The Sacheverells of Mulladry Castle, Richhill and the Richardsons of Richhill Castle.
Francis Sacheverell first appears in Plantation records as one of a consort or company offering for lands in the precinct or barony of O'Neilland. He presented himself as coming from Leicestershire and that he was willing to "undertake" for 2000 acres Irish (over 3000 acres SM). His request was met with a Grand Lease for ever of this acreage in the townlands of Mullalelish and Legacorry in the area of what is now called Richhill. These two pro- portions were erected into the manor of Mullalelish and Legahory with 600 acres in Demesne and a Court Baron. Rent £10 13s. 4d. in common socage (tenure), as of the Castle of Dublin. Grand Lease dated 29 May 1610.
This large property is carefully set out in Hill's Plantation of Ulster (1608-20), and is as follows:
Proportion of Mullalelish, one balliboe (townland); Ballihinche, one balliboe; t of Ballilaney; Mullalelish, one balliboe; Balli- breagh, one balliboe; Mulladroy (Mulladry), one balliboe ; Dromnahunchin, one balliboe ; 2/5 of Ballikedymore ; Dromard, 1/6 balliboe; balliboe next to Ballytagart (Ballintegart); Ballytagart, one balliboe; Derrichele (Derryhale), one balliboe.
Proportion of Legacorry containing the lands of Shewish, Rath-lmulchancy, Aghnacreagh, Mullanalaghan, Loskeburrin, Corcreeny, Legacorry, Fonamilly, Mullalittragh - one balliboe each ; Ballilaney and 2/5 of Annaghboe next to Mullalittragh.
Francis Sacheverell was among the earliest to take out his patents. His name appears among a list of forty gentlemen who proposed to "undertake" the whole County of Fermanagh. It is further certified by Sir Toby Caulfied, circa 1610, that Sacheverell was now resident, that he had brought over from England three masons, one carpenter, one smith, nine labourers and two women; also four horses and a cart. At this date (1610) there were no freeholders or other tenants on his property. Caulfeild adds that "he has drawn stone and other materials to the place where he intends to build".
Pynnar's Survey of 1619 shows that nine years later Sacheverell had begun to lease some of his lands. There were then three freeholders, one having 150 acres (SM) ; one, 120 acres; and a third, 100 acres. There were also 18 leases for 18 years granted to other tenants, comprising 726 acres SM. Altogether, by 1619 Sacheverell had a total of 21 families who, with their undertenants, were able to muster 50 men with arms - a necessary thing in those early days.
In Seanchas Ardhmacha (vol. IV), we are told by one, Carew, that by 1622 Francis Sacheverell had built upon his proportion of Legacorry "a convenient dwelling-house of stone and lyme, covered with thatch, within a bawn of clay and stone, rough-cast with lyme, 198 foot long, 19 foot broad, walls 8 foot high with 4 flanckers of the same height". Francis Sacheverell was then living in this house but had leased it as from Michaelmas to Sir Archibald Acheson for 21 years. From this same source (Seanchas Ardhmacha) we learn that Sacheverell was then building a second house of more castellated proportions in which he intended to live, and that it was erected in the townland of Mulladry - later named Mulladry Castle - which was badly damaged in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. A stone from Mulladry Castle has been built into the facade of a house in Richhill, directly opposite the entrance to the Presbyterian Church there and bearing the Sacheverell coat of arms.
Francis Sacheverell, the Irish progenitor of the family, died before 1641, and left as issue:
Francis, the younger, who succeeded his father at Mulladry Castle, was living there when the Civil War broke out in 1641. He made a long deposition in 1643, stating that in October 1641 he was kept prisoner in his own house with his wife, children, brother and servants, until the following May, when upon news of an English Army coming that way, the Irish burned the mansion and fled, taking them all with them. His wife and one daughter were later rescued by the English and taken to Dundalk, but he remained a prisoner, first in Co. Monaghan and later at Charlemont Fort, where after nine months' imprisonment he was liberated by Lord Conway by exchanging some Irish prisoners in his stead. Francis, the younger, died 30 January 1649 leaving one daughter, Anne, as his only survivor, then aged 17 and unmarried - of whom presently.
Henry, the second son of Francis Sacheverell (progenitor), took up residence in Ballybreagh, a townland of his father's manor of Mullalelish, and tradition has it that his house was also destroyed during the Irish Rebellion in 1641, with all his stock of grain and animals carried off by the rebels. When peace was restored, he forsook Ballybreagh for Ballinteggart where he also built a house and was ancestor of the Sacheverells of that townland. He had one son, also named Henry. This Henry, grandson of Francis (progenitor), died in 1725 and left as issue two sons, William and Thomas, and several daughters. Of William nothing is known; he may have died young or unmarried. Thomas - later the Revd. Dr. Thomas Sacheverell, Rector of Ballymore Parish, Tandragee - married Elizabeth Crozier, daughter of William Crozier, Stramore House, Gilford. An entry in the Trinity College, Dublin records of the period states: "Thomas Sacheverell, son of Henry Sacheverell, Ballinteggart entered TCD June 14 1720, aged 18 years".
