Tag Archives: Jane O’Bryen

The Will and codicil of John Roche, January 1826:

Lower Aghada, co Cork

The Will and codicil of John Roche, January 1826: 


Whenever it happens that the Aghada estate, is absent of male heirs, to wit, of the said James Joseph Roche, or by any other contingency reverts wholly to me, I hereby leave it in as full a manner as I can convey it to my nephew, William Roche, to be enjoyed by him and his lawful begotten heirs male for ever ; and, as I have perfected leases to be held in trust, of the demesne and two adjoining farms of Aghada, subject to a yearly rent accord-ing to a valuation made, I leave him my interest, if any I had, in those leases ; and in case of his not coming into possession of the estate by the means before-mentioned,  I leave him  £6,000 of my £4   per cent. stock, to be held by trustees, the interest of which is to pay the rent of the demesne and two farms above mentioned ;

  • to my eldest grandson, James (sic)  J. R.  O’Brien   I leave   £10,000   £4 per  cent. stock ;
  • to my grand-daughter, Jane O’Brien, I leave  £4,000 £4 per cent. stock ;
  • to my daughter, Mary O’Brien,  I leave the  £4,000  £4 per cent. stock I settled on her as a marriage portion on her marriage, for her use and that of her younger children ;
  • to my niece,  Ellen Verling,  I leave  £1,000 £4 per cent, stock, with £30 a-year profit rent I leave on her brother Bartholomew Verling’s stores ;
  • to my grandson, J. Roche O’Brien, I leave also my interest in White Point, after his mother’s death ;  
  • I leave  £100 to my sister, Ellen Verling ;
  • to my sister, Julia Enery, £100 ;
  • to my nephew, Doctor Verling,  and his sister, Catherine Ellis, £100 each,  and I desire the stock on the farm to be sold to pay these legacies ;
  • to my nephew,   William Roche, and my grand-daughter,  Jane O’Brien, I give my household furniture, plate, &c., and it is my wish, if the rules of our church allow it, that they should be married and live in Aghada house ; may it bless and prosper them and their offspring.

To the parish of Aghada, I leave the school-house, and £20 a-year for its support, and also the chapel and priest’s house  I leave to the parish rent-free for ever, as long as they shall be used for such qualified purposes ; the five slate houses I built in the village, I leave to five of the poorest families rent free ; to David Coughlan I leave the house he now lives in during his life ; to my servant, James Tracy   I leave the house his wife now lives in ;    and to my wife’s servant, Mary Ahearne, otherwise Finne, her house rent-free during their lives ; and to each of those three, viz.,David Coughlan, James Tracy, and Mary Ahearne,  otherwise Finne, I leave £10 a-year during their lives : 

having had unfounded confidence in my unhappy nephew, James Roche,  I did not take legal means under  the settlement I made to secure those last bequests out of the Aghada estate ; I trust, and hope, and desire that whosoever is in possession of the estate do confirm these my wishes and intents. I appoint my trusty friend, Henry Bennett, (my present law agent) William Roche, and my daughter, Mary O’Brien as executors of this my last will.”

 The codicil to the will was as follows :—

 By my will dated the 5th day of January, 1826, I appointed my friend Henry Bennett, my nephew, William Roche, and my daughter, Mary O’Brien, executors to that will ; now, by this codicil, I annul that appointment, and appoint John Gibson, barrister-at-law, Bartholomew Hackett, of Middleton, distiller, and my nephew, William Roche, as my executors to that will, and do hereby empower them to name and appoint two trustees for the purpose of managing the sums I left to my nephew, William Roche, my grand-daughter, Jane O’Brien, and my grandson, J. O’Brien, as it is my intent and will that they should only receive the interest, and the principal to remain untouched during their lives, to go to their children ; out of William Roche’s interest the rent of Aghada which I have leased him is to be paid ; and I desire that he and my grand-daughter Jane, who are shortly to be married, will reside there. I leave William Roche all the stock, &c., on the farm, and to him and his wife all my household furniture, plate, and china, and make them my residuary legatees ; it is my will that my grandson, James R. O’Brien, shall live with them at Aghada until he is of age, which is to be at the age of twenty-five, and not before ; and the trustees are to pay him until that period £100 a-year to complete his education, and another £100 a-year during that period to his mother, and the remainder of the interest of his £10,000 to be paid William Roche to assist him in keeping up Aghada during that period, and I trust by that time he will have a profession by which he will add to his income ; I request and desire that nothing shall prevent his following his profession;  it is my intention that William Roche and his wife shall step into possession of Aghada house, demesne, and farms, which are leased to him in the same way that I leave it when it shall please God to take me ; in case of the death of William Roche before his wife, she is to be paid the interest of her £4,000, to be made up £200 a-year as her jointure ; and if she dies before him, he is to have the £10,000, provided she has no issue; but if she leaves issue, it is to go to them after William Roche’s death, as before directed.”

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Aghada Hall, co. Cork.

Aghada  Hall was, apparently, a large  Georgian house designed by the Cork architect  Abraham Hargrave (1755-1808); though it seems to bea comfortable gentleman’s residence rather than a vast mansion.” It was completed in 1808. John Roche was also responsible for the start of the Aghada National School in 1819.

It’s time to revise this post quite a lot, and I am extremely grateful for a Thackwell grandson for the photos of the house. For the purposes of clarity, I’m going to call it Aghada Hall. John Roche, (17??- 1829) who had it built referred to it as Aghada House, but it was later referred to as Aghada Hall. Tony Harpur, a local historian in Cork sent me the following:

“The first edition Ordnance Survey map names the house as Aghada House (c1840). The house was named in the Ordnance Survey map of the early 20th century as Aghada Hall and was noted as being ‘in ruins’ – this is probably some time in the early 1930s because although a major survey was carried out by the Ordnance Survey before 1914, additional information was added to the map from a survey of 1935-1938.”

aghada-hall

Aghada Hall, side view

In the 1911 Irish census, Aghada Hall  was described as a first class house with 9 windows in the front, and 8 rooms occupied by the family, and 15 outbuildings. Edwin (or Edward – he used both) Penrose-Thackwell was also listed as the owner of a two room cottages, one three room, and one four room cottage, nearby.

The estate seems to be a substantial working farm. The main house had two stables, a coach house, harness room; three cow houses, a calf house, and a dairy. It also had a piggery, fowl house, boiling house, barn, shed, and a store. 

Fifty-four year old Edwin was living in the main house with a substantial staff, Thomas and Lavinia Buckley, who were married, were the butler, and housemaid respectively. They also had fifty-five year old Mary Flynn, the cook, and a dairymaid, parlourmaid, and kitchenmaid, all in their twenties.

In addition, to the main house, James Scanlon the gardener (48) and his wife were in the two room cottage. Ernest Jones (32), and his wife Gertrude (30) and their eight year old son were in the four room cottage, along with Gertrude’s twenty-five year old sister. Ernest was the chauffeur, and Ernie and Gertie had been married 11 years.  Finally, there were eight members of the Murphy family in the three room cottage. Edmond Murphy and his wife with three daughters, and three sons. All four men, Edmond (50), Denis (22), Edmond (16), and Patrick (15) are general labourers, presumably working on the estate.

The gardener and chauffeur’s houses, both had a shed and fowl house, and the Murphys had a piggery, and fowl house.

aghada-hall-2

Aghada Hall, front

John Roche who built the house,  “amassed great wealth during the French wars”, according to “Barrymore Records of the Barrys of County Cork”  published in 1902. He was Ernest O’Bryen’s great grandfather, and made quite significant efforts to establish some sort of Roche dynasty to maintain the family name, and the house that he had built for himself.

There were three significant beneficiaries of John Roche’s will of 1826, with a later codicil. They were his nephews James Joseph Roche, and William Roche; they seem to be cousins rather than brothers. The third main beneficiary was John Roche’s eldest grandson, John Roche O’Bryen. The total estate amounted to about £ 30,000 when John Roche died in 1829, the modern day equivalent of £45,720,000.00.

