Chapter XXXII

Family troubles  1881 - 1900

 

32.1  The Inheritance of Drumlargan and Knockstown

32.2  Knockstown Ownership

32.2.1  The Sale of Drumlargan House & Home Farm

32.3  Death of George Bomford  (21st?) March 1886

32.4  George’s Family  1886

32.5  ‘Accounts with Mother’  1889

32.6  Letter from Arbella Bomford

32.6.1  Visit of John Francis to Oakley Park  January 1891

32.6.2  2nd Will of Arbella Bomford  11th February 1891

32.6.3  From J Clark to John Francis (at a hotel in Dungannon)  17th May 1898

32.7  Seventeen Letters

32.8  Death of Arbella Bomford  8th January 1900

32.8.1  Death Certificate  9th January 1900

32.9  The Disposal of Arbella’s Property

32.9.1  Family Movements  1900

32.9.2  General

32.9.3  Sale of Livestock and Vehicles  January 1900

32.9.4  Leasing of the Oakley Park Land

32.9.5  Sale of Household Effects

32.9.6.  Initial Probate of Arbella’s Estate  2nd April 1901

32.9.7  Suggested Settlement by John Francis  23rd April 1901

32.9.8  Final Probate of Arbella Bomford  20th July 1911

 

Two family problems are dealt with in this chapter:

1.  The inheritance of Drumlargan which caused a feud between John Francis and the family of his brother George Winter Bomford; and

2.  The two wills of Arbella causing her children to divide into two sides, each trying to prove the will they favoured. This led to a mass of court cases and to the maltreatment of the elderly Arbella.

32.1  The Inheritance of Drumlargan and Knockstown

On 30th June 1936 George Lyndon Bomford wrote a very enlightening letter about the family to his son, George Warren. The first part of this letter has been printed in Chapter 26 (26.4.3) concerning the loan to his grand uncle Samuel; the second part is below and introduces the question of the inheritance of Drumlargan.

Letter from George Lyndon Bomford

.. .. But there was a much more serious affair between [the brothers] George Winter and John Francis. George Winter Bomford, my uncle and the father of my cousin Anne (Nellie), who owned Drumlargan was, to say the least of it, a most irresponsible person. He married Miss Sadleir, leading her to believe (so I have always been told) that he was heir to all the entailed property, which was free of all charges, but that my father [John Francis Bomford] was heir to the unentailed. This place Oakley Park was naturally unentailed, as it was not bought until long after the death of my great-grandfather, who created the entail. It has always been a white elephant, as it was heavily charged, whereas the entailed property could not be charged. My uncle took his young family to Australia and deserted them there. He spent the last years of his life on Valentia Island, and tried to become a Nationalist Member of Parliament, a perfectly irrational man, though very clever in parts. His wife Flora whom I never met, must have had a dreadful time, and so far as we are concerned she has, I am sure, always been led to believe that my father had ousted her husband out of part of his inheritance, and the worst of it was that when George was in Australia the tenant of Drumlargan died, and my grandfather gave my father a lease of part of Drumlargan. In course of time, the Irish Land Act came into existence, and the leaseholder under the new law could not be turned out so long as the rent was paid, and he could sell his interest in the land. So when we came to live here after grandfather’s death, my father sold his interest in the part of Drumlargan he had the lease of. That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We were anathema, beyond the pale.

Two years before George Bomford died, George Winter Bomford died in June 1884 leaving a son aged 20, and a daughter aged 22, with his wife Flora aged 45 (30.2). His family were living in Dublin and had shown no interest in the land; in fact the son, George Sadleir Bomford, was soon to join the army. In 1886 George Bomford died and the entailed lands came into the hands of George Sadleir Bomford, George Bomford’s grandson. The entail had been changed as recorded in the marriage settlement of George Winter Bomford and Flora so that the sequence of inheritance was George Sadleir Bomford followed by his sister Arbella Anne and finally to John Francis and his family. George Winter never inherited the land since he died before his father; however his son did inherit but he died at the early age of 30 and so in 1894 the land went to his sister Arbella Anne Bomford, or ‘Nellie’ as she was called.

The entailed lands were “Drumlargan, Ornelstown, Knockturin or Knockstown, part of Clonlyon and part of Monaloy”. Many of these names had become obsolete and so now basically the entailed lands were Drumlargan consisting of 980 statute acres and Knockstown of 225 statute acres. Chapter 29 lists the various tenants of these two townlands.

The “Irish Land Act” referred to in George Lyndon’s letter is that of 1881 in which Gladstone virtually conceded all the basic demands of the Land League agitation. It was popularly known as the “Three F’s”; Fair rent, to be assessed by arbitration; Fixity of tenure, while the rent was paid; Freedom for the tenant to sell his right of occupancy at the best market price. 1881 is therefore the critical year, at which date there were three farms on Drumlargan, plus 80 acres of bog.

Two of the farms, totalling 562 statute acres (193 and 369), and the 80 acres of bog were recorded in the Valuation Office in 1886 with George Sadleir as both the lessor and the occupier; in 1898 the lessor and occupier was Anne Bomford, as it was in 1906 although at this later date the bog was recorded as being 75 acres. Anne sold much of this land in 1912 to the Land Commission, but see 34.4. There does not appear to be any record that the entail was officially terminated, but it must have been, and Anne may have had permission for the sale from the next in line for the inheritance that was then George Lyndon Bomford. Thus these two farms passed, as they should have done according to the entail, to Anne.

It was the third farm of 337 acres including Drumlargan House, which was the one under dispute. Before George Bomford died he was the lessor with John Francis Bomford as the occupier; he had been the occupier since about 1865 (29.3) and the tenant who had died, mentioned in George Lyndon’s letter, must have been John Monaghan. In 1865 George Winter could not have foreseen the Land Act of 1881 and so could not have seriously objected to the lease going to John Francis. As previously discussed Drumlargan House was done up and John Francis and his young family moved in around 1870 (30.3.3), they were to remain there for the next 30 years, during which time they established themselves in the house. 

However when George of Oakley Park died in 1886 (32.3) the lessor for the whole of Drumlargan was recorded as being George Sadleir Bomford, George Winter’s son; this is as it should have been according to the entail, but not according to the 1881 Land Act. After George Sadleir died in 1894, the Lessor of the first two farms was Anne Bomford but the Lessor of Drumlargan House and the farm around it (336 acres) was John Francis; this last farm was the disputed one. It must be said that, according to the 1881 Land Act, John Francis was technically correct but it is easily understood how bitterness arose between John Francis and his niece Anne and her mother Flora.

There are two deeds at this time; in October 1891 John Francis raised a loan for improvements at Drumlargan (31.5.3) in which he is careful to have himself described as a “tenant farmer”; and in August 1893, before George Sadleir’s death, John Francis raised a large mortgage on Drumlargan from the Bank (31.5.4). Therefore it is thought that between those two dates, 1891 and 1893, John Francis claimed the title to the disputed farm of 336 acres and Drumlargan House and, to use George Lyndon’s word, “ousted” Anne and her mother from part of the inheritance. Anne retained the other two farms (34.4).

When Guy Bomford (26.7.4) sent me George Lyndon’s letter of 1936 (above), he enclosed comments, which are enlightening. He wrote, “..the letter I enclose gives your grandfather’s version, which sounds pretty reasonable. We, Samuel’s offspring, are of course quite neutral, apart from being indoctrinated by Flora.” He continues concerning the feud, “…. Your great-grandfather John Francis had an elder brother George, who married Flora Sadleir. George was an unsatisfactory type, while John prospered. George died and Flora lived with a grievance (over Drumlargan) for the rest of her life, and made the most of it. She lived comfortably at Baldock with her unmarried daughter Nellie (Arbella Anne Bomford). My mother and my elder sister used to see them occasionally. They just lived for their grievance.” Guy also mentioned that John Francis was known as “Black John” to Flora and her daughter Nellie.

32.2  Knockstown Ownership

Knockstown or Knockturin was also part of the entailed property, which one would have expected to go to George Winter Bomford’s children. Paragraph 29.4 records the occupiers of the five small farms on Knockstown and in 1854 the “Immediate Lessor” was George Bomford. When George died the Valuation Office left his name as the immediate Lessor and only his name appears until the land was sold. Unfortunately no other supporting documents have come to light and Knockstown is only mentioned in the letters about the inheritance feud concerning Elizabeth’s lease.

Back in 1866 Elizabeth, a sister of John Francis, was given the lease of one of the five farms and these 61 acres certainly did not go to George Winter’s children; Elizabeth’s mother Arbella received £33.5.0 from Elizabeth being her half-year’s rent. Elizabeth was the lessor of this parcel of land until she sold it in 1898, as the following deed shows:

8th February 1898  Sale of Knockstown Lease

For £315 paid by John Marmion, Senior, of Bogganstown, Drumree, Co Meath, farmer, to Elizabeth Bomford of Oakley Park, Spinster, as beneficial owner, so she leased the lands of Knockstown containing 61 statute acres at a rent of £60.

Witnessed: Margaret B. Folliott, married woman of Kells; and Robert L. Bomford of Oakley Park.  (1898, Vol 10, No 57)

In 1904 the occupier was Sylvester Marmion and the Bomford name has been deleted, even as the ‘immediate lessor’, which indicates a complete sale and not just a sale of the lease. It would, therefore, appear that Anne Bomford never inherited these 61 acres.

The 1906 Untenanted Lands Return shows that John Francis leased the other four small farms amounting to 164 acres, but it is not clear from whom he leased them. He may have leased them from his mother’s estate, which had not been settled in 1906; but it is also possible that he leased them from his niece Anne as the mortgage of 3rd August 1901 (30.2.7) of Drumlargan and Knockstown indicates. These 164 acres were sold to the Land Commission in 1916 but the name of the seller was not recorded. The ownership must remain a mystery until more research is done. However my personal opinion is that the four remaining farms on Knockstown did go to John Francis and not to Anne; I feel that my grandfather would not have written so strongly if the only part of the inheritance Anne did not get was the 337 acres of Drumlargan out of a total, including Knockstown, of 1,144 acres, close to 30%; that “we were anathema” would apply if Anne lost 562 acres out of 1144, close to 50%.

