Hidden History

September 22, 2011 · 9 comments

in Cataloguing,Collections,Manuscripts

by Eimear Walsh, NLI Manuscript Student

Still working away on the Headfort Estate Papers, we came across a family within a family. Incongruously in a collection about a family named Taylour, there kept cropping up material from the mid 19th century relating to members of a Tuite Dalton family. To puzzle us further, were the many references in their letters to ‘my darling papa’ and ‘my dearest siblings’ that were addressed to the Taylours.

First page of a letter from Bective, later 3rd Marquess Headfort, to his brother Edward Tuite Dalton or "My dear Eddy". NLI ref. Ms. 49,015.

First page of a letter from Bective, later 3rd Marquess Headfort, to his brother Edward Tuite Dalton or "My dear Eddy". NLI ref. Ms. 49,015.

Yet who were these impostors, rising above their stations and audaciously asserting a foothold amongst such lofty company? What gall! And we know their claims to be untrue because that great bible of aristocratic Who’s Who tells us so: Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. For if you consult this genealogical heavyweight under the title ‘2nd Marquess of Headfort’, you will see listed as his offspring: Thomas, the Earl of Bective, Lady Olivia, Lady Mary Juliana, Lord Robert, Lady Virginia and Lord John Henry. A fine noble brood. What, or should I say who, is not mentioned are three more children: Gustavus, Edward and Adelaide Tuite Dalton – our three wannabes. In fact, the only mention we have of this trio, other than their letters, is a reference in the PRONI calendar on Headfort Papers casting them as ‘apparently relation[s] of the Headfort agent’.

Yet all this is but a cruel trick of history. Contrary to being relatives of staff, these children were very much part of the Taylour family, as indicated by the many warm letters written to them that are signed ‘your affectionate father, Headfort’, ‘your dutiful brother, Bective’, et al. After some digging around, it came to light that these children were raised by the Marquess of Headfort after he married their widowed mother, Olivia Stevenson, in 1822. The children were aged 11, 7 and 3 at the time and grew up in Kells regarding this man as their father. Their biological father was Edward Tuite Dalton, a close friend of the poet Thomas Moore and well-known composer, whose musical piece on King George IV’s visit to Ireland we have here in the Library. He composed it aged 5!

King George IV's Grand March. Composed by Master Edward Tuite D'Alton, only 5 Years of age. NLI ref. JM 4639

King George IV's Grand March. Composed by Master Edward Tuite D'Alton, only 5 Years of age. NLI ref. JM 4639

Their maternal grandfather was Sir John Stevenson, ‘famous as the composer of sacred and sublime melody, the acclaimed facile princeps of his day.’ Despite the impressive musical lineage, their vocations lay elsewhere. Gustavus in politics and farming, Edward in soldiering and anthropology, and Adelaide in hostessing and marrying… (apparently).

Letter from Lord Headfort to his son, Gustavus Tuite Dalton re Estate Matters, 4 January 1861. NLI Ref. Ms 49,011/1

Letter from Lord Headfort to his son, Gustavus Tuite Dalton re Estate Matters, 4 January 1861. NLI Ref. Ms 49,011/1

The eldest Gustavus (1811-1879) went on to become an agent on his stepfather’s estate in Virginia and our collection has much correspondence between Gustavus and his father and brother regarding estate matters. Being the editor of the Anglo-Celt newspaper, he was greatly interested in politics and we have two of his books in our collections, The English Press on the Irish Question and an Irishman’s View of it and Irish Peers on Irish Peasants: An Answer to Lord Dufferin and the Earl of Rosse.

In the letter to left, Lord Headfort writes: “My dear Gustavus, … I wish to know what your opinion may be upon this, and as I know, and you know, I must have a deep interest in everything that concerns you and yours … your opinion simply because I have a just estimate of your upright character and know you would not do anything you thought wrong. … Your affectionate father” (NLI Ms. 49,011/1)

His younger brother Edward (1815-1880) joined the Indian regiment of the British army and rose to become General of the Bengal Lancers. His letters home to his father recount his exciting adventures in India. He wrote an anthropology book in 1872 entitled The Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, regarded as ‘influential’ and ‘an invaluable account of various tribes of Northeast India’. A town in India, Daltonganj, is named after him (now Medininagar). See some of Edward’s interesting letters written to Lord Headfort and his service record.

