Wednesday 30 May 2012

The Huguenot Settlement in Lisburn (pt2)


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By Hugh McCall -- 1870.


The tyranny of Louis the Fourteenth, which by revoking the act of toleration call the Edict of Nantes in 1685 forced upwards of three-quarters of a million of his Protestant subjects away from the shores of France, and scattered them abroad over most of the other nations of Europe. A great number of them settled in London, where they founded the art of silk weaving in Spitalfields; some settled in St. Giles, and worked in fancy jewellery and other golden ornaments. About six thousand of them fled to Ireland, of whom many settled in Dublin, where they commenced the silken manufacture, and others sought out for themselves homes in some of the Southern counties. Most of these Huguenots, when at home, had been employed in the manufacture of silk or the finer fabrics of linen. Almost immediately after reaching the place of their adoption they commenced work, imparting to those around them the art and energy they had been wont to exercise when peacefully settled in the land of Gaul. About that date an act had been passed by the Cromwellian parliament prohibiting the import of French linen or cambric, and consequently the demand for such goods had largely increased in Ireland and Great Britain.

During the reign of William the Third, and many years after the first batch of French refugees had settled in Lisburn, Mr. Louis Crommelin joined the colony. This gentleman was a native of Armandcourt, near St. Quintin, where for several centuries his forefathers had carried on the flaxen manufacture on their own extensive possessions in the province of Picardie. Seeing in the distance the little cloud that the betokened the coming of the storm, the Crommelin family, in some degree to escape the persecutions that were commenced against the Protestant population of France, collected their movable property and fled to Holland, where they sought shelter in Amsterdam, and became celebrated there as merchants and bankers. At the personal solicitation of the Prince of Orange, Louis, the junior of the family, came to Ireland for the purpose of taking charge of those colonies of his countrymen which had been established in different provinces of this island. Descended from a long line of leather manufacturers, the members of which had for centuries been promoters of textile enterprise in France, Mr. Crommelin had peculiar claims on the fealty of his fellow refugees, and no sooner has he got settled in his new place of residence than he found himself surrounded by numbers of old friends, all of whom were delighted to acknowledge him as their industrial leader. The manufacture of linen in Ulster was then principally confined to medium and low sets, for although the description of goods made in that province was much superior as to degree of fineness to that produced in any other part of Ireland, still the trade was combined within comparatively narrow limits. Except in a few cases, the looms were badly constructed; some of the more forward weavers had adopted the improved machine introduced nearly six years before by the Earl of Stafford, but the great mass of workmen had clung with the tenacity of prejudice against "Saxon innovation" to the old and rudely-made loon. When leaving Holland for his destined home, the head of the Huguenot people brought with him a number of the newest style of looms, and after arriving at Lisburn he had vast numbers of others formed from these models. In course of that year -- 1698 -- Henric Mark Dupré settled in Lisburn. This ingenious refugee had been famed in his own country for his skill as a reedmaker, and his joining the linen weavers was a most important matter for the trade at that time, the reeds in general use being of an inferior description and unsuited to the manufacture of fine fabrics. Heddle-striking and other sections of loom gearing were re-modelled, and the spinning-wheel, the music of which for nearly a century and a half afterwards added so much to the cheerfulness of the cottagers fireside and the farmer's ingle-nook, was added to the list of improved machines. Previous to the advent of the French refugees into the North of Ireland, the distaff and spindle form to principal mode of flax-spinning; a few of the higher ranks of females, who made the spinning flax one of their sources of amusement, had possessed themselves of wheels, but these were rare and seemed more objects of curiosity than of general use. The Irish spinning-wheel, though simple in form and mechanical construction, wrought wonders for the linen manufacturer, and no sooner had it been adopted in the households of the multitude than a great improvement was affected in the quality of yarns. Then came the superior mode of measuring the thread as it was thrown off the wheel by what was called a reel -- a circular machine so constructed that one hundred and twenty rounds produced a "cut" three hundred yards long; twelve of these counted as a hank, and again four hanks constituted a spangle.

In the working out of projects for the advancement of the linen trade Nicholas De Le Cherois -- who had been Lisburn for a great many years -- took considerable interest, and he, too, had the good fortune to be a favourite with the English monarch. The respective families of the Huguenot leaders were much respected at the Court of St. James, and several of their members received special marks of favour at the hands of the king. There was some years ago in the possession of the house of De Le Cherois a captain's commission, dated the first day of August, 1694, presented by "William and Mary, by the grace of God King and Queen of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, &c., to their trusty and well-beloved Nicholas De La Cherois, Esquire, of Lisburn, Ireland."

The family of De La Cherois originally belonged to Champagne, where they had long held a distinguished place in society. In the fifteenth century one of the most celebrated warriors at Agincourt was of the same stock. Like the other sufferers by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the De La Cherois were forced to fly from France, and leave their large estates behind them. They first took shelter at Amsterdam, and in 1689 the brothers Nicholas and Daniel ranged themselves under the banner of the Prince of Orange. Arriving in Ireland with his Majesty, they were at the meeting of the contending forces near Drogheda, and fought gallantly side by side with French troops during the battle against King James. Nicholas De La Cherois married a sister of Louis Crommelin, and his brother took for his wife a cousin of the same gentleman. King William rewarded him for his heroic conduct that the Boyne by presenting him to a lucrative appointment in India; and Nicholas, who settled at Lisburn, enjoyed the joint personal friendship of his Majesty during the remainder of that monarch's life.

Soon after the French people arrived at Lisburn several branches of the Linen Manufacture Improvement Society were opened in different parts of Ireland, and a grant from the Crown was made for the services of ministers whose duty it was to take spiritual charge of the Gaelic exiles and preach to them in their own language. Lord Conway granted the Lisburn colonists a site for the erection of a place of worship, which was known by the distinctive term "French Church," and stood on the ground later occupied with the Courthouse in Castle Street. The Government grant of sixty pounds per annum was first paid to the Rev. Charles De La Valade, a native of Guienne, who at his death, which took place at Lisburn in May, 1755, was succeeded by a relative of the own, the Rev. Sauamaures Du Bour Dieu, a gentleman of considerable talent in literature, and who left behind him many evidences of his abilities both as a divine and a local historian. The first member of the family of Du Bour Dieu that settled in Ireland was chaplain to the famous Schomberg, and stood beside that gallant soldier at the battle of the Boyne; and when he fell from his horse mortally wounded by gun-shot, the reverend gentleman carried him in his arms to the spot on which he died in a short time afterwards. The son of Schomberg's chaplain, the Rev. Saumaurez Du Bour Dieu, was for nearly half a century minister of the French Church in Lisburn, but for some time before his death, which took place in January, 1812, he held the living of Lambeg, the members of the French Church having by that time gradually merged into union with the congregation of the Lisburn Cathedral. Mr. Goyer, another of the victims of the persecuting Louis the Fourteenth, was clerk in the Huguenot Church, and continued in that situation until the service was given up. His father originally belonged to the province of Picardie, were, in the days of religious toleration in France, he was engaged in the double capacity of farmer and silk manufacturer. After having been dispoiled of all his property, he took refuge in Ireland, and in 1688 arrived at Lisburn, in which place he succeeded in establishing the manufacture of silk goods on what was then considered an extensive scale. Mr. Peter Goyer taught school for many years in Bow Street, Lisburn; and his son, the late Mr. William Goyer, was long known and highly respected as English master in the Belfast Academy.

