Tag Archives: John Roche 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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Hewitt – O’Brien March 20th 1778

Castletownshend, co. Cork

1778,  March 20th, at Castle-Townsend co. Cork, Laurence O’Brien, to Miss Hewitt, daughter of Henry Hewitt, Esq, Captain of the Beresford Revenue Cutter.

The Gentleman’s and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer published in Dublin,  printed by John Exshaw in Dame Street.

Laurence O’Brien and Jane Hewitt are Henry Hewitt O’Bryen [1780-1836]’s parents, and John Roche O’Bryen‘s paternal grandparents, so in our case, great, great, great, great, grandparents. Jane Hewitt is also the reason for the Hewitt name occurring as a forename in the next four, or five generations

A Revenue Cutter was a Customs vessel and each cutter master was answerable to and received his sailing orders directly from the Collector of Customs of the port to which his ship was assigned. All crew pay, requests for supplies, arrangements for repairs to the cutter, and mission-specific tasking came directly from the port’s Customs House.

So great grandpa x 5 Henry Hewitt was a Customs Officer.

Countess Cecile de Sommery 1804 -1899

This seemed so simple to start with, and turns out to be full of twists and turns.

There are rather faded entries, in difficult to decipher hand-writing, in John Roche O’Bryen’s family bible which list all his 16 children, the dates and times of the births, and where they were. It also lists the god-parents. The entry for Cecilia Agnes, the ninth child, and seventh daughter is as follows:

Page from John Roche OBryens Family Bible.

9. Cecilia Agnes [O’Bryen] at Bellvue  Novr 17th 1846          10 A.M  Gdfather, Wm Jones Esq, Pike Inn, Glamn Wales.  GdMother, Miss Cecile De Lonmery, Bath.  Died at The [French] Convent Belgium Janr 5th 1856 at 9 yrs & was buried in the Parish Church attended at her grave 320 persons who thanked God that she was taken to her  [chosen end] whilst innocent to God

I’m almost completely sure that Miss Cecile De Lonmery, is in fact Countess Cecile de Sommery. Almost all of that generation’s godparents appear to be wealthy, landed, titled, or Catholic, or in a number of cases at least three out of four.  

Willie Leigh 1829-1906 [Basil O’Bryen’s godfather – child 10] inherited the Woodchester estate in 1873, which his father had bought for £ 170,000 in 1845. He built the Church of the Annunciation, and Woodchester Priory for the Dominicans  shortly after their arrival in October 1850. It housed the noviciate of the Dominican order in England for more than 100 years; they only left in the 1960s when the buildings became too expensive to maintain. The monastery was demolished in 1970 leaving a small contingent of Dominicans to look after the parish.

Philip O’Bryen’s [ child 13] godfather Simon Scope came from a recusant family had had acquired their estates in Wensleydale in the 12th century, and still owned Danby Hall into the 1960’s.

But back to the Countess, this is her obituary in The Tablet.

THE COUNTESS CECILE DE SOMMERY.

Eyre Chantry, Perrymead, Bath

The Requiem Mass for the Countess Cecile de Sommery took place on Monday at the Franciscan Friary, Clevedon, and the body was then , conveyed to Bath for interment in the family vault [the Eyre Chantry] in the Catholic cemetery at Perrymead, where the remaining portion of the service was conducted. The grand-nephew of the deceased, the Marquis de Sommery, and Mr. Thomas Eyre, and his wife, Lady Milford, were the only relatives present. His Royal Highness the Duke of Madrid, head of the House of Bourbon, telegraphed an expression of sympathy with the late Countess’s relatives. The Countess Cecile de Sommery, Chanoinesse of the Royal Order of St. Anne of Bavaria, whose death occurred at Clevedon, Somerset, on April 26, was born in London in the year 1804. Her parents. Armand de Mesniel, Marquis de Sommery, and Cecile Riquet de Caraman, came over to England with the Bourbons during the French Revolution. Her mother was among the ladies last presented at the Palace of Versailles to Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. One of her sisters married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. R. I. P.

