The prayer book of Lady Beaujolois Bury of Charleville Castle, Tullamore was donated to the Offaly History Centre by the late Jane Williams some years ago. Like some family bibles it contains on two of the blank pages scraps of the family lineage of her ladyship and her siblings, the third and fifth earls of Charleville. The information recorded agrees with what is provided in Burke’s Irish Family Records (1976 edition), but like every family there is more to it than the bland recital of names and dates. Lady Beaujolois Bury (1824–1903) was the talented daughter of the second countess of Charleville (1803–48) and granddaughter of Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Campbell. Her Bury in-laws, the first earl and countess, were the builders of the great castle, known as Charleville Forest, and which was commenced in 1800 and completed in 1812. According to Mark Girouard it is ‘perhaps the finest Gothic Revival Castle in Ireland’.
Charles William Bury (1764-1835) was a landowner of considerable wealth, derived partly from the Bury estates in Co. Limerick (where the family had settled in 1666) and partly from property in King’s County, inherited through his father’s mother, the only sister and heiress of Charles Moore (1712-64), earl of Charleville and Baron Moore of Tullamore.
Lord Tullamore (or Tullamoore as he preferred), the only son of Charles William Bury (1764–1835), first earl of Charleville (second creation) was born in 1801 and married handsomely but not financially well while on the Grand Tour of the cultural capitals of Europe in 1821. He was almost 20 and his wife just 18 years old. As the entries from their daughter’s prayer book tell us Lord Tullamore married on 26 February 1821 at Florence. His wife was Harriet Charlotte Beaujolois, the third daughter of Col. John Campbell of Shawfield in Scotland and her mother was Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Campbell. The latter was the daughter of Elizabeth Gunning and John, the fifth duke of Argyll, and was born in London in 1775, and died in 1861. Harriet was born in 1803 of Lady Charlotte’s first marriage. Lady Charlotte, despite her famed good looks, made a modest marriage with Colonel John Campbell and by whom she had nine children. He died in 1808 and she married again in 1818 (despite the reservations of friends including Sir Walter Scott) her son’s tutor, the Revd John Bury (no connection with Tullamore), by whom she had two daughters. John Bury, later rector of Lichfield, died in 1832 and Lady Charlotte in 1861. She is best remembered now for her Diary Illustrative of the life and times of George IV (1838). Earlier money-making efforts included Flirtation (1827) and The History of a Flirt (1840). Such titles might be expected to make more money today than they did for their impecunious, if titled, author. Curiously, Beaujolois’s mother-in-law, Lady Catherine Maria Charleville, had herself caused some scandal with the publication in 1796 of a translation of Voltaire’s La Pucelle which was attributed to her by some, although published anonymously. Others have suggested that it was written by her soon-to-be husband C.W. Bury, or that the co-author was a bishop!
At the age of fourteen (and four years before her marriage) Harriet Charlotte Beaujolois Campbell completed a manuscript account of her trip to Florence which was published as A journey to Florence in 1817 (edited by G.R. de Beer, London, 1951). An illustration of Lady Tullamore, who became the second countess of Charleville in 1835, is provided as a frontispiece to the printed 1817 Journal. It is hardly surprising that the young Lord Tullamore was captivated by this blue-stocking beauty. Some pictures survive of him too from the 1830s, when money was still flowing and prospects were good.
The first child of this romantic marriage, Charles William Bury, was born at Geneva on 8 March 1822 and succeeded as third earl of Charleville in 1851.The marriage did not initially go well with Lord Tullamore’s father, the first earl of Charleville, because the young bride brought charm and good looks but no money. Yet he was soon reconciled ‘as I like the young lady, who appears to me both amiable and sensible’. The first Lord Charleville was conservative and may have been a bit hen-pecked by his talented and ambitious wife. In 1798 he married, within six months of her husband’s death, Catherine Maria Tisdall. He and Catherine Tisdall were the co-executors of her late husband’s estate and she had two smart young children John T.T. Tisdall and Catherine Louisa Tisdall. Joining them, from 1801 was the only child of their marriage and heir to the Charleville estates, known in his young days as Lumpy Tullamoore. He must have been an insecure child with two elder stepchildren and seems to have been constantly trying to prove himself, but at considerable expense to the property and his family. His birth was a fraught time for his mother (b. 1762 and now aged 39) with Charleville having to hire one of the new boats on the canal in early 1801 to take the expectant mother to Dublin in haste.
The building of the wonderful Charleville Castle cost the first earl a very considerable amount of money. His son’s extravagances led to the second earl bankrupting himself in 1844. His lovely wife died in 1848 in Naples and the second earl died in 1851. It was a difficult time for the family and for Tullamore. So much promise unfulfilled and so much need in Tullamore town and on the 20,000-acre estate in the 1840s during the Famine years. Were it not for the wise management of their agent, Francis Berry, things would have been worse.
Coming back to Beaujolois’s crisp clean prayer book the entries for her siblings (see illustration) were:
1 Charles William George, born at Geneva on 8 March 1822, succeeded as third earl in 1851 and died in 1859. His young wife predeceased him by two years leaving four children of the marriage. Their deaths caused great sadness in Tullamore. They had married only in 1850, had three or four children who found themselves in 1859 in the care of Uncle Alfred and his wife. Alfred was only 30 years old and childless. Two years later one of the children in his care was killed in an accident on the stairs at Charleville. The so-called ghost of the castle, young Harriet Bury, now needs some rest from ghost tourism. Her little coffin is still preserved with that of her young parents in the crypt in St Catherine’s, Tullamore.
