This is a revision and addition to an old post from almost two years ago. It was originally included because the Bellord siblings are all brothers and sisters-in-law of the other Agnes Bellord (neé Purssell) who is one of Lady O’Bryen’s sisters. They are all almost twenty years older than she (Agnes) is. What hadn’t struck me at the time was some of the other connections in what is initially a very simple paragraph.
Both Elizabeth and Josephine Bellord were Sisters of Notre Dame in Liverpool and are the direct successors of Sister Mary of St. Philip [Fanny Lescher] at Mount Pleasant, and Sister Mary of St. Wilfrid [Adela Lescher] at Everton respectively. So in one of those nice twists and turns, Ernest O’Bryen’s cousins are replaced by his wife’s brother-in-law’s sisters in Liverpool, and another of the sisters is a nun at the Convent of Mercy in Crispin Street, in the East End. The nuns also helped support the Providence Row Night Refuge which provided nearly 2,600,000 free nights’ lodgings, and 5,200,000 free meals between 1860 and 1931. Providence Row was run as charity separate from the convent, and heavily supported by the Purssell family, with Alfred Purssell chairing the committee, followed at various times by his son Frank, and two sons-in-law Wilfred Parker, and another of the Bellord siblings Edmund.
It’s all a long way from the Original Red Cow, at 22 Long Lane in Smithfield where all the children were born.
On September 1, Mother Mary Aquinas,[Agnes Bellord] of the Convent of Mercy, Crispin-street, E., celebrated the Silver Jubilee of her profession. In addition to the blessing of the Holy Father, the jubilarian was the recipient of many congratulations from clergy, convents, the friends of the Night Refuge and Homes in Crispin-street, with which she has been so long connected, and the past and present pupils of St. Joseph’s School. Mother M. Aquinas is a sister of the late Bishop Bellord. Three of her sisters, two of whom survive, became Sisters of Notre Dame, one being at present Sister Superior at Mount Pleasant Training College,[Elizabeth Bellord – Sister Edburga of the Cross] and the other Sister Superior at Everton Valley, Liverpool. [Josephine Bellord – Sister Gilberta of the Blessed Sacrament]
The above text was found on p.21, 10th September 1910 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
This is mostly an extract from the biography of Sister Mary of St. Philip published in 1920. Sister Mary of St. Philip [Fanny Lescher (1825 – 1904)] spent almost fifty years running the Teacher Training College at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool. She seems to have been a formidable woman as this quote from her obituary indicates: “She is a woman,” said Sir Francis Sandford, then Secretary of the Education Department, “who might fearlessly place her hand even on the helm of the State.”. But what is fascinating in the biography, compiled from letters, diaries, and her papers, is a picture of wealthy English Catholic life between 1830 and the mid-1850’s. Fanny Lescher is the niece of 3x great grandmother Harriet Grehan, and Fanny Grehan is a 3x great-aunt [the wife of Paddy Grehan III]. The Fannys are second cousins to each other. This is a companion piece to the ” King Dan’s speech- Convent Garden 13 March 1844″ post.
Both Fanny and young Mrs. Grehan had deep reverence and esteem for Daniel O’Connell. The proudest page in Fanny Grehan’s album was that on which the Liberator had inscribed his appreciation of Miss Agnew’s novel, Geraldine. Mrs. Grehan’s first son was born just at the time of the great blow struck at the Repeal agitation when the monster meeting at Clontarf was proclaimed. A little later Fanny Lescher writes to her that O’Connell himself is in gaol.
