The Marcus Annesleys

 of Castlewellan



Tuesday came on to be tried at the Commission Court, an indictment against Sophia Countess of Annesley, for bigamy; the interest excited by this cause had filled the court at an early hour, but in consequence of some preceding business, the trial was not proceeded in before one o'clock. After the indictment had been read, Mr. M'Nally opened the prosecution in a speech of considerable length, stating, that he should prove the first marriage, by the evidence of Martin Connor, the alleged first husband, Patt. Connor, his brother, and Mrs.Irwin M'Bae, who assisted at the wedding ; and that the second should he proved by Mr. Marcus Annesley. As Mr. Martin Connor was in court, it would be unnecessary to go into evidence to prove that he was alive at the time of the second marriage; but that Lady Annesley was conscious of this fact, at the time of her marriage with the late Earl Annesley, he would prove by the evidence of Mrs.M'Bae, who was the first witness called. Being examined by Mr. M'Nally, she stated that she had known Lord Annesley in the North of Ireland and, many years ago; about fifteen years ago; her Ladyship, then Miss Sophia Kelly, came to live at her house, at Killester; that on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, 1795, she, the witness, was present at the marriage between Martin Connor and Miss Kelly; this it was celebrated according to the rites of the Romish Church, by a Mr. Larkin, not the Parish Priest of Killester; Mr. Larkin was since dead; her husband ; another witness to the marriage was also dead; but Martin Connor, the bride-groom, and his brother, who with herself formed the only remaining witnesses, was still alive, and in court; Father Larkin had written to the North to enquire whether there was any impediment to the marriage, and received an answer before he celebrated it.
Cross examined by Mr.Goold.-- She said it was love of justice only that induced her to institute the prosecution; that she was swayed by no other earthly motive; that it was true she attended the Court of King's Bench while Mr.Jeffrey's affair was under discussion; that she was induced thereto by motives of curiosity only; that she had never previously been in the habit of attending the Court, but upon that occasion she went from day to day, until the criminal information was obtained against Mr.Jeffrey for a conspiracy; that she heard that Mr.Jeffrey accused his mother of murder for the purpose of extorting property from her; that she did not know whether to believe it or not, although she was present during the whole time the matter was before the Court; he might and might not be guilty; that it was an atrocious crime to be charged with - but that Mr.Jeffrey was an honorable man; did not know Mr.Jeffrey more than a few months; did not know him when he met her pursuant to appointment on Ormond-quay; saw him, however, for six days repeatedly in the Courts; did not know him when she met him in the street, until he had introduced himself as Mr.Jeffrey, knew him then; acknowledges that she had been the instrument of Mr. Jeffrey on this occasion, but persists that it was from sheer love of justice she became the prosecutor; swore that nothing particular occurred between herself and Jeffrey, there might and there might not; met him according to appointment in Holles-street; had some conversation with him upon the subject of the present prosecution; does not know whether Jeffrey is the friend or the enemy of Lady Annesley; he might and he might not; had not fifty interviews with Jeffrey before she swore this examination, nor forty, but might or might not have had twenty; is a Protestant, but knows the mode of celebrating marriage in the Romish Church; the marriage was proposed and celebrated the same evening; did hear that Jeffrey accused her Ladyship and his own mother with the crime of murder, for the purpose of extorting money or property from the latter; does not know whether he did so, although she attended the Court during the investigation, merely out of curiosity; does not know that a criminal prosecution is pending against Mr.Jeffrey, at the suit of Lady Annesley; heard it; believes it; is certain that there is; does not know that Jeffrey accused Lady Annesley of murder; heard it; believes it; is certain of it; does not think, however, that Mr.Jeffrey is an enemy or a friend of her Ladyship; heard it; he might and he might not; believes it natural ; is not certain; thinks it likely or not- does not know Richard Annesley, calling himself Lord Annesley; heard that he has an interest in this cause; does not know; can't tell; believes that he has; he might, or he might not- knows Richard Annesley a little, he met her one day; came to her house; asked about the death of her husband; she declared her husband, according to the best of her belief, was murdered; Mr.Annesley, or Lord Annesley, thought not; he was found dead one day; was a respectable man, could read and write; saw him write, knew his