Category Archives: Lescher

The Late Sister Mary of St. Philip (Frances Mary Lescher). 1825 – 1904

The name which heads this article (writes a correspondent) was dear and familiar to thousands, and the shadow which her loss has cast over the great Convent and College of Mount Pleasant falls indeed over the whole of Catholic England. Frances Mary Lescher was the eldest child of William Joseph Lescher of London, and his wife Mary, daughter of John Hoy, of Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk. The Leschers were of German descent, and had preserved the Catholic faith unsullied since pre-Reformation times. So, too, had the Hoys; and their ancestors, the Daveys, and the Cruises, were well-known ” Papists “ in Oxfordshire. There seems to have been in both families something of the old Chivalry of the Knights of the Middle Ages—their warlike spirit, enthusiastic devotion to a great cause, the exquisite tenderness and finished courtesy. And all these things were inherited to the full by Frances Mary, the child who came into the world on May 8, 1825.

Her first education was confided to the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, New Hall, where she remained till the age of 14, bearing away the gold medal, the highest prize for excellence in the school. From this time onwards she pursued her studies under the supervision of her father, whose constant companion she now became, reading with him and travelling with him on the Continent.

The Oxford Movement aroused her keenest interest, and her sympathy with the converts, to whom the Leschers’ house in Nottingham-place stood always open, was unbounded. Frances threw herself heart and soul into the great movement of revival among English Catholics, which had been set on foot immediately after the Catholic Emancipation Act, and with which the names of Bishop Wiseman, Dr.Gentili, Father Spencer, Frederick Lucas, and the elder Pugin are intimately connected, and gave in her own generation all the support a woman could give to those anxious to devote themselves to the furtherance of the Catholic cause in England. Her wide reading, brilliant conversation, and personal attraction charmed all, and she was as wise and practical as she was accomplished and ardent. The teaching of poor children—that work with which the name of Sister Mary of St. Philip is indissolubly connected—found early a place in her life; she made a classroom of the coach-house and there taught them their catechism, and more than once led the ragged waifs and strays, who formed her Sunday school class, through the streets of the city to church. This passion of her heart, for in truth it was nothing else, eventually drew her into the institute of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, which is wholly devoted to the education of girls, more especially of the poor. About the time of Miss Lescher’s entrance into the order, Father James Nugent (now Mgr. Nugent), Father James Carr (now Mgr. Carr), and others of the Liverpool clergy, had invited the Sisters to take charge of some of the elementary schools in the town.

Mount Pleasant.

In 1856 they opened in Mount Pleasant a training college for schoolmistresses, and Frances Lescher, immediately on the completion of her novitiate, came to fill the post of Mistress of Studies. From that moment her name was identified with the work; the training college was what it was, and is, because of Sister Mary of St. Philip—and from that Feast of Candlemas, when she gave her first lessons to the little band of 21 students, to the last day when she sat among the 160 girls gathered round her in the splendid new hall, it has been her spirit and her heart which have been the life and light of the place. All, Catholics or Protestants, inspectors, clergy, university professors, admired her superiority of mind, respected her judgment and her counsel, and recognised her influence. “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.” His appreciation of her was ratified by that of his successors in office, and by many men eminent in the educational world, who from time to time visited the College. Such, in the early days, were Sir James Kaye Shuttleworth, Earl Granville (who in 1861 was President of the Committee of Council on Education), the Marquis of Ripon, and in later years Mr. Mundella and Sir G. Kekewich. MM. Inspectors of Training Colleges, Mr. Tinling and Mr. Warburton, both Canons of the Church of England, Sir Joshua Fitch, and Mr. Scott Coward, regarded Mount Pleasant as a model institution, unique in its organisation and work, and the local inspectors have not been less warm in their praise. It may be fitting to remark here that the home and centre for pupil teachers at Mount Pleasant paved the way for the foundation of similar centres for the collective teaching of pupil-teachers, first in Liverpool, then in the metropolis and other large towns. Mr. Sadler, in his recent report, says : “There is, so far as I am aware, no educational institution in England exactly comparable to that which, by the patience and foresight of the Sister Superior, has gradually been built up at Mount Pleasant. here in one long range of buildings, the slowly achieved outcome of half a century of work, every grade of girls’ education is provided for, from the primary school upwards, including the professional education of girls preparing themselves for the work of teaching in elementary or in secondary schools. Nor, in spite of the magnitude of the undertaking, is it the impression of mere size or numbers that dwells in the recollection of the visitor. It is rather the sense of quiet, cheerful, untiring, labour and of care for each individual pupil that lingers in his mind, and comes back vividly to his thoughts as he recalls what he heard and saw.” This appreciative and sympathetic report of Mr. Sadler’s was one of her last human consolations. In the beginning of December she caught a serious internal chill, and from the first, on account of her advanced age, the doctor entertained grave apprehensions as to the issue. From her sick bed she took the keenest interest in the College celebrations of the jubilee of the Immaculate Conception, arranging for the solemn Act of Consecration, and listened to the notes of the hymns borne up from the procession winding along the corridors below. On the morrow she received the Last Sacraments in great peace, and from that moment she laid aside completely, with the simplicity of a little child, the burden of her solicitous work, to give all her thought and care to the last great journey. But her splendid constitution, the widespread and incessant prayer sent up to God for her dear life, and, above all, her own extreme clearness of mind and freshness of memory made her sisters and children hope against hope. A serious crisis on the afternoon of Friday the fifth took away all illusion; it was repeated on Saturday, and on Sunday night at about 11 p.m. she gave up her soul into the hands of God, very tranquilly and gently. Her noble life had closed nobly, fittingly. All that the Church could give her she had; and two days before the end the Bishop had brought her the supreme consolation of the Holy Father’s blessing. To the last she kept an unclouded mind, visibly uniting herself to ‘the prayers and hymns, pressing the crucifix to her lips, lifting her feeble hand to make one of her old large signs of the Cross as she received her frequent absolutions—to the very end her own sweet, simple, great self.

She was laid out in the community-room in all religious simplicity with no other pomp than that of the kneeling Sisters, who watched her night and day, and the never-ceasing influx of her dearly loved and faithful “old students,” whose grief was pitiful to behold.

The Funeral.

On Thursday last Bishop Whiteside sang the Solemn Requiem in the beautiful convent chapel, whose sanctuary was entirely draped in black. The Mass was admirably chanted by the diocesan choir, conducted by the Rev T. A. Walmsley. The Right Rev. Mgr. Carr, V.G., acted as assistant priest ; Canon Gordon, of Birkdale as deacon; Canon Banks, of St. Edward’s College as subdeacon. The deacons at the throne were Canon Kennedy and Canon Cosgrave ; the masters of ceremonies the Revv. J. Clarkson and W. Slattery. More than 80 priests were present in the chapel amongst them Provost Clegg, Mgr. Marsden, Canons Beggan, O’Toole Barry, Singleton, Richardson, Chisholm ;the Rev. T. J. Walshe, chaplain to the community; Father Hayes, Rector of St. Francis Xavier’s; the Rectors of the churches of Liverpool and the outlying district, and representatives of different religious orders.

