Rev Michael Henry Becher

Rev Michael Henry Becher & Susanna Vowell

Michael Henry Becher was born in 1773 in County Cork, the eldest son of Michael Henry Becher and Catherine French. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin [where he is incorrectly listed in the Alumni as "Becker"] and admitted to St John's College Cambridge on 27th June 1795. He matriculated in 1795 and received his BA in 1799. He was ordained a Deacon in Exeter in 1798, and a priest [Church of Ireland] at Cloyne on September 1, 1799. He served under the Rev James Lombard at Kilshannig for 47 years, only becoming Rector in Jan 1847 after the Rev Lombard died aged 90. He himself died on the 16th November 1847 & was buried on the 20th November 1847 at Castle Magner near his Wrixon Becher cousins.

Church at Kilshannig, near Mallow [Picture from Maria Victor]

He married on the 24th March 1818 Susanna Vowell. She was the youngest child of Major Richard Vowell and Susanna Evans Hamilton, born on 23rd October 1797 in Bath, Somerset (Although her Siblings were most likely born in the Youghal region of Co Cork. Her 4 surviving older siblings were all baptised on the 24th July 1795 at St James, Bath. ) Susan died on 27th December 1853 at the Rectory at St Helens, Barnoldby-Le-Beck, Lincolnshire of a heart condition.
Michael Henry & Susanna Becher had four children.

1. Michael Henry Becher
b. 2nd March 1819 at Patrick St, Cork, baptised 26th March 1819 Christchurch, Cork
d. 4th January 1883 of Tuberculosis, at the Parsonage of St James Cathedral, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
He married on 9th April 1856 at the St Kilda Schoolhouse Philippa Catherine Jennings, born 21st April 1835, Launceston, Tasmania, daughter of Henry Jennings and Alicia Legge. They had 16 children.
2. Anne Catherine Becher
b. 3rd March 1821 at Clyda House, Kilshannig, baptised 4th March 1821 at Kilshannig, Near Mallow, Co Cork
d. 25th August 1847 at Cove (Cobh). She is buried at Temple Robin Church, Cobh [letter from R.S.F.F. Becher to his niece Annie Pope]
3. John Thomas Becher
b. 6th November 1822 at Clyda House, Kilshannig,baptised at the parish Church, Kilshannig, near Mallow on the 10th November 1822.
d. 10 May 1864 at the Parsonage, St Thomas's, Preston, Lancashire of Typhus Fever and was buried on the 14th May 1864 at St Giles, Camberwell, Surrey.
John Thomas Becher married on the 8th November 1852 at Killingholme Manor, Lincs to Maria Byron, born 1822, the daughter of Samuel Byron and Mary Anne Tesh Ferraby . Maria died on the 20th April 1863 at Rotherhithe of what was described in her death notice as "a few hours illness", followed by John Thomas just over a year later. They had 6 children who were aged between the ages of 10 & 3 when they were left orphaned. 1. Anne Catherine b. 10 July 1854 at Fleet, Lincolnshire 2. Henry Hamilton  b. 7 September 1855 at Holbeach, Lincolnshire 3. Maria  baptised. 2 April 1857 at St Denys, Killingholme, Lincolnshire 4. Ellen Delamere b. 9 Jan 1858 at Merrick Square, Newington, Southwark d. 13 July 1831 Lincoln,  married Rev James Gurnhill and had 3 sons. 5. Edith Mary Becher b. 3 July 1859 at Merrick Square, Newington, Southwark and married Rev John Lane Morley. Edith died 18 Feb 1940 at Nottinghamshire and Theodora Susan b.7 August 1861 at Rotherhithe, died 1947 at Pancras. Theodora  married Harry Bundy in 1893 had 1 daughter, Monica Vowell Bundy in 1899.
Henry Hamilton Becher & Annie Catherine Becher both came out to Melbourne, Australia, arriving on the "True Briton" on the 15th of January 1871. Annie must have returned to England, arriving back in Australia on the Carlisle Castle on the 8th July 1880. Shortly after she began teaching singing, offering testimonials from the German Emperor's opera singer among others & certification from English, German & Italian teachers. Annie left Australia on The Pekin in April 1885 headed for Venice; on the same ship was her future husband Arthur William Pope, headed for Bombay.  Annie married on the 3rd March  1886 in Karachi, Bengal to William Uglow Pope. She died 22 Dec 1939 at Broadstairs, Thanet, Kent. Henry attended the University of Melbourne & was in Australia until at least 1875. It is not yet known how long he stayed in Australia but Henry Hamilton Becher died 8th June 1893 at Folsom, California , leaving his estate to his youngest sister Theodora Susan. Maria also came to Melbourne, arriving on the Superb on 20 Dec 1876. She married at St James's Cathedral to James Roode Storey on the 2nd August 1879. They had ten children who sadly, mostly died young. Maria died on 13th October 1893 in Townsville, Qld where she was buried along with several of her children. Edith & Ellen attended a boarding school for orphans of clergy & Theodora was also in an orphanage, but not the same one as her sisters.
4. Richard Savage French Fane Becher
b. 12 April 1837 at Clyda House, Kilshannig,, baptised at the parish Church, Kilshannig, near Mallow.
d. 1919 at Strathfield, NSW, Australia
He married Louisa Sophia Paton in 1866 at Orange, NSW, Australia. They had 9 children.

