Friday 4 November 2016

(238) Atkinson of Glenwilliam Castle

Atkinson of Glenwilliam
This family claimed descent from Thomas Atkinson, who obtained a grant of land in County Monaghan in 1667 under the Act of Settlement. The genealogy below begins with Thomas Atkinson (1770-1839), the son of Thomas Atkinson (1736-1824) 'of Anaghabawn', which is perhaps to be identified with Bannaghbane in Co. Monaghan or Annaghbane in Co. Down. Thomas himself farmed at Dernamoyle, Dartrey (Monaghan), a property which he passed to his son Thomas Atkinson (1805-92). His other two sons, Edward and John, were sent to Glasgow University to study medicine, and qualified as surgeons. John died young, but Edward Atkinson (1801-76) established a successful practice at Drogheda in Co. Louth, where he quickly became a prominent figure in the town, serving as a JP for the borough, and as its Sheriff in 1824. The accumulated proceeds of successful practice, perhaps combined with some family money, enabled Edward to buy Glenwilliam Castle near Ballingarry in Co. Limerick through the Incumbered Estates Court for £3,100 in 1851. The estate comprised over 500 acres, and the castle was a comfortable late 18th century house with a modern castellated extension of the 1830s. In 1872 he made a further investment when he bought Skea Hall near Enniskillen (Fermanagh), a handsome house built in about 1830 for the Hassard family.

Dr. Atkinson married twice. By his first wife he had two sons and three daughters, and one of the sons predeceased him. The other was John Atkinson (1844-1932), who qualified as a barrister in 1865 and soon built a large practice on the Munster circuit. He also harboured political and judicial ambitions, becoming Solicitor General for Ireland 1889-92, and MP for Londonderry North and Attorney General for Ireland, 1895-1905. He was then made a Lord of Appeal and given a life peerage as Baron Atkinson. The fact that he was moved straight into such a senior judicial position without any previous judicial experience caused some comment at the time, but he quickly demonstrated his competence, and he continued to act as a Law Lord until he retired in 1928. His career meant that he divided his time between Dublin and London, and this may be why his father decided to leave his estates to the only son of his second marriage, Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson (1863-1935), who was a teenage boy when Dr. Atkinson died in 1876. Thomas came of age in 1884 and lived at Glenwilliam throughout his life. Skea was normally let, the tenant for many years being George Andrew Atkinson (1854-1927), a younger son of the Atkinsons of Cavangarden, who was a solicitor in Enniskillen; the estate was apparently sold after G.A. Atkinson gave up the tenancy.

When Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson died in 1935 he had one surviving daughter, Sibyl Maud (1895-1975), who was the wife of Col. John Penry Garnons Worlledge (1888-1957). Sibyl proposed selling the Glenwilliam estate at the end of the Second World War, and the house was put on the market. A prospective purchaser made an offer and was told this had been accepted, but Mrs. Worlledge subsequently declined to complete the sale and later persuaded the courts that the agents who accepted the offer had not been authorised to do so. Glenwilliam in fact remained in the family for another half century, passing in 1975 to Sibyl's daughter, Wendy Sibyl Garnons Worlledge (1926-95), who married Aubrey Stuart Rawson (b. 1922) in 1948. There was a big sale of the historic contents of the house before she finally sold the house with the remaining 25 acres to the present owners in 1993.

Glenwilliam Castle, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick

Glenwilliam Castle in the 1950s or 1960s. Image: Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum, Limerick (Stewart Collection. 1987:0427)

A two-storey three-bay house with a curved bow in the centre of the entrance and garden fronts, built in 1796-97 by an unknown architect for the Rev. William Massy. On the entrance side, the bow has a round-headed rusticated doorway; the rear bow looks into a walled garden behind the house. In the early 1830s George Massy added a castellated tower to the left of the original house, reputedly to the designs of James & George Richard Pain. They were no doubt also responsible for the castellated outbuildings close to the house.

