Turtle Bunbury

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First written in 2006.

NB: For earlier history of the Smyth family and Sir Percy Smyth, see: Richard Boyle's Munster.

Also consider sections on Holroyd-Smyth of Ballynatray, Ponsonby of Kilcooley Abbey and the Earls Mouncashell. French speakers might also be interested in "Genealogie de L'Ancienne et Noble Famille Smyth de Ballynatray, Comte de Waterford, en Irlande", printed at Spa, Belgium in 1856. This may have been penned by some pro-Capua enthusiasts, endeavouring to bolster Penelope Smyth's credentials with the Bourbons.

Richard Smyth & Susanna Gore – Ireland’s Early Georgian Poet

Upon the death of Sir Percy Smyth, his fourth son, Richard Smyth, succeeded to Ballynatray. Little is known of this Richard but his first wife, Susanna Gore, with whom he had no children, may yet become a household name. She is the only known female poet composing in Ireland during those times. Susanna’s father was John Gore [Goer] lived at Clonrone, Co. Clare, and thus she had been raised amid the karstlands of the Burren. She had been married before to John King, a son of Sir William King of Killpekane, Co. Limerick. What became of him is unknown. As a great nephew of the Earl of Cork, Richard Smyth must have been regarded as a singularly good catch. For her part, Susanna was the author of a book or poetry published in 1756, a signed copy of which was recently sold by De Burca Books. It would be curious to find her works to see whether the gorgeous estuary at Ballynatray inspired any verses.[1] Richard's elder brother William Smyth was ancestor of the Smyths of Headborough in Co. Waterford.

The Grice Family

On 13th October 1683, the widower Richard took a new wife, Alice, or Anne Grice, daughter of Richard Grice of Ballycullane, co. Limerick. Alice was co-heir with her two sisters, Mary and Susanna, to the Grice family fortunes. The Grices were probably gentlemen farmers, possibly from Wakefield in Yorkshire, or Cumberland. Richard Grice came to Ireland in a military capacity during the reign of Charles II and was rewarded with the Ballycullane estate in 1666. Richard died sometime before 1681, leaving a widow Alice, his son Grice and three daughters.[2]. The source of the Grice fortunes is unknown but they must have been impressive enough for Richard and Alice to name their only son ‘Grice Smyth’.

The First Ponsonby Connection

Alice Smyth’s sister and co-heiress, Susanna, was the wife of Thomas Ponsonby, of Crotto, Lisotowel, Co. Kerry. It is interesting to see the Ponsonby connection to Ballynatray going back as far as this. Thomas was a nephew of Sir John Ponsonby, Knight, of Hale and Bessborough. Sir John had become fabulously wealthy during his tenure as the Commissioner charged with investigating land titles in Ireland after the Confederate Wars. He used a small slither of his riches to build Bessborough House in 1662, named for his wife Elizabeth ‘Bess’ fFoliott.

Thomas’s father, also Thomas, owned lands at Crotto and Stackstown while his mother was Rose Weldon, daughter of Thomas Weldon of St John’s Bower. Richard Smyth’s kinship with the Ponsonby dynasty undoubtedly took another turn for the better when Sir John’s son, William Ponsonby, became Viscount Dungannon and 1st Baron Bessborough under George I.[3]

Isabella Smyth and the Crosbies of Tubrid

Richard and Alice Smyth had two daughters, Isabella and Jane. Isabella married Colonel William Crosbie of Tubrid, co. Kerry. In the mid 18th century, the Crosbies secured possession of Castlelough, an ancient McCarthy Mor stronghold on the eastern shore of Killarney’s Loch Lein. The Crosbies daughter Ann was married on 21st February 1736 to John Blennerhassett (1715 – 1763), variously High Sheriff and MP for County Kerry (1751 – 60).[9]

Jane Smyth and the Uniacke FitzGeralds

Richard and Alice Smyth’s younger daughter, Jane, married Robert Uniacke Fitzgerald of Corkbegg, near Whitegate in Co. Cork. Descended from the Knights of Kerry, this branch of the FitzGeralds was granted lands at Lisquinlan by James I in 1612. Robert was in fact born a Uniacke, being the second son of Thomas Uniacke of Youghal and Woodhouse, Co. Waterford, by his marriage to Helena Borr, daughter and co-heir of Christian Borr, a German-born beef baron.

Robert came into the property at Corkbegg when he was a six-year-old boy following the death of his great uncle, Robert FitzGerald, in June 1718. He duly assumed the surname and arms of FitzGerald in compliance with his great uncle’s will. Jane was his first wife and bore him one surviving daughter Gertrude before her death in 1746. In 1763, Gertrude married John La Touche of Harristown Co. Kildare, a senior Freemason and MP for Newcastle. Angelica Kauffman painted the couple during her seven month stay in Ireland in 1771. Robert subsequently married Frances Judkin of Greenhills, County Tipperary, by whom he was ancestor to the Penrose-FitzGerald family and father to Thomas Judkin-FitzGerald (was he the psychopath?).[10]

The Succession of Grice Smyth I

Richard Smyth died in 1681 and was succeeded at ‘Ballynatree’ by his only son, Grice Smyth. The outbreak of the Williamite Wars in 1688 provided the backdrop for the first decade of Grice’s ownership. Youghal was inevitably embroiled in the war between the two Kings. There was an unsuccessful attempt to burn Tynte’s Castle in 1689.[11] On 2nd August 1690, soon after the reduction of Waterford, the town surrendered to a small regiment of dragoons from King William's army. Nine days later, the Governor of Youghal marched a small army out to Castlemartyr, and defeated a large army of Irish Jacobites. In 1696 the towns’ inhabitants manned a boat with 40 seamen and soldiers, and managed to capture a French privateer which had put into the harbour to obtain supplies. Grice married Gertrude Taylor, daughter of William Taylor, of Burton, co. Cork. They had a son, Richard, and a daughter, Deborah. Grice died intestate, administration to his effects being granted 24 April 1724. His widow was 48 years old and his only son and heir, another Richard, just 18.

Deborah Smyth and the Blakeney Family

In January 1729, Grice and Gertrude Smyth’s only daughter Deborah married Captain Robert Blakeney, JP, of Mount Blakeney, Kilmallock, County Limerick. With her father dead, the marriage settlement was negotiated by her brother Richard. The Blakeneys were a strong military family with Norfolk origins who came to Ireland during Queen Elizabeth’s reign when Thomas Blakeney became Governor of ‘Dering’s Castle’ in Ulster. Thomas’s wife was a kinswoman of Raleigh’s old nemesis, Lord Chancellor Christopher Hatton. Their son William (d. 1664) was granted lands in Limerick by Cromwell and was Robert’s grandfather. However it was Robert’s elder brother Sir William Blakeney – who as Deborah Smyth’s brother-in-law was a co-signatory of the settlement – who would have generated the most interesting talk during dinner at Ballynatray in the 18th century.

General Sir William Blakeney (1673 – 1761)

General Sir William Blakeney first made his mark at in 1690 when, aged 18, he organised a small military force from his father's tenants to defend the family estate against the Rapparees. He was to spend several key moments in his life in a similar position. As an adjutant during the campaigns of Marlborough, he became well known as the man who inspired regiments to exercise themselves by beating their drums and waving their colours. Indeed, it is said that he once managed to get the entire army exercising thus in order to impress some visiting German princes. It must have been quite a sight. Many decades later, the Duke of Richmond appointed him lieutenant governor of Stirling Castle. Just two years later, the Scottish Highlanders launched the second Jacobite Rebellion and attacked Stirling in the name of Bonnie Prince Charlie. At the age of 76, William managed to outfox the Highlanders and ultimately inflicted a major defeat on them, greatly assisting in the collapse of the rebellion.

A decade later, the sprightly octogenarian applied the same defensive logic when, as Governor of Minorca, he defended the island’s Fort St. Philips against a French onslaught in 1756. Legend holds that he refused to go to bed for seventy days, constantly rallying his men to resist, but at length he was obliged to surrender on honourable terms. Adored by the masses, he received great honours from George II, and was made a Knight of the Bath, Colonel of the Enniskillen Regiment and, finally Lord Blakeney of Mount Blakeney in the Peerage of Ireland. He died unmarried in 1761, aged ninety-one, and was buried amid considerable pomp in Westminster Abbey. He was good to his four brothers and allowed them to live at Mount Blakeney although at least one appears to have emigrated to South Carolina. There is talk of one brother attempting to swindle him which is why the house may then have come to his younger brother Robert, husband to Deborah Smyth. At any rate, Robert himself was dead within two years.[12]

For more, see The Blakeney Connection by Harold Templeton.

