Some Offaly Wills of the Dames and Longworth families of Tullamore, Greenhills (Rhode) and Glynwood, and that of Sir William Petty with lands in Ballyboy barony. Tim O’Neill

032178 Lynally Ruins
The old cemetery at Lynally where Dames and Rector Coffey are buried. No stone has been found for Dames.


The Longworth family and George Dames of Tullamore
Reading in the National Archives some time ago I came upon a small envelope of papers that Athlone-born Revd George Stokes had put together on the Longworth family. He was constructing a family tree and it was that family’s connections with Athlone that appealed to him. The envelope included two Wills. One was that of George Dames of Tullamore, dated 1662, who died in June, 1666. In it, Dames is described as a yeoman. The Dames and the Longworth families intermarried in successive generations and it is no surprise that this Will was filed with some of the Wills of the Longworth family. They were both Cromwellian families that settled in the midlands.

The Longworths were associated with the area east of Athlone where they eventually built a house at Creggan and later Glynwood. Their heirs-at-law still have property interests in the town of Athlone and in the surrounding countryside.
The main branch of the Dames family eventually settled at Greenhills near Rhode. They were substantial landowners and also tenants on lands owned by their neighbours the Wakely family of Ballyburly. The Dames and the Longworth families were undoubtedly among the English settlers who prospered following the Cromwellian Settlement. Captain Peter Longworth settled in Athlone in 1650 and died there leaving six sons in 1698. He married Elizabeth Relie from an old Athlone family and was one of the burgesses who signed an address of congratulations to James 11 on his accession in 1684. However, the protestant faction in Athlone were far from happy with James’ succession and an anti-Catholic riot in 1685 was one of the first in Ireland. In their day both the Dames and the Longworth families owned substantial estates in Ireland. Francis Travers Dames-Longworth was High Sheriff and Lord Lieutenant of Westmeath in the 1880s and 1890s. The Lord Lieutenant of an Irish county in the nineteenth century was usually the principal resident landowner in the county. Neither family has any entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography. They have truly disappeared from history though their successors in law still survive.

025884 Ballyburly house-burned in 1888
The first Ballyburly House of the Wakely family

The Longworths in 1874 had lands in the following counties;
Westmeath; 6,547 acres valued at £3,665;
Offaly; 2,422 acres valued at £459;
Galway; 3,271 acres valued at £1,971
Roscommon; 1,192 acres valued at £593.
That land holding was a mere fraction of the family’s total holdings that were scattered through Laois, Kildare and Down also. The family had great houses in England that were acquired in the nineteenth century.
The 1843 will of Francis Longworth of Glynwood
In 1842 with a view to settling his affairs Francis Longworth the owner of the family seat at Glynwood outside Athlone executed a deed in which he distributed most of his estate between his relatives. When he made his Will in August 1843 he noted that by an earlier deed he had settled his affairs not only in relation to land but also in relation to a sum of £4,074=8=6 held in 3% consolidated annuities in England. He noted that he had fully and amply provided for his several sons and daughters so that it was not necessary for his to make any further provision for them in his will. His eldest son had obviously after the fashion of the age inherited through strict succession the main family lands. His Will therefore addressed the assets that he had acquired other than through inheritance from his ancestors. He left most of this to his second son John including £2,000, or thereabouts, and lands at Sandfordfield in the parish of Cheltenham in the county of Gloustershire on which he had built Cotswold House. He lived at Cotswold House which he described as now being “of great value”. He left his wife £500 and all the furniture and plate in his house in Cheltenham. She would have had entitlements apart from this under a marriage settlement and under the general law relating to dower and thirds

058922 Lynally church and graveyard
The tombstone readings from Lynally. The book is available from Offaly History at the online shop

The 1662 will of George Dames of Tullamore
The 1662 Will of George Dames is the earliest reference to this family. He lived in Tullamore and he divided his property in three parts; a half between his two younger children; a quarter to his wife and a quarter to his two older sons. His wife was also charged with the care of the younger children whom he anticipated would shortly be able to ‘shift for themselves’. Dames, though he was illiterate and signed his will with his mark, was of some substance and left goods, chattels, money and plate. His instructions were that he should be buried in Lynally churchyard in the neighbouring parish. This reference to Lynally refers to the older churchyard and is one of the few references to it in that period.
While the testator gives no indication of the size of his estate it is clear that he has amassed an estate of sufficient value for it to be brought to the prerogative court. Nor is there any indication of the lands that he may have held and the Will appears to be confined to the disposition of his personal estate. He would have put in place a strict succession for his realty, or lands, which would have been left to his eldest son in trust for his eldest son in turn.
The will is thin on detail and there is no indication as to why he would have selected the Lynally graveyard. Tullamore his place of residence was not at that stage the town that it would later become and Lynally with its monastic connections was the favoured, resting place. There are few monuments to these early plantation families though there is one to Thomas Coffey dated 1684 in Lynally. It was obviously an important burial ground at that time.

