Colonel Richard Townsend (100)

Date of Birth: 1618(19?)
Date of Death: 25 Sep 1692
Generation: 1st
Residence: Castletownshend
Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown
  1. Hyde, Hildegardis
  2. Kingston, Mary
    • John [101]
    • Colonel Bryan [200]
    • Captain Francis [102]
    • Samuel [103]
    • Captain Horatio [104]
    • Captain Kingston [105]
    • Reverend Philip [106]
    • William [107]
    • Cornelius [108]
    • Edward [145]
    • Katherine [109]
    • Hildegardis [110]
    • Mary [111]
    • Dorothea [112]
See Also: Table I ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Colonel Richard Townesend

Richard's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57 can be viewed here.

Much research has been undertaken by various members of the family to trace Richard's origins (1) but nothing is known about him before 1643 when he was appointed to command a company, as a Captain, in Colonel Ceely's Regiment, which had been raised to garrison Lyme Regis. Richard was engaged in several skirmishes during the English Civil War (1642-1651), most notably on 3 March 1643 when he surprised and routed 150 Royalist cavalry at Bridport. Later, he was present during the siege of Lyme Regis 20 April – 13 June 1644 where he distinguished himself and was promoted to Major ("he was shot in the head but still lives"). In 1645 he assumed command of Colonel Ceely's Regiment when Colonel Ceely was returned to Parliament as MP for Bridport.

Richard took part in the siege of Pendennis Castle at Falmouth, held by the Royalists, and was a signatory to the terms of surrender drawn up on 16 August 1646. Afterwards he wrote to Colonel Ceely to report on the siege and "to receive directions how to dispose of the regiment, and positively what employment and future maintenance we may expect". This letter is preserved in the Tanner MS in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Following the siege Richard was appointed Colonel and ordered by Parliament on 17 September 1646 to raise “a Regiment of Foot to consist of one thousand foot besides officers in nine companies” (2). The regiment was raised for service in Ireland; Robert Phayre was appointed Richard's Lieutenant Colonel and they remained camped near Bath until 19 June 1647 when Parliament ordered that "Colonel Townesend and his regiment be transported to Ireland" to join the Parliamentary Army in Ireland under the command of Murrough O'Brien, the first Earl of Inchiquin.

On 13 November 1647 Richard commanded the main body of the infantry at the Battle of Knocknones, near Mallow under Lord Inchiquin against the Irish army led by Lord Taaff. Subsequently Richard and others, in dire need of fresh supplies, joined with Lord Inchiquin in a Declaration of Remonstrance, which was submitted to Parliament in early 1648. Shortly after this Lord Inchiquin renounced his allegiance to the English Parliament and joined forces with Lord Taaff. Richard and several other officers disagreed with this and there followed a period of complex political and military intrigue during which loyalties to the Parliamentary cause and the Royalists were in a state of flux.

The execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 united all the factions in Ireland against Cromwell, but Richard and a number of other officers in Inchiquin's army (notably Colonel Gifford and Colonel Warden) were unable "to endure the thought of joining with the Irish against their own countrymen" and declared for Cromwell, who, having suppressed the uprisings in Kent, Wales and Scotland, was now in Ireland and marching on Munster. As Richard and the other Colonels were preparing Youghal to receive Cromwell, they were betrayed to Lord Inchiquin who arrested and imprisoned them in Cork. They were freed when the garrison in the town rose up in support of Cromwell on 16 October 1649, Later that month the 'Protestant Army of Munster' based in Cork drew up a Resolution to send to Cromwell pleading that they had been forced by Lord Inchiquin to serve the Irish cause. The first signature on the Resolution is that of Richard and Cromwell, on 14 November 1649, wrote to Speaker Lenthall that Colonel Townesend had been "an active instrument for the return of both Cork and Youghal to their obedience".(3)

Richard retired from service sometime before 1654 and made extensive purchases of land (4); in all about 8,000 acres. Following the restoration of Charles II in 1666 he was pardoned and hence escaped the forfeitures placed on many Cromwellian soldiers. (5) His purchases of land were subsequently confirmed by royal patents in 1666, 1668 and 1680. He lived for a time at Kilbrittain Castle, near Courtmacsherry before finally settling at Castletownshend in about 1665.

