John Townsend (214)

Date of Birth: 1737
Date of Death: 4 Aug 1810
Generation: 4th
Residence: Shepperton and Dublin
Father: Richard Townsend [201]
Mother: Becher, Elizabeth
  1. Morris, Mary
  1. Richard [221]
  2. Jonas Morris [222]
  3. Henry Owen Becher [223]
  4. Abraham Morris [224]
  5. Elizabeth Henrietta Becher [225]
  6. Katherine Helena [226]
  7. Henrietta Anna Margaretta [227]
  8. Mary [228]
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for John Townsend MP

John's father died in 1742 when he was only about 5 and his mother, Elizabeth, died the following year. Under the terms of his father's will, should Elizabeth die before his brother Richard Townsend [213] came of age then his uncles Samuel Townsend [400], Philip Townsend [500] and Horatio Townsend [600] were appointed guardians of all the children. Under the terms of his mother's will John inherited North and South Aghills (Shepperton) and the 'See Lands' of Kilcoe, Drishane and Farrendagh, East and West Myross and Glannafoyne (near Loch Ine) (1). His elder brother Richard inherited the entire Castletownshend estate and his younger brother Henry Townsend [215] inherited the lands of Dunbeacon, Ardra and Ballintona.

Married 1769. Mary Morris (2) was the daughter of Jonas Morris (3) JP of Barley Hill (Ballinagorna), Clonakilty, Co Cork, by his wife Mary Townsend [308], daughter of John Townsend of Skirtagh [300].

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that John was taught by Mr Townsend before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 10 May 1754 aged 17 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. The TCD Graduation List shows that he qualified BA in Spring 1758. Edward Synge Townsend [601] was an undergraduate at TCD at the same time.

The Gentleman’s and Citizen’s Almanac compiled by John Watson Stewart in 1800 was published in Dublin and records on page 120 under the heading ‘Judges and Barristers’ - “T. 1780 Townsend (James) London, M.1767 Townsend (John) Cork, M. 1787 Townsend (John Sealy) Baggot Street and H. 1797 Townsend (Thomas)”. Part III (Wilson’s Dublin Directory) of The Triple Almanac 1801 sold in Dublin by W. Wilson, No.16 Cork Hill repeats these details. A facsimile of the 1800 Almanac is shown in John's 'Scrapbook'. (James Townsend [311], John Sealy Townsend [507].

A reproduction of Part III (Wilson’s Dublin Directory) of The Triple Almanac 1801 is shown in John's, 'Scrapbook' and records that he qualified as a barrister in Cork in 1767. The Directory also records that James Townsend [311] qualified in 1780 in London and John Sealy Townsend [507] in 1787.

John was elected a Freeman of Youghal in July 1760 along with his kinsmen Richard Townsend [213], Richard Townsend [301], Edward Townsend [401] and Philip Townsend [500]. Appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1775, John was elected a Freeman of the City of Cork on 29 July 1788 (4) and MP for Dingle (5) from 1783 to 1797 along with his nephew Richard Boyle Townsend [219] who was MP 1782 to 1795. Following this he was MP for Castlemartyr from January 1798 to August 1800; also elected MP for Doneraile in 1798 he chose to sit for Castlemartyr.(6)

Page 175 of Francis G Tucky's "The City and County of Cork Remembered", 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 and Protestant Militia and Volunteers 1778 lists the 48 Militias raised in the county numbering between one and three companies each strong. Richard Townsend [213] and some 126 of his fellow Protestants signed the resolution on 26th March 1778 and it appears that John was a Captain in the “Carbery Independents. Enrolled 1777. Force: 1 company. Uniform: scarlet, faced green; yellow buttons. Officers in 1782 - Captain-Commanding, William Beecher; Captain, John Townsend; Lieutenant, Lionel Fleming; Ensign, Beecher Fleming; Chaplain, Wm. Robinson; Surgeon, Thomas Clarke.”

When John's brother, Henry Townsend [215] died in February 1788, John inherited Henry's estate at Dunbeacon, Ardra and Ballintona in trust for his children when they should come of age. John passed these lands to his eldest son, Richard [221]. A transcription of Henry's will can be seen in his 'Scrapbook' or in Swanage Wills. (Scroll down to his entry.)

