Monday 1 May 2023

Land and Gentry: Askeaton/Ballysteen


Ballinacourty House

Some Landed Gentry of Askeaton-Ballysteen

The USA Westropps

Ballinacourty House, Ballysteen, Co. Limerick

Ballinacourty (sometimes spelled Ballynacourty) is one of the 12 townlands in the civil parish of Iverus in the barony of Kenry. In Griffith’s Valuation (1850), it is listed as having 401 acres, the owners being Tyrell Evans and Thomas Davenport. All of Evans part of the property was leased to tenants, while only a small part of Davenport’s property was leased. At the time of the Cromwellian plantation, the townland was part of about 5,000 acres allocated to Phineas Bury, said to have helped finance Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland. His land grant was confirmed by King Charles II in 1666, after the restoration.  In the O’Donovan Field Name Books (1840), the owner of Ballinacourty is listed as the Earl of Charleville (a descendant of Phineas Bury) and both Evans and Davenport are described as ‘middlemen’. The same source notes that there were two ‘forts’ in the townland. These still survive, one in John Feheney’s property and one in that of Peggy Neville. The fort on Feheney’s hill is one of the largest in the area, with a diameter of 2.5 chains (165 feet).


Ballinacourty House

O’Donovan states that Ballinacourty House was built by John Evans in 1750, making it the oldest house in the area. He described it as L-shaped, and the grounds having a garden, ‘offices’ (farm buildings and stables) and a ‘handsome planting’, meaning attractive shrubs and stands of trees. When Captain Dixon Davenport inherited the property, on the death of his father and elder brother, he advertised for a contractor to construct new farm buildings in 1857. Those buildings, comprising two cow houses, piggeries and large barn, all in cut stone, are still in use. The present dwelling house, which faces north, has five bays, with a 2-storey porch in front centre, the present hall door facing east.


Davenport Genealogy

The story of the Ballinacourty Davenports began on 7 February, 1771, when Thomas Davenport, a land agent, married Martha Evans, daughter of John Evans (d.1792), of Ballinacourty, Ballysteen, Co. Limerick. (LC). The Evans family had already been in Ballinacourty for a quarter of a century. This branch of the Evans clan was a Cromwellian family, descended from George Evans, a sergeant in Cromwell’s army. Like other members of this army, he was paid off at the end of the Irish campaign with army debentures, from dealing with which, old George had grown rich. (See Feheney, 2013, ‘Drinking from Different Streams. A Memoir’, chapter 1). In 1784, Thomas Davenport Snr made his will, which was witnessed by John Copley, Robert Hunt and Tyrell Evans. He died about 1886, leaving issue, including at least two sons, Thomas Evans, born about 1773, and William Vincent Davenport.

         The younger son, William Vincent, immigrated to New Orleans, where he established a business, named Wright Davenport and Company. He also established another business in Vicksburgh, Mississippi, named WV Davenport and Company. He married Henrietta Verboom Parker on 12 November, 1835. It is not known if William and Henrietta had children.  William Vincent Davenport died in Alabama, USA, in May, 1855 (LC 19.5.1855)

         The elder son, Thomas Evans Davenport, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin (BA, 1825), and became a land agent, looking after the interests of the Earl of Clare, as well as of some members of the county Limerick gentry. He was a founder member of the Limerick Atheneum. In 1820, he married Jane Nihill and they had issue, including four sons, Thomas, Dickson, William and Tyrell, and two daughters, Martha and Prudence. All four Davenport boys died in their early manhood. The eldest, Thomas Vincent, immigrated to New Orleans, where he worked with his uncle in the family business. He died in New Orleans in 1853. Tyrell Evans Davenport lived in Castlegrey, Kilcornan, but died in 1865, aged 27 years. William Vincent joined the British Army in India, and died in Bombay, as a lieutenant in a native infantry regiment at the age of 24. He was buried in the family grave, High Street, Askeaton.

