John Hancock Townshend (523)

Date of Birth: 30 Oct 1829
Date of Death: 26 Oct 1889
Generation: 7th
Residence: Myross Wood, Leap, Co Cork & Roehampton, London
Father: Richard Townsend [513]
Mother: Trench, Helena
  1. Tower, Katherine
  1. Captain Richard Harvey [534]
  2. William Tower [535]
  3. Major Ernest [536]
  4. Arthur Edward [537]
  5. Christopher [538]
  6. Caroline Edith [539]
  7. Mildred Louisa [540]
  8. Honoraria Maria [541]
  9. Mary [542]
  10. Florence [543]
  11. Ellen Beatrice [544]
  12. Alice Katherine [545]
See Also: Table V ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for John Hancock Townshend JP

Married 19 March 1853. Katherine Emma Tower (1 & 1a) was the second daughter of Rev William Tower, of South Weald, near Brentwood, and his wife Maria, who was a daughter of Admiral Sir Elias Harvey (2) of Rolls Park, Chigwell. After the death of her father in 1830, Maria inherited the Harvey estate at Braughing in Hertfordshire, where they went to live and William was appointed Vicar. See Burke's Landed Gentry - Tower formerly of Weald Hall.

John's father, Richard Townsend [513], died in 1839 aged just 39. Thus when John's grandfather, John Sealy Townsend [507], died in 1852 the Myross estate passed to him. Nothing is known about John other than what can be extracted from various sources.

Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory for the Year 1862 shows “Townsend, John Hancock, Myross Wood, Leap” as a Magistrate. Robert H Laing’s Cork Mercantile Directory 1863 records on page189 the following as Magistrates: ‘Townsend Henry J, Castletownshend’, ‘Townsend, Horace, Derry, Rosscarbery; Union Club, London SW’, ‘Townsend, Horatio DL, Woodside, Cork’, ‘Townsend, J Handcock, Myross Wood, Leap’, ‘Townsend, John Henry, Dunbeacon, Ballydehob’, ‘Townsend, Richard, Clontaff, Union Hall, Leap’, ‘Townsend, Saml, Blackrock, Cork’, ‘Townsend, Samuel Richd, Whitehall, Skibbereen’.

The records of the Royal Cork Yacht Club show that "J.H. Townsend raced for the Malcolmson Cup on the first Thursday in September 1863 on ‘L’éclair’ (32 tons) during which she lost her topmast but nonetheless finished second”. ‘L’éclair’ was 52 feet 8 inches long and had a beam of 12 feet 10 inches - a large yacht by any standard.

In a letter (3) dated 11 June 1874 to Commander John Townsend [622], Edward Hume Townsend [626] remarked that John had left Myross, seemingly on account of poor health, and he was doubtful if he would return there. This is reflected in the unpublished autobiography of Edward Mansel Townshend [630] who wrote that John and his family lived for a time at Roehampton, Putney, London and he knew them well there for a number of years. (4) Deeds held in the Irish National Archives - Small Accessions (5) record that between 1877 and 1881 John was living at Bromley Lodge, Roehampton.

Francis Guy’s County & City of Cork Directory 1875-76 records on page 456 that John was a Justice of the Peace and living at Leap whilst page 459 of the Directory records that he was living at Myross and was an Ex Officio Member of the Board of Guardians for Clonakilty along with his kinsmen Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] and Edward Hume Townshend.

Francis Guy’s Directory for 1884, once again records John as a Justice of the Peace on page 108 "Townsend John Hancock, Myross Wood, Leap", whilst on page 73 he is shown as an Ex Officio Poor Law Guardian at Dunmanway.

Myross remained in the family for the next 90 years or thereabouts. Questions about compulsory purchase of the estate were asked in the Dail on 8 May 1940. The Minister for Lands was asked if "Mr. W. Tower Townshend" (6) was going to "offer the lands for sale at an early date" or whether the "Land Commission will proceed with negotiations for the acquisition of the lands". The reply was that the Land Commission "have not yet come to a decision on the question of their acquisition." William sold the estate to Mr Cleary in 1940 or 1941; in 1947 it was acquired by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and is now a Retreat Centre and Community Residence. 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.

The records of the Royal Cork Yacht Club show "J.H. Townsend raced for the Malcolmson Cup on the first Thursday in September 1863 on “L’Eclair” (32 tons) during which she lost her topmast but nonetheless finished second. “L’Eclair” was 52 feet 8 inches long and had a beam of 12 feet 10 inches - a large yacht by any standard.

'Griffiths Valuation of Ireland 1848-64' shows John owning land in the parishes of Kilmacabea, Myross and Castlehaven. The 'Register of Landowners in County Cork 1876' shows that John's estate of 6083 acres was valued at £2,139 - 0s. (2005 equivalent - £154,649). This figure is reflected in 'Landowners of Ireland 1878' compiled by U.H. Hussey de Burgh.

