Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - Blennerhassett - Contents

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 4th Baronet


This must be the 4th Baronet.
Portrait inherited by the Blennerhassett Baronets.
Portrait by Franz von Lenbach.
See signature. Date looks like 1871.
See full size. See other shot.

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 4th Baronet,
Catholic, born 5 Sept 1839.
Political writer, historian.
See Wikipedia and Wikitree and thepeerage and blennerhassettfamilytree.
He succ as Baronet as a child in 1849 when his father died.
He was educ Downside School (Catholic school), Somerset, 1849-56.
He was educ Stonyhurst College (Catholic school).
He was educ Christ Church, Oxford. Entered 1859. Left without a degree.
He was educ Christ's College, Cambridge. Entered later in 1859.
He turned 21 in Sept 1860. He inherited Churchtown House, Co.Kerry.
Appointed a J.P. for Co.Kerry, 3 Dec 1860. Listed as Sir Rowland of Churchtown.
Churchtown accounts book 1862-64 shows an active and busy farm and estate.
He is listed as of Churchtown on p.1741 of The Edinburgh Gazette, 18 November 1862.
He formed a friendship with the Catholic historian Lord Acton from 1862.
He was educ Catholic University of Leuven. Graduated as Doctor "in Scientia rerum politicarum" (Doctor of Political Science). Received certificate June 1863. From Baronets papers.
In 1864 he studied at Munich, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Ignaz von Döllinger, the unorthodox Catholic priest and theologian.

MP for Galway city 1865-74: He was Liberal MP for Galway city 1865-74. See contributions in Parliament.
He is listed as of Churchtown House in his Member's Certificate for the [RIA] in 1866.
High Sheriff of Co.Kerry 1866-67.
In declaration dated 26 Feb 1867 his residence is Churchtown House.
Early in his career he supported Home Rule for Ireland.
He helped to start the Chronicle, a literary organ of liberal Catholicism, 1867. Its support for Irish Home Rule made it unpopular. It published until 1868.

He mar 9 June 1870 to Countess Charlotte de Leyden [born 1843, Munich, German Catholic]. See Wikitree and
She was dau of Count Karl Joseph August von Leyden and his wife Franciska von Weling.
She was a Catholic disciple of Döllinger, which is how she met Blennerhassett in early 1870.
She became a student of Blennerhassett's friend Lord Acton.
She became a historian and author.

He sold or long-term rented out Churchtown House c.1870. NOT 1860.
Lived in London. Though retained deep involvement with Ireland.
Links to Acton, Throckmorton, Dease:

1872 Kerry election: Letters of Jan-Mar 1872 show that the 4th Baronet considered switching to Co.Kerry for the by-election of Feb 1872. But the Liberals nominated James Arthur Dease. The Home Rulers nominated the Baronet's 2nd cousin Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett, and the Baronet says he will not go against his cousin and in fact will support him. He says Dease is unpopular in Kerry and can only win "by landlord coercion of the grossest kind".
His cousin won a famous victory for Home Rule in the election. The 4th Baronet says it was an own goal by the Liberals - that if he had been nominated, his cousin would not have run (his cousin himself says so) and he would have won the seat.
He is happy his cousin won, and in letter of 23 Mar 1872 says his cousin would not have won without his help.
He changed his views on Home Rule in the 1870s and became an opponent of Home Rule. A strong opponent of Parnell.

MP for Kerry 1880-85: He was Liberal MP for Co.Kerry 1880-85.
Kerry had two seats. The other MP in 1880-85 was his 2nd cousin, the Home Rule MP Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett.
He is listed in 1881 census as a lodger at 3 St. James's Place, Pall Mall, London. From here.
He spoke and wrote on Irish education and land question. He advocated peasant proprietorship 1884.
Charlotte published a multi-volume biography of Madame de Staël in German, Frau v. Staël, ihre Freunde u. ihre Bedeutung in Politik u. Lit. ("Madame v. Staël, her Friends and their Importance in Politics and Literature"), 3 vols, 1887-1889 (French 1890, English 1891). She published other works from 1894 to 1916.
Letter of 15 Dec 1892 shows Blennerhassett still had property at Churchtown.

