Thomas Becher and Elizabeth Turner

Thomas Becher and Elizabeth Turner

Thomas Becher was born in 1640 at Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland, the son of Henry Becher and Elizabeth Notte.  By the time he was one, Ireland was embroiled in a civil war, with the Irish Catholic uprising. Along with many other Irish Protestants, Thomas's father Henry fled to "Bristoll". He presented a petition to the House of Commons in 1641, requesting assistance. It seems fairly unlikely that he left his wife Elizabeth and very young children behind in danger.

It is not known [by me anyway!] when the refugees went home. There are accounts of 400 of them staying in Bristol. In 1643 there are shipments of food being sent to Ireland from Bristol, including peas, fish, meat & butter. The confederate war was not over until 1653, and there are accounts of property being restored to Protestants as late as 1655.

On 2nd June1658 Thomas Becher entered Dublin University., described as aged 18, b. Baltimore, Co Cork, son of Henry, Armiger.

Thomas Becher married in about 1665 Elizabeth Turner, born c1650 at Bandon, daughter of Henry Turner & Dorothy Boyle. They had a large family, at least nine sons and six daughters.

In 1666 Thomas was an officer in Lord Orrery's militia, in the Cavalry, along with Colonel Bryan Townsend, Captain Richard Hull and Quarter Master Edward Townsend. In 1668 he was Commissioned by the Duke of Ormond, as an Ensign under the command of Major Richard Maguire.

1685 bought yet another war & Thomas Becher leaves Ireland with his wife and seven children. Lionel who was born in 1686 & Susanna in 1688 may well have been born in England! Thomas declares a yearly income of 897 an enormous sum for those days. Bennett in his history of  Bandon lists other families who fled, many of them related [or to become related] by marriage to the Bechers, including Robert Travers, Richard Cox, Samuel Jervois, & Synge. Again, according to Bennett, when King William came to Ireland in 1690 he was accompanied by some of the Protestant Irish who fled to England, including Thomas Beecher.

  
King William III                                                                  Col Thomas Becher c 1689 [From R. Becher]

The Battle of The Boyne was fought on the 1st of July 1690. William III had a force of 36,000 consisting of English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Danish and Huguenot troops. James had 25,000 consisting of 19,000 Irish Catholics and the remainder were French troops. Thomas Becher was Aide-de-Camp to King William, who was so impressed with his services that he presented him with his own silver watch. According to Rosemary Ffolliott the watch is silver with gold work and was made by Lee of London, having a chased silver case and only one hand, the minutes being marked on a small dial, which revolves in the centre of the face. It is still in possession of descendants of Thomas Becher's eldest son Henry.

 

Battle of the Boyne by Jan Wyck, c1693 [From Wikipedia]     Watch presented to Thomas Becher [From R Becher]

Thomas further distinguished himself by recapturing a Dutch ship in Bantry Bay which had been taken over by the Irish. 36 Irish were drowned when they dove overboard, and the rest captured. He routed a further 400 Irish at Skibereen with Militia troops.

 On the 26th July 1692 he was made the Governor of Sherkin and was to be paid 10 shillings a day. In 1692 He was also the MP for Baltimore, and was described as being of Sherkin & Castle Mahon. He continued as the Member of Parliament until his death in 1709.


Sherkin Island. Photograph by William Turner

There are several letters written by Thomas Becher in the Bristol Records office. They were written in the years 1701-3 to Edward Southwell of Bristol. One of these letters describes the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to the Bishop of Cork, Dive Downes.


Signature of Thomas Becher, from Sherkin Island 5 August 1702

An abstract Of Thomas's will can be found in the Casey Index
Becher, Thomas, Sherkin, Co Cork dated 21 Aug 1705 Proved 11 March 1709. Brothers-in-law Henry Turner, Richard Turner and John Roberts Esqrs trustees and executors; wife Elizabeth Becher, sons Edward and Michael Becher (both married), sons Henry, John and Lionel Becher, dau Susan Becher, kinsman Francis Becher of Tallough, co Waterford, clerk, legacy to parish of Ballymoden; gives names of lands. Witnesses Dive Downes, Lord Bishop of Cork and Ross, Robert Conran, Kinsale, co Cork Esq. Benjamin Weekes, Cork; Public Notary James Russell servant to said Bishop of Cork. Memorial witnessed by John Cornell, PGP Skynner, John Roberts.

