Thomas Tickell of Carnalway

Some people hope to find royalty or nobility in their ancestry. If you want to lay claim to a family crest and (relatively) significant ancestors, there is a Tickle/Tickell family of some note – the Tickells of Carnalway, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

You are unlikely to be a descendant of theirs, as most of us have far humbler ancestors, but I’ll tell you a little about them. Much of the information below is taken from Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1898. The family story encompasses Cumberland, Ireland, and Bath.

First Recorded Name

The first recorded name in the Burke’s account is that of Thomas Tickell,, whose family owned land at Ullock, Cumberland, in the north of England. In 1617 the estate was inherited by his eldest son, Richard. Richard Tickell married Katherine Fairfax, a grand-daughter of Thomas Fairfax, the 1st Baron of Cameron, whose Fairfax line can be traced back to the 12th century. Richard and Katherine had five children. Their oldest son was Thomas, born about 1623, who had a son, Richard, born about 1645. The given names Thomas and Richard are repeated frequently in the family, making it confusing to follow.

This second Richard Tickell became Vicar of Egremont, Cumberland on 7 June 1673. He married Mary Gale, of Whitehaven and they had two sons. It’s quite possible they had daughters as well but the peerage often doesn’t record these, only male children. The names of the two sons were . . . Richard and Thomas.

Thomas Tickell, Poet and first Tickell of Carnolway

Thomas Tickell, the younger son, was born on 17 December 17 1685 at Bridekirk, near Cockermouth. He was educated at St Bees School and then Queen’s College, Oxford. He became a fellow of Queen’s College, then, in 1711, was appointed University Reader or Professor of Poetry. Thomas was friends with some of the most famous writers of the time, such as Swift, Goldsmith ,and Samuel Johnson.

He had a close association with the parliamentary Whig party and, in 1717, was appointed Under Secretary to Joseph Addison, Secretary of State, and editor of The Spectator. In 1725, thanks to Addison’s influence, Thomas Tickell was appointed Secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland, a post he retained until his death. The family had no previous Irish connections but, in 1726, Thomas married Clotilda Eustace, the daughter and co-heir of Sir Maurice Eustace of Harristown, Co. Kildare, whose uncle was Lord Chancellor under Charles II. Through Clotilda, Thomas inherited the estate and title at Carnolway.

According to Samuel Johnson, Thomas Tickell was a devoted family man and temperate in his habits. Clotilda, who outlived her husband by more than fifty years, was described by her family as “a most clever and excellent lady”.

As well as Carnolway, the couple owned a small house and land at Glasnevin, Dublin, on the banks of the River Tolka. In 1790, Glasnevin and the small estate attached to it were sold to the Royal Dublin Society to become the Botanic Gardens.  A double line of yew trees (known as Addison’s Walk) from the Tickells’ garden was incorporated into the Botanic Gardens.

Thomas Tickell published several poems and contributed to The Spectator and The Guadian. He died in Bath, Somerset on the 21 April 1740 at the relatively young age of 54. He may not be well-known for his poetry, but there is a memorial tablet to him at St Mobhi’s Church in Glasnevin. He and Clotilda are both buried in the churchyard.

They had five children, including two sons, John and Thomas. His grandson, Richard Tickell,  became a playwright and married Mary Linley, of the Linley musical dynasty. I will write about him in another post. Samuel Tickell, the ornithologist who was the subject of an earlier post, was also a member of this family.

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