Elizabeth Henrietta Becher Townsend (225)

Date of Birth: 1776
Date of Death: Feb 1832
Generation: 5th
Residence: Drishane, Castletownshend
Father: John Townsend [214]
Mother: Morris, Mary
  1. Somerville, Thomas Townsend
  1. Thomas
  2. John Townsend
  3. Richard
  4. William Henry
  5. Henry Owen Becher
  6. Philip Horatio
  7. James Edward
  8. Morris Townsend
  9. Mary
  10. Elizabeth
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Elizabeth Henrietta Becher Townsend (1)

Married November 1796. Thomas Townsend Somerville JP (2) of Drishane,(3) Castletownshend, was the eldest son of Thomas Somerville of Castlehaven and his wife Mary Townsend. See Burke's Irish Landed Gentry 1912 - Somerville. See also ‘A Guide to Irish Houses’ by M. Bence-Jones, London, 1988 – “CASTLETOWNSHEND cor Drishane. Somerville 1790+. Built by Thomas Somerville.”

During the early years of the 19th century several close family members became involved in two trials involving the Rev Robert Morritt, who succeeded to the living of the parishes of Glanbarrahan & Curragrangemore (4) on 28 March 1807 from the Rev David Freeman, husband of Harriet Townsend.

The Rev Morritt is described in the pamphlet “Supplement to the Trials of the Rev Robert Morritt” as a “Clergyman who in a few years could render himself so obnoxious to his Parishioners as to be the subject of no less than eight civil actions and one criminal indictment”.

The first case against Morritt concerns the forcible eviction of a tenant of Mrs Somerville (Elizabeth Townsend) and the second is an action for defamation brought by Mr Roche. In both cases Morritt’s counsel was Daniel O’Connell who managed to secure acquittals by claiming in both cases there was a Townsend family conspiracy against Morritt. Mrs Somerville (Elizabeth) is described on page 12 of the pamphlet as the “Queen of the Conspirators” and in the list of the 'Dramatis Personae' “one brother, four brothers-in-law, an uncle, two nephews, eight cousins” are shown as fellow ‘Conspirators’. They are listed at Note (5), which affords a classic example of the web of Townsend family relationships that existed then. Published in 1819, rather strangely, the pamphlet was written by an ‘Anti-Conspirator’ who had access to private correspondence addressed to Elizabeth's brother that same year!

Over and above the trials of Morritt, pages 14 to 20 of the pamphlet dwell at length on the fraught relationship between him and Elizabeth. "Mrs Somerville was his tenant for tithe, and he was her tenant for house and land. Here arose a mutual dealing and, as sometimes happens, a mutual strife, the benefit of which went to the legal profession, the injury and loss to themselves".

Elizabeth's uncle, the Rev Horatio Townsend, is described on pages 24 & 25 of the pamphlet as a man “who has long acted a part on the stage of life and generally supported his character pretty well….The only circumstance which makes me doubt his being a conspirator is that he is fond of ease and retirement and that nothing offensive on the part of the said Domestic Chaplain (Morritt) could excite in his mind any worse emotion than contempt”. Daniel O’Connel cross examined Horatio at length who responded with great caution. Horatio admitted that he had attended “a meeting of Magistrates in Skibbereen for the purpose of putting a stop to Mr Morritt’s extravagant and injurious exercise of judicial authority” and “had written verses on a postletter with a dirty enclosure said to have been received by Mr Morritt from Long Dick.” (Rev Richard Townsend).

The pamphlet also describes how, when the Rev Morritt became a magistrate “Summons flew in all directions and to all distances, and when it was known that a lazy serving boy, or an idle apprentice, might punish his master by making him travel twenty or thirty miles to appear before Judge Morritt on a sixpenny complaint, the shop of justice could never lack customers.” He is reported as having neighbouring magistrates hear 600 summonses against his parishioners in respect of outstanding tithes. Morritt even wrote to the Honourable Board of Commissioners (for Excise) accusing Elizabeth’s brother, Richard Townsend (the Collector), of “neglect of duty and connivance at peculation” and asking that he be dismissed. This was at a time when “the dangerous illness of a near relative had obliged him (Richard) to go to England and this appeared a favourable opportunity to bring forward complaints which could not be so conveniently managed had the Collector been at home.” After a full hearing, at which Richard was present, the Board of Commissioners wrote to him on 2 March 1819 and dismissed the complaint as “unfounded "; a copy of the letter is given in Elizabeth's ‘Scrapbook’. Small wonder that Morritt was a thorn in the flesh!