Immediately after the absolutions the cortege passed from the chapel down the main staircase and along the spacious corridor to the door of the new wing in Hope-street, where a long line of coaches awaited the mourners—clergy, sisters, and former students with other friends, all anxious to give this last testimony of esteem and affection to her whom they had loved and venerated in life. But the most touching part of the funeral was the assemblage of poor children drawn up at intervals along the route in front of each school with their parents and teachers, patiently standing in frost and fog, the boys with raised caps, girls with joined hands and bowed heads. Some 40 coaches reached the Great Crosby Cemetery, where the procession formed and passed through lines of teachers and former students proving by their presence and their sorrowful demeanour that she whom they mourned had been their best and truest friend.

Expressions of sympathy and condolence have flooded in upon the Sisters from all quarters ; telegrams were received from the Marquis of Ripon, from H. M. Inspectors, from the Professors of the Liverpool University ; letters from his Grace the Archbishop of Westminster and the bishops and clergy all over the British Isles. A vote of sympathy was passed by the Association of Principals of Training Colleges holding their annual Conference in London, and “carried in silence,” wrote the President, “by the whole body of members rising in their places.” A deputation from the University conveyed expressions of esteem and regret from that body ; and the Liverpool Education Committee passed a unanimous resolution : “That this Committee desire to express their deep regret at the death of Miss F. M. Lescher, Principal of the Mount Pleasant Training College ; to place on record their high appreciation of the services rendered to the cause of education in the city ; and to convey their sympathy with the authoritieS of the college in the loss they have sustained.”

The main lines, large and simple, of Sister Mary of St. Philip’s striking personality were apparent to all who came into even passing contact with her. A countenance, noble and eminently good, and easy dignity of presence that was far removed from stiffness or condescension, and above all the genuine and unaffected interest which she took in the doings, plans, joys and sorrows of the most casual visitor, and what someone has happily called “that princely gift of making herself all in all,” these things charmed and won multitudes. Multitudes too, recognised and admired her royal gifts of mind—her quick and sure judgment, her wise and temperate counsel, her quite exceptional capacity for organisation and. administration • and few who knew her ever so little, but felt the charm of the freshness, the enthusiasm, the youngness of heart which were so beautiful and harmonious a contradiction of her ripe years. Others have been privileged to see more— the grand simplicity of her daily life, devoting to others, without suspicion of heroism, time, talents, labour ; the large sympathy that went out to the smallest the most trivial of sorrows ; the ever-growing gentleness and forbearance and long patience ; and that lowliness of spirit which was so marked and beautiful a trait in one so great. The fragrance of all these things and many more is with those who immediately lived and loved and laboured under one roof with Sister Mary of St. Philip, and they are to them part of her very name. Yet not to them alone does that name belong, but to the whole Catholic Church in England, to the poor of Christ and the priests of Christ, wherever they suffer and toil between its three seas. R.I.P.

The Sisters of Notre Dame, Mount Pleasant, desire to thank most warmly all those who have written to express sympathy with them in their sorrow. Owing to the large number of letters received from friends and from students, past and present, it is impossible to write an individual acknowledgment.

The above text was found on p.26, 31st December 1904 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 .

Advertisements

A couple of weddings in 1900

SCROPE – O’SULLIVAN.

The marriage of Mr. Gervase Scrope, youngest son of the late Mr. Scrope, of Danby [ Simon Thomas Scrope (1822-1896) was Philip O’Bryen’s god-father ]  and Miss Juanita O’Sullivan, only daughter of the late Mr. John O’Sullivan and Señora Francisca Lozano O’Sullivan, of Saltillo, Mexico, was solemnised at St. James’s Church, Spanish-place, at eleven o’clock on Wednesday.[24th October] The ceremony was performed by the Right Rev. Bishop Brindle, assisted by the Rev. Joseph Browne, S.J., the Rector of Stonyhurst, and the Hon. and Rev. Basil Feilding. The church was decorated with ferns, palms, and Bermuda lilies. During the nuptial Mass Gounod’s Ave Maria, and Mendelssohn’s ” Coronation March,” were rendered. Bishop Brindle afterwards gave a short address.

The bride’s wedding dress was ivory satin duchesse, trimmed with flounces of Brussels lace and wreaths of orange blossom, and Brussels lace veil, surmounted by a pearl and diamond tiara, the gift of the bridegroom. She wore a pearl and diamond necklace, the gift of her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Purcell, and a pearl and diamond bracelet, the gift of her cousins, the Misses Purcell. She was attended by six bridesmaids : Miss Kathleen Orde-Powlett, Lady Agnes Noel, Miss Fitzherbert-Brockholes, Miss Mabel Lawson, Miss Helena Purcell, and Miss Anita Purcell. the bridesmaids’ dresses were cream satin skirts, lace boleros, with front of cream crepe de chine, sashes of turquoise blue crepe de chine, black velvet picture hats lined with white chiffon, and trimmed with black ostrich feathers and turquoise blue panne. They wore pearl and turquoise butterfly brooches, the gift of the bridegroom, and carried bouquets of white lilies tied with turquoise blue ribbons. Mr. Charles Vaughan acted as best man. A reception was held at the Coburg Hotel after the wedding. Later in the day the bride and bridegroom left for Danby Hall, where the honeymoon will be spent. The bride travelled in a dress of pale blue cloth embroidered in gold, and trimmed with bands of chincilla, toque of grey velvet trimmed with grey ostrich feathers and blue panne, and a chincilla cape.

The following accepted invitations to be present : Mr. and Mrs. Purcell, the Misses Purcell, Mr. James Purcell, Mr. Scrope of Danby, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Scrope, Mr. Geoffrey Scrope, Mr. Stephen Scrope, Mr. and the Misses Scrope, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lord, Madame de Laski, Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell Lyte, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Radcliffe and Miss Radcliffe, Mr. Philip Chesney Yorke, Mr. Andrew Berkeley, Mr. Dwyer, the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Orde-Pawlett and the Misses Orde-Pawlett, Mrs. Holmes, Miss Charlton, Sir John, Lady, and Miss Lawson of Brough, Mr. Charles Vaughan, Mrs. Duff Baker, Dowager Countess of Denbigh, Major, Mrs., and Miss Berkeley, the Rev. Eric W. Leslie, S.J., the Rev. Joseph Browne, S.J. Mrs. and Miss Foster, Mr., Mrs., and the Misses Fitzherbert-Brockholes, Miss Weld of Leagram, the Earl and Countess of Denbigh, the Hon. Mrs. A. Fitzmaurice, the Right Rev. Bishop Brindle, the Hon. and Rev. Basil Feilding, Miss Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Marshall, Mrs. Philip Gordon, Mr. Francis Gurdon, Mrs. Malony, Miss Lily and Miss Flora Weld, Miss O’Sullivan, Sir Walter and Lady Smythe of Acton Burnell, Miss Clifford, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Berkeley, the Hon. George Savile, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Kelly, the Misses Blount, Count and Countess de Torre Diaz, the Misses Zulueta, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Colgrave, the Misses Macfarlane, Mr. de Laski, Mr. Clement Young, Lady Isabella Keane, Mrs. William Langdale, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Langdale, Mrs. and Miss Stanley Cary-Caddell, Lady Catherine and the Misses Berkeley, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Heaven, Mr. and Mrs. Edenborough, Mrs. Charles Riddell, Miss Teresa Riddell, the Earl and Countess of Gainsborough, the Ladies Agnes, Norah, and Clare Noel, Captain C. E. Wegg-Prosser, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, the Hon. Marcia Maxwell, Mr. and Mrs. MacDonnell. Mr. and Mrs. William Malony, Mr. and Lady Agnes de Trafford, the Misses Leopold, William Malony, Mrs. Randolph, the Hon. Everard Feilding, Mr. Leonard Lindsay, Mrs. Meynell, the Duc, Duchesse, and Mlles. de Boson, Mr. add Mrs. Vincent Acton, Mr. Gervase and Lady Winefride Cary-Elwes, Mrs. Bagnall, Mr. Maurice Berkeley, Mr. Wulstan Berkeley, Baron and Baroness Jacques de Gunzburg, Lady Mary Harris, Mr. and Mrs. Berkeley of Spetchley, Miss Pope, Mrs. Herman Lescher, Mr. and Miss Acton, Mr. Herbert Colegrave, Mr. Oswald Colegrave, Miss M’Cann Gordon, Major Fletcher Gordon, Mr. and Mrs. Snead Cox, Mrs. and the Misses Blount, Mr. Joseph Oates, Mrs. F. B. Stapleton Bretherton, Miss Lily Stourton, Miss Blundell, Mr. 0. Zauch Palmer, the Hon. Laura Lane-Fox.