Robert Blakeney

As a young man, Robert held a commission as a Captain with Sir Harry Goring’s Huntington Regiment of Foot, forefathers to the Royal Marines, during the latter days of Marlborough’s campaigns. In 1743, he served as Brigade Major to General Hulse and fought at the battle of Dettingen. He and Deborah Blakeney had three sons and a daughter. All three boys had military careers, learning to drill with the Galway Dragoons commanded by their cousin, Lt Col Robert Blakeney. The eldest son William became relevant again in the next generation for he inherited Mount Blakeney and married his first cousin, Gertrude Smyth, daughter of Richard Smyth of Ballynatray. The second son, George, studied at Trinity College Dublin and became a lieutenant. The youngest son Grice Blakeney rose to become a Lieutenant General, commanding the 14th Dragoons, and died unmarried in 1816. He left his vast property to his nephew, the Rev. Robert, son of William and Gertrude Blakeney, who would in turn leave it to the Smyths of Ballynatray. He was sometime steward to the La Touche’s of Harristown, Co. Kildare. The elder daughter Gertrude married her cousin, Robert Blakeney, and settled at Abbert outside Athenry in Co. Galway.

A New Age for the Blackwater Valley

By the 1730s, the Boyles were beginning to sell off their estates around Bandon to finance their careers and passions in England. Gradually these land sales swept east and a new class of owners emerged to take up the key positions in the social, judicial, cultural and economic hierarchy of Cork and Waterford. These new owners worked alongside families of older English stock such as the Smyths, Villiers-Stuarts, Tyntes, and Uniackes. Dromana, the next mansion up river from Ballynatray, became a particularly prominent house when the Earl of Grandison made it his principal residence in the 1720s, planting thousands of trees, introducing the linen industry and building the village of Villierstown. Free from the domination of the Boyles, the well-to-do of the Blackwater Valley enjoyed an era of lively, progressive social interaction in the 18th century. The diversity spilled down to the Protestant artisans and traders working in Youghal and to an extent to the wider Catholic community of the province. On the eve of the 1798 Rebellion, Youghal was a relatively harmonious town with little serious discord between its Protestant and Catholic inhabitants.

Richard Smyth and Jane Rogers

Meanwhile Deborah Blakeney’s brother Richard Smyth had succeeded as master of Ballynatray. Born in 1706, he was 18 years old when his father perished. His first wife was Jane Rogers, daughter and co-heir of George Rogers of Cork. In 1769, Jane’s brother, Robert Rogers, commissioned the Franco-Italian architect Davis Duckart (Daviso de Arcourt) to build the splendid Palladian villa of Lotamore near Glanmire, Co. Cork.

Gertrude Smyth and William Blakeney

In June 1764, Richard and Jane Smyth’s only child, a daughter by name of Gertrude, married her cousin William Blakeney, a barrister, who duly succeeded to Mount Blakeney. She brought with her a dowry of £5,000.[13] Gertrude died just four years later and was buried at St. Andrew’s Church in Dublin. Blakeney was based at 36 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, but appears to have moved to Bath in Somerset after Gertrude’s death. Their son, the Rev. Robert Blakeney, of Great Eaton, co. Somerset was instrumental in the education of Grice and Mary Smyth’s sons and daughters. His will would become the subject of a family court case in the 1820s.

Richard Smyth and Penelope Bateman

After the death of his first wife, Richard Smyth was married secondly in 1756 to Penelope, daughter of John Bateman, of Oak Park, Tralee, Co. Kerry. The Batemans descended from Major Rowland Bateman, an officer in Colonel Hierome Sankey’s cavalry regiment in the Parliamentary Army. Major Bateman was granted lands in Tralee and appointed collector of customs for the own. John of Oak Park was the Major’s grandson. Penelope’s brother Rowland married Letitia, daughter of Sir Thomas Denny, and was returned as MP for Tralee (1761 – 1769) and Kerry (1776 – 1783). The Batemans were enthusiastic farmers and planted their estate with large numbers of oak and sweet chestnut, as well as enclosing a park for deer. The family survived at Oak Park until the Indian Mutiny of 1857 when Captain Rowland Bateman was struck by a bullet and killed at the siege of Lucknow.

The Death of Richard and Penelope

Richard and Penelope Smyth had four sons, Richard, Grice, John and Rowland, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Penelope. The second Mrs. Richard Smyth must have had a difficult time raising so many children for her husband died early, in April 1768, aged 62. It is perhaps curious that his eldest daughter Gertrude Blakeney was dead within four months. At any rate, his widow survived until September 1789.

Youghal in the 19th Century

Youghal itself continued to boom during the 18th century. At the close of the previous century, it had 33 registered vessels, while its main rivals of Cork and Kinsale had 24 and 22 respectively. The population grew from 4,000 in 1764 to nearly 10,000 by 1821. Among the new buildings constructed, as well as the quays and warehouses, was the Red House, a Queen Anne house from 1703, built by the Dutch architect Leuventhan for the Uniacke family. Wesley personally opened the Wesley Chapel on Chapel Lane in 1756, the year Richard Smyth married Penelope Bateman. A new promenade was built along the riverfront and a Mall House with Asselmbly Rooms in 1779. A three storey Clock Gate tower was built in 1777 and served as the town’s goal and public gallows until 1837. By 1787 a new storey was added to cater for the rising number of rebel prisoners. These unfortunates were routinely tortured, flogged and deported. Another important event from 1787 was a visit to Youghal by the sea-faring Prince William Henry (later William IV) as commander of the ship Pegasus. He dined with the corporation who duly presented him with the freedom of the borough. 1798 did not leave the town unscathed. Several members of the United Irishmen were publicly hanged from the windows of the Clock Tower and the parish priest, Father O’Neill, was unfairly tried and transported to Australia.

The 3rd Earl of Burlington

Meanwhile, Lismore and the Boyle estates had been inherited by the 2nd Earl of Cork’s great grandson Richard Boyle, 3rd and last Earl of Burlington. He was one of the most the celebrated architects of the 18th century and is credited with introducing the neo-Palladian style to England. The Smyth family certainly felt his influence if only through their kinsmen Sir Henry Hayes and Robert Rogers who duly erected Palladian villas in Cork. Although he rebuilt Burlington House to its present proportions, sadly the Earl never built in Ireland. Indeed, he never even visited the country. His only daughter and heiress was Lady Charlotte Boyle, Baroness Clifford, and it was she whose marriage brought the lands and castle of Lismore into the Cavendish family when she married the 4th Duke of Devonshire in 1748. The 3rd Earl - the Great Earl’s last direct descendent - died in 1753. Lismore Castle was entirely rebuilt by the 6th Duke early the next century with William Atkinson as architect.[14]

John Smyth of Temple Michael

We will return in due course to Richard and Penelope Smyth’s elder sons, Richard and Grice, as both were to succeed to Ballynatray. The fourth son Rowland died unmarried, year unknown, having been mentioned in the Rev. Robert Blakeney’s will of 1817. The third son, John Smyth, seems to have built the house at Temple Michael where he was living during the 1798 Rebellion with his family and manservant, Andrew Brown. John was married twice. His first wife was another Penelope, daughter of Morley Saunders, of Saunders Grove, Co. Wicklow. Penelope’s mother, Lady Martha Stratford, was a daughter of the Earl of Aldborough, one of the more enigmatic peers of the realm. John and Penelope’s only son, another John Smyth, went on to marry Mary, second sister of Limerick Alderman, Kilner Brazier. The Braziers were also connected to the Smyths through the branch that settled at Castle Widenham. After his first wife’s death, John Smyth of Temple Michael, married secondly Barbara, daughter of Carré Williams of Cork. Their son, Carré Smyth, was a godson of Richard Smyth. In a letter from Barbara to Richard Smyth, she professed that Carré was ‘a stout little fellow and it is a doubt whether him or a pet jackdaw we have is the most troublesome’. Carré Smyth died unmarried. Their daughter, also Barbara, married John Willington Brazier and had a son, Brooke.

The Armstrongs of Temple Michael House

One of the boxes of Holroyd-Smyth papers in the National Library is full of papers relating to the Armstrong family of Kingswell and Mealiffe, Co. Tipperary. The first of these was the Rev. William Armstrong who was married in 1791 to the Hon. Catherine Beresford, daughter of the 1st Baron Decies. It would seem that he was living at Temple Michael House during the 1770s and that his son and grandson also resided here. This is confusing because the afore-mentioned John Smyth is also said to have lived here during this time. The Rev. Armstrong’s papers include a wad of hand-written sermons, each more ranting than the next. He had a particular fondness for the tale of Jacob’s brother Esau who sold his birthright for a morsel of meat. One of the more interesting letters he received came from a friend seeking a letter of recommendation so that he might marry Miss. Taylor, a wealthy merchants daughter from Antigua. The letter is quoted in full in the footnotes. [15]

Elizabeth Smyth & the Rebel Knight

Elizabeth Smyth was the eldest daughter of Richard and Penelope Smyth of Ballynatray. Her husband was Sir Henry Browne Hayes (1762-1832), an extraordinary individual who became one of the great convict adventurers of Australia. Sir Henry was the son of Attiwell Hayes, a brewing magnate from Cork. In his younger years, Henry enjoyed a position of prominence in Cork, becoming a captain in the South Cork militia, a freeman of the city in 1782, and subsequently a sheriff. He was 24 years old when he married Elizabeth. He used some of her dowry to build a stunning villa at Vernon Mount; the house was tragically destroyed by impudent fools in the summer of 2016. [16] In 1790 the Lord Lieutenant knighted him during a visit to Cork. Elizabeth bore him two sons and two daughters but died young in 1794, probably at Vernon Mount.

