Turtle Bunbury

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Extracts from the following appear in the book ‘CORKAGH - The Life & Times of a South Dublin Demesne 1650-1960’ by Turtle Bunbury, published by South Dublin County Council in May 2018. The County Library in Tallaght have the books as part of their Local Studies collection; readers can either visit the Library or contact them via 01 4597834.



My mother's grandmother Edie Finlay descends from a family that have been in Ireland for over four hundred years. There is a degree of inescapable speculation about the precise origin of the Finlay surname. One story holds that it derives from the Gaelic ‘Fionnlagh’, meaning ‘fair hero’ (fionn, ‘white or fair’; loagh, ‘hero’) and that they were descendants of Fionn Mac Cumhaill who crossed into Scotland from Ireland. [i] However, most Finlay historians attribute the name to Fionn Glass, second son of Fergus Mór mac Eirc, aka Fergus the Great, the semi-legendary King of Dalriada. While Fergus ruled over a kingdom that embraced much of western Scotland and north-east Ireland, Fionn is said to have established himself in the county of Kirkcudbright in the Galloway part of south-west Scotland. His descendants included Macbeth, the king immortalized by Shakespeare; some claim the Finlay surname was actually banned in the wake of Macbeth’s fall from power.[ii] Another family icon was Archibald Fynlay who distinguished himself by repelling a Norwegian attack at the battle of Largs in 1263.


A pedigree of the Finlays of Corkagh was published in 1849 in Bernard Burke’s ‘Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland’.[iii] This pedigree declared at the outset:

‘The antiquity of this family is proved by a document drawn up for Sir Robert Finlay, of Stockholm, by J. Campbell, Lyon king of arms, in 1755, which document is now in the possession of the present representative [ie: Rev. John William Finlay of Corkagh].’

With his star in the ascent in Swedish iron industry, Sir Robert Finlay (see separate chapter) had evidently called upon John Hooke-Campbell of Bangeston, the Lyon king of arms, to investigate his lineage. Hooke-Campbell had only been appointed to the office in 1754 and he was subsequently to become embroiled in a messy divorce. However, he was clearly a rather capable king of arms as he was to retain the office for the next forty-one years, before handing the reins to Robert Boswell in 1795.

Burke’s dutifully cited the following statement by Hooke-Campbell: ‘Having made diligent inquiry and examined into the pedigree of the aforesaid family, I do find that the said Robert Finlay's family is descended, on the paternal side, from the ancient families of Balfour of Dunmiln, Scot of Balweerie, Kinneir of Kinneir, all old barons of the aforesaid county of Fife; and on the maternal side, from the noble and ancient families of Grey, Lord Grey, Stewart, Earl of Orkney, Ogilvie, Earl of Airly and Kennedy, Earl of Cassilis.’

It is, of course, entirely plausible that Hooke-Campbell’s findings - and by extension Burke’s – were erroneous, whether innocently or by a deliberate effort to bump up Sir Robert’s ancestral credibility. However, on the basis that Sir Robert surely had little cause to make things up, I’m inclined to take this pedigree as superior to the alternatives that presently circulate on Ancestry and other genealogy websites. (That said, one must always be on the watch for sons and daughters who might have been struck from the record on the orders of Sir Robert or one of his ilk!)

Thus, according to Hooke-Campbell, the Finlays of Corkagh descend from Abraham Finlay of Balchristle, near Cupar Angus, on the north side of the Firth of Forth in Scotland.[iv] The Finlays were certainly active in Fife and Perthshire during the Middle Ages with ancestors such as William Finlay (c. 1300—1356), Royal Forrester; Andrew Finlay (1344-1379), Sheriff of Perthshire; and John Finlay (1356-1445), Bishop of Dunblane. The latter was the great-grandfather of Andrew Finlay, Sheriff of Cupar Angus from 1542 until his death in April 1547. The sheriff is notable because his son Alexander is sometimes marked as the founding father of the Irish branch.


Five months after Sheriff Andrew Finlay’s death in 1547, “Finla Mor”, the sixty-year-old head of the Finlay clan, carried the standard of the Scottish army into action against the English at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.[v] As he advanced into the fray, a comrade warned him to be wary. ‘I’ll Be Wary’, he replied, thus giving rise to one of the Finlay family mottos. He may have been wary but that didn’t stop him being amongst the thousands of Scots slain by a rampaging English army on that grim September morning.

Twenty years after the catastrophe of Pinkie Cleugh, Mary, Queen of Scots, was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James, the future king of Britain and Ireland. Among those who remained loyal to Mary were John and Alexander Finley, the sons of the late Andrew Finley, Sheriff of Cupar Angus, aforesaid. [vi] The brothers were on the losing side when the Earl of Moray, the Protestant Regent of the child king, routed Mary’s army during the one-hour long battle of Langside near Glasgow in 1568. They were obliged to seek refuge in England where John died and was buried in Howden in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1578. [vii] However, Alexander subsequently fled to Ireland and, the story runs, settled in County Cavan.

Born in 1534, Alexander Finley, or Finlay, was in his mid-thirties when his loyalty to the doomed Queen Mary led to his flight from Scotland. His ultimate place of refuge was reputedly Killeshandra, County Cavan, although this seems a little unlikely. The town itself was not founded until 1610 when the Scottish laird Sir Alexander Hamilton was granted lands by the crown to build a castle and create a Protestant community around the barony of Tullyhunco.[viii] Curiously lands in this same barony would later belong to the Chenevix family who operated the powder mills at Corkagh in the mid to late eighteenth century. Perhaps Alexander was one of those who arrived with Hamilton in 1610 although he would have been approaching eighty by this stage so that also seems unlikely.

The same point puts paid to the idea that he came with William Bailie, an "undertaker" from Ayrshire who, having been forced out of his native Scotland by the Covenanters, was granted the lands of Tonergie (Tandragee) in East Breffnie (ie: County Cavan) by James I in 1610.[ix] Bailie built a fortified house in 1613 and had enclosed the demesne by 1629, calling it the Manor of Bailieburrow, which later became Bailieborough. [x] He also reputedly settled a number of Scottish or English families in the area but again this would have been when Alexander was a very old man. Furthermore, Alexander’s youthful support for Mary suggests that his allegiance was to the old Catholic faith rather than to any new-fangled Protestant settlement.

Alexander reputedly died in 1627. We know not where he was buried, nor who he married. He is said to have had a son Richard, who married Lady Frances McDonnell, known as Fanny, a kinswoman of the Earl of Antrim. Richard and Fanny are said to be the parents of John Finlay, ancestor of the Finlays of Corkagh.


As well as being Sir Robert Finlay’s grandfather, Abraham Finlay of Balchristle is recorded by Hooke-Campbell as the first of the family to settle in Ireland. This, of course, flies in the face of the assertion that Alexander Finlay settled in Cavan in the late sixteenth century.

However, the family was certainly to-ing and fro-ing between Ireland and Scotland during these centuries and it is entirely possible that Abraham was a descendant of Alexander.[xi] One line of Finlays in Ireland claim decent from James Finley, Dean of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Balchristie, who was baptised at Cupar Angus, Fife, in 1530. James traced his ancestry to John Finlay who was born in Perthsire in 1356, died in Edinburgh and married Lady Eleanor Stewart. His name appears on a Royal Charter from 1574 in which the King of Scotland confirmed him in possession of a moiety of land in the Parish of Newburn, Balchristie. Prior to 1576, he married Elizabeth Warrender (c. 1550 - 1597), daughter of William Warrender and his wife Christina (nee Arbuthnot). They had five children - William, John, Christina (married Thomas Abercrombie), Andrew (married Christine Forbes) and James. The latter son, James Finley is of most interest. Baptised at in 1583, he was married on 14 July 1603 to Barbara Hunter, eldest daughter of William Hunter and his wife Grizelda (nee Traill) of Newton Rires. He died at Inchervie, Fife, in 1620, having had seven children, the second of whom was Alexander Finley (1606-1682), who died in County Cavan. Alexander’s younger brother James (1614-1672) married Margaret Hutcheons; their son Thomas was born in Dundee in 1652, moved to Londonderry with his wife Esther and had a son John who moved to County Wicklow with his wife Mary Stuart (Stewart) and was ancestor of the Finlays who were established at Coolmoney, Ballytoole, Donoughmore and Ballinabarney, County Wicklow. [Thanks to Maura Gibson.]

Given the notion that the family’s first Irish stronghold was reputedly in County Cavan, one’s attention is drawn to the Ulster Rebellion of 1641 which gives rise to the first definitive record of the Finlays in Ireland. The rebellion was calamitous for Cavan’s Protestant population, including the Hamiltons, who were driven out the county by the O’Reillys. Bailieborough Castle, home to William Bailie, was occupied for a month by a troop of Irish soldiers under Colonel Hugh O’Reilly. Three years later Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Bayly, who may have been a kinsman of the Bailie family, raised a company of nearly one hundred Cavan settlers to serve the Crown. The muster rolls for Bayly’s company in April 1644 include the names of four Finlay men: John Finlay, senior, John Finlay, junior; Robert Finlay and Alexander Finlay.[xii]

The archives are inevitably hazy when investigating the maelstrom of the seventeenth century but John Finlay senior was plausibly the aforementioned son of Richard and Fanny Finlay and a grandson of the old warrior Alexander Finlay. Perhaps boosted by his mother’s kinship with the Earl of Antrim, John is said to have married Mary Savage of Portaferry, Co. Antrim. The Savage family were the Lords of the Little Ards and closely aligned with many leading families of both Antrim and Down.[xiii]
Although these details were not recorded by Hooke-Campbell, Josiah V. Thompson’s findings in the 1920s were that John and Mary Finlay had at least four sons, namely Abraham, John junior (who emigrated to Scotland), William (who lived in Dublin) and Richard (whose wife Jane, the daughter of Captain Richard Holland, bore him five sons).[xiv]
Ulster connections notwithstanding, the Scottish link was also still very much in the frame because John and Mary’s eldest son Abraham is said to have been born at Balchristie. Meanwhile, Sir Francis Hamilton resumed control of Killeshandra after the restoration of Charles II and on his watch a number of Scottish and French Huguenot families settled in the area. This may explain how the Finlays came to be so well connected to Dublin’s Huguenot elite during the eighteenth century, particularly as Killeshandra rose to become one of Ireland’s principal linen market towns.[xv]


According to Hooke-Campbell’s pedigree in Burke’s, Abraham Finlay of Balchristie had two sons, another Abraham and Robert.[xvi] Abraham Finlay junior is said to have returned to Ireland and become a merchant in Cavan, presumably selling linen. On 4 August 1699 he married Margaret Johnson, a daughter of Captain Thomas Johnson, with whom he had four sons and a daughter. Abraham died in 1721 or 1722. His widow outlived him by three decades.

Abraham and Margaret also had a daughter Jane who married Patrick Ewing, a Dublin bookseller and publisher. Their son Thomas Ewing ultimately inherited the Finlay house in Cavan upon the death of his grandmother Margaret Finlay (née Johnson) on 13 May 1752.


Sir Robert Finlay was born in Dublin in 1719.[xvii] According to Hooke-Campbell’s pedigree in Burke’s, which Sir Robert commissioned, his father was Robert Finlay, the younger son of Abraham Finlay of Balchristle, Fife. As such, his father may have been the Robert Finlay who Josiah V. Thompson records as having died in Cavan in 1722.[xviii] However, to add to the confusion, Thompson names Sir Robert’s parents as Dublin merchant John Finlay (1684-1733) and his first wife Mary Davy (1697-1732). [xix]

Sir Robert is said to be the only one of seven sons to survive childhood, along with three sisters. [xx] Burke’s does not record any of these siblings but it seems Sir Robert did have three sisters. The two older sisters Mary (1721-1805) and Catherine (1724-1770) did not marry. His third and youngest sister Sarah (1726-1776) was married in 1753 to Paul Steele, son of Laurence Steele of Rathbride, Co. Kildare, by his wife Mehetable Paul of Rathmore, Co. Carlow.

As a young man Robert spent some years in Moscow, employed by the firm of Johan Tomortz, before moving to Stockholm aged 25 in 1745. He became a bookkeeper in the office of Belfast-born Francis Jennings (1692-1754), Sweden’s largest iron exporter, and proved so good that he became a partner. At its peak in 1750, the year Robert’s cousin Thomas Finlay bought Corkagh at auction, the Jennings accounted for some 38% of Swedish iron exports (or 9000 tons). Much of the iron went via Bristol into Britain where a phenomenal amount was used in nail-making. [xxi]

Robert Finlay’s wife Elisabeth Plomgren (1728-99) was a daughter of Thomas Plomgren, an important Stockholm merchant and leading member of Sweden’s political Hat party who ruled Sweden from 1738 to 1765.

In 1750 Francis Jennings passed control of his business to his son John Jennings (1729-1793) who had married another of the Plomgren daughters. John was to become one of the most outspoken of the Hat merchants.

Already an influential member of Stockholm’s mercantile elite, Robert was ennobled by his adoptive country in 1755 and later awarded the Order of the North Star.[xxii]

During the 1750s Sir Robert and the younger Jennings purchased four extensive iron works and several other iron-works in northern Sweden and Finland, becoming much the biggest iron-works owners in Sweden. Their portfolio now included the works that produced the high quality Öregrund wrought, which the Royal Navy favoured for its anchors, and the Fiskars iron-works in western Uusimaa, Finland, which had been founded in 1646.

The partnership dissolved in 1762, partly because the two men had different ideas about direction but also one imagines because they were representatives of an increasingly corrupt and egoistic Swedish parliament whose days were becoming numbered.

John Jennings retained control of their steadiest ironworks and narrowly avoided bankruptcy. However, his firm, which had controlled Sweden’s iron trade in the 1740s and 1750s, had folded by 1770. John Jennings died in 1773 a year after Gustav III’s coup d'état brought an end to Sweden’s Age of Liberty.

Sir Robert Finlay was left with the indebted part of the business and in 1765 the firm collapsed amid a major political and economic crisis in Sweden. The following year he teamed up with Fabian Löwen to apply for the third charter of the Swedish East India Company in 1766. However, despite being propped up by Jennings in the late 1760s, he was bankrupt by 1771. The Fiskars iron-works, which he owned for twenty years, was taken over by B. M. Björkman of Stockholm and is now considered the oldest company in Finland.

Sir Robert left for Bordeaux where he lived out his final years. Some accounts suggest he died on 7 December 1776 but John Adams, who would become second President of the United States of America, recalled dining with him at the Hôtel d’Angleterre in Bordeaux in the early weeks of 1780.[xxiii] Indeed, the two men were together when they learned that a British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney had defeated a Spanish squadron in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent off the southern coast of Portugal. This was the first major naval victory the British had enjoyed over their European enemies since the American War of Independence began.

Sir Robert and Elisabeth Finlay (née Plomgren) divorced. She died on March 9, 1798. She was a kinswoman of Baron Carl Fredrik Pechlin, the man believed to have orchestrated the assassination of Gustavus III in 1792.

Sir Robert’s youngest sister Sarah Steele also died in Bordeaux, leaving two sons Paul Steele (1754-1841) and Robert Steele (1756-1805). Sir Robert’s sister Mary Finlay died on Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin, in 1805 and, in accordance with her will, she was buried in St Michan’s Churchyard beside her parents, her six brothers and three sisters.


THOMAS FINLAY, BANKER (c. 1710-1776)

Thomas Finlay, the man who established the family at Corkagh, is thought to have been the eldest son of Abraham and Margaret Finlay and was born in about 1710. Details of his childhood are unknown but in February 1735 the twenty-five-year-old married Deborah Steele, eldest daughter of Lawrence Steele and his wife Mehetable Paul of Rathmore, Co. Carlow. Deborah’s paternal grandfather hailed from Cheshire and purchased property in County Kildare from Godert de Ginkell, Earl of Athlone, in 1697, as well as the Rathbride estate in County Kildare where she grew up. In 1753 her younger brother Paul Steele married Thomas Finlay’s cousin Sarah Finlay, a sister of Sir Robert Finlay. Another brother Lawrence Steele married Elizabeth Loftus of Killyon while three of her four younger sisters were married into the Hunt, Patrick and Minchin families.

Thomas and Deborah had at least three sons, including John Thomas and William Henry, and two daughters, Martha and Margaret.[xxiv] Although the first name of his eldest son is unknown, the death of ‘Master Finlay, eldest son of Thomas Finlay Esq, Banker’ was recorded in June 1761.[xxv]

In the summer of 1735, shortly after his marriage, he purchased two houses on Ormond Quay, the fashionable Liffey-side stretch in central Dublin where Nicholas Grueber of the Corkagh mills had been resident for the past two decades.[xxvi] These are assumed to have included No. 12, where Finlay’s bank was later established, and which presently forms part of the doomed Ormond Hotel. It was also the setting for the famous Sirens episode immortalised in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ which begins when barmaids, Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy, strain to see the vice-regal cavalcade out the hotel window, then gossip and giggle over their tea. Thomas already occupied one of these two houses in 1735. He also purchased two vaults that lay under the Quay which were bound on one side to a vault belonging to Thomas Pleasants, a philanthropic Dublin alderman, who leased a large piece of land near Capel Street from Dublin Corporation. Some of the basements still survive beneath the largely rebuilt façade of the Ormond Hotel, so it is possible that vestiges of Thomas Finlay's holdings may yet survive to this day.

It is not clear when Thomas went into banking but he was not the first member of his family to do so. In 1725, the third of the so-called Drapier’s Letters appeared in which the anonymous author, later revealed to be Jonathan Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, sought to stir the Irish public into action over a state-sponsored scam known as the Wood’s Halfpence controversy. In 1722, the Duchess of Kendal, King George I’s long-standing mistress, was granted a patent to coin copper money for Ireland. She then united with an English ironmaster called Walter Wood whose copper halfpennies proved to be of an inferior quality to those made in Britain. Ireland had little desire for such coppers in the first place but both the Duchess and Wood profited greatly from the venture. At a subsequent enquiry, ‘Mr. Finley, a banker’ was one of three witnesses summoned to defend Mr. Wood. Swift quickly wrote off the other two witnesses as unworthy before turning his attention to ‘Mr Finley the Third Witness’, who, as he put it, ‘honestly confessed that he was Ignorant whether Ireland wanted Copper Money or no but all his Intention was to buy a certain Quantity from Wood at a large Discount and sell them as well as he could by which he hoped to get Two or Three Thousand Pounds for himself.’ [xxvii] It remains speculative that this ‘Mr. Finley’ was a connection of the Corkagh family but there is no doubting he might well have been.

In 1728 Swift opined that bankers were ‘a necessary evil in a trading country, but so ruinous in ours, who for private advantage have sent away all our silver, and one third of our gold’. The celebrated Dean also recommended the enactment of a law to ‘hang up half a dozen bankers every year, and thereby interpose [at] least some short delay to the further ruin of Ireland’.

In any event, Thomas Finlay was not to be deterred although it may have been as late as 1750 that he formally established the private bank of Finlay & Co. at 12 Upper Ormond Quay. It was a discounting bank, wherein bills of exchange were either cashed (after discounting) before they matured and became payable, or used as collateral for advancing a short-term loan. His links to the linen industry and the mercantile Huguenot community may well have boosted his confidence but one wonders whether the immense success of his cousin Sir Robert Finlay in Sweden also offered the bank a healthy line in foreign exchange. Sir Robert’s connection with the family was certainly relevant at the time because it was the Stockholm-based merchant who com missioned the Lyon King of Arms in Scotland to produce a family crest for the Finlay of Balchristle, depicting a boar and the motto "Fortis in Arduis". Sir Robert then passed this crest on to his cousin Thomas Finlay, the banker.

There was no shortage of competition for Finlay’s bank in Georgian Dublin with seven other banking houses in Dublin during the 1750s. In September 1756 he appears to have formed some sort of an alliance with David La Touche, Nathaniel Kane, Henry Mitchell and Richard and Thomas Dawson. (Pue's Occurrences, 26 Oct 1756, p. 2) However, a financial crisis in 1759 ensured that only four remained by the early 1760s – William Gleadowe, Sir George Colebrooke, La Touche & Sons and, holding steady, Thomas Finlay & Co.[xxviii] The company was briefly ranked second in the line of private banks in the City at the time. [xxix]

Banking aside, Thomas Finlay was also one of Dublin’s foremost citizens, serving as an alderman with the Dublin City Assembly (the forerunner of the city council) from at least 1741. Other names that leap from the Assembly records of 1741 include David Chaigneau (whose family mansion at Corkagh would ultimately pass to Alderman Finlay) and Theobald Wolfe (whose son would become Chief Justice of Ireland).[xxx]

In 1751 Charles Lucas, an apothecary and councillor, published a pamphlet lambasting the Assembly for its in-fighting and corruption. He refers to ‘Thomas Finlay of Ormond Quay, Merchant, one of the Candidates for this City, who, for the like Cause, never attends.’ By ‘like cause’, Mr. Lucas was referring to another merchant called William Delap, of Abbey Street, ‘who being unfit for their Purposes, and unable to stem the Torrent of Faction never attends.’ In the same document he noted that the elderly David Chaigneau of Corkagh was a sheriff, while Thomas Finlay’s kinsman Patrick Ewing, linen draper, of Bride Street was ‘above being of any Party of Faction’.[xxxi]

‘Ye citizens, gentlemen, lawyers and squires,
Who summer and winter surround our great fires,
Ye quidnuncs! who frequently come into Pue's,
To live upon politicks, coffee, and news.’

