The Sterley's of Oakland Park

Chapter 3
Anonymous wit and A Irish visit


“What a wit the anonymous  young lady is who wrote this book is its title is Emma,” said Lydia laying aside the book which she had been reading “Indeed” said Lady Ann with a fained interest. “Pray tell dear what has the young lady to say in her latest literary offering,” asked Lady Sarah “The young lady has captured exactly life in the counties,” replied Lydia.

“I have often found some amusement in the writings of Mrs. Burney you will of course remember her earlier works” said Lady Ann. “Of course the young lady who ever she is writes in a style some what akin to that of Mrs. Burney replied Lady Ann.

“I have often wondered at women who have taken up the pen so to say it is not quite the thing for a young lady to do,” said Mary who was conscious of the social standing of the genteel nobility.

“Oh Mary you do say the strangest things I wonder if the young lady is at all a young lady she is no doubt she must  be quite forty if a day” replied her mother.

“When I am older I will write said Sophia who was not quite fifteen. “I think I will write of far away places, of strange people, of the Lords and ladies of foreign parts, just the think to keep ones interest,” she concluded

“You most certainly shall not my dear you will be a good wife, mother and keep your home in order when you are married to a fine gentleman of the county replied Lady Sarah.

“Dear Aunt Sarah we are living at a time when things are so much changed one wonders what people ever did before” Said Sophia

“Stuff of nonsense said Lady Sarah it is a woman’s place to keep a good home it is quite one thing to be a spinster with no prospects living on your wits and the patronage of others and quite another thing to be a respectable member of the aristocracy” said Lady Sarah.

“Take dear Arabella she knows her place I have instructed her in all the things she needs to know about the household. She knows how to order the meals from the cook and what to do in the event of any occasion. She my dear will make a grand lady I an quite sure that it wont be long before the young bucks will be beating a path to the proverbial door for her hand in marriage” Lady Sarah concluded.

“Really Ann I am surprised at you r daughters I would have expected them to be most content to be economic with there flights of fancy,” said Lady Sarah.

“Sarah you need not worry on account of my girls they are like flowers in a garden they are a little wild I must confess but with a bit of trimming the should do splendidly” replied Lady Ann

Just then, John entered the drawing room “Mamma, Mamma a letter from papa” he said as he crossed the room and handed the letter to Lady Ann.

“More new from London I do so hope he is coming soon,” she said as she broke the seal of the letter. For a few moments she remand silent as she read the letter. Then swaying she hand the letter to Lydia who had come to stand besides her mother.

‘Dear Ann,

I had the good fortune to dine in the company of the prince regent last evening at Windsor. It is indeed a splendid house if somewhat in the fashion of the last season.

His highness Prince George, I must tell you has grown quite plump of late. I also had occasion to speak with my lord the Earl of Wellington who tells me that the war effort is going quite splendidly he is a wonderful man who knows every tactic that old Bonny has will come to naught

I have some thing to impart you of great significance my lord the earl of Waterford has invited me to his county seat for some game hunting for a few weeks I will be leaving on Monday next.

My Lord the Earls sons will be at home and so will his daughter Lady Virginia who will be coming out next season. She is somewhat of the same age as our Mary

To this end, I want you to send Thomas, John and Mary to town on the next available coach, as I want then to come with me I have spoken to his Lordship and he is quite agreeable to this end.

Your Loving husband


“I wonder at Sir Thomas what does he think of us that he stays so long away and the matter of the business which he went to London must be concluded quite some time ago,” said Lady Ann

Lydia ring the bell for some tea dear,” said Lady Sarah as she took the hand of Lady Ann” dearest cousin I spoke harshly earlier. Pray for give me your daughters are quite splendid creatures it is the hotness of the weather that made me reply so sharply... Pray be content that Sir Thomas is doing every thing in his power to forward the interests of the family. These things take time the right connections have to be made and nurtured.

‘It is indeed a wonderful occasion that Lady Virginia and Mary will meet and get to know each other only good can come of such a connection his Lordship is of course one of the most significant magnets in Ireland today” said Lady Ann drying her tears at the occasion of missing her husband.

