John Townsend (300)
|Date of Birth:||26 May 1691|
|Date of Death:||17 Feb 1756|
|Residence:||Skirtagh, Clonakilty, Co Cork|
|Father:||Colonel Bryan Townsend |
|See Also:||Table III ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree|
John's date of birth is taken from an entry, in contemporary writing, on the fly leaf of a copy of 'The Christian Pattern or Imitation of Jesus Christ' - London 1707. Compared with his four surviving brothers very little is known of him.
Katherine Barry (1) was the only daughter and eventual heiress of Colonel James Barry (the M'Adam Barry) of Lisnagar, (2) Rathcormac by his first wife Susannah Townsend . See ‘A Guide to Irish Houses’ by M. Bence-Jones, London, 1988 – “RATHCORMACK cor Lisnegar. Barry - Tonson 1720+. Enlarged ca. 1820 by William Tonson, Lord Riversdale.”
Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that John was taught by Mr Molly (Mr Molloy?) before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 31 May 1708 aged 17 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. (Mr Molloy also tutored John's cousin, Cornelius Townsend , before he entered the University in 1715). The TCD Graduation List records that he qualified BA in Spring 1712 and MA in Summer 1715.
The Middle Temple Register 1661-1781 Vol 1 in the Linen Hall Library, Belfast shows that John was admitted in 1716. He qualified as a barrister in 1720, though it would appear he did not practice for long (3). In his will John's eldest brother, Richard Townsend , laid down that if he died before his son Richard  had come of age, his wife Elizabeth was to be the sole legatee and guardian of the children. If she were to die before young Richard came of age then his brothers Samuel Townsend , Philip Townsend  and Horatio Townsend  were appointed guardians. We will never know why John was not included as a guardian, but it could indicate that there was some ill feeling between the two brothers.
In 1896 Dorothea Townshend, the wife of Richard Baxter Townshend [5D15], wrote six articles entitled ‘Notes on the Council Book of Clonakilty’ for inclusion in the ‘Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society’ that year. (4) Thirteen members of the family were elected to serve on the council between 1686, when Colonel Richard Towensend  was elected Sovereign (Portreeve) and 1802 when the Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00] was the last Sovereign; of these, seven served as Sovereign. The Council met on average about four times each year with St James’ Day on 25 July and St Luke’s Day on 28 October as regular fixtures. There is a gap in the records between February 1730 and 1802 though it is recorded that Philip Townsend  was Sovereign in 1764 and 1765.
Since 1896, when Dorothea Townsend tried to identify the many entries for “John Townsend” in the Council Book, fresh evidence has come to light that makes identification of him more plausible. She interpreted the first reference to him, when he was elected a Freeman of the borough on 17 October 1715, as John Townsend  of Skirtagh. This is most probably wrong as this ‘John Townsend’ was studying law at the time (see above) and did not qualify until 1720 according to the Middle Temple Register 1661-1781 Vol I. This leaves just two further possibilities – John FitzCornelius Townsend  or his son John Townsend  and on balance the former is the most likely.
The 'John Townsend' of this record was elected a burgess of the Borough on 15 August 1721 – “John Townesend Esq. Council-at-Law” (5) - and Sovereign on 8 May 1728 (6) on the demise of Sir Percy Freke who died in office; he relinquished the appointment on 28 October that same year. Like his cousin John FitzCornelius Townsend  he regularly attended several meetings each year until 1729. His brothers Richard Townsend , Samuel Townsend  & Philip Townsend  and his nephews Francis Townsend , the Rev Butler Townsend , Cornelius Townsend  and Horatio Townsend  were all freemen of the Borough.
John was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1721.
‘An Officer of the Long Parliament’ refers to John as being of ‘Skirtagh House’ (other spellings are Scartagh or Scurtagh) but it is not known how or when he acquired this property. This most probably refers to ‘Scartagh Cottage’, (7) which was located just to the east of Clonakilty; also known as Mount Shannon, the Convent of Mercy was built on the site of the cottage in 1856. It would appear that when John died in 1756 Skirtagh passed to his son, John Townsend  .