Dickson (sometimes spelled Dixon) joined the British army, rising to the rank of captain. He inherited the Ballinacourty property on the death of his elder brother, Thomas (1853) and his father (1856). Dickson married Jane Bateman, from Tralee, Co. Kerry, who was an heiress in her own right. They had issue, including a son, born in 1856, who died in infancy, another son, born in 1862; a daughter, Jane Dickson Davenport, born 29 June, 1868 and a daughter, Emeline, who married Price. Dickson himself died on 1872, aged 38 years. After the death of her husband, Jane lived in Ballydonoghue House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry, , dying in 1888, at the age of 80 years. After the death of Dickson, the Ballinacourty property continued for several years in the ownership of ‘the representatives of the late Captain Dickson Davenport’.

Dickson seemed to have been well integrated with members of the local gentry in the Askeaton/Ballysteen area. In 1861, he was one of the benefactors who donated £5 to the building fund for St Patrick’s Church, Ballysteen. In 1862, he was one of the judges at the Askeaton Races, held in April, 1862.


Davenport Girls

The elder Davenport daughter, Martha Frances Vincent (d. 26/11/1911), was married on 26 June, 1851, to John Browne, son of Anthony Browne. He died soon afterwards, however, and Martha then married (on 2 October, 1856) Brig Gen Alexander Henry Murray (1829-1885), son of Lt Col Hon Alexander Murray and Deborah Hunt. At the time of marriage, Alex was a Colonel in the Artillery Service. They had issue, including:

         Alexander Murray (27/11/1857-28/8/1885), who died unmarried; Charles Stewart Murray, 4/12/1858-4/5/1903; Lt Gen Cyril Francis Tyrell Murray, 19/1/1863-2/7/1920; Lt Col Sir Malcolm Donald Murray, 9/7/1867-2/8/188838. Charles Stewart Murray, 4/12/1858-4/5/1903, married Laura Susan Prestage in January, 1892. He was a member of the Bengal Police and was invested with the CIE (Companion of the Order of Indian Empire).

The younger Davenport girl, Prudence, married Dudley O’Grady on 2 October, 1858. He was the son of Darby O’Grady and a nephew of 1st Viscount Guillamore. Prudence and Dudley lived in Prospect House, Ballysteen, for some years and he owned part of the Ballynort estate. Prudence had no children and died on 21 February, 1865. After her death, Dudley married, secondly, Helen Hare Vincent, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. It will be recalled that the Irish Land Commission subsequently acquired the Ballynort estate and divided it among small landowners, many of them from Ballysteen. Dudley O'Grady, who died on 27 February, 1883, was a nephew of Lord Standish O'Grady, Baron of the Exchequer, who acquired several thousand acres of land in county Limerick. He and his family were cousins of The O'Grady of Kilballyown (the same as the Askeaton branch of the family). (BIFR, 1976, 914)


Subsequent History

Ballinacourty House and the Davenport property were sold in the early years of the 20th century to Mr Baker, who had little interest in farming. Unfortunately for the house, the newly-elected Limerick County Council had taken office in 1899 and, as a statutory Local Authority, had begun to levy rates on all householders. The larger the house, the greater the sum payable as rates. Some owners of large houses responded by demolishing part of their houses. Mr Baker’s response was to knock down a ceiling in part of the house and claim that this section was no longer habitable and, consequently, no longer eligible for rates. In an attempt to raise money, Baker also sold off about 50 acres of land on the western boundary and, subsequently, sold the remaining property to a Mr Hodgins. Hodgins retained the property until 1927, when it was purchased by my father, John Feheney, who came to reside there in 1928. His son, Michael Feheney inherited the property and Michael’s son, John, now owns it. The house, though 250 years old, is still the family residence and still in good condition.

         At the front gate are the ruins of a gate lodge, once occupied by a notorious faction fighter, O’Shaughnessy, nicknamed the Budachán. This little house was occupied by the O’Dwyer family during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Acknowledgement: Thanks for Kay Naughton for archival research.

