Carlow History, India History, Laois History

Edge family of Clonbrock House, Laois

Edge family of Clonbrock House, Laois

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien


Clonbrock House near Crettyard, Co. Laois, later known as Geneva House, was for many generations home of the Edge family. Crettyard is in County Laois about 9 miles west of Carlow. Because Carlow was so near Edward Walford inserted Clonbrock and the Edge family within the ranks of the Carlow gentry when in fact they were part of Laois society for generations.[1]

The Edge family come to Ireland

The Edge family were part owners of the manor of Edge in the parish of Malpas, Cheshire until the close of the fifteenth century. In 1338 Adam de Edge received a grant of lands at Horton in Staffordshire and from him descends the Edge family of Clonbrock. The first of the family of Edge to come to Ireland was John Edge in the time of Charles II.

John Edge of Dublin

In the Irish Parliament of James II John Edge, gent of Dublin was among those included in the act of Attainder. His fortunes were restored with the victory of William III and John Edge went on to have six sons and five daughters. On 2nd November 1714 John Edge died and was buried at Rathdrum.[2]

The sixth son of John Edge of Dublin was David Edge who was born in 1692. He married Margaret (died 1797), widow of John Gough and daughter of Thomas Wybrants. They had four sons and two daughters. On 28th May 1773 David Edge died and was buried at Rathdrum.[3]

John Edge of Clonbrock

The eldest son of David and Margaret Edge was John Edge of Dublin. He was born in 1732 and married Sarah daughter of George Ougan and had six sons and seven daughters. John Edge died in November 1790 and his wife died in 1825 aged eighty-four years.[4] On 29th July 1767 John Edge was born as the fourth son of John Edge of Dublin. John Edge became a Civil Engineer to the River Shannon Navigation and to the River Barrow Navigation.[5]

On 31st August 1800 John Edge, esq., of Clonbrock House married Letitia, daughter of Charles Dallas, esq., of Killashee, Co. Longford by Jane, daughter of Mr. Hamilton of Cavan by his wife, Rhoda, daughter of Mr. Little. Letitia Edge died on 3rd February 1847 having had two sons and two daughters.[6]

In the early 1800s the Grand Canal Company took out a lease on coal collieries at Doonane near the border between Laois and Kilkenny. The Company also took out a lease on the neighbouring Clonbrock farm of 500 acres. The collieries were a bad investment as they mostly cost money each year and delivered few profits. In the 1820s John Edge became the manager of the colliery but the financial position remained bleak. In May 1831, the Grand Canal Company surrendered its lease of both its colliery and “a large tract of ground” around Crettyard to Maria Lecky and Martha Bowen, daughters of the late Robert Hartpole (colliery owner since before 1794). Following the surrendered a new lease was taken out by the former manager, John Edge, who attempted to collect arrears of rent due from various under-tenants. The rent was £500 per year but only half the colliery formed part of the lease.[7] To help make the venture pay its costs John Edge sacked 600 out of 800 colliers.[8]

John Dallas Edge

The eldest son of John and Letitia Edge was John Dallas Edge. He was born on 7th January 1806. He was first educated by Rev. A. Stone before entering Trinity College, Dublin in October 1823. John Dallas Edge qualified as a barrister-at-law and in 1834 was called to the Irish Bar.[9] On 17th September 1835 he married Anne, daughter of Thomas Maunsell of Dublin. This Thomas Maunsell could be the same Thomas Ridgate Maunsell of Dublin who had a daughter called Anne.[10]

On 11th August 1842 John Dallas Edge died accidently while helping a friend who had fallen into the water from a boat at Mill Pond in Dublin.[11] The only surviving child of John Dallas Edge was John Henry Edge of Farnans, Co. Laois. He was born on 11th June 1841 and attended Trinity College Dublin where he got a BA and a MA. In 1866 he qualified as a Barrister-at-Law at the King’s Inn, Dublin.[12]

Edge property in County Carlow

Apart from their business and farming interests in County Laois the Edge family held a number of properties in County Carlow in the 1850s according to Griffith’s Valuation. John Edge held 18 acres of land (worth £9 10s) at Clogrenan in the parish of Cloydagh, Co. Carlow from Horace Rochford in Griffith’s Valuation. In the townland of Raheendoran, Cloydagh parish, John Edge held from Horace Rochford a herd’s house, offices (worth £13) and 75 acres of land (£65).

