Chapter Three: Terence Leonard

Terence Leonard (1778-1870)

Terence Leonard is the first known in the (Kinglass) Leonard family tree. He brought up a family on a small farm in Graffy, in the parish of Kinawley, Co Fermanagh. This is what we know of him, his children and his family home. His wife’s name is unknown. The only solid evidence available are his name on his landlord’s records, on the Griffith Survey and his death certificate. The rest is based on deduction from other sources, supported by family lore.

A name on the records

Terence was the father of our great-grandfather, Philip Leonard (“The Thumb”). Our knowledge of him is sketchy. His name appears on a record of tenants of the Crawford Estate (previously T C Singleton, both apparently agents for the Church of Ireland) in the 1830s, in which he is listed as a tenant in Graffy townland near Kinawley village, on an 18 year lease from 1818. He is still there as occupier at the Griffith survey circa 1857, the maps of which show the farm he occupied in Graffy, now owned by the Veitch family, and traditionally known to us in Kinglass as the ancestral home of our Leonard family. His name next appears on his death certificate. According to the certificate he died, aged 92, on 13 November 1870 in Graffy, a widower, and a farmer. Cause of death, ‘senietus’ (old age?). He had no medical attention and Terence Leonard, obviously his son, registered his death. These three entries in the records are the only facts we have on his life. All the rest is circumstantial, including evidence of his family as we shall see. It should be noted that, in those days, the ages given on death certificates are not always reliable but there is little doubt that this first Terence died a very old man.

A Secure Tenancy

As we have seen, Terence Leonard was a tenant in Graffy in 1818 and in 1857. His son Terence died two years later and was succeeded by his widow Ellen, who is shown as the owner of Graffy in a Valuation update in 1885. Ellen was succeeded by her son John, who sold out to the Veitch family about 1900 when the tenancy ended. There is no evidence of the date the tenancy commenced, but it is reasonable to assume it was earlier than 1818 and may even date back to the middle 1600s when many displaced Catholics were given small holdings in Kinawley. Terence’s lease was for 18 years from 1818, as were most of the tenancies in the Crawford estates (a minority were “tenants at will”) which would indicate a recurring lease, renewable every 18 years.

The estate was actually Glebe land, i.e. Church lands (Church of Ireland, Diocese of Kilmore) administered by the Crawford Estates. Terence’s holding was of 5 acres, 3 roods and 12 perches (probably statutory but this is not shown) at an annual rent of four pounds and six shillings, which was the going rate at the time. In the Griffith survey, made in the late 1850’s, the acreage (statutory) is 12 acres 2 roods and 12 perches. The increase could be due to additional land being added to the farm or to reclaimed bog being added as ‘arable land’. It was an earlier practice to count only the ‘arable’ (excluding bog and woodland) in the acreage of a holding.

The Connection

We know that we are the descendants of Terence of Graffy from family tradition, and from the fact that our immediate forebears were buried with him in Kinawley. Our great-grandfather Philip (The Thumb) and his wife Jane, and our grandparents Philip and Margaret (who lived in the adjacent parish of Killesher) were taken at death from their home to be buried in the Graffy Leonards’ grave. (Uncle Patrick was the first of this Leonard family to be buried elsewhere – in Killesher in 1973).

Supporting evidence of that comes from another branch of the family, the Murphys of Cnocknacrieve, Kinawley. The 1901 census and her marriage certificate shows that grandfather’s first cousin, Ketty Murphy (b1863) was the daughter of the second Terence Leonard of Graffy, who succeeded to the Graffy farm. Ketty’s father Terence and Great-grandfather Philip (The Thumb) were therefore brothers. According to the 1901 census (more reliable than the death certificate, which make him three years older) Philip was born in 1820 and Terence, from his death certificate, in 1828.

The Family of the First Terence

The children of the first Terence were born before baptism records were kept and we can only make deductions from the available evidence. The evidence so far is that there were three sons, Philip (the thumb) Hugh and Terence and possibly also three daughters, first names unknown. The names of the sponsors at the baptisms of the children of Philip (the thumb) and Jane suggest the possibility of another brother, James. (See the analysis of these baptism records in Footnote below).

What we know of the children of Terence

Philip (Philip the Thumb) is the subject of the next chapter.

Hugh: The evidence for Hugh is two-pronged. At the Griffith Survey, in the early 1850s, one half of the Clonursin farm is occupied by Philip Leonard (The Thumb) and the other half by Rose Leonard. Rose, who had children, was obviously a widow, very probably the widow of Philip’s brother who evidently with Philip, jointly acquired the farm in the 1840s, and divided it between them.