“Here is the tea,” said Sophia as the butler placed the tray on the table closing with the table Sophia began to stir the tea began pouring tea. For her Mamma as she knew best in the entire house that her Mamma preferred strong dark tea with a tough of milk and a little sugar

“Mamma there is a hack approaching the house said John who was standing at the window “Who can it be I am quite distraught and have no desire for new company right now” said Lady Ann.

“I believe it to be Mr and Mrs. Holder” said John “Now that is welcome I have not spoken to Mrs. Holder in quite while and she has the most delightful recipe for sweetmeats” said Lady Ann. brightening at the news of the arrival of her old friend from the village.

“Tom you will please take an interest in what Mr Holder tells you and be as civil as you can you know how disagreeable that man can be” said Lady Ann  “Yes Mamma I think I might show him the gun room he has always shown an interest in the gun’s said Tom.

The couple of middle years entered the withdrawing room after been announced curtsies, bows were exchanged, and the company fell to talking of the resent events in the village and more broadly in the county.

Mr Holder who’s family was of ancient and noble linage had very much come down in the world because of unfortunate events in the previous reign. Thus for Mr Holder it was quite easy to hold a grudge having to look on as others more industrious in there efforts made a name and a place in the world.

“Mr Holder would you accompany me to the gun room I have some thing to show you” said Tom. “Indeed young Tom that would be my pleasure said the man placing his empty cup on the tray following the younger man out of the room.

“Pray tell me Elizabeth what new recipe have you to share with us Lydia pray write down what Mrs. Holder says” said Lady Ann “I have a recipe for Pork lion chops done in the Catalina style” replied Elizabeth Holder.

“Indeed pray tell how did you by this recipe?” asked Lady Sarah I have a cousin who served under my Lord the Earl of Wellington. Who whilst in Spain took an interest in what was going in to the cooking pot” Replied Elizabeth Holder with a laugh.” Never much of a fighting man our cousin Cedric but quite a cook he of course service the earl as his personal cook said Elizabeth Holder

“Well what a splendid gun this is said William Holder as he handled the weapon which had last seen service in the reign of Charles I of blessed memory a flintlock pistol with fine engraving. “My father has always held that this particular weapon was used by one of our more illustrious ancestors Sir James Sterley who was on the side of the King,” said Thomas.

“here is fathers sword the one he used while in service eat ST Vincent he has quite retired the old thing it takes a place of honor here in the gun room. May I offer you a glass of port?” asked Thomas as he picked up the decanter

“That would be most welcome said William Holder who was eyeing the ancient weapon with envious eyes wondering how long the money from the sale of the weapon would keep him in the necessities of life.

Castel WATERFORD the home of the William 6th Earl Waterford was an old building which had been done up in the previous reign. Thus it possessed all of the modern convinces. Very much against the wishes of the previous earl, the new water closet had been installed in a number of rooms. The original castle had been built many centuries earlier and had come into the possession of the Earl’s family in the reign of queen Elizabeth of blessed memory having spent a vast fortune the 5th earl had made the stately home as comfortable as possible for its inhabitants. So much so that the current Earl of not forced on occasion to leave it would have spent the entire year here hunting and fishing. For the great park presented enough deer great birds and other varieties of game to keep the earl happy. Content for a very long time of the fishing His Lordship had led Sir Thomas to understand that nowhere else would one find Salmon and trout of such multitudes that would make a man gasp to see so many and of such great size.

It was to this retreat that Sir Thomas found himself in the company of his lordship now preceded. His children  Tom, John  Mary and Sophia had recently joined Sir Thomas in London taking passage on a yacht that the Earl had at his disposal for official duties they set sail from London for Ireland on a brisk Autumn day in 1813.

“T’is indeed wonderful to be once more at sea” said Sir Thomas who stood beside his father upon the pop deck. I fancy papa that you enjoy sailing far better then I do “replied Tom whose knuckles showed white from clasping on the taft rail. “Tom a man if he is to make his way in life must endure all types of displeasures and temperaments if he is to gain his fortune and a name for himself. My son mark well my words for one day you will realize that they are most probably the most valuable thing I will have ever given you” said Sir Thomas. “Indeed Sir you have always given me good advice and I count it as advice worth keeping” said Tom “Papa do come and see  there are some great ships coming over the horizon I wonder if the Victory is among them said John who was standing on the other side of the deck surveying the ocean to the south.

