Daniel Joseph O’Connell 1816-1897, Youngest Son of ‘The Liberator’.

Daniel Joseph O’Connell 1816-1897, Youngest Son of ‘The Liberator’.

Daniel Joseph O’Connell is often remembered as the son of his famous Irish father, also Daniel O’Connell, known as ‘The Liberator’. Such is the pride in the work of his father for Irish rights that he is mentioned on his youngest son’s gravestone. His son lived for the last few years of his life in Bedford and is buried at FHR with his wife and infant daughter.

The role of his father Daniel O’Connell ‘The Liberator’ (1775-1847)
Much has been written about the work of ‘The Liberator’, who was an important political leader in the early years of the nineteenth century. A brief summary of the work for which he is most remembered follows.

Background for Catholics by 1790s.
The fierce discriminatory laws against Catholics, dating from Henry VIII and the Reformation, were easing towards the end of the eighteenth century. In ‘Catholic Relief Acts’ of the 1770s-90s previous laws imposing many of the harsh restrictions that Catholics endured had been repealed. Catholics were then allowed to practise their religion without fear of punishment or fines, they could own property, including land, and were allowed to have their own schools. They could hold junior public posts.

The need for political emancipation.
Catholics were still not allowed to enter the Westminster Parliament as MPs; an oath denouncing the Catholic faith was required by all MPs. This situation was greatly exacerbated by the Act of Union in 1800 between England and Ireland. This Act, unpopular in Ireland, abolished the Irish Parliament, and give the Irish 100 MPs in the Westminster House of Commons.

The work of ‘The Liberator’
In the decades following the Act of Union Daniel O’Connell used his skills as a lawyer and orator to mobilise the Irish population, peasants and middle class, by non-violent means for political emancipation. His ‘Catholic Association’ (1823) swelled to hundreds of thousands, threatening stability in the country. In 1828 O’Connell stood for Parliament in County Clare and defeated the government candidate, bringing great pressure on the need to remove the anti-Catholic regulations for MPs. Fearing revolution the British PM, the Duke of Wellington, with the help of Sir Robert Peel, brought about the Emancipation Act, 1829, permitting the entry of Catholics to Parliament and to most public offices. ‘The Liberator’ became the first Catholic in modern history to sit in the House of Commons. This was a major step on the road to complete emancipation for Catholics.

He campaigned for the Repeal of the Act of Union of 1800, setting up the Repeal Association in 1830, which became a mass movement for this purpose. His method was by means of Monster Meetings each attended by about 100,000 people, which alarmed the authorities. He served 3 months in jail for sedition in spite of obeying the ban on such a meeting at Clontarf near Dublin. He made little further progress with this cause and his motion was defeated in Parliament by 523 to 38.
Also in Parliament he campaigned for many liberal policies including the reform of the franchise in the Great Reform Act (1832) and the abolition of slavery (1833)

With failing health he made his way to Rome and a warmer climate. He never made it and died in Genoa on 15 May 1847, aged 71. His body was interred in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin minus his embalmed heart which was taken to Rome as he wished.

Family background
Daniel Joseph O’Connell was born on 22 August 1816 in Dublin, one of 7 surviving children of Daniel O’Connell and Mary O’Connell, a third cousin, and he was the youngest of 4 sons. He was especially cherished as he followed the successive deaths of 4 of their children in infancy. He was baptised on 9 December 1817 in Ireland and remained very close to both parents.

He was educated at home supervised by his mother and a private tutor until the age of 14. He then followed his brothers to Clongowes Wood College, a boarding school near Clane in County Kildare. This was the first Jesuit school in Ireland, founded in 1814 when the castle was purchased by Father Peter Kenney for the Jesuits. Daniel O’Connell senior was closely involved in the College from its inception and wanted the traditional classical education that it offered for his 4 sons. He wrote in a letter to Father Kenney: ‘a solid formation in the classics especially Greek, being in my opinion of great value to real education’.

Entry into the brewing trade
The young Daniel O’Connell was dependent on his father for money and career guidance. In 1831, when he was aged only 15 and still at school, his father bought him a partnership in the brewery founded by Charles Madders in Dublin and renamed it ‘Daniel O’Connell Jnr and Co’. This was seen by some as a catholic rival to ‘Arthur Guiness and Co’; Arthur Guiness (1725-1803) the founder of Guiness beer was a devout Protestant.

