The Callaghans

Callaghan arms
Callaghan: Arms – Az in base a mount vert on tb sinister a hurst of oak trees therefrom issaant a wolf passant pp

The reason the Callaghans feature is that Catherine Callaghan married James Joseph Roche who inherited Aghada from John Roche. It is quite clear that John Roche was attempting to build a Roche dynasty to maintain the family name, and the house that he had built for himself. The marriage itself has all the appearances of being at least in part a commercial link between two merchant families. John Roche’s will refers to his contribution of £ 4,000 to a marriage settlement in 1821. John Roche “amassed great wealth during the French wars”, and Daniel Callaghan Senior was, “one of the most enterprising and successful merchants of Cork”. This branch of the Callaghan family seem to have risen to prominence fairly recently, as can be seen from their entry in Burke’s Landed Gentry which only takes the lineage back as far as Daniel Callaghan Senior.

Having said that, to quote from the History of Parliament, ” This branch of the Callaghans, distant kinsmen of Lord Lismore, had remained Catholic, thereby enduring ‘confiscations’ and marriages ‘beneath their rank’ until their fortunes were restored by Daniel Callaghan’s father, who established a ‘monopoly of trade’ supplying the navy in Cork during the Napoleonic wars and became one of Ireland’s ‘most successful merchants’. Daniel Callaghan appears to have been the most active of his six brothers in the family business, and on his father’s death to have assumed control.”

Of the six brothers, John and Patrick seem to have concentrated on business.  Daniel and Gerard  were MP’s, and the youngest two, Richard and George were a barrister, and a soldier respectively.

Dan appears to have been a reasonable M.P., having first stood in a by-election in 1830 caused by Gerard being unseated because he was a government contractor. Gerard on the other hand seems to be a prize-winningly awful person.

Daniel Callaghan M.P. 1786 -1849

Daniel Callaghan was born on the 7th June 1786, the second son of Daniel Callaghan (d.1824) of Sidney House, Cork and Mary Barry of ‘Donalee’; his sister Catherine married James Joseph Roche. Of the six brothers, John and Patrick seem to have concentrated on business.  Daniel and Gerard  were MP’s, and the youngest two, Richard and George were a barrister, and a soldier respectively.

Callaghan crestArms –  Az in base a mount vert on  tb sinister a hurst of oak trees therefrom  issaant  a wolf passant  ppr.  Crest: A naked arm holding a sword with a snake entwined. Motto:  Fidus et audax.  Estates: In the county of Cork. Seat:  Lotabeg

Dan was one of the M.P.s for Cork between 1830 and 1849

This is his obituary from

Lotabeg House, Cork City, Ireland.
Lotabeg House, Cork City, Ireland.

The Gentlemans magazine 1849

Daniel Callaghan Esq MP.  Sept 29 1849

At his residence Lotabeg near Cork aged 63 Daniel Callaghan esq MP for that city. He was the second son of Daniel Callaghan esq, one of the most enterprising and successful merchants of Cork. He was first returned to Parliament in 1829 by a combination of men of all parties, and supported the Reform Bill. He also became a Repealer, and despite of opposition from various quarters, remained for twenty years, the representative of his native city. Mr Callaghan had great knowledge of business and was intimately conversant with the social state of Ireland. He had acquired a large property in the provision trade. At one period it was the wish of some of the leading members of the Whig party to have made him Vice President of the Board of Trade, but Lord Melbourne objected on account of his having been a pledged Repealer, and at a subsequent period when that objection would not have been pressed against him, Mr Callaghan had become indifferent to office. He died of cholera, but for some months previously his health had been declining.

Christopher Hely Hutchinson

In 1820 he intervened in a duel which followed his brother Gerard’s unsuccessful candidacy for Cork, insisting that his younger brother Patrick was ‘perfectly satisfied’ after his first shot severed the finger of Christopher Hely Hutchinson, one of the Members. The duel came after an ill-humoured five-day election contest as Gerard conceded defeat, he boasted that the prospect of the new king’s death would enable him to stand again ‘at no very distant period’. His remarks were denounced by Christopher Hely Hutchinson, one of the Members, who a few days later lost a finger in a duel with Callaghan’s younger brother Patrick. ‘The general feeling seems to be that Gerard Callaghan put his brother in the place he was afraid to take himself’, commented one observer.

It has been stated that at the 1826 Cork by-election he refused on ‘public principle’ to vote for Gerard, who had abandoned the family religion to become a ‘red hot Protestant’, but at the 1829 by-election he lent him his full support, providing ‘both money and personal exertions’.

The unseating of Gerard as a government contractor supplying the navy created a vacancy in 1830, for which Daniel Callaghan came forward with the unlikely support of the local Brunswick Club. [The Brunswick Clubs were part of a campaign to deny Catholics the right to enter both houses of the British parliament. Numbering roughly 200 clubs and claiming 150,000 members between September 1828 and December 1829.]

The Cork Brunswick Club, it was said, had determined on ‘putting a Catholic in for a while, in order to keep the seat for one of their most virulent, violent and obnoxious members’, and considered it ‘better to vote for a Papist than a liberal Protestant’. Lord Francis Leveson Gower, the Irish secretary, observed that there was nothing in Callaghan’s character to ‘induce government to interfere against him’ and declined to assist his opponent. Pressed at the nomination, Callaghan praised the ‘beneficial influences’ of the established church but denied being his brother’s locum, although he admitted that at the next election he would ‘retire before him rather than come into such an unnatural collision’. After a 13-day contest of ‘unparalleled severity’ he was returned 16 votes ahead of his rival. A petition against his return on the ground of his also being a government contractor came to nothing. He took his seat, 26 Apr. 1830.

At the 1830 general election it was expected that he would retire in favour of Gerard, but to the fury of the Brunswick Club he offered again after family friends, with whose decision the brothers had ‘agreed to abide’, determined that he had the ‘best chance of success’.

At the 1832 general election Callaghan, who had ‘originally professed himself opposed’ to repeal of the Union, after some hesitation ‘pledged himself to vote for it’ and was re-elected with the support of O’Connell. He was defeated as a Liberal in 1835, but seated on petition,  and successfully contested the next three general elections. He was apparently ‘tipped’ for appointment under the Liberals as vice-president of the board of trade, but Lord Melbourne, the premier, ‘objected on account of his having been a pledged repealer’. He died from cholera in September 1849.

There is more detail in the History of Parliament online


Gerard Callaghan M.P.(c.1787-1833)

The reason the Callaghans feature is that Catherine Callaghan married James Joseph Roche who inherited Aghada from John Roche. So Gerard Callaghan, is James’ brother-in-law. He is, to use Noel Gallagher’s memorable phrase, “like a man with a fork in a world of soup.” and appears to be prize winningly obnoxious.

