Other Notable Talbots
In 1641 John Talbot succeeded his father, Richard, to the lordship of the Talbot estates in Malahide, Garristown and Castlering (Co. Louth). The Talbots were Old English Catholics and staunch royalists.
The outbreak of war in Ulster in 1641 rapidly spread here to Fingal during the winter and spring of 1641-42. Although John Talbot of Malahide appears to have endeavoured to steer a neutral course many nobility in Fingal, including other Talbots, rebelled. The Duke of Ormonde, on behalf of the Lords Chief Justices, garrisoned Malahide Castle but desisted from laying waste the farmland and village. The 500 acres about the castle were very productive and Talbot was supplying the garrison and Dublin with grain and vegetables at a time when the authorities were concerned with a very severe food shortage. Nevertheless, John was indicted for treason in February 1642, outlawed and his estates at Malahide, Garristown and Castlering declared forfeited. However, he managed to rent back his own castle and estate for a further decade. John Talbot suffered a further setback in December 1653 when Myles Corbet, Commissioner of Affairs in Ireland, fleeing from an outbreak of plague in Dublin ousted the family and obtained a seven-year lease on the castle. Corbet had been one of the signatories to the death warrant of King Charles I and was rewarded by Oliver Cromwell with the title of Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
Talbot was briefly imprisoned in 1652 for facilitating the passage of King Charles’s messenger to the Isle of Man. Further trouble followed when he and many others were ordered to transplant to Connaught by Cromwell. To refuse meant an even worse fate. Hence the origin of the phrase ‘To Hell or to Connaught’.
Talbot, his wife, family and any tenants willing to accompany them and carrying as much provisions as they could on their farm carts made the long trek into Connaught between the winter of 1654-5 and early spring of 1655. By this time land was in short supply in Connaught and Talbot did not get the hoped for acreage, being granted only 333 acres in the barony of Athlone.
Later, in 1655, Talbot successfully appealed for a safe-conduct pass from Connaught to Dublin in order ‘to dispose of his corn and other goods’. Clearly, a crop had been harvested and stored at Malahide the previous autumn, only some of which the Talbots had been able to convey to Connaught. A deeply religious man, he managed, in the course of this visit, to make a clandestine pilgrimage to a holy well in Portmarnock.
It is said that during Corbet’s tenure an effigy of the Blessed Virgin, which occupied the panel immediately above the chimney-piece in the Oak Room of Malahide Castle, miraculously disappeared, and, in a manner equally unaccountable, returned to its position upon Corbet’s flight from Malahide. The collapse of the Commonwealth government in late 1659 lifted the cloud of misfortune that had dogged the Talbots for years. Corbet fled the country but was arrested and executed as a regicide at Tyburn in London in 1661, leaving the way clear for Talbot to again rent his castle, farmland and orchards in Malahide. However, those who had been granted his other estates remained in situ. In the course of a decade of legal wrangling, until his death in 1671, he regained title to Malahide but he lost the customs of the port of Malahide, all his land in Castlering and most of the Garristown land amounting to 2,716 acres in all or two-thirds of what he inherited in 1640.
Richard Talbot (died 1788) married Margaret O’Reilly (died 1834) of Ballinlough Castle near Athboy, Co. Meath. She was related by marriage to the influential George Temple Grenville, later to become the Marquis of Buckingham and twice Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His patronage would be of considerable benefit to Margaret and her offspring.
Margaret bore Richard eight sons and seven daughters. She was later created Baroness Talbot. Among these offspring were Richard Wogan who succeeded to the Malahide estate and title; William who established the vast Talbot sheep station in Tasmania; Thomas who settled a large estate on the shores of Lake Erie in Canada; Sir John, a British navy admiral; Neil, a lieutenant colonel in the 14th Light Dragoons; Robert, who married Arabella, sister of Admiral Sir Charles Ogle, Bart.; a daughter who became a countess of the Austrian empire; Barbara, wife of Sir William Young, Bart., MP, Governor of Tobago and Catherine, wife of Lieut. General Sir George Airey, K.C.H., Colonel of the 39th Regiment.
Richard considered it expedient to convert to the Established Church. Margaret approved but remained a Catholic.
He raised a company of Volunteers, akin to a home guard or local defence force in the Barony of Coolock. It comprised mainly Anglican Protestants, but some Presbyterians and Roman Catholics were admitted. They had to pay for their own uniforms and arms. His company wore white breeches and scarlet coats faced with black over white waistcoats. Early in November 1779, the anniversary of the birth of William III and of his landing in England, one hundred and fifty of Captain Talbot’s men joined up with other north side Volunteers and all nine hundred marched through the city to College Green led by the Duke of Leinster. There, in company with south side Volunteers, they called for Free Trade between Ireland and England, firing off their muskets and discharging small cannon. The scene was recorded by the English painter Francis Wheatley in his well known canvas. Talbot’s Volunteers later formed the nucleus of an officially recognised regiment of Fencibles, renamed the 106th Regiment of Foot with Richard as their colonel. They proved unruly and mutinous and were disbanded in 1783 but not before they had cost Talbot a great deal of expense.
