Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Thin Shadow of Patrick Fitzhenry

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In the ongoing search for the connections of my mysterious Michael Fitzhenry, only one other Bristol based Fitzhenry appears to have left his gossamer trail. Patrick Fitzhenry, a trader and adventurer of fleeting - and dubious - success, is recorded in the Bankrupcy records from the 1790s. However, recently a small entry referring to the afore mentioned Patrick came to light, which not only tells us a little bit about one of his business adventures, but names another probable family member.
The book " Bristol Privateers and Ships Of War" by D.Powell (published by J.W Arrowsmith Ltd Bristol 1930) has a chapter dealing with the French Revolutionary War (1793-1815), in which the ship LANGRISHE was mentioned. The owner of this 266 ton ship was none other than Patrick Fitzhenry. The following declaration was made 5 March 1793 in relation to this ship by Captain John Fitzhenry. "In May it was reported that the Langrishe had taken the French ship Double Union from Martinque to Marsaiiles, with a cargo of sugar, coffe and cocoa, and sent her to Gibralter. The prize arrived at Kingroad [the area of the Severn estuary leading into the mouth of the Avon River on which Bristol lies] on 8 June and was sold the following month. The Langrishe was wrecked at Montego Bay, Jamaica on 21 October 1793".
Who was Captain John Fitzhenry ? It beggars belief that there was no family connection between the owner - Patrick - and Captain - John Fitzhenry.
Clearly Patrick ("late of Bristol, for ten years past a merchant trading in England, Africa, Newfoundland, and Ireland") had displayed his success through his purchasing of property at Westbury on Trym, Bristol, as the bankrupcy proceedings required him to sell off his Mansion house, coach house, messuages and tenements, pothouse, pottery, closes, pieces and parcels of land, to settle some of his debts. The enforced auction took place 16 April 1793, raising the not insubstantial sum of 3550 pounds (assessed as being around 400,000 pounds today). His major creditor was listed as John Chivers, and a John Fitzpatrick (should they be Fitzhenry?) received a further 1000 pounds.

So though frustratingly limited, we now have a little more meat on the bones of the mysterious Patrick Fitzhenry, but also a new connection - naval Captain John Fitzhenry. The search continues!

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