ranks, viewed as the alternative to more decadent clubs.


In the spring of 1935, Tim embarked on a lengthy cruise to the Antipodes. On Wednesday 26 June 1935, The Sydney Morning Herald carried a story on page 13 captioned 'IRISH CATTLE - A PRECARIOUS INDUSTRY" which followed from an interview with Tim in Sydney. The story ran as follows:


Lord Rathdonnell, an Irish peer from County Carlow, who arrived by the Tuscan Star on a short visit to Sydney, said that the cattle industry in the Irish Free State had been ruined by the trouble between that country and Britain.

Generally, he said, Irish cattle were sold to Britain as prime beef at the age of two years. The fine grasslands of the midlands en- sured that the animals were rolling in fat at that age. Now, when Irish cattle were sold in Dublin for export to Britain, the selling firm deducted one-third from the price for duty payable to the British Government before the cattle were allowed to land in Eng- land. The raising of cattle was now a precarious occupation in the Irish Free State.

He said that prime fattening lands had been broken up by the Free State Government for closer settlement, but the new owners had not always been able to make a success. He had given up the raising of cattle, largely owing to the market restrictions, and was now raising sheep for wool and mutton. A crossbred mountain sheep did best in Ireland.

Lord Rathdonnell said that Mr. de Valera was endeavouring to find occupation for small farmers by encouraging the growing of sugar beet and the establishment of sugar fac- tories. This was a good scheme for the farmer with two or three workers In his family, but the industry would be unsuitable if paid labour had to be employed.

On Friday 28 June 1935, The Argus of Melbourne Australia announced on page 6 that ‘Lord Rathdonnell, of County Donegal Ireland, [had] arrived in Melbourne yesterday. He is staying with Colonel E F. Harrison, M.H.R. and Mrs Harrison at 14 Lansell road, Toorak. Lord Rathdonnell is taking advantage of a health tour to visit Australia and to see something of Australian conditions.He will be in Melbourne for only a short period. He intends to visit Queensland later.'

One week later, The Courier-Mail (Friday 5 July 1935, p. 5) wrote, 'Lord Rathdonnell, an Irish peer, who is travelling in the Blue Star Liner, Tuscan Star, which is now in Bris bane, spends much of his time voyag ing. 'I do it for the fresh air, and for no other purpose whatsoever,' he declared yesterday. He has had a most interesting career. He graduated M.A. at Oxford, and in 1908 and 1909 was High Sheriff of County Carlow, Ire land. In the war he served in the campaign in German East Africa, and was mentioned in dispatches, Then he went to the Italian front, and was awarded the British M.B.E. and the Orders of the Crown of Italy and the Croce di Guerra. Before the armistice Lord Rathdonnell was on special service in Austria.'

The Lisnavagh Archives include a copy of the Register of Electors (Williamstown) from 1936.

Tim's brother-in-law Forrester Colvin died on 16 February 1936 and was buried at Cowfold. Colvins, Dalgetys, Bramwells, Arbuthnots, Brittens, Bruens, Godmans and Watsons dominated the congregation but curiously not Rathdonnells.


Nationalist and Leinster Times. July 1937. Miss E.H. Pack-Beresford.

We regret to announce the death of Miss Elizabeth Harriet Pack-Bersford, which occurred on Wednesday of last week at her residence "Brambletye", Headley, England. She was 72 years of age. Daughter of the late Captain Denis William Pack-Beresford, deceased lived at Kellistown, Carlow for many years. She and her sister went to reside in England after their house had been burned down during "the troubles". The late Miss Pack-Beresford was widely-known and respected in Carlow and people of all sections of the community will learn of her passing with sincere regret.

(Courtesy of Michael Purcell & the Pat Purcell Papers)


Letter from York Cavalry Barracks, written on 20 Sept, received 21, addressed to The Lord Rathdonnell, The Victoria Nursing Home, Park Road, Southport, Lancs:
My dear Dad,
I got back here today and found that I hadn't missed much except that by some mysterious means I had acquired another charger in my stable! There is a tremendous fla-hoo going on about chargers at present, since Mac Balmains died at grass near Sherborne on Arthur Brakes [?] place, when it was supposed to be in a stable in York! So everybody is shuffling them around - I don't mind as I shan't have to keep it, having almost closed down my stable.
I am going to Birdsall Show and Sale tomorrow near Malton. You have probably heard of it - it is I think probably closer to a 'fair' at home than anything in this country.Pamela is coming over and going to see her more en route - I hope we won't buy anything! I'm afraid her mare will have to be put down as I don't think she's in foal, and has contracted as [sort?] of permanent big knee on which she is lame. They don't seem to know what it is.
I will come and see you o Saturday - friday night is my last in the regiment so I don't know what state I'll be in! Meanwhile, I am in touch with Doctor Harker [Haiken?] so any messages you want to send me without having to bother to write, you can tell him.
Hurry up and get better now!!
Best love from


Tim Bunbury, 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, died in Southport at the age of 57 on Tuesday September 28th 1937 - the very same day that his son and Pamela Drew announed their engagement in The Times. It is not clear why he died so young, although my father - his grandson - says he was in poor health in his later years and the wheelchair in the library at Lisnavagh was most probably for his use.

