Journal Volume 3 2000

The Hodson/Adair Family of Hollybrook (continued/3)

Last of the Adairs

Forster Adair's will treated his wife as an equal, but it is still unusual to hear a woman's voice in a legal document of the period. As the last of the Adairs in the direct line, Ann, Lady Hodson, made her will on 19 June 1789. She was only thirty two. None of her children had survived infancy. We don't know the state of her health, but it was probably already poor. Her will survives in the Registry of Deeds, Henrietta St. In it Anne confirms that her husband and cousin Sir Robert Hodson will inherit Hollybrook. But in a tone of considerable confidence, she also secures her widowed mother's position and outlines her own wishes:


"By indenture of 10 February 1786 made between Robert Hodson, of Green Park, Co. Westmeath and Ann Hodson, otherwise Adair his wife...a power is reserved to me, Ann Hodson, to dispose of the towns and tenements of Glencormick, Kilmurry and Kilmacanogue in the Co. Wicklow, formerly the estate of Robert Adair, esq., my grandfather and lately the estate of Forster Adair, esq., my father and now mine as their sole heiress, to my mother for life subject to certain charges after my death and the death of my husband said Robert Hodson, and after her decease to the son or sons of Robert Hodson by any after taken wife; in default of such heirs I assign said trust for my much beloved friend Caroline Lyons otherwise Degennes, wife of said John Lyons, with provision for my friend and kinsman William Glascock, esq."


We don't know whether the Hodson-Adair marriage settlement had previously agreed to some of the above provisions, but Anne clearly demonstrates affection for her two friends. Elsewhere she describes William Glascock as "my esteemed friend and kinsman". Strangely enough, no term of endearment is used to describe her husband and mother.

Trustees were members of the Rochfort family of Co. Westmeath, John Lyons, her brother-in-law, Hartley Hodson and Peter La Touche, who is described as "of the city of Dublin".

Lady Hodson died the following year, her mother, Mrs. Anne Adair in 1797. They were buried in the same grave in Old Shandonagh graveyard, Rathconrath, Co. Westmeath. This graveyard was in a very overgrown state fifteen years ago, when the present writer discovered the grave inside a ruined church, underneath a stone roof, half-covered by dead leaves and debris. The roof looked as if it might come down during the next storm and the large headstone was only partly decipherable.

Ann's widower, who "commanded the town of Wicklow during the rebellion of 1798", remarried in 1799. The bride was Jane, daughter of Brent Neville of Co. Dublin.

She was almost certainly related to Robert's sister Mrs. Mary Neville. We must imagine Irish eighteenth century upper class society very much like a goldfish bowl. It was customary to socialise within the extended family circle, as the Riall/Roberts of Old Connaught correspondence demonstrates, family visitors transported gossip, letters and even fresh garden produce from country estates to town. Country life could be monotonous and idle for ladies. Marrying within a group of families, which were related or well known for generations guaranteed that both parties knew the score.


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