F. Erlington (Francis Elrington) Ball.

A history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) online

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belonged to a royalist family; but his second wife, Eleanor,

Eleanor, Countess of lyrconnel.

Frniii a Piirlniil In/ Sir I'l/'r Lilji hi Ihr Fitzwilliam Museum.

daughter of the fust Earl of Clare, of the Holies creation, whom ho
married before 1647, belonged to a family identified with the Par-
liament cause, and llirough the iiilliuncc of her hrotlu-rs, Jolm,
second Earl of Clare, and Dni/.il llnllrs. li.r liushaiid ivccivrd more
considerate treatmcnl ;il \W liands nfll... a.it liuiil i.s (liaii lie would
otherwise have met will,. Mr '-wn.d property in Nottinghamshire

Pj Carl.; Piipors, vr.l. Ixvii., f. IK', vol. n.v.. f. -MM ; Ma<Tay's " ralrndar of
Clarendon Papers in the Bodkiiin," vol. i., p. ;J(i4.


and Staffordshire, and had an interest in a charge, held by his first
wife's mother (who had married, as her second husband, his nncle,
Silvester Plunkett), on the Brereton estate in Cheshire. In
November, 1649, he came to London, probably in order to look after
these properties. lie was then arrested by order of the Council of
State, and all his books and papers seized ; but after a few days'
detention he was released, on undertaking to leave England in
eight days. Two years later, when residing in France, he was
given permission to return to England, and in consequence of
exertions on the part of his wife was allowed to remain there on
entering into a bond to be of good behaviour, for which his brother-
in-law, the Earl of Clare, became surety.

Fitzwilliaiii ingratiated himself subsequently with Oliver Crom-
well, and was said tO' be the only man of his nation in request in
London. After the death of his father and of his eldest brother he
was given, about 1655, a grant of their estates and permission to
come over to Ireland to recover them. A great portion of the
estates had been seized by the authorities of the Parliament and
leased to their friends, including Merrion, which was held by a Mr.
John Hughes; and for their recovery Oliver Fitzwilliam became a
suitor to Henry Cromwell, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In a
letter to Henry Cromwell, written from London in 1657, Oliver
Fitzwilliam refers to the great obligations which he had conferred
upon him, and, while declaring himself and his wife to be his
Excellency's most faithful servants, offers to bring him a present
of dogs and hawks on his return to Ireland. After the death of
Oliver Cromwell he became an object of suspicion ; and it is pro-
bable that with the improved prospects of the royalist cause, he
was an active agent for the Restoration. In 1659 he was arrested,
but on his giving his parole he was released, and his arms and horses
restored to him, and during that winter he attended the meetings of
a debating club established in London by James Harrington, the
well-known author of Oceana, and took part in the discussions with-
out interference (i).

Immediately after the Restoration, Charles II. conferred upon
Fitzwilliam the title of Earl of Tyrconnel — a title afterwards taken

(') Calendar of Domestic State Papers, 1649 -1659 ; Calendar of the Proceedings
of the Committee for Compounding ; Lodge's Peerage, vol. vi., p. 168 ; Cokayne's
" Complete Peerage " ; " Dictionarv of National Biography," vol. xxvii., pp. 162,
168. 169 ; Thnrloe's " State Papers." vol. iii., ]). 548 ; Crown Rental ; " Memoirs
of Edmund Ludlow" ; Lansdowne Papers in British Museum, 821, ff. 272, 273 ;
Aubrey's '* Letters and Lives of Eminent Persons," vol. ii., pt. ii., p. 372.


also by James II. "s favourite, Richard Talbot — and was urgent that
his estates should be given back to him without delay. The Earl
was not. however, without enemies, and a letter calculated to do him
injury was produced before the Commissioners under the Act of
Settlement. It caused them to hesitate, and in 1663 the Kinff
indited a letter to the Duke of Ormonde, recommending the Earl
of Tyrconnel to his care, and ordering that if it could not be
effected by the ordinary course of procedure, some other way should
be found of restoring the Earl to his property. As a result of this
letter he was given a confirmation of his estates described under
the denominations of Merrion, Ringsend, Baggotrath, Donnybrook,
Simmonscoi;rt, Dundrum, Ballinteer or Cheeverstown, Ticknock,
Owenstown, Little Bray, Glencullen and the adjoining mountain
townland of Ballybrack, Kilternan and Ballybetagh, Kilmacud,
Thorncastle and Booterstown.

