Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Arts      Fiction
H.G.WELLS (b.1866 d.1946)
British novelist, journalist, sociologist and historian, Herbert George Wells is best known for his innovative science fiction novels "The Time Machine" 1895, "The Invisible Man" 1897, "The War of the Worlds" 1898 and "The First Men On The Moon" 1901.
This extract is from “Tono Bungay” , a novel published 1909...
“…I remember these women as immense. No doubt they were of negotiable size, but I was only a very little chap and they have assumed nightmare proportions in my mind.  They loomed, they bulged, they impended.  Mrs. Mackridge was large and dark; there was a marvel about her head, inasmuch as she was bald. She wore a dignified cap, and in front of that upon her brow, hair was PAINTED. I have never seen the like since.  She had been maid to the widow of Sir Roderick Blenderhasset Impey, some sort of governor or such-like portent in the East Indies, and from her remains -- in Mrs. Mackridge -- I judge Lady Impey was a very stupendous and crushing creature indeed. Lady Impey had been of the Juno type, haughty, unapproachable, given to irony and a caustic wit.  Mrs. Mackridge had no wit, but she had acquired the caustic voice and gestures along with the old satins and trimmings of the great lady. When she told you it was a fine morning, she seemed also to be telling you you were a fool and a low fool to boot; when she was spoken to, she had a way of acknowledging your poor tinkle of utterance with a voluminous, scornful ‘Haw!’ that made you want to burn her alive. She also had a way of saying ‘Indade!’ with a droop of the eyelids…”
Sir Roderick Blenderhasset Impey is perhaps based on Sir Arthur Blennerhassett Voules (1870-1954), senior British civil servant in Malaya and Resident Councillor at Penang, whose family had extensive interests in the rubber industry.
NOTE: H.G.Wells enjoyed a long lasting relationship with Dame Rebecca West (Cicely Isabel Fairfield b.1892 d.1983) who through her journalist father Charles Fairfield was a descendant of George Rowan and Mary Blennerhassett (daughter of Thomas Blennerhassett, steward of Trinity College Dublin's Munster estates) - see Literary Associations
WILBUR L. SCHRAMM (b.1907 d.1987)
American author of short stories.
This extract is from “The Lost Train, or the Incredible Story of Dan Peters and Casey Jones” , 1948, also published in “Saturday Evening Post” 1-Oct-1984, vol.256 pp.50-58:
“...Then, at 5:40, he would clang carefully out of the station.  By 6:15, when the sun climbed the hills, spangled the River and danced on the milk cans beside the tracks, he was in Marietta, 13 miles on his way. At 6:20 he tipped his cap forward off his short gray hair to Mrs Blennerhassett, who lived beside the railroad, and pointed Casey north under the Harmer bluffs.  At 10:00, or a little later if there had been many milk cans, he was calming his puffy little train to a stop where the shadow of the Zanesville courthouse pointed its finger across the tracks.  Then, at 1:00, back over the 85 miles to Parkersburg. By 5:30 he would be sliding across the bridge, out of the coolness of the Ohio hills into the late-afternoon sunshine, ease into the Parkersburg station and tenderly, tenderly apply the air, so that the last forward impetus would die just before the brakes had to kill it. This, faithfully, for 20 years..."

of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
 Shakespearian actor who used the stage name
He visited his children regularly at Manchester until c1919, when he disappeared, perhaps emigrating to Australia.
Warning has anyone come across a reference to this man...?
P.G.WODEHOUSE (b.1881 d.1975)
British comic novelist, short story writer, lyricist and playwright.
Author of more than 90 books and 20 film scripts, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse remains best known for creating the young bachelor Bertie Wooster, and his effortlessly superior manservant “Jeeves”, the supreme 'gentleman's gentleman”.
Bertie Wooster and Jeeves shared Berkeley Mansions, London W1, with: “...The Honourable Mrs. Tinkler-Moulke, Lieutenant-Colonel J.J. Bustard, D.S.O, Sir Everard and Lady Blennerhassett...” neighbours who, in chapter one of “Thank You, Jeeves” (pub. 1934), jointly raise Cain when Bertie takes up the Banjolele.

