Monday, 22 June 2020

(422) Barton of Glendalough House

Barton of Glendalough
Thomas Johnston Barton (1802-64) was the third son of Hugh Massy Barton (1766-1854) of Straffan House (Kildare), an important wine merchant in Bordeaux (France), whose story will be told in a future post. Thomas was himself a partner in the family firm of Sneyd, French and Barton, wine merchants in Dublin, but it seems likely that he was more or less a sleeping partner as he never appears in any active capacity in the firm. The senior partner until 1833 was Nathaniel Sneyd, who was murdered in the street outside the firm's offices in that year, and thereafter members of the French family filled the role until 1860, when the business was sold. In 1838 Barton bought the Glendalough estate in Co. Wicklow, and engaged the Irish-American architect, Daniel Robertson (d. 1849) to build what was in effect a new house, attached at one corner to its predecessor, and he quickly became a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Co. Wicklow.

When Thomas died in 1864 he was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas Erskine Barton (1830-74), who was unmarried and did not occupy the house, preferring a smaller villa at Finglas (Co. Dublin) and a town house in Dublin. It may well be that Glendalough was occupied by his mother until her death in 1867, and then by his younger brother, Charles William Barton (1836-90), who inherited the property when Erskine died. Charles had seven children of his own and some time after 1881 his widowed sister, Anna Childers (1840-84), brought her two sons and three daughters to live at Glendalough too. To accommodate them, Charles built a new range, connecting one end of the stable block to the older part of the house. It thus happened that her younger son, Erskine Childers (1870-1922) grew up at Glendalough alongside Charles' son, Robert Childers Barton (1881-1975), and both men became leading figures in the struggle for Irish independence. Although they did not always agree, both men were among the Irish delegates to the Anglo-Irish Peace Conference of 1921 (Childers as secretary-general of the Irish delegation) and both repudiated the resulting treaty soon after it was signed, aligning themselves with the anti-treaty faction of Sinn Fein as Ireland descended into civil war in 1922. The pro-treaty Irish Free State government saw both men as leading political opponents, but they were also not fully trusted by the anti-treaty republican movement. Robert Barton was arrested and interned at the Curragh for most of the Irish civil war, being released under the general amnesty at the end of the war when independence had been achieved. Although he stood in the 1923 general election he was defeated and subsequently withdrew from front-line politics to concentrate on a career as a barrister and eventually as a judge. Childers was less fortunate, being arrested at Glendalough by the Free State authorities during the Civil War and being found in possession of an unlicensed pistol, which was a capital offence under martial law. He was subsequently executed by firing squad at the Beggar's Bush barracks in Dublin.

Robert Childrens Barton was married in 1950 but had no issue. When he died in 1975 at the age of 94 he was the last living signatory of the ill-fated 1922 Peace Treaty. He bequeathed Glendalough to his first cousin once removed, Robert Alden Childers (1910-96), who was the youngest son of Erskine Childers and the brother of the former President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers (1905-74). Unfortunately, he demolished the main block of the Victorian house and refurbished what was left in 1977-79 before selling the estate in 1981. It was on the market again in 2015, but was withdrawn unsold.

Glendalough House, Annamoe, Co. Wicklow

The house stands in a fine position by the Avonmore river, and as it exists today consists largely of two long ranges of one-and-a-half and two storeys respectively, set at right-angles to each other. The core is a low two-storey house which was built by Thomas Hugo in about 1800 after his earlier house (of which nothing is known) had been burnt down by rebels who called him a 'cruel and inhuman tyrant' for the severity with which he put down the rebellion in Wicklow. Until the 1830s the house was known as Dromeen or Drummin. Hugo's house now forms part of one of the long ranges, and has Wyatt windows, a fan-lighted doorway, and an eaved roof on a bracket cornice. The interior of this retains its Georgian character although many of the details appear to be later reproductions. The hall contains a wooden staircase running around three sides of it, and the small dining room has a circle of simple plasterwork in its ceiling.

In 1838 the house was sold to Thomas Johnston Barton (1802-64), and soon afterwards, Daniel Robertson added a new Tudor Gothic east range at right-angles to the original house, and a detached stable block north-west of the earlier buildings. The old house was retained as a family or service wing at the rear of the new building. Robertson's new range had a front which was symmetrical but for an overhanging oriel to the left, gabled dormer windows, and a battlemented two-storey central canted bow. The porte-cochere in front of the canted bow was a later addition.

