Richard Mellifont - Townshend (236)

Date of Birth: 6 Feb 1797
Date of Death: dsp 17 Sep 1884
Generation: 6th
Residence: Clontaff, Dunbeacon & Nice
Father: Richard Townsend [221]
Mother: Mellifont, Barbara
  1. Mellifont, Elizabeth
Issue: None
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Richard Mellifont-Townshend JP

Married 24 May 1819. Elizabeth was the only child of Lieut Col David Mellifont (deceased) of Dublin and the 85th Regiment of Foot, formerly of the 14th Light Dragoons (1) and brother of Barbara Mellifont who married Richard’s father (ie. Barbara’s niece). The marriage settlement consisted of £4,000 in addition to some land. Richard Townsend [221], George Mellifont executor to Elizabeth’s father, Henry Townsend of Dublin [223], John Sabatier of Summer Grove, Philip Somerville of Castletownshend, husband of Richard's sister, Henrietta Townsend [242], and David Baldwin were party and witnesses to the Settlement. (2)

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that Richard was privately tutored before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 5 October 1812 aged 16 as a fellow commoner paying double fees and enjoying several privileges. The TCD Graduation List records that he qualified BA in Spring 1818. Richard Townsend [332], Richard Townsend [513] and Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01] were undergraduates at Trinity at the same time.

An Officer of the Long Parliament makes little mention of Richard which is surprising and we know very little about him other than what can be deduced from the Lovera Papers and other sources.

The Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 8 September 1823 features an article about the hearing before magistrates in Skibbereen concerning the affray at Castlehaven that ensued when the Rev Robert Morritt sought to collect arrears of tithes for the previous three years. Both Richard and his father, Richard Townsend [221], were magistrates at the hearing, which was presided over by Lord Carbery who had arrived “surrounded by two Cavalry Associations formed here under Captains O’Driscoll and Townsend.” (Samuel Townsend [405]) Later in the proceedings Lord Carbery declared an arrest warrant, signed by “Samuel Townsend Esq”, invalid because it had no seal. Richard's father, Richard Townsend [221], was much involved in the affairs of the Rev Morritt and a full account of this can be seen in his record.

A further report in the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 31 March 1825 records that William Somerville, Richard, his father Richard Townsend [221] and Richard Neville Somerville “four of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Cork” attended a hearing in the Customs House in Castletownshend on 4th and 5th March 1825 concerning a salvage claim. On 31 January that year the ship ‘Clio’ of St John’s, New Brunswick, 376 tons with a cargo of timber, got into difficulty in poor weather off the coast of south west Cork, was salvaged and taken into Crookhaven for safety. There were 34 claims for salvage amounting to £9,500 with John Sealy Townsend [507] acting as Counsel for the claimants.

The Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 15 July 1828 records that Richard, Jonas Morris Townsend [222] and Edward Townsend [411] were members of the ‘Record Jury’ at the County Cork Summer Assizes.

The registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland in the National Archives of Ireland (CSO/RP/1832/1654) contain a letter from Richard dated 21 April 1832, to Henry William Paget, Lord Lieutenant. In it Richard forwards a list of 13 individuals nominated to a board of health for Myross parish, to deal with the threat of cholera; noting their proximity to and trade with Cork City and recommending the quarantining of the small vessels operating out of their harbour; he also solicits £100 for the new board.

Under the terms of his father's will, dated 19 January 1841, the Dunbeacon (2a) estate passed to Richard and this, with his marriage settlement, made him a man of considerable means. His wife, Elizabeth, brought more money to the marriage on the death of her cousin John Sabatier of Summer Grove in Queen’s County when he died on 28 January 1859. In his will he left her £3000 and all his freehold and leasehold property in Kings County and Queen’s County (3).

Richard’s business account (4) with his close friend and kinsman John FitzHenry Townshend [250] between January 1844 and February 1860 shows that he took an active interest in buying and selling bonds and stocks. In his long life he accumulated considerable wealth and was clearly a most shrewd investor. From family correspondence it can be seen that he was also very close to his distant Cousin Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] who, like him, made a good living from shrewd investments.

Under the entry for the parish of Myross 'Lewis' Topographical Dictionary 1837' shows Richard living at 'Clontaff' -"Clantaffe is the residence of R. Townsend, Esq." The entry for Clontaff in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "Richard Townsend was leasing this property from Esther Horan at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £19. Lewis also records it as the seat of R. Townsend in 1837."

