Obituary – Alderman Ernest A. O’Bryen 3rd May 1919

ALDERMAN ERNEST A. O’BRYEN.

We regret to record the death of Alderman Ernest A. O’Bryen, Mayor of Hampstead, which took place on Saturday night, at the age of fifty-three years, following on an operation from which he at first seemed to be progressing favourably. Educated at Stonyhurst and Cooper’s Hill, he spent some ten years in the Indian Forest Service in Upper Burmah, shortly after its annexation. He retired from the service in 1897 and married in the following year, Gertrude, daughter of the late Alfred Pursell. In 1913 he was elected Mayor of Hampstead, first Catholic to hold that position, and held it till his death. In 1916 he was President of the Stonyhurst Association and the same year was elected a Vice-President of the London Circle of the Catenian Association. During the war he took a leading part in making arrangements for the feeding and accommodation of Belgian refugees, and he also organised and equipped hospitals for the British Red Cross and St. John Ambulance. In 1915, Alderman O’Bryen was instrumental in raising the 183rd Howitzer Brigade and the 138th and 139th Heavy Batteries of Royal Garrison Artillery.

The funeral took place on Wednesday. The Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Dominic’s Priory, Haverstock Hill, by Father Bodkin, S. J. Among those present were Mrs. O’Bryen and her five children, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Winstanley, Captain and Mrs. Parker, Mr. Alfred Pursell, Mrs. Edwardes, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Bellord, Mr. Frank Pursell, Mr. Alfred O’Bryen, Mrs. Rex O’Bryen, Mrs. Basil O’Bryen, the Deputy Mayor, the Town Clerk, Aldermen and Councillors of the Borough of Hampstead, the Vice-Chairman of the London County Council (Mr. A. T. Taylor, L.C.C.), Alderman Sir William Dunn, Bart., Alderman J. W. Gilbert, L.C.C., Mr. W. Reynolds, L.C.C., Mr. John O’Connor, K.C., Canon Burton, Father Robert Bracey, 0.P., Rev. J. Keating, S.J., Father John Leather, 0.P., Mr. J. G. Bellord, Dr. Ernest Ware, Mr. Synnott, Mr. Lescher, and many others. Father Bodkin also gave the Absolutions, and officiated at the interment at Kensal Green, assisted by Father John Leather. Several communities of nuns were also represented in the church. The children from Bartram’s Orphanage lined the road near the church and the entrance to the avenue at the cemetery.

“The Catholic body in London has suffered a severe loss by the death of Alderman Ernest O’Bryen,” writes one who knew him. “The number of Catholic laymen who take a prominent share in London public life is unfortunately not very large, and the untimely death of one who had achieved such a notable success as to be elected six times in succession Mayor of the borough of Hampstead, in which he lived, must fill with deepest regret all those, interested in Catholic social effort in the Metropolis. Those who had the privilege of knowing Ernest O’Bryen intimately were not surprised that he secured the confidence and the esteem of his fellow workers, both Catholic and non-Catholic. An able administrator, with a sound judgment, a strong resolution, a persuasive manner, and a power of appropriate silence—the last a valuable gift in public life, his two outstanding qualities were perhaps his loyalty and his generosity of service. He was loyal, most loyal, to his religious beliefs and practices, loyal to his country, loyal to his friends, and loyal to those co-operating with him. His fellow Catholics know of his loyalty to his religion : Hampstead marked its appreciation of his loyalty to his country at the beginning of the war by re-electing him as Mayor five times to see the war through ; many like the writer have experienced his loyalty to his friends, which showed itself in times of anxiety and difficulty, not in word service but in practical form ; whilst of his loyalty to those co-operating with him his record in public life and in many Catholic organizations with which he was connected will bear willing witness.” 

His great generosity of service has undoubtedly contributed to his breakdown in health. Few London Mayors have exceeded his standard of effort as first citizen of a London borough throughout the difficult period of the national emergency. His achievements in connection with the Prince of Wales Fund, Red Cross and St. John Ambulance work, Belgian Refugees, recruiting for Kitchener’s Army and the Derby Scheme, the Hampstead Tribunal for exemptions from military service of which he was Chairman, the War Loan Campaign, the Food Economy Campaign and the provision of allotments—all are in the records of Hampstead public life, and it is to be deeply regretted that he has not lived to receive the official recognition of these services, which he so richly merited. The Catholic body in London, certainly, may be proud of the excellent record of public service for the common good which a Catholic layman has achieved.

Of his Catholic work it is unnecessary to write at length. The Catholic Federation, in its early days, the Catenian Society, the Stonyhurst Association, Catholic elementary schools, have by his death lost a good friend. If he had been spared, and, as seemed likely, his scope of public service had been increased, all these associations would have benefited materially from his support. His last visit to the writer was with a view to securing material assistance for a Catholic charitable institution, in the development of which he took great interest. His untimely death certainly creates a void in London Catholic life, which it will be very difficult to fill.

The above text was found on p.28, 3rd May 1919 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 .

Simon Conyers Scrope and Valentine Cary-Elwes

MR. SCROPE.

With deep regret we announce the death of Mr. Scrope, which took place at Danby Hall on Wednesday, after a short illness, during which be received all the Last Sacraments. Born in 1858, and educated at Stonyhurst and the Oratory, Mr. Scrope lived almost all his life at Danby. He was a devoted Catholic, a thorough sportsman, and a true friend. He was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant, and for many years served in the Yorkshire Artillery Militia, in which he held the rank of Major and Hon. Lieut.- Colonel. Of the family he represented, it is probably superfluous to speak in a Catholic paper. The Times says : “Mr. Scrope was the head of one of the oldest and most famous families in English history. In the course of three centuries from Edward II. to Charles I. the house of Scrope produced two earls and twenty barons, one Chancellor, four Treasurers, and two Chief Justices of England, one Archbishop and two Bishops, five Knights of the Garter, and numerous Bannerets. Shakespeare mentions three of the Scrapes. The grandfather of Mr. Scrope, who died in 1872, laid claim to the earldom of Wiltshire, a creation of 1397, but the decision of the House of Lords was adverse, their decision not following the Devon case.” R.I.P.

MR. CARY-ELWES.

We regret to announce the death of Mr.[ Valentine]  Cary-Elwes of Great Billing, Northamptonshire, and of Roxby and Brigg, Lincolnshire. He was taken ill with double pneumonia on Sunday, and died at his Northamptonshire residence on Wednesday. Mr. Cary-Elwes, who was born in 1832, was the only surviving son of Cary Charles Elwes of Great Billing, was formerly in the 12th Lancers, and served in the Kaffir War in 1831-32. He was a magistrate and Deputy-Lieutenant for Lincolnshire, of which he was High Sheriff in 1873. The following year he was received into the Catholic Church. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He was twice married, his second wife being Alice Geraldine, youngest daughter of the Rev, the Hon. Henry Ward of Killinchy, County Down, brother of the third Viscount Bangor. He leaves two sons and one daughter. The funeral will take place at Billing on Monday. R.I.P.

The above text was found on p.14,19th June 1909 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 .

Consecration of the Vicar-Apostolic of Gibraltar 1899

THE NEW VICAR-APOSTOLIC OF GIBRALTAR. CONSECRATION AT HAVERSTOCK HILL.

All who were present on Monday last at the church of the Dominican Fathers, Haverstock Hill, on the occasion of the consecration of Bishop Bellord for the Vicariate of Gibraltar must have been impressed by the fitness of the noble edifice for so great a function. The open and spacious sanctuary, well raised above the level of the nave, presented an unrestricted view to all who thronged the enormous church. The beautiful oaken stalls, carved by Peters of Antwerp, were filled with long lines of white-robed friars, black-robed Benedictines, Augurtinians and Passionists, purple-robed Monsignori, and secular priests in their graceful lace-trimmed cottas, while moving about the altar were the officiating prelates and their numerous assistants in performance of their sacred rites and clothed in the symbolic grandeur of their sacred vestments. And through all the splendour of colour and moving forms a grand simplicity was manifest. Those who were present, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, – and not a few non-Catholics were in evidence, – must have been moved, too, by the supreme care and the many safeguards with which the Church in all the details of a sublime ritual surrounds the great act by which the apostolic commission is handed down to individuals in unbroken continuity as it was received from Christ.