American author of a novel "Secret of Blennerhassett" 1941. Illustrated by John Watrous, pub. by Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., NY.
He also wrote:
"Yankee Ships in Pirate Waters"; "Historic Ships"; "Historic Railroads"; "Historic Airships"; "Historic Inventions"; "Historic Boyhoods"; "Historic Girlhoods"; "Historic Events of Colonial Days"; "Historic adventures: Tales from American history"; Historic Poems and Ballads" 1912; "The Arabian Knights, Selected and Edited" (written with others); "The Pirate of the Gulf"; "Pirates of the Delaware"; "The Count at Harvard: being an account of the adventures of a young gentleman of fashion at Harvard University"; "The Chateau of the Swan"; "Plays of The American Colonies"; "Builders of United Italy"; "Blackbeard's Island: the adventures of three boy scouts in the sea islands" 1916; "Lafeyette, We Come! - the story of how a young Frenchman fought for liberty in America aand how America now fights for liberty in France" 1918; Peter Cotterell's Treasure" 1922; "William Penn"; "The Heart of Sally Temple"; "Minot's Folly" 
CAROL CARNAC (b.1884 d.1958)
Pen-name of Edith Caroline Rivett-Carnac
Prolific British author of crime fiction, publishing many novels between 1931 and 1959. She published two novels as "Carol Rivett" and also wrote under the name "E.C.R. Lorac".
"Murder Among Members" , published by Collins for "The Crime Club, 1955, is one of her "Julian Rivers" series, also published in German as "Mord im Gastehaus" 1955.
"...The scene is set a fortnight before the new session; only a few Members are in Parliament Hostel - the great majority of its five hundred odd rooms are empty. It is Charles Crummock, M.P. for Blennerhasset, who, returning late to the hostel, sees two bodies lying motionless - and apparently lifeless - in Stationery Court, alongside the tall Hostel building..."
JAN STRUTHER (b.1901 d.1953)
The pen name of of Joyce Anstruther, later Joyce Maxtone Graham and finally Joyce Placzek, British writer, author of “Mrs. Miniver”. She published essays & sketches in the 1920s and 1930s in "The Spectator", "The New Statesman", "Punch", and other journals.
They were first published in book form in London in 1938 by Chatto & Windus, under the title "Try Anything Twice".  Next, they were reprinted in New York by Harcourt Brace in 1946 in a collection of Jan Struther's poetry and prose called "A Pocketful of Pebbles". A new edition of "Try Anything Twice" was published in London by Virago Press in 1990, with an Introduction by Valerie Grove, from which this extract is taken:
“…Even your current about-to-be-superseded address-book will present a few problems when you sit down (pen newly filled, blotting-paper handy, fire dancing and a Haydn symphony on the wireless) to copy it out.  The new book, spotless without, virginal within, of a generous small quarto, the little shallow staircase of its alphabet as yet unsullied by exploring thumb-prints, lies open before you; the old one, an overcrowded, much-corrected octavo, lies beside it.  Smoothly, flowingly, the panorama of your friends passes before you.  Ainsworth, Antrobus, Archer, Avery, Ashe... (Ashe, a recent acquisition, is out of order:  you put him in his place before Avery). Block capitals for the surnames: there are few things more satisfactory than making block capitals. The address on the next line.  The telephone number.  The husband's office number.  A line left blank, in case they move or buy a country cottage. Barnaby, Baxter, Blennerhassett.... but Blennerhassett died last year, poor chap, and his widow went back to live with her people in Canada. You aren't likely to see her again: she was only a friend's wife, not a real human being.  Leave her out – you can always find her in the old book if necessary…”
William "Bill" Higham of Zimbabwe and Queensland, Australia, in 1999 wrote a film script titled "Fever Country", a fictionalized account based on the book "Adventures in Mashonaland, by Two Hospital Nurses,  Rose Blennerhassett and Lucy Sleeman" (published in London by Macmillan and Co. in November 1893, reprinted December 1893 & January 1894) and other East African works. 
American writer & playwright. Author of “Blennerhassett, or The Decrees of Fate : a Romance Founded upon Events in American History” published 1901 & 1904 by Grossett & Dunlap, New York & C.M.Clark, Boston.
Historical novel, the first volume in a trilogy about Aaron Burr, this features Burr's association with Harman & Margaret Blennerhassett of Blennerhassett Island.



