Herbert Webb Gillman (1832-1898)

Herbert Webb Gillman was born on 18 May 1832. Having a number of sisters, he was the only son of Herbert & Esther Gillman, and a grandson of Webb & Catherine Gillman of Lakefield, Nadrid, Coachford in County Cork. His father Herbert Gillman had married his mother Esther Bennett (daughter of John Barter Bennett of Haremount) around 1830. This marriage was short-lived, as Esther died some twelve years later, around 1842.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, the family home was built c. 1840. Today it is known as Clontead More House, after the townland in which it is situate, and is located 2.3km/1.4mls north-east of Coachford. This three-bay, two-storey country house is not depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, which was surveyed in 1842. It is mentioned in the Primary Valuation (Griffith’s Valuation) which was completed for county Cork by 1853, so the house was likely built or completed between these dates. The 1840s heralded dramatic changes for the Gillman family, not least when Herbert Gillman decided to remarry around 1847. The children gained a stepmother impressively named Sarah Honeywood Pollock Skottowe Parker (daughter of Richard Neville Parker of Waterview). Another not inconsequential change was the Great Famine, with the townland of Clontead More experiencing one of the largest population decreases (64.1%) in Magourney Civil Parish, as between 1841 and 1851, according to census records.

Clontead More house today

Academically, Herbert Webb Gillman excelled, graduating with a Batchelor of Arts from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 1853, and was a mathematics gold medallist. He was also admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, as a barrister-at-law. While reading for a fellowship at TCD, he was offered and accepted a post in the Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) Civil Service, where he remained for some twenty years. He retired for health reasons in 1875, and ultimately returned to Clontead More, to reside there with his family.

While in Ceylon, Gillman put his legal knowledge to good use, serving as a judge in the district courts of Kandy and Galle. He was also appointed Treasurer of the Colony of Ceylon, and held positions on both the Legislative and Executive Councils. He also found time to investigate and become something of an authority on Ceylon burial customs and disputes between different faiths, to include Buddhism and Hinduism. It was in 1866 that he married Annie Mackwood, who came from a family of Ceylon tea planters, she being a daughter of Francis Mackwood of Scarborough.

On 2 December 1877, his father Herbert Gillman died and was interred in the chancel of old Magourney Church in Coachford. Four months later and to the day, Herbert Webb’s stepmother Sarah died. She is conveniently remembered on the wall tablet in Magourney church (perhaps as much for space-saving purposes as anything else) by the shortened title of ‘Sarah H. P. S.’

The family home at Clontead More now came under the control of Herbert Webb & Annie Gillman. Here, their two sons Herbert Francis Webb & Webb, along with daughter Frances Hetty Webb spent their formative years. Herbert Francis Webb went on to join the Indian Civil Service, and became a member of the Madras Council. Frances Hetty Webb went on to marry Eyre Herbert Ievers. Sir Webb Gillman KCB, KCMG, DSO was probably the most famous of the three siblings. Attaining the rank of general in the British Army, he served in campaigns including the Second Boer War; Aro-Anglo War and World War 1.

Herbert Webb Gillman
© Cork Historical and Archaeological Society

After returning to Coachford, Herbert Webb Gillman pursued his antiquarian and historical interests with a passion. He was also appointed, much against his will, as chairman of the inquest jury for the criminal case against local resident Dr Philip Cross of Shandy Hall (who was ultimately found guilty and executed in 1888 for the murder of his wife Mary Laura Cross). Gillman in his time was a fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries; a fellow of the Bibliographic Society of London; in 1892 he was one of the founding members of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (CHAS), and he subsequently became its Vice-President, succeeding Denny Lane. In a few short years, Gillman managed to write or co-author numerous articles for the CHAS, and became a leading authority on castles and tower houses in county Cork. A list of his articles as published in the Journal of the CHAS is contained below.

Gillman is possibly best known as the author of Index to the Marriage Licence Bonds of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, for the years 1623 to 1750. Published by Guy & Company, Cork in 1896-7, this genealogical resource is used by experts and family tree researchers to this day. Gillman transcribed details from the indexes of diocesan marriage licence bonds, kept at the Public Records Office in Dublin. This publication is a treasure trove of names and dates dating to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, now made all the more important due to the subsequent destruction of original Public Records Office documentation in 1922, during the Irish Civil War. Licence bonds had to be entered into before a bishop would grant a licence for marriage, and the entrants were two solvent persons, with one generally being the bridegroom. These marriages usually involved Protestants, but not always, as some Catholics also entered into marriage licence bonds. Gillman intended to continue this work with another index on the marriage licence bonds of his native Diocese of Cloyne, but unfortunately death took its toll. The Cloyne index was posthumously completed a short time later by T. George H. Green, and was published in 1899-1900.

