Friday, 18 October 2019

Castle ffrench


The family of FFRENCH are said to have resided at their seat of Castle ffrench for many generations.

They are paternally descended from Sir Theophilus ffrench, who is said to have accompanied WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR to England.

The original settlement of the family in Ireland was in County Wexford, whence they removed to Galway in 1425.

PETER MARTIN FFRENCH, of Clogher, County Galway, living in 1579, was father of

OLIVER FFRENCH, who had two sons,

SIR OLIVER FFRENCH, who signed the capitulation of Galway to Cromwell's forces in 1652, and who died without issue; and

JASPER FFRENCH, who purchased the castle and lands of Clogher (now Castle ffrench) in 1635.

The great-grandson of this Jasper ffrench,

CHARLES FFRENCH, Mayor of Galway, 1773-4, was created a baronet in 1779, designated of Castle ffrench, County Galway.

He married, in 1761, Rose, daughter of Patrick Dillon, of Killeen, County Roscommon, and had issue,
THOMAS HAMILTON, his successor;
Jane; Catherine.
Sir Charles died in 1784, and his widow,

ROSE, LADY FFRENCH, was elevated to the peerage, in 1798, in the dignity of BARONESS FFRENCH, of Castle ffrench, County Galway, for services rendered to the Government by her son, with remainder to her issue by her late husband, Sir Charles.

Her ladyship died in 1805, and was succeeded by her only son,

SIR THOMAS FFRENCH, 2nd Baronet (c1765-1814), who wedded, in 1785, Margaret, eldest daughter of Thomas Reddington, of Kilcornan, County Galway, and had issue,
CHARLES AUSTIN, his successor;
Rose; Sarah; Margaret.
Sir Thomas, who succeeded to the barony of ffrench on the demise of his mother, in 1805, was a Roman Catholic, and a most strenuous supporter of the system of complete emancipation, so as to preclude religious distinctions from interfering with civil rights.

He was also an eminent banker, and the embarrassments which occurred previously to his decease are said to have hastened that event, which happened in 1814.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES AUSTIN, 3rd Baron (1786-1860),  who espoused, in 1809, Maria, daughter of John Browne, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Margaret Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 4th Baron (1810-92), DL, who married, in 1851, Mary Anne, daughter of Richard Thompson, though the marriage was without issue, and he was succeeded by his brother,

MARTIN JOSEPH, 5th Baron (1813-93), JP, a barrister, who wedded, in 1862, Catherine Mary Anne, daughter of John O'Shaughnessy, and had issue,
John Martin Valentine Joseph, father of the 7th Baron;
Ellen Mary Anne Josephine; Maria Anne Josephine Catherine;
Frances Mary Anne Catherine Josephine; Margaret Elizabeth Mary Anne Josephine.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES AUSTIN THOMAS ROBERT, 6th Baron (1868-1955), who espoused firstly, in 1892, Margaret, daughter of Matthew James Corbally, and had issue, an only child, MARTIN JOSEPH MATTHEW (1893-4), who died in infancy.

He married secondly, in 1951, Catherine Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Christopher John Nixon Bt, without further issue, when the title devolved upon his cousin,

PETER MARTIN JOSEPH CHARLES JOHN, 7th Baron (1926-86), who espoused, in 1954, Katherine Sonya, daughter of Major Digby Coddington Cayley, and had issue,
Rose Sophia Iris Mary; Clare Katherine Grace Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

ROBUCK JOHN PETER CHARLES MARIO, 8th Baron (1956-), of Clonbrock, Ahascragh, County Galway, who married, in 1987, Dörthe Marie-Louise, daughter of Captain Wilhelm Schauer, and has issue,
Tara Elise Sophia Eleonora, born in 1993.

CASTLE FFRENCH, Ahascragh, County Galway, is a noble mansion, ashlar-faced, comprising three storeys over a high basement.

There are two adjoining fronts.

The house, built in 1779 for Sir Charles ffrench, Mayor of Galway.

There were two other buildings in the vicinity of the present house, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The present mansion has a five-bay entrance front, including a three-bay breakfront.

The pilastered doorcase has a fanlight; and the roof has a parapet with urns.

The side elevation comprises three bays, with a four-bay rear elevation.

Castle ffrench is renowned for its fine plasterwork in the reception rooms, adorned with foliage, trophies, Irish harps, birds etc.

During the early 1800s the 2nd Baron ffrench lost a considerable amount of money as a result of the negligence of his bank manager; and the family fortune suffered another misfortune following the Irish famine, when the 3rd Baron refused to collect rents from his tenants.

Consequently Castle ffrench had to be sold.

It was, however, re-purchased by the parents of the 6th Baron in 1919.

ffrench arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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