“Splendid I see there are a number of ships of the Line” said Sir Thomas who had lifted a glass to his eye. “I do not see the Victory amount them but there is the Xenophon see she fly’s the flag of Sir Howe Parker Admiral of the red,” said Sir Thomas. “Now when I was a young man not much older then you John I was serving aboard ship of the line there is none quite as splendid as ship of the line. However I must confess that life aboard a frigate is much more to my liking for the ship is close and one gets to know ones men intimately,” said Sir Thomas.

Virginia Lady Waterford put aside the brush and pellet the canvas before her portrayed the scène of the sea and cliffs, which extended from Castel Waterford. Brushing aside a stray hair, which had fallen across her face once more, began to concentrate on the canvas

Virginia had a fair complexion like most of her ancestors she took great pride in her complexion the great care she took with her hands was noticeable by there softness her roses and peaches complexion betrayed years of care. She was not a person who had ever had to work hard a day in her life for when she required something she had but to ask her governess. Who would in due season produce the required item.

It pleased her to know that shortly her father would once more be at home; for she loved her dear papa immensely of course, her mother seldom left the castle and really traveled more then a day’s journey from the great house. For her ladyship had a fear of been caught away from home in a wild and dangerous country... These fears could be traced back to an incident in her ladyship’s youth when traveling in Europe she had been caught in a great thunderstorm, which had resulted in a present fear of nature.

Her ladyship was of that race of people who had come over two centuries earlier from Scotland having been settled for generations her family had weathered the various fortunes of the land of Ireland. Thus, she was always suspicious of her compatriots of low birth fearing that they wished to do her an injury or a mischief.

Of course the fact that her husband had a propensity for hanging quite a number of the Irish. Nevertheless, Lady Virginia was content to spend her days in roaming the cliffs and downs with her governess, enjoying the wilds of nature of which her mother was so much afraid. It was remarkable that an individual who loved nature and love for the good of the people in the village such as lady Virginia was want to do. Could have sprung from the loins if the unlikely couple that were her parents.

For in the company of Lady Virginia the people of county Waterford tended to be themselves allowing her to gain a closer look at the way they really lived. Whilst when his Lordship was present they would show the greatest respect, a respect born out of fear for it was well known that his lordship the earl was quick to anger and one could if not extremely careful find oneself on the gallows or bound for the convict isle.

“Lady Virginia took up the brush and pellet once more and began to paint “Pray mistress Borden how long do you think it might be before papa will be her?” she asked longingly.

“My lady I have no way of knowing as you know it has been some days now since the last letter from his Lordship” said the governess. “Papa says he is bringing some guests Sir Thomas Sterley and some of his children I do hope there are some young ladies in the party” said Virginia.

“I am sure there might be some young ladies in the party,” replied the governess “Indeed that would be such a pleasure to have some new company here. some one who has been to London, I was so long last in London that I have quite forgotten how it was, mayhap the young ladies of the party will have some new dresses and news of the latest fashions in the capital” replied Virginia


Sir Thomas had occasion to rise early on the morning cartoons arrival at after his arrival at Waterford Castel. It was not His intention to two Disturb his lordship the Earl indeed his lordship was not Home to be disturbed. Upon rising sir, Thomas was informed of his lordships departure for Waterford Town.

Sir Thomas was surprised to find with his breakfast tray a note from his Lordship,

“Dear Sir Thomas I have been called away to Waterford town. I have therefore decided to leave you in the capable hands of Colin Murphy my senior Grounds man.

Please avail yourself of the services of the man in question, as he is knowledgeable on all facts related to the study of ornithology in this part of Ireland. The Avery is at your disposal if you should wish to study the avian spices in close proximity. However I fear that this might not be ideal to your pursuit of studying the spices in there natural surroundings. I should warn you that it is advisable to keep at hand a swordstick or a strong club when going about on the estates as of late, there has been some discontent in the county and there might be those of the republican persuasion in the district.

