Attached To:

  1. John Roe

I have added this document because it makes reference to Coolcullen and a Reverend Samual Roberts who was probably associated

with a Thomas Poole from an earlier excerpt.   It also gives an idea of what live was like back in the 1840s in that area of ireland.

Joe Morrow

Carlow County – Ireland Genealogical Projects ( IGP TM )




Desmond Norton

The present article provides further details based mainly on the 1840s correspondence of the Dublin firm of land agents Messrs Stewart and Kincaid (denoted SK in what follows), which managed estates in various parts of Ireland. Part I under the present title concerned the Carlow lands of Viscount Frankfort between Leighlinbridge and Tullow in the 1840s. The present Part II provides details on a murder of a Frankfort tenant on the Co Kilkenny side of Leighlinbridge, further information on the Tyndalls of Leighlinbridge and Coolcullen, and closes with brief observations on the properties of Charles Burton of Pollacton House. Both parts have been drawn from Chapter 12 of a larger study entitled Landlords, Tenants, Famine: Letters of an Irish Land Agent in the 1840s, now near completion.

Murder in Coolcullen: Victim a Carlovian?

Viscount Frankfort’s largest single property in Co Kilkenny was that in the townland of Coolcullen, between Castlecomer in Kilkenny and Leighlinbridge in Carlow. He owned almost all of the 3,234 statute acres in this large townland, which is contiguous to Co Carlow. In the 1840s, this was a recent acquisition: according to William Nolan, “the Frankfort interest in Coolcullen derived from the marriage in 1835 of the Viscount to Miss Georgiana Henchy, the female heir to the property”. Among rural townlands in the south of Ireland, a striking feature of Coolcullen in the 1840s was the relatively large number of Protestant tenant farmers. Some of these families came to the townland in the early 18th century; others arrived—from Co Wexford—around the year 1800. Although many of these family names have now gone, traces of their former presence in Coolcullen are easily found. There are a few fine period houses. There is the Church of Ireland place of worship, Mothel parish church. Opposite the former rectory of Mothel (sited on what is now a stud farm) there is a thoroughfare called Protestant Road. As has been indicated by McMillan and Nevin, Prospect Hall (now in ruins) on Protestant Road was the home of William Tyndall, grandfather of the scientist and educationalist John Tyndall, FRS (1820-93), who was born in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow. Today the decline in the Protestant population is reflected in the fact that only about 15 persons regularly attend Sunday services at Mothel church.

Coolcullen was subject to several acts of violence in the 1840s. The SK correspondence contains references to the murder of Matthew Brennan in 1844. Along with his brother, he had in the early 1840s taken a holding previously occupied by a tenant who had been ejected. The earliest mention of the murder is in a letter dated 26 November 1844, from Matthew’s brother, Michael, to Joseph Kincaid (partner in the firm of SK), written from “Milfall”, and bearing the postmark of Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, in which Michael complained:

I feel it a duty I owe towards you to communicate with you on the late meloncholy occurrence—the murder of my brother. Although there is not the slightest doubt of the guilt of the parties I regret to state there is yet no evidence to convict them nor do I anticipate there will in consequence of the bad feeling of the majority of the tenants and others in this place whose native sympathy is for the assassins and none for their victim. This is a lamentable state of things but unfortunately true. The courpse [corpse] was delayed in Coolcullen for one night and strange to say only one person came in and very few attended the funeral, which speaks volumes for the general approbation of the horrible deed. Nor do I believe their thirst for blood is yet satisfied as every day’s experience proves. I hear of trets daily such as the[y] say … “that I shall never enjoy this land”. Such is the feeling here that if [you] gave the house and land free of rent to a person to care it, I could not find one. The land is under continual trespass as I cannot go there without the police under the sneers of every person I meet …. The prevailing report here is that Lord Frankford thinks little of the matter as he offered no reward, nor was there any reward offered as yet, but one Hundred [pounds] by the Lord Lieutenant …. So far the demons rejoice. I think it right to inform you there is evidence the four Purcells [one of whom, Thomas, had earlier been ejected from the land assigned to the Brennans] were together the night before the murder at Michael Purcells house. It is evident that it was there the murder was plotted …. Paddy Purcell who lives twelve miles from here [at Borris] in the County of Carlow was seen returning home the day of the murder …. Truly hoping you will addopt some means for my protection. Where the Brennan brothers had come from is uncertain. That they had not hailed from some other part of Coolcullen itself is suggested by Michael’s observation that “the courpse [corpse] was delayed in Coolcullen for one night”. Furthermore, the fact that 10 the above letter is postmarked Leighlinbridge—rather than Castlecomer as most other correspondence pertaining to the Coolcullen estate is postmarked—suggests that they came from Co Carlow. Two subsequent letters from Michael Brennan to SK are postmarked Leighlinbridge.