He was born c. 1787, the third son of Daniel Callaghan (d. 1824) of Sidney House and Mary Barry of ‘Donalee’; brother of Daniel Callaghan M.P. Of the six brothers, John and Patrick seem to have concentrated on business.  Daniel and Gerard  were MP’s, and the youngest two, Richard and George were a barrister, and a soldier respectively.

Gerard was the M.P. for Dundalk between 1818 and 1820. Dundalk was 200 miles away, and Gerard bought the seat from the Earl of Roden. The going rate for the seat was between £3,500 and £4,000. He was finally briefly elected as M.P. for Cork in 1829. He was also President of the Cork merchants’ committee.

The following is from his biography at the history of parliament online with some additions.

Callaghan, whose father had ‘made a fortune during the war’ supplying the navy in Cork, had been partly educated in England and become ‘affected in his manner and anglicised in his accent’. A ‘master of the principal modern languages’ and ‘a fair classical scholar’, his ‘liberal accomplishments and refined habits’ allegedly made him ‘too much of a fine gentleman for his brother traders in beef and pork’, among whom he acquired a reputation for a ‘sarcastic manner’ and ‘censorious wit’. In 1818, having renounced his family’s Catholicism and converted to the established church, he had purchased a short-lived berth at Dundalk ‘for a large sum’. Lord Hutchinson, whose family dominated the local gentry and returned one Cork Member, could ‘not see how it was possible to yield a certain seat to such a blackguard’ and privately considered him ‘an impudent, rash upstart’.

At the 1820 general election Callaghan offered for Cork, citing his ‘perfect acquaintance’ with its mercantile interests, in which he had ‘laboured and prospered’, and ‘strong attachment to the constitution’. Advising the Liverpool ministry whether to support him, Charles Arbuthnot observed, ‘He is a friend, but not very reputable, being a great stock jobber and always putting questions to … Vansittart’, the chancellor of the exchequer. After an ill-humoured five-day contest he conceded defeat, boasting that the prospect of the new king’s death would enable him to stand again ‘at no very distant period’. His remarks were denounced by Christopher Hely Hutchinson, one of the Members, who a few days later lost a finger in a duel with Callaghan’s younger brother Patrick. ‘The general feeling seems to be that Gerard Callaghan put his brother in the place he was afraid to take himself’, commented one observer. Reporting on his attempts to obtain support from ‘both parties’ in December 1820, Hely Hutchinson’s agent observed, ‘I think he has declined since the election. His measures are half or rather double measures, and his manners are intolerable, but he gains individuals by pecuniary accommodation’. It was expected that he would offer again at the 1826 general election, but in the event he declined, explaining that ‘many circumstances combine at present to determine me not to persevere’. The long-anticipated death of Hely Hutchinson a few months later created a vacancy, for which Callaghan came forward under the banner of ‘Independence and Protestantism’, stressing the need for a commercial representative and his aversion to any measure of Catholic emancipation that would endanger the ‘constitutional ascendancy of Protestantism’. Denounced by the Catholic press as ‘a kiln-dried and mendicant mongrel’, who had assumed Orange colours to serve ‘a personal object’, and threatened with violent reprisals for his ‘apostacy’, he demanded the immediate abolition of that ‘abominable nuisance, the Catholic Association’, the ‘honour’ of whose ‘slander’ he shared ‘with some of the finest characters in the country’. In a letter surely intended for him but written to his Catholic brother Daniel, Peel, the home secretary, declared, ‘I heartily wish you success on account of the manliness and ability with which you have avowed your public principles’. It has been suggested that his family refused to support him on ‘public principle’, but at a pre-election dinner his eldest brother John refuted claims of a rift, saying it was due to the memory of his father to say that … it was his practice … that they should … adopt that creed which seemed to them most consistent with … the dictates of their consciences … With regard to the course his brother had followed … nothing other than conscientious conviction had influenced him … and the principles he expressed were the very same which he had uniformly avowed since maturity.”

At the nomination, he caused ‘uproar’ by insisting that it was ‘morally impossible’ for those professing ‘all the principles’ of his former religion to ‘be perfectly allegiant to the state’.

1826 Cork By-election voters list
1826 Cork By-election voters list

After a violent ten-day contest, during which his cousin William Hayes fatally wounded one of his opponent’s supporters in a duel, he was defeated. Talk by the ‘violent Protestant fanciers’ of a petition came to nothing, Lord Hutchinson, who had succeeded as 2nd earl of Donoughmore, commenting that ‘he had already spent too much money, and … would not throw away a single shilling more’.

And from a family point of view, as can be seen by the voters list opposite, neither Henry Hewitt O’Bryen senior, nor John Roche voted for him despite Catherine Roche being gerard’s sister.

In September 1828 Donoughmore advised Lord Anglesey, the Irish viceroy, to ‘refuse’ a public dinner for him proposed by the Cork merchants committee, of which Callaghan was president: I don’t know that there is anything to urge against Callaghan’s character. He is a coxcomb, but he has some parts, he has besides a very good landed estate and is the first merchant in Cork. Undoubtedly he turned first Protestant and then Orangeman … [but] I don’t think there is anything … which disqualifies him from being a competent chairman at a dinner given to a lord lieutenant … However, the Catholics and many of the liberal Protestants … [are] … furious at the notion of Callaghan being in the chair, and told me that no liberal Protestant and certainly no Catholic would attend.”

At a meeting of the Cork Brunswick Club on the eve of Catholic emancipation, 13 Jan. 1829, Callaghan insisted that the ‘only Protestant security’ was ‘in Protestant ascendancy’ and warned that the ‘hidden hand of Popery’ was ‘aiming at … a counter-reformation’, ‘an evil’ which could only ‘be grappled with and dealt with fearlessly by a Protestant Parliament’. On 3 Apr. Peel apologized for not replying sooner to his letters of 12, 14, 16 Mar., but explained that ministers had not deemed it ‘advisable’ to extend the Irish franchise bill to borough freeholders. That month Callaghan became connected with a ‘slanderous rumour’ given the ‘highest publicity’ in the press, that Anglesey’s daughter Lady Agnes Paget had had an affair with a member of the viceroy’s household, become pregnant and refused to consummate her subsequent marriage to George Stevens Byng. ‘The calumny’, reported The Times, was ‘traced to … a bitter Brunswicker’ noted for his ‘flagrant hostility’ to the ‘rights of those from whose community he has apostatized’. An action was brought against him by the Pagets, who engaged Daniel O’Connell and John Doherty, the Irish solicitor-general. At the Cork assizes that summer, Callaghan’s counsel admitted that ‘from foolish credulity’ his client ‘had been made the dupe of declarations’ which were ‘utterly false’, and Callaghan ‘expressed in the strongest terms his regret’ and ‘disclaimed altogether having been influenced by political feelings towards any of the parties concerned’. The case went no further, Byng telling Anglesey: “All our counsel, with the exception of O’Connell, are more than satisfied with the result, and consider it more triumphant than having damages awarded, an issue extremely problematical, when one considers that Callaghan was on his own dunghill and had excited on his behalf a strong political party feeling, and that all the jurors with one solitary exception were notorious Brunswickers, and at the last election, had to a man, given their votes to Callaghan.”