Quoted by John T. Gilbert in ‘A History of the City of Dublin’.[xxxii]

On the morning of Wednesday 28 November 1750, Thomas Finlay crossed the Liffey and made his way towards Christchurch Cathedral. As he reached Skinner Row (now Christ Church-place), he turned into Carberry House, the former home of the Earl of Kildare. The drawing-room floor of Lord Kildare’s abode was now Dick’s Coffee House, a well-regarded auctioning house run by the charismatic Richard Pue, proprietor of a newspaper called Pue’s Occurrences. Born in 1700, Pue had taken over the running of the family business by 1731 and launched into the auctioneering business a decade later. In 1746 he formed a partnership with William Ross and it appears they were jointly in charge at this time. Pue’s wife died in 1754 and he sold the coffee house three years later but he himself died, unexpectedly, in 1758. [It is notable that Tibradden House was also sold through Dick's Coffee House.]

The upshot of Thomas Finlay’s visit to Dick’s was that he was the successful bidder on David Chaigneau’s mansion, Corkagh House, along with intermixed land, outhouses, edifice buildings, orchard gardens and 163 acres. The house had recently been occupied by General De Grangues but he relocated to Newlands at about this time. The general may have been encouraged to make tracks when an explosion blew the roof off one of the Chenevix mills in the autumn of 1751, less than a year after Finlay’s purchase.

In 1752 Thomas Finlay commissioned the surveyor Lawrence Byrne to produce ‘a map of part of the Land of Corkagh’ which belonged to him. In October 1759 he also commissioned Roger Kendrick to produce a ‘Map of Sundry Parcels of Lands in the Parish of Clondalkin belonging to the Archiepiscopal See of Dublin, in lease to T. Finlay.’ [xxxiii]

Thomas’s mother Margaret Finlay (née Johnson) died on 13 May 1752. Within a year and a half, he had expanded his interests on Ormond Quay, purchasing a ground called the Corner Plott, which was bound by an area known as Bigg Shand Street and Swift’s Row. Among several houses encompassed by this purchase was one formerly owned by Sir Humphrey Jervis.[xxxiv] A lease dated 24th December 1765 noted that ‘David Bomford, Gentleman of the City of Dublin, leases to John Fry and Michael Cox, gentlemen of the City of Dublin, the house on Ormond Quay between the houses of Mr Thomas Finlay and Thomas Towers’, for 14 years at a rent of £18.[xxxv]

Finlay’s banking partners in 1767 were Thomas Finlay, Art Jones Nevill (a former Surveyor General and sitting MP for Wexford), Ben Geale (an Alderman, lord mayor of Dublin and Treasurer in 1763) and John Hunt. Linking back to earlier days, it may be relevant that Ben Geale’s mother was a daughter of James Hamilton of Bailieborough, County Cavan. In January 1774, Alderman Geale faced Sir Edward Newenham, the leading radical of the day, on the duelling field at Kilbarrack Church (with Napper Tandy as Newenham’s second) over a political slight; Newenham’s pistol misfired and Geale reserved his shot.[xxxvi] Ben Geale’s wife Anne was a daughter of Frederick Falkiner of Abbotstown.

One of Finlay & Company’s employees at this time was Solomon Boileau (1745-1810), eldest son of Simeon Boileau (1717-1767), a Huguenot who served in the Seven Years War as a teenager. Solomon’s mother Magdalen (c. 1720-1786) was a daughter of Théophilus Desbrisay, the Army Agent who owned land at Corkagh in 1749.

Solomon died on 21 December 1810, aged 64, having drowned in the River Dee in Chester. His body wasn't found for six weeks.

Thomas Finlay was involved in many property transactions during the 1750s and 1760s, buying and selling land throughout Counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Fermanagh. As such, Thomas Finlay had established a strong and prosperous business by the time of his death on Ormond Quay on 19 September 1776.[xxxvii] His eldest surviving son John was executor to his will.[xxxviii]


William Henry Finlay, the second surviving son of Thomas Finlay the banker, followed his older brother John into Glasgow University, from which he matriculated in 1769.[xxxix] A decade later he was recorded as a captain of the Trim Infantry when it mobilized as part of the Volunteers movement on 12 July 1779. [xl] The colonel of the adjoining Trim and Ratoath Volunteers was Garret Colley Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington (afterwards Marquess of Wellesley) of Dangan Castle, a man best known as the father of the Duke of Wellington. [xli]

W. H. Finlay lived at Ginnets, also spelled Genetts or Gynetts, a townland midway between the County Meath towns of Laracor and Summerhill, and right beside the Wesley stronghold of Dangan. He appears to have inherited Ginnets from his father-in-law William Stear, having married Stear’s eldest daughter and co-heiress Mary Anne. [xlii] His brother John married Elizabeth Stear of the same family, possibly a cousin or even a sister. William’s Meath connection may have initially stemmed from his father’s will in 1776 from which he received £400 and a lease of land in the county.

I believe he was the W. H. Finlay of Pleasants Street (named for the afore-mentioned philanthropist) who was recorded as a a member of the Commons House (Hosiers Guild) and, later, as a clerk of the corn table and City Sword Bearer.

When architectural draughtsmen Robert Pool and John Cash laid a series of drawings before the Dublin Society in 1777, William Henry Finlay was among those wealthy enough to subscribe to what became their popular publication, ‘Views of the Most Remarkable Public Buildings, Monuments and Other Edifices in the City of Dublin’ three years later.[xliii]

He was evidently a man of some affluence. The Irish Georgian Society records his wife as being not only the proprietor of a private sedan chair in 1787 but also the 'Mrs Finlay' who had a house on Sackville Street in the 18th century.[xliv]

Dark times came in July 1798 when, as Richard Musgrave recorded, ‘William Finlay, of Ginnetts ... was fired at in mid-day, while walking in his demesne, and the ball lodged in his arm’.[xlv]

There were happier tidings on 8 July 1801 when the Finlay’s eldest daughter (Mary) Elizabeth Finlay was married to Hans Blackwood (1758-1839) who had represented Killyleagh, County Down, in the Irish House of Commons between 1799 and 1800. Hans was fourth son of the 2nd Baron of Dufferin but he ultimately succeeded his elder brother James to become 3rd Baron in 1836.[xlvi] He had previously been married to Mehetabel Temple and their son – Elizabeth’s stepson – was Captain Robert Blackwood of the 69th Foot who was killed at Waterloo in 1815. From 1813 to 1832 Hans Blackwood was a Commissioner of Audit for Ireland. Elizabeth died in July 1843, having had five daughters and two sons, one of whom married a sister of the Earl of Essex.

William Henry Finlay died in 1804 and his will was proven on 22 August. He appears to have divided his estate between his daughters, the exact number of which is not yet known, while his widow Mary Anne was his residuary legatee and sole executor. Mary Anne settled in Bath and died at Dawlish in Devonshire in 1817.[xlvii]

In 1808, their youngest daughter Mary was married in Dublin to Captain Duff of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards.[xlviii] She acquired lands in County Meath while, in connection to their older daughter, the Baroness of Dufferein, the Ordnance Survey of 1836 notes the Blackwood connection as follows –

“Great Ginnetts, a detached portion of the Parish of Agher. 694 acres (plantation) the property of Mr Blackwood (of Dublin) and let in farms, the largest being 130 acres. ‘Big House Farm’ is in the possession of Mr William Allen. Little Ginnetts 74 (plantation) acres, the property of Mr Blackwood, nearly all pasture.”


Thomas Finlay is said to have been the father of Mary Finlay who was married in 1748, to Christopher Hore, fifth son of Philip Hore, of Pole Hore, County Wexford.[xlix] However, given that Thomas Finlay and Deborah Steele were only married in 1735, this feels like either the wrong generation or the wrong date.


Thomas Finlay is also thought to have been the father of Martha Finlay who was married in 1771 to Colonel William Walcott of the 5th Foot (later the Northumberland Fusiliers). Three years later the ‘fiery but generous’ Walcott commanded the 5th when it left Ireland for Boston, Massachusetts, where trouble was brewing.

Martha crossed the Atlantic with her husband. One wonders was she present on the day he became embroiled in fisticuffs and drew a sword on Ensign Patrick, a junior officer who happened to be one of his kinsmen. The event caused General Gage to court martial both men in the spring of 1775.[l]

Disaster struck during the American War of Independence when Lieutenant Colonel Walcott was ‘shot through’ at the Battle of White Plains, New York. He died of his wounds at Germantown six weeks later on 16 November 1777. Martha, who inherited £1000 in his will, died at Bath on 17 January 1790.[li]


John Finlay, the eldest surviving son of Thomas and Deborah Finlay, was born in about 1737 and became heir apparent to Corkagh upon the death of his older brother in June 1761. [lii] His ancestral Scottish connections were deepened by his attendance at Glasgow University from which he matriculated in 1767; his younger brother William Henry Finlay attended the same university. [liii]

From Glasgow, John went to work in the family bank, which he would subsequently run until the end of the Napoleonic Wars nearly fifty years later. Among those with accounts at the bank in 1770 was the Cork merchant, Richard Pope, who employed ‘Thomas Finlay & Company’ as his Dublin correspondents. [liv]

The bank narrowly avoided disaster when a public credit crisis hit England in 1772. The ensuing run on the banks in Dublin brought the house of Sir George Colebrooke and Company crashing down. Eight years later Frederick Jebb told how the crisis had nearly crippled the Finlay bank ‘of whose fortune and integrity I have a good opinion’. The bank, noted Jebb, was ‘reduced to the necessity of paying in government debentures and, at length, of having their notes indorsed [sic] to strengthen their security’.[lv]


The banking crisis did not dissuade John Finlay from seeking a bride and in 1773 he married Elizabeth Stear, the heiress and daughter of John Stear of Ginnetts, County Meath, who also appear to have had family connections in Bedford, England.[lvi]. An article by Richard Barton that appeared in the 1751 edition of ‘Lectures in Natural Philosophy’ chronicled a box of gems and agates found in Lough Neagh and described John Stear as ‘a Gentleman of real worth and discernment in many things of value’ who owned ‘a set of sleeve buttons’ made of ‘Pebbles’ of a similar kind to those found in the box.[lvii] John’s younger brother William Henry married Mary Anne Stear of the same family.

John and Elizabeth had at least four sons - Rev John Finlay; William Henry Finlay (who died near Chester in 1832); Thomas Finlay, his heir; and Captain George Finlay, 6th Regt. of Foot. [lviii] There were also five daughters, namely Annie, Winifred, Ellen, Mary and Jane Louisa who married Justice Richard Jebb. (See Appendix 1)


By the time of his marriage, John was a prominent member of Dublin’s mercantile elite. Between 1769 and 1775 he also served as High Sherriff of County Kildare. He does not seem to have lived at Corkagh in the wake of his father’s death in 1776. The following year it was noted that the house had lately been let to a Robert Goggin [or Gaggin] and it was back up for lease, along with twelve acres. ‘It is apprehended unnecessary to say any Thing concerning the Elegance and natural Beauties of the Situation,’ remarked Saunders Newsletter on 23 April 1777, while giving its exact location as ‘on the Circular Road, near the House lately inhabited by Colonel Chenevix, deceased.’ The newspaper article added that ‘the House being in bad condition’, it was to be ‘let cheap to an in improving Tenant.’ Applications were to be made to William Sherlock, Esq., at Mount Sherlock, near Naas, or Mr. Benedict Hamilton, Attorney, No. 4, Little Longford Street, Dublin. Some six thousand ‘barrels of choice Malt’ were also to be sold ‘very cheap’, via Mr. Hamilton.

1777 was also the year in which John Finlay upped his political status by becoming MP for Killmallock, County Limerick, in the Irish House of Commons that met in Parliament House on College Green. He retained the office until 1783 when his seat was won by John FitzGibbon, the Attorney-General, later to become Lord Chancellor and first Earl of Clare.

John Finlay’s time in ‘Grattan’s Parliament’, as it became known, coincided with the outbreak of the American War of Independence, an era that placed considerable strain on the Irish commercial industry and on MPs who ran banks. Three such banks collapsed in 1778 and 1779. However, John Finlay & Co. managed to survive when the government was advised to extend public credit to it. Such fiscal nightmares did not preclude the Finlay’s attendance at a fancy dress ball on St Patrick’s Day 1778 when seven hundred men and women piled into the Music Hall on Fishamble Street. The noted guests included ‘Mr Finlay, senior’ as ‘a huge fashionable lady’ and ‘Mr Finlay, junior’ as ‘an American Warrior’. He was probably the Mr Finlay whom Mrs Leeson, aka the brothel madam Peg Plunkett, espied dressed as a gardener at a May-fair masquerade. Also present at the St. Patrick’s Day ball in 1778 was the Finlay’s neighbour ‘Counsellor Caldbeck’ of Moyle Park, dressed as a sailor.

In 1781 the bank’s directors were listed as John Finlay, Richard Neville (sometimes Nevill), Benjamin Geale, Joseph Lynam and John Geale. Richard Neville (1743-1822) lived at, Furness, County Kildare, and was one of the improving landlords whom Arthur Young stayed with on his ‘Tour of Ireland’ in 1777. Neville was also the owner of an impressive silk enterprise at Rathmore, County Kildare.[lix] Educated at Kilkenny College and Trinity College Dublin, he had succeeded to the parliamentary seat for Wexford upon the death of his father, the sitting MP, in 1771. He continued to be MP for Wexford after Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in 1801.[lx] As Robert O’Byrne notes, Neville was also Teller of the Exchequer under the Irish Parliament, described as ‘a remarkably pleasant office to hold’ not least because it came with an annual salary of £2,835’ of which £835 went to a deputy ‘who did all the work, leaving the balance to the office holder.’[lxi] When Neville died in 1822, John Finlay’s son-in-law Judge Richard Jebb was one of three executors appointed to his will, for which the judge was to be rewarded with ‘one hogshead of the best claret that can be purchased.’ It is also notable that Neville’s daughter Henrietta married Sir William Geale.


In the summer of 1779 the Irish countryside was transformed as thousands of over-excited men, predominantly young and Protestant, donned the uniform of the Volunteers and began drilling and training for an age that would be recalled for its great conventions, annual reviews and sham fights.

John Finlay was to the fore. In early August he summoned the freeholders of south Dublin to a series of meetings held in places such as the Lucan Inn and Rathcoole. These meetings resulted in the formation of a series of Volunteer corps, including the thirty-strong Uppercross Fusiliers of which John Finlay was elected Captain Commandant.[lxii] Their uniform was scarlet faced with black, with white waistcoats and breeches. He had little time for those unwilling to join, appending his signature to a letter that read, ‘we are firmly determined to use Arms and hazard our lives like freemen in defence of Ireland … Gentlemen who have not joined this or any Corp of Volunteers … we cannot consider a friend of Ireland’.

On 4 November 1779 Finlay’s Fusiliers were one of ten Dublin companies who marched into central Dublin before a huge crowd to stage a spectacular demonstration around the statue of William III on College Green where they demanded ‘free trade or else.’[lxiii] Although they never fired a shot in anger, the Volunteers would ultimately be credited with keeping Ireland safe from the Gallic invader. They also inadvertently spawned the Society of United Irishmen.


On 14 June 1783 John Finlay, Henry Arabin, William Caldbeck, Arthur Wolfe, Hugh Wilson, John White and fifteen other leading members of the south Dublin community signed a document offering a reward to any ‘Discoverers’ who came forward with information concerning criminal activity in the area. This followed an epidemic of sheep-rustling, as well as sheep and horse killing, in the parishes of Clondalkin, Kilmactalway, Saggard, Newcastle and Rathcoole. The rewards on offer were dependent on the culprit being reported within six months of their offence and were published in the Dublin Journal of 24 June 1783 as follows:

For every murder - £50

For every Felony of Death - £30

For every felony not punishable with Death - £20

For every Petit Theft - £10

For cutting trees, breaking Hedges, robbing Gardens and stealing Grass, Hay or Corn - £5

For every outrageous Riot - £5.

The rewards were to be paid at Finlay & Company’s bank in Dublin ‘immediately after Conviction of the Offenders’. If someone confessed to being an Accomplice to any of these crimes, Finlay and his colleagues promised that they would ‘endeavour to procure him a Pardon, and to conceal the name if the Discoverer, if desired.’


John Finlay was evidently spending plenty of time at Corkagh by 1782 as he was elected Warden of the parish church of St John’s in Clondalkin that September. He was thus entrusted with the care, maintenance and supervision of all parochial matters, an office he retained all the way through until 1820.[lxiv]

On 9 March 1782 Mr. Thomas Russell of Corkagh announced that he had ‘a considerable Quantity of full grown Elm Timber’ which was ‘to be sold on the Lands of Corkagh, four miles from Dublin, upon the Naas Road.’[lxv]


On 25 November 1785 John Finlay sat at his desk in Corkagh and penned a letter ‘to the Gentlemen, Clergy and Freeholders of the County of Dublin’. His letter, which was published in the Freeman’s Journal, acknowledged that he had been called upon to stand should a vacancy ever open up for one of the Dublin seats in the Irish House of Commons on College Green, ‘it having been suggested to me by several respectable Electors, that ... I might not be unacceptable to you as a Candidate.’ Although there was no immediate election looming, he felt obliged to write this letter following the publication of a report claiming he ‘had no such intention.’ Eager to set the record straight, he advised that ‘at a proper period I shall do myself the honour of soliciting your interest, countenance and support.’

It is not clear where he was living at this time but it was business as usual on the farm at Corkagh in 1787. The summer that followed the explosion at Caldbeck’s gunpowder mill was one of heavy rains but the Dublin Evening Post reported on 25 August that sixty reapers were busy on the lands of Corkagh, ‘cutting down as fine wheat as has been in this county for many years.’ There was sadness though for John Finlay the following year when his wife Elizabeth died at the age of 32 on 8th January 1788, leaving him with eight young children. Elizabeth Finlay was buried in St John’s in Clondalkin.

In October 1789 John Finlay, a supporter of the Whig Club of Ireland, was put forward as a candidate, running against Richard Wogan Talbot of Malahide and Charles Fitzgerald, brother of the Duke of Leinster. All three candidates withdrew when young William Brabazon, Lord Ardee, entered the contest in December. However, nineteen days after his election, Lord Ardee’s father died and he succeeded as 9th Earl of Meath, which meant he was automatically advanced from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.

At a by-election in March 1790 Finlay defeated Talbot to take his seat. The Freeman’s Journal reported that, ‘After he was declared elected, he was accompanied by a respectable number of his friends and a vast concourse of the populace, carried from his house in Granby Row in a triumphal chair of blue silk, ornamented with orange ribbons and other decorations, to the House of Commons’.[lxvi] Unfortunately there was a General Election four years later, before John had a chance to even take his seat on College Green.

At the ensuing election on 1 May, Finlay once again stood in opposition to Talbot but it was the latter who proved victorious, despite Finlay’s alliance with the charismatic radical Sir Edward Newenham (who had fought a duel with Finlay’s partner Ben Geale sixteen years earlier). Finlay then whistled up James Napper Tandy and the Whig Club to support a campaign to have Talbot unseated. In March 1791, his petition was finally endorsed, declaring Talbot’s election invalid. John was duly elected and, over two years after he was first elected to represent Dublin, he took his seat in Parliament. He retained the seat for the next seven years when succeeded by Hans Hamilton. He retained his liberal views throughout, voting against both the Popery Bill and the Perpetual Mutiny Bill.[lxvii] During this time he had his city residence at Granby Row at the back of present-day Parnell Square.

In Barraud and Hayter’s depiction of "The Great Parliament of Ireland, elected A.D. 1790," painted in 1872, John Finlay was pictured whispering into the ear of Sir Barry Denny while, to his left, the bewigged Frederick John Falkiner, MP for Dublin City, stares into the middle distance. To Falkiner’s left, ‘Bumper Jack’ McClintock, MP for Belturbet, appears to be fast asleep while John La Touche swaps words with Thomas Whaley to his left.