Eleven oil paintings by Charles H. Stephens were used as illustrations for the book.  Stephens was a prominent artist and member of Philadelphia's famous “Sketch Club”, whose instructors and fellow artists included: Thomas Eakins, Charles E.Dana, Joseph Pennell, A.B.Frost and Henry R.Poore.
These eleven paintings, each 20x12.5 inches, oil on canvas, in contemporary gold frames, were offered for sale in 2001, together with a copy of the book, by “John K.King Used & Rare Books” at Detroit, Michigan, USA at a price of $2,500.
Charles Felton Pidgin also wrote a play titled:
Blennerhassett or The Irony of Fate: A dramatic Romance in a Prologue and Four Acts.”
CHARLES JAMES LEVER (b.1806 d.1872)
Author of  “The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer" pub. 1839 Dublin. Harry Lorrequer was a young officer in a British regiment stationed in Ireland in the early 1800's.
CHAPTER XIII Dublin - The Boarding-House - Select Society.
"...punctual to my appointment with O'Flaherty, I found myself a very few minutes after six o'clock at Mrs Clanfrizzle's door. My very authoritative summons at the bell was answered by the appearance of a young, pale-faced invalid, in a suit of livery the taste of which bore a very unpleasant resemblance to the one I so lately figured in.
It was with considerable difficulty I persuaded this functionary to permit my carrying my hat with me to the drawing-room, a species of caution on my part - as he esteemed it - savouring much of distrust. This point however, I carried, and followed him up a very ill-lighted stair to the drawing-room; here I was announced by some faint resemblance to my real name, but sufficiently near to bring my friend Tom at once to meet me, who immediately congratulated me on my fortune in coming off so well, for that the person who preceded me, Mr. Jones Blennerhasset, had been just announced as Mr. Blatherhashit - a change the gentleman himself was not disposed to adopt - 'But come along, Harry, while we are waiting for Daly, let me make you known to some of our party; this, you must know, is a boarding-house, and always has some capital fun – queerest people you ever met - I have only one hint - cut every man, woman, and child of them, if you meet them hereafter - I do it myself, though I have lived here these six months.' Pleasant people, thought I these must be, with whom such a line is advisable, much less practicable..."
This 1946 Hollywood film starred Ginger Rogers as “Dolly Payne Madison” and David Niven as “Aaron Burr”, with Olaf Hytten playing the part of “Harman Blennerhassett" of Blennerhassett Island.