In his will dated dated 19 January 1803, with a codicil added on 12 November 1806, Elizabeth's father left her £1,000 when he died on 4 August 1810.

Of the children:

Colonel Thomas Somerville of Drishane, JP and DL, High Sheriff 1863. Thomas was born in 1797 and married on 12 October 1822 his cousin Henrietta Augusta Townsend, eldest daughter of Colonel Richard Boyle Townsend of Castletownshend. Thomas was an executor for the will of his kinsman Richard Townsend. He died on 19 May 1882 leaving a daughter, Henrietta, and an only son Colonel Thomas Henry Somerville.

Major John Townsend Somerville was born in 1800 and commissioned into the Bengal Service. He married in May 1836, Frances Margaret, daughter of Rev Arthur Herbert,(6) Rector of Myross Wood, Co Cork. John died in 1861. Frances's sister, Mary Herbert, married John Henry Townshend [238] in 1839.

Richard Somerville died young.

William Henry Somerville died young.

Rev Henry Owen Becher Somerville was Rector of Doneraile and died in 1867.

Vice Admiral Philip Horatio Townsend Somerville RN married on 1 May 1849 Mary Stewart (who died on 1 June 1895), daughter of David Maitland M'Gill Crichton of Rankeilour, Co Fife, and died on 12 May 1881 leaving three sons. (Thomas Townsend Somerville 1851 - 1914, Thomas Hog Maitland Makgill Chrichton Somerville 1865 - 1922, David Maitland Makgill Crichton Somerville 1850-1915.)

Dr James Edward Somerville MD was born on 18 February 1810 and married on 13 June 1847 Ellen, daughter of John French (7) of Rath,(8) Co Cork. He was living at Park Cottage, Leap, Co Cork, when he received a legacy of £800 on the death of his cousin Richard Mellifont-Townshend [236] in 1884. (9) He died in 1904 leaving issue.

Morris Townsend Somerville emigrated to Australia, married Miss Anketell and died 1891 leaving issue.

Mary Somerville was born in 1804 and married her cousin Jonas Morris Townsend second son of Richard Townsend of Point House, Castletownshend. They emigrated to Australia and had issue. She died on 10 January 1895.

Elizabeth Somerville married in 1831 her cousin, Richard Neville Somerville (who died on 6 November 1910) of Millfield, Rosscarbery, and died in 1891.

(1) Elizabeth is not shown by Judge John FitzHenry Townsend but is shown in 'Pooles of Mayfield' p. 231.

(2) Thomas was appointed JP in 1796 and died in June 1811.

(3) The entry for Drishane in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Thomas Somerville held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation when it was valued at £35. Lewis also recorded it as the seat of Thomas Somerville in 1837. In 1906 it was owned by Aylmer Somerville and valued at £35. It is still extant."

(4) See pages 474 of Brady'sClerical and Parochial Records. Morritt resigned the living on 4 January 1824 and some time later moved to Paris where, in 1828, he brought an action for defamation against three Anglican Clergymen.

(5) The ‘Dramatis Personae’ shown on page 12 of the pamphlet and in the 'Scrapbook' are:-

Richard Townsend “Magistrate who issued the arrest warrant” - Brother of Elizabeth.

Thomas Hungerford “Attorney who drew up the depositions” - Brother-in-law of Elizabeth and son-in-law of Mary Townsend, who was sister to Rev Horatio Townsend.

Philip Somerville “A witness in both trials” – Brother-in-law of Elizabeth and husband of Maria Townsend.