On 28 Aug. 1829 O’Connell complained to his wife that Doherty ‘gave up the case upon a most miserable apology’, adding, ‘if your husband had been conducting the cause it would have been otherwise … Callaghan has had a decided triumph’.

The previous month Callaghan had came forward for a vacancy at Cork on political principles as ‘fixed as they were in 1826’, warning that emancipation rendered it ‘more than ever necessary to guard our Protestant institutions’ and prevent ‘further encroachments’.  ‘The conduct of Callaghan about Lady Agnes must make it impossible for any gentleman to support him’, observed the Duke of Wellington, the premier.  A fortnight before the nomination he was charged with breaking an agreement to comply with the decision of a committee and retire in favour of an opponent. Lord Beresford, who had brokered the deal, protested that he followed up his ‘first ungentleman-like act by a strong and active canvass’, “forcing the other candidate to withdraw, whereupon I felt that Callaghan’s conduct … required some admission of its baseness, some reason for its adoption, and I required it of him. I enclose you his answer. It is but a bad satisfaction for what he has done, but … it admits of his having behaved so ill … and he said before many he was ashamed to look me in the face.”

‘Callaghan has behaved like himself, i.e., like a great scoundrel in the transaction, but I fear there is no chance of excluding him on this occasion, though I trust his defeat on any other … will be certain’, Lord Francis Leveson Gower, the Irish secretary, informed Peel, 3 July. Attempts to find an opponent came to nothing, and he was returned after a token three-day contest got up by the Cork Liberal Club without their candidate’s sanction. ‘I have at last attained the object of my ambition’, he declared at his chairing, adding that a petition against his return on the ground of his being ‘a government contractor’ would come to nothing, since all his contracts had ‘been completed’. On 15 Sept. 1829 Leveson Gower asked Peel what you would wish to have done in the matter of Gerard Callaghan. If you wish to turn him out of his seat, I believe you have nothing to do but to extract from [John] Croker  and forward to Ireland a copy of his contract with government. If you think this proceeding rather infra the dignity of government the consequence will probably be the same, as I do not imagine you will … oppose the production of that document should it be moved for, as it will, in Parliament.”

Peel replied, ‘We had better leave Callaghan to his fate. We could do nothing until the meeting of Parliament. If Gerard be a contractor, he has … little hope of escaping detection, and if he be not, it will be as well that we have not stirred the inquiry’. Callaghan took his seat, 8 Feb. 1830.  On 12 Feb., in a ‘very extraordinary’ interruption to the tabled motion, he commended ministers for their conduct over Portugal, complained that the withdrawal of £1 notes issued by private bankers had led to ‘great distress’ and a ‘scarcity of money’ for ‘objects of great importance’, advocated further civil list and tax reductions, but found himself unable to speak as intended ‘on the subject of Ireland’, owing to the ‘impatience’ of the House. . On 3 Mar. 1830 he was unseated on petition after an election committee concluded that his contract to supply the navy with 13,000 tierces of meat ‘had not been completed’. (There was a clause that his ‘beef and pork should be good, sound and sweet for twelve months’ after the ‘last delivery’, which had occurred on 28 May 1829.) His application to be released from his contractual liabilities in order to stand again was unsuccessful. Speaking in support of his brother Daniel’s candidacy in the ensuing by-election, he remarked, ‘I feel it my duty to apologize to you, and I now solemnly declare that when I solicited your suffrages, I was unconscious of my ineligibility’. At the 1830 general election he declined to stand after a committee of family friends determined that Daniel, whom government were disposed to support, had the ‘best chance of success’. A last minute attempt by the Cork Brunswick Club to effect Daniel’s withdrawal and bring in Gerard unopposed came to nothing.

Callaghan, who reputedly followed Daniel in supporting the Grey ministry’s reform bill, died ‘suddenly’ in February 1833, after an ‘unfortunate surgical accident’. The Tory Cork Constitution eulogized him as ‘one of the moving springs by which the life, spirit, and enjoyment of society in this city, were replenished’, but a fellow Orangeman recalled in his diary that ‘he had a readiness and often times a smartness which led him into scrapes and made him give offence where none was ever intended’. ‘Infatuated with ambition … he stooped to an alliance with vulgar fanaticism solely for ambitious purposes’, observed a biographer fifteen years later. He was buried in the Catholic family vault at Upper Shandon.

The death of Bishop Bidwell – 1930

Manuel Bidwell is a first cousin (once removed) of Marie Bidwell, and officiated at her wedding

This is his obituary from The Tablet,  Page 11, 19th July 1930


Bishop Manuel Bidwell (3)
Bishop Manuel Bidwell

By the sudden and much lamented death of Monsignor Manuel Bidwell, C.B.E., D.D., titular Bishop of Miletopolis, the Cardinal Archbishop has lost a valued Auxiliary, and a number of Catholic interests and good works are deprived of a helper whose worth had long been proved in their regard. When Catholics learned last Saturday morning that his lordship had died on the previous day, the news came as a sorrowful surprise, for nothing had previously appeared in print to indicate that the Bishop was not in his customary health. He was, in fact, to have fulfilled a diocesan engagement on Saturday afternoon, by laying the memorial stone of the new school at Burnt Oak, and it was only a day or two beforehand that the rector, Father Armitage, received word that illness would keep his lordship away.

Monsignor Bidwell died at St. Mary’s, Cadogan Street, Chelsea, of which parish he had been in charge since 1913. His career, now to be outlined, will be seen to have embraced many offices, both in the Westminster Archdiocese and—for a time—in Rome. Added to the record of these various posts, and indicative of the Bishop’s constant zeal and activity in the promotion of Catholic interests, were such things as his lordship’s work for the Catholic Truth Society as Chairman of its General Committee since 1922; his services as a member of the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies; his appearance, occasionally, as a speaker at deputations to the Government on social questions; and more recently his care for the promotion of the Catholic Stage Guild, on which body he acted as His Eminence’s representative. His lordship’s work for education is referred to in another column by The Tablet’s Educational Correspondent.