The above text was found on p.26, 13th May 1899 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

So far, all very factual, but fairly astonishing all the same. An elderly single lady being buried in Bath, whose mother met Marie Antoinette, and one of whose nephews was the first Catholic archbishop of Glasgow since the Scottish Reformation, and one of the first patrons of Celtic FC. Another nephew, William Eyre was the rector of Stonyhurst between 1879 -1885, and would have been so for almost the entire school careers of both Ernest and Rex O’Bryen there. So Cecile de Sommery’s nephew was the headmaster to her god-daughter’s youngest two half-brothers, although she [Cecilia O’Bryen] had been dead for eleven years when the elder of them was born.

The sister who married Count Eyre, father of the Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow was Augustine Cécile Pulcherie de Sommery (1797 – 1876). They married in 1828, three years after the death of his first wife Sarah Parker (1790 -1825). John and Sarah had five sons, four of whom became priests, and four daughters, three of whom died young, in the eight years of their marriage. So Augustine would have been very much a mother to all the children, who were all under nine when she became their step-mother.

John Lewis Eyre (1789-1880), Count Eyre, was an entrepreneur and one of the founding directors of the London and South Western Railway Company, taking for many years a leading part in the development of that railway. His title was a papal one, granted by Pope Gregory XVI, who created him a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace in 1843. According the Burke’s  A Genealogical And Heraldic Dictionary Of The Peerage And Baronetage Of The British Empire” 1845.  ” The dignity of a Count of the Lateran Hall and Apostolic Palace was conferred by the sovereign pontiff Gregory XVI on Count Eyre the brevet or patent is dated at St Peter’s Rome under the seal of the Fisherman the 3rd day March 1843 and in the thirteenth year of his pontificate signed A Cardinal Lambruschini.”  Pius IX made the title hereditary in 1847, it was inherited by the Archbishop in 1880.

The best known of his four priest sons is Charles Eyre, the first post- Reformation Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. the others being John, a priest in Newcastle, William Eyre S.J., Rector of Stonyhurst and Vincent Eyre, parish priest in London, first of St Mary’s Cadogan Street and then St Mary’s,Hampstead.

Another nice touch, St Mary’s Cadogan Street was the church that Bishop Bidwell was parish priest of, for thirteen years [from 1913 – 1930], and St Mary’s,Hampstead was, in part, founded by Joseph Francis Lescher (1768 – 1827).

In 1894, Archbishop Eyre  invited the Sisters of Notre Dame to come from the Mother House in Liverpool to establish a community in Glasgow. The Notre Dame Training College was opened in 1895 at Dowanhill. Joseph Francis Lescher’s great granddaughter Mary Adela Lescher ( 1847 – 1926)  [Sister Mary of St Wilfrid] was its first Mother Superior.

She  was Harriet Grehan’s niece, and Harriet Grehan was John Roche O’Bryen’s step-mother-in -law. She was also Fanny Lescher’s niece, she [Fanny} was another nun – [Sister Mary of St Philip] who was the Mother Superior at Notre Dame in Mount Pleasant,Liverpool.

It is still a mystery why Thomas Eyre’s wife still called herself Lady Milford after her first husband’s death  in January 1857. She and Thomas married in 1861, she was Lady Anne Jane Howard, daughter of William Howard, 4th Earl of Wicklow, so was a Lady in her own right. But it does seem odd that she still called herself Lady Milford  years after her first husband’s death, and only three years of marriage [ his second after a twenty eight year first marriage].

The Eyres were an old English recusant family, at Newbold, Derbyshire and Lindley Hall, Leicestershire, very wealthy, and owned a substantial amount of land in Ireland, as well as in England. Thomas Eyre had a large Georgian house at Uppercourt, Freshfort, county Kilkenny, . In the 1870s he owned 762 acres in county Tipperary, 1,909 acres in county Kilkenny and 164 acres in county Waterford.