Meanwhile, Sir Henry’s passions rumbled in his belly. In 1801 he was tried for the attempted abduction in 1797 of Mary Pike, a Quaker heiress with a fortune of £55,000. He allegedly took her to Vernon Mount and forced her into a spurious marriage, but she was rescued soon afterwards. He was found guilty and sentenced to death; the sentence was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in New South Wales in 1802 and spent his first six months there in prison. Once released he seems to have befriended very rebel and jailbird in the country, ultimately earning himself a stint in both Van Diemen's Land and two in the Newcastle coal mines. He simultaneously founded a Masonic Lodge in Sydney in 1803, apparently the first in Australia. His Australian home was Vaucluse House, just outside Sydney. He built the house in snake-infested country, then surrounded it with a moat of turf which he had imported from Ireland. He believed the turf would keep the reptiles at a safe distance. Curiously, he seems to have been absolutely correct.

Pardoned by Governor Bligh of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty fame’, Sir Henry left for Ireland in December 1812, surviving a shipwreck off the Falkland Islands en route. He retired in Cork and died in 1832. His obituary in the Cork Constitution remarked that ‘the suavity and gentlemanly manner he possessed made him endeared to every person who had the honour of his acquaintance’. One wonders whether Miss. Pike concurred.[17]

Penelope Smyth

Penelope Smyth was the eldest daughter of Richard and Penelope Smyth of Ballynatray. In 1791 she married Francis Garden Campbell (1768 – 1815), a Scottish landowner, with whom she had one son, Francis. The Garden Campbells descended from Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, Perthshire, who had the unhappy distinction of being the commanding officer at the Massacre of Glencoe. Francis succeeded to the Glenlyon estate in 1781, as well as Troup House and the 16th century Delgaty Castle in Banffshire. He subsequently sold the castle to James Duff, 2nd Earl of Fife. After Francis’s death, Penelope subsequently married Colonel Bruce.

The Will of the Rev. Robert Blakeney

When the Rev. Robert Blakeney died in 1825, his will divided his large estate in Limerick amongst:

‘ … the following children of my dearly beloved relation and friend, the late Grice Smyth Esq of Ballinatre viz. Grice Blakeney Smyth, Rowland Smyth, John Smyth, Ellen Smyth, Penelope Smyth and Gertrude Smyth, but if either of the sons of the late Grice Smyth come to inherit either the Estate of Ballinatra or Mitchelsfort such son or sons shall not be entitled to my part of my property’.

Grice Blakeney Smyth died shortly before Robert Blakeney made his will. In his stead, his eldest son Richard, who succeeded to Ballynatray, seems to have entered into possession of the Blakeney estates. This prompted his uncle, Colonel Bruce, husband of Penelope, to contest the will in 1825, reasoning that as his wife was the only person surviving from the Rev. ’s original will, she should be entitled to a large share. Edward Pennefather presided over the subsequent case and divided the lands as the Rev. had intended.

Richard Smyth (d. 1793)

When Richard Smyth died in April 1768, his firstborn son, also Richard, succeeded to Ballynatray by. Little is known of this gentleman save that he sat as High Sheriff for County Cork and died unmarried at ‘Ballinatrea’ on Thursday 22nd August 1793.

Grice Smyth and Mary Brodrick Mitchell

When Richard Smyth died on 22nd August 1793, Ballynatray passed to his younger brother, Grice. Nearly two years later, in June 1795, Grice married Mary Brodrick Mitchell. She was a daughter and co-heir of Henry and Ellen Mitchell, of Mitchell's Fort, near Watergrasshill in County Cork.[18] They had five sons (Richard, Henry, Grice, Rowland and (Sir) John) and three daughters (Ellen, Penelope and Gertrude). In the Parish Register of Temple Michael church, it was noted on June 4th 1804 that Mary’s sister, described as ‘Miss Eleanor Mitchell of Ballynatray’ had married Brooke Brazier of Saffron Hill, Co. Cork.

The Peards of Coole Abbey

Mary Broderick Smyth’s mother, Ellen, was a daughter of Richard Peard of Coole Abbey, near Castlelyons, on the road between Conna and Fermoy. Ellen’s brother Peard Harrison Peard lived at Carigeen Hall outside Conna. He was a well-known figure in the area, having been Captain of the Curraghlass Volunteers in 1778. The Peards descended from Richard Peard who went to Ireland in 1641. The house at Coole Abbey was designed circa 1765 for Henry Peard, perhaps an uncle or grandfather of Ellen, and is attributed, on stylistic grounds, to Davis Duckart, architect of such gems as Castletown Cox, Castle Hyde, Kilshanning House and the Rogers’ villa at Lotamore. In 1766, a year after the house was built, Henry Peard married Mary Gumbleton of Curraghglass. They had twelve children. That presumably meant twelve trees for the Peards had a commendable family tradition of planting an oak or an elm on their lawn whenever a new child was born into the family. Unfortunately these trees were felled during the Second World War, long after the last of the family, Henry William Peard, a physician and surgeon, abandoned Ireland in 1901 and emigrated to Buenos Aries. [19]

The Extension of Ballynatray House

After his marriage to Mary Brodrick Mitchell, Grice began to enlarge the original Elizabethan manor house of Ballynatray into a severe but imposing eleven bay classical mansion. The name of the architect is unknown. However, there is reason to suspect that it may have been Alexander Deane, father of Sir Thomas Deane. Certainly the elder Deane was employed on further works at Ballynatray in the 1800s. The new house was two storeys, set over a rusticated basement, with eleven bays on both the front and rear facades. The three central three bays at the front were recessed at first floor level and linked to the outer bays by a single storey ionic porch. A curved flight of steps leading from the central bay was added in the 21st century. On each side of the porch were niches containing statues. The sides were five bays wide. The roof parapet was balustraded and bedecked with urns. The walls were rendered with the yellow ochre of Roman cement. The side elevations were five bays. The pediment and coigns at the rear were made of limestone.

Grice Smyth’s revamp of the property extended to the stable-yard where a new entrance was created with excellent gate piers. The Deanes were most likely responsible for the handsome six-arch carriage-house in the yard, still in progress at the time of Alexander Deane’s death in 1806, apparently on his way to Ballynatray. Alexander’s redoubtable widow, Elizabeth Deane, may have concluded them.[20]

Grice Smyth was a very busy man. He constructed the terraced walled garden and adjoining orchard. He laid down several miles of road along the estate, including the new causeway that linked Molana Abbey to the mainland. In 1806 he reconstructed the ancient abbey, almost as a folly, although he was genuinely convinced that Raymond le Gros was buried there. His widow later erected a classical stone urn to commemorate Raymond’s burial. To restrict flooding he built river walls and embankments. On his wider estate, he then drained and fenced the once barren fields, creating lush pastures and meadows amid the extensive deer park. Many of the oak and beech trees standing today were also planted during this industrious man’s era.

By 1812, the antiquarian Thomas Crofton Croker was able to write that ‘from the water, the gardens appear conspicuous, and seem laid out in the taste of the last century'‘.

Death of Grice Smyth

Grice Smyth did not live to enjoy his new house for long. He died on 18th January 1816 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard. His widow erected a memorial to him in St. Mary’s of Youghal. It depicts an angel grieving over an urn and reads:

‘Sacred to the Memory of Grice Smyth Esq of Ballinatre in the county of Waterford who having endured a most painful illness for ten years with perfect resignation to the will of God departed this life in the City of Limerick on the 18th January AD 1816’.

He was 54. His remains were deposited in the tomb of the Boyle family in Youghal. Mary would later follow his lead by erecting a coade-stone statue of St. Maelanfaid in the abbey itself. By then she had married secondly to Captain John Caulfield Irvine, JP, seventh son of Colonel William Irvine, a leading Freemason from Ulster who resided at Castle Irvine, Co. Fermanagh. As step-father to Richard Smyth, Captain Irvine was to prove a useful addition to the management of the Smyth estates.

