The Will and codicil of John Roche, January 1826:

Lower Aghada, co Cork

The Will and codicil of John Roche, January 1826: 

Whenever it happens that the Aghada estate, is absent of male heirs, to wit, of the said James Joseph Roche, or by any other contingency reverts wholly to me, I hereby leave it in as full a manner as I can convey it to my nephew, William Roche, to be enjoyed by him and his lawful begotten heirs male for ever ; and, as I have perfected leases to be held in trust, of the demesne and two adjoining farms of Aghada, subject to a yearly rent accord-ing to a valuation made, I leave him my interest, if any I had, in those leases ; and in case of his not coming into possession of the estate by the means before-mentioned,  I leave him  £6,000 of my £4   per cent. stock, to be held by trustees, the interest of which is to pay the rent of the demesne and two farms above mentioned ;

  • to my eldest grandson, James (sic)  J. R.  O’Brien   I leave   £10,000   £4 per  cent. stock ;
  • to my grand-daughter, Jane O’Brien, I leave  £4,000 £4 per cent. stock ;
  • to my daughter, Mary O’Brien,  I leave the  £4,000  £4 per cent. stock I settled on her as a marriage portion on her marriage, for her use and that of her younger children ;
  • to my niece,  Ellen Verling,  I leave  £1,000 £4 per cent, stock, with £30 a-year profit rent I leave on her brother Bartholomew Verling’s stores ;
  • to my grandson, J. Roche O’Brien, I leave also my interest in White Point, after his mother’s death ;  
  • I leave  £100 to my sister, Ellen Verling ;
  • to my sister, Julia Enery, £100 ;
  • to my nephew, Doctor Verling,  and his sister, Catherine Ellis, £100 each,  and I desire the stock on the farm to be sold to pay these legacies ;
  • to my nephew,   William Roche, and my grand-daughter,  Jane O’Brien, I give my household furniture, plate, &c., and it is my wish, if the rules of our church allow it, that they should be married and live in Aghada house ; may it bless and prosper them and their offspring.

To the parish of Aghada, I leave the school-house, and £20 a-year for its support, and also the chapel and priest’s house  I leave to the parish rent-free for ever, as long as they shall be used for such qualified purposes ; the five slate houses I built in the village, I leave to five of the poorest families rent free ; to David Coughlan I leave the house he now lives in during his life ; to my servant, James Tracy   I leave the house his wife now lives in ;    and to my wife’s servant, Mary Ahearne, otherwise Finne, her house rent-free during their lives ; and to each of those three, viz.,David Coughlan, James Tracy, and Mary Ahearne,  otherwise Finne, I leave £10 a-year during their lives : 

having had unfounded confidence in my unhappy nephew, James Roche,  I did not take legal means under  the settlement I made to secure those last bequests out of the Aghada estate ; I trust, and hope, and desire that whosoever is in possession of the estate do confirm these my wishes and intents. I appoint my trusty friend, Henry Bennett, (my present law agent) William Roche, and my daughter, Mary O’Brien as executors of this my last will.”

 The codicil to the will was as follows :—

 By my will dated the 5th day of January, 1826, I appointed my friend Henry Bennett, my nephew, William Roche, and my daughter, Mary O’Brien, executors to that will ; now, by this codicil, I annul that appointment, and appoint John Gibson, barrister-at-law, Bartholomew Hackett, of Middleton, distiller, and my nephew, William Roche, as my executors to that will, and do hereby empower them to name and appoint two trustees for the purpose of managing the sums I left to my nephew, William Roche, my grand-daughter, Jane O’Brien, and my grandson, J. O’Brien, as it is my intent and will that they should only receive the interest, and the principal to remain untouched during their lives, to go to their children ; out of William Roche’s interest the rent of Aghada which I have leased him is to be paid ; and I desire that he and my grand-daughter Jane, who are shortly to be married, will reside there. I leave William Roche all the stock, &c., on the farm, and to him and his wife all my household furniture, plate, and china, and make them my residuary legatees ; it is my will that my grandson, James R. O’Brien, shall live with them at Aghada until he is of age, which is to be at the age of twenty-five, and not before ; and the trustees are to pay him until that period £100 a-year to complete his education, and another £100 a-year during that period to his mother, and the remainder of the interest of his £10,000 to be paid William Roche to assist him in keeping up Aghada during that period, and I trust by that time he will have a profession by which he will add to his income ; I request and desire that nothing shall prevent his following his profession;  it is my intention that William Roche and his wife shall step into possession of Aghada house, demesne, and farms, which are leased to him in the same way that I leave it when it shall please God to take me ; in case of the death of William Roche before his wife, she is to be paid the interest of her £4,000, to be made up £200 a-year as her jointure ; and if she dies before him, he is to have the £10,000, provided she has no issue; but if she leaves issue, it is to go to them after William Roche’s death, as before directed.”