The Bishop of Emmaus was the consecrator, and the Assistant-Bishops were Bishop Brindle, D.S.0 , and the Bishop of Southwark. These were attended by their chaplains, the Revv. Fathers Davies and T. Hogan for the Bishop of Emmaus : Fathers Reekes and Coote for the Bishop of Southwark ; Fathers Denny and C. Cox for the Bishop of Hermopolis ; and Fathers Amigo and Armstrong for the Bishop-Elect. The Cantors were the Revv. Fathers Pennington and Wyatt, and the masters of ceremonies Fathers G. Cox and Mgr. Dunn.

Occupying places in the stalls were the Very Revv. Father John Procter, O.P., Provincial ; Father Gabriel Whitacre, O.P., Prior ; the Right Rev. Mgri. Goddard, Moyes, Fenton and Connelly; the Very Revv, Dr. Johnstone, V.G., Provost Moore, Canons Keatinge, Pycke, Scannell and Fannan ; the Revv. Dr. Aidan Gasquet, O.S.B., Father Arthur, C.P. ; Deans Lucas, Reardon, Vere ; several army chaplains ; the Very Rev. P. r ., Kelly, O.S.A. ; the Dominican Fathers Thomas Laws, Reginald Buckler, Austin Rooke, Bernard Sears, Raphael Moss, and Gilbert Tigar ; while a large number of secular priests from several dioceses were in the body of the church.

The Apostolic Brief having been read, the Bishop-elect took the episcopal oath prescribed by Pius VI. for Bishops in the British Empire. Then followed the Examen, in which, response to questions of the Consecrator, the Bishop-elect made solemn profession of faith and fealty and devotion to his episcopal duties, promising to preserve humility and patience, and to be gentle and tender to the poor and to strangers, and to all who suffer want. The Mass begins, the Litanies of the Saints are chanted, the Book of the Gospels is laid open on the shoulders of the Elect in token that while he is appointed to rule over others he himself is subject to the law of the Gospel. A swift-winged moment swept by and the mighty and mysterious act has passed. The consecrating hands have been imposed and the simple word has been spoken ; ” Receive the Holy Ghost.” Almost unobserved, the great central act has been consummated. Then the Mass proceeded, interwoven with, the signs and ceremonies continued the kiss of peace and brotherhood was given, the new-made Bishop was enthroned and endowed with mitre, ring and crozier, while the praises of the Te Deum are resounding, with his new born powers he imparts his solemn benediction. A touch of human interest was there when the Bishop proceeding round the church made scarcely perceptible pause as he extended his hand to a Sister of Mercy who knelt in the foremost seat, and thus it came about that his sister was the first to kiss his hand and receive his happy blessing.

MGR. BELLORD’S CAREER.

The Right Rev. James Bellord, to give the title in full, Bishop of Milevis and Vicar-Apostolic of Gibraltar, was born In London in 1846, educated at St. Edmund’s College, Ware, an, ordained priest at Hammersmith on March 12, 1870, Like Mgr. Brindle, the new Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal Vaughan, Mgr. Bellord has had a distinguished career as a military chaplain. He served with the troops in Bermuda in 1875-77, and, again in 1888-92, and also through the Zulu, the Boer, and the Egyptian campaigns. Upon him devolved the sad duty of performing the last rites over the body of the late Prince Imperial of France, who, it will be remembered, lost his life during the first mentioned war. The Bishop was present at the battle of Ulundi, at which the Zulus were finally subdued at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, in Egypt, Father Bellord was severely wounded early in the action, but, despite his own sufferings, he courageously insisted on being carried round to give the consolations of religion to the wounded and dying. For the last few years he has been attached to the garrison at Colchester. Needless to tell, he has always been most popular both with the officers and men at all the stations at which he has served. In consequence of his appointment to Gibraltar the Bishop retires from the army after near thirty years’ service.

Father Bellord is the author of some devotional works, and, last year he published a remarkable book, Meditations on Christian Dogma, founded on St. Thomas Aquinas, to which the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster contributed a preface: and which has been most favourably received. Three of his sisters are nuns, two being Sisters of Notre Dame and the other a Sister of Mercy at the convent in Crispin-street, London,

LETTER FROM THE EMPRESS EUGENIE.

After the ceremonies luncheon was provided in the Priory. Bishop Patterson, in proposing the health of the new Bishop, referred to him in warm and felicitous terms, and said he had known him man and boy all his life, and had enjoyed as well the friendship of his parents. The toast was receive enthusiastically, and drunk with musical honours. Father Amigo, on behalf of the people of Gibraltar, promised the Bishop a hearty welcome, and Mgr. Goddard, in the course of some graceful reference to the relations of the Bishop, when be was chaplain to the forces in Zululand, with the unfortunate young Prince to whom he administered the last consolations of religion, read the following letter from the Empress :

Villa Cyrnos, Cap Martin.

Cher Monsignor Goddard,—J’ai communiqué à S.M. l’Imperatrice votre lettre du 17e l’informant de la nomination du Père Bellord, à l’Evêché de Gibraltar. Sa Majesté a appris avec plaisir cette nouvelle. Elle se réjouira toujours de ce qui pourra arriver d’heureux à ceux, de près ou de loin, se rattachent à la mémoire de son malheureux fils – et elle felicite le Père Bellord de son élévation a l’Episcopat.

Sa Majesté vous remercie de votre bon souvenir. Quoiqu’elle ne pas complêtement rétablie l’état de sa santé s’est amelioré.  Veuillez agreer, cher Monsignor, l’expression de mes sentiments respectueux et dévoués.

Franceschini Pistri

The Bishop, in his reply, thanked all who had been so kind to him, and whom he held in dear remembrance. The toast of Bishop Patterson was also drank.

In the afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Bellord held a reception at their house in Belsize Park Gardens, at which, besides the Bishops and the clergy who had assisted at the functions of the morning, the following ladies and gentlemen were present with many other friends of the family : Colonel Donovan, Major Tibbs, Major Ration, Dr. Ware, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Hallett, Mr. and Mrs. Le Brasseur, Mr. and Mrs. E. Hanley and Miss Hanley, the Hon. Mr. Parker and Lady Parker, Mr. and Mrs. E. O’Bryen, and Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Pursell.

The members of the Deanery of Colchester presented the Bishop with a handsome pectoral cross as a token of their regard. A gift highly valued for its givers and very beautiful in itself, was the episcopal ring, presented by his sisters, who, as has been said, are nuns. The exquisite Gothic mitre, which Was worn by the Bishop at the ceremony, and was much admired for its beauty, was the gift of his brother, Mr. E. J. Bellord.

The church at Haverstock Hill is full of interest to those who have watched the Catholic revival in England and the reintroduction of the religious orders into the country.

The Friars Preachers or Dominicans, commonly called Black Friars, came into England in 1221, and founded a house in Holborn, removed in 1286 to Ludgate. This was destroyed in 1538, and the Times Office is built on part of the site. Under Queen Mary they established another community in Great St. Bartholomew’s, Smithfield, in 1556, but this was destroyed by Queen Elizabeth in 1559. On the invitation of Cardinal Wise-man, in 1861, the Friars commenced a mission in Kentish Town, and in 1863 began a Priory on Haverstock Hill, which was completed in four years, and solemnly opened May 31, 1883 , It has a total length of 200ft., the nave of 6 bays being 140ft., and the choir 60ft. Fourteen chapels and the high altar are dedicated to the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, each chapel in the aisles being 15ft. wide. The lady chapel on the right side of the choir, contains the altars of the Holy Rosary, St. Joseph and St. Dominic. The church is in the style of the 13th century, built of brick, with stone dressings. There are several good stained glass windows, especially in the choir, by Hardman and Co., Birmingham. The high altar (late decorated style) Put up and consecrated in December, 1889, cost £ 2,000. The Priory was built by the late Countess Tasker.