3 April, 2013


Some Landed Gentry of Askeaton-Ballysteen

Brother John Feheney



Though today, the landed gentry no longer feature in our everyday lives, they were seldom absent from the thoughts of our forefathers. As landlords, they were responsible for aspects of the civil, administrative and economic life of each county through the Grand Jury system. At regional level, they participated in the administration of the Poor Law system, while at local level, they gave land leases to their tenant farmers and provided work for many labourers. Notwithstanding all the good they did, it is undoubtedly true that, among many Roman Catholics in Ireland, there is a residual resentment, if not bitterness, towards this class. While acknowledging this, we must, however, concede that the landed gentry of Ireland formed an important part of our history, local and national, and that one of our duties, as custodians of our national heritage, is to record their story and pass it on to future generations. It is against this background, therefore, that I offer the following notes.

            Perhaps we should start by asking, who was included in the class, known as the landed gentry? A simple answer would be to say that it included those families listed in the well-known book, Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry (Dublin: 1912 et seq). To this, we could add those families listed in the companion volume, Burke’s Irish Family Records (Dublin: 1978). While the Anglo-Norman families, such as the Fitzgeralds, the Purcells and Bourkes, would be included, many people tend to reserve the title, ‘landed gentry’, for the English Protestant settlers that came to Ireland from Elizabethan times onwards. For purposes of this article, and eschewing any pretense at definitiveness, I will confine myself to consideration of the following families in the Askeaton and Ballysteen area: the Berkeleys, the Taylors, and the Hewsons. Later, I hope to have an opportunity of discussing other local families, such as Westropps, Evans, Carroll-Naish, Davenports, Hunts and Wallers. In relation to my sources of information, I might say that I can cite sources for virtually all the information I give hereunder, but many of my readers would find footnotes/endnotes irritating, so I will dispense with them in this article.


Three sons of Sir Maurice Berkeley and his wife, Katherine Blount, from Bruton, Somerset, came to Askeaton with Elizabethan forces during the Geraldine rebellion towards the end of the sixteenth century. The eldest son, Edward (c1540-1589), took of command of the castle in Askeaton, when it was abandoned by Geraldine forces on 3 April 1580. Edward was subsequently knighted and remained in command of the castle until his premature death in 1589. Queen Elizabeth bestowed the castle and seignory (12,000 acres) on Sir Edward.

            On the death of Sir Edward Berkeley, his younger brother, Francis, assumed command. Francis had the good fortune to be in command of Askeaton castle during a prolonged siege by the Sugán Earl in 1599. Francis held out for 246 days, though under pressure for want of food, arms and men. Eventually, the siege was raised by Lord Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, on 2 June 1599, and Francis was knighted on the spot by Essex for his valiant leadership in defense of the castle. It may be mentioned in passing that, while Essex was reprimanded by Queen Elizabeth on his return to London for being too generous in handing out honours, all the evidence would suggest that Sir Francis was a worthy recipient of his knighthood. Queen Elizabeth arranged that the seignory of Askeaton would pass to Sir Francis and his heirs. Sir Francis was also Provost Marshall and Sheriff of Connaught and temporarily checked the progress of the great Hugh O’Donnell, while on his way to the battle of Kinsale in the winter of 1600. Moreover, Francis shadowed O’Neill and O’Donnell during their forced march to Kinsale and was part of the British force that encircled the northern Irish army, eventually defeating it in January 1601.

            On 20 October 1612, Sir Francis succeeded in having Askeaton incorporated as a borough, with the right to send two members to parliament. In addition to a provost (Head of Borough), Askeaton had 12 burgesses. The regulations governing boroughs, however, were so loose that power was centralised and retained by a small clique. For the next two hundred years, Sir Francis’ descendants controlled Askeaton and regarded themselves as the ‘owners’ of the two parliamentary seats.

