Reverend Richard Townsend (310)

Date of Birth: 1756
Date of Death: 13 Aug 1814
Generation: 5th
Residence: Fanlobbus, Dunmanway & Clover Hill, near Skibbereen
Father: John Townsend [303]
Mother: Reddish, Elizabeth
  1. Robinson, Dorothea
  1. Reverend John [318]
  2. Lieut Thomas [319]
  3. Elizabeth [320]
  4. Dorothea [321]
See Also: Table III ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Reverend Richard Townsend

Richard was known in the family as 'Long Dick'

Married 1784. Dorothea Robinson was the daughter of Rev Thomas Robinson (1) of Coronea (2), near Skibbereen, Co Cork and Vicar of Abbeystrewry (3), Diocese of Ross, by his wife Dorothea Townsend [404]. Dorothea's brother, Rev William Robinson, married Mary Townsend [314] and their daughter, Dorothea, married Edward Mansel Townsend [406]. Dorothea's sister, Helena, married Samuel Philip Townsend [6B00].

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that Richard was taught by Mr Collins before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 5 January 1774 aged 18 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. Mr Collins also tutored Richard's brother, James Townsend [311], and his cousin Horatio Townsend [5D00] before they entered the University in 1774 and 1765 respectively. The TCD Graduation List records that he qualified BA in Spring 1778.

Richard was ordained Deacon on 1 November 1778 at Cork and Priest on 21 September 1781 at Cloyne. See page 258 of Brady's Parochial and Clerical Records Volume 3 which does not record where he served his ministry. He must have been living in or around Fanlobbus, Dunmanway, Co Cork in 1785 as his son Thomas [319] was baptized there. However, as will be seen from two references below there is evidence to show that he lived at Schull.

As described on the page ‘Background History’, events in Ireland in the last decade of the 18th century convinced the Prime Minister in Westminster, William Pitt, that the only way to solve unrest in the country 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. Richard, and six of his kinsmen (3a), 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 Richard’s ‘Scrapbook’. The list of signatories to the proclamation shows ‘Richd Townsend clk Skull’.

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 [217].

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 [225]) 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 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 Richard Townsend [221] that same year!

Richard is mentioned on page 25. It would seem that Richard’s uncle, the Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00], “had written verses on a postletter with a dirty enclosure said to have been received by Mr Morritt from Long Dick.”

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 Richard’s cousin, Richard Townsend [221] (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 Richard's ‘Scrapbook’. Small wonder that Morritt was a thorn in the flesh!

This extract from a letter dated Ballydehob 7 February 1802 might refer to Richard - there is no other 'Rev Rich. Townsend' who matches the criteria and not knowning where he served his ministry it is difficult to be more accurate. – "On Thursday last about one o clock, P.M., a melancholy scene occurred in the harbour of Scull, near this place. The brig Boa Uniue, Capt. Bernado Jose Dios, from St. Michaels, having on board 769 chests of China Oranges, was driven from her anchorage by a violent gale, on the rocks of Castle Island; the country people from different quarters immediately collected in large bodies, and proceeded to plunder the cargo, and cut up the vessel, the whole of which was effected and carried off in a few hours. It is painful to add, that the benevolent exertions of the Rev. Mr. Townsend, Rev. Mr. Tisdal, and other neighbouring gentlemen, could not prevent these unfeeling wretches from carrying their wicked purpose into execution, the Cargo being so distributed round the Country, that only a very inconsiderable part (which is shipping to Cork) has been rescued, notwithstanding the most diligent search of the Magistrates. – The Crew were providentially saved, and hospitably entertained by the Rev. Rich. Townsend."

The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork 1690-1800 by Richard Caulfield records on page 1076 “1 June 1792. That ….. Richard Townsend, Esq., eldest son of John T., Esq., Council- at-Law… be admitted freemen at large”. It is not clear whether or not this refers to Richard and his father who, it is thought, died prior to 1783, but this might not be so. If it does refer to Richard, his father should have been shown as 'dec', as in other entries in the Council Book.

Page 121 of Ambrose Leet's Directory of Cork 1814 shows Rev Rich. Townsend living at Clover Hill, where he died.

(1) The entry for Robinson (West Carbery) in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "George Robinson of Coronea, grandson of the Reverend William Robinson, rector of Abbeystrewery, was the owner of almost 1000 acres in county Cork in the 1870s. He was one of the principal lessors in the parish of Dromdaleague at the time of Griffith's Valuation."

(2) The family lived at Coronea for some time. 'Thom's Irish Almanac Co Cork 1862' records "Robinson, George, Coronea, Skibbereen" as a magistrate. The entry for Coronea House in the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Connacht and Munster Landed Estates Database records "Thomas Clerke was leasing this property from George Robinson at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £17. Lewis refers to Coronea House occupied by Mrs. Marmion in 1837. The residence of Rev. William Robinson in 1814 and in the 1770s it was the seat of a Townsend family. It is no longer extant." It is unclear which member of the family owned Coronea House - possibly Rev Richard Townsend [310]. Page 217 of 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' describes Coronea as "a nice house near Skibbereen."

(3) Strangely he is not listed on the roll of Rectors for Abbeystrewry.

(3a). John Townsend [214] shown as ‘John Townfend MP Shepperton’, 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’ .

(4) See pages 473 & 479 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 are:-

* Richard Townsend [221] “Magistrate who issued the arrest warrant” - Brother of Elizabeth Townsend [225] (Mrs Somerville).