The following day, this report appeared in the newspaper:

The death was announced yesterday of the Hon. Thomas Leopold McClintock Bunbury, third Baron Rathdonnell, in his 57th year.
Lord Rathdonnell died on Tuesday – the day on which the engagement was announced of his heir, the Hon. William McClintock Bunbury, to Miss Pamela Drew, eldest daughter of the late Mr. John Drew and of Mrs. Drew of Eversley, Milnthorpe, Westmorland.
Lord Rathdonnell, whose seat is at Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, succeeded his father in 1929.

On Saturday 2 October 1937, the Belfast News-Letter observed:

LATE LORD RATHDONNELL The remains of Lord Rathdormell, who died at Southport two days ago. were cremated at Anfield, Liverpool, yesterday. Among those present were his heir, the Hon. Wm. Robert M’Clintock Bunbury, and Miss Pamela Drew, whose engagement was announced on the day of Lord Rathdonnell’s death.

An obituary in The Times later noted that Tim was "educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College Cambridge, and served in the War in German East Africa and on the Italian Front, being mentioned and made MBE, and receiving the Italian War Cross and the Order of the Crown of Italy. After the War, he was on special service in Austria. He was High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1919. In 1929 he succeeded his father as 3rd Baron in the peerage of Ireland. His wife died in 1922 and he is succeeded by his only son, the Honourable William Robert McClintock Bunbury, born in 1914".

Bearing in mind his Great Wadd connection, the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of Friday 31 December 1937 noted: 'The Rt. Hon. Thomas Leopold. 3rd Baron Rathdonnell, M.B.E., Lisnavagh. Rathvilly, Co. Carlow. I.F.S., formerly of Great Wadd, Staplehurst, Kent, Chairman of the Great Northern Brewery. Ltd., Dundalk, High Sheriff of Co. Carlow in 1919. who died on September 28 last, aged 56 years, left gross estate in England the value of £23,190 14s. 3d., with net personalty £18.215 17s. 11id. Testator left £100 to Sir George Menteth Boughey.'

The 3rd Baron Rathdonnell was cremated at Liverpool in a private ceremony and his ashes were then transferred to be interred with his late wife at the massive Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey. In April 2014, I visited the cemetery with my father, the 5th Baron, and my eldest brother, the 6th Baron-in-waiting (!). The management was recovering from a fire that damaged various records but we were told the Rathdonnell grave lay in Plot 75, near the Ravenshaw Monument, whatever that was. We found the right plot but we searched in vain, amid sporadic rains, for any hint of the 3rd Baron or his wife amongst the headstones, tumbling, cracked, neglected and proud. To be honest, we couldn’t even find the Ravenshaw monument although we hunted high & low in 75 and all the surrounding plots for anything that matched with Ravenshaw, Rathdonnell or McClintock Bunbury. Dad was here when he was a boy but could recall nothing of his visit save, perhaps, that there may have been a pineapple affixed to the grave. So we searched for pineapples too. And because the 2nd Baron was buried in Rathvilly beneath a Celtic Cross, we looked for Celtic Crosses too. Nothing clicked. I guess that’s what happens sometimes. The closest we got was Hugh Culling Eardley Childers (a Victorian cabinet minister nicknamed 'Here Comes Everyone', forefather of the Irish Childers) and a Countess of Annesley. There were several mausoleums, all bricked up and unnamed. And so the 3rd Baron and poor Ethel lie lost together, perhaps submerged under dense laurels, or maybe their headstone had toppled over and we simply couldn’t see it. The 3rd Baron has always been the most mysterious of the five Lords and I’ve long suspected that he was involved with espionage. So perhaps it was fitting that his grave should also remain a mystery.



The following letters were posted in one envelope from London to Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, Irish Free State, on the evening of 8th October 1937. For details on Charles Hordern, see Appendix 3.

4, Nelson House,
Dolphin Square,
London, S.W.1.

Victoria 3800

8th October 1937

Dear Lord Rathdonnell,

In going through a box of old papers last night I came upon the enclosed letter written to me by your father, which I kept because it gave me so much pleasure. As a total stranger to you and a contemporary of his I hesitate very much about writing to you at this time, lest you should regard it as an intrusion. But I cannot helping [sic] feeling it must have been something more than chance which has so unexpectedly led to my finding that letter, and in any case I could not help thinking you would like to have it. I also could not resist the opportunity - which otherwise I should not have thought of taking - of saying to you how grieved and distressed I was to see the sad news of his death, and of offering in all diffidence such sympathy & condolences as a stranger may be allowed to offer.
Although my contact with your father was only during the war, when for the greater part of 1918 we were together in the British Mission at the Italian "Comando Supremo", I can truly say that he had a place in my affection quite undimmed by time - probably without his ever knowing it - and your loss came as a sad blow to me, as it must have to many others whose sympathy will be with you. [See Appendix 1] We last met at Klagenfurt (Austria) in 1920, when, as the forerunner of a Plebiscite Commission, I took over from him the last remains of the old Mission in which we had served together two years before, and closed it down. [See Appendix 2] His last act there was to drive me round & introduce me to some of the kindly local people who were friends of his, so that I might not feel alone after his departure to England. That was characteristic of him, & deepened the affection I already had for him; and though we never met again I have never forgotten him.
At the risk of making this letter much too long, I should like to add that today what he wrote to me touches me deeply in more ways than one in its application to my own subsequent personal & family affairs; but on this I need not dwell.
One more thing, however, I do want to say. I had seen only the other day the news of your own engagement, and very nearly wrote then to your father, but refrained because he probably had enough on his hands already. And now, coming upon his own words for my elder daughter, with all my heart I send them on to you. I feel I could give you no happier nor more heartening message even at this sad time, and that you will like to have it from me just as he sent it.
I hope you will not think of answering this letter, but that perhaps later on some day I may have a chance of confirming it in person.
Yours sincerely,
Charles Hordern
(Lt Colonel, RE, retired)