The house and land was left to James, and his male heirs, first of all, and then William, who also inherited £ 10,000, “in case of his not coming into possession of the estate by the means before-mentioned,  I leave him  £6,000″ plus John’s grand-daughter, Jane O’Brien’s ……  £4,000 £4 per cent. stock ;” . Jane O’Bryen, John Roche’s granddaughter was married to his nephew William Roche, and their daughter Pauline Roche inherited their share as a one year old orphan. The final third was John Roche O’Bryen’s  £ 10,000, presumably in the expectation that a male Roche heir would inherit the house and land.

John Roche O’Bryen,  and Jane O’Bryen were Catholic. All their  five remaining younger siblings were Church of Ireland. JROB and Jane/William Roche are the only O’Bryen beneficiaries of John Roche’s estate. The O’Bryen siblings are John Roche’s only grandchildren.

John Roche also left  a series of £ 100 legacies (present-day £ 150,000)  to various sisters, and nephews and nieces, and “To the parish of Aghada, I leave the school-house, and £20 ( £ 30,000) a-year for its support, and also the chapel and priest’s house  I leave to the parish rent-free for ever, as long as they shall be used for such qualified purposes ; the five slate houses I built in the village, I leave to five of the poorest families rent free ; to David Coughlan I leave the house he now lives in during his life ; to my servant, James Tracy   I leave the house his wife now lives in;  and to my wife’s servant, Mary Ahearne, otherwise Finne, her house rent-free during their lives ; and to each of those three, viz.,David Coughlan, James Tracy, and Mary Ahearne,  otherwise Finne, I leave £10 (£15,000) a-year during their lives :”

Lower Aghada

Lower  Aghada

Aghada  is a small fishing town situated to the south-east of Cork city in County Cork, Ireland. Aghada parish consists of several small villages and townlands including  Rostellan, Farsid, Upper Aghada, Lower Aghada, Whitegate, Guileen and Ballinrostig.

The estate, and the provisions of John Roche’s will were part of a court case, and appeal in 1848, and 1849. (Hillary Term 1848, Mary O’Brien v James Roche and William Roche…lands of Aghada [Mitchelstown Cork]… and Roche v. O’Brien —Feb. 1, 2. 1849) following the death of James Joseph Roche in 1847.  William Roche had died in 1836, and James Joseph Roche, and his family were living there until James’s death in 1847. The house appeared to have briefly in the possession of Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Junior, one of the younger O’Bryen siblings in the early 1850’s.

The house and land were sold in July 1853 in the Encumbered Estates Court, as part of the estates of James Joseph Roche, and William Roche, with Mary (Maria Josepha)  and Eleanor Roche listed as owners, and Pauline Roche as ex parte.  [The Encumbered Estates’ Court was established  to facilitate the sale of Irish estates whose owners were unable to meet their obligations. It was given authority to sell estates on application from either the owner or an encumbrancer (somebody who had a claim on it) and, after the sale, distribute the proceeds among the creditors, granting clear title to the new owners.]  The house was bought by Major General Sir Joseph Lucas Thackwell in 1853, and remained in the Thackwell family until at least 1911. Henry Hewitt O’Bryen does still seem to be a significant landowner in the area, so may well have kept some of the land.

thumb_entrance-to-aghada-hall_1024Most traces of Aghada Hall seem to have disappeared, apart from signs of a walled garden, half  an entrance and a small gatehouse.  The old sheds and stables have apparently been converted into houses.

Major General Sir Joseph Lucas  Thackwell had married Maria Audriah Roche (from the Trabolgan branch of the Roche family) in 1825. She was the eldest daughter of Francis Roche of Rochemount, County Cork (an uncle of Edmond Roche, 1st Baron Fermoy). This, incidentally, made Maria Thackwell, a first cousin, five-times removed of Diana, Princess of Wales. They had four sons and three daughters.  She should not to be confused with Maria Josepha Roche, who was James Joseph Roche’s daughter, and one of the parties to the 1848/9 court cases.

In a final twist, The Cork Examiner,reported on the 25th January 1860, having picked up the story from the Illustrated London News that:

“The will of the late celebrated General Sir Joseph Thackwell, G.C.B., has just been proved. By a codicil, dated the day before his death, he deprives his eldest son, Captain (Edward Joseph) Thackwell, the author of the “Second Sikh War, in 184-89,” [sic] and now a barrister at law, of all the property left him in a former will, including Aghada Hall, Cork, and Conneragh House, Waterford, and gives it to trustees in trust for his grandchildren, who must be educated in the tenets of the Protestant religion. Captain Thackwell had been received into the Roman Catholic Church only a short time previous to Sir Joseph’s decease.”

There seem to have been about nine grandchildren; all either the children of Edward Joseph Thackwell (1827, d. 1903), or his younger brother Major-General William de Wilton Roche Thackwell (1834–1910).  Edward Joseph’s son, Lt.-Col. Joseph Edward Lucas Thackwell (1853-1886) had four sons, and one daughter, who seemed to be the major beneficiaries, or users of the Irish houses. His son Walter Joseph de Rupe Thackwell was described as “now of Aghada,” in Burke’s Landed Gentry in 1894, and a younger son Captain Edward Hillyar Roche Thackwell, was living at the house in Waterford in 1911.

However Major William de Wilton Roche Thackwell (1834-1910), and his wife Charlotte Tomkinson seem to have lived in Aghada Hall, at least some of the time until 1894. Their eldest daughter Katherine Harriet Thackwell (1866 – 1950) married Col. Edward (or Edwin) Rawdon Penrose  in 1891, and they celebrated their wedding there. Katherine, and Edward added Thackwell to the family surname by 1911, most probably after the death of Katherine’s father in 1910, becoming Penrose-Thackwell from then on.

Kitty_Pope_Hennessy

Kitty Pope Hennessy

The only significant grandchild not to have a notable link to the house is William WR’s  only son Edward Francis Thackwell (1868 -1935) but that was most probably because he had married Kitty Pope-Hennessy on Feb 3 1894 at Rostellan Castle in Cork. She was a forty-four year old widow, and he was twenty six. He was a year older than her eldest son who died young, and three, and seven, years older than his step-sons.

It was probably a Catholic wedding, thus excluding Edward from the provisions of his grandfather’s will, but the pain may have been slightly ameliorated by his wife’s thirty room castle, with the sixty one outbuildings, including  seventeen stables, three coach houses, two harness rooms, and twenty cow houses. All of two and a half miles from Aghada Hall.

It is still not entirely clear when the house was demolished.

Pauline and William Barry’s grandchildren

Pauline Roche (1835 -1894) has been part of the story for a while. But I’m becoming increasingly sure that she helps place a lot of things into context.  This is one of a series of posts covering her marriage into the Barry family, and her daughter’s marriage into the related Smith-Barrys, and a look at where they all fit into both Irish, and British society. 

Pauline & William Henry Barry  had seven children, five of whom were unmarried, only two of the girls marry. Their children were:

  • (Patrick) Henry, born 1862; d. poss 1930, who appears to have been unmarried
  • William Gerard; born 1864; d. 1940 in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, unmarried.
  • Pauline; prob born 1865 or b.1867 – d. after 1911; unmarried.
  • Edith,born probably 1866, but possibly as early as 1861, and possibly 1863. Edith and Mary both give their ages as 35 in the 1901 census so it’s likely they are twins.
  • Mary Barry, b. 1866,  married Cecil Smith Barry, (b. 19 Oct 1863, d. 21 Nov 1908) so Cecil was Pauline Roche’s son-in-law. 
  • Henrietta (Rose) , b. 1873/4,unmarried
  • Kate. b 1879 unmarried.

Edith marries twice, and has three sons with her first husband;  William, and Joseph b. 1891 who are twins, and then Gerard b. 1893, a year later,, and a daughter, Janet b. 1905,  with her second.