Irish drama series set in a Dublin clinic.
produced by Parallel Film Productions Ltd
for Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE).
Episode broadcast 9-Oct-2005 on RTE1
 Mr Blennerhasset played by Charlie DeBromhead
Mrs Blennerhasset played by Jennifer Buckley
The Irish words “cailin ban” or “Colleen Bawn” describe "a fair haired girl".
“Colleen Bawn” was Ellen Scanlan (Scanlon) nee Hanly (Hanley), born at Ballyelan, Ballingarry, Co.Limerick, the daughter of a farmer.  While still a child her mother died so she was raised by her uncle John Connery at Ballycahane (near Yellowtown), Manister, Co.Limerick. 
In 1819, as a young woman aged 15 years, she was enticed from her uncle's home by Lieut. John Scanlan (Scanlon), son of a leading county family, who then married her.  A few weeks later, when he realised his family would not accept Ellen, he persuaded his servant Stephen Sullivan to kill her.  Sullivan took her out on the River Shannon where she was shot with a musket, stripped and her body dumped her in the river, weighted with a stone. Six weeks later she was washed ashore at Moneypoint, near Kilrush in Co.Clare (opposite Tarbert), and buried at Burrane.
Both Sullivan and Scanlan fled.  Scanlan was arrested, defended at his trial by noted barrister Daniel O'Connell ("The Liberator"), found guilty and hanged at Gallows Green.  Soon after Sullivan too was arrested, confessing to the crime but claiming Scanlan had ordered him to kill the girl.  This version of events was doubted by some writers who believed Sullivan alone was guilty.
Her headstone, a cross at Burrane churchyard, was at one time inscribed:
"Here lies the Colleen Bawn,
Murdered on the Shannon,
July 14th 1819. R.I.P."
Gerald Blennerhassett DL JP (b.est.c1780, d.1845) of Riddlestown Park, Rathkeale, Co.Limerick, was High Sheriff of Co.Limerick in 1812 and a leading figure in the Colleen Bawn tragedy, he being the man who arrested Lieut. Scanlan.
NOTE: [BIFR p.136] states, in error, that it was this Gerald's son, Gerald FitzGerald Blennerhassett (b.1809), who made the arrest.
Gerald Griffin(b.1803 d.1840) was a journalist, novelist, dramatist and lyricist. As a young reporter he had covered the trials of Scanlon and Sullivan for the newspapers and later wrote a novel based on the murder entitled “The Collegians, or The Colleen Bawn, a Tale of Garryowen”, first published by Duffy in 1828. His fictional heroine is named “Eily O'Connor" instead of Hanly/Hanley.  Scanlon & Sullivan are named Hardress Cregan & Danny Mann.  The work became very popular & is generally thought the best of his novels, giving a comprehensive picture of every aspect of Irish life.
The novel was republished by Duffy, also by:
- Benziger, New York.
- Frederick Warne and Co., London, 1887.
- Walter Scott, London 1888.
- Walter Scott, in "Evergreen Library" Series (undated).
- Walter Scott, in “The Million Library” series, as volume No.78 (undated) published between 1895-1898. This series was first advertised on p.1029 of "The Bookseller magazine" 10-Oct-1895.
- The Century Company, in "The English Comedie Humaine" Second Series, 1906.
- Talbot Press in 1918 (for which edition Padraic Colum wrote an introduction and Jack B. Yeats created illustrations) reprinted 1945 & 1963.
The novel was dramatised c1831 by Egerton Wilkes as his first play. “Eily O'Connor; or, The Foster Brothers” by Wilkes and Haines was performed at the “New City Theatre”, London, for 50 nights before being taken on tour.
In 1842 the novel was again dramatised, for the American stage.  Henry James Byron and Dion Lardner Boucicault (Dion Baucicault Sr) published "Miss Eily O'Connor: A New and Original Burlesque, Founded on the Great Sensation Drama of the Colleen Bawn".
Dion Boucicault Sr wrote a melodrama entitled "The Colleen Bawn, or The Brides of Garryowen: a Domestic Drama in Three Acts" This opened at New York on 29-March-1860, becoming one of the most wildly popular, and ridiculed, melodramas of the century.  Boucicault was the first popular playwright to portray life from an Irish viewpoint, using Irish settings and characters, this work being described as “...a great Irish domestic drama...”.  A character in this play is named Ducie Blennerhasset.
The play was first performed at Miss Laura Keene's Theater, New York, on Tuesday 27-March-1860, with Laura Keene playing Annie Chute and Boucicault himself playing Myles-na-Coppaleen.  Ducie Blennerhasset was played by Miss Hamilton for the opening performance, subsequently by Josephine Henry (38 performances, Thursday 29-March to Saturday 12-May-1860).  Six months after the Laura Keene production the play moved to London, where it played for 278 consecutive nights.
Later in England the play was performed at the “Royal Adelphi Theatre” London in 1877 & 1885, Ducie Blennerhasset played by:
Miss Eleanor Phillips (17 performances, 3-Mar to 23-Mar-1877) and
Miss Lizzie Nelson (43 performances, 24-Oct to 12-Dec-1885).
The work became an established part of 19th Century theatre in both Britain and America, in more recent times being performed at “The Royal Exchange Theatre” at the “Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts Theatre Lab”, at the "Project Arts Centre" Dublin (July-August 2010) and as an Irish Television play by Raidió Teilifís Éireann.
Sir Julius Benedict made Boucicault's play into an opera called "The Lily of Killarney" (1862), from which a silent film version "Lily of Killarney" was produced in Britain in 1922, followed by a sound version in 1934.
The earliest film version of the original play is "A Daughter of Erin", made in the USA 1908.  Three film versions were made in 1911, one in the USA and one in Australia.