The evidence that this other brother was Hugh comes from the Kinawley RC baptism records, which records the baptisms of three children to Hugh Leonard and Rose Reilly. Andrew was born in 1838, and the others later. Almost certainly this Hugh Leonard was the brother of Philip (The Thumb) and husband of Rose Reilly. He apparently died before the Griffith Survey in the 1850s, which is why his wife Rose is recorded at that time as owner of the farm. (Family tradition has it that this Rose (Reilly) Leonard was a sister of Terence Reilly of Drumlish married to Anne Carron of Crocknacrieve. They were the parents of our neighbour ‘Sergeant’ Terence Reilly, Drumlish, and of Bridget Reilly who married grandfather’s brother, Patrick Leonard in New York in 1887. (See ‘The Reilly Connection’)

Hugh and Rose had three children born in Kinawley parish, Andrew, Margaret and Terry, and possibly another son, John, born in Clonursin in Killesher parish. This Andrew Leonard was possibly the Andrew who was sponsor to the first son of Philip (The Thumb) in 1856. John was thought to have been a policeman in the RIC and to have lived in Dublin. Margaret succeeded to the farm and married Thomas Maguire (said to have been an RIC colleague of her brother John). They had no children. After Thomas died the farm was purchased at auction by Uncle Patrick and restored to one unit.

Terence: The Terence who registered the first Terence’s death and who was succeeded him in Graffy was obviously his son. This ‘second’ Terence married Eleanor (Ellen) Leonard and they had at least three children; Catherine (Ketty) born 1863, Anne born 3 September 1865 and John, birth date unknown, but probably born before Ketty. There were possibly others. The second Terence died on 1 March 1873, only two and a half years after his father. His death certificate registers that he was married, a farmer age 44. He died from haematemesis (vomiting blood) and he too had no medical attention. A neighbour, Alexander Veitch, registered the death. His widow Ellen is shown as the owner of Graffy in a Valuation update in 1885. Ketty, their daughter, married Andy (The Cub) Murphy of Cnocknacrieve. (See ‘Connections’) Ketty’s mother Ellen eventually came to live with her in Cnocknacrieve and died there in 1904.

John Leonard, son of the second Terence and brother of Ketty Murphy, succeeded to the Graffy farm and, like his father, married a Leonard, Mary. They had a son Terence, born in Graffy 14 August 1895. They sold the farm to Susanna Veitch sometime between 1899 and 1901 but believed to be after 1900, and went (it is said locally) to America, but this is doubtful. This is all we know of John and his family. Nothing is known of his sister Anne except the record of her baptism.


Family lore has it that the first Terence Leonard in Graffy had three daughters, married locally to a McGovern, a Maguire and a Reilly. The evidence of their existence is entirely circumstantial. There is however a record of a marriage on 5 May 1845 between Michael Maguaran (an alternate form of McGovern) and Catherine Leonard, in the Kinawley RC parish register (no other details) and the subsequent birth of three children to a Michael Maguaran and Catherine Leonard between 1849 and 1855. This could be the McGovern family of Gorgesh, Kinawley, progenitors of the ‘Brinie’ McGovern family who still live there and who, along with my father, acknowledge a past connection with our Leonard family.

Marriages of the other sisters are not registered but it is possible that not all Kinawley RC marriages were registered at that time. The Maguire said to have married a daughter of Terence was said to come from Brocagh Bridge, near Florencecourt. His grandson Eddie Maguire, of my father’s generation, and acknowledged by my father as a relative, brought up a family in Cornagun, Kinawley. When Ketty Leonard of Graffy married Andy Murphy in 1886 her bridesmaid was Bridget Maguire, possibly her first cousin from this Maguire family. The Kinawley RC register records the birth of five children to a Terence McGuire and Margaret Leonard between 1841 and 1861. There may be a connection.

The third daughter of Terence was said to have married a Reilly of Roscaw (Rooskagh North), Kinawley, whose daughter was the mother of our neighbours, John and Andy McManus, Roscaw, (also of my father’s generation), acknowledged by my father as his ‘cousins’. If the McManus’ grandmother was indeed a daughter of the first Terence of Graffy, then the brothers John and Andy would have been my father’s second cousins. It was said that a son of this Leonard-Reilly marriage was a well-known character, ‘long Peter’ Reilly of Roscaw. He was possibly the Peter Reilly sponsor to Anne Leonard of Graffy (Ketty Murphy’s sister) in 1865.

The evidence for the existence of these three daughters, even if circumstantial, is fairly strong in that ‘handed down’ knowledge about family relationships was generally reliable. These relatives of his generation, acknowledged by my father, were almost certainly his second cousins. People then did not generally recognise family relationships beyond second cousins. Relatives nearer than father’s second cousins were all well known to us. The fact that he acknowledged these relatives as Leonard connections and that they lived in the Kinawley parish (rather than his grandmother’s McManus family who lived in the Killesher and Cleenish parishes) points to them being descendants of Terence of Graffy. There is however a question mark about these three daughters, in that none of them appear as sponsor to the children of Philip (The Thumb) (See Footnote).

A Peasant Life

The farm adjoined the Graffy road, which led to the village of Kinawley about a mile away. It consisted low-lying fields along the banks of the Graffy River and subject to periodic flooding. The soil was the typical Fermanagh unyielding waterlogged clay, with a few acres of ‘moss’, reclaimed peat land, friable and suitable for tillage but poor in crop-yield. Terence’s acreage was amongst the lowest of the local tenants, the majority being between 10 and 20 acres. It was obviously a struggle to rear a family on such a small place and it is likely that he supplemented his income by other means, probably as a labourer, as did his children before they emigrated. It was part of the family lore that his son, our great-grandfather Philip, emigrated to Australia in his youth and that he worked as a deck-hand on a boat plying between Melbourne and Tasmania where he lost his thumb.