Mary married Cecil Smith Barry, and had two daughters Cecily Nina b 1896, and Edith b 1907

So the grandchildren are:

  • William Hayes  1891 – 1918, aged 27
  • J B (Joseph Barry )Hayes 1891-1927, aged 36
  • Gerard Patrick Hayes 1892 – 19??
  • Cecily Nina Smith-Barry b 1896
  • Janet Babtie b 1905;
  • Edith Smith-Barry b 1907

Edith married Patrick Aloysius Hayes (1847-1900)  who was born in Dingle, Co Kerry in 1847, and was a surgeon-major H. M. Army Medical Department, and they had three sons; William Hayes  1891 – 1918, J B (Joseph Barry )Haynes 1891 – 1927, and  Gerard Patrick Hayes.  Will and Joe appear to be twins, according to the 1901 census, both aged 9, Gerry is a year younger at 8, so probably born in 1892. Patrick Hayes Senior died in Wimbledon on the 20th March 1900. Edith then married Lieutenant General William Babtie V.C (1859 -1920), as a widow in 1903, and had a daughter Janet born in 1905.

Edith died on 25th June 1936 at 18 St Patrick’s Place, Cork and her address was given as The Hermitage, Rushbrooke, Cork; probate was given to Gerard Patrick Hayes, who described himself as an advertising salesman.

Mary and Cecil Smith-Barry had two daughters, Cecily Nina b 1896, and Edith b 1907. Cecily died in Bournemouth in the winter of 1954, “aged 56” actually 58. By that point she was firmly calling herself Nina Cecily. She was entered on the General Register of Nurses on Feb 16 1923, and still on the register in 1940, where her address was given as 9 Walkers Row, Fermoy, co. Cork. 1937 her address was Ruddiford, Wimborne Road, Red Hill, Bournemouth. She got her nursing certificate between 1917-1920 at St George’s in London. By 1943 she was at 3 Bodorgan Road, Bournemouth. There is very little trace of Edith Smith-Barry to date.

All three of Edith’s sons served in the First War, both Will and Joe in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, and Gerard in the Royal Fusiliers.

Will was awarded a D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order), and Joe a M.C. (Military Cross). The D.S.O. is awarded for an act of meritorious or distinguished service in wartime and usually when under fire or in the presence of the enemy. The Military Cross is a decoration for gallantry during active operations in the presence of the enemy. The decorations rank two, and three, respectively, in the order of precedence behind the Victoria Cross, which, incidentally, was awarded to their step-father Lieut.-General Sir William Babtie during the Boer War.

William Hayes  died of  flu on the 20th October, 1918, in Italy, and is buried at Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa. He had served throughout the First War, having been part of the original Expeditionary Force in 1914; out of the 1,000 men of 1st Battalion The Queen’s Royal Regiment who landed in France in 1914, only 17 were alive at the Armistice. So Will almost made it.

Gerard was wounded in 1916, when he was also mentioned in dispatches by Sir Douglas Haig, and Joe was awarded the Military Cross the same year. Will was  mentioned in dispatches, and awarded the D.S.O. in 1917.

Joe survived the war, but died on December the 19th, 1927, aged 35. He had married in the winter of 1920, and his widow Gwen [nee Harold] survived him, and died almost fifty years later in 1976.  Their address was given as the Very House, Worplesdon, Surrey, when Gerard Patrick was granted probate. Joe left £ 226. 13s. 11d., a present day equivalent of about £ 66,000.

Pauline Barry died in the autumn of 1894, aged 56. The registration district was Midletown, in co. Cork, so we can safely assume that she died at home in Ballyadam. All three of her grandsons had been born before she died, but none of her granddaughters.

Patrick Hayes died at Wimbledon on the 20th March 1900, presumably at 132 Worple Road Wimbledon where the boys were living at the time of the census in 1901. The house itself appears to be a relatively small two storey late Victorian semi-detached house. The greatest curiosity is that, at the time of the 1901 census, all three boys were living there without their mother, and only three servants looking after them.  Elizabeth O’Shea aged 30, described as a nurse domestic on the census, but presumably their nanny; and Mary Phillips, a 21 year-old house maid, and Violet Gatling, also 21, who was the cook.  The census was taken ten days before Will, and Joe’s tenth birthday on the 11th of April.

The censuses in 1901 in both Ireland, and England were taken on the same day 31st March, though the forms in Midleton in Ireland were not filled in until the 12th April 1901. They show that Edith Hayes was in Ireland staying with the Coppinger family at Midleton Lodge, rather than with her brother and sisters at Ballyadam House, nearby. There could be any number of reasons for this, Pauline, and Rose Barry are both living at Ballyadam with only one servant, in a sixteen room house outside of town, whereas the Coppingers are in the middle of Midleton in a rather larger house, with four daughters aged between eleven and twenty-one, a governess, and seven servants.  Quite simply, it may well be that life at Midleton Lodge was a bit livelier, and as the widowed mother of three youngish sons Edith was looking for a rest, and some adult company. In all likelyhood, the Coppingers were also likely to be cousins of some sort.

Both families, the Barrys, and the Coppingers were living in considerable comfort,  compared to the majority of the population of Ireland at the time. The Coppinger house appeared to have 22 rooms, and 20 outbuildings including 6 stables, a coach house, harness room, three cow houses, a calf house, dairy, piggery, fowl house, boiling house, barn, and a workshop, shed, and store. The house had “16 windows at the front” , in fact from the look of it, five windows at the front in a good solid double fronted Georgian house that is now the local council offices. Just to give some idea of how mobile all the families were Thomas Stephen Coppinger says in the 1901 census that he was a 57 year old merchant,  born in Lucca, Italy in 1842.

Ballyadam, by contrast, was marginally smaller with 16 rooms, and 9 stables, a coach house, a harness room, 2 cow houses, a calf house, 2 piggeries, a fowl house, boiling house, barn, potato house, and 2 sheds. The Barrys were also listed as the owners of two 2-room cottages, each with 2 outbuildings  next door to Ballyadam House.

The family living in the smallest house, though still more than comfortably, were Cecil, and Mary Smith-Barry. In 1901 they were in Castlemartyr, co. Cork, in the second largest house in the village, with 10 rooms, “eight windows at the front” , two stables, and a coach house. It was a mixed marriage, with Cecil a member of the Church of Ireland, and Mary and the children Roman Catholic. They only had one servant with them though, twenty-three year old Julia Casey.

At the time, 1901, Worple Road was just round the corner from the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, until it moved to Church Road in 1922. The site became the sports ground for Wimbledon High School for Girls.

By 1911, Will had been gazetted into the Army, Gerry was at Beaumont College, in Windsor, and Joe was an “army student” boarding at Edge Hill Catholic College in Wimbledon. Edge Hill became Wimbledon College, and it was a third of a mile, or about five minutes walk from 132 Worple Road.  Amongst Joe’s fellow students were Charles Joseph Weld, Thomas Joseph Weld, and Cecil Chichester-Constable, whose aunt Esther had married Stephen Grehan Junior in 1883, and was the mother of  Major Stevie Grehan, (1896 -1972) whose memoirs of the First War are held, and documented in the Grehan papers at University College, Cork.

So, slightly curiously, both Joe Hayes, and Cecil Chichester-Constable were both related to the O’Bryen’s at Ernest O’Bryen’s generation. Joe, Will, and Gerry’s mother was his second cousin, and Cecil’s uncle, Stephen Grehan Junior, was also his second cousin. It’s all a very small world.

It is not entirely clear as to where all the Hayes boys went to school. Both Will and Gerry went to Beaumont, in Windsor, with Will going on to Sandhurst, before receiving his commission in 1911. Joe was just short of twenty years old when he was described as an “army student” at Edge Hill, so old to still be at school. He may well have been at Beaumont as well. It would be slightly odd to send two out of three boys to one school, and one to another.