32.2.1  The Sale of Drumlargan House & Home Farm  1903

John Francis sold his interest in Drumlargan in 1903 to George Wilson of Oberstown, Tara, (1903, Vol 85, No 248). George Wilson paid him £1,000 and took over the PWD loan of 1891 of £425, together with the £1,700 mortgage of 1893 with the Hibernian Bank. The sale therefore amounted to £3,125 for the 337 acres with Drumlargan House.

For the sale of Anne’s portion of Drumlargan, see 34.4.

32.3  Death of George Bomford  (21st?) March 1886

George died at Oakley Park when he was 75. He died in March 1886: Arbella’s account of 1889 (31.3) states that his funeral was on 24th March and that he was buried at Laracor by the Rev George Henry Martin of Dublin. George Henry Martin was the fourth son of George’s cousin Susan Margaret Martin (Bomford) (21.8), and at this date he was Resident Rector of Trinity College and had recently inherited the Bective estate.

Arbella’s accounts give the funeral expenses which came to £35.12.0, most of which went to the undertaker, Joseph Lowry of Kells; the sexton of Laracor was given £1.5.0 and 2/6 was paid for an obituary in the Irish Times. I have spent an afternoon trying to locate his obituary but have failed to find it. There is no mention of his death in the Meath Herald, the local paper published in Kells, but it is referred to in the issue of 10th April, which includes an item on the Kells Petty Sessions. This reads:

Mr McCarthy said it being the first session since the death of the late lamented Mr George Bomford, one of the oldest magistrates on the bench, he proposed that as a mark of respect to his memory, the Court should adjourn. Mr Rothwell seconded the proposition.

Since the previous session was on March 15th he must have died between the 15th and the 24th, probably on the 21st. The Index to Printed Irish Will Calendars 1878-1900 gives the date of George's death as 27th March 1886, three days after the date Arbella recorded in the family Bible for his burial (31.3) - possibly the 7 is a mistranscription of a 1. Arabella is recorded as 'one of the executrixes'. The printed Index records the effects as £4,371, but a hand annotation says it was resubmitted with  £8,063.

His will has not been found but his children, Elizabeth and Robert, were co-executors; these two were an unfortunate choice and became the source of much hardship and worry to Arbella. From later letters two clauses of the will are known; Arbella was to be paid a ‘jointure’ for the rest of her life, and this was to be charged against Oakley Park and amounted to £2,000 a year; and, secondly, that if Arbella chose to hold and reside in Oakley Park she could do so at a charge of £600 a year which she had to pay to the estate, this she chose to do and so her jointure amounted to £1,400 (£2,000 less £600).

Before discussing Arbella’s problems with some of her children let us set the scene by recording the state of the family on George’s death together with my thoughts on their personalities gleaned from the letters which are included later.

32.4  George’s Family  1886

Arbella, George’s wife, was aged 76 and, as might be expected at that age, rather doddery. Perhaps ‘doddery’, which the dictionary defines as ‘decrepit in mind and body’, is too strong a word for the year 1886 but it becomes more accurate as the years pass.

Anne the eldest daughter (30.5) known to the family as ‘Nannie’ was aged 53, unmarried and living at Oakley Park. She seems to be the stabilizing factor of all those living in the house, but, as her letters will show, she could not stand up to the more forceful characters living with her. It was she and Adela who later took care of their ailing mother.

George Winter Bomford (30.2) was dead and his wife and two children were living in Dublin (30.2.7) so did not enter in to the affairs of Oakley Park.

John Francis, aged 49, was living at Drumlargan with his wife Elinor, who, also, was known to the family as ‘Nellie’. (The other ‘Nellie’ was George Winter’s daughter Anne). Their family of ten (Chapter 33) ranged in age from 19 down to one, and three or four of the older boys were at Denstone College at this date. John Francis’ work with the Land Commission took him all round Ireland and he was away from home quite a lot; but his wife was capable, kindly and, I suspect, shrewd. She certainly gave John Francis, who was known as ‘Johnnie’, all the support he needed.

On his father’s death John Francis inherited but, in accordance with his father’s will, Oakley Park and that part of the estate in George’s hands were set aside to support Arbella; this meant that there was no immediate improvement in his finances, and the land he had was the ‘home farm’ of Drumlargan, Clonfad and Rattin, and parts of the other lands which he leased from ‘the estate’. On his mother’s death he inherited the rest of ‘the estate’, which, in this interim period, was run by the executors of George’s will, Elizabeth and Robert. However it was known that he would inherit and so it fell to him to keep a watching brief on ‘the estate’; this was a duty which became more and more difficult as time passed because ‘the estate’ was mismanaged and his mother mistreated by the executors; it was even more difficult since Drumlargan was so far away from Oakley Park and he was away for so much of the time. Even after his mother’s death it was ten years before the affairs of ‘the estate’ were wound up and he came into his full inheritance.

Arbella Anne (30.4), aged 47, was married to George Ruxton and in 1886 they were living at Rahanna, near Ardee. In the early 1890s Rahanna was sold, probably because George Ruxton was in money difficulties (30.4.3), though there is evidence that George Ruxton ended his life in a nursing home so he may have been a sick man. Whatever happened Arbella Anne came to live at Oakley Park in the early 1890s with her son, aged 21, but without her husband. She is reputed to have been strong willed and she was probably rather clever, in the sense of being a good ‘schemer’.

Elizabeth (30.7), unmarried and aged 43, was a domineering and probably an unscrupulous woman who was rightly accused of mistreating her mother and mismanaging ‘the estate’ of which she was co-executor. She appears to have had the rest of the family at Oakley Park firmly under her thumb.

Victoria Adela (30.8), called Adela was aged 37 and unmarried; she was mentioned in the letters of the 1890s and from them she appears to be a reasonable, though perhaps rather a weak character - though not too weak as she did stand up against Elizabeth occasionally. It was Adela who looked after the farming affairs and assisted Anne in caring for her mother, so she must have had a certain amount of sense.

Margaret Winter (30.9), aged 31, was unmarried and known to the family as Meggie. She was completely dominated by Elizabeth, and hardly mentioned in the letters, possibly because she was the youngest of the girls.

Robert Laurence (30.10), aged 29 and unmarried, was dominated by Elizabeth. He was probably a weak-willed insensitive man who on at least one occasion physically attacked his aged mother. With Elizabeth he was co-executor of ‘the estate’, but he never had a proper job and this may have accounted for his boorish attitude.

There were therefore six adults living at Oakley Park and all living off ‘the estate’, Arbella and her daughters, Anne, Elizabeth, Adela, and Margaret, and the son Robert. Later on the married daughter Arbella Anne Ruxton was to join them there, making seven adults.

Apart from Mrs Ruxton, the only income for these six adults came from ‘the estate’ and no doubt money and its offshoot, greed, was the root cause of the unpleasantness of the 1890s amongst the family. With this in mind let us now consider whether there really was a shortage of money, or, whether the money was there but had been inefficiently put to use by the executors, as John Francis thought.

32.5  ‘Accounts with Mother’  1889

‘The estate’ accounts were written in draft form by John Francis in 1889 and titled ‘Accounts with Mother’. Already much information has been extracted in paragraph 31.3, but in this record an attempt has been made to convert them into accounts for the year. John Francis made no attempt to make a balance sheet; the following is in balance sheet form except that some incidental expenses have been omitted, such as the £70, which Arbella withdrew for her own use.

Income

Rent collected by Agency

£3,187.  3.0

Rent from George A. Tisdall   

£320.  0.0

Rent from Elizabeth Bomford

£66.10.0

Rent from J.F. Bomford

£72.19.8

Rent from Mulvanny of Baltrasna

£2.  0.0

Rent from Judge, Flanagan & Fetherston H of Clonfad

£1.15.6

Rent from Cluide

£0.12.0

Chris Barry, grazing

£2.  1.0

W. A. Wallis, grazing

£2.  1.0

 Total

£3655.  2.2

 

Expenditure

Oakley Park Head Rent to Lord Headfort   

£85.13.11

Baltrasna Head Rent to Trinity College

£5.  7.  5

Charles Reilly, wages

£35.  9.  6

John Larkin, Drumlargan caretaker, wages

£5.10.  0

L. Clinch, herd, wages

£19.  0.  0

J. Connor, Clonfad bailiff, wages

£2.13.  4

Rent Collection Agency, 5% fee

£159.  7.  2

Major S. Bomford, interest on £12,300

£593.10.  0

Mrs Bomford under jointure

£1,400.  0.  0

Mrs G. W. Bomford, jointure & succession duty

£238.13.  6

J. F. Bomford, marriage settlement, £400 at 5%

£20.  0.  0

Col. Robert Caulfield, interest on £2,000 [Caulfeild?]

£110.  1.  4

Col. Robert Caulfield, interest on £1,500 [Caulfeild?]

£82.11.  0

Fire insurance premium

£10.10.  0

Poor rates

£58.  6.  8

Income tax

£189.  3.  9½

Quit rent

£20.  1.  2

Credit Balance

£790.  3.  4½

 Total

£ 3,655.  2.  2

 

So ‘the estate’ had a credit balance of £790; in other words it could afford to give Arbella £1,400 a year to live on and to pay the interest on the various mortgages, loans and other expenses. From this £1,400 Arbella had to pay her servants in and around the house, and of course to feed and cloth herself and those who lived with her. In addition the estate received the profits from farming Oakley Park, however since the 1889 accounts do not detail these it may be that such money went direct to Arbella. It is not known what money she had in the bank, but, on the face of it, she should have been able to live quite comfortably. However the truth was a long way from these paper facts, so the charge of ‘mismanagement’ of the executors must be justified.

