Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Title/Profession      Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, Bart.
Sir Rowland

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, Bart. M.P.

b.5-Sep-1839 Blennerville   d.22-Mar-1909 London

4th Baronet of Blennerville in the County of Kerry
(Baronet of the United Kingdom)
of Churchtown House Co.Kerry & London.
Liberal (Whig) MP for the Borough of Galway 1865-1874
Home Rule MP for Co.Kerry 1880-1885
Lady Charlotte Julia


President of Queens's College, Cork 1896-7
(document contributed by Leslie Blennerhassett)

Sir Rowland Blennerhassett in the
Churchtown House

grave of Sir Rowland Blennerhassett
at Downside Abbey, Co.Somerset

grave of his son & heir Sir Arthur Blennerhassett, Bart.
(5th Baronet of Blennerville)
at Tiger Gap Cemetery, Nagpur, India


Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, Bart., M.P. (b.1839 d.1909), a Roman Catholic, was Liberal M.P. for Co.Galway 1865-1874 before becoming Home Rule M.P. for Co.Kerry 1880-1885. In 1885 he contested the Harbour Division of Dublin but was defeated. He was one of the foremost authorities in the United Kingdom on foreign affairs, especially in Europe.
Somewhat confusingly, during the parliament of 1880-1885 Sir Rowland Blennerhassett served as Home Rule M.P. for Co.Kerry alongside Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett (b.22-Jul-1850 Kells, Co.Kerry; d.7-Apr-1913 Monte Carlo), also Home Rule M.P. for Co.Kerry.
Rowland Ponsonby Blennerhassett M.P., Barrister-at-Law and Magistrate, was one of a group of ascendancy protestants who became active supporters of Isaac Butt's "Home Rule" party. In 1871 he stood as Home Rule candidate to represent Co.Kerry at Westminster. A young and popular candidate in a controversial election, about which many stories are told, he was elected on 6-Feb-1872. Re-elected in 1880, he continued to serve as Home Rule M.P. until 1885 when he contested the N.E. Division of Manchester as a Liberal but was defeated.


Sir Rowland Blennerhassett married Charlotte Julia Gräfin (i.e. Countess) von Leyden, of Munich, Bavaria.
(NOTE:  Charlotte used the name de Leyden instead of von Leyden for French language publications)



(document contributed by Leslie Blennerhassett)

                                                 PALL MALL. S.W.
Feb. 9. [1905]              

          My dear Comyn
                    If  you have not sent
                    it to some one better able
                    to review it I should be
                    glad to do the  Life
                    of Dufferin  just out.
                    For next week if necessary.
                    I knew him most
                              yours sincerely
                                        Rowland Blennerhassett

the book to be reviewed:
"The Life Of The Marquis Of Dufferin And Ava"
by Sir (Alfred) Comyn Lyall (b.1835 d.1911)
published by  Published by Murray, London, 1905 (two volumes)
the subject:
Frederick Temple Blackwood, Marquis of Dufferin and Ava
(b.1826 d.1902)

Lord Acton & Sir Rowland Blennerhassett
[Pall Mall Gazette 20-Jun-1871 p.??]

Wrote in leading periodicals on political and foreign subjects; frequently contributing to reviews of foreign politics and publishing speeches & addresses
Associated with the management of the “Home & Foreign Review”, edited by his close friend Professor Sir John E. E. Dalberg Acton, 1834-1902 (later 1st Baron Acton), the British Catholic Historian and philosopher of freedom.
A quote from Lord Acton (also editor of the RC Monthly “Rambler”):-
                        “...The test of a country's freedom is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities...”
Author of:
Irish University Education”; A speech made in the “House of Commons” during a debate on the second reading of Mr Fawcett's bill, 2-Aug-1871; published by William Ridgeway, London 1871
“University Education in Ireland”; A speech made in the “House of Commons” during a debate on the second reading of the bill relating to University Education in Ireland, 10-Mar-1873, published by P.S.King, London 1873
Irish Railways”; A speech made in the “House of Commons” during a debate on the second reading of Sir Rowland's own bill for the purchase of Irish Railways by the State, published by William Ridgeway, London 1872
Peasant Proprietors in Ireland” a memorandum for private circulation; London 1884
Reprinted in the “Contemporary Review” XLVII 1885, p.16 (or pp.866-81 ?)
The Land Question in Europe” in the “Fortnightly Review” 1881, vol.36, pp.238-252
Wrote on “Ireland 1837-1887” in “The Reign of Queen Victoria, etc” by Thomas H. Ward, vol.1 1887
University Education in England, France and Germany, with special reference to the needs of Ireland” Inaugural Address at Queen's College, Cork, Published John Murray, London 1898
He edited “The Bernstoff Papers” (Memoirs) by C.Ringhoffer, and wrote the introduction, 1908
Wrote a memoir in “Memories of Gardens” by Alexander I. Shand, 1908
Co-founder & producer of the “Chronicle”, a Catholic magazine (political & literary organ of British liberal Catholicism) from 23-Mar-1867 to 13-Feb-1868
Hassett on Home Rule” by Patrick Nagle (1 sheet) Dublin: P.Brereton ca1868 National Library of Ireland JLB 39988 v.2(32a)
Correspondence and papers of Sir Rowland Blennerhassett are archived at:
      Cambridge University Library Department of Manuscripts [Add. Ms 7486 and Add Ms 8119]
      Bodleian Library, Oxford [Ms. Eng. c. 4036, fols. 191-2; & 4037, fol. 2]
      St Andrews University Library [NRA 26993 Ward]


