The Plantation in Omagh Barony 1

The undertakers’ colony in the barony of Omagh

The escheated land in the barony of Omagh was conceived of as 11,000 acres. It was one of seven baronies or precincts set apart for English undertakers in the five conventionally planted counties, of which one other, Clogher, was also in Tyrone. (Ulster Plantation Papers, no. 22). The consort group granted this land had a unique feature – they were all inter-related, by marriage or otherwise. It was not unusual for relatives to receive land, indeed the consort principle of allocation took account of this, but in the Omagh barony all were related. It is noteworthy, too that no estate was smaller than 2,000 acres, and Lord Audley got 3,000. Thus estates there were at the maximum size permitted by the plantation, and so there was a correspondingly small number – five – of grantees.

The chief undertaker, Lord Audley, was in a sense a servitor-figure. George Touchet, Lord Audley, was of Heleigh in Staffordshire (Lynch, Castlehaven’s Memoirs, xii, Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 19). He was born in 1551, had been engaged in campaigns on the continent being at a time governor of Utrecht in the Netherlands, before – in what may be regarded as a standard manner – coming to Ireland, when he was wounded at the Battle of Kinsale. He subsequently acquired lands in Munster and thus forms a link between the Munster plantation and that of Ulster. In January 1609 he put forward an elaborate proposal to be grantee of 100,000 acres in Tyrone or adjoining parts of Armagh, which was transmitted by the English privy council to Chichester (CSPI, 1608-10, pp. 258-9). Sir John Davies, his son-in-law and the Irish attorney-general, commended his proposal as consistent with the character of his ancestors, one of whom he said had taken part with De Courcy in the Conquest of Ulster (ibid., p. 256). At the beginning of 1610 Chichester included him (? as a member of the Dublin privy council) as a suitable servitor grantee in the plantation (ibid., p. 365, also p. 428), but in the previous October and November he had been critical and evasive about Audley’s grander scheme. Audley, he said, was ‘an ancient nobleman and apt to undertake much; but his manner of life in Munster, and the small cost he has bestowed to make his house fit for him so any room within the same, does not promise the building of substantial castles, nor a convenient plantation in Ulster’ (ibid, pp. 297-8, 319).

Apart altogether from such considerations, Audley’s scheme – reminiscent of Tudor plantation schemes of Ireland – was not consistent with the plan of plantation for Ulster the details of which were by now fairly clear. As a kind of family insurance police, perhaps, his son Sir Mervyn, applied, at the beginning of 1610?, as head of a consort for the barony of Omagh, but only put down two names of prospective undertakers as well as his own (who put the names down? i.e. who formed the consort?), Edward Blunt, his brother-in-law, who was from Derbyshire (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 23), and was subsequently a grantee, and Sir Richard Brook who did not become an undertaker. Thus by now they were proceeding within the framework of plantation laid down (CSPI, 1608-10, p. 548). Furthermore on 22 June 1610 the English privy council informed Chichester that Audley was ‘now content to rank himself under such conditions as have been since arranged for the planting of that whole province’ and indicated that he should be treated as liberally as possible as a servitor (ibid., p. 467).

This was in addition to his position as an undertaker. Already he had been appointed as superintendant of the precinct of Omagh, and his assignation of the land amongst the consort group was received in Dublin on 23 May 1610 (Ulster Plantation Papers, no. 21). Normally the arranging and supervision resided with a member of the English privy council. Audley’s position as supervisor and grantee was unique amongst the English-appointed baronies (though not without some parallel amongst from the Scots). In Armagh as a servitor he received a grant of a nominally 500 acres in January 1611 (CPR, Jas I, pp. 188-90), as well as the reversion of the land granted to Art McBaron O’Neill and his wife (see Cal. pats, p. 222). The greater part of this grant was to himself and his wife (Elizabeth, according to Hill, Plantation, p. 268 and CPR, Jas I, p. 222; Lucy according to Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 19) and it has been said (Lynch, Castlehaven’s Memoirs, p. xii) that his good treatment in Ireland was due to the influence of Sir James Mervyn of Fountell in Wiltshire, whose daughter he had married, and who had no direct male heir. Sir James Mervyn was indeed a fairly prominent person – both as landowner and official, he was collector of the customs at Dartmouth (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 14), a member of parliament, and from 1604 Master of Swans in the Thames, but he died on 1 May 1611 (ibid., p. 19).

