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Women, Marriage and Property in Wealthy Landed Families in Ireland, 1750-1850$

Deborah Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077982

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077982.001.0001

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Widows and property

Widows and property

Chapter:
(p.154) 6 Widows and property
Source:
Women, Marriage and Property in Wealthy Landed Families in Ireland, 1750-1850
Author(s):

Deborah Wilson

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719077982.003.0007

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the role of widows in the family property distribution and formal–informal powers available to elite woman. Widows were discernably marginalised from family property in Ireland. Throughout the period, all women in the families in this study received jointure in place of dower, which in most cases was significantly less than the widow would have received as dower. Widows also had no rights to their husbands' personal property, which tended to be treated as an extension of estate property and bequeathed as such to the heir. Family practices, such as the use of trustees, further sidelined widows from family financial business. The stereotypical image of the greedy dowager bleeding dry an already encumbered estate was a common feature in the correspondence of this class.

Keywords:   widows and property, role of widows, formal–informal power, family property, estate property

Widows were discernably marginalised from family property at this time. Throughout the period, all women in the families in this study received jointure in place of dower, which in most cases was significantly less than the widow would have received as dower. Widows also had no rights to their husbands’ personal property, which tended to be treated as an extension of estate property and bequeathed as such to the heir. Family practices, such as the use of trustees, further sidelined widows from family financial business. The stereotypical image of the greedy dowager bleeding dry an already encumbered estate was a common feature in the correspondence of this class. It appears to have been acceptable to consider jointure a burden on the family estate. In 1799, for example, William Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, regarded the jointure of his grandmother, Lady Kildare, as something he ‘must put up with … for some years longer for I think Lady Kildare will turn the hundred’.1

However, while it is apparent that the relationship between widows and money in wealthy landed circles was an uncomfortable one, financial business was an integral part of widowhood. Widows were responsible for ensuring the regular payment of their own jointure. Although some widows did very well from arrangements made for them on the deaths of their husbands, the experience that widows had of property in this class varied according to financial situation, circumstances and personality. Jointure was not always paid in accordance with the arrangements in marriage settlements or wills. As William Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, told his mother, Emily, Duchess of Leinster, when her jointure was delayed, he ‘desired no legal opinion’ and would gladly pay Emily's jointure ‘as soon as my affairs are settled’.2 In June 1801, the biennial jointure payment of £500 due to be paid to Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, every March and September was two months late, prompting Lady Powerscourt to write to the family agent, Henry Stewart, in June 1801: ‘When it is convenient to him, will he oblig[e]d [sic] by his letting her have all what is due to her last March … Mr (p.155) Stewart will be so good to name the day … that she may be at home.’3 As feme sole, the widow was a property owner in her own right, and as might be expected in the wealthy landed class, some widows were exceptionally wealthy and, through their separate estates, enjoyed financial independence.

Jointure was secured by settlement and was under the protection of the Court of Chancery, and there was therefore a degree of security attached to it. The family estate was legally bound to the payment of jointure, and furthermore, if a widow's jointure was settled on the family estate it was usual for her marriage settlement to contain reference to her right, in the event of non-payment, to redeem what was owed to her by ‘powers of distress and entry’. In 1778, Lady Aldborough threatened to use such powers when she informed the agent for her son's County Wicklow estate that ‘if [the agent] did not immediately pay of her ladyship's jointure she would instantly send down to the country [and] drive your lordships estates’. It appears to have been the case that she had taken similar action in the past and had succeeded in receiving her payment.4 Lady Aldborough's direct approach to the retrieval of her jointure may have been exceptional, but she was within her legal rights to take such action.

Another possible strategy available to the widow in the event of repeated non-payment was the threat of Chancery proceedings and the resettlement of the jointure, so that another trustee handled her affairs. This course of action was employed by Barbara Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall (d. 1829), the third wife of Arthur Chichester, first Marquess of Donegall (1739–99). According to the terms of her marriage settlement, Lady Donegall had the right to demand £1,000 a year, charged on ‘certain tenements’ in Belfast.5 The jointure was rarely paid on time, and Lady Donegall found herself in financial difficulties on numerous occasions. As she noted in 1808, the reality of a widow's experience was sometimes different from that intended by the arrangements made for her in her husband's will: ‘anyone may see by them how much the last Lord Donegall had attended to my convenience, and by the conduct of his two sons, how little his wishes have been fulfilled by either’.6 Between 1799 and 1810 Lady Donegall threatened Chancery proceedings on several occasions in an attempt to force Lord Donegall to honour her jointure payments. By 1804 new trustees were appointed, although payments were still not forthcoming. In 1810 Lady Donegall requested that one of her trustees, Lord Massereene, use his power of attorney to ensure that the part of the Belfast estate on which her jointure was settled was ‘distrained for arrears’ due to her.7 Despite the fact that the Court of Chancery supported Lady Donegall's pursuit of what was owing to her from the Donegall estate, the outcome of this case was a compromise (p.156) between Lord and Lady Donegall, and she therefore only received part of what she was owed.8 This case demonstrates that although the Court of Chancery was perceived to be sympathetic to the needs of widows, it could not compel full payment from a son who was determined not to honour jointure arrangements.

Not all women were wholly dependent on jointure for survival, as some had access to considerable landed estates. From the families surveyed here, five women for whom separate estate information is available held a separate estate in land. The remaining three held separate estate in investments. In addition, a widow might have additional income from estates as a life interest which took effect after the death of her husband.

In a survey of testamentary bequests made by ten widows in the families surveyed here (see Table 6.1) references to moveable property, which included furniture, jewellery and trinkets, were the most common, and investments remained a more common income-making type of property than land. Last wills and testaments are an unreliable source in some respects, as they do not list all family property transactions, and widows may have possessed freehold land and devised this in separate agreements. However, while acknowledging the limitations of this sample, tentative conclusions can be drawn from it.

