Turtle Bunbury

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Above: The Carlow Hunt IMFHA. 1937/38 Season. Browne's Hill House Lawn Meet. Huntsman Jack Stratton and 1st whip Rufus Kehoe.
With thanks to John P Ryan.

Browne Clayton of Browne's Hill, Co. Carlow

Motto: Fortiter et fideliter.

I penned the following account of Browne's Hill for the Irish Times on 30 July 2020. I include it here now as an introduction before moving on to the rest of my findings to date. I have not yet researched this family in the depth they merit.

For most people in Carlow, the name Browne’s Hill is synonymous with the mighty dolmen that stands just outside the town. The Browne’s Hill Dolmen, which boasts one of the largest capstones in Europe, is named after a townland which, in turn, takes its name from the Brownes, the family who lived here from 1763 through until the 1950s.

As one of the few surviving Georgian mansions in County Carlow, Browne’s Hill is a building of considerable historical value. The handsome mansion occupies the site of an ancient abbey that was granted to the Browne family from Essex in the 17th century.

The family descend from Sir William Browne of Abbas Roding, Essex, whose second son Robert came to Ireland as an officer with Oliver Cromwell’s army in the 1640s. His son, another Robert, was appointed Sovereign of Carlow by King Charles II and narrowly avoided a grizzly death during the Williamite wars.

By 1700, the Brownes were one of the most powerful dynasties in Carlow, owning property in both the town and county, as well as extensive lands in Dublin, Kildare and elsewhere.

Browne’s Hill House was built in 1763 for William Browne, after a design by a Mr Peters. It originally comprised a detached six-bay three-storey over-basement structure, built in the Neo-Classical style with a granite ashlar façade. The house was instantly the envy and the inspiration for other gentlemen in the vicinity as the penchant for building Georgian mansions cranked up several notches.

At the time of its completion, three towers of the ancient abbey at Browne’s Hill were still standing. These were later either pulled down or fell naturally; some of the stone was reused for the park wall.

Within the house itself, generation upon generation of Brownes came and went, picking up the additional surname of Clayton along the way. They invariably served as magistrates for Carlow, frequently in the capacity of high sheriff or deputy lieutenant. Some were churchmen but most were of a military bent.

Among the most prominent was General Robert Browne Clayton, who was made a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Pius VI. His greatest legacy was the 94 feet tall Corinthian column that he erected on his Carrigbyrne estate in County Wexford. Restored by the Irish Georgian Society, the column honours his commander, Sir Ralph Abercromby, mortally wounded while leading British forces in Egypt during the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1842, another Robert succeeded to Browne’s Hill and commissioned the architect Thomas Cobden to redesign the house, with a pedimented central breakfront and a full-height canted bay to the rear. With the onset of the Great Hunger, Robert employed some 400 men to build five-miles of high stone wall around the estate.

Two generations later, there was sorrow for the family when William Browne was killed in hand-to-hand fighting in Afghanistan in 1897. Prior to his death, he had become friendly with a young journalist reporting on the war by name of Winston Churchill. The future prime minister wept when he saw William Browne-Clayton’s lacerated body laid out on a stretcher.

William’s brother Robert inherited Browne’s Hill in 1907 and made his mark as a polo player in the Edwardian age. His wife Magda Weinholt was the daughter of a 300,000-acre sheep grazier from Australia.

The Carlow Sentinel reported on the ‘great rejoicings’ at Browne’s Hill when the newlyweds came home. ‘On arriving at the front gate, which was beautifully and artistically decorated, the carriage was met by a large crowd of enthusiastic friends, and was drawn up the hill by many willing hands, while a fire of twenty-one guns … announced the approach of the procession.’

Magda made a robust impression as manager of the national school at nearby Benekerry, as one of the pupils recalled: ‘She walked in without knocking as was her right. We stood up somewhat falling over ourselves, so sudden was her entry. She made a bee-line for the teacher's chair beside the open fire, and if the teacher happened to be sitting in it, she had to be out of it quickly, otherwise Mrs Browne-Clayton would probably have ended up on her lap. She listened to the teaching for a while, and then stood up suddenly, tall and gaunt and dark … and with a swish of tweeds made for the door.’

Éamon de Valera reputedly gave instruction that neither the family nor their house were to be harmed during the Civil War. Robert, who had risen to the rank of brigadier in the First World War, was also onside with Cosgrave’s government who appointed him to a Special Committee investigating grievances by ex-British servicemen in the Irish Free State.

He was succeeded in 1939 by his only son William, a keen huntsman, point-to-pointer and polo player. William’s wife Janet descended from James Bruce, the Scotsman who discovered the source of the Blue Nile in 1770.

William had dreamed of establishing an equestrian centre at Browne’s Hill but, under pressure from Janet, as well as bitter dispute with the local priest, he put the 700-acre estate up for sale in 1951.

William and Janet’s son Robbie, who died in 2014, was a British officer stationed in Berlin at the time the Berlin Wall was erected. He went on to be an Agricultural, Fisheries, Food, Forestry and Countryside adviser to Margaret Thatcher.

Robbie’s older sister Magda Dunlop is the last surviving member of the Browne family to have lived in the house. She is mother to Nic Dunlop, the photographer/author who tracked down Comrade Duch, Pol Pot’s chief executioner in Cambodia. Duch was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for his war crimes and died in September 2020.

In 1953, Browne’s Hill House was purchased for in excess of £70,000 by an English syndicate headed up by Norfolk grain farmer G.W. Harrold, who hosted the Carlow Agricultural Show on the grounds. The syndicate also acquired the nearby 1,500-acre estate at Oak Park. There was considerable resentment by those felt that the two estates should have been acquired by the Land Commission and divided amongst local farmers. One morning Harrold opened a letter, bearing an Irish postmark, which contained a single bullet.

Shortly afterwards, the syndicate negotiated a deal with the Land Commission. Browne’s Hill House was put up for sale on 4 ½ acres with an asking price of £2,500. For several weeks, the best price offered was £1,800 from a Dublin buyer whose interest was in its salvage value after demolition. Fortunately, a number of last-minute bids were placed, and the eventual buyer was local travel agent Frank Tully and his wife Patty. They maintained Browne’s Hill as family home through until Frank’s death in 2018. As of July 2020, it went on sale via Ireland Sotheby’s International Realty and Dawson's.

The entrance gates to Browne’s Hill were removed, purchased by University College Dublin and erected at the entrance to the Lyons estate, then owned by the college and later home to the late Tony Ryan of Guinness Peat Aviation / Ryanair.



Click here to learn what happened to the Browne's Hill Archives. Aside from the genealogical details provided by Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, much of what we know of the Brownes comes from legal papers that were salvaged from a fire in the 1960s and handed over to the Carlow historian Michael Purcell. The Department of Manuscripts in the National Library of Ireland also stumbled upon several boxes of maps, drafts, surveys and correspondence relating to the family in 2009. See also the Carlow Rootsweb pages by Michael Purcell who greatly assisted with the writing of this piece.


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Above: The arms of Clayton and Browne of Browne's Hill (including the Clayton quartering) by Eddie Geoghegan, an exceptional
Digital Heraldic Artist (araltas.com), in 2019. In the Tudor Age, Sir Weston Browne of Weald Hall in Essex apparently used the
double headed 'eagle of Sicily’, having won them ‘for valour at Grenada, temp. Ferdinand and Isabella.' This is assumed to have
been 1492, when Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, Los Reyes Católicos ("the Catholic Monarchs"), secured complete
control of the Emirate of Granada after the last battle of the Granada War. It is notable that the Browne’s of Galway, one of the
'Tribes', also used an eagle, and that both the Carlow Brownes and the Galway Brownes used the same motto. Perhaps the two
families had a shared ancestry back in time?


The Browne’s of Carlow originally came from the West Country of England with Cromwell in August 1649.

Robert Browne, second son of Sir William Browne of Abbas Roding in Essex, (just south of Stansted Airport) is said to have come to Ireland with the Kentish Regiment of Horse, commanded by Colonel Henry Prittie, as part of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. He married Jane Feltham of Gray’s Inn, London and died on 10 Feb 1677. [1b]

His eldest son, John Browne of Carlow was married circa 1680 to Mary, daughter of Robert Jennings of Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare. As late as 1717-1723, Benjamin Burton's leases of Feltham's concerns listed John Browne as lesse of three properties in Carlow Town.

John's younger brother was Robert Browne who built the still extant (but endangered) house at 120 Tullow Street, Carlow, in about 1670. In 1675, King Charles II granted a new charter to the borough of Catherlough, in which His Majesty appointed Robert to be Sovereign; he was succeeded by Edward Reynolds. An account of Robert's early days in Carlow found by Michael Purcell among the family papers reads: 'When King James II came to the throne of England in 1685, Mr Browne suffered great hardships and loss, his house was occupied by his enemies and his family imprisoned. His land and stock sequestered and plundered and still worse might have happened only for the intervention of a worthy and respectable Roman Catholic gentleman of the name of Allen from Pollerton near Carlow town. Upon their release Robert built a roomy Mansion close to the Tullow Gate in Carlow town'. The "roomy Mansion" referred to is now Lennon's Pub and adjoining house, (120/121 Tullow Street, Carlow). (See Michael Purcell account on IGP) or a more detailed Facebook post by Mick. The house still exists - a yellow house set back from the street in the line of the old Tullow Street; the stonework under the gutters looks like the original stonework.

Another reference to him provide by Friend of Carlow from the Browne-Clayton Papers refers to a Round Tower which stood on the east of the present church ruins at Killeshin up until 1734. In the Browne-Clayton papers of 1704, it is recorded by Robert Browne that 'on Monday at 3 o'clock in the afternoon the 8th day of March 1703 the 105 foot high Steeple Tower of Killeshin was undermined and flung down by Mr Bambrick who was employed by Captain Wolseley in three days work. There were two Inscriptions on the doorway of the Tower Steeple the rubbings are attached and require translation by scholars.'


William Browne (c. 1684 – 1772)

In the parish applotment of Carlow town from 1744, William is listed as a resident of the north side of Tullow Street in Carlow Town while a Major Browne is registered, alongside Philip Bernard, on the east side of Burrin Street.