Henry Mitchell Smyth and Castle Widenham

In 1819, Grice Smyth’s second son, Henry Mitchell Smyth, married Priscilla, only child of John Brasier-Creagh and his wife, Elizabeth, nee Widenham. As such, Henry became heir to the Castle Widenham estate outside Castletown-roche. Castle Widenham was built as a stronghold for the FitzGodebert family during the Norman invasions of Munster in the 12th century. They built their castle on a rock and thus became known as ‘FitzGodebert de la Roche’ or, more simply, ‘Roche’. It was to this very castle that a young Walter Raleigh came to arrest David Roche during his early years in Ireland. Sir Percy Smyth’s cousin Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, son of the 1st Earl of Cork, commanded a regiment of Cromwellian soldiers who laid siege to the castle in 1650. Lady Ellen Roche, granddaughter of Richard Power of Curraghmore, showed commendable prowess in commanding the defenders but was eventually obliged to surrender, dragged to a nearby tree and hanged. The confiscated estate was granted to Lieutenant Colonel John Widenham whose descendents rebuilt the battered castle in their own style.

In 1802, the property passed from Charles Widenham to his only child, Elizabeth. She was the wife of John Brasier-Creagh, second son of Alderman Kilner Brasier of Lizard, Co. Limerick and a descendent of the O’Neills of Thomond. John and his younger brothers, William and George, were instrumental in building the present house of Creagh Castle outside Doneraile, now home to Julian Humphreys. During the 1820s, Henry and Priscilla Smyth pumped considerable time and money into enlarging Castle Widenham, extending it along to the original old keep, adding a turreted porch to the entrance and then castlellating the entirety. He seems to have become embroiled in a minor dispute with his struggling sister Penelope, Princess of Capua, over an unpaid debt, prompting her to send a barrage of illegible letters to their eldest brother, Richard, then head of the family.

Henry’s third son, Lieutenant Percy Smyth, was killed alongside Captain Rowland Bateman during the Siege of Lucknow in March 1857. The Smyth family continued to reside at Castle Widenham until the 1960s when they sold and removed to Scotland.[21]

The Rev. Grice Blakeney Smyth

Grice and Mary Smyth’s third son, Grice Blakeney Smyth, became a clergyman in the Church of Ireland. Although he sometimes gave his address as 47 Upper Sackville St in Dublin, he seems to have lived in a rectory, now ruined, by Temple Michael church. St. Michael’s Church was built in 1823, adjacent to an ancient well known as St. Michael’s Well and in the shadow of Temple Michael Castle. Construction costs were largely paid for by a grant from the Board of the First Fruits. The Smyth’s Catholic tenants also paid a subscription towards its erection. Extra pews were installed in 1832 and a galley in 1833 to accommodate the working people of Ballynatray. There were seven Vicars from 1795 – 1830 and 10 curates from 1885 until its closure in 1969 after the funeral of Horace Holroyd-Smyth.

This house was distinct from Temple Michael House where the Armstrong family lived. Indeed, in 1830, Captain Armstrong must have been living in the locality for Grice took a note in relation to some monies due on the lease of lands at Temple Michael held by the late Samuel Freeman Esq.

‘On Sunday December 26th 1830 Captain Armstrong overtook me at the House of Martin on my return from Ardagh, he from Mount Uniacke. He said how Mr Joseph Freeman [son of Samuel] had accepted the fine and that though unpleasant would not avail in the case of the under-tenants. He repeated his decision that I should never be moved off and that I may be made better off. I thanked him and we parted. GB Smyth.’

Five days later, ‘Captain Armstrong called again on me at Ballynatray House and repeated the same friendly feelings and said how careful I should be not to hold any communication with Mr Pollack that events would show how fully his sentiments would be realised and that I had surely to pay my rent and not appear to know anything on the subject. He read me that late Mr Freeman’a Will and showed how the Trusteeship devolved upon him. He left me and I went to the Dinner give to the Children at Glendine House’.

Grice certainly took his clerical duties seriously as evidenced by all the hand-written though barely legible sermons and contemplations held in the Holroyd-Smyth papers. Also here are his Preachers Book, an original copy of the 1824 Tithes Act, thee Marriage Banns Registrar for Temple Michael Church and two meaty volumes of his 1833 scrapbook which feature everything from miniature portraits of the Protestant Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to extracts from Sir Walter Scott to thoughts on Egyptian pyramids, his own attempts at poetry, updates on Alexander Nimmo’s new bridge across the Blackwater at Youghal and obituaries to great men, such as his close kinsman, General Sir William Blakeney. He was also a keen sportsman and, in 1827, he and his brother Richard were among those granted Games Certificates. Richard’s gamekeeper was noted as Richard Frihey. On 13th January 1863 he presided over the marriage at Temple Michael of Richard Edward Brown, late 57th Regt, only son of John Bower Brown of Woodthorpe Hall near Sheffield, and Adela, youngest daughter of James Frome of Wrenthall House in Shropshire. The Rev. Grice Blakeney Smyth died the following year on 18th July 1864. His grave is at Temple Michael but the inscription is fading fast on account of wind and salt.

Rowland Smyth

Again, little is known of Grice and Mary Smyth’s fourth son Rowland. He never married but died as a young man on 12th July 1836, just months after the astonishing news that his sister Penelope had eloped to Gretna Green with the brother of the King of Naples.

General Sir John Smyth, KCB (1806 – 1873)

Grice and Mary Smyth’s fifth and youngest son, Sir John [Rowland] Smyth, was one of the many Anglo-Irishmen who rose to the uppermost ranks of the British Army during this extraordinary age of imperial expansion. Educated at TCD, he was apparently a giant of a man, nearly 7 foot in height, a hefty bulk for a cavalry officer. He secured his first commission as a cornet in the Lancers on 5th July 1821 when he was 15 years old. Four years later he was promoted lieutenant and served during the capture of the impregnable fortress of Bharatpur in Rajasthan in January 1826. He was subsequently made captain on the half pay list and exchanged to the 32nd Foot. In 1830, while stationed in Dublin, he fought one of the last duels in the British Isles. He killed his opponent, a civilian called O’Grady, and he and his second were imprisoned for a year for manslaughter. They were granted a year’s leave of absence to serve their sentence. He served for ten years with the 32nd Foot before transferring to the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) on 10th May 1839. In 1836, while stationed in Canada with the 32nd, he encountered the Rev Samuel Gilman, a Unitarian devotee, and his wife, the writer Caroline Gilman. The Gilmans subsequently wrote about their travels and, in a chapter entitled ‘Notes of a Northern Excursion’, wrote:

‘Among the gentlemen, were nearly all the officers of the 32nd regiment, from Montreal, and a distinguished Irish lawyer. The commander of the regiment, Capt. Smith, is one of the most elegant men I have ever seen. He is brother to the celebrated Miss Penelope Smith, who recently married the Prince of Capua. Having a very elegant piano in the ladies' cabin, belonging to one of the gentlemen, we became united through this delightful medium, and had the singular good fortune, passing travellers as we were, of agreeable intercourse with some of the intelligent and interesting society in Montreal. Oh, how often has music, in this long journey, been a bond of sympathy!’[22]

The 32nd were among those regiments entrusted with maintaining the peace during a period of civil unrest in Canada known as the country’s first civil war - The Patriot Rebellion of 1837-1838. Sir John presumably fought alongside them at the battle of St. Dennis. In 1841, he returned to the 16th Lancers and, two years later, served with them during the Gwalior campaign. The campaign essentially centred upon Britain’s plan to annex the kingdom of Gwalior from its child-king, Jayavi Rao Sinhia. On 29th December 1843, General Sir Hugh Gough's force of two cavalry and three infantry brigades encountered some 17,000 Marathas in a strong position at Maharajpore. Gough’s battle strategy effectively consisted of pointing his finger at the enemy and ordering every man in his presence to charge whilst simultaneously roaring their heads off. It worked a treat and he was generally victorious although not surprisingly many back home were horrified by the human cost of these ‘Tipperary tactics’. At any rate, the Mahrathas were routed and 56 guns captured. Sir John, commanding the advanced wing of cavalry, was lucky to survive as over 800 of Gough’s men were killed. As to Gwalior, the country capitulated and was annexed.

The Battle of Aliwal

Sir John was back at the forefront in January 1846 when he commanded the 16th (Queen’s) Lancers during Sir Harry Smith’s victory over the mighty Sikhs at the battle of Aliwal. The battle was part of the Sutlej campaign, also known as the First Sikh War, which took place in the Punjab. The battle saw a Sikh force of approximately 7000 cavalry and 17,000 infantry, half of them regular troops, ensconced in a defensive formation with a river to its rear. Sir Henry Smith was able to direct well co-ordinated attacks using cavalry, artillery and infantry to force the Sikhs to abandon their positions. Sir John’s Lancers greatly distinguished itself by routing the Sikh cavalry and breaking a square of infantry. Sir John was severely wounded leading the charge but the victory marked the most decisive outcome for the British during that stage of the war. When the 16th Lancers hosted a Grand Military Ball to mark the second anniversary of Ailwal in 1848, Sir John was senior guest of honour.