In 1891, he and Lady Anne were living at 16 Hill Street, in Mayfair, just off Berkley Square. It was a very grand household, with  a butler, two footmen, two ladies maids, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, and two scullery maids, and curiously on the night of the census, no cook living in.He was succeeded by his cousin Stanislas Thomas Eyre in 1902, and left the modern day equivalent of £ 120m.

It’s all a very small world

Eugene Macarthy, committed for trial at Bow Street, August 1862

The Times, Tuesday, August 26, 1862.

POLICE (Courts)

Bow Street Magistrates Court

Bow-Street.-A middle aged man, of gentlemanly appearance, named Eugene Macarthy, was brought up in custody of Inspector Scott, of the A division of police, the officer in charge at the Reading-room of the British Museum before the sitting magistrate, Mr. Henry, on a charge of stealing from the reading-room six books-viz., Dugdale’s “Antient Usage of Arms,” the “Historical Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion of 1641,”  Dod’s “Parliamentary Companion”, Lawless’s “Ireland,” Hegel’s “Philosophy”, and a work in the Irish language, the title of which in English is “Christians’ Instructions”

Mr Poland, the barrister, attended to prosecute for the Trustees of the Museum, and the prisoner was defended by Mr. Morgan, solicitor.

It appeared that the prisoner, who had practised as a solicitor in Ireland, was recently prosecuted for marrying Miss Mary Anne O’Brien during the lifetime of his former wife.

In the course of that prosecution he wrote a letter to Mr. Miler, Miss O’Brien’s solicitor, applying for certain books, papers, &-c., which he had left in her care at the time when they were living together as husband and wife. Mr. Miller submitted to her brothers, Dr. John O’Brien and Mr. Stephen H. O’Brien, tho prisoner’s letter, which was as follows:-

” 2, Caroline-street East, Camden-town, Aug. 7.

“Sir,- I venture to trespass on your kind indulgence to ask the favour of your either preferring the request yourself,or forwarding the request to 30, Westbourne-place, that certain books and MSS., with some other things, fairly mine, and of much moment to me, may be forwarded here by parcels’ delivery:- a hat-box and an old carpet-bag, both containing MSS., with a small writing-case,. I would have have asked this earlier of you, but severe illness prevented me till now. I apologize for addressing you, but really not knowing whom else to ask of, will excuse me. I am your obedient servant,”

“E. P. Macarthy.”

Book Stacks, British Museum Reading Room

Mr. Miller advised the Messrs. O’Brien, acting on behalf of their sister, to deliver up to Mr. Macarthy all books, papers, or other property belonging to him, but with the precaution that they should carefully examine such articles, and make a list of them. In the course of the examination which was made, in conformity with Mr. Miller’s advice,Dr. O’Brien discovered that among the books left by the prisoner in Miss O’Brien’s care were two which had evidently belonged to some library. These were the ” Historical Memoirs of the the Irish Rebellion of 1641” and Dugdale’s “Antient Usage of Arms” .It first struck Dr. O’Brien that these works were impressed with a crown on the binding, and were marked with certain numbers. Upon a closer scrutiny he came to the conclusion that they were stolen from the Reading-room of the British Museum. He at once proceeded to the Museum and submitted the books to the inspection of Mr. Rye, one of the principal assistants there. Mr. Rye identified the books as having been stolen from the Reading-room. [The Reading Room was officially opened on 2 May 1857 ] They had been given out in July, 1857, to a reader named Macarthy, and had never been returned. The were missed on the 1st of September, 1857. At that time the prisoner was a reader at the Museum. He became a reader on the 22nd of July that year, when he entered his name in the usual manner in the readers’ book, and that signature was proved, to be in his handwriting. His name was also entered in his own hand- writing on the fly-leaves of the books, and in one of them a label engraved with the Macarthy arms had been pasted over the Museum press mark. Upon this label the mottoes of the Macarthy family were written in Latin and in Irish, in the prisoner’s handwriting.