Poor little rich girl – Pauline Roche 1835 – 1894

I love Pauline Roche, she’s the sort of relation everyone should have in their family history. Her story is so bizarre that it reads like a novel.

She is John Roche’s great-granddaughter, and in an unintended way, one of the major beneficiaries of his will, at her marriage, she was said to have about £7,000 (roughly £ 7.5m today). So to set her in context; Pauline Roche is Ernest O’Bryen‘s first cousin on her mother’s side. Her mother Jane is John Roche O’Bryen‘s eldest sister. She is also his second cousin on her father’s side, because William Roche, Pauline’s father is their ( Jane and John Roche O’Bryen) first cousin once removed.

Vatican City Bridge and St Peters
Vatican City Bridge and St Peters

Pauline was born in Rome in 1835, and her father died the same year, when she was three months old. Her mother died the following year (1836) when she was eleven months old. She becomes John Roche O’Bryen’s ward for not entirely clear reasons.

However, JROB is her uncle, and only he, and Jane O’Bryen were Catholic. All their remaining siblings are Church of Ireland. JROB and Jane/William Roche are the only O’Bryen beneficiaries of John Roche’s estate. It is also reasonable to consider other factors.  In 1836, John Roche O’Bryen is married with two young children, Emily who is four, and Henry (the future Mgr O’Bryen) who is almost exactly the same age as Pauline. None of the other O’Bryen siblings have established families, Robert marries that year, and Stephen the year after. 1836 is also the year that Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Senior dies, so Pauline’s grandmother Mary O’Bryen is a recent widow.

It may also be as simple as the fact that John Roche O’Bryen is almost twice as rich as all his remaining siblings, and mother put together.  Robert, Stephen, and Mary O’Bryen were the main beneficiaries from their father’s will, but the majority of their inheritance was from their parents’  £4,000 marriage settlement, which Mary (Roche) O’Bryen was still benefitting from until her death in  1852; whereas JROB had inherited £ 10,000 from his grandfather in 1829. Well, technically he received the income from the money in 4% stock, with his children being the ultimate beneficiaries of the capital on his death, with a number of caveats regarding him receiving the full benefits until he was twenty five, or married. In part, that might explain, his marriage at the age of twenty one, in Bordeaux. Wealth comparisons are notoriously complicated, the measuring worth website can be useful because it provides a range of calculations and comparisons depending on what you are looking for. Using their income value calculation, JROB’s annual income was, a present day equivalent of, over £ 500,000 a year.

Anyway, for what ever reasons, Pauline is part of the O’Bryen family, and is shown living with them in Bristol in 1841, and again in 1851.

Lower Aghada
Lower Aghada, co . Cork
Bellevue, Clifton, Bristol

However in 1847, James Joseph Roche dies, triggering a dispute in the family that culminates in Roche v. O’Brien which goes through the courts in 1848, and 1849. James Joseph Roche was the main beneficiary of John Roche’s will from 1826. 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  (Aghada House).   James Joseph Roche, who inherited Aghada from John Roche, married Catherine Callaghan. 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. Coincidently, the same amount, that he contributed to his own daughter’s marriage settlement in 1807.  John Roche “amassed great wealth during the French wars”, and Daniel Callaghan Senior was, “one of the most enterprising and successful merchants of Cork”.  Pauline as a minor of 12 or 13, is a party to the case. Aghada House, and the land was sold in 1853 in the Encumbered Estates Court, with Pauline Roche listed ex parte.

This is where the story gets much, much, more interesting. In 1854, aged about 19, Pauline runs away from home in Bristol, crosses the Irish Sea to her uncle Robert O’Bryen in Cork, and goes to court seeking a change of guardian. It all sounds relatively straightforward, and even better it’s all over the papers, well some of them anyway, The Daily News, in London, the Dublin Evening Post, The Liverpool Mercury and Supplement, and  The Tralee Chronicle.

The Daily News called it a “A singular minor case, involving charges of cruelty against a guardian”, The Dublin Evening Post said it was an “EXTRAORDINARY CASE…..the question at present before the court being whether the guardian of the minor should pay the costs of proceedings consequent upon an alleged system of cruelty practised towards her.”  The Liverpool Mercury headlined the story the “PERSECUTION OF A WARD IN CHANCERY” and the Tralee Chronicle said  “The general nature of the charge against the late guardian appeared to be this – that although he was allowed from 1850 a maintenance of £ 130 per annum, this young lady was not properly fed – had been most cruelly treated and subjected to personal violence.”

