Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.


My ancestors - Flanagan - Contents

The Caravaggio story

My grandmother Dr. Nora Stack was a good friend of Dr. Marie Lea-Wilson.
When Nora's daughter, my aunt Peggy Flanagan, was born in 1934, Marie Lea-Wilson was her godmother and gave her a christening present of some jewellery. (Not, as formerly thought, silver spoons.)

Around the same time, early 1930s, Marie Lea-Wilson gave an old painting to the Jesuits.
She had bought the painting in 1921. She was not a collector or speculator - she liked it just because it was a nice religious painting. No one had any idea of its worth.
The painting hung for decades unnoticed in the Jesuits' dining room in Leeson St, Dublin, until in 1993 it was sent to be cleaned and was dramatically identified as the lost masterpiece, The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio, worth tens of millions of dollars.
It now hangs in the National Gallery.

It is a family joke now that one could imagine Marie Lea-Wilson deciding on presents: "Now, this nice painting for Peggy. No. I'll tell you what. I'll get her some nice jewellery. I'll give this old painting to the Jesuits. .."

The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio.
See full size. From Wikipedia.

The Caravaggio on a stamp, 1994.

Dr. Marie Lea-Wilson

In Nora Stack's medical class at TCD in the late 1920s was Marie Lea-Wilson, the widow of an assassinated RIC officer. She was a mature student in her late 30s.

Marie Lea-Wilson.
Detail of larger photo of resident doctors at Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, 1929.
Photo from RCPI, reference PDH/6/3/33.
See RCPI blog. Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Patrick Ryan,
mar Josephine Daly,
listed as of Main St, Charleville, Co.Cork, at Marie's birth 1887,
can't find them in 1901 census,
see entry at 63 Main St, Charleville, in [Census, 1911],
[Burkes Peerage, 1970] lists him as of The Turrets, Charleville,
had issue:

  1. Marie Ryan,
    later better known as Dr. Marie Lea-Wilson,
    Catholic, born 3 May 1887, Main St, Charleville, Co.Cork [GROI],
    Marie Monica Ryan, listed as Marie Monica Eugenie Ryan at birth and mar, though "Maria" on grave,
    known to her friends as "Monica", think NOT Monique,
    we have a book inscribed "To Nora from her friend Monica", also nicknamed "The Monarch" in our family,
    she is listed as a boarder at the Ursuline Convent, Blackrock, Cork, in [Census, 1901],
    she is home with parents in 1911 census,
    listed as living The Turrets, Charleville, at mar,
    mar 27 Jan 1914, Catholic Church, Charleville [GROI] to Capt. Percival Lea-Wilson [born 22 Apr 1887, Kensington, London, "Perceval" on census form, "Percival" on grave],
    he was Church of England, son of Samuel Henry Wilson, or Lea-Wilson,
    Percival was educ New College, Oxford,
    see his entry in Woodford, Co.Galway, in [Census, 1911],
    he was an RIC officer, see entry in [RIC officers],
    he was killed by the IRA, in Gorey, Co.Wexford, 15 June 1920 (NOT 1921), age 33, in the War of Independence,
    he was bur Putney Vale Cemetery, London, see his grave,
    two memorial stained glass windows to him in Church of Ireland church, Gorey,
    after his death Marie started a new life, went to study medicine at TCD, in her late 30s, became doctor in Dublin,
    she was in Nora Stack's medical class at TCD, though Marie quite a bit older than Nora they became good friends, only 3 women in the class, all Catholic,
    Marie graduated 1928 (age 41),
    she acted as godmother 1934 to Nora's first child Peggy,
    lived 19 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin, there by [Thom's, 1945], still there at death,
    died Tue 20 July 1971, age 84 yrs [GROI],
    death notice in Irish Times and Irish Independent, Wed 21 July,
    funeral Thur 22 July, St.Andrew's church, Westland Row, Dublin,
    bur Deansgrange Cemetery, location: 96 B, St.Kevin's, go in gate, far LHS, nearly in corner.

  2. Adeline Ryan,
    mar 1 Aug 1916 [as his 3rd wife, him age 62] to Hamilton Deane-Morgan, 4th Baron Muskerry [born 18 May 1854],
    he was father of 5th and 6th Barons by his 1st wife,
    he died 9 June 1929, age 75 yrs,
    she died 14 Mar 1950.

Dr. Nora Stack (left) and Dr. Marie Lea-Wilson (right).
Garden at Walkinstown House.
See larger and full size.

Left to Right: Dr. Nora Stack, Dr. Marie Lea-Wilson and a friend.
Stables at Walkinstown House.
See larger and full size.

Grave of Capt. Percival Lea-Wilson, Putney Vale Cemetery, London.

Grave of Marie Lea-Wilson, Deansgrange Cemetery, Co.Dublin.
Photo from David Neary.

The movie Michael Collins (1996)

It was said that Capt. Percival Lea-Wilson abused a number of prisoners after the 1916 Rising surrender, including Ned Daly and the old Tom Clarke. It is said that an angry Michael Collins marked Lea-Wilson for later assassination. (Lea-Wilson was killed in 1920.)

A scene inspired by this (with James Connolly being abused) features in the movie Michael Collins (1996), with Collins angrily watching and taking note.

The movie Michael Collins (1996).
See the script in Michael Collins: Film Diary and Screenplay by Neil Jordan (1996).
"Captain Lee-Wilson", an army officer, not an RIC officer, says: "Now, show me the ringleaders of this little farce".
A detective called "Smith" abuses the prisoners.

See an exchange in the Irish Times about the truth of this:

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