The town of Lisburn having been one of the principal places chosen by the refugees who sought shelter in Ireland from the persecutions of the intolerant King of France, still contains many records of those Gallic colonists. In the eastern corner of the graveyard that surrounds the handsome Cathedral, the ashes of many of those exiles have long reposed. On one of the tombstones we find the following:-- "Here lieth interred the remains of Ann, wife of Samuel Louis Crommelin, who died the 3rd August, 1718, aged 31 years; also Henrietta, second wife of Samuel Louis Crommelin, who dated 19th of March, 1732, aged 37 years. Esther, wife of James Crommelin, died 2nd September, 1743, aged 41 years. And Samuel Louis Crommelin, who died 2nd September, 1743, aged 57 years." There is also the following additional record on a different gravestone:-- "Six foot opposite lyes the bodye of Louis Crommelin, born at St. Quintin in France, only son of Louis Crommelin and Anne Crommelin, Director of the Linen Manufactory, who died beloved of all, aged 18 years, 1 July, 1711." The director of the French colonists, Louis Crommelin, he whose latest days were spent in giving higher status to Ireland's linen manufacture, died in July, 1727, aged 75 years.

On another stone the following hardly legible letters may be traced:-- "Here lieth the body of John Chartrés, linen merchant of Lisburn, who died on the 31st August, 1719, aged 71 years. Also the body of Frances Marshall, wife of the above, who died December 12, 1691, aged 40 years."

The burial ground of the Obrés had an old headstone from which the ravages of time have obliterated all the characters except "Oct. 1716." On a comparatively new slab there is the following:-- "Here lieth Edward Smith Obré, who died August 1st, 1797, aged 49 years. Also his wife Elizabeth Obré, who died 12th May, 1820, aged 73 yrs." Near the same secret spot another notice says:-- "Here lieth the body of Louis Rachét, merchant, who departed this life the 13th of October in the year of our Lord God 1726, and in the 57th year of his age." In addition to these there were in the Kilrush and Lambeg burial-grounds at the commencement of the present century many gravestones bearing the name of Bulmér, Boyer, De La Cherois, D'Ermain, Du Pré, Bouchier, and St. Clair; but nearly all those mementos have fallen into decay. Many of the remnants of those people are, however, still residents in Belfast and Lisburn. A few of the descendants of the De La Cherois families reside at present in Donaghadee.

The history of the persecution which, under the despotic government of Louis the Fourteenth, spread so much desolation and distress among those whose only crime was their determination to stand by the faith of their fathers, contains some of the most heartrending instances of human sufferings ever endured by any people. In that war against religious freedom Louis Perrin, grandfather of Judge Perrin, lost nearly all he possessed. He was a native of Nonere, and owned some property there, but from which he had been obliged to fly in order to save his life. In due time the ship in which he sailed arrived at Waterford, and after spending some months in that city he journeyed towards the North and settled in Lisburn, where, for upwards of half a century, he was a highly-respected citizen. Louis Perrin, junior, conducted a classical school at the northern end of Castle Street, and while so engaged he published a French grammar which, as an elementary work, attained considerable popularity.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 31 May 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday 24 May 2012

The Huguenot Settlement in Lisburn


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By Hugh McCall -- 1870.

The advent of the Huguenots into Ireland having been the herald of a new era in the annals of the linen trade of the Northern province, it may be necessary here to advert to some details connected with the ancient history of Lisburn, the place chosen as the seat of their principal colony. This town, formerly known as Lis-na-Garvagh -- Anglice, the Mount of Games -- was at one time a stronghold of the famed Captain of Kill-ul-Tagh; and in that part of the town which overlooks the River Lagan and the hills of Down there may still be seen many evidences of the site of his ancient fortress. Lis-na-Garvagh seems to have been even at that day the regal centre of the estate on which it stands; and under the modern title of Lisburn -- taken after the firing of the town by Sir Phelim O'Neil in 1641 -- it still continues the capital of the splendid principality owned by the Hertford family.

The Captain of Killultagh.

Previous to that confiscation of the Irishmen's landed estates which was so general during the Elizabethan reign, the greater proportion of Ulster was held, and had been owned from time immemorial, by different branches of the clan O'Neil. Con, the elder, resided at Castle Reagh -- the seat of the king -- and ruled over a territory stretching from Con's Water, near Belfast, and including the parish of Drum, to the sea coast of Down beyond Greyabbey. Shane O'Neil owned the adjoining property from Belfast to the Antrim shore by Knockfergus (Carrickfergus) to Olderfleet (Larne) and inland as far as Antrim town. The Captain of Kill-ul-Tagh, a younger branch of the O'Neils, was famed as one of the most reckless, but certainly not least popular, member of the ancient sept.

It is remarkable that in those times the Northern chiefs and their vassals were much more turbulent under what they considered the unjust exercise of English rule than their brethren of the other provinces. Con O'Neil was more of a diplomatist than a warrior. Although he occasionally did a little in the belligerent way, still his life was one of quiet and comparative ease. The Captain of Kill-ul-Tagh, on the other hand, could not brook submission to injustice, and in most of the battles maintained against "the invaders of his country," as he designated the English, he had led the way, and displayed high capabilities as a commander of the native forces. The peasantry loved him for his generous disposition not less than they worshipped him for his deeds of daring; and among his peers he was held in the highest estimation for the chivalrous sense of honour which marked his baronial character.

In October, 1585, Sir Henry Sydney, a Lord-Deputy of the Queen, visited the province of Ulster, and in course of his tour called at the castle, or rather the stronghold, of the famous chief, for the purpose of paying his respects to him. But, contrary to the traditional character of the Irish for hospitality, the reception given to the British envoy was the reverse of cordial or kindly, and the proud representative of England's Crown felt his indignation stirred up to its inmost depths at the Celtish contempt shown towards by O'Neil. "I came to Kill-ul-Tagh," said Sir Henry, "whiche I founde riche and plentifule, after the manner of these countreys, but the Captain was proud and insolente. He woulde not come oute to mee, nor had I apt reasone to vysite him as I woulde, but he shall be payde for this before longe. I will not remayne in his debt." His words were prophetic, for in some time after that unfriendly reception the chief, who had ever repudiated Saxon rule, paid the penalty of daring to fling the gauntlet before the haughty official. O'Neil had never been very scrupulous as to his treatment of those he looked upon as ruthless invaders of his native land; but those persons had not sought to win his affection, or in the slightest degree to cultivate his friendship.

The Conways.

Among the commanders of the troops sent over to enforce British rule on the Northern Irish was Sir Falke Conway, a Welsh soldier of high celebrity, and who found great favour in the eyes of Queen Elizabeth because of his prowess in different battles against the Celts. After the demise of his royal mistress, the general added much to his former fame in consequence of his victory over the Earl of Tir-owen. The Captain of Kill-ul-Tagh, having joined the Earl in that campaign, was outlawed, his estates were seized by the Crown and given over to General Conway. Some years afterwards the fortunate soldier was made Governor of Ennis Loughlin, one of the last of the native forts, and which was situate at Trumra, near Moira. Sir Falke died without issue in 1626. His brother, Mr. Edward Conway, the next heir, also found favour in the side of princes. Early in the reign of Charles the First he was presented with the lands of the Derri-Volgie, in addition to the estate which obtained through his predecessor, and in the short time afterwards he was raised to the peerage.