The arrangement for the barony must now be outlined. Audley and his wife received 3,000 acres: the great proportion of Fynagh and the small proportion of Rarone. His elder son Sir Mervyn Touchet received the great proportion of Brade. His other son Sir Ferdinando the great proportion of Fentonagh. Edward Blunt, of Harleston in Derbyshire (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 23), who was married to Anne, the eldest daughter, received 2,000 acres. [If Blunt is of the family of Blunt, Lord Mountjoy, then we have a connection with the pre-plantation military conquest of Ulster; we know that Lord Mountjoy’s father had married Catherine Leigh from Yorkshire, of whom the servitor Leighs of Omagh may have been a connection (F.N. Jones, Mountjoy, p. 18). However, it is a fact that there was a dispute involving Lord Audley’s father-in-law Sir James Mervyn and Mountjoy’s father, Sir James, in 1578-9 (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 14). The name Brook, however, was connected with the Blunts (Jones, Mountjoy, p. 19) – could Sir Richard Brook have been one of those? The family of Willoughby also seems to have been connected with Mountjoy (see Table at p. 144 by Jones), and John Leigh acquired lands in Clogher barony Co. Tyrone from a grantee Francis Willoughby (Hill, Plantation, p. 265).]

The final grantee, Sir John Davies, the attorney-general, and one who had played a very prominent part in planning the plantation, was married to Lord Audley’s fifth daughter, Eleanor (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 23). Davies was from Wiltshire. The group of grantees were thus from the west and midlands of England.

Davies took out his patent (he also had land elsewhere in Ulster) in June 1610, the others, together in March 1611. At the time of allocation in the summer of 1610 no Omagh grantee appears to have presented himself to receive possession (Ulster Plantation Papers, pp. 213-15). Davies indeed was present in a different capacity – and indeed by virtue of this office he had to be an absentee, a factor militating against the success of the plantation in this barony. It seems indeed that the privy council in England had second thoughts about establishing him in Omagh barony at all, as appears in a letter of his to Chichester in January 1611. He was not dislodged, however.

The plantation in this barony proved to be one of the least successful enterprises of (English) undertakers in plantation Ulster. In the first place it was slow to get going. In April 1611 John Leigh, who had the military command at Omagh, was giving attention to Blunts’ land. It would be difficult to draw ‘any English to dwell upon the same’, so he would not take it as a free gift if tied to perform the conditions. He would offer Blunt £150 (CSPI, 1611-14, p. 32). However, the estate was not sold to him: it was kept within the family connexion. When the first government survey of the plantation was conducted in 1611 by Carew, the Omagh undertakers presented a poor showing. Leigh’s work on the fort at Omagh was commended, but neither Audley nor his sons had appeared or done anything. Sir John Davies, through his agent William Bradley, was engaged in building activities, and had four fee farmers, a leaseholder and a carpenter, with their families on the estate. (CSPI, 1611-14, p. 125). However, when the enquiry was over and the commissioners back in Dublin, Audley and Blunt arrived from England ‘and went to see their proportions’ (ibid., p. 128). It was thus slow in getting off the ground.

One of the commissioners’ initial problems – land disputes – did not, it seems, affect them so much, probably because they were a family group. However, they are seen in dispute with neighbours – a very considerable amount of land was at issue between Davies and Capt. Leigh (Ulster Plantation Papers, pp. 254-5). In addition there was the famous personal encounter between Lord Audley and the Earl of Abercorn from the neighbouring barony which came to a head in 1614 (CSPI, 1611-14, pp. 538-40). His son-in-law Davies, in his defence, said that he was sitting down now in his ‘old age in the most barren and desolate piece of land in all Ulster, namely the Omey, which was thought almost impossible to be planted by civil men, and has already at his great charge drawn thither an extraordinary colony of English and Scottish gentlemen (ibid., p. 538). Lord Audley had indeed at least been resident at Omagh on 12 May 1613 because he wrote from there to Chichester concerning his status in the Dublin parliament (Hastings MSS, IV, p. 14, see also pp. 5-6 and p. 339), which he doesn’t appear to have attended (p. 285), but that Davies’s account had in it an element of special pleadings appears from the 1613 government survey.