Born in 1872 at Majorca, Dr. Bidwell was the son of the late Charles Toll Bidwell and of Amelia his wife, daughter of Don Jose Manuel Hurtado, first Minister of Colombia in London. In 1890 he took the degree of B.Sc. in Paris, and then studied Applied Science in this country, at King’s College. His studies for the priesthood were made at the French Seminary, and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, in Rome, where he was ordained in 1898. A short period of service followed in Gibraltar ; and later, after some time spent at St. Mary’s, Hampstead, he went to St. Mary’s, Chelsea, in 1902, as assistant priest, remaining there for about two years. The year 1904 saw the beginning of his connection with official diocesan affairs; he was made Diocesan Secretary and Archivist; and in 1907 he became Chancellor.

The next phase of Bishop Bidwell’s activity was in the Eternal City, whither he was called in 1908, to serve for some months in the Papal Secretariate of State, being made a Privy Chamberlain soon afterwards; and he was Auditor of the late Cardinal Vannutelli’s special mission to London on the occasion of the International Eucharistic Congress in the same year. In 1909 he resumed duty at Westminster as Diocesan Chancellor, and later as Procurator-Fiscal. Two years later found him a Domestic Prelate; in 1917 he was elevated to the Episcopate as Bishop Auxiliary ; and finally he received, in the following year, the C.B.E. honour.


Cardinal Bourne presided on Tuesday at the requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by the Bishop of Cambysopolis, the Right Rev. Monsignor Butt. Other Bishops present included their lordships of Portsmouth and Brentwood; Mgr. Brown, Bishop of Pella ; and Mgr. Keatinge, C.M.G., Bishop of Metellopolis. Monsignor Canon Howlett was assistant priest to the Cardinal, with Mgri. Canons Brown and Evans as deacons. Among many other prelates and clergy attending the requiem were the Right Rev. Abbot White, C.R.L.; Mgr. Canon Surmont, V.G.; Mgr. Provost O’Grady, V.G. (Brentwood); and Mgr. Duchemin (rector of the Beda College). The family mourners included the Misses Bidwell, Mme. Santa Maria, and Mme. d’Abbadie d’Arrast (sisters); Surgeon-Commander L. Bidwell; Mrs. L. A. Bidwell ; Mr. T. L. Bidwell; Mr. E. R. Bidwell; Miss K. Taunton; Miss M. Taunton; Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Finch; Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary and Miss O’Leary; and Miss Lucy Mark.

Of the very large lay congregation, many attended in a representative capacity. These included Mr. H. Vischer, representing Lord Passfield, Secretary of State for the Colonies; M. Roger Cambon, representing the French Ambassador; John P. Boland, K.S.G., and Mrs. Boland (Catholic Truth Society); the Earl of Iddesleigh (Catholic Emigration Society); Mr. H. Norman (Catholic Council for International Relations); Major Wegg Prosser, K.S.G. (Society of St. Vincent de Paul); Mrs. Passmore (St. David’s Home); Miss Balfe (Catholic Women’s League); Mr. Ernest Oldmeadow (Editor of The Tablet); Major W. Arkwright (League of Nations Union, Chelsea); the Rev. H. Browne, S.J., and Miss Mary O’Farrell (Catholic Stage Guild); Mrs. Liveing (Public Service Committee, C.W.L.); Mr. C. Cary-Elwes (for the Italian Hospital); Mr. L. J. Magnani (St. Joseph’s Old Boys’ Association); Mrs. Allom (Bureau of Social Service); Miss Forster (University of London Catholic Society); Sir Henry Jerningham and Mr. J. S. Franey (Catholic Union of Great Britain, in the unavoidable absence of the President, Lord FitzAlan); Mr. Eric Hall (Chelsea Housing Committee); the Mayor of Chelsea ; and representatives of Nazareth House, Hammersmith, and other communities.

After the absolution, given by the Cardinal, the body was taken, for interment, to St. Vincent’s, Eastcote.


The following letter from His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop will appear in the August number of the Westminster Cathedral Chronicle:— I desire to offer my sincere thanks to the clergy and laity who have expressed their sympathy in the great grief and loss which have come to the Diocese, and to myself, in the death of his lordship Bishop Bidwell. That sympathy, even where unexpressed, has been universally felt, for the loss is indeed a heavy one. To me personally he stood for more than a quarter of a century in a relation of close, valued, and ever loyal friendship and service. The full worth of his life to the Diocese was known to few beyond myself, because a great deal of his work was of a private character, dealing with matters which attract no public attention. By his knowledge of Spanish, French, and Italian ; by his course of study abroad as well as at home; by his inherited diplomatic gifts ; by his keen, clear, logical intelligence; by his accurate knowledge of Theology and Canon Law ; by his patient understanding of complicated difficulties, he was fitted to render, and actually rendered, conspicuous service to the Church in diocesan, national, and international affairs. In all these ways his assistance was most precious to me in the very varied business that claims the attention of an Archbishop of Westminster.

He was deeply attached to this, his Diocese, in the administrative work of which he had a part, except during a brief interval, for nearly twenty-seven years. Of this attachment I will give two examples which are not generally known. In 1907 the late Cardinal Merry del Val, who had known him intimately from youth, unexpectedly and insistently summoned him to a post in the Secretariate of State in Rome. He obeyed, but his heart remained in London, and at the earliest opportunity he _sought, and ultimately obtained, release from a position which, honourable and responsible in itself, would have led to wider responsibilities and higher honours, in order to return to Westminster.

Again, in 1917, he showed clearly the same clinging to his work among us. During the War he had been my principal assistant in the immense work of safeguarding and making provision for the spiritual needs of the Catholic soldiers engaged in the British Armies in that tragic period. More than six hundred Chaplains had been obtained for this important, strenuous, and exacting service—a number greater, I believe, in proportion to the clergy of the country than in any other army. In 1917 the then Cardinal Secretary of the Consistorial Congregation, for reasons which it is not necessary to discuss today, thought it essential that in future the oversight of the Military Chaplains should be entrusted to a prelate wholly detached from any parish, diocese, or hierarchy. This honourable position was offered to Mgr. Bidwell; but, finding in it a severance from the Diocese of Westminster, he earnestly begged that he might be allowed to decline it. His wish was granted, but his great merits were recognized by the Holy See in the bestowal upon him of the Episcopal character. The War Office, in parting with his assistance, emphatically expressed its estimation of the services which he had rendered, and its deep regret at their involuntary withdrawal, and at the end of the War secured to him the decoration C.B.E.