BLOUNT—MACKENZIE.

The marriage of Mr. George Blount, eldest son of Mr. Alfred John Blount, and Miss Melesina Mackenzie, second daughter of the late Major A. C. Mackenzie, Royal Engineers, and of Mrs. Mackenzie, of 7, Ormond road, Richmond, was celebrated at the Oratory, Brompton, at 11 on the 18th inst. The bride and bridegroom received the Papal Blessing. The bridegroom was supported by his brother, Mr. Edward Blount, as best man. The bride was given away by her brother, Captain Mackenzie, Royal Engineers, and was attended by Miss Margaret Mackenzie, her sister, and Miss Ethel Blount, sister of the bridegroom as bridesmaids. The bride wore a dress of white duchesse satin and crêpe de chine, trimmed with Brussels lace, lent by her mother, and orange blossoms ; her court train was of crêpe de chine, lined with brocade. The bridesmaids wore black picture hats and white mousseline de soie dresses, and carried pink bouquets, which, with gold and turquoise brooches, were the gift of the bridegroom. The Very Rev. John Bennett, Provincial C.SS.R., uncle of the bridegroom, assisted by the Revv. Charles and Edgar Blount, S.J., uncles of the bridegroom, performed the ceremony. The Rev. Charles Blount said the Nuptial Mass, which was served by Masters Cecil and Francis Blount, brothers of the bridegroom. The wedding ceremony took place at the lady altar, which was decorated with flowers. Owing to mourning in the bride’s family, only relations were asked to the reception, which was held at 19, Cranley place, the residence of Mrs. Woodward, grandmother of the bride. Nevertheless many friends were present in the church.

The bride and bridegroom’s presents numerous, and included a half-hoop diamond ring, muff-chain, pearl earrings, &c., &c., from the bridegroom to the bride ; silver-fitted suitcase, &c., &c., from the bride to the bridegroom ; from Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Blount, chest of plate, dining-room furniture, cheque, and diamond and pearl pendant ; Mrs. A. C. Mackenzie cheque and silver tea set ; Mrs. Woodward, cheque ; Madame Melville, tea-pot and milk jug in Breton ware ; Miss Elphinstone, 4 bon-bon dishes in case; Mr. C. Fleming, silver and ivory bread-fork ; Sir Robert and Lady Egerton, silver cream-jug ; Lady Stephen, china; Mrs. Buckmaster and family, silver smelling salts; Mr. and Mrs. Palliser, silver patience case ; Mrs. Meynell, silver frame; Colonel and Mrs. Woodward, cheque ; Mr. and Mrs. George Lynch, case of silver and silver-gilt fruit spoons and sugar-sifter ; Miss Jennings jewel-case ; Miss Ethel Mackenzie, house linen ; Mrs. Henry Crofton silver Eau de Cologne bottle ; Lady Vavasour, picture of “The Last Supper “ in frame ; Mr. P. Lynch, silver salt-cellars ; Miss Griffin picture of Madonna in frame; Mrs. Macdonald, cheque ; Captain R. J. Mackenzie, cheque ; Mrs Mason, cushion ; Miss Angela and Mr. Cecil and Mr. Francis Blount, cut-glass and silver mounted scent-bottles, aneroid barometer ; Miss Dorchill, silver-mounted claret jug ; Mr. and Mrs. Boyd, antique silver mounted cut-glass bottles; Mrs. and Miss Bigges Miller, cut-glass vases; Mr. and Mrs. Schiller, entrée dishes ; Mrs. and Miss Whicher, Russian-leather purse ; Mr. Stephen Scrope, silver apostle tea-spoons ; the Misses Tegart, brass inkstand ; Mrs. Webber and Miss Tottenham, apostle spoons ; Miss Ethel and Mr. Edward Blount, silver bowl ; Colonel Charles Woodward, cheque ; the Misses Smith-Pigott, brass ink-stand and candlesticks ; Miss Ella Wood, umbrella ; Miss Ashford, silver-mounted leather purse ; Mr. and Mrs. Gordon, picture in frame; Dr. and Mrs. Ball, silver flower-bowl on stand ; Miss Polenghi, glass and silver vase ; Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Petre, silver candlesticks ; Mrs. Barton, silver-mounted blotter ; the clerks of Messrs. Blount, Lynch and Petre, case of table silver; Miss Margaret Mackenzie, diamond brooch, copy of Browning ; Mr. Patrick Lynch, silver coffee-pot ; Mrs. Wray, cheque ; Mrs. F. Woodward, dinner-set and dessert-set ; Mrs. Henry Lynch, frame; Mr. and Mrs. McCarthy and Miss Helena McCarthy, pictures in frame ; Mrs. Privet, pair of glass vases ; Colonel Wetherall, silver frame ; Mrs. Wetherall, silver cream jug ; Mr. and Mrs. Payne, sachet ; Colonel and the Hon.Mrs. Tredcroft, breakfast-service ; Miss McCarthy O’Leary, toast-rack ; Mrs. Daly, Irish lace fichu ; Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Hill, flower-bowl ; Mr. and Mrs. Eustace Lonergan, fan ; Mr. Reginald Colley, silver cigar-case ; Major and Mrs. Fletcher Gordon, rosewood revolving book-case; Mr. and Mrs. Eric Bruce, silver match-box ; Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie, silver and glass match-stand ; Messrs. F. and A. Mackenzie, silver and ivory paper-knife ; Major and Mrs. Crowe, silver dessert-knives and forks ; Mr. E. Kennedy, china statuettes ; Mrs. and Miss Hood, silver frame ; Mr. and Mrs. John Talbot, brass reading-lamp ; Sir Henry and the Hon. Lady Cunningham, silver lamp-candlesticks ; Mr. and Mrs. G. Wray, Missal bound in silver ; Miss Ada Keene, opal ; the Rev. J. W. Cunningham Foot and Mrs. Foot, topaz cross ; Dr. and Mrs. Gillespie, silver frame ; Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie, brass kettle ; Miss Margaret Broder, silver bowl ; Dr. and Mrs. Baker, breakfast-dish ; Mr. and Mrs. A. G. F. Francis, silver-mounted claret-jug; Mrs. H. Lescher, travelling-clock : Miss F. Woodward, silver-backed hair-brushes ; Messrs. F. and A. Mackenzie, silver-mounted manicure case; Redemptorist Convent (Clapham), hand-painted statue of the Holy Family ; the Misses Williams, china tea-set; Lady Annabel Kerr, table-linen; Mr. Charles and Mr. Edgar Payne, card-table ; Mrs. Carr, pair of Dresden candlesticks; Lieut. Foot, R.N., and Mrs. Foot, silver telegraph-form case.