The articles of plantation had required of undertakers, amongst other requirements including buildings, to have no Irish on their lands and to have settled them with British at a rate of 24 adult males per 1,000 acres. Thus in Omagh barony a colony of 264 adult males would have been required. We will compare this later with figures of those present in 1619, 1622, and 1630.

In October 1615 an enquiry was to be conducted, of the kind common generally in the plantation into concealed lands in Omagh barony (CPR, Jas I, p. 293). This indicates that all of the original grantees are still recorded as owners – in most other baronies where a family group of owners would not exist, a number of estates would have been changed hands at this time. This inquiry into concealed lands was at the request of Lord Audley, and the King himself indicated that the land found would be granted to them (CSPI, 1615-25, p. 92). In a letter to Chichester at this time the King, after omitting the background circumstances of the Audley family grant, commended Audley on his personal energies there ‘as well for the rest as himself’. ‘And having been continually resident there upon for divers years past, and by letting those lands at very low rates without fine, has (as the king is informed [by Davies?]) drawn thither so many English and  Scottish tenants as exceed the numbers required by the articles of plantation, and has, used a great stock of English cattle brought thither, bestowed in buildings upon the same £2000 at least, and intends to bestow as much more in the like structures’ (ibid., p. 93).

He was thus in no sense in disfavour. On 6 September 1616 he was created Baron Audley of Orier in Co. Armagh, and Earl of Castlehaven in Co. Cork (CPR, Jas I, p. 304). As well as that in February 1617 he was appointed special governor and commander to the crown in the barony of Omagh because of its very unsettled condition (CPR, Jas I, p. 320). [Such commands in the hands of undertakers were not entirely unusual: later, in 1625, the earl of Annadale was appointed governor of Donegal (CPR, Jas I, pp. 588-9) and Balfour was appointed in Fermanagh (ibid., p. 591).] There had been a minor rising in 1615, and there is plenty of evidence of sporadic and localised disorder.    How effective he was remains in doubt – nobody was mustered from the barony in 1618 (CPSI, 1615-25, p. 221), but it is doubtful if he did very much because he died in 1617 (Belmore, Two Ulster Manors, p. 2).

The death of Audley seems to have created a hiatus for the lands of himself, his two sons and Blunt. The Sir John Davies lands were apparently at all times administrated separately, but the role of these others is very shadowy. It would seem, however, that they were generally absentee. Pynnar’s survey of the plantation, 1618-19, indicates what seems to have been the arrangement made about ownership after the death of Lord Audley. The lands originally granted to Audley and his second wife, 3,000 acres, were now in jointure (one owned by Earl of Castlehaven); the other three originally separate grants are ascribed to Sir Mervyn Touchet, now the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven (Hill, Plantation, p. 535 is incorrect in saying James), (Hill, pp. 535-36). When this legal position was arrived at is not clear, but its existence is further testified to by the survival of a king’s letter of 12 December 1619, ordering a surrender and regrant to Mervyn, Earl of Castlehaven of those latter lands (CPR, Jas I, p. 473). There is no evidence that he took out such a patent. However, before moving to consider this new phase of the plantation it is appropriate to examine Pynnar’s survey.

Up to this time the undertakers’ lands appear to have been administered as two blocks, the larger area by Audley himself and Davies’ lands by his agent. The Audley enterprise didn’t long survive Lord Audley. His widowed Countess Elizabeth soon remarried to Sir Pierce Crosby, in London, bringing to him her jointure, the proportions of Fynagh and Rarone. A king’s letter authorising a regrant to them of this land was written on 17 August 1619 (CPR, Jas I, p. 454). They do not appear to have taken out this patent, though Crosby himself did so late in 1630. (NAI, Lodge MSS v, 230-32). Crosby was a fascinating fellow – a bit bizarre to find as an Ulster undertaker. I will return to him later.

