The Pike Family
The Pike family originated from Newbury in Berkshire. Richard Pike came to Ireland in 1648 as a trooper in Cromwell's Army. In 1655 Richard married Elizabeth Jackson, daughter of J. Jackson of London. He was custodian of Sarsfield's Court, Glanmire. It is not definite whether Richard was in charge of the garrisons or whether he temporarily held onto the land, awaiting a formal grant. Edward Burroughs convinced Richard to become a Quaker, and as a result of this he was discharged from the army and his lands at Sarsfields Court were taken from him.
Pike then moved to a farm in Kilcrea. Nine years later he gave up this farm and opened a shop in Cork. Richard had three sons, Joseph (1657-1729), Richard (1659/1664-1738) and Ebenezer (1662 -1724). All three became Freemen of the City during their lifetimes because of their contribution to the commercial life of the city.
The Pike family prospered in business in Cork City. Among the business enterprises that they became involved with were the Cork Steamship Company and the Pike's Bank, which was a continuation of Hoare's Bank and was situated at Hoare's Lane, now Adelaide Street. They were also involved in railway development and owned a Linen-Draper Shop.
Most of the early Pikes were Quakers. Quakers were very unpopular in the seventeenth century; almost all were of English birth and were either old soldiers or officers in Cromwell's "New Model Army". Although they were successful in business they were not seen as part of the establishment because they refused to take the oath in a court of Justice. The Quakers were treated very harshly, but still the Quaker faith spread rapidly throughout Ulster, Leinster and Munster.
Joseph Pike was the eldest son of Richard Pike. Born in Kilcrea, he came to Cork as a young boy with his father. He commenced adult life as a trader in the city, specialising mainly in wool. He subsequently traveled to Minehead near Bristol where he continued for several years dealing in wool and other English goods. Soon after Joseph married he went into partnership with his brother Richard and opened a linen drapery shop, which was the first of its kind in Cork City.
In 1682 Joseph married Elizabeth Rodgers. His growing prosperity reflects the importance of a good marriage in those days and family connections enabled his business to prosper. At the age of 25 he was High Sheriff for four years. He became established as a banker because of his links with Joseph Hoare. He was related to Joseph Hoare through marriage. By the time of his death he owned property in the North Main Street, North Mall and Marsh area of the city. Joseph had 14 children, only one surviving to adulthood. Many of his children dying at an early age, presumably as a result of diseases such as cholera, smallpox or T.B.
Joseph Pike was "a man of understanding, sound judgement, tender over the weak, but he was against the high minded and stubborn. In conversation, solid and weighty without appreciation." In 1708 he published two books "Treatise on Baptism" and "The Last Supper", which he published at his own expense.
It is interesting to note that Joseph and his brother Ebenezer married two sisters Elizabeth and Mary Rodgers. This was possibly to maintian the Quaker religion and also because the Rodgers family were wealthy people. Ebenezer Pike inherited the house from his brother Joseph. He died in 1883, leaving seven daughters, five of whom married, and an estate valued at £168,000 (a fortune in that time). Ebenezer's two unmarried daughters both remained in the house until their own deaths; Florence died in 1917 and Anne Emily, three years later, in 1920. The house was then sold after Anne Emily's death, ending the relationship of the Pike family with Bessborough.
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