The murder of Matthew Brennan—who appears to have been sickle slashed to death—is still remembered in the folklore of Coolcullen. However, although some elderly locals can still point out the location of Michael Brennan’s house, and exactly where the murder of Matthew Brennan took place, it seems that nobody in the Coolcullen district knows when the murder was committed—merely “a long time ago”. Further details of continuing enmity between Michael Brennan and the Purcells are mainly of Kilkenny interest: they will be found in Landlords, Tenants, Famine, when published.

Jane Tyndall and her Son

Late in 1844 and for most of 1845, the widow Jane Tyndall, a Protestant, lived at Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow. There is no evidence, in the SK correspondence or in the Griffith Valuations, that Lord Frankfort owned any property in Leighlinbridge. However, as has already been indicated, he did own the lands of Coolcullen. Coolcullen is about five miles to the west of Leighlinbridge. Jane Tyndall was poor. She obtained some indirect assistance from the local Church of Ireland clergy, and was in receipt of an annuity from Frankfort — £20 per annum, payable on the 25th of the month at the end of each quarter. The SK correspondence does not reveal the reasons for payment of this pension. However it seems likely that Jane Tyndall’s late husband had been a former tenant on Frankfort’s Coolcullen estate.

On 23 February 1845 (a Sunday) Jane Tyndall wrote to SK stating that she wanted to prepare her son Jacob, with whose family she then resided, “to meet the Gentlemen shareholders, & the undertakers, of the Rail Road, in the middle of this week, in Carlow [town]. They are to commence the Rail Road on the first of March. The Dean [of Leighlinbridge, Rev Richard Bernard] is to get him a situation and desired him to prepare himself to go on that day, and it would be impossible for him to go in any kind of a decent manner being so long out of a Situation [employment] without getting some articles [of clothing]”. She accordingly asked SK to send her “this Quarters Salary which would be due on the 25th of next Month [March 1845] and let what will happen during my life I shall never on any account trouble you again until it will be due”.

On 27 May 1845, Rev Samuel Roberts, LLD, “now in charge of the parish in Dean Bernard’s absence” confirmed to SK, in writing, that “the Widow Jane Tyndall to whom Lord Frankfort gives an annuity is still alive in Leighlinbridge”. On the other side of the same letter, the widow herself indicated that it was Rev Roberts “who got the annuity from Lord Frankfort for me as he and his Lordship are the most ultimate friends”. She went on to state that “it is 3 Months on last Saturday since I rec’d the last Quarters Salary. I would not trouble you for this Quarters only the Rail Road did not commence in this County yet, although expecting it every day”. This communication suggests, during the Summer of 1845, that the Tyndall household had little or no source of income, other than the quarterly annuity payments from SK on behalf of Frankfort.