William married Elizabeth, daughter of Rev John Clayton, Dean of Kildare and Derry, and sister of the learned Robert Clayton, Bishop of Clogher and Dean of Derry. She was said to be a kinswoman of the Clayton baronets of Adlington Hall, Lancaster, with whom the Browne family later married.[2]

Their firstborn son John died unmarried on 23 April 1765. Their second son Robert succeeded and is dealt with anon.

As to their four daughters:
(1) Juliana (1744-1787) who wasmarried twice, 1, in 1762, to Thomas Cooper of Benekerry and Newtown, and 2, in 1776, Captain James Fitzmaurice (1735-1813). One of Captain Fitzmaurice's younger sisters Gertrude married Thomas Bunbury Lenon, a grandson of Benjamin Bunbury II of Killerig, Carlow. For more on the Fitzmaurice link, see here. With thanks to Catherine FitzMaurice, Bandon Genealogy.
(2) Anne was married on 20 July 1758 to the Rt Rev Thomas Bernard, DD, Bishop of Limerick;
(3) Catherine married the Rev Abraham Symes, DD;
(4) Mary married Peter Gale of Ashfield, Queen’s County.



The Brownes purchased land adjoining Carlow in the 1650s. Over a century later, Browne’s Hill House was apparently built in 1763, after a design by Mr Peters, probably in celebration of Robert Browne's marriage to Eleanor Morres the year before. [1a, 1c] Together with its neighbouring mansion of Viewmount to the east, the house occupied the site of an ancient quondam abbey dedicated to St. Kieran. During the suppression of the monasteries, this property was granted to one of the forbears of the Earl of Thomond. Three towers of this monastic pile were still standing in the 1760s, but these remains were later used as building materials for both Viewmount House and the park wall at Browne's Hill. (Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland, 1845). One of the most majestic megalithic remains in Europe is to be found in the vicinity - the Browne's Hill Dolmen. Its 103 ton granite table stone is believed to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

The house was built for John Browne's son and heir, William Browne of Browne’s Hill, Co Carlow. I visited the property with my parents and David Ashmore of Sotheby's in August 2020. The front facade is instantly gorgeous; the Victorian backside is a little too busy for me, and oddly institutional, with windows galore and not quite the right proportion. There is a fabulous wide moat around the back, with rooms for coal and timber carved deep into the earth beneath the back lawn. As my father observed, the structures were so well constructed that they seem to have lasted with little or no attention. They were after all built in the time of the Seven Years War in an age when people still felt much empathy for their fallen House of Stuart and the Jacobites.

The stable yard is fabulous, reminiscent to my untrained eye of James Gandon’s yard at Carriglass in County Longford. The buildings are in good nick, including the interconnected lofts where Robbie and Magda used to roller skate from one end to the other. I was particularly impressed by a cool room that I think must have been for storing apples - a cold, hallowed sanctuary of marble beneath an octagon roof. One side of the yard houses five separate carriage houses while the rooms opposite appear to have been for the family’s hunters, including what seems to be quarters for a broodmare and her offspring. Parts of the farm were carved up by the Land Commission are distributed among neighbouring farmers, as was the old walled garden, but there are still a couple of fields adjacent, perhaps 50 acres or more. Some of the beech and lime trees are fabulous. My parents, members of the Tree Society, observed that they were curiously narrow while my father suggested that the hat-trick of Scots Pines somehow indicated a support for Jacobites, although that doesn’t quite tally with what I know of the Browne’s in the period of 1688-1745. There is also a charming folly-like game larder close to the house.

Robert Browne (d. 1816)

Robert Browne succeeded to Browne’s Hill on the death of his father in 1772. Ten years earlier, on 27th March 1762, he married Eleanor, daughter of Richard Morres, MP, barrister-at-law (see de Montmorency). At some point he seems to have purchased a site in modern day Graigecullen from the Earl of Thomond which later became the site of Father Fitzgerald's Graig Chapel. He was the man who leased Viewmount to Sir Edward Crosbie in 1792 and he appears to have turned his back on Lady Crosbie when she sent her agent to him for help during Sir Edward's court martial. He died in January 1816, leaving four sons – William (see below), Robert (see below), Colonel Redmond Browne who died unmarried and the Rev John Browne – and two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne, who both died unmarried.

major Browne, prince of the HOLY Roman Empire

Robert and Eleanor Browne’s second son was Lieutenant General Robert Browne Clayton (d. 1845), a distinguished officer who commanded His Majesty's 12th Regiment of Light Dragoons. In 1794, while still a Major, he was stationed with the regiment near Rome. During this time he received an audience with Pope Pius VI. He was accompanied by fellow officers Captain Head and Lieut. the Hon Pierce Butler. The Pope ceremonially placed a Dragoon helmet on Browne’s head expressing ‘his gratitude to the British nation, his earnest desire for its welfare’ and concluding with a prayer that truth and religion might triumph over injustice and infidelity.

The Pope made Robert a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, a title that has passed down to the present head of the family, Robert Browne Clayton. A painting of this ceremony hangs in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It was painted by James Northcote RA, a pupil Sir Joshua Reynolds, and entitled ‘The Presentation of British Officers to Pope Pius VI’.[3].The painting is said to hang in the Army Museum in Chelsea in London while a copy is at Sandhurst. The 8th/12th Royal Lancers used it as their Christmas card some years ago.

The Egyptian campaign

He served during the Egyptian campaign of 1801, including the actions of the 8th, 13th and 21st March. As such he was on the scene when the British commanding officer Sir Ralph Abercromby was fatally wounded at Alexandria. He also served in the costly and unsuccessful Walcherën campaign in 1809 and was present at the siege of Flushing.

Succession to Adlington Hall

On 1st December 1803, he married Henrietta Clayton, only daughter and eventual heiress of the essayist Sir Richard Clayton, 1st Bart, of Adlington, Lancashire, Recorder of Wigan and sometime Constable of Lancaster Castle. Her brother was Major Sir Robert Clayton, 2nd and last Baronet.[4] When Sir Richard died at the Consul in Nantes in April 1828, it was the General who succeeded to the classical brick mansion of Adlington Hall. He was also given the Carrigbyrne estate in County Wexford where the Browne-Clayton memorial stands today.

Sir Richard’s brother Robert succeeded to the Clayton baronetcy but died without male heir in 1839, whereupon the title became extinct. The General’s succession to Adlington was completed on 6th April 1829 - less than two weeks after the Catholic Relief Act was passed by Parliament - when he assumed the additional surname and arms of Clayton by Royal License.

Carlow Politics

During the turbulent political days of the 1830s he was a prominent magistrate and Conservative representative in Carlow affairs. In 1839 he became embroiled in a heated debate with Daniel O’Connell over the case of a Colonel Verner, a Protestant magistrate from Armagh apparently dismissed from his post for raising a toast to the Battle of the Diamond, an ancient fray in which Protestants had beaten Catholics.

His New Spectacles

By February 1841 the name of ‘General Browne-Clayton’ had become well-known among those early Victorian readers of The Times. In an advertisement on page 7 of the March 9th edition he said he was ‘desirous to express the comfort and advantage he [had] derived at his advanced age of 78 years, and after two years trial, from the use of Messrs. S and B Solomon’s newly invented spectacles’. This ‘valuable invention fully merits the patronage they have received of the Royal Family and so many individuals of high distinction, as well as the numerous scientific and eminent medical practitioners’.[5] This testimonial continued to run in The Times until long after his death in March 1845. By September 1841, Major General Sir Hoard Elphinstone was begging to say the very same of these excellent spectacles. Solomon’s also offered an ‘Invisible Voice Conductor” which would provide ‘immediate relief to old standing extreme cases of deafness’.

The Browne Clayton Monument

Whether it was land rents or a handsome pay-check from Solomon’s is unclear but, by the autumn of 1841, he had sufficient money to pay the ‘several thousand pounds’ required to complete the Browne Clayton Monument. It stands today on the Browne’s old estate at Carrigadaggan Hill, Carrigbyrne, Co. Wexford, just off the N.25. The 94 feet tall Corinthian column was designed in 1839 by Thomas Cobden, famous for redesigning Browne's Hill House, as well as the gothic Cathedral in Carlow Town and Ducketts Grove near Tullow, Co. Carlow. The builder was James Johnston of Carlow. It was made of the finest cut Mount Leinster granite. Nine uniformed dragoons are standing around with the figure that is probably the architect, in frock coat and top hat concentrating on a drawing board.

The London Times declared it ‘one of the most chaste and classic ornaments of which the country can now boast’.[6] They later described it as ‘worth a dozen of the wretched abortion now in course of erection at Charing Cross’.[7] The monument is considered particularly significant as it is the only internally accessible Corinthian Column in existence The monument was designed as a tribute to the General’s commanding officer, General Sir Ralph Abercromby, who died heroically on 28th March 1801 in the conquest of Egypt during the Napoleonic Wars. (The local name for it is reputedly 'Browne's Nonsense' as legend has it that Browne originally built it in memory of his son - thought to be killed in battle but who turned up alive and well shortly after completion of the pillar).

The column is modelled on the celebrated Pompey’s Pillar near Alexandria (AD296), which General Browne-Clayton first saw the very day Abercrombie received his mortal wound. Pompey’s Pillar was a popular classical landmark of the day, and the Irish version proved equally so upon completion. In his will, General Browne-Clayton stipulated details for an indefinite military ritual to be performed at the column. Every year, at sunrise on the 21st March (the day on which General Menon attacked the British encampment before Alexandria), the tri-coloured French flag was to be hoisted on the top of the column. At 10 o’clock this was to be lowered and replaced by the British flag which will remain until sunset. The General further stipulated that on 28th March, the flag be hoisted at half-mast in honour of Sir Ralph who, mortally wounded by a spent ball on the 21st, died on board HMS Foudroyant on the 28th. Abercromby’s debarkation of the troops in Egypt, in the face of strenuous opposition, is ranked among the most daring and brilliant exploits in British military history.

