Item P95 - Letterbook of Reginald Digby

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Letterbook of Reginald Digby


  • 1903-1908:1914-1922 (Creation)

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Biographical history

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.

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Biographical history

Lewis Goodbody was a son of Lewis Frederick, one of the five sons of Robert of Mountmellick, and was born at Clara in 1866 and died there at Drayton Villa on 8 January 1933, aged 66. He was educated at Birkdale, Lancashire and at Trinity College, Dublin from where he graduated in 1887. He joined the firm of Tisdall & Goodbody, later Goodbody and Tisdall, then of 15 Dame Street and Tullamore on qualifying as a solicitor in 1891. In 1893 he was active in the campaign to save the union and defeat the Gladstone home rule bill and was hon. secretary to an anti-home rule demonstration in Tullamore. Tisdall was pushed out in 1901 and the new firm of A & L Goodbody commenced in 1902. Lewis Goodbody was a keen sportsman with a strong interest in cricket and motoring. He was an original member of the Irish Automobile Club and his firm were the solicitors to the Irish Dunlop Company’s stock exchange prospectus in 1899. Goodbody lived in Kilcoursey, Clara throughout his life and what with inherited wealth and business acumen his establishment was able to support a governess, a cook and a parlour maid. Lewis Goodbody died at Clara at the age of 66 and was buried at the Friends Burial Ground, Clara. He was survived by his wife, Edith Lisetta Pim and two daughters and one son. The latter spent much of his time in India and died there in 1974.

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Letterbook created by Reginald Digby recording letters received from the tenants’ association on the Geashill Estate in relation to the sale of lands by Lord Digby to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903. Includes his copy replies to the secretaries of the association, James Matthews and John Corcoran, and later James Chissell. Also includes copy letters from solicitor to the estate, Lewis Goodbody, who advises on proceedings with the Land Commission and letters from Fr. O’Beirne PP, acting as an intermediary between the estate and the tenants.

Includes a memo of a meeting between Lord Digby and a deputation from the tenants’ association on 30 September 1907, and the decision arrived at by the tenants at a further meeting in the Forester’s Hall, Tullamore, on 2 January 1908 to reject the terms of sale put forward by Lord Digby due to his decision not to cancel the hanging gale and remit a half year’s rent as requested by the tenants.

Also includes later newspaper cuttings concerning unrest on the Estate at the decision to sell untenanted lands to three land owners rather than distributed to small holders and evicted tenants. Cuttings also refer to the Geashill Cattle Drive of November 1914 and the subsequent court martial with James Rogers representing the forty-six arrested. Includes transcripts of James Rogers’ cross-examination of County Inspector Hubert William Crane. Also includes a loose printed catalogue of the auction of Geashill Castle’s contents to be held 22 March 1922.

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Conditions governing access

By appointment only. Contact Offaly Archives at [email protected]

Conditions governing reproduction

May be reproduced in accordance with provisions of the Copyright and Related Rights Acts (2000). No reproduction online, in print or broadcast without express permission of copyright holder.

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  • English

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Dates of creation revision deletion

June 2019, Sarah Dunning




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