32.6  Letter from Arbella Bomford

The following letter to John Francis from Arbella indicates a definite shortage of funds. Arbella did the underlining; the comment in brackets is mine.

Oakley Park, 2nd May, (no year but thought to be 1890)

My Dear Johnnie I want you to pay my half-year’s jointure to me as soon as you possibly can, for I am very badly off for I did not get any of my jointure last year. My daughters must have got it paid to them although they certainly had no right to it, on the contrary they should have paid me for their board and lodging for the house and place belongs to me. My husband left it to me in his will but I have not been getting one penny either of my jointure, on the property left to me by my husband, or that which you borrowed from me. The first year that it was taken from me I did not mind much because I was ill, although I was not a lunatic, but the last year I have been quite well, but I have been living altogether in my own room because I have been treated as a lunatic. I think the doctor was told that I was, but for the past year I have had no doctors attending me. The only thing that has kept me from going downstairs was finding myself treated as a lunatic. I wish you could come and see me, and judge for yourself. 

With love to Elinor I am your affectionate mother A. Bomford

Such a sad letter needs little comment; it is enough to say that it sounds to be the letter of an aged person but certainly not a lunatic. However it does lead to other matters. Firstly the executors, Elizabeth and Robert, apparently pocketed the money and secondly they treated their mother as a lunatic, so much so that the poor woman kept herself in her bedroom and did not go downstairs. It is not known what happened to the missing jointure though one may assume that the bills had been covered. However the ‘lunatic’ theme runs on for ten years and really includes the money side of the question.

John Francis was in a difficult position. He had nothing to do with the settlement money: that was the duty of the executors and without going to court he could not interfere. But there were two things that he could do: he could visit his mother and this he did in January 1891; he probably made other visits but this is the only one actually recorded; and he could settle what he owed to his mother (see 31.3.1). This last may have been impossible as he was in the middle of educating his children. In any case if he did pay the money there was no way that he could ensure that Elizabeth did not get her hands on it.

Meanwhile Arbella had made her will, the first one, and she had appointed Elizabeth and Robert to be the executors; one source implies that Elizabeth used persuasive methods to induce her mother to appoint her. This will was made, according to Anne and the solicitor John Clark, in 1889 and was drawn up by Mr Fottrell who was Elizabeth’s solicitor; 1889 was also the most likely year that Arbella was ill. No doubt the contents were known to Elizabeth and Robert, and no doubt Arbella threatened to make another will if they did not give her the money due to her; so the threat of a second will which would not have been so favourable to her would have been particularly infuriating to Elizabeth. They therefore tried to prove that Arbella was a lunatic and so incapable of making a second will; to do this they had to turn her into one and the easiest way to do this to an old woman would be to mistreat her and constantly attack her mentally by making her out to be one. It is the cry from the heart in Arbella’s letter about being treated as a lunatic, which makes her letter so full of pathos. Elizabeth and Robert were so effective in their methods that Arbella Anne (Mrs Ruxton), who later acted in concert with Elizabeth, felt herself compelled to send John Francis a telegram summoning him to come as Arbella “was in great danger”.

32.6.1  Visit of John Francis to Oakley Park  January 1891

In December 1899 John Francis had to make an affidavit concerning his mother’s affairs. This is not amongst the papers, but a pencilled undated draft is. It is a most enlightening document and although it was written much later it is included here in full, as it gives a good summary of what John Francis found when he visited Oakley Park in January 1891:

Mrs Bomford’s (Arbella’s) mental faculties are perfectly sound excepting the lapses of memory natural to 90 years.

Elizabeth as Co-executor under the will of George Bomford so mismanaged the property under that will so that the valuable farm and effects left were completely frittered away, and that instead of profits which should have been available out of Oakley Park there was nothing to meet the current expenses or the charge of £600 a year which Mrs Bomford was to pay if she elected to hold and reside in Oakley Park. The arrears due to her now amount to £... (not stated). This is the first cause of embarrassment.

Mrs Bomford made a will in or about 1890 (the first will of 1889), to which she appointed EB (Elizabeth), and Robt LB (Robert Laurence Bomford), whose will is apparently completely under the domination of EB, executors but in consequence of their mismanagement of affairs and misconduct, she made a will in 1891, (Note in margin, ‘See letter of 11th February 1891’), drawn up by A. V. Montgomery, revoking the will of 1890, and appointing as executor J. S. Winter (James Sanderson Winter, aged 59 in 1891) of Agher, her nephew and next of kin outside her own children.

In January 1891 I went to Oakley Park to protect Mrs Bomford from EB and RLB, summoned by Mrs Ruxton by wire in which she stated Mrs Bomford was in great danger. On arrival she (Mrs Ruxton) informed me of many acts to prove that they were destroying the property, also bullying and ill treating Mrs B. She stated that RLB had violently shaken his mother because she refused to agree to the course EB and RLB were pursuing in the financial, farm and household affairs.

I found that some of the servants were acting in such a way (margin note, ‘thieving’) that, with Mrs Bomford’s desire and consent I at once dismissed them from her employment (margin note, ‘overpayment to Reilly’). The constabulary also complained of firearms being given to objectionable persons in their employment and I removed the said arms. (Robert had got a gun licence for the coachman and allowed him to shoot over the property whenever he wanted.)

Latterly the lands have been chiefly managed by, and cared under the direction of Mr Freeman who is receiver and accounts to the Court. (Margin note, ‘Cheque Book’ and ‘Freeman appointed 2nd Sept 1898’’.) (Previously) the farming affairs have been chiefly looked after by Miss Adela Bomford. All the family have taken part in household affairs, but Mrs B has been nursed and attended to, and cared day and night by Miss Bomford assisted by Miss Adela Bomford. Miss Bomford, the eldest daughter (Anne or Nannie) is the healthiest and strongest and best able to attend her, and Mrs Bomford has repeatedly told me that she did not know how she could get on if it were not for “the affection and care of Nannie and Adela”, and has more than once asked - Had the others any affection for her? (Note added, ‘see letter and complaint of treatment - and trying to make her a lunatic’)

Except to concur with me in the desire that my mother may end her days in peace and quietness and free from vexation and unkindness, and also in the belief that if Mrs Ruxton and EB were vested with any authority or control, my mother would be treated not as a gentle affectionate old woman in dotage, but as a lunatic in Bedlam, and that residence in the house would be intolerable for anyone not completely under their control, also that any property now remaining would be completely frittered away by mismanagement as before or in legal schemes - except in believing this, Miss Bomford (Anne) is not acting with me in any way, nor is she under my influence beyond the ties of sisterly affection.

Mrs Ruxton is a married woman, a wife with a husband and grown up son, and as she states an independent income, and I believe that she is not justified in residing at Oakley Park making an additional burden upon the income which has to support Mrs Bomford and four unmarried daughters and a son, and that if she is vested with authority the result would be perpetual family dissention and strife.

Mr R. L. Bomford and Miss Margaret W B are apparently completely under the domination of EB and Mrs R and are otherwise unfitted for any business transactions.

John Francis made some additional notes to his draft:

1.  (His mother) “always very particular that all money should be lodged and paid to herself and not to EB or RLB, and directed Agents and Receiver to that effect.”

2.  “Freeman latterly lets most (of Oakley Park) in grass.”

3.  “House and..?. are paying no rent.” This is the £600 a year from her settlement of £2,000, which Arbella ought to have paid; the illegible word may refer to the other adults staying in the house free of charge.”

4.  “Got offers to take it, also to buy.”

This affidavit was written in December 1899 and the items referring to the receiver, Michael Freeman, and the offers to lease and buy Oakley Park do not come into the story until much later.

So positive action was taken by John Francis on his visit in January 1891, but it did not put an end to the scheming of Elizabeth and, it now appears, of Mrs Ruxton. He was probably able to frighten Robert sufficiently over the police complaint to stop him attacking his mother physically. It is now clear that the only ones who were kind to and assisted their mother were Anne (Nannie) and Adela, but they were not able to stop the others from trying to make their mother into a lunatic. However to be fair we must remember that this is John Francis’ affidavit which has been recorded; we do not have any idea of what Elizabeth’s argument might have been.

Another important result of the visit was that Arbella made a new will during the next month and the executors were changed.

32.6.2  2nd Will of Arbella Bomford  11th February 1891

1.  She revokes all other wills.

2.  “I bequeath to each of my daughters, Anne Bomford, Elizabeth Bomford, Victoria Adela Bomford, and Margaret Winter Bomford, the furniture of such bedroom at Oakley Park as is occupied by her at the date of my signing this my will.”

3.  Also bequeathed to the above daughters, - “the tea caddy in the dining room, and the rosewood cabinet in the library, the Indian box in the drawing room and the tea table, and all the books, drawings, engravings and ornaments left to me by my sister Elizabeth Caulfeild.”

4.  To Anne, “the pianoforte in the drawing room.”

5.  To Robert Laurence, “the harmonium and pianoforte in the morning room.”

6.  To “my grandson George Sadleir Bomford, all the books belonging to his late father George (Winter) Bomford which are now at Oakley Park.”

7.  To John Francis, “the remainder of the household furniture, pictures, books, linen, china, glass, plate, and other articles in the house at Oakley Park.”

8.  The £1,000 which John Francis “owes me, and which is secured by two bonds, is to be divided in equal shares between my four daughters, Anne Bomford, Arbella Anna Ruxton, Victoria Adela Bomford, and Margaret Winter Bomford. I have already given to my daughter Elizabeth and to my son Robert Laurence a sum of £250 each which is the amount of a debt of £500 owed to me by my son John Francis and which is secured by a bond dated 18, August 1880.”