Page 299 of the Appendix to the First report of the Commissioners Part 1 - Municipal Corporations (Ireland). Published by William Clowes, Stamford Street, London in 1835 concerns the Borough of Dingle. In the section headed ‘Burgesses’ it records that “Several of the burgesses are nearly connected with the patron of the borough. The following are the present burgesses:

- John Townshend Esquire, Lieutenant Colonel 14th Light dragoons, patron of the Borough and principal proprietor of the town. (Colonel John Townsend [230])

- Rev Thomas Townshend, his brother. (Should read Maurice Fitzgerald Townsend [231])

- Rev Boyle Townshend, ditto. (Abraham Boyle Townsend [233])

- Richard Townshend Esq., second cousin.

- Samuel Townshend Esq., Whitehall Co Cork. ( Samuel Townsend [412] or [405])”

None of them lived within the limits of the borough and it would appear that they rarely, if ever, attended borough meetings.

In November 1837 a Select Committee was set up to “Inquire how far the Intentions of the Reform Bill are defeated by Creating and Registering Fictitious and Improper Votes in Ireland.” The Committee's Final Report was published on 28 March 1838 and Appendix No. 6 shows the “List of Non-Resident Freemen, County of the City of Cork, with those who voted at the Election of 1837 marked off”. Richard is shown on the list as having NOT voted along with his kinsmen Chambre Townsend [5D01] and Samuel Townsend [412].

Six years later the County and City of Cork Almanac 1843 shows on page 132 that Richard was a Justice of the Peace and living at Dunbeacon; – three years before the death of his father - "Townsend Richard jun, Dunbeacon". His father and uncles Jonas Morris Townsend [222], Henry Townsend [223] and Cousin Edward Townsend [411] are also listed as Justices in the Almanac. ‘A List of Justices of the Peace in Ireland’ published in Dublin in 1844 records on page 42 that Richard Townsend of Dunbeacon was a Justice of the Peace for Union Hall where Petty Sessions were held every alternate Thursday.

Aldwell's General Directory 1844-45 shows him as a Justice of the Peace with houses at Clontaff and Dunbeacon. Page 284 “Townsend, Richard, J . P Clontaff” and page 280 “Townsend, Richard, J . P Dunbeacon”. 'Griffith's Valuation of Ireland 1848 -1864' reflects this and records land ownership in the parish of Myross - "Townsend Richard. Clontaff" and in the parish of Schull - "Townsend Richard. Dunbeacon”.

Richard moved to Nice, probably on account of his wife's poor health, some time prior to 1856; evidence for this is to be found in a small handwritten notebook, never published, in the archives of Holy Trinity, Nice. The printed version of this document is dated 13 March 1856. The notebook, complied by Captain Lanham, is a directory of all British residents in Nice who could be approached to contribute to a fund for building a Protestant church in Nice. This was eventually built between 1859-1862 and Richard’s contribution was £8 - the relevant documents are show in his 'Scrapbook'. A further document in the archives of Holy Trinity gives Richard’s address as 7, Promenade des Anglais, a rather prestigious address at the time next to the Public Gardens. It also shows a “Mr. Townsend’ living at Villa Gastand – this is most probably John FitzHenry Townsend [250] or Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12]. There is a reference to Villa Gastand in the diary of Frances, Lady Shelley who stayed there in 1854.

In a letter to John FitzHenry Townshend written from Hotel Victoria, Nice and dated 10 November 1857 Frances Georgina Townshend [248] wrote “We move in a few hours into our winter residence which we have until 15th May next - 17 Promenade des Anglais.….very near Mr Townsend of Clontaff who is a little closer to the sea.” And in a further letter from 17 Promenade des Anglais dated 17 January 1858 she wrote “The Townsends of Clontaff are enjoying the fine weather here with great zest. Mrs Townsend had a large party at the commencement of the season and informed me yesterday that she intended having three more – the last to be a dance.”

Writing from his home at Derry to John FitzHenry Townshend on 7 October 1884 Horace Payne-Townshend remarked “It is, I believe, about 20 years ago since Richard first asked me to be an executor to his will. It was in this very house on the occasion of his last visit to Ireland with his wife” (ie. 1864). Henrietta Gahan writing to John FitzHenry Townshend in November 1865 confirms this - “I was glad to hear of the dear Richard Townsends – I wish they had not deserted their own country”. Whilst in a letter to Commander John Townsend [622] dated 16 April 1874, Edward Hume Townsend [626] wrote that Richard had "fixed himself permanently at Nice." In another letter to John FitzHenry Townshend, dated 14 September 1874, Henrietta Gahan wrote “I was very glad to hear of your having your most refreshing trip to Richard MT and that he is so well for his age, the dear old man."

