Ref NoLE6
TitleWilson Lynch Papers
DescriptionPapers relating to the estate management of the lands of the Wilson-Lynch family at Belvoir, Sixmilebridge, and Kinvara in County Clare, and Renmore and other properties in and around Galway. This material includes rentals, labourers' wages and legal material relating to the leasing of lands. There is also a body of personal papers relating to the Wilson-Lynch family as well as the Redington family at Clarinbridge, County Galway including personal correspondence, genealogical items, newspaper cuttings, printed items, diaries, photographs, and music.

As there was no appreciable order to the collection, arrangement has been largely imposed. Certain groupings were identifiable, for example the Redington papers were a separate unit, and many of the personal and legal letters were in definite units. The list has been arranged in six main groups. Each of the six groups carries one of the lettes A-F in its reference number and the groups are entiteld as follows: Legal Papers 1707-1890; Estate Administration 1840-1941; Mount Bellew Estate 1698-1943; Personal Papers 1822-1961; Redington Papers 1841-1929; and Maureen Smyth's Papers 1870s to 1990s. The estate administration and the personal papers are both divided into subgroups relating to the different estates and to different persons. The sections (1, 2, 3, etc) determine the classes of document, for example leases, rentals, correspondence, accounts, maps and most of these sections are divided into subsections (2.1, 2.2, 2.3 etc) according to subject matter or person or type. In some cases subsections have been further divided as follows (2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3 etc). In general the collection has been arranged chronologically within each group and section. The spelling of place names is taken from the 'General Alphabetical Index to the townlands and towns, parishes and baronies of Ireland', with the exceptions of Duras (Doorus), Renmore (Rinmore), Knockaculleen (Knockakilleen), and Loughwell (Laughil). There has been some standardisation of the spelling of surnames to facilitate indexing. An extensive index has been appended to the list, and cross-references have been inserted into the text.

LE6 is a collection of estate papers, relating to the Wilson Lynch family, who held land in Counties Galway and Clare during the 19th century. Estate administration papers and personal papers form the main parts of the collection, reflecting the business and social activities of this Catholic land owning family. Some material relating to the Redington family of Kilcornan, Co. Galway, was assimilated into the collection in the 1930s. In essence the collection reflects Major John Wilson Lynch's (1831-1911) administration of his two estates, Duras, near Kinvara, Co. Galway and Belvoir, near Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare and his family life. He succeeded to the Duras estate on the death of his father Patrick Marcus Lynch in 1864. Patrick M Lynch's father, Mark Lynch, a successful banker and merchant, of Renmore, Co. Galway, had bought the Duras estate and the Aughinish peninsula on the Atlantic seaboard, from James de Basterot in the early 19th century. Richard Griffith's 'General Valuation of rateable property in Ireland' (1856) records Patrick M Lynch holding lands further inland at Cahercrillan, Cappaghbeg and Gortskeagh in the parish of Killiny and Killomoran in the parish of Kilmacduagh. John Wilson Lynch added to this Duras estate in 1873, by the purchase of three lots of the Daly estate, Roo Demesne, Leagh North and Shanclogh. The Lynchs held a small estte at Renmore, on the perimeter of Galway city, from the Erasmus Smith Schools. This was their principal residence. The Lynchs also owned various premises in Galway city and at Loughwell, near Moycullen, Co. Galway.

By his first wife Barbara Burke, Mark Lynch had one son, Patrick M Lynch. He married secondly Victoire Cormick by whom he had a number of children, including George Staunton Lynch Staynton and Richard M Lynch. In 1820 Patrick M Lynch married Ellen Wilson, sister of David John Wilson of Belvoir, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare. Family correspondence [insert ref LE6/D/1-18 original] reflects the good relationship between the brothers in law. When David J Wilson got into serious financial difficulties, Patrick M Lynch lent him money secured by a mortgage on Belvoir and the prospect of a life interestin the Belvoir estate for his son John.

