Emily Weddall’s father’s family were West of Ireland farmers, her mother’s family could not be more different in background. Her mother was one of the Graisberrys, a prominent Dublin family who were the official printers of Trinity College for many generations.
The Graisberry’s were the official printers of Trinity College, for many generations
John Burke was till the end of his days a well respected man in his locality. His door open to all members of the community, and was friendly with men of all faiths. This admiration was shared by his son William John, who end up leading a life far from what his father might have envisioned for him. John Burke died in early 1843, by the end of the year his son William John, whom he educated for the priesthood would no longer be a priest nor a member of the Catholic Church.
View of Athlone Barracks, as it is today. In 1819 John Burke had the protection of the Athlone army, after he was kidnapped by the Ribbon-men
In 1819 Emily’s grandfather, John Burke was kidnapped by the Ribbon-men and taken to a secret location, where he was forced to pledge allegiance to them. He refused, to his peril as Emily’s father recounts the incident to a court in 1855…
“In the year 1819 the Ribbonmen brought him to their appointed place of meeting and wanted him to swear to be loyal to them. He said no “I have taken the oath of allegiance to be faithful to my King and country, you are rebels and I cannot be faithful both to you and my king”. We will shoot you said they. His reply; “I will die here an honest man for my king and county.” He saw a rush at him with a screwed bayonet, which he received in his chest. The would inflicted was severe having torn the flesh out the breast, the bayonet entering between the chest and the rib. He was taken for dead and brought home. He bade them defiance, wrote to the Lord Lieutenant, and for ten days would not yield. In the meantime a military party was sent from Athlone for his relief.”
John Burke survived and lived on for another two decades. This refusal to go against their principles even in the face of death would follow through to his son, William John and to his grand daughter Emily, even though she would be taking be the other side to the Crown.
The Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal Isle of Ely Herald and Huntingdonshire Gazette. May 12 1855. Page 7
The Ribbon-men wore a ribbon in their top buttonhole
John Burke, Emily’s grandfather was lucky to get away with his life, when one night her was captured and held at a secret location. The year of the incident was 1819 and his captures were the Ribbon-men.
At the time Ireland was awash with secret societies, the Ribbon-men were just one of many. They were by definition a Roman Catholic secret society founded in Ireland in the early 1800’s that opposed the landed gentry or the landlord class. They were set up to provide protection for farm workers and the poorer tenant farmers. They were illegal for many reasons especially for the fact that they were oath bound.
The Catholic Church opposed them and condemned the taking of secret oaths. the societies in turn threatened priest who spoke against them; they also took up issues like increases in baptismal, marriage, and Mass fees. Clergy who increased their fees were issued with threatening letters ordering them to lower their charges. (Pat Feeley)
John Burke was a devout Catholic and comparatively wealthy, making him a prime target for initiation into their society. He upheld his faith but made no secret of the fact however he was in no way opposed the establishment. The Ribbon-men sought him out and took him to their secret meeting place by force.
http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/whiteboys%20and%20ribbonmen.pdf/Pat Feeley/retrieved 04/04/2015
Emily’s grandfather John Burke was a devout Catholic, according to her father William John. In his time people usually sided with their own faith, be he was broadminded and in many ways ahead of his time. He was happy to entertain people of all religions at his house near Kinvara, the Protestant rector of the parish was a frequent visitor.
John Burke was loyal to the King, even under the pressure he declared his allegiance; “I have taken the oath of allegiance to be faithful to my King and country…” This proclamation almost cost him his life.
Sheffield Independent 10 December 1870. P 12
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 12 May 1855. P7