Colonel Bryan Townsend (200)

Date of Birth: 1648?
Date of Death: 1726
Generation: 2nd
Residence: Castletownshend and Derry
Father: Colonel Richard Townsend [100]
Mother: Hyde, Hildegardis
  1. Synge, Mary
  1. Richard [201]
  2. Edward [202]
  3. Bryan [203]
  4. John [300]
  5. Samuel [400]
  6. Francis [204]
  7. William [205]
  8. Captain Philip [500]
  9. Reverend Horatio [600]
  10. Barbara [206]
  11. Mary [207]
  12. Katherine [208]
  13. Helena [209]
  14. Barbara [210]
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Colonel Bryan Townsend

Bryan is thought to have been born in Kinsale but the date of his birth is uncertain.

Page 127 of Gillman's 'Index to the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Cork and Ross' records a Marriage Bond dated 13 May 1682. Mary Synge (d. 1726) was the eldest daughter of Rt Rev Edward Synge,(1) Bishop of Cork and Ross and sister of Very Rev Samuel Synge, Dean of Kildare, whose daughter, Mary, married Brian's eldest son, Richard Townsend [201]. See Burke's Irish Landed Gentry 1912 and 1976 Edn Burke's Irish Family Records - Synge.

Bryan was a Cornet of Militia Cavalry in 1660 and is reputed to have commanded the frigate 'Swiftsure' at some later date, though there is some confusion about this. He was elected a Burgess of Clonakilty in 1678 and Colonel of Militia in 1689.

That same year, along with his brothers Francis Townsend [102], Horatio Townsend [104] and Kingston Townsend [105], his name appeared in the list of those proscribed under the terms of the Act of Attainder 1689 (2) passed by James II's Irish Parliament and he was forced to flee to England with his family. His estates were valued at the time as being worth £300 per annum. Bryan returned shortly afterwards and was at the Duke of Schomberg's headquarters in Belfast in May 1690, three weeks before William III landed in the province and six weeks before the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 (3).

Under the entry for Bantry 'Lewis' Topographical Dictionary 1837' records that in June 1691, following a number of disturbances during the previous twelve months "Col. Townsend, with his forces, killed 100 of the rapparees or insurgent marauders, and brought away a quantity of plunder".

Following his father’s election as Sovereign of Clonakilty (Portreeve) in 1686, Bryan was elected Sovereign in 1692, 1693, 1697 and 1699. In the following years until 1802, thirteen other members of the family were elected to serve on the council - 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. Bryan last attended a meeting of the borough council on 3 October 1717 (4) when his sons Samuel Townsend [400] and Philip Townsend [500] were elected Freemen to the borough.

Bryan and his son John Townsend [300] signed the Protestant Oath in 1693. He was elected MP for Clonakilty (3a) and sat in the Irish Parliament in Dublin from August 1695 to 1699. When he came home from Dublin it was to assist his neighbours evade the laws passed by the very Parliament in which he had been sitting! These laws made it virtually impossible for any but the Protestants to hold land and many of his Romanist neighbours, trusting Bryan's integrity, gave their lands over to him. At one time he had in his care £80,000 worth of property, which he defended at some cost to himself, and, when the time was right, he returned it to the real owners along with accrued arrears. In 1696 Bryan with the rest of the Association of Lords and Commoners signed the address welcoming William III as King.

A copy of 'Proceedings of a court baron held on behalf of James, 4th Earl of Barriemore (Barrymore), before Bryan Townsend, seneschall, at Timoleague, March 24, 1701' can be found in the British Museum, Add. Ms. 9750. A 'court baron' is an inferior court of civil jurisdiction, attached to a manor, and held by the steward (seneschall). Whilst nothing further is known about Bryan's connections with the Earl of Barrymore, there are several Townsend/Barrymore connections. Bryan's elder brother, John Townsend [101] married Lady Katherine Barry, the 2nd daughter of Richard, 2nd Earl of Barrymore, in 1666 - grandfather of James the 4th Earl. When Bryan's younger brother, Cornelius Townsend [108] married his father settled on him the land of Kilcrane (Kilcrohane?), mortgaged to him by the 2nd Earl of Barrymore.

