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antoinewalsh

Anthony (Antoine) Vincent Walsh

At this day, 22 January, in 1703, my 5th great-grandfather Anthony (Antoine) Vincent Walsh was baptised in the cathedral in Saint Malo, Brittany France. In terms of my own family history he is quite a significant and controversial figure.

The city of Saint Malo, where he was born, is definitely on my list of place I wish to visit. It is situated on the English Channel and on the right bank of the estuary of the Rance River. It is described as having the old walled city standing on a granite islet that is joined to the mainland by an ancient causeway and by an avenue bridging the inner harbour. The city was named for Maclou, or Malo, an Irish monk, born in what is now known as Wales, who fled to Brittany, making his headquarters on the island in the 6th century. Saint Malo Cathedral church is the city’s centrepiece dating from the twelfth century and with its spire still the tallest building in the city.

stmalo

Saint Malo

Saint Malo was a long way from the traditional Walsh family home in Kilkenny. Anthony’s Jacobite grandfather James had forfeited his estates of Ballynacooly in the Walsh Mountains in about 1665 in the face of protestant William of Orange’s war in Ireland. Anthony’s father Philip, had been a merchant in Waterford, but then established himself in Saint Malo by about 1685 as a shipbuilder. He came to prominence being recorded as having transported the defeated King James II on board his ship from Kinsale, County Cork to France in July 1690 after the Battle of the Boyne and the unsuccessful bid to reclaim the throne of England. This started the family connections to the Stuarts and was Anthony’s heritage.

Antoine served in the French navy before settling in Nantes, which had emerged as France’s chief slaving port and where there was a large close-knit Irish community. In 1741 he married Mary O’Shiell, a French-Irish businesswoman in Nantes.

In 1744 he commissioned a new French privateer the Du Teillay  of 18 guns, in Nantes. She played a central role in the Jacobite rising of 1745, ferrying Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to Ardmolich with supplies and funds to support his cause.

doutelle2

‘Action on the 9th of July 1745 between the Lion of 60 guns, Captain Percy Brett / and the Elisabeth of 64 guns, the Doutelle [le Du Teillay] in the distance making / her escape with the Pretender on board./ Painted for Admiral Lord Anson’. Inscription by the painter, Samuel Scott(1702-1772)

In recognition of his support and his noble Irish ancestry, in 1745 James III bestowed upon Anthony the title of Earl Walsh.

Much has been recorded and written about Antoine and the life he led as a successful merchant, a major figure in the slave trade and wealthy sugar plantation owner in the Caribbean. He was instrumental in the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the French West Indies in Martinique, Guadeloupe and Saint-Domingue.

‘Aeneas McDonald describes him in 1745 as “an eminent merchant of Nantz … This Mr. Welch chiefly trades to Martinico. He has 24 merchantmen and provateers” (The Lyon in Mourning, Scot. Hist. Soc., vol. i, p.293)’

In his book Murder, Mutiny & Mayhem: The Blackest-Hearted Villains from Irish History, Joe O’Shea‘s suggests that this exiled Irishman:

“…had personally bought and sold over 12,000 African slaves and launched 40 cross-Atlantic slave voyages. He was the greatest – or worst – of the Irish-Nantes slavers…”

He died at Cap Francais, San Domingo (now Haiti), on 2 March 1763 and his Jacobite peerage passed to his second and only surviving son, Antoine Jean Baptiste Paulin Walsh.

Today it is difficult to reconcile his slave trading with our world. But while not excusing it, those were obviously different times when it seems to have been viewed almost as a legitimate business activity. It is ironic that his grandson Thomas Walsh (see my post of August 28, 2017) would father a daughter with a descendant of an African slave.

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Ann Eloisa French (1787-1835)

On this day, October 13 in 1835, Ann Eloisa (or later Eliza) French, who is believed to be my 3rd great-grandmother died in Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Eliza Thomasina’s Baptism, St. Catherine’s Parish Church, Spanish Town

I say ‘believed’ because although it can not (yet) be proven conclusively all indications, including the advice from a professional Jamaican genealogist, are that this is the right person who was the mother of my 2nd great-grandmother Eliza Thomasina Walsh. This Eliza was born in Spanish Town on March 3, 1808 and her mother was A.E. French.

Ethnically, Ann Eloisa was a quadroon, being of mixed race, the grand daughter of an African who was undoubtedly a slave. Her parents were Jane Charlotte Beckford, a free mulatto and George French, one time Crown Solicitor/Clerk of the Jamaica Assembly and later the High Court, Assistant Judge, Solicitor for the Crown and Clerk of the Peace in Spanish Town. Jane was George’s mistress and they had six children together.