Descent: Rev. William Massy (d. 1822); to son, George Massy (1760-1835); to son, William Hamo de Massy (1820-48); to son, George Thomas de Massy (c.1844-1922), whose Trustees sold the house and 552 acres in the Incumbered Estates Court, 1851 to Dr. Edward Atkinson (1801-76) for £3,100; to son, Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson (1863-1935); to daughter, Sybil Maud (1895-1975), wife of John Penry Garnons Worlledge (1888-1957); to daughter, Wendy Sibyl Garnons (1926-95), wife of Maj. Aubrey Stuart Rawson (b. 1922); who sold with 25 acres for £205,000 in 1993 to Edward Anthony Storey (b. 1940) & Barbara Storey (b. 1942).

Skea Hall, Cleenish, Co. Fermanagh

A stylish late Georgian seven bay villa, built c.1830 for George Hassard. The house was described in 1835 as 'a very neat and handsome building of one storey and basement. It has a very handsome portico on four pillars. The offices attached and in rear of the building are neat and commodious and in good order. The demesne, which comprises the greater part of the townland of Skea, is neat and tastefully laid out'. The long low house has a primitive Doric porch and a Doric eaves cornice. Inside, there is an original fireplace with figures of Music and Painting and Ceres on a leopard, and also early 19th century French wallpapers depicting battles at sea and in India.

Descent: Col. William Acheson (d. 1656/7); to widow, Jane (later Mrs. Hume); to John Hume (fl. 1711), who sold 1711 to Capt. Jason Hassard (d. 1727); to son, William Hassard (who was husband to William Acheson's granddaughter); sold 1728 to his brother, Jason Hassard; to son, Robert Hassard (d. 1800); to son, George Hassard (1775-1847); given to son, Robert Hassard (d. 1880), who sold to a member of the Cole family (Earls of Enniskillen); sold back to George Hassard (1775-1847); to son, Rev. Edward Hassard DD (1800-73); sold 1860 in the Landed Estates Court to his brother, George Hassard (1811-71); sold 1872 to Edward Atkinson (1801-76); to son, Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson (1863-1935), who let it from 1882 to George Andrew Atkinson (1854-1927) and then sold to James A. Cathcart (fl. 1945)...

Atkinson family of Glenwilliam Castle and Skea Hall

Atkinson, Thomas (1770-1839). Son of Thomas Atkinson (1736-1824) of Anaghabawn (Monaghan) [perhaps Bannaghbane (Monaghan) or Annaghbane (Down)] and his wife, born 1770. He married, 1799, Sarah (d. 1848), daughter of Richard Philips of Drumcall (Monaghan), and had issue:
(1) Eliza Atkinson (b. 1800); married Francis Finley;
(2) Dr. Edward Atkinson (1801-76) (q.v.);
(3) Jane Atkinson (1803-22?); married Dr. John Wordsworth;
(4) Thomas Atkinson (1805-92); succeeded his father at Dernamoyle, Dartrey (Monaghan); married and had issue two sons and four daughters; 
(5) Rebecca Atkinson (1807-92); married, 16 December 1830 at Kilcrow (Monaghan), Joseph Crawford (1811-97) of Newbliss (Monaghan) and had issue including two sons; died at Cootehill, Jan-Mar 1892.
(6) Dr. John Atkinson (1810-37); educated at Glasgow University (CM 1830); doctor of medicine; died unmarried and without issue, 1837;
(7) Richard Atkinson (1814-56); died unmarried and without issue, 1856;
He lived at Dernamoyle, Dartrey (Monaghan).
His will was proved in 1839. His widow died in 1848.