From 1847 until 1854, he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the 16th Lancers. In the summer of 1854, he was promoted to full Colonel. In 22nd December 1860, while India recovered from the horror of the Mutiny of 1857, Major General Smyth was given command of the central division of the Madras army. He was made a KCB in 1867, given the colonelcy of the 6th Dragoon Guards in 1868 and promoted Lieutenant General in 1870. Sir John Smyth died at Norris’s Hotel, Russell Road, Kensington, on 14 May 1873. His wife survived him until 1879.[23]

The Tenterden Connection

On 11th May 1839, Sir John Smyth married Fanny Alice Abbott, second daughter of Charles Abbott, 1st Baron Tenterden. Their only child, Penelope Mary Gertrude, subsequently married her cousin, the 3rd Lord Tenterden. The Tenterden’s hailed from Canterbury where Fanny’s grandfather, John Abbott (d. 1785) ran a hairdressing salon opposite the western portal of the cathedral.

Fanny’s father Charles Abbott was born on 7th October 1762 and learned to read at a dame-school before his admission to King’s School, Canterbury. An industrious and eager student, he became captain of the school aged 17. Charles shied away from his father’s hairdressing ambitions and took up an offer from the trustees of Kings School to go to Oxford. He greatly impressed at Oxford, winning numerous medals, including the Chancellor’s Medal for an essay entitled ‘On the Use and Abuse of Satire’. On his fathers’ death, he had intended to join the church and so turned down an offer to go to Virginia as a tutor. However, his plans changed when he became tutor to Mr. Yarde, ancestor of the Aga Khan and a son of Sir Francis Buller , justice of the King’s Bench. At the age of 32, Sir Francis had become the youngest High Court Judge ever to sit in the British Courts. He was also the first judge to send convicts to Australia. Sir Francis advised a career in law and Abbott was admitted a student of the Middle Temple in 1787 and the Inner Temple in 1793. He qualified swiftly by his diligent hard work and gradually mustered up a sufficient fortune by 1795 to marry Mary, eldest daughter of John Lagier Lamotte, a Huguenot gentleman from Basildon in Berkshire.

They had two sons and two daughters, including Catherine Alice (aka Fanny) who married Sir John Smyth and died in 1879. Charles continued to rise through the ranks, opening pleadings for several state prosecutions during the 1790s including the treason trials of the ill-fated United Irishmen, James O’Coigley and Arthur O’Connor. Unable to attract any commercial business, he wrote and published his 1802 bestseller ‘Law Relative to Merchant Ships and Seamen’ which was a tremendous hit with the mercantile community. He soon had lucrative contracts with all the corporations, chartered companies and banks. By 1807 his annual earnings had grown to £8026.5s. Although he was the leading chamber counsel, he never took silk.

The ODNB described him thus: ‘As a lawyer his style of argument was clear without being brilliant, his opinions were learned without being profound, his advice was safe without being bold’. Nonetheless, he stuck to the bar and by dint of good fortune and perseverance became a judge of the King’s Bench with a knighthood to boot by May 1816. Two years later he succeeded the ailing Lord Ellenborough as Chief Justice. In 1827 he was raised to the peerage and took the title of ‘Baron Tenterden of Hendon’. The Gentleman’s Magazine snootily derided this title as ridiculous ‘to style a town ‘of’ a village is past endurance’. Ballantine described him as ‘a sour old man with the manners of a pedagogue’. Serjeant Robinson felt him ‘morose, surly and uniformly ill-tempered’. He must have been a tough father-in-law, particularly when it came to cross-examining his prospective son-in-law over, say, a fatal duel. That said, I was contacted by a descendent in February 2011 who advised me that the first Lord Tenterden was, in fact, 'a man of conspicuous ability'. The correspondent wrote: 'He was also, from the few private letters I have from him, a devoted family man with a strong and simple faith. The Abbotts gave financial help to the Prince and Princess of Capua, at least while they resided in London'. The first Lord Tenterden's last words, given from his bed at his London home, 28 Russell Square, on 4 November 1832, were accompanied by him gesticulating as if dipping a pen into an inkstand: ‘Gentlemen of the Jury, you are discharged’.

Penelope, Lady Tenderden

Sir John and Lady Fanny Smyth’s only daughter Penelope was married to Fanny’s bear-like nephew Charles Stuart Aubrey Abbott, 3rd Lord Tenterden. Born in 1834, he was the eldest son of the Hon Charles and Emily Frances. He became a major diplomatist during the American Civil War. Sir Charles Dilke described him as a bear. Penelope was his first wife and gave him four children. He died in 1882 while serving as Permanent Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, a role in which he served with some distinction. His wife and cousin Penelope died in the country in 1880. Family lore holds that she was an alcoholic.

Ellen and Henry Wallis of Drishane Castle

In 1827, Grice and Mary Smyth’s eldest daughter Ellen married Captain Harry Wallis, a former High Sheriff of Cork who lived at Drishane Castle. The Wallis or Wallys family had been in Cork at least since the 16th century and were affiliated with the same extensive Boyle network as the Smyth family. Located 2 km north east of Millstreet, Drishane Castle is elegantly sited near the confluence of the Finnow and Blackwater Rivers. The MacCarthys of Muskerry built a keep here in the 15th century which they held until the Jacobite uprising of 1690 when it fell into the hands of the Hollow Sword Blade Company. In 1709, the castle was sold to Henry Wallis of Ballyduff, Co. Waterford, although there is cause to believe the Wallis family were friendly with the MacCarthys of Drishane many decades prior to this. The Wallises turned Protestant in 1728, perhaps to consolidate their hold on the castle. A ‘handsome new house’ was erected near the castle in 1750 and the surrounding demesne extensively planted. The demesne included three quarters of the present town of Millstreet, comprising 5000 acres with a rateable value of almost £2,500. The last of the family to live at Drishane was Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis who lost the property to the Court of Chancery. It was sold shortly before the First World War and, after a time as a convent, was taken by Noel C. Duggan and converted into a house for asylum seekers.

Harry Wallis was Lieutenant Colonel of the South Cork Rifles and had lost his first life some years earlier. Ellen bore him a son, John, and daughter, Mary, who died in 1857. Upon Henry’s death on 6th January 1862, John Wallis (1828 – 1868) succeeded. He held the rank of Captain in the 5th Dragoon Guards, was High Sheriff of Cork in 1857 and continued the line through his wife Octavia Willoughby.

A Scandalous Affair - Princess Penelope (1815 – 1882)

The author of the 1853 Tourists Illustrated Handbook for Ireland advised his readers that ‘Ballynatray is the birthplace of Miss Penelope Smyth, now Princess of Capua, and whose family feuds with her Royal relatives are matters of much Neapolitan, not to say European, notoriety’. The gossips of Europe had indeed enjoyed considerable discourse over the serious rupture which Miss Smyth brought upon the ancient Royal House of Bourbon. In one corner stood Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicily’s. In the other, his younger brother, Carlo Ferdinado di Borbonne, Prince of Capua. At the heart of this fraternal squabble was the slender young Penelope Caroline Smyth, the second of Grice and Mary Smyth’s three daughters. She was born in 1815, the year of Waterloo, and grew up on the banks of the Blackwater in the new house at Ballynatray. Contemporaries considered her beautiful. She featured in a popular pictorial tome called 'Some Fair Hibernians'.[24] In 1830 she had been proposed to by a son of Sir John Edmond Browne but declined. The essence of the scandal was that the dashing Prince fell in love with beautiful Penelope, eloped to Scotland and married her at Gretna Green. The King, his brother, refused to recognise the marriage because Penelope was not of Royal blood. The aggrieved Prince sought to change his brothers’ heart. The King would not relent. The Prince and his Irish Princess abandoned Sicily and settled in Malta where they raised two children. In 1862, after the collapse of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, King Ferdinand’s son and successor finally gave the Royal seal of approval to the marriage and recognised the couple as Prince and Princess of Capua. For a full account of this tale, see Princess Penelope of Capua.

Lord Dinorben of Kinmel Park

Penelope’s younger sister Gertrude Smyth was married in less dramatic circumstances. Her wedding took place at Kensington Palace on 11th April 1840 and the groom was William Lewis Hughes, Baron Dinorben of Kinmel Park (1767 – 1852). He was a Welsh widower, 41 years her senior. Dinorben’s father, the Rev Edward Hughes, was an Anglessy curate who had married his Vicar’s daughter, Mary Lewis.

Llys Dulas, where the Lewis family came from, was a small and apparently barren property in the north of the island of Anglessy. However, in 1768, while Dinorben was squawking in his cot, copper was discovered on nearby Parys Mountain, half of which was owned by Lord Anglessy. Suddenly this unknown corner of Wales became a booming economy with the Hughes and Lewis families at its centre. The Rev. Hughes swiftly founded the Parys Mine Company, with Lord Anglessy on the board, and engineered a series of shrewd and fruitful deals. By the close of the century, the company owned smelting and other works in Lancashire, Buckinghamshire and Flintshire and Swansea. The profits of the mine, which Hughes shared with Lord Anglessy, exceeded £300,000 per annum. Hughes bought Kinmel Park in nearby Denbighshire. He built a classical villa, later enlarged by his son. Gertrude enjoyed just twelve years of marriage before her husbands death at the age of 84 in February 1852.