Merrion Castle, though much injured by the military occupation,
still remained a substantial dwelling; and after additions and
improvements had been effected by the Earl of Tyrconnel, it was
assessed as a house containing sixteen hearths — a number which
shows it to have been one of the largest dwellings in the County
Dublin. On the second storey the arms of the family were
engi'aved in stone, and the walls of the rooms were hung with
tapestiy, some of which belonged to Lady Tyrconnel's niece, the
wife of the seventeenth Earl of Kildare, and was bequeathed by
her to her aunt as a token of her love. It was in the castle that
the Earl of Tyixonnel, who did not long enjoy his li()ii()iir.s and
possessions, died, and thence that his body was carried to the family
burying place in Donnybrook Church, whrre a l)lack marble tomb
inscribed with his full titles was afterwards raised. The Countess
of Tyrconnel survived her husband. She seems to have taken au
active part in the management of her husband's estate; the names
of her family are presei-vcd in the names of the streets known as
Clare Street. Denzille Street and Holies Street, and there is a letter
extant from the Duke of Oiiiiundi". while lie was Lord Lieutenant,
asking her to allow the Coi-poration of Dublin to cut sods on the
lands of Merrion for a bowling gi-een which it w.is inleiided to make
at Oxmantown (i).

(') E^rfrton Manunrripts in I'.rili-^li .Mii'^cimi. ^Olrt.' f. 100; T^cport Trisli Rcconl
Commission, vo!. iii., pp. riH, 'JK.'{ : Fleetwood's Survey: Down Survey .Map;
Hearth Monev Roll (City of Dublin") : " Ivirl of Orrery's State I.otten." vol. ii..
p. 79 ; Kusseii and Prendergast's " Keport on tlie Carte Papers," p. 18-1.



As no children survived him, the Earldom of Tyi'connel became
extinct on the death of Oliver Fitzwilliam in 1667, but his brother,
William, succeeded to the Viscounty of Fitzwilliam. In addition
to performing the military service already mentioned, the third
Viscount is said to have been Governor of Whitchurch and Licu-
tenant-General of Shropshire during the Civil War. He married
one of the Luttrells, and his daughters, of whom he had five, married
into Roman Catholic families, including the Brownes of Clongowes
Wood, the Mapases of Rochestown, and the Nettervilles of Cruice-
rath. After the Restoration, during his brother's lifetime, he had
resided in the Castle of Simmonscourt, and his death, which
occurred in 1675, took place in Dublin in the parish of St. Nicholas
Within. An account of his funeral expenses tells that on his
death-bed he was attended by a doctor, apothecary, and surgeon,
and ministered to by Roman Catholic clergymen, that rosemary
and frankincense perfumed the chamber, and that his body was
carried at night, while the bells of Christ Church Cathedral tolled,
to Donnybrook Church, and there interred with all the pageantry
that heralds could provide.

Thomas, 4th Viscount Fitzwilliam. Mary, wife ot tlie 4th Viscount Fitzwilliam.

From a Portrait in the FitzioiUiam Museum. From a Portrait in the Fitzwilliam Museum.

William's only son, Thomas, succeeded as fourth Viscount Fitz-
william. He also was an earnest member of the Roman Catholic
Church. During the rule of Jame§ II, he was given a seat on that


monarch's Privy Council, and appointed a, Commissioner of tlio
Treasury, and at the time of the siege of IJmerick was in com-
mand of a troop of horse, wliich disphiyed considerable braveiy in
an encounter in Kerry with King William"s foi'ces. He was subse-
quently attainted, hut I lit- attaincU^r was afterwards reversed, and
in 1695 he appeared to take his seat, in the Irish House of T.ords.
Although ho took the oath of fealty, he was not willing to take
the oath of adherence to the Established Church, and was obliged
to withdraw. In the two marriages which he contracted free-
dom of opinion is tlisplayed ; his first wife being Mary, daughter
of Sir Philip Stapleton, a distinguished officer under the Parlia^
ment, and his second wife a sister of the first Lord Rivers (i).

