The Marcus Annesley's

of Castlewellan

Marcus Annesley Disambiguation

(There is much confusion on many ancestry web sites concerning the name Marcus Annesley)

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

William Annesley (b. 1709 d. 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 (b. 1718 d. 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 illegitimate 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 (Connor). 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  b. 1799, d. 1814 (Lord Glerawly) and Francis-Charles Annesley. All are accounted for in the will of Earl Francis-Charles.

Francis-Charles died in 1802 and Richard assumed the title and estates from his brother claiming that Sophia’s marriage was not legitimate and therefore her children were not legitimate heirs. The court finding that the marriage was not bigamous is overlooked on many web sites and in the Annesley Papers. Sophia finally settled with Richard in 1820 and moved to France where she died in 1852. The complete records of the proceedings and an insight into the early life of Sophia can be found here.

The Hon. Marcus, the second son of Viscount William Annesley and next in line for the title was not identified in any of the proceedings that followed Francis-Charles’ death including the ensuing court cases between Richard and Sophia from 1803 to 1820. Therefore, it is highly possible that Marcus died prior to 1802.  It is stated that he was missing, presumed dead. However, a record in the Prerogative Wills of Ireland shows he died around 1780. No record of his marriage exists but two natural sons can be clearly identified, Sir James Annesley b. 1774 and Major Marcus Annesley b. 1779 in Castlewellan.

Marcus b. 1798 is most likely the natural son of Major Marcus Annesley. Major Marcus lived in Castlewellan until he joined the military in 1798, the same year Marcus was born. He never returned. He died at Great Malvern UK in 1843. Marcus (1798) probably had no contact with his father. The Hon. Marcus died soon after the birth of Major Marcus around 1780. 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 (b. 1798 d. 1836) was brought up in Castlewellan. It is likely that he lived initially at the Mount Panther Estate until the death of Francis-Charles in 1802 or at The Grange Cottage. It is not known which Marcus was called as a witness by Sophia in her bigamy case in 1804 and defamation case in 1810. It would appear to be Marcus (b. 1779). If so, he must have returned to appear in court as a witness to the marriage between Earl Francis-Charles and Sophia. It is bewildering to understand how an educated member of the military could have been so naive to be misguided by the prosecution barristers. It is unlikely to be Marcus John (b. 1791) as he would have been referred to by his military title and not mister. There remains the possibility that the witness could have been Marcus, born 1798.

Nothing else is known of Marcus (b. 1798) until his marriage in 1826 to Mary Chambers (b. 1800 d.1888), his conviction in 1832, transportation in 1832 and death in 1836. Marcus was convicted of 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 that some provication from Gribben and his accomplices was involved. A witness in the case claimed that Marcus had previously worked as a butler for Mr McKeown (Keown). He was working as a bodyguard for Mr McKeown on the night the incident took place. This may be the same Mr McKeown 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. Its is likely that Mary and the children traveled in secret as bounty passengers on the ship Mail under her maiden name. They arrived on 2nd December 1832, soon after Marcus. Marcus obviously had freedom in Australia as he worked for the solicitor general, John Plunkett QC and had a son born in Sydney. Plunkett was acting as attorney general and was a staunch advocate of Catholic Emancipation. He was a Dublin magistrate at the time Marcus went to trial. 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 (large download) outlines the tensions that existed in Maghera at that time.

Marcus (b. 1798) named his first son William Francis (b. 1825 d. 1885 unmarried) and daughters Anna Maria (Williamson) (b. 1828 d. 1862) and Eleanor (b.1830 d.1855 in child birth along with the baby), names regularly used by the family. Marcus and Mary also had a son David (b. 1835 d.1884), after their arrival in Australia. Their other children were Jane (b. 1831 d. 1909) and John (b. 1827 d. 1833 in an orphanage). Nothing is known of the ancestry of Mary Chambers. She may be the daughter of the attorney Richard Chambers who was involved in the proceedings following the death of Earl Francis-Charles. Mary Chambers lived 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 her children became prominent Sydney barristers, all became Mayors in Sydney and all were brought up as catholics. Thomas Michael Williamson was also a Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly.

Many web sites and family trees are confused and often incorrect. Marcus is not the “unknown son” of Earl Francis-Charles, often incorrectly stated on several ancestry web sites. All of 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 of the manslaughter of a blacksmith named John Gribben, at the Maghera Inn, 4Km from Castlewellan, see conviction in 1832 and also the catholic account. A poster displayed at the Maghera Inn (formerly Newsons Tavern) depicts a biassed and innacurate version of the case based only on the evidence of the prosecution and 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) John  (b. 1791) also confuses the issue on many web sites. He is the son of William, Dean of Down, see peerage. Marcus John used many false names. He had a son named Marcus William. Marcus John was a Down magistrate at the time Marcus went to trial, see Down Magistrates 1832. 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. He also had a daughter Anna Maria, who married in 1828, the same year Anna Maria Annesley (Williamson) was born.

In summary, we conclude that the name Marcus entered the Annesley family from Earl Marcus Beresford and that the descendants of Anna Maria), Jane and David Annesley from Australia and New Zealand are all descended from Earl Marcus Beresford, Viscount William and Lady Anne Annesley (nee Beresford), the Honorable Marcus Annesley, Major Marcus Annesley and Marcus Annesley (b. 1798). More recent visits between the Annesley family in New Zealand (descendants of David) and the family in Castlewellan have confimed the family connection. See the Annesley tree and full Annesley tree for the complete lineage.

Please contact us if you wish to comment or have any information that might help us in the search for Marcus Annesley, 1798-1836, Castlewellan, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Note: This page is regularly updated as new information comes to light. Last update 29 December 2016.
Note: This site has been reviewed by The Landed Families of Britain and Ireland and some information used to correct and update their site.


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