writing; never saw Lord Annesley before or after; heard of a Chancery suit, which would very much depend upon the issue of the present business; does not know whether Richard Lord Annesley is interested in the event; can't account why a great man, a reputed Earl, a Commissioner of the Revenue, and a Chairman of a certain other great Committee, should call upon such a lowly woman as herself, on the subject of her husband's death,who never yet told a lie, nor was guilty of crime. Her husband was present at the marriage of Miss Kelly with Mr. Connor; never heard that he had given an oath on account of this affair, quite the reverse of what she had then sworn; she wrote but badly, a very poor hand. On a paper being presented to her, she said, she could not read writing; a book was then given in, when she declared she could not read print; could neither read print nor writing. Mr.Goold, here produced a paper purporting to give an account of the fabricated marriage wIth Connor, and signed by the deponent's late husband; but she declared she could not identify his hand-writing.- Mr.Goold - lt is unnecessary, for I have a cloud of witnesses to prove it.- Mr. M'Nally - You shall not read it, however. - Mr.Gould, I will though. Mr.Goold then began questioning the witness as to the truth of this statement of her husband, as follow: - Do you believe your husband when he states broadly in this paper, that no marriage whatever took between the Traverser and Connor ? No. When he states, as I shall read to you, "that on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, 1795, You, the Traverser, Connor, his brother, Father Larkin, and your husband being together, and that being the common day for marriages, somebody proposed that Connor should marry Miss Kelly; that Father Larkin, who was very drunk, said something, but not like any form of marriage, and that this was all the marriage that took place between them?" the truth of this the witness denied, but could not deny that it was her husband's handwriting. With respect to the registry which the clergyman who married the prisoner made of the affair in a book, and which she swore to in the early part of her testimony, she said, that she supposed it was an entry of the marriage which the priest made; it might and it might not; was not drunk on the night of the marriage, nor evening; she might and she might not; there was punch; it was on Shrove Tuesday they were married; does not know whether there was pancakes: there might and there might not; and as to brandy, there might and there might not be brandy in the pancakes ; neither, loves nor hates Lady Annesley; when asked whether she disliked her Ladyship, she answered, she neither bears her love or hatred; had no dislike; conceived that she was injured by Lady Annesley; conceived it in her heart; did not feel any enmity to her Ladyship; her suspicions are not yet removed, still bears her no ill-will, neither loves her or hates her; is indifferent as to the event of this trial; a pure and abstract love of justice alone influenced her conduct. Her husband was an honest man, a road measurer, lived at the gate-house of Sir Edward Newenham; she now lived at the North Strand, independent, upon own her bottom; bears, and always did bear a most respectable character; supports herself by lodgers; has five rooms in her house and two lodgers; never was dependent on any one; was waited on by Mr.Furlong, Lord Annesley's agent. concerning her testimony; did not know Mr. Hinchy.
Marcus Annesley, Esq. was then called, and that gentleman not immediately appearing, the Judges retired for upwards of an hour and half. Mr.Jeffrey during this absence was repeatedly called upon to produce Mr. M. Annesley; he mentioned that he sent repeated messages, but that Mr. Annesley could not be found. It was proposed when Mr. Annesley was called over twice or three times ineffectually, to proceed in the examination of the other witnesses to the first marriage, viz:. Connor and his brother, in order to give time, as they had all been in Court, but none other was, however, called. The Judges having returned to the Court, Mr. Justice Daly intimated that if there was any hope of Mr. Annesely's coming forth, he would adjourn the Court for a few hours. Mr.Jeffrey declared there was none; when it was intimated that they expected Mr.Annesley would prove the second marriage of her Ladyship, the Countess herself rose up and declared that she was married to the late Earl of Annesley. The Judges, however, would not receive the declaration, as her Ladyship had given in her final plea when she pleaded Not Guilty. After a few words from the Judge who animadverted on deficiency of evidence, the Jury instantly pronounced a sentence of NOT GUILTY. The acquittal was hailed with the most enthusiastic plaudits by the auditory; the clapping and huzzaing continued for some time, until the Judge (Osborne) ordered a gentleman who was sitting with the High Sheriff in his box into custody for so disturbing the Court.