This venture was not a great success: the beer was unpleasant at first and the young Daniel and his partners had little business knowledge. The manager John Brennan took over and changed the name to Phoenix Brewery. The quality of the beer increased considerably but was very expensive to produce. The situation was made more difficult by the growing momentum of the temperance campaign. This was led at the time by the Irish priest Theobald Mathew who spoke all over Ireland in favour of temperance to large and receptive crowds. ‘The Liberator’ endorsed the campaign in spite of the effects on the family brewery. Young Daniel O’Connell left the brewery in 1840 and Anchor brewery under John D’Arcy bought it. They continued to sell O’Connell’s ale until the 1920s.

A new career was now needed for young Daniel.

In 1841 his father put him forward for the constituency of Carlow as the ‘Repeal candidate’- committed to the repeal of the Act of Union (1800) a campaign for which ‘The Liberator’ was passionate. Carlow was a marginal constituency held by a Conservative but in spite of O’Connell senior’s constant canvassing his son failed to win the seat. Instead, in the following few years, he worked for the Repeal Association assisting his father and reading out his father’s letters at Association meetings.

The brothers’ service as M.P.s at Westminster.
Brought up in a political household amidst the work of ‘The Liberator’ the sons all became MPs at Westminster: Maurice MP for Tralee (1832-7 and 1838-53) Morgan MP for Meath (1832-40) and John MP for Clonmel (1832-57) It seemed inevitable that Daniel junior would follow suit eventually.

M.P. for Dundalk (1846-7)
Daniel was elected MP for Dundalk in 1846 as the candidate of the Repeal Association. He replaced Sir Thomas Nicholas Reddington who had become unpopular because, as a Unionist, he had accepted the post of Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the new Whig government.

Death of ‘The Liberator’ 1847
Daniel junior stood down as MP for Dundalk in 1847 to accompany his father on his final journey abroad, to Rome, and was present at his death in Genoa. He was responsible for seeing that his father’s last wishes were carried out: he bequeathed his soul to God, his body to Ireland and his heart to Rome. His embalmed heart was therefore conveyed to Rome and his body was brought back to Ireland for burial. His son was left £8000 in his father’s will but most of the money went to pay the estate’s debts.

MP for Waterford (1847-8)
He was elected as a Repeal candidate, gaining the seat from Conservatives. He stood down in 1848 and took the position of Consul in Para, Brazil, (1850-52)

MP for Tralee, (1853-63)
Following the death of his brother Maurice in 1853, he was elected to his seat in Parliament and sat as a ‘Whig’, the party later known as ‘Liberal’. Although he held the seat for 10 years he spoke only rarely in Parliament.

Change of career: Special Commissioner of Income Tax
In 1863 he left politics and moved to London, appointed by the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston as one of the Special Commissioners of Income Tax. Income Tax had been introduced ‘temporarily’ by PM William Pitt in 1799 to help to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, although it has been levied every year since 1842. The Special Commissioners were appointed by the Treasury and were salaried. They were considered expert as they dealt with more specialist financial matters and appeals, compared with the General Commissioners who were local unpaid bodies who assessed and collected general income tax.

On 22 October 1866 he married Ellen Mary Foster at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. Aged 50 he was over 30 years older than his bride, who, being under 21, the age of majority at that time, was classified as a ‘minor’ on the wedding certificate. The marriage was announced in the Belfast Newsletter on 29 October 1866.

Background of his wife Ellen Mary Foster.
Her parents were Ebenezer Foster and his wife Eliza Jane, nee Edwards. Ebenezer was a solicitor in Cambridge, whose father, also Ebenezer, along with his brother Richard, founded Foster Bank situated on Sidney Street, Cambridge. Today it is the site of the current Lloyds Bank. His wife Eliza came from the Birmingham area. Ebenezer was 36 on his marriage on 28 December 1844 in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, and his wife, aged only 15, was less than half his age. Ellen Mary was born on 19 August 1847 at their home, ‘The Elms’, Cambridge.

The marriage was not a happy one and in November 1859 Ebenezer filed for divorce on the grounds of his wife’s adultery with George Wills Hale. Fiercely contested by Eliza on the grounds of Ebenezer’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ the divorce was granted in April 1860. In the 1861 census Ebenezer is recorded as living in Cambridge with his daughter Ellen, aged 14. There is no mention of his wife Eliza.

