Princess Charlene Continued

In 1772 John Fagan married Elizabeth Hickson – these are the Princess’s great (x 5) grandparents.  They had a large family – 6 boys and 5 girls that survived to adulthood.

Remarkably, 5 of the 6 sons joined the East India Company.  Of the 5 surviving daughters, three married officers in the East India Company, a fourth married a London merchant, and the fifth entered the Ursuline convent in Cork.

We can only guess why this generation of the Fagan family choose to sever their connection to Ireland, but research has pointed to some possible reasons.

In the 1790s the Fagans were connected by marriage to Richard Wellesley, older brother to the Duke of Wellington.  Both families acknowledged the connexion.  Between 1797 and 1805 when Wellesley was Governor General of India, the Fagans were able to call on his patronage.

 

The story of how this came about is worth telling.  The Princess’s great (x 5) grandfather John Fagan of Kiltullagh, county Kerry, had an older brother, Christopher.  Christopher Fagan, also known as the Chevalier Fagan, was an army officer in France before the Revolution.  He had a natural daughter Hyacinthe Roland (1760-1816), who became an actress in the Palais Royale in Paris.

 

In the 1780s Hyacinthe became the mistress of Richard Wellesley, earl of Mornington, with whom she had three sons and two daughters before they married in 1794.  Despite marriage, Hyacinthe was never accepted by English society who considered her a ‘demi-mondaine.’

One of the daughters of Richard Wellesley and Hyacinthe Roland, Anne Wellesley is the great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II of England.  The Princess’s grandmother is a 5th cousin of the Queen of England, and the Princess herself is a 5th cousin twice removed.

A portrait of Hyacinthe Roland painted in 1791 by Elisabeth Le Brun, is on in exhibition in the San Francisco Fine Arts Museum.

Hyacinthe Rolande, natural daughter of the Chevalier Fagan. Portrait painted 1791 by Elisabeth le Brun.Reproduced courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco."

Hyacinthe Rolande, natural daughter of the Chevalier Fagan. Portrait painted 1791 by Elisabeth le Brun.Reproduced courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

 

The Wellesley connection was not the only Fagan family link to the East India Company.  A second uncle, Andrew Fagan, left the French Army around the time of the Revolution to enlist in the East India Company.  In the 1790s Andrew had first hand experience of the opportunities in India, and it’s probable that he advised his family in Ireland of the prospects there for young men seeking their fortune and adventure.

The last of the Princess’s direct ancestors born in Ireland was her great (x 4) grandfather, Christopher Sullivan Fagan born 1781, and baptised in St. Mary’s Shandon in Cork.  In 1800 Christopher Sullivan Fagan enlisted as a cadet in the Honourable East India Company Service (H.E.I.C.S.).  He rose to the position of Major General.  On retirement he settled in Wiltshire, England where he died in 1843.  Christopher Sullivan Fagan married twice, and had large families by both wives. One of the daughters of his first marriage was Agnes Cecelia Adelaide Fagan, born 11th August 1821 in Cawnpore, Bengal.  This is the princess’s great (x 3) grandmother.

On 8th September 1842 Agnes Cecelia Adelaide Fagan married Charles Arthur Nicolson in Calcutta.  By Nicolson’s own account given after his wife’s death they had a long and happy marriage.They also had a large family and a gentle humour, much in evidence on the birth of their twelfth child, whom they named Albert Duodecimus Nicolson.  Albert Duodecimus is the Princess’s great (x 2) grandfather.

The Nicolson’s now took the family name forward, but family members kept the memory of their Fagan family history.  Albert Duodceimus Nicolson’s own grand-daughter born 17th August 1921 was named Sylvia Fagan Nicolson.

Sylvia Fagan Nicolson is the paternal grandmother of Princess Charlene.

 

The Bulloch Watchtower, part of the fortifications built by the Fagans in the 1600s, was still standing in the early 1800s. Artist Gabriel Beranger.  Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Ireland."

The Bulloch Watchtower, part of the fortifications built by the Fagans in the 1600s, was still standing in the early 1800s.
Artist Gabriel Beranger.
Reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.”