Glendalough House: the east range added by Daniel Robertson after 1838 and demolished in 1977-79.

The entrance under the Victorian porte-cochere led into a hall with a stone Gothic fireplace and a flight of steps up to the level of the principal rooms. Beyond was an impressive staircase hall, lit by an elegant oval lantern, containing a wooden staircase with carved oak newels but with balusters of cast iron foliage. Originally the stairs were in an adjoining space and this main hall merely had a gallery, but they were moved here c.1882 and the original staircase hall was then divided so as to form another room with a bedroom over it. The drawing room had a plain coved ceiling and a white marble chimneypiece with acanthus and fluted columns. The dining room had a coved ceiling with a wooden cornice and an elaborate carved oak chimneypiece and overmantel, and carved oak sideboards to match.

In c.1882-83, the old house was connected to the originally freestanding stable block of 1838 by a new range built to the designs of McCurdy & Mitchell of Dublin, to accommodate Charles Barton's nieces and nephews, the children of his sister and Prof. R.C. Childers, among whom was the writer and Irish nationalist, Erskine Childers (1870-1922), who thus grew up at Glendalough alongside his cousin and close friend, Robert Childers Barton (1881-1976), who inherited Glendalough in 1890. The house is said to have been 'reconstructed' under the supervision of Vincent Kelly in 1929 but what occasioned this and how extensive it was is not clear.

Glendalough House: the surviving portion of the house, with the original building on the right, the stables of 1838 on the left and the linking building of 1882-83 in the centre. Image: National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

When R.C. Barton died without issue in 1975 (aged 94), he left the house to Robert Alden Childers (1911-96), the son of his friend Erskine Childers and the brother of Ireland's fourth president, Erskine Hamilton Childers (1905-74). Unfortunately Childers demolished the main block of the Victorian house in 1977-79 and remodelled the remaining wings to provide the new living spaces. In 1981 he sold the estate. A small addition was made to the right of the main house in the early 1980s, and the stable block was subsequently converted into apartments. 

The two-storey cottage orné lodge at the Oldbridge entrance to the estate by Daniel Robertson is based on a design published by Thomas Frederick Hunt in his pattern book, Exemplars of Tudor architecture (1831), and was presumably built at the same time as Robertson's addition to the house. An earlier single-storey gabled lodge of c.1825 survives at the Annamoe entrance; the lodge at the Drummin entrance which stood on the opposite side of the road to the gates has been demolished.

Descent: Thomas Hugo (fl. 1798)... Thomas Hugo sold 1838 to Thomas Johnston Barton (1802-64); to son, Thomas Erskine Barton (1830-74); to brother, Charles William Barton (1836-90); to son, Robert Childers Barton (1881-1975); given to Robert Alden Childers (1910-96), who sold 1981 to Sean McKone; sold c.1986 to Johnson family.