However, fear not my dear sir Thomas the liberties of my home are at your disposal


William Waterford

“Indeed a most happy communication thought Sir Thomas as he cracked open a boiled egg. Sir Thomas had long had it in mind to see the birds of another country as how they concurred or differed from the ornithology of his home county. It would act as an annexure to his own notes on the Ornithology of greater Southern England.

At 9 o’clock the grounds man Colin Murphy made his appearance at the great hall where Sir Thomas was in the company of Lady Waterford, and her daughter. “Sir Thomas I would warn you not to go to far from the house having not been in this country long. You might find that the population has a disposition to be insolent,” said Lady Waterford

‘Fear not my dear Lady Waterford I have taken a good club with me as suggested by his lordship. I foresee no problems in this regard, having been a navel man I believe I should be able to handle any thing that we may chance upon.” Said Sir Thomas as he put on his hat and left with Colin Murphy.

There first port of call was the grand Avery, which had been established by the previous Earl of Waterford who had a great love of nature. Indeed the previous Earl had been a great friend of Sir Joseph Banks who had seen Captain Cook on his way to parts foreign.

The diligence of his lordships man Colin Murphy was of great help to Sir Thomas for the man could imitate the calls of many of the various birds in the aver. These birds came when he called and would settle close by while he feed them bits of bread and seed. Sir Thomas settled in the mean time to sketching these birds as they ate taking great interest in every little detail of the birds dress and nature of conduct.

“Pray Mr Murphy are you native to these parts?” asked Sir Thomas “Aye I am Waterford born and bread” replied Colin “have you had occasion to travel at all in parts foreign?” asked the nobleman “Aye Sir I served with Sir John Moore at La Corenue there we buried him” replied the Irishman.

“Ah yes Sir John a noble leader brave and stout of valor” said Sir Thomas, “That he was Sir indeed he truly knew how to lead men” replied the Irishman. “I fear that we only see his kind once or twice a generation,” said Sir Thomas “Aye Sir I believe that Lord Nelson was one of those fortunate few who could lead men and did not flinch in the face of battle” said Colin Murphy

“His Lordship the marquis of Wellington I believe is another cut from the same cloth” said Sir Thomas. “I believe that if it was not for great men like them just mentioned old England might already be in Old Bonny’s icy grip,” said Colin.

““Ah what an England that would be?” said Sir Thomas “there would be republicans all over the House of Lords and many heads would roll he continued.

“That would be a very sorry day indeed I would imagine” replied Colin “You seem like a knowledgeable man Mr. Murphy pray tell have you any education?” asked Sir Thomas. “Indeed Sir I have the best education that any Irishman of my rank could have, I was schooled at the hedge row schools by priests who did there task at great peril to there life and limb” replied Colin Murphy.

“Indeed those in power in England are loathed to give Ireland a measure of independence” replied Sir Thomas “Aye sir it is a sad fact of life that many in Ireland today fear they will never know any other rule but that of old England” replied Colin.

“Tell me Mr Murphy are you of the Catholic faith?” asked Sir Thomas “No Sir I must confess that it has been a number of generations since my family has foresworn the faith of Rome” replied Colin

“I fear that those of the Church of Rome in Ireland will have a hard time of getting the franchise here,” said Sir Thomas. “I believe it will be a very long time before old Irelands troubles are at an end” replied Colin Murphy “How is it that you came to be discharged from the kings service” asked Sir Thomas. “Well it was bound to happen I was of the 52nd foot fighting hard at the retreat in Portugal when a mortar took part of me hand from me” said Colin. Sir Thomas noticed that noticed for the first time that Colin was missing several finger son one hand the fact had been obscured from him by the fact that Colin had been wearing a half glove which covered the stumps of three fingers.

“Most interesting we must have more speech later but right now I would like to see what his Lordships estates holds in regard to wild birds can you show me?” asked Sir Thomas “Please step this way sir” said Colin as he lead Sir Thomas off to the edge of the woods

Lady Virginia and Sophia were taking a turn round the gardens “I am so glad you came it has been very dull of late and I was hoping that Papa might send for me to come to London,” said Virginia.