Their only son William succeeded as 2nd Lord Dinorben but lived only until the following October, having ‘long been in infirm health, mentally and physically’. On his death, the peerage became extinct and Kinmel Park passed to a cousin on his father’s side.

Gertrude, Dowager Lady Dinorben

The widowed Dowager Lady Dinorben, aka Gertrude Smyth, returned to Llys Dulas. The house was a substantial early 17th century building, modernized in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its elevations were composed of original and revival Jacobean details, the latter in the style of William Burn. Burn was the architect of the stables at Kinmel Park, built in 1855. When Lady Dinorben decided to enlarge Llys Dulas, she turned to the Deane practice that had extended Ballynatray for her father half a century earlier. Llys Dulas was close to Holyhead, the main stop for the Irish packet. As such, it was easy for the contractors, Cockburn & Sons, to supervise the job from Dublin. The sea voyage was much less arduous than any land trip in those days of early train travel. It was equally convenient for the architects from Deane and Woodward who frequently passed through Holyhead, particularly since the new architectural museum at Oxford. Work started in 1856. She offered £6000 for the job. It was a complete reconstruction by Deane & Woodward, and became something of a prototype for their later work. Lady Dinorben died in London on 2nd January 1871 in her 62nd year, leaving an estate of just under £10,000. With her son already deceased, she left a daughter, the Hon. Gwen Gertrude Hughes. Nine months later, on 26th September, Gwen married Sir Arundell Neave, 4th bart, of Dagham, an ancestor of Airey Neave, MP.[35]

Richard & Harriette Smyth of Ballynatray

When Grice Smyth died in 1816, his 20-year-old firstborn son, Richard, succeeded him. On 31st October 1821, Richard married the Hon Hariette St. Leger. Her father was Hayes St. Leger (1755 – 1819), 2nd Viscount Doneraile, of Doneraile Court in Co. Cork. Her mother was Charlotte Bernard of Castle Barnard, sister of Francis, 1st Earl of Bandon. Richard and Harriette enjoyed twenty-five years of marriage before her death on 29th May 1846 but left only one surviving child, Charlotte.

The Curious Case of Daniel Savage

Richard was active in local politics, serving as JP, DL and High Sheriff for the county. One of the cases he presided over was the trail in 1835 of the peddler Daniel Savage who stood accused of murdering his wife ten years earlier. Savage was sentenced to death and incarcerated in the Clock Gate Tower in Youghal. After having his beard shaved off to ‘make the hangman's job easier’, he was permitted one final visit from his sister. The woman looked at the condemned prisoner in astonishment and said: ‘He's not my brother ... he doesn't look anything like my brother!’ However, there was not enough time to investigate her claim before the man was led to the scaffold and hanged. The sister was duly proved correct and the man they hanged was an innocent called Edmund Pine. Daniel Savage’s fate is unknown.[36]

Bulls Heads, Pipes and Billiard Balls

Perhaps aided by his share of the Blakeney fortunes, Richard continued his father’s good works at Ballynatray. In 1836, he commissioned Perrott of Cork to install a new kitchen range and hot water pipes at Ballynatray; they were still operating in 1924. In the 1840s, he had the main rooms redecorated. He upgraded the hall, adding a frieze of bulls heads and an elegant cantilevered limestone stairs. The billiard room, now the spa, was also given a frieze of billiard balls and cues. Many of the original doorways were simultaneously widened into arches. Most of the plasterwork in the house dates to this period.

He simultaneously paid for the cleaning of drainage trenches along the Mail Road, gravelling the avenue at Ballynatray, renovating the school house and estate outhouses. [37] A new entrance drive was created from the Youghal – Cappoquin road. Entrance gates with twin gate lodges were erected, along with a new ornamental bridge to carry the drive over the Glendyne river.

By 1844, travel writer JR O'Flanagan was able to describe the Ballynatray thus:

'The splendid mansion exposed to view as we glide onwards is Ballinatra, the seat of Richard Smith, Esq., who has a large property in this country. The house is a large commodious mansion, the grounds extensive and well laid out, and many men are daily employed in keeping the grounds and gardens in perfect order. The present proprietor married the Hon Harriet St. Leger, daughter of the late, and sister to the present Viscount Doneraile’.

The New Bridge at Youghal

Between 1829 and 1832, a long narrow bridge was erected at Youghal connecting Waterford and Cork. The architect was Alexander. Nimmo and the resident engineer Mr. JE Jones ‘who is now successfully pursuing his career in London’. It cost just under £18,000. ‘Until the bridge was built a dangerous ferry of nearly half a mile was the only means of communication at this point between the two counties, except by going a distance of 16 Irish miles by the bridge of Lismore. Youghal bridge is one of the most remarkable in the kingdom; it is 1,542 in length and is composed of 47 bays of 30 feet span. Its breadth is 22 feet; and height above high water ten feet’.[38]

Temple Michael Parish in 1837

In 1837, the parish of Temple Michael comprised 9000 statute acres, of which 400 were woodland, 900 bog, and 7700 arable and pasture. Its population was registered as 2573 inhabitants. Lewis described the land as ‘of good quality and principally under tillage’ while the countryside was ‘pleasingly diversified and embellished with woods and thriving plantations’. Lewis noted that ‘Ballynatray, the seat of R. Smyth, Esq., is finely situated in a highly improved demesne, comprising nearly 1500 acres; the deer-park is well stocked, and the grounds are tastefully disposed and enriched with flourishing plantations’.

Temple Michael house was then occupied by Captain Armstrong. As to the other large houses in the area, Cherrymount was the occasional residence of Capt. Parker, R. N.; Garryduff, of H. Garde, Esq.; Newtown of N.P. Stout, and Woodview, of the Smyth’s cousin, Colonel Uniacke. A constabulary police force is stationed here. Richard’s brother, the Rev. Grice Blakeney Smyth, occupied the rectory and oversaw matters in the local church, then a neat edifice, rebuilt in 1823 on the site of the more ancient structure and financially supported by Richard Smyth.[39] There were two schools catering to 170 children; the parochial school was again entirely supported by the Smyths who also clothed and hosted a Sunday school.

The Silting of the Blackwater

It was during Richard’s time that the Blackwater began to silt up. Hitherto it had been navigable for vessels of considerable tonnage as far as Cappoquin or further by canal to Lismore. It was now necessary to read the tides if one wanted to navigate up river. Nonetheless, in 1860, Samuel Hayman was able to record in his Guide to Youghal that a large steamboat plied between Youghal and Cappoquin. His book includes an engraving of river traffic passing Ballynatray. Amongst these is ‘an elegant canopied craft, propelled by four oarsmen, which appears to contain a party of tourists enjoying the river scenery’. [40]

A Sporting Gentleman

It is said that the Smyths were hunting foxes along the Blackwater as early as 1760.[41] Richard Smyth was certainly a keen sportsman, receiving his game licence in 1827. In his youth, he probably hunted with the Blackwater Vale, whose masters were Sir Philip Chearnley and Sir John Keane of Cappoquin House. By 1842, Richard had his own pack. In the archives is a letter he received from a Mr. Buckley of 22 Sullivan’s Quay advising him that his Huntsman had just purchased an unspecified number of hounds at 33 shillings a couple and was on his way with them to Balliantray. When Richard’s neighbour George Daunt saw the pack, he vouched that they were worth at least £2 a couple. [42] Richard also seems to have run a small pheasant shoot and his game keeper was Richard Frihey.

A gentleman of leisure requires a good carriage. On May 13th 1854, Richard expended £70:5:0 for the complete restoration of the family coach - new wheels, springs, handles, cloths, leather-bound interior, lamps. Bence Jones says the Smyths also kept a state barge. ‘The last one was the captain's barge from a Napoleonic man-of-war that was wrecked off the coast. The barge carried musicians, trumpet and horn echoing across the water from hill to hill’.[43] Richard Smyth died ‘at Ballynatray’ on 19 April, 1858. In the absence of any sons, he was succeeded by his daughter Charlotte.


[1] There is a possibility that Susanna was in fact his second wife and Alice Grice his first. In Ireland no other female poets are known in Susanna’s period, 1680-1740. Her book passed from her to Christopher Adamson, Ballinalach (1839); from them to the Adamson-Tuthill-Kingsley family (19th c.); 4. Brigadier H. B. Kingsley (1956); and De Búrca rare books, Dublin Cat. 30(1993):124.

