Geraldine Henrietta Townshend (252)

Date of Birth: 12 Feb 1829
Date of Death: dsp 3 Nov 1911
Generation: 7th
Residence: Thornbury, Glos
Father: Reverend Maurice FitzGerald Stephens Townsend [231]
Mother: Shute, Alice Elizabeth
  1. Mundy, Pierpoint Henry
Issue: None
See Also: Table II ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Geraldine Henrietta Townshend. See also

Married 30 April 1870, as his 2nd wife, Major General Pierpoint Henry Mundy RHA (1) JP of Thornbury House, Thornbury, Glos. He was the 3rd son of General Godfrey Basil Meynell Mundy of Shipley Hall, Derbyshire.

In June 1848 Geraldine and her sister, Alice, were presented by Lady Morgan at St James’s Palace to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as was the custom for young ladies of a certain level in Society.

When Geraldine's father, Maurice, died in 1872 she and her sister, Alice Townsend [253], were left in equal share a 'life interest successively' in the Castletownshend estate because their brother, Henry Townsend [251], pre-deceased their father in 1869. On their decease the entailed estate would pass to Maurice's grandson, Maurice FitzGerald Townshend [263].

Not only was the house in a poor state of repair but the estate had been mortgaged by Maurice to Mr Robert Stayner Holford of Westonbirt in Gloucestershire for a substantial sum. This debt was secured on the Chavenage estate near Tetbury which Maurice’s wife, Alice, had inherited when her uncle, Henry Stephens, died in 1823 without issue. When Geraldine’s brother had come of age in 1848 the Chavenage estate passed to him in accordance with the wishes of their mother and after Henry’s death in 1869 it was held in trust by his widow Jane for their eldest son Maurice for when he came of age.

Records (2) show that Jane was Lady of the Manor in 1885 and the following year, when Maurice came of age, the property was advertised for sale. It was eventually sold in 1891 and Geraldine was understandably most bitter about this. In a letter to Edward Mansel Townsend [630] dated 21 July 1897 Geraldine wrote - “They none of them know of poor Maurice & Hubert having a horror of Mrs. Cave [their mother who married Mr Cave from Schull after their father died] to whom they impute all our misfortunes. She certainly fixed the sale of our Mother's beautiful place, Chavenage, in Gloucestershire.” (3)

The sale left Geraldine with a very substantial liability on the Castletownshend estate when Mr Holford 'called in' the mortgage. She spent the next few years trying to raise the capital to pay it off and at some time during this period she was offered £70,000 (£5.3m 2005 equivalent) for the estate by Sir John Arnott, "a rich Cork merchant I think", but turned it down hoping to 'up' the offer to £75,000. Sir John did not raise his offer and Geraldine was forced to find the money elsewhere. In a last desperate bid to save the property, she wrote to Edward Mansel Townsend on 2 June 1897 and again on 4 June 1897 suggesting that, as she was unable to sell the half of the Kerry Estate that she had inherited from her father, a family syndicate be set up to buy the Castletownshend estate. The advice of Samuel Nugent Townsend [432], whom Geraldine said "was the clever man of the family", was sought but he felt that there would be no support for the idea in the family because so many of them had "been hit so often and so hard by the Land Commissioners since 1870". He also added that "Maurice and Hubert could if they wished put in £7,000 to join with Mundy in the purchase of the Demesne, and if they, the next heirs will not move in the matter effectively they can scarcely expect remoter branches to pinch themselves". Geraldine also tried to raise a loan to save the estate through Charles Loftus Townsend [5C01] and others but this failed.

The estate was put up for auction on 25 June 1897 and most of it was sold out of the family; however the houses in Castletownshend on the north side of the road running up the hill from the Castle were retained. Lot 87 (the Castle and demesne) was sold to Charles Loftus for a reputed sum of £14,000. But, because of the entailment, it had to revert to the young Maurice FitzGerald Townshend, on repayment of the loan, and in about 1914 Maurice again took possession of the Castle, having repaid Charles Loftus. Details of the sale were announced in The Irish Times of Wednesday 19 May and the outcome of the sale was announced in the Skibbereen Eagle of 2 July 1897 and The Irish Times.

Geraldine was furious and wrote to Edward Mansel on 21 July 1897 about Charles Loftus "…that his mother in law (Mrs von Bunsen) was anxious to possess the place and intended to sell her Chateau on the Rhine to live in Ireland to be near her only child the wife of Mr CLT. And that this family was making a catspaw of me for nearly two years to obtain my good will regarding their wishes. I liked Mr CLT very much when he paid me a visit in the Spring. He did ask me if I would mind his buying Castletown Mansion and Demesne supposing I could not buy it for myself. But I never thought that 87 would be sold except as a last recourse! It went first. Most unfair on me in every way". In another letter to Edward Mansel, dated 6 August 1897, Geraldine mentions that the property sold for £14,000 (£1.06m 2005 equivalent) and goes on to say"…I hear that she (Mrs von Bunsen) wants £5,000 for the Chateau on the Rhine, and then to take up her abode at Castletown. Meantime her own people are dead against her purchase voting it a white elephant as CLT is a land agent in Dublin and cannot live in Cork".

Two letters throw light on the situation about the estate before the sale. The first was written on 24 March 1891 by John FitzHenry Townshend [250] to 'Adelaide' (4) in which he says "Castle T seems likely to go off in smoke one of these days, a thing I lament but cannot in any way prevent". In the second letter dated 8 February 1909 from Beach House, Bantry, Richard Arthur Townshend [259] wrote to his cousin Henry FitzJohn Townshend - "Is rumour true or a damned lie, that Mrs Mundy wants to buy back The Castle? She did not do much when she had it!"

Further details about Geraldine can be seen in the Thornbury House website.

Page 412 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that probate of the will of "Geraldine Henrietta Townshend Mundy late of Thornbury House Thornbury County Gloucester Widow", who died on 3 November 1911, was granted at Gloucester on 6 April 1912, to "Aubrey P Kitcat and Henry P Thurston”. Resealed at Dublin on 12 July 1912. Effects in Ireland £5,116 3s 5d.

(1) Pierpoint was born in 1816. He died, aged 73, on 16 February 1889 at Thornbury House and was buried on 21 February 1889 at Thornbury Church. His tomb is in the southwest corner of the churchyard under the large lime tree.

(2) ‘British History on Line’; this source goes on to state that “In 1891 the mortgagee, R. S. Holford of Westonbirt, foreclosed and the property was purchased by Col. W. W. Hoole for his son George Williams Lowsley Hoole-Lowsley-Williams.” The Lowsley-Williams still own Chavenage.

(3) Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations and extracts of letters are from the Llanvapley Papers.

(4) Lovera Papers 250/24. 'Adelaide' is most probably Adelaide Eliza Coghill, seventh daughter of Admiral Sir Josiah Coghill, who married Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Henry Somerville of Drishane, Castletownshend on 29 June 1857 and died on 3 December 1895.

'An Officer of the Long Parliament' Ch VII p. 187- 90 refers.