Biography, Cork history

Percival Acheson: a 1916 causality at Fermoy

Percival Acheson: a 1916 causality at Fermoy

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

 

In 2016 commemoration ceremonies were held throughout Ireland to remember the centenary of the 1916 Rebellion. One of the unfortunate causalities of the 1916 Rebellion who was remembered was Major Percival Acheson.[1] In the north-east section of Castlehyde cemetery is the headstone of Percival Acheson upon which it is said that he was ‘Killed Easter Week 29th April 1916’. The Easter Rising began on Monday, 24th April 1916 and ended on Saturday, 29th April 1916.[2] Most of the fighting took place in Dublin with a few engagements around the country such as at Ashbourne Co. Meath, Enniscorthy and Athenry. On 2nd May 1916 a gun battle occurred at Bawnard house outside Fermoy to the south-east in which Constable Rowe was the first causality and David Kent the second. Did Major Percival Acheson die in Dublin or at the other battles? The reality was much more unfortunate for Major Percival Acheson and his family.

Major Percival Acheson died on 29th April 1916, the last day of the Rebellion, but not at any of the major battle sites.[3] Instead Major Acheson was shot at a road checkpoint at Grange, outside Fermoy after he failed to answer a challenge from the sentry on duty.[4] Another source says that the shooting happened at one of the entrances to one of the military barracks within Fermoy town.[5] The circumstances of the death are confusing just as the event was confusing for the sentry on duty. The death was a tragic case of death from friendly fire so near Acheson’s home in a town that was his home for nearly twenty years. Major Acheson was the husband of Mrs. P.H. Acheson of Ive-le-Bawn, Fermoy. The house was located a short distance outside Fermoy on the road to Mallow. Percival Acheson was a major in the Army Service Corps.[6] His headstone at Castlehyde also records his service in the Royal Scots.

 

 

Percival Havelock Acheson was born in 1858 in the Southampton area.[7] Another source says he was born in Fermoy.[8] In 1901 Major Acheson said he was born in England and in 1911 he refined this to say that he was born in Hampshire.[9]

Major Acheson was the son of the Joseph Acheson of Ballyane House, near New Ross, County Wexford.[10] Joseph Acheson lived at Ballyanne House in 1876, 1885 and 1900. During his time major race meetings were held on the estate until a new racecourse was built near Wexford town.[11]

On 23rd October 1875 Percival Acheson joined the Leicestershire Militia infantry beginning his service as a sub lieutenant. Captain Alfred Acheson was also in the Leicestershire Militia in 1876 but it is unknown if he was a relation.[12] In 1877 Percival Acheson was still a sub lieutenant in the Militia.[13]

In 1878 Percival Acheson transferred to the Royal Scots. On 4th December 1878 Percival Acheson was made a second lieutenant in the Royal Scots.[14] On 12th September 1884 Percival Acheson was appointed to the Commissariat & Transport staff of the Army Service Corps.[15] The Army Service Corps may not have been as glamorous as the charge of the Light Brigade but was, and still is, an important part of the British army ensuring supplies reach the front line troops and return to base. The Corps also provided administration of the numerous army barracks at home and overseas.

In 1885 Lieutenant Acheson served in the Sudan Expedition sent to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum.[16] In 1881 the Mahdi revolted in Sudan against the Egyptian government which government was backed by the British. Egypt also revolted and the country had to be occupied by a British army. In 1883 the famous Victorian general, Charles Gordon, was sent to Khartoum to evacuate the British delegation there. But instead the city was surrounded by forces of the Mahdi in the spring of 1884 and General Gordon died in the final assault on the city two days before the British relief force arrived.[17] In 1885-1886 Percival Acheson served in the Nile Expedition. He saw action at Ginnis (30th December 1885) and received a bronze star for the campaign.[18] The battle of Ginnis ended the first Sudan campaign but much of Sudan still remained under Mahdi control under the large campaign of 1896-1898 which ended with the re-conquest of Sudan at the Battle of Omdurman (2nd September 1898).[19] On 11th December 1888 Percival Acheson was made a captain in the Army Service Corps.[20]

On 1st April 1889 Percival Acheson married Charlotte Elizabeth Acheson [b. 31 Jan. 1865] of Gurrane, Kilworth at Castlehyde church. She was the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Deane and Elizabeth Margaret Deane, née Grant.[21] It is said that Ive-le Bawn house was built in 1889 as a wedding present.[22] The Deane family would only jump at the opportunity to design a new house as they came from a very distinguished line of architects. Sometime before 1869 Alexander Deane, the father of Charles Deane, built Gurrane house for his son on land purchased in about 1850.[23] Alexander Deane, a prominent Cork builder, was the father of Thomas Deane (1792-1871), architect (his works include the quadrangle of University College Cork, the portico of Cork Courthouse and the Commercial Buildings, part of the Imperial Hotel) and grandfather of Thomas N. Deane (1828-1899), architect (his works include the National Library and National Museum in Dublin), and great grandfather of Thomas M. Deane (1851-1933), architect (his works include the Royal Collee of Science, Dublin, now Government Buildings and the Anthropological Museum in Oxford).[24]