Beaumont was certainly grand, being where it was on the edge of Windsor Great Park, it rapidly developed a claim to being the “Catholic Eton”, a tag at the school was “Beaumont is what Eton was: a school for the sons of Catholic gentlemen”, though similar claims have been made for Stonyhurst , Ampleforth, and the Oratory. Beaumont was one of three public schools maintained by the English Province of the Jesuits, the others being Stonyhurst, and St Aloysius’ College, Glasgow. To be fair to all of them, Stonyhurst has much the greatest claim, having been founded in 1593 at St Omer, in France to educate the sons of Catholics, who couldn’t get a Catholic education in Elizabethan England. None of the other three were founded until the C19th.

The family were still all very close, and in the 1911 census all the unmarried Barry siblings were at Ballyadam House, along with Edith’s eight year old daughter,  Janet Babtie, who was the youngest of Pauline and William’s grandchildren. They had a couple of servant girls, and amusingly, Pauline claimed to be two years younger than she was ten years before, and Rose was a year younger.

Meanwhile Mary Smith-Barry had moved to a smaller house about ten miles away at Ballynoe, on the outskirts of Cobh. She is forty-five years old, and has been a widow for three years. The house is rented from her late husband’s cousin Lord Barrymore, who seems to own most of the village. Mary seems to be living quietly in the village with her daughters (Cecily) Nina who is now fifteen, and four year old Edith, and a nineteen year old servant girl.

To put things in perspective, when Cecil died in 1908, he left just over £ 5,000 [ the best current-day equivalent is £ 3.2m]. In the same year, The Old Age Pensions Act 1908 introduced a non-contributory pension for ‘eligible’ people aged 70 and over. The pension was 5 shillings a week, about half a labourer’s weekly wage, or £ 13 p.a.  Cecil’s £ 5000 was the equivalent of three hundred and eighty four years of old age pension, so Mary, and the children, were hardly paupers.

The mysterious John Roche d. 1829

John Roche c.1755 – 1829 is the father of

Mary, 1780 – 1852  m. Nov 1807 Henry Hewitt O’Bryen (1780 – 1836)

and the grandfather of John Roche O’Bryen, Jane Roche (nee O’Bryen), and at the same time both the great-grandfather, and great uncle of Pauline Roche. Pauline Roche’s mother is John Roche’s grand-daughter Jane O’Bryen, and her father is his nephew William Roche.

 John Roche appears to have two brothers, and two sisters:

Hugh, who is the father of

James Joseph Roche

Hugh Roche  

Lawrence who is the father of

William m. Jane O’Bryen and father of Pauline Roche

Ellen m. John Verling and mother of

Bartholomew Verling

James Roche Verling

Catherine Ellis (nee Verling)

Ellen Verling Jnr.

Julia m. ? Enery

Sources:

Irish Journal of Medical Science, January 1971, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 30-44 – regarding the Irish doctors who attended Napoleon on St Helena including James Roche Verling

References to (Ellen Verling??) and her brothers John and Laurence Roche of Aghada as members of the council of Cork. Also refers to James Roche Verling having a brother Bartholomew who was a J.P.

From Roche v O’Brien, and his will, we know that John Roche has two sisters

Julia Enery, Ellen Verling

And at least four nephews

James Joseph Roche, William Roche, Bartholomew Verling, and Doctor (James Roche) Verling

And at least two nieces

Ellen Verling jnr, and Catherine Ellis (nee Verling)

From the BLG 1847 entry we know there is another brother Hugh, who is the father of James Joseph Roche, and Hugh Roche jnr

From Barrymore Records we know William Roche is the son of Laurence Roche

Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Senior (1780 -1836) and Mary Roche ( 1780 – 1852 )

Henry is Ernest O’Bryen’s paternal grandfather

Following the same convention I have done elsewhere, I am planning to make this HHOB,  Senior, to distinguish him from his fourth son Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Junior, and also from two grandsons. Henry Hewitt O’Bryen b. 1835, son of John Roche O’Bryen, and Henry Hewitt O’Bryen b. 1845, son of Robert Hewitt O’Bryen. They will be referred to throughout as Mgr O’Bryen, and Henry Hewitt O’Bryen III.

Henry Hewitt O’Bryen was born in 1780 in Ireland , and died on the 11th May 1836 in Cobh, County Cork.  He married Mary Roche in November 1807 in Whitepoint, Cove, Co. Cork, she was the daughter of John Roche and Miss Collins?.  She was born in Ireland in 1780 and died in 1852.

He is the son of  Laurence O’Brien and Jane Hewitt who married  on the 20th March 1778 in Castle Townsend, County Cork. He was born in1754 in Ireland.   Jane was the daughter of Henry Hewitt and an unknown mother.  Henry appears to have a brother Stephen Laurence O’Bryen though this is unconfirmed.

Henry’s paternal grandparents appear to be Daniel O’Brien was born 1717, and died 1758 in Castletownsend, Co. Cork, and Ann Sullivan. They married in 1743, in Cork.

The children of Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Senior  and Mary Roche are:

Jane O’Bryen, born 1808; died 1837. She married William Roche. b. ????, died 26th September 1835. They are the parents of  Pauline Roche, born 1836 in Rome. 

John Roche O’Bryen, born 1810 in Cork, Ireland; died 26 Jul 1870 in London. 

Hewitt O’Bryen, born 1812 in Ireland; died 14 Jun 1845 in Norfolk, without issue.  He married Louisa Grace Ann Hoare 1836 in Limerick, Ireland; born 1805 in Cork, Ireland; died 1861 in Bath.

Robert Hewitt O’Bryen, born 1814 in Ireland; died 1888 in Cork, Ireland. He married Jeanette Augusta Hargrave 1837 in Cloyne, County Cork.  She died 1848 in Aghada, County Cork.

Henry Hewitt O’Bryen Junior, born 1815 in Ireland; died 22 Feb 1873 in Aghada, Co. Cork, Ireland.  He married (1) Charlotte Roche 1836 in County Cork (uncertain).    He married (2) Jessie Harriett Sudlow 10 Jan 1860 in Queenstown, County Cork.  She was born 1829 in Liverpool, and died 1912 in Dublin, Ireland.

Stephen Hewitt O’Bryen, born Unknown in Ireland; died 1872 in Gibraltar.  He married Mary Isabella Hewson 1866 in Dublin , daughter of Frank Hewson. (second marriage 1872 ? in Cork)

Mary A O’Bryen, born Unknown in Ireland; died 1863 in Cobh (Queenstown), Ireland.

Roche Of Aghado (sic) – BLG 1847

Roche Of Aghado

Roche, James Joseph Esq of Aghado House, co Cork b. 12 May, 1794 m in Nov 1821 Catharine youngest dau of the late Daniel Callaghan Esq of Lotabeg in the same county and has issue

  1. Maria Josepha
  2. Emily

Mr Roche, a magistrate for the co. Cork s. his uncle, the late John Roche Esq in March 1829. He and his brother Hugh, an officer in the navy, are sons of Hugh Roche, Esq by Anne, his wife dau. of Daniel McCarthy Esq, a Spanish merchant son of John  McCarthy Esq.  Seat. Aghado House co. Cork.

http://tinyurl.com/q6yfyrl

BLG 1847 p.1133

The Pauline Roche case 1855

THE DAILY NEWS, TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 1855 (London)

A singular minor case, involving charges of cruelty against a guardian, was adjudicated on by the Master of the Rolls, on Saturday. The question was, whether the guardian of the minor should pay the costs of the proceedings that had been resorted to to remove the minor from his care.