About the year 1627 Lord Conway commenced to erect a castle on the picturesque hill commanding a beautiful view of the valley of the Lagan, and opposite the principal street of his time of Lis-na-Garvagh. A portion of the wall which formed the entrance is yet standing, on the north side of the public walks called Castle Gardens. In the Book of Travels in Ireland published by an English gentleman in 1636, he says:-- "from Belfast to Linsley-Garvin is about seven miles, and appears a paradise conferred with any part of Scotland. Linsley-Garvin is well seated, but neither the towne nor the country thereabout is well planted, being almost woods and moors until you come to Drommoare. The town belongs to my Lord Conway, who hathe there a hainsome castle, but far short of Lord Chichester's houses. Lord Conway's house is seated on a hill, upon the side whereof is planted a garden and orchard, at the bottom of the hill runneth a pleasant river -- the Lagan -- which abounds with salmon. The land hereabouts is the poorest and barrenest I have yet seen, yet it may be made good land with labour and chardage."

The Kill-ul-Tagh and Derri Volgie estates were very thinly populated when they came into the hands of the Conway family, but in a few years afterwards they had been largely colonized by countrymen of their own. Acting on that peculiar characteristic of the Briton, which, in whatever part of the world his lot may be cast, leads him, if practicable, to bring from his native hills as many people as he can prevail on to share his trials and successes, the baron induced many English and Welsh farmers to come to Ireland and settle on his estate, and that this day there are several of the descendants of those immigrants living in that neighbourhood. Among the people then encouraged to settle in that part of Ulster there was a family named Briggs, the head of which was one of the special favourites of the Baron of Kill-ul-Tagh. This man took his place daily at the foot of his masters table -- the chief and his followers dining together -- and in the direction of affairs at the castle he enjoyed a latitude of power second only to that of the chief himself. The utmost faith was reposed in the henchman, and that trust was fully repaid by earnest devotion on the part of the favoured follower. The family of Lord Conway consisted of an only child, Edward Smith, whom the celebrated beauty, Lady Harley, described in her journal as "a fine lad, very stout and very witty, learns apace and forgets as fast." He joined the British Army when he was only 18 years of age, and gained many laurels in the campaigns of those days. His father, in the meantime, had continued to reside on the estate bestowed him by the Crown, and except occasional visits to Wales he rarely left the castle and its neighbourhood. In the great hall of his mansion he maintained all the hospitality for which the ancient lords of Ireland had been famed -- a dinner was served every day, and any sojourner or wayfaring man was welcome to a seat at the table. Towards the tenants on the lands of Kill-ul-Tagh and Derri Volgie Lord Conway is said to have displayed the utmost liberality, and as his desire to witness the progress of peaceful industry was quite as anxious as had been his exultation over the triumphs of war in other days, he made favourable covenants at moderate rents with the farmers, and the latter undertook to make all improvements on the land at their own cost.

Like other of the fortunate recipients of royal patronage, Lord Conway was bound to maintain at his own expense two troops of horse and six hundred foot soldiers, all of whom were raised on his estate. These men had ample accoutrements provided for military purposes, they were regularly drilled and kept in perfect order for immediate service under the Crown.

The Seymour's.

After the death of the first Lord, Edward Smith Conway, his son, who had then attained a high position in the army, returned to Lis-na-Garvagh, and with an only daughter, took up his residence at the castle. The young lady, said to have been exceedingly handsome, were soon afterwards engaged to Colonel Seymour, an officer then commanding British troops in Antrim. This gentleman was the direct descendant of a younger branch of the house of Somerset, which owed much of its fortune to the patronage of Charles the Second. His father being celebrated as a statesman of some mark, held a good position at Court as well as in Parliament. During Clarendon's impeachment he took a prominent part in all the debates, and was himself the bearer of the bill against that nobleman to the Upper Chamber of the Senate. The marriage of Colonel Seymour was the daughter of Lord Conway had been arranged to come off on an early day, the settlements were signed, and all other preliminaries arranged, when the lady was suddenly struck down by disease and died after a few days' illness. Her affianced lover, who was cherished as a son by his intended father-in-law, continued to reside at the castle, and when Lord Conway died in 1683 it was found that all his Irish estates had been bequeathed to him. Almost immediately afterwards he took the name of Seymour Conway, and in 1703 Queen Anne ennobled him by the title of Baron Conway, of Ragley and Kill-ul-Tagh. He was three times married, and his heir -- created Earl of Hertford by George the Second -- was famed as a statesman, and in 1762 held the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Viscount Beauchamp, his son, acting as Chief Secretary. During his reign at Dublin Castle, Lord Hertford rendered very valuable services to the linen trade, and was a liberal patron of the damask manufactory, which some time afterwards was established in Lisburn. From the time of the transfer of the O'Neil property to the hands of the Conways, considerable accessions of settlers from both sides of the Tweed were made to those previously introduced as tenants on those estates. It will, therefore, be seen that at the time of the extirpation of the French Protestants the confiscating policy which preceded the distribution and plantation of land in Ulster had been nearly a century at work.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 24 May 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday 17 May 2012

The Lisburn Estate (1871)


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From the
"Belfast News-Letter,"
December 14, 1871.

Until the date of the late Marquis of Hertford's will, this property had remained intact -- free from the slightest disintegration or augmentation since the days of Sir Fulke Conway, who died on the 4th of November, 1624. Although gathered from two counties -- Antrim and Down -- or rather from two distinct territories, Killultagh and Southern Clannaboy, the estate was perfectly compact, "embracing as in a ring fence," says Dr. Reeves, "the whole barony of Upper Massereene, with small adjacent portions of Upper Belfast and Castlereagh." In other words, this magnificent sweep of territory was thus no less than sixteen miles, in length, from Ballymullen hills, in the County of Down, to Hog-park Point on Lough Neagh, in the County of Antrim, and ten miles in breadth, from the town of Moira, on its southern boundary, to the little village of Crumlin on the north. Within these ample limits are comprised the eleven parishes of Blaris, Lambeg, Derriaghy, Magheragall, Magheramesk, Aghalee, Aghagallon, Ballinderry, Upper and Lower Glenavy, Camlin, and Tullyrusk.

The estate, as originally granted to Sir Fulke, included only the territory of Killultagh, or Coill-Ultach ("Wood of Ulster"), which had previously belonged to a great family of the O'Neills, the chieftain of which had forfeited his lands by joining the great rebel Earl of Tyrone.

Sir Fulke Conway came as an officer in the forces sent by Elizabeth to crush the rebellion in Ulster, and in 1614 was appointed governor of the strong fortress in vicinity of Moira, then known as "Eneshaloghain," or Inislochan. Fyne Muryson, who wrote a history of the struggle with Hugh O'Neill, has the following interesting reference to this stronghold:-- "The foot of Enishlaghlin was seated in the midst of a great bog, and no way accessible but through thick woods, very hardly passable. It had about it two deep ditches, both encompassed with strong pallisadoes, a very high and thick rampart of timber, and well flanked with bulwarks. For defence of the place forty-two musqueteers and some twenty swordsmen were lodged in it. But after that our forces, with very good industry, had made their approaches to the first ditch, the besieged did yield the place to the Queen, and themselves absolutely to her mercy. So a ward of English was left in the castle, after the spoil thereof was taken, wherein were great store of plate, and the chief goods of the best men in the country, being all fled to Tyrone, and the men there taken were brought bound to the Newry, and presented on the 16th of August (1602) to the Lord Deputy."

