North Street, Newry, County Down

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

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Franc Digby Biddulph [1853-1895]

The youngest son of Francis Marsh Biddulph and Lucy Bickerstaffe, Franc Digby Biddulph appears by all accounts to have been the black sheep of the family.
He was a Captain in the 3rd Middlesex Militia and married Louisa Maria Susannah Rossborough-Colclough of Tintern Abbey, New Ross, County Wexford, a wealthy heiress, on the 15th September 1885. He assumed the surname and arms of the Colclough family by Royal Letters Patent in 1886.

Marriages: September 15, Franc Digby Biddulph, late Captain 3rd Middlesex Militia, youngest son of the late Francis Wellesley Marsh Biddulph,  Rathrobbie[sic], Tullamore, to Louisa Rossborough Colclough, eldest daughter of the late Rossborough Colclough, Tintern Abbey, County Wexford. [Nenagh Guardian, Sat., September 19, 1885].
Stories about him are rife, how he married Louisa at midnight, how he shut her up in a room for five years after the birth of her daughter. He was also rumoured to have been married under a false name in England before his marriage to Louisa, but this has never been proved. However all does not seem to be bad – Franc Digby Biddulph was a benevolent landlord and a number of newspaper articles testify to this.
They had two children. Caesar Franc Thomas Bickerstaffe Plantagenet Colclough., born 1886, who died an infant in 1888, and Lucy Wilmot Maria Susanna Colclough, who was generally called May in 1890.
Franc Digby Biddulph died on the 13th of July 1895. Louisa died on the 29th of January 1912.

The history of Tintern Abbey is extremely interesting. It was founded in 1203 by the Earl of Pembroke, William Marshall, and known as ‘Tintern de Voto’, or Tintern of the Vow, after the vow William Marshall is believed to have uttered when his boat was caught in a storm. John Bower described the scene graphically in his poem Tintern de Voto.
Black midnight storm around the royal bark had gathered
Of Pembroke and fair Isabel, his queen.
Mastless! A wreck unhelmed!
St. David’s frowning head
And Carnsore’s cliffs between
Rous’d from his blissful dream,
Down knelt Earl Mareshal, then
Around knelt wife and men,
And, in the lightning’s glare,
He prayed this heartfelt prayer.

God, full of mercy, pow’r and might,
Save, or we perish in tempest tonight,
For His sake who uttered the glad words to save
His ship and servants on Galilee’s wave,
An altar of gold in an abbey of stone;
An abbey, and altar, a church and a shrine,
This heart’s grateful off’ring to mercy divine.

Still was the storm,
The ship was at rest,
As a baby asleep on a fond mother’s breast;
And the bark, wreck redeem’d, in the morning’s light lay,
Tide drifted, God guided,
By the sands of St Kearns in Bannow’s fair bay.
Built he the shrine
Raised up the altar to mercy divine.

Anthony Colclough acquired Tintern Abbey in 1575 by a Royal grant from Elizabeth I, and proceeded to rebuild the Abbey into a house, which would now be considered an act of vandalism. Lucy Colclough Biddulph bequeathed Tintern Abbey to the State. I was fortunate to meet Lucy [May] Colclough Biddulph in Salt Mills in the 1970s.  There was no doubt that she was a Biddulph, she looked so like my grandmother, Amy Biddulph, they could have been sisters!
 The Abbey has now been partially restored and has been opened to the public:

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