© Alex Watson 2017 All rights reserved.
Ecclesville, Fintona, Co. Tyrone, 10 October 1910.
Unfortunately there appears to be very little recorded information on these earlier generations of the Eccles family, however it is possible to ascertain something of the esteem and regard that the family was held from an account by A. Atkinson Esq., printed in 1833 titled: Ireland in the Nineteenth Century.
“When we visited Ecclesville in 1830, it was then the seat of the late lamented John Dickson Eccles, Esq. proprietor of the Fintona estate, and a country gentleman of sterling worth, though of plain and assuming manners.”
“If the successors of the late Mr. Eccles follow his example, we have no doubt they will be found ready to give all due encouragement to this and every other instrument of employment to the poor that may be found to exist in their immediate neighbourhood; for them all that we could learn of the character of that lamented gentleman, as a landlord, a magistrate, and a man, his sudden removal by death, while we were travelling in his native county, was felt to be a public loss; and as such was very justly and generally deplored, by the poor and public.”
John Dickson Eccles was succeeded by his son Charles Eccles on the 12th Oct 1830, Charles married Isabella Blake the daughter of “The Great” Edward Blake of Castlegrove, Co. Galway, who died on 4th Nov 1869.
“We shall not say that Mr. Eccles was esteemed in this neighbourhood—he was more; the word which we have already used is a preferable one—he was beloved, beloved by his family, his friends, his tenantry, by every one who had an opportunity of knowing his worth. Upon the sorrowing circle at Ecclesville, we shall not, as it were in the presence of their dead, rudely enter to dilate upon the tenderness of home-relationships, rather would we simply offer them our respectful sympathy and condolence. Outside that sacred bound however, we may more freely speak and to none of the excellencies in the character of this lamented gentleman would we give mere prominence than the course which he invariably pursued in dealing with his tenants. He respected tenant-right and declared that he would regard himself as a robber were he to infringe upon it; the interest of the tenants in their beneficial improvements he looked upon as property the most sacred, and in the valuation of holdings upon his estate gave express directions not to value improvements, nor fix the rent at such a figure as would restrict the comforts of the tenant. His income he considered ample for all his wants and he often generously observed that by increasing it he could add nothing to his own comfort while he abridged that of his tenants. Wherever, the hand of death left a widow or helpless family upon the Ecclesville property, the rent was certain to be reduced for a longer or shorter period; so that the holding might not fall to a new occupant, and as in money so in political principle. Mr. Eccles was jealous of the independence of his tenantry and thought no greater evil could exist than the exercise of a landlord’s power to coerce the votes and public action of his people. He would reason with his tenants and endeavour to show them that his interests and theirs were identical in matters affecting the public weal, but he would not injure or oppress those who differed from him, nevertheless few, men were more willingly followed by their tenantry by his recognition of them as “independent electors” in the true meaning of the term, by his liberal management of his property, respecting tenant-right, giving leases to every tenant of good character and industry, and always charging moderate rents he won not only their votes but their hearts, in short the regard in which he was held was almost idolatrous, and partook more of an uncalculating feudal attachment than of the staid, measured feelings of modern times. Mr Eccles’ manner was peculiarly genial and winning, and though retiring and unobtrusive, few had greater influence over those with whom they came in contact; he had, a profound knowledge of men and things, his opinions were matured, carefully reasoned out and settled, no one saw, better the difficulties of a position, or was more fertile in expedients to remove or nullify them. Those who knew him intimately gladly resorted to him for advice and direction, and his sound sense, thorough knowledge of life, and unblemished honour, made him a safe and trusted guide.” (Extracted From the obituary of CHARLES ECCLES, ESQ., J.P., D.L., 1869.)
Eccles of Ecclesville
“The Eccles family settled in Fintona during the reign of Charles II., and are amongst the oldest and most influential of the county families. They derived their surname from the Barony of Eccles in Dumfriesshire which they held in Scotland. Eighth in descent from John de Eccles, a person of rank, in the reign of Alexander the 3rd, was John Eccles of Kildonan in Ayrshire who lived in the early part of the 17th century and had two sons John and Gilbert the eldest was a distinguished royalist, Gilbert settled in Ireland in the reign of Charles I., and purchased several manors in Tyrone and Fermanagh held under Letters Patent of Charles I to John Leigh, dated 6th August 1632. He died as appears from his cenotaph in the old church of Fintona, July 26, 1694, at the advanced age of 92, and was succeeded in the Tyrone property by his eldest son Charles Eccles, who was the High-sheriff of Tyrone in 1694, in 1703 Charles Eccles, built his house, he named it Ecclesville, Charles was succeeded by his son Daniel.”(Extracted From the obituary of CHARLES ECCLES, ESQ., J.P., D.L., 1869)
As is very common with the Landed Gentry families in Ireland, there is a tendency to share an ancestor due to the number of intermarriages with a small number of families. By marrying close relatives, families were able to keep control of their wealth and land. This was a prudent move and when one branch of the family failed in the male line then the property and money would go to another branch of the same family, sometimes this would lead to an estate that had been divided up between a number of children being reunited in full again.