The other other area of Touchet (Audley) land – the proportions of Brade, Fentenagh, Edergoole and Carneurackan, nominally 6000 acres – also underwent change in ownership. The circumstances are complex and not very clear and they also involved relations by marriage. It would seem that they were apart of a general settlement between the Touchet (or Audley) and Mervyn families. These seem to be some of the facts. Sir Mervyn Touchet, the 2nd earl of Castlehaven, Lord Audley’s oldest son does not appear to have taken out the patent of the Omagh lands authorised to him in December 1619 (CPR, Jas I, p. 473). He did however on 1 January 1620, acquire from his brother-in-law, Sir Henry Mervyn, the ancestral home at Fountell in Wiltshire from which his mother had sprung. (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 18). This Sir Henry Mervyn is noted in 1622 as having acquired the Omagh lands. It seems likely that the changes were part of a inter-family settlement.

It is necessary to explain their relatives in more detail, but the people are so interesting that this may not be boring. Sir Henry Mervyn (1583-1646), coming from another branch of the Mervyn family, was the successor by will to Sir James Mervyn of Wiltshire, whose daughter had been Lord Audley’s first wife, and he inherited the Wiltshire estates in 1611 (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, pp. 18-19). His connection with the Touchets (or Audleys) was made more direct, however, by the fact that he was married to Christian, Lord Audley’s daughter, and he was thus brother-in-law to Mervyn Touchet, 2nd earl of Castlehaven, with whom I am suggesting he did a kind of swap (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, pp. 23, 29). He had another possible source of interest in Irish land, deriving from his mother Anna Jephson of Froyle at Southampton (ibid., p. 28) – whose family were involved in the Munster plantation at Mallow. The Jephsons were  subsequently unpopular with Wentworth etc. – could this family connection had influenced Audley Mervyn’s attitude at end of 1630s?).

The 2nd earl of Castlehaven, whose sexual practices make him rather fascinating and led to his execution in 1631, thus reversed his connection with Omagh land after about ten years during which he was apparently tenuously connected enough anyhow. He was arrested in Wiltshire (Lynch, Castlehaven’s Memoirs, p. xvi) it may be noted, though he did retain Munster lands which were forfeited on his execution (see ibid., p. xvi-xv) were restored (with the Wiltshire property, etc.) to his son James, 3rd earl of Castlehaven (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 295-6: 27th May 1633), who adhered to the Confederation of Kilkenny, had a military role under it, and wrote an important interpretative and sympathetic account from the Confederation point of view (see Castlehaven’s Memoirs: this also gives information about his lands). [The pamphlet The Arraignment and Conviction … (1642), has a drawing of him.]

At around this stage, in 1622 another government survey was taken and must be analysed. There were now really three blocks of land more distantly connected in ownership, only the lands of Sir John Davies having remained unchanged in ownership. Sir Henry Mervyn, whose appearance as a landowner we have noted, had a predominantly naval career (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, pp. 29-36). He was appointed Admiral and Captain-General of the Narrow Seas (from the Thames to the Scilly Islands) in 1617. This was an important job, especially during times of Anglo-European conflict. He captained a Dutch East India Company ship in 1622, his eclipse for a time. He had a part in the undistinguished expeditions against France in 1628 (Rochelle, Isle of Rhe). In December 1629 he applied for leave to come to Ireland and attend to private affairs and may have come here, but was back at his post in April 1630. He continued an active naval career, retiring in 1638 and in March 1639, ‘having to go to Ireland’, he is stated as having no government position at all (ibid., p. 36).

His connection with the Omagh lands appears to have been slight. In a deed of 1626 and in his will proved after his death in 1646 he is described as of London (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 255, Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, App. II, p. iii). His appearance in Ireland (if he came at all) at the end of 1629 was at a time of special importance for the undertakers at large in Ulster in their relations to the government. An arrangement about new patents, involving compromise on the removal of Irish in return for increased crown rents, was being put into effect. Mervyn however, appears only to have given this matter attention as a result of a letter dated 8 November 1629, from William Ryves who was now attorney-general (CSPI, 1625-32, pp. 493-4). Ryves’s letter ‘to his kinsmen’ urging him to take action within the terms of the arrangement was written on the instance by Christian, his wife. ‘Your lands lie open for anyone to seize’ he said. Sir Daniel and Captain John Leigh were pressing claims to some of the land. Sir Daniel got the land. Mervyn could never get it  back ‘as you and your brother [sic] the Earl of Castlehaven did not fulfil the claims from which you got them’ (ibid., pp. 483-4). This was at a time too of disorder : in October 1828 it had been reported ‘that robbers are at large in the barony of Omey’ (ibid., p. 396).

