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Authority record
Land agent

Digby, Reginald

  • Person
  • 1847-1927

Reginald Digby was the fifth son of Rev Kenelm Henry Digby, rector of Tittleshall in Norfolk, younger brother of Edward, 9th Lord Digby. Reginald was born in 1847 and married Caroline Grace, daughter of Rev Thomas Fremeaux Boddington in 1872. They had three daughters and one son, Lionel Kenelm Digby, rector of Tittleshall, who was killed in action in 1918. He became resident agent on the Geashill Estate in 1871 following the resignation of Thomas Weldon Trench and sole agent in 1872 on the death of William Steuart Trench. He retired in 1923, having served as agent for nearly fifty years, although by this time he had more or less transferred the agency to Lewis Goodbody of A & L Goodbody, solicitors, Tullamore, who continued as agents for the Digby family. Like the previous resident agents before him, he lived at Geashill Castle. In 1922, he needed to go to London for an operation, but was unwilling to leave the house unattended, knowing that an empty house would be a target for burning. Eventually, he could wait no longer, and the house was burned down in his absence. He died in 1927.

Garvey, George

  • Person
  • 1794-1879

George Garvey is best known as a land agent in King's County/Offaly in the mid-1800s and during the Great Famine. His first career, however, was as a military man and he served as a captain in the Royal Navy from 1807, with victories in battles at Helgoland (1807), Cadiz (1811) and Genoa (1814). Garvey's father was also an officer in the British army and was killed at the British capture of St Lucia in the West Indies in 1796. After a short but distinguished service, Garvey retired to Thornvale, Moneygall, King's County , near to Loughton, which was the estate of Major Pepper, his wife's uncle. He was given his first job as a land agent of the Loughton estate by Pepper in 1827. By the 1840s he was agent for seven major estates, including Norbury at Durrow. He was not well-liked by the tenantry and there were several attempts on his life. He took to carrying a pistol and wearing a steel vest as protection. The 2nd earl of Norbury was assassinated at Durrow but the real target was Garvey. He took over the Rosse estate at Parsonstown (Birr) in 1853 from George Heenan. He was a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and the Kilkenny and South East of Ireland Archaeological Society, and was responsible in the late 1830s for the restoration of the medieval well of St Columcille at Durrow. He died on 4 August 1879 at the age of 85 and is buried at Borrisnafarney Church near Moneygall, County Offaly. His son, Toler Roberts Garvey, followed him into the business of land agency.

Garvey, Toler Roberts, Jr

  • Person
  • 1866-1946

Toler Roberts 'Rob' Garvey was the third generation of Garvey land agents. He took over the land agency business, with its headquarters at his residence at Tullynisk Park, Birr, in 1914 on the death of his father, Toler Roberts Garvey Sr. He looked after the estate at Birr Castle and other estates of gentry in south Offaly and north Tipperary during the revolutionary period 1916-23 and beyond. As a result he managed the estates through turbulent times, notably the requisitioning of Birr Castle by the Free State Army during the Irish Civil War (1922-23). He died at the age of 80 on 1 April 1946 and is buried at Clonoghill cemetery, Birr.

Garvey, Toler Roberts, Sr

  • Person
  • 1834-1914

Toler Roberts Garvey was born at Thornvale, Moneygall, County Offaly, son of George Garvey, land agent and his wife, Jane. He took over his father's land agency business on his death in 1879. He managed many estates, the largest of which was the Rosse estate at Birr. Due to the size of this estate he maintained another residence on the Rosse estate called Tullynisk, and this became the headquarters of his land agency which extended across Offaly and into Tipperary. Garvey was a magistrate and served on the North Tipperary and King's County Grand Juries from 1871. In 1881 he became High Sherriff of the county and was foreman at the spring assizes. He served on most of the King's County boards, such as the Poor Law Commissioners, Parsonstown Town Commission, and the Lunatic Asylum.

He married Amelia, daughter of Samuel Cox of Henley Grove, Gloucestershire and had six children. His eldest son, George, qualified as an electrical engineer and worked in England. His second eldest son, also called Toler Roberts Garvey, worked with him in the land agency and took it over on his death at the age of 80 on 30 November 1914. He is buried in Borrisnafarney church near Moneygall, County Offaly.

