Orpin family of Marshtown, Co. Cork: a brief history
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
In the second half of the nineteenth century the Orpin family were the landlords of the Marston estate at Marshtown, Co. Cork. The first of the family we know of is Robert Orpin esq. who lived in Dublin in the early 1700’s. Anna–Maria Hajba in Houses of Cork, Vol. 1 says that this family of Orpin was a branch of the Kerry Orpen’s, but the listing for the Kerry Orpen’s in Burkes Landed Gentry, 1958 does not mention Robert Orpin.
This is not to say that he was of a junior branch of that family as a good few of the early Orpen’s had Robert as a first name. John Orpen of Forleigh, Somerset, had a son Robert born 1553 who had a son Robert of Shaston, Dorset, a merchant who died of plague in 1645 and who had a son Robert Orpen of Killorglin, Co. Kerry where he lived in 1661 and had 3 sons the second of whom was another Robert Orpen, born in 1644, married in 1669 and died in 1699.
Robert Orpin of Dublin
But we do know that the first Robert Orpin of the later Marshtown family was descendent through his wife with the Kerry Orpen’s. She was Johanna Mansfield, daughter of William Mansfield, and Mary-Johanna Gandrum. Mary-Johanna was the daughter of Augustus Gandrum by his wife Margaret Bowen, daughter of William Bowen and granddaughter of Robert Bowen, Robert’s wife was Margaret Orpen daughter of Robert Orpen of Killorglin above.
Robert Orpin of Dublin had two sons by Johanna Gandrum, called Benjamin and Abel. Benjamin Orpin got married and had a son but we know little more about him. Abel Orpin got married twice and by his second wife Lucy Duant, had children. Abel Orpin became a cleric in the Church of Ireland. He was for a time curate in Drishane parish in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe.
Rev. Abel Orpin
Rev. Abel had at least three sons by his second wife. Basil Orpin also became a cleric in the Church of Ireland, married, had children and died in 1842. John Orpin lived in Cork City had a wife Mary and died in 1823. The third son, another Abel Orpin, is little known other than he was mentioned in the will of his brother John Orpin.
Rev. Basil Orpin
As noted above the first son, Basil Orpin became a clergyman. He was ordained on 29th September 1786 and served in various curacies in the Cloyne Diocese. He got the curates job in Clonmeen and Roskeen parish in 1786 while still a deacon. Later Basil Orpin moved to Ballyhooly, and was curare to the rector William Berkeley, a nephew of Bishop Berkeley of Cloyne. There was a population of 60 Protestants in Ballyhooly in 1785 shortly before Basil Orpin came. There was one church, no glebe house and the curate had a salary of £50.
Ballyhooly church by Mike Searle
This was a nice income compared to other people of that time. A land steward in Tipperary working for 300 days got £12. Ten pence was given for one days mowing of hay and three pence for threshing a barrel of oats in 1779.
Rev. Basil Orpin served at Ballyhooly until 1804 when for the next four years he was vicar at Tullilease parish while acting and living in Aghinagh parish as curate. But his house must have been modest as no glebe house was built until 1862.
In 1808 Rev. Basil Orpin was made vicar of Ballyvourney, a position he held until his death on 2nd November 1842. At Ballyvourney he also held the job of Rector, the highest church position he attained. In the early year Rev. Basil Orpin had little clerical duties to perform as in 1805 there were no Protestant families in the parish. By 1830 there were 30 people of that faith while the census of 1860 also recording 30 Protestant people. Rev. Basil Orpin made improvements in 1824 by building a church to seat 200 people as the old church was long in ruins.
On the personnel front Rev. Basil Orpin was also making improvements. He married Ellen Newce but it is unknown if she was his first wife or second. In the will of his brother John Orpin in 1823, Benjamin Orpin was listed as son of Basil’s first marriage while the children Richard, Mary and Joanne were by other marriage. Rev. Basil Orpin had other children, namely; John Orpin who married a Miss Manden and had two sons and Basil Orpin who later settled at Marshtown, along with two more daughters, Isabella and Charlotte. It is not known were these children from the first or second marriage or was there the possibility of a third marriage.