He carried out major works on the family castle and was an initial trustee of the Malahide Turnpike. The enterprising Richard was concerned by the degree of poverty and idleness among his tenants and inspired by the explosive growth of mechanised cotton spinning by water power in Lancashire and Yorkshire using Arkwright machinery he set about establishing a major cotton processing industry at Barrack Bridge at Yellow Walls. Commencing in 1782 and aided by a grant from the Irish parliament he built a large five-storey mill driven by a water wheel 18 feet in diameter. He hoped to give employment to 1,000 people in various aspects of the business. He also obtained parliamentary approval, on terms similar to those obtained by the Grand Canal Company, to construct a canal from Malahide into County Meath with the right to collect tolls.
However, Richard died suddenly and intestate on the 24th of October, 1788, with truly enormous debts, just as work commenced on the canal and the cotton enterprise was struggling.
The ‘Freeman’s Journal’ reported that:
The remains of the late Colonel Talbot were interred on Sunday morning early, in the family vault in Malahide, attended by a numerous train of tenantry, whose regret for their beloved landlord was fully evinced in their mournful and silent deportment during the funeral ceremony, which was performed by torchlight.
Colonel Thomas Talbot (died 1853) son of the above mentioned Richard and Margaret, was born at Malahide Castle in 1771. He began his military career a few weeks before his twelfth birthday when he became an ensign in the 66th Regiment of Foot. His appointment was doubtless obtained through the good offices of Lady Temple, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and a relation of Thomas’s mother. Whilst still only twelve years of age Thomas was promoted to lieutenant but was then retired on half pay as his regiment was reduced following the ending of the war with the American Colonies. Next he went to the Manchester Free Public School to complete his formal education. When Lord Temple, now the Marquis of Buckingham, was again appointed Lord Lieutenant in 1787 he summoned Thomas as one of his aides-de-camp and arranged a commission as a lieutenant in the 24th regiment of Foot. The young Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, was two years older than Talbot but still only an ensign when he also got promoted to lieutenant and joined the aides-de camp to Lord Buckingham. When the latter resigned a few years later Talbot, in 1790, sailed to join his regiment which was then doing garrison duty at Quebec. At the end of the following year he successfully sought a position as a personal aide to Colonel J. G. Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of the newly created province of Upper Canada, aided by a recommendation from his patron, the Marquis of Buckingham. On being promoted to captain he returned to England in 1794. He was with his regiment that winter when the English retreated before Napoleon in frozen Holland when thousands of men died of famine and cold. On his way back to England he was taken prisoner at sea. He acepted Quarter and was quickly exchanged on payment of 25% of one year’s pay as ransom for his honourable release. After being evacuated to England he had a spell of garrison duty at Gibraltar and having purchased a lieutenant-colonelcy he again returned to England. Following a further campaign in Holland in 1799 in charge of the second battalion of the 5th Regiment he surprised all at Christmas 1800 by selling his commission and taking ship for Canada. Starting as a backwoodsman with two paid helpers on a relatively small grant of land on the remote northern shore of Lake Eyre he began clearing the forest and planting crops. By dint of hard work and much clever negotiation with the authorities and some patronage he succeeded in the acquisition and settlement of a great landed estate for himself and the settlement of what came to be known as the Talbot Country.
Talbot’s administration was despotic. He was infamous for registering settlers’ names on the local settlement map in pencil and if displeased, was alleged to have erased their entry. However, his insistence on provision of good roads and their maintenance by the settlers quickly resulted in the Talbot Settlement becoming the most prosperous part of the province. By 1836 Talbot had the control of twenty-eight townships in the London and Western District, of which 540,443 acres were under patent or cultivation. He also negotiated with the Indians and built saw mills and grist mills.
He succeeded in attracting thirty thousand settlers to this area. However, he began to make political demands on the settlers, after which his power was reduced by the provincial government. Talbot’s abuse of power was a contributing factor in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.
He built his own homestead on a cliff overlooking a sandy bay near Talbot Creek on Lake Eyre and named it ‘Malahide House’. It was demolished in 1997, generating much public outcry from heritage preservationists.
Growing frail and lonely at the age of seventy-five he gave half his estate to his nephew, Richard Airey, and willed the other half to his long time friend George MacBeth. Talbot died in 1853, aged eighty-three years.