It may be however that his wife Christian (who was joint owner (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 255)) spent more time on the estate than he did. His daughter Deborah was married to Sir Leonard Blennerhasset, a Fermanagh grantee (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 37; Hill, Plantation, .p. 490) whom she may have met in Ireland, and it is interesting to note that she married secondly Rory Maguire (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 37). Another daughter was married to a Coach (Christian name unspecified) (ibid., p. 37) and there was an undertaker called Coach in the barony of Lifford. (Hill, Plantation, p. 274).

It would seem, however, that his son Capt. James Mervyn took a much more active interest in the Omagh lands. He seems to have had a naval career, like his father for a time – there are references to him in this context in 1626 and 1627 (when he was not to be found at Portsmouth) though in December 1627 he wrote on naval matters (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 36)). Now it seems that in 1627 he was in dispute with the bishop of Clogher and others, about whether some land was church land, and there is plenty of evidence that he was in the north. [‘One Capt. James Mervyn carousing with the Lord Balfour’.] As well as that, when an inquiry about these lands was being conducted, he ‘so handled the busyners with the Irishes and Natives which had relation to him, that they sware home bothe for those two townlands he claymed by the Bishopp, and manie more townes claymed by him of others’. A deed of 29 August 1626 (enrolled 18th May 1631) between his parents and himself, says that they had thereby ‘sold, enfeoffed and confirmed’ all the land to him (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 255). Why then did Ryves write to his father, and did his father come over? And he, James Mervyn (not his father), took out a new patent on 1 June 1630. (ibid., 255-64, also CPR Chas I, p. 577), of these lands, with apparently some extras (possibly concealed land about which I am not clear). [See this patent for locations of fairs and markets granted in it – Tuesday at Trillick, Saturday at Tuchet, Wednesday at Omagh … (ibid., p. 577)].

Now it may be that he devoted the rest of his life to Ireland. His wife died and was buried in Dublin, and he testified to this in 1640 (Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, App II, p. iv, also p. 37 – also another Mervyn was buried in Dublin in 1634, App II, p. iv). He himself died in Dublin and was buried there (it may be that he lived there) in St. Werburgh’s in July 1641. (Ind.) He died without issue, and his funeral certificate is signed by his brother, Audley Mervyn, who succeded him – and so was owner at the outbreak of the 1641 rising. It was probably James Mervyn who built Castle Mervyn (from its name built by Mervyns rather than Touchets and anyhow nothing there at the time of Pynnar’s survey) or Trillick Castle, which was near Trillick. Its pulling down was reported on to Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland in 1910 by Wilson Guy (J.R.S.A.I., vol. 40 (1910), p. 58). We don’t appear to have any records of the estate, apart from a small treatment in Inq. (35) Chas I, which indicates that he had Irish on more than the ¼ of the estate restricted to them.

Finagh and Rarone
Lord Audley’s estates of Omagh and Rarone, the jointure of his Countess came within the influence of Sir Pierce Crosby, whom she married, in London (Inq. (48) Chas I; also Drake, Fasciculus mervinensis, p. 79). Crosby’s career, in some respects at any rate, paralleled that of Sir Henry Mervyn.

In ?1620 Crosby and his wife let out the entire estate to Sir Terence Dempsey and Maurice Crosby. Sir Terence Dempsey’s lands were in King’s and Queen’s Coounties (Cal. pats, Jas I, p. 275). He was , later, highly regarded, and the king instructed that he be created Viscount Glenmalery and Baron of Philipstown. However he was a strange enough fellow, native Irish from the midlands to be introduced into the Ulster plantation, especially on undertakers’ land. On 17 July 1619 there was a king’s letter directing a surrender and re-grant to Sir Pierce Crosby and his wife and lands in Queen’s Co. with power to make English tenures. (CPR, Jas I, p. 454, Belmore Two Ulster Manors, p. 299). They don’t appear to have taken out a patent at this stage. Crosby had a military and political career, as well as his place in the midlands, which must have kept him away from these lands. However, his connection persisted. On 24 August 1628, during the period of new patents, Crosby got the benefit of a king’s letter to Deputy Falkland, authorising the setting in motion of the processes leading to a regrant of the Omagh lands and also the Orier lands. His services were commended in the king’s letter, and ‘more especially for that he hath, as we are informed at his own proper costs and charges, performed certain buildings and planted divers British freeholders and farmers upon the lands, for the advancement of our Royal intentions in that plantation’ (CPR, Chas I, pp. 358-60 ; CSPI, 1625-32, p. 381).

