Churchtown's History



By Jim McCarthy

From the Norman period down to the closing years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the lands stretching from Kanturk to Charleville, taking in Liscarroll, Churchtown and Buttevant, were held by such noble families as Fitzstephen, De Cogan and De Barry.

The sway of the De Barry's seemed to prevail over the Barrony of Orrery, but political and financial troubles appear to have overtaken their princely line in the closing years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and their fortunes and possessions passed into other hands either by sale or confiscation.


It is remarkable that the chief inheritor of the Barry's lands in the district around Churchtown and Kanturk was a member of a distinguished Norman line of a very ancient and noble pedigree who had won honours in the service of Church and state long before any other Norman chiefs ever set foot in Ireland.

History tells us that the Percivals were among the bravest of the Norman chiefs and their records were numerous and honourable. Long before the Norman conquest of England, the name of Percival was found high in the religious and military records of Normandy and Brittany as members of the family were related to the ruling dynasty of these provinces. Robert Percival held prominent rank in the invading Army of William the Conqueror, and sharing in the spoils of the vicors, he was rewarded with broad estates in the County of Somerset.

Here in the rich County or Shire in the South of England the Percivals were to make their home. In those early centuries the Percivals were a great Roman Catholic family. To them the peace of the countryside became more attractive than the battlefield.

A great amount of the wealth he had won by the sword, Robert Percival gave generously to the Church. Then in his closing years he became a monk and ended his days in the Abbey of Bec in Normandy.


The martial character of the family was sustained by Robert's eldest son, Ascelin, who, in addition to other titles was known as "Lupus" or the "Wolf". This name was given to Ascelin on account of the violent temper he generated in the days when he fought beside his father in battle.

His grandson, William Percival was dubbed "Lupelius" or "The Little Wolf". Robert Percival, was a generous benefactor of the Monks of Thame, whose monastery he endowed with portions of his estate in Somerset.

Richard Percival some years before his death again became thirsty for war and invasion, and he came to Ireland with Strongbow. Later on in the year 1190 he joined the forces of King Richard the first and he commanded the force who in a fierce battle recovered Jerusalem from the Saracens. Returning home badly wounded he soon after died and was buried under a noble monument in the Church of Weston-Garden where it existed up to the Civil War of 1641 when it was destroyed by the Round Heads. It has been stated by historians that their fury was excited more by the Catholic terms of the Epitaph than by any other feature of the memorial.

The inscriptur read as follows: "Pray for the soul of Richard Percival, who served in the Wars, for the recovery of the Holy Land with King Richard A.D. 1190".

In the same tomb lay buried his son, Richard, who possessed the same warlike spirit of his father, and did battle for the Faith in the crusading campaigns. This disposition was also inherited by the next in line, Robert First Baron Percival.


Robert Baron Percival the first in the family to receive a title was a near relation of Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, in whose army he was first directed to the shores of Ireland and with Stephen De Burgo and two hundred other knights, in 1261 he pushed his fortunes and acquired vast estates in this country. Here he made a permanent settlement and leased to his brother most of his estates in England. He was summoned as a Baron of the Realm to the Parliament held by King Edward I in Dublin, in 1225. Robert First Baron Percival died that same year (1225) leaving two sons, Richard and Robert, successively second and third Baron Percival.


Robert 3rd Baron had his chief settlement in Co.Meath, near a place called Fort Lester, which was the scene of a great battle 400 years later where Owen Roe O'Neill was the victor. Robert 3rd Baron was summoned by the King to serve in the Scottish Wars. On his return to Ireland he was slain by the native forces in a skirmish in the month of October 1303. Having been a great benefactor to the Priory of Youghal, he selected this as his place of interment, and there he lies buried.

A full account of his career was given by one of the Friars of Youghal and the original manuscript can still be seen in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

By his marriage with Grace, eldest daughter of Fitzmaurice, second Baron of Kerry, he left an only son, Thomas, who died unmarried in 1322, and the title of Baron Percival became extinct. But the family line was continued by his cousin John, the youngest son of Sir Richard Percival, who served with his father in the Holy Wars against the Sacerens.


The entire hereditary estates in both kingdoms devolved upon John, who was summoned to attend before King Henry III at Shrewsbury, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, with horse and arms, to join in the War against Llewellyn, Prince of Wales. Being religious, like his ancestors, John Percival made grants to the Irish Monks who occupied the Monastery of Thame, and he gave them some land near the town of Bodecombe, in England. His sons and brothers shared the same loyalty to the ancient creed.


Roger Percival the heir, also inherited the estates of his father-in-law Sir John De Brechne, which almost doubled his family fortune. Roger was one of the Barons twice summened to Councils at London and Newcastle in connection with threatened aggression by Philip, King of Spain, who sought to disturb the political relations of King Edward with Scotland and Flanders. In those records he is styled as Lord Roger Percival. In succession came Sir Walter Percival. At the age of 21 years Sir Walter was a conspicuous figure in the French Wars.


Richard Percival was born in 1446 and died at the age of 42 years. He was buried with many of his ancestors in the Church at Weston-Garden and on his gravestone can be seen the following inscription, in French, which translated reads: " Her rests the body of Richard Percival who died in the year of Salvation 1488. May God have pity on his soul".

Following the next heirs Richard and John Percival, came Sir James, the first of that name in the long family line.


Sir James Percival was born in the year 1467 and lived to the age of 82 years. He lived to see the violent changes and troubles introduced by Henry VIII. He preserved not only his inheritance, but the faith of his ancestors, and on his death he left many bequests for religious purposes. The following are a few extracts from his will.