The above text was found on p.21,6th 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 .

Burke v. Keith

This is the final post, at least for now, in a series called “A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) ” . To re-cap slightly, my starting point for looking at William Burke was one of his sons-in-law Basil O’Bryen. Almost from the start of my research, Basil has been a source of fascination. Certainly a bigamist who abandoned his [second] wife and three children from two marriages. He appears to be fairly wealthy, though rather curiously, he seems not to be a beneficiary of his father’s will. Married at twenty-two to a woman ten years older, widowed, and remarried at the age of twenty-five. But, seemingly, well-thought of by William Henry Burke. As detailed in part four, I had gone to the National Archives to see whether Burke v. Keith could shed any light on the story. It does, and doesn’t, and here’s why.

The front page of the court case was a surprise.

1872-B-No 246 Filed 28th November 1872 pursuant to order dated 1st November 1872

In Chancery

between

William Henry Burke – plaintiff

and

Wilson Keith

Basil William O’Bryen, and Harriet Matilda, his wife

Mary Ann Burke, the wife of William Henry Burke.

and

William Donald Henry Burke

Edmund John Burke

Kate Alice Burke (spinster)

Sarah Elizabeth Burke (spinster)

Walter Keith Burke

all infants

Defendants

So Burke v. Keith and others is a case where Henry Burke is in a legal dispute with his sister, and two brothers-in-law, [Wilson Keith is Mary Ann Burke’s brother] and his wife, and children are also defendants in the case. Prior to this case, there had been the settlement of a caveat against the proof of WHB’s will by Henry Burke, and agreed in November 1870. More detail can be seen in “A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) ” part four. Burke v. O’Bryen followed some time before August 1871, though very frustratingly I still don’t know what it was about. It is, however, safe to assume Henry Burke is still not happy, and, by 1872, Henry is back in court again.  There is a reference to Burke v. O’Bryen 1871 B no 80, which he partly won, in the Burke v. Keith papers, where the Vice Chancellor Sir John Wickens “recognized his right to the residuary estate” but the order was expressly made “ subject to any arrangements the parties may have made between themselves as to the same”.

This time Henry is trying to get the trust for his wife and children set aside. To summarise some of  the key parts:

William Henry Burke of 17 Newman Street, St Marylebone filed his bill of complaint in Chancery on 30th July 1872, amended 3rd October 1872. Essentially his complaint was against the trust his father set up for his daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.

“An indenture of voluntary settlement dated 6th May 1870 was made and executed between and by William Henry Burke since deceased the father of the plaintiff William Henry Burke of the one part and the said William Henry Burke the father, the defendant Harriett Matilda O’Bryen (therein called Harriett Matilda Burke), the defendant Wilson Keith, and the defendant Basil William O’Bryen on the other part as follows: – “

All their addresses are given, William and Harriett Burke are at 32 Thistle Grove, South Kensington, Wilson Keith “of Earls Court, esquire”, and Basil O’Bryen at 18 Gunter Grove, Chelsea. The settlement document was witnessed by John Roche O’Bryen at 28 Thistle Grove, and Corinne O’Bryen who was at 18 Thistle Grove on or about 6th May 1870. 

The “ indenture witnesseth that in pursuance of the said recited desire on the part of the settlor and in consideration of the love and affection which the settlor has and beareth towards his daughter-in-law Mary Anne Burke, the wife of his son Henry Burke, and her issue by his son”

It’s all slightly strange, initially it seems to be WHB looking after his daughter-in-law, and some of his grandchildren. The question is why? Henry Burke was thirty-five years old, he was first a sculptor, and then set up his own firm W. H. Burke & Co.,  who were “at first sculptors and importers of marble and bronze before becoming one of the pioneering firms of the Victorian mosaic revival.” By 1871, he was occupying all of 17 Newman Street, just off Oxford Street  ” these ‘very extensive premises’ included an octagonal modelling room and a large ‘marble yard’ extending behind the neighbours at Nos 18 and 19, reached via Newman Passage.”  In the late 1850s the main premises had become the British and Foreign Marble Galleries of Edwardes, Edwardes & Co., boasting the largest stock in Europe of marble sculpture, and by 1865 were Henry’s workshops. In 1851-2, the octagon room had been used as a studio by Ford Madox Brown, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Henry Burke had been in partnership with the Edwardes brothers, and Alfred Edwardes was married to Henry Burke’s elder sister Elizabeth. Henry was recorded in the 1871 census as employing 28 men, and 1 boy. So he appears to have been doing quite well, so why did his father feel the need to provide for Mary Burke separately?

The settlement was arranged to pay Mary £ 300 a year in equal quarterly payments for her “sole separate and inalienable use” with a further caveat that if Henry becomes bankrupt then Mary Burke gets all the income over and above the £300 per year [using the same methodology as elsewhere in these posts, it is a modern-day equivalent of £ 224,000]. Otherwise, the rest of the income is to be invested until the youngest child is 24 or in the case of girls married. The trustees can dispose of assets as they see fit. 

Henry and Mary Burke’s children were

  • William Donald Henry Burke , then aged 10
  • Edmund John Burke then aged 8
  • Kate Alice Burke (spinster) then aged 6
  • Sarah Elizabeth Burke (spinster) then aged 3
  • Walter Keith Burke  then aged 1
  • and George Arthur Burke who died, aged four months, in July 1868

Henry claims that he is entitled to the residuary estate of his father, and the trust funds should be part of it because the length of the entail is so long as to make it ” void ”, and he should get the income apart from Mary’s £ 300 p.a.

This is where it all gets unbelievably frustrating. Three large archive boxes full of papers, most of which were un-related to the case, and crucially NO VERDICT.

It still sheds very little light on why twenty-two year old Basil O’Bryen was regarded as a suitable trustee. Wilson Keith, Mary Burke’s younger brother seems slightly better, but even then he’s only twenty-six. It does make one wonder if part of Henry’s case was simply pique at having to deal with two much younger trustees?

