Journal Volume 3 2000

The Hodson/Adair Family of Hollybrook

By Eva Ó Cathaoir

The funeral of Sir George Frederick John Hodson from Hollybrook to Delgany Church of Ireland in April 1888 was, according to the Wicklow News-Letter, "very largely attended". He was buried in a double plot to the left of the graveyard entrance, overlooking the road into Delgany village. Although regretted by his widow Meriel, his heir Sir Robert Adair Hodson, his younger sons and unmarried daughter Meriel Anne, his death was hardly unexpected. He had been eighty-two, after all. As a landlord in North Wicklow, a magistrate for counties Wicklow and Dublin and a member of several committees, Sir George had been an active presence for over fifty years.

The social status of this prominent resident was second only to Lord Powerscourt, Lord Monck and Lord Meath, but as the latter were often busy elsewhere, Sir George found himself consulted by government commissions and taking a leading role in the proceedings of the Wicklow Grand Jury.

Energetic and blessed with good health, he had also been most fortunate. Sir George's life could have been very different, for Ann Adair and Sir Robert Adair Hodson seemed destined for central roles in their family circle, but both died in early adulthood.

Adair of Hollybrook

Captain Forster Adair of Hollybrook claimed descent from the legendary Robin Adair. He was a nephew of Dr Forster, Bishop of Raphoe. Retiring on half-pay in 1748, he served as M.P. for Philipstown, King's County. Unlike others among the Wicklow gentry, the Adair estate was not in debt and their home, although old-fashioned, was comfortable. Captain Adair's annual income in 1740 was over £1,000. Ann, his only surviving child from his marriage to Anne Ribton was likely to be his heiress.

North Wicklow became an increasingly fashionable place for gentry families in the eighteenth century, partly because it was considered a "healthy" location, partly because romantic scenery was beginning to be appreciated. The Tighes, the Synges, the La Touches and the Hodsons fell into this category. Many of them had other income besides their Wicklow estates, which probably made them less demanding as landlords.

The Adairs owned lands in counties Dublin, Longford and Westmeath as well, but preferred Hollybrook. The Hodsons were large landlords in the midland counties, but William Hodson of Tuitestown (born 1721) rented Oldcourt from the Edwards family and married Eleanor Adair of Hollybrook. Besides their son Robert, he had two further sons by a second marriage: William, who became a barrister, and Hartley, who rented Old Connaught House and was buried in St.Paul's Graveyard, Bray.


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