Thomas Becher is buried in the south western corner of the  graveyard at Old St Matthews, Aughadown. The inscription on his crypt can no longer be read, but 80 years ago was recorded by William Kingston as "Here Lyeth the body of Colonel Thomas Becher eminent for justice and love of his country" Thanks to William Casey for that information.


Thomas Becher's Crypt at St Matthews, Aughadown. Photograph by William Casey


St Matthews, Aughadown. Photo by William Casey

Thomas's wife Elizabeth died in 1720. An abstract of her will is published in Rosemary Ffolliott's book "The Poole's of Mayfield" on page 244.

Becher, Elizabeth of Aughadown Co Cork.signed 26 September 1720, proved 31.3.1721
My son Michael Beecher to divide my household goods, plates etc between my son Lionel Becher and my daughter Susanna Jervois. To my granddaughters Elizabeth and Susannah Newman 2 silver canns. I leave the 70 gold pieces in a piece of paper to be divided between my children and grandchildren as directed. The 123 in the hands of my son Michael as follows:- To Rev Wm Bousfield 5. To my cousin Elizabeth Laver 20/ - To my cousin John Fleming 5. To the poor of Aughadown and Skibereen 5 to be given to Mr Bousfield. To my servant Ann Nash 5. To my servant Pedro 2 cows and 2 .? To Katherin Driscole 20/ To Joan Luriff 20/ to widow Julian Regan 5/ Executor my son Michael Beecher, witness Jas Jervois, Ran. Warror, Daniel Callahan. Dated 26 Sept 1820.

The gold coins in Elizabeth's will were, according to Ffolliott, Spanish gold pieces, found by Thomas Becher in the sands of Sherkin Island.

Thomas Becher and Elizabeth Turner had the following issue;

1. Henry Becher of Aughadown & Skibereen
b. 29 March 1666 Co Cork
d. 1738
He married in 1698 in County Cork to Henrietta Margaret Owen [name on the marriage bond] also known [In Burke's] as Catherine Owen, the daughter of Colonel Henry Owen and Margaret Piers. They had three known children, Henry Becher [alive in 1708 as mentioned in the will of his grandfather Thomas Becher], Elizabeth Becher who married Richard Townsend [ and had issue] and John Becher of Hollybrook [ probably born before 1725 & died 19 Feb 1778 at Hollybrook, Co Cork] who married 4 times; firstly 27 March 1740 at Macroom, Co Cork to Frances Hedges [daughter of Richard Hedges and Mary Eyre] & had issue, secondly to Elizabeth Baldwin in 1758 & she died 5 Nov 1768, thirdly to Barbara Hungerford on 4th Feb 1769 & Fourthly to Barbara Townsend on 10th October 1771 & she died abt 1787 of Barly Hill.
2. Thomas Becher
b. 10 Feb 1667 Aughadown, Co Cork
d.  in 1707, when he was replaced as an MP vice deceased.
Was at Dublin University, June 2 1685 aged 18. According to the list of Alumnae it was this Thomas who was MP for Baltimore in 1703. He was not mentioned in his father's will of 1708.
3. William Becher
b. 10 March 1669 Co Cork
d. before 1708 as he was not mentioned in his father's will. He probably died quite young as he did not attend Dublin University.
4. Elizabeth Becher
b. 17 Feb 1670 Co Cork
d. abt 1706 Co Cork
Married in 1697 Horatio Townsend, Captain of the war sloop Lynne. He died of a fever on board his ship in 1698, leaving a daughter Penelope Townsend born about 1698 [Penelope married Alderman Philip French & she died 9 Dec 1770 at Arklow, Co Cork.] Elizabeth then married in 1701 as his third wife, Bishop Dives Downes. They had a daughter Elizabeth Downes in about 1705 & married Henry Baldwin. Elizabeth [nee Becher] signed her will in March 1705 & lists both her daughters in it.
5. Michael Becher
b. 8 April 1674 Achadoon [Aughadown], Co Cork
d. abt 1726
At Dublin University, May 9 1690, BA 1695. MP for Baltimore 1713 & 1715. An entry in the Journals of the House of Commons about the sitting of Parliament 12 November 1715 at Dublin describes him as the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Beecher, member for Baltimore. He became a Burgess of Clonakilty 25 July 1711.
Married in 1698 to Peniel Gates. She was the daughter of Colonel Gates, and had a sister Dinis [married to a Mr Harrison]. Peniel later married Richard Tonson. The Bristol Bechers had a ship named "Peniel" I wonder if she was the inspiration!
Michael's will survives & he left most of his money & property to his wife Peniel, including a house in Bath, England. He also left money to some of his nieces; Penelope French, Elizabeth Travers & Elizabeth, Mary & Martha Hungerford.
6. Richard Becher
b. 24 May 1675
d. Before 1708 as not mentioned in his father's will. Did not attend Dublin University.
7. Edward Becher
b. 27 June 1676 at Aughadown, Co Cork
d. 25 January 1750 At Southwell, England
Was at Dublin University May 14, 1694. Became a Barrister at Law with an Estate, Norwood Park at Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
Edward
married on 1st September 1702 at Nottinghamshire, Bridget Lowe the daughter of Samuel Lowe and they had 11 children [who I intend to detail soon]. Bridget died in 1735 & Edward married 24 Jan 1738/9 to Mary Booth [widow of William Law] & they had one son, Rev William Becher, who married on the 16th Feb 1767 to Elizabeth Lucas Drake.