The devising of life interests in freehold land to widows indicates the primacy of consolidating estates, and the consequent marginalisation of family members from the main landed estate. However, these widows were undoubtedly wealthy, and this independent income enabled them to raise the money required to purchase other, freehold, property as well as property in stocks. Investments also provided further finance for the expansion of estates. For example, Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire, owned a life interest in Ormbersley Court and an estate in Worcester, which she had inherited from her uncle Edwin, Lord Sandys. Lady Downshire also possessed a freehold interest in a mansion and estate at Roehampton, Surrey. Before her death she purchased an additional landed property, Bourne House in Worcestershire, for which she paid £3,300. In order to cover the costs of this purchase, Lady Downshire mortgaged the property as well as her shares in Holt Fleet Bridge, before conveying the property to trustees for the use of Baron Sandys.9

Widows also received income from house rentals: Theodosia Meade, Countess of Clanwilliam, rented a house for two years to Robert Ward, the younger son of Bernard, Lord Bangor.10 Another possible source of income for women at this time was interest from loans. Debts and loans were a prominent part of financial business among these families. Single, married and widowed women were involved in lending money to family (p.157)

Table 6.1 Types of property noted in widows’ wills, 1771–1855

Type of property

Number of wills in which property is mentioned

Freehold land

4

Stocks/investments

6

Moveable property/heirlooms

8

Trinkets

7

Total

25

Sources: PRONI, Abercorn papers, D/623/B/3/14, last will and testament of Ann Hamilton, Countess of Abercorn, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 1771, probate granted 10 August 1776; PRONI, Earl of Antrim papers, D/2977/1/2/4, copy of the last will and testament of Letitia MacDonnell, Marchioness of Antrim, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 31 July 1799, probate granted 10 February 1802; PRO, PROB/11/1455, last will and testament of Dorcas Blackwood, Baroness Dufferin and Clandeboye, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 7 February 1807, probate granted 26 February 1807; PRO, PROB/11/1714, last will and testament of Philadelphia Hannah Dawson, Viscountess Cremorne, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 1 October 1824, probate granted 18 March 1824; PRO, PROB/11/1766, last will and testament of Barbara Chichester, Marchioness of Donegall, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 9 December 1826, probate granted 11 February 1830; PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/22A&B, last will and testament of Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire, 3 May 1832, probate granted September 1836; PRONI , Foster/Massereene papers, D/4084/2/5, last will and testament and probate of Anne Skeffington. Countess of Massereene, will dated 21 January 1800, codicil dated 21 January 1801, probate granted 22 May 1812; PRO, PROB/11/1956, last will and testament of Mary Caroline Creighton, Countess of Erne, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, will dated 13 September 1841, probate granted 31 January 1842; PRONI, Charity Brownlow Testamentary document, T/26, copy of the last will and testament and probate of Charity Brownlow, dated 1 December 1842, probate granted 16 May 1843; PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/24, last will and testament of Maria Hill, Marchionness of Downshire, 17 December 1846, probate granted 7 April 1855.

friends and outstanding debts could be bequeathed as interests to beneficiaries. The informal nature of such transactions may have facilitated the involvement of women, as loans could be arranged without documentation and without payment of interest. The control of insolvent (p.158) family members by those who lent or gave them financial support was an important aspect of property relations at this time. Financial dependence was an underlying feature in the control fathers exerted over children. However, a wealthy widow would also have wielded such control over financially straitened family members. Financial solvency formed part of a wider moral framework of decent, ‘gentlemanly’ behaviour that was as influential among the wealthy landed class as it was among their middle-class contemporaries. By lending money to financially straitened family members, women could effect a degree of influence in moral matters. Between 1802 and 1822, John Wingfield-Stratford was involved in a lawsuit with George Powell over their respective claims to the Aldborough estate. In 1802 his mother, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, lent him £400 to assist with the costs of the case, while advising him against borrowing money from anyone but a family member, as ‘tis a very expensive way, great charges which all fall on the borrower; premium is also expected’.11 These loans were supplemented by gifts of money. In 1803 Viscountess Powerscourt sent her son a draft for £500,12 and by 1805 noted that she had in total contributed £700.13 Viscountess Powerscourt's involvement with her son's financial situation was motivated by her desire that he would take her advice and get his financial affairs into order. When this had not been achieved in the year following the loan she wrote of her disappointment:

I wish you would exert and settle your affairs, ’tis really shameful to see them so long neglected. I would not wish you know all I hear about it, but I feel it and know it myself. Had I been a man, I wou[l]d have settled all myself before this time … I beseech you not to lose your time in indolence, but look to your affairs to some purpose. I have advised you, as is my duty. I have never failed in that point; you will act as you choose [emphasis in original].14

The importance of personal morality in the lending of money is further suggested by the reasons behind the loans that Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, made to family members. Lady Dufferin frequently borrowed money from her mother both during her first marriage to Price Blackwood, Lord Dufferin, and after her husband's death, while in turn lending sums of money to her sisters and brothers. While living in Italy in January 1842, Lady Dufferin was anxious for her brother Frank Sheridan, who was staying with her, to return to England. She lent him money for the ‘express purpose of getting him off to England (which was such a difficult matter to effect) I thought it well bestowed [emphasis in original]’.15 In 1846 Lady Dufferin lent money to another brother, Charles Sheridan so that she could exert a degree of influence in the (p.159)

Table 6.2 Lady Erne's loan network, c.1800

Year of loan

Recipient of loan

Principal sum £

Interest rate %

Amount paid to Lady Erne

1772

Ross Mahon

1,000

5

110

1772

Ross Mahon

1,000

5

110

1789

Joseph Kane

550

6

16.10.0

1789

Arthur French

1,000

6

60

1789

Richard Hill

1,000

5

25

1791

Robert Wallace

500

6

30

1792

Pat Smith

500

6

30

1793

Viscount Gosford

800

6

24

1795

John Kingley

2,000

5

50

1795

John Usher

500

6

15

1798

Reverend Hill

400

6

24

1799

Frank Marsh

600

5

30

Total

9,850

524.10.0

Sources: NLI, Erne papers, MS 15360, outstanding loans of Lady Erne, c.1800.

ending of his relationship with a woman of whom she did not approve: ‘by this means … I acquire a right to demand a sacrifice in return from Charley, which will be the solemn promise to put an end to his present connection with M[ada]m D., an object which I have much at heart [emphasis in original]’ .16

Loan networks could provide widows with investment opportunities outside the boundaries of the family. Between 1772 and 1799, Jane Creighton, Lady Erne, conducted an extensive loan network (see Table 6.2). Lady Erne was the second wife of Abraham Creighton, first Baron Erne of Crom Castle (c.1770–1772), and Lord Erne was also Lady Erne's second husband. After Lord Erne's death in 1772, her annual income totalled £1,783 from landed estates in counties Armagh and Tyrone, and included jointure from both of her marriages.17

The loan network demonstrates an alternative form of investment to public or private stocks. By 1800 it was made up of loans to eleven people, none of whom were related to Lady Erne, and the loans ranged in value from £400 to £2,000, charged at the typical rates during this period of either 5 per cent or 6 per cent. By 1800 Lady Erne had lent a total of £9,850, and her income from these loans for that year was £524.10.0. This amount was equivalent to 29 per cent of Lady Erne's total income, a significant proportion.18

The fact that the loans date from after the death of Lord Erne suggests, as would be expected, that Lady Erne had more income at her disposal (p.160) during those years. However, it does not necessarily follow that it was less acceptable for a married woman to be involved with this type of money lending. There is nothing to suggest that Lady Erne was an isolated example of a wealthy woman who had a substantial list of debtors. Earlier in the eighteenth century, Harriet Boyle (d. 1746), the Countess of Kildare, wife of Henry Boyle (d. 1764), the first Earl of Shannon, also had a list of debts that included three bonds, to different people, dated April 1744, each payable within fifteen months and each loaned at 5 per cent interest, totalling nearly £13,000.19 The Countess of Kildare was married at this time, and, in fact, her husband outlived her by eighteen years, so it was clearly acceptable for a married woman to lend money in this way.

