The Watsons of Kilconnor, County Carlow, 1650 - present

The Watsons of Kilconnor, County Carlow, 1650 - present


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This book describes the history of a humble family that migrated from England to Ireland in the mid 17th c and put down roots at Kilconnor, County Carlow. By the end of the century many members of the family had joined the Society of Friends and were part of the landed gentry. During the late 17th c and 18th c family members established themselves elsewhere in Ireland and later in Australia, England and New Zealand where they rose to prominence in a wide variety of roles, eventually abandoning Friends for the established church. Today the family is still held in high regard for its past and ongoing contributions to equestrian sports including horse racing, fox-hunting, polo and in this era, three day eventing.

In Ireland, Solomon Watson established a well-known but doomed bank in Clonmel, County Tipperary. John Henry Watson of Ballydarton, County Carlow, master of the Carlow and Island hunt, started the Watsons’ association with hunting in which they became preeminent from the end of the 18th c. After serving in India, a later John Henry Watson helped develop the game of polo, and his Freebooters team won the first international polo match against the Americans. Corona Deane Lecky Watson is remembered with great affection for her exquisite cultivated gardens at Altamont, County Carlow, which she bequeathed to the Republic of Ireland. In recent times John Wilfred Watson represented Ireland in the Olympics, won silver in the world eventing championship and team gold in the Europeans. His son Samuel James Watson won a team silver in the same event in 2018.

In England, John Boles Watson established theatres in the South-West, the Midlands and Wales, including the Theatre-Royal in Cheltenham, and in the 20th c John Arthur Fergus Watson became a reforming magistrate, prison visitor, campaigner on juvenile justice, author and president of the Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors. Alister George Douglas Watson was secretary of The Cambridge Apostles and friend of Keynes and Wittgenstein. During WWII he helped design millimetre radar and later became head of anti-submarine warfare research. Peter Wright, the author of ‘Spycatcher’ accused him of being ‘the fifth man’ although later evidence showed otherwise.

In Australia, George John Watson, ‘the prince of starters’, developed the hunt in Victoria, ran a coaching business, bred horses, raced and helped found the Victorian Racing Club. His children were well-known sportsmen, adventurers and pioneers in Queensland and the Northern Territory. His cousin William Currie Watson, a popular sportsman, was a pioneer in Gippsland, Victoria, where he cleared 300-ft trees and dense scrub to create a dairy farm and help establish a thriving dairy industry. John Watson, another relative, shipped to New Zealand in 1843 where he was appointed magistrate for the wild frontier district of Akaroa on the South Island.

Again, from the 19th c onwards, many family members served with distinction in the military, in India, South Africa, Europe and the middle east.

The stories related in this book derive from meticulous research conducted by the authors who have utilied information provided by Watson descendants and from collections of diaries, photographs letters and other documents. The book is printed in colour with well referenced text, hundreds of illustrations, 30 tables and a comprehensive index. It includes genealogical charts for the various families, a colour code for each branch and an ID number for each individual.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781782226215
Publisher: Paragon Publishing
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Pages: 602
Product dimensions: 8.27(w) x 11.69(h) x 1.64(d)

About the Author

Dr Peter Coutts is an Australian archaeologist, now retired, with a special interest in the economic and social history of Irish Quakers. He was motivated to write this book when he discovered his own family had Quaker origins on his mother's side. As he delved further into his family history he was pleasantly surprised to find that he was related to a truly extraordinary family who have and continue to leave their imprint on society at large. Dr Coutts was the foundation Director of the Victoria Archaeological Survey and when he retired in 1986, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the History Department of LaTrobe University, Victoria, Australia. He is an economic prehistorian, author of a wide range of books and articles that deal with a diversity of subjects mainly, but not confined to, prehistory and historical archaeology in Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Alan Robert Watson was born in 1958, the youngest child of Alister George Douglas Watson by his second wife Susan Emily nee Blunt. He is descended from the John Watson who moved his family from Montgomeryshire to Carlow in about 1658 in two separate ways, in a direct male line from one son Samuel Watson and, via his great grandmother Isabella Bewley, from the elder son John Watson. Like his father and half-brother Alan set out to be a mathematician, but was diverted by student politics and didn't do a stroke of academic work. Instead he became president of the University of Warwick Students' Union and later Treasurer of the UK National Union of Students. Sorting out management problems there caught his interest and his first 'proper job' was the Audit Commission for Local Authorities in England and Wales, which sponsored him to take an MBA. Alan later moved into banking, working first for HSBC and later BNP Paribas. He met his wife Yuying (a biology professor) while helping the latter bank set up a securities trading subsidiary in Taiwan and left the bank to study Chinese there. He still lives in Taipei, now a house husband. A few years ago he became interested in his family history, which now occupies much of his time.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Sources relating to the Kilconnor Watsons 4

Identifying early Watson families in County Carlow 10

The first Kilconnor Watsons 21

Who was John (2) the Planter? 23

17th c Watson leases in County Carlow: James, Phillip and Thomas Watson 38

Geographic, political and economic factors influencing migration in the late 17th c

The Kilconnor Watsons: second generation 57

The Kilconnor Watsons: third generation 84

The Kilconnor Watsons: fourth generation 98

The Kilconnor Watsons: fifth generation 104

The Kilconnor Watsons: sixth generation 107

The Kilconnor Watsons: seventh generation 117

The Ballydarton Watsons: first generation 132

The Ballydarton Watsons: seconde generation

The Ballydarton Watsons: third generation 153

The Ballydarton Watsons: fourth generation 181

The Ballydarton Watsons: fifth generation 205

The Australian Watsons: family of George John Watson (96) 215

Australian Branch: William Currie Watson (103) 253

The Edenderry Watsons County Offaly: second generation 322

The Baltracey Watsons, County Kildare 326

The Tipperary Watsons: first generation 334

The Tipperary Branch: second generation 350

The Tipperary Branch: third generation 356

The Tipperary Branch: fourth generation 371

The Tipperary Watsons: fifth generation 378

The Tipperary Branch: sixth generation 385

The Tipperary Branch: seventh generation 388

Country houses of the Watsons in County Tipperary 395

The Lumcloon Watsons: first generation 403

The Lumcloon Watsons: second generation 405

The Lumcloon Watsons: third generation 432

The Altamont Watsons: first generation 436

The Altamont Watsons: Second generation 468

The English Watsons: Waterford and beyond 484

The English Watsons: Family of George Newenham Watson (797) 502

In retrospect 521

List of references 525

Index 559

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