Richard Savage French Fane Becher

The Rev Michael Henry Becher was remembered fondly by his parishioners who erected an affectionate memorial to him in the church.

Memorial tablet from the Church at Kilshannig [Photograph from Maria Victor]

 In the famine he was on a local committee with two Catholic priests to help with the needs of the local people. He was the secretary & treasurer of the relief committee, organising fundraising, food, housing and decent internment of paupers. He was also a member of the local Dunhallow hunt.
I found this report of his participation in the hunt;
General Advertiser and Limerick Gazette 4 Jan 1814. Dunhallow Hounds. “The morning of the 16th December…..calling to the attention of the sporting world to a chase unequalled for its length and unabated rapidity. The gloomy and threatening appearance of the weather damped the ardour of the sportsmen’s hopes and none but the keenest braved its unfavourable aspect,….but Mr Becher, always anxious for the amusement of the field, caused a bagged fox to be shaken in a small brake, so judiciously as to induce general belief that he had been found there. The day at this juncture cleared….hounds killed him, at least a 14 mile run. The field consisting of a chosen few took every advantage of the remarkable hunt. Mr J Wrixon rode forward almost throughout, Mr Becher and Colonel Wrixon occasionally took the lead and always held good places.”

 The family lived at Clyda House.

Clyda House, near Mallow. [Photos from Maria Victor]

I was delighted to receive an email this week from the owners of this website as they had a letter written on the 14th August 1827 by Susan & Michael Becher at Clyda House, Mallow. The letter was written to Mary Rogers, their niece [daughter of Mary Towgood Becher & George Pigott Rogers, Barrister of Cork & of Rose Hill] & gives a lovely look at the Becher family life.


Scans & transcript from Eunice & Ron at

"My dearest Mary

We must indeed have the appearance of a most unnatural set of Clyda relations to bear silence so long, particularly after the receipt of your most kind & welcome letter written from Liverpool - appearances I confess are sadly against us but I need not say to you that the name of Mary Rogers & thoughts of her, have been constantly with us. A long letter I wrote to you shortly after hearing from Liverpool still stares me in the face here, but its date is so long past that it is not worth sending; as you may judge I waited for his reverences pen to join me, which he promised & intended to perform, but mens pens are not as womens pens. I suppose I ought to say they are vastly superior - your good father hospitably induced us to visit him with our whole party from Clyda, Uncle, Aunt, Kate, Uncle, Miss Gingen & three bairns - a most happy & cheerful time we spent at Rose Hill a particularly interesting and attachable spot it appeared to me - a perfect shower of Roses, enough to satisfy Moore himself - the children were in delight, & lived out except at meals. Dear Kate was most kind and added to all the comforts which children require, and which are seldom to be procured in a house where children are not, many luxuries which I should not have thought of giving them, - in short they were as country folks say "in clover".

We rejoice most sincerely my dearest Mary in the favourable & delightful accounts Kate gives us of your health I trust you will bring home with you a good store of strength & appetite, the latter being I think quite requisite to the former - you will I know be glad to hear that I am returning a good deal to my ritual habits, driving not too much, a greater distance daily, walking, & dining again with the family at half past 5 - I hope when you return to be able, without staying to consider about it, to take coach & set off to look at you."
"Your dear Uncle Mick is I thank God as well as usual, better we need not wish him to be - the three bairns growing fast, Johnnie immense- Annie keeping up to him, my dear Harry as usual a good & dear boy - the two elder learn to dance which I think of use to both, to Harry its prevents the awkwardness which creeps on boys of his age in a drawing room, & it proves in Annie a perfect restoration of strength as she is able to hop on one foot balancing herself, which she could not possibly have done twelvemonths ago - our friend Mrs Becher is in Carbery with her three dear little children. The son & heir is a noble fine creature, delightful to see a child so little likely to be a cause of anxiety to her - before closing this I will write a few lines to Miss Rickaby, believe me, dearest Mary
Ever most affectionately yours
Susan Becher"

"Clyda Mallow August 14th 1827

My darling Mary
The sun with some of its brightest rays passing through the opening of our shutters awoke me at 5 oclock some mornings of this summer, and my first thoughts were of you, when your aunt askd me when we might soon get a letter from Mary Rogers, and truly the post of the same day brought us one - you will be delighted to hear your Aunt has lately gained much strength and our Doctor assures her she is perfectly restored - the Baylys have appeared in Cork, Helena has announced her arrival to me - and though I do not from the caliber of her understanding, hold her accountable for much, yet I feel I should not do right in having her here, when she had acted unkindly to her mother, and written undutifully of that mother to me -

We passed some pleasant days with your Papa - Never have we had in Ireland days with such an appearance of a plentiful harvest, and a few weeks more of fine weather will fill our garners with all manner of precious stores - are you getting fat and does the sea breeze appetize you.