Since then, for seventeen years, he had shared with me, and with my other devoted Auxiliary Bishop, the Episcopal duties of the Diocese. And now God, in His adorable wisdom, has called him to his rest and reward at the comparatively early age of fifty-eight, leaving to other hands many interests which he was so specially fitted to control. May that most Holy Will be done. Our duty is to thank God for all that He enabled His servant to accomplish; to beg His pardon for the human frailty that may have marred His servant’s endeavours and accomplishments; to ask His blessing and consolation for those who, on account of the ties of blood, are in special grief as this life passes into eternity.

May he rest in peace, and may God reward him abundantly for all that he has done for the Church, for this Diocese, and for its Archbishop.

FRANCIS CARDINAL BOURNE. Archbishop of Westminster. • July 15, 1930.


From the Colonial Office and the Admiralty messages of condolence on the death of Bishop Bidwell have been received as follows :— COLONIAL OFFICE, DOWNING STREET, S.W.1. July 14, 1930. MY DEAR CARDINAL BOURNE,—I write on behalf of Lord Passfield and myself to say that we have learned with great regret of the death of Bishop Bidwell, on the 11th of July. Bishop Bidwell rendered valuable services for many years as a member, first, of the Advisory Committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa, and then of the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies. His death will be a very real loss to the Committee, and will be deeply regretted by all its members. Mr. Hans Vischer, one of the Joint Secretaries of the Advisory Committee, will represent Lord Passfield at the funeral to-morrow.

Yours sincerely, (Signed) T. DRUMMOND SHIELS, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies.

ADMIRALTY, S.W. July 14, 1930. DEAR MONSIGNOR EVANs,—The Board of Admiralty have seen with deep regret—in which I have special personal reasons for sharing—the announcement of the death of Bishop Bidwell, who for so many years represented His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop in matters affecting the ministrations to Roman Catholics in the Royal Navy.

In all his intercourse with the Admiralty, Bishop Bidwell showed himself a most helpful and sensible adviser, and the Board realised that any proposals and suggestions which he made were always well thought out and calculated to promote the best interests of the men. No one, moreover, could be brought into contact with him without being impressed by the sincerity and charm of his personality.

It would be very kind of you if you would bring to the notice of His Eminence the very great respect and regard which the Board of Admiralty entertained for Bishop Bidwell, and the sense of loss which we feel by reason of his death.

Believe me, Yours sincerely,

0. A. R. MURRAY.

Mother St. George (Frances Jane Purssell) 1827 -1914. A heroine-veteran of the Crimea

Mother St George was born Frances Purssell in 1827, became a nun when she was 21. She is Lady O’B’s aunt, and Alfred Purssell’s elder sister

from The Tablet Page 24, 8th February 1908

There are not many of the nun-nurses of the Crimea left among us—not, we believe, more than four, namely, Mother Mary Aloysius, the last survivor of the band of Irish Sisters of Mercy who tended the sick and wounded in the hospitals at Scutari ; florence-nightingale-nursesSister Stanislas and Sister Anastasia (both now at St. John’s Wood), the representatives of the English Sisters of Mercy who gave an equal devotion to the same service ; and Mother St. George, of the Convent of the Faithful Virgin, Norwood. Of these, the first, Mother Mary Aloysius, put on record some ten years ago her wonderful experiences in that delightfully simple and graphic little book, “Memories of the Crimea.” Mother St. George resigned a few weeks ago the active headship of the branch house of her Order at Folkestone (which she helped to found) and has now returned to pass her remaining days in the Norwood Convent, where she was professed sixty years ago at the age of twenty-one.

This week the readers of The Daily Chronicle were privileged to hear some of the reminiscences of this venerable nun, recounted in an interview which she gave to a correspondent of that paper.

“I must have five of your Sisters by seven o’clock to-morrow morning at London Bridge ready to start for Constantinople.”

Those brief, imperative marching orders from Bishop Grant were handed to the Mother Superior of the Convent of the Faithful Virgin at Norwood late in the evening of Sunday, October 22, 1854. Before six o’clock the next morning the Sisters asked for were at Bishop Grant’s house, and they started the same day with Florence Nightingale and her nurses for the East. Of that little band of five, Mother St. George was the youngest, and to-day is the sole survivor. The Order of the Faithful Virgin is a teaching, not a nursing order; but when that urgent cry of “More Nurses for the East” came from the perishing Army, there were few trained for the work who could immediately step into the breach, and hence it was that, at Bishop Grant’s summons, the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin came eagerly forward to fill the gap, and they filled it at Scutari nobly from November, 1854, till February, 1855, by which time plenty of nursing Sisters had arrived.

Mother St. George recalls the enthusiasm with which Florence Nightingale and her nurses were received when they landed at Boulogne. “Then we sailed from Marseilles” (she says); “it was a Friday, I remember, and the Captain objected to starting on Friday. The sailors were perfectly sure that the ship would go down. But Miss Nightingale would not wait ; she was anxious to reach her work as soon as possible. We had terrible weather, and the ship at one time was in very great danger in a narrow passage. However, we reached the Bosphorus safely, though I believe the ship was too damaged to make the return voyage, and Miss Nightingale said to the Captain, Why, I thought we were all to go to the bottom because we sailed on Friday ‘ ; and he answered, ‘And so we should have done if we hadn’t had Sisters on board ”

Barraok_Hospital,_Scutari._George_Dodd._Pictorial_history_of_the_Russian_war_1854-5-6On arriving at Scutari, Mother St. George went with the other nurses to the great palace which the Sultan had placed at the disposal of the British Government for a hospital. “At that time,” she says, “all the wounded had to be brought across the Black Sea before they could be properly treated. Many died on the way across, or directly they were brought in. But the men were so good, so brave, so delicate. Why, they would try to take off their soiled bandages themselves to save the Sisters the task. And some of these men were brought in after lying out six weeks in the trenches, so that their clothes stuck to their skins, and it was difficult to remove them. There was no chloroform in those days ; so when a man had to be operated upon they used to put a ball of lead in his mouth.” Of Miss Nightingale, though she has never seen her since she left Scutari, Mother St. George retains a vivid impression. “Tall, slender, upright she was, with dark hair. Very, very gentle in her manner, but very capable. She was a wonderful nurse. And she was very accomplished, too ; she spoke three languages fluently. The officers at the hospital at Scutari did not like a woman put over them ; I think she often suffered much from that. She used to be called ‘The Bird.’ We came home in the Candia with some invalided officers and men, coming direct to Southampton. It was a Sunday morning when we reached port, and we went ashore to see if we could find a church and hear Mass. A troop of street boys followed us ; they were so astonished at our white robes, and cried that it was ‘the Emperor of Rooshia and his five daughters come over.’ ‘Them Rooshians ‘—that was how the soldiers always spoke of the enemy,” concluded Mother St. George, with a smile.