Trench, Benjamin Bloomfield

  • Person
  • 1846-1926

Benjamin Bloomfield Trench was born 12 November 1846 to Henry Trench of Cangort Park, Shinrone, County Offaly and Georgiana Mary Amelia Bloomfield, sister of the 2nd Lord Bloomfield of Loughton House. He was educated at Eton. He worked as a mechanical engineer for Maudsley & Fields and later with William Steuert Trench in his land agency office at Carrickmacross between 1868 and 1870. He was also employed by Verner & Holleborne stockbrokers to manage quarries in Antrim. In 1872 he was employed by Lord Bath to take over the management of the Bath estate following the death of William Steuert Trench, but was relieved of this position in 1874. He married Dora Turner in 1899 and moved to South Africa to work on the Transvaal Railway. He returned prior to the birth of his two daughters Sheelah and Theodora Trench.

Trench, John Townsend

  • Person
  • 1834-1909

John Townsend Trench was born on 17 February 1834. He was the second son of William Steuart Trench (1808-1872). His mother, Elizabeth Susanna, was a daughter of John Sealy Townsend, of Myross Wood, Co. Cork. Like his father, John Trench was a land-agent. He became assistant agent to the Lansdowne estates in Co. Kerry at the age of 19. He replaced his father as chairman of the Kenmare Board of Guardians in 1862 and on the death of his father in August 1872 he became sole agent on the Lansdowne estate. He was also agent to the Stradbally estate in Queen's County. While not directly involved in the running of the Digby estate in Geashill he was called upon regularly by his father for advice and is responsible for the many detailed sketches and illustrations sent on an annual basis from the estate to Lord Digby. His talents as an artist are also evident in the first edition of his father’s work 'Realities of Irish Life'.

Not only was Trench a talented artist but he displayed skills in agricultural improvement, accounting, administration, architecture, town planning, while also acting as a judge and amateur physician during his agency on the Lansdowne estate. Known locally as ‘Master Towney’, his time in Kenmare was marked by the transformation of the town, including the regeneration of the Market Square, with the erection of a public clock on the market house. He was also responsible for the establishment of a successful fisheries industry. He was talented as athlete, oarsman and cyclist. He was involved in the invention of a tubeless tyre which resulted in a litigation, and in him borrowing large sums of money to cover his debts.

During the Land war and the agricultural crash of 1879 Trench denied that any problems existed on either the Lansdowne or Luggacurren estates (Queen's County). This led the Marquess of Lansdowne to turn to Townsend’s successor, William Rochfort for advice. He eventually resigned eight years later. He was married twice, firstly to Agnes Merivale (1870), daughter of Herman Merivale, Under Secretary for India, and secondly to Leonora, daughter of George Cecil Gore Wray, of Ardnamona, Co. Donegal (1874). He had five children. He died on 9 August 1909

Trench, Thomas Weldon

  • Person
  • 1833-1872

Thomas Weldon Trench was born on 11 Feb 1833. He was the eldest son of William Steuart Trench and Elizabeth Susanna Townsend. Thomas Weldon was installed by his father William Steuart Trench as co–agent and local magistrate on the Digby estate in Geashill in 1857. He also acted as assistant agent on the Bath estate in Co. Monaghan. During his agency in King's County, the Barony of Geashill experienced vast improvements in both the architecture of Geashill village and the topography of the landscape. While Thomas Weldon played an instrumental role in such a transformation, he adopted a hard line authoritarian style of estate management. This is reflected in his ruthless tactics to clear the estate of small tenants and beggars, in order to create larger holdings with better drainage and more advanced farming methods. The case of Alice Dillon illustrates how the actions of Thomas Weldon Trench were ruthless and hasty in dealing with the removal of a beggar woman from the estate on Christmas Eve in 1861. His actions were questioned by the Lord Chancellor, from whom he received a strong reprimand and warning, an episode he omitted in the annual reports to Lord Digby.

Hi agency was also marked by the rise of Ribbonmen and a flame of agitation likely to be the response of aggrieved tenants towards his style of management. Similar hostilities to him existed in Co. Monaghan. By 1870, Thomas Weldon Trench resigned his post as resident agent in Geashill
and subsequently became a medical volunteer in the Franco-Prussian War. This was short-lived due to illness and he returned to Ireland later that year. He died at the relatively young age of 39 in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan on 15 August 1872, which was just shortly after the death of his father, W. S., on the 4 August 1872. They are both buried in Donaghmoyne churchyard, Carrickmacross.He remained unmarried and died on the 15th of August 1872.