Shortly before his death Sir Rowland Blennerhassett was, by some, wrongly credited with authorship of what appeared at the time to be an interview with the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, reported on 28-Oct-1908 in British newspaper "The Daily Telegraph", creating a political stir in the UK and constitutional crisis in Germany.
This description is from Wikipedia:

"The Daily Telegraph Affair was the uproar that followed the 28 October 1908 publication in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph of comments by German KaiserWilhelm II intended to improve German-British relations. It was a major diplomatic blunder that worsened relations and badly hurt the Kaiser's reputation; after that he played a much smaller role in deciding foreign policy. The episode had a far greater impact in Germany than overseas.

The Telegraph presented what appeared to be an interview with the Kaiser. It was in fact the reworked notes by British Army officer Edward Montagu-Stuart-Wortley of conversations he had with Wilhelm II in 1907. The Telegraph sent the "interview" to Wilhelm II for approval, who in turn passed it to Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow, who later stated that he was too busy to edit the document, though Bülow's critics charged that he did not wish to challenge the Kaiser. Instead Bülow passed it on to the Foreign Ministry for their review, which apparently did not happen. It included wild statements and diplomatically damaging remarks, the most infamous of which was: "You English are mad, mad, mad as March hares. What has come over you that you are so completely given over to suspicions quite unworthy of a great nation?

Wilhelm had seen the interview as an opportunity to promote his views and ideas on Anglo-German friendship, but due to his emotional outbursts during the course of the interview, he ended up further alienating not only the British, but also the French, Russians, and Japanese. He implied, among other things, that the Germans cared nothing for the British; that the French and Russians had attempted to incite Germany to intervene in the Second Boer War; and that the German naval buildup was targeted against the Japanese, not Britain.

The British leadership had already decided that Wilhelm was somewhat mentally disturbed, and saw this as further evidence of his unstable personality, as opposed to an indication of official German hostility.

The Daily Telegraph crisis deeply wounded Wilhelm's previously unimpaired self-confidence, and he soon suffered a severe bout of depression from which he never fully recovered. He lost much of the influence he had previously exercised in domestic and foreign policy.

The effect in Germany was quite significant; severe embarrassment was followed by serious calls for the Kaiser's abdication. The conservative Junker politician Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau was the only member of the Reichstag to defend the Kaiser throughout the Affair. Wilhelm kept a very low profile for many months after the Daily Telegraph fiasco, slumping into a deep depression, never fully recovering from the humiliation. He later exacted his revenge by forcing the resignation of the Chancellor Bülow, who had abandoned the Emperor to public scorn by not having the transcript edited before its German publication. Bulow recalled in his Memoirs that: "A dark foreboding ran through many Germans that such...stupid, even puerile speech and action on the part of the Supreme Head of State could lead to only one thing - catastrophe".


Obituary - Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, Bart.
(compilation obituary from multiple sources by Daniel Conner Lathbury 1912)

