Why it was a good idea to join the Navy.

There seem to be some professions that run through the family again, and again. One that I hadn’t really paid much attention to until recently was the navy. It is an almost completely Irish thing, and is largely members of the family who were born, brought up, and lived in co. Cork.  Starting furthest back [great grandpa x 5] Henry Hewitt was a Customs Officer, specifically at one time Captain of the Beresford Revenue Cutter. Then the Verling family pick up the strain.  Bartholomew Verling of Cove, co. Cork and Anne O’Cullinane,[also great grandparents x 5] had five children, both daughters married naval captains, and of the three sons, Edward was a “Staff Captain R.N”, another Garrett “died at sea”, and the eldest son John Verling didn’t appear to go to sea, but his second son was James Roche Verling (1787 – 1858) who was a naval surgeon, and attended Napoleon Bonaparte on St. Helena. John Verling and Ellen Roche also had a daughter Catherine who married Henry Ellis “Surgeon R.N.”. 

Cobh Harbour

Edward Verling, the “Staff Captain R.N”, had three children The eldest son Bartholomew Verling (1797 – 1893) was another naval surgeon, and Mary Verling married Capt. Leary R.N. Edward Verling’s sister, another Mary Verling married first a Captain Hall, and the secondly John Roche of Aghada [great grandparents x 4]. Mary Roche (neé Verling) had the distinction of being the mother of a Commodore, and grandmother of a vice-Admiral, albeit a bastard grandson. Finally, their nephew, another Bartholomew Verling (1786 – 1855) was Harbourmaster of Cobh, and also the Spanish Consul there.

So a lot of boating. What this did pose was the question why the navy? The logical answer was why not?  It is estimated that around a quarter of the Royal Navy crew present at Trafalgar were Irishmen.  It was regarded as a profession certainly at officer level, and was well paid. In 1793 a captain’s pay rate ranged between £100 – £336,[£128,000 – £433,000 at today’s value] and by 1815 this had risen to £284 – £802.[£212,000 – £600,000 at today’s value]. After 1806, a naval surgeon’s salary  was set at 10s. per day for less than 6 years experience, up to 20s. per day for over 20 years  experience £182 – £ 365 [£164,000 – £328,000 at today’s value]. So, apart from the minor problem of being killed, it was very well paid. But in addition to the pay ( especially if you were an officer) was the prize money paid for capturing enemy ships.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, captured ships were legally Crown property. In order to reward and encourage sailors’ efforts at no significant cost to the Crown, it became customary to pass on all or part of the value of a captured ship and its cargo to the capturing captain for distribution to his crew. Similarly, all warring parties of the period issued Letters of Marque and Reprisal to civilian privateers,[essentially legal pirates] authorising them to make war on enemy shipping; as payment, the privateer sold off the captured booty.

This practice was formalised via the Cruisers and Convoys Act of 1708. An Admiralty Prize Court was established to evaluate claims and determine prize money, and the scheme of division of the money was specified. This system, with minor changes, lasted until the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

If the prize were an enemy merchantman, the prize money came from the sale of both ship and cargo. If it was a warship, and repairable, usually the Crown bought it at a fair price; additionally, the Crown added “head money” of £ 5  per enemy sailor aboard the captured warship. Prizes were keenly sought, for the value of a captured ship was often such that a crew could make a year’s pay for a few hours’ fighting. Hence boarding and hand-to-hand fighting remained common long after naval cannons developed the ability to sink the enemy from afar.

All ships in sight of a capture shared in the prize money, as their presence was thought to encourage the enemy to surrender without fighting until sunk.

The distribution of prize money to the crews of the ships involved persisted until 1918. Then the Naval Prize Act changed the system to one where the prize money was paid into a common fund from which a payment was made to all naval personnel whether or not they were involved in the action. In 1945 this was further modified to allow for the distribution to be made to Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel who had been involved in the capture of enemy ships; however, prize claims had been awarded to pilots and observers of the Royal Naval Air Service since c.1917, and later the RAF.