When Sir Fulke settled in the district, after the suppression of the rebellion, one of his first and most pressing duties was to disperse the wood-kern who literally swarmed throughout the dense woods of Killultagh, and who had served in the armies of Hugh O'Neill until his surrender disbanded them and scattered them over the country to live as they best could. These, now desperate men, generally amused themselves at various kinds of games during the day, and plundered in all directions at night. One of their principal places of rendezvous was in the immediate vicinity of the present town of Lisburn, and was known as Liosnagœarbhach, corruptly Lisnagarvy, meaning the "Gamester's Fort," because the wood-kern there habitually engaged in their games and revelries. Whist Sir Fulke was meditating how he could best free himself from such formidable neighbours the difficulty appears to have solved itself simply and satisfactorily enough. The following it an old chronicler's account of the matter:-- "North-east of the town (Lisburn) there is a mount moated about and another to the south-west; these were formerly surrounded with a great wood, and thither resorted all the Irish outlaws to play at cards and dice. One of the most considerable among them having lost all, even his clothes, went in a passion in the middle of the night to the house of a nobleman in that country, who before had sett a considerable sum on his head, and in this mood be surrendered himself his prisoner, which the other considering of pardoned him; and afterwards this town was built, when the knot of rogues was broke, which was done chiefly by the help of this one man."

The following are the names of the settlers, chiefly English, who succeeded these Irish wood-kern, building and occupying the first fifty houses in the modern town of Lisburn:--

Henry Cloughanson    Robert Taylor
John Norris
Symond Richardson
John O'Murry
Humphrey Dash
T. Date
William Smith
Simeon Batterfield
John M'Nilly
John Slye
Askulfe Stanton
John Golly
Henric Hollcote
Hugh Montgomerie
Francis Burke
Marmaduke Dobbs
Thomas Symonson
Richard Dobbs
Richard Howle
Thomas Paston
John Housmann
John Tippen
Patrick Palmer
Steven Richardson
Robert Warton
Christopher Calvert
William Cubbage
Ann Morgan
John Aprichard
George Rose
Owen Aphugh
Edward Steward
Anthonie Stotthard
Henric Wilson
John Mace
Robert Browne
Humphrey Leech
William Averne
Richard Walker
John Dilworth
Henric Freebourne
Katherine Bland
Edward Gouldsmith
George Davis
Robert Bones
John Savage
William Edwards
Jerome Cartwright
Peter O'Mullred

In this list we have the names of two Irish and one Scotchman, all the others being English and Welsh. Sir Fulke himself was a native of Warwickshire, but the family had also an estate in Wales and the first settlers on his Irish lands came with him no doubt from both the localities now mentioned.

Sir Fulke had that peculiar genius for acquisition and arrangement quite indispensable to a successful settler. He had no sooner got matters quieted in Killultagh than he began to look across the Lagan on the greener and more attractive fields of Southern Clannaboy. Con O'Neill was than selling off that third part of his estate which had been handed over to him as a great favour from James I. He was so beset with Scotch settlers on all his boundaries, and so tied up to let his lands to none but Protestant strangers, that he sold his property right and left to all-comers, and at fabulously cheap rates. Sir Fulke Conway soon opened negotiations with Con from his residence of Ennishalaughin, and obtained then that portion of the estate southward of the Lagan which forms a most valuable addition to the Killultagh lands, lying very snugly and compactly thereto.

At his death Sir Fulke was succeeded by his brother, Sir Edward Conway, whom old Fuller honours with a place among his "Worthies of England," describing him as having "succeeded to his father's martial skill and valour, and twisted therewith peaceable policy in State affairs; so that the gown and the sword met in him in most eminent proportions; and thereupon King James made him one of the principal Secretaries of State. For these his good services he was created Lord Conway of Ragleigh, in Warwickshire, and afterwards, by King Charles, Viscount Killultagh, in the County of Antrim; and lastly, Viscount Conway of Conway, in Caernarvonshire -- England, Ireland, and Wales thus mutually embracing themselves in his honours." This Sir Edward Conway was knighted by the Earl of Essex, at Cadiz, in 1596, and held several important public situations, among which may be mentioned those of Lieutenant Governor of the Brill, Ambassador to Prague, and Captain of the Isle of Wight. He died in 1630, and was succeeded by his son Edward, a well-known but time-serving politician in the days of the Commonwealth. He died in 1655, and was succeeded, by his son -- another Edward -- as third Viscount Conway. This nobleman was a philosopher in his generation, and, as an Irish landlord, much preferable to his father or grandfather -- devoting much time and thought, and even occasionally a little cash, to the improvement of his Killultagh property. He built two elegant and substantial mansions thereon -- one at Lisburn, about the year 1662, and the other at Portmore in 1664. The former was burned in 1707, and never rebuilt; the latter was pulled down in 1761. There was a Deer Park connected with the residence at Portmore, including one thousand acres; and so late as 1770 this magnificent enclosure continued to be well stocked, with deer, and swarmed with pheasants, jays, and wild turkeys, all of which were then rare in Ireland. This third and last Viscount Conway was created an earl in 1679, and died, without issue, in 1683. His sister Dorothy, an amiable and intelligent woman, had married Sir George Rawdon, of Moira; and it was confidently expected that their son -- Sir Arthur Rawdon -- would have been left the Irish estate at least. But by the old Earl's will, which was made only three days before his death, the whole property, English and Irish, was handed over to his cousin, Popham Seymour. Sir Arthur Rawdon disputed the will, but to no purpose. When the Revolutionary struggle came on, Sir Thomas Newcomen, of Mosstown, a warm adherent of James II., wrote to Lady Rawdon, endeavouring through her to detach her husband, Sir Arthur, from the Association of Northern Protestants, and referring in the following terms to their loss of the Lisburn estate:-- "If your husband was advised by me, he would do as he did in Monmouth's rebellion -- offer to raise men to serve the King, and by that means entitle himself to Mulgrave and Seymour's estate in Ireland, out of which he was so notoriously wronged." "Mulgrave" was the old Lady Conway, who had been previously married to Earl Mulgrave, and who had been bequeathed the Irish property during her life. Sir Thomas Newcomen's method of rectification appeared at the time a very simple one, and Lady Rawdon, would have caught at the tempting bait, but Sir Arthur wisely declined, not caring to jeopardise his magnificent Moira estate.

(Next week: The Huguenot Settlement in Lisburn.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 17 May 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday 10 May 2012

Stannus v. Northern Whig, 1872


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Court of Queen's Bench, December, 1872.

This extraordinary trial came up for hearing before a special jury in Dublin on December 19th, and continued for eight days.

The damages were laid by Mr. Stannus at £10,000, and resulted in a verdict for £100.

The libel consisted in certain statements which appeared in the "Northern Whig," and which Mr. Stannus considered reflected adversely and unfairly on his management of the Hertford Estate, and contributed materially to his loss of the agency.

The defence contended that there was no malice or persona! animus against Mr. Stannus, that the management of so large an estate was legitimate matter for comment, and that certain allegations were true.

Whatever purpose the trial may have served, it has at any rate placed on permanent record a vivid and startling picture, of the conditions under which the tenants on the Hertford Estate lived prior to 1870 -- conditions that supervened on hundreds of other Irish estates before the introduction of the new land laws.

A large number of witnesses were examined, and many lengthy speeches delivered.