Under the 17th century Acts of Settlement a Ralph Wilson acquired land in a number of townlands in Co. Clare. It was not clear whether he was related to the Richard Wilson of Moygallow, Co. Clare, who had a dispute with William Butler in the early years of the 18th century over a mortgage on the lands of Castlecrine and Cappanalaght [LE6/A/1-7]. Richard Wilson of Moygallow was the ancestor of the Wilsons of Belvoir. He had four sons, Richard, James, Lucius, and Rev. Joseph. In 1712 Henry O'Brien, Earl of Thomond leases the lands of Ballycullen to Richard Wilson, junior. These lands formed a large portion of the Belvoir estate, and in the early 20th century, the Wilson Lynchs were still paying head rent to the representative of the Earls of Thomond, Lord Leconfield. Richard Wilson, junior had two sons, David and John, the latter being the father of David John Wilson.

David J Wilson was a landlord with a genuine concern for the improvement of his tenantry. He built schools at Belvoir (replicated in Bunratty Folk Park) and Coolycasey and developed one of the first model agricultural schools in the country at Belvoir. Evidence of his desire to improve rural housing can be seen in his plan of a cheap cottage for a cottier or small farmer, which was published in the 'Farmer's Gazette' (1843) [LE6/B/521]. He published at least two pamphlets on national issues, copies of which are in the National Library of Ireland. One pamphlet concerned the death of five persons outside a polling booth in Sixmilebridge during the 1852 election. He established a relief fund for the families of the victims. David J Wilson died on 18th April 1864.

Following David J Wilson's death an agreement was reached between his widow, Mary and his nephew, John Wilson Lynch, whereby John Wilson Lynch was to have a life interest in the Belvoir estate and pay Mary Wilson her jointure. On John Wilson Lynch's death, the estate was to be inherited by his second son, if he should have one. John Wilson Lynch's brother in law, Edward Thomas Stapleton, advised him in this matter. Stapleton, a solicitor, argued strongly in favour of John Wilson Lynch securing the estate absolutely, as the income barely met the expenses. Edward T Stapleton was a grandson of the prominent Dublin builder, architect and stuccoer, Michael Stapleton. He and his brother George founded the firm of solicitors, E and G Stapleton. Members of the firm were legal advisors to the Wilson Lynch family and many of the legal documents and letters in this collection were generated in their offices at 28 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. In 1901, after the death of Edward T Stapleton, they moved their offices to 29 Molesworth St. Dublin. Moore, Kiely and Lloyd, 31 Molesworth St. Dublin now represent the firm of E and G Stapleton.

By the end of 1864 John Wilson Lynch was responsible for the administration of two substantial properties. In the 1876 'Landowners of Ireland' John Wilson Lynch's Duras estate, on the border of Counties Galway and Clare, was almost 5,410 acres, while his Belvoir estate, in the southeast corner of Co. Clare was just over 3,100 acres. The records of the administration of his estates are madeup of rentals, accounts, correspondence, Land Commission papers and maps. At first John Wilson Lynch employed land agents to run his estates but he became more personally involved as he grew older and financial necessity dictated. His involvement is well illustrated by the letters addressed to him on estate matters and by the detailed notes, which he kept. The agents' rental accounts for Belvoir are an almost continuous series from 1866 to 1911.

John Brady and A W Hazell were the main agents responsible for the running of the Belvoir and Duras estates between 1866 and 1910. The agents' rentals and accounts date from the mid 1860s but the estate correspondence begins in the 1880s at the time of the Land War. The Land Act of 1881 set up the Land Court to deal with the problem of land tenure. Tenants could apply to the Court to have a judicial rent fixed for a period of 15 years. Many tenants who had their rents fixed by the Land Court in the early 1880s found themselves unable to pay these judicial rents by the mid 1880s, when there was a large slump in agricultural prices. In a letter to John Wilson Lynch dated 4 November 1885, John Brady wrote that the tenants were looking for abatements on their judicial rents [LE6/B/130]. There was great unrest in the countryside and the following month this unrest led to the perpetration of an agrarian outrage on the Belvoir estate, when the wife of the bailiff, John Murphy, was shot in the leg in December 1885, [LE6/B/222]. The estate correspondence of the mid 1880s documents this rural unrest, the role played by the priests in negotiations between landlord and tenants, and the legal proceedings taken against some of the tenants for non payment of rent. Another flurry of correspondence between 1898 and 1901 documents the fixing of rents for a second statutory term. In 1890 John Wilson Lynch sold to the Land Commission, that part of the Duras estate which he had bought from the Daly family in 1873, and before his death in 1911 he had inherited the sale of the Belvoir estate.