Along with her son Jacob and his family, Jane Tyndall moved to Dunleckny Cross, about one mile from the post office in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, near the end of 1845. A letter from the widow to SK, 17 December 1845, provides some details:

May I humbly beg leave on my aged bended knees, that you will not be displeased with me, who will not trouble any one much longer. I and my Son, and his Family, live within a Quarter of a Mile of the Revd. Mr Grogan, Brother to the Member of Parliament for the City of Dublin …. My Son … has a House from Philip Newton Esq’re of Dunleckny … [and] he has a School since the 1st of this Month and will go on we hope after Christmas very well as he gets very good encouragement from Mr Newton, and the Neighbours who are his tenants …. We will live on the Profits of the School, along with the Firing & provision I shall buy. If your Honours will be so kind as to send me this Quarters Salary in advance … never [again] will I be a trouble to your Honours until the proper time, the next not until the 25th of June [1846] next, for during the Summer [when sowing will have ceased] he will have a large School …. Let not my Christmas Day be a day of Trouble, as it will perhaps be my last.

Jane Tyndall wrote another letter to SK on 23 December 1845, again requesting payment in advance. In this letter she added:

“The School will be able to support us after Christmas when the weather will open …. If your Honours do not consider me now, never did we see such a Christmas before …. May God Almighty bless your Honours and send it on Christmas Day”. It does not seem that Jane Tyndall, in December 1845, received the advance payment [due to be paid to her on 25 March 1846] which she then sought. It was, however, sent to her early in 1846. On 11 March 12 1846 — in spite of the earlier advance payments—she asked SK to send her, in advance, the payment due to her on 25 June 1846. The letter in which she made this request indicates that her son’s school was not successful:

My Son whom I live with has a School here all the Winter but it is in a Country place and the Protestant Children in the Parish lives too far away to come in the Winter, but he will have a large School all Summer. He is to pay Mr Philip Newton £3 a year for a House and he keeps the School on his own account and has no other payment but a penny, and [he receives] from that to 2 ½ d per week from each scholar …. Hon’ble Sirs if I had any [money] and only to save my Family from Starving I would not be a trouble. The potatoes is from 11s to 14s per Barrel and is rising every week. We have about a Quarter [of an acre] of Land to our house and if we could sow it now we hope we would be comfortable next Harvest …. We had no opportunity these many years to sow until now and if we could get this next Quarters Salary we could buy Provision and sow it and it would keep us going until the School w’d be strong and I hope then we would not have occasion to be a trouble until next September. Hon’ble Sirs, think, Oh think, what happiness you will give our little family by sending it. Oh think what must be a Parents Sufferings, to hear his [Jacob Tyndall’s] little innocent Children crying with hunger and have nothing to give them this hard time.

The above letter of 11 March 1846 is the last from Jane Tyndall recorded in the SK correspondence. On 15 April, Rev Grogan wrote to SK certifying that she had died at Dunleckny Cross, on 5 April. Jacob Tyndall’s response was rapid: he quickly abandoned all hope for the school or for any other future in Ireland, and decided to go with his family to Quebec, the costs to be paid by SK on behalf of Frankfort. At the end of April 1846, he wrote from Dunleckny Cross to SK:

I Rec’d your kind Letter on yesterday and we return Lord Frankfort and you Gentlemen our sincere thanks. Hon’ble Sirs the Names of my Family who will go to America are:—

Jacob Tyndall

Hannah Tyndall. Wife to Jacob


William Tyndall, aged, 8 years

Elizabeth Tyndall, aged, 6 years

Montgomery Tyndall, aged, 2 years

James Tyndall, aged, 6 months

Oh Hon’ble Sirs, when you are sending any one to pay the passage to Quebec, may I humbly beg you will give Orders to use the greatest Economy. I have nothing to depend upon in a foreign land but what shall be left on the passage and what will enable me to leave this place. I have no furniture &c. &c. to make anything of, as other people would have, being so long out of a Situation. Hon’ble Sirs I am ready to leave this [place] the Second day after I receive your answer, as I have nothing to live upon here only in the greatest poverty, as no one belonging to me since my dear Mother died would hardly speak to me, but all wishing me to leave the Kingdom for fear I should be a disgrace to them in my Poverty, as they are all in a Comfortable way of Life. Hon’ble Sirs, I owe upwards of £2-10s for the Medicine & Funeral Expenses of my dear Mother, and £2-6s for to release my Clothes & my Wife’s &c. out of the Pawn Brokers which I … put in to support my poor Mother during her illness and also to support us since she was buried as I had no earning since. If your Honours would please to send me £6, I would be in Dublin with my Family the second day after, as I want many little necessaries for the family. If you would be so kind not to pay for the passage in any vessel, that would sail by the 11th of May as my Wife would wish to stop in Dublin for 3 or four days with her Brothers whom she did not see these 12 years. Hon’ble Sirs I hope I may expect an answer by return of Post as it is on the little furniture I am living upon, selling, until I can leave this place. Every day I stop here is a loss to me.