In the townland of Ballycook, parish of Kineagh, Co. Carlow, John Edge held a house, offices (worth £3) and 71 acres of land (worth £52) from Henry Bruen. At Ballyhacket Upper in the same parish of Kineagh, John Edge held 29 acres of land (worth £23) from Henry Bruen. In 1876 John Edge held 362 acres 2 roots and 30 perches in County Carlow which was valued at £312 10s.[13]

John Henry Edge

John Henry Edge succeeded his grandfather, in 1856, to Clonbrock House but his uncle, Benjamin Booker Edge took over Clonbrock.[14] On 23rd June 1870 John Henry Edge married Georgina, only daughter of William Monk Gibbon of Templeshelin, Co. Wexford by his wife Margaret, the eldest daughter of Strangeman Davis-Goff of Horetown, Co. Wexford. The Gibbon family came from Sedgley in Staffordshire and settled in Ireland in the early eighteenth century. Like the Edge family the Gibbon family was also connected to the law. William Gibbon’s elder brother, John George Gibbon, and his father, William Monk Gibbon, both served as Barristers-at-Law while John George Gibbon’s eldest daughter married in 1890 William Cotter Stubbs, another Barrister-at-Law and Crown Prosecutor for County Monaghan.[15] In 1876 John Henry Edge held 1,576 acres 2 roots and 10 perches, worth £826 15s, in County Laois.[16]

John Henry Edge served as a barrister, lawyer and Land Commission agent. He wrote a number of books on land law, historical writing, biography and fiction. In 1901 and 1911 John Henry Edge lived at Mount Street Upper in Dublin. On 21st September 1916 John Henry Edge died in Dublin and was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery.[17]


Clonbrock House Irish waterways history com

Clonbrock house: photo by BJG

Benjamin Booker Edge

Benjamin Booker Edge was the second son of John Edge and Letitia Dallas and was born on 12th April 1810.[18] The son took his name from Benjamin Booker, a pay clerk and land agent of the Grand Canal Company for some forty years.[19] Benjamin Booker Edge was a magistrate for Queen’s County (Laois).[20] On 10th March 1840 he married Esther Anne, only child of Thomas Allen of the Park, Co. Wicklow by Elizabeth Dowzard, his first wife.[21]

In 1874 the rent on the Grand Canal colliery was renewed in favour of Benjamin Booker Edge. The rent was £250 per year (half of the previous lease) with a royalty of 7d per ton on coal sold. But Benjamin Edge was not a successful businessman and in 1883 gave up the lease while retaining the lease on Clonbrock farm.[22] In 1876 Benjamin Booker Edge held 1,575 acres 2 roots 10 perches, worth £851 10s, in County Laois (then known as Queen’s County).[23] Esther Anne Edge died on 3rd March 1879 and Benjamin Booker Edge died on 21st April 1887 leaving one child, a son called John Edge, a gold medallist in Ethics, Logics and Metaphysics.[24]

John Edge of Clonbrock

John Edge of Clonbrock was born on 28th July 1841. He got a BA and a LLB at Trinity College Dublin in 1861 and a Hon LLD at Allahabad University in 1894. On 18th September 1867 John Edge married Laura, youngest daughter of Thomas Loughborough of Selwood Lodge in Surrey. From 1886 to 1898 John Edge served as Chief Justice of the North-West Province in India.[25]

John Edge in India

The North-West Province was a great political division of British India and contained the six subordinate divisions of Delhi, Meerut, Rohilcund, Agra, Benares and Allahabad. Each of these subordinate divisions was further divided into five districts with the exception of Benares which had six districts. The total area of the North-West Province was 116,000 square miles and in 1870 had a population of thirty million.[26]

Between 1887 and 1893 John Edge was Vice-Chancellor of Allahabad University.[27] The University of Allahabad grew out of Muir College (founded 1873) and was established as a separate university in September 1887. Before that it was part of the University of Calcutta.[28] The city of Allahabad, meaning “City of God” was the capital of the Allahabad province (the most populous and productive provinces in the Indian Empire) and since 1862 was the seat of the Presidency of the North-West Province. The population of the city in 1869 was just over 64,000. Allahabad was a favoured residence of Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century.[29] For Hindus the city is one of the holiest cities in India due to its situation at the confluence of the Ganges and Jumna rivers which are considered sacred rivers. Millions of Hindus make the pilgrimage to Allahabad every year as they did in the time of John Edge.