Bring home a fair portion of health, but leave behind you the tricks you will pick up at the Yorkshire fairs - Remember us kindly to Miss Rickaby and believe me from your own Uncle

M H Becher"

[ Key: Mary = Mary Toogood Pigott Rogers, daughter of Mary Towgood Becher [sister of Rev Michael Henry Becher] & George Pigott Rogers [a Cork Barrister. Kate = her sister, Katherine Emmeline Rogers. Helena Bayly = Helena Becher Hayes, recently married to the poet Nathaniel Thomas Haynes Bayly. She was the daughter of another of the Rev Michael Henry Becher's sisters, Helena who had married Benjamin Hayes. Harry is the 8 1/2 year old Michael Henry Becher junior, Annie 6 year 1/2 old Anne Catherine Becher & Johnnie is 4 3/4 year old John Thomas Becher.

A death notice in the Limerick Chronicle on the 28th Feb 1835 records the death of Miss Mary Vowell at Rev Bechers at Clyda,  daughter of the Late Richard Vowell. Susan must have been sad to lose her eldest sister.

An account of a visit to Rev Mr. Becher at Clyda House in July 1835 can be found in "A Scottish Whig in Ireland 1835-1859, The Irish Journals" by Robert Graham. Unfortunately no library in Australia has a copy & I can only read brief snatches on Google;
I found out that Sir W. Becher to whom I had a letter has gone to England. As I had introduction to his cousin, the Revd Mr Becher at Clyda….

p.173……the breakfast hour is half past eight at Clyda, so I had to be active in packing up so as to arrive in time. This I did however, so to take a turn in the garden before breakfast. After breakfast we had prayers & then Mr. Becher and I started in his gig on a touree. I ought to have mentioned that last night….

…..English lane for a couple of miles with fine elms and other trees on each side of the road. The cottages and apparent condition of their inhabitants is much above par in this vicinity. Our object today, beside seeing the country generally, was to pay a visit to Ballygiblin……

……above that attics & the roof, which we ascended for the sake of the view. Besides the country already, we had distant views of Castle Cor, the Hillary Mountains, the Paps of Kerry & the first range of Mushra Hills. If it had….. 

p.174…..Mr Wrixon’s residence ( the father of Sir W. Becher) is very near this Castle, a quiet snug looking residence. We returned to luncheon at Ballygiblin and Mr. Becher and I came back by Longueville ( Col. Longford’s, the father of the member) where we saw Mrs. L and her daughters.  We did not this day go to Dromore, as we intended, but drove thro the grounds of Mr. Foote’s place. ……Clyda…………………………………………………………………………………………...very fine wood, some of the finest elms and limes I have ever seen & larches of very good size. (This country seems to have had an importation of larch about twenty years later than the oldest at Dunkeld).
     We walked out after dinner as we had done last night & ascended a ……..

p.175….This morning at six o’clock I left Mr. Becher and went down by the south side of the river to Fermoy. The road was very beautiful, but hilly & it was ten o’clock before I got to Fermoy. The first considerable place on that side of the river after passing Mallow is Mr. Courtenay’s of Balliedmond and then….."

In the 1841 Census Susan [nee Vowell] Becher is staying at Clifton, Bristol, accompanied by her daughter Ann & son Richard. Older son Michael Henry Becher is staying at Hill House, Southwell with his well known Uncle Rev. John Thomas Becher, and middle son John Thomas Becher is at the Collegiate Grace School at Southwell. The Rev Michael Henry Becher is presumably still at Kilshannig, no doubt missing his family.

 After Ann & Michael's deaths Susan stayed on a while longer till 1850, before selling the house and moving to Barnoldby-Le-Beck to live with her sons Rev John Thomas Becher &   Rev Michael Henry Becher.  In the 1851 Census Susan [Vowell] Becher & her 13 year old son Richard are staying with John Thomas at the Rectory at 1 Beck Lane, Great Coates.
Volume 15 of the Casey Index contains a land deed, which must refer to the sale of this house and its lands.
"Becher/Haines 1850/3/144 Bar Dunhallow 9/2/1850 Memo of an indentured Deed. Mrs Susan Becher, Clyda, Co Cork, Widow. Thomas Haines, Blossomfort, Co Cork.. In pursuance with an agreement & in consideration of £70 paid to her by Thomas Haines, Mrs Susan Becher released & granted & surrendered unto Thomas Haines the dwelling house, offices & gardens of that part of Kilveaton called Woodfort or Clyda (38 acres) Bar. Dunhallow. Witt Edward Galsay."

In 1853 Susan & two of her sisters are all apparently living at the Rectory of St Helens, Barnoldby-Le-Beck. Sadly, in a very short space of time all three died, Susan first on the 27th Dec 1853 of a heart condition, followed by Ann Vowell on the 9th January 1854 and finally Catherine on the 20th January 1854. They are buried alongside each other in graves 64-66 at St Helens, Barnoldby-Le-Beck. Susan's little grandson Robert Becher who died on the 9th April 1859 is buried next to them in grave 63.


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