Letters to Richard from Thomas Somerville (son of Henrietta Townsend [242]) in 1883 and 1884 show that Thomas was managing both the Clontaff and Dunbeacon estates. In them he speaks at length about the difficulty he experiences with the collection or rents.

Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory for the Year 1862 and Robert H Laing’s Cork Mercantile Directory 1863 (5) support the contention that Richard moved permanently to Nice in about 1864. Other sources indicate that he lived at numbers 8, 7 and 5 Promenade des Anglais between 1864 or thereabouts and the time of his death. On the reverse of the miniature of Richard's wife, Elizabeth, it shows them living at 8, Promenade des Anglais, Nice. Page 75 of Francis Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1884 records Richard as an Ex Officio Guardian for the Schull Poor Law Union (6) and shows him as resident in Nice.

As mentioned above, Elizabeth suffered from poor health and in a letter to John FitzHenry Townshend written from Killencarrig Lodge, Delgany and dated 21 October 1868, Henrietta Gahan (daughter of Harriet Townsend [227]) wrote "I do get Carbery news now and then from HT (Horace Payne-Townshend) as of the MT’s, but I (had) hoped Mrs T had recovered more from her last attack.” Elizabeth died 5 weeks later died in Nice on 27 November 1868 and is buried in the British Cemetery of Caucada, Nice. Her will was drawn up in Nice and signed by her on 2 January 1868. In it she left everything to Richard (7) and he assumed the additional name of 'Mellifont' by Royal License on 14 December 1869. The following year he purchased a family vault for FF1250 in the British Cemetery - Section ‘C’ No 3 (8).

The Tithe Applotment Books in the National Archives of Ireland were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland. An 1833 entry for the Parish of Rathclarin shows a "Richard Townsend Esq" owning 24 acres of land rated at £4-18s-6d. This could also be Richard Townsend [221] or Richard Townsend [513].

Page 54 of the Return of the Courts of Petty Sessions in the Counties of Ireland for the year ending 31st December 1835 records details of fines imposed by Richard, his father Richard Townsend [221], Samuel Townsend [405]and his son Samuel Townsend [412] at the Skibbereen and Union Hall Petty Sessions.

Richard died in the L’Hotel National, Geneva and his death certificate records that he was a ‘Landlord’. In his report "legally confirming the death of Richard Mellifont Townshend", the Chief of Police in Geneva recorded that - "On arrival at the morgue (at Hinn-Plais), we had the body placed in a lead coffin, which had been carefully prepared by Mr Crathern, an undertaker in Geneva. The coffin has been sealed by welding and was then put in a second oak coffin which was screwed together and bound in the middle by straps. We have put on each corner/end and in the middle the seal of the Department of the Justice and Police with red wax." Thus Richard's body was moved to Nice by train on 19th September and he was buried alongside his wife in the Cemetery of Caucada on 22 September 1884 according to his wish as expressed to John FitzHenry Townshend at the time of Elizabeth's death.

Richard's death was recorded in the diary of Agnes Townsend [334] - 'August 16 1884 Miss McCormick died. Some time near this Mr R Mellifont T died'.

Copies of wills drawn up by Richard in 1864, 1874, 1883 and 1884 are included in the Lovera Papers. The executors of Richard’s 1884 will (9) were John FitzHenry Townshend and Horace Payne-Townshend though Horace, barely three weeks after Richard died, wrote to John FitzHenry on 7 October 1884 revoking his executorship. A Declaration of Trust (10) dated 18 May 1885 shows that Horace's place as an executor was taken by Henry FitzJohn Townsend [260]. Page 800 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that the will of "Richard Mellifont Townshend late of Nice France Esquire”, who died at Geneva on 17 September 1884, was proved at Principal Registry on 5 November 1884 by the "Honourable John FitzHenry Townshend of 30 Lower Fitzwilliam street Dublin QC Judge of the Court of the Admiralty”. Effects £14,012 0s 6d.

The contents of Richard’s house at 5 Promenades des Anglais, Nice, were valued at FF14,725 by Mr G Muaux, Notaire on 25 September 1884, his estate in Ireland was valued at £11,146 and his overseas investments totalled £23,006 – a grand total of £34,152. In summary his final will contained the following provisions and the effects of them were to reverberate for many years after his death.