Blennerhassett, Sir Rowland, fourth baronet 1839-1909, political writer, born at Blennerville, co. Kerry, on 5 Sept. 1839, was only son of Sir Arthur Blennerhassett, third baronet (1794-1849), whose ancestors had settled in Kerry under Queen Elizabeth, by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Mahony. An only sister, Rosanna (d. 1907), became a sister of the Red Cross, and described her arduous labours in South Africa in Adventures in Mashonaland (with L. Sleeman, 1893). Both parents were Roman catholics. Rowland succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father in 1849. After being educated first at Downside, under the Benedictines, and then at Stonyhurst, under the Jesuits, he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, but left without a degree for the University of Louvain. There he took a doctor's degree in political and administrative science, with special distinction. He afterwards, in 1864, studied at Munich, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Döllinger. Finally he proceeded to Berlin, where he became acquainted with many leading politicians, including Prince Bismarck. A frequent visitor to France in later years, he came to know the chief men of all parties under the second empire.
     About 1862 Blennerhassett became intimate with Sir John Dalberg (afterwards Lord) Acton [q.v.], with whose stand against later developments of ultramontanism he had a strong sympathy. The discontinuance by Acton in December 1863 of the Home and Foreign Review, a Roman catholic organ of liberal tendencies, suggested the possibility of establishing a journal the main objects of which should be political and literary; and Blennerhassett found the money for starting the Chronicle, a political and literary organ of liberal catholicism, under the direction of Mr. T. F. Wetherell. Blennerhassett and Acton were of great service in searching for competent foreign correspondents. The first number appeared on 23 March 1867, and the last on 13 Feb. 1868. As Gladstone predicted, it proved too Roman catholic for liberals, and too liberal for Roman catholics, and its early support of home rule for Ireland further prejudiced its chances of success. Save on ecclesiastical questions, the paper seldom expressed Blennerhassett's opinions. The Chronicle lacked sympathy with the reasoned imperialism which developed out of Blennerhassett's early admiration of Bismarck and engendered a faith in the superiority of German to English methods of progress. His early desire that England should learn from Germany passed into a strong desire that she should prepare herself for the rivalry which the new German ambitions were making inevitable. Thus with him foreign policy grew to be an absorbing interest.
     Meanwhile Blennerhassett took an active part in Irish politics. In 1865 he became liberal M.P. for Galway City, retaining the seat until 1874. But he lost the confidence of the priesthood owing to his association with Döllinger and Acton, although he declined to join the new community of Old Catholics. From 1880 to 1885 he represented Kerry, his native county. In that interval his attitude on the home rule controversy completely changed. A lukewarm supporter of home rule as a parliamentary movement under Butt and Shaw, he actively opposed it as a national movement under Parnell. Defeated in the Harbour division of Dublin city at the general election of Nov. 1885, he did not re-enter the House of Commons.
     During his parliamentary career Blennerhassett was mainly concerned with Irish university education and the Irish land question. His speeches on Fawcett's Irish university bill in 1871, and on Gladstone's Irish university bill of 1873, which he supported, showed an intimate knowledge of continental universities. He regretted Gladstone's exclusion of modern history and moral philosophy from the curriculum, and pressed the system—borrowed from Germany—of duplicate faculties in the same university. In 1872 he moved the second reading of a bill for the purchase of Irish railways. In regard to the land question he anticipated the legislation of 1903 in a confidential memorandum, dated April 1884 (afterwards printed), suggesting the appointment of a commission to convert large tracts of Irish land into peasant properties, by buying the estates of landlords willing to sell, at twenty-two years' purchase of the judicial rent.
     After his retirement from the House of Commons he continued to play a part in Irish public life. He was a commissioner of national education and a member of the senate of the Royal University. From 1890 to 1897 he was an inspector of reformatory and industrial schools; from 1897 to 1904 he was president of Queen's College, Cork; and in 1905 he was made a member of the Irish privy council. During these years he constantly wrote with fullness of knowledge on political subjects in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Nineteenth Century, the Fortnightly Review, the Deutsche Rundschau, and, especially at the end of his life, in the National Review. He deeply regretted the change in the papal policy on the election of Pius X, and the retirement of Cardinal Rampolla, though he admitted the provocation given by the French government, and the difference between the modernism of the Abbé Loisy and the liberal catholicism of his youth. A ready talker as well as writer, he died on 22 March 1909, at 54 Rutland Gate, the house of his daughter, and was buried at Downside. On 9 June 1870 he married the Countess Charlotte von Leyden, only daughter of Count von Leyden, of an old Bavarian family, whom he first met in Rome four months earlier; she survived him. He left two sons, of whom Arthur Charles Francis Bernard succeeded to the baronetcy; an only daughter, Marie Carola Franciska Roselyne, married Baron Raphael d'Erlanger (d. 1897).
     Blennerhassett published several of his speeches in parliament and his inaugural address on University Education at Queen's College, Cork, 1898. He edited Ringhoffer's Bernstorff Memoirs in 1908.

     The Times, 24 March 1909
     the Home and Foreign Review
     Acton and his Circle, by Abbot Gasquet, 1907.

The publication of some of Blennerhasset's scattered papers, under the editorship of Lady Blennerhassett, is in contemplation.