Nominated Executors: James Sanderson Winter of Agher (her nephew who died 10th July 1911); and Lyndon Bolton of Burren (eldest brother of John Francis’ wife, Elinor, who died at Drumlargan 4th April 1900).

Witnessed: A. V. Montgomery, solicitor, (33.9.1); and W. Magorn.

This will became known to the family as “The Bedroom Will” because of the first bequest. The story goes that much of the house furnishings, plate china and so on ‘disappeared’ into the bedrooms. Just how much vanished in this way is not known, as no inventory is available for the date Arbella signed her will. I vaguely remember discussions on this subject but they meant nothing to me as a child and the details have been forgotten; but I do remember the excitement when two cartloads of furnishings were returned from the house in Kells occupied by Robert who died in 1931 and Margaret who had died in 1928. Certainly some of these things would not normally be in a bedroom, like the Chinese lacquer bureau with matching chairs or the roll-top desk, and it was with these that the ‘boudoir’ was furnished. Quite a number of items must have gone, for even in my time the drawing room was not used for lack of furniture, and some of the bedrooms were scantily furnished.

From this distance in time it is difficult to know why Elizabeth and those who sided with her took such exception to this will, but then we do not know the contents of the first will. On the face of it the only thing that they might have taken exception to is the £250 which Elizabeth and Robert had each previously got from Arbella and which they might have considered as a gift. It is therefore thought that they must have taken exception to the change of executors; previously Elizabeth and Robert were the executors and now the executors were hopefully neutral but probably inclined to the views of John Francis. James Sanderson Winter was a close neighbour of John Francis and Lyndon Bolton was a brother of Elinor who died at Drumlargan two and a half months after Arbella died and may have been living there for some years.

Nevertheless Elizabeth and company (Robert, Mrs Ruxton and Margaret) still insisted that the first will was valid because their mother was a lunatic and so legally could not have written the second will. There are no papers or deeds until 1898 but sometime during these seven years the lawyers had been dragged in. The various officials were:

It is not known what the court cases were between 1891 and 1898 but there is reference to the case of Arbella’s “Irish Money”; and receivers had been brought in as a consequence of some charge of indebtedness. It is this debt that John Francis refers to as “the first cause of embarrassment”, and the very fact that a valuable estate had been placed under the receiver gives credence to John Francis’ argument that the place had been mismanaged.

The following letter of May 1898 shows that yet another court case is about to take place or be continued, but it also indicates that Arbella’s affairs had been in the hands of the receiver before Michael Freeman was appointed later that year on September 2nd.

32.6.3  From J Clark to John Francis (at a hotel in Dungannon)  17th May 1898

“I now send you a copy of the Opinion which I have at last got from Mr Molony [the Opinion is missing]. However it is satisfactory, and what we should do now is to go back on the accounts and ascertain what money has been paid out of the tenanted lands during the time your mother was receiving the rents without the aid of the Receiver so as to be in a position whenever the time comes, to put forward figures.”

It was probably as a result of this letter that John Francis put a number of questions to his sister Anne; these are on a loose undated sheet with Anne’s answers in the margin.

John Francis questions Anne’s answers

1. When did Elizabeth get Judicial Rent fixed on Knockturn?

I think 1891.

2. When did she sell the farm?

I think either end of 1897 or beginning of 1898. [It was February 1898].

3. Did she tell you or Adela she was going to do it?

I never was nor was Adela asked, I believe that she saw it in the paper.

4. Did she tell mother? or do you believe she told her?

I have no reason to think she told mother.

5. Were you and Adela ever consulted or told anything about any of the various lawsuits started?

We all knew about the first application to Chancery to look after the Irish money but neither Adela nor I knew anything else.

6. Or about the present application to Chancery?

This Adela or I knew nothing about until Mr Lett came with the notice to serve on my mother.

 

Anne’s fifth answer is interesting. It is this which makes me think that there were previous lawsuits, at least two, and that the receiver was appointed before Michael Freeman in September 1898. These comments also show the complete lack of communication between the sisters; it is as though they were not on speaking terms with each other, and this may well be true.

The National Library of Ireland holds 7 items of legal correspondence dated from 6 Apr 1898 to 3 Nov 1898 between John Clark and George H Fowler re the Bomford estate at Oakley Park (http://www.nli.ie/pdfs/mss lists/179_HeadfortPapers(Additional).pdf, page 146, MS 48,969 /10).

32.7  Seventeen Letters

Between 28th October 1899 and 22nd December 1899 there are 17 letters on file, probably a complete set. They are included in full as they really bring out the tension and, indeed, hostility amongst the family, and the resultant worry to their mother now aged 90 and about to die. The letters also give snippets of incidental family life.

1.  3rd November 1899  Anne to John Francis

My dear Johnnie,

In great haste I write a line to tell you that Arbella Ruxton had Mr Lett down here today serving my mother with a copy of a petition to the Lord Chancellor to make her a Ward of Chancery. (This must be the application to Chancery referred to in ‘6’ above.) Mrs Ruxton and Elizabeth are the petitioners. You certainly ought to look about it for they decidedly want to get everything into their own hands. Neither Adela or I were told anything about it so if you can put a stop to it I think you should at all events inquire about it, perhaps write to Mr Lett or get Mr Clarke to do so, it was George Lett junior who was here today, he is the petitioner’s solicitor, the petition was presented to the Chancellor on the 30th of October. I think certainly the two petitioners ought not to be guardians. Poor mother is just going on fairly well, we are going to get a new nurse on Monday (6th) I think, with fond love to you all, I remain your attached Sister Anne Bomford PS I hope you will forgive this scribble I hardly know what I am doing.

2.  4th  November 1899  Anne to John Francis (The next day)

My dearest Johnnie,

As I hardly knew what I was writing yesterday I write again today to say if possible I really think you ought to try and squash this Chancery business, it seems to be the greatest rubbish I ever heard of besides great expense. I understand that Dr Ringwood thinks it is the greatest nonsense making Mother a ward but he could not avoid giving them a certificate of her present mental state of health, but I believe they wanted one to prove she had been in an unsound state of mind for some years, would it not be well for you to write to Dr Ringwood yourself to get his exact opinion. Dr O’Reilly from Trim was here today sent by the Court of Chancery, he only asked to see the Nurse and Mother. He told nurse that Mother has no delusions at all, that she is only not able to manage her affairs from pure old age; he told nurse that he was a great friend of yours. I enclose you a copy of the Notice that was on the outside of the petition Mr George Lett gave Mother yesterday so you see by it if you can do anything to stop it you had better hurry. With best love to you all, joined by Adela, I remain your attached sister Anne.

3.  6th November 1899  John Francis to Mr Clark

My dear Mr Clark,

Enclosed I send you a copy of a letter and enclosure I have now received. I hope you will have the matter attended to promptly. The only business my Mother has to manage is signing cheques for cash to cover the household expenses, which is a very small matter and hardly one for the Court of Chancery. I believe the course hitherto has been that whenever Mother was bedridden the cheques have been filled by Miss Elizabeth Bomford and signed by Mother. The natural person for this would be Miss Bomford (Anne), but Mrs Ruxton and Miss Elizabeth are so overbearing and meddlesome that for peace sake she lets them manage it. If my Mother was left to Miss Bomford’s care she would have the peace and rest which is all she wants on Earth. She is in her 90th year. She frets greatly over these schemes and worries started apparently by Mrs Ruxton, and I fear they will kill her. Surely for her time she might be left in peace. Yours sincerely, John F. Bomford.

It is a pity that there is no documentation to give the other side of the case, for it seems inconceivable that a court case could be made on such petty grounds. Even the officials appear to agree; however once the Notice was served on the old lady the process of the law had to grind on.

4.  7th November 1899  John Clark to John Francis

Dear Sir, I got your letter with enclosures. I saw Mr. Colles the Registrar and discussed the matter with him. He seems to be familiar with the circumstances. He got Dr. Ringwood’s Report, and said that Dr. O’Reilly has also reported and they both agree it is purely a matter of old age with your Mother, but that she is not capable of looking after her own affairs. When Medical Inspectors make a Report of this kind the only one who can oppose at this stage the making of the Order taking the person under the care of Court, is the alleged lunatic herself.

The matter will come before the Lord Chancellor on Saturday week (18th) who will direct the Enquiry as to her means and appoint a committee etc. I am to get Notice on your behalf of the steps that are taken and our time to appear would be when it is referred to the Registrar to approve of the committee. You will have notice and we, I hope, will be able to get a Committee appointed of whom you will approve.

Yours faithfully, John Clark

5.  9th November 1899  Anne at Oakley Park to her sister-in-law Elinor at Drumlargan

My dear Elinor, 

I was very glad to get your letter this morning with enclosures from Mr. Clark, which I return. I saw Dr. Ringwood last Sunday (5th), he seems to be very much put out about Mother being made a Ward and was very much surprised to find that I knew nothing about what was going on until Mr. G Lett came down, he also said when he was asked to write a certificate of Mother’s present mental state of health he was told there was nothing else to be done as, if the affairs were not settled before Mother’s death, there would be nothing for all of us but the Poor House. I sent Johnnie a copy of the schedule of the property that was put in the Petition; you will see that it was Adela wrote it out. I think I may say Mother is going on pretty well, sometimes she looks very well and her appetite is generally very good, the new nurse seems very nice but she is a huge big fat woman, she is Mrs Gildea. I am so glad to hear Annella is enjoying herself so much. I am sorry to say I do not know where we would put Trevor to sleep if he comes here with you as the nurse has the front room to dress in, of course you would sleep with me. With best love to you all joined by Adela I remain Dear Elinor your attached sister Anne Bomford.

The schedule included in the petition, which Adela copied out, might be that included in paragraph 31.3.1, which gave Arbella a gross credit of £3,500 on her property. Certainly the handwriting was unfamiliar to me and may have been Adela’s.