There was also found among the books left in Miss O’Brien’s care by the prisoner, four other books:-viz., Dod’s Parliamentary Companion, Lawless’, Ireland, Hegel’s Philosophy, and The Christians’ Instructions, all bearing the press mark, and all identified as having been missed from the Museum prior to the 1st of September. They were all marked with the prisoner’s signature and other memoranda, and marginal notes in his handwriting. Upon this information, Inspector Scott apprehended the prisoner at the Central Criminal Court, when he attended to take his place upon tho charge of bigamy. He was then taken to the station-house in Bow- street, but was not brought before the magistrate, as it was agreed, in order to leave him free to answer the charge of bigamy, that the present charge should be postponed until the other prosecution had been disposed of. He was convicted of the bigamy, and sentenced to a week’s imprisonment at the expiration of which period he was again apprehended by Inspector Scott, and brought up at Bow- street on the present charge.

Dr., Mr., and Miss O’Brien, Inspector Scott, and other witnesses, including Mr. Rye and Mr. Holder of the British Museum, were examined at great length in support of these charges.

Mr. Morgan, in cross-examining Miss O’Brien, asked her whether she had not herself held a ticket of admission to the Reading room of the Museum, and whether she had not signed her name in the readers’ book.

She replied to both questions in the affirmative.

Mr. Poland observed that he was glad those questions had been put, as it would enable him to show that Miss O’Brien was not a reader until after the time at which the books had been stolen.

The readers’ book, in which Mr. Macarthy’s signature had already been proved, was now again produced, and Miss O’Brien swore to her own signature as “Mary Ann Macarthy” (at that time she believed herself to be Mr. Macarthy’s wife). It was under the date 14th October,1857.

Mr. Poland called the magistrate’s attention to the fact that all these books had been missed from the Museum on the 1st September, being six weeks before Miss O’Brien had admission to the Reading room.

Mr. Morgan said,-After the evidence which we have beard, I think that the most prudent thing for the prisoner is to decline to say anything.

The prisoner was committed for trial, without bail.

Eugene Macarthy, third indictment for bigamy – 30 July 1862

The Times, Wednesday, July 30, 1862

Westminster Police Court-

Mr. Eugene Plumber M’Carthy, solicitor and notary public in Ireland, was charged on remand with double bigamy and perjury in making an affidavit to obtain a licence for his third alleged marriage. The evidence previously taken in support of the charges went to show that the prisoner was married on the 28th of January, 1839, to Catherine Creagh, at Cullenswood, near Dublin, by the Rev. J. G. F. Schultz; that he was again married on the 29th of June, 1844, to Miss Mary Anne O’Bryan, at St. Peter’s, in the county of Cork ; and again to Emily Reiley [sic. Actually Emily Verling]  at St. James’s, Holloway, on the 22d of May, 1852. The affidavit for the last marriage set forth that the prisoner was a bachelor.

Yesterday, upon the prisoner being again brought up, Mr. Wontner attended on his behalf, and the case was reopened, the validity of the first marriage being questioned. The proof of this marriage rested upon the testimony of Mr. Harrington, who was present when that ceremony was performed. Letters were written by the accused many years afterwards to Mr. Mellor, a solicitor, which were produced and repeatedly referred to. In one, dated the 5th of September, 1860, at 16, Eaton-street, Woolwich, he says:-” I could have wished that the recital of the marriage of 1839 should exonerate me from committing a deliberate fraud in tho marriage of 1844. It was some years subsequent to the latter date that the validity of a marriage, without bans or a licence, by a Dissenting minister, was recognized. All the circumstances attending the marriage of 1839 strengthen the conviction that it was worthless, until, to my consternation, the Courts decided otherwise. I was then a very young man. The woman lived with me previously, and a certificate was had only to save appearances. In 1839 we separated, the woman no more than myself viewed it as valid. She resided in the city of Cork. I also resided near it. She never sought me, and knew where I was residing. I was married by licence in 1844 at St. Peter’s, Cork. Frequently saw the woman in the street. Was never molested or accosted by her. Never made the least claim upon me,for she, as well as myself, attached no value to the marriage and I remained so contented until, as I have already said, the question was raised on circumstances similar, and the Courts decided their validity; hence I am fairly entitled to be absolved from any fraud in making the contract of 1844.”