In 1708 the 'Elizabeth', a pink built at Wexford, en route from San Sebastian in Spain with a cargo of wine and vinegar, was wrecked in a storm close by Castletownshend. The Vice-Admiral of Munster, Edward Southwell of Kinsale ordered his deputy, Michael Becher of Aughadown, and Southwell's agent, James Dennis, to secure the wreck. Before they could do so Bryan had intervened by offering 40 shillings for each cask that was recovered. In all 21 were recovered which were then taken to Ballyisland and Bryan was heard to comment that they would only make thirteen full ones - 'I cannot say it all leaked, for the country people from remote parts came in the night and tried a good quantity of the wine.' Bryan took eight hogsheads of wine and ten casks of vinegar into his care and subsequently restored them to the owner, Henry Archer of Wexford, following a writ from the Sheriff's Court. (5)

Bryan bought Derry (6) in 1686 and the property passed to his son Philip Townsend [500] in 1726. He inherited the Castletownshend estate on the death of his nephew Richard Fitzjohn Townsend [113] in 1722.

Following the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 “A List of the Claims as they are entered with the Trustees at Chichester House on College Green, Dublin on or before 10th August 1700” was drawn up to determine claims arising from the last wave of forfeitures and confiscations. Claim number 2142 on page 246 shows Bryan laying a claim for "Reversion in fee of a lease of 31 years commencing the 13th of September 70 granted to Redmond Barry FitzJames" on the lands of "Carrowduffe, Liffeen and others"

There is a tradition in the family that Bryan was so distraught by the early death of his son Bryan Townsend [203] that he placed a curse on any member of the family who used the name. There is a further family tradition that he shot the last wolf in Co Cork near Kilcrea Abbey (7) in 1710. Bryan reputedly had a most healthy appetite and once complained that "a goose was an awkward bird - a little too much for one but not nearly enough for two".

In the History of West Cork by Rev W Holland, published in 1949, Chapter 20 describes ‘The Clan O’Donovan’. On page 228 it records that Conor O’Driscoll, whose brother was killed in the siege of Castletownshend in 1690, married Victoria O’Donovan and died young leaving the guardianship of his two young children to Bryan, who sent one of them to Oxford to be educated into the Protestant faith.

According to John FitzHenry Townshend [250], Bryan was "a fair, easy-going country gentleman, whose history was a blank!"(8) In his later years his understanding seems to have been much impaired by age and infirmity and he gave up the management of his affairs to his eldest son, Richard Townsend [201]. When Bryan was an old man the family moved to a house near the shore while the castle was being redecorated. During a violent storm a frigate lying at anchor was dashed against the house and broke the window of Bryan's bedroom, following which he got a severe cold which ended his life. He is buried alongside his father at Castlehaven and his will was proved in Cork in 1727 (9).

(1) The entry for Synge (Lislee) in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Sir Edward Synge was the owner of over 1000 acres in county Cork in the 1870s. He was the lessor of property in the parish of Lislee, barony of Ibane & Barryroe, at the time of Griffith's Valuation. This family was originally from England and came to Ireland in the early 17th century. A number of family members were Protestant clergymen, two became bishops. Robert Synge was created a baronet in 1801. John Millington Synge, the playwright, was connected to this family. The seat of this family is recorded as Lislee Court, Bandon."

(2) The Act summoned all who were in rebellion against James II's authority to appear for trial on a given day, or be declared traitors, hanged, drawn and quartered, and their property confiscated. Page 329 of Francis Tuckey's "Tuckey's Cork Remembrancer" lists extracts from a manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, which records the names, with the yearly value of their estates, of Protestants of the County and City of Cork and their families, who fled from King James II; amongst these can be found "Townsend, Brian. Wife. 4 children. £300. Townsend, Francis. Wife. 5 children £340. Townsend, Horatio. £100." Kingston is not shown in Tuckey's list but is shown on page 120 of 'An Officer of the Long Parliament'.

(3) Bryan's brother Horatio Townsend [104] brought the Duke of Schomberg to Ireland in the sloop 'Lynn'.

(3a) See page 325 of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 1896.

(4) 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.

(5) Extract from "Wrecks and Reckonings in West Cork in the Early 18th Century" by Dr Toby Barnard in the Skibbereen and District Historical Society Journal.

(6) Ordnance survey of Ireland. Discovery Series. 1:50,000. Map sheet 89, grid reference W274372.

(7) 'The Post Chaise Companion or Traveller's Directory through Ireland 3rd Edition 1804' page 346 records "Two miles beyond Oven's Inn, on the L. is Elm Park, the seat of the Rev Mr Kenney; and near it are the ruins of the castle and abbey of Kilcrea".

(8) RBT Papers/200/2

(9)'Cork and Ross Wills 1548-1800'.

Chapters V & VI of 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' refer.