The above text was found on p.28,27th October 1900 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 .

The Founding of Westminster Cathedral, 1883.

Westminster cathedral

This is included for a few reasons, but two of them are family related. Herman Lescher, the auditor of the Westminster Land Company is a 1st cousin, four times removed, as is his brother Frank. Frank Harwood Lescher’s wife Mary is also a 1st cousin, in her case three times removed. It’s also here because Alfred Purssell was a founder-donor to the cathedral with his name in the loggia, if I remember rightly.

 

The Westminster Land Company and The New Cathedral 1883.

We have already given our readers full information on the formation of the new company, as far as it concerned the site for the new cathedral of this diocese. Some incomplete particulars, however, having found their way into a bi-weekly paper, we feel it necessary to give the facts in greater detail :— It will be remembered that we stated that the law binds the Home Office to re-convey the site of Tothill-fields Prison to the Middlesex magistrates. This formal re-conveyance, we understand, has to be made some time within six months, and will therefore in all probability be effected shortly after Christmas. In the meantime the land was purchased from the magistrates by the Earl of Denbigh, Lord Beaumont, Sir Charles Clifford, and the Count de Torre Diaz. These four gentlemen have entered into contract with the Westminster Land Company, which is now duly formed, registered, and in working order.

The Memorandum of Association, which had to be filed at Somerset House on registration, bears the following signatures :—The Earl of Denbigh, Hon. Henry Wm. Petre, Francis Charles New, Sir Charles Clifford, Count de Torre Diaz, Herman Lescher, Alfred Blount.

The new company has now, by a draft Agreement between them and the four purchasers, taken over from the latter the prison site and the land in possession of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. In this draft Agreement, to the signatures of the four purchasers are added the names of eight of the original founders or guarantors of the deposit, the remaining two being among the purchasers. These signatories are :—

  • The Earl of Denbigh.
  • Lord Beaumont.
  • Sir Charles Clifford.
  • Count de Torre Diaz.
  • Edward Devenish Walshe, Esq.
  • The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
  • Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.
  • Lord Arundell of Wardour.
  • Thomas Weld Blundell, Esq., of Ince Blundell.
  • Walter Hussey Walsh, Esq.
  • Herman Lescher, Esq.
  • Alfred Blount, Esq.

The Westminster Land Company are, therefore, in equitable possession of the land of which the Middlesex magistrates have the power to dispose, and by their agreement with the purchasers and founders take over all the liabilities. The Company’s agreement with the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, whereby they take over the adjoining portion of land in his possession in exchange for a part of the prison site on the payment of the difference in money value, is in course of preparation for signature. The Company’s registered capital is £130,000, in 15,000 shares of £ 10 each. The Board of Directors and the officers of the Company have been constituted as follows :—

  • Earl of Denbigh.
  • Lord Beaumont.
  • Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.
  • Sir Charles Clifford
  • Directors
  • Hon. Henry William Petre.
  • Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe, Esq.
  • Walter Hussey Walsh, Esq.

Solicitors—Messrs. Blount, Lynch, and Petre, 4, King-street, Cheapside, E.C.

Auditor—Herman Lescher, Esq., T, Princes-street, Bank, E.C.

Surveyors—Messrs. Vigers and Co., 4, Frederick’s-place, Old Jewry, E.C.

Secretary—Francis Charles New, Esq.

Offices—T. Princes-street, Bank, E.C.

The above text was found on p.8, 6th October 1883 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 .

The Annual Dinner Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor 1883

Albion Tavern, 172 & 173 Aldersgate Street, Aldersgate EC1

I wasn’t going to do any more of these for a while. There are relatively few members of the family there. Uncle Edmund (Bellord), and cousin John, as well as Frank Harwood Lescher, who is a first cousin by marriage (to Mary Grehan – Paddy Grehan III’s daughter), he’s also the nephew of Harriet Grehan (neé Lescher) who is also Mary Grehan’s step-grandmother. herman Lescher is his brother.

The main reason for posting this one is the absolutely extraordinary speech by the chairman. I can’t quite work out if he’s scolding them, teasing them, speaking more bluntly than he intended it to sound, or whether the “highly felicitous terms” and “equally happy manner” are just euphemisms for a bit pissed.

The annual dinner of the Benevolent Society took place on Monday at the Albion, Aldersgate-street, and was presided over by the Hon. Mr. Justice Day, supported by the Bishop of Emmaus. Among those present were Mgr. Goddard, Canons Gilbert, D.D., V.G., Wenham, Moore, O’Halloran, McGrath, and Murnane; Very Revv. P. Fenton, President of St. Edmund’s College, Stephen Chaurain, S.M.,Vincent Grogan, Michael Kelly, D.D., and Michael Watts Russell ; Revv. W. E. Addis, J. J. Brenan, D. Canty, G. Carter, C. Conway, D.D., C. A. Cox, J. E. Crook, G. S. Delaney, E. English, M. Fanning, W. Fleming, J. Hussey, C. Harington Moore, E. F. Murnane, T. F. Norris, P. O’Callaghan, M. O’Connell, D. O’Sullivan, E. Pennington, Leo Thomas, D. Toomey-Vincent, C.P., T. Walsh, and J. Wright ; the Abbé Toursel, and the Abbé Richard ; Sir James Marshall and Judge Stonor ; Drs. Carré, Hewitt, and McDonell ; Messrs. J. Bans, W. Barrett, C. J. Standon Batt, E. J. Bellord, J. G. Bellord, A. J. Blount, George Blount, James Brand, Arthur Butler, George Butler, George Butler, junior, John Christie, H. A de Colyar, E de V. Corcoran, J. Conway, E. Curties;, Samuel H. Day, W. H. Dunn, V. J. Eldred, A. Guy Ellis, R. M. Flood, E. J. Fooks, J. Fox, Garret French, J. B. Gallini, W. O. Garstin, Dickson Gray, E. Hackney, W. B. Hallett, J. S. Hansom, A. Hargrave, W. D. Harrod, A. Hawkins, A. Hernu, H. Hildreth, Thomas Hussey, Thomas Hussey, junior, J. J. Keily, K.S.G., Stuart Knill, K.S.G., G. P. Kynaston, Denis Lane, F. D. Lane, C. Temple Layton, F. Harwood Lescher, Herman Lescher, Sidney Lickorish, W. H. Lyall, G. S. Lynch, J. P. McAdam, Francis McCarthy, M. McSheehan, James Mann, J. J. Merritt, Wilfrid Oates, T. O’Neil, Bernard Parker, F. R. Wegg-Prosser, L. J. Ratton, Eugene Rimmel, E. W. Roberts, G. St. Aubyn, M. A. Santley, Joseph Scoles, A. W. C. Shean, Charles Spurgeon, C.C., Philip Thornton, M. E. Toomey, G. A. Trapp, E. F. Devenish Walshe, John Wareing, Thomas Welch, and Stephen White.

