The drowning of Sir Richard Eyre-Cox of Dunmanway 4th Baronet (c.1765–1783)

Figure 1. Book in hand while leaning against a small table covered with a red cloth, this painting is of the supposed Sir Richard Eyre-Cox, 4th baronet. Wearing a green frock coat, white waistcoat with gold buttons and edging, the young Baronet stares ahead with a suggested assurance of his position and inheritance within Ascendancy Ireland. It could be postulated that this portrait was commissioned to mark his succession to the baronetcy at the age of about seven in July 1772 on the death of his father, The Ven. Sir Michael Cox, 3rd Baronet, Archdeacon of Cashel (c.1730–1772).

Upon chancing on this 18th Century Irish School portrait of a young boy, believed to be Sir Richard Eyre-Cox, 4th Baronet (c.1765–1783) reminded me of a poem that I learnt at the age of 11 in St. Patrick’s Boys School, Sackville Street, Dunmanway. It concerned this apparent Richard Eyre-Cox depicted in oil:

…’Mid mountains hoary, and famed in story,

Great Carbery’s glory, Dunmanway lies,

With Bandon flowing, its charms bestowing,

Which in Mount Nowen, does take its rise.

And there a lake is, where the duck and the drake is,

And the crane can take his sweet feast of frogs,

But when night comes round it, the sperrits surround it,

Since there was drownded Sir Richard Cox.1

These mournful lines recall the grim event which occurred on the 6th September 17832, involving Sir Richard, then thereabouts the age of eighteen. The incident retold in different sources outline that the two-times great-grandson of the 1st Baronet and namesake, Sir Richard Cox (1650–1733) was accidentally drowned on the lake situate opposite to the old stately Cox mansion and wooded demesne3.

A primary source in the form of a contempory newspaper article found in The Hereford Journal, dated 11th September 1783 gives an account of this misfortunate accident.

Figure 2. The 1783 newspaper article from the Hereford Journal detailing the boating accident.

Another version of this event takes a different view and is also mixed with local lore:

The story goes that when Sir Richard heard that a missionary follower of John Wesley was coming to Dunmanway for the first time to preach to the people, he made plans to take this man boating on the Chapel Lake. Then he would duck this missionary in the water and half drown the man for the entertainment of the crowd that would doubt gather for this sport. However, the boat which was being rowed by Sir Richard himself before the event began keeled over and Sir Richard was knocked unconscious by a blow from the oar and drowned quite swiftly. It seems that several hundred people witnessed the accident, but little effort was made to save him. Although it was just probably a simple accident, every religious group in Dunmanway had its cherished explanation for the drowning of Sir Richard Cox. It is said that the Wesleyans (Methodists) saw the accident as a mark of the displeasure of God Himself; the Catholics felt that it was in punishment for Sir Richard’s horsewhipping of a priest; the Anglicans (Established Church members) said that it happened because the oar which he used was cut from an elm tree in the Churchyard on a Sunday.4

Figure 3. An account of this drowning also found a place in George Bennett’s The History of Bandon (1869).

Dunmanway Lake

Figure 4. Dunmanway Lake, otherwise called the Chapel Lake was the scene of Cox’s drowning in 1783. “[H]e lost his life in a boat which he was rowing on the lake adjoining his seat of Dunmanway, by the pin which keeps the oar of the boat in its berth breaking”5. Doheny House, Lakelands, can be viewed in the background.

Figure 5. Adapted from an 1858 Cox LEC sales catalogue and relevant details of lease information extracted therein, this reconstructed image is a conjectural plan of the location of the original Cox Manor House and demesne which was situated off present day Main Street. Dunmanway Lake is just a short distance from this site. The image includes the Market Square for orientation purposes.

Figure 6. An extract from Cokayne’s Complete Baronetage, Vol. IV (1904) detailing Sir Richard Eyre-Cox from the Dunmanway Cox Family Lineage.

Figure 7. An extract from Burkes Peerage (1845) detailing Sir Richard Eyre-Cox from the Dunmanway Cox Family Lineage.

The Cox Baronetcy, of Dunmanway (1706)6

  • Sir Richard Cox, 1st Baronet (1650–1733)
  • Sir Richard Cox, 2nd Baronet (1702–1766)
  • Sir Michael Cox, 3rd Baronet (c. 1730–1772)
  • Sir Richard Eyre Cox, 4th Baronet (c. 1765–1783)
  • Sir Richard Cox, 5th Baronet (1769–1786)
  • Sir John Cox, 6th Baronet (1771–1832)
  • Sir George Matthias Cox, 7th Baronet (1777–1838)
  • Sir Richard Cox, 8th Baronet (died 1846)
  • Sir Francis Cox, 9th Baronet (1769–1856)
  • Sir Ralph Hawtrey Cox, 10th Baronet (1808–1872)
  • Sir Michael Cox, 11th Baronet (1810–1872)
  • Sir Francis Hawtrey Cox, 12th Baronet (c. 1816–1873)

REFERENCES

TEXT

  1. Dunmanway Town (06 January 1860), Cork Examiner. Retrieved from findmypast.com
  2. Burke, J., B. (1845). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. London: Henry Colburn Publisher.
  3. Burke, J., B. (1845). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. London: Henry Colburn Publisher.
  4. Murray O’Donovan, T. (2004). The Cox Family and Dunmanway. Dunmanway Doings Journal, 1, 1-5.
  5. Croker, T. (1844). The Keen of the South of Ireland: As Illustrative of Irish Political and Domestic History, Manners, Music, and Superstitions. London:  Percy Society

IMAGES

  1. Unknown artist. [ca. 1770]. Irish School portrait of a young boy, believed to be Sir Richard Eyre-Cox, 4th Baronet [Oil on canvas]. Retrieved 29 July, 2019, from ebay.com
  2. Findmypast (2019). Hereford Journal 11 September 1783. Retrieved July 29, 2019 from findmypast.ie
  3. The Stars Ordinary Individual. (April 23 1893). The Town of Dunmanway. Southern Star. Retrieved from Irish Paper Archive
  4. Unknown. (n.d) Small lake in middle of Dunmanway. Retrieved July 29, 2019 from prebait.com
  5. Findmypast, IIMI Inc and brightsolid online publishing (Ireland) Ltd. (n.d.). Sale of Encumbered Estates, Auction Catalogue, Cox, 1858. Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885. Retrieved from findmypast.ie
  6. Cokayne, G., E. (1904) Complete Baronetage, Vol 4. Retrieved July 29, 2019 from archive.org
  7. Burke, J., B. (1845). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. London: Henry Colburn Publisher.

Additional RESOURCES

  1. Sir Richard Eyre Cox, 4th Baronet. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 29, 2019, from wikipedia.org
  2. Jennings, G. & Fitzgerald, J. (1985). The Jennings Families 1800-1985 West Cork to New Worlds. Lulu.com publishers
  3. Guy, B. (2014). A Welsh Manuscript in America. Retrieved from library.wales
  4. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Methodist Church. Retrieved from buildingsofireland.ie
  5. bluesue11. (30 Jun 2009 ). Sir Richard Cox and family. [Online discussion group] Retrieved from ancestry.ca

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