It is also clear that such transactions did present a viable alternative to banks. As Large notes, in contrast with English banks, which did offer mortgages to landowners, ‘the principal dealings of the Irish banking system in the eighteenth century were exchange dealings’. One exception to this was the banking facilities offered by the La Touche bankers, which included rent remittances to absentee landlords.20 Presumably, privately arranged loans, such as those offered by Lady Erne, were more convenient than the available banking facilities.

Charity

The household and personal expenses of Lady Erne also provide a useful example of how charitable benevolence operated in the daily financial lives of widows. As Rosemary Raughter notes, Lady Erne was possibly more generous than many of her aristocratic and wealthy landed contemporaries, although she was at the same time not as generous as the major benefactors, such as Lady Arabella Denny, who were personally, as well as financially, involved in a range of philanthropic activity.21 A significant proportion of Lady Erne's income as a widow was given to charitable causes. In her study of Lady Erne's accounts, Raughter has noted that in this period her expenditure on charity was 9 per cent of her total expenditure, ‘a proportion not far short of the biblically-ordained tithe’.22

Lady Erne's household and personal accounts provide a useful indication of the structure of her charitable activity over the period 1776–99, and these have been listed and divided into six categories in appendix G. The most numerous beneficiaries, as would be expected, were the poor. Named recipients were more numerous than the anonymous poor, and Lady Erne had approximately three regular petitioners at any one time, although in some years there were fewer. ‘Poor Anne’ and ‘old Fleming’ appear in the early accounts. ‘Poor Anne’ received quarterly (p.161) amounts from Lady Erne until 1786.23 After this date her place was apparently taken by a new petitioner, Mary Nowlan, who appears in the accounts from 1787 until 1799.24 ‘Blind Hawkins’ appears as a regular beneficiary between 1779 and 1783.25 After ‘Blind Hawkins’ disappears from the accounts, another beneficiary appears in 1784, ‘Casey’, who received a quarterly amount for his son's schooling.26

Apart from Casey, reasons for the amounts given to named petitioners were not detailed in the accounts, and they can therefore be assumed to have been for the relief of poverty. Occasional donations were made to other named beneficiaries, such as ‘poor Sampson’ the hairdresser, ‘for his wife's lying in’.27 There is a sense of continuity with the families of these petitioners. ‘Old Fleming’ received quarterly amounts from Lady Erne from 1776 until his death in 1779. After his death, his widow received the amount in his place until 1783.28 His place appears to have been taken from 1786 to 1799 by ‘Biddy Cash’, who had previously worked as a maid for Lady Erne's mother.29 Similarly, reasons for the benevolence to the unnamed poor were not detailed in the accounts in most cases, although in some cases money was given in response to disasters, such as the donations to the ‘poor woman’ in 1784 ‘whose house has blown down’ and the ‘poor people’ in County Tyrone in 1796 ‘who have been distressed by floods and storms’.30 On one occasion assistance to disaster victims also reached beyond Ireland: in 1781 a subscription was made to the distressed in the West Indian islands.31

Lady Erne's contribution to institutionalised poor relief and reform makes up a smaller, but regular presence in the accounts. The two institutions mentioned most frequently are the Houses of Industry and the Magdalen Asylum. The Houses of Industry were established in 1771 as a response to the perceived problem of the homeless poor.32 Lady Erne subscribed to the Houses of Industry annually until 1786. After this time she appears to have replaced this subscription with another to a charity which arranged loans to the poor.33 The Magdalen Asylum, established by Lady Arabella Denny in 1767 for reformed prostitutes, was a focal point for charitable benevolence from women of this class. Emily, Duchess of Leinster, and her sister Louisa Conolly both acted on the female management committee, visiting the asylum and taking part in activities such as overseeing discipline and advising on skills and employment.34 Lady Erne was an annual subscriber until 1793, a year after Lady Arabella Denny's death, after which there appears to have been a decline in the institution's effectiveness.35

Included under the category of charitable institutions were organisations that promoted education and religious instruction in schools and Sunday schools. Lady Erne's donations to Sunday schools date from the (p.162) beginning of the Sunday school movement in Ireland. The Hibernian Sunday School Society was founded in 1809, and became the Sunday School Society for Ireland in 1815. In 1810, forty schools and over 5,000 pupils had received assistance from the society.36 The first list of officials was made up of eight women from this class, including Viscountess Powerscourt and the Countess of Meath.37 The Dublin Sunday schools, supported by Lady Erne, had been promoted by Arthur Guinness and Samuel Bewley, and by 1798 had their own premises in School Street and North Strand.38

Donation to charitable causes through third parties was a more sporadic form of benevolence and was absent from the accounts in some years. Owing to the nature of this type of benevolence, the causes also varied: for example, money was relayed to Mrs Graves by a third party for the purpose of assisting her son in the ‘cattlers trade’.39 However, in 1793 Lady Erne recorded five such donations, which included two amounts ‘for a poor family’, one for ‘poor manufacturers’, one ‘for charity’ and one ‘to bring a poor girl into this country’.40 Another method of contributing to the poor was through attendance at charity sermons. Charity sermons were an annual feature in all accounts from 1776 to 1799.

The final category noted in appendix G consists of the miscellaneous causes that do not neatly fit into any of the other categories. Although focused on the lower-class poor, Lady Erne's charity was not wholly confined to it. In 1787, for example, an inflated amount of £144.4.10½ is recorded, the highest amount spent in the period recorded in the accounts. In this year, Lady Erne gave £100 ‘to a gentleman and his family and home I thought in distress’.41 Other beneficiaries were a ‘poor gentleman’ in 1782, a ‘poor clergyman’ in 1783 and a ‘poor French count’ in 1794.42

Lady Erne's charitable behaviour was therefore a combination of personal, local benevolence to the poor, which included regular petitioners, and contributions by subscription to institutional and church charitable measures, as well as encompassing the unfortunate from the middle and upper classes. Her patterns of benevolence are also a useful indication of how personal, institutional and church approaches to poverty co-existed at this time. The accounts reveal a predominant interest in providing for the local poor. Within this there were distinctions between named, regular petitioners and the anonymous, unnamed poor. Although Lady Erne's benevolence, where it was intended for the relief of poverty, was directed towards local needs, it was occasionally directed to other causes outside Ireland. It was focused on the indigent poor, but it was also occasionally extended to those from the middle and upper classes who were (p.163) in financial distress. Lady Erne's support of institutional charities aimed to encourage reform and self-help among the poor. Her concerns for education and religious instruction were also directed to the relevant charitable organisations. The concern accorded to children, and to the poor in general, provided a basis for Lady Erne's benevolence that was in keeping with the role of women.

