4. Settling down in medieval Powerscourt

Folliott Wingfield married Lady Elizabeth Boyle after he turned 18 in 1660, and the couple evidently began to restore the burnt-out castle at Powerscourt. Soon after his ennoblement as 1st Viscount Powerscourt of the second creation in 1665, a survey of houses containing hearths or chimneys was undertaken so as to apply a tax on these houses—two shillings for every hearth owned. The list for County Wicklow was published in 1668, and fragments remain, thanks to the efforts of the Wicklow judge and historian Liam Price. This includes a list of a number of houses in the parish of Powerscourt with more than one hearth, and among these were a house owned by “Lord Portcoot”, which had an impressive 14 hearths. Thus by this time, Powerscourt was re-established as a substantial building

Extract from the list of Hearth Money rolls, as catalogued by Liam Price (The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1931, 1(2), 164-178.)

Extract from the list of Hearth Money rolls, as catalogued by Liam Price (The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1931, 1(2), 164-178.)

There is very little detail about Folliott and Elizabeth. But it is safe to assume that at this time, a community began to develop again at Powerscourt and what would be the nearby village of Enniskerry. New tenants brought in from Wales began to populate the area. Parish records for the church at Powerscourt were recorded from 1662. Canon Stokes writes:

As was natural in a fairly new community marriages come first…1662…with names still familiar, Williams, Jones and Sumers. Burials began the following year with names which include Hicks and Burton. No baptismal records are available until 1677 when the first of the large family of Bethel and Bridget Burton was brought to the font in the church beside Powerscourt House.

Gift from Lady Ponsonby to Powerscourt Church, May 1704 (Photo: Judy Cameron)

Gift from Lady Ponsonby to Powerscourt Church, May 1704 (Photo: Judy Cameron)

As well as the reconstruction of the castle, other clues remain to show a close association between the new Lord’s family and the estate at Powerscourt. Folliott’s mother, Bess Wingfield had been widowed just five years after her marriage to Richard. The following year, she remarried again but her second husband, Edward Trevor of Rosstrevor, died soon after marriage. Third-time lucky, she achieved a longer marriage with Sir John Ponsonby. They lived at Bessborough, Kilkenny, which Sir John renamed in her honour. However, she must have retained close ties with Powerscourt through her son, or perhaps moved back there after Ponsonby’s death in 1678. In 1704, she presented a silver flagon for wine to the church at Powerscourt.

The final shred of evidence of a close tie between Folliott and his Enniskerry estate is that when he died, he left money for a school at Powerscourt. A letter from George Monck to John Molesworth in February 1718 included a note to say “Lord Porstcoot (sic) dead. Mr. Roberts his executor. There’s another will set up. It leaves 1,000 l to found a school at Poorscourt.” Folliott had thus left a substantial sum to found a school, and this was evidently built soon after his death. Vestry minutes from the church include a mention of payment to the schoolmaster John Rowden in 1732.

The Boyle Monument (Photo: St Patrick's Cathedral http://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/)

The Boyle Monument (Photo: St Patrick’s Cathedral http://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/)

Folliott and Elizabeth enjoyed a long marriage of almost 50 years. She died in October 1709 and was buried in her grandfather’s tomb (The Boyle Monument) in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Folliott died in February 1717 and, perhaps surprisingly, was not buried at Powerscourt, but along with his wife in St Patrick’s Cathedral. The couple had no children, so the title Viscount Powerscourt became extinct for the second time. The estate passed to Folliott’s cousin, Edward Wingfield, a son of Lewis Wingfield and Sydney Gore. Edward married his cousin, Eleanor Gore, and their first-born son, Richard, would bring Powerscourt into the modern era.


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