Paulina Roche, the minor in the case, is the daughter of the sister of Dr. John Roche O’Bryan (sic) and Mr Robert. H. O’Bryan (sic) of Queenstown, Cork. She (Mrs Roche) died in 1836, at which period the minor was only eleven months old. She was left by her mother  to the care of Dr O’Bryan (sic), of Clifton, Bristol, and a maintenance was allowed him for her support, which was increased from time to time, till it amounted to £ 139 per annum. She was  entitled to a fortune of   £10,000, the greater portion of which (£7,000 or £6,000) had been realised. Miss Roche was a young lady whose constitution was delicate, and therefore, it was contended she required great care and attention, instead of which she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercise, which was indispensable to her health. A pony, the bequest of a dying patient, was given to her; and when she was deprived of this a carriage horse was procured, which kicked her off his back, and she refused ever again to mount him. She also complained that upon two occasions he (guardian) beat her severely – that he made her a housekeeper and governess to the younger children, that he led her to believe she was dependent upon his benevolence; and further, that she was not permitted to dine with him and his wife, but sent down to the kitchen with the children and the servants. Having endured this treatment for a long period, she fled from his house in the manner hereafter described. To these charges, Dr O’Bryan (sic) replied that he had treated his niece with kindness – that her preservation from consumption was solely ascribable to his judicious and skilful treatment – that he caused her to be well educated – had given her many accomplishments, and a horse to ride, which was not a carriage horse, but an excellent lady’s horse – that she upon two occasions told him untruths which required correction, and that he would have punished his own children much more severely. He also relied upon the affidavits of friends (Mrs and Miss Morgan, Mrs Parsons, and the affidavit of his own wife) which represented that his conduct to the young lady was uniformly kind, and that from their knowledge of him and the course pursued towards her, they could vouch that no hardship or cruelty had been practised towards her. It was likewise contended that she would have better consulted her own respectability and displayed better taste if she had abstained from taking proceedings against her uncle and guardian, with whom she had been for so many years.

The Master commented severely on the conduct of the guardian, and said he was clearly of opinion at present that he should bear all his own costs; but whether he would make him pay the cost the minor’s estate had been put to in investigating these transactions, he would reserve for future consideration.

Dublin Evening Post June 1855

ROLLS COURT – SATURDAY JUNE 16 – EXTRAORDINARY CASE

In re Paulina Roche

This was a minor matter, the question at present before the court being whether the guardian of the minor should pay the costs of proceedings consequent upon an alleged system of cruelty practised towards her. The facts of the case will be found fully set forth in the judgement of the court, which, under the circumstance, is the best source from whence to take them. An outline at present will therefore suffice. The minor, Paulina Roche, is the daughter of the sister of Dr John Roche O’Bryen, and Mr Robert H. O’Bryen of Queenstown, Cork. She (Mrs Roche) died in the year 1836, at which period the minor was only eleven months old. She was left by the mother to the care of Dr O’Bryen, of Clifton, Bristol, and a maintenance was allowed him for her support, which was to increase from time to time, till it amounted to £ 139 per annum. She was entitled to a fortune of  £ 10,000, the greater proportion of which (£ 7,000 or £ 6,000) had been realised. Miss Roche was a young lady whose constitution was delicate, and therefore it was contended she required great care, and attention, instead of which she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercises which was indispensable to her health. A pony, the bequest of a dying friend, was given to her; and when she was deprived of this, a carriage horse was procured, which kicked her off his back, and she refused ever again to mount him. She complained that upon two occasions he (the guardian) beat her severely – that he made her a housekeeper and governess to the younger children – that he led her to believe she was a dependent upon his benevolence – and further, that she was not permitted to dine with him and his wife, but was sent down to the kitchen with the children and the servants. Having endured this treatment for a long period, she fled from his house in the manner hereafter described. To these charges Dr O’Bryen replied that he had treated his niece with kindness – that her preservation from consumption was solely ascribable to his judicious and skilful treatment – that he caused her to be well educated, had given her many accomplishments and a horse to ride, which was not a carriage horse but an excellent lady’s horse – that she upon two occasions told him untruths which required correction, and that he would have punished his own children much more severely. He also relied upon the affidavits of friends (Mrs and Miss Morgan, Mrs Parsons, and the affidavit of his own wife), which represented that his conduct to the young lady was uniformly kind, and that from their knowledge of him and the course pursued towards her, they could vouch that no hardship or cruelty had been practised towards her. It was likewise contended that she would have better consulted her own respectability and displayed better taste if she had abstained from taking such proceedings against her uncle and guardian with whom she had been for so many years.

Mr Hughes Q.C. and Mr E. Litten appeared as counsel for Mr. Thomas Keane, the next friend of the minor. Mr. Deasy, Q.C., and Mr Lawless, for the respondent, Dr O’Bryen.

The MASTER of the ROLLS said that a petition was presented by Mr Orpin, the solicitor for the minor, for the purpose of removing the late guardian for misconduct. His lordship made an order on that occasion to the effect that the minor should reside within the jurisdiction of the court, which was indirectly removing her from the protection of the late guardian. The matter then went into the Master’s Office, and the late guardian very prudently withdrew from his guardianship, but although he had done so, he placed on the files of the court an affidavit, which he (the Master of the Rolls) had no hesitation in saying was a most improper affidavit to have filed, and which rendered it impossible that inquiry should cease as long as it remained unanswered. The general nature of the charge against the late guardian appeared to be this – that although he was allowed from 1850 a maintenance of  £139 per annum, this young lady was not properly clothed – that she had not been properly fed – had been most cruelly treated and subjected to personal violence. Six or seven years ago she was actually driven to run away, which of course she had since been obliged to repent, and even if she did get education it was the education of a poor relation of the family. The governess who was employed to educate her cousins swore, as he (the Master of the Rolls) understood, that if the minor did get education it was at the expense of the guardian, and that she gave her instructions as a matter of charity. This young lady was obliged to run away, and conceal herself in a neighbouring village, and no person who looked at the subsequent transactions could entertain a doubt but that she had been treated with cruelty. It was sworn by Mr Sweeny, a solicitor of the court, that he was ashamed to walk with her she was so badly dressed. The Master, in his report, found that if the minor, who was in her nineteenth year, at the period he was making his enquiries, dined with the servants, or if she kept their company, it was not under compulsions, but he (the Master of the Rolls) would be glad to know was that the mode to deal with a minor of the court. He believed the truth of her statement that although the governess, the younger branches of the family, and she dined in a room off the kitchen in summer, in winter, a fire not been lighted in it, they dined in the kitchen. It was perfectly clear to his mind that this young lady had been kept ignorant, up to a late period, of the state of her circumstances. The Master found, and it was actually admitted by the respondent, that he told her on one occasion her father had left her nothing; that she would be in the poorhouse but for his generosity. He (the Master of the Rolls) adverted to this circumstance  for the purpose of asking this gentleman who struck this young lady, in delicate health, with a horsewhip for having told him, as he represented an untruth – what punishment he deserved for having told her the falsehood that her father had left her nothing? She had been absolutely kept in a state of servitude – admittedly not dining with her uncle and aunt, and admittedly dining in the room off the kitchen. She got half a pound of butter for a week, but no sugar or any of those matters which were considered by mere menials to be the necessaries of life. Having got dissatisfied with this state of things, she was anxious to know whether the statement was true that her father had left her nothing – whether she was entirely dependent upon her uncle, with whom she lived. On the morning of the 4th of May 1854, the transaction took place which led her to write the first letter to her uncle who was now her guardian. It appeared that one of her cousins brought her a piece of leather which the child had got in the study of the late guardian, but not telling her anything about it she asked her to cover a ball, and she did so. He interrogated her on the subject, and having denied she took the leather, he took his horsewhip and struck this delicate young lady a blow which left a severe mark on her back to the present day. His lordship then read the letter of the minor to her uncle in Cork inquiring about her father’s circumstances, and complaining bitterly of the treatment she had received, and stating that, though she was then nineteen years of age, she had no pocket money except a little which had been supplied by friends. His lordship continued to say that the facts contained in that letter were corroborated by the statements of the guardian himself. On another occasion, the minor being in the room with her uncle, his powder-flask was mislaid, and being naturally anxious about it, as there were younger children living in the house, he asked this young lady respecting it, but she laughed at his anxiety, and he struck her a blow, according to his own version, with his open hand, but after the blow of the horsewhip, he (the Master of the Rolls) was inclined to think it was with his fist as she represented. Another letter was written by the minor, in September, 1854, to her uncle John (sic) in Cork, which he enclosed to Mr Orpin, who adopted the course that he wished every solicitor would adopt who did not consider himself the solicitor for the guardian, but the solicitor for the minor, whose interest was committed to his charge. On the 9th of October a letter was written, by the dictation of this young lady, giving the most exaggerated account of her happiness, and this was alleged to be her voluntary act, though by the same post Mr Orpin received a letter from her stating that she was under the influence of her aunt when she wrote it. Ultimately, in the absence of her uncle, and late guardian, and apprehending his anger when he returned, she left the house and went to reside with her uncle John (sic) in Cork, her present guardian. A circumstance occurred when Mr Robert O’Bryen (sic) went to recover possession of his ward, which corroborated strongly the minor’s statement. When he was passing through Cork, she was looking out of the window and fainted upon seeing him – so much frightened was she at his very appearance. The conduct of this gentleman appeared to him (the Master of the Rolls) to be most unjustifiable – not to use a stronger expression – and Mr Orpin, the solicitor, was entitled to his costs, the payment of which he might have no apprehension, as this young lady, who was represented as having nothing, was the heiress to £ 10,000, left to her by her father. With reference to Mr Robert O’Brien (sic), he was clearly of opinion at present that he should bear all his own costs; but whether he would make him pay the costs the minor’s estate had been put to in investigating these transactions, he would reserve for future consideration.