A postscript adds,-” I need scarcely add, you shall find me ready to do any and every act you may deem necessary to secure Mrs. M’s rights; as recompense for an involuntary wrong it is justly due.”

The second letter is in the following terms, dated Woolwich, September 9, 1860:-

“The place of celebration of the ceremony of 1839 was in Cullenswood,a suburb of Dublin; the celebrant. the Rev.Mr. Schultz, a German Lutheran minister, at his residence. The register he keeps is in the Prerogative or Consistorial Court, Dublin, lodged or impounded there since his marriages were first questioned. I can afford no information of Creagh’s death. I did hear it occurred in 1855, but where I know not. It may have been Cork, the last place I heard of her. But persons of her class assume new names, and have aliases for every week of the year,- and it may be no easy matter to satisfactorily trace her. She was in London a considerable time after 1839, and in Dublin also as long. There can be no doubt that she was in Cork early in 1855, and no difficulty in proving it. The decision settling the validity of Schultz’s marriages is well known in Ireland, and I have no doubt many a heedless young man found himself snared by it as I did.” – The letter concludes with some remarks about the settlement deed before alluded to.

Miss Mary Anne O’Bryan, 30, Westbourne-place, Eaton. square, was cross-examined by Mr. Wontner. She said she was first acquainted by her brother, Dr. O’Bryan, with the prisoner’s first marriage in 1852. She did not then believe it. The witness was married in 1844 and continued to live with the prisoner until 1852, when he went away with Miss Railey.  [sic. Actually Emily Verling].  The witness fetched him back, but he went away again with her. She and her family sold off his goods. She could not say whether her brother took the prisoner’s position of notary at Queenstown. This was the first time she ever heard her brother was notary. She had heard Robert O’Bryan was practising there as notary, but this was mere hearsay. When married to the prisoner her property was not settled upon her; but, after being married seven or eight years, he settled it upon her in April 1852. In 1860 she was desirous of recovering the sole control of the property, and instituted a suit in the Irish Chancery Court. He wrote the two letters produced to facilitate her getting the money out of court. The witness and the prisoner were living together in 1860, when these letters were written. The witness did not read them before they were sent but posted them herself as the prisoner was lame. The witness continued to live with him after this, but left him when she found she could. It was June 12 months when she last lived with him; she had since corresponded with him in answer to his letters for money, and had seen him, but not frequently. He had lived in Belgrave and Warwick Places, and there being some arrears of rent an execution was put in, when she declared herself to be a single woman. She could not say her brothers gave him into custody on his coming to the house at that time for this bigamy.

Mr. Harrington, the only witness to the first alleged marriage, said he was present at Schultz’s when the prisoner and Catherine Creagh were there. He was present at the prisoner’s invitation. Schultz was a very notorious person; he performed marriages when persons had not time to contract them through the Church. There was a ceremony of some sort gone through, but he could not say what. Schultz read and spoke in some form, and witness believed the parties were married at that time. He saw no books used by either of the parties, and never saw such a marriage before. The prisoner said he was anxious to make Catherine Creagh reparation and marry her. He could not say whether Schultz  was in canonicals. He thought he saw the parties kneel, but could not say

An Irish policeman was called to prove that Schultz’s marriage had been acted upon as valid in the courts of law in that country.

