There’s some evidence to suggest that Lord Powerscourt, 7th Viscount, took control of some aspects of the demesne management well before his majority. One issue that was obviously close to his heart was the development of the gardens. In 1851, the Guardians of Powerscourt (Lord Roden, the minor’s grandfather, Lady Castlereagh, his mother, and William Wingfield, his uncle) instructed Captain Cranfield to fire the old gardener, Mr. Ross, with a view to hiring a new younger man. Ross’ replacement was to be Alexander Robertson, who would work with the 7th Viscount to implement Daniel Robertson (no relation) and the 6th Viscounts’ plans for the terraces at Powerscourt. While it was a significant moment in the development of the gardens, you can’t help but feel sorry for Mr Ross!
London, Oct 2, 1851
I write to you in accordance with the wishes of Lord Powerscourt, Lady Castlereagh and the other Guardians to tell you that they wish the garden department at Powerscourt to be transferred to the management of a younger man more versed in all the new managements of flowers and fruits than you are; therefore they are desirous that you should not consider yourself any longer in the Powerscourt employment after the first week in November and the have desired Captain Cranfield to take up from you all implement and tools and anything else under your care belonging to the Powerscourt Property. In consequence of the length of time you have lived with the family they are unwilling to discharge you without giving you a pension during the minority and which would probably be continued afterwards during your life, but they can only promise for themselves during their own time of superintendence, they have agreed to give you £50 a year to be paid to you half yearly — provided you conduct yourself properly and give up everything in your care in good order. I have written to Captain Cranfield these directions and he will see them carried out and wishing you health and Peace to enjoy your Pension and the repose which is such a blessing at your advanced life and declining years.
I am your friend, (signed) Roden
Captain Cranfield will require the Garden House to be in his hands during the first week in November.
Mr Ross, Gardener, Powerscourt.
The importance of this moment in the minute books is noted by Lord Powerscourt himself almost twenty years later in 1870, when he annotates this letter recorded in the Guardian minute books with:
Alexander Robertson, formerly of the Earl of Camperdown’s Garden at Dundee was put in as the young working gardener. (Signed) Powerscourt, Oct 12 1870.