In 1865 John Wilson Lynch married Fanny Redington, second daughter of Sir Thomas N Redington of Kilcornan, Co. Galway. They had five children, three boys and two girls, who both became nuns. The eldest son Mark, died in 1892, aged 26. Thomas Wilson Lynch (1870-1947) inherited the Duras estate after his father's death in 1911 and by an agreement reached with his younger brother William Wilson Lynch (1871-[1964]) in 1912, Belvoir became the property of William Wilson Lynch [LE6/B/404]. Both brothers were in the British Army, Thomas Wilson Lynch served in India in the mid 1890s and later became a local government inspector. He was on military duty in Dublin at the time of the Easter Rising in 1916 and wrote a letter to his aunt, Mary T Redingon ['Hookey'], describing events in Dublin at the time [LE6/E/175]. In 1901 he married Kathleen Joyce, daughter of Pierce Joyce, Mervue, Co. Galway and they were the parents of Maureen Smyth. No papers survive relating to Thomas Wilson Lynch's administration of the Duras estate, in fact the collection contains very few papers relating to Duras after 1901 and the rentals for that estate end in 1895.

tains very few papers relating to Duras after 1901 and the rentals for that estate end in 1895.

William Wilson Lynch fought in the Boer War and served in the army in Madagascar. A copy of a journal of one of his friends, Horace Weldon, who was a scout and field guide during the war, gives graphic details of the relief of Ladysmith [LE6/F/353]. On assuming the additional surname of Wilson, William Wilson Lynch became the owner of the Belvoir estate in 1912 and continued to advance the sale of the estate. This involved liaison with his solicitors E and G Stapleton, who had carriage of sale, and with the Land Commission, who were purchasing the estate on behalf of the tenants. In 1922 when the sale was finally completed, William Wilson Lynch retained Belvoir House and a small amount of demesne land. Belvoir House was an early 19th century Gothic structure, built by David J Wilson and maintained by the family until 1872, when the furniture was sent to Duras and Kilcornan [LE6/B/63] as the house was to be let to Lady Loftus [LE6/A/18]. The main part of the house was burnt down in 1881 and despite an insurance claim, was never rebuilt. However the family lived in what Hugh W L Weir in his 'Houses of Clare' describe as 'the long two storey return', which 'estends from the north west corner of the house and embraces a large yard'. Belvoir became the family home of John and Fanny Wilson Lynch in the mid 1890s, when Renmore was let to the Persse family. John Wilson Lynch stayed at the Galway County Club, when he came to Galway on business. Belvoir was later the home of William Wilson Lynch and his wife Blanche. William Wilson Lynch left Belvoir to his housekeeper, Nora Hannon.

In 1904 John Wilson Lynch inherited asmall estate of 511 acres at Mount Bellew, Co. Galway, and some railway shares. His uncle, Richard M Lynch, left him this property by a deed of settlement, dated 1885 [LE6/C/17]. Richard M Lynch had reserved a life interest to his daughter Anne Varenne Foster, who died in 1904. A deed box, which was sent to John Wilson Lynch in January 1905, by a London bank, contained documents, which give some of the history of the Lynch's ownership of this estate. John Wilson Lynch sold the estate to the tenants through the Land Commission. The sale was completed in 1908. He was responsible for the administration of the estate between 1904-1908 and for the payment of estate and succession duties on the property. Andrew D Comyn, Loughrea, Co. Galway, was the solicitor employed by the Wilson Lynchs in matters regarding their Mount Bellew estate, which ended with the purchase of the head rent of Cloonreleagh by Col Grattan Bellew in 1926. Personal papers relating to Richard M Lynch's career, firstly as a Poor Law Inspector and later as a Special Commissioner for Income Tax ave been left with Richard M Lynch's estate papers.

