William Uniacke Townsend (5B01)

Date of Birth: 1824
Date of Death: 7 Apr 1888
Generation: 6th
Residence: Spa Hill, Kilfinane, Co Limerick & Dublin
Father: Thomas Townsend [509]
Mother: Uniacke, Martha
  1. Coote, Mary Anne Harriet
  1. Charles Eyre Coote [5B14]
  2. Thomas Crofton Croker (CC) [5B15]
  3. Eleanor [5B16]
  4. Alicia Uniacke [5B17]
  5. Mary Anne Elizabeth [5B18]
  6. Martha Attilia [5B19]
  7. Caroline Eleanor [5B20]
  8. Maria Elizabeth Coote [5B36]
See Also: Table VB ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for William Uniacke Townsend JP

William was christened at Mallow, Co Cork on 13 April 1824.

Married 5 February 1856. Mary Anne Harriet Coote (b. 1834) was the elder daughter of Charles Eyre Coote (1) of Mount Coote, (1a) Kilmallock, Co Limerick. See Burke's Peerage - Coote.

William was a Land Agent for his father in law but is not known whether he took up his position as agent to Charles Eyre Coote after his marriage in 1856 or whether he met Mary Anne through his appointment as agent; according to the reference at Note 1 below he was "agent to this estate in the 1860s". Nor is it known when (or if) he purchased Spa Hill. Lewis’ Topographical Directory 1837 shows ‘W. Oliver Esq’ living at Spa Hill, Kilfinane. The entry for Spa Hill in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records " A home of the Oliver family, occupied by Charles Deane Oliver in 1814 and by William Oliver in 1837 and at the time of Griffith's Valuation. The buildings were valued at £23+ and William held them from the Trench/Gascoigne estate, with a corn mill.” However, the 'Register of Landowners in County Cork 1876' records for the parish of Kilfinane - "Townsend, William U Spa Hill. 139 acres. £30 5s." (2005 equivalent - £2,169) whilst Francis Guy’s County & City of Cork Directory 1875-76 shows on page 462 William as resident at Kilfinane, Killmallock.

In October 1880 William, who was still agent to the Coote estate and living at Spa Hill, gave evidence in Limerick to the Commission of Inquiry into ‘The Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870’. The Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners, published in 1881, shows that he was responsible for some twenty other estates producing over £40,000 per annum. His brother, Charles Uniacke Townshend [5C00] , and nephew, Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend [531], both of whom were also Land Agents, gave evidence to the Commission during 1880. (2)

Chapter XVII of the book ‘‘Disturbed Ireland - Letters Written During the Winter of 1880-81’ by Bernard H. Becker (5), tells of much troubled circumstances as a result of the Land Acts. Essentially tenant farmers were no longer prepared to pay the rents demanded of them and they took to ‘boycotting’ (6) the agents of the absentee landlords; “Not a blacksmith could be found to shoe his horse and not a living creature to cook his food…… the good folk of Kilfinane eye us terribly askance, or, to be more literally exact, do not eye us at all….. they either look at us as if we were transparent as panes of glass, or suddenly become interested in their boots or finger nails, both which would be better for more regular attention”.

Later in the chapter - “Mr. Uniacke Townsend of Spa Hill, Kilfinane is one of a large family mostly engaged in land agency, and has incurred the ire of the people of Kilfinane, Kilmallock, Charleville, and the surrounding country, in consequence of a difficulty with one Murphy, a fairly large farmer according to the Irish measure of farming capacity……… Father Sheehy made an almost frantic speech against Mr. Townsend, the agent, and Mr. Coote, the owner of the property, declaring that "the very name of Coote smelt of blood.”….. The upshot of the matter is that Mr. Townsend has been so threatened that he has yielded to the entreaties of his family and left Kilfinane for a week or two, at any rate. He is, however, like most of his profession, a very determined man, and declared that he would come home and eat his Christmas dinner in his own house."

Questions about the arrest of the Rev Father Sheehy, and others in Kilmallock under the terms of the Peace Preservation Act were raised in the House of Commons on 20 May 1881 and reported in Hansard. Comments about William are unfavourable - the "landlord had an agent named Townsend, and for the last 20 years his conduct had been most tyrannical to the tenantry on several properties round Kilmallock and Kilfinane. There was no opportunity that occurred, whether the death of a father or mother, or the marriage of a son, that he did not try to advance the rent, and the consequence was that the rents on the estates in many cases were double what they were 20 years ago. Another of his tenants had been served with notice to quit, so that between Mr. Coote and his agent, Townsend, the neighbourhood was unfortunately in a disturbed condition. The trouble had been brewing for many years, for there was no occasion that had not been taken advantage of to raise the rent, until at last the rents were beyond what the tenants could pay. Then they revolted against the agent."

And later still - “Another gentleman of these parts is being severely ‘boycotted’, to wit Mr. T. (Thomas) Sanders of Sanders Park, Charleville, county Cork”. William’s daughter Maria Townsend [5B36] married Evelyn Sanders, third son of Thomas Sanders.

It would appear that William and his son Charles Eyre Townsend [5B14] were also agents to Lady Ashtown of the Castle Oliver Estate (3) for amongst the estate records in Limerick City Museum (LM1999.0001-0005 ) relating to the this estate there are "account books for years ending 30 April 1886 & 1889, William Uniacke Townsend and Charles Eyre Townsend for Lady Ashtown.” (4)

The Lismore Castle Papers, a large collection of the records from the estates of the Earls of Cork and the Dukes of Devonshire, amongst others, in counties Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Dublin contain references to William in 1867 and 1880 and the Cork Land Agency of Hussey and Townsend in 1884. (See Robert Uniacke FitzGerald Townsend [531])

Papers relating to the management of the estates in county Waterford left in trust to the Royal College of Physicians Ireland by Sir Patrick Dun show that William and his brother Charles were appointed Land Agents to the trust in 1871.