Contributor: D. C. L. [Daniel Conner Lathbury]

Published: 1912

[The Times  23-Mar-1909 p.13]
The close of Sir Rowland Blennerhassett's long life is noted with universal regret. Like his friend, Lord Acton, his training was largely continental; and, again like Acton, he was favoured above the rest of his countrymen in his opportunities for cultivating the acquaintance of the famous people of the continent while yet a young man. 
At Munich, of course, he knew Dollinger, who was an intimate of the de Leyden family—a friendship to which we owe Lady Blennerhassett's Reminiscences."
In France Sir Rowland conversed with Guizot and Morny, and other diverse notabilities of the declining Second Empire. And, luckily for the younger generation, Sir Rowland had an excellent memory. To his general merits as a writer, and to his wide knowledge of European history and politics, The Times, to which he frequently contributed, now pays a just tribute.
Perhaps the most revealing passages of autobiography Sir Rowland ever penned appeared in the pages of The Downside Review some three years ago. "On the last day of August, 1849," he wrote, "my mother took me to Downside. I completed my ninth year a few days after. I had lived in circumstances tending to steel the constitution. My father kept a pack of hounds, and I cannot remember the time when I could not ride and follow them. The first event which made a lasting impression on me took place on All Saints' Day, 1849. The sermon was preached by Dr. Coombes, who was then nearly eighty-four. He was born in 1766, had been brought up in France, and was already in Holy Orders at the time of the Revolution. He had known many victims of the Reign of Terror. During that wild time he came to England, and at Bath, in the spring of 1797, he made the acquaintance of Burke just as that statesman was passing from the scene. Dr. Coombes, in 1849 was almost, if not quite, blind, and had to be led to the place in the chapel whence he addressed the boys

[The Tablet 27-Mar-1909 "Et Cætera" p.23]
International Catholic News Weekly
In remembering All Souls, he told us the story of the September massacres in Paris, of the death of the Princess de Lamballe, and described in vivid detail some of the scenes which took place at La Force, at the Chtelet, and at the Conciergerie. That sermon interested me beyond measure, and the effect has never been obliterated. It led me to the study of history—one of the chief pleasures and largely the occupation of my life."
 Another passage must surely be dear to the annalist of Downside School. "In the early part of my time, there were two men of very remarkable personality. These were the Rev. M. Hodgson and the Rev. Benedict Blount. They shared the fate of reformers who appear before the hour for reformation has come. Up to the year 1854, ecclesiastical history, however, was taught extremely well. My teacher was the Rev. A. Bulbeck. I look back with deep gratitude to the instruction I received from him. It is no exaggeration to say that when I was about fourteen, there was not a single boy in my class who could not give an intelligent account of the evolution of the doctrine of the Incarnation, of the proceedings of the first six General Councils, and who was not fairly acquainted with the history of the Papacy and with the leading controversies which agitated the medieval world."
Sir Rowland's family name was derived from the township of Blennerhassett in Cumberland, but his ancestors had been settled in County Kerry since the days of Elizabeth; and the conversion of his father (who died in the year that his son went to Downside) restored its branch of it to the Faith of its fathers. From the Benedictines, the late baronet passed to the Jesuits at Stonyhurst, and he later spent a year or two at Christ Church, Oxford. Thence he went to Louvain. After taking the Belgian University's Doctor's degree in "Sciences Pofitiques et Administratives " with "special distinction," he followed courses at the Universities of Munich and Berlin.
The noisier side of political life was not that of his preference. He represented Galway in Parliament as a Liberal from 1865 to 1874, and his native county from 1880 to 1885. He followed Mr. Butt and then Mr. Shaw, but he took leave of Home Rule—and his constituency—on the advent of Parnell. He was thus all the freer to devote himself to literature.
 For some years Sir Rowland served as an inspector of industrial and reformatory schools in Ireland. In 1897 he became President of Queen's College, Cork—now University College, Cork, under the new scheme. Like his successor in that post, Dr. Windle, Sir Rowland had the wish to see Cork raised to the dignity of a university city, after the principle that prevails in England and Scotland. He had a seat in the Senate of the Royal University, and was created an Irish Privy Councillor only three years ago.
Sir Rowland married, in 1871, the Countess Charlotte de Leyden—a lady well-known by her labours in German, English, French and Italian literature, whose "Life of Madame de Stael" has widely circulated in three languages, and whose contributions to English reviews include a memorable tribute in The Edinburgh to Lord Acton.
Sir Rowland leaves two sons. The elder—the successor to the title—was born thirty-seven years ago and is in the Indian Civil Service. He leaves also one daughter, the widow of Baron Raphael d'Erlanger.
Sir Rowland was buried at Downside, and a Requiem was sung yesterday at the Brompton Oratory.
[Chicago Daily Tribune  6-Apr-1909 p.10]
By the Brentwood company, all rights reserved.
[New Zealand Tablet 13-May-1909 p.748]


Lady Charlotte Julia Blennerhassett
[The Register, Adelaide S.Australia 13-Feb-1917]

NOTE: Lady blennerhassett died during WWI at Munich, Germany, a fact UK papers of the time avoided mentioning

[The Times  27-Mar-1909 p.15]

[The Times  22-Mar-1909 p.13]

[The Times  23-Mar-1909 p.11]

Requiem Mass
[The Times  25-Mar-1909 p.13]

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