The following scheme for distribution of prize money was used for much of the Napoleonic wars, the heyday of prize warfare. Allocation was by eighths.

  • Two eighths of the prize money went to the captain or commander, generally  making him very wealthy.
  • One eighth of the money went to the admiral or commander-in-chief who signed the ship’s written orders (unless the orders came directly from the Admiralty in London, in which case this eighth also went to the captain).
  • One eighth was divided among the lieutenants, sailing master, and captain of marines, if any.
  • One eighth was divided among the wardroom warrant officers (surgeon, purser, and chaplain), standing warrant officers (carpenter, boatswain, and gunner), lieutenant of marines, and the master’s mates.
  • One eighth was divided among the junior warrant and petty officers, their mates, sergeants of marines, captain’s clerk, surgeon’s mates, and midshipmen.

The final two eighths were divided among the crew, with able and specialist seamen receiving larger shares than ordinary seamen, landsmen, and boys. The pool for the seamen was divided into shares, with:

  • each able seaman getting two shares in the pool (referred to as a fifth-class share),
  • an ordinary seaman received a share and a half (referred to as a sixth-class share),
  • landsmen received a share each (a seventh-class share),
  • boys received a half share each (referred to as an eighth-class share).

An example of how large the prize money awarded could be was for the capture of the Spanish frigate Hermione on 31 May 1762 by the British frigate Active and sloop Favourite. The two captains, Herbert Sawyer and Philemon Pownoll, received about £65,000 apiece,[£115m.at today’s value] while each seaman and Marine got £482–485. [£854,700 – £860,000 at today’s value]

Robert Hall would definitely have benefited from prize money. He was involved with the capture of the French frigate Desirée in Dunkirk in 1799, and later he captured a large French privateer lying in the Barbate River, Spain in 1810.

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.”

James Roche Verling, (1787–1858)

View from Spy Hill, Cobh, co. Cork

James Roche Verling, (1787–1858), was born at Cove,[Cobh] co. Cork, on 27 February 1787, the second son in the family of five sons and two daughters of John Verling and his wife, Ellen [Eleanor] (née Roche), of Cove. He is John Roche’s nephew, and a first cousin, five times removed.

John and Ellen’s children were

  • Bartholomew Verling (1786 – 1855) of Cove
  • James Roche Verling (1787 – 1858)
  • Edward Verling d. unmarried.
  • Hugh Verling d. unmarried.
  • John Verling d. unmarried.
  • Ellen m. James Fitzgerald of Lackendarra, co. Waterford
  • Catherine m. Henry Ellis “Surgeon R.N.”

The Verlings were a wealthy and influential Catholic family long established at Cove. James Roche Verling’s eldest brother, Bartholomew Verling (1786–1855), was harbour master and Spanish consul there, as well as a landowner and magistrate. As was fairly common at the time, there were a number of different generations all taking the same forenames. Their grandfather was also Bartholomew Verling of Cove, and a younger first cousin, Bartholomew Verling (1797 – 1893) of Oxclose. He, in turn, named his son Bartholomew.

James was apprenticed to Sir Arthur Clarke, a well-known Dublin physician, and afterwards studied under Gregory at Edinburgh, where he graduated MD at the age of 23, with a thesis “De Ictero”. He was then commissioned as Second Assistant Surgeon to the Ordnance Medical Department on Jan 25th, 1810. The Ordnance Medical Department was quite distinct from the Army Medical Department, and a rather higher standard of medical education was required. He was first stationed at Ballincollig, Cork, and then proceeded to Portugal shortly after Albuera, in medical charge of a battery of Royal Artillery, and was at once placed in charge of wounded, including wounded of the Artillery of the King’s German Legion. He was present with the Artillery throughout the subsequent campaign, at the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo, Vittoria, Pampeluna, the storming of San Sebastian, the passage of the Bidassoa, Nivelle, Nive, and Bayonne. He marched with the Royal Horse Artillery to Paris, and received the Peninsula Medal with five clasps.

