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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About the Author
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
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