Five years after the death of his first wife, John Finlay, the sitting MP for County Dublin, was married again in the spring of 1793 ‘by special licence’ to Miss Harriet Minchin. The papers of the day did not name her late father.[lxviii]

In September 1791, Francis Higgins, the celebrated “Sham Squire”, declared that he had £7000 lodged in his account at Finlay's bank ‘but my property will, I believe, much exceed this sum when all is estimated’.[lxix]

By May 1796 Finlay was renting ‘a lot of ground lying on the west side of Christ Church Lane whereon are several houses and tenements belonging to the Dean & Chapter of Christ Church Dublin.’ [lxx] The following year it was noted that of the nine private banks still operating in Ireland, only three were in Dublin — La Touche, Gleadowe and Finlay.[lxxi]


With the outbreak of the United Irishmen’s rebellion in the summer of 1798, Lieutenant Colonel John Finlay of the Dublin County Regiment of Militia saddled up his horse and set out to crush the insurgency. He had already shown his grit during a mutiny and sedition trial taken against seven privates from the Dublin Militia that March; two of the privates were sentenced to death.[lxxii]

His initial role was to round up rebels in the south Dublin area.[lxxiii] As Richard Musgrave reported, “On the night of the twenty third of May lieutenant colonel Finlay patrolled with a party of soldiers near Clondalkin, four miles from Dublin, where he met a body of rebels, proceeding to join those from Rathfarnham. After a slight skirmish, he killed three of them, whose bodies were suspended next morning in Barrack-street, as an example to the disaffected inhabitants of that quarter of the city.’[lxxiv]

The Dublin Militia advanced into Wexford where they served at the battle of Ross under the command of Major Vesey. When Vesey was wounded at the battle of Vinegar Hill, command passed to Colonel Finlay who also took charge of Enniscorthy town.[lxxv] An attempt to murder his brother William in July cannot have improved his humour.

At 12 o'clock on July 31, the colonel marched his men into Ferns and encamped on the Bishop's lawn. That same day he dispatched ‘three file’ to Newtown Barry (Bunclody) ‘to order the Commissary and his stores back again with all expedition.’[lxxvi]

On 9 August Colonel Finlay led a night patrol to Newtown Barry, following an express from Col. Maxwell that ‘a Body of the Rebels [were] concealed in the woods.’ At four o'clock in the morning Finlay’s men united with Maxwell at the Woods of Monart, having left ‘a sufficient Guard of Cavalry and Infantry under the command of Captain Jones of the Dublin Militia.’ Also on hand at Monart was a unit commanded by General Grose as well as a troop of Cavalry from Borris, County Carlow, and a detachment from the 4th Battalion. They subsequently killed and captured a large number of rebels before Col. Finlay led his men back to Ferns that evening. They had sustained no casualties but were ‘very much fatigued on account of the quantity of rain which fell during the night.’

The Dublin Militia remained in Ferns until 25 August when Colonel Finlay marched them into Enniscorthy.


With the rebellion suppressed and his parliamentary career behind him, Colonel Finlay appears to have focused on his assets and how to improve them. In 1799 he commissioned John Byrne to survey his estate at Corkagh.[lxxvii] In September 1802, Saunders Newsletter noted the impending auction of 70 acres of choice meadow and tillage land ‘joining Colonel Finlay’s demesne’, including ‘an excellent bleach-green and drying house’, and ‘a good drying dwelling house and flour mill in perfect repair.’

Colonel Finlay and his banking partners also commissioned the architect Robert Woodgate to build a new brick premises for the bank at 21, Jervis Street, to which they moved from their long-standing base at 12, Upper Ormond Quay.

The impulse to move must have been present for some time. In 1786, William Wilson published his ‘Post-chaise Companion to Ireland’ and named all four of the city’s banks, including ‘John Finlay & Co.’ However, while Mr. Wilson praised Finlay’s three rivals for occupying ‘structures worthy of notice’, he was conspicuously silent about the status of Finlay’s premises on Ormond Quay.[lxxviii] On 18 November 1799, Woodgate wrote to the English architect Sir John Soane, himself a skilled builder of banks, to say, 'I am engaged to Build Next Summer a Banking House for Mssrs Finlay & Co. in Dublin'.[lxxix] The new bank’s cash office would later become the counting-house of Messrs. Todd, Burns and Co. Department Store, while the "Runner's office" was in Mary Street.


Robert Emmet was a small boy when Thomas Finlay and the future Lord Kilwarden appended their names to a document offering rewards to ‘Discoverers’ of criminals back in 1783. Twenty years later Emmet himself was to be captured by a similar ruse. According to a secret-service money list, a man called “Richard Jones” received a payment of £1000 into his account at Finlay & Co. on 1 November 1803 as a payment for helping to orchestrate Emmet’s capture two months earlier. The fact that Mr. Jones had an account at the bank suggests he was not a person of humble rank but some believe his name was a pseudonym and that the recipient of this blood money was really Leonard McNally, a Dublin barrister and playwright who had been one of the co-founders of the United Irishmen.[lxxx]

When Emmet’s rebellion broke out in July 1803, Colonel Finlay and Assistant Town Major Swan swiftly made their way to Dublin Castle to meet with Alexander Marsden, Under-Secretary for Ireland. Also present in the castle was Sir Charles Asgill, military commander of Dublin, who noted how Finlay was 'communicating new facts or information' that unsettled the Under-Secretary. In a letter to Viscount Castlereagh, Marsden later explained, ‘Colonel Finlay had applied for an escort to take him to his house, which lay on the road to Naas, and had come from the Royal Hospital, where he had delivered a letter from me, requesting that a party might be furnished to him. Having occasion to return into town, he called at the Castle, to mention his having succeeded in procuring the order for it, and also for the protection of the Powder Mills at Clondalkin. Sir Charles left me to go to the Royal Hospital to the Commander of the Forces.’ [lxxxi] It is unclear whether this refers to the Caldbeck or Arabin powder mills; perhaps he meant both.[lxxxii]

While Colonel Finlay secured his desired escort, the same could not be said for his close friend and colleague Lord Kilwarden, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland.[lxxxiii] According to one account, Kilwarden was at his home in Newlands House when a message arrived from Colonel Finlay stating that a rebellion was about to explode in the city. Another account claims that his lordship was actually at Corkagh when he learned of the event. [lxxxiv] In either case he then seemingly took his coach into the city, with his daughter and nephew seated alongside him. As they arrived onto Thomas Street, their carriage was ambushed and the occupants dragged out and attacked with pikes. Kilwarden’s nephew, a Church of Ireland clergyman, was killed immediately while the Chief Justice was piked so severely that he died in a nearby building within an hour. Legend holds that his terrified horses meanwhile galloped all the way back to Newlands, shooting through the back gates of Corkagh, near to the present day St. John's Road, through the Corkagh estate and back out the front drive to Newlands. In subsequent decades, some have heard the startling sound of a coach and horses hastening through Corkagh by night and yet no trace of either has ever been found.


In 1806 John Finlay supported Henry Grattan’s campaign to become member for Dublin City in the new parliament at Westminster. When he stepped forward to propose the Great Orator, he kept his speech short, counselling his audience that it would be ‘an impertinent obtrusion were he to occupy the public time in any attempt to dilate on the merits of a gentleman so long a deserving object of public favour, for great talents and unquestionable integrity.’

On 17 May 1815, an advertisement in Saunders's News-Letter read: ‘TO BE LET FURNISHED, The House, Garden, and a few acres of the Lands of Corkagh, it will be let for six or twelve months, or longer if desired. Apply to Thomas Finlay, Esq. the Bank in Jervis-street, to William Roper. Esq. No. 8, South Frederick-street.’

In 1816 John passed over management of the bank to his son Thomas but he remained active in local affairs. In 1817, for instance, a Grand Jury presentment permitted ‘John Finlay, Henry Arabin, Esqrs., and William Dowling to build a bridge across a new road lately made by presentment from Dublin to Newcastle through Corraghan near the corner of Sally Park to carry off a river course which runs across the road at the place.’[lxxxv] Two years later, he sold premises known as the Corner Plott on Ormond Quay - previously purchased by his father. [lxxxvi]

Colonel Finlay died ‘of the effects of a rupture’ at Corkagh on 24th January 1823.[lxxxvii] According to his memorial stone and various obituaries he was 73 but there is some inconsistency about his year of birth. [lxxxviii] He was buried alongside his first wife Elizabeth at St. John’s, Clondalkin, and succeeded at Corkagh by his son Thomas.

His widow Henrietta Finlay died in June 1831. [lxxxix]


Upon his death in January 1823, Colonel Finlay was succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, who was then aged forty nine. Born in 1774, Thomas was seventeen years old when he entered Trinity College Dublin on 15th December 1791. The next decade would see the rise and fall of the United Irishmen, as well as the closure of the Irish Parliament, of which his father was a member, on nearby College Green.

In September 1804 Thomas married Ursula Cromie, the daughter of John Cromie of Cromore House, Portstewart, on the coast of County Londonderry.[xc] Ursula’s father had actually founded Portstewart in 1792, naming it after his maternal grandmother, one of the Stewarts of Ballylesse.[xci] On John Cromie’s watch ‘a group of fishermen's huts’ had been transformed, as Samuel Lewis observed in 1837, into ‘a delightful and well frequented summer residence'.[xcii] In 1822 Ursula's younger brother John Cromie junior succeeded their father and began developing the harbour, the baths and the first hotel at Portstewart. John junior was a powerful evangelical of Sabbatarian persuasion meaning that his observance of the Sabbath was so strict that the entire day was devoted to absolute worship. Hand in hand with that puritan mind-set was the rejection of all recreational activities including, when the time came, the threat of a railway connection. John Cromie junior was also notable for having four wives, but he only had a single child, a daughter, Ellen Mary, born to his second wife Ellen Jane, eldest daughter of Chief Justice Pennefather.

[Ellen Mary Cromie married the Rt. Hon. Lord Robert Montagu, son of thr 6th Duke of Manchester, by whom they had four children, the youngest being Lt.-Cdr. Robert Acheson Cromie Montagu (1854-1931), a Catholic landowner. On 13 February 1892 the Cromie family was plunged into darkness when Lt Cdr Montagu's three-year-old daughter Helen Mary Montagu was locked up in a dark room at Cromore House by her mother Annie (nee McMicking). She had the ‘wilful’ child’s arms pinioned, and tied her up with stocking in such a way that she died from asphyxiation. After a trial in which Edward Carson was prosecutor, Annie Montagu was sent to Grangegorman Prison in Dublin for twelve months. The case forms the basis of the book ‘The Butterfly Cabinet’ by Bernie McGill, published by Hachette UK in 2011. See here.]

It is not yet known what Thomas Finlay thought of his in-law’s Sabbatarian inclinations but he himself, like his father before him, served as churchwarden in the local Clondalkin church of St. John’s.

Thomas and Ursula Finlay’s first Dublin city residence was 74 Lower Mount Street but they later relocated west to 15 Fitzwilliam Square. They had at least ten children, six sons (John William, Thomas, Robert, George Edward, Henry Nassau and James) and four or five daughters (Anne, Ellen, Selina, Frances and Mary). Their two youngest sons died early - James in 1810, while still an infant, and Henry Nassau aged three years in 1820. Both are buried in the graveyard of St. John’s Church. When Mary died in 1829 she must have also been very young. [xciii]

Of the children who survived, John William was to become his heir at Corkagh, the younger Thomas married a Mitford and the colonel’s eldest daughter Anne Finlay was married on 24 April 1844 to Edward James of Wylam Hall, Northumberland.[xciv] Robert died in Lower Baggot Street on 6 December 1839 while Selina died in Rome in 1842.

Thomas was High Sherriff of Kildare in 1812. On 31 October of that year he presided at the auction of Thomas Wogan Browne’s extensive and valuable library at Castle Browne, near Sallins. Two years later, Wogan Browne sold the castle, along with 219 acres, to the Jesuits, who promptly restored the earlier name of the property, Clongowes Wood, and opened it as a college for the education of the sons of the Catholic nobility and gentry. It is also to be noted that when Wogan Browne died on 27 February 1824, he did so at the house of Peter Chaigneau. [xcv] Wogan Browne’s sister Judith was educated at Ypres and later founded a small motherhouse convent of Brigidines in Tullow, County Carlow.

As well as being High Sheriff of Dublin in 1820, Thomas was also a member of the Dublin County Militia, which his father had led into action in 1798, and also became its lieutenant colonel. [xcvi] In 1855 the Dublin Militia was renamed the Dublin County Light Infantry and in 1881 it would become the 5th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers; Thomas’s grandson was later to become its commander.

In the wake of the allied victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, Thomas’s father handed him control of the family bank on Jervis Street, which he duly renamed ‘Thomas Finlay and Company’. By 1817, he was operating in partnership with John Greale, John Lynham and Robert Law.[xcvii] The bank was evidently still rated highly, particularly among forgers as two forged Finlay bank notes from 1819 are held by the National Museum.[xcviii] While the bank was efficiently run, this was the age of the Savings Bank Movement and by 1826 there were only four private banks left in Dublin – Finlay, La Touche, Shaw and the newly-established Ball and Company on Henry Street.

He evidently did not wish to move to Corkagh after his father’s death as Saunder’s Newsletter informed readers on 26 May 1823 that Corkagh was up for rent again: ‘TO BE LET, FOR one, two or three years the House, with the whole, or any part of the Demesne of CORKAGH, containing about 150 Acres, situated six miles from Dublin, on the Naas road. Application to be made to Thomas Finlay, Esq., Bank, Jervis-street.’

It was presumably occupied but it was up for rent again, with 140 acres, five years later.[xcix]

According to one account, Finlay's bank ‘went under in the panic of 1835-6.’[c] Another account proposes that it ceased trading in February 1829 in what was described as ‘a way highly creditable to itself’, presumably meaning it managed to pay off all outstanding debts. [ci] In 1834 the premises on Jervis Street, including both house and garden, were sold, bringing an end to a bank that had been in existence for at least eight decades.[cii] According to the Dublin Evening Post of 27 November 1833, Thomas Finlay’s seat was at Glencarrick, Delgany, County Wicklow, a house connected to the bankrupt Donegal landowner, John Hamilton, while his townhouse was on Fitzwilliam Square.


From at least 1828 the financially struggling Thomas Finlay was obliged, or perhaps inclined, to rent Corkagh as per an advertisement, which appeared in the Evening Post on 15 October 1828: 'TO BE LET, from the 1st of November next, with or without a Fine, for such terms as may be agreed on, the House and Demesne of CORKAGH, situated near the five-mile stone, on the Naas Road from Dublin. The Demesne contains about 140 Acres, late Irish plantation measure. Applications to be made to Messrs. CORNWALL and ALLEN, 24, Eden-quay, Dublin.'

The new tenant was William Stockley (1776-1860), a former veterinary officer in the Royal Horse Artillery who ran an extensive mail and stage-coach business, as well as operating livery stables and a horse bazaar on Lower Baggot Street.[ciii] He is thought to have been the son of another William Stockley who had a business with Thomas Bannell, as stable-keepers in Bishop’s Yard, Charles Street, Grosvenor Square, London. He took Corkagh for ‘a term of three young lives, renewable, during a term of fifty years’ from 1829 and was certainly in residence by December 1830 when the United Service Magazine recorded the marriage of his second daughter Elizabeth Sarah to Lieutenant Dawson Warren of the Royal Artillery.

However, things went downhill for Mr Stockley, as the Freeman’s Journal revealed on 15 February 1837 under the ominous heading ‘BANKRUPT’: William Stockley, of Corkagh, in the county of Dublin, proprietor of the horse bazaar, Lower Baggot-street, in the city of Dublin, for the livery and sale of horses on commission, to surrender on Saturday, the 25th of February instant, and on Tuesday, the 28th day of March next.'

A major sale of all of his household furniture, farming stock and implements took place at Corkagh on 22 February, followed by an auction at the Royal Exchange in Dublin on 29 June of ‘the Bankrupt’s interest in the Mansion House, Offices and Demesne Lands of Corkagh, formerly the residence of Colonel Finlay.’ Messrs. Gray and MacDougall, the agents entrusted with the sale, advertised the property for all its worth in Saunder’s News-Letter prior to the sale:

“The House is large and roomy, with every convenience attached and detached for a gentleman’s family, with very extensive Gardens — the out offices are situate in two large lock-up yards, one for the convenience of the house contains Stabling for twenty-two horses, three Coach Houses, Harness Room, Laundry, Dairy, and all other useful and necessary Offices. The other contains Feeding Houses for all manner of cattle, large Barns and Granaries, Piggery, &c. &c., both well supplied with Water with large walled-in Haggard. The Demesne is nearly all walled in, and divided in the very best manner, by well-grown Quickset Hedges, with a continual supply of Water, a River running through the Demesne. The lands are admirably situated for both tillage and pasture, there now being about 27 Acres of Wheat, 12 Acres of Oats, 36 Acres of Vetches, and about 65 Acres of Meadow, all in the very best health. The residue of the land is now fit for feeding purposes, not having had a head of cattle on them this season. The Bankrupt purchased all the Timber on the lands, which is very extensive, at the time he took the place, and had an assignment thereof; he subsequently planted and registered 12,000 Trees on the lands, principally Oak, Elm, Ash, Larch. &c, all now in a most thriving and beautiful condition. It is unquestionably one of the best circumstanced demesnes about Dublin, and in a most peaceable and quiet neighbourhood, Coaches passing at all hours both by night and day.” [civ]

On 1 July 1837, the Dublin Evening Post reported that, ‘The mansion and demesne Lands of Corkagh, formerly the residence of Colonel Finlay, was sold by Mr Bennett at the Royal Exchange on Thursday for £1050 to Mr Hastings of this city.’ By March 1838, Mr Hastings was offering the property for sale by private contract.[cv]

One wonders if the stress of the sale proved too much for Thomas Finlay who died aged sixty-three on 19 December 1837.[cvi] His widow Ursula returned to Portstewart where she lived out her days until her death on 4 August 1868 aged 88.[cvii]

William Stockley subsequently left Ireland for Canada, ultimately returning to London. He bounced back and served as President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons from 1856-57. [cviii] His son John Surtees Stockley (1816-1863) served as a British Army veterinary surgeon with the Royal Artillery during the Crimean War and was awarded the Légion d'Honneur by the French government.

John Stockley was the father of William Frederick Paul Stockley, M.A. D.Litt., (1859–1943), an Irish academic who was elected a Sinn Féin member to the Second Dáil for the National University of Ireland constituency. He voted against the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and refused to accept the legitimacy of the Irish Free State.

In a handsome large brick building in Jervis street formerly occupied by the Bishop of Waterford, at the corner of Mary street, and opposite to Mary's Church, Thomas Finlay, John Geale, Robert Law and Michael Law, Esqrs. conduct their business. This firm discounts, receives lodgements, and issues its own notes, of all amounts.
George Newenham Wright, An Historical Guide to Dublin, 1821.[cix]


John William Finlay was born on 4 July 1805 in Londonderry, the home county of his mother’s Cromie family. Nothing is known of his younger years but in 1824, a year after the death of his grandfather John Finlay, he entered Trinity College Oxford. Within a year he had moved to Trinity College Dublin, his father’s alma mater, where he received his BA in 1829, the year Daniel O’Connell secured Catholic Emancipation for Ireland.

He obtained his MA in 1832 and, sidestepping his maternal family’s Sabbatical convictions, opted to pursue a career in the Established Church.[cx] His ministry began in Derryheen (or Derryhean) in the watery wilds of County Cavan, a couple of kilometres west of Butler’s Bridge. This was part of a new ecclesiastical district formed in 1834 and he was to be its first Perpetual Curate, based in a church built in Derryheen between 1833 and 1834, where he remained for the next four years.

On 1st June 1837, the Rev. John William Finlay married Henrietta Isabella Cole, youngest daughter of the London brewer and 1798 veteran Henry Cole (1770-1815). The wedding took place in St Peter’s Church and was conducted by the Rev. William Bourne, rector of Rathangan, County Kildare.[cxi]


The Coles had been based in Twickenham since at least the Tudor Age when, according to Burke's Landed Gentry, Edward Cole was born in what was then a small Thames-side farming community in 1579. [cxii] Their brewery on the London Road was in existence from at least 1635 and passed down from generation to generation to Henry’s father Major Thomas Rea Cole (1733-1807) of the 98th Regiment.[cxiii] In 1764 Major Cole married Isabella Ibbetson, eldest daughter of Sir Henry Ibbetson, who had been created a baronet in 1748 as a thank you for raising a company of one hundred men at his own expense during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

Thomas and Isabella had two sons Stephen-Thomas and Henry, and a daughter Harriet who married Captain William Tudor. Meanwhile Thomas became sole owner of the family brewery in 1798. [cxiv]

According to a brief obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1815, Henrietta’s father Henry Cole ‘served as captain of light infantry in the Northumberland Fencibles … during the disturbances in Ireland’, aka the 1798 Rebellion, and was ‘afterwards a brigade major of the district of Monaghan.’ [cxv] It appears he was stationed in and around Tullamore and Kinnegad at the time. One of his soldiers was William Martin, brother of the English Romantic painter John Martin. The National Archives at Kew hold records of Captain Cole’s services during the rebellion, written in Ballyshannon in 1801.[cxvi]

It was presumably while he was in the Donegal-Monaghan region that Henry Cole met his wife Jane-Eliza Owen, the third and youngest daughter of John and Elizabeth Owen of Raconnell, County Monaghan. Originally from Montgomery in Wales, the Owen family was granted their Monaghan lands in 1688; they inter-married with the Blayneys. Brandrum House, their residence, stands near to Carson’s Bridge, Drumsnat Bridge and Rossmore, just west of Monaghan town.