When in the following year O’Connell came to London to protest against the political trials, Mr. Lescher took his eldest daughter to hear him speak at the Anti-Corn Law League. A few days later a dinner was given to the great man in Covent Garden theatre. Caroleen Pitchford notes the event in her diary:
“ Mamma , Catherine, Cousin Caroline, Fanny (Lescher), Annie (Lescher), and myself were in the dress circle. We had capital places and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There were glee- singers, and a fine band playing Irish airs. When that dear holy man’s health was proposed by the Chairman there was tremendous enthusiasm. I shall never forget the cheering — the gentlemen hurrahing, and the ladies waving handkerchiefs till it was like a snowstorm. O’Connell’s speech was beautiful, in some parts quite affecting. He is looking, I think, rather careworn. Cousin William (Lescher) had the honour of being introduced, and shaking hands with him. It was a delightful evening. Long life to blessed Daniel O’Connell, ‘ the convicted conspirator,’ as he calls himself.”
Fanny Lescher is the niece of 3x great grandmother Harriet Grehan (neé Lescher), and Fanny Grehan is a 3x great-aunt [the wife of Paddy Grehan III]. The Fannys are second cousins to each other.
Caroleen Pitchford, the author of the diary is a second cousin of Fanny Lescher, and Catherine (Kate Pitchford) is her sister.
Mamma is Susan Pitchford (neé Nyren) whose grandfather Richard “Dick” Nyren (c. 1734–1797) was one of the earliest professional cricketers playing first-class cricket during the 1760s and 1770s at the Hambledon Club.
Annie (Lescher) is Fanny’s younger sister who also became a nun. Annie and Kate Pitchford were at school together
Cousin William (Lescher) is Fanny and Annie’s father, and when he was widowed in 1836, at the age of 37, his unmarried sister, Caroline (Cousin Caroline) took charge of the household. She stayed with the family until 1848 when she left to join the Benedictine convent in Winchester.
This seemed so simple to start with, and turns out to be full of twists and turns.
There are rather faded entries, in difficult to decipher hand-writing, in John Roche O’Bryen’s family bible which list all his 16 children, the dates and times of the births, and where they were. It also lists the god-parents. The entry for Cecilia Agnes, the ninth child, and seventh daughter is as follows:
9. Cecilia Agnes [O’Bryen] at Bellvue Novr 17th 1846 10 A.M Gdfather, Wm Jones Esq, Pike Inn, Glamn Wales. GdMother, Miss Cecile De Lonmery, Bath. Died at The [French] Convent Belgium Janr 5th 1856 at 9 yrs & was buried in the Parish Church attended at her grave 320 persons who thanked God that she was taken to her [chosen end] whilst innocent to God
I’m almost completely sure that Miss Cecile De Lonmery, is in fact Countess Cecile de Sommery. Almost all of that generation’s godparents appear to be wealthy, landed, titled, or Catholic, or in a number of cases at least three out of four.
Willie Leigh 1829-1906 [Basil O’Bryen’s godfather – child 10] inherited the Woodchester estate in 1873, which his father had bought for £ 170,000 in 1845. He built the Church of the Annunciation, and Woodchester Priory for the Dominicans shortly after their arrival in October 1850. It housed the noviciate of the Dominican order in England for more than 100 years; they only left in the 1960s when the buildings became too expensive to maintain. The monastery was demolished in 1970 leaving a small contingent of Dominicans to look after the parish.
Philip O’Bryen’s [ child 13] godfather Simon Scope came from a recusant family had had acquired their estates in Wensleydale in the 12th century, and still owned Danby Hall into the 1960’s.
But back to the Countess, this is her obituary in The Tablet.
THE COUNTESS CECILE DE SOMMERY.
The Requiem Mass for the Countess Cecile de Sommery took place on Monday at the Franciscan Friary, Clevedon, and the body was then , conveyed to Bath for interment in the family vault [the Eyre Chantry] in the Catholic cemetery at Perrymead, where the remaining portion of the service was conducted. The grand-nephew of the deceased, the Marquis de Sommery, and Mr. Thomas Eyre, and his wife, Lady Milford, were the only relatives present. His Royal Highness the Duke of Madrid, head of the House of Bourbon, telegraphed an expression of sympathy with the late Countess’s relatives. The Countess Cecile de Sommery, Chanoinesse of the Royal Order of St. Anne of Bavaria, whose death occurred at Clevedon, Somerset, on April 26, was born in London in the year 1804. Her parents. Armand de Mesniel, Marquis de Sommery, and Cecile Riquet de Caraman, came over to England with the Bourbons during the French Revolution. Her mother was among the ladies last presented at the Palace of Versailles to Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. One of her sisters married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. R. I. P.
