Thursday, 15 October 2009

Jeremiah Fitzhenry and Boro Hill

Continuing from my last post, here is a precis of the other article from the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society. Entitled "The House that Jack, Bryan or Jeremiah Built" it looked at the history of Boro Hill, the main house of the estate that the Fitzhenry family held from the Carews. Tom McDonald has thoroughly researched the history of the house, and here are the edited highlights of an excellent article.

Jeremiah is described as the "wayward and notorious son" of William ("Billy") Fitzhenry, the tennant of all Ballymackessy and estate agent to the Carews from about 1750 to his death at 83 in 1811.

Until 1745 Ballymackessy was leased to Jack Hogan, who ran into debt and lost the tenancy. From 25th March 1746, the Carews leased Ballymackessy to Bryan Fitzhenry, father of Billy. Bryan was married to Mary King of the wealthy Macmine family. Tom McDonald speculates that he could be the same Bryan Fitzhenry living at Killegney who was given a lease of Clohass by his father John Fitzhenry in 1736.

On 3rd February 1756, Bryan Fitzhenry and Luke Hegarty (of Kilcoletrum, Co. Carlow) made arrangements for the upcoming nuptuals of their children Billy Fitzhenry and Kitty Hegarty (although the actual year of the marriage is not stated). Bryan demised Ballymackessy to Billy and in parallel, Myhill King of Macmine (Billy's uncle) demised to Billy one half of the town and townlands of Courtnacuddy. Kitty brought a dowry of £200 to repay Myhill King for the lands. The significance of this arrangement was that if Billy died, Kitty could not bring a second husband to the estate and that the lands would transfer to any issue of the marriage.

The first son of this marriage Bryan, died in childhood. As well as Jeremiah born in 1772, the Carew estate ledgers suggest there were two other sons Myles and Luke, and possibly a John.

Jeremiah was married sometime just before the Rebellion of 1798 to Mary Catherine Colclough sister of John Colclough of Ballyteigue castle, the executed leader of the United Irish. He leased lands from his father, possibly the equivalent of Boro Hill farm but these were demised back to his father when he went to France after the Rebellion.

Billy also had a daughter Mary, who married William Evans a widower of Ballymacwilliamroe County Carlow in 1812. Billy had made Mary "devisee and sole legatee" of his will, and in anticipation of the marriage he directed that the Fitzhenry coat of arms be amalgamated with the Evans coat of arms and that henceforth that William Evans should be known as William Evans-Fitzhenry.

Billy Fitzhenry died in December 1811, and as we saw from the other journal article about Jeremiah, it was April of that year when he deserted from Napoleon's army. The pressing need to sort out the family estates may have had something to do with his decision. It seems that Jeremiah and Mary were in bitter dispute about the lands and also the money that had come into the Fitzhenry estate from their mother's dowry. In 1816 when Mary and her husband had run up debts after prolonged litigation, they had to remorgage, amongst other estates, Ballmackessy. In 1818, Jeremiah bought out the mortgage and this is when his permanent residence of Boro Hill began up to his death in 1845.

THe full text of this article is due to be available on-line through the Wexford Library service. So far, they have reached volume 17 of the Journal and this is from volume 19. I will add a link when it arrives. It's well worth a read.

The House that Jack, Bryan or Jeremiah Built
Tom McDonald
Journal of the Wexford Historical Society
Number 19 2002-3

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