Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Castletown Cox


LORD HENRY STUART (1777-1809), fifth son of John, 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Bute, married, in 1802, the Lady Gertrude Amelia Mason-Villiers, only daughter and heir of George, 2nd and last Earl Grandison, and had issue,
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
Gertrude Amelia.
The second son,

WILLIAM VILLIERS-STUART JP DL (1804-73), High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1848, MP for County Waterford, 1835-47, wedded, in 1833, Catherine (d 1879), only daughter of MICHAEL COX, of Castletown, County Kilkenny (by the Hon Mary Prittie his wife, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Dunalley, and sister and heir of Sir Richard Cox, 8th Baronet, of Dunmanway, County Cork, and had issue,
Gertrude Mary; Geraldine; Evelyn.
Mr Villiers-Stuart and his siblings assumed, in 1822, the additional surname and arms of VILLIERS.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY JOHN RICHARD VILLIERS-STUART JP DL (1837-1914), of Castletown and Castlane, County Kilkenny, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1887, who espoused, in 1870, Jane Rigby, eldest daughter of Benjamin Rigby Murray, of Parton Place, Kirkudbright, and had issue,
WILLIAM DESMOND (1872-1961), Brigadier, CBE, DSO;
Charles Herbert;
John Patrick;
Kathleen Jane; Gertrude Elsie; Marie Violet.

MICHAEL COX, the youngest son of a respectable Wiltshire family (amongst whose progenitors was the learned Dr Richard Cox, one of the compilers of the Liturgy, tutor to EDWARD VI, and in the reign of ELIZABETH I, Lord Bishop of Ely), seated at Kilworth, County Cork, some time within the first quarter of the 17th century, and left, with other children, at his decease,

RICHARD COX, a man of great bodily strength and courage, who became a captain in Major-General John Jephson's regiment of dragoons, and fought successively under the royal banner of CHARLES I, and the republican one of Cromwell.

He married Catherine, daughter of Walter Bird, of Clonakilty, and died in 1651 (in consequence of a treacherous wound received from a brother officer of his own regiment, a Captain Narton) when his orphan son,

RICHARD COX (1650-1733), then not quite three years of age, was taken under the care of his maternal grandfather, Walter Bird; but that relation dying a few years later, he was placed by his uncle, John Bird, at an ordinary Latin school in the town of Clonakilty, where he soon evinced a strong disposition to learning.

In 1671, he entered himself at Lincoln's Inn, and was, in regular time, called to the bar.

Upon his return to Ireland, Mr Cox married; but in consequence of some disappointment regarding the fate of his wife, retired, in a fit of despondency, very uncharacteristic of his active mind, to a farm near Clonakilty, and there remained in obscurity for almost seven years.

The patronage of Sir Robert Southwell at length, however, recalled him into active life; and in 1680 he was Recorder of Kinsale, County Cork, when he settled at Cork and practiced as a barrister with considerable success.

In 1687, he withdrew, in consequence of the religious dissensions prevalent at that period in his native country, to Bristol, and there, at his leisure hours, compiled a "History of Ireland."

At the period of the Revolution he returned to Ireland, as secretary to Sir Robert Southwell, who accompanied William, Prince of Orange, in the capacity of principal secretary of state.

Upon his royal master's march to Dublin, after the battle of the Boyne, that prince published his manifesto, called "The King's Declaration at Finglass," which emanated from the pen of Mr Cox, and which so pleased His Majesty that he was heard to say that "Mr Cox has exactly hit my own mind."

After the surrender of Waterford, Mr Cox was made Recorder of that city, and thence, in 1690, removed to the second seat upon the bench of the Court of Common Pleas.

In 1692, he received the honour of knighthood; in 1701, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas; and in 1703 was appointed LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND.

In the absence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he was twice nominated one of the Lords-Justices; and created a baronet in 1706, designated of Dunmanway, County Cork.

Upon the termination of the Duke of Ormonde's government, however, in 1707, Sir Richard Cox was removed from the chancellorship, but he subsequently accepted the office of Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, from which he was removed, with the other judges, upon the accession of GEORGE I, and his conduct was subsequently censured by a vote of the House of Commons.