Mr T Somerville “Attorney at both trials” - Nephew? Or son of Elizabeth?

Rev Horatio Townsend “Witness (in one trial viz Roche)” – Uncle.

Mr John French “Witness (in one trial viz Roche)” – Grandson of Susannah Townsend and sister of Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00].

Rev Richard Townsend – Referred to on page 25 as “Long Dick”; a cousin of Elizabeth.

Rev Philip French – Curate of Glanbarrahan whose wife was sister of Katherine Corker who married Rev Horatio Townsend.

Mr Thomas Robinson - Father of Dorothea Robinson who married Rev Richard Townsend.

Samuel Townsend - A cousin of Elizabeth.

John Townsend - Could be John T [214], [222] or [303]; all close relatives.

Mr Becher Fleming - Husband of Judith Somerville, who was sister of Philip Somerville, and daughter of Mary Townsend.

Mr Richard Somerville – Brother-in- law of Elizabeth.

Richard Boyle Townsend - Referred to on page 25. First cousin of Elizabeth.

(6) The entry for Herbert (Cahernane) in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "The Herberts of Cahernane descended from the same family as those at Muckross. Smith indicates that two members of the family received lands in Kerry after the Desmond rebellion, Sir William Herbert received over 13,000 acres while Charles Herbert received over 3000 acres. Over 300 acres of Rev. Richard Herbert's estate at Tullig, barony of Magunihy, was offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1858. In 1865, the Brewsterfield property of Arthur Orpen and Elizabeth Herbert was offered for sale in the Landed Estates Court as well as premises in Killarney town. In the 1870s the Cahernane family estate amounted to over 3000 acres in county Kerry. At the time of Griffith’s Valuation, the representatives of Rev. B. Herbert were among the principal lessors in the parish of Killaha while Rev. Edward Herbert was a principal lessor in the parish of Kilnanare, both in the barony of Magunihy. Rev. Richard Herbert held several townlands in the parish of Currans, barony of Trughanacmy. Lands held under lease by Timothy Kennedy from Rev. Richard Herbert's estate were offered for sale in the Land Judges' Court in 1881." The Herberts of Muckross are also listed in this entry.

(7) John French must be a grandson of Michael French of Rath who married Susan Townsend in 1752. The entry for French in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Marino, county Cork, was the seat of the French family in the 18th century. At the time of Griffith's Valuation Thomas George French of Marino, county Cork, a younger brother of Savage French of Cuskinny, Queenstown, held land in the parishes of Cullen, barony of Duhallow, Donaghmore, Magourney, Carrigrohanebeg, Inishcarra, barony of East Muskerry, Donaghmore, barony of Barretts and Clonmel, barony of Barrymore. He died in 1866. In October 1852, 350 acres in the barony of Barretts, the property of Michael Phillip French was offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court. The original lease was between Savage French and Michael French of Rath, county Cork. In the 1870s the representatives of Thomas G. French of Cork owned 1,559 acres in the county and Pasco French of Marino Passage owned 624 acres. Thomas G. French had one son and five daughters and his estate was eventually inherited in 1893 by his grandson Thomas George Stuart of county Tyrone who took the additional name of French."

(8) The entry for Rath in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Smith writes in 1750 that Rath was built by Alderman James French of Cork. Rath house was occupied by Michael Greene in the early 1850s and held from Sir Edward Tierney. It was valued at £12. To the north Rath Cottage (Grid Ref R492 147) was held by Sir Edward Tierney in fee and was valued at £14. This cottage is now a ruin and Rath House although still extant is no longer lived in. A new house having been built on the site."

(9) Lovera Papers 225/1.

For other Somerville connections see also Henrietta Augusta Townsend [234], Jonas Morris Townsend [237], Henrietta Anna Townsend [242], John Townsend [316], Horatio Thomas Townsend [334], Letitia Mary Townsend [351], Mary Townsend [506] and Maria Townsend [5D07]. See the entry for Mary Townsend [506] for a precis of the Somerville family and their connections with the Townsends.