Barton family of Glendalough

Barton, Thomas Johnston (1802-64). Third son of Hugh Massy Barton (1766-1854) of Straffan House (Co. Kildare) and Grove (Co. Tipperary), a Bordeaux wine merchant, and his wife Anne (d. 1841), daughter of Nathaniel Wild Johnston of Bordeaux (France), baptised at Wimbledon (Surrey), 20 September 1802. Partner in Sneyd, French & Barton of Dublin, wine merchants. JP and DL for Co. Wicklow. He married, 25 March 1830 at Fairlight (Sussex), Frances (1810-67), daughter of Edward Morris of Hampstead (Middx) and later of Fairlight, Master in Chancery and MP for Newport (IoW), and had issue:
(1) Thomas Erskine Barton (1830-74) (q.v.);
(2) Frances Isabella Barton (1833-1908), born 19 July and baptised at Baden-Baden (Germany), 6 July 1833; married 1st, 19 May 1859 at British Legation, Portugal, Capt. James Christine Hart (1832-76) of Borrowstone, Kincardine O'Neil (Aberdeens); married 2nd, 23 July 1888 at Derrylossary, Fletcher Norton Menzies JP (1819-1905) of Ardgairney, Kinross, younger son of Sir Neil Menzies, 6th bt., but had no issue; died 17 February 1908; will proved in Dublin, 2 April 1908 (estate £78,085);
(3) Hugh Massy Barton (1834-80), born 10 February 1834; educated at Royal Military College, Sandhurst; officer in 7th Foot and later 17th Lancers (Ensign, 1864; Lt., 1869; retired 1872); died in a private mental asylum at Moorcroft, Hillingdon (Middx), 28 February 1880; administration of goods granted in London 29 April 1880 (estate under £9,000) and in Dublin, 12 May 1880 and 11 March 1891;
(4) Charles William Barton (1836-90) (q.v.);
(5) Georgiana Susanna Arabella Barton (c.1838-68); married, 30 October 1856 at Derrylossary, George Booth JP (1829-92) of Laragh House (Co. Wicklow), son of James Booth of London, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 28 May 1868; administration of goods granted to her husband, 27 October 1868 (effects under £6,000);
(6) Robert Johnston Barton (1839-79), born 20 February 1839; an officer in Coldstream Guards (Cornet, 1866; Lt. 1868; Capt. 1873); killed in action at the battle of Hlobane (South Africa) in Anglo-Zulu war, 28 March 1879; will proved 9 July 1879 (effects in Ireland under £7,000) and sealed in London, 21 July 1879 (effects in England under £3,000);
(7) Anna Mary Henrietta Barton (1840-84), born about October 1840; married, 1 January 1867 at Derrylossary, Prof. Robert Caesar Childers (1838-76), and had issue two sons (including the author and Irish nationalist, Robert Erskine Childers (1870-1922) and three daughters; died of tuberculosis, 29 January 1884; will proved 20 February in Dublin and 28 February 1884 in London (estate in Ireland, £7,149 and in England, £5,271);
(8) Beatrice Louisa Barton (1842-93), born 3 November 1842; married, 3 December 1864 at Bray (Co. Wicklow), Capt. Hugh Eyre Francis Massy (c.1827-1900) of New Court, Bray, and had issue two sons and five daughters; died 23 January 1893; will proved in Dublin, 3 March 1893 (effects £7,990).
He was renting Battle Abbey (Sussex) at the time of his marriage and purchased the Glendalough estate from the Hugo family in 1838.
He died 4 December 1864; administration of his goods (with will annexed) was granted 7 March 1865, 4 December 1874, 19 November 1890 and 3 June 1908 (effects £123,390). His widow died 4 October 1867; administration of her goods granted 12 November 1867 (effects under £1,100).

Barton, Thomas Erskine (1830-74). Eldest son of Thomas Johnston Barton (1802-64) and his wife Frances, daughter of Edward Morris, MP and Master in Chancery, born 25 December 1830 and baptised at St Mary, Bryanston Square, London, 25 January 1831. JP for Wicklow (from 1864). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Glendalough House from his father in 1864, but seems not to have lived there, having a house in Dublin and another at Finglas (Co. Dublin)
He died 9 September 1874; his will was proved 1 December 1874 (effects under £7,000).

Barton, Charles William (1836-90). Third son of Thomas Johnston Barton (1802-64) and his wife Frances, daughter of Edward Morris, MP and Master in Chancery, born 13 July 1836. JP and DL for Co. Wicklow; High Sheriff of Co. Wicklow, 1882-83. He married, 26 October 1876 at St Paul, Clifton, Bristol (Glos), Agnes Alexandra Frances (1848-1918), fourth daughter of Rev. Charles Childers, HM chaplain at Nice and Canon of Gibraltar, and had issue:
(1) Frances Margaret Barton (1877-1965), born 21 December 1877; died unmarried in Dublin, 10 May 1965; administration of goods (with will annexed) granted 15 November 1965 in Dublin and 17 February 1966 in London  (estate in Ireland, £2,785 and in England £16,080);
(2) Dulcibella Barton (1879-1956), born 25 December 1879; died unmarried, 5 June 1956; will proved 28 February 1957 in Dublin and 13 May 1957 in London (estate in Ireland, £1,818 and in England, £6,178);
(3) twin, Robert Childers Barton (1881-1975) (q.v.);
(4) twin, Hugh Barton (b. & d. 1881), born 14 March and died in infancy, 17 March 1881; buried at Derralossary (Co. Wicklow);
(5) Charles Erskine Barton (1882-1918), born 7 December 1882; an officer in Royal Scots Fusiliers (Militia Battn) (2nd Lt., 1902; retired 1904) and Royal Irish Regiment (Lt., 1914; Capt., 1915) in First World War; married, 1 May 1906 at St Saviour, Arklow (Co. Wicklow), Norah Grace (1885-1962) (who m2, 14 August 1919 at Bray (Co. Wicklow), Capt. Cecil John Venables Deane-Drake of Strokestown (Co. Wexford), son of Joseph Edward Deane-Drake, and had issue one daughter), daughter of Henry Richard Greene of Bank House, Arklow (Co. Wicklow), but had no issue; died of effects of gas poisoning, 23 August 1918, and was buried at Wimille Cemetery, Nord-Pas de Calais (France); will proved in Dublin, 5 November 1918 and sealed in London, 15 November 1918 (effects in England, £230);
(6) Agnes Rose Barton (1890-92), born 12 March 1890; died young, 16 May 1892 and was buried at Derralossary;
(7) Thomas Eyre Barton (1894-1916), born 15 August 1884; educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge; an officer in Royal Irish Regiment (2nd Lt., 1915) in First World War; died unmarried when he was killed in action, 16 July 1916; buried at Ovillers military cemetery, Somme (France).
He inherited Glendalough Manor from his elder brother in 1874.
He died of Glendalough of typhoid fever, 3 October 1890, and was buried at Derrylossary Old Cemetery; his will was proved 25 November 1890 (effects £10,624). His widow died 12 August 1918; her will was proved in Dublin, 18 November 1918, and sealed in London, 2 December 1918 (effects in England, £3,949).

