Two of my thirty-two 4th great grandparents, both Irish, were Matthew Cavenagh (1740 – 1819) and Catherine Hyde Cavenagh nee Orfeur (c. 1748 – 1814). They married in 1765 or thereabouts.

Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh writes in his “Cavenaghs of Kildare” that Matthew and Catherine were wards of a certain Lord Loftus, from whose castle they eloped. One story has it that they were so young and inexperienced that they dismissed the waiter from the parlour of the inn they were staying at rather than display their inability to carve a fowl put before them for their dinner.

Lord Loftus was probably Nicholas Loftus, 1st Viscount Loftus (c 1687 – 1763), elevated to the peerage as Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall in County Wexford in the Peerage of Ireland on 5 October 1751. Loftus Hall, since rebuilt, is on the Hook Peninsula, County Wexford.  Innshannon, County Cork, is a hundred miles southwest along the coast.

Shortly after Matthew and Catherine’s marriage they lived at Innishannon, Co Cork, where, in 1766, their son James Gordon Cavenagh was born. Catherine, it seems, was a minor at the time of their marriage. Matthew was probably an adult at law.

Catherine Orfeur was the daughter of John Orfeur (1695-1753) of Drillingstown [Dreelingstown], Kilkenny, a Captain in General Phineas Bowles’s regiment of horse, later known as “the Carabiniers” or 6th Dragoon Guards.  Born in Sussex, John Orfeur had settled in Ireland.

In a 1766 deed partitioning the Drillingstown property between his wife and her two sisters Matthew Cavenagh is styled ‘of Innishannon, gentleman’.

An agreement for the division of Drillingstown between Thomas Weston of Clonmell co Tipperary and Dorothy Weston, otherwise Orfeur, his wife of the 1st part, Lieutenant George Waters of the Guernsey Man of war and Mary Waters his wife, otherwise Orfeur, of the 2nd part, Mathew Cavenagh of Innishannon Co Cork and Catherine Cavenagh, otherwise Orfeur, his wife, of the 3rd Part. Whereas Captain John Orfeur late of Drillingstown, Co Wexford, died some years ago intestate, leaving the said Dorothy, Mary and Catherine, his only children, upon whom the interests of Drillingstown estate devolve share and share alike: in order to save law proceedings for a writ of partition, they agree that the said lands be divided amicably between them, the Westons to receive 67 acres, the Waters 68 acres and the Cavenaghs 84 acres, being the worst land. Signed and sealed by the above named parties, 16 May, 1766.

transcribed by Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh

Matthew Cavenagh and his father James (1702 – 1769) held office in the Irish Customs as ‘gaugers‘ (customs inspectors), and it is possible that it was in connection with his Customs appointment that he and Catherine were living at Innishannon.

Matthew and Catherine Cavenagh returned to Wexford, where they lived in Back Street (now known as Mallin Street), a fashionable part of the town.

Matthew and Catherine had 15 children, named on the couple’s tombstone at St Patrick’s Abbey Wexford.

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