Patrick Russell Cruise returns to Ireland


As a younger son Patrick Russell Cruise had not inherited the family ancestral seat of Drynam House.  However, he had inherited a half share in approximately 500 acres of land, comprising the townlands of Paristown and Dardistown, in the Barony of Delvin in county Westmeath.[1]   These lands had been set out to tenants by Patrick Russell Cruise’s maternal grandfather in September 1782 for a term of sixty-one years, due to expire in May 1843.  Between ca. 1825 and May 1843, the revenues from these lands were sent to Patrick Russell Cruise in New York, by a Dublin based solicitor and land-agent John Smith.[2]

Right: courtesy of the Registry of Deeds

Even before the expiry of his tenants’ lease in May 1843, relations were strained between Patrick Russell Cruise in New York and John Smith in Dublin.  Patrick had promised the sitting tenants that on the expiry of the lease, he would ensure they had a preference “because he felt he was bound in honour and conscience to look to the tenants in possession.”  The lawyer Smith wanted to remove the sitting-tenants on expiry, and to lease the lands to the highest bidder.  Smith appears to have felt very constrained by Russell-Cruise’s instructions, and on his own volition he evicted the tenants, and wrote repeatedly to his client in America to request power of attorney over the lands.  Patrick Russell Cruise refused to hand over power of attorney for the Irish lands, but one of his letters to Smith written in September 1843 reveals his own homesickness for Ireland at this time, and his intention to return: Patrick Russell Cruise wrote “I do not look forward to my remaining much longer in America; as soon as some of my sons are fit to push forward and do for themselves I shall return, and should therefore prefer locating on my own soil than elsewhere.”[3]

Left: summary of the letters exchanged between Patrick Russell Cruise and his land agent, published in The Freeman’s Journal.

When news of the evictions from Paristown and Dardistown reached Patrick Russell-Cruise in America, he wrote to the Rev. Mr. Rickard of the RC parish of Athboy, to establish the facts for himself.  In Autumn 1844 Patrick set sail for Ireland, having resolved in advance that the only solution was to restore his former tenantry to the lands in Paristown and Dardistown, which he achieved by October 1844.

As a vote of thanks to Patrick Russell Cruise, a public dinner was given in his honour in the town of Clonmellon, on Tuesday 14th November 1844.[4]

Right: the account of the public dinner

By 1848 Patrick Russell Cruise settled in Ireland, and in August that year he was joined by his wife and family.  The Freeman’s Journal recorded:  It was the height of the Famine, and so an unusual time for a home-coming, but they probably returned to Ireland now because Patrick Russell Cruise was terminally ill.  He died on 13th March 1849 in Marino Villa, and was buried in the RC parish of Donabate in north Dublin.[6]

Below: account of Patrick Russell Cruise’s death


[1] Registry of Deeds, Memorials, 1845-18-219 A deed dated 20 Sept. 1845 concerning Patrick Russell Cruise. Refers to the will of Patrick Maguire dated 14 Dec. 1801 in which he devised his lands of Dervistown [sic] and Paristown, county Westmeath to his wife Mary Anne and her assigns for life, with remainder as to one undivided moiety thereof to the said Patrick Russell Cruise for life with remainder to his first son and their heirs of his body….
[2] 1845 [605] [606] Report from Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Inquiry into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland, pp. 217-21.
[3] The Freeman’s Journal 30 Nov. 1844, correspondence of John Smyth and P.R. Cruise.
[4] Freeman’s Journal 2 Nov. 1844.
[5] Freeman’s Journal 14 Aug. 1848
[6] Freeman’s Journal, 15 March 1849.  Burial record, RC parish of Donabate, north Dublin.