"I James Percival, gentleman, being of good and whole memory, this present day, order and make my last will in the manner succeeding. I bequeath my soul to Almighty God, and to Our Blessed Lady Mary, and to all the company of Heaven. My body to be buried in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalen within the Church of St Paul in Weston-Garden. I bequeath to St Andrews, the Mother Church in Wells, eleven shillings. I bequeath to the Church of St Paul 20 shillings. To the Church of St Peter six shillings and eight pence and order my name, with that of my wife to be set in the quarter-tense list there. I leave to the parish Church at Wraxall the sum of six shillings and eight pence. I bequeath to my son Edmond Percival, my best gown of Canbrio, my best doublet of satin and a cot of black damask, and unto my servant Richard, my best riding coat, a cap, a doublet and pair of hose, at the discretion of my wife". He then disposes of his plate and property making his wife residuary and legatee. The document bears the signatures of his confessor, Fr William Adams, John Kenn and Gilbert Cogan, his brother-in-law.

Though the donations mentioned in Sir James's Will may appear small they would be considered generous at that time as the value of money was much greater then.

It is also evident that Sir James Percival was a strict adherant of the Catholic Religion, from his manifest belief in the protection of the Blessed Virgin and in souls departed, by masses, prayers and almsgiving.


Edmond and James the sons of Sir James Percival, abandoned the old Catholic religion, which had been the religion of their ancestors for 500 years or more.

They changed over to the new Protestant religion and their descendants have followed that path ever since.


Thomas Percival, great-grandson of Sir James was born in 1513. When he inherited he found the estate, wasted and encumbered, a condition not relieved by the active part he took in the conflicts on the losing side. He held an only daughter who died unmarried and intestate. Her passing terminated that branch of the family which had held the estates in Somerset for more than 600 years.

By her death the entail created by Sir Ralph Percival was cut off and the estate was sold off in different lots. But the name and fame of Percival was kept active by Richard Percival, Lord of Twickenham a cousin of the above mentioned Thomas Percival.


Richard Percival, Lord of Twickenham was born in 1550. He was educated at St. Pauls School and Lincolons Inn. He, at first, pursued a most extravagant career which resulted in being cut off and disowned by his father. He went to live in Spain where he remained for years and while there he acquired a thorough knowledge of the Spanish language. On his return home to England he became a confidential agent to Lord Burghley.

Around that time the Spanish Armada were preparing an attempt to land on the shores of England. Certain letters in cypher, detailing the purposes and particulars of the proposed invasion were siezed on a Spanish ship engaged in carrying supplies from Holland and these letters were placed before the Queen in council. On examination the papers could not be read or understood and it was proposed to send for Richard Percival to see if he could translate them.

Richard examined the papers and the next day he them to the Queen fully deciphered and translated into English, Spanish and Latin. The papers revealed the chief features in the contemplated expedition, for the destruction of British power on the high seas, and the planned subjugation of the Kingdom. This startling intelligence was confirmed by other confidential communications, and the skill exhibited and the knowledge thus obtained was welcomed by the Queen.


By this great feat in exposing the secret plans of the Spanish, Richard Percival was received into the Queen's favour and awarded a pension of 500 per annum. He also received a post at the Court of the Duke of Lancaster with a salary of 400 per annum. Sometime later Sir Robert Cecil, son of Lord Burghley, was appointed master of the Court of Wards and Richard Percival was appointed Secretary at a salary of 2,000 per annum. These marks of Royal favour, and the advance in his fortunes, secured his fathers forgiveness and he left him heir to the family estates.

Sometime later he was sent by Queen Elizabeth I on a financial mission to Ireland and after a short time he was appointed Registrar of the Courts of Wards. Richard served for some time in parliament where he was an M.P. for Yorkshire while serving in parliament he quickly came to the front by his marked capacity in matters of trade, finance, revenue and other matters of public concern.


Like many more adventurers before and since, Richard Percival saw a field for speculation and profit in the then troubled land of Ireland. He sold off some of his estates in England and purchased vast lots of land in the Northern part of County Cork.

His lands here were greatly added to when he was granted thousands of acres of the confiscated lands of the Barrys. These estates included the Great Castle of Liscarroll, the Castles of Annagh, Walshestown, Ballinville, Templeconnell, Lisgriffin and the Castle and lands of Lahort, near Cecilstown. Percival was also granted The Great Castle of The McDonogh-McCarthys and their lands which surrounded the present town of Kanturk. It is interesting to note that one of the principal streets in the town is still names after the family, Percival Street. It is thus we come to the first settlement of the Percivals in the neighbourhood of Churchtown, Liscarroll, Buttevant and Kanturk. Here they held sway for the greater part of 300 years until their reign was terminated by the sale of their lands under the Ashbourne Act around the year 1895. The lands of Richard Percival, Lord of Twickenham amounted to 62,500 Irish acres. 1,600 acres of this estate covered free warren, chase and other priviledges.

The estates were manned by 76 knights and in those troubled days the rents yielded 400 a year.

Richard, Lord of Twickenham, died in 1620 and was succeeded by his only son.


Sir Philip Percival whose name is so prominently associated with The History of Liscarroll in 1642, was the succeeding heir to the estates and fortunes of North Cork, built up and laid down by his father, Richard, Lord of Twickenham.

Sir Philip Percival was born in the year 1605 and at the age of 25, held official positions as keeper of the records of Bermingham Tower, Clerk of the Rolls of the Upper House of Parliament, Clerk of The Common Pleas and Kings Bench, Collector of the Port of Dublin, and member of the Privy Council of King Charles I.

From the large salaries he received from the high official government positions he held and aided buy grants and forfeitures, he was enabled to buy more large tracts of land in addition to that large estate he had already inherited from his father in the Baronies of Orrery and Duhallow. Sir Ralph also held lands in the Counties of Dublin, Wexford and Tipperary. He married in 1624, Catherine, daughter of Arthur usher of Newcomen, Mosstown, Co. Longford.

Sir Ralph Percival died of fever in the City of London on the 10th of November 1647, at the age of 44 years.

He was buried in the Church of St. Martin-in-the-fields and the following inscription marked his place of burial.


Philip lies here, at length subdued by fate

By birth illustrious and by fortune great

Capricious chance long taught him to explore

By turns, her fickle fondness and her power

Could the remembrance of his virtues sleep

Envy herself at the sad loss would weep

Sir Philip had two sons, Sir John, his heir and George.