At a meeting in the King’s Arms Tavern in Cork on 15 November 1791 (7) the “Gentlemen of the city and county of Cork” resolved to “assist the Civil magistrates in the execution of the law” by forming a society, called the ‘Hanover Association’, to apprehend Whiteboys (8) who were attacking both property and people. Members of the Association paid a subscription for the “purpose of procuring information and carrying on prosecutions, where the means of the aggrieved parties are insufficient”. Members were also required to arm themselves to assist the magistrates. A further meeting of the Association was held at the King’s Arm’s on 7 December 1791 at which it was resolved to pay £50 to anyone who within 12 months provides information that leads to the discovery, apprehension and conviction of Whiteboys. The following members of the family are shown as attending the meeting: John Townsend [214], Richard Boyle Townsend [219], Richard Townsend [221], Samuel Townsend [405], Thomas Townsend [502], John Sealy Townsend [507], Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00], Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601], Richard Townsend [6A00] and Samuel Philip Townsend [6B00]. Additionally, Adam Newman, husband of Mary Townsend [605] and Thomas Warren, husband of Anna Townsend [408] are also shown on the list.

John was appointed 'Commissioner and Overseer of the Barracks etc in this Kingdom' on 5 June 1798 and a year later a Chief Commissioner of 'His Majesty's Revenues of Excise and Customs in Ireland' along with eight others on 13 August 1799 (London Gazette 15170). Catalogued in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ Page 3 of 'An Account of Offices and Emoluments in the Department of Inland Revenue & Taxes in Ireland' in 1810 records John's salary as a Commissioner at £1,200 per annum.

As described on the page ‘Background History’, events in the last decade of the 18th century convinced the Prime Minister in Westminster, William Pitt, that the only way to solve unrest in Ireland was to get the Irish Parliament to pass an Act of Union. He thought that Irish Catholics would be better off as a minority in the United Kingdom, rather than a majority in Ireland. John, and six of his kinsmen (9), supported this and they, along with several hundred fellow landowners in Co Cork, published a proclamation supporting union in The Belfast Newsletter dated Tuesday 30 July 1799. A copy of the proclamation is reproduced in John’s ‘Scrapbook'.

John built a fine house on the land he inherited at Aghills and this he called Shepperton (10); this line of the family became known as the ' Shepperton Townsends'. The Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Journal 1896 shows that he also lived in Grafton Street, Dublin.

There are two entries in the Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland where John is mentioned. Memorial 241215 dated May 1781 in a filed Exchequer Bill brought against Dennis Fenn and several others by Richard Baldwin of Skibbereen (Party 1) in respect of land granted to Stephen Warner (Party 2) in 1740 - 'John Townsend of Shepperton' is shown as a witness to the deed. Memorial 334929 dated 23 May 1798 is a lease of tenements near St Stephen's Hospital, Cork to Thomas Byrne (Party 1), a linen draper, by the Commissioners & Overseers of Barracks in Ireland with John, along with eight other Commissioners, shown as Party 2.

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 records “John Townsend” and ten other members of the family in the list of subscribers: Francis Townsend [125], Cornelius Townsend [139], Richard Townsend [213] or Richard Townsend [219], 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]. This entry might also refer to John Townsend [303].

“John 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.” This entry might also refer to John Townsend [303]]. Other members of the family who subscribed to this book include Richard Townsend [213], Edward Mansel Townsend [400], Philip Townsend [500] or [304], Captain Thomas Townsend [502], Rev Horatio Townsend [600] Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601] and Richard Townsend [6A00].

John's will (11) is dated 19 January 1803 and a codicil was added on 12 November 1806. The witnesses were Samuel Jervois (12), William Horan and George Fuller; the trustees were Abraham Morris of Dunkettle (13), Rev Arthur Herbert of Ardagh, Thomas Poole (14) barrister at law and Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00] of Courtmacsherry. John left Shepperton to Jonas Morris [222], East & West Myross and Kilcoe to Henry Owen [223], Drishane & Farrendagh and Glannafoyne to Abraham [224], £1000 to Elizabeth [225] and her husband Thomas Somerville and £1000 to Henrietta [227] and husband Beresford Gahan. He also set aside £1000 for Katherine [226] for her settlement were she to marry. There was no need to include his son Richard [221] in the division of his lands as he had inherited his uncle Henry's estate.