John Roche O’Bryen’s will – 1870

THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me John Roche O’Bryen Esquire of Thistle Grove Brompton in the County of Middlesex Doctor of Medicine I appoint my dear wife Celia Mary O’Bryen and the Reverend Henry Hewett O’Bryen D.D. my oldest son to be Executrix and Executors and Trustees of this my Will and Guardians of my infant children during their respective minorities And I direct that my children be educated in the one Holy Catholic Church of which Pius IX is now Pope. I bequeath to my said dear wife all the wines liquors and other consumable effects which shall at my decease be in or about my dwelling house I also bequeath to my said wife the sum of one hundred pounds for her immediate occasion to be paid to her as soon as conveniently may be after my decease I devise the freehold copyhold and leasehold estates to which I shall be entitled at my decease with their appurtenants unto and to the use of my said trustees their heirs executors administrators and assigns according to the nature thereof respectively upon trust when and as my said trustees in order to effectuate any of the purposes of my Will or with a view to the advantage of my estate for the more convenient division thereof among the persons entitled thereto shall in their discretion find it necessary or expedient so to do to sell my said estates or any part thereof together or in parcels by public auction or private contract or to raise money by mortgaging in fee or for years or by charging my said estates or any part thereof and to do all acts requisite for effecting or facilitating any sale mortgage or charge pursuant to this trust I bequeath the residue of my Personal Estate and effects of every kind to which I shall be entitled at my decease unto the said Celia Mary O’Bryen and the Reverend Henry Hewett O’Bryen upon trust subject as herein after mentioned to convert into money get in and receive so much thereof as shall not consist of ready money or of such investments in stocks funds or securities (whether of the description contemplated by the trust for investment herein after contained or not) as my said trustees shall think it desirable to continue And I direct my said trustees to receive the money to arise from my said residuary personal estates and stand possessed thereof together with the stocks funds and securities to be continued as last aforesaid upon the trusts herein after declared concerning the same And as to the monies to arise from the execution of the trusts herein before contained concerning my real and residuary personal estate and not presently applicable to the purposes of my Will I direct my said trustees to invest the same in their names in or upon any of the securities herein after mentioned And I authorize them to vary and transpose at their discretion as well the stocks funds and securities whereon such investment shall be made as any stocks funds or securities which shall at my decease compose part of my personal estate for any other stocks funds or securities of the description contemplated by the preceding direction And I direct my said trustees to stand seized and possessed of my residuary real and personal estate upon the trusts herein after expressed and declared concerning the same that is to say upon trust to permit my said wife to occupy and enjoy at 28 Thistle Grove my residence aforesaid and to have the use of the furniture and other effects in and about the same including the horse and carriage during her life provided she shall so long remain my widow And upon trust to pay the net income arising from the residue of my said real and personal estate to my said dear wife Celia Mary for her life for the maintenance of herself and children and their education which I request may be of the best character in her power In the event of my said wife Celia Mary marrying again after my decease she will have the interest of her own fortune which is already settled upon her And I direct my trustees to stand possessed of the income of my residuary estate during the remainder of the life of my said wife upon trust for the equal benefit of all my children by my said wife And upon trust from and after my decease to set apart out of my residuary estate the sum of one thousand pounds or stocks or shares forming part of my residuary estate of that value at the market price of the day and to pay or transfer the same to the trustees for the time being of a certain Indenture of Settlement bearing date the thirteenth day of May one thousand eight hundred and seventy made between me of the first part my daughter Corine Margaret O’Bryen of the second part and Mrs Mary Celia O’Bryen and Miss Harriet Matilda Burke of 32 Thistle Grove aforesaid of the third part to be held by such trustees upon such and the same trusts as are declared in and by the said Indenture of the trust estate thereby settled And upon trust after the decease of my said wife Celia Mary to set apart out of my residuary estate the further sum of three thousand pounds or stocks and shares forming part of my residuary estate of that value at the market price of the day to be held by them upon trusts herein after expressed and declared for the benefit of my daughter Evelyn and her issue and to set apart in like manner the sum of two thousand pounds for each of my other children by my said wife Celia Mary living at my death And I direct that the income to arise from each said sum of three thousand pounds and the said sums of two thousand pounds and the investments thereof shall be applied to the benefit of my children respectively until they shall respectively attain the age of twenty five years when the corpus shall be paid to sons and shall be settled upon daughters in manner following that is to say Upon trust to pay the income thereof respectively to such daughter for her sole and separate use free from the control of her husbands and so that such daughters shall not have power to dispose of the income in the way of anticipation And upon trust after the decease of my said daughter in trust for all or such one or more of the child and children and remoter issue of my said daughter such remoter issue being born during the life time of my same daughter at such ages or times or age or time in such shares if more than one upon such conditions and in such manner as my same daughter shall by any deed or deeds with or without power of revocation shall appoint And in default of such appointment and so far as any such appointment shall not extend in trust for all the children of my said daughter who being a son or sons shall attain the age of twenty four years or being a daughter or daughters shall attain that age or marry under that age in equal shares and if there shall be but one such child then the whole to be in trust for such one child And subject to the payment of the several last mentioned sums be and shall stand possessed of my residuary real and personal estate in trust to pay or set apart in manner aforesaid and to transfer to the trustees of the said Indenture of Settlement of the thirteenth day of May one thousand eight hundred and seventy and to stand possessed of the ultimate residue of my estate in trust for such child or children of mine by my said wife Celia Mary as she shall by Will or deed appoint at her discretion the sons when they shall attain the age of twenty five years the daughters when they shall attain that age or marry under that age with the consent (if marrying after my death) of her or their respective guardian or guardians and if more than one in equal shares Provided always and I declare that if any child of mine for whom provision is made by this my Will shall die in my life time leaving issue in existence at my death and who being male attain the age of twenty one years or being female attain that age or marry under that age of each such child of mine so dying shall take by substitution as tenants in common in equal shares per stirpes if more than one (and so that no issue remoter than a child of such deceased child shall take except in case of the death in my life time of his her or their own parent and in the place of such parent) the provision which such child of mine would have taken under the trust in that behalf herein before declared had he or she survived but Provided always and I hereby declare that it shall be lawful for the said trustees or trustee for the time being after the death or future marriage of my said wife or during her widowhood with her consent in writing (and so that the present power may be resorted to for the purpose of making an addition to any of the respective legacies herein before bequeathed to each of my sons attaining the age of twenty five years and to each of my daughters attaining that age or marrying under that age with such consent as aforesaid and so augmenting the provision then immediately available for any such son or daughter of mine respectively) to raise any part or parts not exceeding in the whole one half of the then expectant share or presumptive share of any child under the trusts herein before declared and to apply the same for his or her advancement or benefit as the said trustees or trustee shall think fit And I hereby declare that the said trustees or trustee for the time being shall after the death or future marriage of my said wife apply the whole or such part as they or he shall think fit of the interest dividends and income of the share to which any child shall for the time being be entitled in expectancy under the trusts herein before declared for or towards his or her maintenance or education and may either themselves or himself apply the same or may pay the same to the guardian or guardians of such child for the purpose aforesaid without seeing to the application thereof and shall during such suspense of absolute vesting as aforesaid accumulate all the residue (if any) of the same interest dividends and income in the way of compound interest by investing the same and the resulting income thereof in or upon any such stocks funds shares or securities as are herein after mentioned for the benefit of the person or persons who under the trusts herein contained shall become entitled to the principal fund from which the same respectively shall have proceeded and may resort to the accumulations of any preceding year or years and apply the same for or towards the maintenance or education of the child for the time being presumptively entitled to the same in the same manner as such accumulations might have been applied had they been interest dividends or income arising from the original trust funds in the year in which they shall be so applied Provided always and I hereby declare that it shall be lawful for my trustees for the time being to defer and postpone the sale reversion and collection of the whole or any part or parts of my said real and personal estate respectively so long as to such trustees or trustee shall in their or his uncontrolled discretion deem proper but my real estate shall for the purpose of transmission be impressed with the quality of personalty from the time of my death And I empower the said trustees or trustee during such interval or postponement to manage and to let upon lease or from year to year my real and leasehold estates and to make out of the income or capital of my real and personal estate any outlay which such trustees or trustee may consider proper for improvements repairs insurance calls or shares premiums or policies or otherwise for the benefit or in respect of my real or personal estate And I declare that the net rents and profits or other income produced from every or any part of my real or personal estate previously to the conversion or collection thereof pursuant to the trusts herein before declared shall be applied in the same manner in all respects as if the same were income proceeding from such investments as are herein after directed or authorized and that the whole of the income produced from my estate (real or personal) in the actual condition or state of investment for the time being whether consisting of property or investments of an authorized or of an unauthorized description and whether of a permanent or a wasting character shall as well during the first year from my death and at all times afterwards be applicable as income under the trusts of this my Will no part thereof being in any event liable to be retained as corpus or capital but no reversion or other property not actually producing income which shall form part of my estate shall under the doctrine of constructive conversion or otherwise be treated as producing income or as entitling any party to the receipt of income Provided always and I further declare that notwithstanding any thing herein before contained any investments taken or made for the purpose of this my Will during the widowhood of my said wife (whether originally or upon a variation or transposition of investments) may with her concurrence and consent (whether she shall at the time be a trustee for the purposes of this my Will or not) be taken or made (if the trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will shall so think fit and in their his or her discretion) in or upon any Government or real or leasehold securities in the United Kingdom or Bank Stock or the Debenture Guaranteed or Preferred Stock or Shares or the debentures or obligations of any Railway or other Incorporated Company of the United Kingdom Colonial Bonds and Russian (Nicola) Bonds or any other stocks funds shares or securities which the said trustees or trustee shall consider fitting and safe and every investment so taken or made shall be deemed to all intents and purposes an authorized investment Provided always and I declare that the provision hereby made for my said wife shall be accepted by her in satisfaction and bar of the dower and freebeuth to which by the Common Law or by Custom she might be entitled in or out of the freehold copyhold or customary hereditaments of or to which I have been or am or shall be seized or entitled Provided always and I further declare that (unless as to any such sum I shall in writing direct to the contrary) all sums which I shall in my life time advance or give or covenant or agree to advance or give to or with any of my children on his or her marriage or otherwise for his or her advancement or preferment shall be taken in or towards satisfaction of the provision intended to be hereby made for such children (as to a child dying in my life time) for his or her issue taking by way of substitution as aforesaid for such child respectively and shall be brought into hotchpot and accounted for accordingly But so that with respect to any child of mine any such future advancement shall be taken as being primarily in or towards satisfaction of the legacy herein before bequeathed to such child of mine respectively and as to the excess only (if any) of the amount of such advancement above such legacy respectively shall be taken in or towards satisfaction of the share of such child in my residuary estate And with respect to the issue of any child of mine dying in my life time and such future advancement in favour of the parent shall not be accounted for unless the total amount of such advancement shall exceed two thousand pounds and then shall only be accounted for to the extent of the excess of such advancement above such sum of two thousand pounds And I declare that if any question shall arise as to the amount to be accounted for the same shall be determined by the trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will (other than the child the value of whose advancement shall be in question if such child shall happen to be a trustee of this my Will) according to their his or her discretion and such determination shall be final And I declare that if the trustees hereby appointed or either of them shall die in my life time or if they or either of them or any future trustee or trustees of this my Will shall die or desire to retire from or refuse or become incapable to act in the trusts of this my Will before the trust shall be fully performed then and in every such case it shall be lawful for my said wife during her life and after her decease for the continuing trustees or trustee for the time being of this my Will or if there shall be no continuing trustee then for the retiring or refusing trustees or trustee or the executors or administrators of the last acting trustee to appoint any other person or persons to be a trustee or trustees in the place of the trustee or trustees so dying or desiring to retire or refusing or becoming incapable to act as aforesaid with liberty upon any such appointment to increase or diminish the original number of trustees and upon every such appointment the trust premises shall be so conveyed and transferred that the same may become vested in the new trustee or trustees either jointly with the continuing trustee or trustees or solely as the case may require and every such new trustee (as well before as after the trust premises shall have become vested in him) shall have all the powers and authorities of the trustee in whose place he shall be substituted I devise and bequeath all estates vested in me as a trustee or mortgagee unto the said Celia Mary O’Bryen and the Reverend Henry Hewett O’Bryen their heirs executors and administrators subject to the trusts and equities affecting the same respectively but so that the money secured by any mortgage shall form part of my personal estate In witness whereof I the said John Roche O’Bryen the testator have to this my last Will and Testament contained in this and the nine preceding sheets of paper set my hand this sixteenth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy – John R. O’Bryen M.D. – Signed by the said John Roche O’Bryen the testator as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us (present at the same time) who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses – William Henry Burke 32 Thistle Grove, Brompton  – Chas Jas Richards Clerk to Jas Warner 61 Chancery Lane & 9 Livermere Road, Dalston