The judge charged strongly in favour of the plaintiff. The jury could not agree. It was only after considerable pressure from the judge that the jury finally agreed to a verdict for Mr. Stannus, fixing the damages at £100.

Counsel for Plaintiff -- Notes from Opening.

The libels complained of were published in the "Northern Whig" of 2nd and 3rd August, 1872. For nineteen years Mr. Stannus had been agent of the Hertford Estate, to which he had succeeded on the retirement of his father, Dean Stannus. The estate was about fourteen miles long by ten in breadth, and the town of Lisburn was entirely built upon it. It comprised 54 townlands. There were nearly 3,000 tenants from year to year, occupying distinct holdings, and 1,000 mora holding on lease. Dean Stannus was appointed agent in 1817, and under his management, said counsel, the estate flourished and the tenantry were happy and prosperous. About 75 per cent, of the population on the estate was Protestant, and 25 per cent. Roman Catholic. Dean Stannus continued agent up to the year 1853.

When the plaintiff lost the agency a few months ago, due in some degree to the defendant, whose object seemed to be to write him to death if possible, the Hertford Estate represented nearly £60,000 a year.

In 1870 the fourth Marquis died, and left the whole of his personal estate, which was little short of a million in money and value, to Sir Richard Wallace, and on the construction of a codicil to the will of the Marquis depended the question whether he had revoked the devise of the real estate and given it also to Sir Richard. After three trials a compromise was entered into, and Sir Richard Wallace got the Irish estate absolutely and paid to Sir H. Seymour £200,000 down and £8,000 a year until the payment of a further £200,000.

Counsel referred in detail to the case of Captain Bolton and his ejectment from his school, and exonerated Dean Stannus in his course of action. The defeat of the office candidate, Mr. Inglis, as member of Parliament for Lisburn in 1852, was fully gone into. Lord Hertford was reported as saying in regard to the electors who opposed Mr. Inglis -- "If they chose to be so very independent, he could be so too, and would require them to pay something like the value of their holdings." These and other matters were discussed, to the detriment of Mr. Stannus, in the "Whig."

When Sir R. Wallace succeeded to the Hertford Estate he removed Mr. Walter T. Stannus from the agency, and appointed Mr. Capron, a London lawyer.

Counsel, proceeding, said -- Mr. Stannus was held up to the world by the "Whig" as a person who had played the despot to such an extent that 99 out of every 100 of the tenants over whom he had long tyrannised would, if free, vote against his being continued as agent, and it was represented that he had become an object of hatred and aversion to the tenantry.

Further, it was stated that, having been a tyrant for years, he now, when the agency was in question, was mean enough to send his hireling bailiffs to hawk amongst those very tenants, who hated him, a memorial praying for his continuance in the agency.

Counsel denied that these matters about the Hertford Estate were matters fit for public comment. But even if they were, were they true? The "Whig" kept tapping at Mr. Stannus, and largely contributed to his loss of the agency. The defendant could only produce 35 cases out of 4,000 tenants in 19 years. Counsel went into details regarding various statements which appeared in the "Whig" reflecting on his client and his management of the estate.

Mr. Stannus under Examination.

It is stated in the libel I preferred one gentleman to another, Sir R. Wallace being an adventurer and Papist. I do not believe him to be such, but the reverse. I continued as agent until the decision of the Exchequer Court, and a short time after that I was discontinued as agent, following the compromise with Sir R. Wallace. At this time there was a memorial from the tenants to Sir Richard congratulating him, and expressing a hope I would be continued as the agent. It was prepared by the Rev. R. Hill, rector of Aghalee. I gave orders that no bailiff on the estate should have anything to do with it, nor did I ever ask any tenant to sign it. There was no regular system of fining on the estate, and when inflicted it was very small. Shooting on the estate was reserved for the Marquis and strictly preserved, etc.

Counsel for the Defence.

The attention in this case was whether a public journal was to be restrained by any restraint beyond that which was the restraint acknowledged by the law. He would not ask any jury to permit a public journalist to conceal under the cloak of public writing spleen or malice. The jury should find private malice against defendant before they could find a verdict for Mr. Stannus, and he hoped to satisfy them that the defendant acted without any improper personal feeling towards him. Was not the management of a vast property like the Hertford Estate a legitimate matter for comment? They were dealing with matters of public interest. He contended that the agent's conduct towards the tenants who did not vote in accordance with his wishes had been arbitrary and such as Lord Hertford would not himself have sanctioned.

Mr. Stannus, without any suggestion from Lord Hertford, had, he submitted, dealt unfairly and arbitrary with Mr. Miller because he voted against the office candidate. Remonstrance on the part of Mr. Miller, who had been a tenant for twenty years, was no use, and there was no appeal from the dictum of an independent agent. Mr. Richardson, too, was made to feel the force and pressure of the estate office because he dared to exercise his franchise in an independent manner. Captain Bolton and his school was another victim to the system of oppression, and these are only isolated cases. In the 1857 election the bailiffs admittedly canvassed at the rate of £15 each when Mr. Stannus was expense agent. Yet Mr. Stannus would have the jury believe he did not know they were so acting.

The religious element ought never to have been dragged into the caae. It had, however, been brought in. In the flourishing town of Lisburn there were a considerable number of Presbyterians. At the time there was one small Presbyterian church in the town, a second Presbyterian church was established, and as they were obliged to assemble for Divine worship in the Courthouse, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman -- Mr. Berkeley, since the Moderator of the General Assembly -- thought proper, humbly and in a proper spirit, to represent to the agent of Lord Hertford that there was a necessity for a site being granted in Lisburn for a new meeting-house. The General Assembly of the Church approved the scheme. Mr. Stannus not only refused the site, but even refused to meet a deputation to discuss it, and cancelled the privilege of using the Courthouse.  At the time -- 1861 -- there were 610 Presbyterian families in Lisburn. The Rev. Mr. Clarke was called to the care of the new and struggling congregation, and found it impossible that he could discharge his functions without some place where his people could assemble. A deputation, consisting of the most eminent members of the General Assembly, sought an interview with Dean Stannus on the subject. The Rev. Dr. Cooke was one of them. What was the reply to the courteous request of the deputation? That the deputation might not wait upon him, as "he would not give one foot of ground from Ballinderry to Dunmurry for the purpose." That was said by Dean Stannus, acting for his son, the agent for the estate.

All these allegations, he (the Attorney-General) would prove, and were they not matters for public criticism and fair comment? He would also be able to establish that a tenant named John Hall, who had a valuable tenant-right interest in his farm, wanted to sell it, and was offered £2,000 by a man named M'Corry, but the office, having found out that the intending purchaser was a Roman Catholic, refused to assent to the sale, and Hall was obliged to sell the farm to another man for £1,500.

It was in proof that a system of fining the tenants of this vast estate was practised by the agent. Was not that a matter fit to be dealt with by a public journalist? No landlord or agent had the right to impose upon the tenant a court unknown to the constitution of the country without agreement by the tenant. It was also in evidence that the power to fine was actually delegated to a clerk in the office. There was evidence that the rents were moderate and the value of the tenant-right high, but what was complained of was that there pervaded the idea, as the substratum on which all rested, that the office was to be looked to, to bo consulted, and whose wishes were to be obeyed irrespective altogether of the religious or political views of the tenantry.