[2] Richard Grice’s wife Alice may well have been a sister of Frances Marsh, third wife of Dr. Richard Marsh, Dean of St. Peter’s Cathedral in York. ‘Mrs. Frances Marsh, ye relict of Deane Marsh, was buried in Yorke Minster ye 25th of Julii, 1665.’ (Par. Reg., St. M.-le-B.) In her will, dated 3 April 1665, she bequeathed her lands at Plewicke in Yorkshire to her ‘loveing sisters Anne Grice and Susanna Grice, their heirs and assigns for ever.’ She also mentions her nephew John Grice, esq., and bequeaths £10 to Richard Grice, of Wakefield, gent.

Another kinsman may have been Richard Grice (1813-1882), a pastoralist, businessman, philanthropist and churchman who became a celebrated figure in Australia, was born at Bootle in Cumberland. His biography claims that his family had for many generations been farmers and businessmen in Cumberland and conducted a private family bank.

[3] The 2nd Earl of Bessborough was highly acclaimed in art circles and made several tours of Southern Europe with the Earl of Sandwich. His portrait is in the Irish Architecture and Decorative Studies book at Ballynatray.

[4] The arms of the Smyth of Headborough feature a bend of silver between two azure unicorns’ heads and three gold lozenges. Their crest is formed out of a ducal coronet or, a demi bull salient sable, armed and golden. Their motto is ‘Cum Plena Magia’. Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland also lists branches of the Smyth family as resident of Ballyrane House, Killinick (County Wexford); Barbavilla (County Westmeath); Glananea, Collinstown (County Westmeath); and Termonfeckin (County Westmeath).

[5] Sir St Vincent Gookin was co-author with Sir William Perry of The Great Case of Transplantation, a little known pamphlet from 1655 which criticised the transplantations in Ireland

[6] The Perceval-Maxwell family came into Moore Hill outside Tallow on the death of William Moore in 1856. Fifteen years earlier, William’s sister and sole heiress, Helena, married (19th September 1839) Robert Perceval (1813 – 1905) of Finnebrogue and Groomsport, Co. Down. Helena and William were the children of William Moore, son of another William Moore and nephew of the 1st Earl of Mount Cashell. On 25th July 1839, two months before he married Helena, Robert assumed by Royal licence the additional surname and arms of Maxwell. Robert’s father, the Rev. William Perceval, lived at Kilmore Hill in Waterford while his grandfather, Robert Perceval, was Professor of Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and served as Physician General to the British forces in Ireland during Lord Talbot’s Viceroyalty (1818 – 1821). An Oxford graduate, the younger Robert served as a Major with the Royal North Down R.M. Together they owned some 5000 acres of Waterford, Cork and Tipperary, as well as 40 acres of urban property in the city of London known as Moore Park, Fulham. In 1869, Robert succeeded to his uncle’s estates in County Down. ‘Thus, at mid-life, he was the proprietor of 6,644 statute acres in the south of Ireland and 8,469 statute acres in the north, bringing his total Irish acreage to 15,113 and his rental income to £13,881’. (PRONI). Helena died on 22nd January 1888 and Robert on 10th June 1905. Their eldest son John William succeeded to Finnebrougue and also seems to have had an address at Tyrella. The second son, William, succeeded to Moore Hill and nearby Saperton but died at the age of 40 in 1917 while serving as a Captain with the 9th Battalion of the KRRC. His brother Henry Spencer Perceval Maxwell (1861 – 1937) duly succeeded. Henry was agent for the Marquess of Lansdowne’s Kerry estates from 1898 to 1923. Mary, the eldest of his seven sisters, married Percy Smyth of Headborough. Henry’s grandson, Johnny Perceval Maxwell, is owner of Moore Hill today.

[7] These were Percy Robert Edward (1870), Cecil Ernest (1871), Robert Riversdale (1875), Ethel Maud and Louisa Mary Kathleen.

[8] Magdalen King-Hall – Biography, edited by J.T. Quain, from material supplied by Richard Perceval Maxwell

[9] Ann Blennerhasset (nee Crosbie) was married previously to John Leslie. They had a son but his name and fate is unknown.

[10] Admiral Charles Cooper Penrose FitzGerald was one of the principal naval commanders in the latter years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

[11] Daniel McCarthy notes an anecdote given about the castle by Samuel Hayman in 1851: ‘Sixty three years ago’, said an aged Cromwellian descendant to us last summer [1851], ‘when I was a child of five or six, my grandfather, a very old man, took me by the hand, as I walked with him in the street under Tynte's castle. ‘Child!’ he said, and his voice made me tremble, so dreadful was its tone, ‘look up at that castle. There the father of my grandfather was imprisoned for a year, and so cruelly used that, when released by King William's army, he died in three months after. He made his solemnly promise he would teach his children, and that they should teach their children and their children’s children, what he suffered. Child! Never forget '89 - never forgive King James!’

[12] Memoirs of the Life and Actions of General William Blakeney, London and Dublin, (1757).

[13] PC-904 –3: Grice Smyth’s Accounts about the Blakeney Marriage settlement of his half-sister Gertrude Smyth (Blakeney) 1812 – 1814.

[14] The design of interiors and furnishing at Lismore was largely undertaken by Pugin, the most splendid room being the banqueting hall. Joseph Paxton, who as a young man worked as the Duke’s under-gardener, added to the south and east wings.

[15] Dear Billy (Armstrong),

I was in Bath last month and there got acquainted with a young lady about 16 year old very well accomplished. In a short time she told me that her mother wished to marry her to a gentleman whom she did not like and said she was perfectly independent of her parents as her grandfather had left her £50 a year. In Antigua we soon became more intimate and more fond and in short agreed to marry if we could attain consent. The mother was applied to & at length was prevailed on. The father is now at Antigua. He is the first merchant there. His name is Nicholas Taylor. The mother promises besides the lad’s own property, £2000 in hand & a dividend of his property on the fathers’ death which will be several thousand. We only wait now to have our mutual properties certified to each other and they have written both to Cork & Waterford. I believe John Bradshaw and John Carew will be consulted as I gave their names to Mrs. Taylor. I referred both of these to you for information & request Dear Billy that you will do everything you can for me in this very material business. I gave an exact account of my property to them & if any attorney or other person should call on your relative to me, you know how to give everything the best appearance. Murphy will inform you of everything near Tipperary. James Hennessey near Cahir of everything about Lough[kent] & Knockgraffon; the Hon Mr Kearney about Newcastle & Mr. Walker in Mallow about my professions there. The business of this letter was to request you would be prepared for these enquiries. There is no occasion that you should mention arrears or anything more than the term and profit rent. People here scarcely know what arrears are. If you think proper you may let my mother know this but let her keep it secret until everything is beyond a doubt. I am much pleased that there are such particular enquiries & certainly demanded on one side as it will entitle me to same on my side. I have wrote so much this day I am quite stupid 7 can not be more explicit at present. I request you will show this letter to my uncle F Garnet & let him know I will soon write to him.

I am Dear Billy with compliments to all friends, yours sincerely,

John Cooke

London, Grecian Coffee House

February 27th 1783.

[16] Thanks to constant pressure from the Irish Georgian Society Mount Vernon has been selected for inclusion in the 2008 World Monuments Watch® List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, a list prepared every two years by the New York based World Monuments Fund. Owned by American-based millionaire Jonathon Ross, the property had been the subject of much discourse with the house facing total collapse and the surrounding demesne synonymous with motorcycle scrambling for over 40 years.

[17] See: Michael Persse, 'Wentworth, William Charles (1790 - 1872)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, Melbourne University Press, 1967. Also: The Trial of Sir Henry Browne Hayes, Knt. for Forcibly and Feloniously Taking Away Miss Mary Pike on the Twenty-Second Day of July, 1797 (Cork, 1801); A History of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of New South Wales, vol 1 (Syd, 1938); ‘The Vaucluse Estate’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 15 (1930).

[18] Mitchellsfort was a two storey 9-bay late Georgian house south of Watergrasshill in Co. Cork. Built for the Mitchells, it was later owned by the Fell family who changed its name to Fellsfort. It is now a ruin. Ask Eneclann for: The Irish Ancestor Vol. XVII, No. 2, 1985 for ‘The Mitchells of Mitchellsfort, Co. Cork, and of London’, Leslie R.V. Mitchell and Rosemary ffolliott.