 

The Grant of Probate for John Roche O’Bryen’s Will shows assets valued at under £14,000. 

This transcription of John Roche O’Bryen’s Will is reproduced from the original manuscript copy retained by the Probate Office Sub Registry in York .

A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) part 4, Burke v. O’Bryen

A little over a year ago, I came across this in the national Archives catalogue,  ” Cause number: 1872 B246. Short title: Burke v Keith.”  Basil and Harriet O’Bryen were somehow involved in the case. I registered for a reader’s ticket, given the required notice because the records were stored off site, and was booked in for a visit to the National Archives in Kew.

National Archives, Kew

My original plan was to see if anything about Burke v. Keith could shed any light on Burke v. O’Bryen. It was a rather odd experience. Very close, in fact only a few stops on the Overground. Almost airport-style searches for entry into the reading rooms, and then a collection of the materials ordered via a rather strange two-way locker system.  Everyone else seemed to be either collecting books, or A4 box files, or even large heavy-duty brown envelopes. What I seemed to be collecting was larger. “Ah, the large order” was what the lady at the desk said ” I’ll bring the trolley round to your locker. It’ll probably be best if you take the boxes out one at a time, and return each one before you collect the next.”

What turned up was three cardboard archive boxes, each tied with rather elderly bits of string, and after a lot of looking through irrelevant, unrelated cases. I found this

1872-B-No 246 Filed 28th November 1872 pursuant to order dated 1st November 1872

In Chancery

between

William Henry Burke – plaintiff

and

Wilson Keith

Basil William O’Bryen, and Harriet Matilda, his wife

Mary Ann Burke, the wife of William Henry Burke.

and

William Donald Henry Burke

Edmund John Burke

Kate Alice Burke (spinster)

Sarah Elizabeth Burke (spinster)

Walter Keith Burke

all infants

Defendants

So Burke v. Keith and others is a case where Henry Burke is in a legal dispute with his sister, and two brothers-in-law, [Wilson Keith is Mary Ann Burke’s brother] and his wife, and children are also defendants in the case. What follows is fairly full and verbatim:

The joint and several answer of Wilson Keith, Basil William O’Bryen, and Harriett Matilda, his wife, three of the above-named defendants to the amended bill of complaint of the above named Plaintiff.

In answer to the amended said bill we, Wilson Keith, Basil William O’Bryen, and Harriett Matilda O’Bryen, say as follows-

  1. We believe the statements contained in the first eight paragraphs of the Plaintiff’s Bill of Complaint are correct.
  2. The said William Henry Burke the testator in the Bill named made his will dated the 6th day of May 1870 and thereby after making certain bequests and devises he gave all the residue of his real and personal estate to his daughter the defendant Harriett Matilda O’Bryen then Harriett Matilda Burke absolutely and he appointed the defendant Harriett Matilda O’Bryen and George William Wood and the defendant Basil William O’Bryen, executrix and executors of his said will.
  3. The said testator died on the 17th July 1870 without having revoked or altered his said will except so far as the same was revoked or altered by a codicil thereto which did not affect the disposition of residue or the appointment of executors in the will contained.
  4. Upon the testator’s death a caveat was entered by the Plaintiff William Henry Burke  against the proof of the said will and codicil. The said caveat was however withdrawn and the said will and codicil admitted to probate upon an arrangement being come to between the Plaintiff and the defendant Harriett Matilda O’Bryen then Harriett Matilda Burke. The said arrangement was embodied in the following agreement which was duly signed by the solicitors of the parties on 19th November 1870.

“Miss Burke to assign Green’s mortgage debt and the West Drayton mortgage and the securities for the same”

“Miss Burke to take upon herself payment of Mr and Mrs Shea’s annuity”

“Mr Burke to provide for the child Rhoda and to pay Messrs Jenkinsons’ and Mr Lovejoy’s charges and expenses in respect of Green’s mortgage.”

“Miss Burke to pay all debts and charges out of residue, The household furniture, plate, linen, brougham, and horse and things in and about the house and premises not to be considered residue but to be the property of Miss Burke.