Today the column stands as a beautiful cultural landmark rather than a memorial to the Empire and an eccentric general. Disaster struck when the Browne Clayton Column was hit by a lightning bolt on 29th December 1994. Several huge stones were dislodged from the capital and the upper third of the shaft, and two large sections of masonry on each side were also pushed apart. This left a dramatic jagged opening about 5 metres high and 1 metre wide. The column was meticulously restored by the Wexford Monument Trust Ltd (a hybrid of Wexford County Council, the World Monument Fund in Britain, and An Taisce) with a topping out ceremony in October 2004.[8]

Death of the General

The General was a keen scientist to the end, attending sittings with the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Manchester in June 1842. He died at Adlington Hall on 10th March 1845. His widow Henrietta died at Clifton, Gloucestershire on 8th September 1858.[9]

The Lanauze Affair

Aside from his directions for the Browne-Clayton Monument, the General’s will was a somewhat messy business. He had entrusted some £9000 of government stock to a broker by name of Henry Lanauze with strict instructions on how it was to be exchanged for other stock. In November 1847, Lanauze was brought before the courts to answer a charge that he had unlawfully converted and used that sum ‘to his own use’.[10]

Richard Browne Clayton (1807 – 1886)

General Browne-Clayton left a son, Richard, and a daughter, Eleanor. The latter married the Rev James Daubney and died at the Albany Villas in Brighton in 1896.[11] Richard Browne Clayton, DL, JP (1807–1886) lived at Adlington Hall, Chorley, Lancashire, and Carigbyrne, Co. Wexford. He graduated with a BA from Oxford on April 16th 1828 and an MA on May 2nd 1832. On 5th January 1830 he married Catherine Jane Dobson (d. 1889), only daughter of the Rev. J. Dobson. These two only children were to experience great pain in the summer of 1856 with the death of their only son, Harrow-educated Robert John Browne Clayton in the Crimean War. An officer with the 34th Regiment, he was badly wounded during the assault on the Redan on 18th June 1855 and died in the camp on July 12th at the age of 20. [12] A copy of Robert's his bible survives, inscribed by his mother Catherine with the words: 'This belonged to my son Robert Browne Clayton. It is all I have to remind me of him.'

The Browne-Clayton Daughters

On 29 July 1859, Richard and Catherine’s eldest daughter Henrietta (1831–1884) was married at St James's Paddington to Robert Thomas Carew, DL (d. 20 Jan 1886) of Ballinamona Park, Co Waterford.[13]

Their second daughter Katherine Annette (d. 1909) was married on 16th April 1857 to Colonel Philip Savage Alcock, JP,(d. 20 May 1886) of Park House, Co. Wexford, third son of Harry Alcock and the heiress Margaret Savage.

A third daughter Emma Jane died unmarried in Crowborough, Sussex, in May 1929, leaving an unsettled estate of over £40,000.[14]

The fourth and youngest daughter Mary Edith was married at Christ Church, Cheltenham, on 15th January 1885 to Major Thomas Edwards Harman, DL, JP, Queen’s Regt, of Palace, New Ross, County Wexford. Palace appears to have been pulled down afterwards. Mary Edith inherited Carrigbyrne/ Carrygbyrne outside New Ross on her father's death in 1886. The Harmans had one son Thomas Harman (who died playing Polo for his regiment in 1913) and one daughter, Catherine ( Kitty) Harman. Kitty Harman's children were Frances Ross (mother to Tom Bell of Ramsley Lodge, Dartmoor, who contacted me in May 2017 and April 2018) and Thomas Clayton Ross (who married Honora McSwiney, a daughter of the Marquis MacSwiney of Mashanaglass, near Macroom, Co. Cork, and is father to Charles, Harman and Catriona Ross).

William Browne (1763-1840)

The General’s elder brother William Browne (1763 – 1840) was hailed by The Times as ‘admittedly one of the best landlords on Ireland’.[15] Born in January 1763, he was 53 years old when he succeeded his father Robert at Browne’s Hill in 1816. It may be that he lived at Viewmount until then. A JP and magistrate, he served as High Sheriff of Carlow in 1794 and was later Lord Lieutenant for the county as well as MP for the former Huguenot stronghold of Portarlington. In the 1830s, Thomas Cobden carried out some alterations and additions to the house.

I think, but am not certain, that this included the portico, with its wonderful carved heads and six mighty granite columns, an extraordinary feat of workmanship by (I imagine) anonymous stonemasons of another age. The stucco plaster work within the three main reception rooms is also exceptional.

Cobden also designed the cathedral in Carlow and Duckett's Grove, as well as the Abercromby monument. This work was recorded in a painting which he exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1842, the year of his death. William Browne's brother subsequently commissioned Cobden to design the Corinthian column at Carrigbyrne.

Click here to see a copy of the Patent appointing William Browne Esquire to be Custos Rotulorum for the County of Carlow from 1818.

The Children of William & Lady Charlotte

William’s first wife was Lady Charlotte Bourke, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Mayo, Archbishop of Tuam. She bore him two sons – Robert, their heir, and Captain Joseph Deane Browne, Carabiniers, (who married Miss Thursby and died on 1st January 1878) – and four daughters. Captain Joseph Deane Browne's will was found during a house clean in January 2019.

The eldest daughter Elizabeth was married on 31st January 1814 to Sir Joseph Denny Wheeler-Cuffe, 1st Bt, (d. 9 May 1853) of Leyrath, Co. Kilkenny, and died 15 Jan 1871 leaving issue.

The second daughter Eleanor Mary married on 5th May 1840, as his second wife, William Fitzwilliam Burton, JP, of Burton Hall, Co. Carlow; he died just four years later on 15th Nov 1844 and she died, without surviving issue on 5th December 1870.

The third daughter Charlotte was married in 1835 to William Brownlow, DL, JP, of Knapton House, Queen’s County, eldest son of the Rev Francis Brownlow, Rector of Upper Comber, Co Derry; they had issue before his death on 18th July 1881.

The fourth and youngest daughter Annette was married on 10th May 1826 to the Ven Hon Henry Scott Stopford (d. 28 Oct 1881), Archdeacon of Leighlin, fifth son of the Earl of Courtown, KP, and died without issue on 27th March 1842.

Lady Charlotte Browne died in 1806.

William & the Norbury Connection

On 8th March 1813, William was married secondly to Lady Leitita Toler, second daughter of the 1st Earl of Norbury, aka 'The Hanging Judge'. As Chief Justice of Ireland during the early 19th century, Lord Norbury was infamous for the number of men he condemned to the gallows, including the Finnegan Gang from Rathvilly who attacked the Rev Trench en route to raid Benjamin Bunbury's house in 1822. An anecdote survives of how Lord Norbury was addressing the jury in one such case when his voice was drowned out by the sound of an irate ass. “What noise is that?” he inquired angrily. 'Merely an echo of the Court, my lord', was the defending barristers risqué reply. But Norbury could be quick too. At dinner one day, his host told him he had shot 31 hares that morning. 'I don't doubt it', replied his lordship, 'but you must have fired at a wig'. The Hanging Judge died peacefully in July 1831.

In January 1839, just days before the Night of the Big Wind struck, his grandson - Lady Letitia Browne's nephew - the 3rd Earl of Norbury was assassinated in Durrow, County Offaly, in retaliation for the proposed clearing of tenants to make way for a deer park. Indeed, it was during the Big Wind that the Browne's Hill estate, like so many in Ireland, was decimated of its tree population.

William Browne died on 1st April 1840 aged 77. Lady Letitia gave him a further three sons and a daughter.

We know nothing of the eldest son John Toler Browne save that he appears in the 1881 census at the Croydon home of his brother Hector Graham Browne and is identified as a lunatic and unmarried.

The second son was Captain (William) Raymond Browne, 7th Fusiliers who died in 1907. He was married, firstly, in London in 1859 to Olivia Elizabeth Cathery Depree (b.1833) and soon after emigrated to New Zealand. Olivia died in Croydon in 1884. Two years later, Raymond Browne was married secondly in 1886 to Adelaide Anne Villiers Perry (1837-1912).

His children by his first marriage to Olivia Depree were all born in Christchurch, New Zealand, namely:

1) Letitia Grace (1861-1937). She was married at St Peter’s, Eaton-square, in November 1887 to the cricket-loving cotton magnate Sir Henry Hornby, 1st Bart. (In 1883, she was presented to the Queen by her aunt, Gertrude Browne[16]).

2) Frances Mary (1862-1862)

3) Redmond Toler (1863-1937) who successfullly petitioned Pope Pius X and was granted the title of Count which had originally been granted to Robert Browne-Clayton who died in 1845. Redmond?s will states he was commonly known as Count Clayton. He resided at La Punta Cervara, near Genoa.

4) Olivia Caroline (1864-1865)

5) William Dealtry (1868-1951) who was married in 1907 in New Zealand to Evelyn Agnes Scherff.

6) Lina Beatrice (1872-1906).

7) Letitia Grace (d. 1937)

The third and youngest son (Hector) Graham Browne was married in 1878 to Gertrude Sophia, eldest daughter of John Horrocks Ainsworth of Moss Bank, Lancashire. He lived in Croydon at time of 1881 census. (With thanks to Graeme Stanton).

As to William and Lady Letitia’s daughter Grace Isabella, she was usefully married on 26th June 1852 to Richard Godfrey Bosanquet (d. 15 May 1875) of Benham Park, Berkshire, younger son of Jacob Bosanquet, a director of the East India Company, of Broxbournebury, Herts, but died without issue.

Robert Clayton Browne (1799 – 1888)

Upon his death in 1840, William was succeeded by his eldest son Robert Clayton Browne (1799–1888), then aged 41. Educated at Eton, Robert was an important magistrate in Carlow, being variously DL, JP and High Sheriff in 1859. The house was renovated in about 1842, with a pedimented central breakfront on the front and a full-height canted bay extended to the rear. During the Great Famine, aided by grant money, he employed some 400 men to build the high wall and gates around the Browne’s Hill estate, feeding them and their families from the gardens. He stood for the Conservatives of the Carlow borough in the 1852 election but was defeated by John Sadlier.