Sir John Percival 1st Baronet was born on September 7th 1629. He succeeded his father nto the vast estates in England and Ireland. He was created a Baronet of Ireland, on September 9th 1661. He married an the 14th of February 1655 Catherine, daughter of Robert Southwell of Kinsale. They had four sons and two daughters, Philip, Robert, John and Charles and the girls were Catherine and Helena.


On September 27th 1670, a contract giving details for the building of a house at Burton near Churchtown is entered into gy Robert Southwell Esq. (brother of Lady Percival) and William Kenn, of Cahermary, Co.Limerick, Architect.

The new mansion of Burton was 76 feet long, 57 feet wide and 30 feet high. The outside walls were to be 3 1/2 feet thick and the inner walls 7 feet thick for the first storey and 3 feet thick for the second storey. On the house there were 12 chimneys, four in the hall storey and four in the dining story and four in the garret story. The chimneys were raised 7 feet above the road. The house was completed in 1676. It was attacked and burned with the Village of Churchtown , by the Duke of Berwicks army in October 1691. The house lay in ruins for almost one hundred years when the ruins were cleared and a new house erected by the Earl of Egmont around 1785.

In the year 1800, Burton House and lands were purchased from the Earl by Sir John Purcell, of Highfort, Liscarroll, for his son, Rev Matthew Purcell, Rector of Churchtown. The house was beautifully restored and enlarged by the late Matthew John Purcell in 1900.


Sir John Percival died at Burton Park before the new mansion (burned 1691) was completed. He died somewhere in Churchtown village. That Church was then the Church of Ireland (Protestant), Church of the Parish.


Sir Philip Percival 2nd, eldest son and heir to Sir John Percival was born on January 12th 1656. He died unmarried at Burton House, Churchtown, on September 11th 1690. He was buried with his father in the vault underneath the Church in Churchtown village. His funeral was the largest ever seen in the district. All the tenants that could possibly come were invited and all the neighbours and the villagers of Churchtown were entertained and in those days when the value of money was great, the burial cost more than 700. Sir Philip Percival 2nd Baronet died unmarried. The title devolved upon his brother.


Sir John Percival married in February 1680, Catherine, daughter of Sir Edward Daring. He died in 1699 and was succeeded by his son.


Sir Edward Percival died unmarried in the same year as his father (1699) and was succeeded by his brother.


John, 1st Earl of Egmont, F.R.S. M.P. County Cork 1705-15, P.C. 1704, M.P. for Harwich 1722-34, born July 22nd 1683, created Baron Percival of Burton Park, April 21st 1715. Created Viscount Percival of Kanturk, February 25th 1722, both in Peeragex of Ireland. He was appointed first President of Georgia 1732, and was created 1st Earl of Egmont in the Peerage of Ireland, November 6th 1733. He married on June 10th 1710, Catherine, daughter of Sir William Parker, of Edwardstown, Suffolk. The Earl died on May 1st 1748 and was survived by his only son and heir, John 2nd Earl and two daughters, Catherine and Helena.


John Percival, 2nd Earl of Egmont, was born February 24th 1710. He married firstly on February 16th 1736, Catherine, daughter of the Earl of Salzburg. They had five sona and one daughter. John, James, 3rd Earl, Cecil Parker, Philip, Edward and Frederick and a daughter Catherine. John, 2nd Earl of Egmont, married secondly on January 23rd 1756. Catherine, daughter of Hon. Charles Compton. She was created a Peeress of Ireland on May 23rd 1770 as Baroness Arden, of Lohort Castle, Cecilstown. By his second marraige, John, 2nd Earl of Egmont, had one son. He was Charles George and he was created Baron Arden in 1802.


Charles George, Baron Arden was born on October 1st 1757 he was M.P. for Laureston in 1780 and for Warwick 1785-1790. He was created a Peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Arden of Arden, Co. Warwick. He was Lord of the Admiralty and Registrar of the Admiralty Court. He married on the 31st of March 1787 Elizabeth, eldest daughter of General Thomas Spencer Wilson. He died on July 5th 1840, leaving a son John who married Elizabeth Anne, daughter of Earl of Cardigan.

A house on the Egmont estate near Buttevant was named Arden House, after that branch of the Percival family. John, 2nd Earl of Egmont, father of Lord Arden, filled some high offices around the Court of England. He was enrolled among the Peers of Great Britain on May 7th 1792 by the titles of Lord Lovell and Holland, of Enmore, Somerset.The Earl died on December 4th 1790 and was succeeded by his son.


John James, 3rd Earl, was born on 28th January 1738. He married on June 4th 1765 Isabella, only daughter and heir of Lord Nassau Paulett, son of Duke of Bolton. The Earl died on February 25th 1822, leaving an only son.


John, 4th Earl, was born on August 13th 1767. He married on March 10th 1792, Bridget, only daughter of Leut. Col. Glynn-Wynne, brother of 1st Baron of Newbury.

The Earl died on December 31st 1835, leaving an only son. We now come to the strange story which changed the fate and the fortunes of this great family of Percival, Earl of Egmont. The story, I am about to relate, was told nightly around the firesides of Churchtown, Ballinguile and Ballyhoura, when I was a small lad and indeed those were the days of storytelling. Those were the days before electricity came to the countryside and before we even heard of television or radio, when there was nothing else to do during the long winter nights, but tell or listen to stories.


On the death of George III, on the 20th of January 1820, the heir to the throne, the Prince Regent, lay seriously ill and his doctors had little hope of his recovery. On the evenung of February 2nd, his condition suddenly became critical and his principal physician, Sir Henry Halford, was away and the attendants grew alarmed. At that moment a young doctor named Tierney arrived in London, from Brighton, and being called in took it on himself to operate on the King. He took 50 ounces of blood from the King, which relieved him very much. Doctor Tierney spent the whole night at the Royal patient's bedside and next morning the King was much better and in a short time he was fully recovered. Dr Tierney had saved his life.

