John Sealy Townsend (507)

Date of Birth: 1764
Date of Death: 18 Mar 1852
Generation: 5th
Residence: Myross Wood, (1) Co Cork
Father: Doctor Richard Townsend [501]
Mother: Sealy, Eleanor
  1. Hancock, Anne
  1. Richard [513]
  2. Elizabeth Susannah [514]
  3. Anne [515]
  4. Helena [516]
See Also: Table V ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for John Sealy Townsend

According to 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' John showed signs of consumption in his early years and was "cured by Mrs Edward Synge Townsend who dosed him with slugs taken feasting in sugar or jam" - this was Elizabeth Townsend [144] who married Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601].

Married August 1795. Anne Hancock was the daughter of John Hancock, Lieutenant Governor of Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co Cork.

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that John was taught by Mr Sandiford before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 5 July 1779 aged 14 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. Mr Sandiford also tutored John's cousin, Henry Townsend [223], before he entered the University in 1791. The TCD Graduation List records that he was a scholar in 1782, qualified BA in Spring 1784 and LLB in Summer 1787, when Horatio Townsend [607] was an undergraduate.

The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork 1690-1800 by Richard Caulfield records on page 1006 “12 May 1786. That….. John Townsend, Esq., eldest son of Richd. T., Esq., Doctor of Physic… admitted freemen at large”. This is also shown in Freeman of the City of Cork. Between 1710 and 1841, when the power of admitting Freemen only by birth or right ceased, a total of thirty three members of the Townsend family were admitted as Freemen.

The Gentleman’s and Citizen’s Almanac compiled by John Watson Stewart, published in Dublin in 1800, records that John qualified in law in 1787, when he would have been 23. The Almanac records on page 120 under the heading ‘Judges and Barristers’ - “T. 1780 Townsend (James) London, M.1767 Townsend (John) Cork, M. 1787 Townsend (John Sealy) Baggot Street and H. 1797 Townsend (Thomas)”. A facsimile of the Almanac is shown in John’s 'Scrapbook'. Part III (Wilson’s Dublin Directory) of The Triple Almanac for the Year 1801 sold in Dublin by W. Wilson, No.16 Cork Hill records these same details.

John was appointed King's Counsel in 1818 and chief legal adviser to the Chief Secretary's Office (2) in Dublin. The registered papers of the Office of Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1818 to 1833 in the National Archives of Ireland, have been catalogued and published online and John Sealy's legal opinion is recorded in 355 of them. He was a bencher of King's Inn in 1824 and appointed a Master of the Irish Court of Chancery (3) on 2 December 1826. The Treble Almanac of 1832 incorporating Wilson’s Dublin Directory records on page 162 that John was living at 24 Merrion Square, Dublin. His chambers were at Inns Quay, Dublin, and he retired in 1846. His nephew, Dr Richard Uniacke Townsend [517] was living at 4 Merrion Square at the time.

At a meeting in the King’s Arms Tavern in Cork on 15 November 1791 (3a) the “Gentlemen of the city and county of Cork” resolved to “assist the Civil magistrates in the execution of the law” by forming a society, called the ‘Hanover Association’, to apprehend Whiteboys (3b) who were attacking both property and people. Members of the Association paid a subscription for the “purpose of procuring information and carrying on prosecutions, where the means of the aggrieved parties are insufficient”. Members were also required to arm themselves to assist the magistrates. A further meeting of the Association was held at the King’s Arm’s on 7 December 1791 at which it was resolved to pay £50 to anyone who within 12 months provides information that leads to the discovery, apprehension and conviction of Whiteboys. The following members of the family are shown as attending the meeting: John Townsend [214], Richard Boyle Townsend [219], Richard Townsend [221], Samuel Townsend [405], Thomas Townsend [502], John Sealy Townsend [507], Rev Horatio Townsend [5D00], Rev Edward Synge Townsend [601], Richard Townsend [6A00] and Samuel Philip Townsend [6B00]. Additionally, Adam Newman, husband of Mary Townsend [605] and Thomas Warren, husband of Anna Townsend [408] are also shown on the list.

The Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier of 31 March 1825 reports that William Somerville, Richard Townsend [221], his son Richard Townsend [236] 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 acting as Counsel for the claimants.

John was joined by his brother Thomas Townsend [509] in January 1831 as his ‘Examiner’ as recorded on page 12 of The Abstract and Miscellaneous Rolls of Chancery 1830 t0 1837 - “44. Appointment by John Sealy Townsend, Master in Chancery, of Thomas Townsend to be his Clerk and Examiner, during pleasure; with all fees and emoluments. - Dated 29th, and enrolled 31st January 1831. Page 137.” 'The Belfast Street Directory 1843' (Dublin entries) records "Master in Chancery. John S. Townsend, esq., 24 Merrion Square, South. His Examiner, T. Townsend, Sandford."

John was a brilliant advocate with a prodigious memory. His great niece Kathleen Dorothy Townsend [370] records in a note addressed to Richard Baxter Townshend [5D15] that he became renowned for this shortly after he qualified for the bar in 1787 but before he started in practice. In Sketches, legal and political by Richard Lalor Sheil pages 10 & 11 - "Political Sketches, State of Parties In Dublin 1824" - similar reference is made to John's amazing memory at which time he was Law Adviser to The Castle (4) a duty which required him to advise the law officers of the Crown. However, on this occasion it was John's 'loss' of memory that was noteworthy. "It is indeed a matter of surprise that Mr. Sealy Townsend should not have remembered so important a fact. In no less than two instances Mr. Saurin resorted to the exercise of this formidable authority, and employed upon both occasions the professional labours of Mr. Townsend, who is what is generally called 'Devil to the Attorney- General'. So distinguished is Mr. Townsend for the permanence of his recollections, that there are those who insinuate that even its failings lean to memory's side, and that his very oblivion is the result of reminiscence. Whether he remembered to forget I shall not venture to decide, but certain it is, that in this important conjuncture the integrity of his recollection was like the chastity of Haidee (5) and 'he forgot just in the very moment he should not'." Further details of these two recollections are to be found in John's 'Scrapbook'

The Derry Papers (6) show that between 1800 and 1823 John's advice was frequently sought on a wide range of legal issues on matters relating to the lands at Derry by Thomas Hungerford Townsend [502], Horatio Townsend [5D00] and Chambre Corker Townsend [5D01]. Much of the advice was on rather mundane issues such as the collection of tithes, subletting the right to cut turf, non payment of rent and eviction of tenants. Correspondence between Chambre, John Sealy and Dr Callanan of Cork in 1823 about the recovery of debt is of particular interest; is this the same Dr Callanan who rented Skirtagh Cottage (7) in Clonakilty in 1783, or a relative? Following his retirement, John's namesake, John Sealy Townsend [333], acted as legal adviser to the Derry Townsends for many years after.

Like John FitzHenry Townshend [250], John was a keen and competent genealogist and much of our knowledge about Colonel Richard Townsend [100] comes as a result of research undertaken by him; he was also a substantial contributor to 'An Officer of the Long Parliament'.

As noted above, John lived in Merrion Square, Dublin (8) before he bought Myross Wood (1), Leap, Co Cork. John bought the property in 1826, the same year that he was appointed Master in Chancery, though it would appear that he let the house to the Coppinger family - Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837 records: - “Myross, the demesne of F. H. Coppinger, Esq., is very large, extending northward to Leap, and affording the best woodland in the barony”. Page 194 of ‘Sketches in Carbery’ (published in 1876) records “Near Leap is situated the demesne of Myross Wood, which has a very pleasing effect when seen from the opposite side, the green slopes and rising grounds being thickly wooded down to the water’s edge. Myross House is a plain, substantial, and commodious-looking house; it formerly was the residence of the third Earl of Kingston, before he built Mitchelstown Castle, one of the finest private residences in the south of Ireland. Myross House afterwards belonged to a Mr. Coppinger, and finally came into the possession of its present proprietor, J. H. Townsend, Esq.” (John Hancock Townsend [523]).

