Power, Richard (DNB00)
|←Power, Marguerite A.||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 46
POWER, RICHARD, first Earl of Tyrone (1630–1690), was the eldest son of John, lord de la Power of Curraghmore, co. Waterford (patent in Lodge), who died in 1661, by his wife Ruth Pyphoe. About the time of his eldest son's birth, John, lord Power, became a lunatic, and this affliction seems to have been the means of preserving the great family estates. Richard's mother died when he was about twelve years old, and his grandmother, Mrs. Pyphoe, obtained protection for her daughter's children on the ground of their father's lunacy, and consequent innocence of the rebellion of 1641. The lords justices and council directed that no one should molest the Curraghmore family, and when Cromwell came to Ireland he issued an order on 20 Sept. 1649 setting forth that Lord Power and his family were ‘taken into his special protection.’ None of the Powers were excepted from pardon in the Cromwellian Act of Settlement, but they were impoverished by the war, and in the spring of 1654 they received a grant of 20s. a week. They were threatened with transplantation to Connaught in that year, but were respited after inquiry; and Colonel Richard Lawrence [q. v.] certified on 15 July that ‘my Lord Power hath been in a distemper, disabling him to act at all, and that his son Mr. Richard Power hath ever demeaned himself inoffensively that ever I heard, having killed tories and expressed much forwardness therein, and never acted anything against the authority that I heard of’ (copy at Gurteen). The family were classed as recusants, but there was no forfeiture. In 1655 Richard's sister Catherine (d. 1660) was appointed his guardian. About three years later she married John Fitzgerald of Dromana, when she and Richard prayed that another guardian might be appointed.
The Restoration brought prosperity to Curraghmore, and Richard was M.P. for co. Waterford in the Irish parliament of 1660. He succeeded to the peerage on the death of his father next year, and his brother-in-law, James, Lord Annesley, was elected to fill his seat in the House of Commons. The new Lord Power was made governor of the county and city of Waterford, and had also a company of foot; but the pay was often in arrear, and tradesmen suffered (Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. App. v. pp. 82, 98). In June 1666 it was falsely reported that Edmund Ludlow was going to attack Limerick at the head of a French army. Ormonde took precautions, and Orrery, as lord president of Munster, ordered Lord Power to have his militia in readiness. In 1669 he had a grant of forfeited lands which belonged to various persons of the name of Power. He purchased other forfeited property at Dungarvan for 500l.
In May 1673 Power made a bold stroke to unite the Curraghmore and Dromana estates by marrying his ward and sister's daughter, Catherine Fitzgerald, to his eldest surviving son John. Catherine was about twelve years old, and her cousin about seven, but Archbishop Sheldon allowed a marriage ceremony to be performed before him in Lambeth Chapel. In October Lord Power was created Earl of Tyrone and Viscount Decies; the last was the title formerly borne by the Fitzgeralds, and was now given by courtesy to the child-bridegroom. In May 1675 Catherine appeared again before Sheldon, and, in the presence of a notary and other witnesses, solemnly repudiated the contract into which she had before been surprised. Doubtless in connection with this business Tyrone now left Ireland suddenly without the lord lieutenant's license, which he was obliged to have as ‘a peer, a privy councillor, governor of the county and city of Waterford, and governor of a foot company.’ Catherine Fitzgerald continued to live for a time under charge of Tyrone's father-in-law, Lord Anglesey, but on Easter eve 1677 she left his house, and was married the same day to Edward Villiers, an officer of the blues, and eldest son of the third Viscount Grandison. Chancery proceedings followed, and Tyrone was forced to give up the title-deeds of the Dromana estate.
In March 1678–9 information was laid before the lord lieutenant and council by an attorney, Herbert Bourke, to the effect that Tyrone was implicated in treasonable practices. Bourke had been on friendly terms with Tyrone, but they had subsequently quarrelled, and Tyrone had sent him to prison for an old assault on a smith. Bourke was acquitted, and declared, with some appearance of probability, that the charge was trumped up to punish him for revealing the earl's treasonable talk. Bourke's charges, after enquiry, were remitted to the king's bench. Tyrone had to find bail, and was excluded from the castle and the council-board until the case could be heard. Tyrone was indicted for a treasonable conspiracy at the Waterford assizes in August 1679, and again in March 1680, John Keating [q. v.] presiding on both occasions. Both grand juries ignored the bills; the whole story was ridiculous, and of any plot there was no real evidence (ib. 11th Rep. App. ii. p. 219).
