Lieut Thomas Townsend RN (319)

Date of Birth: Feb 1785
Date of Death: 22 Apr 1848
Generation: 6th
Residence: Smithville, Castletownshend, Co Cork
Father: Reverend Richard Townsend [310]
Mother: Robinson, Dorothea
  1. Freke, Helena
  1. Reverend Richard [337]
  2. John [338]
  3. Thomas [339]
  4. Edward James [340]
  5. William [341]
  6. James [342]
  7. Jane [343]
  8. Elizabeth [344]
See Also: Table III ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Lieutenant Thomas Townsend RN

Thomas was baptized on 10 February 1785 at Fanlobbus, Co Cork.

Married 21 October 1819 at Baltimore, Co Cork. Helena Freke (1) was the daughter of John Freke,(2) of Castle Freke, Deputy Governor of Co Cork 1798.(3) See ‘A Guide to Irish Houses’ by M. Bence-Jones, London, 1988 – ROSSCARBERY cor Castle Freke. Barrymore - Freke 1620? Orig. owned by Barrymore family; then Freke family since 1620. Nearly destroyed in 17 cent. Rebuilt ca 1820. Owned by John Evans Freke, Lord Carbery - J.P.

According to 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' Thomas saw much active service with the Royal Navy in the Baltic. Page 3 of ‘Account of Appointments under Board of Customs in Ireland, 1816-17’ in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ shows “Lieut Thos Townsend RN. Commander of a Cruiser” as being based in Dublin with a salary of £162-10s and £57-0s-7d for victualling. This presumably refers to Thomas. However, evidence in various subsequent archives is confusing about Thomas’ career.

Amongst the registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland, 1818 to 1852 in the National Archives of Ireland, are two letters dated 14 December 1819 and 6 March 1823 from John Evans-Freke, 6th Baron Carberry, to the Chief Secretary's Office, Dublin Castle, regarding Thomas' appointment as the inspector of fisheries in Baltimore. It is not known if this appointment came through the good offices of Thomas' kinsman Henry Owen Becher Townsend [223] who was an official in the Commission of the Irish Fisheries at the time. A further letter dated 24 July 1828 from Henry R Paine, Irish Fishery Office, [Dublin], to William Gregory, Under Secretary, requests that Thomas Townsend, Local Inspector for Baltimore district be awarded £50 to cover his medical expenses for an illness which he contracted while on active duty.

Pages 972 and 973 of the Inquiry into the Law and Practice in Respect to the Occupation of Land in Ireland: Minutes of Evidence: Part II, published in 1845, records the evidence given by Thomas to the Commissioners on 10 September 1844. When asked what his occupation was he replied – “I am a half-pay lieutenant in the navy; I have been an agent to an aunt of mine for these nine years back; and I have been in the habit of managing landed property.” Thus Thomas must have left the navy by 1835, if not earlier judging by some of the evidence below, and cannot have been a Commander as recorded in an 'An Officer of the Long Parliament'.

The 'aunt' for whom he acted as land agent cannot be identified. None of his aunts on his father's side of the family were alive in 1835 so it must have been on his mother's side or possibly a so-called 'aunt' from the Castletownshend branch of the family; they being close by where he lived and having much land.

As explained in the ‘Background History’ page, the Act of Union in 1801 and successive reforming measures in the early years of the century drove the Anglo-Irish Protestant community into a position of permanent political minority. Fearing that their ascendancy was being eroded, meetings were held during the early decades of the century seeking to affirm and uphold the integrity of the ‘Protestant Constitution and State’. Press cuttings covering these meetings (all shown in the ‘Scrapbook’ for John Sealy Townsend [333]) between December 1828 and October 1834 include (with attendees shown in brackets):

Bandon Brunswick Constitutional Club (4) Meeting on Monday 22 December 1828 - Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial Courier of 23 December 1828 and Dublin Evening Mail of 31 December 1828. (John S. Townsend, Samuel Townsend jnr and Thomas Somerville)

Protestant Conservative Society of Cork Meeting in the Imperial Clarence Rooms, Cork in August 1832 - Dublin Weekly Mail of 11 August 1832. (Samuel Townsend, Samuel Townshend and Thomas Townsend)

