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Heads of the family

OWEN WYNNE IV (1723 – 1789)

Owen Wynne IV was born in 1723 and was the son of Owen Wynne III and Catherine Ffolliott. In 1754, before he inherited the family estates, Owen Wynne married Anne Maxwell whose brother, John, the MP for County Cavan, was given the title of Baron Farnham in the Irish peerage in 1756. By co-incidence, Anne’s grandfather had been Bishop of Kilmore in 1643 but that bishopric was abolished during the Commonwealth. Following the Restoration, he was bishop of the combined sees of Kilmore and Ardagh. These are the two sees in which Owen I in 1658 had obtained his profitable bishops leases.

Owen IV was elected MP for Co. Sligo in the Irish Parliament in 1749 and he became an Irish Privy Councillor in 1756, allowing him the title of Right Honourable. He was High Sheriff of Co. Sligo in 1758. His house in Dublin was in Henrietta Street, the earliest Georgian Street in Dublin. While in Dublin, Owen received a regular stream of letters from Edward Martin, his agent in Sligo. These letters, which extend in time from 1758 to 1766, throw much light on the life which revolved around Hazelwood. They refer to estate management, elections and the candidates in them, rents, the recovery and payment of debts, the employment of servants, the cutting of turf, etc. Mrs. Martin oversaw brewing, pickling salmon in kegs of spice, wine and vinegar, while on one occasion 600 oysters were pickled. As required, kegs were sent to the Wynne household in Dublin. An icehouse was constructed, work which required digging to a depth of twenty feet.

In 1764 a domestic crisis blew up when a housemaid named Molly Fleming was found to be pregnant, the father being a servant named Johnston. Molly was discharged and Johnston forgiven. Of Molly, Martin wrote: "I am really sorry for her and I believe her otherwise to be a good servant". As to Johnston, Martin naively commented: "He promises fair he never will be guilty of the like again". The episode is an example of the widely-held view that it is always the woman's fault. Some pages of Martin's ledger relating to disbursements survive. The entries cover the years from 1758-1761 and contain dozens of headings relating to the functioning of an agricultural estate. More personal entries relate to the purchase of brandy and wine. In the three-year period there is only one entry relating to port. On that occasion eight dozen bottles were bought. Apart from claret, wines such as hock were bought at a rate of a dozen bottles at a time. During the period three hogsheads (46 gallons each) of claret were bought from a wine merchant in Derry.

Systematic forestation was carried out on the Wynne estate and in other lands taken on long leases for the purpose. By an Act of the Irish Parliament of 1783/84 a financial advantage was offered for the planting of trees, and for this purpose the landowner had to make annually a sworn return stating the varieties and numbers of trees planted during the previous twelve months. The record of these returns extends in time from 1785 to 1835 and thus relate to Owen IV and Owen V. During this fifty-year period the number of trees planted is just short of 200,000. Twenty-three different varieties were included, the largest number being Scots fir, alder and ash, with oak and beech not far behind. Owen IV died in 1789 leaving six sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Owen, succeeded to the family estates. His eldest son, Owen, succeeded to the family estates. The next son, John, died unmarried while the other sons. Henry, Robert, Richard and William founded families of their own, thus accounting for the extended family of Wynne who survive and thrive to the present day. There were in addition three daughters, Elizabeth, Judith and Catherine.

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