Sir William Petty had estates in King’s County in Ballyboy and Rahan

002505 Glynwood House Athlone.1890
Glynwood House near Athlone

One of the remarkable realities of seventeenth century changes was the rapid acquisition of property by the new English settlers. Sir William Petty was perhaps one of the most successful of the Cromwellians to emerge from Ireland in the 1650s. He originally arrived in Ireland in 1652 as physician general to the army. Here he quickly adapted to the skill of surveying by 1654 and he was responsible for the planning and surveying of the confiscated lands in Ireland. Within three years he had completed a survey and he had also begun to amass his own enormous landholdings in Ireland [121,000 acres in the Lansdowne estates in Ireland]. Petty, was a Jesuit educated, French trained, doctor who returned briefly to Cambridge before setting out for Ireland. How he became one of the major landowners in Ireland within six years was a subject of bitter controversy, not from the dispossessed Irish but from his colleagues. When Oliver Cromwell died on the 3rd September 1658, Petty lost his great patron. There was a great scramble for Irish land in the dying days of the commonwealth period and Petty had his opponents. Sir Hierome Sankey, who had also surveyed Irish lands, including Kilmainham Manor in 1652, became one of Petty’s most vocal opponents largely over his disappointment at not benefiting as Petty had from his years in Ireland. Sankey was a descendant of one of the earlier settler families from the Elizabethan Plantation who survived the changes. Richard Cromwell became the Lord Protector in February 1659. In a debate in parliament in that year, Sankey attacked Petty accusing him of bribery, fraud, using foul and unwarrantable practices as surveyor, breach of trust, and of imposing money and lands in Ireland. Petty vigorously defended himself. He argued that the lands he had been granted would not cover the payments due to him for his survey work. This was a long debate and Sankey mentioned in the course of it the scandal Petty’s acquisition of lands in the barony of Balliboy in King’s County. ‘Mr Speaker, I must speak, for I have foul things. Why, there is Balleboy, the barony of Balleboy, Mr. Speaker, the doctor has 7,000 acres in the barony of Balleboy that he has no right to.’ In the end Sankey did not press his charges of corruption against Petty. Did Petty award himself 7,000 acres in Balliboy? It seems unlikely but there is little doubt but that adventurers like Petty preferred lands in Leinster to land in remote areas of Kerry. Yet Petty’s great estates were in the areas around Kenmare that were to remain the heart of the Lansdowne estates in Ireland. Petty resented the charges of corruption made against him and early in 1660 he published his, Reflections upon some persons and things in Ireland by letter to and from Dr Petty, (London 1660) in answer to Sankey’s charges. He claimed he had acquired his Irish estates by and for debentures bought at the dearest rates in the open markets. He pointed out that he was Lord Henry Cromwell’s secretary without one penny of reward. He was by his own account paid enormous amounts for his survey work. In his will he wrote; ‘I purchased lands in Ireland with soldiers’ debentures, bought at above market rates, a great part of whereof I lost by the Court of Innocents, anno 1663…’ His will shows the full extent of his wealth. That wealth is described in terms of the returns rather than acreages and his lands outside Kerry are not defined. Apart from Kerry he drew £3,100 per annum from his Irish lands. We will probably never know exactly how he acquired the part of Greatwood in Ballyboy but that was an important part of his Irish lands for a period in the 1650s. Greatwood then was a larger area than the present townland near the Blueball. These were among his earliest land acquisitions in Ireland and it was here he learned his art of land acquisition.
Petty had a curious attitude to the poor even in his Will where most testators attempt to show a charitable side of their character, what are sometimes called ‘the fire-escape provisions in Wills’, he was having no part of it. He wrote;
“As for legacies for the poor, I am att a stand: as for beggars by trade or election, I give them nothing; as for impotents by the hand of God, the Publick ought to maintaine them; as to thise who have been bred to no calling nor estate, they should be put upon their kindred; as to those who can get no work, the magistrate should cause them to be employed, which may well be done in Ireland where is 15 acre of improvable land for every head: prisoners for crimes, by the King,; for debt, by their prosecutors. As to those whose compassionate the sufferings of any object, lett them relieve themselves by relieving such sufferers, that is, give them alms, pro rata, and for God’s sake relieve those severall species above named, where the above named obligers fail in their duties.”
However, Petty noted that he had assisted all his own poor relations.
At a local level the Dames and the Longworths were adventurers with an eye to opportunity at that time. They never became as wealthy as Petty, they never acquired titles but their social status in Ireland was significant.
The second Will in the same collection in the National Archives is that of Anne Dames and is dated the 9th day of August 1776. It is not clear what the connection is between the two testators but given that copies of both Wills survive in the same collection it is reasonable to assume that Anne’s husband was a direct descendant of George. Robert Staples Longworth Dames of Dublin collected these copies of Wills in the 1890s as part of his family papers.
Anne Dames and women’s wills
Women’s Wills are not as common as men’s because of the rules of inheritance that generally precluded women from holding property in their own right unless widowed.
Anne Dames in the wording of her Will that sounds remarkably similar to the earlier Will states that she is weak in body but of sound and disposing mind and memory. She states that she is in possession of one-seventh part of a number of estates. These were at Castletown, in the Barony of Ballycowan, of one in Dublin, in Galway and at Balinasudra and Surin in Westmeath. The latter was described as a freehold estate. She left the issues and profits from these estates to her beloved husband to pay a judgement debt and any other debts that might arise. She reserved twenty pounds a year to be paid to her sister Emilia Dames during the course of her natural life. After the debts were paid and the twenty pounds for her sister were secured then the remainder of her estate she left to her husband during his natural life.
After her husband’s death she left all her estates in Offaly and Galway to her nephew Hurd Augustus Mullock chargeable with a debt of six hundred pounds to be paid as follows, £200 to her niece Emilia Francis Wetherall, £200 to her niece Frances Horridge. If Hurd Augustus should die without issue then all her estates were to go his brother John Mullock. If he died without issue then the estates were to go to her niece Frances Emilia Mullock and if she had no issue it next went to the testator’s sister Mary Horridge and if she failed to produce issue it went finally to the testator’s other sister Sophia Bagot. The strong sense of leaving property to successive generations is shown clearly in this will. If there are no heirs beyond the first line of inheritance then the next sibling or aunt steps up to inherit. Her estate in Dublin and in Westmeath, called Ballinsudra and Surin, she left to her sister Sarah Wetherall and to her issue. She appointed her husband Thomas as her executor and made provision for the appointment of the Reverend John Mullock and Sewell Wetherall as the alternative executors if he predeceased her. She may have been a Mullock before her marriage and Wetherall was presumably a brother in law married to a favourite sister. The Mullock estate was at Belair.
Echoes of the complex world of marriage settlements can be seen in this will. The deceased had come into possession of one-seventh shares in estates in four counties and that was most likely to have arisen from an inheritance between seven siblings. As a female she would not have inherited these through strict settlement and so these were in her possession either through the death of all her brothers or through an inheritance divided equally between younger siblings. The list of families mentioned shows how intermarriage between the new settlers was the norm and in that list can be found many of the principal landowning families in the midlands.
When the Antiquaries visited in 1890 and 1896 these families were still resident and well known. Their memory has all but disappeared in the last century.