Jane-Eliza Cole’s oldest sister Mary Owen married a leading Sligo landowner called Richard Phibbs, of Collooney; he was High Sheriff of County Sligo in 1800. Mary passed away on 1 February 1855, aged 83 years. She and Richard had no issue.

Jane-Eliza’s middle sister Olivia was twice married– firstly to Henry Owen-Scott of Clanamulla, Scotstown, County Monaghan (their daughter Henrietta married Lord Rossmore’s second son Richard) and secondly to Lt. Col. Robert Lucas of Raconnell, by whom she had several children.[cxvii]

When Thomas Cole died in 1807, Henry succeeded to the brewery but he himself died in Brighton eight years later on 9 May 1815.[cxviii]

Management of the brewery passed to his older brother Stephen-Thomas (1765-1835) whose wife Lady Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley was the second daughter of the 12th Earl of Derby. Her father held office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1783 in the Fox-North Coalition and between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents. Her nephew Edward Smith-Stanley would later succeed as 14th Earl of Derby and was thrice Prime Minister of Great Britain.

By 1822 Cole & Company was a partnership run by Stephen-Thomas in conjunction with his sister Harriet Tudor and his widowed sister-in-law Jane-Eliza Cole, aka the Rev. John William Finlay’s mother-in-law. At the time the brewery was valued at £39,270 and owned 42 licensed houses. [cxix] That same year Stephen-Thomas succeeded to the Oxfordshire estates of his mother’s first cousin Alice, Countess of Shipbrook.[cxx]

Jane-Eliza outlived her daughter Henrietta Finlay and died on 24 January 1855, aged 69. Her son Owen erected a votive tablet to her and her older sister Mary Owen Phibbs, who died a week later, which I think can be found at the parish church in Kilmore. Henry Flack kindly gave me a photogrpah of the tablet when he attended my Bishopscourt talk in May 2018.

Henry and Jane-Eliza Cole had six children but only three survived childhood, namely Eliza, Henrietta and Owen.[cxxi] Educated at Oxford, Owen Blayney Cole (1808-1886) was a well-known poet in his day but suffered from a mental illness. He lived between Brandrum and Knightsbridge. In 1834 he married Lady Fanny Monck, a daughter of the Earl of Rathdown who grew up at Charleville, County Wicklow. Lady Fanny’s mother Frances was a daughter of William, 1st Earl of Clancarty. Owen and Lady Fanny had two sons Captain Francis Burton Cole (born 1838, who married Maria Susan McClintock (nee Heyland), the widow of the Rev. Robert Le Poer M'Clintock) and Blayney Owen Cole (born 1848) and three daughters, Frances Elizabeth, (who married her cousin, Colonel the Hon. Richard Monck), Henrietta Stanley and Emily. Lady Fanny Cole died in 1871.[cxxii]

In 1836 Henrietta’s older sister Eliza Ibbetson Cole married John Metge of Athlumney, near Navan, County Meath. They then built Sion House some six hundred metres to the east of Athlumney House where they lived. In the late 1870s, Sion House was bought by Robert Grimshaw Dunville of the whiskey distillers Dunville & Co., Ltd.


In 1837, the thirty-two-year-old John William Finlay had witnessed the sale of Corkagh to Mr Hastings, as well as the death of his father. On 1st April 1842, there was an ‘extensive sale’ at Corkagh of ‘highly bred’ cattle (Durham, Dutch, Devonshire and Ayrshire) and farming implements, as well as an outside jaunting car, although it is unclear who these belonged to.[cxxiii]


John Finlay’s inheritance and marriage coincided with his move from Derryhean to the parish of Castlemacadam near Avoca in County Wicklow where he stayed three years until 1841. A year before his arrival at Castleacadam, Samuel Lewis wrote:

‘The rectories of Castle Macadam and Ballydonnel constitute the benefice of Castle Macadam … Though Castle Macadam is called a rectory, two thirds of the tithes of two of its townlands, compounded for £15 12s 2¼d, are impropriate, and belong to Charles Cooper of Tinnehinch. The church was built in 1817 by means of a loan of £923 1s 6½d from the late Board of First Fruits; and a tower was erected upon it in 1829, by means of parochial assessment and subscriptions of jointly £90. Sittings 300; attendance, from 200 to 250 Catholic.’

The Finlays time at Castlemacadam must have begun at about the time when Henrietta gave birth to their first child at Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, on 17th July 1838. The baby boy was stillborn.[cxxiv] That same year John and his new brother-in-law Owen Blayney Cole were involved in the sale of land and properties in Brandrum to an upcoming young politician called William Ewart Gladstone who would go on to become four times Prime Minister.[cxxv] Owen later went into brief partnership with his cousin George Cole at the family brewery in Twickenham, which peaked with 54 licensed houses. By 1856 George Cole was sole proprietor. The brewery ceased brewing in 1906. [cxxvi]

In 1837, the Coles appears to have bought 31 Merrion Square North, the former home of Sir Capel Molyneux, Bart. Considered amongst the best in Dublin, No. 31 was later home to the Irish Central Library for Students. This was probably the birthplace of the Finlay’s first daughter, Elizabeth Owen Finlay, who was born in Dublin in October 1839.[cxxvii] Her middle name Owen was a nod to Henrietta’s maternal ancestry as well as to her brother Owen. Three more daughters followed, including Henrietta Ellen, born in 1841, and Selina Frances, who was born at Mrs. Cole’s Merrion Square townhouse on 17 January 1842. [cxxviii]

In 1842 John moved to Rathfarnham for a short tenure ending in 1843.[cxxix] Another daughter was born on Merrion Square on 12 January 1844 but was stillborn. And then came Olivia Anna in 1845. It is not clear which church, if any, he was based at during this time.[cxxx] He is thought to have been living at Corkagh in which case there must have been considerable excitement in 1846 when the Great Southern and Western railway line reached Clondalkin, eclipsing the canal which ceased passenger traffic the following year.[cxxxi]


On 17 February 1846, the Rev John William Finlay officiated at the wedding of his brother Tom in Clontarf Church to Charlotte Philadelphia Frances Mitford (1819-1904). She was the youngest daughter of Bertram Mitford (1774–1844), a barrister and Commissioner of Bankrupts who lived at Clontarf, Dublin. He should not be confused with the colonial writer and novelist Bertram Mitford who interviewed many Zulu elders and wrote extensively about Zululand in the 1880s; he was a contemporary of the ill-fated General Colley. [cxxxii]

Bertram was the youngest son of William Mitford (1744-1827), an English historian, best known for his The History of Greece, as well as for being the ancestor of the celebrated Mitford sisters. William lived at Exbury near Beaulieu, at the edge of the New Forest. One of Bertram’s brothers was Captain Henry Reveley Mitford, Royal Navy, who died in 1804 when his ship, HMS York sank with all 491 crew after striking the Bell Rock off the east coast of Scotland. The disaster prompted Parliament to authorize the construction of the famous Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Bertram was also a nephew of Lord Redesdale whose wife Frances was a sister of the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval.

Charlotte’s mother was Frances Vernon, second daughter of John Vernon of Clontarf Castle. [cxxxiii] Her brothers included John Guise Mitford (1822-1854) and G. M. S. Mitford who both moved to New Zealand by 1841. John Guise Mitford initially worked as a minor customs official before his appointment in 1843 as Sub-Collector of Customs in the Bay of Islands. A watercolour artist of some skill, he painted in Auckland and in the Waikato 1842–44, and possibly in the Hot Lakes district of Rotorua, before moving to Auckland by 1845. He was the Port Boarding Officer in 1852.[cxxxiv]

Tom and Charlotte Finlay had a daughter.

Charlotte died on 12 October 1904 at Redland, near Bristol in Gloucestershire. They may have lived for a time at Talbot Square off Hyde Park in London, as a Mrs. Thomas Finlay of that address erected the ‘Thomas Finlay Cottage’ at the Farningham Homes for Little Boys in memory of her late husband. In a letter to his sister Edie from 1902, Bobby Finlay remarked how a man called Mr Taylor 'says he knew my granduncle Tom and says I am exactly like him.'


The Cole's Dublin townhouse was at 32 Merrion Square North, on the corner of Holles Street. No. 31 Merrion Square North, next door, appears to have been built for a Thomas Spunner and completed in July 1806, after which it was rented or sold to Elinor Westropp. In 1818, it was bought by John Henry North, and leased to the barrister John Leslie Foster. [cxxxvii-a]

On 15 February 1847, nearly a decade after their wedding, the Finlays were finally blessed with a son and heir when Henry Thomas Finlay was born at the Cole’s Dublin townhouse, 32 Merrion Square North.[cxxxv] Further good tidings were announced in the newspapers the following day: ‘The Lord Chancellor has appointed the Rev. John W. Finlay, of Corkagh House, to the Commission of the Peace for the County Dublin, on the recommendation of the Earl of Meath, Lieutenant of the County.’[cxxxvi] However, the birth came at a terrible cost for just two weeks later, on 2 March, Henrietta passed away at the age of 32. She was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery where her mother erected a headstone to her memory.[cxxxvii-b]

Erected | by an afflicted mother |JANE ELIZA COLE | To the Beloved Memory of HENRIETTA ISABELLA | wife of the | Revd. JOHN WILLIAM FINLAY | of Corkagh | and second daughter of the late | HENRY COLE Esq | of Twickenham, Middlesex | who departed this life | on the 2nd of March 1847 | aged 32 years

[As the author of a book on 1847, it was notable for me that 1847 was the year in which HT Finlay, my great-great-grandfather, was born, and in which his mother died.]

The family do not seem to have stayed at 32 Merrion Square after her death. John Charles Metge was living there by April 1848.[Dublin Evening Post, 8 April 1848]. Six months later, this sales notice appeared in the General Advertiser for Dublin, and all Ireland (30 September 1848):

TO LET. HOUSE 32 MERRION SQUARE NORTH; or it and THREE HOUSES adjoining in HOLLES STREET, will be SOLD on moderate terms, and time given for two-thirds of purchase money. The three houses in Holles-street are let on and lease, and produce £80 over and above head-rent of the fourth. It is well suited to a Barrister, Medical Doctor &c. Apply at 36 Upper Ormond quay.

By 15 February 1851No. 32 was home to Dr Thomas Spunner Palmer, Doctor of Medicine, and Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Accoucheur of the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital. His family would remain there for multiple decades.




On 13 February 1849, the Rev. J. W. Finlay was married secondly to Caroline Elizabeth Stannus, the youngest daughter of Charles Hamilton of Hamwood, Dunboyne, County Meath, by his talented wife Caroline Tighe, for whom she was presumably named. [cxxxviii] The wedding took place at St. Mary’s Church while Caroline gave her address as Dominick Street in Dublin. Caroline was the widow of Captain Trevor Stannus, the third son of Thomas Stannus, MP for Portarlington, and his wife Caroline Hamilton of Abbotstown. Captain Stannus was for many years Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton, but died in May 1844, aged forty-six, shortly after he married Caroline. The marriage appears to have ultimately necessitated a court case, details of which were published in The Spectator. [cxxxix]

Caroline Finlay (nee Hamilton) was a sister of Charles William Hamilton (1802-1880) of Hamwood, County Meath, and thus an aunt of Captain Edward Chetwood Hamilton (1847-1937) who lived at Kilmatead by Corkagh for a long time. As well as being honorary director of the Property Defence Association, 'Cousin Eddie' was agent to the Brooke family at Coolgreany, a 5-6000 acres estate in the Croghan area of North Wexford, which the Brookes had bought from the Forde family circa 1860s as one of the last big estate sales prior to the Lands Act. As such, Captain Hamilton oversaw the infamous Coolgreany Evictions. (See here and here for more). One reason why this appalling situation arose seems to be that the Brookes had assumed they could recoup some of the costs of purchasing the estate by collecting rents, but discovered that the Forde had been very lenient about such matters. Hence, there was marked resistance when the Brooke’s endeavoured to claim what they thought was rightfully theirs.

Like Caroline Finlay’s stepson Henry Thomas Finlay (see below), Eddie Hamilton served in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, being promoted from lieutenant to captain on 9 December 1885. He later attained the rank of major. He was married on 4 January 1870 to Eleanor Georgina Anna Blanche Denniss, daughter of Colonel George Gladwin Deniss, 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers, with whom he had two sons, Edward and George, and three daughters. His oldest son, Edward, died aged seven on 18 Nune 1880 at Everdingen on Orwell Road, Rathgar. (Northern Whig, 23 June 1880)
Edward’s older brother Charles Robert Hamilton (1846–1913) succeeded to Hamwood in 1880 and was married to Louisa Caroline Brooke, eldest daughter of Francis Richard Brooke of Summerton, Co. Dublin and Coolgreany, Co. Wexford. The role played by ‘Cousin Eddie’ in the Coolgreany Evictions was not known to the family but such a deeply unpopular stance may explain the existence of large metal hooks inside the door of his bedroom at Kilmatead, across which a wooden or metal beam was placed to deter intruders. A similar arrangement was installed on the inside of the back entrance door. It is also said that Eddie owned a veteran Renault that was campaigned by Dudley Colley and latterly by Dudley’s son Tony. From about 1892, it seems, he lived at Mamre, by Inistioge, later home to John Higgins, Lay Vicar Choral of Waterford Cathedral.


On 1st February 1850, the Dublin Mercantile Advertiser, and Weekly Price Current advertised Corkagh for sale as follows:


With TWO RESIDENCES thereon; also a MILL, with constant supply of water, situate on the high road to Naas, and within six miles of the Metropolis, the whole containing nearly 600 statute acres of prime laud, well-divided, watered, and sheltered, the greater portion of which is held in fee, part in perpetuity, at mere nominal rents, and a small division under a lease for 21 years, with a toties quoties covenant for renewal, at a small annual rent and fine. TO BE SOLD by Public AUCTION, in Two Lots, in the COFFEE-ROOM of the COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS, DAME-STREET, in the City of Dublin, on the 28th day of FEBRUARY, 1850, at the hour of One o’clock in the Afternoon, by direction of the Vendors, who are a Public Company, and Mortgagees in possession.

Lot No. 1.

THE ESTATE OF BALDONNELL, CORKAGH. PRIESTOWN, AND KILMATEED, in the Parishes of Kilbride and Clondalkin, and the Baronies of Newcastle and Upper Cross, County Dublin, containing 315A, 3R, 38P., statute measure, in the hands of the Vendors.

Lot No. 2. Comprising PART of BIG BALDONNELL, OLD BALDONNELL, and FLOCK MEADOW, containing together 276A, 1R, 16P The whole of this property is in a high state of cultivation, and in the immediate possession of the Vendors. It presents a favourable opportunity to purchasers, insuring most ample return for the outlay.

Either of the Lots would be suitable as Demesne Lands for a nobleman or gentleman.

On Lot No. 1 stands CORKAGH HOUSE, with extensive OUT-OFFICES, to which is attached a MILL, which could be worked to much advantage and profit, from its great command of water power, its proximity to the metropolis, and being in a fine corn district.

The LAND of No. 2 is of first-rate quality, but the residence is not at present in thorough repair, although from its delightful situation, and the character of the estate, an outlay on this account must be highly remunerative.

The Clondalkin Station of the Great Southern and Western Railway is quite convenient to the Property.

Full particulars of the Property, with Lithographic Map taken from the Ordnance Survey, and the conditions under which the Sale will be conducted, may be had (for one month previous to the Sale) on application to Charles Lewis, Esq., Secretary to the West of England Insurance Company, Exeter; Robert Dymond, Esq., Bedford Circus, Exeter; Messrs. Gamlen and Scott, Solicitors, 7, Furnival's Inn, London; F.G. Tinkler, Esq., Solicitor, 9, Upper Gloucester-street; Samuel Page, Esq., Notary Public, Dame-street; and J. and J. LITTLEDALE, Auctioneers, No. 9, Upper Ormond-quay, Dublin.

For viewing, &c., apply on the Premises, at Corkagh.



Little is known of the Rev. J. W. Finlay’s later life save that he was a Justice of the Peace and somehow returned to Corkagh where he lived with his second wife. Was Caroline the source of sufficient wealth to buy the family pile back? He was at Corkagh by 1860 when his third daughter Selina Frances passed away at the house at the age of eighteen.[cxl] By 1870 he was registered as the owner of a substantial estate, calculated as 1,119 acres. At Corkagh he oversaw considerable work on the demesne, including the plantation of many of the trees that stand in the walled garden today. One of his legacies was the Hexagon, known to the family as the ‘Heck’, which stood close to the present day children’s playground. The Heck was a small, self-contained playhouse and tea-room designed for his five surviving children. Made from brick and stone, it featured a thatched roof, two windows, a door and a fireplace.[cxli] One wonders was it complete before the time young Selina Frances died?

He tried his hand at translation but his efforts with ‘The Epistles of Horace - A Metrical Translation’ (Dublin, Hodges & Co.) earned him a curt review in The Athenaeum in September 1872. ' We fear we cannot compliment Mr. Finlay on any success “in conveying to the mind of the English reader some conception" of the Epistles of Horace.’[cxlii] The Publishers' Circular concurred, declaring his ‘translation in blank verse of Horace's easy and masterly epistles’ to be ‘a little heavy’ and not a patch on other efforts.[cxliii]

Perhaps he found solace in the limestone quarries recorded in an 1871 report as standing ‘near the gate lodge of Corkagh Mills and one at the gate lodge of Corkagh House’, as well as others at Newlands.[cxliv]

Also of note from this period, the ‘Dublin Car Fares and Regulations’ for 1865 recorded the Corkagh Mills as one of the stops for Hackney Carriages and Cabriolets bound to and from Dublin. Passengers paid four shillings if ‘returning with Employer’ or 5s 4d if ‘Returning with Employer, the delay not to exceed 30 minutes.’ [cxlv]

On 24 March 1866, life at Corkagh must have been somewhat shaken by this story as reported in the Freeman’s Journal two days later:

Sudden Death.— On Saturday evening an aged woman, apparently 65 years, was found lying speechless at the grand gate of Corkagh demesne, near Clondalkin. The police were apprised of it, and removed her into the lodge and procured restoratives, which they applied for two hours without intermission, but all of no avail, as she was found to be dead about 10 o'clock p.m. Her name and residence are as yet unknown. She had with her a handbasket and a knife, as if she had been engaged in gathering watercresses. She wore a black beaver bonnet, old stuff cloak, loose calico dress, and old leather boots. She was of low stature, and had grey hair. The body lies at the above-mentioned lodge for identification, and awaiting an inquest, which will be held on this day (Monday) by H. L. Harty, Esq., county coroner.


On 20 January 1866, the Rev. Finlay’s eldest daughter Elizabeth Owen Finlay married the ornithologist Richard John Ussher in a ceremony at Clondalkin Church at which the Rev. William Wingfield officiated. Richard had just returned from Europe to live at Cappagh, Co. Waterford, and also had an address at Rock House. A prominent member of the Society for the Protection of Birds, he was probably best known as author of The Birds of Ireland, a seminal work written in collaboration with Robert Warren and published in 1900.[cxlvi] From Cappagh he also discharged his duties as a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant.

When Richard died in 1913, their eldest son Beverley Grant (1867-1956) succeeded to Cappagh. Beverley, who was a frequent visitor to Corkagh, was a Professor of Philosophy at the Government College in Lahore, India. He later became an Inspector of Schools for the Board of Education between 1897 and 1914.

The Ussher’s other children were Percy John Ussher (1868-1903), Arthur Hamilton Ussher (1869-1906), Isabella Mary Grant Ussher (1871-1943, married William Odell) and Neville Osborne Ussher (1873-1880).[cxlvii]


On 30 November 1879, the Rev. J. W. Finlay’s youngest daughter Olivia Anna Finlay, then aged thirty-four, was married by special licence at 10, Marino Terrace, Kingstown, to Lieutenant Ernest Edward Foley (1854-1906) of the 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment. Given that her father died in the same building nine days later, the special licence may have been connected to his latter days on Earth. Ernest was the eldest son of Captain Edward Foley (1807-1894), a retired officer from the Royal Navy, who lived at Clarendon House, South Borough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and was connected to the Plymouth Brethren.[cxlviii]

Ernest had five older sisters and three younger brothers. Given Dudley Colley’s later passion for motoring, it is notable that Olivia Foley was a sister-in-law of the engineer and inventor John Henry Knight (1847-1917) of Barfield, Farnham, Surrey, who co-built one of Britain’s first petrol-powered motor vehicles in 1895. When he drove his car on a public road, he was booked and fined by Surrey County Council for travelling at 9 mph, a speed in excess of the country road limit of 4 mph. In towns the limit was 2 mph.