Colonel Charles Deane was formerly an officer in the 3rd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers. Colonel Deane was an active supporter of local institutions. He served for 35 years as treasurer of the Sustentation Fund of Fermoy parish and was vice-chairman for a number of years of the Fermoy Board of Guardians. His funeral in June 1912 was one of the largest ever seen in the Fermoy area. He was buried in Castlehyde cemetery. Colonel Deane’s two sons Major Deane and W.J. Deane attended the funeral as did his son-in-law, Major Percival Acheson.[25]

In 1890 Percival and Charlotte Acheson had a son, Charles Deane Acheson, while based in Fermoy.[26]

On 1st April 1894 Captain Acheson was made a major in the Army Service Corps.[27] On 31sy July 1895 Major Percival Acheson retired from the army to be with his young family at Fermoy.[28]

In 1901 Percival Acheson (42) was living at Ive-le-Bawn with his wife Charlotte (39) and two unmarried servants; John O’Donaghan (40, groom/domestic servant) and Kathleen Donovan (30, general domestic servant). All could read and write while John could speak both Irish and English.[29] In 1901 Ive-le Bawn house had nine windows at the front of the house and six rooms within while Percival Acheson was the declared owner.[30] The house hd two outbuildings, a stable and a coach house.[31]

On the night of 1901 census Charles Deane Acheson (11) was staying at the house of his grandfather, Charles Deane (70, born c.1831) in the townland of Gurraumgerinagh.[32]

In 1911 Percival Acheson (52) was living with his wife Charlotte Acheson (46) at Ive-Le Bawn with one domestic servant, Anne Ryan (aged 26, a Roman Catholic).[33] At that time (1911) Ive-le-Bawn house had ten windows in the front of the house facing south over the river Blackwater and ten rooms within. This is different from that recorded in the 1901 census and suggests that some reconstruction work was done in the intervening decade. Major Acheson was recorded as the owner of the house.[34] Outside was a stable, coach house and a shed.[35]

When the Great War broke out in August 1914 Percival Acheson offered his services to the Army Service Corps and returned to active service.[36]

After his death in April 1916, his widow, Charlotte Acheson, continued to live in the Fermoy area. She died on 13th June 1924 and was buried with her husband at Castlehyde.[37] Their son, Charles Deane Acheson joined the army and served with the Royal Scots from 1910. He died at Tientsin on 17th November 1929 as a major, the same rank of his father when he died.[38]

As well as the headstone in the north-east section of Castlehyde cemetery, Major Acheson is also remembered on the War Memorial in St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, Cork.[39]

 

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[1] https://www.corkcoco.ie/sites/default/files/2017-04/Heritage%20Centenary%20Sites%20.pdf [accessed on 4th December 2018]

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Rising [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[3] https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2743504/acheson,-percival-havelock/ [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[4] https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/view.php?uid=238175 [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[5] White, G., & O’Shea, B. (eds.), A Great Sacrifice: Cork Servicemen who died in the Great War (Cork, 2010), p. 166

[6] http://www.everymanremembered.org/profiles/soldier/2743504/ [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[7] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[8] White, G., & O’Shea, B. (eds.), A Great Sacrifice: Cork Servicemen who died in the Great War (Cork, 2010), p. 166

[9] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001928324/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[10] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[11] Rowe, D., & Scallan, E., Houses of Wexford (Whitegate, Co. Clare, 2004), no. 89

[12] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1876 (London, 1876), p. 720; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[13] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1877 (London, 1877), p. 723

[14] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1880 (London, 1880), p. 234

[15] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1890 (London, 1890), p. 237

[16] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1914 (London, 1914), p. 1309

[17] Churchill, W., The River War (London, 1973), pp. 30, 39, 47, 67

[18] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1914 (London, 1914), p. 1309; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ginnis [accessed on 4th December 2018]. The Battle of Ginnis was a British victory and the last battle in which the British army worn red coats.

[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ginnis [accessed on 4th December 2018].

[20] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1890 (London, 1890), p. 237

[21] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/185508060/charlotte-elizabeth-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[22] Hajba, A.M., Houses of Cork, Vol. 1 – North (Whitegate, Co. Clare, 2002), p. 208

[23] Hajba, A.M., Houses of Cork, Vol. 1 – North (Whitegate, Co. Clare, 2002), p. 190. This house is still with the extended Deane family as in 1932, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Deane, married Travers Robert Blackley and the Blackley family still live in the house.

[24] Cadogan, T., & Falvey, J., A Biographical Dictionary of Cork (Dublin, 2006), pp. 78, 79

[25] Power, B., Fermoy on the Blackwater (Mitchelstown, 2009), p. 137

[26] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[27] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1914 (London, 1914), p. 1252

[28] Hart, H.G., The Annual Army List, Militia List and Indian Civil Service List, 1914 (London, 1914), p. 1252; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[29] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000573483/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[30] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000573478/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[31] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000573479/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[32] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000570874/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[33] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001928324/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[34] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001928294/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[35] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001928296/ [accessed on 3rd December 2018]

[36] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[37] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[38] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162007387/percival-havelock-acheson [accessed on 2nd December 2018]

[39] White, G., & O’Shea, B. (eds.), A Great Sacrifice: Cork Servicemen who died in the Great War (Cork, 2010), p. 166

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One thought on “Percival Acheson: a 1916 causality at Fermoy

  1. Aisling Corcoran says:

    Welcome back and great to see your back writing your own history after two years in college lovely wrote up on Fermoy

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