Great Wadd,

29 March, 1928.

My dear Hordern,
I see that you recently gave away your daughter in marriage. May I, through you, send her an old Irish message - many happy days and years. I hope she will have every happiness and that no clouds will hide the sunlight from her life.
I have owed you a letter for several years. You were kind enough to write to me when my wife died and I am afraid I did not answer; I could not. I realize now that I was pretty well knocked out by an event which I had never contemplated; I grasped only one thing: that my boy was motherless and that everything in me had to go out to him. I hope you will forgive me for not answering. Perhaps you can sympathize.
If ever you are in this direction, I hope you will look me up. I am 11 miles south of Maidstone. I am supposed to be a farmer (some say I am no farmer) of 80 acres. At any rate I have a home and an occupation.
The Admiralty spun my boy for an eyesight defect for dartmouth, and in September he is for my old house at Charterhouse. I hope he will be able to have another shot at the Navy from there in four years. At all events, when he is at Charterhouse, we shall talk the same language and have much ground in common.
I hope all is well with you. Please remember me to your wife.
Yours very sincerely,
T. L. McClintock Bunbury

PS: Please excuse a typed letter. I have had to take to a typewriter again on account of eyes.


As transcribed by 5th Baron Rathdonnell (2.xi.16).

Mention in the Irish Farmers’ Gazette, 1857, article which Turtle recently found, of rents of a shilling a week for wretched cabins in Rathvilly made me remember that they were not much more a hundred years later. Examining our rent book for comparisons, I realized that a fuller article on the matter might be enlightening.

The fine hardback book is printed out with columns and entries for tenant, townland, valuations, rent, arrears and poor rate, && and has 103 double pages. This volume starts on the “gale day” 24th March, 1929, in the fine hand of Jack (later Sir John) Langham, the Agent; I think he started here about then too, shortly after TK’s death.

No.1. O.L. Cummins, Mountneil, who in 1929 paid £91.5s.7d. faithfully twice a year. This was for a building, valuation £8, and land £179 so quite a lot (alas I know not how much). Some of this was redeemed for 41/2 % Land Bonds a couple of years later and the rent reduced proportionally, but again I do not really understand this land tenure via the Land Commission. This continued until 1952, in fact 5 years after Cummins had died. [also page 2 and 34].

The next few properties are in Rathvilly and somewhere there is a map that shows which they are. They all start in 1929 and there is no change in the rent to the end in most cases.

No.3. Mrs. E. Salter. I think this is the Rathvilly Inn. £15.4.6. p.a. regularly paid half yearly. P.L.V. from £7 to £20 in 1949 when tenant right assigned to Charles O’Keefe. In 1951 tenant right sold to William Jones; by 1954 rent was £26 including a 2a. field. 1969 assigned to his son, Noel Jones. In 1971 to Stephen Redmond and in 1973 to Patrick Farrell. Final rent, still £26 in 1975. [also page 4, 35, 45 and 61].

No. 5. Mrs. M.K. Lawson. PLV £11.10.0. This may be the former butchers adjacent S. of Harp Bar. In 1925 Mrs. Johanna Lawson assigned this to her son James Lawson, who assigned it to his wife Mary Kate. Yearly rent £9.14.6. In August 1929, £67.16.0. arrears was paid following a Court Order. In 1948 assigned to her daughter Miss Josephine Lawson. From 1956 Mrs. Chris Lawler, ? another daughter (I think Vera?) to whom it was sold in 1971. [also page 6, 36 and 46].

No.7 Edward Nolan. Now Molloy’s Bar. 1929 £20 p.a. 49 year lease 1922; tenant to keep in repair. Handed to daughter, Mrs Eithne Molloy in November 1959. Regularly paid to November 1971. [also page 8, 37, 47 and 59].

No.9 Edward O’Toole. E. of Molloy’s “hanging gale” PLV £4. 1929 £6.3.0. p.a. to Miss Kathleen O’Toole 1943. Sub let to Tom Halligan, 1955. (note in R’s handwriting “ there is no clause in agreement preventing subletting”) Final Jan. 1962. [also page 10, 38 and 48].