Ernest had been appointed instructor of musketry to the 77th just ten weeks before their marriage and, according to Hart’s Army Lists, retained the post through into the 1890s.[cxlix] Ernest and Olivia were living in the village of Pembury, near Tunbridge Wells, at the time of the 1891 census but relocated to The Gables, Great Malvern, Worcestershire, by 1901. Ernest died on 31 October 1906 aged 52. [cl]

The Foleys’ second daughter Violet Mary Stuart Foley, known as Vi, was married on 17 January 1921 to Evelyn Vernon who had served as a lieutenant with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during the war. They lived in Reading up until Evelyn’s death on 18 August 1963, leaving two sons Roger and Richard. Roger served in the navy during World War Two and married Alison Ainslie. Roger and Alison lived at Little Hampton Lodge, near Great Missenden in the Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire; Vi joined them after Evelyn’s death. The nearby Gipsy House was the home of author Roald Dahl from 1954 until his death in 1990 and still remains in the family. Richard became a celebrated stage and screen actor, appearing in the film ‘Goldfinger’, as well as ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and ‘Yes, Prime Minister.’ It is said in the family that he had much the same looks and mannerisms as his great-uncle Henry Thomas Finlay. He married the actress Benedicta Lucia Hoskyns, the only daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Chandos Hoskyns who was killed in 1940 while commanding a Green Jacket battalion in the defence of Calais. Her brother Sir John Hoskyns was the first head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit in 10 Downing Street between 1979 and 1982. Richard and Benedicta were divorced in 1990, having had two children.[cli]

The Foleys’ daughter Evelyn Caroline, known as Eve, was married on 24th June 1913 to 29-year-old William Odell, only son of Captain William Odell (sometimes O’Dell), of Ardmore, County Waterford, Ireland. The two families were already inter-related: William’s stepmother Isabel Ussher was a daughter of Eve’s aunt Elizabeth Ussher.[clii] The Foley-Odell wedding took place ‘very quietly’ in St Mary’s Church, The Boltons, Kensington, London, with Eve being given away by her brother Reginald Foley.[cliii] Captain William Odell, MC, Indian Army (123rd Outram's Rifles), was attached to 125th Napier's Rifles when killed in Mesopotamia on 22nd February 1917. An obituary in the Western Morning News noted: ‘Born in 1884, he was gazetted to the 1st Manchester Regt. from the Militia, and in 1907 was transferred, with promotion, to the Connaught Rangers. He was appointed to the Indian Army in 1909 and in 1911 took part the expedition to the Persian Gulf to stop gun-running. He was sent to France in Dec 1914, and was awarded the Military Cross, being mentioned in despatches. In Jan., 1916, he was sent to another front.’[cliv] His portrait photograph was published in the Illustrated London News on 10th March 1916. Eve’s last known address was "Carriglea", Lindenthorpe Rd., Broadstairs, Kent. Carriglea was named for the old Odell family home in Dungarvan, County Waterford. Eve and William were the parents of Dennis Odell.

It is assumed that this branch of the Foley family also accounts for Winnie Foley, godmother to Rosemary ‘Tinkie’ Crocker (née Colley).


On 8 December 1879, nine days after his youngest daughter’s wedding, the Rev. John William Finlay passed away, aged 74 at 10 Marino Terrace, Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). He was buried four days later in St. John's Church, Clondalkin. His widow Caroline died in her 97th year at Castlefield, Walton, in the Somerset coastal resort of Clevedon on 31 May 1909, without issue.[clv]



Colonel Henry Thomas Finlay, J.P., D.L., the last Finlay to inherit the Corkagh estate, was born on 15 February 1847, the youngest of five surviving children born to the Rev. John William Finlay and his wife Henrietta. Almost as a portent to the sorrows that would dog him in later life, he was just sixteen days old when his mother passed away.

Henry lived at Corkagh for the majority of his life and was prominent in local affairs, being one of twenty-five men appointed Commissioners of the Peace for Dublin in 1874, shortly before the advent of the Land Wars.[clvi] He sat on a number of cases at the Tallaght Petty Sessions. He also gave sixty years of service as a member of the Select Vestry in the Clondalkin parish church of St. John’s.[clvii]

Following in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, he pursued a military career. On 15 May 1867 the Rev. Finlay purchased his twenty-year-old son a commission as an Ensign in the 39th Foot (Royal Dorset Regiment). He later transferred, at the same rank, to the 6th Foot (Royal Warwickshire Regiment). On 28 February 1874 he was promoted to Lieutenant in the Dublin County Militia. [clviii] He was gazetted captain on 6 April 1883, two years after the militia was reconstituted as the 5th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.[clix]

On 4 December 1877 Lieutenant H. T. Finlay married Helen Lucy Dunne, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Robert Hedges Dunne, rector of Lemanaghan (also known as Kilnegarenagh), near Clonmacnoise, in the Kings County (Offaly). They opted not to marry in Liss Church at Lemanaghan but instead at St. Mathias’s Church on Hatch Street, Dublin, the only Irish church designed by Daniel Robertson, who built Lisnavagh. As the Waterford Standard reported, ‘The bride was given away by her father, and attended by four bridesmaids — Miss Finlay (Corkagh House), Miss Edith Newenham (Coolmore), Miss Ussher (Cappagh), and Miss Maude Dunne (Brittas), and the bridegroom by his best man, Arthur Trench, Esq. After the ceremony, the bridal party partook of a handsome dejeuner at 26, Lower Leeson-street, the residence of the bride's father and the newly-married pair left for the Continent. The wedding presents were unusually numerous and costly.’[clx]

Two years later, the thirty-two-year-old Henry Thomas Finlay inherited Corkagh from his late father. And so Corkagh was to become the childhood home for their three sons, Harry, George and Bobby, and two daughters, Edie and Alice.


One of Henry and Helen’s common bonds was that their forebears were so closely involved with both the 1798 Rebellion and Robert Emmet’s Rising. In Helen’s case, her grandfather was General Edward Dunne (1763-1844) of Brittas Castle, Clonaslee, Queen’s County (County Laois).[clxi] He commanded the Pembrokeshire Fencible Cavalry during 1798; a contemporary noted that the corps was ‘by no means distinguished for discipline or military appearance.’[clxii] They were reputedly part of ‘the Black Horse’ who took part in the massacre of approximately 325 United Irishmen on the Gibbet Rath at the Curragh on 29 May 1798.

Colonel Dunne, as he was then, was also in charge of the Dublin garrison during Emmet’s insurrection of 1803 and had a narrow escape when Lord Kilwarden's coach was attacked by Emmet's followers on its way to Dublin Castle. He tried unsuccessfully to obtain a pardon for Emmet after the Rising. For his services Colonel Dunne received the Freedom of the City from the Corporation of Dublin and was promoted to Major-General.

He was promoted Lieutenant General in 1810 and General in 1821. However, in County Laois he was reputedly known by the ‘uncomplimentary sobriquet’ of "Shun Battle Ned" on the back of an unfounded rumour that he refused to go to Waterloo in 1815.[clxiii] His wife Frances White of Bantry House was a sister to the 1st Earl of Bantry and a niece to Viscount Longueville of Castle Mary, County Cork.

General Dunne’s younger brother Francis was also not without controversy. In 1820 this mild and easy-going officer was in command of the 7th Dragoons who had been sent to Piershill, Edinburgh, after a four year posting in Ireland. Francis wrote a detailed set of Standing Orders, laying out the duties of every specialist officer in the regiment. In May 1823 the regiment was sent back to Ireland but Francis was subsequently dismissed from his command, along with six of the regiment's most senior officers, after a troop inspection met with a very unfavourable report from the Commander-in-Chief of the army in Ireland.

General Dunne’s youngest brother Nicholas joined the Austrian service but was killed during the storming of the Fort du Rhin in the French Revolutionary War.

The Rev. Robert Hedges Dunne (1804-1883), Henry Finlay’s father-in-law, was General Dunne’s third son. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, he was Rector of Churchtown (1839-1861) and of Lemanaghan (1864-1883). In 1843 he married Martha Robinson, daughter of John Robinson and niece of Admiral Hercules Robinson of Rosmead, County Westmeath. Martha’s first cousin Sir Hercules Robinson was the youngest ever Governor of Hong Kong (1859-1865) and is recalled by the name of the city’s Robinson Road.

The Rev. Robert’s eldest brother Major-General Rt Hon Francis Plunket Dunne (1801-1874) was variously MP for Portarlington (1847 to 1857), Clerk of the Ordnance (1852–53), private secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Eglinton (1858–59), MP for Queen's County (1859–68) and an Irish Privy Councillor (1866). He was responsible for rebuilding Brittas Castle in 1869 to a design by the architect John McCurdy.

Upon the death of General Francis Dunne in 1874, the Rev. Robert’s next brother Edward Meadows Dunne (1803-1875), a barrister, succeeded to the Brittas estates and also as clan chieftain. Edward studied law at Gray's Inn, London, circa 1827, a time when 15-year old Charles Dickens was a clerk in the Gray's Inn office. Called to the bar in 1831, Edward practiced on the Home Circuit for some time. He later became agent to the extensive Ballyfin estate of Reid Algernon Coote, Esq., at Mountrath in the Queen’s County (aka Co. Laois). In May 1863, it emerged that Edward was the designated target of a foiled assassination plot by ribbon-men. Edward died suddenly after a few days illness in 1875, just over a year after his succession to Brittas. After a well-attended funeral, he was interred in the family vault near Clonaslee. According to one obituary, ‘Mr Dunne had the character of being one of the best agents in Ireland, and during his connection with the Coote estate, he was beloved by all the tenantry.’[clxiv]

The Rev. Robert’s other two brothers both served in the 18th Royal Irish. They were both also closely involved with the church in Clonaslee; Captain Charles Dunne (1806-1890) of Ballycumber House, County Offaly, contributed over £400 to church repairs and the erection of a stained-glass window. Major Richard Dunne (1805-1875), his older brother, was known for his charity and provided blankets, meat two brothers were

After Edward’s death in 1875, his brother, the Rev. Robert Hedges Dunne, succeeded to Brittas while Edward’s son, Captain Francis Plunket Dunne, became clan chieftain. Captain F. P. Dunne had married his first cousin Frances Jane Dunne, Helen Finlay’s older sister. Francis was just thirty-four years old when he died on board his yacht “The Musquito” in Kingstown harbour in October 1878, “after a few days’ illness.

Captain F. P. Dunne left two small girls, Alice Maud (1874-1946) and Kathleen Plunket (1875-1959).[clxv] Maud, known as ‘Cuckoo’, is thought to have married an Englishman by name of Arthur Cottingham; there were no children and she died at Castle House, Essex, in 1946. Kathleen, known as ‘KP’, was an accomplished artist living in the South of France at the outbreak of World War Two. She did not marry and died in Elm House, Suffolk, on 14th August 1958. She was laid to rest in the family grave at Killyanne (now completely overgrown) on the Brittas demesne. Laetitia Lefroy remembers her grandmother Edie Colley sorting out KP’s belongings after her death. ‘She was trying to distribute piles of tiny gloves - Ma kept the glove box but not the gloves!’

Some of the contents of Brittas House were the subject of a court ordered auction in 1927. A story circulating around Clonaslee proposed that the sisters had sought to move back to Brittas for safety during the London Blitz of 1940-41 but the caretaker, who had been looting the place for years, set it on fire before they could return to disguise his theft. As well as the house, the fire consumed several centuries of art, books and relics, including Squire Dunne’s rapier.

The Dunne girls also inherited Dunsoghly Castle, the Plunket’s tower house at St. Margaret’s, near Dublin airport. In 1906 the Irish Land Commission in effect purchased the castle from the sisters for 33 pounds.


Five of Helen Finlay’s six brothers were fated to die young. Nicholas Plunket Dunne, the oldest, was a lieutenant in the 21st Regiment but died unmarried in December 1869. Next came Edward O’Connor Plunket who died aged two in 1850. Edward Eyre Dunne died in Rhodesia on 14th July 1897 aged forty-three, possibly on account of the Second Matabele War, also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion. Robert Dunne, who briefly owned Brittas Castle, died aged forty-six on 13th January 1901. His brother Francis, a Justice of the Peace for the King’s County, died unmarried at forty-three just five weeks later, while Richard, the youngest, was only eight when he died in Assam, north India, in 1878. The sole survivor by February 1901 was Charles Henry Plunket Dunne, Helen’s third brother, who duly became the head of the family.

As to Helen’s sisters, Frances Jane, the younger, was married in 1873 to their cousin Francis Plunket Dunne, as mentioned above, from which marriage KP and Alice were born. After her husband’s premature death, Frances was married secondly in 1887 to Colonel George A Kinloch of Kair, Kincardineshire. The Kinloch’s had one child, a daughter Grace Theodosia Farquhar Kinloch. In 1913 Grace married the Hon. Robert Thomas Rowley Probyn Butler (1882-1938), a son of Robert, Baron Dunboyne, and settled in Dorset where the late Veronica Hall-Dare would sometimes visit them. Veronica later recalled that Grace and Robert’s was ‘the first wedding I went to.’ Robert Butler served with distinction during the war, winning a Military Cross, and retired with the rank of major in the Royal Engineers. Grace Butler died in 1971. They had no children.

Helen’s oldest sister Alice Plunket Dunne (1844-1870) married Arthur Shuckburgh Upton of Coolatore, Moate, County Westmeath, a house that made global headlines as the secret hideaway of the pop singer Michael Jackson in 2006. The house was built in 1866. In an echo of what befell Henrietta Finlay in 1847, Alice died nine days after giving birth to their only son Henry Arthur Shuckburgh Upton in 1870. Henry duly succeeded to Coolatore on Arthur’s death in 1889, a couple of years after the estate became the subject of much criticism over the eviction of tenants during the Land Wars. Arthur was an active member of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead (Irish Memorials Association). Following the death of Lord Walter Fitzgerald, he was appointed editor of the association’s journal, serving from 1923 until 1928. Henry’s wife Victoria Kinloch was a niece of the Colonel Kinloch who married his widowed aunt Frances. She was known as ‘Cousin Ria’ and the Colley young used to spend a good deal of time with her.


Corkagh appears to have been rented out at various times during the 1890s. For instance, on 7 October 1895, the Pall Mall Gazette reported, ‘Lord Roberts has taken Corkagh, a place about four miles from Dublin, and near Clondalkin, as a residence, from Mr. and Mrs. Finlay.’ The lease had been organised by James H North to Lord Roberts shortly after the latter was appointed Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Ireland, effective from 1 October. It was Lord Roberts intention to use Corkagh as a ‘hunting residence’. However, on 18 October 1895, the Irish Times advised that, ‘In consequence of the alterations in Lord Roberts' plans, the above attractive Hunting Residence is to be Let for the winter; it contains 4 reception and 10 bedrooms, 5 servants' rooms; good stabling for several horses, out-offices, men's rooms &c. Full particulars can be had from Messrs. Battersby & Co., Agents 6 Westmoreland-street.”

As the Pall Mall Office Gazette explained to its readers on 4 November 1895, ‘Lord De Freyne has taken Corkagh House; Clondalkin, which Lord Roberts found to be rather remote from his office, for the hunting season, and will join the Kildare hounds every week, and occasionally the Meath and Ward Union staghounds. Lord De Freyne was, a couple of seasons ago, joint Master of the Roscommon staghounds, till some eviction troubles caused friction and led to both Masters resigning their office.’ Arthur French (1855-1913), 4th Baron de Freyne of Coolavin, had previously lived at Frenchpark, County Roscommon, and was married twice. On 11 March 1896, Lady De Frayne (aka his second wife, Marie Georgiana Lamb, daughter of Richard Westbrook Lamb), gave birth to a son at Corkagh, later christened Hubert John French.[clxvi] He married Mary Hasslacher and lived in Bletchingly, Surrey, where he became an extensive farmer, as well as growing vegetables for Covent Garden. His oldest brother Arthur, 5th Baron de Freyne, was killed in the Great War, as were two more of his brothers. The 4th Baron was also grandfather to Bertam French who married Maude Dease, daughter of Edmnd Dease by his marriage to Katherine Murray from Cork, and sister of the celebrated Maurice Dease VC. In an account of the French family, written by Maurice French, he notes how one ancestor died of 'a surfeit of fox-hunting.' (Thanks to Shirley Arabin, whose grandmother Marian Murray was a first cousin of Katherine Dease).

Another man who may have rented the house was Major Robert Higginson Burrowes, late of the 13th Light Dragoons, who died at Corkagh on 2nd February 1901, aged 74.[clxvii] He may have been a former master of the Cottesmore Hunt in Rutland.


Among those in service at Corkagh at this time was Anna Maria Dwyer, the daughter of John Dwyer, a Clondalkin-born soldier who spent 21 years with the British Army and in India. Along with her sisters, Anna was looked after by the lodge keeper at Corkagh from approximately 1884 to 1892. Anna went to the Grattans of Tinnahinch for her "work experience but, when John returned to Clondalkin, his connections with the Finlay family enabled her to get a place at Corkagh, possibly as a dairymaid. Perhaps owing to the Freynes tenure at Corkagh in 1895-1896, she went to Frenchpark in County Roscommon where she was recorded as a dressmaker to Lady de Freyne on the 1911 census. In 1916, she married Michael Doyle, a painter and ex-Connaught Ranger soldier from Roscommon. He appars to have abandoned her by 1919, after which she rejoined Corkagh, working in the laundry. She died in 1926. Her granddaughter Anna Melia, who supplied this information to me in April 2018, has a pair of unusual little glass candleholders given to my grandmother by Lady de Freyne on the occasion of Anna Maria's wedding.


On 25 March 1896 Henry Thomas Finlay was appointed a major in the 5th Battalion, serving under Lieutenant Colonel Henry Chester Gernon.[clxviii] Nine months later, on 16 December, he was granted the honorary rank of. Lieutenant Colonel.[clxix] The 5th was garrisoned at the Curragh at this time and chiefly comprised of part time soldiers whose purpose was to serve as a home defence militia. However, with the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1889, the 5th volunteered for active service in South Africa.

With Colonel Finlay as their second-in-command, the 5th embarked upon two years’ service, setting sail on Servia, a retired Cunard liner, on 14 February 1900, his son Harry’s twenty-first birthday. The battalion, comprising of 24 officers and 518 men, arrived into Kimberly with perfect timing on St. Patrick’s Day. Among the officers were Captains La Touche and Caldbeck, showing an element of continuity with the eighteenth century when members of both families had been closely entwined with both the Finlays and Corkagh. Also in the ranks was Captain Davidson-Houston, great-uncle to the present Sir Richard Butler, Bart, of Ballintemple.

The 5th Battalion were not directly involved in any battles but spent the next twenty-two months employed on operations in Transvaal, Orange River Colony, and Cape Colony. This was the Western line running from Modder River to Mafeking, and they were assigned to protect the bridges and railway lines, particularly the bridges at Barkly West, Modder and Fourteen Streams. The Boers managed to blow the last two up but these were ‘subsequently restored’.

‘The Militia Reserve of the battalion took part in all the important engagements in Natal’, claimed Colonel Finlay in a report later published by the London Standard, ‘including the relief of Ladysmith and other operations.’ That might need to be taken with a pinch of snuff, given that Ladysmith was relieved on 1st March 1900, before the 5th had reached South Africa.


Shortly before Christmas 1900 Colonel Finlay received a tremendous blow with the news of the death of his eldest son Harry who was also in South Africa. Francis Henry John Finlay was born at Corkagh on 14th February 1879 and baptised at St John’s Church, Clondalkin.[clxx] Initially educated at Cambridge House in Tunbridge Wells, the Foley stronghold, he entered Cheltenham College junior school as a dayboy in September 1890 at the age of eleven. He then re-entered in January 1892 as a boarder in Teighmore, before leaving in December 1892. Cheltenham was ranked as one of the ten best public schools in England at that time, and he remained there until December 1892. [clxxi]

Harry is thought to have enlisted in the 5th Battalion in 1897, while in the Malay states. Having qualified for a commission in April 1899, he was promoted to Captain in December. With the outbreak of the Boer War, he resigned his position in the Fusiliers to join the regular army. On 4 April 1900 he was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Leinster Regiment, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and two weeks later he and his new battalion set sail on the Dilwara, arriving into Cape Town in May. [clxxii] The battalion took part in some of the hardest fighting at the Bloemfontein and Orange River campaigns. They also had to contend with a severe shortage of food supplies, leading to extreme rationing, as well as pestilent conditions in the camp. A combination of this lack of nutrition and poor hygiene meant more soldiers died of disease in the Boer War than on the battlefields.