1871 census
Daniel (54) and Ellen (24) were living in a Lodging house at 188 Brompton Road, London with their first child, a daughter named Eily Mary Foster, (3) who was born in 1867. Daniel’s role as ‘Special Commissioner of Income Tax’ is recorded.

1881 census
Daniel (64) and Ellen (34) were still living in London, at 41 Linden Gardens, Kensington with 6 children and 5 servants. Daniel is recorded as still working for the ‘Revenue Department’.

1891 Census
Ellen was living in Ramsgate, Kent with 8 children and 3 servants; the youngest child, Katherine was 7 months old. Daniel is not mentioned here although he lived briefly in Ramsgate after he retired. He had a connection with St Augustine’s College in Ramsgate, and the college was represented at his funeral. This was a short stay for Ellen in Kent, as in 1888 she was still in London where their youngest son James had been born. Their daughter Katherine was born in Kent in 1890.

Move to Bedford
The remaining few years of Daniel’s life were spent in Bedford. He had retired from his position of Special Commissioner of Income Tax after 30 years and following his short stay in Ramsgate, Kent, moved to Bedford.

By 1891 some of the family were living in Bedford, apparently a move for the boys’ schooling as the Belfast Newsletter reported on 18 June 1897: ‘the younger children were being educated at that famous school’, then Bedford Grammar School. Sadly the youngest child Katherine Frances Mildred Mary, known as Kitty, died on 11 September 1891 at an address on Chaucer Road. She was only 1 year and 3 weeks old. She is buried at Foster Hill Road Cemetery.
Grave Ref: C2 181

Death of the Son of ‘The Liberator’
Daniel died on 14 June 1897 at his home at 46 Clapham Road. The newspapers reported that he had been ailing for a while but that his death in the end was sudden, due to ‘an affection of the heart’. He was 80 years old. The death was widely reported in newspapers at home and abroad coming soon after commemorations for the 30th anniversary of the death of ‘The Liberator’.

The funeral took place a few days later when a requiem mass was celebrated in the Catholic Church of Bedford. Many of the town’s dignitaries attended, including the Mayor and Mayoress Mr and Mrs George Wells, and Dr Nash of Bedford Grammar School. Wreaths included those sent by the boys of St Augustine’s College, Ramsgate, members of the Bedford Golf Club, and the Special Commissioners of Somerset House for whom he had worked for so long. According to his wishes he was buried at Foster Hill Road Cemetery close to the grave of his infant daughter Kitty.
Grave Ref: C2 193

Among the many tributes paid was his closeness to his father whom he is said to have resembled most of all the sons. His role as Captain in the Kerry Militia while in Parliament was lauded, as was his love of golf and tennis. Politically he had become a Liberal and a strong Unionist, very much opposed to the Prime Minister William Gladstone’s proposals for Home Rule for Ireland.
He left a widow and 9 children, with ages ranging from 30 to 11.

His widow Ellen Mary Foster
By the 1901 census the family had left Bedford. Ellen was living with her 3 youngest sons in Battersea Park, London at ‘Overstrand Mansions’, on the Prince of Wales Road. Her son Morgan, aged 21, recorded with her, was a brewer, following his late father’s early career. Of her other sons there Edmund was 15 and James was 13.
In the 1911 census Ellen was still living at Overstrand Mansions in Battersea Park. Her son Maurice, aged 36, also a brewer and single was at the address.

Death of Ellen
Ellen died at Overstrand Mansions on 3 March 1913 aged 65. She is buried with her husband at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: C2 193

Daniel and Ellen left 3 daughters and 6 sons. They were widely spread out over different parts of England as well as South Africa and Canada.

Daniel and Ellen’s Children
-Eily (Lily) Mary Foster O’Connell- (1867-1949) was the eldest child. She did not marry and is recorded in the 1939 Register living with her sister Mary’s family, the ‘Del Rivos’ in Ealing, London. She died on 20 November 1949 and is buried in Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.

-Mary Kathleen Elizabeth (1871-1960) was the second child. In 1900 she married an Italian national, Guilo/Guillio Del Rivo in Wandsworth, London. Her husband was an Electrical Engineer and an importer of electrical apparatus. They had 3 sons: 2 had O’Connell family names of Maurice and John and the other was Louis. By the time of the 1939 Register Guilo (recorded as Julius) had retired. Louis was an insurance clerk and John was a bank clerk. Their aunt Lily (Eily) was living with them in Ealing. Mary died in Ealing in July 1960 at the age of 89. Guilo had died in 1946.

