St Werburgh’s Church, Dublin and Hoey’s Court

This entry was posted by on Tuesday, 4 May, 2010 at

Some background on the location of the Stanleys’ Dublin home and parish church:

St Werburgh’s was a church of Norman foundation, and in the seventeenth century it had been the burial place of many important Anglo-Irish families. There was a churchyard next to the church used for hundreds of years and beneath the church are twenty-seven vaults. Before the Castle Chapel was rebuilt it was “one of the most fashionable [churches] in Dublin; it was regularly attended by the Lord Lieutenant and his suite, and was always densely thronged”. (J. T. Gilbert. History of Dublin. 1854). A son of the Viceroy, Viscount Townsend, born at nearby Dublin Castle, was baptised in the church in December 1768 and the Latouche family, owners of Dublin’s greatest (Huguenot) bank, lived in the parish, in Castle Street. John Field, composer and pianist was also baptised in the church in 1782 and Handel played there. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, commander-in-chief of the United Irishman who died in the 1798 Rising was buried in the vaults of the church in June 1798.

It was (re)built in its present form following a devastating fire in 1754 and reopened in 1759. Sir Philip Hoby, Bart, Rector between 1748 and 1766 who baptised the children of James and Jane Stanley bequeathed funds to erect a steeple. This was 160 feet in height, terminating with gilt ball and weather vane, which formed one of the chief ornaments of Dublin, until allegedly found to be in a dangerous condition and removed in 1810. The church tower was likewise taken down in 1836, so what remains of the church today is sadly reduced from its days of glory.  See St Werburgh’s Church, 2010, exterior .

Like the most ancient streets of the majority of Irish cities, Werburgh Street, and the adjoining Hoey’s Court were found within the immediate vicinity of the castle. “The buildings forming “Hoey’s-court” were erected in the 17th century, apparently by Sir John Hoey, founder of the family of Hoey of Dunganstown, county of Wicklow… Jonathan Swift was born, on the 30th of November, 1667, at the house of his uncle, Counsellor Godwin Swift, No. 9 in this court, which at that period was inhabited by some of the chief lawyers of Dublin. Robert Marshall, third Sergeant of the Exchequer, who resided here from 1738 to 1741, was the friend of Swift’s “Vanessa”. … The Guild of Glovers and the Corporation of Brewers had their public halls till late in the last century in Hoey’s-court, where William Ruxton, Surgeon-General, resided till his death in 1783, and on the north side of which stood Eade’s tavern, closed about 1813.” (Gilbert).

The ‘Goldsmiths Hall’ and office of the Dublin Assay Master was held until the late eighteenth century in the house nearly opposite Hoey’s Court. Round the corner, in a lane just off Werburgh’s Street, the Phoenix tavern, was “one of the most fashionable and most frequented houses of its time in Dublin” in the mid eighteenth century…. In ‘Cole’s-alley’ the passage from Hoey’s-court to Castle-street, was the Royal Chop-House,” a tavern much frequented for billiards about 1768.” (Gilbert)

On the western side of the street stood Darby Square, a small court almost opposite from the entrance to Hoey’s Court where, during the early part of the eighteenth century, many eminent lawyers resided, and in which were situated the Examiner’s Court of Chancery, and the office of the Masters in Chancery. The Solicitor-General, John Bowes, lived in Werburgh Street from 1730 to 1772.  James Stanley, of course, was an ‘attorney’, the term used for lawyers who practised in the common law courts, rather than appearing as advocates in the higher courts, a role reserved (as it still generally is) for barristers. (A century later, attorneys were redesignated as solicitors).

See Central Dublin, mid C18th.  Hoey’s Court is in the bottom left hand corner, immediately to the west of Dublin Castle.  The building immediately to its north is St Werburg’s Church.

Apologies if all a bit surplus to requirements.


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