The wife of a restless refugee revolutionary and the mother of six, Jane Verner Mitchel (Jenny) was born in
She was the daughter of Mary Ward who was herself the daughter of a coachman on the Church Hill estate of the Verners of Loughgall. Indeed one of these Verners was the first Grand Master of the Orange Order in the previous generation.
Jenny grew up in Newry in the home of Captain James Verner, whom she considered to be her father. A long time later – in fact after his death in 1847 – his brother Sir William Verner disclaimed any relationship, saying that Jenny was the bastard daughter of a local schoolmaster in Loughgall.
In any case in Newry Jenny was sent to Miss Bryden’s school for young ladies and it was while returning from school that she met and fell in love with John Mitchel, the son of the local Presbyterian minister. She eloped with him to
Jenny set up the first of many homes in a cottage in Dromalane, near the Mitchel family home there. When her husband practiced as an attorney in Banbridge she made a new home there where she reared her first four children, Johnnie, James, Henrietta and William, and where she regularly entertained her husband’s friends, John Martin, Gavin Duffy and John O’Hagan.
In 1845 her husband moved to Dublin to work on The Nation newspaper and so Jenny and her four children set up home there, first in 1 Upper Leeson Street and later at 8 Ontario Terrace near Charlemont Bridge. In
When informed in 1851 that her husband was a ticket-of-leave man in Van Diemen’s Land (
Jenny and her husband settled at Bothwell in
In 1853 Jenny and her six children, accompanied by her husband, who was disguised as a Jesuit, sailed to
In Brooklyn she kept open house for all the Young Ireland exiles before following her husband to
In 1859 John joined revolutionary friends in
There she was joined by her husband, now stricken with tuberculosis but still enthusiastic for Irish politics. In 1875 he returned to fight an election there. He died soon after in Newry (see John Mitchel entry here).
Jenny never saw his burial place in Newry but his Irish-American friends left her secure financially with a memorial fund of $30000. Jenny lived to see Rixie and her first child die; her son James marry and give her a grandson; and her daughter Minnie give her another grandson. Minnie then left her alcoholic husband and moved back to Jenny’s house in
Jane Verner Mitchel died on the last day of the century and was buried at
… in context ? …