It was a rule of the estate that no dog should be kept by a tenant. Think of that. Over this immense estate of 140 square miles no tenant could keep a dog. In the well-known case of Beatty, the rent would not be taken until the dog was killed and the dead body laid within the office as proof that the agent's will was carried out. The dog was a special favourite of its master, and an offer was made to have it removed from the estate, but nothing less than the death of the dog would be accepted and the head and tail left in a bag at the office.

Then there was the matter of the pressure brought to bear upon tenants to subscribe to the Lisburn and Antrim Railway. Several cases were cited.

Pursuing the course of this arbitrary conduct, they had the case of the Island Spinning Company, in which the agent and a director had a dispute, when strong language on both sides was used, and resulted in the raising of the rent of a bridge from a nominal sum to £10 a year, and despite a written apology for the words used, the increased rent remained till the accession of Sir Richard Wallace.

In 1867 the representatives of Captain Bolton were evicted from the Piper Hill property, Lisburn, because the agent would have an Episcopalian schoolmaster in charge of Captain Bolton's school, and not a Presbyterian, as the captain wished and enjoined. The case of Edward Bell, patron of a national school, who allowed the tenant-farmers of his district to hold meetings in the school, was gone into.

Counsel, proceeding, stated that he had shown interference in religious matters, the arbitrary fining of tenants without jurisdiction or consent, the eviction of tenants for not submitting disputes to the office, the raising of rents, interference in elections, and actual evictions, all proving a system of high-handed management of the estate up to 1870.

Mr. Stannus decided on the 4th May, 1871, to espouse the cause of Sir H. Seymour and act as his agent, notwithstanding that at that time the ownership of the estate was still in doubt. Could it then be said that an agent was libelled because it was said of him that he was bound to use all his influence in the cause he had espoused? One of the statements in the alleged libels was that Mr. Stannus used Sir H. Seymour. Why, even a counsel ia a case was bound to do all he could for his client, and why not the agent of a man who appointed him to the management of his property? That Mr. Stannus backed the wrong horse is quite another matter. Yet it was pressed upon the jury that the alleged libels led to Mr. Stannus's dismissal by Sir Richard Wallace.

Counsel referred to the address or memorial got up by the Rev Mr. Hill to Sir R. Wallace asking for Mr. Stannus's retention as agent, and commented on his relation and action in connection with the same and the methods resorted to in procuring the signature of tenants.

Concluding, counsel said -- Our case in not that the statements are true, but that the comment is a fair one, and the only two allegations of fact we are to prove are that there was a tyrannical system of management on the estate and that there was undue influence exercised Lisburn elections. It would be proved as a fact by tenants that, as stated in the libel, there was a feeling of rejoicing that Mr. Stannus ceased to be agent. He would call tenant after tenant to prove that, and were they not entitled to their opinions, and to publish them, even though unreasonable? The tenants were asked in the address to Sir R. Wallace to say the management of the estate had been satisfactory. Some thought it was, and others thought the contrary. It was true the address was carried round by bailiffs, though Mr. Stannus ordered that they should not do so; but the statement in the libel was not that he caused them to do so, but that it was hawked about by bailiffs. It was no libel to say of a man that he was not liked. Mr. Stannus did appear to have been an irresponsible agent, and cases were cited to show that strong comments in newspapers upon the conduct of individuals were permissible where they were made bona fide and without malice. The defendant acted from a sense of duty to the public and free from malice. In finding a verdict they were to consider that it was not the man that was attacked, but the system.

The speech occupied six hours.

(Next week: The Lisburn Estate.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 10 May 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday 3 May 2012

Four Days With The Guns

Lisburn Officer's Thrilling Experiences.  

Shells Too Numerous To Dodge.  

80 Walked Straight Through German Barrage.

The following further hair-raising experiences of a young Lisburn artillery officer in the opening days of the present German offensive will, doubtless, be read with keen interest. Few officers have seen more of the horrors of war and preserved a whole skin, while few, we think our readers will agree, posses a more facile pen:--

I have already given you, he says, a very short account of the awful week commencing March 21st, but as I am sure you would like to hear all, the details, I will try to give you them as far as the Censor will permit. In the mess we still hardly care to talk much about our adventures, for though some of us have the Somme in '16, Arras in '17, Messines and Ypres behind us, not one of us has ever experienced such a perfectly hellish time. Still, I think the greatest of all our blows is the loss of our beloved major. I have had quite a few commanding officers, good, bad, and indifferent, but never has it been my fortune to serve under such an efficient battery commander and such a perfect gentleman. I am sure I can truly say that there was not one officer or one man in our battery who would not have followed him to certain death and been glad to go. He was always thoughtful, always appreciative, justly kind and justly stern, as the case required. It will take more than a few years before his memory grows dim in our hearts.

I don't quite know where to start my experiences, but I had better begin with the morning of the 21st, and I can hardly be telling anything more than everybody knows by way of the Press, We were in position in front of ---------------, well up the famous valley which is perhaps best known as Death Valley. Certainly it lived up to its name on the 21st and 22nd. We had also a detached section behind ---------------, but I will finish with --------------- first, as did the Huns. On the 20th I was orderly officer, which, as work was heavy, was not a particularly enviable job, and the 20th was a busy day. I had several shoots and concentrations to run, and during the night a long programme to keep an eye on. The brigade adjutant was also very busy, for he kept me on the 'phone almost continuously during the night, with the result that instead of snatching a few hours' sleep I was up the whole time. At 4-30 a.m. I lay down, and began to think I had at last finished, but just as I was dosing off the Boche opened out with drum-fire. That had me up at once. S.O.S. was only about five minutes in coming through, and as we were ready laid and loaded we opened full blast at once. I tried to get the forward observation officer, but, as he told me afterwards, the lines had gone as soon as the barrage came down. Consequently, so far as we were concerned, we knew nothing of what was going on forward.

At 5-15 the right section reported that they were being heavily shelled with 5.9's; immediately afterwards the left section reported they were getting it rather hot too, but could carry on. A message with a new target came through from brigade, so I worked it out, but found the line to the guns had been cut, so had to get a runner. How he got through I don't know, for round the guns there was nothing but a lashing hail of bursting shells. Nobody could speak too highly of the gunners. That day never was our rate of fire reduced, though the detachments were thinned by casualties, and I estimate the shells were falling about three per minute all round our pits. The major was everywhere, confident, fearless, cheerful, bucking up everybody. My post became rather uncomfortable about 8 o'clock, with the result that we had to move, taking all maps and instruments with us. It was however, rather out of the frying pan into the fire. Close mathematical work under shellfire is not very entertaining. Anyhow, we got all our new targets out in good time, which is the chief consideration.

German infantry soldiers engage in combat during the Spring Offensive.

One of the section officers was hit, and the man who was to relieve me at 9 o'clock went to the guns to take his place, so the skipper and I carried on in the B.C. post under a bank, with target after target pouring in on us. The Hun was now doing an area strafe, which is simply pumping into an area and hoping for the best, thereby making that area decidedly uncomfortable, as one can never judge what he is trying for or where the next shell is going to burst. He stopped for a short while shelling the guns, which let us relieve what was left of the detachments, though I am afraid it was not much relief. All this time we had no idea of the situation except from rumour, and even that was very vague, brigade being much too busy to be worried by us. However, about 12-30 p.m. the guns reported that machine-gun bullets were coming over, and at one o'clock my Lewis gunners declared that what they judged to be hand-to-hand scrapping was going on some 1,000 yards on their right front; and half an hour later that they were firing on a party of enemy coming down the valley. At the same time we got orders to fire on a paint only some 1,200 yards in front, and the guns reported two casualties from machine-gun fire. We mustered what few rifles we had and stood by.