Atkinson, Dr. Edward (1801-76). Eldest son of Thomas Atkinson (1770-1839) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Richard Philips of Drumcall, born 1801. Educated at Glasgow University (CM 1820). Physician and surgeon at Drogheda (Louth). JP for Drogheda (Louth) and for Co. Limerick (from 1861); High Sheriff of Drogheda, 1824. He married 1st, 26 June 1833 at Drogheda, Rosetta (1809-49), daughter of Capt. John Shaw McCulloch, postmaster of Drogheda, and 2nd, 24 September 1857 at Swindon (Glos), Emma (1823-1906), daughter of Maj. Joseph Jeanes Durbin of Bristol, and had issue:
(1.1) Anna Atkinson (1834-1903), born 21 May 1834; married 1st, 10 February 1859 at Ballingarry, Henry Warren (d. 1869) of Drummin House (Meath), and had issue one son and two daughters; married 2nd, 5 October 1874, as his second wife, Rev. Brabazon William Brunker (1816-77), vicar of Duleek (Meath); died 11 December 1903; will proved 4 February 1904 (estate £354);
(1.2) Rosetta Atkinson (1840-77), born 20 October 1840; married, December 1869, Joseph Pim Williams (d. 1890) of Sandymount (Dublin), fourth son of David Williams of Pen-Ral, North Wales, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 1877;
(1.3) Rt. Hon. John Atkinson (1844-1932), Baron Atkinson (q.v.);
(1.4) Edward Atkinson (1846-75), born 26 June 1845; married, 17 October 1872 at St Stephen, Dublin, Lydia, daughter of William Rutherford JP of Drum (Monaghan) and had issue two sons; died at Donnybrook (Dublin), 22 March 1875; administration of goods granted to his widow, 28 May 1875 (effects under £1,500);
(1.5) Sarah Rosetta Atkinson (1849-1917) of Simmons Court House, Donnybrook (Dublin), born 7 November 1849; married, 26 October 1877 at Eglish, Kingstown (Dublin), Brabazon Brunker, eldest son of Robert Burrows Brunker, solicitor, of Donnybrook (Dublin), and had issue; died 31 August 1917; will proved in Dublin, 1 October 1917 (estate in Ireland, £935) and sealed in London, 11 October 1917 (effects in England, £149);
(2.1) Emma Anne Atkinson (1861-1936), born 1 March 1861; married, 28 March 1882, Deane Shelton (1852-1928) of Rossmore House (Limerick) and had issue four sons and three daughters; died in Guildford (Surrey), 29 May 1936 and was buried at West Clandon (Surrey); will proved 4 September 1936 (estate in England, £310) and 12 October 1936 (estate in Ireland, £615);
(2.2) Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson (1863-1935) (q.v.).
He lived in West St., Drogheda, until he purchased Glenwilliam Castle (Limerick) through the Incumbered Estates Court in 1851. He also bought Skea Hall (Fermanagh) in 1872.
He died at Duleek (Meath), 22 October 1876; his will was proved at Dublin, 24 January 1877 (effects in Ireland under £35,000 and in England under £4,000). His first wife died in Drogheda, 15 November 1849. His widow died 31 December 1906; her will was proved 29 January 1907 (estate £5,902).

