Marriage settlement of Wm Stevenson and Eliz'th Fleming (1716)

Nearly three hundred years ago, Capt. James Stevenson of Stewartstown and William Fleming of Portadown executed a marriage settlement on behalf of their respective children, William and Elizabeth. The resulting deed of lease and release, dated the 19th October 1716, is long and complex. From the several conditions and covenants agreed upon, it becomes apparent that Messrs. Stevenson and Fleming ceded control of their leaseholds, houses, tenements, and gardens, with the appurtenances—at least in the near term—in order to effect the successful conclusion of the marriage.

In the case of Capt. Stevenson, the immediate beneficiary was one James Stephenson of Killyfaddy in the parish of Lisnadill, county Armagh. By the agreements struck in this marriage settlement, for several decades into the future the latter would obtain the rents and profits from the former's holdings in Stewartstown, the adjacent parks, and nearby townlands of Galvally, Ruskieroe, and Tamylennan—minus a rent charge of £16 per annum, payable to William Stevenson, which was just enough to provide a comfortable living.

So, who was this James Stephenson? and how was this transaction effected? Deducing an answer to the first question is yet a work in progress, though by this and other deeds, some degree of familial relationship is suspected. If this suspicion proves correct, by contracting with a relative Capt. Stevenson was able to retain the said lands, tenements, hereditaments, &c. within the family. As to the second question, the quid pro quo may have taken the form of an advance of the £300 marriage portion by Mr. Stephenson to Capt. Stevenson for the use and behoof of the latter's son, William—in exchange for the rents and profits from the leaseholds in the county of Tyrone.

Coincidentally, this document also provides the earliest reference found to date for James Stephenson of Killyfaddy. More anon, as I attempt to unravel these relationships through the memorials of the Irish deeds.

In fine, one does begin to suspect that three hundred years ago—that is to say, then as now—the stalwarts of the legal profession appear to have been paid by the word. This very long—one would be forgiven to say, tedious—document is incontrovertibly confounded by legalese. A précis, or summary, of the memorial has been prepared in an attempt to reduce and simplify the original text. If a reader detects an error in interpretation, or wishes to offer an alternative analysis, please do get in touch.

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Surname index:

  • Bagenall of Newry, county Down
  • Fleming of Portadown, county Armagh
  • Houston (of Stewartstown, county Tyrone)
  • Lavery of Magheralin, county Down
  • Mulligan
  • Obins of Portadown
  • Reilly of Lurgan, county Armagh
  • Scott of Stewartstown
  • Semple, parish of Donaghenry, county Tyrone
  • Stephenson of Killyfaddy, parish of Lisnadill, county Armagh
  • Stevenson of Stewartstown
  • Timons or Timmons, parish of Seagoe, county Armagh
  • Wetherby

Place name index:

  • Corcrain, parish of Drumcree, county Armagh
  • Derrybeg, parish of Newry, county Armagh
  • Gallvally, parish of Donaghenry, county Tyrone
  • Portadown, parish of Drumcree
  • Ruskieroe, parish of Donaghenry
  • Stewartstown, parish of Donaghenry
  • Tamylennan, parish of Donaghenry


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© Alison Kilpatrick, 2016. All rights reserved.
Copyright notice

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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