The spinster daughters of wealthy families often became independent following the deaths of their male relatives. Some of these women in Limerick survived their parents and siblings by decades. However, this brought up a new issue, that of inheritance.
Maria Wilson died at her home at 61 Catherine Street, Limerick on 27 June 1890. She out-lived her parents and all of her siblings. She was the daughter of Richard and Frances Wilson of Ballinacurra. Her father died in 1823 and her mother passed away in 1857. The Wilson family was from Caherconlish and operated a brickworks near Ballinacurra Turnpike.
When Maria passed away, she had £747, 5 shillings and 5 pence to her name. As all of her known next of kin had predeceased her, her estate was granted to the executor of her will, James Welply, a land agent of Corbally, on 7 November 1892.
This was not the end of the story as a few months later, a relative of Maria by the name of Trousdell made a claim on the estate. This led to a call to the public asking for any persons who deemed themselves her next of kin to contact the Vice Chancellor of Ireland at the Four Courts in Dublin to prove their claim before eleven o’clock on the morning of 16 April 1894.
Trousdell was most likely a grandnephew of Maria’s sister, Frances Wilson. Frances was married to Richard Trousdell in St Mary’s Cathedral in August 1824. The couple had at least one son, John Wilson Trousdell, who was baptised in St Mary’s Cathedral on 4 July 1825. John passed away in Belfast in 1856, aged only 30 years. It is not clear how the case turned out, but we can presume that Trousdell did receive his share of the inheritance.
Mary Dickson Alley’s sister, Jane Alley, also married a Trousdell: John, the eldest son of Alexander Trousdell. Mary died unmarried at the age of 87 at “Olivette”, Ennis Road in 1915. The Alley sisters were the granddaughters of William Alley and Martha Kendal. William was one of the subscribers to the Pery Square Tontine in 1808; his subscription was based on the life of his son Thomas, who was then aged 13.
The Alley sisters’ father was William’s younger son Gabriel, a candle manufacturer and soap boiler based in Mary Street in 1824. In the 1830s, he had moved to Mungret Street and opened a tobacco factory. By 1840, he had moved one more time to 18 William Street, where he continued the tobacco factory.
Gabriel married Charlotte Dickson at St. John’s Church in November 1819. The couple were buried in the same churchyard; Charlotte in 1841 and Gabriel in 1847. Their son, John, predeceased both his parents in 1836.
In April 1839, Gabriel Alley summoned John Kennedy and William Hauton for placing posters around the city ‘cautioning the public not to deal with him for snuff or tobacco’ as they felt he had not complied with the rules of their group called the ‘Journeymen Tobacconists’. It was believed that the dispute stemmed from an incident when one of the journeymen tobacconists was away from his store for two days. Alley asked a boy who worked in the store and was ‘handy at the business’ to finish the manufacture of the dry leaf in the absence of the man.
When Christopher William Bunting was born, his parents, William Bunting and Jane Crowe, could not have imagined where his future lay. He was born on 11 September 1837 in Amigan, Croagh in County Limerick. In the 1850s, following the death of his father Christopher, his mother Jane and younger sister Wilhelmina boarded the Jessy and set sail for a new life in Canada. His widow mother and unmarried sister were living with him until at least 1881.
They quickly settled in Toronto, where Christopher continued his schooling at St. James’ parish school. He soon moved into an apprenticeship at the Globe, where at the age of fourteen his first steps into journalism was as a compositor. While there, he rose to the rank of foreman and contributed some local journalism to the paper. After leaving the Globe in 1866, he worked for several years in wholesale grocery. He was also a member of the Masonic Order.
In 1868, he married Mary Elizabeth Ellis and they had five sons and a daughter. In 1873, he moved to Clifton (Niagara Falls). It was here that Bunting specialized in importing sugar with his then business partner, Henry W.Bailey.
In 1877, he once again returned to the world of publishing. That year he entered into partnership with John Riordon and became co-owner of the Toronto Mail. Though Bunting wrote editorials infrequently, he always maintained close supervision over the news and editorial departments.
While growing his newspaper empire Bunting also entered politics and in 1878 he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Member of the Conservatives. He was one of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s important advisers.
He was defeated in the 1882 election after the Liberals were returned to power. Bunting attempted to lure members from the Liberal caucus. He was implicated in a plot of bribery in 1884. He left the country in May for two months to avoid testifying before a judicial inquiry. In criminal proceedings, which concluded in April 1885, Bunting and his co-conspirators were found not guilty.
From 1887 onward The Mail – which had previously vocally supported the Conservative party – distanced itself from political ties to the party. It began to make calls to resist French and Catholic influence in the country. It also added support for a commercial union with the United States and endorsed the prohibition of alcohol.
By the federal election of March 1891, the opportunities to effect an electoral revolution in Canadian politics along the lines of Anglo-Protestant ascendancy had slipped away.
That autumn Bunting initiated negotiations to reach an accommodation with the Conservative government in Ottawa and these were renewed in 1893. They culminated in another business triumph for Bunting. On 7 February 1895, he secured the purchase of the Empire, possibly for as little as $30,000. Retaining control of the renamed Daily Mail and Empire, Riordon and Bunting rationalised the morning market for newspapers in Toronto and formed a new, official Conservative journal in a single stroke.
By the end of 1895, after the major coup of his career, Bunting began to fall ill. He died at his Queen’s Park residence in Toronto of Bright’s Disease at the age of 58, on 14 January 1896. It would take six months before the news of his death was reported in the local press. Even then, it was by way of a letter to the Limerick Chronicle from China.