The personal papers of John Wilson Lynch and his son William Wilson Lynch are mainly comprised of letters from family members and friends, however they also cover official and business positions. For John Wilson Lynch, these functions included Chairman of the Galway Bay Steamboat Company in 1898 and administrator of the effects of his nephew Eddie Stapleton. William Wilson Lynch was honorary secretary of the Clare Hunt from 1908 to 1914, a trustee of the Redington estate, and a keen genealogist.

John Wilson Lynch's letters from friends and family portray his personal life, which for the thirty years preceeding his death in 1911 was beset with financial difficulties. He was a close friend of Sir George Morris, brother of Michael Morris, 1st Lord Killanin, from whom he received letters describing his travels on the Continent. A 1903 series of letters from his wife Fanny, describe the last illness of his daughter Ellen, a nun in the Sisters of Charity order.

The Redingtons were also a Catholic and land owning family in Co. Galway. Originally settled at Creganna, the Redingtons bought the Kilcornan estate, near Clarinbridge, from the Burkes and Thomas Redington established his branch of the family there. Maureen Smyth presented a book of the pedigree of the Burkes of Kilcornan to the James Hardiman Library, UCG, in 1952 [see Lse Breise 15 and LE6/F/4-6]. By 1876 Christopher Talbot Redington held an estate of 9,626 acres at Kilcornan and 2,954 acres in Co. Wexford.

Thomas Nicholas Redington, only son of Christopher Redington and Frances Xaveria Dowell, (she was affectionately known as 'Muddy'), succeeded his grandfather Thomas Redington in 1827. Through his maternal grandmother Tucker, Thomas N Redington was related to the Burkes of Knocknagur, Co. Galway and to Cardinal Wiseman. Thomas Henry Burke, who was assassinated in the Phoenix Park in 1882, was Thomas N Redington's cousin and private secretary and his younger brother Theobald ('Bobby', later Sir Theobald Burke of Glinsk) was a frequent guest in the Redington household.

Thomas N Redington was a politician and MP for Dundalk 1837-46. During the Famine years he served as the first Catholic Under Secretary for Ireland and was knighted in 1849. J G Grace redesigned the interior of Kilcornan for him [LE6/E/78] and Matilda de la Boisserie later wrote that when she visited the house in the 1880s, it had a cosmopolitan atmosphere and was full of treasures from Italy and France [P25].

In 1842 Thomas N Redington married Anne Eliza Talbot, daughter of John Talbot of Ballytrent, Co. Wexford. This link with the Talbot family was very important to the Redingtons, as the Talbots had a wide range of political and social contacts in Ireland, England, and on the Continent. Thomas N Redington and Anne Eliza Talbot were married from ALton Towers, Cheadle, near Chester, Staffordshire, England, the home of England's premier Catholic lord, John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Maria Theresa, who was a cousin of Anne Eliza. Lady Shrewsbury's letters [LE6/R/79-87] to Anne Eliza give a descriptive insight into the life of high society in Rome and Sicily, in the late 1840s and early 1850s. The Shrewsburys had two daughters, both of whom married Italian princes. One daughter was the venerable Princess Borghese [LE6/E/223]. Contact with their Italian cousins was maintained by the succeeding generation of Redingtons.