After the concluding grace had been said by the Bishop of Emmaus, Mr. Justice Day in giving the health of the Pope, said he really did not know how to deal with his Holiness without incurring ecclesiastical censure. If he wished him a long life, he might be accused of desiring to keep him out of heaven, if a short one he would be denounced as a traitor. But of this thing he was sure he could leave the toast of the Pope to the good wishes of such an assembly as he had the honour to preside over.

“The Queen, “The Prince of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family,” were the next toasts.

Mr. Justice Day then rose to propose ” Success to the Benevolent Society.” He found it was usual to make an appeal for the charity, and if he did not make one it would be no fault of their excellent secretary (Mr. A. Butler, whose name was received with loud cheers), who had filled his (the chairman’s) pockets with details and statistics of the society. But the more he respected their secretary the more he resisted him. He was not going to make an appeal, He was afraid he could not make use of the stock excuse of want of custom of public speaking, nor could he say he was a man that knew nothing about charity, for he was a most charitable man (and he could lay his hand on his heart when he said so). He had been engaged all his life in getting for others what they could not get for themselves. He had had to appeal to juries for justice which judges denied. What would be the good of any appeal from him ? He saw before him a number of well-known charitable gentlemen who came there full of interest in the Benevolent Society and determined to support it to the best of their means. What more could they desire? He had no faith in after dinner speeches. If he attempted to rise into the higher regions of oratory, he would be sure to break down and fall into weariness and dulness. He saw on the title page of their report that this was stated to be ” the oldest Catholic charity in the metropolis,” he presumed that meant the oldest charity in the hands of Catholics, for it was a very long way off from being the oldest, Catholic charity in London was well known by its ancient charitable endowments. This charity was established at a time of hardship, penalty, and trials of our ancestors, and they naturally sought a way of supplying the wants of the old and infirm of their community and founded this charity, and he called on them to support it by their generous contributions this day. He was glad to see the merchants and bankers of the City of London contributed to this excellent work, which was entirely carried out by unpaid officials. He saw they gave gave 150 pensioners what ?—three and four shillings a week !  Not enough for the comforts, barely enough for the necessaries of life !  Let them think of that and of the many applicants who were eagerly waiting to get even this small pittance to eke out their subsistence for the few remaining years of their life.

[According to “The Art of Dining; or, gastronomy and gastronomers”  by Abraham Hayward. pub. John Murray, London 1852,  the ordinary price for the best dinner at this house [The Albion] (including wine) is three guineas. If the prices were still about the same in 1883, the dinner cost the equivalent of one month’s pension for each of the 150 pensioners.]

The collection was then made, which amounted to £1,040.

The Chairman afterwards proposed, in highly flattering terms, the health of his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, for whom the Bishop of Emmaus replied, in eulogistic expressions, of the great charity of his Eminence to all men.

Sir James Murshall proposed, and the Very Rev. Canon Murnare replied for, the ” Bishop of Southwark.”

The Bishop of Emmaus, in highly felicitous terms, proposed the health of the Hon. Justice Day, who replied in an equally happy manner.

Then followed the healths of the “Bishop of Emmaus,”  “The Clergy of Westminster and Southwark,”  “The Stewards,” given by the hon. chairman, and replied to by Judge Stonor, after which the proceedings terminated.

1st December 1883, Page 34

The Annual Dinner Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor 1901

The Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor. was the oldest Catholic charity in London  founded in 1761 It’s a nice worthy Catholic, and City cause, and it’s good to see members of the family there. This year there weren’t that many, but at least Great Grandpa was there, even if he was the only O’Bryen that year. Also present were Uncle Wilfrid (Parker) his brother-in-law, his cousin Frank Harwood Lescher, and Frank’s cousin Joseph S. Lescher [by then a papal Count]. The only surprise is that John Roper Parkington wasn’t there, but maybe he had a cold.

 

The annual dinner of the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor was held at the Albion, Aldersgate-street, on Monday evening. The Hon. Mr. Justice Walton presided, and there were also present the Bishop of Emmaus, the Bishop of Southwark, Sir Westby Perceval, K.C.M.G., Colonel Maguire, Major J. H. White, V.D. ; the Very Revv. Provost Moore, Canon Johnston, D.D., V.G., Canon Keatinge, Canon McGrath, Canon Murnane, Canon Pycke, Canon White ; Commendatore Hicks, K.C.S.G. ; Captain Shean ; the Revv. W. V. Allanson, D.3., Thomas Carey, Alexander Charnley, S.J., George Cologan, W. J. Condon, C. A. Cox, G. B. Cox, J. Crowley, George Curtis, E. du Plerny, J. Egan, Edmund English, E. Escarguel, M. Fanning, Dean Fleming, Roderick Grant, James Hayes, W. J. Hogan, D. Holland, S. E. Jarvis, 1.C., William L. Keatinge, Hugh Kelly, Michael Kelly, O.S.A., D.D., P. McKenna, E. B. Mostyn, E. F. Murnane, Edward Murphy, J. M. Musgrave, Francis J. Sheehan, Edward Smith, Francis Stanfield, J. S. Tasker, G. B. Tatum, Lea Thomas, S.M., Louis Toursel, Felix J. Watters, S.M., D.D., A. E. Whereat, D.D. ; and Messrs. Frank Beer, J. Nugent Burke, John Carnegie, John Christie, A. K. Connolly, James Connolly, John J. Connolly, J. A. Connolly, S, Frederick Connolly, John Conway, James Donovan, P. F. Dorte, LL.B., Cecil Dwyer, Reginald B. Fellows, M.A., H. M. Fisher, R. M. Flood, P. J. Foley, Francis T. Giles, Anthony Hasslacher, Charles Hasslacher, J. E. Hill, James D. Hodgson, S. Taprell Holland (hon. treasurer), Thomas Holland, Henry J. Hudson, John Hussey, William Hussey, J. Virtue Kelly, Joseph F. Lescher, J.P., D.L., F. Harwood Lescher, Austin Lickorish, Bernard McAdam, James P. McAdam (hon. secretary), J. M. McGrath, Ernest A. O’Bryen, Wilfrid W. Parker, R. J. Phillips, Herbert Plater, B. Rooney, L.L. Schiller, E. Simone, Joseph Sperati, Paul Strickland, Francis P. Towsey, Joseph S. R. Towsey, William Towsey, John M. Tucker, George Walton, J. Arthur Walton, George Wesley, A. E. White, Basil J. White, C. B. Wildsmith, M. J. Wildsmith, &c.

The Chairman, in proposing the first toast of the evening, ” His Holiness the Pope and his Majesty the King,” said : Through the world his Holiness is looked upon as the principal authority in spiritual matters, as his Majesty the King personifies the principal authority in temporal matters. Not many days since I had the honour of dining with the Goldsmiths’ Company, and the first toast, according to the ancient custom of the Company, was the Church and King. We translate that toast in the same spirit of loyalty. (Hear, hear.) I ask you to drink to the health of our Holy Father Leo XIII., to his health and his well-being. May that venerable life, which has been so fruitful of blessing to the Church and mankind, be still further prolonged to be a guidance to his children throughout the world. (Loud cheers.) One cannot forget that this is the first time for more than sixty years that the toast of the King has been proposed at the annual dinner of the Benevolent Society. The occasion carries our minds back to the number of years which that great Sovereign—the late Queen Victoria—ruled over this great realm with such magnificent results, and at the same time carries our minds forward with great expectations and great hopes. (Cheers.)