No.11. Peter Tracey. 1929 £6.17.6. PLV £4 arrears decree 1940 paid. Sold tenant right in 1941 to Margaret Foley for £47.10.0. Transferred to Miss O’Toole 1945 and sold to her in 1946 for £150. [also page 12 and 39].

No. 13. Hannah Geraghty. Post Office. PLV building £2.10.0, land 10/-. 1929 £10 p.a. obtained by decree 1941 and in 1944; more trouble 1948. Became William Bolger, 1960, and last paid 1969. [also page 14, 40 and 49].

No. 15. John Molloy. PLV £7.10.0. 1929 £12.14.0. p.a. (from a map it adjoins Nolan’s (Molloy’s) to W.) He died 1935, to Mrs. Molloy. Decree March ’47, put out 30th June. Sold in 1948 by A. Caldbeck to Philip McEnroe for £650. [also page 16 and 41].

No. 17. Edward Dempsey (could be up beside St. Mary’s, former doctor’s) PLV land (1a 0r. 3 perch) £1.5.0., building £1.15.0. 1929 £3 p.a. became Mrs. Ellen Dempsey after 1953. In 1961 Smith Griffin & Co. sold it to her for £40. [also page 18, 42 and 50].

No. 19. Revd. Delaney PP. (could be next N. of P.O.) PLV land (0.1rood 23p.) £1.5.0., building £9.5.0. 1929 £9.13.0. p.a. Sold in 1944 for £50, when the new parochial house was built. Langham remarked “roof in very bad & dangerous state”. [also page 20].

No. 21. Mrs. Bodle. PLV £5.15.0. +land 15/- +£3. 1929 £20. In 1936 let to Guard J. Furlong until 1950. “House completely done up by Jack Halpin before Kathleen O’Toole moved in, Sept ‘55” £16.1.6. per half year. Sold to her, June 1961 £300. [also page 22].

No. 23. H.J. Sofrain. Has a page but no entries. I think this is the house on the bend just above the railway bridge.

No. 25. Mrs. English. PLV £5. 1929 £9.4.6. to 1935, when she died, to Mrs. Cogan. Miss S. Deering from 1937, later becoming Mrs. Mooney of Dunlavin. (this is next W. to Molloy’s No. 15 from map or maybe Mace shop?). 1961 transfer to Wm. Bolger of P.O., until 1963. [also page 26, 43 and 51].

No. 27. James Lawson has a page but no entries. One of these must be the Harp Bar?

No. 28. Reps James Morgan ditto no entries.

Rental now moves out of the village.

No. 53. The Rectory. Representative Body of the Church of Ireland. 99 years from 1898; “only for use of Incumbent of Rathvilly” £19.12.0. Note says no rent paid from 1950 to Sept. 1955 when arrears paid up. Sold 1960 to Revd. O’Rourke for £2,000.

No. 54. Moanavoth No.4 (to SE) John McCabe. Commences October 1959 3/6 per week. House emplty from Sept. 1960. Pathetic letter August 1961 asking to return, which was refused.

No. 55. Moanavoth No.2. Henry McKenna. PLV £2 Rates £3.10.4. Rent 3/6 per week. Record from Oct 1959. Moved out August 1960 when John McCabe from No.4 was there until June, 1961.

No. 56. Moanavoth No.1. (Rathvilly end) Miss Kathleen Lawler. PLV & rates similar. Record from June, 1959. Should pay 3/6 per week, seemingly a bit less and left in May, 1961. Refuse to pay rates £3.9.5. Typed note confirms details for all four cottages; each 1rood 15 perches. All sold not long after to county council for £300; in boon one fetched €250,000!

No. 57. Moanavoth No.3 James Lawler. PLV & rates similar. No individual entries but note PR’s writing “free house for life”.

No. 58. Schoolhouse N. later termed Groom’s Cottage. Gerald McManus. PLV £4 . Rates (1960) £7.10.0. “Half share” suggests he paid £3.15.0. Rent from June, 1960 7/6 per week. To February, 1961. (some rent concession as “leaks in passage”) Empty to June, 1963, when Bernadette Smith (Mr. & Mrs. Jim Fanning) moved in for 1/- a week, pending repairs. Paid Feb. 65. (She, long widowed, still lives in farm at Williamstown turning)

No. 60. Germaines. Mrs. Doyne. PLV £30 First entry 1959. Rent £120 +£36 for rates, raised to £56.5.6. 1960/1. Mrs. Lenaghan from October 1962 to March 1964. Sold to Mrs. Makin for £6,500 in c.1964.

No. 62. Ballybit. Scott (Betty) for life. PLV 25/-. Rent £2.10.0. (“1/- a week”) Rates 1960/1 £2.6.11. Sept. ’60 paid £1.3.5. only entry, all in pencil, PR’s hand.

No. 65. Gatelodge. M.Cullen (who reportedly raised 12 children there) PLV 30/-. £1 a month. Left December 1960. Mr. & Mrs. Henry McKenna seemingly there one month -£1. Aug.1961 Mr. & Mrs. Michael Walsh. ESB connected 16.x.61. Paid and left 29.i.65. Miss Molly Murphy, 23.viii.65 at 5/- a week until 15.v.68.

