Regular readers of our blog might recall a piece relating to Lady Margaret Barrymore which was published in September 2014. She now returns with her husband, Thomas Crosbie, M.P. for Dingle, in a swashbuckling tale that features a rare ballad from the Burgage Collection.
On October 28th 1730, the Danish ship The Golden Lion hit stormy weather off the Kerry coast on its voyage from Copenhagen to the Indian port of Tranquebar. Thomas Crosbie came to the aid of the stranded ship and its captain Johan Heitman at Ballyheigue by beating off a scavenging mob and sheltering the crew on his nearby estate. The cargo was recovered and stored on Crosbie’s land. It included 12 chests of silver, the majority of which was the property of the Danish East India Company and valued at c. £20,000. With his health suffering after the exertions of saving the crew, Crosbie died a short time later. By early 1731 after an eventful few months the widow Lady Barrymore initiated salvage claims to the cargo which resulted in her being awarded £4,000. The drama however was only beginning!
In early June 1731 events took a spectacular turn when the Crosbie property was stormed by a gang of over 60 men who made away with the chests and killed at least two Danish guards in the process. Even though half the silver was recouped with the help of Francis Ryan, a ring-leader of the gang, the balance remains unaccounted for to this day.
Pue’s Occurrences, (June 1731) reports ‘about 200 men’ were involved in the raid. Shelf mark: IN.18.42.
Establishing who was behind the robbery became a sensational news story. Suspicion soon fell on the Crosbies and other landed gentry about their role in the missing silver. The close relationship between the investigating authorities (local magistrate Sir Maurice Crosbie was a nephew of the recently deceased Thomas) and the suspects, coupled with Lady Barrymore’s dubious salvage claims, rightly concerned Captain Heitman. His confidence in the resulting Kerry verdict was low and he moved that the case be heard in Dublin. Proceedings eventually opened in November 1735 resulting in the acquittal of conspirators Arthur Crosbie, cousin of Thomas, Archdeacon Francis Lauder and his wife Bridget. Much to Captain Heitman’s dismay Lady Margaret was never charged with involvement. He returned in defeat to Denmark in 1740 aged 77 and passed away a short time later.
The events inspired the composition of this rare ballad from the Burgage collection.
‘An excellent new ballad on the county of Kerry jury’ [Dublin, c.1735]. Shelf mark OLS X-1-924 no.21
The collection came to the library in 1979 from Terence Vigors of Burgage, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow. The verse shown is one of seven poems and ballads from the collection not recorded in Foxon, D.F. ‘English verse, 1701-1750′.