County and City of Cork Protestant Meeting in June 1834 - Dublin Evening Packet & Correspondent of 1 July 1834. (Thomas Townsend and George Digby Daunt)

Protestant Meeting in Bandon on Tuesday 7 October 1834 - Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial Courier of 11 October 1834. (Samuel Townsend, Samuel Townshend, John Townsend and Thomas Townsend)

The common theme throughout was affirmation of Protestant loyalty to the crown and a commitment to take whatever measures were necessary “to preserve the remnants of the constitution and maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom” in “defence of our liberties and the safety of the Glorious Constitution under which we live”. As shown above, several members of the family (5) attended these meetings but it is not possible to identify them precisely in every case, though eloquent statements by “John Townsend Esq son of the Recorder of Clonakilty” are reported verbatim in the press reports of the meetings in Bandon and these can certainly be ascribed to John Sealy Townsend [333].

Opposition to Roman Catholic emancipation was not confined to the laity. The Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial Courier of 20 March 1827 reports that the Bishop and seventy-seven members of the clergy, including Richard Boyle Townsend [332], Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01] and Robert St Lawrence (husband of Elizabeth Townsend [235]), signed a “Petition of the Protestant Clergy of the United Dioceses of Cork & Ross against Catholic Emancipation” which was submitted to the House of Commons on 2 March 1827. The list of signatories also includes a ‘Thomas Townsend, Prebendary of Island’; this is wrong as page 487 of Volume 2 Brady’s Clerical and Parochial Records shows Horatio Townsend [5D00] as the incumbent!

Not all members of the family shared such views and press cuttings from the Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial Courier and Dublin Evening Packet & Correspondent in 1828 and 1829 respectively show that Horatio Townsend [6B01] and Edward Richard Townsend [6C00] were among the many Protestant Liberals who took a much more conciliatory approach to Roman Catholic emancipation.

The Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 14 May 1829 lists the applications submitted to James Chatterton, ‘Clerk of the Peace for the County of Cork’ on 9 May 1829 for the registration of freeholds in Bandon on 30 June 1829. They were also published in ‘The Cork Constitution’ between 12 May and 8 August 1829 Names & Applications for the Registry of Freeholds. In the section ‘Carbery West’ it records “Thomas Townsend, Smithville. House and demesne of Smithville, comprehending the gneeve (10 acres) of South Raheen and the N.W. gneeve of Killahangel, held under lease of three lives. £10.” - also “townland of Raheen & Killanghel. £20.” Samuel Townsend [412] is also listed registering his property at Rincolisky.

The Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 11 June 1831 lists those appointed to conduct a census of the population in the West Riding of County Cork. 'Thomas Townsend' is shown as one of three people appointed for ‘East D West Carberry’ and his address is shown as ‘Southfield’. Page 4 of the Account of Expenses Incurred making the Census of 1831 in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ shows that 'Thomas Townsend’ was paid £35-2s-6d for his expenses. Is this Thomas, whose address should read 'Smithville', or Thomas Townsend [509]?

Page XII of Volume 1 of ‘A Scriptural Commentary on the Book of Genesis and the Gospel according to St Matthew’ published in 1832 shows “Townsend Thomas Esq. Smithville” as a subscriber. Five other members of the family are shown as subscribers Richard Townsend [221], John Sealy Townsend [507], Rev Philip Townsend [613], Horatio Townsend [6B01], Edward Townsend [6C00].

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. The 1831 record for the Parish of Castlehaven was signed off by ‘Thos Townsend’ and most probably refers to Thomas but could refer to his kinsman Thomas Townsend [509]. He also signed off the record for Castletownshend.

Samuel Lewis. Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837, shows in the subscribers list - “Townsend, Thomas, Esq., Smithville, Skibbereen, co. Cork” whilst Aldwell's General Directory 1844-45 records on page 309 under the heading for Skibbereen - "Townsend Thomas, Smithville"

The Cork County Election of 16 July 1841 returned Daniel O’Connell and Edmund Roche as MPs. This result was challenged by Nicholas Leader and Robert Longfield who claimed there were serious irregularities during the election. The Select Committee set up to investigate this published their report 27 May 1842 and found in favour of O’Connell and Roche. The Poll Books, recording how electors had voted, were included with this report and show that John Townsend [316] (entry 48 on page 182), Richard Boyle Townsend [332] (entry 62 on page 183]), Thomas Townsend [319] (entry 38 on page 182), Edward Henry Townsend [411] (entry 40 on page 182), Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01] (entry 70 on page 183), Philip Townsend [613] (entry 75 on page 200) and Robert St Lawrence (husband of Elizabeth Townshend [235] {entry 110 on page 183}) all voted for Nicholas Leader and Robert Longfield. The report shows that the value of Smithville, where Thomas was living, was £50.

