The Bartons of Grove
Grove House and Grove Estate have been closely linked with the history of Fethard since the town foundation. Two families the Everards and the Bartons who purchased the estate from the Everards were the sole occupiers and owners over a period of almost 500 years.
Grove estate come into the possession of the Barton family, when Thomas “French Tom” Barton purchased the house and lands from James Long Everard in 1744 or 1745. French Tom also purchased houses and lands near Fethard from James Butcher, thereby adding to the size of Grove estate, Tom Barton was a native of Fermanagh. His forebears who came from Norwich in England were given land in that area following the Ulster Plantation of 1610.
Thomas Barton emigrated to France where he founded the Barton and Gustier wine firm. He reportedly bought Grove Estate in France without actually seeing it, the sum paid is reported to have been £30,000. Tom Barton’s business acumen in France made him very wealthy and he also brought large tracts of land in Fermanagh and Leitrim.
Thomas Barton installed his only son William in Grove and this William Barton become the first of the family to live at Grove. William apparently was not the owner as Thomas Barton (French Tom) by his will of 1771 left Grove and all the lands and houses he bought from James Butler to his oldest grandson Thomas and his son William.
Thomas Barton was one of the nine children, six boys and three girls of William Barton. He was elected Sovereign of Fethard for 1788 and 1792. In 1808 he was appointed recorder of Fethard and was also Sovereign from 1812 to 1815. He was also M.P. for Fethard. He died in 1820. His brother Hugh was sovereign in 1799.
Thomas Barton was succeeded in Grove by his son William. William Barton also played an integral part in the life of the local community, he was sovereign in the years 1816,18,19,21,23 and 29.He gave the site for the present Parish Church and also had greeted the public pump on the Square. The pump was being used up to the mid thirties. It became part of Fethard folklore when the rallying cry of old time Fethard football supporters was “Come on the two streets and a pump”.
While there are no early records available the Barton family tradition tells that the first William Barton in Grove kept hounds. His sons Thomas and Hugh definitely did. His grandson William was on excellent horseman and houndman and founded the Tipperary foxhounds, as they are known to day. Previous to that they were known as the Grove Hounds.
William Barton died in 1857 and was succeeded by his son Samuel, 1817-91. Following the death of Samuel. Of who little is recorded, there was no Barton in residence at Grove for a period of 20 years. During this period Grove was rented to the famous Master of the Tipperary Foxhounds Mr Richard Burke M.F.H.
Following Mr Burke’s departure to Co Laois the last Barton in Grove Captain Charles Robert Barton (1877- 51??) took up residence. He sold out the ground rent to the people of Fethard, which most householders were paying to the estate for generations, shortly before he died. Captain Barton lived at grove with his brother-in-law Col Cobdon who predeceased him. On the death of Charles Robert Barton who with his wife is buried in the family vault at Holy Trinity Church, then Grove passed on to Mr Harry Ponsonby who with his wife Rosemary are the present incumbents.
Down the years the people of Fethard have always been welcome to walk through Grove. Before the turn of the century a favourite Sunday afternoon walk in favourably weather was down to the Deerpark which at that time actually held deer. Generations of Fethard children have over the years engaged the privilege of swimming at Newbridge. Grove Wood ever before the ‘Celtic Tiger’ was heard of and especially during the war years, was the source of firewood for many a Fethard homestead. What Fethard man of today will ever forget the adventure trips to the Robbers Glen, and the autumn pilgrimages to the wood to collect hazelnuts, outings in which modern day youths seem to have little interest? Thus Grove and Fethard and Fethard and Grove are interminable linked and long may it continue, the agreement of the original terms of the handing over of Fethard to Cromwell and many other historical documents relating to Fethard were in Grove House before they were donated to the National Museum.
I wish to thank Mrs Rosemary Ponsonby for her kind assistance in compiling this article.