The toast was acknowledged with musical honours.

The next toast was that of ” Queen Alexandra, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the other members of the Royal Family,” a toast which the Chairman remarked would arouse the same feelings of personal devotion as the previous toast.

The toast was received with enthusiasm.

THE SOCIETY.,
The Chairman rose and said : Gentlemen, I have now to ask you to drink to the success of the Benevolent Society. The Society has appealed to me very warmly and sincerely ever since I first knew it. In the first place it is a benevolent society in a very special sense. 1 think it is a most useful thing, a most excellent thing, that it should bring us together in pursuit of a charitable object, and I think it is also a good thing that it should bring us together in a friendly and social gathering. (Hear, hear.)

I am sure it is very true, as I have often heard it said by one whom we have lost, and for whom I shall always have the greatest possible reverence and affection—the late Lord Russell of Killowen—(cheers)—that if we are to succeed as we ought to do in this city one thing is wanted amongst Catholics, and that is greater unity. (Cheers.) The more we can see of each other, the more the laity can see of the clergy at gatherings like this the better it is for us and the stronger will be our position in this city, and the greater will be the success which we shall attain in every undertaking we have in hand. (Hear, hear.) The history of the Benevolent Society, although, as far as I can see, its records are not very voluminous, is very interesting. It was founded in 1761, and this takes our minds back to the time when to be a Catholic was to be a criminal, for a priest to say Mass was a capital offence, and for a Catholic to send a child to a Catholic school was an offence which might entail forfeiture of all he possessed. The Society couples us up and links us with the Catholics of old days, those who before the time of the establishment of the hierarchy and before Catholic Emancipation struggled and fought priests and laity for the faith. We are proud to know that we are now carrying on a work which was begun in the old days by the ” heroes “ who kept alive the faith. From the year 1761 we go to 1788 and ten years later, during which the Penal Laws had been repealed, at least to a very large extent. At the first annual gathering the amount subscribed was £ 53 Later on the Society met at ” The Five Bells,” Moorfields, and the annual gathering took place in “The Three Mariners,” Fore-street. Later on the meeting took place in Moorfields Chapel. In 1849 the amount subscribed at the annual dinner was £ 349. In 1857 the name of Canon Gilbert—(cheers)—who was so much revered not only by the Society, but by Catholics in all parts of the country, joined the Committee, and the name of the Rev. James Laid Patterson, now the Right Rev. Bishop of Emmaus, was included in the list. (Cheers.) Passing to 1861 we find the amount subscribed was £ 574.

ITS WORK.

And now I turn to more recent days, and I find that the amount spent and distributed during the last year was £1,484 13s. 61, besides some money for coals distributed at Christmas. I think we have reason to congratulate ourselves upon the success of this venerable and most useful Society. (Hear, hear.) It seems to me that there are two forms of benevolence to which objection cannot possibly be taken. One is the good work of assisting children in their education, and especially the poor children of the Catholic poor. (Hear, hear.) It is necessary that all Catholic children should have an efficient education in order to prepare them for the battle of life. (Hear, hear.) That is one form of good work which has been done in the past and in the way of building our poor schools. I am glad to see a spirit arising—it is a resurrection, it is a revival—of realising the importance of doing something for the education of our boys in our higher schools in the way of establishing exhibitions and scholarships which may assist a boy whose parents may not be in position to afford it, so that these Catholic boys may take their proper place in life. The other kind of work to which I allude is rendering assistance to those who have fought the battle and have failed. (Hear, hear.) That is a work which the Society undertakes. One of the saddest features of modern life is the necessity for something in the nature of old age pensions. Amongst Catholics in London this Society endeavours to give that assistance, and to do that most excellent work, of coming to the rescue of those who in their old age, by sickness, by misfortune, need the assistance of some charity. I know I shall not appeal to you in vain for subscriptions. We have 190 pensioners, we want to increase that number to 200. (Cheers.) I ask you to-night to support, as indeed you always do, but even more so this most deserving charity, and speaking personally it is a great pleasure to me to preside at the gathering. (Cheers.)

BISHOPS AND CLERGY.

Sir Westby Perceval proposed the health of “The Cardinal Archbishop, the Bishops, and the Clergy of the two Metropolitan Dioceses.” The speaker said : A note has been struck by our chairman as to the value of these gatherings from a social point of view, which appeals to us very forcibly. It is a sad want in Catholic London that so few opportunities are afforded Catholics to meet each other and to meet their clergy, and it is their health I submit to you this evening in the toast which I propose. (Cheers.) It is a very comprehensive toast, and when I was asked to propose it the first thought that entered my mind was the excellent opportunity for retaliation. (Laughter.) Most of us have sat at the feet of the clergy and had our little weaknesses exposed, but I have not been very successful in discovering the weaknesses of the clergy. (Laughter). There was a certain prophet of old who was told to curse and ended by blessing, and that is the position in which I find myself this evening. (Laughter.) We as ” Britons “ take a deep and practical pleasure in our bishops and our clergy, and we cannot show our love in a better way than by fostering and maintaining that spirit of loyalty. (Loud cheers.)

SPEECH BY THE BISHOP OF EMMAUS.

The Bishop of Emmaus in a humorous speech responded. He had long, he said, been a member of the Benevolent Society. In addition to carrying on the very praiseworthy work of assisting the poor, the Society had promoted a cordial feeling between clergy and laity which was, he thought, a distinguishing mark of English Catholicity. (Cheers.)

REPLY BY THE BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK, The Bishop of Southwark also responded. He said : The thought I am sure that must be uppermost in the minds of all present must surely be an expression of love for his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop and of a desire that he may be long spared. (Hear, hear.) I certainly know of no life more precious to the Catholic Church in England at the present day than that of his Eminence Cardinal Vaughan. (Hear, hear.) He has given to us, as I often tell him, a marvellous example of courage in works he has undertaken, and particularly in the undertaking of the building of his magnificent cathedral. (Hear, hear.) He had not much encouragement at the beginning, but he has faced that burden and he has carried it on nobly, and the wish of everyone to-night is that he may be spared to see the cathedral opened. (Cheers.) Speaking for the diocese of Southwark, I think it is not badly represented this evening. (Hear, hear.) As I look round the room I think I can say that we of Southwark are trying to do our duty to the Society. (Hear, hear.) I hope the opportunity we get year by year to meet together—the clergy and the laity—may always be maintained to the very full, and may always promote those cordial relations which do exist between the clergy and the laity of this country. (Cheers.) As we look around upon this city—as I look myself upon the rapidly developing suburbs of South London, in which there has been an increase during the past year of 230,000 souls—we are able to realise what a great mission we Catholics, clergy and laity, have before us, if the work is to be well done and if we are to produce upon this city, and to carry it into action, the influence which we ought to have. (Loud cheers.) One great element in our work will be the clergy and laity more closely united together. (Hear, hear.) I do not know what the future is to bring forth, whether the laity are to be called upon to take a more active part in the temporal administration of our missions—(laughter)—but I am sure whatever call is made upon them they will respond generously. (Hear, hear.) Of this I am certain, that as we live we must inevitably see an enormous increase in the influence of the Catholic Church throughout the cities of London and Westminster, and throughout the Borough of Southwark. (Cheers.)