John Atkinson, Baron Atkinson
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John (1844-1932), Baron Atkinson. Elder son of Edward Atkinson (1801-76) and his first wife, Rosetta, daughter of Capt. John Shaw McCulloch, born at Drogheda, 13 December 1844. Educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution; Queen's College, Galway (BA 1861, LLB 1865); King's Inns, Dublin (admitted 1862; called to bar, 1865; QC 1880; bencher, 1885); and Inner Temple (admitted 1862; called to English bar, 1890; bencher, 1906); barrister at law on the Munster circuit in Ireland, where he was known as a powerful advocate with a keen sense of humour. MP for North Londonderry, 1895-1905; Solicitor General for Ireland, 1889-92; Privy Councillor for Ireland, 1892; Attorney General for Ireland, 1892, 1895-1905, in which role his knowledge of land and social problems in Ireland made his advice was invaluable to the chief secretary for Ireland, Gerald Balfour in the framing and passing of the Irish Land Act of 1896 and the Local Government Act of 1898. He was a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 1905-28 and was created a life peer as Baron Atkinson of Glenwilliam, 19 December 1905 and sworn of the Privy Council of England, 1905. He married, 22 March 1874, Rowena (1842-1911), only daughter of Dr. Richard Chute MD of Tralee (Kerry) and formerly wife* of Arthur Steffe Crisp (by whom she had two sons), and had issue:
(1) Hon. Edward Chute Atkinson (1875-1906), born 31 July 1875; accidentally shot himself in the head, 1894, while playing with a gun which he believed to be unloaded; he survived and became a farmer in Nyasaland (now Malawi); died unmarried of dysentery at Blantyre (Malawi), 26 July 1906;
(2) Hon. Cecil Thomas Atkinson (1876-1919), born 23 October 1876; educated at Charterhouse, Trinity College, Dublin (BA) and Kings Inns (called to Irish bar, 1901); barrister-at-law (KC 1913); Judge of the High Court of Bihar and Orissa (India), 1915-20; married, 6 August 1903, Florence (1876-1959), daughter of Godfrey Lovelace Taylor of Grangeville, Fethard (Wexford) and had issue one son and two daughters; died as a result of falling from a train in India in rather mysterious circumstances, 16 November, and was buried at Allahabad, Bengal (India), 18 November 1919; his will was proved in Dublin, 8 January 1920, and sealed in London, 27 January 1920 (estate in England, £11,753);
(3) Capt. the Hon. Hector John Atkinson (1877-1917), born 3 June 1877; educated at Trinity College, Dublin; an officer in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, 1900-16 (Capt., 1909); heavyweight champion boxer in the Army; he fought in the First World War and was injured in 1914 and transferred to home duties in Belfast and later Dublin, but was obliged to live subsequently under the care of a nurse; married, 28 September 1910, Dr. Sybil Ievers MD (d. 1939), youngest daughter of George Maurice Ievers of Ballinagarde (Limerick), and had issue one daughter; lived at Kilmainham (Cavan) and in Dublin; died intestate, 26 May 1917; administration of his goods was granted to his former nurse as principal creditor, 16 March 1918; his widow lived subsequently at Tyrellspass House (Westmeath) and bought Mount Ievers (Clare) in January 1939;
(4) Lt-Col. the Hon. Hubert Rowan Atkinson (1882-1950), born 6 October 1882; an officer in the army (Capt., 1916; Maj., 1917; Lt-Col., 1932); married 1st, 30 January 1907, Mabel Coralie (d. 1942), daughter of George Gerard Tyrrell, and had issue one son; married 2nd, Apr-Jun 1942, Blanche Kirsten (c.1883-1956), daughter of Jules Edward Wilbey and former wife of Harold Brehmer Colbourne (1882-1950) and Geoffrey Livy-Owen (1890-1979); died 30 October 1950 in Llandudno (Caernarvons.); his will was proved in London, 21 January 1951 (estate in England & Wales, £21,329) and sealed in Belfast, 1 March 1951 (estate in Northern Ireland, £345).
He lived in Dublin and later in London.
He died in London, 13 March 1932; his will was proved 17 May 1932 (estate £38,271). His wife died 17 January 1911 and was buried at Deansgrange Cemetery, Blackrock (Dublin); administration of her goods was granted at Dublin, 7 February 1911 (effects in Ireland, £1,760) and sealed in London, 22 February 1911 (effects in England, £26).
*When she married John Atkinson she claimed to be a widow, but she was divorced from Crisp (1841-1924) in 1871.

Atkinson, Thomas Richard Durbin (1863-1935). Only son of Edward Atkinson (1801-76) and his second wife, Emma, daughter of Maj. Joseph Jeanes Durbin of Bristol, born 21 January 1863. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1881). JP and DL for Co. Limerick; High Sheriff of Co. Limerick, 1888. He married, 28 February 1884, Sophie Mary (c.1850-1947), daughter of Capt. Thomas Wilkinson of St. Oswalds (Limerick), and had issue:
(1) Eileen Violet Atkinson (1888-1924), born 19 June 1888; married, 17 May 1915, Vice-Adm. Robert Gordon Douglas Dewar CBE (1874-1948), son of Col. Gordon Dewar of Harmony Hall (Jamaica) and Parteen (Limerick), and had issue one son; died 22 September 1924; her will was proved 16 February 1925 (estate £723);
(2) Sybil Maud Atkinson (1895-1975) (q.v.).
He inherited Glenwilliam Castle and Skea Hall from his father in 1876 and came of age in 1884. He sold Skea Hall after 1927.
He died 28 October 1935; his will was proved in London, 20 January 1936 (estate in England, £31,565). His widow died 5 November 1947, aged 97; her will was proved at Limerick, 14 February 1928 (estate £134).

