When in 1765 or thereabouts my 4th great grandparents Matthew Cavenagh (1740 – 1819) and Catherine Hyde Cavenagh nee Orfeur (c 1748 – 1814) were married, they first lived in Innishannon, a large village in Co. Cork. Sometime in the 1770s they moved to Wexford, a seaport on St George’s Channel, where they lived in Back Street, now known as Mallin Street, at that time a fashionable part of the town.
A family story has it that in 1793 when a large body of men demanding the release of two prisoners approached Wexford, Matthew Cavenagh accompanied the commander of the garrison in the hope of using his influence to prevent bloodshed. When, near the entrance to the town, the commander was piked by the insurgents, Cavenagh was at his side. While Wexford was in the hands of the rebels Matthew and his family were in danger of their lives.
I do not know what role, if any, Matthew Cavenagh had in the 1793 rebellion. It is worth noting, perhaps, that there were Catholics among the United Irishmen and Protestants among the opponents.
Matthew’s oldest son James Gordon Cavenagh became a surgeon and joined the British army. He lived in Hythe, near Folkestone, at the barracks there. About 1837 he returned to Wexford, where he lived at Castle House.
WEXFORD, a sea-port, borough, market, post, and assize town, in the barony of FORTH, county of WEXFORD, and province of LEINSTER, 74 miles (S.) from Dublin and 30 ¼ (E. N. E.) from Waterford; containing 10,673 inhabitants. This town, which, as far as can be inferred from the earliest historical notices respecting it, was a maritime settlement of the Danes, is thought to have derived its name, which was anciently written Weisford, from the term Waesfiord (Washford), which implies a bay overflowed by the tide, but left nearly dry at low water, like the washes of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
… the entry in the history of the town includes the following:
After the battle of the Boyne, the town declared for William III. and was garrisoned by his troops. In 1793, a large body of the peasantry proceeded thither to rescue some Whiteboy prisoners: on their approach, a detachment of the garrison was sent out to disperse them, the commander of which, Captain Valloton, having ridden in advance of his men, for the humane purpose of expostulating with the insurgents on their conduct, was cut down by a scythe: a monumental obelisk erected on the Windmill hill commemorates this deplorable event.
… under schools of the town:
The Diocesan School for the See of Ferns, situated to the north of the town, on the road from Ferry-Carrigg, was built in 1800, at the expense of the county, on a piece of ground leased by the late R. Neville rent-free for 30 years, with a right reserved of charging it with a rent not exceeding £50 per annum at the end of that period, which has not since been demanded by the present proprietor, Sir W. R. P. Geary, Bart. The school has accommodation for 40 boarders and 6 daily pupils, and has a large play-ground attached: the master receives a salary of £70, paid by the bishop and the beneficed clergy of the diocese: an additional salary of £100 was paid by the corporation until the discontinuance of the payment of tolls.
About 1840, when he was 18 years old, Wentworth Cavenagh travelled to Canada, Ceylon, and Calcutta. From Calcutta he came to Australia.
Matthew Cavenagh, his son James Gordon, and some other members of the Cavenagh family are buried in a family vault in the ruins of St Patrick’s Wexford.
My cousin Diana Beckett kindly shared with me her photographs of Castle House, the family vault, and some watercolours by Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh dating from 1905 and 1906. Castle House was pulled down in the 1930s. Some parts of its wall remain.
Two moidores, a gold coin which was the principal coin current in Ireland at the beginning of the 18th century; two moidores was worth 30 shillings
Some small gold
A large glove containing 28 guineas in silver
A quantity of plate worth 300 pounds
A gold watch
Freney was proclaimed an outlaw in January 1749 and surrendered three months later. Lord Carrick, a lawyer, helped Freney work out a deal with the chief justices in which Freney would be allowed to emigrate. Presumably it was feared that his execution would give him the status of a folk hero and lead to further disturbances.
It is not known where or how long Freney spent abroad, but by 1776 he was once more in Ireland, where he found employment as a customs official at the port of New Ross, County Wexford, a post he held until his death in 1788. Freney was buried in Inistioge , County Kilkenny.