            Sir Francis married Katherine Jane Loftus, daughter of Dr Adam Loftus, archbishop of Armagh, and later archbishop of Dublin. Dr Loftus also subsequently became Chancellor of Ireland. Sir Francis and Jane had two sons, Maurice and Henry, and four daughters, Elizabeth, Gertrude, Katherine and Frances. Both sons, however, died young and the extensive estate was divided between two of the daughters, Elizabeth and Gertrude. Elizabeth married George Crofton of Ballymurray, Co. Sligo, while Gertrude married Captain John Taylor, who founded the Taylor dynasty at Ballynort and, later, Hollypark, Kilcornan. We are indebted to the Croftons for leaving an informative volume, entitled Crofton Memoirs, the source of much of our information on these matters. Katherine Berkeley married George Courtenay, the founder of the Courtenay dynasty in Newcastle West. The Courtenay estate comprised an area of 39,000 acres at one time and members of the extended family became Earls of Devon. Like several other large landowners, the Courtenays were notable benefactors of the town of Newcastle West. The primary school in the town was built by the Courtenay family and was popularly known as the ‘Countenay School’. One connection between this and Askeaton is the fact that the late John O’Donnell, father of the late Anne Jones, wife of Denis Jones TD, Askeaton, was principal of the Courtenay School in Newcastle West.

            The remaining daughter, Frances Berkeley, was married twice: first to Thomas Blayney of Denbigh, Wales, and, after his death, to James Purcell of Croagh. James was a member of the illustrious Croagh and Limerick Purcell family, the names of some of which loom large in the history of county Limerick.


From her marriage to Captain John Taylor, Gertrude Berkeley had four sons (Richard, Robert, William and Thomas) and four daughters (Susanna, Jane, Frances and Elizabeth). Of the sons, Richard died unmarried; Robert died in 1697, without an heir; William died in 1713, and was married twice, with a total of six sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Robert, was MP for Askeaton but died, without an heir in 1735. The next son, Berkeley, then inherited the Taylor estate, including property from his uncle, Robert. Berkeley Taylor had four sons (William, Richard, Robert and Edward) and three daughters (Lucy, Sarah and Mary). Originally, the family lived in Askeaton, but subsequently moved to a new house in Ballynort. Though the remains of this house can no longer be seen, the walls of the kitchen garden and orchard attached to the house are clearly visible in Ballynort. Robert Taylor (died 1697) was High Sheriff of county Limerick in 1670 and a member of parliament for Askeaton. He seems to have had a sense of humour, because, in his will, he left a ring and a silk scarf to his cousin, Thomas Crofton. He added a proviso, however, that Crofton would inherit these gifts only if he attended the funeral of his benefactor. Since the Taylors, as the only descendants of the Berkeleys living in Askeaton, virtually ‘owned’ the two parliamentary seats in Askeaton, either they or their nominees held those two seats for almost 200 years. Moreover, there is evidence that, at least sometimes, they sold the seats to other aspiring politicians. The female members of the Taylor family married members of the landed gentry in Limerick and the neighbouring counties, including the Burys, the Westropps, the Massys, the Usshers and Finches.

            In addition to his extensive property in Askeaton, Berkeley Taylor also possessed extensive estates in county Cork, especially in Mallow and Cork city. He was a foundation member of the Dublin Society in 1731 and a sheriff for county Limerick in 1724. His son, William (1693-1746), inherited his property when he died on 25 June 1736. Berkeley’s will was made in Ballynort, shortly before he died, and is preserved in the national archives.

            William Taylor was a highly educated man, with an LLD degree from Trinity College, Dublin. He spent most of his time away from Askeaton. He held the posts of Collector of Taxes for Limerick (1736-1742) and for the town of Mallow (1746) and was both sheriff of Cork (1741) and Mayor of Cork (1746). He had a large estate amounting to almost 2,000 acres, in Cork. He was also MP for Askeaton. He married, firstly, a daughter of Rev William Crone, Dean of Clonfert, and secondly, Anne Maunsell, from a prominent county Limerick family. He had issue only from the first marriage, namely, one son, Edward, and two daughters, Catherine and Sarah. He died prematurely on 15 May 1746

            Edward Taylor was the last of the Taylors to live in Ballynort House. Sadly, his only son, Edward, who was studying at Oxford University, was accidentally drowned in the river Isis, and the Taylor estate was inherited by his two daughters. Catherine married Hon Hugh Massey, 2nd Baron Massey, and Sarah married Hon Henry T Butler, 2nd Earl of Carrick. Both sons-in-law sat in parliament for Askeaton and the descendants of both held parts of the original Berkeley estate down to the end of the nineteenth century. Readers will find both families listed as owners of numerous properties in the Askeaton/ Ballysteen area in Griffith’s Valuation of 1850.