The above text was found on p.26, 13th May 1899 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
So far, all very factual, but fairly astonishing all the same. An elderly single lady being buried in Bath, whose mother met Marie Antoinette, and one of whose nephews was the first Catholic archbishop of Glasgow since the Scottish Reformation, and one of the first patrons of Celtic FC. Another nephew, William Eyre was the rector of Stonyhurst between 1879 -1885, and would have been so for almost the entire school careers of both Ernest and Rex O’Bryen there. So Cecile de Sommery’s nephew was the headmaster to her god-daughter’s youngest two half-brothers, although she [Cecilia O’Bryen]had been dead for eleven years when the elder of them was born.
The sister who married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow was Augustine Cécile Pulcherie de Sommery (1797 – 1876). They married in 1828, three years after the death of his first wife Sarah Parker (1790 -1825). John and Sarah had five sons, four of whom became priests, and four daughters, three of whom died young, in the eight years of their marriage. So Augustine would have been very much a mother to all the children, who were all under nine when she became their step-mother.
John Lewis Eyre (1789-1880), Count Eyre, was an entrepreneur and one of the founding directors of the London and South Western Railway Company, taking for many years a leading part in the development of that railway. His title was a papal one, granted by Pope Gregory XVI, who created him a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace in 1843. According the Burke’s “A Genealogical And Heraldic Dictionary Of The Peerage And Baronetage Of The British Empire” 1845. ” The dignity of a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace was conferred by the sovereign pontiff Gregory XVI on Count Eyre the brevet or patent is dated at St Peter’s Rome under the seal of the Fisherman the 3rd day March 1843 and in the thirteenth year of his pontificate signed A Cardinal Lambruschini.” Pius IX made the title hereditary in 1847, it was inherited by the Archbishop in 1880.
The best known of his four priest sons is Charles Eyre, the first post- Reformation Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. the others being John, a priest in Newcastle, William Eyre S.J., Rector of Stonyhurst and Vincent Eyre, parish priest in London, first of St Mary’s Cadogan Street and then St Mary’s,Hampstead.
Another nice touch, St Mary’s Cadogan Street was the church that Bishop Bidwell was parish priest of, for thirteen years [from 1913 – 1930], and St Mary’s,Hampstead was, in part, founded by Joseph Francis Lescher (1768 – 1827).
In 1894, Archbishop Eyre invited the Sisters of Notre Dame to come from the Mother House in Liverpool to establish a community in Glasgow. The Notre Dame Training College was opened in 1895 at Dowanhill. Joseph Francis Lescher’s great granddaughter Mary Adela Lescher ( 1847 – 1926) [Sister Mary of St Wilfrid] was its first Mother Superior.
She was Harriet Grehan’s niece, and Harriet Grehan was John Roche O’Bryen’s step-mother-in -law. She was also Fanny Lescher’s niece, she [Fanny} was another nun – [Sister Mary of St Philip] who was the Mother Superior at Notre Dame in Mount Pleasant,Liverpool.
It is still a mystery why Thomas Eyre’s wife still called herself Lady Milford after her first husband’s death in January 1857. She and Thomas married in 1861, she was Lady Anne Jane Howard, daughter of William Howard, 4th Earl of Wicklow, so was a Lady in her own right. But it does seem odd that she still called herself Lady Milford years after her first husband’s death, and only three years of marriage [ his second after a twenty eight year first marriage].
The Eyres were an old English recusant family, at Newbold, Derbyshire and Lindley Hall, Leicestershire, very wealthy, and owned a substantial amount of land in Ireland, as well as in England. Thomas Eyre had a large Georgian house at Uppercourt, Freshfort, county Kilkenny, . In the 1870s he owned 762 acres in county Tipperary, 1,909 acres in county Kilkenny and 164 acres in county Waterford.