from The Tablet Page 22, 28th October 1911

Coldstreams at ScutariOther memories of Scutari are quickened afresh in English minds this week by the death of Mother M. Anastasia Kelly at the St. John’s Wood Convent of her Order. This event, recorded in another column, leaves but one sole survivor of the band of brave Sisters of Mercy who took ship with Florence Nightingale for the Scutari hospital wards, packed with England’s cholera-stricken soldiers. This is Mother Mary Joseph Stanislas (born Jones), of the same Convent, whose years now number eighty-nine. Elsewhere and in another Order, one other remains who shared in the horrors and glories of the Crimea. Mother St. George (born Purssell), at the Convent of the Faithful Virgin, Norwood, well recalls the day, fifty-seven years ago, when she left that house, at a few hours’ notice, in response to Bishop Grant’s appeal for volunteers. Royal_Red_Cross_Medal

Hers was not a nursing Order, but that impediment counted for naught when the supply of trained Sisters of Mercy had fallen short of the demand. The venerable Nun now dead, her surviving companion at St. John’s Wood, and Mother St. George alike received from Queen Victoria, in her Jubilee year of 1887, the decoration of the Royal Red Cross

from The Sacred Heart Review, Number 22, 16 May 1914


Mother St. George, the last survivor of the band of nuns who worked in the Crimea with Florence Nightingale, died at Norwood, England, recently, aged eighty-seven. Last week in our news columns we chronicled her funeral. The London Tablet tells of Bishop Grant’s message to the Norwood convent, in 1854, one Sunday evening: “I must have five of the Sisters by seven o’clock to-morrow morning at London Bridge, ready to start for Constantinople.” The next day the five Sisters started with Miss Nightingale. Mother St. George was decorated with the Red Cross, by Queen Victoria, many years after the war. The recently published “Life” of Florence Nightingale, written by Sir Edward Cook, quotes from a letter to the London Times,— written by its special correspondent, in the Crimea- several passages that deplore the futility of the nursing arrangements on the British side and point to the advantages of the French who had the nursing Sisters. He wrote:— Here the French are greatly our superiors. Their medical arrangements are extremely good, their surgeons more numerous, and they have also the help of the Sisters of Charity, who have accompanied the expedition in incredible numbers. These devoted women are excellent nurses. Two days after this letter appeared, a reader of the Times sent to that paper the query, “Why have we no Sisters of Charity?” Florence Nightingale was persuaded to organize a corps of nurses. ” Her experience all tells,” wrote her sister, ” including in the list of qualifications, her sympathy with the Roman Catholic system of work.” The corps included ten Catholic nuns (five from Bermondsey and five from Norwood—Mother George’s party.) Miss Nightingale was from the first anxious to have Catholic nurses on her staff, because, says her biographer:— In the first place many of the soldiers were Catholics; and, secondly, her apprenticeship in nursing had shown her the excellent qualities as nurses, of many Catholics. A letter from Miss Nightingale to Mr. Herbert described a number of her Catholic nurses as being: “The truest Christians I ever met with,—invaluable in their work, devoted, heart and head, to serve God and mankind.” When the war was at an end, the Reverend Mother, who had come from Bermondsey with the first party, returned home. What her services meant to her chief is frankly acknowledged in the letter Miss Nightingale wrote to her from Balaclava: —

“God’s blessing and my love and gratitude with you, as you well know. You know well, too, that I shall do everything I can for the Sisters whom you have left me. But it will not be like you. Your wishes will be our law. And I shall try and remain in the Crimea for their sakes as long as we are any of us there. I do not presume to express praise or gratitude to you, Reverend Mother, because it would look as if I thought you had done the work not unto God but unto me. You were far above me in fitness for the general superintendency, both in worldly talent of administration and far more in the spiritual qualification which God values in a Superior. My being placed over you in an unenviable reign in the East was my misfortune and not my fault.”

From her childhood Florence Nightingale showed a vocation for nursing. She nursed and bandaged the dolls her sister broke, and she gave “first aid to the wounded” to a collie with a broken leg. The earliest sample of her writing is a tiny book, which the child stitched together and in which she entered in very uncertain letters a recipe ” sixteen grains for an old woman, eleven for a young woman, and seven for a child.” The conventions of her day and class forbade the following of her desire to become a nurse. The advantages of wealth and culture were hers, including travel and study in foreign countries. The chief attraction that Paris offered to her ” lay principally in its hospitals and nursing Sisterhoods.” Her beautiful home at Embley appealed to her chiefly as a desirable place for a hospital— ” I think how I should turn it into a hospital and how I should place the beds,” she said to a friend. When Dr. Howe visited Embley, Florence asked him; “If I should determine to study nursing, and to devote my life to that profession, do you think it would be a dreadful thing ? ” ” Not a dreadful thing at all,” replied the visitor. “I think it would be a very good thing.” To Catholic Sisterhoods she owed the opportunity that opened the way to her future career. She wrote on one occasion:— “The Catholic Orders offered me work, training for that work, sympathy and help in it, such as I had in vain sought in the Church of England. The Church of England has for men bishoprics, archbishoprics, and a little work. For women she has what ? I would have given her my head, my heart, my hand. She would not have them. She did not know what to do with them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother’s drawing-room; or, if I were tired of that, to marry and look well at the head of my husband’s table. You may go to the Sunday-school, if you like it, she said. But she gave me no training even for that. She gave me neither work to do for her, nor education for it.” In Rome, the great attraction for Miss Nightingale was the Sacred Heart Convent, but for nursing Sisterhoods she retained always the deepest regard. Her latest biographer says: — She thought more often, and with more affectionate remembrance, about the spirit of the best Catholic Sisterhoods than of Kaiserswerth, or indeed of anything else in her professional experience. At Kaiserswerth, an ancient town on the Rhine, there was a hospital conducted by Deaconesses, (Protestant) and here Miss Nightingale spent some months. That Kaiserswerth trained her, she herself denied. “The nursing there was nil,” she wrote. “The hygiene was horrible. The hospital was certainly the worst part of Kaiserswerth. I took all the training there was to be had; Kaiserswerth was far from having trained me.” From the Protestant Deaconesses of Germany, Miss Nightingale went to live among Catholic Sisters in France. Dr. Manning secured the opportunity for her to study in their institutions and hospitals. ” Florence joined the Sisters of Charity in Paris. “And thus after many struggles and delays, was she launched upon her true work in the world,” states Sir Edward Cook. In 1854 came the “call” to the Crimea and the practical test of Miss Nightingale’s vocation for nursing. Of her companions to the Crimea we have already learned something, and more is related in a general way in the chapters dealing with her experiences as an army nurse. A small black pocket-book, found among Miss Nightingale’s effects, after her death, contained a few of the letters she received before starting for the East. One of these letters, was from Dr. Manning, who wrote:— “God will keep you. And my prayer for you will be that your one object of Worship, Pattern for Imitation, and source of consolation and strength may be the Sacred Heart of our Divine Lord.” Summing up Miss Nightingale’s feeling towards Catholics and Catholicism, Sir Edward Cook says: — “There were many points at which Roman Catholicism appealed to her.  Cardinal Manning, for whom she entertained a high respect, may sometimes have regarded her as a likely convert; but towards acceptance of Roman doctrines, I find no ground for thinking that she was at any time inclined. Yet the spirit of Catholic saintliness—and especially that of the saints whose contemplative piety was joined to active benevolence— appealed strongly to her. She read books of Catholic devotion constantly, and made innumerable annotations in and from them. . . She admired intensely the aid which Catholic piety had given, and was giving to many of her own friends—to the Bermondsey nuns, especially, and to the mother and sisters of the Trinitade’ Monti — towards purity of heart and the doing of everything from a-right motive. Then, again, to be ” business-like” was with Miss Nightingale almost the highest commendation; and in this character also the Roman Church appealed to her. Its acceptance of doctrines in all their logical conclusions, seemed to her business-like; its organization was businesslike; its recognition of women-workers was business-like.”