The focus of charity among women in these families was most commonly the local poor; however, alongside this women supported charitable institutions and occasional charitable fund-raising events. Harriet Skeffington, Countess of Massereene (d. 1831), the wife of Chichester Skeffington, Marquess of Massereene, was a supporter of the Belfast Lying-In Hospital.43 She contributed to the local poor on the Massereene estate in County Antrim, and to petitioners in Dublin, one of whom, for example, received money to keep her daughter at school.44 Helen, Lady Dufferin, wrote the epilogue for a performance of The hunchback at St James's Theatre, in which Fanny Kemble was to act the part of Julia ‘for the benefit of the starving Irish’.45 Lady Dufferin also visited poor tenants on the Dufferin estate, and prayed with them; for example, in 1849 she prayed with the wife of Willie Flanaghan, who was dying after giving birth to a dead child.46 Additionally, a widow might have the task of administering their late husband's wishes regarding charitable bequests from his estate. William Brownlow bequeathed £50 to the Free School of Lurgan, £50 to the poor of the parish of Shankhill and £400 to be laid out ‘in such manner as Mrs Brownlow my wife may consider useful’.47

There were also occasions when women in this class adopted poor foreign children. Caroline Norton, writing to her sister Helen, Lady Dufferin, from Rome in 1849 noted the recent death of a Lady Strachan, who had not seen her family much in the years preceding her death, but had adopted an Italian child, ‘a poor little girl, to whom she has left £150 a year, an Italian fortune!’48 Five years later, in 1854, Helen, Lady Dufferin, attempted to adopt a child saved from a shipwreck off the coast of Dublin. By the time she had written to the clergyman in Dublin who had charge of the orphan, there had been ‘fifteen other offers to provide for, and adopt it, one of which is from a gentleman near Liverpool, who desires to be allowed to settle a landed estate upon it! [emphasis in original]’.49

Bequests made by widows in last wills and testaments

Last wills and testaments provide a useful source for the study of women's experience of property, recording in each case the type of property owned and the testator's views on disposition. In a sample of twenty (p.164) wills, ten written by the head of the family estate and ten written by the widows of such men, a wider range of property was bequeathed by male testators. As indicated by Table 6.3, women did bequeath capital interests in land, although on a lesser scale than men within this sample. The range of other property bequeathed is also similar. Both male and female testators bequeathed annuities, legacies and moveable property. The most numerous bequests made by male testators were of annuities in land and life interests in family houses, a pattern which reflects the usual provision for family members made by the male head of the family.

In several instances, when a widow owned both entailed and freehold property, the freehold property was bequeathed to younger sons. This practice is in accordance with practice in some landed families to keep some of a widow's separate estate as a ‘cadet’ estate, apart from the main estate, usually in accordance with the wishes of her father.50 By the death of her brother, Lord Viscount Mount Morres, Letitia MacDonnell, Marchioness of Antrim, had become entitled as one of his co-heiresses at law to ‘a moiety of all his freehold and copyhold’ lands in Ireland, which she devised to her son from her previous marriage, Lord Dungannon.51

The bequest of cadet estates can be interpreted as the representation of a family interest, even if the family in question was that of the widow's father. However, it may also have been motivated by personal preference. Theodosia Meade, Countess of Clanwilliam, took possession of her family estates at Gill Hall and Rathfriland during her marriage.52 The Gill Hall estate was entailed on her eldest son, Lord Gilford, while Theodosia was free to bequeath the Rathfriland estate, which she did, to her second son, Captain Robert Meade. Her house in Stephens Green was also not entailed, and when she bequeathed it to Robert, she was free to do so: ‘On arranging the title, I found it is not entailed; but that to you should make no difference, more than being obliged to the old lady's memory for it or what you may sell it for.’53

The influence that the particular type of property owned had on disposition is considered in Table 6.4. Both men and women in this sample bequeathed mostly to their immediate family, eldest sons, daughters and younger sons, as well as to wider kin. However, a significant number of widows’ bequests were made to non-relatives and servants, while men made no bequests to non-relatives, and only one to a servant.

Most bequests made by widows were legacies settled upon personal estate and capital interests on moveable goods, and this reflects the different perspective on disposition held by the male head of a family and a widow. Such bequests carried no continuity across generations, and did not revert to the family estate. It is probable that the different type of property owned by widows encouraged more careful disposition, so (p.165)

Table 6.3 Range of property bequeathed by husbands and widows, 1768–1836a

Type of property

Bequeathed by husbands

Bequeathed by widows

Gross sum to widow

4

N/A

Capital interest in freehold land

5

3

Life interest in freehold land

3

0

Annuities charged on land

7

1

Annuities charged on stock

2

4

Legacies charged on land

6

3

Legacies charged on personal estate

2

7

Capital interest in moveable property

5

8

Life interest in moveable property

3

1

Paraphernalia to widow

5

N/A

House interest for life

7

0

Capital interest in house

0

1

Total

59

27

Note: (a) Entailed estates and jointure have not been noted, as the concern here is with choices regarding bequests. All male testators inherited their family's landed estate and all female testators were the widows of men who inherited the family estate.

Sources: PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/17, copy of the last will and testament of James Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, 9 February 1768; PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/A/N3/3b, copy last will and testament of John Blackwood, 31 December 1781; PRONI, Enniskillen papers, D/1702/1/27/7a, last will and testament and probate of William Willoughby, Earl of Enniskillen, 21 June 1793, probate granted 25 July 1805; PRONI, Brownlow papers, D/1928/T/3/5, solicitor's copy of the last will and testament and two codicils of William Brownlow, will dated 19 April 1791, probate granted 1794; PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/20a, copy of the last will and testament of Arthur Hill, Marquess of Downshire extracted from the Registry of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 24 November 1797, probate granted 1801; PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/4084/2/8a, copy last will and testament and probate of Chichester Skeffington, Earl of Massereene, will dated 20 February 1816, probate granted 17 October 1816; PRONI, Abercorn papers, D/623/B/3/25, last will and testament and probate of John James Hamilton, Marquess of Abercorn, 18 March 1809, probate granted 9 May 1818; PRONI, Galway, McIlwaine and Seeds papers, D/665/4, copy of the last will and testament and probate of Robert Stewart, Marquess of Londonderry, will dated 14 August 1818, codicils dated 17 August 1818, probate granted 10 May 1823; PRONI, Erne papers, D/1939/25/1/12, last will and testament and probate of John Creighton, Earl of Erne, will dated 11 November 1828, probate granted 1829; PRONI, Powerscourt papers, D/1957/1/17, solicitor's copy of the last will and testament of Richard Wingfield, Viscount Powerscourt, 3 February 1836. See Table 6.1 for sources for widows’ wills.