THE LIVERPOOL MERCURY AND SUPPLEMENT. FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 1855

PERSECUTION OF A WARD IN CHANCERY – IN RE PAULINA ROCHE

This was a minor matter, the question at present before the Rolls Court, Dublin, being whether the guardian of the minor should pay the costs of proceedings consequent upon an alleged system of cruelty practised upon her. The minor, Paulina Roche, is the daughter of the sister of Dr. J. Roche O’Bryan (sic) and Mr Robt. H. O’Bryan (sic) of Queenstown, Cork. She (Mrs Roche) died in 1836, at which period the minor was only eleven months old. She was left by her mother to the care of Dr O’Bryan (sic), of Clifton, Bristol, and a maintenance was allowed him for her support, which was increased from time to time, till it amounted to £ 139 per annum. She was entitled to a fortune of   £10,000, the greater portion of which (£7,000 or £6,000) had been realised. Miss Roche was a young lady whose constitution was delicate, and therefore, it was contended she required great care and attention, instead of which she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercise, which was indispensable to her health. A pony, the bequest of a dying patient, was given to her; and when she was deprived of this a carriage horse was procured, which kicked her off his back, and she refused ever again to mount him. She also complained that upon two occasions he (the guardian) beat her severely – that he made her a housekeeper and governess to the younger children, that he led her to believe she was dependent upon his benevolence; and further, that she was not permitted to dine with him and his wife, but sent down to the kitchen with the children and the servants. Having endured this treatment for a long period, she fled from his house in the manner hereafter described. To these charges, Dr O’Bryan (sic) replied that he had treated his niece with kindness – that her preservation from consumption was solely ascribable to his judicious and skilful treatment – that her caused her to be well educated – had given her many accomplishments, and a horse to ride, which was not a carriage horse, but an excellent lady’s horse – that she upon two occasions told him untruths which required correction, and that he would have punished his own children much more severely. He also relied upon the affidavits of friends (Mrs and Miss Morgan, Mrs Parsons, and the affidavit of his own wife) which represented that his conduct to the young lady was uniformly kind, and that from their knowledge of him and the course pursued towards her, they could vouch that no hardship or cruelty had been practised towards her. It was likewise contended that she would have better consulted her own respectability and displayed better taste if she had abstained from taking proceedings against her uncle and guardian, with whom she had been for so many years.

The Master of the Rolls, after going over the facts carefully, said – It is a satisfaction to know, although this young lady has been described as a dependent, and as one who has been rescued from a workhouse, that she is entitled to £10,000; and the question of costs of Mr Orpin is not a matter of so much importance; he will, of course, be indemnified for his expenses. There is no difficulty about my obliging Dr O’Bryan (sic) to pay his own costs; therefore I may as well relieve him from any trouble upon this head, should he consider that there is any use in applying to me to be exempted from the payment of these costs. The only question for me to consider is, whether I shall not oblige him to pay all the costs of the proceedings consequent upon his conduct to his ward.

The Tralee Chronicle Friday, June 22 1855

ROLLS COURT – SATURDAY

In the matter of Pauline Roche, a minor

The petition in this case was presented to compel the late guardian of the minor, Dr Robert O’Brien, of Belfast (sic) to pay the costs of certain proceedings which had been instituted on the part of the minor in the Court of Chancery and the Master’s Office. The facts of the case will appear from his lordship’s judgement. The general nature of the charge against the late guardian appeared to be this – that although he was allowed from 1850 a maintenance of £ 130 per annum, this young lady was not properly fed – had been most cruelly treated and subjected to personal violence. This young lady was obliged to run away, and conceal herself in a neighbouring village, and no person who looked at the subsequent transactions could entertain a doubt that she had been treated with cruelty. It was perfectly clear that this young lady had been kept ignorant up to a late period of the state of her circumstances. The Master found, and it was admitted by the respondent, that he told her on one occasion her father left her nothing; that she would be in the poor house but for his generosity. His lordship then read the letter of the minor in cork, inquiring about her father’s circumstance, and complaining bitterly of the treatment she had received, and stating that, though she was then 19 years of age, she had no pocket money, except a little which had been supplied by friends. Another letter was written by the minor in September, 1854, to her uncle John in Cork, which he inclosed to Mr Orpin who adopted the course that he wished every solicitor would adopt, who did not consider himself solicitor for the guardian, but the solicitor for the minor, whose interest was committed to his charge. Ultimately, in the absence of her uncle, and late guardian, and apprehending his anger when he returned, she left the house, and went to reside with her uncle in Cork, her present guardian. Mr Robert O’Brien (sic) went to recover possession of his ward, which corroborated strongly the minor’s statement. When he was passing through Cork, she was looking out in the window, and fainted upon seeing him – so much frightened was she at his very appearance, the conduct of this gentleman appeared to him (the Master of the Rolls) to be most unjustifiable – not to use a stronger expression – and Mr Orpin, the solicitor, was entitled to his costs for the payment of which he might have no apprehension as this young lady, who was represented as having nothing, was the heiress to £ 10,000 left to her by her father. With reference to Mr Robert O’Brien (sic), he was clearly of opinion at present that he should bear all his own costs; but whether he would make him pay the costs the minor’s estate had been put to in investigating the transactions, he would reserve for future consideration.

THE BRISTOL MERCURY, AND WESTERN COUNTIES ADVERTISER, SATURDAY DECEMBER 29 1855

DR. O’BRYEN AND THE CORPORATION OF THE POOR

Audi alterum partem,

To the Editor of The Bristol Mercury

SIR – I need make no apology for asking your indulgence to enable me to defend myself by bringing before the public such explanation as I can offer of certain expressions that fell from the Irish Master of the Rolls when called on to settle a mere matter of costs. What purported to be his language appeared in your paper of the 22nd of June last. The course the Court of the Corporation of the Poor have thought proper to adopt, at their meeting of the 11th instant, obliges me, most reluctantly, to re-open a matter I had rather forgotten, not that I feel at all conscious of having done wrong, for, were it so, I would not now ask a hearing. The manifestly partial and one-sided import of the words used by the Master of the Rolls, it was considered, would be their own antidote, for all who knew me in private life were aware how unfounded such “surmises” and “inferences” as he thought it not beneath him to indulge in, were in fact. For this, amongst several other valid reasons, not adverse to myself, which I cannot publish, my friends advised me to let the matter rest, and I now regret that I permitted myself to be prevailed on to leave the matter to public opinion, which, it was alleged, would not fail to discern the ex parte nature of his language, and judge accordingly, instead of at once showing (at all risks) how entirely at variance it was with the judgement of the Master in Chancery, to which no exceptions were taken.