Annella, who was “enjoying herself so much” was Elinor’s daughter Ann Arbella (33.2); in July that year she had married Rev Claude Longfield at Agher Church and they were then living at Frankfield Co Cork, where he was Rector. Trevor is another of Elinor’s children, aged 19 (33.9).

6.  14th November 1899  George Carr Lett, Junior, to John Francis

Dear Sir,

Herewith I send you by registered post notice of petition and order made thereon in connection with Mrs Bomford of Oakley Park.

7.  16th.November 1899  John Clark to John Francis

Dear Sir,

Since Mrs Bomford (Elinor) was here today I have heard from Mr. Lett that the case will not come on before the Lord Chancellor, that the notice was not served in time. It was this notice Miss Bomford (Anne) evidently referred to as being left on the foot of the bed and taken away by Mr. Robert. I expect to be in Trim on Saturday.

Yours faithfully  John Clark

John Francis has written on this letter “Have the case put off if  possible until Sat 2nd December at soonest.” Of course he was still working for the Land Commision and it would appear that he had to be away from soon after the 16th until the end of the month; he was certainly away between the 21st and 24th.

8.  21st November 1899  Elinor at Oakley Park to John Francis

My darling,

Things are much worse than we thought, I had a long talk with Ringwood today, he says he refused to give any certificate, and that a Govt Notice, ‘Lunacy’, was served on him stating that it was understood that he, as magistrate and a doctor, was concealing a lunatic here, and had also a letter, or notice, from Mr Colles (the Registrar) telling him that he must sign and that he had no option in the matter. Ringwood was also told that all the family agreed, at the same time Ringwood says owing to these notices he could not possibly write such a letter, as we want, but I was to say he was quite of the opinion that it is a most scandalous case etc. All of which I have written to Mr Clark. It is thought Arbella (Ruxton) and Elizabeth will appear on Saturday (24th) and try to have Robert appointed and that this is the reason his name is not in the paper. I have asked Mr Clark can he possibly get the case postponed till Saturday week (2nd December) for you to appear and if not to get Nannie named. Neither Doctors Ringwood or Healy can as they are trustees, but when we know the others have never stopped at lies to gain their own object I would not believe what they would swear on oath and I think you would be the only one who could keep them within bounds. Everything ought to be done to prevent Robert being appointed, particularly over the property.

Your Mother is much the same; she does not sleep except with sleeping draughts. She was greatly pleased with some flowers I brought her today, and told me they were Chrysanthemums and to put them in water. She also told the nurse, I am told, when served with the notice the other day that “they seemed to want to make someone out a lunatic”. Good night my darling, fond loves in which Nannie and Adela join, ever your fond wife Nellie.

Since Arbella was to be made a Ward of Court, a committee of guardians was required to run the estate and to deal with money matters on a day to day basis. It was as a committee member that Elizabeth was trying to get Robert appointed. Trustees concerned with the estate could not be committee members and “Doctors Ringwood and Healy” were trustees; they were made trustees in 1890, and a further change of trustees was made in 1901.

6th December 1890   George Bomford’s Estate,   Appointment of New Trustees

Between

1.  Arbella Bomford of Oakley Park, widow

2.  Rev John Healy of Kells, Rector, and John Ringwood of Kenlis Place, Kells, MD.

Reciting

The Marriage Settlement of 21st July 1832 (18.8.4) which was between:

1.  George Bomford

2.  Myles O’Reilly, and R. W. Reynell

3.  George Lucas Nugent, and Thomas Barnes

4.  John Pratt Winter, and Arbella Winter now Bomford.

Now Arbella Bomford appoints Rev John Healy and Dr John Ringwood as trustees to replace Myles O’Reilly and R W Reynell, both dead.

Witnessed: Robert L Bomford of Oakley Park.  (1891, Vol 9, No 186)

1st July 1901    Further Appointment of New Trustees

In lieu of George Lucas Nugent and Thomas Barnes deceased, the new trustees appointed are Canon John Healy, Rector of Kells; and Thomas Murdock MacDowell, MD, of 19 Rathgar Road, Dublin.  (1901, Vol 62, No 251)

To return to the letters, Elinor’s concern was that the case would come on while John Francis was still away, so it was imperative that the case be postponed until after he returned. She was afraid that Elizabeth and Co would lie to the court and so have Robert elected and she thought that only the presence of John Francis “could keep them within bounds” and so be truthful.

9.  22nd November 1899  Doctor Ringwood to Elinor

Dear Mrs Bomford,

Miss Bomford (Anne) told me that you were anxious to hear how I found Mrs Bomford to be when I visited her this afternoon. She is weaker than when I last saw her, but much less exalted. Her heart action is very weak, but what can one expect of anyone of her great age.

Her life is now most precarious and though she may with care, such as she is getting, live for some time longer, still you must be prepared for her sudden and painless passing away. Nurse Gildea seems to be very kind, attentive and in every way efficient and manages Mrs Bomford very well.

In fact no one could be better cared or more comfortable than she is. She seems to like her nurse, which is a great point with a childish old lady who has to be humoured and pleased like a child. She gets a fair amount of sleep and is taking plenty of nourishment. With kind regards, believe me Dear Mrs Bomford, Yours sincerely John Ringwood.

10.  23rd November 1899  J Clark to Elinor at Drumlargan (John Francis is still away)

Dear Mrs Bomford,

I have received your letter, also a letter from Misses Anne and Adela Bomford. I have seen Mr. Molony, Counsel, and discussed the matter with him. We decided to appear on Saturday (24th) but do not consider anything can be gained by asking (for) an adjournment as I said to you there will be nothing done save the formal order; it is not usual to appoint a Committee on that occasion, but it would be safer for us to be there in case any attempt was made to appoint either of the Petitioners (Elizabeth or Mrs. Ruxton) or Robert Bomford. If when the case comes on anything occurs which would make it expedient to have Mr. Bomford present, we will try and get an adjournment but I think, otherwise there is not the slightest use in doing so. As I informed you and Mr Bomford, the chief contest will come on when it comes to the appointment of a Committee. I have read a copy of Dr Ringwood’s affidavit. He swears Mrs Bomford has been incapable of managing her affairs since 1890. When was her will made?

That last query is the crux. If Arbella was incapable of managing her affairs in 1890 then it could be argued that she was a lunatic from that date. This has been the argument of Elizabeth and Co all along. If they can prove this, and Ringwood’s affidavit goes a long way to help prove it, then the second will is invalidated and Elizabeth and Robert will be the trustees of everything; this is the very thing which the rest of the family think should not be allowed to happen because they have proved themselves already to be incapable.

11.  24th November 1899  Elinor to John Francis 

My darling,

I enclose a letter from Clark and Ringwood, the latter was not quite honest in what he said to me, but though your Mother was ’incapable of’ managing her affairs since 1890’ that would not make her mind unsound then. Ringwood told me I could make whatever I liked anything he said to me, so I have copied out the beginning of his letter and sent it to Clark. The Oakley Park people thought your Mother better than when we saw her, I thought her much weaker and I think you ought to be sure of going to see her when you come home again. I do not know the date of your Mother’s will.

All going well here, Trevor only saw one pheasant the day he and Radcliff were shooting, I brought it home, and he got one the day before which I left. Fond love, ever your loving wife, Nellie. Keep Ringwood’s letter safe.

The two letters she sent to her husband were probably Ringwood’s of 22nd November and Clark’s of 23rd. (The postal service was vastly better than it is now.)

Trevor (Elinor's son) apparently did go to Oakley Park and perhaps, since there was no bed for him there, he stayed with the Radcliffs at Wilmount, the neighbouring 540 acres estate to the south of Oakley Park. He may have been out shooting with Thomas Radcliff or his son John who was about the same age.

12.  3rd December 1899  Anne to Elinor

My dearest Elinor,

I was very glad to get your letter this morning also the enclosed from Nannie Winter which I return as you wished. I think I can say our poor old Mother is pretty well, her appetite is not at all bad, but she has got into the way of sleeping a great deal in the daytime so of course she can not sleep at night, and in consequence the nurse is kept awake as well as herself. Mrs Gildea is going away tomorrow by the early train at her own request, she seemed to find the case too much for her, there is a new one coming tomorrow evening whose name is Wilson. I believe she is not a trained nurse but do not think that matters much as I think Mother really only requires an attendant and some one that is strong as it (is) sometimes very hard to move my Mother when necessary.

Now about Mother’s will, I can hardly tell you anything but as far as I can make out I think the one before the last was drawn out by Mr Fottrell about 1889. Of course you know the last one was drawn out by Mr Montgomery I think about the middle of February 1891. I must say goodnight now as at is time to send this to the post, so with my very best love to you all, I remain your attached sister Anne Bomford.

Anne was right about the dates of both wills.

‘Nannie’ Winter's letter is not amongst the documents. It is not clear who she is, but if ‘Nannie’ is the family name for Anne, then there are three alternatives:

Anna Julia, the wife of Major Francis Winter of the 59th Bengal Lancers and a brother of Arbella; he is dead but Anna did not die until January 1909;

she might be Ann, the spinster daughter of portrait painter John Pratt Winter; she died in Bray in 1904 and was a niece of Arbella; or

she might be Mary Anne, the unmarried daughter of Samuel Winter of Agher; she died in 1906 and was another niece of Arbella.

13.  14th December 1899  J Clark to John Francis

My dear Sir,

I have received Summons to proceed on the Statement brought in by Miss Bomford (Elizabeth) and Mrs Ruxton. The Summons is for Thursday next, 21st Inst, I have asked Mr Lett for a copy of the Statement; he promised to let me have it tomorrow, if so, I shall bring it with me to Trim on Saturday, and if you are not in I shall post it on as it is probable we must make an affidavit in the matter. I hope you will be able to attend yourself on the 21st.