The story of this Dr. Tierney and his brother Edward, is not without interest. Their father was John Tierney of Ballyscanlan, near Rathkeale, Co. Limerick. He had a small farm and he was also a weaver by trade. His eldest son Matthew was born in 1776 and the younger, Edward was born in 1780. As the circumstances of the family were modest, the boys received little education, only what they were able to pick up at a local Hedge School. Matthew was apprenticed to a chemist in Rathkeale and his great ambition was to set up, eventually, in that profession, in his native locality. When the day came and he was fully qualified, a disappointment arose. Tradition says that not having enough money to pay for the stock he required, he was refused credit and was so angry at the way he was treated he left for London., swearing that he would never set foot in Rathkeale again. He got a job there as a chemist's assistant. While doing so he attended evening classes at Guys Hospital as a student of medicine and later at St. Thomas' Hospital, Southwark. Tierney became a great friend of Dr. Jenner, who some time earlier had discovered the vaccine which cured the small pox. Through Jenner's help and influence, Tierney was admitted as a student of medicine in an Edinburg University and qualified as a doctor in 1801. He set up practise in Brighton and it was while there he saved the life of the Prince Regent. His name and fame spread and his medicine practise became immense. He was appointed Phisician Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales and he was much in favour in the Royal Court. Around this time Dr. Tierney settled in London, when he was made Baronet of the United Kingdom with the title of Sir. Matthew Tierney.


While Matthew Tierney was pushing his fortunes across the channel, the interests of his brother Edward at home were not neglected. He was apprenticed to a solicitor in Limerick and was admitted to the profession around 1806. He was aman of ability and intelligence, with much strength of character. Though he was living and practising as a solicitor in Dublin, he kept up the closest relations with his brother in England., In 1808, Sir Matthew Tierney married a Miss Jones and in 1812 Edward married her sister. Each bride had a fortune of more than 20,000. Sir Matthew's influence with the King procured for his brother, Edward, the appointment of Crown Solicitor for Ulster with a salary of 10,000 a year. Edward visited his beother on several occasions where he gained admittance into the Court circles of London and Brighton, where he won the friendship of a family which had an amportant bearing on his furture career.

Among the glamorous circle who formed the Court of the Prince Regent was the Countess of Egmont, wife of John 4th Earl of Egmont. She was beautiful and attractive and received the attention of many of the young squires who attended the balls and banquets at the Royal Palace.

One of her admirers was Edward Tierney, the young solicitor from Ireland. A great friendship developed between Edward Tierney and the Egmont family. When Edward Tierney's first son was born, Lady Egmont and her son Henry were his sponsors. He was named Percival Tierney, as Percival was the family name of the Earls of Egmont. In 1823 the Earl of Egmont appointed Edward Tierney as agent over his Irish estates.

As I have already stated the estates covered thousands of acres around Churchtown and Kanturk, in North Cork. Tierney was an able manager and he transformed the estate by the great improvements he carried out.

John, 4th Earl of Egmont died on December 31st 1835 and was succeeded by his only son, Henry, who was godfather to Edward Tierney's son.


Henry was born on January 3rd 1796, fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, M.P. East London 1826, married December 1828 Louisa Maria Dorselet. He died on Christmas Day 1841.

Henry, 5th Earl of Egmont had no heir. His marraige only lasted a short time, as his wife could not accept his drunkeness and loose living. When Henry died in 1841, he left all his estates in England and Ireland to his agent, Edward Tierney.


Sir Matthew Tierney, the famous doctor and favourite of the King, died in 1844 and the title passed to his heir, his brother Edward, who from there on became known as Sir Edward Tierney, and with the title came an annual income of 30,000.

When Sir Edward Tierney took over the Egmont estates he lived for a part of the year at Churchtown House, which had been vacated by the Crofts family. Tierney had another fine house at 15 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, demolished a few years ago to make way for the new head offices of the E.S.B. Sir Edward Tierney laid out fine farms and built fine farmhouses on the estate, especially in the Churchtown district. But, unhappily, these improvements entailed much suffering, as in order to enlarge the farms Tierney cleared out hundreds of small holders and cottiers. The miseries those poor people endured left a dark stain on the memory of Sir Edward Tierney. An old gentleman who lived in the parish of Churchtown when I was a schoolboy, often told me the stopry he was told by his grandfather, of the constant stream of evicted people, who left Churchtown on foot to catch the emigrant ship at Queenstown. The railway to Cork had not arrived when those poor wretches left in 1845-46.


I do not know what became of the son of Sir Edward Tierney, who was the godson of Henry 5th, Earl of Egmont, neither do I know if Tierney had any other sons, but his only daughter married a clergyman named Rev. Sir Lionel Darrell. The Darrell family lived at Fretherne House, in Somerset in England. Here at Fretherne House, on June 4th 1856, Sir Edward Tierney died at the age of 76 years.

In his Will he left all his estates which were left to him by Henry, 5th Earl of Egmont, to his son-in-law Rev. Sir Lionel Darrell. When Henry 5th Earl of Egmont died in 1841 without any direct heir, the title passed to his distant cousin Lord Arden, who did not receive one penny from the estates, only the empty title of Earl of Egmont. All the estates, with whatever assets, went by will to the agent Sir Edward Tierney.

Sir Edward Tierney cleared all the old thatched houses in the village of Churchtown, and between the year 1841 and 1849 he planned and rebuilt the village as we know today. He had the village built in the form of a square, and the principal street he named Georges St., after the King that put his brother Matthew, and later himself, on the road to great fortune. One side of the square in Churchtown village he named Egmont Row, after the Earl of Egmont who left him everything. We now come to the Earl who got nothing only the empty title of Earl of Egmont.


George James Percival was born on March 15th 1794. He was an administer in the Reserve List. He entered the Royal Navy and fought under Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. He succeeded his father as Lord Arden in 1840, and his cousin as Earl of Egmont in 1841. He married in June 1819 Jane, daughter of John Hornsby. They had no children and the Earl died on August 7th 1874 when he was succeeded by his nephew. In the year 1860 a strange thing happened in the life of the 6th Earl of Egmont.