In a letter (10) to Dr Thomas Townsend [5A10] dated 28 January 1927 Richard Arthur Townshend [259] relates a different story about the acquisition of Myross. He wrote that the Rev Arthur Herbert of Cahernane, father-in-law to John Henry Townsend [238], purchased Myross, in about 1799 from Mr Jervois of Brade. When the Rev Arthur Herbert died of typhus in 1818 in Cork his wife, Mary, sold the property to Lord Kingston in 1820 who subsequently sold it to Mr FH Coppinger sometime between 1824 and 1837. John Sealy Townsend then bought Myross from Mr Coppinger sometime between 1837 and 1846 and lived there until his death. This account does not tally with that given in the preceding paragraph nor that shown in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database at Note 1 below.

The Account of Sums paid out of Revenue of Stamp Duties on Law Proceedings by Board of Stamps in Ireland, 1814-20' in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ shows that John was paid £2,796-6s for the period 5 January 1814 to 5 January 1821.

Page 2 of the Account of the Salaries Paid to Master in Ordinary of the Court of Chancery in the ‘Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland’ shows that John was paid £2,267-18s-2d for the period 2 December 1826, the date he was appointed to the Court, to Michaelmas 1827 for salaries and compensation for losses.

'Parliamentary Papers Volume XXXV - Accounts and Papers' records that John's remuneration for the period December 1826 to January 1832 was £14,037-3s.

'Parliamentary Papers: 1780-1849 Volume 48’ contains Returns from The Several Officers of The Court of Chancery in Ireland June 1834. In this the Masters of Chancery and their Examiners recorded their income and expenditure for the period 1831 - 1833. John’s can be seen at Schedule 1, Entry No 5 on page 7. Unlike all the other returns, where the expenses are tabulated, John’s are not; instead he summarises his account of his expenditure by stating that “my net emoluments therefore, as far as I can ascertain them, have amounted to £2,750 in each of the years referred to.” This is rather less that the earnings of the other Masters.

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 John S Esq K.C.” as a subscriber. Five other members of the family are shown as subscribers Richard Townsend [221], Thomas Townsend [319], Rev Philip Townsend [613], Horatio Townsend [6B01], Edward Townsend [6C00].

The book ‘ Picturesque Views of the Antiquities of Ireland’ by James Harding, from the sketches of Robert Newenham, published by Thomas and William Boone, Strand, London, in 1830 shows the following members of the family amongst the list of subscribers. Thomas Townsend Esq. Mallow, Richard Townsend Esq. MD. Clare Street and John Sealy Townsend Esq. M.Cy. Merrion Square. (John Sealy and Thomas were brothers and Richard was the son of the latter.)

'Pigot's Directory 1824' shows Lord Kingston as the owner of Myross, 'Lewis' Topographical Dictionary 1837' shows "FH Coppinger Esq" as the owner and 'Slater's Directory 1846' shows "Townsend, John Sealy Esq, Miros Wood" as the owner.

The ‘Shaw's Dublin City Directory, 1850’ records “Townsend. John Fitzhenry, 26 Hatch Street [507]; John Sealy Esq, Kilvare, Templeogue; John Sealy, jun, 11 Hardwicke Street [333]”.

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 1829 entry for the Dungannon Ploughland in the Parish of Kilmacabea shows John owning 14 acres with a rateable value of 6 shillings. An 1833 entry for the Parish of Drinagh records tithes due as follows - John Townsend (Myross) £11-11s-1d, Samuel Townsend £5-7s-3d and Rev Wm Townsend £2--14s-11d. Samuel T refers to [409], [412] or [6A03] and Wm T refers to [6B02].

The entry for the parish of Abbeystrewry in 'Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary 1837' records that "The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Ross, and in the patronage of J. S. Townsend, Esq., the impropriator of the rectory: the tithes amount to £647, of which £200 is payable to the impropriator, £20 to the vicar (under an appropriation grant of the late Earl of Shannon), and the remainder to the lessees of Col. Townsend." Lewis also records that "The parochial male and female schools, at Saroo (Castleventry), are supported by the Cork Diocesan Association, the vicar, and J. S. Townsend, Esq., who has endowed the schools with an acre of land."