Unable to meet his financial obligations, like several others in the family who owned property in Ireland, John sold off part of his estate in the Land Court established under the Encumbered Estates Acts of 1848 and 1849.(7) The Landlord Index of County Cork Encumbered Estates "records TOWNSEND, John Handcock, 12, 258800."

‘Slater’s Royal National Directory of Ireland, 1894’ records under the heading ‘Munster Parishes – Rosscarbery’ - “Midway to Skibbereen is the elegant mansion of John Henry Townsend esq” and under the heading ‘Rosscarbery. Private Residents’ - “Townsend John Henry, Miros wood.” This is clearly wrong as Myross was owned by John Hancock Townsend and not John Henry Townsend [238]. Furthermore John Hancock died five years before the Directory was published when Myross then belonged to his son Richard Harvey Townsend [534].

The April 1901 Census records that Katherine Emma, aged 71, was living at house 5 Brade, Castlehaven North, Cork (Myross Wood) with her son Arthur Edward, daughter Ellen Beatrice and five domestic staff. The house consisted of 26 rooms with three stables, a coach house and a further eleven outbuildings. The census also shows in the 'House and Building Return' that Katherine's son, William Tower owned 13 houses in Brade.

Judge John FitzHenry Townsend [250] shows Rev William Tower as from How Hatch, Essex, as does Edward Mansel Townsend in his unpublished autobiography (8).

John's death is recorded in the diary of Agnes Townsend [334] - '1889 October 26 Mr J Handcock T died'. In an un-dated letter to Dorothea, wife of Richard Baxter Townshend [5D15], Bess Fleming of Newcourt wrote "JHT of Myross died on 26th of October 89; I have good reason to remember the day as he spent it here."(6) John is buried in Brade Church, Myross Wood and the inscription on his headstone reads “IN LOVING MEMORY OF JOHN HANDCOCK TOWNSHEND OF MYROSS WOOD WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 26TH OCT. 1889 AGED 60 YEARS.” Katherine is also buried in Brade Church and the inscription on her headstone reads “TO THE LOVED MEMORY OF KATHERINE EMMA WIFE OF JOHN HANDCOCK TOWNSHEND WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 26TH MARCH 1907 IN HER 78TH YEAR.”

Page 762 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Letters of Administration of the personal estate of "John Handcock Townshend late of Myross Wood Leap County Cork Esquire", who died on 26 October 1889 at St Anns Heath Staines England, were granted at the Principal Registry on 19 April 1890 to "Richard H Townshend of Myross Wood Esquire” the son. Effects £2,430 15s.

(1) Katherine was born in 1830 and died on 26 March 1907. Page 516 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Probate of the will of "Katherine Emma Townshend late of Myross Wood Leap County Cork Widow”, who died on 26 March 1907, was granted at Dublin on 21 June 1907 to "Arthur E Townshend Esquire". Effects £1,345 14s 2d. Arthur E Townsend [537] - Katherine's fourth son.

(1a) It would appear that Katherine moved to Brade House (Braad) when her eldest son Richard Harvey Townshend [534] inherited the Myross estate. The University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "John Swanton was leasing this property from Rev. Maurice Townsend at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £15 10s. Lewis had noted it as the seat of Rev. E.P. Thompson in 1837. It was the residence of Samuel Jervois in 1814. Taylor and Skinner's 1783 map also indicate it as a Jervois residence. In 1906 it was owned by Katherine Townsend and valued at £44 5s. There is still an extant house at the site."

(2) He fought at the Battle of Trafalgar on the Temeraire.

(3) 'A Protestant Auto-Biography by the Rev E Mansel Townshend [630]'.

(4) Llanvapley Papers. He met them again when he visited Myross with his wife in 1890.

(5) "Townsend Family, Co Cork. 1678-1888". Date of accession 18 February 1942. A deed of 1854 shows that John was living at Kilvare, Dublin (the home of his father), Between 1877 and 1881 the deeds relate to mortgages and disentailing the estate.

(6) John's son, William Tower Townsend [535].

(7) The Encumbered Estates Acts enabled the sale of Irish estates which had been mortgaged and whose owners found themselves in difficult financial circumstances. Unable to meet the demands of their creditors owners sold their estates, or portions of them, to settle their obligations. During and after the potato famine many tenants could not pay their rents, and this left landlords with little choice. However, the sale of land was difficult until the introduction of the Encumbered Estates legislation. Between 1849 and 1857 the Landed Estates Court oversaw the sale of more than 3000 Irish estates. Others in the family who were forced to sell include Jonas Morris Townsend [237], John Henry Townsend [238], Samuel Townsend [412], John Townsend [622], Samuel Philip Townsend [6A03], Rev Thomas Townsend [6B03], Edward Richard Townsend [6C00].

(8) RBT Papers 523/1.