Nothing further is known of Basil’s children except of Benjamin Orpin who was sometimes referred to Abel Orpin. He lived at Passage West and had a wife Lucinda who died on 1st May 1841. Ben Orpin died on 26th March 1880.
Meanwhile it was not just religious matters and family life concerned Rev. Basil Orpin. He was sometimes asked to act in a legal capacity for people. Pierce Power asked Rev. Basil Orpin to be one of 6 executors of his will in 1819. By the time the will was sworn in 1838 only Rev. Basil Orpin was alive to see it implemented. Richard Foot of Millfort Co. Cork was the beneficiary and got three townlands in the Barony of Duhallow.
Rev. Basil Orpin died in 1842 and was buried in Millstreet, Drishane parish. The earliest reference we have to Basil Orpin, son of Rev. Basil Orpin is from 1834. In that year he acted as solicitor to a marriage settlement with an address of Lower Mount Street in Dublin. The married couple were George and Elizabeth Crofts. They gave Matthew and John Purcell £1,384 12s 3d for certain lands in the Barony of Fermoy, and in the Barony of Duhallow at Woodpark for 500 years. Basil Orpin was trustee to this agreement in 24th January 1834.
Later in 1854 the Crofts had gone into bankrupacy and by order of the court of Chancery their lands were to be sold. Rev. Thomas Hamblin Porter gave Basil Orpin £695 12s 10d for the Duhallow lands along with other lands in Counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick. Anne Purcell gave consent for the sale but with a right of recovery of on payment of the £695 plus 5% interest. This was because the Purcell’s owned the ground title and had only given the land to the Croft’s on a long lease.
Basil Orpin also did other land transactions for the Purcell’s. On 22nd of August 1848 he was solicitor to an agreement where by John Purcell gave Matthias Hendley of Mount Rivers, Fermoy, lands in Counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary in trust for money lent to John by Matthias.
On the 14th of August 1854 Basil Orpin again was solicitor for a deed of conveyance from Edmond Boyle, 8th Earl of Cork and Orrery, to Ann Purcell, Burton Park, of Carrigacashell townland in Duhallow. During the time of the last transaction Basil Orpin was also conducting legal business for the Earls cousin William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. There is in the Lismore Castle papers housed in the National Library of Ireland where legal letters from Basil Orpin to the Duke cover the years from 1852 to 1857. While in the papers in Lismore Castle there are legal letters covering from 1860 to 1882 when Basil died.
Basil Orpin and the troubled Kerry lands
Meanwhile in 1850 Basil Orpin and his son John Orpin got legal papers of their own which were not nice. These papers were an ejectment notice served at their offices in Dublin, by Anthony Lynch of Dublin, acting for Sir William D. Godfrey of Kilcolman Abbey, Co. Kerry. The notice was for lands at Knockagurrane parish of Kilcolman in Kerry in order that Sir William could recover the rent arrears on the land that was owed by the Orpins. Their cousin Anne Orpin of Killarney who had a share in the land also got an ejectment notice. None of the Orpins contested the notice and Sir William got back his land.
The story of Knockagurrane is a long one. It began on 11th June 1798 when John Orpin, son of Rev. Abel Orpin, took out a 31 year lease on the 88 acres of Knockagurrane from John Godfrey of Bushfield Co. Kerry for 17 shillings per acre. John Orpin was living at Temple Villa Co. Cork at the time. The lease was renewed on 17th August 1804, 10th September 1817, 24th September 1822 and 9th May 1823.
John Orpin died on 10th September 1823 and passed his interest in Knockagurrane to his niece Ann Orpin, possibly the daughter of his brother Abel Orpin. Basil Orpin, the solicitor, became a partner with Ann Orpin for the property. Further deeds on 20th August 1835, 10th April 1839 and 5th November 1840 changed the interest of various parties to the property.
By December 1847 instructions for ejectment of Ann Orpin were prepared by Stokes and Creagh, solicitors of Dublin for Sir William Duncan Godfrey. Ann had accumulated rent arrears of two years amounting to £98 6s 8d. Stokes and Creagh didn’t proceed with ejectment (eviction in the common language of the day) but consulted George Blake Hickson of South Great George’s Street who on examining the case said it was a very peculiar case and so full of difficulties that he advised against ejectment and to recover the arrears by other means.