No. 66. Green Lane. Mrs. P. Murphy. PLV 30/- Rates 1960/61 £2.16.3. Only entry paid September 1960 £1.8.1. (looks like rates only) all in pencil in PR’s hand.

The Rental now leaves Co. Carlow:

No. 75. Clonalvy, Flemingstown, Co. Meath. Mrs. Kathleen Malone starting annual rent to 1.xi.36 £4. 8. 9. (occasionally plus Income Tax) Continues back on page 74, last entry 23.xi.57.

No. 76. The Cottage, Dublin St., Swords. “Co. Louth” it says! Miss B.C. Long. Rent 1930 £5.16.0. p.a. paid regularly every 6 months. Tenure “1922. Tenant pay P. Rates. Landlord repair roof and walls”. A note for 21.vii.30 says “adjoining cottage demolished by Bd. Health”. A 1932 note says “see correspondence re repairs cost £32.15.0 - £15.7.6. received from Dublin Bd. Of Health. 23.ix.32”. In 1936 7/6d. was allowed off rent for roof repairs, a further 20/- in 1939 and £5 similarly in 1945, but “25.x.45. £5 sent to Miss Long for repairs – refunded, repairs not done.” “Miss Long taken to hospital 18.ix.47. she will be unable to live by herself again. Key of house returned.” Something illegible then” Unoccupied. Roof demolished” Finally, in R’s hand, Sold March 1952, £120. [also page 77 and 86].

No. 78. Celbridge. James Moore (ex R.I.C.) Died Aug.’34. Mrs. Moore, died June 1939, then Miss Angela Moore. PLV building £9, land 15/-. “Rates & Taxes (SchA excepted) by Tenant 22.11.1922” Interior repairs – Tenant- roof/walls.land. Rent 1930 £16 p.a. First entry for 1930, paid meticulously half yearly until 1941. “Half cost of new kitchen range paid 6.6.32.” Jan. 1939 allowed £10.8.0. for rebuilding wall between Moore and Bell. 1942 allowed £12.10.0. for planting front of house per M. Whelan. More allowances 46/47 but serious arrears went on into fifties. £60 owing in 1959. Sold to tenant in 1961. [also page 79, 87 and 93].

No. 80. Celbridge. Captain N.A. Ryan. PLV building £9, land 15/-. Landlord repairs roof & walls. Rent £18 p.a. First entry for 1930 with arrear of £37.10.0. Evicted 10.6.33 “Bad P. Debt. Costs £10.4.4.” 14.6.33. let to William Kelly. 1939 £1 allowed for repairs to roof. 1946 £1.10.0. allowed for leaks in roof also “Colour front of house paint gutters & repair plaster £3.” 1947 “chimney pot blown off” - allowed £2.15.0. Rent meticulously paid until Sept. 1948 when Kelly died; house in the name of his daughter Mrs. Teresa Casey. £5 for new window 1950. 1952 “Repairs to windows and doors of £8” in R’s hand. Last entry she paid £9 on 12.5.55. Sold. [also page 81, 88 and 91].

No. 82. Celbridge. Mrs. James Lennon. PLV £8, land 15/-. Rent £7.10.6. Rent reduced by reason of large amount of space taken up by archway under house to Gardens” First entry for 1930; meticulously paid half yearly throughout. 1937 £5.17.0. allowed for new range and in 1945 repairs £12.10. front house plastered and pebble dashed (Christopher Goshan, Newtown). 1950 note says “Mrs. Lennon been tenant for over 50 years” Miss Kathleen Lennon daughter. May 1960 note in PR’s hand £3.15.3 “sent receipt and letter ref. sale” Sold 1961 to Tenant. [also page 83, 89 and 92].

No. 84. Celbridge. C. Bell. Rent 1930 £ 18. 1935 and later, some arrears by instalments. 1937 allowed £7.10.0. for “Elsan” lavatory and in 1939 roof repairs £1; more repairs 1941 £%.15.11. Bernard Caulfield from 28 August, 1941. Allowed £5 repairs roof & wall 1n 1944. 1946 house front plastered and pebble dashed, windows & doors painted - £15. In 1951 slates £1 and Water Supply £17 allowed; this enabled “Rent to be increased by 30/- p.a.” and again later that year Geraghty Water Supply £12, Co-op water £5, slates £1. Last payment £9.15.0. for 1st May, 1954/ Sold 1955. [also page 85, 90 and 94].

No. 86. Swords. Miss B.C. Long. Rent from May 1946 £5.16.0. p.a. “£5 sent to Miss Long for repairs 25.10.45 - refunded repairs not done”. Miss Long taken to hospital 18.9.47. She will be unable to live by herself again. Key of house surrendered. SchA. Unoccupied. Roof demolished. Sold March 1952 £120.

This I hope completes the summary of all the 103 pages in the Rental Account Book which have an entry. There are some loose papers in the back of the book with more interesting information (Whiskey for £2.3.9. - no a bottle, not a tot!)