Herbert Webb Gillman died on 23 July 1898, at the age of 66 years. He has pride of place in old Magourney church, Coachford and is buried in the apse under a marble celtic cross bearing the Gillman family crest. His grave location is somewhat ironic, as Gillman would attend service in the neighbouring church and parish of Inniscarra, and considered the service at Coachford too close to that of popery for his liking. His wife Annie does not rest with him, but is interred across the road in Christchurch graveyard. On the morning of 12 February 2014, the celtic cross above Annie’s grave was shattered by a falling tree at the height of Storm Darwin, but has since been expertly restored.

Final resting place of Herbert Webb Gillman © Historic Graves Project

(Articles written by Herbert Webb Gillman (or in conjunction with others where stated) for the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (JCHAS)):

  1. ‘Carrignamuck Castle’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1892).
  2. ‘Carrigamuck Castle (contd.)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1892).
  3. ‘Notes on the siege of Cork in 1690’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 7 (1892).
  4. ‘Sir Cormac McTeige MacCarthy and the Sept Lands of Muskerry, Co. Cork; with a historical pedigree’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 10 (1892).
  5. ‘Historical pedigree, 1380 to 1641 A.D., of MacCarthys, Lord of Muskerry, Co. Cork’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 10 (1892).
  6. ‘Castlemore, and connected castles in Muskerry, Co. Cork; illustrated by W. R. Atkins’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 11 (1892).
  7. ‘Castlemore, and connected castles in Muskerry, Co. Cork; illustrated by W. R. Atkins (contd.)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 1, No. 12 (1892).
  8. ‘Cloghan castle, in Carbery (with map)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 2, No. 21 (1893).
  9. ‘Military operations in Counties Cork and Kerry in 1690 and 1691’ in JCHAS, Ser. 1, Vol. 3, No. 26 (1894).
  10. ‘Siege of Rathbarry Castle, 1642’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1895).
  11. ‘History of a townland in Muskerry, with glimpses of country life’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 1, No. 5 (1895).
  12. ‘Togher Castle and district, Co. Cork’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 1, No. 11 (1895) – in conjunction with Rev. J. Lyons.
  13. ‘The rise and progress in Munster of the Rebellion, 1642’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 1, No. 12 (1895).
  14. ‘The rise and progress in Munster of the rebellion, 1642 (contd)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 13 (1896).
  15. ‘The rise and progress in Munster of the rebellion, 1642 (contd)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 14 (1896).
  16. ‘Souterrain at Deelish, County Cork’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 16 (1896).
  17. ‘Muskerry yeomanry, Co. Cork, and their times’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 17 (1896).
  18. ‘Muskerry yeomanry, Co. Cork, and their times (contd), II’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 18 (1896).
  19. ‘The problem of the souterrains, I. Some in County Cork described’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 2, No. 22 (1896).
  20. ‘The problem of the souterrains’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 25 (1897).
  21. ‘The problem of the souterrains (with plan) (contd)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 28 (1897) – in conjunction with Rev. G. B. Sweetnam.
  22. ‘The chieftains of Pobul-I-Callaghan, Co. Cork (with pedigree)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 30 (1897).
  23. ‘Pedigree of O’Callaghans, chieftains of Pobul-I-Callaghan, County Cork, from Cahir O’Callaghan downwards to 1650’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 30 (1897).
  24. ‘The castle of Dundanier, miscalled Dundaniel, near Innishannon, Co. Cork’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 34-36 (1897).
  25. ‘Notes and queries: Ancient canoe found in County Cork’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 3, No. 34-36 (1897).
  26. ‘Review: “Register of wills and inventories in the diocese of Dublin in the time of Archbishop Tregury, and Walton, 1452-1483, from the original manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Dublin”, by Henry F. Berry (Dublin: University Press, 1898)’ in JCHAS, Ser. 2, Vol. 4, No. 40 (1898) – published posthumously.