White Church and Ellis Streets, Spanish Town

Eliza Thomasina’s father was Thomas Walsh, an Irish officer in the 56th Regiment of the British army serving in Jamaica and who acknowledged Eliza as his daughter in his 1809 will. In that will Thomas had requested that Eliza Thomasina should be returned to Ireland when four years of age. Thomas had returned to England by 1809 and he died in an accident the following year but his wishes regarding Eliza were carried out and she eventually married Henry Harrison Briscoe in Ireland in 1830. It is not known what part, if any, Ann Eloisa had in this decision or in Eliza Thomasina’s life before her return to Ireland.

The old Lodging House is now the Freemason’s Hamilton Lodge Meeting House

Jane Charlotte ran a lodging house on the corner of White Church and Ellis Streets in Spanish Town. This was later known as Miss French’s Lodgings presumably after Ann took over running of the establishment when Jane Charlotte died in 1825. The building that stands on that corner today I likely to be the same

Excerpt from Lady Nugent’s Diary, wife of Gen. George Nugent, Governor of Jamaica

Ann Eliza French (as she was then known) was the administratrix of her mother’s will and presumably also the beneficiary.

Currently no more is known about Ann’s life except that she died in 1835 and was buried in St. Catherine’s churchyard in Spanish Town.

Thomas Walsh (1777-1810)

ON THIS DAY, August 28, in 1810 my 3rd great-grandfather Lt. Col. Thomas Walsh was buried at St. Andrew’s Church, Farnham, Surrey. He was only 33 years old.

Thomas is one of my most interesting and hence favourite ancestors largely because of his family’s history but also because of the chase he led us on to discover his story.

Born of Irish stock (Walsh being about the fourth most common name in Ireland), it was surprising to discover after much searching and false clues, that Thomas was born in France and christened Francis Thomas Joseph David Walsh.

His family was exiled to France after his 2nd great-grandfather James Walsh was dispossessed of his lands in the Walsh Mountains of Kilkenny in the mid-1600s. Along with other Irish families they sought refuge in the St. Malo area of Brittany. Here they became quite prosperous providing naval services to the French, in ship-building, as privateers and even slave trading. His great-grandfather Phillip was captain of the ship that conveyed the defeated James II from Kinsale Ireland to France, after the former King’s unsuccessful bid to reclaim the throne of England. For services rendered by the family Phillip’s son Anthony Vincent Walsh was named as Earl Walsh by the titular King James III. Thomas’s father Anthony John Baptist Walsh was the second Earl Walsh who after a successful career in the service of the King of France and being honoured as Count Antoine Walsh, knight of the military order of St. Louis, retired to the West Indies where he died in 1798.

From: A Royalist Family Irish and French (1689-1789) and Prince Charles Edward, translated from the French by A.G.Murray McGregor, 1904.

Thomas was born in 1777 in St. Georges-sur-Loire, France and at the age of sixteen despite the anti-British family history, had already embarked on a career in the British army, most likely with the Walsh Regiment of the Irish Brigade in the West Indies. He was later described as displaying “early professional promise” and by 1798 he was a Lieutenant in the 88th Regiment under fellow Irishman Major General Eyre Coote, serving (against the French) in Egypt during the Napoleonic wars. In 1803 he published, the “Journal of the late campaign in Egypt: including descriptions of that country, and of Gibralta, Minorca, Malta, Marmorice and Macri”.

By 1805 he had been promoted to Lt. Col. and again served under Coote this time in the 56th Regiment in Jamaica until about 1808 or 1809. It was during this period that his liaison with A.E. French produced a daughter, Eliza Thomasina, who was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica on March 3, 1808. Eliza’s mother was most likely Ann Eloisa (or later called Eliza) French who was a”quadroon”, or one quarter African, of slave descent. In Thomas’s will be see (below) his desire for Eliza to be raised in at home, in Ireland.

Thomas Walsh part will

Thomas returned to England as assistant adjutant general under Coote, but on August 23, 1910 he was killed by a fall from a gig near Guildford in Surrey. Family members in Ireland were deeply touched by his death and arranged for a monument to be erected at St. Andrew’s Church in Farnham. (Fuller details are set out in the Eyre Coote Papers held in the William L. Clements Library University of Michigan).

In accordance with his wishes, the young Eliza was returned to Ireland and presumably grew up with Walsh relatives at Belline in Kilkenny before marrying Henry Harrison Briscoe in 1830.

The family tree below shows that Thomas died “s.p”  ([Latin]sine prole; without offspring or died without issue) which we now know is not correct.

Thomas Walsh’s Family Tree, from A Royalist Family Irish and French (1689-1789)and Prince Charles Edward, translated from the French by A.G.Murray McGregor, 1904.