One day in the closing months of the year 1860, a stranger called at Fretherne House in Somerset, the home of Sir Lionel Darrell, the son-in-law of Sir Edward Tierney, and now the owner of Egmont Estates. Sir Lionel enquired the purpose of the strangers visit. The stranger said how he had information on how the will giving the Egmont estates to Sir Edward Tierney was obtained, and with that information he could break the Will of the Earl. He would give the information to the Egmont family unless Sir Lionel Darrell gave him the sum of 500 which he badly needed. Sir Lionel on hearing this ordered the stranger from the house. The stranger then went to the house of the Earl of Egmont and gave him all the information he had concerning the Will of Henry 5th Earl. Immediately the 6th Earl took action against Sir Lionel Darrell for the recovery of the estates. The case which was the most remarkable to ever come before the Irish Courts in the 19th century was tried during the Summer Assizes at Cork in 1863.


The case attracted widespread interest, and public attention far and near was concentrated on it. Some of the most famous barristers of the time were engaged in the case ahich lasted five days, when a settlement was reached. Nineteen years and eight months after Sir Edward Tierney became the owner of the vast Egmont estates, the 6th Earl of Egmont, commenced an action to break the will of Earl Henry and recover the estates from Sir Lionel Darrell. It was to try the validity of this will that the issue entitled Darrell V Egmont, was sent down by the Court of Chancery to the Cork Assizes.

As the Tierneys went up, the Egmonts went down. Their estates built up by Sir Philip Percival, an adventurer of the time of Queen Elizabeth I, they for the greater part of three hundred years prospered, grew powerful and wealthy and upon them were showered honours, places and titles. One of the family became Earl of Egmont, another Lord Arden, another Baron Lovell, and they intermarried with the greatest families in the Empire. In the last century one of the Earls of Egmont was one of the most powerful and most wealthy men in Great Britain and Ireland and his brother Spencer Percival, was Prime Minister of England, he was assasinated in the Lobby of the House of Commons by a man named John Bellingham in May 1812. But as the 19th century waned the house of Egmont waned.

Reckless extravaganza and gross mismanagement took its toll on their great wealth and the elder branch expired with Henry 5th Earl, a confirmed bankrupt, a hopeless drunkard and the most unhappy of men.


On opening the case for Sir Lionel Darrell, Dr Ball (afterwards Lord Chancellor of Ireland) described the testator Earl Henry, as a man sunk in pecuniary difficulties, and unfortunataly addicted to habits of imtemperance. The Earl preserved all the habits of a gentleman which he showed in his long correspondence with Sir Edward Tierney. Dr Ball went on the say that the Will Lord Henry made was a natural one. He had no near relatives, his wife had died and they had no children , and he had no brothers or sisters. The next heir was his distant cousin, Lord Arden, of whom he knew nothing.

Relations were always strained between the Egmonts and the Ardens because the Egmonts believed that their estates were greatly impoverished by the large slice taken out to endow the title of Arden.

Dr Ball went on to say that when Sir Edward Tierney took over the Egmont Estates, they were only of trifling value. Since then their value was increased by the care and expenditure laid on them by Sir Edward, and the large increase in the value of Irish land.

Witnesses were called to show that Earl Henry was a competent testater. During the closing years of his life, this unfortunate gentleman who to baffle his creditors called himself Mr Lovell, resided with a relative Mrs Cleese. They lived at Hyte, then at a country place called Buderup and finally in Lisbon, Portugal. Mrs Cleese died in Lisbon and Lord Egmont returned to England to make the disputed Will, and to die a week later.

A Miss Jones who knew him at Hyte, described him as very domestic and as regular a man as she ever knew. The Rev. Mr Dahenny, Minister of Buderup, said he was a thorough gentleman and highly intelligent. A Col. Harper who knew Lord Egmont in Lisbon, Thought him fully competent to manage his affairs. But the cross-examination of all revealed the Earl's weakness. Miss Jones admitted that he took drink frequently. Col. Harper said he had seen him on several occasions. A lady named Mrs Bellock swore that she often heard Mrs Cleese complain of his drinking habits. Other witnesses were called and examined but their evidence proved nothing. Then the case for the Plantible closed.


On opening the case for the plantiff, Mr Brewster, Counsel for the Egmonts, pointed out some inaccuracies in Dr Ball's speech, and went on to sketch the sad story of Henry 5th, Earl of Egmont. Henry was neglected as a boy, never sent to public school, or never sent to University. He attended for a very short time Trinity College, Oxford, and then ran away. It was said how his mother later obtained for him an M.A. Degree. His mother hopelessly ruined him by inducing him when he came of age to sign sheafs and bills, by which he was made liable of all debts on his estates. His mother was a noted beauty and a lady who would be regarded today as a high flier, who attended all the glamourous balls and banquets of the day and it was in this way she first got aquainted with the Tierneys. Following the death of his mother, the Countess of Egmont, Earl Henry became a hopeless case. He spent most of his time skulking from place to place under the assumed name of Mr Lovell. He lived in daily fear of being handled by the Sheriffs man. In this way poor Earl Henry became a hopeless drunkard.

Mrs Cleese was his good Angel. She spent most of her time in vain efforts to reclaim him and in hiding him from the public gaze when he was under the influence of drink. Sometimes he got away from her care and went up to London and stayed in a low place called Smiths Hotel, where in a part of that building was housed one of Londons most notorious brothels. The Earl of Egmont often arrived here at two o' clock in the morning in a wild state of intoxication and spent several days drinking in the most lowly kind of company. He would then return to Burderup with a large suitcase full of brandy bottles.


Mr Brewster then detailed the connection between Sir Edward Tierney and the Earl of Egmont. The wretched Earl, mixing in the lowest of society, a prey to the most dreadful boats of intemperance, had become weakened in body and mind as to become easy prey to any clever schemer into whose hands he fell. Such a schemer he found in the person of Sir Edward Tierney, his agent and solicitor, a man of supreme ability. Sir Edward from the beginning of his aquaintance with the Earl had the idea of capturing the Egmont estates and he carried that out with brilliant cleverness and daring fraud.

