The Marcus Annesleys

 of Castlewellan

Marcus Annesley Disambiguation

There is much confusion on many ancestry websites concerning the name Marcus Annesley. This site aims to identify all of the Annesleys with the name Marcus from Castlewellan, Co. Down, Ireland. Only verifiable information has been used for this purpose.

The Annesley family of Castlewellan, Mount Panther and Donard Lodge are descended from Sir Francis Annesley (1585-1660), 1st Baron Mountnorris and 1st Viscount Valentia.

William Annesley (1709-1770) was the sixth son of Francis Annesley (1663-1750) of Thorganby and his first wife Elizabeth Martin, and great grandson of Sir Francis Annesley. William was a barrister in Dublin in 1738 and held the office of Member of Parliament for Midleton, County Cork, between 1741 and 1758, and also held the office of Sheriff of County Down.  He was created 1st Baron Annesley of Castlewellan on 20 September 1758 followed by 1st Viscount Glerawley (Glenawley) of County Fermanagh, on 14 November 1766.  

Viscount William married Lady Anne Beresford (1718-1770) in 1738, eldest daughter of Marcus Beresford, 1st Earl of Tyrone. She was also the grand daughter of Catherine Annesley, daughter of Sir Francis Annesley (1585-1660), who married Sir Randal Beresford in 1662.

William and Anne inherited a fortune from their families and it was reported that both William and Anne, although very rich, spent much of their lives increasing their wealth. They had five children. A daughter Catherine, who married Arthur 2nd Earl of Arran Gore, followed by sons Francis-Charles born in 1740, Marcus born in 1743, Richard born in 1745 and William born in 1747, see peerage.

When William died the Hon. Francis-Charles inherited the title and estate and eventually rose to the position of 1st Earl Annesley. He married Mary Grove 1766 and received 30,000 pounds from the Grove family regarded in those times as a fortune. Mary died in 1791 without issue.  

After the death of Mary, Francis-Charles had a liaison with a Dorothy McIlroy and had four sons by her. These natural born children were all named and recognized in the will of Earl Francis-Charles.

Following this relationship, Francis-Charles encountered a Sophia Kelly purported to be the wife of his brother Richard’s gatekeeper. A marriage took place between Francis-Charles and Sophia which became the subject of litigation for nearly two decades. Francis-Charles and Sophia had three sons. William Arthur Annesley (prior to their marriage), George de la Poer Beresford Annesley  (1799-1814 Lord Glerawly) and Francis-Charles Annesley. All are accounted for in the will of Earl Francis-Charles.

Francis-Charles died in 1802 and his younger brother Richard assumed the title and estates claiming that Sophia’s marriage was not legitimate and therefore her children were not legitimate heirs. Richards claim was that Lady Sophia Annesley was already married when she married Earl Francis-Charles. The resulting court finding that there was no evidence to support Richards claim and that the marriage of Francis-Charles and Sophia was not bigamous is overlooked on many web sites and in particular the Annesley Papers 1560-1995 and Annesley Papers 1650-1938. Sophia finally settled with Richard for an annuity of £400 in 1819 and moved to France where she died at Rue de Rivoli, Paris, in 1852. Her son and Francis-Charles' heir, George de la Poer Beresford Annesley (Lord Glerawly), had died at sea in 1814. Litigation became the dominant obsession for the rest of Richards life taking him to the brink of insanity. The complete records of the legal proceedings and an insight into the early life of Lady Sophia Annesley can be found here.

The Hon. Marcus 1743-1780, the second son of Viscount William Annesley and next in line for the title was not identified in any of the proceedings that followed the death of Francis-Charles, including the ensuing court cases between Richard and Sophia from 1803 to 1819. It is stated that he was 'missing presumed dead'. However, records in the Prerogative Wills of Ireland and Scots Magazine show he died in 1780. No record of his marriage exists but two natural sons can be clearly identified, Sir James Annesley (1774-1847) and Major Marcus Annesley (1779-1843) in Castlewellan. The Hon. Marcus died soon after the birth of his son Marcus.

Major Marcus 1779-1843 is most likely the father of Marcus Annesley 1798. Major Marcus lived in Castlewellan until he joined the military in 1798, the same year Marcus was born. He died at Great Malvern UK in 1843. Marcus (1798) probably had little contact with his father. It is also likely that both Marcus 1798 and Major Marcus were named by their mothers to identify them as natural sons. There are no records of any unrelated Annesleys from Castlewellan at that time.

Marcus (1798-1836) was brought up in Castlewellan. It is likely that he lived initially at the Mount Panther Estate or at The Grange Cottage Castlewellan. A newspaper report mentions his "high rank in life" and close associations with Lord Roden and his neighbour Mr Keown of Tollymore house, an attorney for Earl Francis-Charles.

Nothing else is known of Marcus (1798) until his marriage in 1826 to Mary Chambers, his conviction in 1832, transportation in 1832 and death in 1836. Marcus was convicted for the manslaughter of John Gribben, a Catholic blacksmith. He was transported to Australia for life. The many newspaper accounts of the case are inconsistent and ambiguous. The actual court records cannot be found. The fact that Marcus was convicted of manslaughter and not murder would suggest some provocation from Gribben and his accomplices. A witness in the case claimed that Marcus had previously worked for Mr McKeown (Keown) and was accompanying Mr Keown as bodyguard on the night the incident took place. This is the same Mr Keown who was an attorney concerned with the proceedings following the death of Earl Francis-Charles.