By 1884 William was living in Earlscourt Terrace, Dublin, when he would have been 58.

The April 1911 Irish Census records William's wife, Mary Anne, was aged 77 and living with her son in law, Rev Francis Percy Hutchesson Powell, at Bawnlahan, (7) Myross, Co Cork. Rather strangely Mary's daughter, Caroline, is not shown on the census, though her husband Francis is shown as married. The house consisted of 14 rooms, two stables, a coach house and seven further outbuildings. The census also shows that Mary was a widow having been married for 32 years. Mary Anne is not shown in the 1901 Irish Census.

William is buried in the Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. Page 699 of the Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that the will of "William Uniacke Townsend late of 15 Earlsfort Terrace Dublin Land Agent", who died on 7 April 1888, was proved at the Principal Registry on 3 July 1888 by "Charles Eyre Coote Townsend of Mount Coote Killmallock County Limerick Land Agent and Thomas Courtenay Townsend of 5 College Green Dublin Land Agent Executors". Effects £17,819 8s 1d. Charles Eyre Coote Townsend [5B14] is William's son; Thomas Courtenay Townsend [5B02] is William's nephew.

Page 697 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Probate of the will of "Mary Anne Harriet Townsend formerly of Bray County Wicklow and late of Newbridge Hill Bath Widow”, who died on 15 February 1915, was granted at Dublin 3 August 1915 to "Thomas C Townsend Esquire". Effects £2,320 7s 9d. (Thomas Crofton Townsend [5B15] - Mary's son)

(1) The entry for Coote in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Sir Philip Coote Knight of Mount Coote, county Limerick was a nephew of Charles 1st Earl of Mountrath. Members of this family intermarried with the Brabazon, Newcomen, Gore and Oliver families. At the time of Griffith's Valuation Charles Coote held an estate in the parishes of Ardpatrick and Ballingaddy, barony of Coshlea. In 1869 he was succeeded by his brother C. John Aldworth Coote who owned 2,688 acres in county Limerick in the 1870s. William Uniacke Townsend was agent to this estate in the 1860s. The estate was sold in 1911."

(1a) The entry for Mount Coote in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "The county Limerick seat of the Coote family in the 19th century, occupied by Chidley Coote in 1814. Lewis refers to it as the former seat of Chidley Coote in 1837. Charles Coote was resident at the time of Griffith's Valuation and held the property in fee. The buildings were valued at £53. Their value had increased to £65 by 1906. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor wrote in 1943 that the house was bought by Sir Gilbert Greenall, who became 1st Lord Daresbury, who spent about £200,000 setting up a Model Farm. [Lord Daresbury also owned Clonshire]. Following his death three years previously it was sold and then run as a stud farm. Bence Jones writes that this house was demolished circa 1960 and a new house built in the Georgian style."

(2) 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].

(3) The entry for Castle Oliver the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "The original Castle Oliver or Clonodfoy was the home of the Oliver family in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was replaced by the present building in the mid 19th century. In 1837 Lewis described the castle as being in a very dilapidated state. It belonged to R. O. Gascoigne of the county of York whose bailiff resided in it. In 1814 Castle Oliver was occupied by George Fosbery who may have been employed by the Oliver Gascoignes. The new building was designed by George Fowler Jones and built in the Scottish baronial style for the Oliver Gascoignes. At the time of Griffith's Valuation the castle was valued at £75 and the house at £48 and both were in the possession of Elizabeth O. Gascoigne and her brother in law Frederick Charles Trench. The house was eventually inherited by Elizabeth's step grandson the Honourable William Cosby Trench. He was the occupier in 1906 when it was valued at £125. Restored in the early 21st century it now provides self catering accommodation and is a venue for functions such as weddings."

(4) William’s cousin, Richard Townsend [513], married Helena Trench in 1826 who was a cousin of Frederick Mason Trench 2nd Baron Ashtown who married as his second wife Elizabeth Oliver-Gascoigne of Castle Oliver– family networking?

(5) Special Commissioner of the "Daily News”. Published London 1881 by MacMillan and Co.),

(6) Scroll down to Chapter XVII - "BOYCOTTED" AT CHRISTMASTIDE. For the background to boycotting and origins of the word see Captain Charles Boycott.

(7) The entry for Bawnlahan in the University of Galway Landed Estates Database records "Edward Powell held this property in fee at the time of Griffith's Valuation, when it was valued at £21. Lewis describes it as the residence of Major Powell in 1837. In the 1770s it was the seat of an O'Donovan family. Lt. Col. Henry Powell was the owner in 1906 when it was valued at £21." The last known O’Donovan resident of Bawnlahan was General Richard O’Donovan who died without surviving issue in 1829. Having barred the entail, he left his entire estate to his wife, Emma Ann Powell. The house remained in the Powell family until about 1915, when they moved to Monkton Combe near Bath, Somerset.

Footnote ‘Slater’s Royal National Directory of Ireland, 1894’ records under the heading ‘County Magistrates for the Province of Munster Co Limerick’ - “Coote John Charles Aldworth, Mount Coote, Kilmallock.” Is this Mary's brother?