The Earl had been described as a man of good business ability. He wrote shoals of letters to Sir Edward Tierney and the story was always the same. The letter said "Send me money" send me 500, for Gods sake send me 100. In the meantime Earl Henry signed every document Sir Edward Tierney placed before him. The object of these documents strengthened the hold Tierney had on the Egmont estates. Mr Brewster said in his address that the papers signed to Earl Henry, no sane man would have signed.


And now, said Mr Brewster, I come to the last Act of this strange drama. I will detail to you the events of the closing week of the unhappy side of Henry 5th, Earl of Egmont. I will describe to you his condition when, after the death of Mrs Cleese, he returned from the continent a dying man, ruined in body and mind by habits which created delirium tremens. I will tell you, said Mr Brewster, how Sir Edward Tierney procured from the dying man the will of which Sir Edward was left everything. In the making of that will three persons were concerned, The Earl of Egmont, who is dead, Sir Edward Tierney, who is dead, and Mr Parkinson, a solicitor. Mr Parkinson will now give on oath the story and manner in which Sir Edward induced the dying Earl to leave him the Egmont estates by false and fraudulent pretence, the daring falsehood that the estate was of no value, and that Sir Edward only wanted to get possession of it to protect himself in dealing with the creditors. I will prove, said Mr Brewster, that this pretence was absolutely false, and that the estate was worth a great amount of money, over and above all the debts.


The court then rose for lunch. The case which had lasted for four days, now excited the deepest interest. The examination of Mr Parkinson was being looked forward to as a sensation, but still more sensational, it was expected, would be his cross-examination, for it was to be carried out by Sergt. Sullivan, later Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who was referred to as the "Terrier" in court circles. When the court resumed after lunch it was found that a juror had been taken ill and the case could not proceed and was adjourned until the next day. Next day the juror was still ill and there was a great amount of behind doors conference. Then to the surprise of all, Mr Brewster stood up and announced that the case was settled. Mr Parkinson was never called and Mr Brewster never finished his speech.

When the final act was over the court was told that the Earl of Egmont got back his estates and Rev. Sir Lionel Darrell was awarded 125,000 and costs. George James, 6th Earl of Egmont, who recovered the estates in the famous law suit died on August 2nd 1874 and was succeeded by his nephew.


Charles George, 7th Earl of Egmont, was M.P. for Midhurst 1874-75. He served as captain in the Royal Buckingham Yeomanry. He was born on June 15th 1845 and married on May 4th 1869 Lucy, daughter of Alfred Briscoe. They had no children and the Earl died on September 5th 1897, when he was succeeded by his cousin. Earl Charles George sold the Egmont estates to the tenants under the Ashbourne Land Act in 1895.


Agustus Arthur, 8th Earl of Egmont was born on June 4th 1856. He married in 1881, Kate, daughter of Warwick Howell, of South Carolina, U.S.A. They had no children and the Earl died on August 11th, 1910, when he was succeeded by his brother.


Charles John, 9th Earl of Egmont, was born on June 29th 1858. He married on December 31st 1890, Florence, daughter of Dr George Gibson. They had no children and when the Earl died on January 10th 1929, the title became extinct. However, in 1939, the Earldom was restored when it was claimed by a cousin, Sir Frederick George Moore-Percival.


Frederick George, 10th Earl of Egmont, was born on April 15th 1914. He married on August 31st 1931, Ann Geraldine, daughter of Douglas Gerald Moodie, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In 1939 he became Vincent Percival, of Kanturk, Baron Percival of Burton, and Baron Arden of Lohort Castle, and Baronet of Ireland, as Earl of Egmont. His son was named Thomas Frederick Percival, born on August 17th 1934, and a daughter, Geraldine Elizabeth Ursula Percival, born January 31st 1939.

When I last saw reference to the Percival family their address was, Two-Dot Ranch, Nanton, Alberta, Canada.


George, Sir Philip Percival's second son, was born on September 15th 1635. He was registrar of the Prerogative Court, Dublin. He married Mary, daughter of William Crofton, of Temple House, Sligo on April 30th 1677.

He was drowned at Hollyhead on March 25th 1675 and was succeeded by his son.

Rev. William Percival, Arch-deacon of Cashel and Dean of Emly. He was born on December 14th 1671 and married on April 5th 1708, Catherine, daughter of Henry Prittie, of Silvermines, Co. Tipperary. Rev. William Percival died on August 29th 1734, leaving three sons.

The eldest and youngest sons I cannot account for but the second son was William Percival, Barrister of Law. He was born on June 29th 1711. He married firstly on July 10th 1738, Elizabeth, daughter of John Croker, of Dublin and secondly on June 30th 1748, Margaret Ward. He died on August 2nd 1784, leaving three sons. Here again I can only account for the second son.

Captain William Percival, of the 104th Regiment, was born on September 9th 1754. Married on October 15th 1784, Jane. daughter of John Brereton, of Rathgilbert. Captain Percival died on September 10th 1793 leaving an only son.


William John Percival was born on July 2nd 1789. He was a captain in the 9th Regiment. On April 2nd 1818 he married Mary, daughter of Arthur Brereton of Limerick. He died on November 2nd 1848, leaving three sons and three daughters. Here again the second son can only be accounted for.

Rev. Arthur Percival, Rector of Waterly, Stamford. B.A. Trinity College, Dublin born October 7th 1821. Married on August 4th 1848, Emily Caroline, daughter of Neville Grenfell, of Penzance. He died November 25th 1905 leaving three sons. The eldest son, Arthur William Percival. He was born in 1849 and served in the Australian Commonwealth Forces. He served in the South African War 1899. He graduated from Queens College, Oxford. He married in 1935 at the age of 86, Margaret Vivian and died on April 22nd 1952, at the age of 103 years.


About a half a mile as the crow flies south west from the village of Churchtown stands Egmont House. In the 18th century this house was known as Egmont Hall the residence of the Percival family. John Percival, 1st Earl of Egmont, was born at Egmont Hall on September 22nd 1683. John, 2nd Earl of Egmont was also born at Egmont Hall, Churchtown, on February 24th 1710.