Marcus was transported to Australia on the convict ship Dunvegan Castle in 1832. Mary and the children travelled in secret as steerage passengers on the ship Mail under her maiden name. They arrived on 2nd December 1832, soon after Marcus. Marcus obviously had some freedom in Australia as he had a son, David, born in Sydney in 1835. Marcus was assigned to the solicitor general, John Plunkett QC who introduced legal protection for convicts. Plunkett was also acting attorney general and was a staunch advocate of Catholic Emancipation. Marcus was to be released in 1836, the same year he died. This decision was probably influenced by Plunkett who would certainly have known about the case as he was a Dublin barrister in 1832 and authored the book, On the Evidence of Accomplices. It seems that the conviction of manslaughter was necessary to appease the Catholics and prevent the outbreak of war between them and the Orangemen in Maghera. An Historical Account of Down and Connor outlines the tensions that existed in Maghera at that time.

Marcus and Mary named their first son William Francis (1825-1885 unmarried) and daughters Anna Maria (Williamson) (1828-1862) and Eleanor (1830-1855 in child birth along with the baby), names regularly used by the family. Marcus and Mary also had a son David (1835-1884), after their arrival in Australia. Their other children were Jane (1831-1909) and John (1827-1833). Anna Maria is a name regularly passed down through the Annesley family. Both William Annesley (son of William Dean of Down) and Earl Richard had daughters named Anna Maria. Marcus probably named his daughter after his cousin Lady Anna Maria, the daughter of Earl Richard Annesley and sister to William, 3rd Earl Annesley.

Nothing is known of the ancestry of Mary Chambers. She may be related to the attorney Richard Chambers who was involved in the proceedings following the death of Earl Francis-Charles. Mary Chambers lived in Sydney into her eighties. Her daughter Anna Maria became a Catholic and married William Williamson (a Catholic and Mayor of Redfern) in Sydney, Australia in 1852. All Anna Maria's children became prominent Sydney barristers, all became Mayors in Sydney and all were brought up as Catholic. Thomas Michael Williamson was also a Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly. One of her sons was the prominent Sydney barrister and mayor Marcus Annesley Williamson.

Many web sites and family trees are confused and often incorrect. Marcus is not the “unknown son” of Earl Francis-Charles, often stated on several ancestry web sites. All the children of Earl Francis-Charles are accounted for in his will. Marcus did not murder a priest as is also incorrectly reported on many web sites. He was convicted for the manslaughter of a blacksmith named John Gribben, at the Maghera Inn, 4Km from Castlewellan in 1832. The Catholic account reports that he 'allegedly' shot John Gribben. A poster displayed at the Maghera Inn (formerly Newsons Tavern) depicts a biassed and innacurate version of the events based only on the evidence of the prosecution from unreliable newspaper articles. The title "Murder at Maghera" contradicts the verdict in the same article. The poster has now been removed from the internet.

Marcus (Marco) Simon John  (1791-1858) also confuses the issue on many web sites. He is the son of William, Dean of Down. Marcus John used many false names. He was arrested and committed to stand trial in 1830 using false names. He had a son named Marcus William. Marcus John was a Down magistrate at the time Marcus went to trial. William, the younger brother of Marcus John and second son of William Dean of Down had two sons, Marcus John and Marcus Christianus. Both were born after his marriage to a Miss Reynell in 1806.

It is not clear which Marcus was called as a witness by Countess Sophia in her bigamy case in 1804 and defamation case in 1810. It may be Major Marcus (1779). If so, he must have returned to appear in court as a witness to the marriage between Earl Francis-Charles and Sophia. It could also be Marcus John (1791) as the witness is referred to as Marcus Esq. However, Marcus John should have been referred to by his military title, Captain Marcus, and not mister. It is also bewildering to understand how an educated member of the military could have been so naively misguided by the prosecution barristers.

Some personal letters and documents with the name Marcus Annesley need clarifying. One can be clearly identified as Major Marcus (1779) as it refers to a description of Jamaica in 1815, a place where he spent much of his military life. One dated 1826 is most likely from Marcus 1798 congratulating the election of Maxwell and the anti-emancipationist cause. Another concerning a remedy for intestinal worms is quite difficult to identify. An unknown Marcus Annesley inherited property in 1807 following the death of Earl Francis Charles.

From the documents currently available we conclude that the name Marcus entered the Annesley family from the Earl of Tyrone, Marcus Beresford, and that the descendants of Anna Maria, Jane and David Annesley from Australia and New Zealand are all descended from Earl Marcus and Lady Catherine Beresford (nee Power), Viscount William and Lady Anne Annesley (nee Beresford), the Honorable Marcus Annesley (1743), Major Marcus Annesley (1779) and Marcus Annesley (1798) and Mary Chambers. More recent visits in the early part of the 20th century between the Annesley family in New Zealand (descendants of David) and the family in Castlewellan have confimed the family connection. See the Annesley tree for the complete lineage.

Please contact us if you wish to comment or have any information that might help us with identifying Marcus Annesley, Castlewellan, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Note: This page is regularly updated as new information comes to light.
Note: This site has been reviewed by The Landed Families of Britain and Ireland and some information used to update their site.