“Miss Burke to be entitled to retain out of residue £200 and £500 to dispose of as she sees fit.”

“The balance of the residue (if any)to be handed to Mr Burke.”

“Miss Burke to execute deeds in accordance with drafts marked, A,B, and C. Mr Burke to execute deed in accordance with draft marked D.

“If residue insufficient to pay the debts and charges including the £200 and £500 Mr Burke is to make up deficiency to the extent of £1000 to be paid in equal instalments in one and two years. If the deficiency should not exceed £500 to be paid within one year and if not exceeding £250 to be paid on demand.

It’s not Burke v. O’Bryen, in fact it seems to be rather the reverse. An out-of-court settlement between Henry Burke and his younger sister, which seems to be very much in his favour. Harriet does get most, if not all, of the house contents, but by and large, Henry Burke seems to have got his way regarding the residue.

It still leaves the question about what exactly Burke v. O’Bryen in 1871 was about. It must have happened between the 1st February, when Harriet and Basil were married, and 8th August 1871 when the notice was published in the London Gazette. 

There are two other major questions raised by Harriet and Henry’s settlement. First,  why does Henry agree for “Mr Burke to provide for the child Rhoda.” Who is she, and why does she need to be provided for? Secondly, who are Mr and Mrs Shea, and why does Harriet ” take upon herself payment of Mr and Mrs Shea’s annuity” ?

The other person who doesn’t really seem to appear much is Elizabeth Sarah Burke. In 1870, she was forty years old , and had been married to Alfred Edwardes for fourteen years, all five of their children had been born, and their eldest son was about eleven years old. Both Elizabeth and Alfred seem to have avoided the dispute.

But the next step is to look in greater detail about what Burke v. Keith can tell us.

A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) part 3, the court cases.

Part of the William Henry Burke story  [If you haven’t seen part 1 and part 2 use the links here]  was always going to come from what the court case was. Quite early on, I had come across this cutting from the London Gazette.

So it’s quite clear that there has been some sort of argument about the will. Given the title of the case referred to “Burke against O’Bryen” and that George Wood is “one of the defendants and executors”, it must be the case that either Basil or Harriet O’Bryen, or, most likely, both, were also defendants. The only close adult member of the Burke family likely to be the claimant is (William) Henry Burke, and it appears from this notice that he had some sort of dispute with his sister, and a brother-in-law. So the search was on for what the case was about. We knew from the details in the ” Illustrated London News “ in January 1871 that WHB left about £ 18,000. The only figures in that clipping were that Henry Burke received shares worth £ 6,070 ” beyond any other provision made for him “. We also know that he made “provision and settlement for his two daughters, and daughter in law,” , and that Harriet received £ 500 to give to charity as she saw fit, and that she was the  “residuary legatee of both his real and personal estate “. So the bulk of the estate, almost two-thirds in fact, are either settled on the daughters, and daughter-in-law, or part of the residual estate. Harriet also seems to get the family home, and potentially other property as well.

32 Thistle Grove [now Drayton Gardens] in South Kensington was a fairly new-built house, construction had started in 1845, with the majority of the houses completed by the end of the 1850’s. It had probably cost in the region of about £ 600 to build. So not a bad thing to inherit. All in all, Harriet and Basil seem to have done fairly well from her inheritance, certainly well enough for Henry Burke to feel hard done by.

The next step was to try to track down the details of Burke against O’Bryen. After a lot of fruitless searching, I finally came across something in the National Archives catalogue, having searched under O’Bryen. The following came up:

Cause number: 1872 B246. Short title: Burke v Keith.

Plaintiffs: William Henry Burke.

Defendants: Wilson Keith, Basel William O’Bryen, Harriett Matilda O’Bryen his wife, Mary Anne Burke (wife of William Henry Burke) and William Donald Henry Burke, Edmund John Burke, Kate Alice Burke spinster, Sarah Elizabeth Burke spinster and Walter Keith Burke.

The title of the court case isn’t Burke v. O’Bryen exactly, but it’s definitely a court case involving Henry Burke, his sister Harriet, and Basil O’Bryen. It had to be worth looking at, so a little over a year ago, I’d registered for a reader’s ticket, given the required notice because the records were stored off site, and was booked in for a visit to the National Archives in Kew.

A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) part 2, Basil and Harriet.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure why, there has been a large increase in interest in the post I did just over two years ago about the will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870).  This got me to look at him again, and to see what else could be put together. This is the second of a series of posts that should explain a lot more. If you haven’t read the first one you can find it here. My starting point for looking at William Burke was one of his sons-in-law Basil O’Bryen. But everything is much more complicated than that.

To re-cap slightly.

William Henry Burke and John Roche O’Bryen [Basil’s father] were neighbours in South Kensington. Both men drew up new wills in May 1870, and died in July that year. What raised my curiosity was the fact that neither of WH Burke’s elder children, or their spouses were made executors, and he chose his youngest daughter, and her twenty-two year old fiancé Basil. Basil O’Bryen had stood out very early on. Mostly, because he is a wrong’un; he married three times, at least once bigamously [at least according the English law] in Australia. He abandoned his son from his marriage to Harriet, and his second wife and their two children, and moved to Australia, where he married his third wife. There is also signs of at least one court case, with reference to a court case Burke v. O’Bryen in a London Gazette notice in August 1871.

So on with the story.

There’s something about the Basil and Harriet story that I just can’t get at the moment. In brief, it reads like the plot of a novel. They marry when he is twenty-two, and she is thirty-three. I still can’t work out whether it’s love, money, or both. His father left  £1,000 [present-day value £750,000] to the trust Harriet was a beneficiary of when he drew up his new will. The other parties to the settlement being his daughter Corinne, and Basil’s step-mother Celia. Presumably, there were already funds in the trust, initially I thought it seemed to be a Marriage Settlement, but I am beginning to think that it was a settlement to provide income for both Corinne, and Harriet. John Roche O’Bryen’s will is very detailed, quite long, and very specific with regard to provision to the children of his second marriage to Celia Grehan. There is a great lack of detail about any of his adult children, apart from the reference to the settlement.  The reason, I now think, it may be a settlement for adult female members of the family is the will very clearly states that any sums provided for daughters should besettled upon daughters in manner following, that is to say. Upon trust, to pay the income thereof respectively to such daughter for her sole and separate use, free from the control of her husbands.” But this doesn’t really help with where Basil got any money from, and when. The best guess is that there was money from Eliza Henderson [ JROB’s first wife], his mother, and that both Henry Hewitt, and Basil had benefitted from that already.

The marriage lasted just thirty-one months, and Harriet was dead by the end of August 1873, leaving Basil a twenty-five year old widower, with an eleven-month old son Basil John. All very tragic, but Basil bounces back, and is re-married within nine months of Harriet’s death. He is now twenty-six, and his bride Agnes Kenny is twenty-three.

Basil and Harriet’s marriage also raises questions about who the families are. The main one is why were they married by the Archbishop of Westminster? Marrying in the pro-Cathedral makes sense because it is fairly close to Thistle Grove, and was probably the parish church at the time. Archbishop [later Cardinal] Manning seems to be a rather grand celebrant for the wedding, particularly as Harriet had been christened as an Anglican, at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, as had her brother, and sister. But perhaps, as Manning was a convert himself, he looked fondly on bringing Anglicans to the true Church. Elizabeth Burke, Harriet’s sister also married a Catholic.