Other histories...
"Ellen Hanley; or, the true history of the Colleen Bawn, by one who knew her in life and saw her in death" by Rev. Richard "Parson Dick" Fitzgerald (1st cousin of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, 24th Knight of Glin), published 1868 and 1910.  This account opens in 1819. Real names are not given, only initials and dashes.
"Death Sails the Shannon: The Tragic Story of the Colleen Bawn: the Facts and the Fiction" by William McLysaght and Sigerson Clifford, published by The Kerryman Ltd, Tralee 1953, reprinted 1971.
"The Tragic Tale of the Colleen Bawn" by William MacLysaght & Sigerson Clifford, published by Anvil Books (Childrens Press) 1982.

"Legal documents relating to the trial of John Scanlan and Stephen Sullivan of County Limerick for the murder of Ellen Hanley, the Colleen Bawn, together with report of the trial and execution of Sullivan, 1820" are held at the National Library of Ireland [NLI Ms. 8635].
The name is found at...
 - "Colleen Bawn Rock" in Lake Killarney, Co.Kerry.
- “Colleen Bawn Inn” on Moore Street in town of Kilrush, Co.Clare.
- the town of "Colleen Bawn" south-east of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).
- the cocktail "Colleen Bawn", first described 1903 in "The Flowing Bowl" by Edward Spencer, is made from 3/4 ounce rye whisky, 3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse, 3/4 ounce Benedictine, 1 fresh egg, 1 teaspoon sugar to taste, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pink sugar garnish and crushed ice...   yummy
and on ships named for her...
"Colleen Bawn" (wood, 386 tons) built by A. Hall & Co., Footdee, Aberdeen (Yard Number: 224), launched 1861.  Operated by William Allan of Carnarvon Hall, Essex, registered at Adelaide, Australia.
- Paddle Steamer PS "Colleen Bawn" (iron, 609 gross tons) built by Randolph Elder & Co, Govan (at Yard No 16), launched 1862.  Operated by the Drogheda Steam Packet Company, she was scrapped in 1901.
- TSS "Colleen Bawn" (iron, 1204 tons) was a twin screw passenger vessel, built by Vickers of Barrow-in-Furness for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.  Operating a passenger and freight service from Drogheda to Liverpool from 1903 until 1928, she changed to the Holyhead-Greenore route in 1928 and was scrapped in 1931.
- "Colleen Bawn" (62 tons) was a pacific island ‘Kanaka vessel’.  She sank <when?> disappearing in the Coral Sea while returning to Queensland from Ugi in the Solomon Islands.
Mary O' Connor, born c1820, was the original “Rose of Tralee”. Her parents' house was in Brogue Lane in the Rock (Rock Street), Tralee, Co.Kerry. Her father was a shoemaker and her mother a dairymaid at Cloghers House, home of the Mulchinocks, a wealthy merchant family. One of their sons was William Pembroke Mulchinock, a poet who fell in love with Mary and later wrote what became a popular ballad, “The Rose of Tralee”.
an excerpt from "Story of the Rose of Tralee" :
“…There was a long pause.  Mary looked at the ring and then to William. He held out his arms and almost before she had realized it he had caught her in an embrace.  And then putting the ring on her finger he sealed their betrothal with a kiss.  They stood thus for a long time looking at the moon come slowly above the mountain...
Suddenly the door burst open and his good friend Bob Blennerhassett rushed in.  The lovers moved apart. William threw Bob an anxious look. 'Anything wrong, Bob?' he asked. 'It's Leggett.' said Bob.  'Leggett! Is he bad?' 'Bad,' answered Bob, 'He's dead. You're wanted for murder: there's a warrant out for your arrest,' William turned to Mary.  'I'm sorry to have brought this on you,' he said.  'Don't mind me , William,' she replied, 'Take care of yourself - you'd better go,' 'Yes go,' continued Bob.  'Here's a hundred gold sovereigns for you, they'll bring you a good way.  Make for Barrow Harbour if you can. There's a wine ship leaving tonight.'
Mulchinock took Mary in his arms once more to kiss her good bye. 'Good bye my own,' he said, 'and don't grieve.  I'll be back soon.' Tears welled up in her eyes but she kept brave to the last.  Not a flickering of an eyelid did she betray her breaking heart. With that Bob rushed in to hasten William's departure with news that two policemen where approaching up the lane.  William fled taking Bob's horse as transport…"
To read the complete Story of "The Rose of Tralee" and the words of the ballad, click here....
you may also like to visit...