[ia] Those who left Charterhouse in the Oration Quarter of 1896 include Gordon Seton Churchill, Denys Franks and Norman Secretan (also Saunderites, born March 1880) who went to work with Lloyds underwriter, Kenneth Vyvyan who became a farmer in Natal but died at Ladysmith on 9 March 1900, and William Renshaw who served with the South American merchants, Messrs Stralendorff & Renshaw, Louis Tritton who became a land agent, Spencer Harris Vassal who died at Yeovil just two years later in May 1898, Oswald Bainbridge who became a mining engineer, Frederick Dallas Banres who became an artist in Kent, Alexander Cope who became a broker, Harold Kigour who joined the Royal Artillery, Arthur Moens who joined the 2nd Sikhs, Richard Barwell who joined Baring’s Bank, Charles Butcher Deane (born 1881) who became a scholar at St Bartholomew’s Hospital; and Charles Westcar Sheppard who went onto Westminster School and became an engineer. (Charterhouse Register 1872-1900).

[ib] In “Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon” (1907), Arnold Wright says that “the establishment of the Queens House includes the Governor’s Private Secretary Mr T.L.M. Bunbury…..” (p. 94).

[ii] Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, “Remembered Yesterdays” (1929), p.120.

[iiia] In 1916, Chalmers stepped down and the Governorship passed to Sir John Anderson (1916 – 1918).

[iiib] The Times, Tuesday, Apr 01, 1913; pg. 9; Issue 40174; col G - Funeral Of Lord Wolseley).

[iiic] See: Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress of Tropical Agriculture, June 23rd to 30th, 1914, J. Bale, Sons & Danielsson, 1914.

[iiid] The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List, p. Xxiii, 1914


[iiif] The National Archives, Kew - 4354/1916 - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=-4717573&CATLN=7&accessmethod=5

[iv] Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon (1907), H. Storey, p. 303.

[v] Mary Izat married Frank Pilditch and had a son David.

[vi] Katherine Izat (d. April 2005) married Michael King (d. 2003) and had two sons, Duncan (who died c. 2002-3) and Graham, and a daughter, Deborah.

[vii] Alan Izat (d. 2000) married Joan Kinnear (d. 1998) and had two sons Anthony and (Norman) John. I have been in contact with John Izat (NJAI@aol.com) since 2nd June 2004. He confirmed that his grandfather, hitherto “N. Izat” was in fact “Norman Izat”. During a later correspondence of May 2005 in which he informed me of Katherine King’s death, he wrote: “Still Life goes on and the good news is that my eldest stepdaughter is expecting again. (No.5) and my other stepdaughter has 2 children. With 2 children at home there will probably be more to come”.

[viii] A contemporary was RJAPG de Glanville, also born in 1885, called to the bar in the Bahamas in 1914, private secretary to His Excellence William Hart Bennett, CMG, administrator of the Bahamas (1909) and Sir W. Grey-Wilson, KCMG, Governor (1912).

[ix] The Port of Colombo has existed for many centuries but, due to its vulnerability to the South Western monsoons, was superseded by the Port of Galle as a landing place for passenger ships during the 19th century. In 1874 Governor William Gregory initiated work on the SouthWest breakwater for which he received a knighthood. This major development led to the shift of traffic from Galle to Colombo. The evolution of Colombo as the business centre of Ceylon commenced thereafter and all imports and exports came through the Colombo harbour. The commercial and mercantile sector grew within the Fort of Colombo. The Macan Markar jewellery business, established in Galle in 1860 shifted to Colombo in the early 1870s. From : "The Port of Colombo 1860- 1939", Dr K. Dharmasena (an economist). Published in 1980

[x] Ranulph de Glanville married Daphne Pethides and bore Susan, Sarah and Christopher Michael.

[xi] Geoffrey de Glanville married Angela Benison.

[xii] Robert de Glanville married Joan Davidson and was killed in action in 1941.

[xiii] Joan de Glanville married Vivian Sauvagny and had a son Philip.

[xiv] Moire Dorothea de Glanville married E.M.C. Wait and had a daughter, Angela Jean, and son, Jonathan.

[xv] When did Tim start his service in Italy? Did he speak Italian? If he was then assigned to Austria, can we assume he was concentrating on Alpine matters? Among others serving on the Italian Front in 1918 were Ernest Hemmingway and Major Robert Gregory, the pilot son of Yeat’s patron and friend, Lady Gregory. Hemmingway wrote of his experiences there in Farewell to Arms which begins with a dramatic account of the disastrous fall of Caporetto (October 1917) when the Italian army in the Julian Alps was overwhelmed by an Austro-German offensive, in which young Rommel played a leading part. Hemmingway was not actually at Caporetto but was severely wounded in the defensive actions which followed. Major Gregory was awarded the MC and appointed to the Legion d’Honneur. He was shot down and killed over Italy on 23rd January 1918. He became the subject of W.B. Yeats An Irish Airman Foresees His Death. Tim and Robert Gregory would have had much in common. Tim's father-in-law almost certainly started his career in the Ceylon Civil Service under Robert's father, Sir William Gregory, Governor of Ceylon during the 1870s. They were also keen cricketers.