Pauline Roche’s maintenance allowance of £ 130 per annum, was a huge sum of money. In modern day terms, it is about £ 180,000 a year. Not bad for a teenager, and possibly quite irritating to your uncle that you are entitled to an equivalent of about thirty per cent of the O’Bryen household income. JROB’s income from the interest on capital is about £ 500,000 p.a.

The reporting is amusing, and shows the Victorian press weren’t so different from todays. The  Dublin Evening Post  manages to muddle up which uncle Pauline runs off to, and the Tralee Chronicle not only gets the uncles wrong, but also has Pauline being mistreated by ” Dr Robert O’Brien, of Belfast”.

However, the gist of the story is still Pauline wants a new guardian, and she says she’s been mistreated. Actually, if her story is true, it’s much worse than that. According to the Daily News, “Miss Roche was a young lady whose constitution was delicate, and therefore, it was contended she required great care and attention, instead of which she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercise, which was indispensable to her health. A pony, the bequest of a dying patient…….” –  I particularly like the fact that this was a gift from a dying patient – “was given to her; and when she was deprived of this, a carriage horse was procured, which kicked her off his back, and she refused ever again to mount him. She also complained that upon two occasions he (guardian) beat her severely – that he made her a housekeeper and governess to the younger children, that he led her to believe she was dependent upon his benevolence; and further, that she was not permitted to dine with him and his wife, but sent down to the kitchen with the children and the servants.”

carriage horseThe Dublin Evening Post told us ” she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercises which was indispensable to her health………..” and in his answer to the allegations.. “Dr O’Bryen replied that he had treated his niece with kindness – that her preservation from consumption was solely ascribable to his judicious and skilful treatment – that he caused her to be well educated, had given her many accomplishments and a horse to ride, which was not a carriage horse but an excellent lady’s horse – that she upon two occasions told him untruths which required correction, and that he would have punished his own children much more severely.”

And in a fairly un-subtle piece of character assassination;  It was likewise contended that she would have better consulted her own respectability and displayed better taste, if she had abstained from taking such proceedings against her uncle and guardian with whom she had been for so many years.”

The Dublin Evening Post continues, and the story just gets worse. From the reporting, the (Irish) Master of the Rolls, is clearly on Pauline’s side. He “said that a petition was presented by Mr Orpin, the solicitor for the minor, for the purpose of removing the late guardian for misconduct. His lordship made an order on that occasion to the effect that the minor should reside within the jurisdiction of the court, which was indirectly removing her from the protection of the late guardian.”

It continued “The general nature of the charge against the late guardian appeared to be this – that although he was allowed from 1850 a maintenance of  £139 per annum, this young lady was not properly clothed – that she had not been properly fed – had been most cruelly treated and subjected to personal violence. Six or seven years ago she was actually driven to run away, which of course she had since been obliged to repent, and even if she did get education it was the education of a poor relation of the family. The governess who was employed to educate her cousins swore, as he (the Master of the Rolls) understood, that if the minor did get education it was at the expense of the guardian, and that she gave her instructions as a matter of charity. This young lady was obliged to run away, and conceal herself in a neighbouring village, and no person who looked at the subsequent transactions could entertain a doubt but that she had been treated with cruelty. It was sworn by Mr Sweeny, a solicitor of the court, that he was ashamed to walk with her she was so badly dressed.”

The mauling from the Master of the Rolls continued, ” The Master found, and it was actually admitted by the respondent ( JROB) , that he told her on one occasion, her father had left her nothing; that she would be in the poorhouse but for his generosity. He (the Master of the Rolls) adverted to this circumstance  for the purpose of asking this gentleman who struck this young lady, in delicate health, with a horsewhip for having told him, as he represented an untruth – what punishment he deserved for having told her the falsehood that her father had left her nothing?”

letterAnd it just goes on, and on.. ” On the morning of the 4th of May 1854, the transaction took place which led her to write the first letter to her uncle who was now her guardian. It appeared that one of her cousins brought her a piece of leather which the child had got in the study of the late guardian, but not telling her anything about it she asked her to cover a ball, and she did so. He interrogated her on the subject, and having denied she took the leather, he took his horsewhip and struck this delicate young lady a blow which left a severe mark on her back to the present day. His lordship then read the letter of the minor to her uncle in Cork inquiring about her father’s circumstances, and complaining bitterly of the treatment she had received, and stating that, though she was then nineteen years of age, she had no pocket money except a little which had been supplied by friends. His lordship continued to say that the facts contained in that letter were corroborated by the statements of the guardian himself. On another occasion, the minor being in the room with her uncle, his powder-flask was mislaid, and being naturally anxious about it, as there were younger children living in the house, he asked this young lady respecting it, but she laughed at his anxiety, and he struck her a blow, according to his own version, with his open hand, but after the blow of the horsewhip, he (the Master of the Rolls) was inclined to think it was with his fist as she represented.”