Another of Richard’s sons, The Honourable Sir John Talbot (b. about 1769, d.1851) entered the English navy, in March, 1784, as captain's servant, on board the frigate Boreas the captain being Horatio Nelson, with whom he served in the West Indies until 1787, part of the time in the capacity of midshipman. As he rose steadily through the ranks and larger ships he served under Lord Hood and Lord Collingwood, both renowned admirals. In 1797, having been promoted post-captain in command of the Eurydice, regarded as a happy ship, Talbot and his crew refused to participate in the infamous Nore Mutiny and Blockade when 50,000 sailors, many of them Irish, in 113 ships refused orders, expelled their officers and set up a ship’s democracy. The mutineers were revolting against cruel officers and were seeking better rations, pay and shore leave. Talbot saw much active service on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean during the course of which he took many prizes and was victorious in a number of actions against the French and Italians. In one particularly fierce four hour action Talbot’s 82 gun Victorious engaged the French 80 gun Rivoli in the course of which 400 of the latter’s crew were either killed or wounded before she struck her colours. The Victorious lost 27 men killed and 99 wounded. Talbot himself almost lost his sight when wounded by a splinter. He was nominated a K.C.B. (Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath) in 1815; made a Rear-Admiral in 1819, a Vice-Admiral in 1830, and a full Admiral (of the Red) in 1841; and created a G.C.B. (Knight Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath) in 1842. He married Maria Julia Everard, daughter of Lord Arundell on 17th October 1815 by whom he had two sons and five daughters. He died in 1851 having returned to the Roman Catholic faith.
Neil Talbot (d.1810) was another son of Richard. He entered the British army as an ensign in 1789 and rose steadily through the ranks and various regiments. In 1796 he moved to the 14th Light Dragoons, becoming a lieutenant-colonel in 1805. Three years later he embarked with his regiment to join the forces engaged in the Peninsula War. At the battle of Talevera in 1809 his horse was shot from under him but Talbot survived. In the summer of 1810, near Ciudad Rodrigo, when leading four squadrons of his dragoons he came upon a 200-strong square of French infantry concealed in long corn. Talbot ordered a charge but the well disciplined French stood up and fired at close range on the charging horsemen. Talbot was pierced by eight balls and fell dead along with eleven of his men just yards from the French. Both sides withdrew and his friend recovered his body. He was buried next day in the sloping ground in front of the fort where the enemy was holding out. A few days later that same friend saw his body blown in the air when a mine was detonated to disrupt a counter attack. In the words of his friend:He was a delightful fellow, a friend I most deeply regretted, but singular and eccentric, particularly in his dress. He was dressed, the day he was killed, in nankeen pantaloons. Never was anything like the grief of his loss. When we buried him not an eye was dry.
Yet another son of Richard Talbot was Colonel William Talbot (d.1845), born the seventh son at Malahide Castle in 1784. At the age of twelve he was sent to the renowned Manchester Free Public School. On leaving school he obtained an army commission and was posted to the West Indies. In 1814 he did the Grand Tour, accompanied by his sister Fanny. They visited Paris, Austria, Italy, Egypt and Constantinople. In 1820 he sailed to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), a journey that took five months. He arrived in Hobart in November but then departed again for Sydney, Australia. He returned to Tasmania the following year with six convicts and a location order for 2,000 acres. He choose land at Great Swan Port on the east coast and looked set to become a successful farmer when it transpired his land had previously been granted to someone else. Talbot was then granted three thousand acres with frontages to the rivers Esk and Break o’ Day near Launceston in north-east Tasmania. Working in very difficult conditions and with the help of convict labour he soon cleared the land and became outstandingly successful as a wool producer. He built a timber dwelling house in the area called ‘Fingal’. However, it burned down in 1827 and in 1827/28 William built a new homestead and named it ‘Malahide’. By 1829 his stock had increased to 7,000 sheep and 1,000 head of cattle. By 1884 the estate was over 21,000 acres in extent and said to be one of the biggest and finest sheep stations in Tasmania. The surrounding area prospered with the discovery of gold and coal but Talbot stuck to his farming.William never married and died at his home, Malahide, in Tasmania on 22 December, 1845 aged 61 years. He willed his estate to his nephew, Richard Gilbert Talbot of Ballinclea, Killiney, Co. Dublin who was the second son of the third Baron, James Talbot de Malahide. The original house has been enlarged and altered over the years and is now a stone seven-bay two-storey building with an iron hipped roof and a full-length single storey veranda. It is classified as a historic building as it was one of the first stations to be built in Tasmania and is now considered to be of national and cultural importance.Until she died in 2009, the house and 8,100 hectare (20,000 acre) estate was the home of the last of the Malahide Talbots, the Hon. Rose Talbot. She went to reside there in 1976 having sold Malahide Castle to Dublin County Council following the death of her brother Milo, the last Lord Talbot. Today the estate is run by Fingal Pastoral Proprietary Limited and remains in the control of Talbot descendants.