Page 325 of Francis G Tuckey's "Tuckey's Cork Remembrancer" records that Richard and Sir Nicholas Purdon of Ballyclough were elected on 10 April 1661 to represent Baltimore (6) in the Irish Parliament, which met at Chichester House, Dublin that same year. His appearances in the Parliament were infrequent and he was fined for non attendance.

In 1666, under threat of invasion by the French, the Duke of Ormonde, at the insistence of the Earl of Orrery, appointed Richard Commander of Militia in Co Cork.

Page 316 of Francis G Tuckey's "Tuckey's Cork Remembrancer" records that Richard was appointed High Sheriff of Cork on 12 March 1671 and continued to serve in that office the following year.

On 18 October 1686 Richard was elected Sovereign of Clonakilty. Thirteen members of the family were elected to serve on the council between then and 1802 and of these, seven served as Sovereign. - John FitzCornelius Townsend [122], Francis Townsend [125], Butler Townsend [126], Cornelius Townsend [128], Horatio Townsend [130] , Bryan Townsend [200], Richard Townsend [201], John Townsend [300], John Townsend [316], Samuel Townsend [400], Philip Townsend [500] and Horatio Townsend [5D00] - The Council met on average about four times each year with St James’ Day on 25 July and St Luke’s Day on 28 October as regular fixtures. There is a gap in the records between February 1730 and 1802. (7)

From the time that he moved from Kilbrittain Castle to Castletownshend until his death Richard sought to consolidate his estates in West Carberry and to lead the settled life of a landowner. However, these were unsettled times, particularly after the accession of James II in 1685, and Richard was frequently engaged in various armed skirmishes with Irish rebels. In 1690, under the command of Colonel O'Driscol, the rebels unsuccessfully besieged Castletownshend but soon after it was attacked again by about 500 of them led by MacFineen O'Driscoll and Richard was forced to surrender. He was subsequently paid £40,000 in compensation for the destruction of his home.

The date of Richard's death cannot be confirmed. However, it is known that he signed his will on 24 June 1692 "being sick in body but in perfect sense and disposing memory" and that it was proved in the Consistory Court of Rosscarbery on 21 July 1693. He was buried in the old churchyard at Castlehaven; his tomb lies in the chancel of the old church and is marked by a slab bearing the words 'This is the burial place of the Townesends'.

It has always been the belief in the Townsend family that Richard's first wife, Hildegardis Hyde, was a close kinswoman of Lord Clarendon; if this is correct it might help to explain how Richard's life and lands were spared during these troubled times when many of his friends and acquaintances fared very badly. In his pedigree (8) John FitzHenry Townshend [250], who was a most competent genealogist, contended that Richard only ever had one wife called Hildegardis Mary (or vice versa) Hyde. He claimed that it was unlikely that a connection with a family so distinguished as the Hydes would have been forgotten if it had existed and it would be still more improbable that the assertion of a Hyde connection should have persisted had it been false. If Richard did marry a second time the surname of his second wife cannot be confirmed but there are good reasons to believe it to be Kingston; the Kingston family were settled near Bandon and Richard named his fifth son Kingston. A long and very detailed article entitled 'The Origins of Co. Cork Kingstons' by A. Richard Kingston can be found in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, (1981, Vol. 86, No 244). In pages 81 to 84 the author examines the evidence for a ‘Kingston’ marriage but reaches no firm conclusion and the mystery remains.

John FitzHenry Townshend was told by Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] that the portrait of Colonel Richard had 'existed some years since but has been lost'. John also recorded in his pedigree that Richard's seal was in the possession of Eliza Townshend [235] who married Rev Robert St Lawrence - "I have seen it but I think it is lost also since Mrs St Lawrence’s death."