The beginning of the eighteenth century saw the removal of the
seat of the Fitzwilliams to Mount Merrion, the Irish residence of
the Earl of Pembroke, and under that place the remaining history
of the family will be found. Thenceforward Merrion Castle fell
more aiid more into decay, and the neighbourhood rapidly dwiiulled
in importance. So deserted was it about the year \7'29 that
one of the leading Dublin journals of that day, T/ic Fl i/iinj I'nst,
told a credulous public that Merrion was completely at the mercy
of rats of an extraordinary size, as large as cats or rabbits, said to
be partly indigenous and partly imported in foreign ships, which
moved about in droves; and assured its readers that these out-
landish animals had killed a woman and a child. The ruins of the
Castle were visited by Austin Cooper, the painstaking antiquary,
to whom refei'ence has so often been made, in May, 1780, when he
formed the opinimi that the structure had l)een a piece of patch-
work, part of it very old and pait iiKire modern, with limestone
casements to the windows. The ground lloor, used as a cowhouse,
and. some outlying buildings, used as a stable, wen' then standing.
Two surly mastiffs prevented his jnaking a sketch, and on returning
some months later for that purpose ho found to his surprise that
the ruins were being removed, a work of no little difliculty, proving,
as he remarks, the excellence (if old Iiish iiiasoniy (-).

(') Lodge'.s Peeraue, vol. iv., p. 3IS; Blaeker'.s Sketches, p. 314; Tlailyn's
iJit'iiilicH ; Historieaf Maniisciij)ts (.'oiiiiiiiAsion, llopt. x., Ap|)., pt. v., p. Kil ;
J'>ail Wiiyht's " U.s.shcr -Memoirs," p. 12', iioU? ; " Dictionary of Xatioiml
Jiiograpliy," vol. liv., p. OS.

CM Tha t'lii'iiiij I'oM, .May K;, i7_".»; Cooper's Note iiook.



The lands of Booterstown, or " The Town of the Road,"' lying to
the south-east of Merrion, formed portion of the ancient manor of
Thorncastle, which, as has been mentioned in the history of Merrion,
was always held by the owners of that place.

The original name of the lands appears to have been Cnocro or
the Red Hill, a designation which also embraced portion of the
demesne of Mount Merrion, but this, as early as the thirteenth
century, gave place to the name of Thorncastle. At that period
Thorncastle was a more important manor than Merrion, and in the
time of Walter de Rideleford a castle stood upon the lands. This
castle, which probably gave rise to the name of Thorncastle from
its having been originally a rampart of earth protected by a thorn
fence, was approached from Dublin by a bridge across the Dodder
and by a highway which led directly from the bridge to the castle.
It most likely stood near the town of Blackrock, as in the
eighteenth century a bridge across the stream at the entrance to
tlie town bore the name of Thorncastle Bridge. Sir William le
Deveneis, after he had succeeded Christiana de Marisco, the grand-
daughter of Walter de Rideleford, in the possession of Thorncastle,
petitioned the Crown in 1297 to gi-ant him the fee of the lands
which he then held on lease, and on the recommendation of a jury
empanelled by the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer, as it
was found the Crown would thus have greater security for the rent,
and the power of disposing of the wardship of the heir, if a minor,
his request was complied with. A further application was made
in 1306 by Sir William le Deveneis, who had meantime been
appointed a judge, for privileges exei'cised by Christiana de Marisco
and her ancestors of seizing wreck from the sea, and escheats found
on the rocks, and also for the ownership of pools which possibly
were artificially constructed fish ponds, on the coast from Black-
rock to the river Dodder. But the jury to whom the question was
referred expressed the opinion that only such persons as were
licensed by Christiana de Marisco and her ancestors should of right
enjoy these privileges, and said that as yet they had seen no pools.
During Sir John Cruise's ownership of Merrion and Thorncastle,
the latter manor suffered so much from the incursions of the
inhabitants of the Wicklow mountains that he was allowed bv the