Second page of a letter from Bective, later 3rd Marquess Headfort to his brother, Edward Tuite Dalton, very sweetly boasting of catching a perch that was almost a pounds wait (sic). NLI ref. Ms. 49,015.

Second page of a letter from Bective, later 3rd Marquess Headfort to his brother, Edward Tuite Dalton, very sweetly boasting of catching a perch that was almost a pounds wait (sic). NLI ref. Ms. 49,015.

Yet it is the youngest, Adelaide (1819-1895) who intrigues me the most. History would have us believe that in her lifetime she managed three husbands, framing her as a Black Widow/Cougar type. From what I have researched I believe she married only twice. At the tender age of 15 she married John Young, Baron Lisgar, who later became Governor General of Canada. This effectively made Adelaide, or Lady Lisgar as she was henceforth known, something of a first lady of Canada. In her roles as a diplomat’s wife, Adelaide excelled and ‘for years led society in its most brilliant phase, and made her social state resplendent by her social attributes’. After her first husband’s death, she re-married in 1878 his private secretary, Sir Francis Charles Fortescue Turville, who was twelve years her junior, and not the alleged 24 years given in some sources.

Surprisingly unromantic letter to Adelaide Tuite Dalton from a gentleman at Navan Barracks containing a lock of hair, NLI ref. Ms. 49,014/1 and another lock wrapped in paper that says Edward Lucas Esq. of Castleshane House, Co. Monaghan (the owner of said lock?)

Surprisingly unromantic letter to Adelaide Tuite Dalton from a gentleman at Navan Barracks containing a lock of hair, NLI ref. Ms. 49,014/1 and another lock wrapped in paper that says Edward Lucas Esq. of Castleshane House, Co. Monaghan (the owner of said lock?)

Accounts I have found of her are quite contradictory. While one account says of her, ‘Irish by birth and lovable by nature, she charmed the whole country [of Canada]’, another writes of ‘a fearsome character [who] denied a dying servant the last rites’. Which was the true Adelaide? As always, history is deceptively subjective so I can only go by the girl I know from the letters in our collection, a sweet girl with a motherly disposition who took care of her younger siblings and was especially fond of her father, writing him in the 1830s, ‘My dearest papa, we are all delighted at the pleasure … of seeing you … my sisters send you the enclosed violets.’

Though official deeds, the laws of primogeniture, or genealogical guides may not acknowledge the presence of these three interesting individuals within the family of Taylour, I like to think that through our newly catalogued collection, we may welcome the Tuite Daltons back to their rightful place in history, alongside their family in the unravelling chronicle of Headfort.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Streumer August 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm

It is a fascinating story, and I am grateful to Eimear, Tom and Martha to add all these details. There is a description extant by Lord Byron of an evening meal at Edward and Olivia’s residence. He mentioned that Edward had ‘a terrible anomalous complaint’, which unfortunately leaves us none the wiser. His daughter Adelaide indeed went to Canada with her husband, but only after they had been from 1861-1866 in New South Wales. There are several portraits of them in Australia. About the ‘Indian’son, I have devoted a large part of my forthcoming (Q2 2013) book to him and his 1872 Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal. His book was widely quoted even in official sources till well into the 1910s; and in one Gazetteer even in 1958! Edward Tuite Dalton had no issue, and died 30 December 1880 in Cannes, while he was ‘strolling’.