What is interesting is how connected to the Burke family he seems to remain, at least initially. Or possibly more correctly, how connected to Burke property he is. According to the London Gazette  William Henry Burke of No 32 Thistle grove South Kensington, had his will proved by amongst others, Harriet Matilda Burke of No 32 Thistle grove  and Basil William O’Bryen of No 28 Thistle grove. So in December 1870, they each gave their father’s addresses as theirs. On the census date, April 2nd 1871, they both were listed at his step-mother’s address No 28 Thistle grove, where they were described as “visitors”. But the probate record for Harriet – slightly strangely not proved until 30th August 1875, two years after her death, gave her principal address at the time of her death as No 32 Thistle grove, which was also the address that Basil gave when he proved the will.  So five years after William Henry Burke’s death, and two years after Harriet’s, her widower is apparently still connected to the Burke family home. Even though during that time, Harriet had given birth to their son Basil junior in Torquay, and she died at 34 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne. Her probate record recorded her as “late of 32 Thistle grove”. She left just £100.

The next nugget came from a small story in “The Tablet” [The International Catholic News Weekly.]

THE PRO-CATHEDRAL—A pleasing addition has lately been made to the Pro-Cathedral of Clifton. The side chapel, dedicated to St. Joseph, has been entirely renewed and decorated, and a marble altar erected, the reredos of which was executed in Belgium. The whole has a very pleasing effect. It is the gift of Basil O’Bryen, esq., as a memorial of his late wife Harriet Matilda O’Bryen, who died August 23, 1873, and whose remains are buried in the cemetery at Fulham.  [Page 18, The Tablet, 5th February 1876.]

This is also very curious. There doesn’t appear to be any family connection between the Burke family, and Bristol. In fact, far from it. William Henry Burke gave his birthplace as the “City of London”, and Sarah Burke (neé Penny) and all the children were recorded as being born in London in the 1841 census when they were living in Noble Street in the City. [Noble Street is north-east of St Paul’s]. There is an O’Bryen Bristol connection, John Roche O’Bryen had practiced medicine there from at least 1841, and Basil himself was born there, and his mother, and six brothers and sisters, are buried in the city. But by the time Basil was 10 the O’Bryen family were in Liverpool, and by 1861, when he was 12, the family were in London, and he was at boarding school at Ratcliffe College.

It’s an interesting public gesture, and all the odder for the eccentric choice. A memorial in the Pro-cathedral in London would have seemed more obvious, given that Basil and Harriet got married there, or a memorial at St Thomas of Canterbury in Fulham, where John Roche O’Bryen, Basil’s step-brother Walter, and Harriet were buried; followed twenty-five years later by his step-mother Celia, and, later still, by another step-brother Philip. Perhaps Basil felt the need to try to repair his father’s somewhat sullied name in Bristol.

But there is still the question about why Basil and Harriet were her father’s executors, and more particularly, in a rather patriarchal age, WHB didn’t choose either his son, or a long-established son-in-law.

The Burke children were

  • Elizabeth Sarah (1829 – 1889)
  • William Henry ( 1835 -1908)
  • Harriet Matilda (1838 – 1873)

In 1870, the eldest daughter Elizabeth Sarah was forty years old , and had been married for fourteen years, all five of her children had been born, her eldest son was about eleven years old. In one of those nice twists, and coincidences, Elizabeth and Alfred Edwardes’ second son, nine year-old, Henry Grant Edwardes would go on to marry Lucy Purssell, whose sister Gertrude married Basil’s step-brother Ernest O’Bryen in 1898. So Basil’s nephew was his step-brother’s brother-in-law.

His only son William Henry, known as Henry, was thirty-five, had been married nearly nine years, and was the father of four children, with another one on the way. Yet the choice of executors was the youngest unmarried daughter, and her much younger fiancé.

 

So is the answer to be found in Burke v. O’Bryen ?

A deeper look at the Will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870) part 1.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure why, there has been a large increase in interest in the post I did just over two years ago about the will of William Henry Burke (1792-1870). In fact there has been a 375% increase in views this year, compared with 2016. Neither the post about his will, nor another one about him posted about the same time give many, or indeed any, clues as to why it is there. Both posts were very early ones in the history of this site, and like a lot of the early posts are almost like cuttings in a scrapbook, not clearly explaining themselves. This is the first of a series of posts that should explain a lot more. My starting point for looking at William Burke was one of his sons-in-law Basil O’Bryen.

William Henry Burke and John Roche O’Bryen [Basil’s father] were neighbours in South Kensington, both living in Thistle Grove [now Drayton Gardens, not to be confused with the current Thistle Grove, parallel with Drayton Gardens]. Both men drew up new wills in May 1870. On the 6th May in  William Henry Burke’s case, and ten days later  on the 16th May by JROB. William Burke witnessed John Roche O’Bryen’s will, and John Roche O’Bryen’s youngest adult son from his first marriage, Basil O’Bryen, was one of the executors of William Henry Burke’s will, along with WHB’s daughter Harriet, and an accountant. JROB also drew up a Deed of Settlement on the 13th May 1870, in favour of Harriet Burke, with his wife Celia, and daughter Corinne [Basil’s older sister] as trustees. This was presumably a Marriage Settlement as Basil O’Bryen and Harriet Burke married in 1871.

So far, it all appears fairly straightforward. Two families who have grown close, and about to be linked by marriage. But something about it just niggles slightly, and has almost from the start. The closer one looks the more of a story there seems to be.  For a start, both men were dead within months of drawing up the wills, and trust settlements. With almost perfect symmetry, William Henry Burke lasted seventy-two days, dying on the 17th July 1870, at Queenstown [now Cobh] in Cork; John Roche O’Bryen lived a day less, dying seventy-one days after signing his will, on 26th July 1870 at home in Thistle Grove in London. William Burke was seventy-eight years old, and JROB was sixty.

So both men may have just been putting their affairs in order, and a forthcoming marriage, and the need for a marriage settlement may have just prompted the work, or it might have been something else.

This prompted me to look at the families, and to who in each family was doing what. John Roche O’Bryen had a lot of children, well more accurately had had a lot of children. In total, he had sixteen, starting in 1833, when he was twenty-three, and finishing thirty-four years later in 1867 at the age of fifty-seven. There were ten children from his first marriage to Eliza Henderson, of whom only three survived to adulthood, and six children from the second marriage to Celia Grehan, of whom five survived to adulthood. At the time he drew up his will, JROB had three adult children, and six under the age of twelve, the youngest being two and a half.

William Henry Burke’s family is easier. He had three children with Sarah Penny, who he married in 1827. All of William’s children were over thirty, and at the time of his death, his eldest daughter was forty.

Both men had three adult children to choose from as executors, and trustees, and they appeared to make some slightly odd choices, given the possibilities. The Burke children were

  • Elizabeth Sarah (1829 – 1889)
  • William Henry ( 1835 -1908)
  • Harriet Matilda (1838 – 1873)

and JROB’s adult children were

  • Henry Hewitt (1835 – 1895)
  • Corinne Margueritte (1837 – 1907)
  • (William Gregory) Basil (1848 – 1920)

So the next step was to look at the trustees and executors. The Illustrated London News, on  Jan 14, 1871, told us that William Henry Burke’s will was proved by “Miss Harriett Matilda Burke, his daughter, George William Wood, and Basil William O’Bryen, the joint acting executors.” John Roche O’Bryen’s will was proved eighteen days after his death by his widow Celia, and Rev. Henry Hewitt O’Bryen D.D. the executors. This seems perfectly suitable, Henry is the eldest son, thirty-five years old, a doctor of divinity, and a Catholic parish priest just outside Wigan. How close the relationship between father and son was is never really that clear. Henry started training for the priesthood in his late teens, and aged twenty transferred his sponsoring diocese from Clifton, where the family home in Bristol was, to Liverpool. He then studied, and was ordained in Rome, before returning to Liverpool in 1858. Their paths crossed for a couple of years in Liverpool between 1858 and 1860, when JROB practised as a doctor there, but by 1861 John Roche O’Bryen and his family with Celia Grehan [Henry’s step-mother] had moved to London.