Before entering into the merits of this case, or making any justifications of my conduct, three points of special difficulty must be borne in mind: –

1st – By the manner of proceeding in the court of Chancery, charges to any amount, in number and gravity, may be made at pleasure, without regard to their truth or application, and I was called on to prove a negative, and that extending over a period of 18 years, not even illustrated by dates, to a long list of charges so got up.

2nd – I laboured under the great and irremediable disadvantage of the absence of the most important, I might almost say the only, witness capable of directly answering who had lived with me for eight years: she had left and gone on the Continent, to a situation, some time previously. The rules of the Court require all testimony to be sworn before a Master Extraordinary of that Court. None such being on the Continent, I was deprived of her evidence; my children at home were very young, the others were on the Continent at school, under age, and therefore inadmissible. Hence, to prove the negative, I was compelled to rely on my own and my wife’s evidence, that of any servant I could find who had lived with us during that period, and the very few visitors and friends who knew our private household life sufficiently well (and all know how few such can exist) to be able to speak to the untruth of one or more of these charges.

3rd – I have now, in addition, to contend with the “surmises” and “inferences” which the Irish Master of the Rolls thought proper to indulge in when called on to settle a mere matter of costs.

The Minor, Miss Roche, made certain complaints to the Lord Chancellor Brady, who directed that the Master in Chancery, J.J.Murphy, esq, should proceed to examine into and report upon them to him, which was done, and the report presented to his Lordship, when he directed the Master of the Rolls to settle the costs.

Every impartial reader of the reported language of the Master of the Rolls must be struck with one fact, that, to use a mild expression, he allowed the gravity of the judge to disappear in the one-sided earnestness of the advocate. It is manifest his language did not meet the justice of the case, and for this view I rely on the finding and judgement of the Master in Chancery, the officer to whom the complaints were referred, and before whom all the witnesses were brought, and the evidence was investigated, and within whose province it came to decide on the validity and effect of the allegations against me; and notwithstanding all the difficulties I had to encounter in rebutting these charges, and the almost impossibility of finding evidence, yet I refer the reader with confidence to his verdict.

“In the matter of J.P.Roche, a Minor, – Hy. Thos Keane, plaintiff, Hugh Roche and others, defendants; Hy. Thos Keane, plaintiff, Elizabeth Roche defendant; Hy. Thos Keane, plaintiff, Peter Cook and others, defendants.”

“ To the Right Honourable Maziere Brady, Lord High Chancellor of Ireland. May it please your Lordship, pursuant to your Lordship’s order mad into this matter, and in these tatises bearing date 2nd day of November 1854, whereby it was referred to me to inquire and report whether the treatment of the said Minor had been proper and according to the direction of this court; and for the purpose of ascertaining and determining upon the guardian’s treatment of the said Minor, I directed that a specification should be prepared, setting forth in writing the charges or causes of complaint alleged by her, or on her behalf, against the said John Roche O’Bryen: the same were accordingly specified and marked with my initials.”

The charges laid before the Master in Chancery for investigation, were as follows:-

FIRST GENERAL CHARGE

“ That said john Roche O’Bryen treated said Minor in a harsh and cruel manner, unsuited to he age and constitutional delicacy.” Viz:-

  1. “By striking her with a riding whip, and on other occasions making use of personal violence to her, and generally treating her with cruelty and harshness.”
  2. “ In having compelled her, or induced her by false statements as to her position in his family, to undertake and perform menial services, such as washing and dressing the younger children of said J.R.O’Bryen, acting as nursery governess, sweeping rooms, and like offices.”
  3. “In having compelled, or induced said Minor to dine in the kitchen or servants hall, in company with the female servants and younger children of said J.R.O’Bryen.

SECOND GENERAL CHARGE

“That said John Roche O’Bryen treated said Minor in a manner unsuited to her age and constitutional delicacy, and prospects in life, and not in accordance with the allowance made for her maintenance in that behalf by the reports on orders in said matter, viz:-“

  1. “In supplying her with clothes unsuited to her age and prospects in life.”
  2. “In supplying her with food unsuited to her station in life and natural delicacy of constitution.”
  3. “In not allowing said Minor pocket money suited in its amount to her age and prospects in life.”
  4. “In not providing said Minor with horse exercise, in accordance with the report bearing date 28th May, 1850.”
  5. “In having caused the acquaintances and teachers to believe that said Minor was a dependant on the charity of said John R. O’Bryen, and to act towards her accordingly.”
  6. “That said John Roche O’Bryen concealed from Minor her true position in his family, and made false statements to her respecting her prospects and the true position of her affairs.”

J.J.M.

The evidence on both sides having been entered into in respect to these charges, Master Murphy gave the following judgement to which no exceptions having been taken, it was formally embodied in his report to the Lord Chancellor, and to this I now refer, as my reply to the following charges.

“The 1st is sustained so far as to striking her with a riding-whip, and on another occasion (see evidence) striking her with his hand – no other proof of actual violence. It further appears the Minor at an earlier period (see evidence) felt such apprehension that she left her guardian’s house. &c. The striking I consider wholly unjustifiable, and I have no further evidence of cruelty. As to harshness, I think Dr O’Bryen’s manner may have laid a foundation to that charge. He appears to me to entertain very high notions of the prerogatives of a guardian as well as a parent, but I have no sufficient or satisfactory evidence of any general or deliberate harsh treatment on his part.”

“I have not evidence that satisfies me that Dr O’Bryen made use of false statements as to the Minor’s position in his family. The Minor may have undertaken and performed what are termed menial offices, which she now complains of, but in my opinion she never was induced or compelled to do so by Dr O’Bryen. I think she was, to an advanced period of her life, left too much in communication with servants, governesses, and younger children having regard to her prospects in life and her constitutional and moral tendencies and her due self-respect. This coarse, I think, latterly made her reckless and indifferent, and indisposed to avail herself of the opportunities which may then have been afforded her of associating with Dr and Mrs O’Bryen.”

“Upon the evidence before me I consider this a misrepresentation. I do not see any reason to believe that she ever dined in the kitchen – servants’ hall there was not in the house. If she ever dined in the kitchen, or in company with the servants, she did so, in my judgement, without any inducement or compulsion on the part of Dr O’Bryen.”

“The second I have already partially answered (see above).”

“I consider it due to Dr O’Bryen to state that whatever fault of judgement or manner he may be chargeable with in the moral treatment of the minor, he appears to have had her well educated according to her position and capacity, and to have bestowed on her medical treatment very commendable attention and skill, and that he also gave her full opportunities of taking horse exercise if she pleased; also latterly, opportunities, so far as she appears to have desired, of associating with his respectable acquaintances; and, with the exception of the article of clothing (about which I doubt), and the defects of moral treatment above referred to, I can discover no well-founded reason to complain of his conduct as a guardian.”