Sir Richard married, in 1673, Mary, daughter of John Bourne, and had issue,
Richard (1677-1725), father of RICHARD, 2nd Baronet;
MICHAEL, of whom hereafter.
The youngest son,

THE MOST REV DR MICHAEL COX (1689-1779), Lord Archbishop of Cashel and Primate of Munster, Chaplain to James, 2nd Duke of Ormonde, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who espoused, in 1712, Anne, daughter of the Hon James O'Brien MP,  and granddaughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin, by whom he left at his decease, in 1779, an only son,

RICHARD COX (1745-), of Castletown, County Kilkenny, who married, in 1776, Mary, daughter of Francis Burton, brother of Sir Charles Burton, 1st Baronet, and had (with two daughters), five sons,
MICHAEL, of whom hereafter;
Francis (Sir), 9th Baronet;
Richard (Rev), Rector of Caherconlish;
The eldest son,

MICHAEL COX (1768-), of Castletown, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1819, wedded Mary, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Dunalley, and had issue,
Richard (Sir), 8th Baronet, of Castletown, dsp 1846;
Henry, died unmarried;
CATHERINE, of whom we treat.
The only daughter,

CATHERINE COX (c1808-1879), of Castletown, heir to her brother, wedded, in 1833, LIEUTENANT-COLONEL WILLIAM VILLIERS-STUART (see above).

Entrance Front

CASTLETOWN, Piltown, County Kilkenny (popularly known as Castletown Cox to distinguish it from the celebrated Castletown in County Kildare), was the creation of the renowned architect, Davis Ducart, who was commissioned, in 1767, by the Most Rev Michael Cox, Lord Archbishop of Cashel (whose father, Sir Richard Cox, 1st Baronet, had leased the land from the Duke of Ormonde).

The Archbishop's armorial bearings adorn the garden front.

His Grace acquired the property following his first marriage to Anne Cooke, who had inherited it from her brother.

The Archbishop's second wife, Anne O'Brien, was granddaughter of the Earl of Inchiquin.

Castletown Cox has a principal centre block comprising three storeys over a basement, and seven bays.

At each side, in the Palladian style, there are stable and kitchen wings which lengthen two fronts of the mansion and then run outwards at right angles, thus forming a partly-enclosed forecourt.

The central block is said to be a variant of William Wynde's Buckingham House in London.

The roof is balustraded.

Castletown Cox is made of dressed sandstone and unpolished Kilkenny marble.

The main block is very finely cut, and the wings have rougher stonework with ashlar dressings.

Garden Front

The wings on the garden front are arcaded and terminate in pavilions with cupolas and octagonal domes.

The garden front is adorned with large, fluted Corinthian pilasters and exceptionally beautiful arcades.

Castletown was sold by the family in 1909 to Colonel William Henry Wyndham-Quin, later 5th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl.

Arcade, Pavilion and Knot-Garden

The Colonel laid out the very attractive, formal knot-gardens.

There is exquisite rococo plasterwork in the main reception rooms by the celebrated Waterford stuccodore, Patrick Osborne.


The hall, staircase hall, and dining-room have decorative plaster panelling on their walls, and plasterwork ceilings.

The Hall

The hall boasts a screen of monolithic, fluted Corinthian columns of unpolished Kilkenny marble, similar to that used on the exterior.

Drawing-Room Ceiling

When Colonel Wyndham-Quin succeeded to the title in 1926, he sold Castletown to Major-General E R Blaque, son-in-law of Admiral Lord Beresford.

General Blaque's son, Charles, sold the estate in 1976 to Nicholas Walsh, who never moved into the mansion.

The self-styled Baron Brian de Breffny and his wife purchased the house from Mr Walsh in 1979.

Castletown Cox estate was purchased by Mr George Morgan Magan (created a life peer in 2011, as BARON MAGAN OF CASTLETOWN) in 1999.

The property was purchased in 2020 by Mr Kelcy Warren.

First published in April, 2018.  With gratitude to Richard Corrigan, without whom this article might not have been written.


The Modern Aesthete said...


Do you know if the upper storey is original?

Andrew said...

Splendid gardens which I believe were restored with the help of Lady Salisbury.

Timothy Belmont said...

Andrew, thanks. The common denominator presumably being the Conservative Party?

Andrew said...

Well, Highgrove was probably a very good advert for Lady S's work. Not sure which came first.

Anonymous said...

Mr Kelcy Warren seems to own quite a few properties here and there, wonder does he ever visit his Irish one?!