William Tower Townshend (535)

Date of Birth: 26 Aug 1855
Date of Death: 6 Feb 1943
Generation: 8th
Residence: Myross Wood (1) & Bodiam
Father: John Hancock Townshend [523]
Mother: Tower, Katherine
  1. Curzon, Hon Geraline Emily
  1. Alfred Curzon [559]
  2. Blanche Hermione [560]
  3. Marjorie [561]
  4. Eveline Mary Curzon [562]
See Also: Table V ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for William Tower Townshend JP

Married 28 February 1901 at All Saints', Keddleston, Derbyshire (2). Hon Geraline Emily Curzon (3), was the fifth daughter of the Rev. Alfred Nathaniel Holden, 4th Baron Scarsdale JP and sister of 1st Marquess Curzon KG, PC, GCSI, GCIE. Viceroy of India 1899-1901. See Burke's Peerage - Curzon.

Educated at Haileybury and Brackenbury's Army School, Wimbledon, William was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant into The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment on 8 September 1877 (London Gazette 24501). Promoted Lieutenant on 23 October 1878 and Captain on 24 April 1881 (London Gazette 24971), he retired on 18 March 1882 (|London Gazette 25085).

William was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1883, a year after he left the army, and this is recorded on page 108 of Francis Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1884 which also records that he was living at Myross Wood – as was his father - at this time. Pages 110 and 113 of the next edition of the Directory (1891) show that William, still a JP, and his brother were both ex officio Poor Law Guardians for Clonakilty and Skibbereen and both were living at Myross Wood.

According to the book ‘Mrs GBS’ (4) when Horace Payne-Townshend [5D12] had to leave Derry in 1877, in order to be with his wife in London, the care of Derry was placed in the hands of 'William Townsend' – “one of Horace’s kinsmen, who was land agent for a number of estates in the County of Cork”. Clearly some confusion here; William Uniacke Townsend [5B01] (aged 51) and William Charles Townsend [5B05] (aged 23) were both land agents at the time, whilst William Tower Townshend had just been commissioned!

There is no doubt that after his military career William did become a land agent. A Hansard Report, House of Commons, dated 18 July 1890 records that “Mr. Townshend is reported to represent large properties in the two Baronies referred to as agent for his brother (5) and other owners”. Why William’s brother, Richard, should hand management of Myross to him is not clear, however, when Richard died nine years later the estate passed to William in his own right. 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.

Two documents in the Derry Papers show that William was actively managing the Derry estate between 1890 (6) and 1898 (7) on behalf of Nathaniel Wilmot Townshend [5D13], who had inherited most of the Derry Lands following the death of his brother Horace Payne-Townshend in 1885 in accordance with the wishes of their father. When Nathaniel died in 1896 these lands passed to his son George Chambre Wilmot Townshend [5D33]. The house itself and some lands were left to Horace's daughter Charlotte Payne-Townshend [5D27]. Later in the book 'GBS' there is further reference about William being a land agent; in a letter from him dated 1 December 1890 and addressed to The Chief Secretary of Ireland he wrote – “As a land agent in West Cork representing nine different landlords I am strongly in favour of the proposed line from Clonakilty to Glandore.” (8)

The Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland include a Return pursuant to Section 3 of the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Act 1907 dated 31 March 1908. It records all cases in which an evicted tenant has been, with the assistance of the Estates Commissioners, reinstated as a purchaser of his or his predecessor's former holding Pages 8/9 of the Return record that Ellen White was evicted from 90 acres of land at Brade by ‘Townsend Capt WT’ in September 1892 and re-instated with 102 acres of land.

‘Slater’s Royal National Directory of Ireland, 1894’ shows William living at both Myross and Derry. Under the heading ‘County Magistrates for the Province of Munster. Co Cork.’ - “Townshend William Tower, Myross Wood, Leap R.S.O” and under the heading ‘Munster Parishes - Myross. Private Residents’ - “Townshend William T. JP. Listarkin (?)” and ‘Munster Parishes - Rosscarbery. Private Residents’ - “Townsend WT. Derry.” Equally confusing are the entries in Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1907. Page 158 shows William as a Justice of the Peace - “Townshend Wm Tower, Myross Wood, Leap 1883”; page 311 shows him as a Vice President of the Clonakilty Agricultural Society and page 435 shows him as a ‘Land and Estate Agent’ in Rosscarbery and living in ‘Derry House’.

Guy's City and County Cork Almanac and Directory for 1913 reflects the entries for the 1907 Directory with the addition of the appointment of William as High Sheriff for the County of Cork and as a member of the Committee of the Irish Landowners' Convention - Co Cork Branch. Page 387 of the 1913 Directory shows William’s younger brother Arthur Edward Townsend [537] living at Myross.

