Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend (531)

Date of Birth: 18 May 1836
Date of Death: 16 April 1911
Generation: 7th
Residence: Queenstown, Co Cork
Father: Doctor Richard Uniacke Townsend [517]
Mother: Newman, Mary
  1. Townsend, Gertrude [5A04]
  1. Richard FitzGerald [551]
  2. Gerald FitzGerald [552]
  3. Thomas William FitzGerald [553]
  4. Ada Elizabeth [554]
  5. Gertrude Mary FitzGerald [555]
  6. Elizabeth Helen Moore FitzGerald (Zeenie) [556]
  7. Nora FitzGerald [557]
  8. Elinor Helen Moore FitzGerald [558]
See Also: Table V ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend JP

Robert's biography can be seen on page 294 of 'Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century - Contemporary Biographies' by the Rev Richard J Hodges and published by W T Pike & Co in 1911. It has also been reproduced in his 'Scrapbook'.

Robert was born in Dublin and was baptized at St Peter's Church, Dublin on 2 July 1838.

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that Edward was was educated at Crewkerne Grammar School before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 6 November 1856 aged 19 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. His kinsman, Cdr John Townsend [622], was living at 11 Burlington Street, Bath, when he was at school in Crewkerne, whilst Horace Webb Townshend [634], who was the same age, went to Bath Grammar School.

Married 1866. Gertrude Townsend [5A04] (1) was Robert's cousin and the eldest daughter of Rev Thomas Uniacke Townsend [5A00]. The marriage most probably was conducted by Thomas in his parish church at Fertagh, Co Kilkenny.

Robert’s great grandsons (2), Robert and Tony Knox, recall much of what their grandmother, Zeenie, told their mother about Robert and it is from these recollections and documentary evidence that these notes have been complied.

Page 228 of the Cork and Queenstown Directory 1871 records that Robert, his distant cousin Horatio Hamilton Townsend [6B05] and Samuel Murray Hussey were partners in an estate and land agency at 69, South Mall, Cork, “Hussey Saml M land and ins agent, Townsend H & R land and ins agent.” Page 4 of ‘Estate ownership and management in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Ireland’ by Terence A.M. Dooley records that “Agents continued to manage estates after the Famine though in the 1870s a high proportion of agents were still drawn from landed families, there was a tendency to appoint lawyers and solicitors to vacant positions. Land agency firms grew in popularity whereby several estates were administered from one central office in cities such as Dublin and Cork”. Later in the pamphlet there is a note that by 1880, the firm of Hussey and Townsend collected £250,000 in annual rents from eighty-eight estates with some 3,000 tenant farmers in the south of Ireland.”

Tony Knox recalls being told by his mother that “Robert was a partner with his cousin (Charles) in the firm of Uniacke Townsend and Hussey and that George Bernard Shaw worked there for some short period in Dublin – Robert having the Cork office and his cousin having the Dublin one”. This refers to Charles Loftus Uniacke Townshend [5C01] and it would appear that they were partners or at least worked in close co-operation. Robert and Charles' father, Charles Uniacke Townshend [5C00], are shown as members of the ‘Land Committee’ in the Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, published in 1881 and both gave evidence to the Commission as did Samuel Hussey and Charles Uniacke's brother, William Uniacke Townshend [5B01], who was agent to the Mount Coote estate. (3)

The County Directory section of Francis Guy’s County & City of Cork Directory 1875-76 lists Robert as an Estate Agent on page 298 living at Ballynoe, Near Mallow. However, other sources show Robert living in Queenstown, so there might be some confusion; amongst them The Preston Collection in Cork City and County Archives has an entry in section 'B: Property in County Cork, 1735 – 1944. B.14 Rushbrooke, near Queenstown/ Cobh, 1878' - "5 July 1878 Lease of dwelling-house ‘Fernbank’ on Rushbrooke Estate, near Queenstown, (Cobh), parish of Clonmel and Templerobin, barony of Barrymore, Co. Cork, made between James Brown Rigg Beatty, The Beach, Queenstown (Cobh), Co. Cork, (lessor), and Robert Uniake Fitzgerald Townsend, Fernbank, Queenstown, (Cobh), Co.Cork, (lessee), for 21 years at £100 p.a. Witnessed by Allen, Queenstown, Co. Cork, (Solicitor)."

Francis Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1884 records on page 96 that Robert was living in Queenstown and was a Director of the Cork Theatre and Opera House Company Limited on Lavitt's Quay.

Guy’s City and County Cork Almanac and Directory 1891 contains several entries relating to Robert and shows him involved in various diverse enterprises. Page 78 records he was an Elected Member of the Committee of Management for Schools of Science, Art and Music in Cork. On page 92 he is listed as a Director of the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway and is shown as living at ‘Stoneview, Blarney’. The same page also shows him as Chairman of the Killard River Drainage Board and a Director of the Tramore River Drainage Board. Page 110 of the Almanac lists him as a Poor Law Guardian for Cork.

