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Colonel Magrath

Winsley, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Col. J.R. Magrath

Photograph from the Rev E.E. Dorling’s book Wilts and Dorset at the opening of the twentieth century

John Richard Magrath was born at Bann-aboo, Co. Wexford in Ireland in 1827, the eldest son of John Magrath, who had served in the Bengal Medical Service in India. John Richard also served in India,  joining the Royal Madras Artillery in 1843, becoming Lieutenant in 1849, Captain in 1858 and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1870. During his army career he was appointed assistant to the Director-General of Telegraphs of India and was Commissioner of the hill country on the eastern border of Bengal. Retiring as Colonel on 1st August 1872, he left India and settled in Winsley. In about 1890 he returned to his roots in Co. Wexford, living near his brother-in-law Sir John Doran of Ely House. He died in 1913 where he had been born.

Colonel Magrath

Photographer: Goddard H. Orpen – glass plate negative, 6½ x ins. Monksgrange Archive ref: GOAP 0274

Magrath was a keen motorist and it was claimed that he owned the only car in Ireland; his 3.5hp Benz Dogcart was certainly the first car to be registered in Co. Wexford, with the number plate MI 1. The photograph shows him (wearing the same cap) visiting his old schoolfriend Edward Moore Richards at Monksgrange House in about 1899. Richards is on the steps with his daughter Adela, the wife of the photographer, and her son Eddie; Iris, the daughter of Goddard and Adela Orpen is in the car with Magrath. Goddard Henry Orpen (1852-1932) was a barrister and historian, noted for his four-volume work Ireland under the Normans (1911-1920, reprinted 1968) and his wife Adela Elizabeth (1855-1927) was also a writer.

Incorporates information from Jeremy Hill, archivist of the Monksgrange House Archives, Co. Wexford