So, a doctor in Bristol, in his mid-forties, who admitted in court that “she, upon two occasions, told him untruths which required correction” which seems to have been using his horse whip, and fists, and that  ” he would have punished his own children much more severely.” basically attacks  a teenage girl.

Now the Dublin Evening Post continues in the same vein, ” The general nature of the charge against the late guardian appeared to be this – that although he was allowed from 1850 a maintenance of £ 130 per annum, this young lady was not properly fed – had been most cruelly treated and subjected to personal violence. This young lady was obliged to run away, and conceal herself in a neighbouring village, and no person who looked at the subsequent transactions could entertain a doubt that she had been treated with cruelty. It was perfectly clear that this young lady had been kept ignorant up to a late period of the state of her circumstances.”

And the catalogue of criticism from the Master of the Rolls just continues, and continues. More from the Dublin Evening Post:

  • “Six or seven years ago she was actually driven to run away, which of course she had since been obliged to repent,”
  • “The Master (of the Rolls)…..found that the minor, who was in her nineteenth year,  dined with the servants.”
  • “The Master (of the Rolls) found, and it was actually admitted by the respondent, that he told her on one occasion her father had left her nothing; that she would be in the poorhouse but for his generosity.” 
  • “She got half a pound of butter for a week, but no sugar or any of those matters which were considered by mere menials to be the necessaries of life.”
  • “On the 9th of October a letter was written, by the dictation of this young lady, giving the most exaggerated account of her happiness, and this was alleged to be her voluntary act, though by the same post Mr Orpin (her solicitor) received a letter from her stating that she was under the influence of her aunt when she wrote it.”

And finally, though they get the uncles the wrong way round:

  • “Ultimately, in the absence of her uncle, and late guardian, and apprehending his anger when he returned, she left the house and went to reside with her uncle John (sic) in Cork, her present guardian. A circumstance occurred when Mr Robert O’Bryen (sic) went to recover possession of his ward, which corroborated strongly the minor’s statement. When he was passing through Cork, she was looking out of the window and fainted upon seeing him – so much frightened was she at his very appearance.”

There is a full transcript of the newspaper reports, here.  JROB’s defence of his behaviour is quite extraordinary,and also included in the transcripts. It is something I’ll come back to in another post. It is quite clearly carefully planned, and done with the support of the editor of the Bristol Mercury. The italics for inference are printed in the paper, so it is definitely planned with some care, and not just a letter to the editor.

It’s also a classic example of bad PR probably making things worse. In a taster of things to come, JROB starts his letter with the Latin tag “Audi alterum partem” best translated as “let the other side be heard as well”, and finishes with “Fiat Justitia, ruat caelum”  – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall”. This was most famously used by Lord Mansfield in 1772 in the first major English case on the legality of slavery.

So pompous, self-serving, and an astonishing attack in print on a teenager. Still, greater consideration of that is for another time.

Back to Pauline; she stayed in Ireland, and was married two years later in 1857, aged about 21. According to the “Barrymore Records of the Barrys of County Cork”   “Pauline Roche, (is the) only child of William Roche, son of Lawrence Roche, whose brother, John Roche, amassed great wealth during the French wars, and built Aghada House. John Roche’s only daughter, married to ” O’Brien, (sic) [Henry Hewitt O’Bryen]  of Whitepoint, Queenstown, J.P., left a daughter, who married her cousin, William Roche, and with her husband died shortly after the birth of their only daughter, Pauline, who was entrusted to the guardianship of her uncle, Dr. O’Brien, of Liverpool, and at marriage had a fortune of  £ 7,000.”

Pauline Roche married William Henry Barry, of Ballyadam, who was described as a gentleman. He was also a Justice of the Peace. William was his uncle Henry’s heir and was for many years postmaster of Cork. The Barrys of Ballyadam were part of the vast, interconnected Barry family in Cork. William Henry was  the grandson of William Barry (1757 -1824) , of Rockville, Carrigtwohill, in county Cork. Various branches of the Barry family trace themselves back to the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the C12th.

In a slightly curious irony, the Master of the Rolls who sat on Pauline Roche’s case in 1855 ( Sir Thomas Berry Cusack-Smith) married into the Smith Barry family, as did Pauline and William’s daughter Mary, making him and Louisa Cusack-Smith, Mary Barry’s husband’s great-uncle and aunt. It’s a small, small world…

Pauline and William Henry Barry had seven children, including William Gerard Barry – the Irish painter, Mary who married into the Smith Barry family of Ballyedmond, and Edith, whose second husband, William Babtie won a Victoria Cross in the Boer War.

Pauline appears to have died in 1894, and various of her children were still living at Ballyadam almost twenty years later.