14.  16th December 1899  Elinor to John Francis 

My darling,

You did not say anything about paying the men so I am using some of the children’s money. Trevor says he is getting another first from George Mason. I am just off to Trim where I shall post this. What dreadful news from the War, such a lot of valuable lives lost; I hope our boy will be safe. I am sending the paper; you can judge for yourself, Clark says he must see you as early as you can on Wednesday to make an affidavit. In great haste, your fond wife, Nellie.

15.  16th December 1899 (same day)  Elinor to John Francis 

My darling,

I sent on the paper from Trim, Clark was going to keep it, but I thought it better to let you think it over. Clark says you must try and make out a very strong reason against the appointments, as there would never be an end of law if they get in, he wants you as early as you can on Wednesday (20th), and all day on Thursday; he was very busy today, I had a very long wait for him. I think a person who gets a gun licence for a coachman and allows him to shoot on your property without leave is one reason against the appointment, (this refers to Robert), however we can talk it over when you return.

The dreadful war news quite upset me today; the whole week has been a chapter of calamities. I have a very bad pain and it is after 12 o’clock and time for bed. We have just been looking at the eclipse; there is a dreadful wind. I hope it will be calm for Willie on Monday night (18th). Good night darling, your loving wife Nellie. 

John Francis was again away on Land Commission business and again Elinor steps in and does all that is necessary. He returns before the 21st to answer the summons in court. Letter 14 was probably written at Drumlargan, Elinor then went to Trim, collected the paper from Clark and posted the whole lot; on return home she wrote No 15.

There is no record of Trevor continuing his education after leaving Denstone in 1897, but “another first from George Mason” does sound as though he did. It may be that George Mason was assisting him with the Indian Army Exam (33.9).

Willie was William Harold, aged 14 and the youngest boy; no doubt he was returning home for the Christmas holidays from his school in England.

The South African War had started on October 11 and Elinor’s reaction was typical of the whole of Britain to the early reverses in what was termed ‘Black Week’; Kimberly, Mafeking and Ladysmith were all besieged and attempts to relieve these towns were defeated during that week by the Boers with the loss of over 2,800 British troops against 400 Boers. One consequence of ‘Black Week’ was that local forces were recruited in South Africa and it was probably as a result of this recruitment that ‘our boy’, Samuel Richard aged 26, joined the Cape Mounted Rifles and fought in the 2nd Boer War ending as a Captain.

16.  18th December 1899  Anne to Elinor

My dear Elinor, 

I only got you letter today by second post. I was in Kells today and Elizabeth too and she was at the post office before I was so got the letters. Anne Day was the name of the Cook that was here the time of the row and she was afterwards with Elizabeth in Dublin but whether she was actually stopping in the same house I do not know, and as to Mat Geoghegan being there I know nothing about, perhaps he went up to see Anne Day sometimes. Elizabeth was stopping in a Temperance Hotel in Townsend Street and afterwards went to Bray.

About Mrs Ruxton being made a guardian I really do not know what to say. My own idea is that she is not at all a fit person. I think it ought to be some one that is not a member of the family and I feel almost sure the whole thing is got up to spite Johnnie and I think I often said that to you before. I think my Mother is pretty well but she has restless nights. She was up sitting in her chair for a while this evening and it did not seem to do her any harm. The last nurse, Mrs Gildea, lives generally in Curzen Street but I do not know the number, but if you write to Miss Powell the matron of Charlemont Street Hospital I think you will hear of her. With best love from Adela and myself to you all, I remain always your attached sister Anne Bomford.

“The time of the row” was back in January 1891 when John Francis visited Oakley Park and finding some of the servants misbehaving dismissed them. It now appears that the cook, Anne Day, was one of them, and also that Elizabeth left Oakley Park for a time after that row. Mat Geoghegan might have been the coachman for whom Robert got the gun licence, but that is not so clear.

17.  22nd December 1899  George Lett to Mrs Ruxton

Dear Madam,

This matter came on before Mr Colles yesterday but was adjourned as Mr J.F. Bomford put in a long affidavit, which requires to be answered. I enclose the affidavit in order that you may send instructions for the preparation of the answering affidavit.

Faithfully yours, Geor Carr Lett Jr.

John Francis’ affidavit was that recorded in paragraph 32.6.1.

This adjournment led to the Christmas recess and it is doubtful if the Court met again before Arbella Bomford died on the 8th January 1900. Anyway the question of the guardianship or committee concerning Arbella’s affairs was not pursued and this particular subject died a natural death on her death.

32.8  Death of Arbella Bomford  8th January 1900

Arbella died peacefully in her bed on 8th January 1900. She was not buried with her husband at Laracor, but was buried at 9 a.m. on 12th January in Dublin.

In 1884 Cecil FitzHerbert Ruxton, grandson of Arbella, purchased a grave site in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold’s Cross; this was handed over to “Mrs Arbella A. Bomford” on 29th July 1891. The grave is numbered 6255 and situated in Sub-Division 361. From this it would appear that Mrs Ruxton perhaps arranged the funeral, but it was John Francis who settled the funeral expenses amounting to £23.10.0. No doubt most of the family attended.

The National Archive has an index entry for her probate record: administration with the will was granted on 2 April 1901 to Arabella A Ruxton, widow (30.4.5); effects £636.15.0. Arabella Ruxton died in 1910 and on 20 July 1911, administration of the unadministered estate of Arabella Bomford d 8 Jun 1900 (sic), late of Oakley Park, was granted to Elizabeth Bomford, spinster, effects £1,070.12.6, former grant 2 April 1901.

32.8.1  Death Certificate  9th January 1900

J.F. Griffith, the Assistant Registrar of Births and Deaths in Kells registered the Certificate of Death in the District and Union of Kells. It reads:

Number 177  

Name Arbella Bomford. [This was initially entered incorrectly as Anne Bomford and corrected by the Registrar “in the presence of me, Robert Laurence Bomford, son”]

Sex Female, Condition Widow, Age last birthday 89 years

Rank, Profession or Occupation – A Lady

Cause of Death – Cardiac failure, 2 hours, senile decay, Some years certified

Signature of Informant:   Annett Wilson, present at death, of 52 York Street Dublin (the nurse)

When registered – Ninth January 1900

32.9  The Disposal of Arbella’s Property

With the death of Arbella the question of the guardianship died.

However the matter of the inheritance then raised its head. There was no question about the house or land, those went to John Francis. The argument arose concerning the farm stock and the movable contents of the house, which were the ‘estate’ of Arbella. A figure in cash had to be arrived at for the probate, but I suspect, the validity of the second will remained the issue between the two divided parties in the family. The second will clearly defined what Elizabeth and Co were to receive - the contents of their bedroom, plus odd specified furnishings, and a division of £1,000 between four of the daughters; the rest all went to John Francis. That is all quite clear and there should be no need to wrangle over the disposal of the property; but there was a dispute, though not a big one, and so it is thought that the first will must have contained a clause which divided additional disposable property between those living at Oakley Park.

However there is another and more likely possibility; that, since the receiver had been brought in, Arbella’s estate had actually been more in debt than previously thought, and so the movable items in the house had to be sold to pay those debts; the first probate of April 1901 gave the value of her estate as £636 (32.9.6) and this included the amounts gathered from the various sales up to that date. This figure must have been approximately the amount received for the livestock, farm equipment and house furnishings etc so at the time of her death the estate was worth nothing or have been in the red. The second probate of July 1911 was for £1,070 (32.9.7), a healthier figure. This last supposition is given weight by the following letter written before Arbella was buried, by Elizabeth’s lawyers, George Drevar Fottrell.

10th January 1900, Fottrell & Son to John Clark

Dear Mr Clark,

We have just seen in today’s ‘Irish Times’ the announcement of the death of Mrs Arbella Bomford. As we have already informed you an order has been made by the Master of the Rolls directing the furniture etc at Oakley Park to be sold, and your client Mr John F. Bomford now succeeds to the mansion and demesne lands of Oakley Park, we shall thank you to bring this letter under his notice with a view to having the furniture etc kept safe pending the realization thereof. You may remember that it was at your request we did not put the order of the Court into force, and we shall be glad to receive any suggestion, which may occur to you with reference to the matter. Of course on behalf of the creditors it will be necessary to bring the facts before the Court at an early date.

From this it would appear that all the furniture was to be sold to pay the creditors and that the estate was in debt. Incidentally this would also mean that effectively John Francis was to succeed to an empty shell of a house, unless he bought the furniture himself.

17th January 1900, John Clark to Elinor

Dear Mrs Bomford, I had a letter on my return from Mr Lett in which he enquires whether Mr Bomford is prepared to have the will he got made in ‘91 condemned, so that the will of ‘89 should be propounded. He followed up his letter with a call today. I told him I am sure the last will would be propounded in due course, and that I thought it would be better if there was not such undue haste exhibited. They are evidently disappointed at the turn events have taken, and we may expect another row over the will.

In fact eventually the 1891 will was propounded. ‘They’ had good cause to be disappointed since there could be no cash grant for them until the lawyers had settled everything, and this would take time; ‘they’ must also have realized that they would have to move from Oakley Park fairly soon and that, although they were left their bedroom furniture, money would be needed to furnish the rest of their new house. Speaking personally and judging from the evidence available my sympathies are not with ‘them’. It was after all they who brought in the lawyers in the first place, intrigued and mismanaged the estate, but above all caused worry to their old mother. One could excuse mismanagement but never excuse a plot to make their mother out to be a lunatic.

Meanwhile a voluminous correspondence was written, much of which is missing and much of which concerned minor matters; therefore it has been edited and split under different headings with extracts quoted from the letters.

32.9.1  Family Movements  1900

John Francis, Elinor and their family remained at Drumlargan for a few months. John Francis finally moved to Oakley Park on 4th May 1900, but it would appear that Elinor was there in April with her daughter-in-law Maude; Maude’s eldest son, George, was born at Oakley Park on 22nd April.