On 28th October 1834 he married Harriette Augusta (d Jan 1898), third daughter of Hans Hamilton, MP, of Sheephill, Co. Dublin. (see Holmpatrick). Details of their children and grandchildren will be found below. I thank Michael Purcell for transcribing this record of their Golden Wedding from the Carlow Sentinel of 1st October 1884:

On Tuesday afternoon, the 28th October, Mr and Mrs Clayton Browne entertained at Browne's Hill a large party of their friends and relations on the occasion of the celebration of their Golden Wedding.
They received numerous handsome presents, amongst them a gold cup, presented by their four children and twenty-one grandchildren.
They also received an address from the Select Vestry of the Parish of Carlow.
The following received invitations, most of whom were present to offer their congratulations in person :-
The Marquis and Marchioness of Kildare, Lord and Lady Rathdonnell, the Hon. Edward and Mrs Stopford, the Hon. Hugh and Lady Mary Boscawen, Sir Thomas and Lady Butler and Miss Butler, the Dowager Lady Butler and Miss C. Butler, Sir Charles and Lady Burton, the Hon Mrs Clements, Sir Clement and Lady Wolseley, the Right Hon Henry . Mrs Bruen, Mr Henry and the Misses Bruen ; Mr and the Hon Mrs Rochfort, Mrs and Mrs Kavanagh, Mrs W. Kavanagh and Mrs Meredith, Mrs Pack-Beresford and family, Mr and Mrs Clayton Browne and family, Miss G. Langrishe, the Dean of Leighlin and Mrs and Miss King and Miss A. Newton, Mrs Thomas, Mr and Mrs Jocelyn Thomas, Mr and Mrs Duckett, Mrs Lecky and Miss Watson, Mr, Mrs and Miss Watson ; Mrs Gray and Miss Watson, Mr Newton and Miss Newton, Mount Leinster ; Mr and Mrs Steuart Duckett, Mr, Mrs Bagenal, and Miss Hall-Dare ; Mr and Mrs Alexander, Major and Mrs Hutchinson, Mr and Mrs George Alexander and Mr S Alexander, Major and Mrs Tanner, Mr and Mrs Charles Duckett, Mr and Mrs Fred Lecky, and Mr R. Lecky, Mr and Mrs Rupert Lecky , Mr, Mrs and Miss Newton, Mr and the Misses Hore, Mr and Mrs Arthur and the Misses Fitzmaurice, Mr William and Mr and Mrs Edward Fitzmaurice, and Mrs Clarke, the Ven. Archdeacon and Mrs Jameson, Mr and Mrs William Fitzmaurice, Laurel Lodge ; Mr and Mrs Fitzmaurice, Fruit Hill, ; Dr and Mrs Ireland, Major and Mrs and the Misses Bloomfield, Mr and Mrs H. Cooper, Mr and Mrs Hall-Dare, Captain and Mrs Persse, Colonel and Mrs Vigors, Mr and Mrs Alcock, Rev J. and Mrs Dillon, Mr and Mrs Standish Roche, Mr, Mrs and the Misses Eustace, Castlemore, Mr and Mrs Eustace, Newstown ; Mr and Mrs Ponsonby, Mr and Mrs Hone, Very Rev. W.E. and Miss Ryan, Mrs Rawson, Mr and Mrs Cornwall Brady , Rev. C. and Mrs Bellingham, Mr and Mrs Borrer, Mr and Miss Cooper, Mr and Mrs Stuart, Mr and Mrs Lecky-Pike, Dr and Mrs Newell, Mr C. Butler, Mr J. Mrs and Miss Butler, and Miss Owen, Mrs Vesey, Rev. J. and Mrs Finlay, the Rev. T. and Mrs Philips.

Robert Clayton Browne died on 22nd July 1888 leaving three sons and a daughter.

Colonel Charles Henry Clayton (1836 – 1889)

Robert and Harriett’s second son Colonel Charles Henry Clayton (1836 – 1889) died unmarried in April 1889, less than a year after his father. Born in 1836, he entered the 97th Regiment in 1854, became a captain in 1857, a major in 1872, a lieutenant-colonel in 1878, and retired as a colonel in1882. He served with his regiment in the Crimean campaign, where he was wounded. He was mentioned in despatches, and received a medal with clasp, also the Sardinian and Turkish medals and the 5th class of the Medijidieh. He later served in the Indian Mutiny where was again wounded and received a medal and clasp. He commanded the regiment with the Natal field force during the Transvaal campaign in 1881 and from 1885 until his death commanded the 23rd Regimental District. He was created a CB in 1886. He died at the depot in Wrexham from pleuro-pneumonia aged 53. [17]

Robert CLAYTON BROWNE (1839-1906)

Robert Clayton Browne (1839–1906), Robert and Harriett’s third son, died unmarried. My thanks to Michael Purcell for transcribing this obituary fom the Pat Purcell Papers which appeared in the Carlow Sentinel in December 1906.

Death of Robert Clayton Browne, Esquire.
With deep regret we announce the death of Mr Robert Clayton Browne, which occurred on Friday 14th December 1906, at his temporary residence, Green Ville, near this town.
The deceased gentleman, who was unmarried, was born 3rd May, 1838, and was the third and youngest son of the late Robert Clayton Browne, Esquire, D.L., of Browne's Hill, Carlow, by Harriette-Agusta, third daughter of the late Hans Hamilton, Esquire, Lord of the Manor of Carlow, and for many years Member of Parliament for County Dublin.
Owing to delicate health Robert did not at any time take an active part in the public affairs of his native county, but was a zealous and earnest friend of every philanthropic and charitable movement, and a generous supporter of the Church of Ireland at and after its disestablishment.
Kind hearted and generous in disposition he enjoyed the love and esteem of a large circle of relatives and friends by whom, as well as by the general community, his death, which occurred after a long illness, borne with patient resignation, is deeply deplored.
On Tuesday the interment took place in the family burial ground in Killeshin. The remains were enclosed in a suite of lead-lined coffins, were brought into Carlow Church, where the first portion of the solemn burial service was read by the Very Rev. Dean Finlay and the Ven. Archdeacon Hatchell.
After the special Lesson, the Hymn "Lead Gently Light" was sung, and as the coffin was borne out of the church, the Dead March was played.
The chief mourners were Mr William Browne-Clayton, D.L., brother ; Major Browne-Clayton, Mr D.R. Pack-Beresford, D.L., Mr Reynell Pack-Beresford and
Mr Hugh Pack-Beresford, nephews.

Annette Caroline Browne

Robert and Harriett’s daughter Annette Caroline Browne was married in the parish church of Carlow on 12th February 1863 to fellow Carlovian Denis William Pack-Beresford, DL, JP, MP, of Fenagh. The Ven Henry Scott Stopford, Archdeacon of Leighlin, officiated.[18] Pack-Beresford was the second son of Sir Denis Pack, a much decorated military general, and in 1854 had succeeded to the estates of the first and last Viscount Beresford (an illegitimate son of the Marquis of Waterford, for which he assumed the additional surname and arms of Beresford. Denis died on 28th December 1881 and Annette on 11 Feb 1892, leaving seven sons and two daughters; the late ‘Commander Beresford’ of Fenagh was their grandson.

[Following the death in 1986 of Commander Pack-Beresford, his son Denis Raymond Pack-Beresford sold the estate and family papers by public auction. Their whereabouts is presently unknown].

William Browne (1835 – 1907)

Robert and Harriette’s eldest son William succeeded to Browne’s Hill on the death of Robert on 22nd July 1888. Educated at Eton and Oxford University, William was only 24 years old when he filled the seat of High Sheriff for Carlow in 1859. Like his father he was also a JP and DL. In 1889 he assumed by Royal Licence the additional surname of Clayton.

On 10th January 1867 (the year of the Fenian Rising), he married Caroline Barton, fifth daughter of John Watson Barton, DL, JP, of Stapleton Park near Pontefract, a cousin of the Bartons of Saxby Hall. In May 1867 he was presented to Queen Victoria by the Marquis of Drogheda at a Levee held in St James’s Palace.[19] The Marchioness of Drogheda introduced Caroline to the mourning monarch the following month.[20]

In December 1867 the couple were listed as subscribers to the Palestine Exploration Fund which sought to unearth the Temple.[21] In 1876, William was commended in The Times for of a school on his estate ‘where children of the poor are taught cookery very successfully’.[22] In 1881, Caroline was noted as a £10 subscriber to the Association for the Relief of Ladies in Distress through Non-Payment of rent in Ireland’.[23]

He died on 13th January 1907. Here his obituary, transcribed by Michael Purcell in April 2013, which was published in 'The Carlow Sentinel' in March 1907.