The records of the South Cork Light Infantry Militia show a 'Thomas Townsend’ commissioned as Ensign in 1806 - this could be Thomas who would have been 21 at the time. But it does conflict with his service in the navy. The Militia Act of 1793 sets forth that -"Every person who has been or shall hereafter be appointed an Officer of the Militia of any of the ranks following, shall be in possession of an estate for his own life or the life of another, or for some greater estate in land or heritage's in the United Kingdom of the yearly value hereinafter mentioned in connection with such respective rank, or be heir apparent of some person who shall be in possession of a life estate in property of the like yearly value. For an Ensign the sum was £20 a year, or heir to £200 personal property a year.”

The archives of the Royal Cork Yacht Club show "Thomas Townsend – admitted a member in 1812" and "Thomas Townsend – requested to attend a committee meeting in October 1828."

The entry for Skibbereen in 'Slater's Commercial Directory 1856' shows "Townsend Mrs. Smithville".

With the exception of Richard, who lived in Dublin, and William the remaining four of Thomas' sons emigrated - John to Canada and the remaining three to Australia. Thomas to Canowindra, NSW in 1838, Edward James to Corowa, NSW in about 1845 and James to Victoria in about 1859 and then later to Townsville, NSW.

Thomas lived at Smithville for many years and is buried in the old church near Coronea, Skibbereen. Rev Maurice Townsend was leasing this property to Helena Townsend, Thomas's wife, at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £12 10s.

In 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' he is rather patronizingly described as a "worthy, honest gentleman." His death was recorded in the diary of Agnes Townsend [334] - '22 April 1848 Tom Townsend of Smithville died.'

(1) Helena was born in 1800. She died on 31 August 1863 and this was reported in The Cork Examiner on 3 September 1863. Page 350 of the Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that the will of "Helena Townsend late of Smithville", was proved at the Principal Registry on 14 January 1864, by "the oath of the Reverend Richard Townsend, Clerk, Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin".

(2) The entry for Freke in the University of IGalway Landed Estates Database records "In 1702 and 1703 Percy Freke of Rathbarry [Castle Freke], county Cork, purchased parts of various forfeited estates in the baronies of Muskerry, West Carbery and Ibane and Barryroe. The Freke family came to Ireland in the seventeenth century and acquired parts of the Barry estates in the barony of West Carbery. In the eighteenth century the bulk of this estate became part of the Evans, Lords Carbery estate when John Evans married Grace Freke. Rev. James Freke of Glanmire was the owner of over 1900 acres in county Cork in the 1870s."

(3) The entry for Castle Freke in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "The existing building at Castlefreke was constructed at the end of the eighteenth century, replacing an earlier castle which had belonged to the Barry family, the original owners of the estate. It was modified in the late nineteenth century but subsequently gutted by fire in 1910 and restored by 1913. It was sold by John, 10th Lord Carbery, after WWI. Castlefreke fell into ruin throughout the twentieth century but a portion of it has since been restored At the time of Griffith's Valuation, it was held in fee by Lady Carbery and valued at £90. In 1906 it was held by the trustees of Lord Carbery and valued at £136 ."

(4) First conceived in September 1828 Brunswick Constitutional Clubs were established in Ireland to deny Roman Catholics the right to enter both Houses of Parliament. About 200 clubs were established with a total membership of about 150,000 but they quickly became defunct following the Catholic Relief Act 1829 which repealed the Test Act.

(5) John Sealy Townsend [333] and Samuel Townsend [412] can be positively identified. The other contenders are Samuel Townsend [405] or Samuel Townsend [6A03], Thomas Townsend [319] or Thomas Townsend [509], Thomas Somerville (probably the husband of Henrietta Augusta Townsend [234]) and George Digby Daunt (husband of Helena Herbert Townsend [619]).