In 1891, he and Lady Anne were living at 16 Hill Street, in Mayfair, just off Berkley Square. It was a very grand household, with a butler, two footmen, two ladies maids, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, and two scullery maids, and curiously on the night of the census, no cook living in.He was succeeded by his cousin Stanislas Thomas Eyre in 1902, and left the modern day equivalent of £ 120m.
Joseph Sidney Lescher (1803 – 1893, aged 90), son of William Lescher and Mary Ann Copp; so on our side of the Lescher family. He’s the father of Frank Harwood Lescher,Patrick Grehan III’s son-in-law; Father Wilfred, Sister Mary of St Wilfrid, and Herman the accountant. He was a partner of the wholesale druggists Evans, Lescher, and Evans. His father William Lescher (1768 – 1817), had emigrated from Alsace, France, in 1778, before the French Revolution. Family tradition holds that “Lescher of Kertzfeld” received his patent of nobility in the reign of Louis XIII, in the middle of the C17th. The Leschers were Roman Catholics. His wife, Sarah Harwood was the daughter of a West India merchant in Bristol and a member of a staunch Baptist family, but she converted to Catholicism two years after her marriage. This branch of the family lived mostly in Hampstead, including 17 Church Row, later the home of H.G.Wells, and even later, in the 1960’s, the home of Peter Cook, where he had Lennon, McCartney, and Keith Richard to kitchen suppers in the basement. Joseph Sidney also lived at Oak Lodge, in Pond Street, further down the hill, where he was living with his sister Harriet, Patrick Grehan Junior’s widow in 1870; three months after that census was taken Harriet Grehan’s step-daughter, Celia O’Bryen was herself to become a widow when John Roche O’Bryen died in South Kensington on the 27th July’
Joseph Sidney Lescher’s obituary from the Tablet is below.
We regret to record the death of MR. JOSEPH SIDNEY LESCHER, at the ripe age of 90 years, by which a link is broken with a long Catholic past. Born in 1803, Mr. Lescher was, about the year 1810, for a short time at a school at Carshalton, in Surrey, under the Dominican Fathers, and was afterwards amongst the first, if not the first, of the students at Ushaw College. In after life Mr. Lescher took an active part in City affairs, until about twenty years ago he retired from active life in order to devote himself more largely to those works of charity and beneficence which had always occupied his leisure. It has been said of him that he was never known to refuse an appeal calling for the exercise of genuine charity. The extent of his means was the extent of his charity—a charity that went hand-in-hand with an earnest faith and with extreme simplicity of heart and character. He was happy in having given to the Church a son, Father Wilfrid Lescher, of the Dominican Order, and an only daughter, Sister Mary of St. Wilfrid, of the Order of Notre Dame, now the Superioress of the Everton Valley Convent, Liverpool. Two of Mr. Lescher’s nieces had joined the same Order, the elder one, Miss Frances Lescher (better known as Sister Mary of St. Philip) being the Foundress and present Superioress and presiding genius of the Mount Pleasant Training College at Liverpool. Another of his nieces, Miss Monica Lescher, is present Lady Abbess of East Bergholt, where her sister holds the office of Mother Prioress, and there are others of the family at Atherstone, and at the Convent at Taunton—all following the family tradition of service in the cause of Catholicity in England.
The funeral took place at Kensal Green Cemetery on Monday last, after a Solemn Requiem Mass, sung by the Dominican Fathers in their church at Haverstock Hill, whither the body had been taken over night. The Very Rev. Father John Procter, Prior, sang the Mass, and there were present in the church and at the funeral, amongst others. Mr. F. Harwood Lescher, Mr. Herman Lescher, and the Rev. Wilfrid. Lescher, 0.P., sons of the deceased ; the Rev. Edward Lescher, Mr. Lescher, of Boyles Court, Mrs. F. Harwood Lescher, Mrs. Herman. Lescher, Mrs. Patrick Grehan, and Miss Clare Grehan, &c., &c.