(p.166)

Table 6.4 Numbers of bequests to family members in wills of husbands and widows, 1768–1855

Range of beneficiaries

Husbands’ wills

Widows’ wills

Wife

10

N/A

Eldest son

4

6

Daughters

8

7

Younger sons

6

4

Wider female kin

5

9

Wider male kin

2

5

Non-relatives

0

2

Servants

1

5

Charity

0

2

Total

36

40

Sources: See Tables 6.1 and 6.3.

widows were likely to bequeath more legacies to more people. There are more instances of the bequest of small items such as ornaments, books and jewellery, as well as relatively small sums of money, in the wills of widows than in those of husbands. Anne Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, bequeathed £100 each to her daughter, Lady Leitrim, and her daughter's husband ‘for a ring’ as well as bequeathing china, picture frames, a money box and all her clothes.54 Maria Hill, Marchioness of Downshire, included seven separate bequests of mementoes to her children. This will also included the one bequest in this sample of a life interest in estate jewellery, vested in trustees for the use of the Marchioness's daughter during her life. On her daughter's death, ownership of the jewellery was to revert to the Downshire estate.55

There is no extant record of the last will and testament of Helen, Lady Dufferin, although an apparent rough draft of her ‘latest instructions’ regarding the disposal of her personal property after her death suggests that her personal property consisted of her linens, clothes and jewels. Her jewels were ‘to be delivered’ to her daughter-in-law, Harriet Blackwood, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava. Helen instructed that her maid ‘Rumble’ was ‘to have all my linens and any part of my wardrobe which Lady Dufferin pleases to give her’. She also wished that ‘some little things to be given to each of my sisters, and to [her niece] Maria Sheridan in remembrance of me. My little travelling clock is for Lizzie Ward [her sister-in-law] and the work basket, which my dear Harriet [Blackwood] brought me from Paris to be given to Mrs Nugent’.56

It is also possible that there was a tendency in last wills and testaments to bequeath according to the perceived need of the beneficiary. As noted (p.167) in chapter 2, the concept of bequeathing according to the need of the beneficiary was also present in husbands’ wills, although it was limited to immediate family and younger children in particular. That the idea had common currency is suggested by the practice of noting, when not bequeathing anything to a particular family member, that they have been provided for elsewhere. Therefore, when Mary, Marchioness of Downshire, did not bequeath anything to her eldest son, the Marquess of Downshire, it was due to the fact that he was ‘amply provided for by the large estate of which he is in possession’.57 Similarly, the separate estate bequeathed by Letitia, Countess of Antrim, to her daughter Lady Charlotte Kerr, noted in chapter 5, consisted of a life interest in £10,000 invested in government securities, arrears of jointure owing to her at her time of death and a further gross sum of £3,000. This contrasts with the token amount bequeathed to Charlotte's sister Anne Katherine, Countess of Antrim, who, Lady Antrim noted, ‘cannot be supposed to be in want of money’. Lady Antrim bequeathed £500 to Anne Katherine ‘to buy her a mourning ring’ and, significantly, added ‘as I wish to prove I am perfectly reconciled and also bless her and trust she may always continue happy’.58

Another feature of these wills consists of the bequests and recommendations made for servants. Ann Hamilton, Countess of Abercorn, bequeathed various legacies to servants who had been with the family for three or more years.59 Letitia MacDonnell, Lady Antrim bequeathed one year's wages to servants who had been in her service for five years or more, in addition to what they were owed as wages at the time of her death. She also ‘begs’ that her son, Lord Dungannon, recommend the servants as ‘they have lived a long time with me and are attentive and careful’. Lady Antrim also made particular reference to a maid, Clebert, to whom she bequeathed, on the condition that Clebert was still her maid at her time of death, 12 guineas and an additional 50 guineas, later increased to 100 guineas, ‘as a small acknowledgement of her having been extremely attentive’.60 The disparity between the wills of male and female testators regarding bequests to servants may have been due to the fact that a widow would have had her own establishment, which might not pass on to another family member on her death, unlike the family mansion, which was entailed on the heir to the estate. Servants of widows in landed families were therefore more likely to be made unemployed, as the example of Lady Erne's mother's maid, Biddy Cash, who was the recipient of charity from Lady Erne, demonstrates.

It is therefore a feature of widows’ wills that they bequeathed more moveable property than land, that their bequests tended to be detailed, and that they acknowledged a wider kin and non-kin network. This is (p.168)

Table 6.5 Residuary legatees in husbands’ and widows’ wills, 1768–1855

Residuary legatee

Husbands’ wills

Widows’ wills

Widow

3

N/A

Eldest/only son

6

4

Daughter

0

0

Younger son

0

1

Wider male kin

0

2

Wider female kin

0

2

Trustees

1

1

Total

10

10

Sources: See Tables 6.1 and 6.3.

further illustrated by the choices of residuary legatees, shown in Table 6.5. As with the husbands’ wills, the detailed bequests of a widow's will might mean that the residuary legatee did not receive much, although none of the wills in the sample was as detailed as that of Ellinor, Countess of Blessington, who recorded forty-three separate and detailed bequests.61 As Table 6.5 indicates, both husbands and widows were more likely to appoint their eldest, or only, son as residuary legatee than a daughter, younger son or wider kin. Trustees were mentioned on one occasion by both male and female testators, and therefore clearly played a visible role in the affairs of both men and women in these families. Daughters were not mentioned in any of the sample wills, although daughters do feature as residuary legatees in last wills and testaments outside this sample. Catherine, Countess of Charleville, for example, appointed her daughter residuary legatee and joint executor of her last will and testament.62 However, widows in this sample named younger sons, nephews and grandchildren as residuary legatees, thereby recognising a wider range of appointees from their extended kin network. Although these were a minority, they indicate the greater importance of kin and wider kin in the financial affairs of widows than in those of their husbands.