In 1893 the second daughter of John Edge, Laura, married Stuart George Knox of the Indian Staff Corps (as his second wife), eldest son of Justice George Edward Knox of the North-West Province.[30] The Knox family descend from Alexander Knox of Eden Hall, Co. Down in the eighteenth century.[31] The family were associated with India for many generations. Stuart Knox’s grandfather, George Knox, served as a chaplain in the East India Company.[32] Stuart George Knox was educated at Repton, and served for many years in the Indian Army. He transferred into the Indian Political Service and served in the Persian Gulf, Basra and Kuwait. When not away on business Stuart Knox lived at Hyderabad. Stuart Knox (died 1956) and Laura Edge (died 27th January 1934) had two sons, Inman and John (Sean).[33]

In 1896 John Edge became head of the famine relief committee set up in response to the 1896 famine in India. In January 1899, after his retirement from the courts, John Edge became a judicial member of the Council of India and retained that position until 1908. It was at this time that he was also elected to the bench of the Middle Temple, of which he served as treasurer in 1919. In 1902, he also served on a Royal Commission that investigated the Boer War and in 1905 was involved in an inquiry that ultimately had a part in the creation of the Court of Criminal Appeal.[34]

In January 1909 John Edge became a privy counsellor. As a privy counsellor he heard many legal appeals from India between 1916 and May 1926, when he retired completely, just short of his 85th birthday. On 30th July 1926 John Edge died suddenly at his home, 123 Oakwood Court in Kensington, London.[35]

With the death of John Edge in 1926 we take our leave of the Edge family from medieval Cheshire to Laois miners and Carlow property owners to administrators in British India.



Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899

Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976

Burtchaell, G.D. & Sadlier, T.U. (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses (3 vols. Thoemmes Press, Bristol, 2001)

Delany, R., The Grand Canal of Ireland (Newton Abbot, 1973)

Fitzgerald, S.V., ‘Edge, Sir John (1841-1926)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)

The National Encyclopaedia (William Mackenzie, London, 1870), Vol. IX

Walford, E., The County Families of the United Kingdom (London, 1860)




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[1] Walford, E., The County Families of the United Kingdom (London, 1860), pp. 201, 812

[2] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 129

[3] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[4] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[5] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[6] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[7] Delany, R., The Grand Canal of Ireland (Newton Abbot, 1973), pp. 143, 145, 150, 151

[8] accessed on 11 August 2015

[9] Burtchaell, G.D. & Sadlier, T.U. (eds.), Alumni Dublinenses (3 vols. Thoemmes Press, Bristol, 2001), Vol. 1, p. 258

[10] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 803

[11] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130; accessed on 25th September 2017

[12] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[13] accessed 25th September 2017

[14] Edward Walford, The County Families of the United Kingdom, p. 201

[15] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 167

[16] accessed 25th September 2017

[17] accessed on 25th September 2017

[18] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[19] Delany, R., The Grand Canal of Ireland (Newton Abbot, 1973), p. 152

[20] Walford, The County Families of the United Kingdom, p. 201

[21] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 130

[22] Delany, The Grand Canal of Ireland, pp. 151, 152

[23] accessed on 25th September 2017

[24] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, pp. 129, 130

[25] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 129

[26] The National Encyclopaedia (William Mackenzie, London, 1870), Vol. IX, p. 594

[27] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 129


[29] The National Encyclopaedia, Vol. 1, p. 490

[30] Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry, 1899, p. 129




[34] Fitzgerald, S.V., ‘Edge, Sir John (1841-1926)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)