Hi, it is the boy from Barrystown, charming, charismatic, original, innovative, humble, modest, self-effacing, inspired and inspiring, a historian supreme, a right boyo, blessed among women, grandiloquent, eloquent, superbly articulate, visionary and above all wily—that wily boy from beside the mine pits. If it is true it ain’t bragging and, besides, no native of the parish of Carrig-on-Bannow ever indulges in self-boasting. Gold and silver has always followed the Barrystown children.

A letter to the Irish Ecclesiastical Journal March 1849 from Mr John A. Walker told of a plain, substantial headstone in the ancient and secluded burial ground of Kilcavan, marking the last resting place of the Rev. James King “who having lived a curate passing rich of £40 a year died at a mature age some 70 or 80 years ago.” He, a confirmed old bachelor, “obtained board and lodging at a respectable farmhouse for £12 a year, including stabling and keep of his pony. Eight pounds a year sufficed for clothing and pocket money and the remaining £20 a year of his scanty income he gave to the poor, without distinction of their creed. He had brothers and kinsmen in affluent circumstances, but so far from trespassing on their finances “Uncle James” visits were always hailed with pleasure by the juvenile members of their families because he always gave them a shilling a piece when leaving.”

The Rev. James King ministered locally as Mr Walker’s letter states that at the age of fifty he was presented to a living in the North of Ireland through the influence of a lady of some rank who admired the simplicity of his character but he respectfully tho’ firmly declined this promotion. “My dear” said he to his benefactress, “I have now lived half a century in my native place. I am too old to form new friend-ships and as I have as much as I want I cannot think of leaving all my old friends and parishioners to end my days among strangers.” There is no need for me to observe that it would be hard to find any sufficient reason for leaving Carrig-on-Bannow!

Large passages of Mr Walker’s letter are of uncertain credibility. They could be true and they might not! The first dubious piece of narrative is of the death of Rev. James:–

“His death was sudden and attended with one of those circumstances which mock investigation. His brother Mr Richard King of Barrystown (which now has been two hundred years inhabited by one branch of the family), standing at his bedroom window, believed he saw him riding slowly down a sort of avenue or long drive along a gentle declivity which led to the house. He immediately put on his hat and went out to meet him, when he suddenly lost sight of his visitor. He supposed, however, that the parson had—for he loved a joke—turned his pony suddenly thro’ a gate into the back premises, but on making a search he could nowhere be found and next day tidings arrived that he had been called hence, just about the time when this strange delusion passed through Mr Richard King’s mind. In my early days, for I am a junior member of the family myself, I have often heard the story told by various members of the family who remembered the occurrence and all told it alike.”

The obvious problem with a story like that is the propensity of people to make up stories, especially of the paranormal: such an occurrence (if true) would confirm all that the Rev. James believed in. I have had no experience of ghosts, of spirits or of the paranormal; my mother who was strongly religious, refused to believe in ghosts; indeed she was sceptical of them. That era was abounded by intimations of spirit and ghostly life. The paranormal is so central to the writings of Anna Maria Hall and this seems to contradict my previous assumption that belief in spirits and ghosts, etc, was mainly a phenomenon of the Catholic subterranean culture in the Ireland of the penal laws. On this basis Mrs Hall may have been reflecting a tradition of the paranormal and ghosts in the Established Church culture as well; the theologians of that denomination sought to stress the rational as opposed to superstition.. It still is a surprise to me.

I would like the next passage to be true, absolutely true, without contradiction:–

“His sister-in-law, the late Mrs Richard King of Barrystown, died at a good age in 1813 and although a decided Protestant of the Black North—for her grand-father, the Reverend Mr Knox was shut in Derry during the siege—was so beloved of the Roman Catholics for her bounty that her remains were followed to her grave by a funeral procession which covered two miles of the road, the last of the train only leaving the avenue gate as the corpse reached the gate of the cemetery. Her father, an Englishman, the Reverend Mr Shudall, who was for many years Rector of Duncormick, CountyWexford, introduced the English spinning wheel into the district where he found the old distaff in use when he entered on his pastoral charge.” I now think that 1813 is a misprint for 1818.

The reference to her bounty perplexes me: would not her husband have been exacting rents off a considerable number of local farmers as such would be a big part of their income? Her father would have collected the odious tithes from the Catholic inhabitants of his parish for his upkeep.

She probably gave help to cottiers, widows, sick and elderly people without means.

