Richard William (Dick) Townsend (5D03)

Date of Birth: 18 Sep 1811
Date of Death: 11 Nov 1855
Generation: 5th
Residence: Derry Rosscarbery Co Cork, Rathmines Co Dublin & Chernex, Switzerland
Father: Reverend Horatio (Horace) Townsend [5D00]
Mother: Corker, Katherine
  1. Hebbert, Laura
  1. Mary Henrietta [5D24]
  2. Katherine Isabella [5D25]
  3. Laura Elizabeth Provence [5D26]
  4. Horatio William [5D51]
See Also: Table VD ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Richard William Townsend (Dick)

Married 20 August 1850. in Bromley, Kent Laura Hebbert (1) was the daughter of Henry Hebbert, 'a landed proprietor' of Bromley.

Alumni Trinity College Dublin from Co Cork and Kerry 1593-1860 in Dr Casey's Collection records that Richard was taught by Mr Wood before he entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 5 April 1830 aged 18 as a pensioner who paid a fixed sum annually for his studies. The TCD Graduation List records that 'Richard William Townsend' qualified BA in Spring 1845, by which time he was 35!. Horace Townsend and Horatio Hamilton Townsend were undergraduates at Trinity at the same time, whilst Rev Richard Townsend was teaching at the university.

Aged 30 Richard and his sisters Henrietta Townsend and Katherine Townsend decided to visit their brother-in-law Edward Hume Townsend in India. Thus, on 23 July 1841 they left Portsmouth on board the ‘Childe Harold’ and arrived in Cape Town on 21 September 1841. There they met with Edward, his wife Susan Townsend, and Edward’s mother, Henrietta wife of Rev Richard Hume Townsend (Mrs RT). Edward at the time was Collector and Political Agent at Belgaum, India, with the British East India Company taking his long leave in South Africa. His mother aged 60, had set out from Ireland in 1839 to join Edward in South Africa. During the course of her journey she rode across the isthmus of Suez on a donkey and was lost in the desert for a time, having ridden ahead of her party.

Henrietta (2a) kept a journal of their travels at sea and over the five months they stayed in Cape Colony (as it was then known), and makes frequent mention of Richard. On crossing the equator with the sun overhead - "Dick, so tall, with only the shade of the brim of his hat encircling his feet". In Cape Colony many references to his keenness on exploring the fauna and flora - "Dick is daily finding out new flowers, I mean finding out their names in Mr Harvey’s book" and later "Dick scrambled up part of Table Mountain today and came home with his seven pockets full of flowers. He was nearly lost in a jungle some ten feet deep from fallen trees and tall shrubs but luckily escaped leaving only a pocket handkerchief behind."

Edward and Henrietta left South Africa on 1 Mar 1842 on board the ‘Dartmouth’ bound for Bombay. Richard, Katherine and Edward’s mother (Mrs RT) returned to Ireland taking with them Edward’s three eldest children - Richard Hume Townsend, Katherine Jane Townsend and Susannah Elizabeth Townsend.

Trained as a civil engineer under Charles Blacker Vignolles, Richard was the chief engineer for the Cork to Bandon railway. He was a compulsive worker and this damaged his health - on one occasion he suffered a 'severe attack ' in Dublin as a result of working all night to finish a set of railway maps.

A Deed dated 29 March 1851 (2) between Richard, his brother Chambre Corker Townsend, John Sealy Townsend and others relating to the lands of Derry shows that Richard was living at Lansdowne Lodge, Kenmare, Kerry. This would have been when he was agent to Lord Lansdowne. Later he was agent to Lord Rosse, whose telescopes were of great interest to him. In a letter dated 19 July 1920(?) to Helena Armitage (daughter of Katherine Townshend [5D25], Richard's daughter, Mary Townsend [5D24] wrote of her father's excellence as a civil engineer and his fascination with telescopes. (3)

Probate on the will of his father was granted on 9 September 1852 (4) and it shows Richard as an executor and living in Leap, Roscrea, Tipperary. In the will, dated 12 December 1828, Horatio's father devised to him a small parcel of land and some of his books. Stock, farming implements, linen and household furniture were to be divided equally between himself, his brother Horatio and his sisters Katherine, Susannah, Harriet and Caroline.

Richard's daughter, Laura Townsend, was born in Hyeres, Provence France in January 1855. This was a popular resort reputed to be beneficial for those suffering consumption and it can only be assumed that he was there because of this. He died ten months later at Chernex, Switzerland and is buried in Lausanne. There is a fine memorial to him and his two surviving brothers in St Fachtna's Cathedral, Ross.

The death of Richard was reported in The Cork Examiner on 23 November 1855. Page 462 of The Calendar of Wills and Administration 1858-1922 in the National Archives of Ireland records that Administration of the un-administered personal estate of "Richard William Townsend formerly of Derry Rosscarbery County Cork and of Church Avenue Rathmines County Dublin and late of Clifton Bristol Esquire" who died on 11 November 1855, was granted at Dublin on 9 February 1903 to " Mary H Boultbee (wife of the Rev CE Boultbee)". Effects £740. Former Grant 1 May 1856. Mary Boultbee is Richard's eldest daughter, Mary Henrietta Townsend.

Laura married secondly in Southborough, Kent on 19 September 1860 the Rev William Wynter Gibbon, who already had three children by his first marriage. Laura and William had a further six children; two were born in Bristol, three in Wapley, near Bristol and the last in Harrogate where William was Rector of Christ Church High Harrogate.

Mary Townsend [5D24], Katherine Townsend [5D25] and Laura Townsend [5D26] were married in Christ Church in 1882, 1878 and 1880 respectively.

(1) Laura Hebbert was born in 1825 and died in 1902.

(2) Derry Papers 5D01/7. Deed dated 29 March 1851 between Chambre Corker Townsend, Richard William Townsend (of Lansdowne Lodge, Kerry), John Sealy Townsend, Laura Townsend and General Nathaniel Wilmot Oliver.

(2a) Henrietta's journal, recording their travels, consists of 336 pages of quarto size manuscript was transcribed in 2022 by Larissa Tompkins, daughter of Jill Townsend is reproduced in the page Recollections.

(3) RBT Papers 5D03/1.

(4) Derry Papers 5D01/6. Will of Chambre Corker Townsend dated 2 September 1846 with codicil dated 5 April 1851. Probate 9 September 1852.