This passage gives interesting details of intra-family relationships. Note also that the Tyndalls were willing to leave Co Carlow on the second day after they had received a letter, as well as money, from SK. Similar hastiness to leave what appeared to be a hopeless country is noted in other draft chapters of Landlords, Tenants, Famine.

In the family tree of John Tyndall, FRS, the exact identity of the above-mentioned Jane Tyndall is a mystery. Her letters indicate that she was elderly at the time of her death in 1846 and, given the stated ages of his children, it is unlikely that her son Jacob was any younger than 30 years of age at that time. If he was aged 30 in 1846, he must have been born circa 1816. If we assume that to be the case, we would infer that he was not the son of Jane Fleming who, in their gallant attempt (an exhaustive task using all known possibilities) to construct the family tree of Tyndall, FRS, McMillan and Nevin state married a John Tyndall (not the John who was father of the FRS) in 1819, or of Jane Pinion who, according to the same researchers, married a Henry 14 Tyndall in 1824.

As McMillan and Nevin have indicated, the father of John Tyndall, FRS, was also named John. Circa 1820, the members of this household lived in Leighlinbridge. William, the father of John senior, resided in Coolcullen. It would appear that all persons named Tyndall living in the Leighlinbridge district in the early 19th century were descendants of, or in some way related to, this William Tyndall.

Although he lived in Leighlinbridge in 1844-5, it may be the case that (our) Jacob Tyndall resided elsewhere during his youth. This is suggested by a letter from the Deanery, Leighlinbridge, dated 2 December 1844, in which the aforementioned Rev Richard Bernard informed SK:

I have been requested by Jacob Tyndall of this Place to certify that his Mother Mrs Jane Tyndall is now [emphasis added by the present author] living with him, in order that he may receive her quarters Salary from Lord Frankfort. Thus, it may be the case that (our) Jane Tyndall followed her son to Leighlinbridge from Coolcullen.

We can be confident that (our) Jane and Jacob Tyndall were related to John Tyndall, FRS:

First, there was the common link with Viscount Frankfort: the grandfather of the FRS resided at Coolcullen, and (our) Jane Tyndall was in receipt of a pension from his Lordship who, in the 1840s, was owner of Coolcullen.

Second, there was a common link with Dean Bernard of Leighlinbridge. According to the Tyndall family tree constructed by McMillan and Nevin, an uncle of the FRS, named Jacob Tyndall, was “vestry clerk for Dean Bernard” at Wells Church, Leighlinbridge, between 1836 and 1840, and another uncle, Caleb Tyndall, was “warden at Wells Church” in 1842. It will be recalled that it was the same Rev Bernard who tried to obtain employment for our Jacob Tyndall in 1845.

Third, there is a commonality of Christian names: our Jacob’s eldest child was named William, as also was the grandfather (on his father’s side) of the FRS and, according to the family tree of McMillan and Nevin, an uncle of the FRS was also named Jacob. It seems to this author that there is a very strong probability that our Jacob Tyndall was the same individual as the person of 15 that name listed in the family tree of the FRS, as constructed by McMillan and Nevin. In fact, taking all relevant considerations into account, the author is convinced that such a hypothesis is correct. Who, then, was our Jane Tyndall? Given the presumption that our Jacob Tyndall was the same person as Jacob, son of William Tyndall of Coolcullen, it would have to be the case that Jane was a wife of that William, who is known to have married at least twice. Thus, it seems that our Jacob was an uncle to the FRS, and that our Jane Tyndall was a grandmother to him. On the latter points, the author would be more confident if he knew with certainty that William’s sons John and Jacob were offspring of the same mother.