Basil O’Bryen 1848 – 1920

Basil O’Bryen is one of Ernest O’Bryen’s brothers. More specifically, he is one of the three children of John Roche O’Bryen and Eliza Henderson to survive to adulthood. The others are Mgr Henry, and Corinne Burton.

(William Gregory) Basil O’Bryen was born on the 9th May 1848 in Clifton, Bristol, and died on the 27th March 1920 in Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia.  He married Harriet Matilda Burke on 1st February 1871 at the Pro-Cathedral (now Our Lady of Victories) in Kensington. He was  23, and she was 32.  Harriet was born in 1839 in London, and died 1873 in Eastbourne,  Sussex,aged 34. The O’Bryens, and the Burkes were neighbours in London. The O’Bryens were at 28 Thistle Grove (present day Drayton Gardens) in South Kensington, and the Burkes were two doors down at No 32.

The families, or at least some members of the families, appear to have been close; William Henry Burke, Harriet’s father was a witness to John Roche O’Bryen’s will signed on the 16th May 1870, about two months before his death. William Burke died 12 days before JROB, on the 17th July 1870 at Queenstown (present day Cobh), and Harriet, and Basil were, somewhat curiously, the executors along with George Wood, an accountant in the City.

Basil and Harriet had a son, Basil John Hewitt O’Bryen, who was born on the 21st September 1872 in Torquay, Devon; he appears to have died before 1907. Harriet died on the 28th August the following year (1873) at 34 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne, though her and Basil’s address is given as the Burke family home at 32 Thistle Grove. Basil seems to have obtained probate almost two years later  – by the 30th August 1875. He is now a widower with an eleven month old son, at the age of 25. 

He then marries Agnes Mary Kenny on the 17th May 1874 in Richmond, Surrey, eight days after his twenty-sixth birthday, she was twenty three.  She was born in 1851 in Richmond, Surrey, and died 15th August 1924, at Convent Lodge, Harrow. 

Basil and Agnes have four children:

  • Oswald 1876 – 1895, aged 18. 
  • Mary 1877 – 1880, aged 3.
  • Cecilia 1880 – 1880, within a year of her birth
  • Gladys 1883 -1960, aged 77.

Basil abandons his family in London sometime in the 1880’s, and reappears in Australia, where he marries Harriet Edwards in 1894. At this point he is forty six years old, and she is twenty nine. Assuming the information in the John Elworthy post is correct – “Apparently re-marriage after seven years of no contact with a previous wife was legal in Australia in the C19th. In English law, he would have been regarded as a bigamist.” We can assume that Basil would have been in Australia from at least 1887.

Basil and Harriet (nee Edwards) O’Bryen had two children.

  • William Basil O’Bryen, 1896 – 1974 
  • Eileen O’Bryen, 1895 – unknown

Both married, and had children in Australia.

Basil and Harriet O’Bryen 1871

Following the convention, Basil is one of Ernest O’Bryen’s brothers.

I find these two (B&H) rather curious. There is an eleven year age gap between them, although the marriage seems to have been sanctioned by the family; and Harriet is a party to an Indenture of Settlement dated 13th May 1870, written at the same time as John Roche O’Bryen’s will. 

They marry almost exactly six months after JROB’s death, and therefore six months and two weeks after William Burke’s death. This would be the expected period of “full mourning” after the death of a parent, but still relatively soon after both fathers’ deaths. It might explain the somewhat low-key, and under-reported, wedding

our lady of victories 1905
Our Lady of Victories 1908

Having said that, one or both of them are sufficiently well-connected for them to be married by the Archbishop of Westminster himself. The Pro-Cathedral was, what is now Our Lady of Victories on Kensington High Street.

from The Medical Press and Circular Advertiser Feb 8 1871

On the 1st inst at the Pro Cathedral Kensington, by his Grace Archbishop Manning, assisted by the Rev Fathers Foley and Conolly. Basil, second surviving son of the late John Roche O’Bryen Esq MD to Harriet Matilda, youngest daughter of the late William Henry Burke; both of Thistle Grove South Kensington.

Cardinal Manning aprox 1880

Memorial to Harriet O’Bryen, Clifton Cathedral – 1876

from The Tablet Page 18, 5th February 1876

THE PRO-CATHEDRAL—A pleasing addition has lately been made to the Pro-Cathedral of Clifton. The side chapel, dedicated to St. Joseph, has been entirely renewed and decorated, and a marble altar erected, the reredos of which was executed in Belgium. The whole has a very pleasing effect. It is the gift of Basil O’Bryen, Esq, as a memorial of his late wife Harriet Matilda O’Bryen, who died August 23, 1873, and whose remains are buried in the cemetery at Fulham.

This is also curious. There doesn’t appear to be a huge family connection between the Burke family, and Bristol.  John Roche O’Bryen had practiced medicine there from at least 1841, and Basil himself was born there, but by the time he was 10 the O’Bryen family was in Liverpool, and by 1861, when he was 12, the family were in London, and he was at boarding school at Ratcliffe College.

Aghada House 1

Lower Aghada
Lower Aghada

Aghada  is a small fishing town situated to the south-east of Cork city in County Cork, Ireland. Aghada parish consists of several small villages and townlands including  Rostellan, Farsid, Upper Aghada, Lower Aghada, Whitegate, Guileen and Ballinrostig.