He was not present at Waterloo, but in July, 1815, was ordered with a battery of the Royal Artillery to St Helena. On Aug 8th he sailed from Torbay on “HMS Northumberland,”  which also carried  Napoleon and his entourage. Verling spoke both French and Italian, and, it is likely, he became personally acquainted with Napoleon on the voyage. The emperor seemed to be ready to talk with any of the officers who could understand him.

Longwood House, St Helena

After a two month voyage they landed at St Helena on 17 October, with the other passengers, he disembarked on the Atlantic island. The governor, Sir Hudson Lowe (1769–1844), another Irishman, appointed Verling his medical officer. After Napoleon’s favourite physician, Barry Edward O’Meara, quarrelled with the governor and was dismissed, it was Verling who replaced O’Meara at Napoleon’s residence, Longwood (25 July 1818). Napoleon refused to be treated by Verling, regarding him as ‘l’homme du gouverneur’. When Napoleon’s aide, Count Montholon, with whom Verling regularly conversed, suggested that he could become ‘l’homme de l’empéreur’ by agreeing to give Napoleon copies of his medical reports and not to pass on private conversations to Lowe (April 1819), Verling was uncooperative, though he always detested having to inform Lowe of what he learned at Longwood.

James Verling left St Helena, on the 25th April 1820, just over a year before Napoleon died (5 May 1821) Later he served in Malta, the Ionian Islands, and Nova Scotia. He was promoted to full Surgeon (1827), senior Surgeon (1843), and finally Deputy Inspector-General (1850), and appears to have served most of the last thirteen years or so of his carreer at the Royal Ordinance Hospital at Woolwich After his retirement in 1854, he returned to Cobh, by then, renamed Queenstown, where he died on 1st January 1858 at his home, Bellavista. It’s a rather pleasing irony that “Mr Bartholomew Verling [his eldest brother] was one of the deputation which waited on the late Queen VIctoria to obtain H.M.’s permission to change the name of Cove of Cork to Queenstown when she landed therein August 1849. “  according to Gabriel O’Connell Redmond’s memoir  of James Roche Verling in 1916.

View from Bellavista House, Cobh, co.Cork

It’s also rather pleasing that Bellavista still exists, but is now a hotel, and Chinese restaurant.

Verling wrote a diary of the daily round of events on St Helena  which passed into the hands of his nephew, Surgeon John J. Ellis, R.N.[ the sixth, and youngest, son of his sister, Catherine] , who took it to sea with him and lent it to a friend, who left it after him on board a ship in the China Sea. It fortunately was found by someone who recognising its value handed it over to Mr. Morgan, the British Consul, at Tientsien, in China. Consul Morgan thought it would be a good thing to present the Diary to the late Emperor, Napoleon the Third, and sent it to him by a French Naval Officer. The Emperor accepted the gift and had it deposited in the “ Archives Nationales” in Paris, where it now remains.

He never married, and the main beneficiary of his will was his first cousin Bartholomew Verling (1797 – 1893) of Oxclose. His estate was very large, just under £ 5,000 in England, and a further £6,000 in Ireland, or just over £ 10m. in modern terms.

A lot of Bartholomew Verlings

It became clear very early on that there was more than one Bartholomew Verling who were part of the story. John Roche’s will of 1826 left some very significant bequests to various members of the Verling family.

“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 ;……..  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,”

From the will, it was clear that at least one Bartholomew Verling was John Roche’s nephew, and another nephew was a doctor. What wasn’t clear was whether this was one person or two. After some research, it became apparent that the “Dr Verling” referred to was Dr James Roche Verling, who was a naval surgeon of some distinction, and had been, for a time, Napoleon’s doctor on St Helena.