(author unknown)
A short ghost story set in Co. Tipperary, Ireland.
The complete story is available online at Google Books.
"...It's something more nor forty, or five-and-forty years ago, that there lived in Kilsheelan, in this very county of Tipperary, a real old genteman - he was one Major Blennerhassett - one of the real old Protestants.  None o' your upstarts that come in with Cromwell or Ludlow, or any o' the blackguard biblemen o' them days - for the only difference between a bibleman now, Sir, and the biblemen o' former times, was just this - that Cromwell's biblemen used to burn us out of house an' home, while the biblemen now only tells us that we are goin' to blazes - so, your honour, you see they were determined to fire us one way or another.  Well, as I was telling you, Major Blennerhassett was a real old Protestant, and thought he'd curse, an' swear, an' d--n the Papists when he'd be in a passion, the devil a one of him would be ever after turnin' us out of our little holdings, supposin' we were two, or three, or may be five gales in arrear.
Now you may be sure that all the boys were distracted one morning, to hear that the Major was found with his throat cut from ear to ear, in a most unhandsome manner. There wasn't a Papist in the parish but knew that he hadn't a hand in it - for the Major was as dead as a door-nail, or Queen Elizabeth.  There wasn't a neighbour's child in the entire Barony that wasn't up to the Major's house in no time, to hear 'how the poor master's throat was cut, ' and when they saw him it was plain to be seen that the Major didn't do it himself - for there was the poor right hand cut in two nearly; and such a gash as he had in his throat, they all said, couldn't be given by himself, because the Major, it was well known, wasn't kithogued (left Handed).  Besides that, there was the old gold watch gone, an' his bonds, an' what money he had in the house, along with a £500 note..."

"The Ghost of Kilsheelan"
appeared in these publications of the 1830s:
"Monthly Magazine" c1831
"The Lady's Book" vol.3, 1831, pp.131-135
"Godey's Magazine" vol.3 1831 p.357
"Whittaker's Magazine" c1832
"The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser" Sat. 10-Mar-1832, p.4
"The Olio: Collected by a Literary Traveller" 1833, pp.187-201
"The Rover" vol.1, 1843, pp.1077-110

American novelist
author of "A Dream of Empire, or, The House of Blennerhassett"
published by Dodd, Mead & Company, 1901
Historical novel about Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett 

 American children’s writer, author of the "Lily B." books, pub. by HarperCollins. “Lily B.” is Lily M. Blennerhassett.
“Lily B. on the Brink of Cool” 2003
also available as a "Listening Library" audio tape in three cassettes, read by Kaili Varnoff
“Lily B. on the Brink of Love” 2005
"Lily B. on the brink of Paris" 2006
author of novel "Life on a Backwoods Farm:
or, The Boyhood of Reuben Rodney Blannerhassett"
published by Jennings & Pye, Cincinnati; Eaton & Mains, New York
author of novel "Strange Island", in which "a young girl on Blennerhassett Island is caught up in Aaron Burr's conspiracy"
published 1957 by World Publishing
a novel by William Allison and John Fairley, 1978
This tale, about a British army mutiny at Etaples during WWI, was in 1986 made into a four part television drama for the BBC, the first part broadcast on BBC1 31-Aug-1986.
The principal character of the drama is Percy Toplis, played by Paul McGann (b.1959). Toplis existed but his involvement in the mutiny has been questioned and the production itself was controversal, used as evidence of left-wing bias at the BBC. The drama was not broadcast again on British television until 2017. 
The last part of the drama is said to contain a scene in which two British army privates steal officer’s uniforms, intending to “do the town” as officers. Deciding they needed superior names to go with the uniforms, one private chooses “Marmaduke Adrian Blennerhassett” because it was “...the poshest name he ever heard...”.
need to verify this...