Brief Observations on Burton Lands in Carlow and Kilkenny Apart from managing the Frankfort lands in Carlow and Kilkenny, in the late 1840s the firm of SK also managed the lands of Sir Charles Burton in those two counties. This estate consisted of about 380 statute acres at Pollerton Big (on which was sited the Burton family residence, Pollacton House) on the outskirts of Carlow town, and about 160 acres at Knockbodaly, near Graiguenamanagh in Co Kilkenny. On 15 June 1842, a firm of solicitors in London, Walker & Grant, sent the following communication to SK:

We have been requested to recommend a land agent to undertake the management of the small property of Sir Charles Burton Bt in the County of Carlow. We have named your firm. Sir Charles Burton is at present a minor, but he will attain the age of 21 in Jan’y 1844. The affairs of Sir Charles are managed by Mr Elliott of 22 Harcourt St [in Dublin] under our instructions …. An uncle of Sir Charles is the present receiver [of rents], having been appointed by the Court of Chancery during the lunacy of the recently deceased baronet Sir Charles Burton. Mr Elliott is the solicitor of the present receiver.

The young Charles Burton, who had been educated at Eton and who was in the army, did not reside at Pollacton House during the 1840s. It may be the case that he resided there, occasionally, in the 1850s: in 1851 he was appointed High Sheriff of Co Carlow. A letter dated 17 June 1844, to Kincaid from the aforementioned firm of Walker & Grant, indicates that “Sir Charles Burton will shortly sail with his regiment to India”, and in 1860, Walford indicated that Burton (who was still unmarried) then had an address in London as well as at Pollacton. In 1893, Walford listed Pollacton as Burton’s sole place of residence.

Pollacton moved in the direction of decay early in the twentieth century. The author of The Carlow Gentry has reported as follows:

The baronetcy, created for Charles Burton of Pollacton in 1758, became extinct after five generations with the death, aged 80, in 1902, of Sir Charles William Cuffe Burton [the person mentioned immediately above]. He suffered disabling injuries in a fall from a horse while on his way to a hunt meet on a frosty winter morning, and it was as a result of injuries sustained when he fell out of his wheelchair in the garden at Pollacton that he died. His wife was 76 when she died two years later.

Except for the walls which surrounded it, three gates, a gate lodge and some farm offices, today there is little trace of the Pollacton demesne. The house itself was demolished in the early 1970s.

SK commenced as Burton’s agent around the beginning of 1843. On 9 April of that year, William Elliott, the solicitor mentioned above, advised Kincaid: “It is essential you should have some [local] person in charge of the demesne & plantations [at Pollerton] or else great pillage will take place”. For several years previously, and at an annual salary of £5, a local man named Michael Hade had acted as bailiff on the Pollerton property. However, on grounds of economy it seems, in 1844 SK discontinued Hade’s services, and assigned the tasks which he had performed to James Brenan of Carlow town, who has already been discussed in Carloviana (1998) as Part I under the present title. Hade complained, stating that it was in expectation of his continued employment that he had “bought fire arms and had them registered for the purpose”.

The SK correspondence contains no evidence of any direct communication between SK and Burton. Rather, the Dublin firm received directions from Law Walker, of Walker & Grant in London, who allowed SK little discretion. During the Summer of 1844, Walker instructed Kincaid to rent Pollacton House, to a specified tenant, for a period of seven years. In regard to the lands immediately surrounding the house, these were to be rented to two specified tenants who, according to Walker, “must both pay for their leases, to be prepared by Mr Wm. Elliott & approved by me”. However, the rigid terms laid down by Walker seem to have been unattractive to the prospective tenants. Pollacton House remained untenanted in December 1844. On 6 January 1845, Walker wrote to SK: “Sir Charles Burton will be obliged by your having the family portraits at Pollacton  carefully packed & removed to 17 your care in Dublin”. The SK correspondence provides no indication that a suitable tenant for the house was found in 1845.

