- 1873-1889 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
17 bound volumes
853 digital images
Name of creator
Reginald Digby was the fifth son of Rev Kenelm Henry Digby, rector of Tittleshall in Norfolk, younger brother of Edward, 9th Lord Digby. Reginald was born in 1847 and married Caroline Grace, daughter of Rev Thomas Fremeaux Boddington in 1872. They had three daughters and one son, Lionel Kenelm Digby, rector of Tittleshall, who was killed in action in 1918. He became resident agent on the Geashill Estate in 1871 following the resignation of Thomas Weldon Trench and sole agent in 1872 on the death of William Steuart Trench. He retired in 1923, having served as agent for nearly fifty years, although by this time he had more or less transferred the agency to Lewis Goodbody of A & L Goodbody, solicitors, Tullamore, who continued as agents for the Digby family. Like the previous resident agents before him, he lived at Geashill Castle. In 1922, he needed to go to London for an operation, but was unwilling to leave the house unattended, knowing that an empty house would be a target for burning. Eventually, he could wait no longer, and the house was burned down in his absence. He died in 1927.
Name of creator
Edward St. Vincent Digby, 9th Baron Digby of Geashill was born on 21 June 1809.He was the son of Admiral Sir Henry Digby and Lady Jane Elizabeth Coke. He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the service of the 9th Lancers. When his cousin, Edward, the unmarried 8th Baron and 2nd Earl Digby died, he succeeded to the title of 3rd Baron Digby of Sherborne, Dorset and to the title of 9th Baron Digby of Geashill, King's County on 12 May 1856. It seems his cousin was a very laissez faire landlord. Residing in his splendid residence at Sherbourne. He rarely visited Geashill and granted tenants very long and generous leases. However, because these grants extended beyond his own life-time, he was deemed to have exceeded his legal powers. This would prove to be a problem for his successor. When Edward St Vincent took up his new position he felt that his late ancestor had “no right moral or legal, to lease away his Irish lands for two thirds of their real value”. The new landlord was therefore determined to break the leases, which his predecessor had granted. This was to create much anxiety and upheaval at Geashill where the tenants were faced with loss of tenure, which they previously considered secure. Acting upon his legal rights, the 9th Lord Digby embarked upon breaking these leases, leading the tenants to look for redress and compensation to the executors. It was in the midst of this dispute that William Trench’s services were engaged.
When assessing his time in Geashill, the barony underwent a vast transformation with Lord Digby achieving both national and indeed international recognition for improvements carried out on the estate.The Geashill estate was much improved with bigger and better quality farms, improved cottages, a new school and estate office. It was perhaps no coincidence that the estate underwent a major transformation as Lord Edward Digby was the grandson of Thomas Coke, first earl of Leicester, who was not only a British politician but a noted agricultural reformer. Coke became famous for his advanced methods of animal husbandry used in improving his estate at Holkham in Norfolk. As a result he was seen as one of the instigators of the British Agricultural Revolution.
Edward St. Vincent married Lady Theresa Anna Maria Fox-Strangways, daughter of Henry Stephen Fox-Strangways. He died on 16 October 1889 aged 80.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Annual reports, accounts and rentals relating to the Geashill and Roskeen Estates sent by land agent, Reginald Digby to the 9th Lord Digby.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright of digital images administered by Offaly County Council Heritage Office. No reproduction online, in print or broadcast without express permission of copyright holder. Original volumes in ownership of Henry Noel Kenelm Digby, 13th Baron Digby.