You, Graham R. were named after your great-great-great grandfather Richard P because he seemed to me to be something of a real broth of a bhoy – very left of the extreme right in his excesses. He was of all things, a Loyalist Protestant living in County Wexford during the days of the 1798 Rebellion. A yeoman in Ogle’s Loyal Blues he took his loyalties to his heart without question as this account by his son Nathaniel testifies.
“My father, at this period was a great loyalist – fond of company, and possessing an undaunted mind, was often led astray, and sometimes got into difficulties. In Ireland about this period, no Protestant was safe; Government had issued orders to have the leaders of the rebels seized and executed. Many individuals were sent to New South Wales. One of this class, named McDonald, being in a public house near Ferry Carrig Bridge, my father and uncle Foley, while passing the same (house) at night, on looking in, saw McDonald and determined to make him a prisoner, although surrounded by many of his friends.
My father stepped into the room where he was, drew his sword, ordered him to rise, adding that he was the King’s prisoner.
Some of his companions rose to take his part upon which my father struck the mantel piece with his sword, saying – the first man that moves from his seat, or offers resistance, shall take the consequences. He brought his prisoner out from amongst them, led him along two miles of a lonely road and lodged him in the gaol.
The act of committal being informal, the prisoner was discharged, and my father confined for a period of three months for false imprisonment.
Another instance of his rashness and over-zeal was shown whilst in the yeomanry. There was a corporal in the company to which he belonged of enormous stature and bulk, who on coming into the barrack-room one night, said some insulting words to my father, who immediately challenged him to fight, although not much more than half his size; the corporal struck my father and knocked him into a coal tub, but on recovering himself, and again encountering him, struck him such a blow in the stomach as to render him unable to renew the personal combat. I recollect my mother sending me to the country public-house to bring him home, and having to pass a lonely church-yard it being a late hour at night, he stopped on the road to challenge all the spirits to fight. I was greatly terrified, and ran, as if for my life, leaving my poor father to contend with his ghostly antagonists single-handed.”
Great-great-grandpa Nathaniel also records that his dear old dad and his brother Henry were Church of England and were stationed at Dungannon during the insurrection. Uncle Henry went off to the fight the wars in Europe, and Richard returned to Bellevue to marry Elizabeth Foley of Baladicken.
Sometime after this a relative named Evans, who lived at Newton Barry, sold his property and went to America. He returned, chartered a ship, and offered Richard and his family a free passage to America and a farm in Ohio. “My mother however would not consent” reports Nathaniel. But how do we know other Pidgeons didn’t accept this offer and progenerate Walter Pidgeon the actor? How else should I always be called Walter (after the actor) when I’m really only William?
Strangely enough, after this bit of conservatism on Elizabeth Foley Pidgeon’s part they allowed themselves to converted by an itinerant preacher, Mr Bulger, to the Wesleyan Methodist faith. All this conversion stuck and much later at a revivalist meeting, Nathaniel met and later married Miss Eliza Proud whose old granddaddy had looked after John Wesley during his visit to Ireland.
[W.E. Pidgeon c.1970]
Note: Walter Pidgeon’s family line extends back into Canada in the 1700s. There is no known family connection.