When cutting seaweed was a crime – 1843

James Joseph Roche, the Chairman of the magistrates in this case, is the nephew of John Roche, and in 1843 was living in Aghada Hall. He’s Ernest O’Bryen‘s first cousin twice removed.

(Cork Examiner 5/5/1843) –


Glengarriff-Harbour-Co-Cork-Ireland-RP-Postcard-0835This being the day appointed by the Magistrates to investigate into the right of the public at large to cut sea-weed on Corkbeg and Trabolgan strands, great numbers of country-people assembled at the Court-house, and appeared most anxious to be present at and be informed as to the result of the trial. At an early hour the Court-house was thronged with listeners, and but for the judicious arrangements made by the magistrates, great inconvenience might have resulted from the vast number present on the occasion.

Besides the Magistrates on the bench several other respectable persons were in attendance, amongst whom were E. B. Roche, Esq., M. P., and Robert U. Penrose Fitzgerald, Esq. 

Bartholomew Dennehy, John Hart, Michael Cotter, Patrick Kirby, Simon Kennedy, William Hart, J. Dennehy, William Cronin, and John Cronin, appeared on the summons of Michael Hallinan to show cause why a penalty not exceeding £5 should not be inflicted on them, under the provisions of the malicious trespass Act, 9 Geo. 4, cap 56, for having cut seaweed on the 13th of April at Corkbeg strand.

Mr. Scannell appeared as Counsel for the complainant, and Mr. Nagle as Agent, and Mr. Walsh appeared on behalf of the defendants. – Mr. Scannell said that this was a prosecution instituted under the , 9 Geo. 4, cap 56, sec. 30, which was framed for the purpose of enabling parties to punish persons for committing a malicious injury who would not be solvent marks for an action in the higher Courts. That section enabled the Magistrates to award a reasonable compensation for the injury sustained, but it should not exceed £5. That Act however, contained a proviso, that the party complained of should not be fined or punished, if he did the act under a reasonable supposition that he was authorised in doing it. Sea Weed was becoming a most valuable property and he was ready to prove Mr. Fitzgerald’s title to the weed growing on the Corkbeg strand, by a patent granted by Charles the II. Mr. Scannell then cited several cases from the 5th Term Reports, Nunn and Walsh and several other law authorities, to prove that the case came within the malicious trespass act.

Carrigline beachMichael Hallinan was called and examined at some length by Mr. Scannell. He proved that the defendant had cut seaweed above low-water mark; he saw them go to the place in boats. Cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – I often saw men cutting weed there for the last 30 years; will not swear that other boats were on the same spot and cut weed, but as long as I remember, I have seen boats coming from Seamount cutting weed below low-water mark; the description of weed they cut was lawn clout; each of those men were cutting lawn clouts on that day; they grow high and dry on the rock when the tide is out and some of them are a foot and some two feet long, the same as ourselves grow (laughter); I did not see slings there on that day, but boys had them the day after. To Mr. Scannell – Power was not looking at the persons cutting the weed within low-water mark nor did he know they were cutting it. To Mr. Walsh – I would not swear that within 30 years Power or his people did not see them cutting the weed.

Maurice Uniack examined by Mr. Scannell – I know the strand under Carlisle over 20 years and the line of rocks lying above low water mark; was taking care of the weed for the late Col. Fitzgerald and when any boats took it, it was against my consent. Cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – I don’t know the spot where those boats were cutting the weed; the people were prevented for the last 20 years from cutting weed there by Colonel Fitzgerald; as I never saw any person cutting weed there who did not pay for it; Mr. Fitzgerald lets the strand early in the season, and any person that cut it, took it from the tenant. To Mr. Scannell – The strand has been let for the last 20 years.

The case for the prosecution having closed, Mr. Walsh put it to the Bench whether they had evidence of Power having the strand from any person or that he let it to Hallinan. The Chairman thought there was not sufficient evidence of it.

John Power proved that he took part of the strand from Mr. Cox for £7 a year, who got it from Mr. Fitzgerald. Cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – I kept part of the strand and let the remainder to Hallinan; they were cutting the weed against my will, but as the boat was not marked, I could not tell the names of the owners. Mr. Cox examined by Mr. Scannell – I know this strand which I took from Mr. Fitzgerald, and let part of it to Power. Cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – There was writing between me and Mr. Fitzgerald, on taking it.

Mr. Scannell then produced a lease which Mr. Walsh contended was but an agreement for a lease and that as the rent was £100, there should be £1 15s. stamp to it. Mr. Scannell stated that it was stamped within the last six days in Dublin. The validity of the lease was allowed after a long argument. Mr. Cox, cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – It was for the purpose of establishing the right I took the strand; I had the strand three years before this prosecution.