Death of Mr William Browne Clayton J.P., D.L.
With sincere regret, shared by the entire community, we record the death, after a brief illness, of Mr William Browne-Clayton, which occurred on Sunday last, at his residence, Browne's Hill, Carlow, in his 72nd year. For some time past the deceased gentleman was not in robust health, but up to within a fortnight of his demise he discharged his various private and magisterial duties, when he was seized with an acute attack of influenza, which developed into heart trouble, to which he succumbed, despite the unremitting care of his medical adviser, Dr Kidd.
The sad event , which was unexpected, and cast a gloom over the locality, is intensified by the fact that little more than three weeks previously he was chief mourner at the funeral of his younger and only surviving brother, Mr Robert Clayton Browne, whose death was recorded in our issue of the 22nd February.
Mr Browne-Clayton was the eldest son of the late Mr Robert Clayton Brown of Browne's Hill, by Harriette- Agusta, third daughter of the late Hans Hamilton, for many years M.P. for County Dublin. He was born 20th November, 1835, and was descended from the family of Browne, seated in Essex since 1422, a branch of which settled in Carlow about 1654.
He married on the 10th January, 1867, Caroline, daughter of the late Mr John Watson Barton, of Staplestown Park, Yorkshire, who with two surviving sons and nine daughters mourn the loss of a devoted husband and a fond father.
In all the other relations of life - as a resident and popular landed proprietor, an impartial magistrate, an efficient member of the several local public bodies, he won the esteem of all sections of the community.
As a churchman he took an active part in its reconstruction, and rendered valuable service as a member of the Diocesan Synod and Council, and was a liberal contributor to its funds, as well as a warm supporter of its various charities.
As a mark of respect to his memory as one of the oldest magistrates of the county and sympathy with his family in their bereavement, the Carlow Petty Sessions Court was adjourned on Monday.
He is succeeded by his eldest son, Major Browne-Clayton.
The Funeral took place on Wednesday from Browne's Hill, and was attended by a large concourse, which included representatives of the principal county families and townspeople generally. The remains were encased in a suite of lead-lined coffins, the outer one of polished oak, bearing the inscription "William Browne-Clayton, died 13th January 1907, aged 71 years." It was borne to and from the hearse by employees on the estate.
As a mournful procession passed through Carlow all the business houses along the route were closed as a testimony to the esteem in which the deceased gentleman was held.
The remains were brought into Carlow Church where the first portion of the solemn funeral service was performed by the Very Rev. Dean Finlay (representing the Right Rev Bishop of the Diocese, who was unable to attend owing to a previous important engagement), the Ven Archdeacon Hatchell, and the Rev A.A. Markham, of St Jude's, Liverpool, nephew of the deceased.
The service included the singing of the Hymn "Lead kindly Light", and as the coffin was borne into and from the church the Funeral March was played. The procession then proceeded to the Killeshin Cemetery, where interment took place in a brick-lined grave, Dean Finlay conducting the grave-side service.
The following were the chief mourners :- Major Browne-Clayton (son), Mr T.H.B.Ruttledge, D.L.; Mr Pease, Colonel Johnston, Captain Hall, (sons-in-law), Mr D. R. Pack-Beresford, D.L.; Captain Pack-Beresford, Mr Reynell Pack-Beresford, Mr Hugh Pack-Beresford, Mr Philip Hope and Rev A.A.Markham (nephews).
Several beautiful wreaths were sent, and a massive floral cross, from the family of the deceased, which was interred with the coffin.
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr Edwin Boake, Carlow.

After William's death, his widow Caroline settled at Dunkeld, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin. She died on 24th September 1916. They had three Eton-educated sons and nine daughters. The eldest son Robert Clayton Browne is dealt with shortly.

'An Important Land Case.- Browne Clayton of Browne’s Hill, Carlow, sued Joseph, Patrick, Ellen, and Catherine Kinsella for possession of lands in Carlow and Chaplestown[?], with £500 profits of same during the time they were withheld. Justice O’Brien advised a settlement, and it was accepted. Browne to get possession, without cost of law suit; the Kinsellas to be paid for all improvements made by them or their predecessors and allowed the value of the crops received by the landlord.' - The Irish World, 22 March 1890.

2nd Lt William Clayton Browne (1873 – 1897)

The second son 2nd Lieutenant William Clayton Browne was born on 29th July 1873 and educated at Eton. In October 1892, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

He was serving with the (Queen’s Own) Royal West Kent Regiment during the Malakand Field Force expedition in north-west India (or at Agrah Malakan in Afghanistan?) when killed on 30th September 1897, aged 24. The Times printed a telegram sent from the Viceroy on October 1st which explained: ‘[General] Jeffrey’s brigade encountered enemy in force at Agrah and Gat village. Enemy made considerable resistance and troops, being hotly engaged at close quarters, suffered some loss. Agrah finally burnt, and Gat partly burnt’. 2nd Lt William Clayton Browne and Lt-Col O’Bryen, 31st Bengal Infantry, were among the dead. [24] Winston Churchill, his friend, wept when he saw William's corpse which, as he wrote to his mother Lady Randolph Churchill, was, “literally cut to pieces on a stretcher. Their friendship is the subject of a book called ‘Churchill’s First War’, as well as a short radio play aired by the BBC.


Lt-Cmdr Lionel Denis Browne (1874 -1946)

The third son, Lt-Cmdr Lionel Denis Browne (1874 – 1946) served with the Royal Navy Reserve. On 4th April 1914 he married Winifred, daughter of the Rev. John Bell, MA, Vicar of Pyrton Hill, Watlington, Oxon. Winifred died at the Okanagan Mission in British Columbia in June 1938.[25] Lionel died in the same Mission on December 29th 1946 aged 72.[26]

Their son Robert Denis was born at Pyrton Hall in 1917, served in the Second World War as a Lieutenant with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and settled in Kelowna, British Columbia, with his Canadian born wife Patricia Acland.[27] They had three children – Patrick (born 13 March 1947), Peter Shane (born 21 May 1949) and Jeanne Madeline (b. 19 August 1953).

Their daughter Zoe settled in Montreal where she was a well known medical and scientific journalist with the Montreal Star. She married Jacques Louis Bieler, Bsc, youngest son of Professor Charles Bieler of McGill University’s Theological College, and had issue a son Brian (born 1949) and daughter Zoe (born 1950) who both appear to have pursued intellectual careers. An account of Zoe's early years and first visit to Browne's Hill can be found in Women on the Verge of Home (2005), p. 116, by Bilinda Straight and Ruth Behar.

The Nine Daughters of William and Caroline Browne-Clayton

Mary Caroline was born on 13th Nov 1867. She was married on 6 Oct 1898, as his second wife, to Thomas Henry Bruen Ruttledge, DL, only son of Robert Ruttledge Esq ofBloomfield, Co. Mayo. The marriage took place at Staplestown Church in Carlow with the Bishop of Ossory and the Dean of Leighlin officiating.[28] He died 23 Sept 1917. By this marriage there were two sons, Major Robert Francis Ruttledge, MC (a noted huntsman, ornithologist and founder of the Saltee Bird Observatory in Co Wexford) and William (a respected entomologist and falconer). Mary died on 27 Feb 1955.

Annette (Constance) was born on 20 Dec 1868. She was married in Whonnock, BC, Canada on 20th May 1913 to Robert Harris, son of Edward C Harris of Bryn Towy, Carmarthen. The Gosport-educated Robert left the security of Whonnock on the outbreak of the war, enlisting in the Public School Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. In March 1915 he obtained his commission in the Duke of Wellington’ Regiment (in the service of which regiment his late brother-in-law Horace Johnston had died). He went out to Gallipoli with the drafts in September and served during the evacuation of the Peninsula. He was killed in action in France on September 28th 1915, seven weeks after Horace was killed. Annette died on 15 Feb 1948.

Margaret (Frances) was born on 30th June 1871. She later lived at 4 Saville Court of Brompton Square, London. She died unmarried on 22nd July 1938.

Florence (Hope) was born on 15 Aug 1872. She was married on 28 April 1904 to Lt Col Horace James Johnston, DSO, younger son of Francis Johnston of Dunsdale, Westerham, Kent. On August 26th 1915, Horace’s mother published a request in The Times for ‘any information concerning Colonel HJ Johnston, DSO, 8th Duke of Wellington’ Regiment (West Riding Regiment)’. She noted that he had been ‘reported missing in the Dardanelles between August 7 and 11’.[29] Alas it transpired that he had been killed in action at Gallipoli on 11th August 1915. She lived in Sloane Square. She died suddenly at her home in Abinger Common, Dorking, on 18 Oct 1939. They left issue.

Kathleen (Louise Octavia) was born on 20th October 1875. She died unmarried in Winchester on 15th April 1961 and was buried in St Michael’s Church.

Madeleine (Emma) was born on 28th November 1876 and died unmarried on 19th June 1953.

Lucy Victoria was born on 3rd March 1878. On 12th December 1901 she married Claud Edward Pease, JP, subsequently director of Barclay’s Bank. He was the youngest son of Arthur Pease of Hummersknott, Darlington, and Cliff House, Marske-by-the-Sea, Yorkshire. Lucy was awarded the OBE in 1918. He died on 22nd March 1952 and she died 10 months later on 3rd February 1853. They left issue; see Pease in Burke’s Peerage).

Julia (Harriet Vere) was born on 29th April 1881. On 10th January 1914 she married at St. Anne’s in Dublin to (later Lt Col) Coote Hely-Hutchinson, OBE, Royal Fusiliers. The Primate of Ireland performed the ceremony. Julia was given away by her brother Major Browne-Clayton. Richard Tottenham was best man while Julia’s sister Madeleine and Noelle Hely-Hutchinson were bridesmaids. She wore white satin charneusse trimmed with old Carrickmacross lace. A veil of similar lace covering a wreath of orange blossom and myrtle was in her hair. The reception was held in the Shelbourne Hotel, after which the new Colonel and Mrs HH left for London.[30] Coote was the eldest son of John Hely-Hutchinson, DL, JP, of Seafield, Donabate, Co. Dublin. He died n 30th September 1930 and she died on 10th June 1948, leaving issue. (See Donoughmore in Burke’s Peerage).

Caroline Zoe was born on 16th December 1882. On 14th December 1905, the 23 year old youngest daughter married Captain Hubert Chase Hall, 5th Fusiliers, only son of Major Henry Hall of Denbie, Lockerbie, Dumfrieshire. He died on 27th March 1947. She died 17th September 1957.

Brig-Gen Robert Browne-Clayton, DSO (1870 – 1939)

William and Caroline Browne-Clayton’s eldest son and heir Brig-Gen Robert Browne-Clayton was born on 24th February 1870, making him the third eldest of the twelve children. Educated at Wellington he joined the army soon after school.

On April 18th 1890, The Times announced that he had been promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Tom Connolly, who would perish in the Boer War, was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant the same day. Having passed his military exams, he awaited a vacancy in the cavalry. It came in December 1890 when he transferred to be a 2nd Lieutenant with the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers. [Burke’s erroneously claim he was in command of the 5th Lancers by 1890]. He was promoted to lieutenant in September 1894.

In 1900 he was made Adjutant of his regiment, retaining that office during the South African War (1899-1902), in which he was three times mentioned in despatches and made Brevet Major and hon Brig-Gen. He was awarded the Order of the White Eagle of Serbia (3rd class) with crossed swords. In February 1903 he was presented to His Majesty King Edward VII at a Levee held in Buckingham Palace by Lt Gen WGD Massy, CB.

On 25th November 1905, The Carlow Sentinel gave the following account (which was gallantly transcribed in 2013 by Michael Purcell's team at the Pat Purcell Papers).