Although I cannot be certain that this was the British Mission where TL McCB served, and it's a little before his time, some insight into the Mission's activities generally can be garnered from pp. 232-40 of the book 'The Secret Corps: A Tale of Intelligence on All Fronts' by Captain Ferdin&. Tuohy (originally published in 1920 and republished in 2013 by London: Forgotten Books.


It was in the days when everything seemed to be going against Germany on paper. Italy and Roumania had just declared war on her, and the British front line was dotted with placards rubbing in the fact. .. " Fritz's " morale must indeed be very low, and accordingly it was decided to propa- gand him by megaphone.

If the experiment succeeded, it was to become general up and down the line. A carefully worded harangue, depicting the futility of Germany continuing the fight and setting forth the delights of a prisoner-of-war camp, was prepared atG.H.Q. and an officer sent down to an appointed spot with a megaphone. He spoke for several minutes, to the intense temporary joy of Mr. Thomas Atkins; but then things hardly developed according to plan. Instead of the Germans trooping over in surrender, our trenches were soundly strafed at the point whence the megaphoning came.. .

And rumour hath it that our young propagandist was not invited into tea at Battalion H.Q. on his way back toMontreuil, home, and beauty.

However, out in Italy on the Asiago plateau and in the Grappa sector, this very modern notion of " propaganding "the enemy into desertion came to be practised as a fine art. Possibly 50 per cent of the Austrian Army was a discontented medley, antagonistic to the Hapsburg regime, and deserters would accordingly stream across to the French and British lines night after night.

One night near Grappa an Austrian approached the French front line and announced that sixteen of his comrades were prepared to come across there and then if the French would fire two white Very lights as a signal that all was well. In the British Army, the matter could naturally have been referred to " A " and " Q " and a file started and circulated for information, remarks and necessary action.

The French were not so particular.

Up went the white light, over came the enemy, and when the Staff first knew about it, the whole thing was already a fait accompli.

After that, special " desertion posts " were established along the French and British front line, their precise location, and the correct etiquette and procedure to be followed when deserting, being advertised by leaflets dropped on theAustrians from aeroplanes.

The hub of all this propaganda was the Headquarters of the British Mission attached to the Italian Commando Supremo, and two of its leading exponents, Lt.-Col. Granville Baker,D.S.O., and Mr. Wickham Steed, now editor of The Times. Often one met one or the other of them out at Abano, the sylvan orange and olive mountain fastness of the Mission, far from the madding war, closed in by Frulian hills.

Similar British Missions were dotted all around the war; in Warsaw and in Teheran, at Chantilly and Athens. Their purpose would be to keep the War Office abreast of developments in every theatre of war; their constituent members, almost to a man, were regular Star! officers of studied charm and affability, and of social qualifications calculated to hypnotise the foreigners they were accredited to.

For example, the War Office desired to know everything that was going on in the Italian war " because the Allies did not trust one another " and accordingly a Brigadier-General was sent out to Italy at the head of a British Mission. This Mission, located first at Udine, behind the Carso, and later at Abano near Padua, would send home to Whitehall as much information as it could collect, and as derived :

(a) from the Italians themselves ; (6) from other sources.

The Mission was in touch with a second British Mission at Rome. This second Mission dealt primarily with secret service work and was in charge of a London financier M.P.,now turned temporary espionage expert and residing with his wife at the Grand Hotel.

The two Missions pursued the even tenor of their respective ways till the arrival in Italy of a war maker of some consequence from Flanders, General Sir Herbert Plumer,who brought with him almost his entire Second Army staff, late of Cassel Hill. General Plumer and his five divisions were forthwith incorporated in the Italian Army, and the point at once arose " by what channel was he to liaison with the War Office and with the Italian Army of which his troops formed a component part ?

Via the British Mission at Padua or direct ?

General Plumer held very definite ideas on the subject. He would have no one between himself and the War Office or between himself and the Italian Army. The situation was already quite complicated enough. In the result, the situation began to look serious for the British Mission in its sylvan fastness outside Padua. Its sphere of utility seemed in effect to be coming to an end. Still, its officers were all such good fellows and its chief in particular had long enjoyed the Italian Koyal favour .. to dissolve such a company. It was not dissolved. it would never do Instead, duplication ruled supreme.

A staff of quite a dozen British officers attached to the Italian Commando Supremo at Abano duplicated the work being done by General Plumer's staff, less than ten miles away, atNoventa. And vice versa.

Passing from " Intelligence " at Noventa to " Intelligence " at Abano, one saw British officers poring over the same files, marking up the same maps" engaged on absolutely identical work of following what the Austrians and what the Italians were doing.

[There may be more about the British Mission's role in this book.]


APPENDIX 2: Letter to 3rd Baron Rathdonnell from 1920 Klagenfurt


Dear Bunbury,

I send you various dull looking letters which have come for you. I took the liberty of opening the first two in case they contained anything official which we could deal with.

Many thanks for your last & very interesting letter. I can well imagine that the state of Ireland is enough to drive you to despair, & can only hope the Govt will now really set to work in earnest to cast out the devil.

There is very little news here. We have been doing practically nothing beyond acquiring a certain amount of local geography, a sour allocation to Districts has not yet been given us; and London has vouchsafed no indication of wanting anything from us.