John’s will was contested by some members of the family, in particular by Major Beresford Gahan on behalf of his wife, John’s daughter Henrietta Anna [227]. Major Gahan contended that John was not entitled to dispose of his estate as he did and claimed that Henrietta was entitled to a share in the lands of Kilcoe inherited by Henry Owen Becher Townsend. A compromise was affected on 23 May 1819 in which it was agreed that Henry would have absolute title to the Kilcoe estate but would pay to Major Gahan and his heirs an annual Rent Charge of £88 per annum. (15)

(1) The 'See Lands' comprised Kilcoe 498 acres, Drishane and Farrendagh 197 acres, East and West Myross 189 acres and Glannafoyne 179 acres; total 1063 acres.

(2) Mary died on 2 February 1793 and is shown in The Index to Births, Marriages, & Deaths in Anthologia Hibernica 1793-1794. ("Townshend, Mrs., wife of John, of Shepperton, M.P. for Dingle 2 Feb 1793"). Her niece, Katherine Morris, married Horatio Townsend [6B01].

(3) The entry for Morris (Dunkettle) in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "A Welsh family descended from Captain William Morris who was granted lands in East and West Carbery, county Cork under the Acts of Settlement. Abraham Morris of Cork, merchant, bought lands in the baronies of Barrymore, Duhallow and Muskerry from the trustees of forfeited estates, 1703. Originally settled at Castle Salem, by the late 18th century Abraham Morris was established at Dunkettle near Cork city. In the 1790s he was elected Member of Parliament for county Cork in a controversial election. In 1851 his grandson Jonas Morris married Ellen only daughter of Silver Charles Oliver of Inchera. At the time of Griffith's Valuation the Morris estate was located in the parishes of Shandrum, barony of Orrery and Kilmore, Clondrohid and Drishane, barony of West Muskerry and Ballydeloher and Caherlag, barony of Barrymore. In the 1870s Richard Morris of Dunkettle owned 6,494 acres in county Cork."

(4) 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.

(5) London Gazette 13206 page 339 dated I June 1790 and page 325 of the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 1896.

(6) 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.

(7) Reported in the Dublin Evening Post 31 January 1792.

(8) Whiteboys were a secret 18th century Irish agrarian organisation which used violent tactics against landlords and tithe collectors to defend tenant farmer land rights. They wore white smocks on their nightly raids and sought to address rack-rents, tithe collection, excessive priests' dues, evictions and other oppressive acts.

(9) John Townsend [214] shown as ‘John Townfend MP Shepperton’, Rev Richard Townsend [310] shown as ‘Richd Townfend clk Skull’, William Townsend [504] shown as ‘William Townfend Derry’. Thomas Townsend [509] shown as ‘Thos Townfend Mallow’, Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00] shown as 'Horace Townfend Courtmacsherry’, Richard Townsend [6A00] shown as ‘Richard Townfend Palacetown’, Samuel Philip Townsend [6B00] shown as ‘Samuel T(?) Townfend Firmount’

(10) The entry for Shepperton in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "John Townsend held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £20 10s. Noted by Lewis as the seat of M. Townsend in 1837 and by Leet as the residence of Jonas M. Townsend in 1814. Shepperton is still extant but in poor repair."

(11) Lovera papers 214/1. A detailed extract of John's will can be found in the National Library of Ireland, Genealogical Office: Ms. 143, p. 27

(12) Most probably Samuel Jervois of Brade (Braad). The University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "John Swanton was leasing this property from Rev. Maurice Townsend at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £15 10s. Lewis had noted it as the seat of Rev. E.P. Thompson in 1837. It was the residence of Samuel Jervois in 1814. Taylor and Skinner's 1783 map also indicate it as a Jervois residence. In 1906 it was owned by Katherine Townsend and valued at £44 5s. There is still an extant house at the site. (Maurice Townsend [231] & Katherine Townsend [523])

(13) Father of Katherine Morris who married Horatio Townsend [6B01] in 1808. Abraham was also a witness to the marriage settlement between John's son, Richard [221], and Barbara Mellifont in 1790. For other Morris connections see Katherine Townsend [307], Mary Townsend [308], Mary Townsend [314], Elizabeth Townsend [326], Horatio Townsend [6B01].

(14) Probably Thomas Poole of Mayfield, Bandon, Co Cork, who married Joanna Meade Townsend [5D04] in 1806.

(15) Lovera Papers 214/2

'An Officer of the Long Parliament' Ch VII p. 151 and 'Pooles of Mayfield' p.73 refer.