Local History by Seán Beattie


The Dresden Letters – 3


Carndonagh rectory home of the distinguished family the Pitt Kennedys. Rev. Ed. Chichester's mother called here to find out from Rev. Pitt Kennedy about a house in Derry where Rev Pitt Kennedy had lived.

Rev Ed Chichester reports that his mother and father are planning to leave Dresden in mid-winter 1797. House hunting was an everyday topic in rectory households as vacancies arose in the church or perhaps the death of a bishop presented new vistas. The letter is written 2 days before Christmas but there are no greetings or references to any household preparations. Clearly Christmas was just another church holiday and it would be up to the Victorians to turn it into a  festival.  Many of the people we meet in these letters can be traced in the genealogy in Letters 2 below. I may be able to upload the complete Chichester/O’Neill genealogy file which runs to 10 pages – only the first 3 are given so far. This letter is quite long so it will be uploaded in several parts over the next few days. If you have an observation which may add to our knowledge of life at Dresden please continue to reply to the posts. Thanks to all who have done so to date. The letter is addressed to Lieut. Col. Hart at Bath and Mr. Harvey of Malin Hall is the post boy. Note that Harvey had just arrived in Malin at this time. Picture shows Carn rectory, home of Rev Pitt Kennedy referred to in the letter. Unfortunately, the fine eighteenth century rectory has recently been vandalised but the fine farm buildings are still intact. The building is contemporaneous with Dresden and Malin Hall, all part of our rare Inishowen 18c. architectural heritage


23 DECEMBER 1797

My dear Uncle,

I should have written before this had I known with certainty your address but as I suppose you are now in London, Mr. Harvey will forward this letter to you. My Father has been uncommonly ill and low spirited since you left us since I believe has been owing to the severity of the weather and I have very little hope of seeing him better until spring. He proposes going to Derry in about a fortnight at which time he will make particular enquiries about a house. My mother is this day going to Pitt Kennedy to enquire about the house next my Uncle Charleton’s in St. Columb’s Court which he lived in for some years. The situation is rather disagreeable as immediately near the church yard the great scarcity of houses and the large garrison in the town make it impudent to reject such an opportunity. I most sincerely hope nothing will impede the execution of this plan for of all the schemes proposed either for your family or ours none ever pleased me as well. ….to be continued.

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