The above text was found on p.29, 15th July 1893 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
There are a lot of Leschers knocking around in parts of the story, so it is probably useful to have some brief biographies of some of them. This one is the son of Joseph Samuel Lescher, of Boyles Court, Essex, and the grandson of another Joseph Francis Lescher also of Boyles Court. Joseph Francis Lescher Senior was one of the two Lescher brothers who came from Alsace towards the end of the C18th. Joseph was the elder, probably by at least ten years, and William his younger brother arrived in England in 1778.
According to Joseph’s niece Frances, “In the second half of the eighteenth century a Laurence Lescher of Kertzfeld, by his overbearing temper and iron discipline, so worked upon the sensitive mind of his oldest son, Joseph, as to drive him to run away from home.It is related that the youth arrived in London with only half a crown in his pocket; but with the indomitable spirit of his sires, he made good use of his natural capacity, and in the year 1778 found himself in a position to marry, and to bring to London his brother William, then a boy of ten.The two brothers eventually became partners in a starch factory.Joseph purchased the estate of Boyles Court in Essex, but William remained in London, where he could more easily keep in direct touch with the practical details of his business.” Frances Lescher becomes Sister Mary of St. Philip, and has a successful career at Mount Pleasant convent in Liverpool.
So from a family point of view, this side of the family are more distant cousins. But back to this Lescher.
Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher, the recipient of the hereditary honour of Count of the Holy Roman Empire from Pius X., belongs to a family which has provided, not only well-known sons to the Church, but conspicuous men of business to the City. Mr. Herman Lescher, (his second cousin) whose death took place while he was yet a young man, established what was reputed among his fellow-accountants to be the largest single-handed business existing among them all. Mr. Joseph Lescher has himself served as a director of the Phoenix Assurance and other companies, and, as this honour bestowed by the Holy See reminds us, has given his services to many a charitable undertaking. Born in 1842, the son of Mr. Joseph Samuel Lescher, J.P., of Boyles Court, Essex, and his wife, Martha, daughter of John Hoy, of Stoke Priory, Suffolk, he was educated at Stonyhurst, and married, in 1875, Miss Mira Hankey, daughter of Captain Hankey, 9th Lancers. He was High Sheriff of Essex for 1885, and is the Chairman of the Brentwood Petty Sessions.
The above text was found on p.21, 23rd March 1907 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
MR. J. F. LESCHER.
We regret to record the death, on Monday last, of Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher, J.P., hereditary Count of Rome and Baron of Kertsfeld in Alsace by grant of Louis XIII. Mr. Lescher, who was eighty-two years of age, was a son of the late Mr. Joseph Lescher, of Boyles Court, near Brentwood. He was educated at Stonyhurst and afterwards entered upon financial and commercial life, becoming a director of the Phoenix Assurance and other companies. He was prominently identified with public life in the county of Essex, where, for upwards of fifty years, he served as a Justice of the Peace, being Chairman of the Brentwood Bench for thirty years ; he was also a J.P. for Middlesex and London. He retained his activity until the end, and was sitting in court only a few days before his death. He had been High Sheriff of Essex in 1885 and was a deputy-lieutenant for the county. In 1907 Mr. Lescher was created hereditary Count by Pius X.—R.I.P.
The above text was found on p.32, 13th January 1923 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
Mary Adela Lescher, [Sister Mary of St Wilfrid] (1846–1927),known as Adela in the family, was born at 17 Church Row, Hampstead. She was the second of five children of Joseph Sidney Lescher (1803–1893), and Sarah Harwood(1812 – 1856). Joseph Sidney was a partner of the wholesale chemists Evans, Lescher, and Evans. His father William Lescher (1768 – 1817), had emigrated from Alsace, France, in 1778, before the French Revolution. Family tradition holds that “Lescher of Kertzfeld” received his patent of nobility in the reign of Louis XIII, in the middle of the C17th. The Leschers were Roman Catholics. His wife, Sarah Harwood , Mary’s mother, was the daughter of a West India merchant in Bristol and a member of a staunch Baptist family, but she converted to Catholicism two years after her marriage. The eldest brother, Frank Harwood Lescher is Patrick Grehan III’s son-in-law; Adela was a year older than Wilfrid (1847–1916), who was ordained a Dominican priest in 1864. Mary’s only sister Abigail, died in 1844 at the age of five. The youngest brother was Herman (1849 – 1897) who died of flu in 1897, aged just forty-eight.
