Michael Henry Becher and Catherine French

Michael Henry Becher and Catherine French


Michael Henry Becher was born in about 1735, the third son of  John Becher and Mary Townsend. His father died on 29th March 1737, when he was only two or three. His mother Mary Townsend remarried in September 1739 to Captain Luke Mercer. Luke Mercer was the commander of the Thompson and The Bessborough and was a well known Revenue Officer. I have not been able to discover when Mary died, or if she had any more children. A Luke Mercer died at Dublin in 1781. It seems to have been a most uncommon surname, so it may well be him.

"An Officer of the Long Parliament" states that Samuel Townsend was the guardian of Michael's older brother, so he may well have been the guardian of all the siblings. It is not known if they continued to live with their mother after her remarriage.

He married on the 10th January 1767 at St Nicholas, Cork to Catherine French, born 12 September 1741 Savage French and Mary Towgood.
They had six children as follows

1. Mary Towgood Becher
b. abt 1768 Co Cork, Ireland
d. 4 July 1804 & buried at Christchurch, Cork.
She married George Pigott Rogers on 10th January 1789. They had two daughters; Mary Twogood Pigott Rogers and Katherine Emmeline Rogers.
2. John Thomas Becher
b. abt 1770 Co Cork, Ireland
d. 3 January 1848 at Southwell, England
He was a well known Social reformer, minister at St Mary Minster, Southwell and friend of the poet Byron. He lived at Hill House, Southwell. He married on 6th January 1802 Mary Drake Becher [daughter of Rev William Becher and Elizabeth Lucas Drake]. They had two children; Mary Cranfield Becher and John Drake Becher.
John Thomas Becher                                         John Thomas Becher bookplate
Picture from Southwell Council brochure               image from Tony Pincott

3. Michael Henry Becher
b. 1773 Co Cork
d. 16 November 1847 Kilshannig, Near Mallow, Co Cork, Ireland.
He married on the 24th March 1818 at St Fin Barrys Cork Susannah Vowell, born in 1796 at Bath, Somerset, the youngest child of Major Richard Vowell and Anne Evans Hamilton.
The Rev Becher and his wife Susan lived at Clyda House, Kilshannig where he ministered at the local church for 47 years. There is a memorial to him inside.
They had four children Michael Henry, Anne Catherine, John Thomas and Richard Savage French Fane Becher!
4. Helena Becher
b. ?
d. 1843
She married Benjamin Hayes, of Marble Hill, Cork & Councillor at Law on the 9th February 1797. They had at least one child, Helena Becher Hayes who married in 1826 the well known [in his day anyway!] poet Thomas Haynes Bayley.
5. George Towgood Becher
George is listed in his father's will, written in 1776, so was alive then. Nothing more is known about him.
6. Elizabeth Becher
Elizabeth is listed in her father's will, written in 1776, so was alive then. Nothing more is known about her.

His will mentions daughters Mary, Helena and Elizabeth & sons John Thomas, Michael Harry and George Towgood. Also nieces Mary and Ann Becher [daughters of his brother John Townsend Becher and Mary O'Donovan] and Dorothy Townsend [daughter of his sister Helena Becher and Edward Mansel Townsend]

Michael Henry Becher died in August 1778 near Bandon. The Cork newspapers reported his death on the 24th of August. He was described as of "Creagh". He and his wife Catherine had been the guardians of John Townsend Becher's children & Creagh was one of the properties belonging to that branch of the family, so it seems likely that they lived there together. I have not yet found the death of Catherine [nee French] Becher. According to a letter written by her Grandson Richard Fane Becher, it was Catherine who suggested to the dying Henry Becher [son of John Townsend Becher] that he leave his property to his sister Mary Wrixon's son. In that case, she was alive in 1780. A cash book lists a series of payments made by John Thomas Becher to Bridget [nee Swymmer] Becher on behalf of his mother, Mrs Catherine Becher, which strongly implies that she was alive. The latest of those entries was in 1818.

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