"Francis Percy Toplis (20 August 1896 – 6 June 1920) was a British criminal and imposter active during and after the First World War. Before the war he was imprisoned for attempted rape. During the war he served as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, but regularly posed as an officer while on leave, wearing a monocle. After the war he became notorious following the murder of a taxi driver and the wounding of a police officer who attempted to apprehend him. The subsequent manhunt was major news at the time. He was tracked down and killed in a gunfight with police.

In 1978 a book was published which claimed that he took a major part in the Etaples Mutiny from 9–12 September 1917, as "The Monocled Mutineer", during the war. The authors suggested that he was subsequently pursued by the political establishment in a vendetta, and may have been innocent of the murder. The book was dramatised by the BBC in 1986 aThe Monocled Mutineer, creating considerable controversy.

Critics say that there is no evidence he was actually present, and official records show that Toplis' regiment was en route to India during the Étaples mutiny. No evidence exists to show that Toplis was absent from his regiment. However, neither is there evidence that Toplis ever went to India. He may only have got as far as Malta. It is now believed highly unlikely that he returned to Europe in time to participate in the mutiny."

film, a black comedy by Hand Made Films* 1987, producer Paul Heller

"...They enter the Penryth tea-rooms.  I sits down at a table and starts buttering the bread rolls on the table. Withnail, still
standing, points to the table and addresses an elderly waitress, Miss Blennerhassett..."
Penryth is in Co.Cumbria, England. Miss Blennerhassett played by Irene Sutcliffe (b.1924).

"I" (a.k.a. Marwood) is played by Paul McGann (b.1959), who the previous year played Percy Toplis in a 1986 BBC TV drama serial "The Monocled Mutineer".
“Hand Made Films” is the production company formed by ex-Beatle George Harrison (b.1943 d.2001)

*Hand Made Films is a production company formed by ex-Beatle George Harrison (b.1943 d.2001)
"...They enter the Penryth tea-rooms.  I sits down at a table and starts buttering the bread rolls on the table. Withnail, still
standing, points to the table and addresses an elderly waitress, Miss Blennerhassett..."
Penryth is in Co.Cumbria, England. Miss Blennerhassett played by Irene Sutcliffe (b.1924).

"I" (a.k.a. Marwood) is played by Paul McGann (b.1959), who the previous year played Percy Toplis in the 1986 BBC TV drama serial "The Monocled Mutineer".

Sir HUGH WALPOLE (b.1884 d.1941)
British author of “The Bright Pavilions” 1940, from which this is an extract:
"...A week ago Philip and Sylvia Irvine had come, after a series of visits, to stay with Sir Roger and Lady Blennerhasset, some ten miles from Carlisle. Robin was at Rosthwaite.  A few days back Philip Irvine had been called to Newcastle on urgent business.  Alice Blennerhasset and Sylvia had ridden off to see something of the country. They had slept at Penrith and at Ravenglass.
Lady Blennerhasset would stay yet one more night at Ravenglass.  It was supposed that Sylvia Irvine was with her. She was not.  She was riding at that moment towards Seascale. Sylvia and Robin would stay that night at the small stone house as Mr. Forrester and his wife.  Yes--on their way to Carlisle.  Thence to Edinburgh, where Mr. Forrester had business. . . .
So, the moment, after years of waiting, had arrived.  Alice Blennerhasset, who detested Philip and had had in her time many lovers, was the only conspirator; Roger Blennerhasset, a stupid, complaisant, and passionately hunting gentleman was glad that the two ladies should, for a few days, amuse themselves away from him. He was a bachelor at heart..."

by Alice Ritchie - Hogarth Press, London 1930
 also USA edition 1930
novel about The British Army in Germany after WWI
Chapter I
"I like Mrs. Martin," said Vernon.

"I was only going to say Mrs. Martin is a lady," said Miller. A parrot in a cage on the verandah screamed, and the sound filled him with impatience to be out of doors. "I shall be back in time to take my turn with the Colonel's daughter," he said carelessly.

"Of course," said Vernon; "I had forgotten about her." He stood at a loss for a moment, overhauling his anticipations for the afternoon, like a man who realizes suddenly that there is another figure to be added to a sum which he had checked and thought correct.