2 Henry, the next child, was born in 1823 and died in 1829. He can be recalled today in the name Henry Street (now O’Carroll Street) Tullamore.
2 John James was born in 1827, married in 1852 and died in 1864.
3 Alfred, was born in 1829, married in 1854 and died on 28 June 1875. On the death of the young fourth earl in 1874 Alfred succeeded as fifth earl, but died the following year. Alfred got a lot done from 1860 including the building of houses for staff and the railway station at Charleville Road. Burke (1976) states that the property passed to his sister Lady Emily, but she was a daughter of the third earl not the second and was reared by Alfred and his wife after the death of her parents in 1857 and 1859. Her sister, Katherine, married Edmund Bacon Hutton, in 1873 within a few weeks of her brother coming of age. It was a time of celebration and was well reported. Their wedding provides what is thought to be the earliest surviving wedding photograph in Offaly. Military officers passing through Tullamore, as in Jane Austen’s novels, were a singular opportunity and both Katherine and her sister Emily both married handsome young officers.
4 Beaujolois Elenora Catherine, the owner of our prayer book, was born on 4 December 1824 and survived almost as long as her later cousin, Col. Howard Bury (died 1963). In case anyone would think that the name Beaujolois is in recollection of some Bacchanalian festive evening we should know that the unusual name was (as De Beer writes) due to her having as her godfather, Louis Charles d’Orleans, Comte de Beaujolais, brother of Louis Phillipe. There is much about this connection in the Charleville Papers in Nottingham University. Beaujolois married Captain Hastings Dent in 1853 and died in 1903. Dent died in 1864. Lady Beaujolais had been married for only eleven years and was a widow for almost forty. Beaujolois Bury is remembered today as the accomplished artist who sketched at least four views of Charleville in 1843, and subsequently printed as lithographs and reproduced in the late Knight of Glin’s collection of topographical drawings, Painting Ireland. The interior views are especially interesting to see the salon, music room, dining room and the great stairwell. One of the chairs from the Walpole home at Strawberry Hill was acquired by the second earl in the 1842 sale of Walpole’s creation and can be seen in Beaujolois’s drawing of the music room at Charleville. The room is now larger by the removal of a wall in the 1880s. The chairs were sold at Charleville in 1948 and, if you were about, of course you would have bought them for only £20 and now worth €100,000.
In 1843-4 the Charleville family departed their lovely castle to live cheaply in Berlin and the house was shut up until 1851. Of the two surviving girls of the third earl it was Emily who inherited in 1875 and lived on, mostly abroad, from her widowhood ten years later until her death in 1931. She had closed the house in 1912 and her son Lt. Colonel C. K. Howard Bury auctioned the contents in 1948. The castle was leased in 1971 to one Michael McMullen and his occupancy is well documented in the local press. His coming to Tullamore was fascinating too in that he first saw the castle in an advert made in Tullamore for one of the big English banks. The lately deceased Ann Williams of Dew Park and Cloghan provided the black horses to take the funeral coach from the castle to St Catherine’s at Hop Hill.
The siblings of the second and third earls were visited by the miasma that troubled almost all of the Bury family down to the extinction of the earldom in 1875 and the death of Lady Emily Bury’s husband, Captain Howard, in 1885 and their daughter Marjorie in 1907. Only Col. Charles Kenneth Howard Bury was destined for a long and hardy life. Of Everest climbing fame he was born in 1883 and died in 1963 at Belvedere, Mullingar, the home he inherited in 1912 from his kinsman, Charles Brinsley Marlay. Marlay’s grandmother was Catherine Maria, first countess of Charleville by her first marriage. His mother, Louisa Tisdall, married a Lt. Col. Marlay in 1828 and, yes, she was a widow after just two years and lived on until 1882. She was a kind and astute lady. Her son Charles Brinley was immensely rich, died a bachelor, and left estate valued at over £500,000 in 1912. Lt Col. Bury was also a bachelor and was aged 80 and had a long and colourful life between his travels and his war service. Today the golfers in Tullamore and Mullingar can pay tribute to Colonel Bury for the finest club grounds in the country that he made available out of the Belvedere and Charleville estates.
The early death of Lady Emily’s husband, Captain Howard, only a few years after their marriage brought closure on what otherwise might have been a long and happy stay for his family. The old church at Lynally, now a private residence, was erected in 1887 to his memory. Lady Emily contented herself with living abroad for the most part.
In should be mentioned that the Gothic-style castle, known as Charleville Forest, was written up by Mark Girouard for Country Life in 1962. Just over fifty-three years later another article has appeared (October 2016) in the same prestigious publication and this time by Dr Judith Hill, awarded a doctorate for her work on the Gothic in Ireland.
Much thanks is due to the Hutton Bury family and to Bonnie Vance and her family for keeping safe and intact a tremendous heritage potential for Ireland and the midlands. People take these things for granted but it should not be so.
Charleville Demesne is part of the great oak forests of Offaly and there has been a mansion house on the lands since 1641. The formal grant of the lands goes back to 1622 when Tullamore was just a castle and perhaps ten cottages. Much has happened and, as we know since 2001, the trajectory is not always ‘onwards and upwards’. The Whig Interpretation of history is dead. Perhaps Lord Charleville felt the same having laid out so much money on his great house of Charleville. The demesne and the castle are the great monument to him today.