“The specific complaints under this band are:-

  1. “In the article of clothes, but for the evidence of Mr Stephen O’Bryen, having made a complaint to Mr Sweeny on this (unclear) as appears in the evidence of the latter, I should have found against the charge; after that evidence I am inclined to think there was some ground for the Minor’s complaint on this bead.”
  2. “As to the supply of food, it was not exactly what I could have wished in some respects; but it was always the same as that given to Dr O’Bryen’s own children; and it further appears that the Minor was allowed to keep the keys, and could have taken what she wished. I consider the cause of this complaint was much exaggerated.”
  3. “It does not appear that Minor ever asked or expressed a wish to get pocket-money. It also appears that she had actually given some money to Dr O’Bryen to keep for her.”
  4. “As to not providing Minor with horse exercise, I consider this charge colourable, and without any real foundation or just cause of complaint.”
  5. “The evidence on this point is conflicting: there is a good deal of it on the part of the Minor, but the charge has not been established to my satisfaction.”
  6. “This I have already answered as to the Minor’s position in his family. As to her prospects, and the true position of her affairs, Dr O’Bryen has himself stated that he did think it not prudent to disclose in this respect, with his reasons he may have withheld. I cannot satisfactorily arrive at the conclusion that he made any false statements in this regard. I must, however, state my belief that the minor was not, for a considerable time past by any means so ignorant of the state of her property and the condition of her affairs as has been represented on her part. And, upon the whole, I find that she has been maintained and educated in a manner which entitles him to be paid the allowance payable for said minor.”

J.J.MURPHY

The above official document fairly disposes, after a thorough investigation, of a long list of specified charges; but there remain a few new ones, brought forward for the first time by the master of the Rolls, and I will now proceed to deal with them.

It appears in evidence that the minor went daily to the house of a governess for a fixed time, and that this person thought proper, during this time to give her a few lessons on the harp, which she alleges she did without charge as she considered the Minor an orphan and dependant. This was done without the knowledge or consent of her guardian. The Master of the rolls found on this “an inference” and a grave charge. He says- “It appears to me that if she did receive a proper education, it was that of a poor relation, and my inference is, that the money was spent on the ducation of the cousins of Minor, and that the governess, from motives of benevolence, gave this young lady, whom she supposed a dependant, instructions with her pupils.” No charge of this nature was ever made by my opponents: but on the contrary, it was admitted that Minor had received as good an education as she was capable of; a view confirmed by the report of the Master as follows:- “ I deem it right to state, in justice to the said guardian, that he appears to me to have displayed very commendable attention and skill in the medical treatment of said Minor, and to have had her duly and properly educated, and upon the whole that she has been maintained and educated by him in a manner which entitles him to be paid the allowance payable for the said Minor.”

Again the Master of the Rolls indulges in inferences. He is represented to have said-“Now, if the Minor deserved punishment for a falsehood, what punishment would be sufficiently ample for the man who told his niece such a falsehood as that her father died in debt and left her nothing.”  The facts of the case show the Master of the Rolls to have been ill-informed, and to have made a grave charge which he ought to have known was untrue in fact. The facts are these:- The father of Minor made his will in 1832 and died in 1835, when Minor was three months old. He left all his real and personal property to his brothers absolutely, save an annuity to his widow, and made no provision for any child or children. Master Goald’s report of 1836, when minor was made a ward, makes it appear that only £1374 remained in Irish funds out of £ 10,000 to which Minor was entitled under the will of her maternal great-grandfather, to whom her father was executor. Her father admits in his will that he drew and spent the money, and accordingly bills were filed against his brothers to recover deficiency. All the property was sold, and did not realise anything like the debt. Hence it was perfectly true to tell Minor that her father had left her nothing and died in debt.

That the letter of May 4th,  1854, written by Minor, was a part of a conspiracy, must appear to everyone, when I state that it was proved by several witnesses that the Minor knew she had property of her own, and was not dependant. Sympson, the man-servant who accompanied her when she rode out states in his evidence, “ Minor frequently told him when out riding with her, and he particularly recollects one occasion in the summer of 1851, and he heard her tell the other servants of the house the same thing, that she had property of her own, and that Dr O’Bryen was allowed for her maintenance, and also the keep of a pony for her use;” and the master has found, “I must, however, state my belief that the Minor was not, for a considerable time past, by any means so ignorant of the state of her property and the condition of her affairs as has been represented on her part.” So much for her alleged ignorance up to August 1855 which I am deeply grieved to say she has sworn to. In regard to the letter which this Minor has declared she wrote to Mr Orpen, at the dictation of Mrs O’Bryen, I will only say that Mrs O’Bryen has twice sworn that she only, as was her custom, connected the Minor’s ideas, and faithfully expressed her wishes at the same time without suggestion of her own, and I will add, we both now believe that she thus acted to deceive and put Mrs O’Bryen off her guard. The Minor took care to send to her solicitor the pencil sketch, which at least, demonstrates deep cunning. Again, this unfortunate child has sworn that on October 3rd 1854, when Mr Orpen called to see her, she was engaged sweeping out the school-room, and doing other menial work, while two persons clearly prove on oath that she was dressing to go out to pay a visit and not engaged as stated by her, and one of these witnesses was the servant, who was actually at the moment employed in these duties, who swore, “ saith that Minor hath not been, and was not employed in sweeping out the school-room, or making up her own room at the time of said Mr Orpen’s visit; inasmuch as this deponent was in the act of making said minor’s bed, dusting her room &c.2 Whilst said Minor was dressing to go out, saith “that whilst in said house Minor  never swept out school-room, never made up her own room, or did any other menial service.” After this, what reliance can be placed on this Minor’s statement?

I will say one word as to dress. This minor so wilfully neglectful of her dress and personal appearance, that for several months Mrs O’Bryen declined to speak to her on the subject for when she did so she received an insolent reply. Hence I was myself obliged, if in the house, to inspect her daily before she went out and when she came down in the morning, and it rarely happened that I had not to send her to her room to change or arrange her dress, brush her hair, and  often even to wash her face and neck. For a reason then unknown and unsuspected by us, but which has since transpired (viz:- her intention to found a charge and give it the appearance of truth), she would persist in only wearing old and worn-out dresses that I had several times made her lay aside, and directed to be thrown into the old clothes bag. In fact I had to threaten to search her room and burn them before I could succeed. She put on one of the worst of them outside the day she left my house. I often met her in the street, and had to send her back to change her dress, &c., and notwithstanding all this trouble, my wishes were evaded or neglected the moment my back was turned. The amount of vexation and annoyance this child gave us by her habits and general conduct cannot easily be described. Not a single article of dress was bought for her after Mr Orpen’s visit, and yet an excellent wardrobe was found in her room the day she left. The list is too long to add.

There is only one point on which the Master finds against me, viz. striking: on this subject I am unwilling to give details. It is quite true that in a moment of hastiness on two occasions (in 18 years) caused by extremely bad general conduct on the part of Minor, remonstrance having failed, which at these times was brought to a point, and I did strike her once each time as she was leaving the room, and of this, which in reality is nothing, much has been made by those who wanted to make costs, certain to be paid by either party.

My counsel in Ireland recommended an appeal, but my law adviser in this country said “What are you to gain? All material charges have been disproved; the master’s report is in your favour; no costs have been thrown on you; the allowance has been paid; would it be worth your trouble to appeal only to get rid of the language used by the Master of the Rolls? For this is all you could expect, while the expense of an appeal would prove considerable, and the trouble not a little.”

I will only add, in conclusion, that I hols certain instructions in Minor’s handwriting that she received from a gipsy, proving on the face of it that she was employed to act on this child’s mind.

I now submit the case, which I have shadowed(?) out in this letter, not so much in the hope of appeasing the unthinking anger of incompetent and prejudiced persons, as in the certainty of finding justice at the hands of all those who may have taken a very natural and justifiable interest in the allegations made against me, and are yet open to conviction, and are willing to give its just weight to a true and honest statement of facts.

It is a most painful position to be placed in, after many years spent in gratuitous and honourable professional service, to be summoned before a tribunal which has no power to acquit or condemn, but can only cast a stigma. But no man of earnest(?) and conscious rectitude chooses to withhold a defence beyond a certain limit, however strong his private reasons may be for so doing. That limit has now been reached in the opinion of friends and in my own, and I take with the utmost confidence the on course which appears left open to me.

“Fiat Justitia, ruat caelum”

Yours, &c, Mr Editor,

JOHN O’BRYEN, M.D.