Bryce has just arrived and taken over charge from me, and I am feeling rather sad in consequence.[2] It is always sad to give up a job one has had the running of – and my regrets for the last 2 happy months have not been mitigated by Bryce’s announcement that our wives are on no account allowed to come out, that the Dist. Commnrs will probably only have a car a few days in each week, and that no hospitality or invitations of any kind are to be accepted or proffered – all of which is doubtless as it should be – but it rather hurts one’s feelings to find that these pre-conceived notions formed in London & Paris are to be put in force without an study of local conditions and without any regard to the views of those of us who have been here for some little while on the spot.

The wives’ decision is of course the worst blow from a personal point of view: Bryce says vaguely that there are “various” “very good reasons”, but that is all I have so far got out of him. (He has a fine grasp of the Govt. officials gift for talking all around a subject without saying anything definite at all). Apparently the fact that the French & Italians are to be allowed their women-folk is an added reason against our having ours: which I confess beats me!

But I mustn’t inflict a ‘grouse’ on you – and I dare say we shall survive.

Bryce tells me the demarcation line is definitely to be opened & free intercourse between the zones to be allowed: this is not yet official & is only for your private ear. Whether the Jugoslavs will comply – at any rate without first exhausting all possible forms of procrastination & obstruction – remains to be seen; but I shall be surprised if we are home by December.

Perhaps, however the fact that, after a glorious May, it has rained almost continuously since June 1st – together with the vetos on wives & local friends aforesaid – may account for what I feel is a dismal outlook on my part! But anyhow the opening of the demarcation line is a real good piece of news.

We see Kounettes [sic] from time to time and he often asks for new s of you.

Best of luck to you.

Yours ever,

Charles Horden

NB: In the Court Circular for July 15th 1920, The Times noted that Lt Col S Capel Peck had left London for Klagenfurt to take up his duties as British Commissioner and President of the Inter-Allied Plebiscite Commission, which had been constituted under the Treaty of St Germaine-en-Laye with Austria. They added that Mr Roland Bryce, the British Assistant Commissioner, and the Headquarters Staff of the British Section, had ‘left for Klagenfurt some days previously’. Thus, either Bryce had departed from Klagenfurt since Hordern’s letter and was now returning again, or The Times was behind the times. The Times, Thursday, Jul 15, 1920; pg. 17; Issue 42463; col A



Lt.-Col. Charles Hordern was born on 30 March 1880, the son of Peter Hordern and Edith Charlotte Fearon. Educated at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he fought in the Boer War. He was married three times. His first wife Lucy Frances, daughter of Thomas Hurry Riches Woodbridge, died in 1909, just two years after their marriage, a month after giving birth to a daughter, Rowena Lucy [later wife of (1) Brigadier Bryan Mayfield and (2) Louis Henry Goris. In 1913, he was married, secondly, to Cecil Pearl Beeching, daughter of Major Hugh Cecil Westall Beeching. they had two children [Major Peter Hugh Hordern, b. 1916, and Vivian Charlotte (1923-63)].

For his service in the First World War, he was awarded the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus of Italy, as well as the Croce di Guerra. As he states in his letter, he was Plebiscite Commissioner in 1920 at Klagenfurt, Austria. He was later a Control Commissioner in 1924 at Germany. He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1925 in the service of the Royal Engineers.

Cecil Pearl Hordern died in 1932, which presumably explains why Charles could relate to Tim's remarks about being 'knocked out' by his wife's death. From 1933 to 1941, he was with the Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence. Charles was married, thirdly, in 1951 to Joan, daughter of Sir James Edward Masterton Smith.



Tim's first cousin Commander 'Bill' Bruen DSO DSC RN, a son of former Lisnavagh agent Arthur Bruen, commanded the Fleet Air Arm's 803 Squadron during the fight to supply Malta GC in the Second World War. He was the youngest man to do so and earned a fearsome reputation as a legendary Fighter Ace. Admiral Sir Donald Gibson, when head of the Fleet Air Arm, once said of him, "He was the best damned Pilot the Navy ever had." His cousin, Francis Bruen was an electrical officer in the RN and also a DSC. Bill's son, Bernie Bruen, was the last commanding officer of the renowned HMS GAVINTON and became the first man to 'hunt' and find (by high definition sonar) an unknown, enemy sea-mine 'in anger'; and this in a ship that was thirty years out of date. For this action in the Red Sea Clearance of 1984, he was made MBE. He went on to command the Navy's first Maritime Counter Terrorism Team and, at the age of forty, qualified Airborne. In 1982 he commanded Fleet Clearance Diving Team 3 during the Falklands War, the most highly decorated unit in the conflict with 66% galantry awards. Bernie was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for taking live, unexploded 1,000lb bombs out of RFAs Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot, thus saving those ships for further use. He also recovered (in a gale) and defused by hand the first unknown enemy sea-mine since Korea, despite being forbidden the use of the relavent specialist equipment. (Thanks to Nigel Bruen).

With thanks to Marjorie Walker, Margaret Mardall, Nigel Bruen, Old Carthusian Recorder in Archives (www.charterhouse.org.uk).