Colonel Richard Townsend (213)

Date of Birth: ca 1725
Date of Death: 23/24 Dec 1783
Generation: 4th
Residence: Castletownshend
Father: Richard Townsend [201]
Mother: Becher, Elizabeth
  1. FitzGerald, Elizabeth
  1. Richard Boyle [219]
  2. Elizabeth [220]
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Colonel Richard Townsend MP JP

Married 11 April 1752 at Doneraile, Co Cork. Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1) was the daughter of John Fitzgerald, 15th Knt of Kerry and sister of Maurice FitzGerald, 16th Knight of Kerry (2). Material regarding the Townsend family, including the marriage settlement of Elizabeth whose guardian is Elizabeth, 1st Viscountess, can be seen in the National Library of Ireland, Collection List No. 62 Doneraile Papers. Hayes St Leger, 4th Viscount was also a trustee of Richard Townsend’s marriage.

Richard's father died in 1742 when he was about 17 and his mother, Elizabeth, died the following year. Under the terms of his father's will, should Elizabeth die before Richard came of age then his uncles Samuel Townsend [400], Philip Townsend [500] and Horatio Townsend [600] were appointed guardians. Under the terms of his mother's will Richard inherited the entire Castletownshend estate. Richard's brother John Townsend [214] inherited the lands of North and South Aghills (Shepperton), Drishane and Farrendagh, East and West Myross and Glannafoyne (near Loch Ine). Richard's brother Henry Townsend [215] inherited the lands of Dunbeacon, Ardra and Ballintona.

Richard was educated at Westminster.

During his lifetime he did much to improve the village at Castletownshend. In his book 'Statistical Survey of the County of Cork' (3) Horatio Townsend [5D00] records on page 338 - "Castle-Townsend, the first and principal seat of the family, whose name it bears, was nothing more than a neat and well built village adjoining the mansion-house, on the west side, until improved and extended by its late possessor, Richard Townsend, Esq. a commissioner of the revenue, and many years a representative of this county in parliament. A new custom-house was built here for the district of Baltimore, in place of the old one, which stood at Bridgtown, and such was the encouragement Mr. Townsend gave for building, as well as the desire of being near a man beloved, admired, and respected in a degree, which only those who knew him can justly appreciate, that in a short space of time a new town arose, numbering among its inhabitants more persons of respectability than are usually found in such a situation."

The Survey records on page 299 - "About thirty years ago, a large ‘boulting’ mill, (the first built in this barony) was erected on the estate of Richard Townsend, Esq. at the head of Castle Townsend harbour. Wheat was then so little cultivated in the vicinity, that the proprietors supposed they should be obliged to resort to Barryroe or a supply. But the encouragement of a home market soon procured them an ample provision."

In the Cork Public Museum there is a plaque belonging to St Mark's Church, Aheria (Moviddy Union, near Crookstown) which records "In the Year 1751. This gallery was built for the use of the Poor by the undermentioned Gentlemen. Members of the Rath Club." Richard's name appears among twenty-six others, many of whom have connections with the Townsend family through marriage. The origins and purpose of the club remain a mystery but it was most likely a landowner's club for hunting, shooting and fishing. As befitted such an 18th century club in Ireland, drinking would have been its main function, with the occasional "good works". (A picture of the plaque can be seen in Richard's 'Scrapbook'.)

Page 317 of Francis G Tuckey's "Tuckey's Cork Remembrancer" records that he was High Sheriff of Cork in 1753. Appointed Justice of the Peace in 1755 and Colonel of County Cork Militia Dragoons (4) 1756-83, Richard was MP for the County of Cork from 1759 to 1783.(4a) He was also elected MP for Dingle in 1776 but chose to sit for Cork instead. An 'Officer of the Long Parliament' shows Richard was a Commissioner of Revenue 1759-83. The Annual Register Volume 16, 1773, records that Richard was appointed a 'Commissioner of Excise in Ireland' and the London Gazette 11684 of 16 July 1776 records that he was a 'Commissioner of all His Majesty's Revenues within this Kingdom.' A further entry in the London Gazette 12141 of 2 December 1780 shows that Richard, along with others, was again appointed 'Commissioner of the Revenue of Excise in Ireland' and 'His Majesty's Commissioner of Customs and Chief Commissioner and Governor of all other of His Majesty's Revenues in the Said Kingdom except the Excise'.