I will endeavour to give a brief outline of the family history of the Kings of Barrystown. Jonas King of Barrystown married Katherine Goar after 1700. They had as offspring:–Nicholas King of Scullabogue; Rev. James King and Richard King of Barrystown. Richard married Sarah Shudall, the daughter of the Rector of Duncormack. Their offspring were:–Captain Francis King of Silverspring (died 1819); Anne Browne (1760-1806) and Jonas (1759—1832). In Anna Maria Hall’s story “Hospitality” this Jonas morphs into Mr Barry, aged 62 years; are we then talking of 1821? When the real Jonas departed this world on October 30th 1832 he was aged 73 years; however his mother had died in 1813 “at a good old age” according to Mr Walker’s letter (but refer to my suspicion that 1813 is a misprint or human error for 1818). Mrs Hall tended to amend ordinary chronology; besides she detested figures and arithmetic. A family tree indicates that Mrs Richard King, nee Sarah Shudall, died in 1818, aged 88 years.

Captain Francis King who inherited Scullabogue and also owned Silversprings was the father of Rev. Richard King, the Rector of Mulrankin and later (I think) of Killurin (1794—1878); in turn this Rev. Richard was the father of the Jonas King who came to reside at Barrystown (1827—1878) and who married Mary Elizabeth Goff, the daughter also of a Rector (of Duncormack). It is all as clear as mud but I think that I understand it. It seems to make sense.

As a young girl Anna Maria Hall used to go, presumably, with the Carrs, to visit the Kings at Barrystown—she wrote of their house over looking the sea. In “Hospitality” she describes a massive house, with the hall formed of Kilkenny marble, but not looked after with meticulous care. Mrs Hall named the owner Mr Barry—John Barry lost his ownership of Barrystown for his participation in the 1641 Rebellion—as a rhetorical device, to imply that the Established Church gentry and aristocracy and the Catholic gentry were interchangeable, of the same genus, same disposition, with a natural affinity to one another. In historical terms that could not be true: however, a similarity of approach did develop between a large section of the Catholic gentry and the Whig or Liberal sections of the Established gentry and aristocracy. Mrs Hall observed that Mr Barry had nothing to distinguish him from “the raale true-born gintry.” That is a succinct way of saying that Jonas King could be Mr Barry and Mr Barry could be Jonas King. It is the way that Anna Maria Hall could tell it!

I intend to check out this house on Gill’s map circa 1808 and possible Griffith’s maps to determine where this house of Jonas King was. In August 1882 the widow of the recently deceased Jonas King, Mrs Mary Elizabeth King applied for letters of administration to his estate; she gave her address as Cullenswood Avenue, CountyDublin. There is some evidence that Jonas was living there in the years prior to his decease. The will of his father, the Rev. Richard King was, tediously complex with an infinity of incomprehensible provisions.

The People on the 19th of March 1902 published a list of the tenants on the King estate at Brandane, Bannow:–

James and Mary Carew, Mary White, John Wade, Mrs Mary Kane, Catherine Dake, Ellen Cullen, Patrick Quinn, James Carew, Miss Mary Edwards, Richard Grace, James Neville, Peter Colfer, Matthew Colfer, William Rochfort, Patrick Cousins, John Davey, John Stafford, John Edwards, William Browne, Marcus Eustace, Richard Roche, Michael Kinsella, Andrew and Mary White, Representatives of James Davey and John Shea.

From The People February 26th 1870:–

“Collection of Seaweed

To the Editor of the People

Sir—It appears that some of the Rev. Mr King’s tenantry, residing in Brandane, &, have collected the seaweed under the old Church of Bannow and, from their peculiar position they are enabled to do so without trespassing on Captain Boyse’s property, whilst going to or returning from the strand. I understand, however, that Captain Boyse objects to this and even threatens the law upon them. The question at issue, therefore—have they the right or power to do so?”

The letter was dated February 15th 1870.

I suspect that this letter was written to allow the editor to refer to a case heard before the Crown Court relating to seaweed at Ardnillan, Co. Dublin. The editor outlined the judgement:–

“Chief Justice Monaghan observed that it was admitted that the seaweed did not become the property of the prosecutor until it came to his shore and as there was really no evidence that the seaweed had been carried by the sea and wind from the shore of another person to that of the prosecutor the conviction should be quashed. This decision appears to us to clearly establish the fact that the public has a legal right to take the seaweed between high and low water mark if uncollected by the owner of the shore and if it has been carried there from some place not his property; and that all convictions for so doing are illegal; but there may have been some technicality in the case of which we are ignorant and it is of the utmost importance to have the rights of the public clearly defined in the matter and thus put an end to vexatious prosecutions which usually end in the plaintiff’s favour as the defendants, who are, as a rule, very poor men, are seldom enabled to appeal as they were in this case.”