The Council Book of the Corporation of Kinsale edited by Richard Caulfield contains several references toRichard and his offspring. Firstly, page xLi records ‘Kinsale harbour 7 Dec 1648. Aboard the Elizabeth Frigate, Col Edwd Temple to Inchiquin. “In answer to the proposition subscribed by Col Townsend and Major Doyley..…”’. Exactly what the proposition was is unclear but it would appear to refer to the Elizabeth and Dragon Frigates being allowed to re-victual at Kinsale without hindrance. Secondly, the Court Book of the town records on page 23 “These are therefore to authorise and substitute Coll Richard Townsend of Castletowne alias Castlehaven, his agents John Chamberlaine and Wm Outridge , to recover and bring on shore out of the sea or channel of Castlehaven two sunken guns there lately discovered, or what more may there be found, as wreck of the sea, giving from time to time an account unto me of these proceedings, that further course may be taken, as shall be agreeable with justice. Given under my hand 20 March 1656. Wm Hovell, Sovereign; Geo Nicholson, Clerk.” Thirdly, Appendix D - CHARTERS AND GRANTS OF ALL FAIRS AND MARKETS IN THE COUNTY OF CORK - on page 352 shows that Richard was granted on 9 June 1676 the right to hold a Friday market and two fairs, on 3 May and 3 Oct for a rent of £1 at Bridgetown alias Coronea.

Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, (1947, Vol. 52, No 176) records under the heading ‘Sir William Hull’s losses in 1641. Historical Notes’ “Dermot McCarthy alias Glack forfeited Dunbeacon Castle and lands which went to Richard Townsend”. Richard left Dunbeacon to his eldest son, Bryan Townsend [200]; subsequently it passed to Richard Townsend [201], Henry Townsend [215], Richard Townsend [221] and Richard Townsend [236]. He left half each of the estate to his nephews Richard Arthur Townsend [259] and Richard Townsend [254], who sold his moiety to Mr Verity Evans on 1st December 1910 for £950.

Richard spelled his name 'Townesend' and this subsequently became 'Townsend'.

See 'An Officer of the Long Parliament Chs I to III for full details of Colonel Richard's life and his entry in the Dictionary of National Biography 2004. See page 112-115 of Brady's Parochial and Clerical Records Volume 1 for a summary of Richard's life.

(1) The Dictionary of National Biography records that Richard was descended, according to family tradition, from the Townshends of Rainham, Norfolk, as he bore the arms of the presbyterian Sir Roger Townshend (1588–1637), the head of that family. This has never been verified despite much research by the editors of the book ‘An Officer of the Long Parliament’ and various other members of the family. Dorothea Townshend in her manuscript book ‘Pedigrees and Wills of the Townsend Family in England’ lists several ‘Townsends’ who could have been the father of Richard but nothing further can be established. The conundrum of Richard’s origins were further complicated when in 2019 Ian Yonge, family historian of the Yonge family of Puslinch, Newton Ferrers, told the editor of these records that his forebear Dr James Yonge of Plymouth, Devon, wrote a journal of his life in which he recorded that in 1658:

"We fell in with Cape Clear, the wind to the west, and bore away for Castlehaven. It's an excellent harbour within, but it's a somewhat bad entrance. Here there is no town but on the left where we came in there is a cove and an old small castle with no guns or garrison. In it lives Colonel Townsend, one who was formerly a fellow servant with my father but grown great in the late rebellious war."

It is unclear exactly what the expression “fellow servant" means nor is it known where James Yonge’s father came from or studied. Dorothea Townshend records in her book several ‘Townsends’ who lived in Devon and Cornwall who could be the father of Richard.

(2) Lovera Papers 100/1.

(3) Richard's evidence can be seen at Appendix B, page 1155 et seq of The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork 1690-1800 by Richard Caulfield - ‘Abstracts from the Depositions of Cromwell's Adherents in the City of Cork’. The first of these is that for Richard “Feb. 16th, 1654. - The examination of Coll. Richd. Townesend, aged 36, now resident in Castlehaven, English Protestant, at the declaring of Corke (sic) for the Parliament of England, on the 16 Oct., 1649, a prisoner in said Citty (sic), being duly sworne, sayth….” (4) Lovera Papers 100/2.

(5) In a letter dated 9 March 1896 to Dorothea Townsend [5D15], Judith Townsend [372] wrote that her father, John Sealy Townsend [333] a distinguished barrister and expert on family history, told her that after Colonel Richard retired from active service "he joined his cousin Sir Horatio Townsend (afterwards created Baron by Charles II) in his endeavours to bring about the restoration and that it was in consequence of this that he was not given lands by Cromwell but purchased them himself."

(6) page 325 of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 1896.

(7) Details are given in ‘Notes on the Council Book of Clonakilty’ in the 'Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society' at pages 79-84, 129-135, 172-177, 22-224, 270-273 and 320-322.

(8) Lovera Papers 250/18. An abstract is given in Richard's 'Scrapbook'.