‘Slater’s Royal National Directory of Ireland, 1894’ records under the heading ‘County Magistrates for the Province of Munster. Co Cork’ - “Townsend Rbt. Uniacke Fitz-Gerald, Stoneview, Blarney R.S.O” and under the heading ‘Munster Parishes - Blarney , Private Residents’ - “Townsend Robert U. F. JP Stoneview.”

The last almanac in which Robert features is Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1907. In it he is listed as President of the Cork Poultry, Pigeon and Caged Bird Society on page 106 and a member of the executive committee of the Cork Ratepayers Protective Association on page 110. Page 158 shows that Robert was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1885.

Fellow of the Surveyors' Institute and a Governor of University College Cork in 1908, Robert was also a member of the short-lived Primrose Club in St James, London; founded in 1886, it was aligned to the Conservative Party.

The April 1901 Irish Census shows Robert, aged 62, as a Land Agent and Justice of the Peace living at house 3 Curraghnalaght, Blarney, Cork with four domestic staff; this must be 'Stoneview'. The house consisted of 10 rooms, a stable, coach house and 12 further outbuildings. The 1911 Irish Census records Robert living in a substantial 12 roomed house, called Ringville, in Queenstown with a housekeeper and one domestic servant.

Robert must have been a wealthy man for he educated his daughter Zeenie at a school in Kreuznach near Bingen in Germany, following which she went to finishing school in Brussels. When Zeenie, by then married to Thomas Kingscote, emigrated to Canada in 1907 Robert gave her a substantial legacy, thought to be somewhere between £10,000 - £20,000. Zeenie’s grandsons, remember being told by their mother that Robert went to Baden Baden regularly in order to take the waters there and he wrote light music under a non de plume that she recalled was something like 'de Bouville'. A 'Gerald de Boutville' composed various items of light music in the 1870/80s and it is now generally accepted that this is Robert - a play on the name in French of FitzGerald Townsend - 'Gerald de Bout-ville'? Four compositions survive - Home Flowers (1870 polka mazurka), The Bridal Bells (1875 mazurka), The Fox Club (1876 galop) and The Aurora Floyd (1888 galop) - three of which can be found in the National Library of Australia.

Fulton’s Directory 1871 City of Cork Street Directory page 183 shows ‘Townsend Robert F. Endsly House’ and ‘Townsend Miss Endsly Cottage’ living in Southern Road. Whether or not this is Robert and his sister, Katherine Townsend [532], cannot be verified.

Robert was executor of the will of his distant cousin Samuel Philip Townsend [6A03]. Page 352 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that the will of "Samuel Philip Townsend late of Garrycloyne", who died on 7 September 1864, was proved at the Principal Registry on 10 November 1864, by "the oath of Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend of Marlborough Street, City of Cork". Effects under £10,000.

He was executor of the will of his brother, Dr Richard Newman Townsend [530] and guardian of Richard's under-age children. Page 726 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 "Richard Newman Townsend late of Queenstown", who died on 2 March 1877, were granted at Cork on 28 April 1877 to "Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend of Queenstown Curator of the minor Children of said deceased". Effects under £3,000.

With his uncle Charles Uniacke Townshend [5C00] Robert was also executor of the will of his uncle Thomas Uniacke Townsend [5A00]. Page 702 of the Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that the will of "the Reverend Thomas Uniacke Townsend late of Queenstown County Cork Clerk", who died on 12 July 1889, was proved at Cork on 17 October 1889 by "Charles Uniacke Townshend of Hatley Burlington Road Dublin Esquire and Robert Uniacke Fitzgerald Townsend of Stone View Blarney County Cork the Executors". Effects £1,175 14s 6d.

Page 609 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Probate of the will of "Robert Uniacke Fitzgerald Townsend late of Ringville Queenstown County Cork Land Agent ”, who died on 16 April 1911 at Ivern Youghal, was granted at Cork on 13 November 1911 to "Thomas Fitzgerald William Townsend Gentleman and William Cox Langford Land Agent." Effects £3,442 18s 1d. Thomas William Townsend [553] was Robert’s youngest son.

This Youtube footage of a street scene would have been very familiar to Robert Cork 1902

(1) Gertrude died on 29 April 1885 in St Leonards on Sea in Sussex and is buried in Hastings.

(2) See the entry for Elizabeth Helen Moore FitzGerald (Zeenie) Townsend (556).

(3) During the latter half of the 19th century twelve members of the Townsend family were land/estate agents – Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend [531], William Tower Townshend [535], Thomas Courtenay Townshend [5B02], William Charles Townshend [5B05], James Richard Townshend [5B06], William Uniacke Townsend [5B01], Charles Eyre Coote Townshend [5B14], Charles Uniacke Townshend [5C00], Charles Loftus Uniacke Townshend [5C01], Thomas Loftus Uniacke Townshend [5C02], Horatio Hamilton Townsend [6B05], George Hugh Chetwood Townsend [6B36].