Sir Thomas and Anne Eliza Redington had six children, five of whom survived to become adults. Their births are recorded in Sir Thomas N Redington's handwriting in the family bible [LE6/F/1]. The only son, Christopher Talbot Redington, was a student at Oxford University, where he became a friend of Gladstone's son, Stephen, and president of the Union [LE6/E/174]. He travelled widely, took an active part in local and national politics, and was a supporter of Home Rule. He appears to have rejected the life of an MP to further the cause of education in Ireland. In 1894 he became Vice Chancellor of the Royal Universit of Ireland and was made Resident Commissioner on Education for Ireland. He died unmarried in 1899 and was succeeded at Kilcornan by his elder sister, Annie. Christopher T Redington had sold all the Kilcornan estate, except the demesne, to the tenants and it became a struggle for his sisters to maintain the house and lifestyle they were accustomed to. Fanny Redinton, who married John Wilson Lynch in 1865, was the only one of his four sisters to marry. The youngest sister, Matilda [Tilly] Redington, was a founder member of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and its honorary secretary from 1903 until her death in 1923. Mary Theresa Redington's papers display a strong religious absorption but she was also a social person, see her witty description of the Galway Hunt Ball, attended by the Dike of Connaught in 1878 [LE6/E/122]. After her death in 1932, Kilcornan was sold to Galway County Council [LE6/D/270]. The folder of Redington papers 1841-1929 may possibly be a collection of her personal papers, which were filed separately by her nephew, William Wilson Lynch. The rest of the Redington papers, mainly comprised of correspondence, portray many aspects of the official, social and family life of this prominent Galway family.

This collection is an accumulation of papers preserved by John Wilson Lynch and his son William Wilson Lynch. Like many other estate collections, the Wilson Lynch Papers document the relationship between landlord and tenant. They also record the decline of one particular landlord in the late 19th century, a decline brouht about by a fall in estate income, leading to an increase in landlord indebtedness and te eventual sale of the estate to pay off encumbrances. The Redingtons papers touch on the impossibility of maintaining a large house and demesne without the supporting estate and so the privileged life of many of the landlord class, well illustrated by the Redingtons, was brought to an end. The Belvoir rentals invite an in-depth study of rents, as they are an almost continuous series covering 40 years. Local historians, from a number of different localities will find much o interest in the collection, from such references as the erection of a water pump of Aughinish [LE6/B/242 and B/644], to improvements at the Sixmilebridge courthouse [LE6/D/274], to in depth studies of the different estates. William Wilson Lynch was a keen genealogist and there is genealogical material relating to the Wilson Lynch, Redington and associated families. Genealogical information relating to tenants can also be gleaned from estate records. Joe Murphy has already used the Redington papers in this collecion to write his history of 'The Redingtons of Clarinbridge', published in 1999. Christopher T Redington however appears to merit further study and the material relating to him in these papers would be an essential source for anyone undertaking such a project.

Consultation of articles written by Martin J Blake in the 1910s and published in the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society (JGAHS), show that at least two other historical documents, whose whereabouts is now unknown, were also part of the Wilson Lynch collection. He writes that the 'Account of the Lynch Family', written by John Lynch, son of Alexander Lynch in 1915, was a quarto size manuscript book found by Mrs Fanny Wilson Lynch among the papers of her husband, John Wilson Lynch after his death in 1911 [JGAHS Vol 8, p 76]. Martin J Blake could not explain how this account came to be in the Wilson Lynch collection, however LE6/A/56 shows that Patrick M Lynch, father of John Wilson Lynch, was executor of the will of John Lynch Alexander. The 'Old Lynch Manuscript', which was also found among John Wilson Lynch's papers, consisted of 31 folios stitched together and bound in a brown paper cover. The folios were compiled by different persons and mainly related to the tribal families of Galway. Much of the information in this book has been preserved by Martin J Blake's writings in the JGAHS volumes 8 and 9. The book was in Fanny Wilson Lynch's possession in 1917 [see JGAHS, Vol 10, p 66].

Related MaterialPedigree of the Burke Family of Kilcornan [Lse Breise 15]
Jacques Dumont de Montroy, 'Memoirs of Countess Turquet de la Boisserie (Matilda O'Kelly of Newtown) 1865-1956', [P25]
National Library of Ireland, 21 F 76 (34), Map and survey of that part of Renmore in the county and town of Galway, surrendered to the Governors of the Erasmus Smith's College, by John Wilson Lynch in November 1891, including the adjoining shore, with names of tenants etc.
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