"Her coming-out party," said Miller; "I cannot get used to the idea of the Colonel being a father. Blennerhasset says you never saw anything so homely in style; however, I don't like girls in any case."

"Mrs. Macquean does him no good," thought Vernon, looking with disapproval after his swaggering shoulders.

Miller whistled to his parrot in passing and dropped down into the dusty road. Vernon fidgeted with papers for a minute or two, and then followed him into the bright sunlight to his morning interview with the Colonel.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH (b.1728 d.1774)
 Irish author of "The Vicar of Wakefield"
An death notice in the Irish newspaper [“Clare Journal” of Thursday, 14-Dec-1809] reads:
“On Sunday at Maker in England aged 43 years, Mrs Blennerhassett, a near relation of the celebrated Dr GOLDSMITH and daughter of Mrs PRIMROSE, one of the heroines in the Vicar of Wakefield”
A similar notice in ["THE Gentleman's Magazine" December 1809 vol.79, part 2, p.1180] reads:
“Obituary; with anecdotes, of remarkable Persons. DEATHS. Nov. 26. At Maker, in Plymouth, aged 45, Mrs Blennerhassett, a near relative of the celebrated Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, and daughter of Mrs. Primrose, one of the heroines mentioned in The Vicar of Wakefield.”
“Mrs Blennerhassett” was Isabella Primrose (b.c1766) daughter of James Primrose and wife of James Blennerhassett R.N. (b.c1760). Maker is a village, in the county of Devon until 1944, when it became a part of Cornwall.
Dr Oliver “Noll” Goldsmith was poet, novelist, dramatist, historian, naturalist and man of letters; friend of some of the best minds in England, including Dr Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and David Garrick. His only novel, “The Vicar of Wakefield”, was written c1761/2 and published in 1766, with the help of Dr Johnson, to critical acclaim.

This may perhaps be a mis-understanding. Nowhere in biographies or studies of Goldsmith is it suggested that the Primrose family, principal characters of “The Vicar of Wakefield”, are based on real people named Primrose, or Goldsmith's own relatives.
Oliver Goldsmith described the fictional Rev. Dr Charles Primrose, Vicar of Wakefield, as married to Deborah and having six children:
1.  Capt. George Primrose, m. Arabella Wilmot
2.  Olivia "Livy" Primrose, m. Squire Ned Thornhill
3.  Sophia "Sophy" Primrose,
              m. Sir William Thornhill, Bart. (alias Mr Burchill)
4.  Moses Primrose; m. Miss Flamborough
5.  Dick Primrose
6.  Bill Primrose
GORE VIDAL (b.1925)
Highly regarded and prolific american historical novelist.
“Burr: A Novel”, published 1974 in the USA and by William Heineman Ltd, London, is an historical novel about Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett.
From the flyleaf of the first edition:
 “Aaron Burr (1756-1836) was a hero of the American Revolution, served as Vice-President under Thomas Jefferson, took the life of Alexander Hamilton in a duel and was tried for treason when Jefferson accused him of plotting to make an empire of his own in the western territories.”

“This novel by Gore Vidal is in the form of a memoir, told partly by Burr at the end of his long life and partly by a young journalist in whom he confides. Though the memoir itself and the young journalist are fictional, the facts are actual.”

The portraits of the major characters - Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, the Madisons, Jackson, Van Buren - are drawn from their own words and from the observations of their contemporaries.”

Extract from pp.332-333:
 “...At Blennerhassett's Island I finally met the legendary islander himself. Near-sighted to the point of blindness, a formidable talker, an inadequate listener, a constant dreamer, this splendid eccentric was positively deranged at the thought of at least obtaining the marquisate of Vera Cruz, not to mention my embassy to London where he intended to pay off ancient scores. I soothed him; fed the flame”
Mrs Blennerhassett was as clever and as febrile as before and on very short notice she gave us a magnificent dinner party. I must say I always found it marvelously strange in the west to dine grandly off silver-plate, to drink champagne from Irish crystal, to be served like a Lord in a mansion that had been dropped as if by magic in the midst of a primeval wilderness...”  

Bill Jehan is on LinkedIn 

copyright © 2008-2020 Bill Jehan