The family go to see Daniel O’Connell at Convent Garden in 1844

Alright quite distant family.

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.

Daniel O’Connell

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.[1843]  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.”

The Interior of the second Theatre Royal, Convent Garden. It was built in 1810, and burnt down in 1856.

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.

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