From page 30 of The life and adventures of James Freney, commonly called Captain Freney. From the time of his first entering the highway, in Ireland, to the time of his surrender, being a Series of Five Years remarkable Adventures. Written by himself. First published 1754 :
In some time after Bulger came to pay me a visit, and we concluded to take to the high road, and were three days on the Ross road, but met with no prey worth mentioning. And in a short time after, we met with one Thomas Houlahan and one Patrick Hacket, otherwise called Bristeen, who were experienced sheep-stealers, and particular acquaintances of Bulger’s, who saluted Bulger kindly, and asked him how he was: To which he replied, that he would do well enough if he had a little more money; and asked them how they fared, for that he had not seen them a long time. They answered, they removed to the county of Wexford, but that they were uneasy to know how their correspondents in that country were (meaning the country of Kilkenny ) and further said; that there was plenty of money in the country they came from. They also informed him, that there was a gentleman, one colonel Palliser, who had a great deal of money, and plate, which they heard he kept in his house. I was during the time of their discourse some distance from them; upon which Bulger came up to me, and told me, that the persons I saw him talking to, were friends of his, for whose honesty and integrity he would engage, and then related the whole information they gave him of colonel Palliser’s plate, &c. Upon which, I agreed we should rob the colonel, and came up to Hacket and Houlahan, and saluted them kindly, and soon concluded upon a night to put our design of robbing the colonel in execution, I then asked them if they knew the inside of the house, or how many servants were in it ? But they said not, but that they knew the way to it, and no more. I soon said, that as we did not know how many were in the house, that we should take the more men with us. Upon which I immediately sent Bulger to Kinehan’s, to Burnt-Church, to inquire of him, where John Motley was. He soon returned with Motley, and one Commons. I had also one Matthew Grace another Cotter under Mr. Robbins, whom I had corrupted, and prepared for the purpose. And then Bulger, Motley, Grace, Commons, Houlahan and Hacket, (who were our spies) and I sent to Balley-cough-soust, in the county of Kilkenny, which was the place at which we intended to settle and advise which way to effect our design, and expedite our journey. Upon which I concluded, that two only should go in at a time, for fear, if we went in a body, we might be suspected. But we had a long debate, each man refusing to carry the arms, for fear of being suspected going over the ferry. But at length I contrived it so, that I got a bag and put the arms into it, which were three cases of pistols, and rolled hay about them, and then Grace agreed to carry them in the bag, as if he was going to Ross market, which he accordingly did, and got to the house in which I appointed to meet him undiscovered. When I came over the Ferry, I went to the house appointed, where my companions were stationed two in a company, the better to avoid suspicion, and they they did not seem to know each other. I then asked the landlady had she a stable for my mare ? she said the had : upon which I went to the stable to see whether there was hay and litter for my mare, but found it was very dirty, of which I told the landlady, and that I would send my mare down to Mr.Brahan’s, as I was known there, and could get her out at any hour, without any room for suspicion. t then took care to go into the next room to my companions, and called in the landlord to drink with me, and finding the proper time for our departure at hand, I walked out into the kitchen where Grace was, and spoke to Grace, as follows: ” But is not this Grace ? how long are you here ? how are all the neighbours ?,When do you intend going home ? What business had you here ?” To which he answered, they were all well, and that he came with some things to market.
In a little time I found an opportunity, and gave Grace the whisper to desire the rest to go on, two by two, a part of the road, and that one of the spies should go down to Brahan’s, under pretence of taking care of my mare, and that the other spy should go with my companions to direct them. When it was duskish, I went down to Mr. Brahan’s, called for a bottle of wine, and soon after desired the hostler to draw out my mare, for that I intended to go a little further. I soon mounted with my spy behind me, and had not rode far before I overtook the rest of my companions; we then joined company till we got near Mr. Palliser’s House, where I fixed the men in a safe place, and took one of the spies down towards the house, and came to near the house as to see the light of the candles. I then took a survey of the front of the house and rooms, that by the quenching of the candles, I might the better judge where the colonel and his men lay. I waited for some time near the house fronting the rooms, and in a short time saw one of the colonel’s servants lighting him to bed, and therefore judged what part of the house the colonel lay in. Some time afterwards I observed a light above stairs, by which I judged the servants were going to bed; and soon after observed that the candles were all quenched, by which I assured myself, they were all gone to bed. I then came back to where the men were, and appointed Bulger, Motley and Commons to go in along with me, but Common answered, that he never had been in any house before, where there were arms; upon which I asked the son of a whore, what business he had there, and swore I would as soon shoot him as look at him, and at the same time cocked a pistol to his breast, but the rest of the men prevailed upon me to leave him at the back of the house, where he might run away when he thought proper.