In the sample wills there were no bequests to charity by husbands, and only two by widows. Each of these was a legacy to be distributed to the poor of the parish. Anne Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, bequeathed £200 to parishes in Antrim, and Charity Brownlow bequeathed £25 to the parish of Shankhill and £15 to the parish of Kilhoney in County Armagh.63 There is no reason to suppose that in their focus on the local poor, these two wills were unrepresentative of women's charitable bequests. As noted above, locally based philanthropy was a significant element in the charitable behaviour of women from this class. Furthermore, Raughter, in her analysis of legacies reproduced in the (p.169) Abstracts of wills, argues that the majority of female testators ‘directed their largesse towards the poor of their own locality, or of an area with which they had some connection, through birth or land ownership’.64 However, the fact that only two out of the ten wills make any reference to charity is significant, and it may be that bequests to charity though last wills and testaments were not as widely practised by women from the wealthy landed class as by their middle-class contemporaries. A survey of the Charitable Bequests Index between 1800 and 1825 reveals only seven titled women. The average total number of bequests in 1801 and 1821 was fifty-six, eighteen of them from women, these represented a very small proportion of all bequests, especially when the women in question were among the wealthiest in Ireland.65

Bequests in the wills of Anne Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, and Charity Brownlow also indicate that their benevolence was much lower in value than that of their middle-class contemporaries. Women from the wealthy landed class were perhaps more restricted in the scope of their charitable benevolence, possibly because of the particular intersection of gender and class which led to their focus on the local poor. An admittedly unrepresentative example of another will that included charitable donations is the last will and testament of Dame Elizabeth Hutchinson, sister of Peter La Touche, from the wealthy Dublin banking family, and a member of a family renowned for its involvement in charitable causes.66 Dame Hutchinson bequeathed £6,000 in Consolidated and Joint Government Irish Stock at 4 per cent interest to the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests to thirteen separate charitable causes, covering both institutional charities, such as the House of Refuge in Baggot Street ‘founded by the late Mrs Blackford for young women looking for services’, and the Magdalen Asylum, as well as the Sunday School Society in the city of Dublin. A further bequest of £1,000 consolidated 3½ per cent stock to the Archbishop of Tuam was intended to help the widows and sons of curates, while another bequest of £1,000 consolidated 3½ per cent stock to Bishop Killale was intended to assist clergymen's widows and sons. Finally, after arranging for an annuity of £5 to be paid to the minister of the parish of Killashee, in order to have railings around her late husband's grave painted, she directed that any left-over money was go to to the poor people of Killashee.67 The La Touche family were exceptionally prominent in Irish charity and the extent of Dame Hutchinson's charitable bequests was there-fore uncommon. However, her will is a useful indication of the wider possibilities of women's involvement in charity.

The evident concerns in the last wills and testaments of widows in this sample are in accordance with those of female testators in England. Richard Vann, in his study on will-making in the English town of (p.170) Banbury, which covers part of this period, has noted that women were beginning to take up the role of ‘kinship expert’, becoming increasingly likely to make bequests to kinsmen, to friends and to servants.68 Amy Erickson also notes that female testators bequeathed to a wider range of kin and non-kin than men in early modern England.69

The marginal place that widows occupied in relation to the main family estate also determined their testamentary behaviour. If a widow died intestate, there was no obvious pattern of descent for her property. The detailed bequest of moveable property and cash, as is evident in some last wills and testaments, was a response to this situation. The different requirements of a widow's will from those of a husband are also illustrated by the more numerous bequests made to servants. Servants were more likely to become unemployed on the death of a widow, whereas on the death of a husband the house in which they worked was part of the estate and would therefore continue in the family. As in the case of single women, noted in chapter 4, widows’ bequests to non-kin may also reflect the types of significant relations in their lives of widows.

Remarriage

Among the sample families it was more common for men than for women to remarry. Out of the seventy-six marriages within the sample families in this period, eighteen men married more than once (24 per cent). In six cases men married widows (8 per cent), and in five cases the widows of these men remarried (6 per cent).70 These figures are in keeping with the wider experience of widows and remarriage. In early modern England, fewer widows than men ever remarried. Of all widows, wealthy widows ‘from medieval England to nineteenth-century Virginia’ were least likely of all to remarry.71

The reasons for the low rate of remarriage among widows were a combination of social and financial factors. The remarrying widow was in a socially anomalous position. As a woman heading her own household she contradicted the patriarchal structure of landed society that was defined by male heads of family. However, a widow who remarried further challenged the supremacy of her late husband by replacing him. This contradictory situation was personified by comic images of widows which presented enduring stereotypes of ‘foolish, pathetic creatures … who anxiously sought a husband at any cost’.72 The loss of independence that marriage involved was another possible factor. By remarrying, a widow would be forced to relinquish her legal identity once again and, despite her ability to arrange separate estate for herself on this marriage, may have been unwilling to do so.

(p.171) It is likely that financial considerations were equally important. Widows who did not remarry possibly could not afford to. In this period, the concentration of family property in the hands of the heir and the tendency to limit the widow's interest to moveable property and residence rights to life, as long as she remained unmarried, was a principal financial barrier. Such restrictions in some cases also extended to the guardianship of children. On deciding to remarry, the widow would have to assess the implications of this regarding losses from the family estate and the impact on her social position. The advantages of a second, later marriage were that the widow would be able to arrange her own separate estate, having possibly more money and more experience than she had at the time of her first marriage.73 A widow of independent financial means may have been more likely to marry for love than a single woman in straitened circumstances.

Just as some widows who did not marry could not afford to do so, a widow with an adequate separate estate alongside generous jointure provision from her first husband may have been economically positioned to act independently of the wishes of her family and society. The payment of jointure was independent of a late husband's wishes and therefore could not be conditional upon a widow remaining unmarried. As already noted, Jane Creighton, Lady Erne's income on the death of her second husband in 1772, which totalled £1,783 a year, included £566 from the jointure settled on her first marriage to Arthur Acheson.74 A widow was also able to arrange for part of her jointure to be paid to her new husband. Anne Dawson, Lady Cremorne, arranged for her £1,107 jointure to be divided between herself and her new husband, settling £600 on Colonel John Rawdon and retaining the remainder for herself.75

When Emily Fitzgerald, Duchess of Leinster, married William Ogilvie, her children's tutor, a year after her first husband's death in 1774, her actions divided the Fitzgerald family and scandalised aristocratic society. The financial independence that the Duchess was ensured by her jointure from the Leinster estate may have provided the basis for her independence of action in the face of such hostility. The marriage was clearly a marriage for love from her perspective, and was portrayed as a choice between happiness and social approval. As the Duchess's sister, Louisa Conolly, noted: ‘[y]ou hurt your rank in the world, in my opinion; that is all you do; and if you gain happiness by it, I am sure you make a good exchange, and it would be hard indeed if your friends were not satisfied with that’.76 The luxury of personal happiness could therefore be costly to the widow. By the terms of her husband's will, the Duchess of Leinster would have lost her life interest in the Fitzgerald houses in Carton and Blackrock, as well as her right to be guardian to any of the children from (p.172) her marriage to the late Duke of Leinster. Her relationship with her son, the second Duke of Leinster, ameliorated the severity of these conditions. However, her remarriage did lead to her losing authority over the management of the landed property of her sons.