Elizabeth Crozier, his wife, was a first cousin of George Crozier, Attorney-at-law, Banbridge, father of Captain F. R. M. Crozier, R.N., the explorer. A sister of Thomas Lettice married Thomas Wolsey, Portadown. As to when, and by whom, the present Ballinteggart House was built has long been a matter of conjecture among antiquaries. It has been said that it was built by one Bolton, from Portadown, to whom Henry Sacheverell, grandson of Francis (progenitor), made a lease of 100 acres (SM) in 1709. But one must hazard the opinion that this is extremely doubtful. One thing is certain, the Sacheverells were in residence at Ballinteggart in 1720, as is certified by the Trinity College registers relating to the entrance of Thomas there. Not only so, but landlords in those days weren't kindly disposed to the idea of having their tenants' houses built cheek by jowl with their own. The present Ballinteggart House, owned by Mr. T. Troughton's family for three gener- ations, is an elegant 18th century mansion of ample proportions, and has certain very old features about it. Moreover, it isn't the kind of house which a farmer with 100 English acres would be likely to build around 1709. One hundred years later, perhaps, yes ; but not in the early 18th century. But, despite the documented evidence, the matter will probably remain in dispute.
Legend says Oliver Cromwell tied his horse to a yew tree in 1842 at Ballykedymore-part of the Ballinteggart property - where a battle took place between Lord Conway's troops and an Irish Force under the command of Brian Toole McCann. This area is now called Battlehill.
To revert to Anne Sacheverell, the only surviving child of Francis, the younger, who died in 1649. About the year 1654 Anne married Edward Richardson, a major in the army who came to Ireland in 1642. The records state that Major Richardson paid poll tax on the estate in 1660, and in the following year he petitioned for a re-grant of the property in right of his wife. It is also said that he erected, circa 1665, a new house at Legacorry which later became known as Richardson's Hill, subsequently shortened to Richhill. Still standing, it is probably the oldest house in Co. Armagh. But was the house altogether new in 1665? If so, what became of the first house Francis Sacheverell, the progenitor, built sometime after 1610? It was also built at Legacorry and one must wonder whether Major Richardson merely enlarged and heightened the earlier mansion. Again, this must remain a matter of conjecture. Certain it is, Anne's father, Francis, the younger, was styled as of Legacorry (Richhill) and it is more than probable he moved to the first house built by his father at Richhill on the expiry of Sir Archibald Acheson's lease of this property by 1643.
It is also positively stated in Seanchas Ardhmacha that Mulladry Castle was never inhabited again after its destruction in 1641 by the Irish insurgents. As Anne was her father's only survivor, the Legacorry (Richhill) property fell to her by will and descent. These are the facts, whatever be the guesses as to the builder of the present Richhill Castle. The glory of this old Castle was, until lately, the extended range of iron gates and railings facing the main entrance, though most have now been removed. Few finer pieces of wrought-iron work must have been known in Ireland, and it is fervently hoped that this remarkable example of Irish craftsmanship, part of which adorns the entrance to Government House, Hillsborough, will be long treasured and preserved. Another impressive feature of Richhill Castle is the fine example of Doric ornamentation above the doorway to the main hall.
Major Edward Richardson represented the County of Armagh in the old Irish House of Commons from 1661-66, and was three times High Sheriff of the County between 1655 and 1665. He died circa 1690 and left as issue, two sons:
William Richardson of Richhill, son of William, grandson of John, great-grandson of Major Edward Richardson, was a minor at the time of his father's death. He served as High Sheriff for Armagh in 1773 and as M.P. from 1783-1797. He married, first, in 1775 the famous beauty, Dolly Monroe, Roe's Hall, Laurencetown, daughter of Henry Monroe, Esq. Dolly died without issue in 1793 and her husband married, secondly, in 1794 Louisa Magennis of Waringstown. The Magennises were still then in possession of their broad acres.
By his second marriage with Louisa Magennis, William Richardson left as issue three daughters:
William Richardson, their father, died in Paris while on a visit there in March 1822. Followng Louisa Bacon's death, the Richhill line of the family became extinct. Elizabeth, her sister, left her portion of the property to her cousin, Lord Gosford, while Louisa and Isabella left their portion to Captain Mervyn Richardson of Rossfad, son of Henry above. The famous Beauty of the Bann, Dolly Monroe, first wife of William Richardson, is buried under the east end of Kilmore Parish Church, but - unfittingly it would seem - no slab or monument records her name or fame.
Sic transit gloria mundi.