The White Family of Cork

The whole of this district was declared forfeited after the Cromwellian conquest. Cromwell was unable to pay his soldiers and those who lent him money, so he resolved to give them land instead. Applotments were made by Commissioners appointed for the task, and each soldier, or money lender, had to draw lots for such portion as might fall to him. Many were dissatisfied with their fortune as they only fell in for rugged and bleak patches of mountain. They sold out immediately at a very low price, and many speculators enriched themselves by the transaction. A family named White came into possession of the greater part of the baronies of Bere and Bantry. William Playfair gives the following account of this family in the British Family Antiquity:—

“On the restoration of King Charles II., Sir Thomas White settled in the South of Ireland, where he became a purchaser of some of the land debentures granted by Oliver Cromwell to the officers of his army during the civil wars, and had a son, Richard, who resided at Bantry until his death in 1730; having previously married a Miss Hamilton of Scotland, by whom he had an only son Richard, who was bred to the law and called to the English Bar, but never practised. He married, 10th of December, 1734, Martha, daughter of the Rev. Dean Davis, of Davistown, in the County of Cork, and had issue by her, one son and one daughter, viz., Simon, born 8th of May, 1739, and Margaret, born in 1738, who married, 8th of November, 1756, Richard, Viscount Longueville, by whom she had no issue.

“Simon married, in August, 1766, Frances Jane, daughter of Richard Hedges Eyre, of Mount Hedges and Macroom Castle in the County of Cork, Esq. (by Helena, the daughter of Thomas Herbert, of Muckross, in the County of Kerry, by the Hon. M. Browne, daughter of Lord Viscount Kenmare), and, dying in 1776, left issue, Richard, the present Viscount Bantry, who was born 6th of August, 1767, and married, 10th of November, 1799, Margaret Anne Hare, eldest daughter of Lord Ennismore, by whom he has had issue, Richard, born 16th of November, 1800; William Hare, born 10th of November, 1801; Maria, born 10th of November, 1805; and Simon, born 10th of March, 1807.”

Richard was created a Baron, 31st March, 1797, and a Viscount, 29th of December, 1800, and Earl in 1816 for services rendered on the occasion of Wolfe Tone's expedition. He manifested his loyalty by conveying intelligence to the authorities in Cork of the arrival of the French fleet in Bantry Bay, and lodged and entertained in his own house at Bantry English officers during the time of the disturbance. He also kept a vigilant look out for any further invasion.

He married Lady Margaret Anne Hare, daughter of the first Earl of Listowel. He had issue Richard, who married a daughter of the Marquis of Thomond, and died childless. The third viscount was a brother of his, William Henry Hare White and the fourth was his son and of the same name, who died without issue and the titles became extinct. The Hon. Egerton Leigh White succeeded, who assumed the family name and arms of White by royal licence, in July, 1897. He sold the estate to the Congested Districts Board in 1913 for £80,000. The present occupiers are for the most part descendants of the old race, and so, after many changes and revolutions, they hold their own again. The Whites held possession for about 250 years. They were resident landlords, but effected no improvements; their lands were highly rented, but the management of the estate was of a mild type, and there were very few evictions.

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