-Daniel John Foster (1873-1901) was the eldest son. He is recorded in South Africa, living in Bloefontain in the former Orange Free State. He died at The Farm in Roodeval, Orange River Colony on 14 September 1901. The ‘Orange River Colony’ was the name given to the land of the former Orange Free State seized by the British from the Dutch settlers (Boers) in the Boer War (1899-1902). The Farm at Roodeval was a ‘Remount Camp’ where horses that were sick or injured from the Boer War were taken to recover.
His estate was left to his mother Ellen and it seems that he had remained single.

-Maurice Francis Daniel Joseph Benedict (1874-1918) was the second son. He followed his father’s early career as a brewer. He remained single and in the 1911 census was living with his mother Ellen in Battersea Park. He died on 20 April 1918 in King Edward V11 Sanatorium in Eastbourne. His home address was Hanwell near Ealing.

-Geoffrey Owen Morgan (1876-1946) He sailed to Canada at the age of 19 in July 1895 on the ‘Parisian’ from ‘Queenstown’ (now Cobh) Ireland to Quebec. He died in 1946 in Canada.

-Dorothy Margaret Mary (1878-1933) In 1901 in Wandsworth, London she married Cuthbert Joseph Pike, a Captain in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He was a Cornishman born in Camborne. In the 1911 census the family were living in Cornwall, at Wendron near Helston – Dorothy (32) and Cuthbert (42) with 6 children. Dorothy died at the Carbis Bay Hotel near St Ives, Cornwall where they were staying on 21 March 1933. Their home address was Broadstone Dorset. Her husband is recorded at probate as Lieutenant-Colonel, C.B.E. HM Army. Cuthbert died at his home in Hartney Witney in Hampshire in January 1947.

Their son, Sergeant Geoffrey Rochfort Pike, a pilot of 115 Squadron. Bomber Command, R.A.F. was declared Missing in Action 3 March 1941 aged 26. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial for the missing.

-Morgan MacFarlane Francis Xavier (1879-1933) He followed his older brother Maurice’s employment as a brewer. In April 1912 he married in St Albans Kate Emily Melcombe (1885-1971) who had been born in Bedford. They had 3 children. Morgan died in February 1933 while living in Southampton. Kate died in Bristol in 1971 at the age of 87.

-Edmond John Day (1885-1929) He joined the legal profession and the 1911 census records him aged 25 as a law student. In that census he was visiting his older sister Dorothy and her family, the Pikes, in Cornwall with his bride-to-be Helena Warburton. They were married on 11 April 1911 in Brentford, Middlesex. They lived in Surrey and had 3 daughters. Edmond died on 7 February 1929 in a nursing home in Woking. Kate died on 13 May 1971 aged 87 and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Arnos Vale, Bristol.

-James Bernard Daniel (1888-1969) Born in Hampstead he remained living in various parts of London. He never married. In the 1939 Register he is recorded living in Southwark as ‘Vocalist and Actor’. He died in Tonbridge, Kent on 19 March 1969 aged 81. He is buried with his older sister Eily (Lily) in a double grave in Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.

-Katherine Frances Mildred Mary (1890-91) The only one of Daniel and Ellen’s children who died in infancy. She died in Bedford and is buried close to them at FHR. She was just over one year old.


Kitty’s gravestone, sadly badly degraded now.

Daniel and Ellen’s gravestone.
The stone cross which had stood on the top is now propped up behind.

Of your Charity
pray for the repose of the Soul

‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith’. From Paul’s Epistles to Timothy (II Tim. IV. 7.)

The inscription to Ellen O’Connell on one side.


Ancestry, Find My Past and Family Search
Censuses 1861-1911
Find a Grave- Bedford, Ealing, Bristol.
Dictionary of Irish biography
A Short History pf Clongowes Wood College by Brendan Cullen
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 19 June 1897
Kerry Evening Post 30 June 1897
Belfast Newsletter 18 June 1897 June 1897
Weekly Irish times 5 October 1940
Illustrated London News 4 September 1897
The Globe 26 June 1897
Irish Weekly and Ulster Examiner 26 March 1955
Records of Special Commissioners of Income Tax
History of income Tax and HMRC
Index of International Bomber Command Losses