Crowu to hold it rent free for his life, but in James Fitzwilliam's
time it was liable to a head rent of £5 8s. 8d., whieli in 1409 was
assigned by the King to William de Marny and his son John, and
in 1418 to John Coringham, Clerk of the Works and guardian of
the King's Palace in Dublin Q-).

The modern Booterstown occupies the site of the village in which
the tenants on Thorncastle resided in the fifteenth century. After
James Fitzwilliam's son, Philip, had succeeded to the property,
during a severe incursion from the Irish enemies of the King,
this village was completely destroyed and the tenants killed. A
remission of rent from the Crown was then sought by Philip Fitz-
william, in order not only to rebuild the village but also to ei-ect
a fortified castle for its defence and that of the surrounding
country. In his petition, which was lodged in 1435, he points
out that until the village was rebuilt there would be loss to the
Crown of the rent as well as to himself of the profits of the lands.
On condition that the castle was completed witlrin four years, and
that it was placed under the supervision of the Treasurer of
Ireland, the jjrayer of liis petition was granted. The building did
not progress rapidly, and in 1449, when Philip Fitzwilliam was
given a remission of all arrears of rent and permission to hold rent-
free for life, it had only been begun. It was, however, subsequently
completed, and vaults belonging to it are said to be iiicoiporatcd
in the house which stands upon its site, as indicated on the Ordnance
Map. It is described in the seventeenth century as being in good
repair, and a garden plot and grove of ash trees " set for ornament,
then surrduiided it (-).

The lands of Booterstown werc> amongst the pidpiTty mortgaged
by the first Viscount Fitzwilliam, and were assigned to Sir William
Ryves, then Attorney-General for Ireland. The latter, with his
brother, an ecclesiastical lawyer of note, had been Ijiought from
England by the well-known Sir Jnhn Davis, to wliom he was
related, and after a long tenure of the Attorney-Generalship, during
wliich he represented in Parliament for some years the borough of
Belturbet, he was ajjpoiiited a Justice of tho King's Bcmu'Ii an
office which he held until his death in 1G16 and acted fur a time

(') Christ (•liiitcli Deeds, So. l!l(» ; HIacker'H Skefeiies, p. Kili ; Plea KoIIs ;
.Sweetman's Calenilar, IL'.") - ' I'MH : l'iit<tit Rolls, pp. lad, ]!)(>, 21'_'; also see for
an nifeiiipt <o reconcile (lie ancient anrj modern pLiri' n.Miic^^, ;i p.ijur !i\ Mr\ I'.
J. C)"Kcilly, Joitraul, U.S.A./., vol. .\.\.\ii., p. ITS.

i'^) Journal, U.S.A. I., vol. .\-\x., p. :>1(», note; .Mcmorand i Kolls; Fleet \)Oorl'3


in the high position of Speaker of the House of Loi'ds. It was
before him that Mr. Wolverston, of Stillorgan, was brought for
examination in connection with the murder of Mr. Smithson ; and
he was on terms of intimacy with the Earl of Cork, his first loan
to Viscount Fitzwilliam being made on the same day as one from
his noble friend (i).

The principal resident in Booterstown at the time of the Rebellion
of 1641 was Mr. Thomas Fox, a gentleman farmer. In December
of that year his stock was driven off by a party of the rebels, headed,
as he alleged, by the Goodmans of Lough linstown and the Roch-
forts of Kilbogget, and owing to the state of the country he was
unable to pursue his avocation. In his deposition he set forth that
he had lost 60 cows of English breed, valued at £360; and 15
horses, valued at £60 ; besides brass, pewter and other household
stuff, and that the yearly profit from his farm was £100, and the
value of the buildings and improvements £1,000. Subsequently,
as appears from a deposition made in 1646, Fox was murdered near
his own house. About the time of the Restoration the jjoj^ulation
of Booterstown was returned as 41 persons of Irish descent,
inhabiting nine houses. With the exception of one occupied by
Thomas Reyley, which had two chimneys, and another occupied by
the smith, to which a forge was attached, these had only one fire-
place each C-^).