I then asked Grace, where did he choose to be posted, he answered ‘that he would go where I pleased to order him,’ for which I thanked him ; we then immediately came up to the house, lighted our candles and blackened our faces, I then placed Commons and Houlahan at the back of the house, to prevent any person from coming out that way; and placed Hacket on my mare, well armed, at the front; and I then broke one of the windows with a sledge, whereupon Bulger, Motley, Grace, and I got in, upon which I ordered Motley and Grace to go up stairs, and Bulger and I would stay below, where we thought the greatest danger would be, but I immediately upon second consideration, for fear Motley or Grace should be daunted, desired Bulger to go up with them, and when he had fixed matters above, to come down, as I judged the colonel lay below. I then went to the room where the colonel was, and burst open the door, upon which he said, odds-wounds, who is there ? to which I answered, a friend, Sir, upon which he said, you lie by G– d, you are no friend of mine, I then said that I was, and his relation also, and that if he viewed me close he would know me, and begged of him not to be angry; upon which, I immediately seized a bullet gun and case of pistols, which I observed hanging up in his room. I then quitted his room, and walked round the lower part of the house, thinking to meet some of the servants, whom I thought would strive to make their escape from the men who were above, and meeting none of them, I immediately returned to the colonel’s room, where I no sooner entered, than he desired me to get out for a villain, and asked me why I bred such disturbance in his house that time of night ; at the same time I snatched his britches from under his head, wherein I got a small purse of gold, and said that abuse was not fit treatment for me, who was his relation, and that it would hinder me of calling to see him again; I then demanded the key of his desk, which stood in his room; he answered, he had no key, upon which I said, I had a very good key, at the same time giving the desk a stroke with the sledge which burst it open, wherein I got a purse of ninety guineas, a four pound piece, two moidores, some small gold, and a large glove, with twenty eight guineas in silver.
By this Time Bulger and Motley came down stairs to me, after rifling the house above, we then observed a closet inside his room, which we soon entered, and got therein a basket, wherein there was plate to the value of three hundred pounds.
There happened to be a wedding near the colonel’s house that night, from whence there was a man and a woman coming at the same time we were in the house, whom Hackett spied, and pursued, but to no purpose ; upon which, Hackett informed me thereof, at which I told him, I admired that as there was three of them abroad, that they would let them escape, and said I would pay them according to their behaviour; I then considering that they might raise the country, took my leave of Mr. Palliser, telling him that I forgave him the abuse he gave me, and was his humble servant.
We quitted the house, and came back again to Ross, where we arrived a little before day, and concluded we could not get over the Ferry there with safety, so we took the road towards Grauge, and never stopped till we came to Poulmounty Wood,,within within two Miles of Grauge, and it was then clear day. I then sat down and paid each man according to his deserts, I then gave them directions to divide themselves, that they should not go any way through the country; upon which Motley said, that he and Common would go through the country, as if with a view of buying pigs. I hid the arms in the wood, after I sent all the men away except Grace, whom I shewed where I hid them, that he might know where to find them when I should have occasion; then I left the wood alone, and rid to Grauge, where I breakfasted heartily, and rested for some time.
From page 148
He then sent me to Kilkenny Goal, and at the summer assizes following James Bulger , Patrick Hackett, otherwise Bristeen, Martin Millea, John Stack, Felix Donnelly, Edmond Kenny, and James Larrassey were tried, convicted and executed; and at Spring assizes following, George Roberts was tried for receiving colonel Palliser’s gold watch, knowing it to be stolen, but was acquitted, on account of exceptions taken to my pardon, which prevented my giving evidence. At the following assizes, when I had got a new pardon, Roberts was again tried for receiving the tankard, ladle and silver spoons from me, knowing them to be stolen, and was convicted and executed. At the same assizes, John Reddy, my instructor, and Michael Millea, were also tried, convicted and executed.
Then Lord Carrick and counsellor Robbins, in order to enable me, with my family to quit this kingdom, proposed a subscription to be set a-foot, in order to raise a sum of money for that purpose; and it accordingly was, but the gentlemen of the country refused to contribute, and therefore that scheme came to nothing. Therefore to enable me to quit a kingdom which is tired of me, and which I do not chuse to live in, if I can avoid it, I have been advised to try whether the publication of my past life, will enable me to take myself and my family to some foreign country, and try to earn our bread in some industrious way, and hope the services done my native country by Lord Carrick’s spirit and resolution, roused up by my means, will make some amends for my former transgressions.
The life and adventures of James Freney, commonly called Captain Freney. From the time of his first entering the highway, in Ireland, to the time of his surrender, being a Series of Five Years remarkable Adventures. Written by himself. Printed and sold by S. Powell, for the author, MDCCLIV. . Eighteenth Century Collections Online, link.gale.com/apps/doc/CW0100325593/ECCO?u=nla&sid=ECCO&xid=666312d9 also the 1814 edition viewed through Google Books The Life and Adventures of James Freney, commonly called Captain Freney
Cavenagh, W. O. “Castletown Carne and Its Owners (Continued).” The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. 2, no. 1, 1912, pp. 34–45. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25514203.
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.
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.
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.