The major went forward to reconnoitre, and when he came back gave orders to scupper the guns and, retire, as he could see no infantry in front of us. I think it must have broken his heart to give that order, for he stayed on until everyone had gone, and, according to a bombardier who was with him, visited every dugout to make sure everybody was away. Coming back he was hit in the head by a bullet -- machine guns were sweeping the road -- and we never saw him again. We set out, carrying away what we could -- instruments, maps, a little kit, and our wounded -- and made for our rear section. I don't think I shall ever forget that walk. it was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. I was carrying my trench coat, a pack, a rifle, and the O.P. officer's coat, as he, poor fellow, was in a state of collapse and could hardly stagger along. The men were split up in small parties, and it was a trying job to keep them from either bunching or straggling. The first was dangerous owing to the Hun planes, which were doing low flying and machine-gunning every visible object; the second because once our parties got separated it meant valuable minutes wasted collecting them. That march was a nightmare. To reach our rear section was a matter of about six kilometres across country, edging a little back all the while. The roads were terrible -- long-range guns, transports moving, walking wounded, retreating gunners, dust and heat. I stopped at a cross roads to collect stragglers, and having collected some 20 men, pushed on again.

Operation Michael: British troops retreat, March 1918
My party was a sorry looking lot, composed of the last detachments on the guns, three slightly wounded, and some of the oldest and least fit men in the battery. Some of the men off the guns were without coats, some carrying rifles, and some what little kit they could snatch up. One or two had been continuously on the guns since 6 a.m. on the 20th, and were beaten to the world. It took us until 5-30 to reach our position. I think what heartened me more than anything was the sight of our two guns blazing away, and a party of R.E.'s playing football a short distance off. A cup of hot tea, a biscuit, some bully beef, my coat on the floor of a dugout, and for four hours the war was forgotten. Unfortunately, about 10 o'clock the Huns started on harassing fire, and we had to take to our rear trench for two hours. After that we were all too cold to sleep again. All this time the guns were blazing hard, and it is wonderful we had no casualties, for it was a perfect pandemonium. One shell fell only ten yards from a gun. At five we had a sort of stand-to. I went out with my Lewis gun and a small party of rifles, but at seven o'clock, the Boche showing no sign of attacking, we came into breakfast.

All day we kept up our full rate of fire, only resting to change targets or let the guns cool. Our officer went forward to try and get some information, but after six hours came back, having discovered nothing definite. Brigade assured us that all was well until four o'clock, when they asked us if we had any information. Naturally we had not, but afterwards noticed a battery of equal size to our own commence to pull out. We reported this to brigade, but the reply was to "carry on." About an hour later a field battery beside us said they were bringing up their team, but had no orders about pulling out or going forward. This we also reported, and were directed to have our own transport standing by, and were given a rendezvous some miles back. Up till now, except for stray shell, we had been more or less left alone, but at five o'clock something unpleasantly like a barrage began to come down just in front of us. A thick ground mist blotted out everything within half a mile radius, but it was not until a field battery came back along the road that we had even a suspicion that all was not well. Again we asked for instructions, only to find our line to brigade was blown to bits. The captain waited half an hour, but as the line was not yet working and rumour had it the Hun had broken through on our right, he gave orders to pull out. As it turned out, rumour spoke true, and an hour later our position was the scene of some hard hand-to-hand fighting. The guns reached the rendezvous about 10 p.m., and at 11 we were all hard at work, digging in, though officers and men were pretty well used up.

Dawn found us ready for action. Except for a few firing stores we had nothing, as we had not had transport to bring them away, but we had enough to fire 100 rounds and another 300 which came up during the day. None came up that night -- 23rd -- but one gun went out of action and could not be repaired, so during the night of the 23rd and the day of the 24th we tried to double our rate of fire with our remaining gun. At 4 p.m. on the 24th brigade wired through for us to send an officer forward to get in touch with our infantry, or to get some reliable information. This duty fell to me, and having collected four orderlies, I set out. The Hun was doing some counter-battery work which made my progress rather difficult -- so difficult, indeed, that finally I gave up all hope of dodging and decided to go straight up and take my chance. The battery area being passed, things were quieter, but ahead the Boche was shelling hard. More by good luck than good guidance, I struck the infantry brigade H.Q. to which I had been sent.

The news was not very reassuring nor very definite, but I sent it back by two of my runners, while I set off to find another brigade which was roughly pointed out to me on the map. This time luck was all against me. I ran into a barrage to start with, and one runner got slightly wounded, which of course delayed my progress. I scoured the country for this H.Q., but could find it nowhere. There was still some shelling, and the night was inky black. I tried to retrace my steps, but got quite lost. Eventually I found a field artillery H.Q., who made me very welcome. There I evacuated my casualty, and learned the "cheerful news" that the enemy were attacking on our right and had made some headway. Away went my remaining runner, and it was when our brigade got this message and our last gun went out of action that the battery pulled out once again. An hour later three fresh runners turned up for me. By this time the Hun appeared to be held, so two were again sent back with this report. Hardly had they gone when I learned our right flank had been broken, and the brigade I was with were told to clear their guns away. I waited with them until they had all their batteries out, and than set off to discover something on my own.

All I could find were some infantry digging in, and who were very indefinite about the position of their H.Q.; so after stumbling about for half an hour and finding no information of value, I made my way back. Eventually I reached a new brigade of R.F.A., who were only keeping in action till the brigade I was with were in position. They could tell me nothing, so I carried on back. By this time I could hardly walk, not having had my boots off for four days and being on my feet most of the time. However, I got back to the position to find it -- bare, and not a soul to be seen. I could have cried. I rested a few minutes, but as my runner went to sleep and I nearly did the same, I thought it best to report at once to brigade. It took us an hour to do two miles, and the chair and drink at the end of it just about saved my life.

The dates given in the above account coincide with the German offensive, Operation Michael.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 3 May 1918. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Seymour v Wallace – Third Trial, Feb. 1872


-- -- -- --
-- -- -- --


-- -- -- --




Tried before seven judges. Three decided in favour of Seymour, four in favour of Wallace.

Immediately after the decision arrangements were entered into for a final appeal to the House of Lords. An agreement, however, was come to a few months afterwards between the parties, whereby Sir Richard Wallace took over the Irish estate absolutely, paying Sir George Hamilton Seymour the sum of £400,000.

The Chief Baron,

in giving judgement in favour of Sir Richard Wallace, said he could not expunge from the codicil and treat as nul the expression "real." It referred to the real estate given by the will, which dealt only with the Irish estates, for the testator had no other real estate.

Had the word "real," any meaning at all?

Treating this not as a lawyer, but looking at it from the testator's position with all the surrounding circumstances, including the antecedent circumstances, he was satisfied the fourth marquis must have understood what was meant by the expression "real estate." From his education and intelligence, from his opportunities of knowledge as a member of the House of Lords, and from previous dealings with property, there could be no doubt he had present to his mind when writing the codicil that he was dealing with real as well as with personal estate.

There was evidence leading to a necessary inference that he must have perused the will. In the body of the will there was a correction in his own handwriting, introducing the word "Sir" before the name of Hamilton Seymour, and adding "Minister Plenipotentiary at Brussels." On the back of the will was the memorandum in his own handwriting, dated in August, 1848, and the date of the codicil was June, 1850, so that it might fairly be presumed he had the contents of the will in his mind when he made the codicil.