Robert Childers Barton (1881-1975) 
Barton, Robert Childers (1881-1975).
Eldest son of Charles William Barton (1836-90) and his wife Agnes Alexandra Frances, fourth daughter of Rev. Charles Childers, born 14 March 1881. Educated at Rugby and Christ Church, Oxford (BA; Dip. Econ.) and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester (Dip. 1901). He served in the First World War with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, but resigned his commission in protest against the heavy-handed suppression of the Easter Uprising in 1916. He joined Sinn Fein and became MP for West Wicklow, 1918-22, but together with other members of his party boycotted the Westminster parliament and instead sat instead in the Dáil Éireann. 
Arrested and jailed in February 1919 for sedition, he escaped from Mountjoy Prison on St. Patrick's Day (leaving a note to the governor explaining that, owing to the discomfort of his cell, the occupant felt compelled to leave, and requesting the governor to keep his luggage until he sent for it). He was recaptured in January 1920 and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, but was released under the general amnesty of July 1921. He was a member of the Irish peace delegation to London, 1921, and a reluctant signatory of the resulting agreement, which he subsequently repudiated. He sat in the Dáil for Kildare & Wicklow, 1921-23, and served as Minister of Agriculture and later as Secretary for Economic Affairs, 1921-22, but was arrested and interned by the Irish Free State authorities for much of the Irish civil war.  After Irish independence was achieved he ceased his involvement in front-line politics and became a barrister and later a judge. He also served as Chairman of Wicklow County Council, 1920, and Chairman of the Agricultural Credit Corporation, 1934-59 and of the Turf Development Board, 1935-60. He married, 21 July 1950, Rachel (1892-1972), daughter of Fiske Warren of Boston, Massachusetts (USA) and formerly wife of Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, archaeologist, but had no issue.
He inherited Glendalough Manor from his father in 1890 and came of age in 1902. At his death he bequeathed it to his first cousin once removed, Robert Alden Childers (1910-96).
He died aged 94 on 10 August 1975 and was buried with his twin brother at Derralossary; his will was proved 29 October 1976 (estate £182,441). His wife died 25 August 1972.

Principal sources

Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 84; M. Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish country houses, 2nd edn., 1990, pp. 137-38; F. O'Dwyer, 'Modelled muscularity: Daniel Robertson's Tudor manors', Irish Arts Review, 15 (1999), pp. 87-97; J.A.K. Dean, The gate lodges of Leinster: a gazetteer, 2016, pp. 400-01;

Location of archives

Barton family of Glendalough: miscellaneous family and estate papers, 1835-1965 [Wicklow County Archives, Barton family papers]

Coat of arms

Argent, a rose gules seeded or and barbed vert, between three boars' heads erased proper

Can you help?

  • Can anyone supply photographs of the interior of the Daniel Robertson block prior to demolition?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated. I am always particularly pleased to hear from members of the family who can supply recent personal information for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 22 June 2020 and was updated 2 July 2020 and 6-8 December 2021. I am grateful to Aisling McKone for a correction.

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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.