THE CHAIRMAN.

Mr. Joseph Francis Lescher proposed the health of the Chairman. He said : When the elevation of Mr. Walton was announced the Catholic world was exceedingly gratified. (Cheers.) The men of Stonyhurst rejoiced exceedingly, and the commercial community of this great city were immensely pleased—(hear, hear.)—because they knew it was a recognition of a most honourable and straightforward career. I speak as only one of the commercial community of this city, and I say it was a distinct gain to us that Mr. Justice Walton should have this dignity and honour conferred upon him. (Hear, hear.) I say that the high esteem of the Bench will lose nothing of that grand record which has been handed down for generations. Looking abroad and at home, we may be sure that that high standard of excellence, which has been the one great feature of the courts of England, will continue to remain so long as such appointments are made. (Cheers.)

The Chairman thanked the last speaker for the kind—the too flattering—words which he used in proposing the toast. I am glad, indeed, to see here to-night not only my old friend, Mr. Lescher, but also my old master, Father Charnley. (Cheers.) It carries me back to my old days at Stonyhurst, and I shall always, and indeed we all should, remember the debt we owe to Stonyhurst, and certainly if I can ever do anything to assist and promote the high standard of education not only in my own school but in all our higher grade schools, I shall be most happy to do so. (Cheers.) Mr. Lescher has said a number of kind things about me, but I would remind him of the old proverb, ” It only takes six months to turn a good barrister into a bad judge “—(laughter)—and I am often inclined to say ” wait.” I cannot feel ashamed of the work I did at the Bar —(loud cheers)—and I sincerely and honestly felt a great deal of regret in saying good-bye to my old life, and I still hope I may be of some use to my old friends and to Catholics. (Cheers.) have now the pleasure of announcing the result of the collection which amounts to £1,031. (Cheers.)

Mr. Paul Strickland proposed the toast of “The Stewards.:” He said : Some years ago I had the privilege of being a pupil of Mr. Justice Walton, and I am glad to be able to give expression to the profound joy and rejoicing of Catholics that be should have been promoted to the Bench. If I may be allowed I should like to make an addition to the proverb quoted by the hon. chairman, and it is that after a few years a judge has been in the past promoted to be Lord Chief Justice. (Cheers.)

Mr. W. Towsey briefly responded for the stewards. He remarked that the stewards would always endeavour in the future as they had in the past to make these gatherings attractive to the general body of Catholics and the more there were of them the better. (Hear, hear.)

The above text was found on p.20, 30th November 1901 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 .

Countess Cecile de Sommery 1804 -1899

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:

Page from John Roche OBryens Family Bible.

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.

Eyre Chantry, Perrymead, Bath

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.

It’s all a very small world

Grehan of Mount Plunkett. – from Burke’s Landed Gentry [London 1871] with additions

The irony of this entry isn’t mentioned. 2,745 acres were advertised advertised for sale under a bankruptcy proceeding in January 1870, with part re-advertised in May 1870. So sadly, by the time the fourth edition of Burke’s Landed Gentry came out, the gent was landed no longer !

Grehan of Mount Plunkett. from Burke’s Landed Gentry (1871)

Grehan Patrick, esq. of Mount Plunkett and St John’s co Roscommon, J.P., b 21 March 1818; m. 4 April 1842, Frances, eldest dau. of the late John Pitchford, esq. of Norwich, a descendant of the old family of Pitchford of Shropshire, and has issue,

  1. Wilfrid b. 6 Aug 1848
  2. Charles b. Nov 1850
  3. Gerard b. May 1852
  4. Francis b. Oct 1855
  1. Mary O’Conor Graham 
  2. Alice
  3. Louisa 
  4. Clare
  5. Agnes 

Lineage – The family of Grehan claims descent from the Grahams of Montrose, and tradition narrates that its ancestor, escaping from the persecutions in Scotland, fled to Ireland and changed his name to Grehan.

The present Stephan Grehan, esq. of Rutland Square, Dublin succeeded by the recent death of his cousin Major Grehan, s.p. to the representation of the Grehan family. His cousin, Patrick Grehan, esq., now of Mount Plunkett, is the son of the late Patrick Grehan, esq. of Dublin ( by Catherine his 1st wife, dau. of George Meecham, esq., and co-heiress of her mother Catherine, dau. and eventual co-heiress of William Hodson, esq. of St John’s, co. Roscommon) and grandson of Patrick Grehan, esq. of Dublin who m. Judith, dau. and eventually co-heiress of Edward Moore, esq. of Mount Browne, co. Mayo (lineally descended from Lewis, the 4th son of  Roger O’More, of Leix, by Margaret, dau. and heiress of Thomas, 3rd son of Pierce, 8th Earl of Ormonde). Through this marriage with the co-heiress of Moore, Mr Grehan of Mount Plunkett quarters the arms of O’More of Leix, and Butler, Ormonde.

Arms–Or, a trefoil, slipped, vert, on a chief, sa., three escallops, of the first; quartering O’More of Leix, Butler of Ormonde, and Hodson of St. John’s–the family of Hodson of St. John’s, is one of considerable antiquity, and at the decease, in 1829, of the last male heir, Oliver Hodson, Esq., a moiety of the St. John’s estates devolved on the present Patrick Grehan [III], Esq.

Crests–A demi-lion, gu. gorged, with three escallops

Motto–Ne oubliex

Seat–Mount Plunkett, Licarrow, Roscommon

Clonmeen Lodge

So that’s what Bernard Burke has to say; the reference to Stephan Grehan ([1776] – 1871) is slightly confusing, particularly in regard to “succeeded by the recent death of his cousin Major Grehan, s.p. to the representation of the Grehan family”. This branch of the Grehan family are the Grehans of Clonmeen, in co. Cork, and the elder Stephan Grehan really did live until 95. This branch of the family were rather better at holding on to their land than Uncle Patrick. They descend from Peter Grehan, Patrick Grehan Senior’s eldest brother, and his wife Mary Roche. Her brother John Roche married Mary Grehan, their sister. Stephan Grehan ([1776] – 1871) succeeded his father Peter, and was the principal beneficiary of his uncle John Roche. John Roche’s legacy brought Clonmeen into the family, and they successfully held onto it for roughly the next one hundred and fifty years. The family sold Clonmeen in 1975, and the estate and family papers are now in the Boole Library, University College, Cork. At its height in the 1870’s the estate amounted to 7,000 acres [approximately 11 sq. miles]  in co. Cork

There are three Patrick Grehans in this post, I am going to use  suffixes to distinguish between them.  The suffix was not used by them and does not appear in any records. Patrick Grehan III  is Celia O’Bryen’s brother, and so a great, great, great uncle. He was the son of Patrick Grehan Junior (1791 – 1853), grandson of Patrick Grehan Senior (1758 – 1832),  and  Thady Grehan’s (c.1726 – 1792) great grandson. But this post is principally about Uncle Patrick.

St Leonards Bromley-by-Bow

He was born  in Ireland in 1818, and died 1877 in Hampstead.  He married Fanny (Frances Susan) Pitchford in 1842 in Poplar, [probably the parish of St Leonard, Bromley (not the South London one)] London.  She was born 1821 in Stratford, (the Olympics one, not the Shakespeare one) then in Essex, and died 1893 in Hampstead. 