Aghada  House was, apparently, a large  Georgian house designed by the Cork architect  Abraham Hargrave (1755-1808), and built for John Roche  (Ernest O’Bryen’s great grandfather) . It was completed in 1808. John Roche was also responsible for the start of the Aghada National School in 1819. John Roche appears to have left his house to his nephews, James Joseph Roche, and William Roche, who were, I think, cousins rather than brothers. William Roche died in 1836, and James Joseph and his family were living there until James’s death in 1847.

The estate, and the provisions of John Roche’s will were part of a court case, and appeal in 1848, and 1849. (Hillary Term 1848, Mary O’Brien v James Roche and William Roche…lands of Aghada [Mitchelstown Cork]… and Roche v. O’Brien —Feb. 1, 2. 1849) following the death of James Joseph Roche in 1847. 

The house and land were sold in July 1853 in the Encumbered Estates Court, as part of the estates of Joseph Roche, and William Roche, with Mary (Maria Josepha)  and Eleanor Roche listed as owners, and Pauline Roche as ex parte.

Entrance to Aghada Hall
Entrance to Aghada Hall

Most traces of Aghada Hall House seem to have disappeared, apart from signs of a walled garden, half  an entrance and a small gatehouse.  The old sheds and stables have been converted into houses.

The house appeared to have briefly in the possession of Henry Hewitt O’Bryen, and was then bought by Major General Sir Joseph Lucas Thackwell in 1853.  Thackwell had married Maria Audriah Roche (from the Trabolgan branch of the Roche family) in 1825. She was the eldest daughter of Francis Roche of Rochemount, County Cork (an uncle of Edmond Roche, 1st Baron Fermoy). They had four sons and three daughters.  She should not to be confused with Maria Josepha Roche, who was James Joseph Roche’s daughter, and one of the parties to the 1848/9 court cases.

The house was left to their son Major William de Wilton Roche Thackwell (1834-1910). He married Charlotte (daughter of Rev. Tomkinson).  William R. Thackwell lived in Aghada Hall house until 1894.Their eldest daughter Katherine Harriet Thackwell married Col. Edward Rawdon Penrose who in 1891 changed his surname by Royal Licence to Thackwell.  There is an account of their wedding on the Housetorian website.

It is still not entirely clear when the house was demolished.

The Mayor of Hampstead’s Garden Party – 4th July 1914

It took a lot of digging to try to find out the answers to this one, but it was always the most intriguing photo. Some of the people are clearly identifiable from other photos. Particularly the members of the O’Bryen family, Ernest and Gertrude are easily identifiable either side of the clergyman, with Cis kneeling looking at her mother, and Kenneth and Molly also to the front with their parents. Rex O’Bryen and his wife Florence are standing on the far left.

The clergyman remained mysterious for rather longer, as did most of the others in the picture. He did provide a very useful spur in the search, which rapidly threw up two O’Bryen priests. The first was Father Philip, who was an older brother of Ernest, and Rex. The other was Mgr Henry O’Bryen, who was a much older half-brother.

The Mayor of Hampstead Garden Party 4th July 1914

The clothes provided the next clues, particularly the hat and ring. Fr Phil was a parish priest, so wouldn’t have dressed like that, and Mgr Henry was dead before Ernest and Gertrude married, so it couldn’t be him. Eventually I found this…..

The Tablet Page 17, 11th July 1914 NEWS FROM THE DIOCESES


THE MAYOR OF HAMPSTEAD’S GARDEN PARTY.—The Cardinal Archbishop was entertained by the Mayor and Mayoress of Hampstead, Mr. and Mrs. E. A. O’Bryen, on Saturday last (4th July) at a garden party at their house and grounds at Daleham Lodge. A large company had been invited to meet his Eminence, and were presented to him. Among the guests were Canon Wyndham 0.S.C., Sir Roper and Lady Parkington, Lady Parker, Mgr. Grosch, the Father Superior and several of the Fathers from Farm Street, Prior Bede Jarrett, and several of the Dominican Fathers from Haverstock Hill, Canon Brenan, Mr. Lister Drummond, K.S.G., and Mr. C. J. Munich, K.S.G., and very many others. Refreshments were served in the grounds, and there was some, very enjoyable music.

This now answered some of the questions, but not all, and also is one of the many odd coincidences. One of the Roper Parkington’s granddaughters  Marie marries Alan O’Bryen ten years after this photo, and Colonel Sir John Roper Parkington, and Lady RP have quite a part in this tale. We’ll come back to whether it is the two of them behind the Cardinal, and the Mayor.

Very Reverend Mgr. H.H. O’Bryen 1835 – 1895

Henry Hewitt O’Bryen is the eldest son of John Roche O’Bryen and Eliza Henderson, which makes him a great great uncle.

He was born on the 5th of March 1835 in Montpelier, France, where his father was studying medicine, and died on the 24th October 1895 in Montreal, Canada, whilst on a papal mission, and is apparently buried in the cathedral there.

He was brought up in Bristol, and studied at the English College in Rome, where he was ordained in 1858. He then served as a priest in Liverpool; first at St Patrick’s in Toxteth, then as Principal of the Catholic Institute 1863-65, and finally Parish Priest at St James, Orrell 1869 -73. He then moved to Rome where to quote from his obituary

Sant Andrea della Valle
Sant Andrea della Valle

Mgr. O’Bryen had the spiritual care of all the Catholics of English tongue, and the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, parochial for the Piazza di Spagna and its neighbourhood, was that in which he heard confessions.”

He became a papal chaplain to Leo XIII (Cameriere Segreto Sopranumerario) in 1881, and also served as a papal ablegate. The majority of the Roman postings are either events he was at, or things that were happening in Rome at the time.

This is his obituary from The Tablet, 2nd November 1895


The telegraph has brought news of the death of Mgr. O’Bryen, Domestic Prelate of his Holiness, who died two days ago at Montreal. The news has been received with the deepest regret, as Mgr. O’Bryen had passed many years in Rome, and had won universal esteem. Though believed to be suffering from apoplexy, he seemed to be in fairly good health. His death was probably caused by a stroke of apoplexy brought on by the fatigue of his travels in Canada and the United States. Until the donation of the Church of San Silvestro in Capite to the English-speaking people, Mgr. O’Bryen had the spiritual care of all the Catholics of English tongue, and the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, parochial for the Piazza di Spagna and its neighbourhood, was that in which he heard confessions. The English sermons on Sundays during the season, which have been a tradition since the days of Pius VII., were delivered in other churches such as the Gesu e Maria, and one of the twin churches, which adorn the Piazza del Popolo. Before coming to Rome, Mgr. O’Bryen had served on the mission in the diocese of Liverpool.