But there were also some early other pointers, The entry for the Verlings in the NUI Landed estates database [http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie] is as following:

Verling – In the 1870s Bartholomew Verling, Springfield Lodge (Oxclose), Newmarket, county Cork, medical doctor owned 883 acres in county Limerick and 110 acres in county Cork. He appears to have acquired his county Limerick estate post Griffith’s Valuation. Bartholomew Verling (1797-1893) was a naval surgeon of Oxclose, Newmarket, county Cork. He was the son of Edward Verling and his wife Anne Ronayne. The Verlings were established at Newmarket by the late 18th century.

The key to the whole question seemed to be an article written in 1916, and published in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1916, Vol. 22, No. 110, page(s) 64­ – 71. It is titled ” Dr James Roche Verling”, and written by Gabriel O’Connell Redmond. Dr Redmond was the local G.P in in Cappoquin co. Waterford between 1880 and 1914.  He was a great grandson of Daniel O’Connell’s and also John Verling and Ellen Roche’s great grandson. In a pleasing way with numbers this makes him a third cousin, three times removed. He was a noted historian and antiquarian, and also the town’s columnist with the Waterford News.

So to start sorting them out.

Bartholomew Verling of Cove (b. abt.1715 – ) has two grandsons also called Bartholomew Verling who are first cousins. The elder Bartholomew Verling (1786 – 1855) of Cove is John Roche of Aghada’s nephew twice over. His mother is John Roche’s sister, Ellen, and his father is Mary Roche’s (nee Verling) brother, John Verling

The younger Bartholomew Verling (1797 – 1893) of Oxclose, is also a nephew of John Roche, but only as the son of Edward Verling and Anne Ronayne, – a brother-in-law, and sister-in-law. Edward Verling is John Verling, and Mary Roche (neé Verling)’s brother.

It all becomes clearer in the pedigree of the Verlings of Cove.

Callaghan Of Cork – BLG 1833 and1847

From Burke’s Landed Gentry – 1833

Callaghan armsCallaghan Of Cork

CALLAGHAN DANIEL esq of Lotabeg in the vicinity of Cork now, for the third time MP for that city. Mr Callaghan who was born 7th June 1786 succeeded his father in April 1824

Lineage

Daniel Callaghan esq. one of the most enterprising and successful merchants of Ireland b. in 1760, espoused in 1782 Miss Mary Barry of Donnalee and dying in April 1824 left by that lady who survives, six sons and three daughters viz:

  1. John who m Miss Gosset of the Island of Jersey niece of the late Dr Gosset of bibliographical celebrity by whom he has two sons and one daughter
  2. Daniel MP in three successive parliaments for his native city as stated above
  3. Gerard MP for Dundalk in 1818 and subsequently for Cork married Miss Clarke daughter of J Calvert Clarke esq of Teddington Middlesex and died 26th February 1833 leaving issue
  4. Patrick
  5. Richard a barrister
  6. George late of the 15th dragoons
  1. Catherine espoused James Roche esq of Aghada county Cork
  2. Anne
  3. Mary

Arms –  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

and from BLG 1847

Callaghan Of Cork

CALLAGHAN DANIEL esq of Lotabeg in the vicinity of Cork now, for the third time MP for that city. Mr Callaghan who was born 7th June 1786 succeeded his father in April 1824

Lineage

Daniel Callaghan esq. one of the most enterprising and successful merchants of Ireland b. in 1760, espoused in 1782 Miss Mary Barry of Donnalee and dying in April 1824 left by that lady who survives, six sons and three daughters viz:

  1. John who m Miss Gosset of the Island of Jersey niece of the late Dr Gosset of bibliographical celebrity by whom he has two sons and one daughter
  2. Daniel MP in three successive parliaments for his native city as stated above
  3. Gerard MP for Dundalk in 1818 and subsequently for Cork married Miss Clarke daughter of J Calvert Clarke esq of Teddington Middlesex and died 26th February 1833 leaving issue
  4. Patrick
  5. Richard a barrister
  6. George late of the 15th dragoons

I Catherine espoused James Roche esq of Aghada county Cork

II Anne

III Mary

Arms –  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