The main beneficiaries of Richard’s final will of 1884 were his nephews Richard Arthur Townsend [259] and Thomas Somerville, son of Henrietta Townsend [242]. In very simple terms, Richard was to inherit £5,000 and the lands in West Muskerry and Thomas was to inherit £3,000 and the lands in King’s County and Queen’s County that Richard’s wife inherited from her cousin John Sabatier in 1859. Others bequests included:

£1000 to the three sons of Richard's sister Elizabeth Townshend [244] and her husband William Warren.

£2000 to the four children of Richard's niece Mary Warren.

£1000 to the children of Richard's niece Eliza Large daughter of Richard's sister Henrietta Townshend [242].

£500 to Henrietta Somerville another daughter of Henrietta Townshend [242].

£800 to Dr James E Somerville son of Richard's aunt Elizabeth Henrietta Becher Townshend [225] and her husband Thomas Somerville of Drishane, Castletownshend.

£1300 to his three servants in addition to legacies totalling £120 per annum.

All the silver was to be split equally between Richard Arthur Herbert Townshend and Thomas Somerville, son of Henrietta Townshend, though this subsequently caused argument and strife.

Excepting certain pictures, which were left to John FitzHenry Townshend, the contents of the house in Nice were left to Richard's housekeeper Madame Julie Michaud. His horses, carriages, harness, wine and spirits were left to his servant Cornelius Cassane and his son Jeremiah.

The residue of the estate was left to John FitzHenry Townshend.

Incomplete family correspondence from November and December 1884 refers to Richard Townsend [254] ‘breaking the entail’ of the 1884 will, having been previously included as a beneficiary in the 1883 will. The effect of this was that he succeeded to one moiety of the Dunbeacon estate (in the lands of West Muskerry) with the other half going to Richard Arthur as gifted in the 1884 will. Richard [254] returned to Ireland from Australia sometime after 1885 and lived in Dunbeacon Cottage which he subsequently sold in 1910.

A Judgment in the Court of the Queen's Bench dated 9th August 1864 (11) records that Richard Townsend of Dunbeacon and 'William Warren of Clontaff' (husband of Elizabeth Townsend [244]?) were ordered to pay £600 to Philip Wolfe a merchant of Bantry. The judgment is registered in the Office of Registration of Judgments and is contained in Book 16 No 354.

The 'Register of Landowners in County Cork 1876' shows that Richard's estate totalled 5,977 acres and was valued at £1,322 - 15s. (2005 equivalent - £95,580). This figure is reflected in 'Landowners of Ireland 1878' compiled by U.H. Hussey de Burgh.

Richard with his brother, William Richard Townsend [240], was a trustee of a jointure in favour of his sister Elizabeth Townsend [244] on her marriage to William Warren of Castletownshend on 15 December 1835. (A jointure is a settlement covering the the period during which a wife survives her husband.) See page 46 of the Abstract of the Deeds Enrolled in Chancery 1834-1839 deed number 212.

(1) Lieut Colonel David Mellifont was a Cornet in the 14th Light Dragoons at the time of his sister Barbara’s wedding to Richard's father in 1790. Richard’s first cousin Colonel John Townsend [230] purchased his commission in the same Regiment in 1805 and probably served alongside David in the early years of the century.

(2) Lovera Papers 236/1.

(2a) The entry for Dunbeacon in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "Richard Townsend held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £11 5s. In 1906 it was also the property of Richard Townsend and valued at £8."

(3) Lovera papers 236/3.

(4) Lovera papers 236/5.

(5) 'Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory for the Year 1862' shows "Townsend, Richard, Clontaff, Union Hall, Leap” as a Magistrate. Robert H Laing’s Cork Mercantile Directory 1863 records on page189 the following as Magistrates: ‘Townsend Henry J, Castletownshend’, ‘Townsend, Horace, Derry, Rosscarbery; Union Club, London SW’, ‘Townsend, Horatio DL, Woodside, Cork’, ‘Townsend, J Handcock, Myross Wood, Leap’, ‘Townsend, John Henry, Dunbeacon, Ballydehob’, ‘Townsend, Richard, Clontaff, Union Hall, Leap’, ‘Townsend, Saml, Blackrock, Cork’, ‘Townsend, Samuel Richd, Whitehall, Skibbereen’.

(6) Poor Law Unions

(7) Lovera Papers 236/7.

(8) Lovera Papers 236/9. The Caucade cemetery was sold by the church to the Nice Municipality in 1967 for 1 French Franc because they couldn’t pay the upkeep.

(9) Lovera Papers 236/14.

(10) Lovera Papers 236/24.

(11) Lovera Papers 236/33.