The experience of the Duchess of Leinster can be compared with that of Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, who was in a less advantageous financial situation after the death of her first husband in 1841. Lady Dufferin appears to have conducted a private, intimate friendship with George Hay, Lord Gifford, for twenty years before they married in 1862, over two decades after her first husband's death. The frustration felt by Helen at the clandestine nature of their relationship is clear from her correspondence: ‘[h]ow I wish you were in a dungeon of your own!’ she wrote in 1842, ‘for then I would come and read, and chat with you, in the face of all the proper-ties in the world!’77 Lord Gifford was ten years younger than Lady Dufferin, which may have provided an obstacle to their earlier marriage. The problems their relationship would cause for her social standing were recognised by Lady Dufferin, who noted on another occasion that she could not visit Lord Gifford because of ‘that thin thing, my reputation’.78

Although he had proposed marriage on numerous occasions, Lady Dufferin consented only after Lord Gifford was involved in a fatal accident, the injuries from which led to his death one month later. The marriage was considered shocking among some members of London society. Reported comments were that the marriage to a dying man was considered ‘wicked’. Lord Gifford's parents, Lord and Lady Tweedale, alluded to the property that Lord Gifford was heir to, and condemned the marriage as motivated on Lady Dufferin's part by ‘the basest motives’.79

Lady Dufferin noted a number of reasons for her previous decision not to marry Lord Gifford, such as the fact that he was ten years younger than her and her duty to her son, Frederick, Lord Dufferin: ‘the difference in our ages, the great and rational dread I entertain of confliction duties, the deep affection I bear towards my son, and the fear of diminishing (by an unsuitable union) the respect he owed me; lastly, and not least, the consideration of what was best and wisest for Gifford's own prospects and position’.80 The sense of obligation to her son was alleviated when he married Harriet Rowan-Hamilton the previous year; however, there were also financial obstacles to the earlier marriage of Lady Dufferin and Lord Gifford. Lord Gifford had a stormy relationship with his family, which appears to have made his financial situation unstable, and Lady Dufferin's income consisted largely of her jointure from the Dufferin estate, which, although secure, was not a large sum.

(p.173) It is significant that the main criticism levelled at Lady Dufferin was not the difference in age between herself and Lord Gifford, but his potential financial situation as the heir to his father. Lord Gifford had an acrimonious relationship with his father, Lord Tweedale, on whom he was financially dependent. Lord Tweedale condemned the marriage and refused to assist with the cost of his son's medical bills, despite his reported wealth.81 Lady Dufferin asserted the respectability of the union in two ways: by making it known to her social circle that Lord Gifford had embraced religion before his death by taking the sacrament, and by attempting to pay all her late husband's medical bills and funeral costs, a financial burden that she regarded as a ‘sacred duty’ which ‘few people will understand’.82

The remarrying widow therefore had to consider a variety of factors, such as social reputation and family duty, as well as finances. The economic position of a widow, however, provided the basis on which other factors could be balanced. A widow could act according to her own wishes in social matters only if she was not facing the threat of financial ruin by her choice to remarry. The trend in landed families to concentrate family property in the hands of the heir, limiting the widow's interest to life, and the further trend of specifying conditions of continued widowhood to life interests, were therefore important factors in constraining the financial independence of widows to make such decisions.

Conclusion

The relationship that widows had to property in these families is complex. In family settlements, widows were increasingly marginalised from family financial business as well as from income from the estate, as provisions were often life interests conditional upon the widow not remarrying. Settled jointure was also not guaranteed in practice, as the experience of Lady Donegall illustrates. At the same time, it was acceptable in family correspondence to resent the payment of jointure.

The amount and type of property owned by widows varied. Some widows were very wealthy, in terms of both jointure and possession of separate estate in land. Some widows were dependent upon the good will of family members for the payment of jointure and any additions to this income. The power enjoyed by widows in family affairs consequently differed between those who exercised formal authority and those who used more indirect means. A widow who was dependent upon the good will of her family for financial support could also find herself bound by the wishes of her late husband in her future life choices, such as remarriage.

(p.174) Prevailing notions of appropriate roles for women in the family did impact on women in this sample. Informal advice and loan networks represented the basis of widows’ financial authority in families. The lending of money raised the issue of moral control of financially straitened family members. However, loan networks were an integral part of the financial management of this class, and these extended outside the family, providing significant sources of income. Charity was another area of activity that accorded with contemporary views on acceptable public roles for women. In the absence of government intervention, for much of this period, poor relief, in terms of the private, localised charity practised by women in this class, provided the only form of assistance to the indigent poor in many areas.

Some widows did own land, and they demonstrated the same dynastic considerations as their male contemporaries by bequeathing it to immediate family members. However, the testamentary bequests made by widows also indicate a concern to provide for wider kin and non-kin. This factor reflects the different type of property generally owned by widows in the families surveyed here, which was, in most cases, moveable, cash property. A widows also occupied a different place in the family from a male heir. If a widow died intestate, there was no obvious pattern of descent for her property, and after her death her servants were likely to be unemployed.

Notes

Notes:

(1) NLI, Brian Fitzgerald papers, MS 13,022, William Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, to Emily Fitzgerald, Duchess of Leinster, 13 May 1779.

(2) NLI, Brian Fitzgerald papers, MS 13,022, William Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, to Emily Fitzgerald, Duchess of Leinster, 17 December 1775.

(3) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/C/14, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, to Henry Stewart, 19 June 1801.

(4) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/E/19, Annesley Devenzy to Edward Stratford, Lord Aldborough, 12 December 1778.

(5) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/562/2819, Barbara Chichester, Lady Donegall, to Chichester Skeffington, Earl of Massereene, 28 November 1808.

(6) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/562/2821, Barbara Chichester, Lady Donegall, to Chichester Skeffington, Earl of Massereene, 2 October 1808.

(7) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/562/2826, Barbara Chichester, Lady Donegall, to Chichester Skeffington, Earl of Massereene, 22 June 1810.

(8) Maguire, Living like a lord, pp. 42–3.

(9) PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/221&b, last will and testament of Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire, 3 May 1832, probate granted September 1836.

(p.175) (10) PRONI, Ward papers, D/2092/1/9/71, Reverend Hugh Montgomery to Arabella Ward, 1 August 1802.

(11) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/E/37, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, to John Wingfield-Stratford, 19 March 1802.

(12) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/E/37, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, to John Wingfield-Stratford, 20 January 1803.

(13) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/E/37, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, to John Wingfield-Stratford, 19 November 1805.

(14) PRONI, Verner-Wingfield papers, D/2538/E/37, Amelia Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt, to John Wingfield-Stratford, 16 August [1802/03].

(15) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A3/2, Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, to Henrietta Sheridan, 2 January [1842].

(16) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A1/8/1, Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, to Henrietta Sheridan, 21 June 1846.

(17) NLI, Erne papers, MS 2178, household and personal expenses of Jane Creighton, Lady Erne, 1776–99 (hereafter Erne accounts).

(18) Erne accounts, 1776–99.

(19) PRONI, Shannon papers, D/2707/B13/1–34, Boyle family bonds and related papers, 1726–88.

(20) Large, ‘The wealth of the greater Irish landowners’, p. 22.

(21) Raughter, ‘A natural tenderness’, p. 69.

(22) Ibid., p. 68.

(23) Erne accounts, 1777–86.