Seven months after his arrival in South Africa, twenty-one-year-old Harry Finlay succumbed to these deadly conditions, dying of dysentery at Vrede on 11 December 1900. His name is inscribed on the Eleanor Cross War Memorial, which takes pride of place right outside the entrance to Cheltenham College.


The 5th spent their last eleven months at the regimental headquarters at Warrenton on the Northern Cape. The diamond mining town, which was under martial law, was placed under Colonel Finlay’s command. During this time, as he later explained to the London Standard, ‘the battalion had charge of 14 miles of railway, and though several attempts were made by the enemy to cross the line, in no instance were they successful in that portion guarded by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.’

On 20 September 1901, the London Gazette reported that ‘Major and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel H. T. Finlay’ was to be Lieutenant-Colonel.[clxxiii]

On leaving Warrenton in January 1902, the colonel concluded, the battalion ‘was complimented in General Orders for its service, and the base Commandant at Cape Town spoke in the highest terms of its conduct and discipline which, he stated, were worthy of the great reputation which had been gained by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers throughout the war. At Warrenton, the officers of the battalion were presented with a piece of plate by the loyal inhabitants, and at Kimberley were greeted heartily by the people.’[clxxiv]

‘Martial Law was certainly not a desirable state to exist under,’ declared one contemporary, ‘but they had to thank the Commandant and his Officers for administering that law with as soft a hand as it was possible ... The urbanity and courtesy of those in martial authority could not be spoken of too highly … In conclusion he wished Col. Finlay and his Officers a Bon Voyage and a long and happy life in their homes in Erin’s Isle’.

‘Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Finlay, the gallant Fusiliers have been in South Africa for the last two years,’ agreed the Ingram brothers later, ‘and the splendid services they rendered there won them an enthusiastic send-off on their departure.’ [clxxv]

As to their losses on South Africa, Colonel Finlay wrote: ‘Of the 24 officers who accompanied [the battalion], two have died in South Africa, three were invalided home and have not returned while six have remained in South Africa. Of the men 600 embarked, and drafts to the number of 200 were subsequently received. Of these about 200 remain in Africa with their Line Battalions, and nearly 300 died, were invalided, or returned home as time-expired men.’ Official losses reported eight dead and two wounded.

On Thursday 6 Feb 1902 the London Times reported that Colonel Finlay and the 5th Battalion had left South Africa for England on board the Pembroke Castle on January 31. On 24 February, the ship arrived at Queenstown and off stepped Colonel Finlay with sixteen other officers and 313 men. As they returned to the Irish capital, the Ingram brothers take up the telling of it.

‘The streets of Dublin were crowded with spectators as the men marched through the city to the Marshalsea Barracks, and they received a thoroughly Irish welcome. HRH the Duke of Connaught, as Commander in Chief in Ireland, welcomed the battalion at Ballsbridge and distributed the well-won medals for the campaign. An interesting incident was the presentation to the Duke of Sergeant Dunn, the father of the little bugler-hero of Colenso! The popular Lord Lieutenant, Earl Cadogan, was, unfortunately, prevented from being present, but he sent a cordial message of greeting, which was read by Colonel Finlay to the officers and men.’[clxxvi]

The Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s son, was accompanied by his wife and their children, Prince Arthur and Princesses Margaret and Patricia. Several military bands then led the 5th on a march through the crowd-lined streets of Dublin to a banquet held at the military barracks off Thomas Street where Colonel Finlay was commended for his service in South Africa and decorated with the Queen and King’s medals.


Tragedy struck the Finlays again on 9 March 1902, just twelve days after the Colonel’s return home, when his wife Helen Lucy passed away at Bushy Park, near Dublin. [clxxvii]

Four years later he was married secondly to Emily (Octavia) Lyle, a widow, who was the eighth daughter of the Hon. the Rev. Henry Ward, Rector of Killinchy, co. Down, and a granddaughter of Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor. [clxxviii] Burke’s Peerage 1959 doesn’t mention Emily as the Rev Henry Ward’s daughter but it does say he had ‘other issue’ not named in the book. Nor does the 1959 volume name the Rev Henry Ward’s two elder sons Edward and Henry who died in a tragic drowning incident at the new settlement of Canterbury in New Zealand in 1851 when their small boat sank near Lyttleton. (Elgin Courier, 7 November 1851). The Coleraine Chronicle (16 November 1861) certainly pegged Emily Octavia as his daughter when they announced her first marriage at Killinchy Church on 12 November 1861 to barrister James Acheson Lyle (1818-1900) of Portstewart House, co. Londonderry, and Glandore Lodge, County Antrim, second son of the late Hugh Lyle, Esq.. Knocklarna, Coleraine. [clxxix] As 'Mrs Lyle', she was was 'eminent in good works in Coleraine, Portrush, and Portstewart, frequently charming large audiences by her abilities as a vocalist.' (Larne Times, 2 October 1915).

The Lyle's eldest son Henry Ward Lyle of Glandore Lodge, Kilrea, Co. Antrim, was born in 1866, educated at Winchester and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (LL.B. 1887), joined the India Civil Service in 1887 and was a magistrate for counties Antrim and Londonderry; his wife Lucy, who he married in 1903, was the second daughter of Henry Higgins, Esq., F.R.C.S., M.R.C.P., of Heathfield, Peel, Isle of Man. [clxxx] Emily's second son Sydney (James) Lyle served with with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles during the Great War and married Fanny Spotswood Ash, while her daughter Alice married Denis Robert Pack-Beresford of Fenagh House, County Carlow. These three were to become the younger Finlay's step-siblings.

News of the Colonel's impending marriage was warmly welcomed by his son Bobby who wrote to Edie from his school at St Columbus College in Rathfarnham,

My dearest Edie,
I am awfully glad to hear of daddy going to marry Emily. I hope he is very happy. I wrote to him yesterday and I wrote to you on Sunday and only found today that I had not posted it but I am making up for it now. How funny having so many step brothers we will be a married family and a large one.
Mrs Cooper has taken a house close to here until a one that she is getting furnished is being done up, the one she is living in now is a small little thing and the other a large one fairly close to here. Mrs Cooper is awfully nice and so is J---y (?) who is her daughter and is quite young. She always wears a ring that George gave her with blue stones in it and I think the stones are sapphires anyhow it is a very nice ring. I was down there one Sunday Mrs Cooper says she is dying to come over to Corkagh in the motor and see everybody.
The name of the small house that she has taken for the present is the Priory and the man who owns it is called Mr Taylor and says he knew my granduncle Tom and says I am exactly like him there is a Mrs Taylor too and a horrible young miss – they are living in the same house as the Coopers and have four horrible little dogs who take hunks out of ones leg when they bite you.
Dr Crawly asked me and another boy called Warnock down to eat strawberries at his place next Sunday. I hope I will have as decent a time as I had at the Coopers.
Only two weeks more tomorrow and then home for two months hurra.
I am dying to see Emily and all my new relatives.
I must stop now your affectionate boy
PS love to Emily and father

Mr Taylor was probably Deane Conroy Taylor (1836-1907). The Priory in Rathfarnham was formerly home to the barrister John Philpott Curran. See this Come Here To Me blog.

Although he subsequently retired from the army, Colonel Finlay retained a close connection to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was a member of the Memorial Committee responsible for building the Fusiliers Arch at the entrance to St. Stephen’s Green, which was officially opened by the Duke of Connaught on 19 August 1907.

On 31 May 1909, his step-mother Caroline Finlay died, thirty years after his father’s passing.


Colonel Finlay’s eldest daughter Edith Maud was born at Corkagh on 18 March 1881.[clxxxi] She was married in 1909 to George Pomeroy Arthur Colley. They were my mother's grandparents and are treated in full in the a chapter on the Colley family here.



Colonel H. T. Finlay’s younger daughter Alice Finlay was born at Corkagh on 12 September 1883.[clxxxii] She went to India when she was little over eighteen years old. On 25 July 1910, she married Major Gordon Travers Birdwood (1867-1945) of the Indian Medical Service, the Bombay-born third son of Herbert Mills Birdwood, Judge of the High Court of Bombay, and his wife, Edith Marion Sidonie Impey. He was a younger brother of Field-Marshall Sir William Birdwood, one of Lord Kitchener’s Boer War cohorts who went on to command the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and, after further military exploits on the Western Front, became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in India in 1925.

Trained at Guy’s Hospital, among other places, Gordon Birdwood had served in the Abor Expedition to India’s North-East Frontier (1894), the Waziristan Expedition to the rugged North-West Frontier (1894-5) and miscellaneous operations in Samana and the Kurram Valley (1897-8). He was sometime Professor of Midwifery at the Lucknow Medical College, as well as Principal of the Medical School at Agra. By his first wife Dora, a daughter of John Samuel Champion Davis, CBE, he had a son Dick, aka Lt.-Col. Richard Douglas Davis Birdwood (1905-1995) and a daughter Mary (b. 1904, married Colonel Joseph Cawley-Way in 1931).

Alice and Gordon were married in Nainital, a hill station in the Kumaon Hills of India where a number of "European" schools for boys and girls had been founded in the late nineteenth century. The Birdwoods had four children in India - two sons Major Travers (John Durand) Birdwood (d. 2001) and the Rev. Christopher Halhed Lovett Birdwood (1918-1980), and two daughters, Ursula Jane Birdwood (1911-1998) and Margaret Riddell Birdwood (born December 1915). During their younger years, these children – along with Gordon’s two children by his first marriage – spent a good deal of time at Corkagh. Alice and her elder sister Edie remained close, despite the considerable gulf of time and distance between their meetings; they wrote to one another every Sunday for as long as they could write so that their respective families were constantly up-to-date with news.

The elder Birdwoods remained in India until about 1923, after which they moved to The Beach, Walmer, on the coast of Kent, near the castle where the Duke of Wellington died and the beach where Julius Caesar is reputed to have landed his army in 55 BC. Dr Birdwood duly set up a medical practice, working as a physician and surgeon with the Deal-Walmer Victoria Hospital. He was Deputy Mayor of Deal in 1944.

Alice and Gordon’s eldest son Major Travers Birdwood married Diana V. Turner, with whom he had a son, who died young, and a daughter.

The Rev. Christopher Birdwood, known to his family as ‘Kip’, became Rector at Little Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, in 1966. He married Betty Hamilton Scott, daughter of Captain Claud Scott, with whom he had a son and two daughters.

Margaret Riddell Birdwood was born on 24 December 1915. In 1938 she married Lt.-Col. Roderick Esmond Thomas Keelan, with whom she had two sons, Captain Douglas Keelan, Royal Marines, and Captain Andy Keelan, Royal Regiment of Wales, and a daughter, Annie, who married Francis Archer Coulson and lives in Perthshire, Scotland.[clxxxiii] Roddy Keelan died in 1965 and, ten years later, Margaret was married secondly to Douglas Grant, a widower and father of three whose late wife Merica had been a close friend of Margaret. Douglas, who passed away in 1993, worked as a designer with the BBC, including the Radio Times, and lived at Norwood Hill House near Horley, Surrey. At the time my Corkagh book was published in 2018, Margaret Grant was 102 years old and still fondly recalled her childhood days at Corkagh.[clxxxiv] She passed awaydied on Christmas Eve 2018 - her 103rd birthday. She was renowned for having very similar mannerisms to her late first cousin Valerie Hone.

Ursula Birdwood (1911-1998) married firstly Lt. Col. Roderick Dillwyn Sims (1903-1965). Their daughter Caroline Sims was born in 1935 and married Surgeon-Commander Alan McEwan. Ursula and Roderick were divorced, after which she was married in Westminster, London in 1946, to Charles Pulsford Bailey (1905-1974), also a divorcee. Charles was probably born in Singapore and became a surgeon, serving in the RNVR with the rank of Surgeon-Lieutenant during the Second World War.


As World War One approached, Colonel Finlay continued to keep busy at Corkagh. In 1904 he had capitalised on the terms of Wyndham’s Land Act by selling a portion of the Corkagh estate and over 1000 acres of his County Kildare property at an average price of 23 years’ purchase.[clxxxv] He used some of his money to buy a motorcar, registration IO 208.[clxxxvi] The colonel had long been an enthusiastic automobilist, as his grandson Dudley Colley recalled in his motoring memoir, ‘Wheel Patter’:

‘My grandfather … was a keen motorist and his favourite car was an enormous Minerva, painted a brilliant yellow and fitted with a wickerwork umbrella and picnic basket. He drove it about the country at most unsuitable speeds and in clouds of dust, frightening horses and murdering chickens, and it became known far and wide as the ‘Yellow Peril’. I well remember the polished brass fittings and the steady drip of the row of oil feeds on the dashboard.’ [clxxxvii]

On one occasion the colonel, oblivious to the rules of the road, apparently collided with another car and then rounded on its young driver for being so clearly in the wrong. Inevitably it turned out he knew the family.

In November 1907, the Earl of Meath appointed him Deputy Lieutenant of County Dublin.[clxxxviii] In July 1912, as vice president of the Clondalkin, Lucan and Saggart Horticultural Society Show, the colonel hosted their fourth annual flower show in ‘the very picturesquely wooded demesne’ of Corkagh. The event was well attended and successful, complete with sporting attractions, donkey races, Irish dancing exhibitions and music provided by the band of the Royal Irish Constabulary.[clxxxix]

Considered charming by those who knew him well, Colonel Finlay had always been proud of his military background and his loyalty to the crown. In 1908 he told schoolboys gathered for an awards ceremony at St. Columba’s College how ‘the public schools would produce, with few exceptions, the great soldiers, sailors, statesmen, bishops and leaders of thought throughout the country’. He then asked ‘every schoolboy there to keep in view the possibility of attaining to some position of great authority and responsibility in the Empire’. As ‘proud … members of the British Empire’, he concluded, ‘it was well that each boy should prepare himself for what might happen in the future’.[cxc]

Such approbation of the male would have appealed to Edie also who, recalled Veronica, had little truck with the suffragettes. ‘She would insist we girls not eat too much because Jock and Dudley would need it all! We were really raised up with the idea that your career must be getting married to someone who can afford to keep you’.

In November 1913 Colonel Finlay was one of three men named as High Sheriffs for County Dublin for the coming year, along with Sir Robert Gardener and Thomas Maberly Cobbe of Newbridge House.[cxci]


Colonel Finlay’s remarks on empire and duty in 1908 were keenly felt by his two surviving sons George and Bobby who duly marched off to war. George, the older brother, was born in Corkagh on 26th December 1889 and christened ‘George Guy Finlay’ in St. John’s Church Clondalkin. He was briefly educated at St. Columba’s College and then went to the Malay States, or present-day Malaysia, to work as an assistant with the Vallambrosa Rubber Company. In 1912 he volunteered as a private with the Malay States Volunteer Rifles in Selangor. At the outbreak of the Great War, he returned to Dublin where he obtained his commission in the Special Reserve of Officers. Initially assigned to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, he was the attached to the 2nd battalion and posted to France.

Bobby was born on 2 February 1893 and christened ‘Robert Alexander Finlay’. As a boy he was nicknamed ‘Master Bobs’ by the domestic staff while his family called him Bobby. His niece Veronica Hall-Dare was just too young to remember him but did recall the great piano, which he used to thumb away upon, as well as a music box one could sit on. ‘My mother absolutely doted on him because he was the youngest of the whole lot,’ she told me. At the age of eleven he went to school at St. Columba’s College, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, where he proved himself an excellent rugby player. In 1909 he was on the school team that played in the Leinster rugby football league against colleges such as Belvedere, Wesley, and Blackrock. The following year he was selected to play on the Leinster XV in the Irish Schools Rugby Football Inter-provincial.[cxcii] In 1910 he entered Trinity College Dublin and joined the Officers Training Corps.

In June 1913 Bobby received his commission in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, his father’s old regiment, which was headquartered in Naas. On 26 March 1915 he was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles in Flanders and sent into the frontlines. As his late niece Veronica Hall-Dare remarked, ‘War must have been absolutely hell for someone who was reasonably gently brought up not to dirty one’s hands and to be ready to appear in decent clothes if you had visitors.’

It makes me think of a passage by the brilliant war correspondent Philip Gibbs, which Dan Carlin reaad out on his excellent Great War podcast.

"It was astonishing how loudly one laughed at tales of gruesome things, of war’s brutality-I with the rest of them. I think at the bottom of it was a sense of the ironical contrast between the normal ways of civilian life and this hark-back to the caveman code. It made all our old philosophy of life monstrously ridiculous. It played the “hat trick” with the gentility of modern manners. Men who had been brought up to Christian virtues, who had prattled their little prayers at mothers’ knees, who had grown up to a love of poetry, painting, music, the gentle arts, over-sensitized to the subtleties of half-tones, delicate scales of emotion, fastidious in their choice of words, in their sense of beauty, found themselves compelled to live and act like ape-men; and it was abominably funny. They laughed at the most frightful episodes, which revealed this contrast between civilized ethics and the old beast law. The more revolting it was the more, sometimes, they shouted with laughter, especially in reminiscence, when the tale was told in the gilded salon of a French chateau, or at a mess-table.

It was, I think, the laughter of mortals at the trick which had been played on them by an ironical fate. They had been taught to believe that the whole object of life was to reach out to beauty and love, and that mankind, in its progress to perfection, had killed the beast instinct, cruelty, blood-lust, the primitive, savage law of survival by tooth and claw and club and ax. All poetry, all art, all religion had preached this gospel and this promise. Now that ideal had broken like a china vase dashed to hard ground. The contrast between That and This was devastating. It was, in an enormous world-shaking way, like a highly dignified man in a silk hat, morning coat, creased trousers, spats, and patent boots suddenly slipping on a piece of orange-peel and sitting, all of a heap, with silk hat flying, in a filthy gutter. The war-time humor of the soul roared with mirth at the sight of all that dignity and elegance despoiled."

Twenty-two-year-old Lieutenant Bobby Finlay was killed in Flanders during a failed attempt to capture the German trenches at Rouge Bancs by Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915.[cxciii] Five days after Bobby’s death, George joined his regiment at the front where he served until his death at the Somme fourteen months later, when caught out by the German counter-attack at Bazentin Ridge on 14 July 1916.[cxciv] He was killed in action while at the head of his platoon, having reached the parapet of the German trenches. The family archives include this letter written by George on 1 February 1916 that reads:

3/4/15 crossed out

My dearest,
Delighted to receive your letter of third inst last night, also one from Dad & Winnie* - I hadn’t heard from any of you for several days.
Glad to see my letters have turned up at last, I wonder what delayed them.
We return to the trenches tonight for a few days & then I think it it is practically certain we go back for a rest – I mean for a considerable distance – after that goodness only knows where we will be sent to. Everything of course is very on settled here & packing is in full swing.
There has been no parcel post for several days, so I have not as yet received the breeks (?), but no doubt they will turn up some time soon.
So very glad to hear you are pleased with the effect of the new furniture in Corkagh - indeed it could not fail to be a great success. The ante-room sounds charming - do describe the rooms as you finish them.
Poor old Colonel! It is really too sad, the end would be indeed a mercy, has he to keep the tube down his throat all the time or only when he has to be fed?
Please give my best salaanus (?) to Winnie & tell her the sight of her handwriting put me all in a flutter – but I don’t think it was quite nice of her (to) lay such emphasis upon being compelled to write to me, I will send her a few words of advice later.
No more today, my dear,
But love to everyone

(* I wonder who Winnie was? Miss Letts / Verschoyle perhaps!? That said, Latitia Lefroy is doubtful. 'I didn’t think they were that intimate though Verschoyles were good friends. There were a lot of Winifreds around in family and friends in my youth 30 years later!')

‘It was such a nightmare for everyone’, recalled Veronica Hall-Dare. ‘They all had to start again. How could this happen in a civilized world? All the men had died out so there was nobody to carry on the race.’ Similar words came from Colonel Finlay’s contemporary Katharine Tynan (1859-1931), the poet and novelist, who grew up on the Whitehall dairy farm in Clondalkin. ‘Blow after blow fell day after day on one’s heart,’ she wrote. ‘For the first time came bitterness, for we felt that their lives had been thrown away and that their heroism had gone unrecognised’.[cxcv]

In 2011, my brother and I went to find our great-great-uncle’s graves on the Western Front. Before we left, I dashed into the woods of Corkagh on a whim, seeking something from the old family home that I might place on the Finlay graves should we find them. Rather pathetically the best I could come up with were two leaves from a majestic old horse chestnut tree that they had perhaps once played beneath as boys. The bodies of Bobby and George were never found so they had no graves. However, I found their names on the memorial walls at Ploegsteert and Pozieres and I wedged the chestnut leaves alongside them. My 2014 book ‘The Glorious Madness – Tales of the Irish & the Great War’ is dedicated to the brothers.

Colonel Finlay also lost his second wife Emily Octavia, who died in Dublin on 24 September 1915.[cxcvi] With all three of his sons now dead, he was now compelled to place the future of Corkagh in the hands of his eldest daughter, Edie Colley.