Repository :   Public Record Office for Northern Ireland

PRONI Reference :    D1503/3/5/16

Title :  Copy case drawn by Mr Pollock for Sophia

Dates :         12 February 1798


Description :  Copy case drawn by Mr Pollock for Sophia Kelly, referred to by Earl Annesley's case. [This is Richard, 2nd Earl Annesley, and relates to the subsequent litigation]. 'Sophia Kelly or O'Kelly was the supposed child of Edward Kelly of Donaghinagh in the county of Tyrone, farmer, and Jane Kelly, otherwise McGirr, his wife. Sophia was sucked and nursed by her supposed mother, and was brought up and lived with the said Edward Kelly and his wife as one of their children, till about the year 1794, when she attained the age of 18 years or therebouts. At the age of 9 years old she had reason to suppose that Kelly and his wife were not her father and mother. However, she was kept and maintained and clothed by them, and she was educated in the Roman Catholic religion.


In the said year, 1794, the said Kelly and his wife advised the said Sophia to marry a person of the name of Patrick Campbell of Mullins, in the county of Tyrone, farmer, who had for a considerable time paid his addresses to her, but she disliked the said match, and refused to marry to said Campbell. Kelly and his wife, however, continued to press her to marry the said Campbell, and she being apprehensive of being forced to compelled by them to marry him, she [sic] took the resolution of leaving the house of her said supposed father and mother, and accordingly she privately left the house of the said Kelly and his wife, and procured one Arthur McKenny who lived near Donaghinagh, to carry her on a horse as far as Drogheda, from whence she travelled in a return carriage to the Man of War, and from thence to Dublin, when [sic - where?] she went to the house of William McBay (who then and still lives as porter at Sir William Newcomen's gate at Killister [sic - Killester, near Dublin], and whom said Sophia had known in the county of Tyrone, he being the son of a neighbouring farmer. The saidSophia lived in the house with McBay and his wife for about seven weeks, during which time she endeavoured to be received as an apprentice to a milliner in Dublin, but the sum required as an apprentice fee being beyond her means, she was obliged to relinquish that intention.


During her residence in the house of McBay, said Sophia experienced much hard usage at several times from him and his wife, which made her desirous to leave his house, and having, whilst she lived there, become acquainted with one Martin O'Connor (who was gardener to the Hon. Richard Annesley), she was prevailed upon by said McBay and his wife to agree to marry the said Connor, but this match was against her own inclination, for she always disliked him. However, on Shrove Tuesday in February 1705 the said Sophia (being then in the 19th year of her age), accompanied by McBay's wife, and the said Martin Connor accompanied by McBay, went to the house of Father Larkin, priest of the parish of Coolock, in which parish the said Connor and Sophia lived, in order to be married.


When they came to the priest's house, McBay went into the parlour to the priest, and told him that said Connor and Sophia came there to be married, and thereupon McBay called said Sophia and Connor and his (McBay's) wife into the parlour where the priest was sitting. The priest then took his prayer book and told the said Martin Connor to take the said Sophia by the hand, and bring her forward. Sophia said in a whisper to Mrs McBay that she would not go forward, and for God's sake to tell McBay to let her go out, and she would come again any other time, but Mrs McBay also in a whisper said to Sophia 'Oh fie, will you make a fool of yourself before the priest', and said Sophia being much confused and distressed went forward with Mrs McBay to the part of the room where the said Connor was standing, near the priest, and there Mrs McBay placed Sophia next Connor and the priest proceeded to celebrate (as said Sophia supposes) the marriage service out of said prayer book, according to the forms of the Roman Catholic church.


During the marriage ceremony, the said Sophia turned about in order to leave the room, but said McBay took her by the shoulder and asked her if she was made, and made her stand up beside Connor whilst the remainder of the service was performed.


The said Sophia most positively asserts that she did not repeat or pronounce any of the responses, nor was any ring put on her finger during or after the ceremony.


After the marriage ceremony was ended, and when they retired from the priest's room, said Sophia declared to Mrs McBay that she hated Connor, and did not look upon herself as married to him, and that she never would live with him as his wife, and on their return towards said McBay's house, said Sophia requested said Connor to go home to his master's house at Annesley Lodge, which he did, and she and McBay and his wife returned to the house of McBay, where said Sophia remained about eight days, and during all which time said Connor came only twice to see said Sophia in the day time, but she never permitted him to go to bed to her, or to know her as a wife. The said Connor often complained to McBay of such the conduct of his wife, and expressed hiis concern that he had married a woman who seemed to dislike and hate him, but McBay encouraged him and advised him to continue to be kind to said Sophia, and that she would soon come to love him.


About the end of eight days after said marriage ceremony Sophia determined to go and see her friends in the county of Tyrone, and mentioned her intentions to McBay and his wife, who acquainted said Connor thereof. The said Connor expressed great concern the distress thereat, and expressed his fears and apprehensions with tears in his eyes that said Sophia would never come back to him, but McBay advised said Connor to humour said Sophia and to consent to everything she desired and said Sophia assured said Connor and the said McBay and his wife that she would very soon return.


Accordingly, said Sophia went from McBay's house at Killister to the house of said Kelly and his wife, the supposed parents of saidSophia, at Donaghinagh aforesaid, and when the said Sopia arrived there, she told the said Kelly and his wife and all the neighbours that she had been happily and well married to the said Martin Connor, but this was a mere finesse, only because she well know, if she should not declare that she was married to the said Connor, her said supposed father and mother would be again pressing her to marry the said Patrick Campbell.


