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In 2004, I received a couple of lengthy and informative letters from Norway from Raymond Douglas Monteagle BROWNE, and we followed up with a few phone calls. His oral history and that of his mother fits with the facts I have found so far. In the late 1950's, as a teenager, I visited his mother and father, and felt an immediate and deep fondness for both of them.
Sharon Oddie Brown July 17, 2022.

 

The story of the Monteagles related to me by my Mother 1982.

Prepared by Raymond Douglas BROWNE “with cryptic comments added by myself” (ie Raymond)

 

Edgar Monteagle Browne, my Father's eldest brother, made extensive researches into the origins of the Monteagles at the College of Arms (Heraldry) in London. His research showed that the first traceable member of the family came over to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror, 1066 and the Battle of Hastings. Later, one of them appears as Henry VIII's chief Falconer. A considerable gap discloses nothing further but it appears that the family owned considerable estates in Sussex. The Mansion was named Hurst Monceau [1] of which the ruined entrance Gates can still be seen.

Later, one Lord Monceau was an active participant in the Rye House Plot, (Guy Fawkes 5th.November incident) They had planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament and murder King Charles. Lord Monteagle balked at the idea of murdering the King. Having warned him he had to flee the country for fear of reprisals. He and his followers settled in Ireland. In recognition of his loyalty Charles awarded the family considerable estates in Sligo, Northern Ireland. The family was then known as the Lords of Sligo [2] . Browne was their surname, hence Monteagle Browne.

The present Marquis of the family is presumably the son of The Lord Arthur Browne [3] you met while playing tennis at Lady Laurence's. As you were a far out cousin this was no doubt intended to be a great honour, but he was a very ordinary, dull little man and his wife was uninteresting and dowdy. (Mother could be very critical and scathing at times). He became Marquis Of Sligo in the end and presumably the present Marquis is his son. Your Father can claim cousinship, but it is pretty far out! Don’t ask me to work out the family tree, it would be quite beyond me. In Ireland this was important of course and Father was proud of the connection

His father's family owned a place in Fermanagh where your Grandfather, John Monteagle Browne, his brother Bob [4] and sister Theodosia [5] were brought up. Bob was in the Army, married but had no children. Theodosia married an Engineer who was working on the Manchester Ship Canal. Like so many well-to-do Irish families in those days they appear to have squandered away their wealth and your Grandfather had to go into business in Belfast. I gather he was in clothing and is described in Father's birth certificate as Draper. It appears that he must have been successful enough because he bought a large house outside the City called Roselands [6] in which the family was brought up. The eldest son James became a highly successful architect and appears to have been the guiding light of the family. He bought a house at Knock [7] , outside Belfast. He took Jack Hugh, June and Martin to live with him and an Aunt [8] , his mother's sister to chaperone them. Although exceedingly clever at his profession it would appear that he was a poor judge of the Fair Sex and married a woman much older than himself. He died tragically at the age of thirty due to gas poisoning, contracted in the sewage system of Belfast while he was surveying foundations. (Raymond's comment: I have always understood that he was a pioneer, in stressed concrete and submitted the winning plans for the Belfast Bridge.) When left a widow, the wife became very peculiar and was utterly estranged from the rest of the family. When she died many years later she left, which in those days was a vast sum, £60, 000 to Dr. Bernando's Homes. Father's brother and sister can’t have played their cards very well [9] !!

Roselands was sold when John Browne retired and he and his wife went to live at Tullycarnan [10] . This was a farm which had been left to your Father on the death of his Mother's Grand Uncle [11] . Your father was named Martin after him. The Uncle's idea, a very wise one as it turned out, was that if. there was any money in the family it would go to the elder children, and Martin, the youngest wouldn't get any. He was especially fond of the "wee lad". This old man was typically Irish, hard riding, hard living and hard drinking. Martin "said that the country people told many tales of his wild exploits. His family before him had owned the place for some three hundred years [12] . It stood on the edge of the sea and had some hundreds of acres of land behind it providing excellent rough shooting, which your father much appreciated! ! but it doesn’t .seem to have been much use for anything else. Attempts were made to fruit farm it but the place was so wind swept that this was a failure. It was near the fishing port of Ardglass. Mothers opinion was that it was only fit to live in during the summer!!! It must be remembered that Mother was pregnant with Brian at the time she was there, they lived in a cottage on the property because Father's parents were still alive and living in the main house.