Further references to Skiratgh are scarce. An article entitled ‘1798 Leader in Clonakilty: Interesting story of Dr William Callanan’, published in the West Cork newspaper ‘The Southern Star’ in 1978 records that "On February 1st, 1783, John Townshend of Courtmacsherry leased the ‘house, houses, land and glebes in Skirtagh’ to William Callanan". (8) The ‘Register of Trees, Co Cork, 1780 - 1860’ shown in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 1976 Vol. 81, Nos 233-234, pages 39-60 records that "John Townsend" planted 200 trees in Maulnaskehy in 1810 and 1,900 trees in Skirtagh in 1815. This John Townsend is either John T  or the Rev John T .
'The Post Chaise Companion or Traveller's Directory through Ireland 3rd Edition 1804' page 332 records "Within half a mile of Clonakilty on the L. is Mount Shannon, the seat of Dr Calnan".
(1) Katherine died on 20 December 1754.
(2) The entry for Lisnagar in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "Originally a home of the MacAdam branch of the Barry family, sold to the Lawless brothers in the 1770s and soon afterwards bought by William Tonson. The house was occupied by the Reverend John Bolster in the early 1850s and valued at £39.15 shillings. Inherited by the Stawell family in 1861 and sold by them in the early 20th century. This house is still a residence."
(3) In the author's copy of 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' (now owned by John Townsend [5A26]) there is a note written by the author that reads "JST (John Sealy Townsend ) saw a law book printed in London 1646 that had belonged to Councillor John Townsend, son of Brian Townsend."
(4) They can be read in the Journal at pages 79-84, 129-135, 172-177, 22-224, 270-273 and 320-322.
(5) The entry in the Council Book reads - "At a court held for the borough on Monday, the 15th of August 1726 the undernamed suffrain, burgesses and deputy recorder. John Townesend Esq, council-at-law was elected and chosen burgess of this corporation in the room of Robert Gillman Esq deceased pursuant to the statute. Richard Hungerford. Dep Rec."
(6) The entry in the Council Book reads - "At a court of record held for the borough on Wednesday the 8th day of May 1728 by the undernamed burgesses and deputy recorder on the lord of the soyle not making his election on one of the three burgesses returned to his lordship on the death of Sir Percy Freke our late suffrain: for suffrain for the rest of this year, John Townesend Esq was elected and sworn suffrain for the remainder of this year pursuant to the charter and had the ensignes of authority delivered to him. Richard Hungerford, Dep Rec.” John FitzCornelius Townsend , Cornelius Townsend  and Richard Townsend  were amongst the twelve burgesses at this meeting.
(7) The entry for Scartagh Cottage in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "Tradition locally suggests Scartagh Cottage was originally the property of the Townsend family. By the time of Griffith's Valuation, it was being leased by Henry Galway to Matthew O'Hea. Various members of the Galway family held small amounts of land in the area while Matthew O'Hea, of the War Office, London, is recorded as the owner of 70 acres in county Cork in the 1870s. Scartagh Cottage has been replaced by a convent on the 25-inch Ordnance Map towards the end of the nineteenth century and that building is still extant." There are connections with the Galwey family through Rev Philip Townsend  who married Helen Galwey in 1708 and Janet Mary Townshend [5B11] who married Charles Galwey in 1870.
(8) Dr. William Callanan was a well known doctor, prosperous merchant and noted leader of the United Irishmen of the time. Surprisingly, he identified himself with the men of property in their fight against the Whiteboys and took a prominent part in the formation of the Carbery Union in Clonakilty on February 1st, 1792, ‘to keep peace and good order in the neighbourhood.’ However, he was clearly associated with the 1798 Rebellion and was nearly arrested by Samuel Townsend  for spreading rumours in Skibbereen that a French invasion force, under the command of General Humbert, had landed at Killala in Co Mayo on 22 August that year. Five years later Dr Callanan was arrested for his association with the United Irishmen movement after Robert Emmet's ill-fated rising in Thomas Street, Dublin, on 23 July 1803.
'An Officer of the Long Parliament' Ch IX p. 216 and 'Pooles of Mayfield' p. 71 refer.