12 comments on “Mearescourt Mystery

  1. I’ve being trying to prove this for years, as Willie Small my grandfather told me we are decendentants of the Meares family. So much thanks from the Small Family of Almoritia. We may catch up as it’s Almoritia churches Bicentenry this june.

      • I love your work, you need to call to Almoritia for a chat when you are free, we have monthly services, And during the renovations we accidentially visted our ggg grand family.

    • My Grandfather was William Lewis Devenish-Meares he with his family lived in the Rectory next to St Nicholas church . My mother used to talk about Willie Small, the boy next door. They used to go horse riding this would have been late 1930 s. We have heard about Annie Small, father was John Devenish-Meares. I understand that John was a fourteen year old at the time. My mother confirmed the story that we had heard when visiting Devenish-Meares relations in Sydney Australia. Cecily was related to the Smalls and Rob her husband descended from Matthew Devenish-Meares.

      • Thank you for the message, Mike. This adds another strong piece of credence to the story. I don’t suppose you ever heard anything about the identity of the mother of the child?

  2. Hi, this research has helped me so much! I am related to the Meares family – looking at the family tree’s you have shared I am related to Catherine Devenish 1767 (daughter of Catherine Meares and John Devenish). I had done my own family tree back to around then (1720’s ish) and so this gives me so much information from much longer ago. Thank you so much!! Alex

  3. I understand that she was called Annie Small and that she worked at Meares Court. Her father was the tutor to the Meares Children. Cecily & Rob Fergusson would be able to fill in the gaps.
    I was going through my mothers photographs at the time of her funeral and came across one of her and Willie with a horse. about 1934?

  4. I think I can add just a little to what Mike has told you already. My mother Margaret Devenish Meares was the great grand daughter of Matthew, the younger brother of Mike’s forbear John. Matthew had been cut off by his father when he married his cousin Georgiana Devenish against his father’s wishes. His father never spoke to him again but Matthew remained in close touch with his brother John, and the family had kept all this correspondence until my aunt insisted on taking it with her when she moved into a nursing home. She was a very strong-willed lady having been a First Officer in the Wrens who lived through the Blitz at the Naval College in Greenwich, so there was no way we could dissuade her, and of course most of the letters which could have told us so much were never seen again.

    When we stayed with Willie in 1970 he was initially very coy about saying anything to me about the illegitimate child but spoke freely to Cecile as she was a Small, but I “was still the landlord and would be offended” and this was 150 years after the event! Obviously the division between landlord and tenant was not great enough to stop Annette going riding with Willie, and Cecile’s late aunt Leila Small recalled having “strawberries and scones” at Mearescourt when she visited Willie about the same time in the 1930s. She also talked of visiting her cousins John and Olive Moxham at Killenboy. It is interesting that she spent about forty years in America as a nurse in New York and I wonder, having read above about all the Smalls and Moxhams going over to the States, if it was family connections that prompted that move.

    From our understanding, the mother of Mary Anne, the daughter of John DM, was a servant girl at Mearescourt, but we don’t know her name. John always acknowleged his paternity, brought her up as his own and gave her his surname. She married Francis Small as you know and he was the brother of William Small, Cecile’s great grandfather who was tutor to John DM’s children. William Small was previously at Ballinacurra which was the home of the sisters Billie and Norah Meares when we were there.

    Willie told us that Francis and Mary Anne were tenants at Aughnaboy but were evicted by their landlord, Mr Bond, so John DM took them on as tenants himself. Apparently if he had spent £5 more on the house he built for them it would have been a proper two storeys instead of the house and a half that it ended up.

    Intriguingly Willie also confided that there was another illegitimate union between a later generation of Mearses and Smalls but he wouldn’t be drawn on the details. What other skeletons are in those cupboards?

  5. Wonderful information! My great great great grandfather was Lieutenant John Devenish, grandson of Catherine Meares and John Devenish. Family oral history indicates that Catherine and John’s son was disinherited for marrying a Catholic, and was thus disinherited. His son, The Lt. Jonh Devenish in your chart, married Eleanore St Ledger Stretch, and left in 1808 with his regiment for the Cape Colony. His infant son, James Gouldsbury Devenish, born just prior to sailing, became a succesful farmer and magistrate in the Cape Colony. I have his portrait hanging in my home in Miami, Florida.

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