Father loved the sea, the more stormy it was the better he liked it. He had a sailing boat "The Mischief" and sailing in the worst of weathers was a joy to him always. The country people thought him a wizard with this boat. He sailed right round Ireland in it on one occasion, no mean feat I am lead to understand. The more dangerous something was the better Father liked it! !

The other brothers rather envied Martin’s luck at having been bequeathed such a fine place. But, heavily mortgaged in ensuing years, it proved to be more of a nightmare than a blessing. His Mother pleaded with him not to sell while she still lived. It was eventually sold at the worst time possible, the Irish independence troubles had started and the depression after the war sent all property values plummeting.

In 1910 The Boer War started in South Africa and Martin's eldest brother Edgar who at that time was a commissioned in The Irish Guards, went out there to fight. It appears that he never saw active service but used a vast amount of money and was a constant drain on the family resources. It was at this time that Jim, working on the plans for Belfast City Hall, was gassed which left Father in a bit of a hole because he was working with Jim in his office.

June, your father’s younger sister, became engaged and married Tom Jackson-Brown [13] , nephew to General Jackson Brown [14] . From that time on she had to remember to spell her name without the E!!! [15] . They went .to live in Canada where he was an engineer on The Canadian Pacific Railway. They finally settled in Vancouver. They had two sons [16] and a daughter [17] who are presumably living there to this day.

            Hugh, Martin's third brother, also emigrated to Vancouver where he worked as an architect on the City Council. He later became a Town Councillor. He had served with The Royal Engineers during the War and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. He had married a girl [18] from the North of England whom he met while training up there, they had one child, a son

When Jim died his wife sold Holly Park. Both Martin and Jack, his elder brother, became officers in the Militia. A form of part time military service. This suited Father because when he was not serving he was able to keep an eye on his property, much needed one gathers! ! ! !.

Martin was Royal Artillery, stationed on Spike Island [19] - a famous barracks in County Cork. It appears he spent some happy and care-free years peacetime soldiering. Hunting with the Kildare Hounds, shooting, fishing, sailing and thoroughly enjoying a very social life.

Edgar [20] , was at this time living in a flat in London. He was living a very gay life, presumably on borrowed money and he decided to go into politics. He was of course Conservative and the Party chose him to stand for Lower Ham- lets in Whitehall in 1912.He stood against the famous barrister Sir. Herbert Samuel, a Jew of course in a Jewish constituency but despite this he managed to get over a third of the votes. He was a master of the use of Irish Blarney!!

It appears that he was in pretty desperate financial straights when the 1914 war broke out and he was able to join up being on the reserve of officers .He was a Lieutenant Colonel and it appears much liked by his men but not by his fellow officers and especially his seniors!!! He was awarded a D.S.O. but despite this an ungovernable temper resulted in his being cashiered and sent home. Unabashed and by this time married to a 16 year old girl who bore him five children by the time she was 21 ! !

He rented a Castle in Sussex from which he tried desperately to be re-instated into the Army. [n this he did not succeed and the publicity was very damaging for his brothers. Father had decided to make the Army his career but felt that the name Monteagle-Browne had been so besmirched that it could well affect his future ceased to use it (we were not encouraged to do so either). [21]

Martin married me in 1915 and had intended to farm after the war. His ambition was always to breed cattle. He had a natural ability when handling animals. He would have been an excellent vet. Immediately after the war we went to live in Hatfield Broad Oak where your Father studied Pedigree Short Horn breeding with a man named Gingel. At this time there was a dreadful depression in England, especially in agriculture and we decided against farming and Martin took a post as Architect on the War Graves Commission. We lived in Ypres, Armontiere a small town on the outskirts I believe I am correct in saying. (Comment by Raymond. I should know, I was born there!! !)

Edgar died from heart failure and was buried after his wishes with a soldier bugler sounding The Last Post over his grave in Sussex near the ruined castle gates of Hurst Monceau. Martin summed up his life with the famous and very apt Irish saying " Himself was his worst enemy! ! "

 

Raymond Narrates.

Terrance Monteagle-Browne, the youngest of Edgar’s seven children, lives or I should say lived near my Parents in Hatfield Broad Oak. He is married to a very pleasant Danish woman and they had, when I met them, two sons. I gave the eldest some very rudimentary lessons in fishing when I visited them in their beautiful home at Takely Forest. He has his own business in Veneer and must be doing exceedingly well, if one can judge by his house and furnishings! ! He appears, according to Mother to be blissfully unaware of his Father's somewhat shady past. "Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise" and we naturally did not wish to enlighten him.