Adela was educated by governesses at home, and in France, where the family had gone for health reasons, until her mother’s death in 1856; after which she was sent to the Benedictine school at Winchester, Hampshire (later at East Bergholt in Suffolk), where she had an aunt, Caroline Lescher (1802 – 1868) known as Dame Mary Frances,O.S.B.; in a slightly curious twist another cousin of Adela’s, her first cousin Agnes, [daughter of William Joseph Lescher (1799 – 1865) and another of Caroline Lescher’s nieces was Lady Abbess at Bergholt from 1888 until 1904, and know as Dame Mary Gertrude. She attended the Dominican school at Stone for a short time. She left boarding-school in 1864 and continued her studies in languages, music, and literature at home under her brother’s former tutor.
Mary had two older cousins, Frances Lescher (Sister Mary of St Philip), who was the principal of Notre Dame Teacher Training College at Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, and Ann Lescher (Sister Mary of St Michael), who was also a sister in the Institute of Notre Dame, as well as their youngest sister Agnes (Dame Mary Gertrude). In May 1869 she entered the mother house of the Notre Dame order, dedicated “to teach the poor in the most neglected places”, at Namur, Belgium, and took the name Sister Mary of St Wilfrid. She returned to England in September 1871 as a professed sister to teach in the Notre Dame boarding-school at Clapham, London. After a bout of rheumatic fever she convalesced at Mount Pleasant and was then appointed to the college staff there to lecture in botany, English, and music. In 1886 she became mistress of the boarders, instructed the senior girls, and taught psychology. In 1892 she was appointed superior of Everton Valley Convent, Liverpool, which ran a convent day school, several elementary schools, and a pupil-teacher centre where boarders were prepared for entry into the Mount Pleasant Training College.
In April 1893 Archbishop Eyre of Glasgow invited the Sisters of Notre Dame to establish a Roman Catholic teacher training college in Scotland which would relieve female students from the need of travelling to Liverpool or London for training. A site was chosen at Dowanhill, in the west end of Glasgow, near the university, which had just opened its classes to women. The college was officially established in December 1893 with Sister Mary of St Wilfrid as its first principal, assisted by four sisters. The first female Roman Catholic teachers to receive their training in Scotland began their course of study in January 1895. Sister Mary of St Wilfrid took an active part in the training of the students and through her singleness of purpose made the venture a success.
A major achievement of Notre Dame College was the development of practical science teaching and the revolutionizing of biology teaching. A ‘practising school’, which was to include both a secondary school and the first Montessori school in Glasgow, was opened next to the college in 1897 and new schools were opened in Dumbarton (together with a convent) in 1908 and Milngavie in 1912. A staunch member of the Educational Institute of Scotland, Sister Mary of St Wilfrid encouraged all her students to join. As sister superior she was manager of the Notre Dame schools until May 1919, when Notre Dame Training College was transferred to the national scheme and came under the control of the national committee for the training of teachers. She retired as sister superior in 1919. She had been instrumental in founding a Notre Dame association for former students and the Glasgow University Catholic Women’s Association. She also set up a branch of the Scottish Needlework Guild to make garments for the poor and vestments for missions, and, after a stay in a nursing home in 1904, had set up the Association of Catholic Nurses of the Sick. Sister Mary of St Wilfrid died at Notre Dame Convent, Dowanhill, Glasgow, on 7 May 1927, and was buried on 11 May at Dalbeth cemetery.
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/48666,] with additions.