The April 1901 Irish Census records that William was a land agent and farmer living at ‘House No 6’ in Derry with his wife and four domestic staff. The house consisted of twelve rooms, two stables, two coach houses and a further twelve outbuildings. It is the largest house listed but does not accord with the April 1911 Irish Census which shows that the largest house was ‘House No 1’ which consisted of 22 rooms, 11 stables, a coach house, a harness room and a further 22 outbuildings. The 1911 Census also shows William, then aged 55, living at ‘House No 1’ with his wife, three daughters, two children’s nurses, a ladies maid, cook and three domestic servants. The 1901 Census shows William as the owner of eleven houses and that of 1911 as owner of nine houses – these presumably belonged to the Derry estate. William personally owned thirteen houses in Brade (Myross) in 1901 and nine in 1911. Whilst the 1901 Census records William’s mother living at Myross, there is no reference to the property in the 1911 Census; it must be assumed that the house was vacant at the time.

William and Geraline returned to Myross Wood when Charlotte Payne-Townshend sold Derry in 1915 and lived there intermittently until 24 March 1922 when Lord Curzon leased The Manor House at Bodiam Castle (9) to them; at the time they were living at Vale Lodge, Tunbridge Wells. Geraline suffered from chronic asthma and this had forced them to avoid the very damp winters of southern Ireland, as they troubled her greatly. However, the family continued to live at Myross for the whole of every summer until it was sold (10).

Questions about compulsory purchase of the Myross estate were asked in the Dail on 8 May 1940. The Minister for Lands was asked if “Mr. W. Tower Townshend” 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 “has not yet come to a decision on the question of their acquisition.” Being an entailed estate and with no male heir Myross was sold to Mr Cleary when William died in February 1943 – William’s daughter, Marjorie Townshend [561], remained living there until 1947 when the property was sold to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart for $4,200. It is now a Retreat Centre and Community Residence.

The Irish Draught Horse Society records, under the heading ‘Changes in the distribution of registered Irish Draught Mares between 1917-19 and 1978’, “the concentration of mares in south central Cork is probably due to three main factors….. They included such fine horses as Town Moor, formerly owned by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, and close third to Iroquois and Peregine in the 1881 Derby. Town Moor stood at Rosscarbery and belonged to Captain W.T. Townshend.”

The Lloyd's Register 1900 in the Royal Cork Yacht Club shows "Townshend Capt W. Tower. Myross Wood, Leap, Cork. 'Linda' (12 tons)". The cutter-rigged 'Linda' was 42 feet long, with a beam of 11 feet 8 inches and was registered in Colchester. She was owned by Richard Hungerford Townsend [5A02] in 1898.

William wrote to The Spectator on 6 September 1930 about the occurrence of swallows - "In your issue of 16th ult. a correspondent complains of the dearth of swallows. I have noticed the same at my place in Sussex, where only one pair of swallows have nested in an outhouse. But here in Ireland we have a larger number of swallows than I have ever seen before, every stable and cowhouse containing three or four nests and literally scores of young and old birds hawking all day round the house. Possibly the swallows have found out what is dawning on many of us, that Ireland is now a far pleasanter country to live in than England, with its present enormous taxation and encouragement, in doles, to idleness. W. Tower Townshend, Myross Wood, Leap. Co Cork."

(1) Ordnance survey of Ireland. Discovery Series. 1:50,000. Map sheet 89, grid reference W203359.

(2) Entry in the diary of Agnes Townsend [334] - 'Feb 26 1901 Mr Tower T married Honble Gertrude Curzon'.

(3) Geraline was born in 1871 and died on 17 May 1940.

(4) ‘Mrs GBS’ by Janet Dunbar. Published in London 1963 by George Harrap. This is the biography of Charlotte Payne-Townshend [5D27], who married George Bernard Shaw.

(5) Captain Richard Harvey Townshend [534] who resigned his commission on 26 October 1889; most probably on account of his father who happened to die that same day.

(6) Derry Papers 535/1. Letter dated 1 July 1890 to William Townshend from Orpen & Sweeney, Solicitors, 33 Angelsea Street, Dublin, concerning the Estate of Maria Townshend (wife of Nathaniel Wilmot Townsend [5D13]).

(7) Derry Papers 535/2. 535/2. March 1898. Particulars of Tenant's Holdings. William Tower Townshend to George Chambre Wilmot Townshend [5D33]. Estimate for Succession Duty.

(8) The Clonakilty Extension

(9) Geraline and her daughter (see below) lived in the Manor during WWII and left after William’s death in 1943. Thereafter Grace Curzon (George Curzon’s second wife) lived there until her death, whereupon it became an independent preparatory school.

(10) William's granddaughter, Valerie (Mollie) Townshend Garratt (see entry for Blanche Townsend [560]), remembers staying at Myross with much happiness. She recounts the following anecdote. "In about 1917, during the troubles in Ireland, my mother, her sisters and a governess were alone in the house. Sinn Fein were intent on destroying landlords’ houses round about, but spared Myross Wood because of their respect for my grandfather as a good landlord, and confined themselves to burning the stables (having first carefully removed the horses) and the car." Echoes of Thomas Townsend's [5A10] experience after he operated on 'The One Eyed Gunner'!

See Who Was Who 1941-50.