President of Queens College, Cork, 1897-1904:
4th Baronet was President of Queens College, Cork 1897-1904.
In letter of 23 June 1897 the future 5th Baronet writes to his mother: "I am curious to hear how you will like Cork. It will be practically your first experience of regular English life. Hitherto in England you have belonged largely to [an international set]. ... You will now meet people such as you have hardly ever met before." (Curious of him to use "regular English life" to cover Ireland.)
4th Baronet is listed in 1901 census at the London and North Western Hotel in Dublin.
In October 1901 he was awarded an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) by the Royal University of Ireland. See Cork Examiner, October 26, 1901.
He died 22 Mar 1909, London, age 69 yrs.
He was bur in churchyard of St. Benedict's RC church, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset. This is beside his old school, Downside School. See map and street view.
See Blennerhassett Baronets papers.
Charlotte died 1917.
See admin.
4th Baronet and Charlotte had issue:

  1. Sir Arthur Blennerhassett, 5th Baronet,
    born Munich, 14 Apr 1871.

  2. Marie Carola Blennerhassett, born 1876.
    Charity and civic worker and advocate for women's rights.
    She mar 1stly, 1894, to Raphael d'Erlanger [born 1865, son of Frederic Emile, Baron d'Erlanger].
    He died 1897.
    She mar 2ndly, 1913, to Sir Henry Galway [born Henry Gallwey, 1859].
    He was Governor of South Australia 1914-20.
    He died 1949.
    She died 1963.
    See Australian Dictionary of Biography.
    She had issue by 1st mar:

    1. Baron Henry Roland Kasimir d'Erlanger,
      born 1895.
      He mar 1921 to Margarita Covarubias. No issue.
      He was killed in a plane accident in 1937.

    2. Charlotte d'Erlanger, born 1897.
      She mar 1922 to Roderick Peter George Denman [born 1894].
      He was grandson of George Denman, son of Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman.
      See DENMAN in [Burkes Peerage].
      He was KIA in WW2 1941.
      She was living 1959 at 25 Mulberry Walk, London SW3.
      She died 1980.
      They had issue.

  3. William Blennerhassett,
    Willie, born 1882.
    He mar 1910 to Olivia Grove [Olivia Frances Grove, dau of Sir Thomas Grove, 1st Baronet].
    See his contributions to Encyclopaedia Britannica (12th edn, 1922).
    See his libel case in 1932-1933. See background.
    She died 1953.
    He died 1958.
    They had issue:

    1. Rowland Blennerhassett, born 1911.
      Living as at 1938 at 105 Campden Hill Road, London.
      He mar 1945 to Elizabeth Stapleton [Elizabeth Charlotte Josephine Stapleton, Lisa, born 1907].
      She descends from Thomas Stapleton, grandson of Willoughby Bertie, 3rd Earl of Abingdon, who descends from Edward III.
      It was her 2nd mar. She mar 1stly in 1941 to Francis John Angus Skeet. No issue. He died 1943.

      Living as at 1952 at 3 Cornwall Gardens, London.
      Living as at 1956 at 17 Campden Hill Rd, London.
      They moved to Brighton around 1986.
      Rowland died 19 Mar 1993 at St Raphael's Care Home, Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
      Elizabeth died 29 Mar 1995, Brighton. NOT 1996.
      They had issue.

Lady Charlotte Blennerhassett.
Photo published at her death in 1917.
From Getty Images. See full size.

Speculation in 1886 that Sir Rowland would be appointed Under-Secretary for Ireland.
It did not happen.
From The Montreal Daily Herald, 25 Nov 1886.

My ancestor Blennerhassett Cashel attends a lecture on 28 Mar 1899 in Cork by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 4th Baronet.
From Cork Examiner, March 29, 1899.
Blennerhassett Cashel was GSWR goods head at Cork, apparently 1893 to 1911.
The 4th Baronet was Catholic, succ 1849, President of Queens College Cork 1897-1904.
According to my theory they are most likely 2nd cousins.

4th Baronet listed in [Thom's, 1901, p.228].
Gives his residence as Queen's College Cork.
Though this may just be a postal address. UCC profile says he "did not take up permanent residence at the President's house on campus".

Grave of 4th Baronet, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset.
See full size.
See closer. and closest.
Photos 2006 from Bill Jehan.

Blennerhassett arms on grave of 4th Baronet.
See full size.
Photo 2006 from Bill Jehan.



Blennerhassett Papers, Cambridge



Sources yet to be consulted


Lady Charlotte and children


Lord Acton


President of Queens College, Cork 1897-1904


History of Queen's College, Cork


Papers to be consulted


Other Cambridge








"It is very inconvenient my cousin having exactly the same name as I have."
- Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 4th Baronet, MP, in letter of 14 Jan 1872 during the Kerry election in which his cousin Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett was running (and also became an MP).
Later the two Rowland Blennerhassetts were both MPs for the same constituency at the same time!


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