He took out his new patent on 1 September 1630 (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 230-32; Belmore, Two Ulster Manors, p. 300) of the Omagh lands. It may be noted that the patent did not include the Armagh lands – largely those granted to Art McBaron O’Neill. By 1641 those lands were owned by Rory O’Moore, the 1641 leader, presumably acquired from Crosby, a fellow midlander. Thus by a strange process one prominent 1641 figure, O’Moore, had acquired through the plantation, the lands allocated originally for the father of another leader, Eoin Roe O’Neill. How long Crosby held it therefore is not clear. He received a new patent, under the commission of defective titles, on 4 April 1637. Of his lands in Queen’s Co., and Co. Kerry (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 472-3 ; Belmore Two Ulster Manors, p. 300) but no Ulster land was included.

On 1 May 1631, the date of an inquisition, he was owner (Inq. (30) Chas I). But by 2 August 1638, when a patent was taken out under the commission of defective titles, the land had come into the hands of Sir William Ussher (NAI, Lodge MSS, VI, 47-51). Crosby was running into difficulties with Stafford about this time. The Usshers were a very prominent family – they weren’t exactly new English, had long been in the Pale, but Protestant, government servants, etc. He was very likely an absentee. Sir William Ussher was owner in 1641. Thus really three owners : Lord Audley, Sir Pierce Crosby and Sir William Ussher – probably Audley was the best of a bad lot in terms of being a good coloniser.

Davies’s Estate
Sir John Davies died in 1626 – his widow was a fanatic; his son, an idiot, had drowned in Ireland; his daughter Lucy had married Ferdinando Earl of Huntingdon (D.N.B.). Davies had taken out a new patent, with substantial additional land, on 20 May 1619 (CPR, Jas I, p. 429). He had been in England some time before he died, and he must have been normally an absentee. (see Hastings MSS, IV, pp. 352-3). Lucy was born in Dublin on 20 January 1613, while Ferdinando was born in 1608l they married in 1623.

But by reason of their youth it was not held convenient for them to cohabit together, whereupon he went to Cambridge, where he studied for some time in Queen’s College, Lucy remaining with her father (ibid., p. 352). This however has a special interest, because it probably explains why Sir William Uvedall and Sir John Stanhope received a patent of the land on 13 April 1630 (NAI, Lodge MSS, V, 262-65; CPR, Chas I, p. 579-80). Such a patent was necessary under the dynasty system, but the young couple were still underage, so these patentees were probably trustees. Hence when patents necessary under the commission for defective titles, Ferdinando Lord Hastings and Lady Lucy, took one out, on 19 March 1639 (NAI, Lodge MSS, VI., 323-36). So there was continuity, though change, in this estate – also absenteeism very likely.

The ownership of the barony remained fairly generally strange throughout the period. The settlers here were hardly very typical of English undertakers, e.g. those in Oneilland, or Loughtee, and the plantation here was very limited, by comparison likewise. There had been a reduction in the number of owners between 1600 and 1641, 5 to 3. However if the reality of the early situation was Audley and Davies (though we know Blunt came over at least for a while), then this is less significant. Whatever be the facts of the early years (i.e. whether Lord Audley did it all, or the others were there too), and it may be that there were then two blocks of land; from c. 1620 there were three units. Were the Mervyn’s more successful as colonisers than the Touchets? One strange point also – women were involved in the ownership of all three blocks as these blocks came to be defined: thus Sir Henry Mervyn and the Lady Christian his wife; Sir Pierce Crosby and the countess; Ferdinando Lord Hastings and Lady Lucy. So apart from anything else, at least Women’s Lib would have approved!