Mrs Ruxton was given her marching orders by John Francis “on condition that all keys of the doors, tables, and other pieces of furniture are at once given to me, and that my ownership of the House is in no way disputed, (on this condition) I am willing to permit Mrs Ruxton to remain in the house until 19th of January 1900, and that the others remain subject to my permission until I shall require them to leave”. Even this was not as simple as it sounds because Mrs Ruxton claimed some furniture as her own and John Francis had to get permission from the Receiver for her to take it away; as he said, “if I may offer an opinion, I consider it would be much better to let them (the pieces of furniture) go now than have the empty bother about them later on”. Mrs Ruxton went to live in Dublin at No 9 Ashfield Terrace, Harold’s Cross. She died there on 19th February 1910.

Elizabeth probably departed soon after Arbella’s death, and probably before Mrs Ruxton left on 19th January since it would have been her who would have had the keys. She is not specifically mentioned again but she ended up living with Mrs Ruxton at the Harold’s Cross house. It is not known where or when she died.

Robert and Margaret went to live in a house in Kells nearly opposite the Round Tower. Margaret also claimed some of the furniture as her own.

Anne’s future is doubtful. She certainly moved out of Oakley Park and it thought that for a time she lived at Drumlargan when John Francis moved out; but it is not known where she went when Drumlargan was sold in 1904. Anne died, aged 78, on 8th January 1912.

Adela’s future is also uncertain. There is an unclear reference to her in the letters indicating that she had a mental breakdown soon after Arbella’s death, and in April Elinor commented, “I hope Adela will not go wrong”. It is thought that initially she lived with Anne but at some later stage she was admitted to the Ardee Mental Hospital where she died, date not known.

All these had moved from Oakley Park before John Francis moved in, with the possible exception of Anne and Adela. However these two could only have stayed for a short time since John Francis’ family would have filled the house, and his eldest son had also started his own family.

32.9.2  General

Even though John Francis moved into Oakley Park the place was still in the hands of the Receiver to the Court of Chancery, Michael Freeman of Kells and Trim. This meant that he could only farm the portion of Oakley Park which had been leased to him some years previously; this portion was the 209 acres at the northern end of the townland which John Francis first leased in 1872, and the western 207 acres which he originally leased in 1861 but had passed to his son George Lyndon in 1896. These leases would continue but the rent would have to be paid to the Receiver. However the 269 acres around the house which Arbella controlled during her life and which was now in the hands of the Receiver could not be farmed by John Francis until the Receiver had sorted out the money and this, in the hands of the Law, took time. However John Francis was still away for much of the time on Land Commission work, so this may not have worried him unduly, and with an independent income he could face a delay.

Another problem which runs through the correspondence, is that Lyndon Bolton died on 4th April 1900. He was one of the executors of Arbella’s will and was living at Drumlargan with his sister when he died. At some stage around 1899 he in turn became involved with a court case over Arbella’s will and there are a number of letters headed “Case of Bomford versus Bolton”; the cause is not known. Elinor was an executor of Lyndon Bolton’s will and as such she inherited his court case and became “The Defendant in the Suit that has been instituted to dispute her (Arbella’s) will”. Thus Elinor became an official ‘partner’ with her husband, if not a full-blown executor, of Arbella’s will, as well as being an executor of Lyndon Bolton’s will. However the Bolton dispute, whatever it was, introduced yet another set of lawyers to further complicate the issue; an issue which really was rather petty and could only cost Arbella’s estate a mass of money.

32.9.3  Sale of Livestock and Vehicles  January 1900

An auction was held towards the end of January of the farm stock, tools and vehicles. The list written by John Francis includes: 17 cattle including four milking cows, one breeding pig, one ‘aged’ draught mare and a harness mare, one jaunting car, one hack car, one dray, and two carts, plus a number of farming implements like ploughs and harrows. John Francis comments that the lot are not worth much, and that the draught mare is the only animal left from his father’s days. It is noteworthy that there was no closed carriage; it must have been sold since his father died, as must a number of animals since this is such a low figure for the acreage.

Altogether the list shows that a very small amount of farming was carried out during the 1890s. For instance no ground could be under tillage without a couple of strong draught horses to pull the plough, and for the same reason it is unlikely that hay was harvested. This state of affairs must have begun after George’s death because the other items listed such as a metal roller, iron American rake, cake crusher and sack weighing machine do indicate that considerable tillage and hay-making had at one time been done. These observations give substance to John Francis’ charge that the estate was “so mismanaged that valuable farm and effects left (by George) were completely frittered away” (32.6.1), and that no attempt had been made to farm the place.

32.9.4  Leasing of the Oakley Park Land

Until probate on Arbella’s will could be set, all income from her estate went into her account under the Receiver who had to ensure that the place was run as profitably as possible. Thus the land had to be leased. The Sixteen Acre field of 21 acres was let under grass without trouble for £38, but it was not so easy to let the rest of the land, particularly the park-land of the two ‘lawns’ through which the avenues wandered. Indeed at one stage John Francis discussed the possibility of selling the whole of Oakley Park. One imagines that he and Elinor were so fed up with the tangle of family affairs that they felt they should cut their losses and remain at Drumlargan where they had been quite content. His son, George Lyndon, wrote in 1936 of Oakley Park being a “white elephant” and of “this huge barrack”, but George Lyndon in 1900 had never lived at Oakley Park, and his father’s memory of the place was in its heyday during the 1850s and 1860s when it was very different to the run down place he had just inherited; so neither of them at that time had the same fondness for the place that later generations were to develop. However the selling idea came to nothing.

By April 1900 the rest of the land around the house had not been leased and it was agreed, after much discussion, that John Francis would lease it himself, including the Sixteen Acres field for £150 a year. The other two portions of 207 and 209 acres never entered into these proceedings, as they had been leased already to John Francis neither did Charles Reilly’s plot of 52 acres. Thus John Francis (and his son George Lyndon, and Reilly) rented the whole townland until he officially inherited it.

32.9.5  Sale of Household Effects

In June 1898 Michael Freeman carried out an “Inventory and Valuation of Household Furniture, Plate, Books and Outdoor Effects, by order of Messrs G. D. Fottrell and Sons, Solicitors”. The outdoor effects had been sold by auction in January 1900. Concerning the house effects a small notebook lists each room, its contents and value. The valuation is ridiculously low to our eyes today, for instance the dining room table with its rack of leaves together with 18 chairs and two chairs with arms is valued at £17, and the two dining room sideboards with carved legs portraying griffins are the most valuable items at £20 the pair. The total value broke down as:

Furniture  £199.12.6
Silver Plate  £50.0.0
China Tea Service  £1.10.0
Dinner Service   £4.0.0
Books in Library £50.0.0
Total  £305.2.6

 

In January John Francis made an offer for the various items.

24th January 1900, John Francis to Fottrell & Sons

If the price of two items (in the inventory) were amended, which are really un-saleable to the public, and one item of £1 struck out, which is a fixture - I would agree to take the furniture at Mr Freeman’s Valuation. I would also take the ‘tea service’. I would give a reasonable price for a good deal of the silver, but I am told by those who know more about silver articles than I do, that the price put on (the cutlery of) ‘5/- per doz’, is far above the value, and that all the articles being crested spoils them for sale very much.

I have gone carefully through the library. Fully two thirds of the books are old books, which become of no value when out of date, and the best books, the rare ones, are of such a nature that unless you caught a buyer with a special fancy for the work, you would not get a bid. If I know the lowest price that would be taken for them, I would endeavour to meet you. I believe that the bulk of the books would not pay for removing them....

Late February 1900, John Francis to Fottrell & Sons

In reply to yours of 23rd forwarded to me in Derry (in which it is suggested that a list of the books be made), I have written home to have the keys of Oakley Park library sent to Mr Freeman to enable him to prepare a list of the books as you directed him.

I hope Messrs Molloy & Co understand that my offer for the books is contingent upon their acceptance of my offer for the furniture and that it is only to furnish the library that I value the books at all. If they were removed even from the shelves, I would set no value upon the bulk of them, and if the most interesting or ornamental went to another buyer I would not care for the rest on any terms.

To a certain extent my offer for the furniture is only for it in an undisturbed state. In case of an auction I would not take a great part of what I now propose to take at the valuation. Much of the furniture is quite out of fashion; such as the beds many of which are old four post bedsteads, very good in their day, but now un-saleable.

In any case I think it would be advisable if the matter were decided as early as possible. The house and the furniture, including the books, will be seriously injured if it is left shut up and unaired, and my chief reason for offering to take the furniture at the valuation was that I might be in a position to go and get the house and entire premises into presentable condition which they badly need.

From the many other letters it is clear that from the very start John Francis was not particularly interested in the furniture except that it was a convenience to “have some sticks in the house” and, one supposes, that the furniture from Drumlargan would be available to furnish at least some of Oakley Park. It was all “about 60 years old, bought between 1836 and 1840,” and it was “old fashioned and fitted for very few houses.”

At the end of January John Francis made an offer of £200 for all the furniture. This was not considered enough and the solicitors felt that selling the lot by auction in Dublin would get more. It was pointed out that the carriage for it all would come to £70, that much would be damaged in the “cartage” and that many of the large bedroom cupboards would have to be dismantled to get them out of the house. In March George Lyndon wrote:

Dear Father

Mr Smith of Fottrell & Co says it will probably take a long time to settle about the furniture, he advises you to go to Oakley Park and sit close, and he does not see how anyone could object. The only thing they could do, would be to ask the Court to have the furniture removed, and that would take some time, and the sale would most likely be completed before that would be done. He says that is what he would do himself and he only gives that advice personally and not from the office.

Your affectionate son, George L Bomford.

It will be remembered that Fottrell & Sons were the solicitors of Elizabeth, Mrs Ruxton and Robert, and, although they are not mentioned directly, it is they who are instructing their solicitor.