Along with his kinsmen John Townsend [214], Richard Townsend [301], Edward Townsend [401] and Philip Townsend [500], Richard was elected a Freeman of Youghal on 28 July 1760. He was appointed a Freeman of the City of Cork on 19 December 1765. The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork 1690-1800 by Richard Caulfield records on page 799. "That Richard Longfield, Esq., M.P. for Charleville, and Richd. Townsend, Esq., Knight of the Shire for Co. Cork, be presented with their freedoms in Silver boxes.” (Between 1710 and 1841, when the power of admitting Freemen only by birth or right ceased, a total of thirty three members of the Townsend family were admitted as Freemen.)

Page 175 of Francis G Tuckey's "Tuckey's Cork Remembrancer", records that on 18 February 1777 "Richard Townsend, John Townsend, Samuel Jervois and Daniel Callaghan, magistrates, with several gentlemen of the county and their servants, well mounted and armed, set out at two o clock in the morning to the mountains above Bantry, in the neighbourhood of Murdering glin and Glanunbannoul, where they apprehended several persons, charged with cutting off the ears of a horse."

Following the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1775 the largest army ever to leave Britain was sent to America, and, when France entered the war on the American side, Ireland was left open to attack from France. Inspired by events in America, and later in revolutionary France, the Society of United Irishmen agitated for reform and this raised fears in the Protestant Ascendancy about internal disorder in Ireland. In 1778 the City of Cork Corporation made a grant of three hundred guineas for the raising of Protestant militia volunteer corps in response to this turn of events. Richard and some 126 of his fellow Protestants signed a resolution on 26th March 1778 “We, the undernamed subscribers, do agree to associated ourselves for the purpose of preserving the peace of this city and the property of the inhabitants thereof.” This resolution is recorded on Page 218 of The History of the County and City of Cork by the Rev C. B. Gibson. The following pages list the 48 volunteer corps that were raised in the county numbering between one and three companies each strong. Six of Richard's kinsmen were involved and they are listed in Protestant Militia and Volunteers 1778.

Though a staunch Tory, Richard refused to be bullied into voting for laws which he knew would be disadvantageous to Irish interests, despite the offer of a peerage. At the spring Assizes of 1782 the Grand Jury of Cork, of which he was the Foreman, passed the following resolution; “Resolved that we think it necessary to declare no power has a right to make laws for this kingdom save only the King, Lords and Commoners of Ireland and that we will with our lives and fortunes maintain and defend the Irish Parliament in such a declaration of rights and in any measure they may think proper to defend it.”

'Dr Caulfield's Notes on Cork Events in the Years 1769 and 1781' in The Journal of The Cork Historical & Archaeological Society. Volume XI. Second Series 1905 record on page 145 "About this time (April 1769) ‘The Atlantic Club’ met at Horse Island in the Harbour of Castlehaven, Richard Townsend, Admiral; Richard Becher, Vice- Admiral.” A further entry dated 7August records “It is very remarkable that at the last Atlantic Club meeting there were 45 members, 45 boats, 45 dishes of meat, 45 bottles of wine, 45 bottles of punch, and 45 guns fired from the battery on shore, which were answered by all the boats in the river.” Francis G Tucky's ‘The City and County of Cork Remembered’ also refers to this - "1769 Sept 1. A meeting of the Atlantic society took place at the castle of Rahine in the mouth of Castlehaven. (Castletownsend area)."

Memorial 146225 dated 1 April 1763 regarding a Lease between Daniel Donovan and Jane Becher in the Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland shows 'Richard Townsend of Castletownsend' as Party 3 in the deed. Another 'Richard Townsend' is also shown but it is not clear whether this refers to Richard Townsend [301], Richard Townsend [501] or Richard Townsend [6A00].

The list of Freemen and Freeholders who voted in the election of 13 August 1783 for two members to sit in Parliament for the City of Cork shows that Edward Mansel Townsend [401] and Cornelius Townsend [139] voted for Augustus Warren and John Bagwell; Richard Boyle Townsend [219], Richard (or possibly Richard Townsend [6A00]) and Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00] all voted for John Hely Hutchinson and John Bagwell. John Hely Hutchinson and Richard Longfield were duly elected.