            The descendants of Lord Massey and the Earl of Carrick also inherited the putative ‘rights’ to the two parliamentary seats in Askeaton. These seats were finally abolished with the passing of the Act of Union in 1800. The British administration, however, recognised the questionable ‘ownership’ of the two seats by these Taylor descendants and awarded each family significant compensation, to the amount of £6,850 each (about €600,000 in today’s money).

 Taylors of Hollypark, Kilcornan

The Hollypark Taylor dynasty began with Richard Taylor, son of William Taylor of Ballynort, who died in 1713, by his second wife, Deborah Fowler of Gloucester, UK. Richard (of Hollypark) married Mary Finch of Cork and had issue.

            The Taylors of Hollypark gradually built up an estate of several thousand acres. In Griffith’s valuation of 1850, the family had 385 acres in Currachase and 283 acres in Curraghchase North, while the De Vere family had several times that acreage not only in Curraghchase but also in the townlands, Ballynamona, Ballyvogue, Bansha, Boherboy, Cowpark, Deegerty, Dromlohan and Grannard. According to the late Joe Copse, well-known local historian, the Taylor family, during the nineteenth century, got into financial difficulty, sold some of their land to the De Veres and then emigrated to Australia. However, they had the good fortune to make good investments in Australia, and, with the necessary money, they returned to Hollypark, where now the De Vere family was experiencing financial difficulty. They Taylors then bought back the property they had earlier sold to the De Veres. This story would seem to be supported by figures published in 1876 (Cd 1492), in which the acreage of landed estates is revealed. In this document, William Taylor of Hollypark, Kilcornan, is listed as owning 2,300 acres, while his sister, Catherine, had a further 669 acres. 


While the Hewsons have a long association with Askeaton, the late Maurice Hewson was always at pains to emphasise that the family ‘bought in’ to Castlehewson and were not the recipients of land grants following either the Elizabethan, Cromwellian or Williamite confiscations. The first Hewson to take up residence in Askeaton was Francis Hewson (also called Hewetson at that time), who was born in county Kildare about 1641. He settled in ‘Baile na Gleanta’, later called Ballyengland. Subsequently, the Hewson house built there was called Castlehewson. Parts of the old ‘castle’, especially the keep, are still visible, having been incorporated into a later building. In 1661, Francis married Rachael Tyrell, by whom he had two sons, George and John, and two daughters. George Hewson, born about 1662, inherited the estate and married Katherine Peacocke of Co. Clare. They had three sons and an only daughter, Catherine, who married Robert Hunt of Incherourke, Askeaton. Catherine lived to be more than a hundred years old. George died on 14 November 1735.

            The eldest son, Francis, born about 1706, was killed by Irish rebels in the Glen of Aherloe, in the Galtee mountains, while trying to prevent a cattle raid. He left no heir. The second brother, John Hewson, was the ancestor of the Kerry Hewsons, who had their home in Ennismore, near Listowel. John married Margaret, daughter of the Knight of Kerry, Maurice Fitzgerald. Margaret, moreover, was a descendant, even if remote, of Elizabeth, daughter of Edward I, King of England. This royal descent connection, though initially confined to the Ennismore Hewsons, was, subsequently, though marriage, extended to the Castlehewson family also. Margaret had a large family, three sons and six daughters surviving to maturity. The Ennnismore branch of the family provided several clergymen for the Church of Ireland. Though the family history of the Ennismore Hewsons is very interesting, we will leave it aside now and return to the Castlehewson branch, which was continued by Robert Hewson, third son of George. Robert was born about 1710 and died in 1780. He inherited Castlehewson and married Lillian Lees, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. The eldest son, John Hewson (1729-1829), inherited Castlehewson. He served as Deputy- Lieutenant for county Limerick. He married Mary Lysaght of Charleville, Co. Cork, and had a large family of seven sons and eight daughters. It was this John Hewson, who built the Hewson mill in Askeaton, in 1825. This mill subsequently evolved into Southern Chemicals, which is still in operation.