Trench, William Steuart

  • Person
  • 1808-1872

Trench, the youngest of fifteen children was born near Ballybrittas, Queen’s County in 1808, he was named Richard. His younger brother who died in infancy was christened William. However, from a young age his name was changed to William Steuart. His father, Thomas, was the Church of Ireland Dean of Kildare, his mother was the daughter of Walter Weldon of Rahinderry, Co.Laois, who was MP for Athy. He grew up in the family home Glemalyre (Glenamalire) in Bellegrove, 3kms from Portarlington. At the age of 13 he was sent to be educated at the Royal School, Armagh, where he spent six years. He later studied Classics and Science in Trinity College Dublin. On leaving Trinity he began to study agriculture and land management, carrying out improvements on his brother’s estate in Kilmorony in Co. Laois, once home of the Weldon family. He then acquired land in Cardtown in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, where he was involved in carrying out reclamation, and began extensive potato cultivation.

In 1832 he married Elizabeth Sealy Townsend, whose father was the Master of Chancery in Ireland at the time. They had one daughter, Anna Maria, born 30 January 1836. Thomas Weldon Trench was born on 11 February 1833 and John Townsend Trench was born on 17 February 1834.(Elizabeth's brother, Richard Townsend , later married William Steuart’s sister Helena.)

Trench was an author. His most famous piece of work was 'Realities of Irish Life' which was published in London in 1868. He also wrote 'Ierne' (London, 1871), and produced many short articles including sketches published in the 'Evening Hours' (London, 1871-72). However, for most of his life he was employed as a professional land agent, a position he considered himself well qualified for. He claims in 'Realities' “to have lost no opportunity of acquiring information which might qualify me to become a land agent as being the most suitable, in its higher branches to my capacity.” He was appointed agent to the Shirley estate in Co Monaghan in April 1843 but resigned in April 1845. In December 1849 he was appointed agent to the estates of the Marquess of Lansdowne in Co Kerry. Two years later he took charge of the property of the Marquess of Bath in Co. Monaghan and that of Lord Digby in King's County in 1857 and held these appointments close to his death in 1872.

Trench was noted for the improvements carried out on the estates he managed. Under his agency the Barony of Geashill experienced a golden age of prosperity. There were vast improvements in both the architecture of the village and the topography of the landscape. Such improvements gained both national and indeed international recognition for Lord Digby and earned Trench the legacy of an improver who was well ahead of his time. Similar improvements in the layout and quality of the land as well as the construction of dwellings for example a terrace of cottages in Carrickmacross were built by Trench for the key workers on the Bath estate in Co. Monaghan. With the help of his son John Townsend Trench he transformed the Lansdowne estate by improving the dwelling houses of the tenantry, raising the standard of farming, improving local services and developing local industries and fishing. He had similar plans for the Shirley Estate, which he was not allowed to pursue, leading him to resign his agency.

To facilitate such improvements Trench embarked upon the implementation of assisted emigration schemes or what he referred to as ‘voluntary’ emigration. For example in assisted emigration from the Shirley estate 1843-54, it is noted that by 1851 the flow of assisted emigrants was reduced to a trickle. However, that year marked the beginning of a significant outflow of assisted emigrants from the neighbouring Bath estate, under the agency of William Steuart Trench. Similar schemes were carried out while he worked in Kenmare in Co Kerry, where he helped to ship over 4000 destitute people to the United States and Canada. Trench looked upon such schemes as a cheap and efficient way to improve the estate. While Trench was noted for his assisted emigration schemes in Counties Kerry and Monaghan, records show that the amount of money spent on emigration in Geashill was mimimal. Nonetheless the population decreased by 40.3%. during the Trench years suggesting that in an attempt to clear the estate to make way for improvements, many people were forced to leave, receiving little or no money from him.

While Trench’s physical legacy is a positive one, there is much evidence of discontent among the tenantry especially in counties Offaly and Monaghan, which led to a flame of agitation and the rise of Ribbonism. His physical legacy was greatly overshadowed by the realities of an agent who broke leases, levelled people’s homes and banished the poor and in so doing was often ruthless in his management of the estates in his charge. In a gradual process between, December 1871 and January 1872, Reginald Digby, Lord Digby’s nephew, replaced the Trenches as land agent in Geashill. Both Trench and his son Thomas Weldon died within a few days of each other in 1872 and were buried in Co. Monaghan in Donaghmoyne cemetery.

Many of Trench’s relatives were also employed as agents throughout the country: his cousin, Benjamin Bloomfield Trench worked as agent to Charles Verner (1854) and was also agent on the Bath estate 1868-1875. George Trench was employed on the Talbot-Crosbie estate in Co. Kerry while his cousin, William Trench acted as agent on the Heywood estate in Queen’s County. Other members of the Trench family held important positions in the church, for example: Richard Chenevix Trench was archbishop of Dublin from 1864 to 1884.