The seventh edition of “The History of the General Rebellion in Ireland: Raised upon the Three (sic) and Twenty day of October 1641” published by Phineas and George Bagnell, Castle Street Cork in 1766 shows “Mr Richard Townsend jnr” as a subscriber. It is not clear to whom this refers, be it Richard (whose father died in 1742) or Richard Boyle Townsend [219] (only aged 10 at the time) or Richard Townsend [6A00]. Ten other members of the family are shown in the list of subscribers; Francis Townsend [125], Cornelius Townsend [139], John Townsend [214] or John Townsend [303], Rev Richard Townsend [301], Philip Townsend [500], Dr Richard Townsend [501], Thomas Hungerford Townsend [502], Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00], Rev Horatio Townsend [600], Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601].

“Richard Townsend Esq” is shown as a subscriber to the book ‘The State of The Protestants of Ireland under the late King James’s Government' by William King, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and published by Phineas Bagnell, Cork, in 1768. “In which their carriage towards him is justified, and the absolute necessity of their endeavouring to be freed from his government, and submitting to their present Majesties is demonstrated.” Other members of the family who subscribed to this book include John Townsend [214] or [303], Edward Mansel Townsend [400], Philip Townsend [304], Captain Thomas Townsend [502], Rev Horatio Townsend [600] Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601] and Richard Townsend [6A00].

The Council Book of the Corporation of Kinsale edited by Richard Caulfield lists at Appendix D (page 355) CHARTERS AND GRANTS OF ALL FAIRS AND MARKETS IN THE COUNTY OF CORK; on 9 June 1766 Richard was granted a charter for fairs at Carrabeg on 17 March, 24 August, 20 December and Whitsun Monday at a rent of 13 shillings and 4 pence.

Richard is buried at St Barrahanes Church in Castletownshend.

In a note dated August 1889, Henrietta Townsend [234] describes Elizabeth FitzGerald (her grandmother) as - '"a very small, pale, sweet-looking old lady, most brisk and active, very clever in business and law, with such a good letter and lovely clear hand. She was a great lover of the antique, also of china and had a very fine collection of it. She managed the entire estate and was successful, I believe, in two lawsuits. I am like her in one thing, that she eat little and never lunch." (5)

(1) Elizabeth's father was married to Margaret daughter of the Rt Hon Joseph Deane, Chief Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland. He died in June 1741.

(2) He was known as the "Dingle Knight", was somewhat eccentric and married his cousin, Lady Anne FitzMaurice, in 1764. When he died in June 1779 everything was left in trust to Lord Doneraile and John Townsend [214?] for the benefit for life of Lady Anne Fitzgerald, Maurice's wife, with the remainder for life to Richard Boyle Townsend [219], Richard's only son and Maurice's only nephew. Shortly afterwards Thomas Mullins claimed that Maurice Fitzgerald owed him various sums of money and filed against Lady Anne, Richard Boyle Townsend and the trustees created under the deed of settlement made on Maurice Fitzgerald's marriage. Thus began a saga of claim and counter-claim that continued until 1831 when the case was brought by children of Thomas Mullins (the appellants) before the House of Lords for judgement against Richard's grandson, John Townsend [230] (the respondent). This was reported in 'New Reports of cases heard in the House of Lords' 1831 Volume V pages 567 to 592. Thomas Mullins, later 1st Lord Ventry, who married Elizabeth Gunn, great granddaughter of Katherine Townsend [109].

(3) Sponsored by the Royal Dublin Society and published in 1810 it covers historical sketches, agricultural and trade statistics, notices on education, fisheries, antiquities, manufactures, etc. A large appendix and section of addenda includes a variety of interesting documents, on matters social, scientific, political, religious and other matters. The book criticised the Roman Catholic clergy, particularly its role in education and this generated considerable controversy. A copy of the book can be found in the Trinity College, Dublin, library and the Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast.

(4) To date (2007) no record has been found of this unit. Edward Mansel Townsend [401] was his adjutant in 1756.

(4a) See page 325 of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 1896 and also. Lord Shannon's Letters: A calendar of the letters written by the 2nd Earl of Shannon to his son, Viscount Boyle, 1790-1802 contains many references to Richard and his brother John Townsend [214] and their involvement in parliamentary matters.

(5) RBT Papers 234/1.

'An Officer of the Long Parliament' Ch VII p. 152-160 refers.