Mr. Arnold thought that, with the letter and the evidence of Mr. Harrington of a ceremony, there was a prima facie case made out.  He committed the accused for trial upon the first charge of intermarrying with Miss O’Bryan while his former wife, Catherine (Creagh), was alive, but he offered to take one surety in £ 20,  as he thought it was not a case in which the prisoner should be locked up.

Eugene Macarthy – First indictment for bigamy July 1862

The Cork Examiner, 17 July 1862

LONDON POLICE—WESTMINSTER, TUESDAY.

CHARGE OF BIGAMY—A MAN WITH THREE WIVES.—Eugene P. M’Carthy, a solicitor and public notary in Ireland, described as having no fixed residence, was charged with intermarrying with Catherine Craigh, otherwise Cree, his former wife, Mary Jane O’Brien, being still alive.

Mr. Stephen O’Brien, brother of the second wife, residing at Queenstown, produced papers proving the second marriage in July, 1854, at Dublin, and he further stated that the prisoner subsequently married Mary Ann Bunning, at St. James’s Church, Islington. The first marriage took place on the 29th of January, 1839.

Dr. James O’Brien, brother of the prosecutor, corroborated the evidence.

The prisoner was remanded for the attendance of the witnesses to attest the respective marriages.

As ever, the Cork Examiner is enthusiastic, but fairly sloppy in its reporting, just like it was in Pauline Roche’s case four years earlier. It manages to get the third wife’s name wrong,  [they call her Mary Ann Bunning, she is in fact Emily Verling].  They also say the second marriage took place in Dublin, in 1854, when it actually took place in St Peter’s church in Cork in 1844. Finally they turn great great grandpa into James rather than John .

The Most Reverend George Joseph Plunket Browne (1795–1858)

Two entries in John Roche O’Bryen’s family bible are as follows

“John Roche O’Bryen was married a second time to Celia Mary Grehan, only daughter of P Grehan Esq, late of Worth Hall Sussex at Mount Plunkett, Athlone, Ireland Oct 1st 1857 by Right Revd Dr Browne, Bishop of Elphin, in presence of her brothers & family & with issue.”  

“Mary Frances (O’Bryen) at Bellvue, Janr 30th, 1844, 6 ½ P.M. GdF Right Revd Dr Brown &  GdM Mrs Js O’Connell, died Janr 5th 1858 & was buried at Arnos Court.”

The Most Reverend George Joseph Plunket Browne (1795–1858) was an Irish Roman Catholic clergyman. Born to a “well-known Roscommon family”, he served as Bishop of Galway from 1831 until 1844, and afterward as Bishop of Elphin, until his death on 1 December 1858. He was charged with being a “Cullenite” in 1855, that is, a follower of ultamontane Paul Cardinal Cullen. [“the Cullenite church”, was used to describe the Irish church until the 1960, a church strongly allied to the “rural bourgeoisie” and the rising class of what are called “strong-farmers”.]

Browne was born in 1795 in Dangan House in the parish of Kilmore, diocese of Elphin, near Carrick-on-Shannon. His ancestors came originally from Coolarne, Athenry, Co. Galway. The family residence was at Cloonfad, Co. Roscommon. At 17 years of age, in 1812, he entered Maynooth College, and was ordained in 1818. He was appointed Administrator of St. Peters Parish, Athlone from 1823 – 1825, and again in 1826 – 1831. In 1829 he lived at King Street, now Pearse Street, in Athlone. At the age of 36 he was chosen to fill the new see of Galway. On 31 July 1831 the Pope approved his appointment. Dr. Browne was consecrated in Athlone on October 23 that year. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Oliver Kelly of Tuam, and assisted by Bishops Burke of Elphin, and McNicholas of Achonry. His motto was “Fortiter et Fideliter (Firmly and Faithfully). He carried out his administration in a peaceful and diplomatic manner. The great Daniel O’Connell justly called him “The Dove of Galway”.