William Henry Burke’s executors are much odder. Here’s part of the reason why

WHB’s executors are his youngest daughter, her fiancé Basil, and an accountant. This always seemed to be slightly strange. William Henry Burke had three children, and at the time he wrote his will, his eldest daughter Elizabeth Sarah was forty years old , and had been married for fourteen years, a mother of five, her eldest son was about eleven years old. His only son William Henry, known as Henry, was thirty-five, had been married nearly nine years, and was the father of four children, with another one on the way. Yet the choice of executors was the youngest unmarried daughter, and her much younger fiancé.

Right from the start, this raised the question – Why these two? Basil O’Bryen had stood out very early on. Mostly, because he is a bit of a bounder, to put it mildly. Basil married three times, at least once bigamously [at least according the English law] in Australia. The legal position in Australia was more complicated. Apparently re-marriage after seven years of no contact with a previous wife was legal in Australia. What is beyond dispute is that he abandoned his son from his marriage to Harriet, and his second wife and their two children, and moved to Australia, where he married his third wife.

So with the benefit of hindsight, Basil does appear to be a wrong’un; which brings us back to WHB’s will, or more specifically, at this stage to the probate notice. Two things stand out, the first is that Basil is described as an accountant, and the second is his address is given as 18 Gunter Grove.  In 1870, Basil is twenty-two, and four years into an apprenticeship with Charles Rowsell, an accountant based in Walbrook, in the City, just down from the Mansion House. So maybe he is just being economical with the truth, he is a sort of accountant. But the Gunter Grove address is very confusing. It’s about three quarters of a mile away from Thistle Grove, but it does seem peculiar that he is not in the family home. He’s fairly young, as yet unmarried, and it seems unlikely that he would bother living away from the family home. 18 Gunter Grove, if he was living there, is a big house. The next piece of the jigsaw came from in a notice in the London Gazette

The London Gazette, December 9, 1870

WILLIAM HENRY BURKE Esq Deceased

Pursuant to the Act of Parliament of the 22nd and 23rd Vic cap 35 intituled An Act to further amend the Law of Property and to relieve Trustees

NOTICE is hereby given that all persons having any  claim, debt, or demand against or upon the estate of William Henry Burke late of No 32 Thistle grove South Kensington in the county of Middlesex Esq (who died on the 17th day of July 1870 and whose will with a codicil thereto was proved in the Principal Registry of Her Majesty’s Court of Probate on the 3rd day of December 1870 by Harriet Matilda Burke of No 32 Thistle grove South Kensington aforesaid Spinster George William Wood of No 4 Sambrook court Basinghall street in the city of London Accountant and Basil William O Bryen of No 28 Thistle grove South Kensington aforesaid Accountant are hereby required to send in the particulars of their claims debts or demands to the said George William Wood one of the said executors at his office No 4 Sambrook court Basinghall street in the city of London on or before the 1st day of February 1871 after which day the said executors will proceed to the assets of the deceased among the parties entitled thereto having regard only to the claims debts or demands of which they shall then have had notice and the said executors will not be liable for any part of such assets to any person or persons of whose claim debt or demand they shall not then have had notice Dated this 7th day of December 1870.

WILLIAM GILLS Solicitor, No. 26, Old Broad –street, E.C.

So perhaps the National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) entry is wrong, but it is surprising that a formal legal document would get something so basic wrong, and also then place Basil O’Bryen quite so geographically close. By the time of their marriage, both Basil and Harriet are described as being in Thistle Grove again.

The Medical Press and Circular Advertiser Feb 8 1871

On the 1st inst at the Pro Cathedral Kensington, by his Grace Archbishop Manning, assisted by the Rev Fathers Foley and Conolly. Basil, second surviving son of the late John Roche O’Bryen Esq MD to Harriet Matilda, youngest daughter of the late William Henry Burke; both of Thistle Grove South Kensington.

They marry almost exactly six months after JROB’s death, and therefore six months and two weeks after William Burke’s death. This would be the expected period of “full mourning” after the death of a parent, but still relatively soon after both fathers’ deaths. It might explain the somewhat low-key, and under-reported, wedding. Having said that, one or both of them are sufficiently well-connected for them to be married by the Archbishop of Westminster himself. The Pro-Cathedral was, what is now Our Lady of Victories on Kensington High Street. But there is still the nagging question about the age gap. Basil is twenty-two, and Harriet is thirty-three. The marriage does seem to have been approved of by both fathers, or at least one can surmised that from the deed of settlement drawn up by John Roche O’Bryen in May 1870.

The next step came from the London Gazette

This looked interesting. It was something to hunt for, given the names involved, it’s a dispute about William Henry Burke’s will, and as George Wood is one of the defendants, someone is suing the executors. Are Basil and Harriet too good to be true?

HMS Dart and the capture of Dutch ships in 1799, and the Désirée in 1800

HMS Dart and La Désirée, 1800

HMS Dart was built in Redbridge, Hampshire, on the fringes of Southampton in 1796, and broken up in Barbados in 1809. She had the same bow and stern and could anchor from either end. She was so sharp in her construction that the midship section resembled a wedge. This resulted in poor stability, and she was unsafe in a wind. Hence her fairly short career as this version of the ship. There were later Royal Navy ships given the same name.

The Zuiderzee in the centre of the map. About 580 sq miles are now reclaimed land.

Around the end of August 1799, Dart captured the sloop Jonge Jan off the Dutch coast. Dart also shared with gunboats DefenderCracker, and Hasty in the proceeds of the capture of the Hell Hound. Notices calling for claimants for the prize money were placed in the London Gazette on 7th January 1803. On 7 October 1799, the DartDefenderCracker, and Hasty, and the schuyt Isis cut out four gunboats from their moorings in the Zuiderzee. Three of the gunboats were schuyts, [A schuyt is a flat-bottomed sailing boat used in the Netherlands, originally for fishing or carrying light cargoes. In the 17th century, they were rigged with two masts like a ketch, but by the 19th century, had adopted a single mast like a sloop] but one was a new, purpose-built gunboat armed with two 18-pounder guns in her bow and two 18-pounder carronades in her broadside. The three schuyts also carried four guns and carronades each. The vessels had crews ranging in size from 20 to 30 men. The British suffered no casualties [ Naval Chronicle, Vol. 3, p.141 ].  The behaviour of Messrs. Hall and Winter, midshipmen, were particularly commended.  Rob Hall was also a midshipman on the Dart, and at least the City of Cork thought he deserved an award. He was twenty-one years old.

The following year Rob had been promoted, and had been gazetted a lieutenant on 14 June 1800. Less than a month later, HMS Dart took part in the Raid on Dunkirk, which was being blockaded by the British. The Channel ports were well suited for the French frigates that attacked shipping in British waters whenever they could escape the blockade.

HMS Dart, captured Désirée on 8 July 1800, in a night raid into Dunkirk harbour. Désirée was armed with 40 guns, those on the main deck being 24-pounder guns, and had a crew of 250 men under the command of Citizen Deplancy. However, a number of her crew were on shore. Dart lost one man killed and 13 wounded, including two officers badly wounded. Although several other vessels that participated in the raid had some wounded, Darts capture of Désirée was the raid’s only real accomplishment. This capture resulted in Campbell’s promotion to post captain and command of the frigate Ariadne. French casualties were heavy. One account states that all the French officers, save a midshipman, were killed, and that casualties amounted to almost 100 men killed and wounded. Lloyd’s List reported on 11 July that the “Grand Desiree”, prize to the Dart, had arrived in the Downs, and that the French captain and about 50 men had been killed, and nine wounded.  The French commander was capitaine de frégate Lefebvre de Plancy, and French records show that he was mortally wounded in the action.

The Royal Navy took Desiree into service, and many British vessels shared in the proceeds of the capture.In 1847 the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal, with clasp “Capture of the Désirée” to all surviving claimants (only 21 surviving men) from the raid.[ Fonds Marine, p.235., and The London Gazette. 27 September 1800. p. 1123 ]