During April Elinor and her daughter-in-law Maude did go to “sit close” in Oakley Park. Maude was about to have her second child and no doubt was concerned about the birth having tragically lost her first child only six months before, in September 1899. In fact George Warren was born at Oakley Park on 22nd April 1900, so the two women must have moved there in mid-April or before. The birth could not have been an easy one as on 30th April George Lyndon, on Land Commission work at Ballyconnell, Co Cavan wrote to his Father.

Dear father,

I am sorry to hear you are having so much worry over the furniture at Oakley Park. It is also extremely awkward for me as Maude is quite unfit to be moved for some time. It seems to me a very false move to take things up to Dublin for sale, the expense of moving and packing and storing would I imagine far more than counteract any additional price that might be obtained. It would also prevent you from buying any of it, as the cost of getting it back would be too great. Of course the furniture in the house as it stands at present is more valuable to you than anyone else, and for this reason and also to prevent bother to Maude and the baby, I am willing if they insist on an auction, to pay them at once a sum of fifty (50) pounds in addition to your offer. Of course we could subsequently, if this took place, agree to a division if necessary.

Your affect. son G. L. Bomford

The offer of an additional £50 to the £200 was accepted in May and a cheque was sent on 29th May 1900. Another letter made clear that the additional sum was to include both the dinner and tea services. The question of the books and the silver was not yet agreed, but this did mean that Maude and the baby would not have to be moved out. John Francis moved in officially on May 4 and, since there was now no fear that they might come to remove the furniture, started to pack up Drumlargan and have the contents plus any furnishings he needed transferred to Oakley Park.

These are the bald facts, but the next letter from Elinor gives some idea of the troublesome nature of the arrangements on a more personal basis.

18th April 1900, From Elinor at Oakley Park to John Francis

My own darling,

I came back from Dublin too late to write to you but I suppose my second wire (telegram) eased your mind; I never had such a day running after the beastly law men. I first went to Clark, he was in; I ran then to Fottrell who was not very amiable who said, “I really know very little about this case and care very little. The old lady is dead; Smith knows about it, he will be here in half an hour. You had better call on Mr Molloy”. I said I was afraid of lawyers as I might say the wrong thing, at which he smiled and I left and went to get some things for Maude (her daughter-in-law) at McBirneys. Then called again and heard Mr Smith would not be in till 2 o’clock. Went off then to Molloys and saw him, he said “What can I do for you”, I said “plenty if you will do it”. I told him of Maude (who was very soon to have a child) and also explained that if the furniture was removed they would lose us as buyers and we most likely would give more than most people as the good things are crested and strangers would not care to buy them, but if removed we would not follow to Dublin and cart back old furniture. Mr Molloy said he had not the carriage of it that Mr Fry had, so (he) brought me to him and was leaving me when I requested him to remain also there; Mr Fry was rather hard to manage but Mr Molloy said he quite understood it all and said I might tell Mr Fottrell that they did not wish to press for a sale in Dublin and that they would postpone it. Mr Fry was not agreeable but I asked Molloy to give me a letter to Mr Fottrell saying he would not press for sale etc, and after a little talking I got this and went back to Fottrells and fortunately just caught Smith. Now I really think he is the man we must manage, he said that unless I had brought the note from Molloy he could not do anything but the note will save him etc; but he bothered about no one about here (Oakley Park) to buy etc. However he partly gave in and promised he would do what he could for me.

The silver is to go up as soon as you come home and he wants to know what about the books. Now you must settle everything at once and I think you had better go on your way up from the North; if you wished I could meet you in Dublin and we could talk it over before going the rounds again. It would cost them about £70 to cart the furniture to town, that is what Hugh paid, and by having the sale here (at Oakley Park) that would be saved. I also told them there were only old wooden beds here, at which Mr. Molloy made a queer face. Altogether I had a dose of the lot of them.

Mr J Murphy is sending two of his good mares to you this week, one has not yet foaled. Maude is sick and may foal soon, (she did four days later). I remain with fond love ever your loving wife, Nellie.

To wind up the sale of the household effects, the following undated letter from John Francis, which must have been written in late April, states that “the Plate and the Library from here have now been handed over to Mr McKeogh for auction in Dublin. I have no doubt it is the right course for the plate but I fear that the books wont clear the expense of removal. I hope to send a bidder for some of the plate and possibly for a few books. Of course my proposal for the library has lapsed ...”.

The books and plate were crated and sent by train to Dublin in May.

John Francis did send a bidder for some of the plate and some books, which eventually were returned to Oakley Park.

32.9.6.  Initial Probate of Arbella’s Estate  2nd April 1901

This copy of the probate was extracted from the Public Records Office and gives the estate as £636.15.0; a figure which is pretty close to the 1898 valuation figure of the household effects plus the farm stock and equipment.

"In the High Court of Justice in Ireland, King’s Bench Division.

Be it known that Arbella Bomford late of Oakley Park, Kells in the County of Meath, widow, deceased, who died on or about the 8th day of January 1900 at the same place and duly executed her last will, a copy of which is annexed, and did therein name as sole executor James Sanderson Winter who has duly renounced his right to probate. And be it further known that on the 2nd day of April 1901 letters of Administration of all personal estate of the deceased was granted by the aforesaid Court to Arabella Mrs Ruxton of 9 Ashfield Terrace, Harold’s Cross in the City of Dublin, widow, daughter of the deceased, one of the residual legatees named in the said will, she having been previously sworn well and faithfully to administer the same according to the tenor of the said will and it is hereby certified that an affidavit for Inland Revenue has been delivered wherein it is shown that the gross value of the personal estate of the said deceased, exclusive of what the deceased may have been possessed of, or entitled to, as a trustee and not beneficially, amounts to £636.15.0 and that it appears by a receipt signed by the Inland Revenue Officer on the said affidavit that £4.2.9 for estate duty and interest thereon has been paid, the duty being charged thereon at the rate of £1 per cent. This will was proved in solemn form of law; see judgement dated 15th January 1901 Bomford v Bolton (32.9.2).

Signed:   Henry G Warren,  Registrar."

So ended the personal estate of Arbella, but there remained the exclusion clause in the probate; this is amplified in the next letter from John Francis addressed to J Clark for Mr Lett.

32.9.7  Suggested Settlement by John Francis  23rd April 1901

“If they release me from all liability for the £1,500 and all back interest, I would make no claim against my mother’s estate for the balance of arrears due by her (this is the £600 a year for occupying Oakley Park). And, if I am accepted as Court Tenant here on terms which I could accept, with a view to purchase under the Act as I propose, I would pay 4% interest on the £1,000 mortgage (of) my mother’s estate, to be divided among my six brothers and sisters, out of my private means if necessary until the sale of the estate is completed or broken off.”

This sounds complicated and it is not certain what he meant, but I believe that John Francis was trying to swap the £1,500 mortgage by Col Robert Caulfeild on Oakley Park (31.3) plus the back interest, for the amount owed by Arbella for living in the house after her husband died.

No doubt John Francis had done his sums but it sounds as though his suggestion was favourable to the estate. The Caulfeild mortgage was £1,500 plus, say, 15 years of interest totalling £900, making a total of £2,400, against this was Arbella’s £600 a year for say eight years making a total of £4,800. £2,400 against £4,800 is too favourable to the estate, so I am adrift or the £1500 mortgage had increased to the penal figure, usually double the original figure; this would make the figures £3,900 against £4,800 and more likely, but still not certain.

John Francis was also offering to pay interest at 4% on the £1,000 owed by the estate provided he was made Court Tenant. The meaning of ‘Court Tenant’ is not clear, but probably a tenant to the receiver until the final probate when he would officially inherit the place.

All this sounds reasonable but there must have been problems because the matter dragged on for another ten years when the final probate was granted. There are no documents during this time so we do not know what the problems were.

The National Library of Ireland holds 23 items of legal correspondence dated from 6 Apr 1898 to 3 Nov 1898 between Whitney, Moore & Keller, solicitors, Dublin and George H Fowler re leases, Bomford’s estate, and cases between the Marquess of Headfort and various individuals including Mary E. Smith and Francis Porter, 3 Jun to 23 Dec 1904 (http://www.nli.ie/pdfs/mss lists/179_HeadfortPapers(Additional).pdf, page 154, MS 48,974 / 3). It also holds MS 48,975 /5,  legal correspondence relating to purchase agreements with accompanying letters from tenants, leases, deceased tenant Marcus Graham, and Bomford’s estate (Oakley Park), July 1 – 31 1908, 45 items;

32.9.8  Final Probate of Arbella Bomford  20th July 1911

“Administration with the will of the un-administered estate of Arbella Bomford, late of Oakley Park, Kells, Co Meath, widow, who died 8th January 1900, granted at Dublin to Elizabeth Bomford, spinster. Effects £1,070.12.6. Former grant 2nd April 1901”.

Mrs Ruxton did not live to see the final result and the administration was granted to Elizabeth.

One cannot help but wonder what the final effects of Arbella would have been if the entire legal tangle had been avoided, certainly a great deal more. But apart from getting so little they all had to wait so long for the law to complete its business. At the best the five daughters and Robert got a share of the £636 in 1901 and then had to wait until 1911 for their share of, not £1,070 but of £1,070 less the initial £636. In other words they each got a total, at the most, of £178 from their mother. If that is all they received they must have been really hard up for the rest of their lives; but then they may have received from their father another sum which according to his marriage settlement (24.1) amounted to £4,000 to be charged on Drumlargan and Knockstown and “divided between the younger children”, six of them at around £666 each; however they may not even got that amount since in 1901 the trustees had to mortgage Drumlargan and Knockstown for £3,300 (30.2.7), one assumes to raise the money. We are left wondering who had to repay that loan: Flora; or her daughter Anne, the technical owner of the land - or John Francis?

Altogether a very sad ending to George and Arbella’s estate which had started off so hopefully though, in truth, probably too grandly.

Next Chapter: Chapter 33

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