The marriage of Captain and Brevet Major R. Brown-Clayton, 5th Royal Irish Lancers, eldest son of William Browne-Clayton, of Browne's Hill, Carlow, with Miss Magda Wienholt, youngest daughter of the late Edward Weinholt, of Jondaryan, Queensland, was celebrated at St Mary's Abbots, Kensington, on the 19th of November, the officiating clergy being the Rev. A.A.Markham ( cousin of the bridegroom ), and the clergy of St Mary's Abbots.
The bride was given away by her cousin, Mr Rowland Malony, and wore a gown of ivory satin, draped with duchesse lace, and a brocade train softened with lace and chiffon. Her tuille veil fell over a tiara of orange blossoms, She carried a bouquet of white exoties, myrtle, white heather, and lily of the valley.
Miss Brenda Wienholt, sister of the bride, acted as bridesmaid, and wore a dress of heliotrope crepe de chine, with hat of the same shade. Her bouquet was of mauve orchids, harmonising with her toilet, which, with an enamel and diamond brooch in the form of the regimental badge, was the gift of the bridegroom.
Capt. Willcox, a brother officer of the bridegroom, was best man. The interesting ceremony took place at 2.30pm.
The bride was met at the door by the choir and proceeded up the aisle singing the hymn " O Perfect Love, all human thought transcending". While the register was being signed the choir sang the hymn, " Fight the good fight with all thy might". The service was fully choral.
The church was beautifully decorated with palms and white flowers.
The reception was held afterwards at the Royal Palace Hotel, and subsequently the bride and bridegroom left for Ireland.

Carlow Sentinel (courtesy of the Pat Purcell Papers).
December 1905.
On Monday last Major Browne-Clayton, 5th Lancers, brought home his bride. This was made an occasion of great rejoicings amongst the tenants and employees of Browne's Hill, many of the townspeople joining in.
The Staplestown Road was splendidly decorated with flags and arches, bearing words of welcome.
On arriving at the front gate, which was beautifully and artistically decorated under the supervision of Mr Bell ( steward ), the carriage was met by a large crowd of enthusiastic friends, and was drawn up the hill by many willing hands, while a fire of twenty-one guns from a small piece of ordnance, in charge of ex-Sergt Clifden, Royal Artillery, announced the approach of the procession.
In the afternoon the employees and tenants were entertained at dinner, and in the evening a numerous gathering from the neighbourhood assembled round a bonfire, and the proceedings terminated by a band from Carlow playing varied selections.

On 22nd May 1909, Robert retired from the army in the rank of major. He was 39. His retirement did not completely curtail his military activity, however. He remained as an officer in the Special Reserve, serving with the South Irish Horse. He was a noted polo player between 1906 and 1909, lining out for the 5th Lancers when they crushed the Irish Guards 7-1 in the 1906 Inter-regimental tournament at Aldershot.[31] He also played for Carlow in the Irish Open Cup 1909 and County Cups of 1912 and 1913. He also played for Ireland in the Patriotic Cup in August 1909 but The Times rather meanly wrote him off as having been ‘quite outclassed from start to finish’. The Major was Field Master of the Carlow Hunt before the First World War at a time when Mr Grogan and Colonel Williams were joint-Masters.

'An Agreement made the 23rd day of March 1914. Between Major Robert Browne-Clayton of Browne's Hill, Carlow of the One Part and Patrick Brennan of Chaff Street, Graigue of the Other Part whereby the Said Major R. Browne-Clayton agrees to let and the said Patrick Brennan agrees to take the forge Situate on Castlecomer road now in his possession together with the yard and premises now adjoining and formerly in possession of William Curran, as a tenant from Year to Year at the Yearly rent of Two Pounds Twelve shillings to be paid by two Half Yearly installments of £1-6 shillings each on the 1st day of March and 1st day of September in each year.
And the said Patrick Brennan agrees to keep the said premises in clean and Sanitary Order. And it is further agreed that Six months Notice in writing from either Gale days ie 1st March or 1st September in any year on behalf of either the contracting parties to the Agreement shall be sufficient to determine the tenancy hereby created. Signed by the Said Major R. Browne-Clayton and Patrick Brennan in the presence of Charles Johnson, 3 Athy Street, Carlow. 23rd March 1914.'
Transcribed by Michael Purcell, 2009.

In July 1915 he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 16th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, one of the Bantam battalions raised by the Birkenhead MP Sir Alfred Bigland. The 16th Cheshires were deployed to France in January 1916 as part of 105th Brigade, 35th Division. Browne-Clayton was awarded the DSO for his part in the fighting at Trones Wood in July 1916. He was promoted GOC 59th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division on 14 October. 20th Division took part in no more operations on the Somme after 8 October and was comparatively little employed in the first half of 1917. Browne-Clayton remained in command until 26 August 1917 when he was replaced a few days after the battle of Langemarck.

During the War of Independence and later during the Civil War in Ireland, Eamon De Valera gave instruction that neither the Browne family nor their property were to be harmed. In December 1927, the Free State Government of Ireland appointed him to a Special Committee investigating the alleged grievances of ex-British servicemen in the Irish Free State. Their report, issued in February 1929, concluded that there were indeed some grievances but that these should be leveled against the British government rather than the Free State government. [32] The General was re-elected as a Ratepayer in Carlow and, in November 1928, the council paid tribute to him for the keen and practical interest he took in the administration of the county council and the county board of health.

In later life he looked after his herd of prize shorthorns, selling them at the annual Horse Show in Dublin. In June 1938, he attended the 5th Lancers annual dinner at the Cavalry Club. He died at Browne’s Hill on March 5th 1939 aged 69.

On 16th November 1905 he married an Australian girl, Mary Magdalene, third daughter of Edward Wienholt of Jondaryan, Queensland. ('My sister Magda and I were terrified of her', recalls Robert Browne-Clayton, 'with her booming voice in the hunting field. If we overtook her on our pony, she would yell at us to stop and we would be roundly admonished, particularly if we had taken a fence before her. She died in agony from cancer, refusing any medication as she was a Christian Scientist.'

Two years later, in 1907, he succeeded his father at Browne’s Hill. She died at Pimperne, Blandford, on 20th July 1932 and was cremated in Woking. He died on 3rd March 1939, leaving Browne’s Hill to his only son, William. Robert and Mary’s only daughter Annette Mary was born on 28th April 1908 and married in the Holy Trinity Church at Sloane Street, on 21st April 1933, to The Times polo correspondent Colonel Sir Andrew Marshall Horsbrugh-Porter, 3rd Bart, DSO and bar. The H-Ps lived at Chipping Norton, Oxon, and had issue.


The Nationalist, 31st January, 1920. (PPP)
Letter to the Editor.
Browne's Hill, Carlow.
27th January, 1920.
Sir---I see by your last week's issue that I was shown as elected as a Unionist member of the Carlow Urban District Council.
I beg to point out that I stood as representative of the Comrades of the Great War, an organisation, which is strictly non-political. ----
Yours faithfully, Robert Browne-Clayton, Browne's Hill House.

The Nationalist, 7th Feb. 1920. (PPP)
Letter to the Editor.
Sir----In your issue of last week Lieutenant Colonel Browne-Clayton repudiated the publication of his name as a Unionist in connection with the recent Carlow Urban Elections. He says he stands as a "representative of the Comrades of the Great War" and for the life of me I cannot understand why such an association can be interested in local municipal life. Why did not the gallant Colonel issue an election address stating what he was proposing to represent. Is County Carlow Unionism in the Quicksands ?---
Yours truly,


Memories of Mr. H. Boake. 1950., courtesy of Michael Purcell.

"Usually the manager of a National school was the Parish Priest or Rector but in the case of the Rutland National School, Mrs Browne-Clayton, wife of Brigadier Browne-Clayton of Browne's Hill was the manager. (She was also the manager of the Barrack Street National School in Carlow town.). She did her duty well, visiting the school regularly, and seeing to our wants. She walked in without knocking as was her right. We stood up somewhat falling over ourselves, so sudden was her entry. She made a bee-line for the teacher's chair beside the open fire, and if the teacher happened to be sitting in it, she had to be out of it quickly, otherwise Mrs Browne-Clayton would probably have ended up on her lap. She listened to the teaching for a while, and then stood up suddenly, tall and gaunt and dark, beside our rather diminutive teacher, said a few words to her, and then with a swish of tweeds made for the door, we again having to be upstanding again. It was woe betide the pupil nearest the door who had not caught the glare from teacher to get the door open in time. A copy of the "Christian Science Monitor" was left on the chair. Mrs. Browne-Clayton belonged to this sect. We all owed a debt to Mrs Browne-Clayton. She kept the school in repair and kept a roaring fire going in the school room for about 20 to 25 pupils, all at her own expense. She provided the highlight of the year too, the Christmas Tree party. The tree stood in the corner decorated and lit and laden . We had never seen anything like it before. The presents were mostly in a large box over which the Rector stood guard over while we feasted on everything sweet, sticky and curranty. Eventually we saw the great moment was coming near and we made a last effort to stuff down another bun, before Mrs Browne-Clayton reached into the box In the ensuing silence she called out a name. Half paralysed with fright and excitement the owner of the name advanced. All sorts of things came out of that box, all good valuable presents. The girls maybe were wishing for dolls, but there was one sort of present looked forward to by the boys. The older boys always got Barber pen knives. They were best quality and razor sharp. The speculation was "would I be regarded as old enough and would I get one ?" Eventually I did, and likewise some others. At the end of the Christmas Tree Party the Rector wold call for three cheers for Mrs Browne-Clayton. Our Christmas was made. Over 50 years later I still have that Barber pen knife.

Lt Col William Patrick Browne-Clayton (1906 – 1971)

Lt Col William Patrick Browne-Clayton (1906 – 1971) was 33 years old when, in March 1939, he succeeded his father at Browne’s Hill. Educated at Wellington and Sandhurst, he served with the 12th Royal Lancers from 1926 through World War Two until 1947. He was a keen huntsman, point-to-pointer and polo player. He played on the 12th Lancers team with his brother-in-law Andrew Marshall Horsbrugh-Porter when they reached the semi-finals of the Ranelagh Cup in 1936 and when they won the Subalterns Gold Cup in 1937. He owned some useful steeplechasers, Sweet Peach and Isric who raced at courses such as Northampton, Birmingham and Sandown Park before the Second World War.