Mr. Walsh said that his clients were only summoned last night, and he had not time to look at his papers or prepare for the defence. Mr. Adams – Do you claim an adjournment? Mr. Walsh – Yes, until next court day, that I may consult with the law officers of the Crown. Mr. Fitzgerald – But the weed will be cut in the interim. Mr. Walsh – But the poor people must have fair play. Mr. Fitzgerald – I will give them no fair play when they have no title to it.

Mr. Walsh wished to have time to frame their defence, and he would undertake that the persons from that district would not cut the weed until this day week. His object was to get the advice of the law officers of the crown on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald – Here is the opinion of the law officer of the crown (handing a paper). Mr. Walsh – But you should remember that the opinion of Mr. Green is at variance with Mr. Monaghan who gave an opinion on a case similar to this which Mr. Jagoe admitted was a failure. Mr. Nagle – Mr. O’Connell’s opinion is that the weed growing between high and low water mark is private property. Mr. Jagoe said that in cases of this description, where a patent was produced or a judgement against the parties, the Magistrates were bound to receive it. Mr. Scannell – And that is just what I am going to do. Mr. Scannell then produced a grant of Charles the 2nd to Garrett Fitzgerald of the lands of Corkbeg.

Mr. Nagle produced a conviction granted at the suit of Patrick Geary against James Corkeran for a trespass on that strand, for which he was fined 7s. 6d. Mr. Walsh contended that the patent did not grant the sea shore, but 600 acres profitable land. Mr. Adams did not see what land could be more profitable than the strand. Mr. Walsh objected to their reading the sea shore as profitable land, but land which is cultivated.

Mr. Fitzgerald – What do you say to the right of fishing? Mr. Walsh – That is an appurtenance to the land because it is on the sea. Mr. Nagle – There are 971 acres mentioned in another part of the patent.

Mr. Walsh said there were three kinds of land, terra firma, sea-shore and bottom; the subject can exercise a right over the sea shore between high and low water mark. Mr. Adams stated that Mr. Green’s opinion said that the shore was the property of the Crown between high and low water mark, but it was sometimes vested in the subject. Mr. Walsh agreed with him, but a grant had been produced in this case. If no grant had been produced they might assume that it was his property by exercising an ownership over it. That patent being produced, the Crown granted only 600 acres of profitable land by it. They were well aware that in old grants, the sea shore was not denominated profitable land, and the sea shore being land it could not be held as an appurtenance to land. Mr. Walsh then cited several cases from Barnwall and Creswell, Hall and Butler’s Reports, to prove that land could not be held as an appurtenance to land. He then contended that they could not assume, from his exercising acts of ownership, that the patent granted more than it was found to grant on its production. He submitted that as the sea shore was not granted by the patent, it raised the magistrates right of jurisdiction. Mr. Adams – You will not say that your client could go there against the prescriptive right in the Corkbeg family.

After some further arrangement, Mr. Walsh then contended that they should dismiss the case without entering into the claim of right at all. Were they to assume that those parties who cut the weed for thirty years would now ipso facto set up a fictitious supposition to having a right. He called on them to let the party try their civil right in another Court. Notwithstanding what has been said in the law books respecting their jurisdiction, they sat there like so many chief justices and tried the prescriptive right and a patent; and he called on them to adjudicate on the matter without legal assistance. It was better for them either to let the party try his civil right or else take informations and return them over to the Assistant Barrister’s Court.Mr. Adams suggested that the men should go and cut the weed tomorrow and let them be tried at the Sessions. Mr. Walsh was satisfied. Mr. Scannell – But no indictment could be framed unless there was a charge of violence.

Mr. Walsh was satisfied to allow information to be taken for using violence, and let the right be tried by the Assistant Barrister. The Court would not allow this and, Mr. Walsh said, he would now call on John Harty to give evidence. Mr. Scannell objected to his being examined as he was one of those summoned. The Court after a long argument would not permit the examination of the witness. The Chairman at length announced the decision of the Bench to be that they should be fined 10s. each or in case of non-payment to 1 month’s imprisonment in the House of Correction. Mr. Walsh requested them to impose a lighter fine. The Chairman declined doing so, as they would fine them much more heavily but for something that appeared on the trial.

Timothy Kiely, John Scannell, John Flynn Jun., John Enright, J. Flynn Sen., Thomas Barry and James Sliny, appeared on the summons of Richard Collins, to shew cause why they should not be convicted in a penalty of £5 under the malicious trespass act, for having cut a weed at Trabolgan on the 15th of April. Mr. Jagoe said that in this case he would proceed to prove his prescriptive right.