Browne was an enthusiastic learner of the Irish language, but found it difficult to master and by 1844 he proposed in a public letter that to facilitate this learning, it should be written phonetically. He encouraged secondary education and with Dr Ffrench he was joint patron of the new Patrican Brothers boys boarding school which opened in 1837 at Clarinbridge. He brought the Ursuline Order of nuns to Dangan on the Oughterard road beside his own residence in May 1839. He recognised the need to increase the number of church buildings and in May 1837 he left for England to collect money for the new St. Patrick’s Church in Galway. He dedicated a new church in Oughterard in August of the same year. He had the disadvantage of being both popular & poor and was unable to make his ad limina visit to Rome in 1836 but instead sent a detailed written report. He estimated that his income was about one seventh of that of the average Irish Bishop of the time.

Browne was involved in the two dynamic social factors at the time, politics and religion. He was an ardent supporter of O’Connell. He presided at meetings in Galway of the Precursor Society founded by O’Connell to bring about reforms in October and November 1838, and from 1840 he actively supported the Repeal movement. Following the death of Bishop Burke of Elphin in 1843, Dr. Browne was proposed by the Elphin priests to succeed him. Archbishop MacHale attributed Dr. Browne’s conciliatory manner, wisdom and ability to the pacific and flourishing state of the diocese at the time. He acknowledged to Dr. Paul Cullen in Rome that he did not know anyone more fitting for the diocese of Elphin. His great knowledge and piety prompted the clergy in such numbers to give him preferences, although Dr. Browne made no move to secure the more prosperous see for himself. He adopted a deliberate policy of silence. On 10 March 1844 the Pope gave his assent to transfer him to Elphin. Dr. Browne of Elphin continued to actively support Daniel O’Connell and in 1844 he presided at a meeting of protest against his imprisonment. Later the Bishop fell foul of the Young Irelanders and Charles Gavan Duffy, who wrote him a letter of protest. When O’Connell heard this he sent a sympathetic letter to Dr. Browne which is now preserved in the Elphin Diocesan Archives. Mother McCauley of the Mercy Order greatly esteemed the Bishop, whose meek suave character so much impressed her friend O’Connell that he used to call him the Dove, and on his translation to another see the ‘Dove of Elphin’.

The Ursuline Order followed Browne to Elphin, first to Summerhill in Athlone and then to Sligo. He raffled his carriage to raise funds to compensate the sisters for the financial loss they suffered by removing to Sligo. According to Fr. Martin Coen, he was a man of singularly mild temperament, well liked by the majority of his priests and people. An entry in the Annals of the Sisters of Mercy, by Mother McCauley in 1840 reads …‘You may be sure patronage is greatly divided here, each house has its party, Presentation, Dominican, Augustinian, Franciscan, Ursulines etc., and now Sisters of Mercy. The Ursulines are said to enjoy most of episcopal patronage, but Bishop Browne has love and charity enough for thousands and embraces all with genuine paternal care and apostolic affection’.

In the Freemans Journal of 29 April 1848, it stated that by late 1847 the Strokestown Estate had become a byword for mass-eviction. Browne was one of a number of influential individuals who publicly attacked Irish Landlords, including Major Mahon, for their harsh policy of eviction. The Mahons responded with an attempt to embarrass the Bishop by reporting that his own brother Patrick Browne had evicted tenants from his holdings at Cloonfad, Co. Roscommon. The Bishop retaliated by publishing a list townland by townland of 605 families dispossessed of their lands and houses in the immediate vicinity of Strokestown, Co. Roscommon amounting to 3006 persons evicted by the Mahon family. A letter written by the Bishop on 26 April 1848 to the Earl of Shrewsbury on the ‘Mahon Evictions’ was also printed in the journal on that date.

Browne died on 1 December 1858, at his home in Abbey St., Roscommon. He was buried in the church now known as the Harrison Hall. His remains were removed to the Priests’ burial ground immediately behind the Church of the Sacred Heart when it was built.