In the beginning of the eighteenth century Mr. Richard Colley,
who afterwards assumed the name of Wesley, and was created
Lord Mornington, the grandfather of the great Duke of Wellington,
had a small residence at Booterstown, which on succeeding to the
Wesley property he assigned to Mr. Christopher Ussher, his first
cousin, already mentioned as tenant under Christ Church Cathedral
for the lands of Ti^operstown. Mrs. Delany, who much admired
the situation of Booterstown, describes a collation with every
variety of wine, and the best of sillibub, of which she par-
took one afternoon in the spring of 1732 in the Ussher's
house, and tells how she afterwai'ds went to a dance, which lasted
until an early hour next morning, at Mr. Wesley's, where she had
more " peck and booze," as meat and drink were called in the
fashionable slang of that day. About this time part of the lands of

(1) Chancery Inquisition, Car. i., No. f)2 ; " Dictionary of National Biography,"
vol. 1., p. 72 ; Pedigree of the Ryves family, by G. T>. Burtchaell in the Irish Builder
for 1888, p. 130 ; Lismore Papers, Ser. i., vol. i., p. 256, vol. ii., p. 9, vol. iii., pp.
149, 254 ; Calendar of Carte Papers under date 8th Jan., 1669 ; Deposition of 1641
(Josiah Bishop, servant of Judge Ryves).

(-) Depositions of 1641 (Thomas Fox of Booterstown and John Higginson of
Rathfarnham) ; Census of 1659 ; Hearth Money Roll.



Booterstowu were cultivated by a farmer called Isaiah Ycatcs, who
grow corn of such superlative excellence that in two successive years
a premium for the best wheat given by the Dublin Society — a
body then in its infancy — was paid down on the nail to him, and
in one of those years he sold in the public market 400 barrels of
his wheat for 20.v. a barrel, whrn the ordinary su])ply fetched from
Us. to 18.S-. (1).

The middle of the eighteenth century saw the transition of the
neighbourhood from an agricultural to a residential locality.
Bishop Pococke, the great traveller, mentions that in 1752 Lord
Fitzwilliam was letting the lands of Booterstowu in small parcels

Entrance to St. Helen's.

From a Photograph hij F. I'. Darn/.

for buildim,'' country houses. Bishop Pococke considei'i'd Hooters-
t(jwn to lia\c a most glorious situation. It was at this time ihai
Merrion Avenue which leads from Blackrock to the gates of Mount
Merrion on the Stillorgan Road, and is unequalled in I he metro-
polilaii county foi- no])li' |)ro|i(iil ion and Hiir tinilxT, and Cross
Avenue, which (ounecls IJooleistown with .Men-i<in Avenue, were

St. Helen's, formerly called Seanioiml, now the handsome resi-
dence of Sir .lohn .X'utling, liaroiiel, was one of the lir^l, hoiuses

(•) "Aiitobiograj)li\ aii<l CorrcHponclcnoi- oi Alais (wanvillc. Airs. Ddany, " Mil. i.,
p. 34r>; I'.l.ukcr'H .Sk'ctclK'K, pp. ]<)•_', JO!).


erected. It was built by Mr. Thomas Cooley, a popular barrister,
and representative in Parliament for the borough of Duleek, who
died in 1754, when the house was only a. few years completed. In
the nineteenth century it had several distinguished occupants,
including the Right Hon. John Doherty, Chief Justice of the
Common Pleas, and General Lord Viscount Gough. Sans Souci,
the fine old residence of Mr. Joseph P. O'Reilly, D.L., was erected
about the same time by the Lanesborough family, and was originally
approached by the noble gateway in rustic work, which now forms
the entrance of St. Helen's. The grounds of Sans Souci wei'e laid
out by a landscape gardener called Gabriel Griffin, who in 1769
mentioned a shrubbery and a wall for fruit trees, which he had
constructed there, as proof of his capabilities. To Sans Souci,
in 1781, Robert, third Earl of Lanesborough, brought his bridei — a
daughter of the Right Hon. David La Touche — the greatest beauty
of her time, and there in 1806, having lived for many years in
seclusion, owing to grief for her untimely decease, he died. Sub-
sequently Sans Souci was occupied by Mr. James Digges La Touche,
a man of singular piety (i).