(24) Ibid., 1777–99.

(25) Ibid., 1779–83.

(26) Ibid., 1784–99.

(27) Ibid., 1789.

(28) Ibid., 1779–83.

(29) Ibid., 1786–99.

(30) Ibid., 1784 and 1796.

(31) Ibid., 1781.

(32) Joseph O’Carroll, ‘Contemporary attitudes towards the homeless poor 1725–1775’ in David Dickson (ed.), The gorgeous mask (Dublin: Trinity History Workshop, 1987), pp. 64–85.

(33) Erne accounts, 1787–89.

(34) Raughter, ‘A natural tenderness’, pp. 131–2.

(35) Ibid., pp. 128–61.

(36) Helen Clayton, To school without shoes: a brief history of the Sunday School Society for Ireland 1809–1979 (Dublin?, 1979?), pp. 10–11.

(37) Ibid., To school without shoes, p. 35.

(38) Ibid., pp. 8–10.

(39) Erne accounts, 1781.

(40) Ibid., 1793.

(41) Ibid., 1777 and 1787.

(p.176) (42) Ibid., 1782, 1783 and 1794.

(43) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/562/289, Mary Isabella Joy to Harriet Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, 20 September 1826.

(44) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/562/305, Mrs S. Hughes to Harriet Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, 5 August 1816.

(45) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A1/8/1, Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, to Frederick Blackwood, Lord Dufferin, 2 March [1847].

(46) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A1/8/1, Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, to Frederick Blackwood, Lord Dufferin [1849].

(47) National Archives of Ireland, Dublin (hereafter NAI), MFS 49, ‘A return of all charitable donations and bequests contained in the wills registered in the prerogative and consistorial offices of Dublin, from the 1st January 1814 to the 1st January 1815 (Dublin, 1815), detail of the last will and testament of William Brownlow, will dated 10 May 1814, probate granted 13 December 1815.

(48) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/E1/5, Caroline Norton to Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin [1849].

(49) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A1/7/1, Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, to Frederick Blackwood, Lord Dufferin [31 May 1843].

(50) Malcomson, The pursuit of the heiress, p. 30.

(51) PRONI, Earl of Antrim papers, D/2977/1/2/4, copy of the last will and testament of Letitia Macdonnell, Marchioness of Antrim, 31 July 1799, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

(52) Malcomson, ‘A woman scorned?’, p. 3.

(53) PRONI, Clanwilliam/Meade papers, D/3044/D/1/51, photocopy of a letter from Theodosia, Countess of Clanwilliam, to Robert Meade, 21 October 1808.

(54) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/4084/2/5, last will and testament and probate of Anne Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, will dated 21 January 1800, probate granted 22 May 1812.

(55) PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/24, last will and testament of Maria Hill, Marchionness of Downshire, 17 December 1846, probate granted 7 April 1855.

(56) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A4/17, the ‘latest instructions’ of Helen Hay, Lady Gifford [1866].

(57) PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/D14/2/221&b, last will and testament of Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire, 3 May 1832, probate granted September 1836.

(58) PRONI, Eari of Antrim papers, D/2977/1/2/4, copy of the last will and testament of Letitia Macdonnell, Marchioness of Antrim, 31 July 1799, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

(59) PRONI, Abercorn papers, D/623/B/3/14, last will and testament of Ann Hamilton, Countess of Abercorn, dated 1771, administration granted 10 August 1776, extracted from the Court of Probate in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

(p.177) (60) PRONI, Earl of Antrim papers, D/2977/1/2/4, copy of the last will and testament of Letitia MacDonnell, Marchioness of Antrim, 31 July 1799, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

(61) PRONI, Downshire papers, D/671/17a&b, copy of the last will and testament of Ellinor Stewart, Countess of Blessington, dated 7 February 1774.

(62) PRONI, Howard–Bury papers, T/3069/B/96, last will and testament of Catherine Maria, Countess of Charleville, extracted from the will registers of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, probate granted 20 March 1851.

(63) PRONI, Foster/Massereene papers, D/4084/2/5, last will and testament and probate of Anne Skeffington, Countess of Massereene, will dated 21 January 1800, codicil dated 21 January 1801, probate granted 22 May 1812; PRONI, Charity Brownlow Testamentary document, T/26, copy of the last will and testament and probate of Charity Brownlow, dated 1 December 1842, probate granted 16 May 1843.

(64) Raughter, ‘A natural tenderness’, p. 60.

(65) NAI, MFS 49, A return of all charitable donations and bequests contained in the wills registered in the prerogative and consistorial offices of Dublin, January 1801 – January 1826 (Dublin, 1826).

(66) David Dickson and Richard English, ‘The La Touche dynasty’, in Dickson (ed.), The gorgeous mask, pp. 17–29.

(67) NAI, MFS 49, A return of all charitable donations and bequests contained in the wills registered in the prerogative and consistorial offices of Dublin, from the 1st January 1827 to the 1st January 1828 (Dublin, 1828), detail of the last will and testament of Dame Elizabeth Hutchinson, dated 1827.

(68) Richard T. Vann, ‘Wills and the family in an English town: Banbury, 1550–1800’, Journal of Family History, 4 (winter 1979), p. 347.

(69) Erickson, Women and property, p. 207.

(70) These figures are derived from a survey of marriages within the twenty families surveyed here, between 1750 and 1850, as listed in Gibb, The complete peerage.

(71) Erickson, Women and property, p. 196.

(72) Barbara J. Todd, ‘The remarrying widow: a stereotype reconsidered’ in Mary Prior (ed.), Women in English society 1500–1800 (London: Methuen, 1985).

(73) Staves, Married women's separate property, p. 50.

(74) Erne accounts, 1776–99.

(75) PRONI, Dartrey papers, D/3053/1/8/7, instructions for counsel to settle the draft deed of settlement on the marriage of Lord Baron Cremore with Augusta Stanley [1841].

(76) Fitzgerald (ed.), Correspondence of Emily Duchess of Leinster, iii p. 94, Louisa Connolly to Emily Fitzgerald, 22 October 1774.

(77) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A2/4, copy of a letter from Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin to George Hay, Lord Gifford, dated 31 August/1 September 1842.

(p.178) (78) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A2/4, copy of a letter from Helen, Countess of Gifford, to George Hay, Lord Tweedale [1862].

(79) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A1/10/1, Helen, Countess of Gifford, to Frederick Blackwood, Lord Dufferin [1863].

(80) Letter from Helen, Countess of Gifford, to Lord Tweedale, dated 13 October 1862, quoted in Blackwood (ed.) Songs, p. 90.

(81) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A4/14, Helen, Countess of Gifford, to Mrs Nugent, 2 February 1863.

(82) PRONI, Dufferin and Ava papers, D/1071/F/A4/4, copy of a letter from Helen, Countess of Gifford, to Antony Fonblanque, dated 26 December 1862.