In later life the 2nd Earl leased Egmont Hall and lands to his Steward, a man named Taylor, whose son was a colonel in the Army, and this colonel was to live later at Egmont Hall. It was for Colonel Taylor's daughter Mary who died from the smallpox that the land surrounding the Protestant Church and graveyard was named Maryfield. Some people say that the New Barn on the Rock of Egmont was built by Colonel Taylor while others will say it was built by the Earls of Egmont. It was supposed to be a place for Maturing Cider as it is stated in old records that the district contained some large orchards. Dr Charles Smith visited Churchtown around the year 1750. Writing in his famous history of County Cork he states, "Near Churchtown is Egmont, the seat of the noble family of Percival, who hold the title of Ealr of Egmont."

"The House is finely situated with a pleasant park, which is well stocked with deer. The place is well planted with Ash, Oak, Elm and a large quantity of Fir". Smith states that the soil is grey and the county abounds in Limestone. A deerpark was enclosed by a high wall which surrounded about 60 acres. The remains of that wall can still be seen to the south of the house once occupied by the County, and later by the Roches, and later still by the Gardiner family. In the year 1814 a Mr David Quinlan was living at Egmont Hall as caretaker.


In the year 1835, George Bolster of Currabower, obtained a lease of Egmont Hall and lands from the agent of Lord Egmont, Richard Smith of Newmarket, Mr Bolsters cousin. The old house was then in bad repair and George Bolster pulled down the greater part of it and rebuilt it in the form of the fine mansion we know today. He renamed it Egmont house. His son George Sharp Bolster bought out the farm in 1895 under the Ashbourne land act. In the year 1899 George Sharp Bolster leased Egmont to a Mr Lynch of Cregane. Egmont house is now the home of the Sherlock family.


During his time, John, 1st Earl of Egmont, kept a very interesting diary. Many years ago this turned up among some documents relating to the Egmont estates. In the diary there are many scattered rememberances relationg to Churchtown and Kanturk. All the entries in the diary seem to have been made at the Earl's home in Somerset.

January 17th 1734 At my return home to dinner, which was between five and six, I found Dean Berkely, who acquainted me that this morning he had kissed the hands of the King and Queen for the Bishop of Cloyne, which gave me inexpressable pleasure, for, besides that he is my intimate friend, my estates are in his diocese. The Bishopric passes for 1,300 a year, and had a good house on it.

March 11th 1734 The Bishop of Cloyne dined with us. March 13th 1734. I went to Councellor Forster, in Boswells Court, by appointment of Mr Evans, son of Lord Carberry, who agreed to granting me and annuity of joint lives, his own and mine, on Irish and English estates, which were settled on him by marraige, tomorrow we sign.

March 14th 1734 Early this morning George Evans, son of Lord Carbery, came to my house and signed a deed to which he conveyed to me an annuity of 200 per annum. Mr Correll, a jewish broker and my servant, Triessler, are witnesses to the writngs.

April 18th 1734 The Bishop of Cloyne and Mr Meshan dined with us. This ame morning I waited on the Bishop to present him to Sir Robert Walpole on his going to Ireland.

May 17th 1734 I joined with my son on a lease of Egmont, my Irish home, to my former Steward, Mr William Taylor, renewable forever. The lives he put in are those of his brothers, Richard and Robert. Their rent continues at 70 per year. After William Taylors death the rent will rise to 111, with a fine of 40 toward cost of renewal. This day I made Rev. Downes Conron my Chaplain.

May 29th 1734 This day I took leave of Mr Taylor, who sets out tomorrow for Churchtown in Ireland.

June 12th 1734 I just heard that the Duke of Dorset and Sir Robert Walpole are about to fall out about the post of Collecter of Cork which the former had given to Mr Love, Collecter of Mallow.

April 22nd 1735 This morning I received a letter from my tenant Taylor who tells me that Captain St Leger is backing Crofts against Croke, who is intending a law suit against me.

May 3rd 1735 Mr Taylor came to see me today with Rev Downes Connor, the Minister at Churchtown. They told me that there is an arrear of 1,000 on the estate but the tenants are all sensible. They told me the estate is the best conditioned in Ireland and that Burton has grown into a fine wood and I should scarcely know it when I will come again.

May 8th 1735 Today I went to Middle Temple, with Mr Wallis, Solicitor, and passed two fines before Sir George Cooke, one for confirming the sale of Liscarroll to Mr St Leger, which lands I sold his father about 14 years ago, and to renew the lease of Egmont, to my Steward Taylor. My son joined me there.

Jan 1st 1736 This morning I went to Middle Temple to consult Mr Annesly about the Liscarroll business.

May 19th 1736 This morning Mr Wallis, solicitor advised me that I should lay a fine on the lease given to Mr Taylor, of Egmont.

November 23rd 1737 Today I received from Rev. Mr Brereton, minister of Churchtown, and Mr Richard Purcell, the rents and audited accounts.

January 13th 1738 I spent the evening at home with Mr Freeman, my tenant at Ballinguile, having agreed for a new lease of three lives at seven shillings and acre, which was before held at 3 shillings and 4 pence an acre. Mr Freeman is to lay out 500 on the farm.


Right Honourable Spencer Percivalwas born on November 1st 1762. He was the 7th son of Charles George, 2nd Baron Arden. He was a member of the English Bar and successive Attorney General. On March 31st 1807 he joined the administration of the Duke of Portland as Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Treasury. In the year 1808 he became Prime Minister and four years later in 1812, he fell victim to one John Bellingham, by whom he fell victim under the frenzy of a supposed grievance. He was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons.

Spencer Percival married on August 16th 1790, Jane daughter of Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson. They had two sons.

The eldest son Spencer Percival M.P. lived at Elm Grove, Ealing. He married Anna Eliza, daughter of Gen. Arthur McLeod. He died on September 16th 1859, leaving 5 daughters who all died unmarried. The second son, Frederick James Percival was born on October 6th 1797. He married Mary Baxter and lived at Burn House, Derbyshire. Frederick Percival married secondly, Emma, daughter of George Gilbert and died on July 22nd 1861, leaving a son George Drummond Percival. George Drummond Percival married on October 4th 1870, Marriane Baxter and died on January 9th 1920, leaving an only son, George Trevelyn Percival.