The said Sophia remained at Donaghinagh for five months, during which time said Connor never went down to see her, and never wrote a letter to her, but one, and the neighbourhood then beginning to suspect that said Sophia was not married, she therefore determined and accordingly did return to the house of said at Killester in the county of Dublin. On her return, said Connor came to said Sophia, and askked her to return wit him to Annesley Lodge and live with him, and said Sophia agreed to do so, provided said Connor would first take his oath that he would not go to bed to her, or use her as a wife, for one year (it being said Sophia's intention within that time to run away privately from said Connor and to go out to America to friends whom she had there). Said Connor took the said oath, and though the said Sophiawent home to the said Connor's wife, and was called and known in the neighbourhood as the wife of said Martin Connor, yet said Sophiaasserts most positively that, though she lived in the same house with him, she always slept in a separate room and in a separate bed apart from him. This circumstances of Sophia's keeping herself separate from said Connor, although living in the same house with him, transpired in the neighbourhood within three or four weeks after she came to live at Annesley Lodge, and excited so much curiosity in many people in the neighbourhood that said Sophia felt herself so uneasy and unhappy, that in a few weeks after she accepted a proposal from EarlAnnesley to live with him, and his Lordship brought her away from Connor's house at Annesley Lodge one evening in the beginning of November 1795, and she has lived with Lord Annesley ever since.


Shortly after it was publicly known that said Sophia lived with Lord Annesley, it was apprehended that said Martin Connor intended to bring an action of criminal conviction against his Lordship, wherefore some management was made use of at the desire of Lord Annesley by some of his friends, in order to prevent the unpleasantness of a public trial, and said Connor on being applied to by some of Lord Annesley's friends to know what pecuniary compensation he would accept of, and on being advised by them not to stir at law in the matter, he alleged his said wife had run him into debt, and that if such debt should be paid, he would not institute an action, and at that time, it being thought more advisable to procure a letter from said Martin Connor to said Sophia which might prevent his recovering any damages against LordAnnesley, than to ask him to execute a regular deed or release, therefore the following letter was drafted for said Connor and Sophiarespectively to sign. The one from Connor to said Sophia was signed by him, but the letter importing to be a letter from said Sophia to said Connor, she says was neither written or [sic] signed by her, as she solemnly declared that she did not look on said Connor as her husband, and said Connor signed the receipt, a copy of which is subjoined to the copies of said letters ...'.


[No copies are provided - see D1503/3/8/7-D1503/3/8/8].


'On the 12th March 1797, the said Sophia was delivered of a son by the said Lord Annesley, and the child is living.


In July 1797 the said Patrick Larkin, the priest of Coolock, died.


The mutual affections of Lord Annesley and the said Sophia increased with their co-habitation, and they both conceiving that the ceremony of her marriage with the said Connor hereinbefore stated was under all the circumstances before mentioned null and void, therefore the 5th of September 1797 his Lordship and said Sophia were married at Lord Annesley's mansion house of Mount Panther in the county of Down by the curate of the parish of Kilmegan, in which his Lordship resides ... .


Lord Annesley is under the will of his father, strict tenant for life, with remainder to his first and other sons, with the like remainder over to ... [his younger brothers], Richard and William Annesley, and to their respective heirs male; and the said Richard and William Annesley have respectively several sons.


Whether the said marriage ceremony that was celebrated between the said Martin O'Connor [sic] and Sophia is under all the foregoing circumstances void, or whether it was in legal construction and intendment a due marriage, or whether it is voidable, are questions of the most material concern to Lord Annesley's peace of mind and happiness. Therefore, on that account, as well as to prevent as far as possible a disputed succession between the issue which he may have by the said Sophia since his said marriage with her in September 1797, and his said brothers or such of the remainder men of the late Lord Glerawly as may be living at the time of Lord Annesley's death, he, the said Lord Annesley requests the advice of Counsel'.

Repository :   Public Record Office for Northern Ireland

PRONI Reference :    D1503/3/5/27

Title :  Original letter from 'Sophia', 17 New Sackville

Dates :         5 February 1803

Description :  Original letter from 'Sophia', 17 New Sackville Street, to 'Lord Annesley' [Richard, 2nd Earl, obviously written with a view to being bought off].

'From what passed between us at Mount Panther previous to my coming to town, I did expect to find you a friend to me and my children. By Mr Beresford's directions, I stopped at [the] Malbrough [sic] Street house, where I received a visit from Mr Woodmason [to whom Beresford had granted a power of attorney] desiring I would quit the house immediately, as he had received a letter from your attorney to that purpose, in consequence of which I was obliged to walk through the streets without a friend of [sic] a very bad day, to look for lodgings, and have, from being turned out of the late Lord's house, been obliged to take the lodgings I am now in, which have been so damp and cold that my poor little child, Francis Charles, has taken so bad a cold that I despair of his recovery.

On my coming here, I wanted money to purchase necessaries, coals, etc. I applied to Mr Woodmason, but was refused unless I signed my name Sophia Connor, which I cannot think of doing, it would be treating the memory of the late Lord with greatest disrespect. In consequence of Mr Woodmason's refusal I was obliged to borrow money for commmon necessaries for myself and child, till the return of Mr Beresford'.

An endorsement shows that this letter was exhibited in court on 24 Oct. 1804, in the course of subsequent litigation.

Following excerpt from Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland  By John Gamble