Edward Becher,
from a portrait at Norwood Hall.
Thanks to R. E. Hardstaff for the picture.

8. John Becher
b. 1 September 1677 at Aughadown, Co Cork
d. about 1743 At Bristol, England
Was apprenticed to Sir John Duddlestone at Bristol in 1690. He married Hester Duddlestone at St Werburghs Bristol on the 17th October 1695, marriage license dated 16th October 1695. Hester and John had 8 children before Hester died shortly after the birth of Michael in 1704/5.
John remarried to Mary Cranfield; The marriage licence [dated 26 Oct 1710] stated that the marriage was to take place at Bitton, but there is a gap in the register for this period & the marriage could not be found...and had a further 7 children.

John Becher, thanks to Richard Becher for the picture.
9. George Becher
b. 6 September 1678, Co Cork
d. While the family was in Bristol, England and was buried there on the 2nd October 1689 at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, England.
10. Dorothy Becher
b. 22 November 1679
d. Bef 1708 as not listed in her father's will.
11. Martha Becher
b. 31 July 1681
d. aft 1701? [allowing for the births of her 7 children]
Married about 1694 to Dillon Newman. Had issue including Elizabeth and Susannah. Dillon Newman died in 1733 & Martha is not mentioned in his will.
12. Ann Becher
b. 8 March 1682
d.? Before 1708 as not listed in her fathers will.
13. Mary Becher
b. 16 Dec 1683
d. Before 1708 as not mentioned in father's will
14. Lionel Becher
b. 9 March 1686 Co Cork
d. 10 Feb 1770 Co Cork
Of Dunalong Castle, Sherkin Island, where he ran a rich fishery with his son in law Randall Westropp [married to daughter Peniel]. Lionel married in 1712 Catherine Dunscombe, daughter of William Dunscombe and Catherine Meade. They had issue, an elder son Thomas [who was not named in Lionel's will, but his name is known from land deeds], Edward  [described as younger son in Lionel's will, he had two sons named Edward & Michael], Catherine, Peniel [married to Randall Westropp & had issue] & Harriet Becher who married Richard Simpson/Sympson.
15. Susannah Becher
b. 16 March 1688
d. 1738 Co Cork
She married in 1709 to Thomas Hungerford. They had issue [Elizabeth, Mary, Martha & Richard] and he died in 1715. Susannah remarried to Samuel Jervois in 1719 and had issue [Samuel Jervois whose granddaughter Ellen married Henry Owen Becher.]
 


Dunalong Castle, where Lionel Becher lived as it is today. Photo by William Casey.

 

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