[The oldest pictures still show the large stoney sweep in front of the house linking the back and front avenues.]


As the Clondalkin parish registers record, the future Mr. Justice Richard Jebb married Jane-Louisa, eldest daughter of John Finlay, MP, of Corkagh by special license on 23 January 1802. Following her death on 8 November 1823, both Saunders News-letter and the Dublin Correspondent published the following obituary to her:

“DIED. On Saturday last, in Rutland-square, Jane Louisa, wife of the Hon. Mr. Justice Jebb, and daughter of the late John Finlay, Esq., of Corkagh, in the County of Dublin. She was exemplary in the discharge of every relative and social duty; for her conduct flowed from the best natural qualities, raised and regulated by the influence of true religion. Sincere, prudent, and disinterested, she united masculine strength of mind with a truly feminine delicacy and tenderness of heart, Simple in her taste, and sober in her wishes, she was herself a practical testimony, that moderation is the true secret of enjoyment. Her religion was suited to her character: earnest, rational, and deep, it was noiselessly cultivated in her closet, and unostentatiously manifested only in its traits During a protracted and hopeless malady it maintained her, not merely with resignation but with cheerfulness; and as her latter end drew near, she was more and more detached from that world, above the vanities of which she had habitually lived. The writer of these lines had the happiness to witness the calm, placid, unpresumptuous confidence, which, in her last hours, deprived death of its sting: and the wish which be then fervently breathed he now dispassionately holds —that he may be enabled, like her, to live, and like her, to die.”

Mr. Justice Jebb died on September 3 1834, at his home in Rosstrevor, near Newry. The Gentleman’s Magazine published this obituary to a man who had become one of the Judges of the Court of King's Bench in Ireland.

“He was born at Drogheda, the elder son of John Jebb, esq., Alderman of that city, by his second wife Alicia Forster; and was the only brother of the late learned Bishop of Limerick of whom a memoir will be found in our number for February last, together with some particulars of the Jebb family.

The late Judge was named after his second cousin Sir Richard Jebb, MD, Physician in Ordinary to King George the Third, who left him his heir, while he was a student at Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the Irish bar in the year 1787. In 1799 he published ‘A Reply to a pamphlet intituled, Arguments for and against a Union’. After having acted for several years as one of his Majesty's Counsel; he was successively appointed Third and Second Serjeant; and in Dec 1818 fourth Justice of the Court of King's Bench.

In Judge Jebb, society has lost a valuable member - the bench, an ornament - and Ireland a firm, though humane and impartial judge. During his residence at Rosstrevor, he was beloved, respected, and almost venerated by all classes. His death was an unexpected event. It was reported to have been occasioned by a very rapid attack of cholera; but subsequent and more credible accounts attribute it to a very different cause - the explosion of a soda water bottle which he was shaking preparatory to opening. A fragment of the glass entered his thumb and some efforts were made to extract it. This brought on a serious nervous excitement to which the Judge was habitually subject, and in the course of a few hours it became so violent as to terminate his existence. It is not decidedly stated whether the attack partook more of tetanus or paralysis. His body was carried for interment to the family vault at Drogheda. Mr Justice Jebb married Jane Louisa, eldest daughter of John Finlay, esq., MP for co. Dublin in several Parliaments before the Union, and had issue, five sons and one daughter.”


[i]Edward MacLysaght, ‘The Surnames of Ireland’, 6th edition, (Irish Academic Press, 1991), p109; George F Black, ‘The Surnames of Scotland, Their Origins Meaning and History’ (New York Public Library 1946, 4th reprinting 1974).

[ii] ‘History of the Clan Finley’ by Timothy John Kessler.

[iii] ‘Index to Burke's dictionary of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland’ (1849).

[iv] The Hamilton stronghold of Innerwick would have been a relatively short journey by sea south across the Firth of Forth.

[v] Way, George and Squire, Romily. (1994), ‘Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopaedia’, pp. 134 - 135.

[vi] Andrew Finley died at Aughenlyth, Forfarshire, in 1547. His wife Janet was a daughter of John Hay of Erroll, Perthshire, and Janet Douglass, a lineal descendant of William De Haya, Cup Bearer to King Malcolm IV ‘History of the Clan Finley’ by T. J. Kessler.

[vii] ‘History of the Clan Finley’ by T. J. Kessler.

[viii] Sir Ian Hamilton lived at Innerwick Castle, near Dunbar, in Scotland.

[ix] McKeague, Leslie (2010). Bailieborough: A Pictorial Past. Bailieborough: Bailie Publications. ISBN 978-0-9565196-0-3, p. 12.

[x] William Bailie’s son, another William Bailie, was Church of Ireland Bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh from 1644 until his death in 1664. Cotton, Henry, ‘The Province of Connaught -Fasti Ecclesiae Hiberniae: The Succession of the Prelates and Members of the Cathedral Bodies of Ireland’, Vol. 4. (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1850), p. 167-168.

[xi] For instance, Leslie McLaughlin refers to another Alexander Finley who was baptized at Incharvie, Fife, in 1667 - which is near Balchristle - and then was sent to Ireland 'possibly to live with his Uncle John Finley'. He later served in William III's army and became a wool and linen merchant in Dublin. Mr. McLaughlin says he 'could very well have learned the trade from his uncle". See Leslie McLaughlin, 'Our Book of Finleys and Their Kinfolk Families'.

[xii] "The Manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormonde, Preserved at the Castle, Kilkenny", John Thomas Gilbert (1895, H. M . Stationary off., by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Vol. 1), p. 160. Note: MS 833 Deposition of County: Cavan Fol. 254r. Feb 13.

[xiii] Josiah V Thompson’s records says Abraham was a son of Richard Finaley and Jane Holland. The Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1895, says Abraham was a son of John and Mary.

[xiv] Josiah V. Thompson of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, kept a genealogical family record book, circa 1922, that contains diary entries of the author, as well as records of his conversations with family members and friends about ancestry, descendants and relatives. Many of the entries record genealogical data from tombstones and cemetery records. Details of the Finlay family are to be found in Volume 16.

[xv] A curious link between the Finlay family and Killeshandra was recorded in 1848 following the death on May 21st at Killeshandra of forty- three-year-old James Alexander Finlay, Esq., A.B., F.H.C.S.I., Medical Attendant of the Killeshandra Dispensary. (The Lancet, Vol. 1, p. 624; The Anglo-Celt. 26 May 1848).

[xvi] Freeman’s Journal, May 22, 1764: ‘ANDREW FINLAY, Mercer, in Parliament-street, has this Day landed out of the King of Prussia, a large Assortment of the most fashionable Lutestrings. Note, an Apprentice is wanted.’ Elsewhere I read that Andrew ‘had a range of ‘flowered silks, flowered and plain negligee sattins, armageens [plain silk], bombazines [usually a cotton fabric], ruffles and callimancoes [woollen fabric]'

[xvii] David Dickson, Jan Parmentier, Jane H. Ohlmeyer, ‘Irish and Scottish Mercantile Networks in Europe and Overseas in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century (Academia Press, 2007), p. 165-167.

[xviii] Josiah V. Thompson, Uniontown, p. 440-441. In August 1732, The Gentleman's Magazine reported: ‘Mr. Robert Finley, a merchant of great capacity and expertise, is appointed to go to Carolina, as agent to the trustees for the colony of Georgia. [Gentleman's Magazine, 1732, p. 929).

[xix] Josiah V. Thompson, p. 440-441.

[xx] 'The Clan Finley, Volume 1' by Herald Franklin Stout (Eagle Press, 1956), p. 22.

[xxi] Much of the detail of Sir Robert’s Swedish experience comes from ‘Irish and Scottish Mercantile Networks in Europe and Overseas in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century’ by David Dickson, Jan Parmentier, Jane H. Ohlmeyer, (Academia Press, 2007), p. 165-167.

[xxii] Amadeus Jonson, ‘Swedish Contributions to American Freedom, 1776-1783’, Swedish Colonial Foundation, 1953, p. 11, p. 32.

[xxiii] Robert Finlay’s will dated Sept 19, 1776 pro Nov 21, 1776.

[xxiv] Burke, ‘History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland’, 1899. Deputy Keeper of Ireland index to the Act or Grants Book and of Original Wills in the Diocese of Dublin, 1272-1858, 26th-30th-31st report 1894-1899, p993, https://www.findmypast.ie/.NLI, Richard Hayes Manuscript for the History of Irish Civilisation, Subject and Places, vol.2, Ussher Papers, short pedigree, MS no. 11/116, p118. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, ‘Finlay Assignment’.

[xxv] The Gentleman's and London Magazine, 25 June 1761.

[xxvi] The Dublin Historic Trust’s Project 18ORMOND commenced a complete renovation and conservation of 18 Upper Ormond Quay in 2017.

[xxvii] Jonathan Swift, ‘The Hibernian patriot: a collection of the Drapier's letters to the people of Ireland concerning [W.] Wood's brass half-pence, together with considerations on the attempts made to pass that coin, and reasons for the people, of Ireland's refusing it’, p. 39.

[xxviii] Louis M. Cullen, ‘Anglo-Irish Trade, 1660-1800’ (Manchester University Press, 1968), p. 200.

[xxix] G. L. Barlow MA, PhD, ‘Some Dublin Private Banks’, Dublin Historical Record, p. 38, read to Old Dublin Society 11/11/1970, RDS Library. Thom’s Irish Almanac and Official Directory, 1846, Alexander Thom, Dublin. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment’.

[xxx] Dublin Assembly Rolls, 1742. ‘The Calendar of the Assembly Rolls of the Corporation of the City of Dublin, is continued, in this ninth volume from October 1740 to October 1751 inclusive.’

[xxxi] Charles Lucas, ‘The political constitutions of Great Britain and Ireland: asserted and vindicated; the connection, and common interest of both Kingdoms demonstrated; and the grievances which each, and more especially the later, has suffered, set forth in several addresses and letters to the free-citizens of Dublin’ (p. 429).

[xxxii] Gilbert, John T. A History of the City of Dublin, 3 vols, Dublin, reprinted 1978.

[xxxiii] Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1944), Volume 74, Part 4, p. 217. A photostat copy of ‘a map of sundry parcels of land in the parish of Clondalkin, belonging to the archiepiscopal see of Dublin, in lease to T. Finlay. Surveyed by R. Kendrick, Oct., 1759’ is in the National Library of lreland, 16.G. 16(59). http://sources.nli.ie/Record/MS_UR_031879

12 Reports on Private Collections, p2074. Deed between LA Touché and Finlay, bk145, p407, no.99029. Deed between Blake and Finlay, bk165, p378. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, ‘Finlay Assignment’.

[xxxv] ‘The Bomford Family & Allied Families’ by C. P. Bamford, p. 131.

[xxxvi] James Kelly, That Damn’d Thing Called Honour (Cork University Press, 1995), p. 140.

[xxxvii] Irish Genealogical Abstracts from the "Londonderry Journal," 1772-1784 by Donald M. Schlegel – 29 October 1776.

[xxxviii] National Archives of Ireland, Betham Abstracts of Prerogative Wills of Thomas Finlay, proved 21/11/1776, mfgs 38/3, series 1, vol. 19-28. NLI, Chancery Court Proceedings, Bill of cost of T Finlay in the case of H Trench and A Ram extrs, ms8288. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, ‘Finlay Assignment’.

[xxxix] ‘GULIELMUS HENRICUS FINLAY filius natu minimus Thomae de Corkagh in Comitatu Dubliniensi in Hibernia. Father-in-law of the third Baron Dufferin.’ The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow, 1728 -1858. Transcribed and Annotated by the late W. Innes Addison (Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons, 1913).

[xl] He is not to be confused with another William Henry Finlay (1771-1842), a hosier who became MP from 1824-1831 and the swordbearer in Dublin (1831-40).

[xli] Appendix (p. 139), ‘Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honourable Henry Grattan’ (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1822)

[xlii] William Stear’s wife is named as Eleanor in ‘The Bomford Family & Allied Families’ by C. P. Bamford, p. 103. In 1746, Mrs Stears was named by Thomas Prior on page 39 of ‘An Authentic Narrative of the Success of Tar-water in Curing a Great Number of Distempers Etc. To which are Subjoined 2 Letters from the Author of Siris (George Berkeley) Shewing the Medicinal Properties of Tar-water Etc. A New Ed. - London, Innys 1746’ Mrs. Stear of Ginnets in the county of Meath near Trim, had the worst symptoms of the most violent scurvey [sic], her hands and arms black in some parts, so that a mortification was sometime apprehended. She drank Tar-water for several months; it struck the most virulent humour out on her face and arms so that no one could know her: She was not discouraged, but continued to drink Tar water, and in a few months her skin was entirely clean. Before she drank Tar water, she was often sick and low spirited; while she drank it, she was hearty and well every way, and has continued well many months. [See here for cover image of that pamphlet]

The Stears were kinsmen of the Tew family also.

[xliii] In 1780 William Henry Finlay listed as subscriber to ‘Views of the Most Remarkable Public Buildings, Monuments and Other Edifices in the City of Dublin, Delineated by Robert Pool and John Cash, with Historical Descriptions of Each Building’ (J. William, 1780).

[xliv] ‘The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth Century Domestic Architecture and Decoration in Dublin’, Volume 3, Irish Georgian Society at the Dublin University Press, 1969.

[xlv] ‘Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland’, Richard Musgrave, Appendix no. IX, p. 21.

[xlvi] ‘Papers relating to the estates in Co. Meath of the Blackwood family with references to the families of Hamilton, Finlay, Stear and Dufferin 1712-1893’ are held at Dublin: Public Record Office, D. 16,852-937; M. 2038-55; T. 7061-74.

[xlvii] The New Monthly Magazine 1817 (Vol. 8): 'At, Mrs. Finlay, of Bath, relict of Wm. Hen. F. esq. of Ginnetts, Ireland.'

[xlviii] The European Magazine, and London Review, Volume 55, p. 160.

[xlix] Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1895, p. 37.

[l] David Hackett Fischer, ‘Paul Revere's Ride’, p. 68.

[li] Miss H. M. Walker, A History of the Northumberland Fusiliers, 1674-1902, John Murray, 1919, p. 144-145.

[lii] The memorial stone and an obituary state his age at 73, thus making 1750 his year of birth. Brida Mulligan rightly believes this ‘seems highly unlikely as his career started in 1764’ although he could feasibly have staretd at the age of 14 or 15. Brida proposes that: ‘Evidence from existing records indicate he may be the second child dating his birth possibly in 1740.’ It is possible the inscription on the memorial stone is incorrect. This research is ongoing. See: Farrar’s index to Irish Marriages 1771-1812, p308. RCB library, St Peter’s and St Mary’s church baptismal records which incorporates Granby Row showed no entry for John for the years 1737-1750.

[liii] ‘ JOANNES FINLAY, Thomae filius natu major de Corkagh, Armigeri, in Parochia de Clondalkin in Comitatu de Dublin. Hibernia. Of Corkagh. Held the rank of Colonel. Sometime M P for County Dublin. Died in 1823.’ The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow, 1728 -1858. Transcribed and Annotated by the late W. Innes Addison (Glasgow: James Maclehose & Sons, 1913).

[liv] Louis M. Cullen, ‘Anglo-Irish Trade, 1660-1800’ (Manchester University Press, 1968), p. 202.

[lv] ‘Some remarks on Dr Jebb's Considerations on the expediency of a National Circulation Bank in Ireland’ (James Hunter, Sycamore Alley, 1780), p. 19.

[lvi] Mary Anne is generally described as the eldest daughter and co-heiress of William and Eleanor Stear, of Ginnets, but she is also listed as a daughter of John.

[lvii] Richard Barton, p. 173-175.

[lviii] One wonders if he was related to Mr James Finlay (sometimes spelled Findlay in error), Notary Public, who had an address at 11 Eustace Street from at least 1799 - 1802 (and perhaps for a decade or so later). In late 1815 Mr Finlay was implicated in a scandal when Samuel Clayton, a respected engraver and Freemason, was convicted of supplying forged revenue stamps amounting to between £40 and £50 to Messrs Dickinson and Finlay, notaries public, as well as to the Anchor Brewery on Usher Street. Clayton was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude in New South Wales where he managed to reinvent himself as a successful businessman, founding Australia’s first regular Freemason’s Lodge. However, this is mere speculation as I know nothing further of who this Mr Finlay was, save that in 1817 he was recorded as having an address at Fownes Street. See Margaret Smyth, ‘Samuel Clayton: Forger, Freemason, Freeman’ (2017), p. 8.

[lix] Silk Manufacturing in Rathmore Co. Kildare (1784 – 1786) by

James Robinson M. Phil (2017).

[lx] E. M. Johnston-Liik, ‘MPs in Dublin: Companion to History of the Irish Parliament, 1692-1800’, p. 39.

[lxi] Robert O’Byrne, A Gentle Evolution, 26 May 2014.

[lxii] On Tuesday 3 August 1779 John Finlay convened a meeting of ‘the Freeholders of the Barony of Newcastle in the County of Dublin’ at Kilmainham. The following day he wrote a letter at Corkagh to the Freeholders, published in Saunders Newsletter on Friday 6 August, inviting them to attend a meeting at the Inn in Lucan at noon on Saturday 7 ‘in order to put some of the Matters contained in said Resolutions in immediate Execution.’

On 9 August 1779 John Finlay attended ‘a Meeting of the Gentlemen of the Barony of Uppercross’ convened by John White at Rathcoole. These men were gathered to consider plans to form a Volunteer Company and duly resolved that those wishing to enter the Volunteers should apply to either John Finlay, Sir Kildare Dixon Borrowes of Barretstown, Hugh Wilson of Collinstown or James Ormsby of Rathcoole, ‘either at their Country Seats, or at their respective Places of Residence in Dublin.’ The resolution was subsequently published in Saunders Newsletter and the Hibernian Journal. Saunders Newsletter, 11 August 1779.

[lxiii] Ian MacBride, ‘Eighteenth Century Ireland – New Gill History of Ireland’ (Gill & Macmillan, 2009).

[lxiv] Representative Church Body Library, The Vestry Minutes of St Johns Parish Church, Clondalkin, 1729-1820. Rev James B Leslie, Canon of St Patricks Cathedral, with foreword by His Grace the Lord Primate, Irish Churchwarden’s Handbook, 4th Ed revised, Dundalk 1946. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment.

[lxv] Saunders Newsletter, 16 March 1782.

[lxvi] Freemans Journal, 4/3/1790, p2, at Irish Newspaper Archives Ltd. His parliamentary colleague for Dublin was the charismatic Sir Edward Newenham of Belcamp Hall, Balgriffin, County Dublin, whose wife Grace-Anna was from the Carlow banking family. As well as being a noted duellist, Sir Edward was a friend of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Belcamp House was designed by James Hoban, the architect who designed the White House, while Sir Edward erected a small castle beside the artificial lake in honour of Washington. As such Sir Edward was regarded as 'Ireland's most vocal supporter of the insurgent Americans' during the 1770s and 1780s.

[lxvii] Edith M Johnston, History of the Irish Parliament, 1692-1800, vol. 4, Belfast 2002 p138-9. Royal Dublin Society Library, Eugene A Coyle, ‘County Dublin Elections 1790’, Dublin Historical Record, pp18-23, read to the Old Dublin Society 5/12/1990. Ainnie O’Neill, Thesis for Maynooth College. Tallaght Library. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment.

[lxviii] Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 63, Part 1, p. 574.

[lxix] William John Fitzpatrick, “The Sham Squire": And the Informers of 1798. (W. B. Kelly, 1866), p. 154.

[lxx] A map of a lot of ground lying on the west side of Christ Church Lane whereon are several houses and tenements belonging to the Dean & Chapter of Christ Church Dublin. Surveyed by John Brownrigg, 7 May 1796. John Finlay's name on holding.

[lxxi] Charles MacCarthy Collins, ‘The History, Law, and Practice of Banking’, p. 97.

[lxxii] Report from the Committee of Secrecy, of the House of Lords in Ireland (J. Debrett and J. Wright, 1798), page 52-54.

[lxxiii] Freemans Journal 12/11/1806, p2, at Irish Newspaper Archives Ltd, David Cotter and Jennifer Wann, ‘Corcagh Park-Pairc Chorcai’, p. 21, Park and Landscape Service Dept. South Dublin County Council.

[lxxiv] ‘Memoirs of the Different Rebellions in Ireland’ by Richard Musgrave, p. 223-224.

[lxxv] Edward Hay, ‘History of the Irish Insurrection of 1798: Giving an Authentic Army: and a Genuine History of Transactions Preceding that Event: with a Valuable Appendix’ (1803), p. 287. ‘The county of Dublin militia, who had distinguished themselves so much at the battle of Ross, under the command of Major Vesey, whose gallantry on that day afterward procured him the command of the regiment, were sent to Wexford; but a wound which the colonel received at the battle of Enniscorthy prevented his coming with them, and the command, as well as that of the town, necessarily devolved upon Lieutenant colonel Finlay.’

