The Tisdalls 1757-1968
Michael Tisdall IV (1755-1794)
Michael Tisdall IV inherited Charlesfort estate on his father Charles' death in 1757, and took it over at his coming of age in 1776. He was educated at Trinity College , Oxford and Lincoln 's Inn . In 1779 he married Julianna Blennerhasset from Kerry and they had five children: the eldest, Charles Arthur, born in 1782. In 1781 Michael was appointed High Sheriff of Meath. He was noted for his moderate rents and acre of his tenants.
He modified Charlesfort House in the 1780's following plans drawn up for him by Daniel Augustus Beaufort, who was related to Tisdall's neighbours, the Wallers of Allenstown.
After his wife's death in 1789, he married Henrietta Crowe, from Kells. He died in 1794 aged 39. His eldest son was 12 yeas old.
Charles Arthur Tisdall (1782-1835)
Charles Arthur Tisdall was educated in Oxford and took over the estate at 21 years of age in 1803. War in Europe , a fall in corn prices and famines in 1817 and 1822 were some of the challenges he faced. Many leases were due for renewal in the early years of the century. Rents were raised for those who could afford them and abatements given to those who could not. Charles married Elizabeth Vernon of Clontarf Castle in 1807. They had nine children. Their eldest boy John was born in 1815. In 1811 Charles was appointed High Sheriff for Meath.
In 1813 Richard Chaloner of Kingsfort, who was married to John Tisdall's sister Henrietta, visited the house. He wrote in his diary on Saturday 10 July, 1813 "Drove ....... to Charlesfort. Tisdals in Dublin . Workmen of all sorts merrily employ'd building (in my mind) a very bad house". (Chaloner, Richard, Memorabilia of King's Fort & its neighbourhood in the year 1810, typescript copy in Meath Co. Library).
Charles also had an interest in religion and wrote and distributed two books attempting to persuade his tenants to convert to Protestantism. He also tried to persuade his tenants to send their children to the estate's Protestant-run school. This prompted the parish priest, Fr. Branagan, to write and advise to him to "ameliorate the condition of your tenants and labourers and leave the choice of schoolbooks and moral instruction to the pastors, who are as well qualified to decide on such matters as yourself." In 1824 he attended a meeting in Navan to found a branch of the Reformation Society. He stated that as a Magistrate "he was disgusted with the vice and immorality, the insincerity and want of truth in the commonest transactions" that he encountered. The meeting, however, had to be abandoned "due to a discharge of missiles from a very outrageous and disgraceful rabble."
Charles played an active role in the running of his estate, drawing up plans in 1835 to consolidate small holdings into larger farms and deciding on the renewals or otherwise of leases. Charles died in 1835 aged 53.
John Tisdall (1815-1892)
John took over the estate in 1836 at 21 years of age, the year after his father's death. The following year he married Isabella Knox. They had eleven children. Their eldest child, Charles Arthur, was born in 1838. In 1845 the Great Famine struck and census records for one of the biggest townlands on the estate, Martry, show a population drop from 298 in 1841 to 181 in 1851. Also, in 1845 the Dublin-Drogheda Railway Company wrote to John to acquire lands at Phoenixtown, Martry, Athgaine Little and Nugentstown for the railway line from Drogheda to Oldcastle. In 1850 the Drogheda to Navan line was opened.
Between 1851 and 1853 John provided a site for a Protestant Church at Athgaine Great and the Protestant families of the area no longer needed to use the school for Sunday worship. John died in 1892 aged 75. John's eldest son, Charles, had died in 1869. His second son, John Knox, appears to have been estranged from his father. John Knox's son, also called Charles Arthur, born in 1875, inherited the estate on his grandfather's death in 1892.
Charles Tisdall (1875-1914)
Library of Charlesfort House
reproduced courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive
Library of Charlesfort House
reproduced courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive
Charles was 20 years old when he inherited Charlesfort estate in 1892. He pursued a career in the army, joining the Irish Guards and achieving the rank of Major. His holding now amounted to 3,962 acres in Meath and 493 acres in Limerick and 575 acres in Kilkenny. However, Charles followed his army career and leased part of the estate, including the house and gardens, to Robert Heuston from Belfast . Two of Charles' uncles, Henry Chichester Tisdall and Vice-Admiral Vernon Archibold Tisdall, also farmed portions of the estate. Charles organised train trips for the estate children to Dublin ; once to see Queen Victoria in 1900, and on another occasion to watch army drills at the Vice-Regal Lodge in the Phoenix Park .
By the end of the nineteenth century land agitation and the passing of various Land Acts were enabling tenants to buy their holdings. In 1903 the Wyndham Land Act provided for purchase with loans repayable over 68 years. In September 1904 Charles Tisdall, his agent and several tenants met and signed agreements to purchase their holdings at 25% or 23 years on non-judicial rents. The Charlesfort estate contained 2,462 acres and 1,317 were purchased by tenants while the balance of 1,145 was retained by Charles. In 1904 Charles married Gwyneth Adhsead. His younger brother, William, with his wife and son, came to live and work the reduced estate.
Charles visited frequently, once bringing his violin tutor, Sir Edward Elgar, to stay. Elgar, impressed by the house and estate, said "Charlesfort will never die, because it is built on a magic hill." In 1914 Major Charles Tisdall was killed in action at Mons in Belgium . He was 39 years old. His brother William inherited the estate.
William Tisdall (1876-1954)
William was educated at Malvern and Cambridge . In 1899 he married Elsie Gardiner and they had one son, Michael. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1916. During the First World War he stabled army horses at Charlesfort and tilled some of the land for vegetable growing. He purchased the first tractor in the area and also the first wireless, which he invited local people to come and listen to. He also gave drives in his car to the local children at the parties he hosted on the estate. William's son, Michael, was in the British army and was accidentally killed in 1940 during a military training exercise. He was 37 years old. William's wife also died the same year. Five years later William married a second time. His wife was Una Palmer Burke from Ballina. William died aged 78 in 1954.
Oliver Tisdall (1899-1964)
Oliver was a medical doctor and inherited the estate when he was 55 years old from his cousin, William. He was the son of Reverend Alfred Tisdall, who was the youngest son of John Tisdall. He was married to Christina Corkran and had one son, Anthony, and two daughters. Oliver and his family came to live on the estate in 1955 and he immersed himself in the running of it. Oliver died in 1964.
In 1968 the family decided to sell the estate, and the Tisdall family association with Charlesfort came to an end.
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