On 23rd October 1935 he was married at St Margaret’s, Westminster, to Janet Maitland Bruce Jardine. It is said he felt obliged to marry her after he shot her eye out during a shooting accident. Charles Spencer, 12th Royal Lancers, was best man. The honeymoon was spent in the west of Ireland. Janet was the elder daughter of Brig-Gen James Bruce Jardine, CMG, DSO, DL, 5th Royal Irish Lancers, of Chesterknowes, Selkirk, Roxburghshire (see Burke’s LG 1952). One of her ancestors was James Bruce (1730-1794), the Scotsman who discovered the source of the Blue Nile in 1770 and who was described by Dr. Livingston as the greatest travellor of them all.

Colonel Browne-Clayton died on 3rd September 1971. His widow lived at The Coach House, 6 Vesey Place, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, before moving to Wandsworth in London where she died in 2002.

In 1937, William and Janet had a daughter Magdalene Jardine. She was followed by a son Robert, born in 1940. A second daughter was born in Edinburgh on March 2nd 1942 but sadly did not survive.[33] William was reported wounded in August 1942.[34] By 1946, Janet was advertising in The Times for a young Governess to look after her son and daughter.[35]


The legal papers that were handed over to Michael Purcell show that William had hoped to establish an equestrian centre at Browne's Hill. However, Janet was less keen.

In 1951, Lt Col Browne-Clayton was obliged to place the 700 acre estate up for sale. The Land Acts had reduced the families’ wealth considerably, and they also at some point lost money with Lloyd's of London. Pressure from Janet intensified after a row with the local priest about grounds in Bennekerry - the school, perhaps - and an accusation that Willliam had reneged on a commitment. William decided to leave Carlow. An English syndicate headed up by Norfolk grain farmer WH Harold purchased the estate for in excess of £70,000. [The newspapers suggest it was GW Harrold or AE Harrold ... Mick Purcell has him as W.H.Harold, along with his brother and another business partner as purchasers.] In 1957, the syndicate acquired the 1,500 acre Bruen estate at Oak Park, following Henry Bruen’s controversial disinheritance of his only daughter Patricia. Many in Carlow resented Harold’s purchase, believing the two farms should have been acquired by the Land Commission and divided amongst local farmers. Harold resisted until one morning he opened a letter bearing an Irish postmark which contained a single bullet.

Shortly afterwards, the Browne’s Hill Estates syndicate negotiated a deal with the Land Commission. Browne’s Hill House was put up for sale on 4 ½ acres by auctioneer William Mulhall with an asking price of £2,500. For several weeks, the best price offered was £1,800 from a Dublin buyer, Thomas Stafford, whose interest was in salvage value after demolition.

In 1961, the April-June issue of the Irish Georgian Society’s Bulletin advised readers that Browne’s Hill ‘is to be demolished if a buyer does not come forward within the next month.’ The house was on sale by William Mulhall, Auctioneer and Valuer, for £2500, with five acres. The author Anita Leslie and Eoin ‘The Pope’ O’Mahony led the IGS campaign to save the house, especially when it became apparent that the Longford firm who had lately stripped an important Palladian house at Dalyston in County Galway, were homing in on Browne’s Hill. Baronness Simone de Bastard was among those said to have expressed an interest. For more on the Irish Georgian Society’s role, see The Irish Aesthete blog. Fortunately a number of last minute bids were placed, and the eventual buyer in June 1961 was local travel agent Frank Tully. (Local lore is that the price paid was £1200). The house and its beautiful stable yard went on the market in the summer of 2020.

The original entrance gates to Browne’s Hill, which took the form of a splendid triumphal arch, were removed, purchased by University College Dublin and erected at the entrance to the Lyons estate in County Kildare. Lyons was then owned by the college and was later home to the late Tony Ryan of Guinness Peat Aviation / Ryanair. The gates can still be seen there at the entrance to the now-private house.

By 1958, the Browne-Claytons were living at Cashel House in Connemara, the same landscape in which their daughter Magda would find her husband. William died in Dublin on 3rd September 1971. Janet died in 2002.

My father adds: 'For many years Browne’s Hill was the location for the Carlow Agricultural Show, which I remember attending. After the estate was sold the Carlow Agricultural Society declined and the nearby Tullow Show took on the role of county show. Oak Park subsequently became the major research centre for the Agricultural Institute, which eventually morphed into Teagasc.'


Robert Browne-Clayton (1940-2014)

Robert Bruce Browne-Clayton was born on 25th April 1940 and educated at Loretto in Scotland and Sandhurst. He served as a Captain in the Royal Green Jackets, retiring in 1968. He was subsequently Agricultural, Fisheries, Food, Forestry and Countryside adviser to Margaret Thatcher and her Government, as well as CEO to various Trade Associations including the Coal Industry, Building Industry and Financial Services Industry. On 1st March 1969 he was married in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, by the Bishop of Tuam (Arthur Butler), to Jane (Eveline Reine) Butler. She was a daughter of Eric Peter Butler of The Close, Blagdon, near Bristol. They have issue a son, Benedict John (b. 11 March 1970) and daughter Clare Louise (b. 20 Nov 1973). In 2007, Robert presented Carlow County Library with a collection of over 3,000 documents dating from 1640s to 1900s, relating to the Browne-Clayton Estate in Carlow. Robert passed away in 2014, aged 73.

Magda Dunlop

Robert’s elder sister Magda Dunlop (nee Browne Clayton) is the author of the useful history of ‘Browne’s Hill 1763 – 1951’ upon which some of this text is based. She was born on 16th June 1937 and educated at Lawnside, Great Malvern and the Froebel Educational Institute in Roehampton. On 19th September 1959 she was married in Chelsea to the late Captain Brian WH Dunlop, 17th/21st Lancers, younger son of the late Canon Douglas Lyall Chandlee Dunlop of Kilcummin Rectory, Oughterard, Co Galway. They had issue two sons, Julian Pilkington (b. 1961), Dominic Patrick (b. 1969, aka the photographer/author Nic Dunlop), and a daughter Lindsay Janet (b. 1963).


In 1824, a mineralogy report noted: ‘A few days ago there was taken up at Browne's Hill, Carlow, the estate of Wm Browne esq, part of a stone in which was found the following combination - siliceous limestone, pearl spar, carbonate of lime, quartz crystal and hepatic iron pyrites; forming one of the most curious specimens we have seen in the compass of less than three inches square. The quartz crystals are common at Browne's Hill, but not in company with the pearl spar or iron pyrites. They are, we believe, generally found distinct in the carbonate of lime and are of a very superior quality of the Irish diamond'. New Monthly Magazine (1824), by Henry Colburn, Thomas Campbell, William Harrison Ainsworth, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Theodore Edward Hook, Thomas Hood.

Arms Quarterly

1st and 4th, gu, a chevron between three lions’ gambs erect and erased arg, a border arg on a chief arg an eagle displayed sa, armed and crowned or (for BROWNE); 2nd and 3rd arg, a cross engrailed sa between four totteaux (CLAYTON).


An eagle displayed sa, armed and crowned or (BROWNE).
An arm in armour grasping a sword ppr (CLAYTON).

With thanks to Magda Dunlop, Michael Purcell, Nic Dunlop, Ivor Bowe, the late Robert Browne-Clayton, Graeme Stanton,Bill Webster, Michael Brennan, the Carlow Rootsweb, Tim Edwards, Avice-Claire McGovern and others.


[1a] 'The Country House And Its Demesne In County Carlow', by R.Timothy Campbell and Stephen A. Royle, from Carlow History and Society (Irish County History and Society Series, 2008), edited by Dr. Thomas McGrath.

[1b] Will dated 10 Feb 1677, pr 27 May 1678

[1c] The reference to Mr Peters comes from JN Brewer, Beauties of Ireland(1826) II, p. 9. The Irish Architectural Archive propose that this could refer to the gardener and landscape architect Matthew Peters who is said to have been born in Belfast in 1711. He was brought up in England by his uncle William Love, who was head gardener to the first Viscount Cobham at Stowe. He came to Ireland in about 1742 and opened a seedsman's business in Capel Street, Dublin. He also designed and laid out gardens and estates, as he advertised in Faulkner's Journal 11-14 October 1746 and December 1748. He was consulted about the building of the stove and walks at Marino, Co. Dublin and is said to have been employed by the Irish government to improve the navigation of lakes and rivers. Peters was a member of the Dublin Society and the author of a number of works on agriculture, published in the 1770s, by which time he was living at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. He married twice. By his first wife he was the father of the painter Matthew William Peters (1741-1814).

However, Romilly Turton, a direct descendant, wrote to me in June 2014, stating that the concept of Mathew Peters being the architect was 'highly speculative. She writes: 'Peters, of course, was never an architect. I also doubt if he could have produced a plan for such a large house. Moreover, he kept a copy of his survey plans for the Navigation Board. So I am quite certain he would have kept a plan of Browne Hill had he been responsible for one, but none has ever been mentioned. However, he might have produced a plan for the garden! '.

See: Irish Architectural Archive. See also A. Young, Tour in Ireland() I, 87; J.B. Burke, Visitation of Seats and Arms 2nd ser. (1855) II, 202-3; Georgian Society Records (1909-13), V, 81.

[2] Burke’s Extinct & Dormant Baronetcies

[3] Presented by Richard C Browne Clayton Esq. See British Miscellany, 1865.

[4] Burke’s Extinct & Dormant Baronetcies

[5] The Times, Tuesday, Mar 09, 1841; pg. 7; Issue 17613; col E

[6] The Times, Wednesday, Oct 13, 1841; pg. 6; Issue 17800; col D

[7] The Times, Wednesday, Apr 20, 1842; pg. 15; Issue 17962; col F

[8] See: www.wmf.org.uk/projects/view/browne_clayton/

[9] The Annual Register: World Events, Edmund Burke. (1859).