It was said he did not know the distinction between real and personal estate, but that was highly improbable in the case of a person of his rank, education, and enlightenment. It was difficult to assume that he did not know the significance of the word "real" when using it in the codicil. He (the chief Baron) could not imagine a condition of mind in which he would write "real and personal estate" without intending to convey that there was a thing called "real" and a thing called "personal estate." In the codicil he dealt with the residue of all his real and personal estates, and the only real estate given by the will was his Irish estate. The defendant, if he meant to exclude these Irish estates, must show that there was other real estate upon which the codicil could operate. It did not appear that any such other real estate existed. Therefore the testator truly described the devise of all his Irish estates to Lord Henry Seymour as a devise of the residue of all his real estate. The word "real" must have the ordinary import, unless there was something in the context to repeal that meaning.

Then what was the meaning of the word "residue?" It was what remains after dealing with the whole. He gave the large annuity of £12,000 and created other charges, and would it not be reasonable to say that what remains after deducting these charges was the residue?

The plaintiff was to get the real estate, subject to these charges, and what remained to him after these charges was the residue.

But he had the testator interpreting his own meaning, and saying he understood the residue to be all that he gave to Lord Henry Seymour, and what he gave to Lord Henry was what remained after paying the £12,000 a year and other charges.

He (the Chief Baron) was unable to ascertain the slightest doubt that the testator did intend to revoke the bequest of the real estate to Lord Henry Seymour, and to revoke that the bequest of real estate under the word residue. True, there was no express revocation of the ultimate limitations, but they were revoked the moment there was a clear revocation of the first gift of the subject-matter of these limitations. Anything more baseless, unsupported by a single particle of fact, than the notion that the testator did not understand the meaning and effect of what he was writing in the codicil, he never heard.

He adopted the proposition that the judge could not make up his mind without reasonable doubt that the codicil revoked the will, he ought to allow the will to stand. If there was a reasonable doubt, that doubt was not to be resolved by ratiocination.

He was not at all surprised that there should be a disposition to attribute to the testator a desire to connect the estate with the family title. That was a natural sentiment in which he entirely sympathised. He was one of those who thought that the great houses which had existed for ages, or even arose in modern times, should be maintained. He was not, therefore, surprised at the desire to sustain dispositions which kept property connected with titles. But sitting in a court of law, he should fling all these consideration to the winds when he came to the great maximum of the law, that he who is the owner can dispose.

It did appear a strange thing that these half-dozen lines of a codicil should dispose of these vast possessions without the intervention of a of a solicitor to draft a conveyance, and that there should not be a resort to some of that eminent profession who had for ages aided in the disposal of property. But still he could not hold that the express words of a man of education and enlightenment should not have all the force the belonged to them according to the import of words in the English language. Placing himself, as a brother judge had said, in the position of the testator himself, when writing the codicil or called on to construe it the day after it was written, he could not entertain a doubt but that the codicil revoked the devise of the Irish estates to Lord Henry Seymour and give them to the plaintiff. He was, therefore, of opinion the judgement of the Common Pleas should be reversed, and that the verdict should be entered for the plaintiff -- Sir Richard Wallace.

Lord Chief Justice Whiteside

delivered judgement for the defendant -- Sir George Hamilton Seymour -- affirming the decision of the Common Pleas and Assize Court.

It was said by the Chief Baron that this question should be regarded with the eye of common sense. He owned that came upon him as a surprise. It was observed that they must regard the testator as an educated man. They were asked to take up his this fifth codicil and interpret by itself. He would do nothing of the kind. He would consider the antecedent instruments and facts, and then consider the codicil and its effect on the will.

After the fourth marquis came of age, his first act was to entail and settle the estates, and all this was to be set aside by a codicil. There was no question but that the will was a clear and precise document.

There was grave doubt as to Lord Hertford's understanding of the word "real."

There was a legacy to Sir R. Wallace of £30,000, and an annuity for life to a lady of £12,000, and then Lord Henry Seymour was made residuary legatee of all the personal estate. That will remained untouched for twelve years.

He now came to the codicils, the first four of which referred to the will, and affirmed the will, and the legacy given to a lady by the fourth codicil was to go, in the event of death, to Lord Henry Seymour, the residuary legatee under the will. It was said that with these intentions, expressed over and over again, affirming the will, he suddenly conceived the idea of revoking the will and of disinheriting his brother, the heir of the marquisate.

The fifth codicil was made only seven days after the fourth.

The two great principles which governed the conduct of men in this world were love and hate. There was evidence of a growth of affection Sir Richard Wallace, but where was the evidence of any change of feeling -- of any hatred -- towards Lord Henry Seymour, to explain the stripping that brother of every acre of the hereditary estates in Ireland? Lord Hertford understood the evils of a pauper peerage, and the blessing of living in a country where a powerful aristocracy supported the monarchy. Was it to be said Lord Hertford, knowing the rank of the family, and the requirements of the title, intended by the fifth codicil to take away every acre of the paternal estates in Ireland from Lord Henry, who in the course of nature he would have regarded as his successor in the title? In his opinion the clause of revocation in the codicil did not apply to the devise in the will of the Irish estates. He had no doubt whatever but that the object of Lord Hertford was to entail the Irish estates on his family.

The codicil like this, made without legal assistance, ought not to set aside a well drawn according to established legal principles, unless that revocation was clearly and distinctly expressed.

The word "real" was in the codicil, no doubt, but did it apply to the real estate disposed of by the will? How could anyone say that this codicil, infelicitously and obscurely worded, was clearer than the limitations contained in the will? The position of the word "real" in the codicil must not be overlooked. The four first codicils dealt only with the personal estate, and it was the fifth dealt with all the real estate as well. The word "real" must be estimated by the context, and that context dealt only with the personal estate.

The position of Lord Hertford and the circumstances of the family had been overlooked in construing this codicil. This codicil should be regarded as a general devise of the residue of all the testator's real and personal estate; that would not revoke the device to Lord Henry, which was not a devise of a residue of real estate, but it would affect a gift of what had not been previously disposed of.

There was a gift of the "residue" of personal estate to Lord Henry, but no gift of a residue of real estate. If the testator meant to give the Irish estate to Sir R. Wallace, why did he not revoke all the limitations over those estates, after the limitation to Lord Henry? If it were to be held there was a revocation, it would be only of what was given to Lord Henry himself -- namely, a life estate -- and Lord Henry being dead, Sir R. Wallace would take nothing.

His Lordship give reasons for supposing that the testator used the word "real" in reference to other property called "effects" in the will, and said he was for these reasons of opinion that the judgement of the Common Pleas should be affirmed; but the majority of the Court holding the other way, the judgement of the Court must be one reversing the judgement of the Common Pleas, and entering a verdict for the plaintiff -- Sir Richard Wallace -- with costs.

Chief Justice Whiteside referred twice to the length of the address delivered by counsel for Sir Richard Wallace.

And all this -- referring to the will -- was to be set aside by a codicil, which they were told was as clear as day, but which it took counsel a day and a half to obscure.

The fact that the counsel was a day and a half trying to clear up the codicil satisfied him that there must be obscurity in it.

He further spoke rather disparagingly of Lord Hertford's ability to understand the meaning of the word "real".

(Next week: Stannus v. "Northern Whig.")

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 3 May 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)