“London is over rated in my opinion said Sophia Since I have come out it has been rounds of balls and visits and so many of the people one is expected to make ones obedience’s are so pretentious that it becomes a bore” said Sophia

“I found London to be so busy one can hardly know where one is expected to visit next and the balls. Well I love them I love to dance you see and all those young officers in there bright uniforms well what more can a young lady ask for other then her appointment book be filled for the evening,” replied Virginia. A little annoyed at Sophia for her lack of social grace in speak her mind on the subject.

“Mary will be coming out next season I believe it is to be your season to?” asked Sophia like one who has known the pleasure of ones first season and knows that there is more to life then the matters upon woman of a certain rank are expected to hold..

“Yes it will be my first season Papa has promised to make Mamma go to London although she hardly ever goes out she spends her days in the Library or in the drawing room. She seldom if ever goes very far from the castle the most we can expect from her I am afraid to say is a day visit to Waterford town, However Papa has promised to make her go up to London when the season starts.” Said Virginia

Shortly there after they were joined by Tom and John who had been enjoying the fishing and had now found occasion to join them “I fancy we shall have trout for dinner,” said Virginia. “Oh yes indeed trout is just the thing we caught a number just now and have taken then to the kitchen cook took them directly replied” John.

“I fancy that Virginia is jesting at your expense,” said Sophia to her younger brother, “Not at all Sophia I merely mention that trout when fresh makes a wonderful dinner. Do you not have trout in your pond at Oakland Park?” asked Virginia.

“If truth be told we do not fish over much at Oakland Park there is too much to do and seldom do we find the time,” said Tom who had been walking silently along the side of the embankment.

“Tom do read a few lines for us from your book,” said Virginia as the party settled under a great oak tree, I would but this is a book by an anonymous young lady of a genteel family who has been writing for a few seasons,  her latest creation” said Tom. “Please do read for us I have heard that this young lady has a way with words.” Said Virginia “Tom opened the book and begun to read…

“Do you see here Sir Thomas  it is as I suspected a snare set to trap his lordships game Ill warrant the poacher is close by” said Colin Murphy as he looked around the thicket “Most interesting do you think they will come back soon?” said Sir Thomas. “It has been known to happen,” said Colin Mayhap we can set a while and see I am sure there are some birds around that will keep your interest busy while we wait,” said Colin Murphy.

Settling in a comfortable position a short distance from the snare the two men set about there own pursuits. Sir Thomas had spotted a species if bird which he had not seen before and fell to drawing it, while Colin Murphy sat on a stump drawing on a clay pipe the sent of cherry root tobacco drifted heavenward with the aroma hanging about the air. “Not an unpleasant smell thought Sir Thomas who as a rule generally despised the smoking of tobacco.

Thus while the Sterley’s busied themselves on the estate of My Lord Earl of Waterford the nobleman in question found himself very busy in the court of Waterford town for the previous week a felon of renown had been caught in the act of robbery. This felon a dangerous rouge had it was claimed by the defense been going about his lawful busyness earning a living at the local inn. Where he was employed as a stable hand now a certain gentleman of noble birth happened to be passing through the town and chanced upon the inn. Been late in the day he had stopped for the night.

The following morning as the nobleman was paying his bill the villainous felon had come upon him and the innkeeper it fell upon his ears that the noble man would be traveling upon the high road from the ton in the direction of the next village. This information the stable hand had relayed to a fellow of low birth who earned his living by highway robbery.

However, this time the villains had chanced upon a member of the nobility who carried about his person a brace of pistols and a sword. Upon been confronted by the highwayman the noble gentleman responded bravely and fired one of his numerous pistols blowing off the arm of the villain. Who made good his escape however later a deathbed confession made by the villain implicated the stable hand of the inn. Thus before the Earl this day stood one Joseph O Flarety some time stable hand and the accused.

On a brief summing up of the evidence, his Lordship sentenced the said O’ Flarty to hanging.

“Well with all business now suspended for the day William Earl Waterford turned once more his mind to the pursuit of happiness and home.


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