Amongst other residents in Booterstown we find John, first Baron
Knapton, ancestor of Viscount de Vesci, who was living there in
1746; Lady Anne Doyne, widow of Mr. Philip Doyne, of Wells,
and a daughter of the first Earl of Arran, whose house at Booters-
town was sold in 1766; the Venerable Edward Wight, Archdeacon
of Limerick, who was placed in 1771 on the Commission of the
Peace for the County Dublin when living at Villa Wight, near
Booterstown ; the Countess of Brandon, a peeress in her own right,
admired for " genuine wit, elegance of taste, dignity of manners,
and superior understanding," who died in 1789 in her house in
Booterstown Avenue; Sir Samuel Bradstreet, a Baronet, Recorder
of Dublin, and subsequently a Justice of the King's Bench, who
entertained the Lord Lieutenant and a distinguished party in 1788
at his villa near Booterstown ; the Earl of Roscommon, who was
living at Booterstown in 1804 ; and the Right Hon. James Fitz-
gerald, the silver-tongued Prime Serjeant, well known for his part
in the Union debates, who died in 1835 at Cherbury (2).

(1) " Pocockps' Irish Tour," edited by Professor G. T. Stokes, p. 163 ; Slacker's
Sketches, pp. 29, 195, 201, 237, 247, 414; Universal Adrertiser, No. 124; Pue's
Occurrences, vol. Ixvi., No. 6822 ; Leases in Kegistry of Deeds ; Will of Thomas
Cooley ; Gilbert's " History of Dublin," vol. i., p. 24.

{-) Pue\s Occurrences, vol. liv., N^o. 102, vol. Ixiii., No. 6474, vol. I.xviii., No.
7025; Blacker's Sketches, pp. 95, 178, 181, 193, 241.


The Blackrock Road was during part of the eighteenth century
in a dangerous state, and had an unenviable reputation as the
resort of highwaymen. Owing to the absence of a protecting wall
the Rev. Thomas Heauy, soon after his appointment as Curate of
Monkstown, nari-owly escaped meeting his death owing to his horse
backing his gig over a precipice at the edge of the road near
Booterstown. and the Hon. Colonel Loftus' coachman, when pro-
ceeding home to Killiney, was attacked near there by no less than
four footpads. About 1781 horse races, which were held near
Booterstown, were a source of annoyance to the inhabitants, and
in that year they were stopped by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who
sent the Sheriffs, " with a projoer guard," to take down the tents
and to prevent the horses running (i).

The popularity of Blackrock led to the erection of many villas
between Booterstown and that place. Amongst these was Willow
Park, which at the time of the Union was the residence of Hugh
Viscount Carleton, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas,
already mentioned in connection wjth Brenanstown, and after-
wards of the first Viscount Mountmorres. Williamstown, a small
group of houses, principally known through its occupation by the
French College, assumed its present appearance about 1780 under
the improving hand of Counsellor William Vavasour, whose name
is still preserved ni the Beggar's Bush district. One of the houses
occupied by the French College, originally called Castle Dawson,
was then the residence of the Hon. James Massy Dawson, second
son of the fii"st Baron Massy, whose descendants, until lately, con-
tinued to own it; and at the time of the Rebellion of 1798, when
the inhabitants of Williamstown displayed great loyalty, Lieu-
tenant-General James Stewart, to whose memory there is a tablet
in Monkstown Church, was a resident (-).

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Online LibraryF. Erlington (Francis Elrington) BallA history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 16)