            William Hewson (1781-1858), second son of John Hewson and Mary Lysaght, inherited the Castlehewson estate from his father. He was highly educated, having obtained a BA degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and qualified as a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. He married Elizabeth Brownrigg, from Edenderry, Co. Offaly, and had two sons and two daughters. William acted as ‘middleman’ for the largest landlord in Askeaton, Sir Matthew Blackiston, who owned about 5,000 acres. William seems to have been a man of courage and spirit. During the Tithe War, on 15 February 1822, while travelling from Glin to Askeaton, he was shot at by an unknown assailant and wounded in the hand. Nothing daunted, he just hurried to Askeaton, got his hand dressed, and immediately set off to hunt down his assailant. William’s name will be found in Griffith’s Valuation of 1850 as the ‘immediate lessor’ of several properties in the Askeaton area. It might also be noted that Hewson’s position as ‘middleman’ enabled him to have prior knowledge and first option to purchase any property of Sir Matthew Blackiston that came up for sale. This is the background to the fact that the Hewsons of Castlehewson were, and in some cases still are, the owners of the ground rents of several properties in Askeaton, west of the ‘bridge’.

            John Brownrigg Hewson (1826-1908), eldest son of William and Elizabeth Brownrigg, inherited Castlehewson on the death of his father. Like his father, he, also, was a graduate (BA) of Trinity College, Dublin. He married Harriet Gardiner from Rochfort, Essex, and they had three sons. In 1876, he is listed as owning 1,435 acres in Askeaton. He was succeeded by his second son, Gilbert Hewson (1875-1951), who was both a member of the Limerick County Council and Dáil Éireann. Like his father, he qualified as a lawyer, but did not practice. He married Kathleen Hewson, a cousin from Ennismore, Listowel, and they had two children, Maurice Hewson (1912-1988) and Rachel Elizabeth (‘Betty’) Hewson (1910-1956), who was joint master of the Stonehall Harriers. Maurice, after a promising academic career (BA, MA), joined the British Colonial Civil Service and rose to a senior position as High Commissioner for the Gold Coast, now known as Ghana. He also distinguished himself as an officer in the British armed forces during World War II.

 Eight Generations

There have been eight generations of Hewsons in Castlehewson from Francis Hewson (born c.1641) to Maurice Hewson (1912-1988). In the above pages, we have followed only the Castlehewson line. There have been other Hewson branches coming off this at various times, including Ennismore (Listowel), Ennicouch (Rathkeale), Hollywood House (Adare), Dromahaire (Co. Leitrim), one member of which, Brigadier AC Hewson, later purchased the Westropp estate at Attyflynn, and the Toomdeely branch (including Courtbrowne and Milltown).


Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 586.

Crofton, HT, 1911, Crofton Memoirs (York, k: England)

Feheney, JM, 2007, Askeaton-Ballysteen Biographical Dictionary. Cork: Iverus.

HCPP, Landowners in Ireland, Cd. 1492, 1876.

Hewetson, John, 1911, The Hewetsons of Kerry, Limerick and Suirville, County Kilkenny, Ireland. London: Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke.

The USA Westropps

Updated 1/7/2016

In 1999, I was doing some research on the Westropp family from Ballysteen. It will be recalled that Thomas Westropp from Mellon purchased Ballysteen in 1703 from the Chichester House Commissioners. Previously, it had belonged to the British Crown, the owners including King Charles II, King James II and Queen Anne. Thomas Westropp married Elizabeth Bury of Pallaskenry and from them descended the Westropps of Ballysteen. There was a twist in the line of descent in the fourth generation, however, when General John Westropp left no surviving heir. As a result, the husband of his only sister, Sara, namely Thomas Odell of Ballingarry, inherited the Ballysteen estate. One of the conditions was that he and his children had to add the Westropp surname to their own, so his children were known by the surname, Odell-Westropp. This arrangement, however, seemed to last for one generation only and Thomas Odell's grandchildren reverted to the Westropp surname.