Whatever the other ways of getting the money Sir William Godfrey employed, it had no positive outcome. The rent arrears had risen to £180 2s 10d by January 1st 1850 when Sir William called it a day and brought ejectment proceeds in the Court of Queens Beach against Ann Orpin and her tenants. Basil Orpin got the ejectment notice on the 10th. It was the 13th of July when the Court gave judgement in favour of Sir William with costs.
But it was a short-lived victory for Sir William Godfrey. In January 1856 Sir William Godfrey lost Knockagurrane with a number of other townlands because of a petition to the Encumbered Estates Court by Charles Sugrue of Cork for debts totalling £32,471 7s 11d.
Former gates into the Marston estate –
now at St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore
Basil Orpin acquires Marshtown
About this time in the 1850s that Basil Orpin purchased the Marston Estate at Marshtown, Co. Cork from the trustees of Richard Henry Gumbleton and those lands of Georgina Gumbleton (Richard’s Sister-in-law) north of the river Blackwater. By 1870 Basil Orpin owned 406 acres in Co. Cork and 2,188 acres in Co. Waterford valued at £370 and £690 respectively. But happiness was not to last long as his wife Mary Carthew died on the 11th of March 1866 and was buried at Mocollop. Basil Orpin was buried beside her after his death on 4th January 1882.
Before his death notices of ejectment were again served but this time by Basil Orpin on a number of tenants at Mocollop. It was decided to hold a huge protest meeting. The local magistrates wanted to ban the meeting in the interest of public order. Mr Redmond, the resident magistrate from Dungarvan, refused and the meeting proceeded without incident. This occurred in May 1881 during the Land War. It’s not recorded if the evictions went ahead.
The son of Basil Orpin was John Orpin who was born in 1826 and died on 23rd March 1904 and was buried at Mocollop. Also buried there was his wife, Susan Lilias, born in 1832 and died on 26th April 1903.
John Orpin, like his father, was a solicitor and is recorded living at Marston in 1886. Also like his father, there are letters from John Orpin among the Lismore Castle papers in Lismore. These date from 1880 to 1889.
John Orpin had at least two sons. The eldest, Basil Orpin, succeeded to the Marston Estate. He was born in 1860 and died on 31st July 1922 and is also buried at Mocollop. Like his father and grandfather there are letters from Basil Orpin in Lismore Castle from 1900 to 1921 as the Orpin’s (of Orpen’s as Basil signed his name) were solicitors to the Castle for many decades. Upon his headstone at Mocollop it says Basil Orpin of Marston also lived at 47 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, where he could have carried on his legal practice.
47 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin – the door on the right
His brother Cecil Orpin succeeded to Marston, where he lived in the gate lodge as the big house had burnt down in about 1908. He was there until at least 1932 as he is listed as an occupier in that year. The estate was divided soon after.
Cecil Orpin was a medical doctor and lived for many years in Youghal. In the 1901 census he lived at No. 3 Marina Terrace. There was nobody else with him in the house on the night of the census. By the time of the next census in 1911 Cecil Orpin had moved to No. 1 Marina Terrace with the Christian Brothers now in No. 3. With him in the house were his wife Ethel and daughters Lilias, Ruth and Susan. There also was five servants, Mabel Marque, Mary Courtney, Hannah Sherlocke, Mary O’ Connell and Catherine Scully. In the 1960s and 1970s a member of the Orpin family served as a news announcer on RTE television. This then is a brief outline of the history of the Orpin family as is presently known from their origins as Dublin merchants to church clerics and solicitors to estate landlords and medical doctors to television presenters.
End of post
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 Records of Old Cork Newspapers
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 Owners of land of one acre and upwards, 1870 with information extracted for Counties Cork and Waterford
 Headstone inscription in Mocollop church graveyard
 Power, P.C., History of Waterford City and County (Cork, 1990), p. 201
 Headstone inscriptions in Mocollop church graveyard
 Guys Postal directory,1886
 Lismore Castle papers, Lismore, file C/1/pigeon hole M-R
 Headstone inscription in Mocollop church graveyard
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