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Bean an Phoist August 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Thank you very much, Paul, for this extra information! Love the detail about ‘strolling’…

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Martha B. June 12, 2012 at 3:09 am

Hi Tom,
Did you know you have distant cousins here in Canada through Olivia’s brother, John Andrew Stevenson, who came to Canada with the 99th Infantry to fight in the Loyalist War of 1812? Or that Olivia’s daughter, Adelaide Dalton, lived in Canada from 1868 to 1872, when her husband Lord Lisgar was second Governor General of Canada? Happy to fill you in further on the accomplished descendants of John Andrew Stevenson here in Canada. If interested, our email is: schuylergrant@yahoo.com
Martha

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Tom Tuite Dalton March 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Hi Eimear
Thanks very much indeed for all this info much of which was new to me especially regarding the theatre. A cousin of mine, Katie Tuite Dalton did her dissertation on Edward T-D who wrote the book on “The Ethnology of Bengal” when she was studying at Swansea and it was her father Philip who had the theory about Frances Tuite marrying Philip Dalton. It was very interesting to hear about the theatre and about how Olivia died. Unfortunately I could not get access to the descriptions in old houses re-storied as the site did not appear to be open to individuals but will think of something. Thank you once again. I have been to Headfort once and wandered around the grounds. I very much look forward to seeing the collection once it is fully catalogued. kind regards, Tom

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Tom Tuite Dalton February 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Intriguing. Gustavus is my direct ancestor, my great great grandfather. I am keen to find out how his father Edward died and who is parents were. We know he went to Trinity but you have already uncovered a lot of new information for us. Olivia died young too; i think she may have fallen from a horse.
I would be fascinated to see more of your manuscripts. Thank you very much for welcoming the TDs back to their rightful place!!

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Bean an Phoist February 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

It’s brilliant, Tom, that we’ve uncovered new information for you! I’ll pass your comment on to Eimear Walsh, who wrote this post, in case she knows how Edward died…

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Tom Tuite Dalton March 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Thanks very much and very kind of you. I believe Edward was a part owner of a Dublin theatre at one time, not sure if that was before he was a land agent at Headfort. We are also not sure at what point the Tuite married the Dalton and when they went from being catholic to being Church of Ireland.

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Bean an Phoist March 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

Now Tom, this reply from Eimear should be of some help to you:

Hi Tom,

It’s so great to hear from an actual descendant of the Tuite-Daltons! There is so much I’m learning about your fascinating family history that it is hard to put it all down in one go but I’ll try and answer the points you have queried.

So your great-great-great-grandfather, Edward Tuite Dalton was the son of Edward Dalton (born c. 1746) and Frances Tuite. To maintain property rights for the two families, they merged their names to Tuite-Dalton. They had two sons Philip and Edward (b. 1783) who both went to Trinity and it is this younger son, Edward, who is your direct ancestor. I’m afraid I don’t have any information on them converting from Catholicism to the Church of Ireland. See the following for a brief outline of your family tree: http://www.swan.ac.uk/visualanthropology/projects/003_Dalton/index.htm

Edward was never a land agent at Headfort but his son Gustavus was, because Gustavus’s stepfather was Lord Headfort. Edward apparently worked in the Customs House and was an accomplished music composer. For general information on your family history please see the following website: http://www.daltondatabank.org/Chronicles/Tuite-Dalton1.htm.

Edward was indeed the founder of a theatre company called the Dublin Glee Club. He founded it in 1813 and it was patronised by the Duke of Leinster and the Earl of Meath. There are great descriptions in an article called ‘Old Houses Re-Storied Part II’, which describe Edward and his future in-laws, namely Sir John Stevenson (your great-great-great-great-grandfather who you will find on Wikipedia!) and Edward’s wife-to-be, Olivia (your great-great-great-grandmother). It’s here at: http://tinyurl.com/7uq5vc3.

Edward and his father-in-law, Sir John Stevenson, were very close friends of the poet Thomas Moore and there are many letters to both of them in Moore’s published letters, which you can find online. He also dedicated many of his poems to the Edward and Olivia, namely ‘Sacred Songs’ and ‘Rhymes on the Road’.

Unfortunately I had no luck finding out how Edward died, though I do know he was born in 1783, married Olivia on 20 March 1810, and died in 1821. I did, however, find an obituary from 1834 for Olivia, by then the Marchioness of Headfort, which states that she died in this year of cholera at the age of 44.

In our collection here in the National Library we have many letters and a few photos of your ancestors, which will be soon made available to the public when the Headfort collection is fully catalogued, so when it is please do come in and view your wonderful heirlooms!

Eimear

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