North Street, Newry, County Down

North Street, Newry, County Down
North Street, Newry, County Down

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Francis Biddulph of Vicarstown [1727-1806]

 Francis Biddulph was born on the 21st June 1727, the son of John Biddulph and an unknown mother. He married Eliza Harrison, the daughter of William Harrison of Leeds, Yorkshire, in 1765. Francis was a Justice of the Peace. The family lived in Vicarstown House, Queen’s County. The house was probably constructed by Francis. They had eight children, three of whom died in infancy, Patience, Frances Margaret Sarah and Nicholas John. The surviving children were Elizabeth, Mary, a second Patience, Francis and Harriet. It was not unusual at the time, with the high infant mortality rate, macabre though it may seem to us now, to christen a new baby with the name of a dead child, as happened here with Patience.
Elizabeth, who was born in 1766 and Francis’ eldest daughter, married Richard Grattan in St. Mark’s, Dublin in 1788. They too had eight children.
A second daughter, Mary Anne, born three years later in 1769, married William Scott in Vicarstown in 1785.
Patience Biddulph married Henry T. Warner in 1801. They had seven children.
The first and only surviving son of Francis and Eliza, Francis Harrison Biddulph, was born in 1774. He married Mary Marsh in 1797. They had 14 children.
Harriet Biddulph, the youngest daughter of Francis and Eliza, was born in 1781. She married the Reverend Richard Clarke, Rector of Geashill, King’s County, on 26th January 1799.

Life in the rural area of Vicarstown was not without its excitements.

Maryborough – April 8. Yesterday came on a trial before the Hon. Justice Crookshank, and a respectable Jury of the Queen’s county, a cause wherein Thomas Fitzgerald, of Corbally, Esq. was prosecutor, and Francis Biddulph, of Vicarstown, Esq. was Defendant. It was an issue out of the King’s Bench, to try whether certain expressions therein stated, were used with an intention to provoke the said Thomas Fitzgerald to fight a duel with the said Francis Biddulph – when after a full investigation of the matter, in said information stated, Mr Biddulph was honourably acquitted. [Dublin Evening Post 15 April 1797].

The following year, 1798, a year of insurrection, the house itself was attacked.

Saturday night last, a banditti attacked the house of Mr. Francis Biddulph, of the Queen's county, with a view to plunder it, but meeting with a spirited resistance, they decamped, after wounding a female servant in the house, and destroying some of the furniture, and breaking the windows. [Mirror of the Times, Sat, March 3, 1798, Issue 10]

The Express and Evening Chronicle gives a more graphic account of events.  It seems that this may have been the catalyst for the family leaving Vicarstown House forever.

On Sunday night the 24th ult, a most daring banditti, at about eight o’clock in the evening, attacked the house of Francis Biddulph Esq., of Vicarstown, in the Queen’s County, Ireland, where they secured all the servants; but Mr. Biddulph, with his wife and daughter  having time to get up stairs, he made such a resistance, though they carried on their attack for upwards of an hour, that he deterred them from forcing a door which he had fortunately erected on the stairs; they fired several shots at Mr. Biddulph, and wounded a servant-maid in the shoulder, hit Mrs Biddulph with slugs in the clothes, filled the upper rooms with a number of bullets broke all the windows and furniture in the house; so that the gentlemen and his family are now obliged to go and reside in a town. [Express  and Evening Chronicle, St, Mar 3, 1798. Issue 538].

Francis Biddulph died on 11th September 1806. His widow Eliza survived him. She died in 1827, the same year as their son Francis. Francis and his son are buried in Curaclone graveyard near Vicarstown. There is no headstone.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Nicola, for the additional tidbits of information on my ancestors. I will certainly look for "The Coquette" and share it with the family.