The Dresden Letters – 7 : A Marriage Settlement

Redford Cottage

Edward Chichester served as rector of Culdaff and Cloncha between 1798 and 1823. In 1812 he entered into a marriage settlement which would have a major impact on the history of the Chichester family to the present day. Edward married Catherine Young, the daughter of one of Inishowen’s most influential landlords and in so doing became a member of the gentry. Catherine’ s dowry was secured by a bond valued at £2,000. (A skilled weaver earned 6 d. per day or about £12 a year so this was a huge sum of money). No longer a humble rector with a small congregation and living on a modest stipend, at last Rev. Edward Chichester could look forward to a comfortable family life, once the burden of caring for his distressed parents was lifted. They settled at Redford, a newly built rectory two miles from Catherine’s house, overlooking a small bay. The rectory became a social hub of the parish where marquees were erected in summertime for lavish celebrations of weddings, birthdays and family events. Many distinguished visitors were entertained here including Lord Lawrence of India. Edward loved the sea and it was possible to watch the sailing ships as they sailed past for America. Today the house has disappeared but the walled garden still stands. At this rectory, Catherine would give birth to a son called William, after his grandfather. No one could have foreseen the far-reaching consequences of the child’s arrival in 1813. Continuing the family tradition, he would enter the church – a predictable outcome, but as Rev. William Chichester, he would participate in future events that would transform the history of the Chichester family in a manner that changed their status is society and raised the family profile in the church, the world of politics and culture.  

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