Atkinson, Sibyl Maud (1895-1975). Younger daughter but only surviving child of Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson (1863-1935) and his wife Sophie Mary, daughter of Capt. Thomas Wilkinson of St. Oswalds (Limerick), born 31 January 1895. She married, 17 March 1919, Col. John Penry Garnons Worlledge OBE (1888-1957), son of Capt. Alfred C. Worlledge of York, and had issue:
(1) Wendy Sibyl Garnons Worlledge (1926-95) (q.v.);
(2) Annabel Moya Garnons Worlledge (b. 1932), born 16 August 1932; registered nurse, 1957; married, 29 September 1959, Capt. Leonard Rhys Griffiths and had issue three sons; lived in Ottawa (Canada) in 1976.
She inherited Glenwilliam Castle from her father in 1935. The castle was advertised for sale in 1946 and a purchaser came forward, but she did not complete the sale; this led to a legal action in 1947 which she won.
She died 21 December 1975; her will was proved in Limerick, 13 April 1976 (estate in Ireland, £8,881) and in London, 8 July 1976 (estate in England & Wales, £8,209). Her husband died 27 or 29 July 1957; his will was proved in Dublin, 27 November 1957 (estate in Ireland, £1,256) and in London, 23 January 1958 (estate in England, £881).

Worlledge, Wendy Sibyl Garnons (1926-95). Elder daughter of Col. John Percy Garnons Worlledge OBE (1888-1957) and his wife, Sybil Maud, daughter of Thomas Richard Durbin Atkinson of Glenwilliam Castle and Skea House, born in Cairo (Egypt), 31 January 1926. During the Second World  War she was recruited by MI5 for military intelligence work, and was later private secretary to HM Ambassador to Peru, 1946-47. In 1974 she became the first woman to sit as a jury member in a criminal trial in Ireland outside Dublin. She married, 20 April 1948, Maj. Aubrey Stuart Rawson (b. 1922), elder son of Maj-Gen. Geoffrey Grahame Rawson CBE MC of London SW5, and had issue:
(1) Clennell Aubrey Penry Rawson (b. 1949), born 13 July 1949; educated at Culford School; animation layout artist and animator since 1976;
(2) David Graham Thomas Rawson (b. 1953), born 25 January 1953; educated at Shiplake College.
She inherited Glenwilliam Castle from her mother in 1975 but sold it in 1993.
She died at Adare (Limerick), May 1995. Her husband's date of death is unknown.


Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1912, pp. 18-19; L.G. Pine, The new extinct peerage, 1884-1971, 1972, pp. 18-19; Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, pp. 983-84; A. Rowan, The buildings of Ireland: North-West Ulster, 1979, pp. 139-40; M. Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish country houses, 2nd edn., 1990, p. 140; Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, vol. 14, p. 17; The Irish Examiner, 7 May 1947, p. 5.

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Per pale, gules and argent, an eagle displayed with two heads counterchanged, on a chief engrailed ermine, a rose proper between two martlets or.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • Can anyone tell me about the ownership of Skea Hall since the mid 20th century?
  • Can anyone give me fuller genealogical or career information about the children of Thomas Atkinson (1770-1839) apart from Dr. Edward Anderson?
  • Can anyone provide the date of death of Major Aubrey Stuart Rawson (b. 1922) or provide more information about the careers of his sons?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 4 November 2016 and was updated 3 August 2022.


  1. Very well executed work! I was doing some work on the Brunker family in Cavan and Monaghan and your post further illustrated the intense interweaving of families long after they left the region. I can't help with your more pointed queries but when I can say that the links between Atkinson Rutherford and Brunker are complex and close.

  2. Annaghbawn is surely Annaghybane townland, in the same parish and close to Dernamoyle townland.

    Are you aware of any connection of these Monaghan Atkinsons to the professional and landed Atkinsons of Money, Kilmore parish Armagh and also Crowhill, Magaraty townland north of Kilmore?

    1. Your identification of the townland seems very probable.

      I have written about the Atkinsons of Crow Hill here: An early connection between the Armagh and Monaghan Atkinsons does seem plausible but I have not attempted to trace either family further back than their country house owning days.

  3. I know the house that Thomas Atkinson (1805-1892) lived and died in Scotshouse County Monaghan. The house is still standing and lived in by people not related to atkinsons.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.