20 June 2020

Finding a missing branch
on the Wolseley family tree
and a Precentor of Killaloe

The Precentor’s stall in the choir in Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare … William Wolseley was Precentor of Killaloe in 1857-1859 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

I was telling stories in Tarbert earlier this week about the Revd Sir William Augustus Wolseley (1865-1950), the eccentric 11th baronet in the Mount Wolseley branch of the family, and was prompted to recall in a blog-posting this morning my memories of Sir Charles Wolseley (1944-2018), the 11th baronet in the branch of the family that lived at Wolseley, near Rugeley in Staffordshire.

I was prompted to tell the stories of these two very different 11th baronets for overlapping reasons: Sir William Wolseley, as curate in the Kilnaughtin or Tarbert parish, had been one my predecessors of sorts, while my meetings with Sir Charles Wolseley in Rugeley and Lichfield in the early 1970s, became part of pilgrimage in life, and a journey that began in journalism but that eventually led to ordained ministry.

In a number of postings, I have been pointing out that the family trees of the two branches of the Wolseley family are often very difficult to disentangle, and at times there have been interesting shared encounters between the Comberford family and the Wolseley family in Staffordshire.

But there was at least one other member of the Wolseley family who was also my predecessor in another sort of way: the Ven William Hulbert Wolseley (1821-1899) was the Precentor of Killaloe for a few years in the mid-19th century (1857-1859), a position that I have held in these dioceses since 2017.

William Hulbert Wolseley was born on 16 June 1821, one of two sons of Major Robert Benjamin Wolseley and Alice Warren. Major Robert Benjamin Wolseley was a younger son of the Revd William Wolseley (d. 1800). Before ordination, that older William Wolseley (Archdeacon Wolseley’s grandfather), had been a captain in the 8th Hussars, and fought in the Seven Years’ War, when he took a standard at Dettingen. After ordination, he was Rector at Tullycorbet and Clontibret.

This William Wolseley was, in turn, a son of Sir Richard Wolseley (1696-1769), the first baronet in the Irish branch of the family. He was the father of a large family, including Cadwallader Wolseley (1806-1872), who was Archdeacon of Glendalough; Major Garnet Joseph Wolseley of Goldenbridge House, Dublin, who was father of both Viscount Wolseley, the famous general, and Frederick Yorke Wolseley, who gave his name to a famous car; William Wolseley, grandfather of the Revd Sir William Augustus Wolseley of Tarbert; Dr John Rogerson Wolseley, great-grandfather of Sir Garnet Wolseley (1915-1991), who succeeded as 12th baronet when he was a humble, Merseyside cobbler; and Major Robert Benjamin Wolseley (1790-1840), father of Archdeacon Wolseley, one of my predecessors as Precentor of Killaloe.

The equestrian statue of the Viscount Wolseley at Horse Guards Parade, London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This William Hulbert Wolseley was a first cousin of Viscount Wolseley and a first cousin of Charles Wolseley, father of William Wolseley of Kilnaughtin. He was born in Co Sligo almost 200 years ago on 16 June 1821, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained deacon in 1847 and priest in 1848.

One of William’s earliest appointments was as the Precentor of Killaloe (1857-1859). Later, he was the Rector of Kilrush, Co Clare (1862-1899), Prebendary of Inishcaltra in Killaloe Cathedral from 1864, and Archdeacon of Kilfenora (1885-1899).

Archdeacon Wolseley was twice married. He first married Elizabeth Dawson in 1847, and they had a large family of seven children, three daughters and two sons, the last of whom, John Francis Wolseley, died in 1947. He was almost in his 80s when he married his second wife, Nina Sadleir, on 11 March 1899. He died two months later on 9 May 1899 at the age of 77, at the Glebe in Kilrush, Co Clare. Despite this large families, his descendants died out in the male line in 1947.

His only brother, the Revd Robert Warren Wolseley (1823-1909), was also an Anglican priest. He too was educated at TCD, and was a curate at Saint Silas, Liverpool (1848-1855).

The Revd Robert Warren Wolseley was the ancestor of James Douglas Wolseley, who is probably the 13th baronet in the Irish family. But the Wolseley family tree is so difficult to untangle that he has been unable to prove his claim to the family title since Sir Garnet Wolseley died in 1991, leaving this Irish title without a successor for almost 30 years.

Saint Senan’s Church, Kilrush, Co Clare … Archdeacon William Wolseley was Rector until his death in 1899 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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