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Heads of the family

OWEN WYNNE V (1755 – 1841)

Owen Wynne V was born in 1755, the son of Owen Wynne IV and Anne Maxwell. On his father’s death in 1789, Owen inherited Hazelwood house and estate. He was twice High Sheriff of Co. Sligo during his father's lifetime. A year after succeeding to the family estates he married Lady Sarah Elizabeth Cole, the daughter of William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen and they had two sons and four daughters. The family of Cole had originated in Ireland with Sir William Cole, an undertaker in the plantation of Ulster in the reign of James I. The family seat, Florence Court completed in the 1760s, lies seven miles from Enniskillen. From c.1730, the Wynne and Cole families had been associated, certainly in the making of the Enniskillen-Sligo road and, in the case of the Coles, possibly in the employing of Richard Cassels.

Owen V first entered the Irish Parliament in 1778 as member for Co. Sligo, while at the same time his father was member for the borough. Owen junior's opponent in the election was his father's brother-in-law, William Ormsby of Willowbrook. The contest was fought with a great deal of corruption and disorder on both sides, with the result that Owen's election was followed by a petition to unseat him. At the petition hearing, by a committee of the Irish House of Commons, proceedings which lasted for 2yrs. The committee heard evidence of bribery and evidence that the poll book was stolen, and the electoral lists thrown in the river. It is surprising to learn that instead of ordering a fresh election the committee upheld the Wynne election.

The hearing costs were so great that, according to O'Rorke, the effects were still felt by both families after a lapse of over one hundred years. In subsequent elections, all of them expensive, Owen held one of the county seats until, on the death of his father, he returned himself for the borough seat which had been his father's. He retired from Parliament in 1806 by being appointed Escheator of Munster, purely a nominal post but as an office of profit under the Crown, it disqualified its holder from membership of the Commons. It was a device by which a Member of Parliament could resign in between elections. He then "sold" his borough seat to George Canning for an annuity which continued until 1820 when the seat was resumed by Owen. While still a member of the Irish Parliament, he voted against the Union, as also did the two county members, Joshua Edward Cooper and Charles O'Hara. When a meeting of Protestants was held in the court house of Sligo on 12 August 1812, it passed four resolutions, hostile to Catholic Emancipation, each proposed by Owen Wynne. He served as MP for Sligo borough from 1820 to 1830. He was appointed custos rotulorum for County Sligo for life in 1789 and High Sheriff of Sligo from 1819 to 1820 and High Sheriff of Leitrim from 1833 to 1834. On his death in 1841 at the age of 86, Hazelwood estate was passed to his eldest son John Arthur Wynne

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