032618 F T Longworth Dames QC1
Dames Longworth, barrister,  who succeeded to extensive property in Offaly and Westmeath and retired from the home circuit in 1882.  Francis Travers Dames Longworth who died in 1898 at Glynwood, Athlone at the age of 65. This King’s County- born barrister developed model farms on his estates which he sold to his tenants. For the people of Athlone he built a public hall for their amusement. In his last days he had suffered from a rather serious epidemic of diarrhoea that had prevailed in the town of Athlone and environs.

“The Will
Will of George Dames, dated 1662. Diocese of Meath.
I, George Dames of Tullamore in ye Barony of Ballicowan and king’s County, yeoman, being sick of body yet of p’fect sense and memorie doe make this my last will and testament in manner and forme following this fourteenth day of June in ye yeare of Our Lord god one thousand six hundred and sixtie and two.
In p’mis I bequeath my soule to god and mys bodie to be buried in ye Church or yard of Linally.
2. As for my worldly goods, monies, plate etc. as well within doores as without doores. I will and my will is the same bee in equal just division between my married wife Juan Dames and my foure children in manner following.
3. I will and my will is That my two youngest children (namely George and Betty Dames) have and enjoy an intire moieties of all my goods and chattels, money and plate etc. as well within doores as without as aforesaid and the care and tuition of those tender years I heartily leave on their mother whose motherlie care of them I trust in ye Lord wilbee such as they will in a short while bee able to doe and shrift for themselves in ye mean tyme the care of their shares and ye goods is left upon ye mother.
4. I will and my will is that my married wife Juan Dames, and my two eldest sonnes (namely Daniell and John Dames have ye other moitie of my said goods and chattels monies and plate etc. to bee divided in two parts twixt them. That is to say one half of ye said moietie bequeath and leave unto my said wife for her maintenance, and the other half I will that my said two sonnes have in equal shares amongst them.

5. [I] will and my will is that where any thing of a just claim or debt shall appeare to bee justly due on mee that my said wife and children [ ] equally contribute to ye discharging of the same in reference to their respective portions and shares of the said goods.

6. And lastly I will and my will is that George Lowther and John North have the subdivision and apportioning of the said goods and chattels in an orderly and equal way twixt my said wife and children consonant to this my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my hand and fixed my seal the day and year abovesaid.
George Dames
His mark X
Being present
Hugh McManus
Anthony Geoghegan
R. Shakespear

I certify that the foregoing is a true and authentic copy made pursuant to the statute 30 & 31 Vic. C. 70.”

002047 Dames House in Greenhill ,Rhode, Co Offaly