On 13 January 1845, Walker instructed SK to spend some £192 on repairs (mainly to the roof) at Pollacton House. These were completed by January 1846. On 15 May of that year, Walker wrote to SK: “There are two or three matters in your cash account with Sir Charles Burton to January 1846 on which I must trouble you to afford me a little explanation”. The explanations sought pertained to details of the cost of the repairs. Walker’s letter of 15 May is close to accusatory in tone: it suggests that SK may have been negligent, or that the manner in which the firm spent Burton’s money may have been inappropriate.

Walker was rigid on the matter of punctuality of rent receipts.

On 25 February 1845, he wrote to SK:

Sir Charles Burton requests me to ask you when he may expect to receive his accounts & the rents due November last. The greater part of Sir Charles’ [Pollerton] estate appears to be let on leases renewable for ever. There appears no reason therefore why the rents should at any time be more than a few days in arrear.

Following the partial failure of the potato in 1845, Walker again expressed his disapproval on 12 September of that year, when he wrote to SK:

I shall be glad to receive Sir Charles Burton’s accounts at your earliest convenience. I understood from Mr Kincaid that you furnished your accounts yearly on the 31 January & so told Sir Charles. He is displeased & in my opinion justly so at not having received his accounts.

Apart from a letter from three tenants early in 1846, the SK correspondence contains little else of interest pertaining to Burton’s estates. Dated 13 February, the letter pleaded as follows:

We the tenantry on the Pollerton Estate have been noticed to meet you [to pay rent] on the 21st Inst. Expecting on the season like the present we would not be called on, earlier than usual, & following the example of others, in this part of the Country, we have made all the Humble efforts in our power, to meet the scarcity, which is but truly pressing. All the tenants in whose name we write would of course, feel 18 bound to meet you, at any risk. But as the landlords in this neighbourhood generally encouraged their tenantry this season, we hoped for some encouragements. Should you gentlemen feel it your duty to persevere we fear all our efforts will be frustrated, as we shall be compelled to sell our Corn at the present low prices, or still worse, to part with our Stock. The Kindness we have always experienced as Tenants to the Burton Family, have induced us to lay the circumstances before you, as a respectful Humble petition, to postpone your visit, till some further period …. We propose on the 5th May next to forward the rent, as we have done on a former occasion.

Given the firmness of the stance of Law Walker as indicated in passages from some of his letters quoted above, it seems unlikely that the firm of SK was able to show much leniency to the Pollerton tenants in 1846. Two letters of January 1846 indicate that some tenants on Knockbodaly (Burton’s small estate in Co Kilkenny) had been summoned to Court for ejectment. Whether decrees were obtained, and whether they were terminally implemented, is unknown.

The reader may find it surprising that this author has some doubt whether the Knockbodaly tenants were actually ejected. This is because, on the several estates throughout Ireland managed by SK, actual ejectment was relatively infrequent, and was generally implemented only as a measure of last resort. SK _s typical approach to tenants seriously in arrears was as follows: First, if the tenant had assets, SK sought to distrain those assets in lieu of rent. Second, if a tenant had no assets of significance, and if SK believed that the tenant was not viable in the long run, then SK sought _voluntary _ surrender of the land. In such cases the firm usually compensated the tenant on departure. The compensation often took the form of a contribution towards the family _s passage to America, and/or clothing for the passage. When SK sought _voluntary _ surrender of land from a tenant whose viability was deemed hopeless and when the tenant refused to surrender, then SK tended to seek an ejectment decree. This of course involved both time and explicit legal costs. Even in such cases, however, we cannot be sure that the tenants were terminally ejected: the SK correspondence of the 1840s, combined with the Griffith Valuations of the 1850s, indicate many examples of tenants against whom ejectment decrees were intended or sought, but who were still on their holdings in the 1850s (indicating that ejectments were not terminally executed). Evidence on the points raised immediately above will be found in several chapters of Landlords, Tenants, Famine.


1. The author is Senior Lecturer in Economics at UCD.


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