Michael Fitzgerald examined by Mr. Jagoe – Swore that he was at the strand of Trabolgan on the 15th of April and saw Enright pulling the weeds of the rock at half ebb tide; I desired him to go away but he desired me to mind my own business. Cross-examined by Mr. Walsh – He was standing on the dry rock pulling the weed and throwing it into the boat; John Scannell, Timothy Kiely and Thomas Barry were in the boat; when the tide would be out the place the boat was would be dry; I saw him push away the boat which was in, raised there by the water; he pushed her away with an oar; there were other boats there but they were further out to sea; Paddy Cashman and I went out to see if the strand under the rock would be dry at low water; he went off the rock almost immediately after being desired; would not swear that the weed he took was worth a halfpenny.

James Collins proved having seen Enright cutting the weed on the 15th of April, but did not think he cut 6d worth; he was cutting it on the strand about half way between high and low water mark.

Edward Sisk stated that he was never six months out of Trabolgan since he was born, and remembered Col. Roche setting the strand to Ahern in 1777, and no person ever attempted to trespass on it; it was held since by several persons and then the Ahern’s got it again; since 1837, when it was given up by Russell it was set in lots. To Mr. Walsh – Does not know on what part of the strand those men were cutting the weed.

The case for the prosecution having closed, Mr. Walsh considered that the evidence was clear that what the defendant cut was above low water mark, and he had no case on which he could raise an objection as to Mr. Roche’s right to the strand. However there was no evidence as to the value of the weed cut. The Chairman said that he conjectured that it was worth 2d. Mr. Walsh contended that in a criminal case they could not convict on a conjecture. Mr. Scannell believed the witness swore it was worth 2d at least.

Mr. Roche confessed he was anxious to convict Enright because he was one of a body he convicted before, and let off on a promise of not coming again. He was ready to let off the others on the conviction of one, as they were instigated to do the act in consequence of the feeling being abroad that it was not firm property. If they would plead guilty, he would let them off on a nominal penalty, as he had proved his property, and was not anxious to punish them.    Mr. Scannell wished to have them plead guilty and not be called in for judgement unless they trespassed again. Mr. Walsh would have no objection to that course, if Mr. Roche’s own eyes were on them, and could decide whether they were above or below low water mark. He would consent to Mr. Roche’s proposition to have them fined a penny each on a promise they would not go there again. Mr. Roche – That is what I have done.

The Court then fined the parties one penny each, and then being informed that six of those who were fined 10s. each had declined paying the penalty, warrants were made out, and they were transmitted to the County gaol to be imprisoned for one month.

The Fabulous Kitty Pope-Hennessey

Kitty Pope Hennessy

This is the start of the story of Kitty Pope-Hennessy. There’s way too much to put into one post, so this is the start of a series. It is tangential to the main families, but gives an interesting twist to the circles they move in, and also how inter-related they were.

Rostellan Castle


Kitty Pope-Hennessy married Edward Thackwell early in 1894 at Rostellan Castle in Cork. She was a forty-four year old widow, and he was twenty six. He was a year older than her eldest son who died young, and three, and seven, years older than his step-sons.

Kitty and Edward had almost certainly met at the wedding of his sister Catherine at Aghada Hall in 1891. She became a widow that year when John Pope-Hennessey died in October 1891. Lady Pope Hennessy’s wedding present to the bride was an Astrakhan wrap.

Edward was the only son of a second son, William de Wilton Roche Thackwell (1834–1910), who served in the Crimean War and in Egypt in 1882. All three of his uncles also served in the army, as did most of his cousins, but he certainly doesn’t join the army, and doesn’t appear to have worked much at all..

To paraphrase Mrs Merton ” So Edward, what attracted you to the wealthy neighbour with the castle?”

Edward’s grandfather had bought Agahada House in 1853, though by the time of the wedding, it had almost certainly been inherited by his uncle Joseph Edward Lucas Thackwell, and then passed on to Edward, and Katherine’s younger first cousin, Walter Joseph, (b. 1876).

The sale of the house was the end of John Roche‘s dream of creating a Roche dynasty, based on the male (Roche) sons of either of his nephews. The only male heirs John Roche had left after the death of James Joseph Roche in 1847 were John Roche O’Bryen, and his brothers.  Lieut.-Gen. Sir Joseph Thackwell, who bought the estate, was a veteran of  the Peninsular War, and Waterloo, as well as the First Anglo-Afghan War, and the First Anglo-Sikh War. Maria, his wife, was from the branch of the Roche family that owned Trabolgan House, which makes her a first cousin five times removed of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Sir John Pope Hennessy

Kitty’s husband, Sir John Pope-Hennessy had bought Rostellan Castle on his retirement from the Colonial Service.  It had been in the hands of the O’Brien/O’Bryens since 1645 until the death of the 3rd, and last, Marquess of Thomond in 1855, when it was bought by Dr T. A. Wise, followed by Sir John. The house was demolished in 1944. There is a description of the house by Samuel Lewis in 1837.