Mother was one of the many lassies who Edgar led up the garden path as we say. She was helping him with the campaign for his election. I presume she told Father about this. He had already stopped using his family name of Monteagle and we never met any of Edgar's other children. When I gave Martin the Family name I would never have dreamed of telling Mother that I had done so, she would have been very disgusted. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! !"

 



[3] Arthur Howe Browne b: 08 May 1867 d: 28 May 1951 SEE: BROWNE family connections from Cowdray, Sligo & Janeville

[4] NOTE by Sharon: I would presume this to be Robert BROWNE (1856-1922) who died in Sidcup, Co. Kent. Based on the 1901 & 1911 England census his wife was Fanny, and they had a child Norman BROWNE age 15 in 1901 who likely died btw 1901-1911. She had a previous marriage and a child Charles MELLOR (b abt 1867).

[5] NOTE by Sharon: I can find no record of a Theodosia. Could this be a middle name?

[6] NOTE by Sharon: I searched the 1902 Belfast (Bloomfield) map and could find no record of this Roseland house name. I suspect it may have been near where Andersonstown Park South meets Kennedy Way. Interestingly, Roselands was the name of 693 Lodge group which met at the 95 Crumlin Freemason Hall.  See also 95 Crumlin Rd. Freemason Hall. My Grandmother’s birth certificate indicates a birth place at 234 Crumlin Road. This is an interesting co-incidence and worth following up.

[7] NOTE by Sharon: The Ordinance Survey Map of Belfast (Bloomfield) 1902 shows a J.C.M Brown, architect and civil engineer living at Holly Park. His death certificate has him living at D'Olier, Cherryvalley Park, Knock.

[8] Jane EDGAR (1841-1920).

[9] NOTE by Sharon: The will abstract at PRONI may shed a little more light on the situation. It could be that the house was in her name and he had married into money, but had little of his own. SEE: 1910 BROWNE James Carlisle Monteagle [185] 26 August Administration of the Estate of James Carlisle Monteagle Browne late of Cherryvalley Park, Knock, Belfast. Architect who died 8 August 1910 granted Belfast to Elizabeth Browne, the widow. Effects £ 190.0s.2d (NOTE: I didn’t copy the entire will. His debts seemed to be covered by shares in his wife’s name and he seemed to own no land or a house. They had no children. They owned shares in The Waste Heat & Gas Electrical Generating Stations Ltd and the rest was household effects. He died at age 33.)

[11] Probably George Crean MARTIN who died April 24, 1899.

[12] NOTE by Sharon: This would be the townland of Ringfad. NOTES by Michael Browne: Colonel John Martin of Scotland, on retirement from the Army was appointed by King George III Government Tax Collector for Lecale Barony, North of Ireland, and on dying he left each of his three sons properties and land in County Down. Allen, the eldest getting Ringfad, near Ardglass, County Down with approximately 300 acres of land, and the property known as Tullycarnon or White Lodge, with several cottages included in this legacy, & the whole property sweeping down to the sea from the Mountain slopes of Mourne.

[13] NOTE by Sharon: This would be Thomas Jackson BROWN 1879-1933, son of Thompson BROWN and Elizabeth JACKSON

[14] NOTE by Sharon: I am unclear who this “General Jackson BROWN” might be. None of his JACKSON uncles look likely – they were farmers, bankers, or else died in childhood, nor do any of his BROWN(E) uncles.

[15] She used to exclaim with a laugh: I got married and lost my E!!!!.

[16] Sharon’s NOTE: David Hugh Plunkett BROWN (my father) and Thomas Jackson BROWN.

[17] Dorothy Violet ROBERTSON née BROWN

[18] Eleanor Frances BOOTH (1892-1986) of Clive House, Heaton Chapel

[19] Raymond’s handwritten notes: “Military garrison outside Cork.”

[20] Raymond’s handwriting: “Father’s eldest brother.”

[21] Comment from Raymond: “Strange to relate, when Karin and I visited Martin who was visiting Cork frequently and had a flat there, we played golf and the Pro’s wife said I was the “split image” of one of their members. She called her husband to verify this which he did. Perhaps father had a very gay time while stationed there. I am also very like him in appearance and build, even temperament – all in the genes!!!”

 

 

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