Throughout the 1700s and 1800s life in Kinawley was hard and grinding, but on the whole quite peaceful. The 1700s and early 1800s were a period of relative prosperity in Ireland as a whole. While the Colby survey painted a harsh picture of conditions in Kinawley in the 1830s, things were improving. The mud cabins shared with livestock were being replaced by stone structures with separate rooms. The house at the site of Terence’s home, when we knew it one hundred years later, was a stone-built thatched three-roomed cottage with a little porch on the doorway and a lean-to turf-shed shed on one gable. It is probable that the Veitches had rebuilt the house from the mud-walled two-roomed structure in which Terence lived. His family would have been raggedly clad and fed largely on a diet of potatoes and buttermilk, if we can believe the survey. It must have been an adequate diet or one of his sons, our great-grandfather, would not have lived to be over ninety!

Terence was born towards the end of the penal times. In the five years from his birth in 1778 there were five Relief Acts restoring human rights to Catholics. These are of interest in that they show what Catholics had endured under the penal laws. The Acts restored in turn, the right of lease and inheritance, the right to own land in certain areas, the right to education, the right to practice law and the right to vote. All remaining restrictions were removed by the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, of which the most important effect was the removal of the ban on Catholics standing for parliament. Terence lived under three English sovereigns from George III to Queen Victoria and twenty-two Prime ministers from Pitt the elder to Gladstone. The United Irishmen was the revolutionary movement in the Ireland of his time. He would have heard of Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmett and the rebellion of 1798. He would probably also have heard of the sectarian battle of the Diamond in Armagh in 1795 and the foundation of the Orange Order, which followed. But Kinawley remained untouched by these disturbances. The only significant event was the replacement of the thatched chapel by a slated structure in the 1830s. Terence and his neighbours had enough to do keeping their families in food and clothes. How they survived the potato famine of 1846 and subsequent years when the population of Ireland was depleted by half, we do not know. Whilst obviously living in poverty, Terence had status in his community as a farmer and head of a family. If his children went to school it would most likely to have been to the barn school run by Michael Maguire (‘Mickey the Master’) in the next townland of Roscaw. Year in and year out he tilled his fields in hope of better days but resigned to the fact that the only real outlet for his children was emigration. Terence’s life would have been the life of the peasant anywhere in Europe resigned to the arduous round of labour on the land. There was no escape: As Kavanagh said:

But the peasant in his little acres is tied 

To a mother’’s womb by the wind-toughened navel-cord 

Like a goat tethered to the to the stump of a tree —

Life circles around and around wondering why it should be.

No crash,

No drama.

That was how his life happened.


Traditionally, but not necessarily, the brothers and sisters of the parents (uncles and aunts of the baby) were first choice as sponsors at baptism, one from each parent’s family. Sponsors were not normally invited twice except in the event of a baby’’s death, when the same sponsors would be invited to stand for the next baby. (See the sponsors for Anne and John below.) The Killesher baptism records of the sponsors to the children of Philip (The Thumb) should have the names of his brothers or sisters (the children of the first Terence of Graffy) as ‘Leonard’ sponsors. They are noticeably absent. The following were sponsors to Philip’s children in the order of their birth:

Catherine, 1854: sponsors unknown. She was born before Killesher church records began in 1855.

Terence, 1856: Andrew Lynnard (sic) and Sarah Flanagan.

Patrick, 1858: James Lynnard and Mary A McManus.

Philip, 1859: John McManus and Catherine McManus.

Anne, 1861: Phil McAloon and Mary ? (looks like McManus). (Anne apparently died in infancy).

John, 1863: Phil McAloon and Mary McManus.

Hugh, 1866: Bernard McManus and Anne McAloon.


(1) Male sponsors are named first but are not necessarily from the father’s side. See the McAloons for John and Hugh, Phil and Anne in different positions.

(2) Note the absence of Terence, Philip’’s brother, who inherited the Graffy farm. It is probable that he was sponsor to Catherine, the first-born in 1854 before records were kept.

(3) We would expect Hugh who bought the Clonursin farm jointly with Philip to be sponsor for Terence in 1856. The probability is that Hugh was dead and Andrew, his eldest son (baptised in Kinawley in 1838) took his place.

(4) James ‘Lynnard’ who stood for Patrick could have been a brother of Philip. Otherwise one of Philip’s sisters would be expected to appear. On the other hand he may have been a cousin

(5) Among the remaining sponsors there seems to be McManus’ on both sides. The McAloons appear to be ‘Leonard’ sponsors but there is no clue as to their connection with the family. Among the female sponsors, there is no McGovern, Maguire or Reilly, the supposed married names of Philip’s sisters. There may however be a reason for this of which we are not aware.