Edward Percival was born on April 21st 1744 and married on June 6th 1775 Sarah, daughter of John Howart. They had two daughters, Margaret Cecil and Mary who both died unmarried. Frederick Augustics Percival was born on Fobruary 7th 1747 and died unmarried on January 21st 1777.


During my research of the Percivals, Earls of Egmont, Icane across the names of different members of the family, but I was unable to identify the exact line from which they descended. I will now try to give an account of those Percivals.

John Percival, born on April 13th 1793, married on August 7th 1816, Elizabeth Anne, daughter of the Earl of Cardigan. He died in 1818, leaving an infant daughter Helena. His widow later married Lord Midleton.

Rev. Philip Percival, Rector of East Horsly, Surrey, was born on November 22nd 1799 and married on December 22nd 1825 Charlotte Ann Legge. Rev. Philip Percival was Chaplain to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. He died on June 11th 1853.

Another note I came across relating to members of the Percival family reads as follows: Arthur Philip Charles Percival was born on April 2nd 1858. In June 1879 he married Elizabeth Mary Scarle. They had a child, Mary. They were both murdered with the child Mary at Bluehills, Nebraska, U.S.A., on September 20th 1884. Another member of the family, Helena Percival married in 1816, Rev. Stuart French, Dean of Kildare. The brother of Dean French was Lord Ashtown, who married a Miss Oliver-Gascoigne, of Castle Oliver, near Kilfinane.

I have tried, to the best of my ability, to trace this noble family of Percival since the time we first heard of them at the Battle of Jerusalem, more than a thousand years ago down to the day when they sold their Churchtown estates, around 90 years ago. It is intersting to note that members of this famous family still live in Canada.


When Henry, 5th Earl of Egmont, who died in 1841, he left the Egmont estates to Sir Edward Tierney. The townland of Egmont and Lohort Castle and Demesne, including some houses in the village of Churchtown and the town of Buttevant, were not included id Lord Henry's will. There was also some land in Buttevant parish, including the old Fair Field of Rathclare. All this property remained outside the scope of the great law suit.

The condition of tenure on the Egmont estateswent according to English custom. The landlord provided the buildings and contributed to other improvements. Rents were unusually low and it was very difficult, for one not born on the estate, to get one of the farms.


In the year 1851, the following tenants were on the Egmont Estate, in the townland of Egmont, on that part of the estate not deeded by the will to Sir Edward Tierney - Timothy O' Keefe held 4 acres 3 rds 31 perches, Thomas Linehan held 63 acres 2 rds 9 perches, Maurice McGrath held 50 acres 1 rd 37 perches, Margaret Creighton had a house without land, John Bolster held 66 acres 3 rds 18 perches, William Connell held a house and garden, John Laffan held 1 acre 2 rds 6 perches, Sarah Webb held 1 acre 1 rd 33 perches, Margaret Cullen held 1 acre 2 rds 23 perches, Daniel Buckley held 1 acre 2 rds 19 perches, John Burnes held 1 acre 2rds 15 perches, James Dennehy held 1 acre 2 rds 9 perches, Johanns Rogers held 1 acre 3 rds 37 perches, James McGrath held 31 acres 1 rd 5 perches, Jeremiah Hannon held a house and a small garden, Maurice Creighton had a house and small garden, Margaret McGrath held 71 acres 1 rd 31 perches, Nicholas Lillis had a house and small garden, the Earl of Egmont held 15 acres under plantation, Mary Anne Cowhey held 78 acres 2 rds 5 perches, Michael Callaghan held a house and garden, Bartholomew Pardon held 81 acres and 14 perches, Daniel Murphy held 130 acres 2 rds 7 perches, John Barry had a house without land, Thomas Samuels held 2 acres 1 rd 9 perches.


As I mentioned earlier in the Egmont story, Sir Edward Tierney rebuilt the village of Churchtown in the years following his taking over of the Egmont estates, but there were 7 houses in that part of the village known as Kerry Lane, which did not come under the will and these houses remained in the Egmont family.


The following are some tenants who held houses and land in the town and parish of Buttevant, which was also Egmont property not willed to Sir Edward Tierney. In the townland of Ardskeagh we find more Egmont tenants - Mary Lyons held 46 acres 2 rds 29 perches, Ann Kelly had a house without land, Jeremiah Connell held 143 acres 1 rd 23 perches, Maurice Connell had a house and a garden, Philip Dundon held 121 acres 3 rds 34 perches, Daniel Warren held 69 acres 3 rds 16 perches, Richard Warren had a house without land.


In the townland of Rathclare, near Buttevant, the Earl of Egmont held property which did not come by will to Sir Edward Tierney. The tenants here are as follows - Thomas Coughlan held 64 acres 0 rds 35 perches, James Norcott held 136 acres 1 rd 2 perches, Fitzgerald O'Keefe held 151 acres 1 rd 2 perches. The tolls of the Fair of Rathclare were taken by James Norcott. Robert Eames held 20 acres 0 rds 39 perches. The Earl of Egmont also held land in the townland of Spittal and the tenants were Fitzgerald O'Keefe who held 117 acres 0 rds 28 perches and Luke Ellard who held 55 acres 3 rds 25 perches. Michael Ellard held 56 acres 2 rds 9 perches.


In the year 1851, the Earl of Egmont owned 21 houses in the town of Buttevant which did not come into the Darrell-Tierney lawsuit. I do not have the names of all the tenants but here I will give a few- Timothy Horgan, Hugh Elliott, Henry Sheedy, Michael Healy, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, Robert O'Connell, Thomas Gayer, Matthew Mullane, John Connor, John coughlan, Richard Graham, Maurice Connell. The Griffiths valuation list gives the above tenants as having a house, offices and garden. This list does not state if the houses were business or private houses. All the property was sold to the tenants under the Ashbourne Land Act around the year 1895.


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