[10] The Queen v Lanauze, Nov 19 & 22 1847, Reports of Cases in Criminal Law Argued and Determined in All the Courts in England and Ireland, Edward William Cox, published by J. Crockford, Law Times Office, 1848

[11] The Times, Thursday, Mar 07, 1895; pg. 1; Issue 34518; col A

[12] The Gentleman's Magazine (1855); The Times, Saturday, Jul 19, 1856; pg. 9; Issue 22424; col E

[13] The Annual Register of World Events A Review of the Year (1859).

[14] The Times, Wednesday, Aug 21, 1929; pg. 15; Issue 45287; col C

[15] The Times, Friday, May 21, 1852; pg. 8; Issue 21121; col B

[16] The Times, Tuesday, May 22, 1883; pg. 8; Issue 30826; col A

[17] Obituaries, The Times, Wednesday, Apr 17, 1889; pg. 7; Issue 32675; col B

[18] The Times, Monday, Feb 16, 1863; pg. 1; Issue 24483; col A

[19] The Times, Thursday, May 30, 1867; pg. 11; Issue 25824; col C

[20] The Times, Monday, Jun 17, 1867; pg. 9; Issue 25839; col C

[21] The Times, Monday, Dec 02, 1867; pg. 6; Issue 25983; col C

[22] The Times, Monday, Nov 06, 1876; pg. 4; Issue 28779; col D

[23] The Times, Tuesday, Dec 13, 1881; pg. 8; Issue 30376; col B

[24] The Indian Frontier Risings. Further Fighting. The Times, Saturday, Oct 02, 1897; pg. 5; Issue 35324; col A

Carlow Sentinel.
Saturday, October 9th, 1897.
On Saturday last a feeling of profound sorrow was caused not only in this town and county but throughout every portion of her Majesty's wide dominions by the sad intelligence that some British officers had been killed in action at the North-Western frontier in India, including a gallant young Carlowman, Lieutenant William Clayton Browne-Clayton, second son of William Clayton Browne-Clayton, Esquire, D.L., of Browne's Hill, Carlow.
Very meagre particulars of the engagement have as yet been received, but it is probable that it was a hand-to-hand encounter, and it is certain that our young county man was in the forefront of the fight when cut down in the prime of youth, and when apparently a brilliant career was before him. By early post on Saturday a letter was received from him from the seat of war, written in excellent spirits, and it was not until some members of the family reached the Carlow railway station, with the intention of proceeding to Dublin by early train, that they learned the sad news through the morning papers.
By every section of the community sorrow and sympathy find deep expression, and during the day the Church bell was tolled in honour of the dead. The gallant young officer, whose death is everywhere mourned, had only been in the army a little over two years, having entered the Royal West Kent Regiment on May 29th, 1895.

[Note added 2010 by Michael Purcell:

The following account of the battle during which William Browne-Clayton was killed was compiled by Philip Wilson, transcribed by Grace Bunbury.
In September 1897 Lieutenant Colonel J.L. O' Bryen commanded the 31st Punjabis in the Expedition to Bajour and took part in various operations until he fell whilst gallantly leading it in the storming of the heights were the villages of Agrah and Gat are situated in the Mamund Valley on the 30th September 1897. Winston Churchill in his book The Malakand Field Force invites the reader to examine the legitimacy of village-burning. ‘A camp of a British Brigade, moving at the order of the Indian Government and under the acquiescence of the people of the United Kingdom, is attacked at night. Several valuable and expensive officers, soldiers and transport animals are killed and wounded. The assailants retire to the hills. Thither it is impossible to follow them. They cannot be caught. They cannot be punished. Only one remedy remains – their property must be destroyed. Their villages are made hostages for their good behaviour.'

On the 29th September over a dozen villages in the plains of the Mamund Valley were destroyed, without a single loss of life. However on the 30th September events took a totally different course Brigadier General Jeffreys’ 2nd Brigade attacked the fortified villages of Agrah and Gat. These two villages occupied the strongest strategical position of any yet seen, perched on the lower slope of a steep and rugged hill, and mutually supporting each other they were protected on either side by high rocky boulders, great rocks lay tossed about, interspersed with these were huts or narrow cultivated terraces, covered with crops, and rising one above the other by great steps of ten to twelve feet. Both villages had to be occupied at the same time and this compelled the Brigade to attack on a broader front in full view of the enemy, whose drums could be heard as they manned the rocky heights, their red flags plainly visible to the advancing army.

The Guides Cavalry on the left advanced as far as the scrub would allow them drawing fire from isolated skirmishers. The Guides Infantry was ordered to clear the spur to the left; the 31st Punjab Infantry supported by the 38th Dogras, the centre ridge between the two villages, while the Royal West Kent Regiment was meant to advance straight up the hill on the right of the Guides. The fighting was at very close quarters and it soon became apparent that there were insufficient troops to undertake the task. A gap opened in consequence, between the Guides and Royal West Kents and this enabled the enemy to get round the left flank of the Royal West Kents, while the 31st Punjab Infantry was also turned by the enveloping enemy on the right.

The Royal West Kents eventually forced their way into the village of Agrah and encountered stiff enemy resistance in strongly occupied sangers. Under heavy enemy fire the Bengal Sappers and Miners commenced to destroy the village with explosives. Meanwhile on the right flank the 31st Punjab Infantry commanded by Lieut. Colonel O’Bryen were exposed to severe fire from a rocky ridge on their flank. Their attack was directed against a great mass of boulders tenaciously held by the enemy. The two advance companies being hotly engaged at less than 100 yards, experiencing cross fire from their right flank.

Lieut Colonel O’Bryen moved swiftly from point to point directing the fire and animating his men who were devoted to him. As the enemy marksmen’s bullets struck the ground everywhere around his prominent figure he continued to live a charmed life. ‘Two companies of the 38th Dogras’ came up to clear their right. The gunfire, though accurate, could not shift the tribesmen from their cover. So Lieut Colonel O’Bryen of the Punjabis ordered a charge. As O’Bryen rose to lead the 31st Punjabis in the charge towards their objective he was mortally wounded and was then carried to the rear. The casualty roll for the 31st (Punjab) Regiment of Bengal Infantry confirms he died of gun shot wounds to the abdomen.

Brigadier Jeffreys ordered the 7th Battery to engage the enemy from 600 yards to cover the withdrawal of the 2nd Brigade. The shells screamed over the heads of the Royal West Kents who were now clear of the hills retiring towards the guns. As the guns of the 7th Battery continued to fire, white puffs could be seen as the shells burst along the crest of the ridge, tearing up the ground adding great clouds of dust, whilst flames and smoke continued to rise from the burning village.

At length the withdrawal was complete and the 2nd Brigade returned to its camp five miles down the valley – job almost done. The Village of Agrah was well and truly destroyed whilst the village of Ghat had been severely shelled.

On hearing the news General Sir Bindon Blood proceeded to Inyat Kila with sizeable reinforcements. He arrived on the 2nd October giving orders for fourteen 12 pounder guns to arrive in time for a determined two Brigade strong attack on Agrah and Gat which was scheduled for the 5th October. As the British Army poured into the Mamund Valley – the tribesmen sued for peace on the 4th October.

After the action on the 30th September Lieut Colonel McCrae 45th Sikhs was sent up to command the 31st Punjab Infantry and Winston Churchill was attached as a temporary measure to the 31st Punjab Infantry to fill the vacancy arising from Lieut. E.B. Peacock receiving gun shots wounds to the thigh in the action on the 30th September. The total casualties for the day being 61 of which 8 being officer casualties: Lieut Colonel O’Bryen (killed), 2nd Lieut W.C. Browne-Clayton of the Royal West Kents (killed ) with a further six Officers of the Royal West Kents being wounded that day at Agrah.

And here, once again courtesy of Michael Purcell, is part of the sermon preached in St. Mary's Church, Carlow, on Sunday, 3rd October 1897, extracted from the notes of John Finlay, Dean of Leighlin at ths time:

A feeling of sorrow I know pervades this congregation to-day for the Browne-Clayton family -- which has been plunged into grief by the loss of one of its members.
Oh ! -- how hard it is for a father and a mother, how hard it is for the brothers and sisters to think of a young life full of health and strength and hope being taken so suddenly.
The anxious watching, day by day, for news, and then when it comes with its burden of sorrow, the hearts of the waiting ones are wrung with grief -- such grief as only those who suffer can know its depth.
He fell doing his duty.
You, my brethren, I know do sorrow this day with those that sorrow -- you give them your heartful sympathy ; but, brethren, stop not here.
Give them also your prayers that God may comfort and strengthen them ; and when we kneel and use the words :" We humbly beseech Thee of Thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all them who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity" :
and we also bless The Holy name for all Thy servants departed this life in Thy Faith, and fear.
When we use these words , I say, let us think of those who sorrow to-day, and let us commit them to God's care.
We are all one in Christ.
We are all bound to feel for one another, and to pray for one another.
May a feeling of closer union take possession of our hearts to-day, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, that we being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God.
And then out of that fullness may we give the sympathy that softens sorrow, and the prayer which will comfort those who mourn, with the comfort which comes from the Father of us all.

[25] The Times, Tuesday, Jun 28, 1938; pg. 1; Issue 48032; col B

[26] The Times, Friday, Jan 03, 1947; pg. 1; Issue 50649:; col A

[27] Their eldest son Patrick Robert Browne was born in 1947 and educated at Notre Dame University, BC. Their second son Peter was born in 1949, married Mary Law of Vancouver and lived in British Columbia.

[28] The Times, Monday, Oct 10, 1898; pg. 1; Issue 35643; col A

[29] The Times, Thursday, Aug 26, 1915; pg. 9; Issue 40943; col B

[30] The Times, Tuesday, Jan 13, 1914; pg. 11; Issue 40419; col B

[31] The Times, Monday, Jun 11, 1906; pg. 6; Issue 38043; col D

[32] The Times, Friday, Feb 01, 1929; pg. 9; Issue 45116; col E

[33] The Times, Thursday, Mar 05, 1942; pg. 1; Issue 49176; col A

[34] The Times, Thursday, Aug 13, 1942; pg. 8; Issue 49313; col C

[35] The Times, Friday, Mar 15, 1946; pg. 10; Issue 50401; col D