[lxxvi] The War in Wexford; an account of the rebellion in the south of Ireland in 1798 told from original documents by H.F.B. Wheeler & A.M. Broadley" (London: John Lane, 1910).

[lxxvii] Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1944), Volume 74, Part 4, p. 217.

[lxxviii] Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1895, p. 36.

[lxxix] Letter from RW to Soane, 18 Nov 1799, Sir John Soane's Museum archive: Private correspondence XV.A.2.5., via Dictionary of Irish Architects.

[lxxx] Richard Robert Madden, ‘The United Irishmen: Their Lives and Times, with Several Additional Memoirs, and Authentic Documents, Heretofore Unpublished, the Whole Matter Newly Arranged and Revised’, Volume 3 (James Duffy,1860), p. 422. See also William John Fitzpatrick, “The Sham Squire": And the Informers of 1798. (W. B. Kelly, 1866), p. 297.

[lxxxi] Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, (H. Colburn, 1849) p. 320.

[lxxxii] Ball, F Elrington, ‘A History of the County Dublin’, p. 120-121.

[lxxxiii] Finlay and Arthur Wolfe, Viscount Kilwarden, then residing at Newlands, were considered Clondalkin’s most prominent parishioners. Ball, F Elrington, ‘A History of the County Dublin’, p. 120-121.

[lxxxiv] Another version has it that Kilwarden was visiting Colonel Finlay at Corkagh when an express rider called him back into the city. Ruan O’Donnell, ‘Robert Emmet and the Rising of 1803’ (Irish Academic Press, 2003), p. 90; William John Fitzpatrick, “The Sham Squire": And the Informers of 1798. (W. B. Kelly, 1866), p. 296]

[lxxxv] Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1944), Volume 74, Part 4, p. 206.

[lxxxvi]Registry of Deeds, deed between Finlay and Spear, bk136, p25, no.427130. Wilson, Treble Almanac and Dublin City Directory, 1783, Dublin City Directory, p54. Burke’s, Guide to Country Houses. Vol.1, p192. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment.

[lxxxvii] Connaught Journal (Volume 69), Monday, Feb 3, 1823: ‘At his seat near Rathcool, in the 73rd year of his age, John FINLAY, Esq.
late M.P. for the County Dublin, and Lieutenant-Colonel of the County Dublin
Militia.’ The Clondalkin Parish Records add the detail about the rupture.

[lxxxviii] The memorial stone and an obituary state his age at 73, thus making 1750 his year of birth. Brida Mulligan rightly believes this ‘seems highly unlikely as his career started in 1764’ although he could feasibly have started at the age of 14 or 15. Brida proposes that: ‘Evidence from an existing record may indicate that he was the second child dating his birth possibly in 1740.’ It is possible the inscription on the memorial stone is incorrect. This research is ongoing. See: Farrar’s index to Irish Marriages 1771-1812, p308. RCB library, St Peter’s and St Mary’s church baptismal records which incorporates Granby Row showed no entry for John for the years 1737-1750.

[lxxxix] Death of Henrietta, 2nd wife of John Finlay, London Star-20 June 1831.

[xc] Farrar's Index to Irish Marriages – Hibernain magazine, 1812, p. 153.

[xci] Rev. A. S. Cromie, ‘The Cromies of Portstewart’, North Irish Roots, Journal of North of Ireland Family History Society, Vol. 71996 (1).

[xcii] Samuel Lewis, 'A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland' (1837).


1810, May 12. — James Finlay, an infant, Clondalkin (buried).

1816, Dec. 12. — Henry Nassau, son of Thomas and Ursula Finlay (bapd).

1820, March 5. — Henry Nassau Finlay, a child from Dublin (buried).
1829, Jany. 17— Mary Finlay of Dublin (buried).

[xciv] Dublin Evening Mail, Fri 26 April, 1844.

[xcv] Freeman’s Journal, March 1st 1824; Asiatic Journal, Volume 17, p. 477 (1824).

[xcvi] Edward Walford, ‘The County Families of the United Kingdom’, p. 359.

[xcvii] In 2014, Adam’s Auctioneers in Dublin sold a promissory note issued by 'Messrs. Thomas Finlay, Robert Law & Michael Law' Dublin.

[xcviii] Dublin Historical Record, Volumes 23-26, The Old Dublin Society, 1969, pp. 44.

[xcix] Dublin Evening Mail,15 October 1828: ‘TO BE LET, from the 1st of November next, with or without a Fine, for such term as may be agreed on, the House and Demesne of CORKAGH, situated near the five-mile stone, on the Naas road from Dublin. The Demesne contains about 140 Acres, late Irish plantation measure. Application to be made to Messrs. CORNWALL and ALLEN, 24 Eden-quay, Dublin.’

[c] Charles MacCarthy Collins. ‘The History, Law, and Practice of Banking’, p. 98.

[ci] Dublin Historical Record, Volumes 23-26, The Old Dublin Society, 1969, pp. 44.

[cii] Freemans Journal 15/2/1817. Padraig McGowan, ‘Money and Banking in Ireland’ Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, vol. xxvi, p51-2, 1989; G.L. Barlow, MA, PhD, Dublin Historical Record, ‘Some Dublin Private Banks’, p. 44. Deed between Finlay and Law 13/6/1834, vol.12, no.150, courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment.

[ciii] Selection of Reports and Papers of the House of Commons: Poor in Ireland, Volume 46 (1836), p. 389.

[civ] Saunders's News-Letter, 19 June 1837, p. 4.

[cv] Dublin Evening Mail, 7 March 1838, p. 1.

[cvi] Death of Lt Col Thomas Finlay, Freemans Journal, 29 Dec, 1837.

[cvii] Death of Ursula, widow of Lt Col Finlay, Dublin Evening Post, 8 Aug 1868.

[cviii] Saunders's News-Letter, 17 February 1837, p. 4.

[cix] George Newenham Wright, ‘An Historical Guide to ancient and modern Dublin’ (Baldwin, Craddock & Joy, 1821), p. 60.

[cx] George D Burtchaell and Thomas U Sadlier, ‘Alumni Dublinenses’, 1924 edition, p280, London

[cxi] Saunders NewsLetter, Fri 2 June 1837, Marriage of Rev John William Finlay and Henrietta Isabella Cole.

[cxii] John Burke, Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume 1 (1847) – Cole of Twickenham, Cole of Brandrum.

[cxiii] 'Cole and Co.' in Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' (Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 110-111.

[cxiv] 'Cole and Co.' in Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' (Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 110-111.

[cxv] Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Part 1, 1815, p. 568.

[cxvi] Capt. Henry Cole, Northumberland Fencibles, detailing his services during the Irish rebellion of 1798. 1801 Apr. 21 Ballyshannon. Ref: PRO 30/9/111.

[cxvii] Burke, ‘Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland’ (1847) – Cole of Twickenham.

[cxviii] Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Part 1, 1815, p. 568.

[cxix] 'Cole and Co.' in Lesley Richmond & Alison Turton, 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' (Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 110-111.

[cxx] Alice was the only daughter of Isabella’s uncle Samuel Ibbetson of Denton Park in Yorkshire, once the seat of the Cromwellian General Fairfax.

[cxxi] In 1846 Mrs Cole, Henrietta’s mother, donated £1 to the Protestant (or Pietist) colony of Wilhelmsdorf in Bavaria. The Continental Echo, and Protestant Witnes (1846), p. 224.

[cxxii] Illustrated London News - Saturday 24 June 1871.

[cxxiii] Leinster Express, 12 March 1842, p. 1; Dublin Evening Packet & Correspondent; 26 March 1842, p. 1.

[cxxiv] Freeman's Journal, 20 July 1838.

[cxxv]Registry of Deeds, deed between Finlay, Blayney Cole and Gladstone, 1834, vol.4, no.49. By 1855 Owen was living at Hillside House, Portishead, Somerset. Courtesy of Brida Mulligan, Finlay Assignment.

[cxxvi] 'Cole and Co.' in Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' (Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 110-111.

[cxxvii] In Dublin, the lady of the Rev. J. W. Finlay, of a daughter. Limerick Reporter, 8 Oct 1839.

[cxxviii] On the 17th inst, in Merrion Square, the lady of the Rev. John W. FINLAY, of a daughter. Freemans Journal, 22 Jan 1842.

[cxxix] Canon J.B. Leslie, revised, edited and updated by Canon D.W.T Crooks, ‘Clergy of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh’, p4 & 47.

[cxxx] In 1847, a John Finlay was recorded as incumbent of the Gothic Revival church of Altadesert on The Square, Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone, to be replaced by Alexander Patrick Hanlon in 1849. The church was connected to the Lowry family. In 1849 a John Finlay, BA, started at parish of Brackaville.

[cxxxi] Appendix D, p. 17 – ‘The Archaeological Impact Assessment Reports’ by Valerie J. Keeley Archaeologists.

[cxxxii] The Gentleman's Magazine, 1846.

[cxxxiii] Bertram Mitford married Frances Vernon at Clontarf in September 1806. Monthly Magazine, Or, British Register, Volume 22, 1806.

[cxxxiv] Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook.

[cxxxv] FINLAY.—Feb. 15, at 32, Merrion-square North, Dublin, the lady of the Rev. J. W. Finlay, of a son. London Daily News, 18 Feb 1847.

[cxxxvi] Armagh Guardian, 16 February 1847, p. 1.

[cxxxvii-a] Deed 1819 742 263 505398 of 21 Jun 1819 (CN email 10 Aug 2009) records a mortgage of John Henry North's house and land in Merrion Sq to John Leslie Foster for £1,700. [No. 31 Merrion Square] The house was built in about 1806, sold to Thomas Spunner on 3 July 1806, sold subsequently to Elinor Westropp who on 1 Dec 1818 sold it to John Henry North for £1,700. The yearly rent under the original lease for 129 years was £113.15. Deed 783 126 529261 of 1823 concerns John Henry North's sale of land at Dunleer, Co Louth (EN email 27 Sep 2008).

[cxxxvii-b] Mount Jerome, No.3672.

[cxxxviii] Nenagh Guardian, Wed 21 Feb 1849. Marriage of Rev J W Finlay and Mrs Trevor Stanus (nee Hamilton). Letters written from France by Caroline Hamilton in 1853 to her daughter Caroline Finaly of Corkagh House.

[cxxxix] Stannus v. Finlay, 4 Jan 1873, The Spectator Archive.

[cxl] Weekly Freeman's Journal, 10 November 1860, p. 8.

[cxli] David Cotter and Jennifer Wann, Corcagh Park-Pairc Chorcai, p13, Park and Landscape Service Dept. South Dublin County Council.

[cxlii] The Athenaeum, J. Lection, 1872, p. 402.

[cxliii] The Publishers' Circular and General Record of British and Foreign Literature, Volume 34 (Sampson Low, 1871), p. 679.

[cxliv] Edward Hull and R. J. Cruise, ‘Explanation to Accompany Sheets 91 and 92 of the Maps of the Geological Survey of Ireland’ (H.M. Stationery Office, 1871), p. 21.

[cxlv] Falconer's railway, coach, car and steam navigation guide for Ireland, 1865.

[cxlvi] The full title of the book was ‘The Birds of Ireland - An account of the distribution, migrations and habits of birds as observed in Ireland, with all additions to the Irish list’ (Gurney and Jackson, London, 1900). R. J. Ussher was one of the first authors to contribute to the Irish Naturalist (1892). He studied the fossil remains of extinct avians and mammals at cave sites in Cos. Cork, Waterford, Clare and Sligo in company with English, French and German ornithologists and vertebrate palaeontologists.

[cxlvii] William Ball Wright, ‘The Ussher Memoirs; or, Genealogical Memoirs of the Ussher families in Ireland’, compiled from public and private sources online, p. 229.

[cxlviii] Timothy C. F. Stunt, ‘The Elusive Quest of the Spiritual Malcontent’.

[cxlix] ‘Lieutenant Ernest Edward Foley to be Instructor of Musketry, vice Lieutenant A. G. Schuyler.’ London Gazette, 12 September 1879.

[cl] They may have had a son children Reginald Ernest Ion Foley, born in 1881.

[cli] Richard Vernon (1925-1997), a great-nephew of Colonel H. T. Finlay of Corkagh, was an actor who, amongst other roles, played the voice of Slartibartfast in the cult BBC radio series "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

[clii] See James Quains’ article “The Odells of Carriglea” in the Ardmore Journal (1986).

[cliii] Dublin Daily Express, 25 June 1913.

[cliv] Western Morning News, 6 March 1917.

[clv] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 3 June 1909.

[clvi] Return of Number of Gentlemen appointed to Commission of Peace in Ireland, 1874-76.

[clvii] RCB Library, Vestry Minutes for St. John’s Church Clondalkin, 1929-33. P12&16.

[clviii] The London Gazette, 10 September 1875.

[clix] The Monthly Army List, May 1883, p. 791.

[clx] Waterford Standard, 12 December 1877, p. 3.

[clxi] For much of the information on the Dunne family, I am indebted to Kevin Akers. He traces his lineage to Peter Dunne, a second cousin of General Dunne, whose son James was born at Ballintlea, near Timahoe, but emigrated to California in 1850 where he became a very successful merchant.

Obituary of James Dunne
It is painful to announce the death of James DUNNE, of San Felipe, who departed his life at the Russ House San Francisco last evening, after a lingering illness of 3 months. Mr. DUNNE was born in Queens county, Ireland on the 11th of July, 1817, and was consequently nearly 57 years old. While a mere boy, he emigrated to New Orleans, started a commission merchant business and remained there until the gold excitement in California, when he started for this place, arriving here in the spring of ‘49, in company with his brother Peter. Shortly after arriving here, he and his brother commenced merchandising on Sansome street near Jackson, under the firm name of DUNNE & Co.
The firm afterwards transferred its business to the Pacific warehouse, on the corner of Battery and Broadway streets.
During the long career of this firm, and notwithstanding the many vicissitudes to which early merchants of this city were subjected, the firm of DUNNE & Co. always braved the storm, and passed all trials with flying colors.
It always stood with the first and foremost mercantile houses of the city, and as it became better known it became more and more appreciated.
It was known all over the State for its inflexible integrity, and was made receptacle of the funds of miners and other persons, who preferred leaving their means and earnings in its hands than trusting them in the banks and other institutions which then existed. This confidence was never betrayed or weakened, but, on the contrary, was strengthened by better acquaintance.
The firm was dissolved by mutual consent in the fall of 1859 and James DUNNE saw with his usual sagacity and foresight better remuneration for his services, with less anxiety, in other pursuits than that of merchandising and turned his attention to ranch property.
Nearly all his friends thought the change a foolish and unprofitable one, as his business was yielding him a handsome income, and those engaged in ranch property and stock raising at that time were barely making money enough to pay their taxes; but he saw the way through, and was not to be discouraged.
The correctness of his judgment, and the penetration of his remarkable foresight, may be inferred from the fact that the land which he then purchased for $1.20 cents, an acre, is now valued at from $25 to $200 per acre, and instead of disposing of his land when it had advanced 50 or 100 per cent, as many would have done, he has purchased and added to the number of his acres every year.
Mr. Dunne, in the counties bordering upon his estate, as in San Francisco, was highly esteemed and very popular, and as a public benefactor. For unlike the majority of extensive landowners in California, he did not allow his land to remain idle, but stocked and cultivated it and made every acre yield as income.
By this means he has given constant employment to from seventy-five to one-hundred and sixty men and no needy person ever went to his place in search of employment but what he found something for him to do, and if feeble and unable to work, he had a welcome home there until his strength and health returned.
He was scrupulously particular about his word or promise and those who knew him would accept it for immense transactions and large amounts and feel more content than if they had the bonds of others.
As a friend he was invaluable for in any emergency, let the sacrifice but what it may, his assistance was awarded and favor done to him was never forgotten.
Religious, charitable and educational institutions could always count upon him for assistance in time of need, particularly those having charge of orphans, in whose welfare he took a fatherly interest; in whose welfare he has his liberal hand ministered to their sundry wants
Mr. DUNNE leaves a wife and 4 children to mourn and lament his loss, with whom thousands of the friends will sympathize and join in their bereavement.

[clxii] John Kay, ‘A series of original portraits and caricature etchings’, Volume 2, Part 2, H. Paton, Carver & Gilder, 1838), p. 350. The Pembroke Fencible Cavalry has Muster Books and Pay Lists for 1794-1798 at WO 13/3767 and for 1799-1800 at WO 13/3768.

[clxiii] Michael Comerford, ‘Collections Relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin’, Volume 2 (J. Duffy, 1883), p. 117. See also ‘An Irishman’s Diary’ by Jim Dunne in The Irish Times, Sat, Dec 28, 1996.

[clxiv] Catholic Standard Saturday, October 23, 1875 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Page: 3. With thanks to Kevin Akers for this information.

[clxv] Freeman's Journal, 25 March 1879, p. 8.

[clxvi] Morning Post, 16 March 1896, p. 1.

[clxvii] Army and Navy Gazette, 9 February 1901, p. 16.

[clxviii] Whitaker’s Almanac, 1897, p. 200; Hart's Annual Army List, Militia List, and Imperial Yeomanry List (J. Murray, 1898), p. 874.

[clxix] London Gazette, Part 4 (T. Neuman, 1896), p. 1833.

[clxx] Cheltenham College has his birthday listed as 8th January 1879, as taken from his application form to College.

[clxxi] Barlow Jill, Cheltenham College, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

[clxxii] The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, 22/5/1899.

[clxxiii] He was also to command under 44 Militia Regulations, 17th August, 1901.

[clxxiv] Peter Goulding, The Hero, the Widow and the Army Pensions Board (Lulu.com), p. 40.

[clxxv] The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality (Ingram brothers, 1902, p. 252.)

[clxxvi] Ibid.

[clxxvii] Deaths - The Times, Mar 13, 1902; pg. 1; Issue 36714; col A. Finlay – On the 9th March, at Bushy Park, near Dublin, Helen Lucy, wife of Colonel Henry T Finlay, of Corkagh, Co Dublin, and Commanding 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

[clxxviii] Edward Walford, ‘The county families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal manual of the titled and untitled aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland’. (Volume ed. 59, 1919)

[clxxix] The Illustrated London News (1870), Volume 56, p. 539.

[clxxx] Edward Walford, ‘The county families of the United Kingdom.’

[clxxxi] Belfast Morning News, 21 March 1881.

[clxxxii] Dublin Daily Express, 13 September 1883.

[clxxxiii] While serving on the North-west Frontier with the Royal Artillery in September 1935, Roderick Esmond Thomas Keelan was badly injured in an ambush in which two British officers were killed. Portsmouth Evening News, 1 October 1935, p. 4.

[clxxxiv] In April 2015, my parents visited 100-year-old Margaret Grant at her daughter Annie Coulson’s home near Crief in Scotland.

[clxxxv] Land Purchase - Colonel Henry T. Finlay, Corkagh. Clondalkin, has sold a portion of his Clondalkin estate and over 1000 acres of his County Kildare property at an average price of 23 years’ purchase. New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXXII, Issue 3, 21 January 1904, Page 9.

[clxxxvi] The 1911-1912 Motor Directory for County Kildare.

[clxxxvii] Dudley Colley, ‘Wheel Patter’ (Loft Publications, 2003), reprint, p. 2.

[clxxxviii] The Irish Times, 16 November 1907.

[clxxxix] Irish Times Archives, 22/7/1912; Col Finlay of Corkagh, The Boston Christian Science Monitor, 12 Aug. 1912.

[cxc] Irish Times, 22 Feb 1902.

[cxci] Dublin Daily Express, 26 November 1913.

[cxcii] Bainton E. St. Columba’s College Rathfarnham.

[cxciii] Deaths - The Times, Saturday, May 22, 1915; pg. 6; Issue 40861; col A; Northern Whig, 20 July 1916 refers to Rouge Bancs.

[cxciv] Fallen Officers - Deaths - The Times, Thursday, Jul 20, 1916; pg. 6; Issue 41224; col B.

[cxcv] Katharine Tynan is said to have been a paramour of W. B. Yeats in her youth, rejecting his offer of marriage. The comedian, Dave Allen (née David Tynan O’Mahony) was her nephew.

[cxcvi] The Times, Wednesday, Sep 29, 1915; pg. 1; Issue 40972; col A. ‘Finlay, On the 24th inst, at Dublin, Emily Octavia Finlay, wife of Colonel Henry T Finlay, DL, of Corkagh, Clondalkin.’



For assistance on my book 'CORKAGH - The Life & Times of a South Dublin Demesne 1650-1960’, I offer my immense thanks to Laetitia Lefroy, a daughter of the House of Colley, for her enormous assistance on this project. And also to Dave Power, for his consistent advice and his deft identification of typos and punctuation errors. I also offer manifold thanks to the following for assistance both great and small, yet vital in equal measure.