John drew up the Marriage Settlement (11), dated 5 July 1790, between his distant cousin Richard Townsend [221] and Barbara Mellifont.

In the entry for the parish of Kilmacabea (close to Myross) 'Griffith's Vauluation of Ireland 1848-64' records "Townsend John Sealy. Carrigfada."

There are three entries in the Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland where John is mentioned. Memorial 328817 dated 10 May 1796, a Marriage Settlement between John Sealy of Richmount, Co Cork (Party 1) and Esther Stawell (Party D), shows 'Jno Sealy Townsend of Dublin City' as Party 2. Memorial 379046 dated 6 June 1804, an Indented Deed in respect of the settlement of the will of John Maxwell of Kilfinane, Co Limerick, shows 'John Townsend of Cork' as an attorney. This might refer to another John Townsend. In Memorial 577904 dated 20 May 1830, a lease and conveyance, 'John Sealy Townsend of Dublin City Master HM Court of Chancery' is shown as Party 1.

(1) The entry for Myross Wood in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "John Townsend held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £45. Eugene Daly writes that the house was built by the Reverend Arthur Herbert, Vicar of Myross, who married Helena Townsend of Castletownsend. In the late 18th century the house was bought by the Earl of Kingston who enlarged it and lived in it while Mitchelstown Castle was being built. It reverted back to Townshend ownership in 1826 when purchased by John Sealy Townsend and remained in Townsend ownership until 1943. In 1944 the house was bought by the Cleary family. Sold to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 1946, who now use the building as a Retreat Centre." This account does not fully accord with that given by Richard Arthur Townshend [259] - see above. There is a short history of Myross Wood on the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart website. The Irish name for Myross is Blath na Greine which literally means Flower of the Sun.

(2) The following were also barristers practicing in Dublin in this period: John Sealy Townsend [333], John FitzHenry Townshend [250], Richard Townsend [513] and Horatio Townsend [623]. Horace Payne Townshend [5D12] qualified as a barrister but does not appeared to have practiced.

(3) The Treble Almanac of 1832 incorporating Wilson’s Dublin Directory records on page 50 under the heading ‘Benchers of the Hon. Society of thed King’s Inns Dublin’ – “M. 1826. John S. Townsend Esq." The Irish Court of Chancery dated from the reign of Edward I and only dealt with cases for which there was no remedy in Common Law. In particular it focused on matters of property for which there was no clear title, the affairs of lunatics and minors, and the guardianship of orphans. Most of the routine work in this Court was carried out by barristers specialising in equity cases, who were called Masters in Chancery. In the early years of the 19th century these masterships, like commissions in the army, were purchased from retiring Masters.

(3a) Reported in the Dublin Evening Post 31 January 1792.

(3b) Whiteboys were a secret 18th century Irish agrarian organization which used violent tactics against landlords and tithe collectors to defend tenant farmer land rights. They wore white smocks on their nightly raids and sought to address rack-rents, tithe collection, excessive priests' dues, evictions and other oppressive acts.

(4) The Castle, Dublin - the home of the Irish Parliament

(5) Haidee is a beautiful Greek girl in ‘Don Juan’, who, falling in love with the hero and losing him, came to a tragic end.

(6) Derry Papers DD/6, DD/46, 505/3 and 5D00/8 to 5D00/12.

(7) See the entry for John Townsend [300]. Dr Callanan was arrested in 1803 for his association with the United Irishmen movement after Robert Emmet's ill-fated rising in Thomas Street, Dublin, on 23 July 1803.

(8) 'Pettigrew & Oultons Directory 1842' records "Townsend John Sealy QC. 24 Merrion Square. M 1787."

(9) Spare

(10) RBT Papers 259/1.

(11) Lovera Papers 221/1

'An Officer of the Long Parliament' shows his shows his death as 1853, Ch XI p. 264-65 refers.923.