I’ve struggled with whether the Grehans regarded themselves as Irish, or English, or British. In all probability, it’s a mixture of all three, with further shading done with a mixture of class, and religion. The family is fairly mobile, moving between Ireland , and England, and a substantial part of Patrick Grehan III’s early life seems to have been in England, though he was born in Ireland. He is the eldest of the three children of Patrick Grehan Junior by his first wife Catherine Meecham.

    1. Patrick III (born 21 Mar 1818)
    2. Joseph Maunsell (born about 1829)
    3. Celia Mary (born about 1831)

Patrick was born in Ireland, Maunsell in “foreign parts” according to the 1841 census, and Celia in Preston. Initially, it all seems rather peculiar. But as both Patrick, and Maunsell went to Stonyhurst; and Patrick was there between September 1830 and July 1836, it would help explain Celia’s birth in Preston, nearby.

Stonyhurst College

So far, it’s relatively uncomplicated. We have an affluent Anglo/Irish family sending their sons to the oldest Catholic boys school in England. Stonyhurst had started as the Jesuit College at St Omer in what was then the Spanish Low Countries in 1593, moving to Bruges in 1762, then to Liège in 1773, and finally moving to Lancashire in 1794.  Patrick Grehan III was following a family tradition, his father and both uncles went to Stonyhurst soon after it moved to England. Their cousin Stephan Grehan was one of the last pupils to have studied in France, the school being forced to move because of the French Revolution. The tradition continued in the family, with some of Patrick Grehan Junior’s sons, grandsons, great grandsons, and great great grandsons all attending as well.

In 1841, the Grehans were living at Furze Hall, in Fryerning, Essex, where we find Patrick Grehan Junior aged fifty, his wife Harriet, and ten year old Celia, four year old Ignatius,[his only child with his second wife Harriet (nee Lescher)] and four servants. Patrick Grehan Junior had married Harriet Lescher as his second wife, in Brighton in 1836. It was the start of a long inter-linking between the Grehan and Lescher families.

Two Lescher brothers, Joseph Francis, and William had emigrated from Kertzfeld, in Alsace by 1778, eleven years before the fall of the Bastille. The two brothers became partners in a starch factory.  Joseph purchased the estate of Boyles Court in Essex in 1826, but William remained in London, in Bromley, East London where he had married in 1798. The two households are about twenty miles apart.  Boyles Court, is still in the countryside just outside  Brentwood, and just outside the M25. It’s about four miles west of the Petre family at Thorndon Hall, and about ten miles from Furze Hall.

According to “the Life of Sister Mary of Saint Philip” (Fanny Lescher). “William Lescher’s youngest sister Harriet had married Patrick Grehan of Worth Hall. Her stepson, Patrick Grehan, married Fanny Pitchford in 1842, and the young couple made their home at “ The Furze ” at Southweald in Essex, near Boyles Court. In this same year, Fanny Lescher made her social debut at the wedding of another cousin, Eleanor Walmesley, who married Lord Petre’s second son.”

It all gets massively intertwined at this point. But to try to put it as simply as possible. Patrick Grehan Junior married twice, first to Catherine Meecham in 1817, and then, after she died to Harriet Lescher in 1836. The relatively straightforward statement  “Her stepson, Patrick Grehan, married Fanny Pitchford” should also include the fact that Fanny Pitchford is also Harriet’s great niece. William and Harriet’s mother was Mary Ann Copp (1775 –1858), and her elder sister, the splendidly named Cleopha Copp had married John Nyren (1764 -1837). He was a first-class cricketer, and the author of  “The Young Cricketer’s Tutor, comprising full directions for playing the elegant and manly game of cricket, with a complete version of its laws and regulations, by John Nyren; a Player in the celebrated Old Hambledon Club and in the Mary-le-Bone Club.” published in 1833 which was one of the first published Laws of cricket. Their daughter Susan Nyren married John Pitchford (1772 c.-1839) who was a chemist, and political radical  in Norwich. He had also been educated by the Jesuits in St Omer.

So radical, and Catholic; it’s a combustable mixture at a time when both were regarded with suspicion.  Paddy and Fanny were marrying only seven years after the Marriage Act of 1836 had been passed, allowing Catholics to legally marry in Catholic churches; and Catholics in public life were regarded suspiciously up to, and beyond, the turn of the C19th.

It’s not entirely clear whether the newly-weds lived with his father, and step-mother at Furze Hall, or whether Patrick and Harriet had moved. They later lived for a time at his brother’s house, Worth Hall, in Sussex. But certainly in 1841, various sides of the family were in very close proximity. Two of Harriet Grehan’s nephews, Edward and William Lescher were at Stonyhurst, as was her step-son Joseph Maunsell Grehan. All are clearly visible on the census return that year.

“The Grehans left Southweald, in Essex, in the autumn of 1847 to fix their home at Mount Plunket in County Roscommon..” according to the Life of Sister Mary of Saint Philip (Fanny Lescher).  It’s an extraordinary time to move to a poor, rural, part of Ireland. It’s the height of the Famine, in one of the areas that suffered most. They lived at Mountplunkett, Roscommon, Ireland, in the 1850s; leased by Patrick III in 1847 and then bought by him in 1851.  In the 1850s Patrick Grehan III also held lands in the parishes of Killinvoy and St Johns,  co. Roscommon, which he had inherited  via his maternal grandmother,  Catherine Hodson, who was the co-heiress of William Hodson, Lord of the Manor of St. John’s, co. Roscommon.

Patrick Grehan Junior died in Clifton, Bristol,in 1852,  and his will was proved in  London on the 24th March 1853, where Patrick III was the residual legatee. He had previously been left £ 1,000 in his grandfather Patrick Grehan Senior’s will, and received that in 1832.

Patrick Grehan III claimed descent from Rory O’More of Leix, and Thomas, 3rd son of Pierce, 8th Earl of Ormonde, via his paternal grandmother Judith Moore.  As a result, Patrick III was granted Arms in 1863 that included those from St. John’s and quartered O’More of Leix and Butler of Ormonde. There is a record of the confirmation of arms to Patrick Grehan III, in 1863

  • National Library of Ireland: Arms of Grehan of Mount Plunkett, Co Roscommon, 1863. GO MS 179: 101
  • National Library of Ireland:  Copy of confirmation of arms to Patrick Grehan (III), Mount Plunkett & St Johns, Co Roscommon, grandson of Patrick Grehan (Senior)of Dublin, merchant, 5 June 1863. GO MS 109: 13-14

In January 1870 the Estate of Patrick Grehan III amounting to 2,745 acres in the baronies of Athlone, Ballintober, Ballymoe and Castlerea was advertised for sale under a bankruptcy proceeding. The Mountplunkett estate and the part of South Park Demesne in the barony of Castlereagh were re-advertised in May 1870. The Irish Times reported that these lots were sold to Rev. W. West and Owen O’Connor. 

Patrick Grehan III died in Hampstead, in early 1877, at almost the same time as his step-mother Harriet Grehan. This seems to have been at the house of Frank Harwood Lescher [Harriett’s nephew and  Patrick Grehan III’s son-in -law]  Mary O’Conor Graham Grehan [Patrick Grehan III’s daughter] had married her cousin Frank Harwood Lescher [Harriett’s nephew] in 1873.

Link to BLG 1871: http://tinyurl.com/pqu2tuj

Link to Wikipedia for Piers Butler: http://tinyurl.com/nurhox8