“Rostellan Castle, the seat of the Marquess of Thomond, is an elegant mansion on the margin of the harbour, over which it commands extensive and pleasing views, and in a highly cultivated and extensive demesne, comprehending one – third of the parish, and richly embellished with woods and plantations. The grounds are arranged with great taste, and for nearly two miles skirted by the waters of Rostellan bay, and diversified with the rural and picturesque houses of the farming steward, gardeners, and others connected with the management of the farm. The gardens are extensive and tastefully arranged; the flower gardens contain a fine selection of the choicest plants and flowers.“(A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837)

All three of the houses are within a five mile radius of each other on the south eastern edge of Cork harbour, though none have survived to the present day.  There are no clear apparent links between our O’Bryens and Roches to either of the Rostellan or Trabolgan families, apart from shared surnames, and any speculation is for another time.


Aghada Co. Cork, in 1837

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, by Samuel Lewis 1837

AGHADA, or AHADA, a parish, partly in the barony of BARRYMORE, but chiefly in that of IMOKILLY, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 4 miles (S. W. by W.) from Cloyne; containing 2512 inhabitants. This parish, which includes the small fishing village of Whitegate, is situated on the south side of Cork harbour, and on the road from Cloyne to Carlisle Fort. The village of Aghada occupies an elevated site, and contains the parish church and R. C. chapel. The village of Whitegate is a small fishing port, where several boats are employed in raising sand from the harbour, which is used for manure. On the north side of the parish a neat small pier has been constructed by subscription, where a steam-boat from Cork or Cove calls every Tuesday during the summer, and where coal and sand are occasionally landed. About 50 females are employed in platting Tuscan straw for exportation, and a few in platting the crested dog’s tail, or “traneen,” grass found here. The parish comprises 2331 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act: the greater part is under tillage, and nearly the whole of the remainder is pasture; there is very little waste land or bog.

At Whitegate are two quarries of stone used for building. There are several handsome houses within its limits: the principal are Aghada House, the residence of J. Roche, Esq.(James Joseph Roche); Whitegate House, of Mrs. Blakeney Fitzgerald; Careystown, of Mrs. Atkin; Hadwell Lodge, of J. Penrose, Esq.; Hadwell, of the Rev. Dr. Austen; Maryland House, of J. Haynes, Esq.; Rathcourcy, of J. Smith, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. J. Gore. There is a coast-guard station at East Ferry. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Cloyne; it was united in the reign of Chas. II. to the rectories and vicarages of Corkbeg, Rostellan, Inch, and Kilteskin or Titeskin, which, from the time of Bishop Crow, in the reign of Anne, were held in commendam by the Bishop of Cloyne, till the death of Dr. Brinkley in 1835, when they were disunited by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and made separate benefices, in the patronage of the Crown: the tithes amount to £292. 15. 6. The church, a neat structure, situated on an eminence above the harbour of Cove, was erected in 1812. The glebe-house adjoins it, and for its erection the late Board of First Fruits, in 1814, granted a loan of £1000 and a gift of £100: the glebe comprises 20 acres of profitable land.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms the head of a union or district, also called Saleen, which comprises the parishes of Aghada, Rostellan, Corkbeg, Inch, and Garranekenefeck, and contains three chapels, situated respectively in Aghada, Rostellan, and Inch; the first is a small plain edifice, built by the late John Roche, Esq., who, in 1818, founded a school. The parochial school at Farcet was founded by the late Bishop Brinkley, who endowed it with two acres of land from the glebe, and is further supported by the Marchioness of Thomond. A school at Whitegate Hill was founded in 1827, for 50 boys, by the late R. U. Fitzgerald, Esq., who endowed it with £500; and female and infants’ schools have been built and are supported by his widow, Mrs. Blakeney Fitzgerald. In these schools about 100 boys and 50 girls receive instruction: there are also two private schools, in which are about 50 boys and 40 girls. In the village of Aghada are the picturesque ruins of the old church.

Roche Of Aghado (sic) – BLG 1847

Roche Of Aghado

Roche, James Joseph Esq of Aghado House, co Cork b. 12 May, 1794 m in Nov 1821 Catharine youngest dau of the late Daniel Callaghan Esq of Lotabeg in the same county and has issue

  1. Maria Josepha
  2. Emily

Mr Roche, a magistrate for the co. Cork s. his uncle, the late John Roche Esq in March 1829. He and his brother Hugh, an officer in the navy, are sons of Hugh Roche, Esq by Anne, his wife dau. of Daniel McCarthy Esq, a Spanish merchant son of John  McCarthy Esq.  Seat. Aghado House co. Cork.

BLG 1847 p.1133