John Lowry of Ahenis and Mary Buchanans children married into the Eccles, Sinclair, McClintock and Perry families:
2. Catherine Lowry m. Samuel Perry of Moyloughmore, Co. Tyrone, (Ancestor of Perry & McClintock of Seskinore).
1. Mary Lowry m. Daniel Eccles (Ancestor of Eccles of Ecclesville).
There are several other marriages which interconnect these families several times, over a couple of generations.
Daniel died c.1750 and was succeeded by his son Charles Eccles who married Rebecca Anne daughter of Charles Stewart of Bailieborough Castle, Co. Meath and Mount Stewart, Charles died on 30 Dec 1763, he was succeeded by his son, another Daniel, who married his cousin Anne daughter of John Dickson of Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Daniel extended Ecclesville, his son John Dickson Eccles continued with the extension and renovation of Ecclesville, the plasterwork in the house was said to have been of the finest workmanship. John Dickson Eccles married his cousin Jemima, daughter of Thomas Dickson of Woodville, Co. Leitrim and Hester Lowry (descendant of Lowry of Ahenis).
The Music & Drawing room, Ecclesville.
Charles and Isabella had 5 children, 3 of whom married children of Thomas Richardson Browne of Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone and Sarah de Montmorency (Granddaughter of Hon. Sarah Morres of Castle Morres):
2. Charles Edward Eccles m. Mathilda Theodosia Browne.
3. Annie Henrietta Eccles m. Conolly William Lecky Browne-Lecky. (Name changed by Royal Licence to Browne-Lecky under the terms of the will of his Grand Uncle Conolly McCausland Lecky Esq.,of Londonderry)
4. Robert Gilbert d. young.
5. Constance Isabella m. Capt. James Vesey Lendrum.
John Stuart Eccles and Frances married in 1871, they had 1 son and 3 daughters: Charles Raymond born in 1872 (died a short time later), Amy Henrietta Frances, Rose Isabella [Isabel] and Annie [Anna] Theodosia Hester. John Stuart Eccles died on 24th April 1886, his wife Frances died on 12th Feb 1887, their 3 daughters were left under the guardianship of Frances’s brother Conolly William Lecky Browne-Lecky (married to Annie Henrietta Eccles, sister of John Stuart Eccles), Dr. Edward Charles Thompson (John Stuart Eccles’s maternal 1st cousin) and Dr Thomas Duncan of Fintona.
John Stuart Eccles, D.L. of Ecclesville, married Frances Caroline, daughter of Thomas Richardson Browne of Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone.
Annie & Conolly Browne-Lecky, lived at Fintimara, Warrenpoint, Co. Down, they had 2 children:
1. Isabella Caroline Anna [Annie] (1879-1956), m. Charles Ernest William Bland of Colsterworth House, Lincolnshire.
2. Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky (1881-1961).
The Browne-Lecky’s brought the 3 orphaned Eccles girls up as if they were their own children living in the family home at Ecclesville.
Amy Eccles married John Knox McClintock, his family estate at Seskinore bordered the Ecclesville land, and so he was considered a good match, they shared an ancestry and in time an heir would hopefully follow, securing the future interests of both families. The Eccles land holding amounted to 9227 acres whilst the McClintock estate was 4553 acres.
This was all before the advent of the Land Acts that would give tenants the right to purchase the lands that in many cases had been worked by the same families for many generations.
Both the McClintock and Eccles families lived on their estates and had an excellent relationship with their tenants, unlike many of their peers who spent very little time on their estates and did not contribute much to the local area.
Amy McClintock sold the Ecclesville demesne and part of the Eccles lands to her cousin Raymond Browne-Lecky, he was to be the last owner of the estate which had been in his family for nearly 300 years.
Grave of John Stuart Eccles and his wife Frances Caroline Browne at Castletown graveyard, Fintona.
Eccles arms and date stone from Ecclesville, now at the Ecclesville centre, Fintona.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
AMY HENRIETTA MCCLINTOCK
WHO PASSED AWAY APRIL 4TH 1942
AND OF HER SISTER
ANNA THEODOSIA HESTER STONEY
WHO WENT TO HER REST JULY 8TH 1960
Memorial tablets, Donacavey Church, Fintona.