Westropp-Culhane Marriage

Meantime, however, there was another twist in the family saga. Henry Odell-Westropp, son of Thomas and Sara, married Catherine Culhane, daughter of one of Westropp's Catholic tenants. The marriage was celebrated in the Catholic church, Askeaton, on Sunday 10 February 1839. The witnesses were James Culhane and Sara Naughton. The absence of a member of Henry's own family was an indication of displeasure of the Westropps that one of their sons and 'crossed the boundary' and married a Catholic. In addition to the religious tension, there was also the embarrassment that a member of the local gentry would marry the daughter of one of his tenants.

Five children were born to Henry Westropp (he seemed to have ignored the Odell addition to the Westropp surname) and Catherine Culhane, all baptised in Ballysteen. They were Mary (baptised 19 January 1840); Sarah (baptised 13 March 1842); Thomas (baptised 25 Mary 1844); Edmund (baptised 26 August 1846) and Margaret (baptised 18 January 1849). About this time, Henry (Odell-) Westropp was given sufficient money to enable him to emigrate with his family to the USA. There he purchased a large farm in Collinwood, Ohio, which was on the outskirts of the city of Cleveland. Henry educated his children and they prospered in their adopted country. Henry's grandson, Thomas P Westropp, married Clara Stoekel and some of their children had distinguished careers. One of these children, Clara E Westropp (1886-1965), was the founder of the Women's Federal Savings and Loan Association, the first such organisation in the USA. She was President of this Association for several years. A zealous Catholic, she was chosen Catholic Woman of the Year and she had a school, still functioning, named after her. She never married.

Rev Henry Westropp  SJ

Clara Westropp's sister, Lilian Mary Westropp (1884-1968), studied law and became a Court Judge in Cleveland. She was associated with her sister, Clara, in founding the Women's Federal Savings and Loan Association. Like her sister, she was also a zealous Catholic, who organised fund-raising events for the Jesuit missions in India. Her brother, Rev Henry I Westropp, was born in Cleveland on 17 June 1876. He studied with  the Jesuits, entered the congregation in 1893 and was ordained a Jesuit priest. He volunteered for missionary work in Patna, India. This mission was started in 1919 and the Jesuit priests going there were asked to imitate their famous Jesuit colleague, St Francis Xavier, in mastering local languages. That Fr Westropp succeeded in this to an eminent degree is evident from an article in the journal, The Indian Sentinel, which contains an article entitled, 'Westropp - Master of Languages'. He died in Patna, India, on 17 April 1952 and was buried in the Jesuit mission there.

Contact with Ballysteen

Fr Westropp was not only a zealous missionary, but also an effective fund-raiser for the missions. His nephew, Thomas Westropp from Beachwood, Ohio, states that the priest 'kept two generations of my family busy raising money to respond to his requests'. Another significant point: Father Westropp was the first of the American Westropps to attempt to establish links with the main Ballysteen branch of the family. In the late 1930s, he wrote to Edmund Westropp of Ballysteen, explaining who he was and his connection with Ballysteen. Edmund Westropp of Ballysteeen, however, had no knowledge of this branch of the family and brought the letter to John Culhane, who then occupied the old Culhane farm in Mitchelstown, but he also was at a loss to explain the connection. Unfortunately, the matter was not resolved until I found the marriage and baptismal entries, mentioned above, in the Askeaton/ Ballysteen Parish register and wrote to the Jesuit archives in Cleveland, USA, where I obtained the necessary biographical details about Fr Westropp. Subsequently, I make contact with the descendants of the Cleveland Westropps.

It is worth noting that there is now nobody with the surname Westropp in either Ballysteen or in Mellon, Pallaskenry. There are, however, several distant cousins in the Cleveland OH area of the USA.

John M Feheney