Tyrone, who had not been discharged from bail, was brought to England before the end of 1680; his impeachment was decided on by the House of Commons, and he was locked up in the gatehouse. Unimportant evidence was given by Thomas Sampson, Tyrone's late steward (ib.) On 3 Jan. 1681 the earl petitioned the House of Lords, setting forth the loyalty of his family for nearly five hundred years, and his adherence to the protestant religion. He asked to have all informations against him brought from Ireland, and to be sent before a grand jury, and to be discharged of all civil actions during his imprisonment. Or he was willing, if allowed, to prosecute the conspirators against his life. Parliament was dissolved a fortnight later; the reaction then began, and ‘the plot’ was blown to the four winds. Three earls and the eldest son of another gave their bail at the beginning of 1684 for Tyrone's appearance at the opening of the next session of parliament, and he was allowed to return to Ireland. He wrote to Dartmouth within a month of Charles II's death to say that he was ready to wait on the new king, although ‘his late prolix sufferings, owing to malicious contrivers against him, disabled him from appearing before his majesty suitable to the character he has the honour to bear’ (ib. App. v.).
Tyrone's protestantism did not survive the accession of James II. He became a colonel of a regiment of foot, was made a privy councillor in May 1686, and in 1687 received a pension of 300l. He was lord lieutenant of the county and city of Waterford. On 12 Sept. 1686 the viceroy Clarendon wrote to Rochester: ‘Lord Tyrone came to me yesterday morning, and has continued with me all the time of my being at Waterford (three days); but not one other of the Roman catholic gentlemen have been with me, nor any of the merchants.’ According to King (xviii. 11), Tyrone reported that Waterford Cathedral was a place of strength, and therefore not fit to be trusted in the hands of protestants. He was one of the twenty-four aldermen elected for the city when James had suppressed the old corporation and granted a new charter. He sat as a peer in the Irish parliament held on 7 May 1689, after the abdication, the chief business being to attaint most of the protestant landowners. Tyrone's regiment was one of seven which formed the garrison of Cork when Marlborough attacked it in September 1690. He and Colonel Rycaut negotiated the capitulation, which averted an assault. The garrison of about four thousand men became prisoners on 28 Sept. Having evidently levied war against William and Mary, he was charged with treason, and lodged in the Tower by order of the privy council dated 9 Oct. There he died on the 14th, and on 3 Nov. he was buried in the ancient parish church of Farnborough, Hampshire, the resting-place of his father-in-law Anglesey. Both vault and register are still to be seen, the words ‘in woollen’ being omitted in the entry of Tyrone's burial. He underwent outlawry in Ireland, but this was reversed in his son's time. There is a picture of a man in armour at Curraghmore which is supposed to be a portrait of this earl.
Tyrone married in 1654 Dorothy Annesley, eldest daughter of Arthur, first earl of Anglesey [q. v.] He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, John, lord Decies, who died a bachelor in 1693 at the age of twenty-eight, after having gone through the form of marriage when he was seven. John is the hero of the Beresford ghost story on which Scott founded his fine ballad of the ‘Eve of St. John’ (Ulster Journal of Archæology, vii. 149). He was succeeded by his brother James, who left one daughter, Lady Catherine. She became the wife of Sir Marcus Beresford, and from this marriage the Marquis of Waterford is descended.[Lodge's Irish Peerage, ed. Archdall; Jacobite Narrative known to Macaulay as Light to the Blind, ed. Gilbert; Carte's Life of Ormonde; Archbishop King's State of the Protestants under James II; Smith's Cork; Arthur Earl of Essex's Letters, 1770; Macaulay's Hist. of England, chap. xvi.; D'Alton's Irish Army List of James II, vol. ii.; Kennett's Hist. of England, vol. iii.; Irish Commons' Journal, 1660; authorities cited in text. See also the article on Archbishop OLIVER PLUNKET. Count De la Poer of Gurteen-le-Poer, co. Waterford, who claims the barony of Le Poer, created in 27 Hen. VIII, has kindly given access to his manuscript collections concerning the Power or De la Poer family.]