It beggars belief that the Chief Justice should be determining the interpretation of the law on seaweed: that is an indication of how comparatively primitive the economy of that era was.

The Editor was wrong on one point: the courts did not decide cases on the basis of the wealth of any party or person; the courts determined matters according to the written statute law and fundamental principles of law. Otherwise I agree with the observations made by the Editor of the People in regard to the seaweed.

According to the Cavan Herald the Rev. Richard King was married to Dorothea, the daughter of the late Christian Wilson of Roseville, Co. Wexford in July 1825. Their son Christian Wilson told the court in Wexford in July 1860 that he was, at present, in the commission of the peace; a grandiose way of saying that he was a J. P. He said that Jonas King of Barrystown was a cousin of his: the two men were clearly first cousins—the mother of Jonas was aunt of Christian Wilson. Mr Wilson was in Taghmon on the 2nd of May 1860; was in the Police Barrack and saw Jonas there, before twelve o’clock. Refer to the immediately previous blog for the overall details of the case of William Martin against Jonas King for false imprisonment.  He continued:–

“Mr King came before me in my capacity as Magistrate in Mr Prendergast’s, the Petty Sessions Clerk’s office; and made a charge against the plaintiff, William Martin; the defendant swore informations on that occasion; I have not the information; I signed it and gave it either to Mr King or Mr Prendergast; if Head-Constable Gray got it, I did not give it to him; I recollect a conversation I had with Gray; he said this was a private transaction and there was not sufficient on the information to constitute a crime; King was not present but I told him about it afterwards.”

Mr Wilson seemed in his evidence to indicate an awareness of the vacuous nature of the proceedings that he was engaged in against Martin. He continued:–

“He [Gray] said he had been with the Sub-Inspector Mr Cooke, who wanted to see witness; there was no further informations sworn; Martin was brought before witness; did not sign any committal that day nor bind anyone over to prosecute; Martin said, Oh! Mr King I will never deny the debt.” The account in the papers differs in regard to the detail of the rest of Mr Wilson’s evidence but I take the account from the Wexford Independent:–

“Mr King said something witness cannot remember; Martin then said he knew it was his brother had him to be arrested; Mr King said that he did not know him; witness thought that changed the criminality of the thing…”

The account in the People is clearer on that issue:–

“I did not examine Martin; after I heard Martin say he owed the debt, I thought there was no criminality in the case; Mr Prendergast was there; I remember Martin leaving the room with a policeman; he was considered in custody; I saw him in the room again about ten minutes after he went out with the policeman; I know a man of the name of Sides; I saw him there; the I. O. U. now produced is in Mr King’s handwriting; it was signed by Sides; after Sides signed the paper, I told Martin he was discharged.” He added in the account of the Wexford Independent:–

“Cross-examined by Mr Harris—Martin went off in a good humour, touching his hat and saying “good evening, gentlemen”; saw Mr Josiah Martin that morning with Mr King.” Mr Harris, Counsel for defendant, Mr King, to ask if Josiah Martin had suggested charging William Martin. The Judge would not allow this question to be put for the very good reason that Josiah Martin was not related to William Martin.

Christian Wilson did not recollect asking William Martin why he did not pay King his money but did add, significantly:–

“I believe I said if Martin did not get bail I would commit him to appear to take his trial for taking money under false pretences; it was then suggested by some person standing that an I. O. U. be drawn up.”

Mr Wilson’s shaky rationale of his part in the proceedings is that he was under the impression that Martin had taken money under false pretences. This does not sound greatly credible: Jonas was demanding payment of an agreed amount of money—Martin had (in effect) partially bought his cow but had not taken money from him. The case had the complexion of a civil matter from the start. To be continued in the next blog.

I could go on and on talking about the Kings of Barrystown, their antecedents, their relations and connections plus their deeds. If I wrote a thousand books about them I would be merely be at the beginning of the beginning.

John Cullen of LowerBay, Bannow, who died on November 30th 1936 left personal estate in England and the Free State valued at £3,143. He included a number of bequests in his will:–

£250 to his nieces Ellen and Margaret White, for the benefit of the Technical and Training College at Ramsgrange; £200 to the Parish Priest of Carrig-on-Bannow to expend on repairs to the Church; £100 to the Prior of the Augustinian Community, Grantstown; £100 to the Haughton Hospital, New Ross; £100 to the Prior of the Augustinian Community at New Ross; £100 to the Prior of the Carmelite Order, Dublin; £100 to the Prior of the Franciscan Community, Wexford; £200 for Masses and the residue of his property for such charitable purpose in Wexford as his executors may decide.”