[19] The Peard family retained their association with Coole Abbey until the 1880s. The house was lately home to Paul and Lavender Rose, formerly of Kilshannig. It was sold to a Dutchman by name of Kowenberg in 1977. Two children of Henry Hawke Peard married into the Corban family. This is a brief account of them, provided by Jeff Burgher in June 2020:

William Corban, younger brother of Laurence Corban
b. c. 1792, son of Laurence Corban of Millisheen (Maryville)
d. 16 Nov 1883, Bettyville, age 91 yrs, Mill owner (Maryville)
m. 1823 Anne (Watts) Boyce, eldest daughter of the late William Johnson Boyce Esq. of Ballygriffin
Anne Watts Corban died 6 Oct 1889 at Bettyville, Fermoy, widow of a gentleman, age 87 yrs (b. c. 1802)

Mary Corban, of Bettyville, dau of William Corban, gentleman
m. 11 Jul 1854, parish Church, Clondalane, Fermoy
James Horner Neilson, solicitor, of Abbey Street Dublin, son of William Neilson, solicitor

Annie Corban, dau of William Corban of Bettyville married 2 Oct 1858 Clondulum (Clondalane) Church, Richard McCulloch Peard of Coole Abbey, Esq. Co Cork, son of Henry H (Hawke) Peard.
Richard b. 13 Dec 1829 Wormley, Hertford, England
d. 22 Mar 1880 Coole Abbey, Fermoy, Cork, age 50 yrs, gentleman.
1848 Ensign in 73rd Regt.
1849 Ensign Richard MacCulloch Peard, from the 73d Foot, to be Ensign, vice White, appointed to the 3d Light Dragoons.
[1881-2 (news 7 Jan 1882) in Australia eldest son of the late Richard Peard Esq. of Fermoy died of snake bite. This could be son of Richard William Peard whose wife, widow, Elizabeth died in Mackay on 28 Dec 1883.]
Anne may be the Anne Peard who died 18 Feb 1913, probate to Daniel P. Humphries (family connection)

Anne Elizabeth Peard
d. 24 Feb 1862 , Coole Abbey, Cork (infant)

William Watts Corban
b. c. 1829 - 1932
d. 29 Jan 1916 at Bettyville, Fermoy, age 87 yrs, widower, Major-General 49 Berkshire Regt.
married, 17 Feb 1870 at Castlelyons Church, Fermoy, when William was a Brevet Major 49th Regt res Colchester. Witnesses Amelia Corban and Richard McCulloch Peard.
Alice Cathrow Peard,
b. 1848, dau of Henry Hawke Peard of Coole Abbey,
d. 18 Jun 1901 at Bettyville, Fermoy, Alice Cathroe Corban age 53 yrs, wife of retired Army Officer
Tuesday Feb 1st 1916 - William Watts Corban died on Saturday (29th) at Bettyville, Fermoy age 86 or 87 yrs.
Major-General Corban was a Crimean veteran and also took part in the Egyptian campaign. Funeral at Fermoy.

1850 W.W. Corban Gent, to be ensign by purchase, 49th Foot.
Ensign William Watts Corban to be Lieutenant by purchase
29 Dec 1854 promoted to Captain
1865 Embarkation of troops, Captain W W Corban and Assistant surgeon L. Corban (brother?)
1871 Bombay India, Major, 49th 1st Foot Regt.
1892 General W Corban of Bettyville

Miss B Corban of Bettyville (1894 ball)

Miss May Corban of Bettyville (Debutante, 1894 ball) no marriage or death yet found in Ireland

1901 Census of Bettyville (Coole) Cork
William Corban, 59, Church of Ireland, head, Major-General, retired list, b. Cork (age wrong)
Alice Corban, 42, wife, C of I, b. England
Alberta Corban, 21, dau, C of I, b. India.

1911 Census of Bettyville (Coole) Cork
William Corban, 79, Church of Ireland, head, Major-General, retired list, b. Cork
Alberta Corban, 28, b. India, single, daughter (1883)
Alice Corban, 25, b. England, single, daughter (1886). Is this Alice Mary d. 1961 age 87 yrs, no b. 1874)

Amelia Corban,
b. c. 1835
d. 17 Oct 1883 at Bettyville, Fermoy age 48 yrs daughter of a gentleman, abdominal tumour 12 yrs.

Laurence Corban, of Bettyville, in 1862 a witness to a will, a medical student
1877 at Holy Trinity Paddington on the 7th, Laurence Corban MD Surgeon Major 21st Hussars, youngest son of William Corban Esq. Bettyville, married Myra Mary Frances Barrow youngest daughter of the late Captain T.W. Barrow of Oldbury Place, Sevenoaks, Kent and 47 Connaught square Hyde Park.

[20] ‘Ballynatray’ by William Fraher, edited by Waterford County Library, 6th March 2002.

[21] Towards the close of the 19th century, the garden received a terrace. From 1963 to 1976, Castle Widenham was home to Sir Delaval Cotter of Rockforest House. He and his wife carried out extensive restoration. The castle was run for a while as a hotel, with the celebrated Sheila na gig Restaurant, but is now back in the private ownership. The present owner is Ninna Nordstrom.

[22] ‘The Poetry of Travelling in the United States, by Caroline Gilman, with additional sketches by a few friends and ‘A Week among Autographs’ by Rev. S. Gilman. (New York, 1838).

[23] The Times (17 May 1873) – H Graham, History of the 16th, the Queen’s Light Dragoons (Lancers) (privately printed, Devizes, 1912, but worth sourcing as has image of him in it) - Hart’s Army Lists – J.D. Lunt, 16th/5th The Queens Royal Lancers (1973) – Marquess of Anglessy, A History of the British Cavalry 1816 – 1919, Vol 1 (1973), JD Lunt, The Scarlet Lancers (1993), Burke, Gen CB (1894). See his image in H. Graham, History of the 16th –The Queen’s Light Dragoons (Lancers) 1759 – 1912, p. 119. Obituary in The Times, 17 May 1873.

[24] Gerard, Frances H., Some Fair Hibernians, suppl. vol. to Celebrated Beauties, supra (1897), 279pp.

[25] Gretna Green, the first stagecoach stop in Scotland after the border city of Carlisle, had been a popular place for such occasions since the Marriage Act of 1754 had made marriage under the age of 21 illegal in England without parental consent.

[26] Plenty of info about Big John Linton if I need it…

[27] Ian Topham, Senior Assistant Registrar, Gretna Registration Office GretnaOnline@dumgal.gov.uk, may have found out more since.

[28] The palace is now called Palazzo Capua and has recently been renovated and incorporated into Sliema’s Victoria Hotel.

[29] A reference to Louis-Mathieu, Comte Molé (1781-1855) who became Prime Minister of France in 1836.

[31] Jocelyn Wingfield suggests that Lord Palmerston (British Foreign Secretary) was a kinsman of the Smyth family.

[32] The Times, Tuesday, Mar 02, 1841; pg. 6; Issue 17607; col C - Private Correspondence.

[33] Francesco di Borbone, Comte di Mascali (1837 - 1862).

[34] Vittoria di Borbone, Comtesse di Mascali (1838-1905).

[35] Sir Arundell Neave died in September 1877, leaving a son, Sir Thomas Lewis Neave, 5th bart. Llys Dulas duly passed to the Neave family, which held it until World War 2 when it became a monastery. Subsequently abandoned, the house and its carvings were raised to the ground in the 1970s.

[36] Bernie Matthews, The Hangman and the Electric Chair (National Forum, 2005).

[37] These works are documented in the Holroyd-Smyth archives in the National Library. Perhaps Richard’s work at Ballynatray inspired the Rev Philip Drew of St Mary’s in Youghal to commission local architect Edward Fitzgerald to re-roof the Choir with Bangor Blue slates. The Choir had been roofless for just over 300 years. Jeremy Williams described FitzGerald’s roof as ‘a vast ugly expanse of Welsh slating without a single trace of golden lichen or grey moss to tone down its crudeness’. J. Williams, A Companion Guide to Architecture in Ireland, 1837 – 1921, Dublin 1994.

[38] Hall, Mr. & Mrs. S.C. Ireland: its Scenery, Character, Etc., Vol. 1 (London; Hall, Virtue, & Co., 1842)

[39] ‘The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Lismore, united to that of Kilcockan, and in the patronage of the Duke of Devonshire; the rectory is impropriate in R. Smyth, Esq. The tithes amount to £660. 14. 6., of which £440. 9. 8. is payable to the impropriator, and £220. 4. 10. to the vicar; the entire tithes of the benefice amount to £317. 9. 7’. (Lewis, 1837)

[40] Patrick Bowe, Ballynatray, Irish Arts Review, Spring 2003.

[41] The first foxhound pack in Ireland began at Duhallow of Co. Cork, circa 1750.

[42] After the Famine, Sir John Nugent Humble hunted around his home at Clonkoskraine near Dungarvan, while Lord Hastings, later 13th earl of Huntingdon, formed a Harrier pack known as HH – or Hastings Hounds – in his home area of Whitchurch. Hunting in Ireland – A Noble tradition, edited by Dr Claude Costelcade and Jack Gallagher, Booklink2004

[43] Quoted in ‘Ballynatray’, W. Fraher.

With thanks to John Hester, David Abbott Fisher, Jessica Slingsby, Isabella Rose Nolan, Arthur Johnson, Alice Boyle, Charlie Raben, John Onions and Peter Clarke.