Robert Macan (b. 25 October 1774) a banker of Ballinahone House, Armagh and Canal Street, Newry, was the only surviving son of John M’Can, (later Macan), (1729-1801), grandson of Robert McCann (b.circa 1685) of Cloghoge, Co. Armagh. Robert is listed as a freehold landowner in
Robert’s father, John was a tailor of
The Bank of Newry
The Bank of Newry was established on 1 March 1807 for what Canavan (1989) describes as political and economic motives. Sir John Moore, M.P. of Drumbanagher, an opponent to the Act of Union (1800), Robert Macan, and Meredith Foxall of Killevy Lodge opened the Bank of Newry in Canal Street Newry in opposition to one owned by Isaac Corry and John Ogle.
‘Of Corry, we already know; Ogle came from a prosperous commercial
family who first came to prominence in the mid-eighteenth century.
They lived in a mansion in Fathom, on the
Park was for a long time called Ogle’s Glen. Isaac Corry was still much
resented in Newry and it was as much this resentment as commercial
motives that brought the rival bank into existence. Sir John Moore
owned the building in which the bank was set up and also a considerable
estate at Drumbanagher, near Newry. He had been one of Newry’s two
representatives in the Irish parliament and was a committed opponent to
the Act of
partner, Macan, was a merchant of the town but little is known of him.
….The bank flourished during the Napoleonic Wars when the Irish
economy was buoyant. However, the economy was hit by the depression
that followed the end of the war. Despite attempts to save the bank,
it was forced to close in 1816. This was not an uncommon occurrence
Meredith Foxall died in January 1815 bequeathing his interest in the Bank to his father Joseph and brother Thomas Foxall. The bank prospered for a time but then faltered in 1815, an economic slump eventually causing the Bank of Newry to stop payment on 22 March 1816.
Under the Statutes of the period, a Deed of Trust (PRONI T577/31) was made by John Moore, Robert Macan, Joseph and Thomas Foxall on behalf of the Bank’s creditors represented by Trustees George Matthews, Trevor Corry and John Quinn on 21st June 1816. Property, real and personal, in the possession of the partners was agreed to be entrusted for the payment of their debts. Robert Macan had accumulated a significant income generated from the leasing and subleasing of properties in Co. Armagh and Newry. [refer Appendix 1: forfeited properties of Robert Macan]
On 1 November 1816 the children of Robert Macan filed a Bill of Complaint in the High Court of Chancery of Ireland against the Trustees for the Bank of Newry, George Matthews, Trevor Corry and John Quinn, their father Robert and Executors of several family wills, Randall McDonnell, John Irwin, Rev. Daniel Kelly, Arthur Irwin Kelly and Thomas Wilson.
The complainants, John, Anna Maria, Clements, Robert, Charles, Catherine, Thomas Townley, Margaret, Elizabeth and in some clauses James, charged that they were entitled to several lands, tenements, estates and legacies from the wills of their grandfathers John Macan and Clements Gillespie, their grandmothers, Catherine Macan and Anne Gillespie, their aunties Margaret and Mary Ann Macan and Catherine Hall and their mother Margaret Macan. These entitlements were part of, or contributed to, the forfeited properties of Robert Macan vested in the Trustees for the Bank of Newry.
Robert Macan filed his statement to the Bill on 12 February 1817 admitting that he had failed to administer several legacies of the family. In his defence he stated that he had given certain amounts to his sisters and mother from time to time after the death of his father and had not taken advantage of their alleged ignorance of legal and business matters. He also stated that his mother, Catherine had lived with his family until her death in 1814 and that the amendments to her will were not intentionally concealed. Robert added that being under "pressure of urgent necessity" he admitted having used the proceeds of Government debentures bequeathed by his father-in-law Clements Gillespie to his wife Anne, denying that his motives were fraudulent. In addition, Robert admitted that he had not paid Anne Gillespie rental for a building which he used, an amount totalling 1500 pounds. He denied having used rents, profits and monies of his mother Catherine to erect flour mills and other improvements on the lands of Lurgivallen.
The Trustees for the creditors of the Bank of Newry, George Matthews, Trevor Corry and John Quinn filed their joint statement on the 10th July 1817 alleging that Robert Macan had concealed or supressed the ammended will of Catherine Macan until it was proved 25 October 1816. Thus, the contents of the will were not subject to being vested with the Trustees. All forfeited estates, real and personal of the partners were to be declared by 21 June 1816, three months after the Bank of Newry stopped payment. They added that they had obtained many of the leases, papers and documents relating to the lands and premises conveyed in the Trust Deed but despite going through their solicitor, there were some still outstanding. From the verdict of the Court of Assizes at Downpatrick, Co. Down against Robert Macan, a large amount was owing to the Trustees due to the suppression of leases, papers and documents by persons unknown.
In an Indenture dated 25 February 1823, the High Court of Chancery of
As a result of the settlement hearing, the Court ordered that the land and premises in the will of John Macan together with those lands of Drumard O’Kennan, lately in the possession of Robert Macan or under tenants containing 86 acres, 1 rood and 20 perches, also part of Drumadd and Ballinahone otherwise known as Ballinahonemore, lately in the possession of Robert Macan containing 3 acres and 20 perches together with the property mentioned in the Indentures between Robert Macan and Rev. John Robinson (dated 1 June 1803), and John Singleton (dated 16 May 1805), be auctioned.
The lands and premises were auctioned in
Author’s (i.e. John Macan, Australia) comments
I often ponder on the circumstances of my great-great-great grandfather, Robert Macan, the banker.
I know that his grandfather, Robert McCann [b.c. 1685] of Cloghoge, grew up in very difficult times. Robert’s [snr] clan leadership was decimated at the
It seemed that in the 18th Century in
Was Robert Macan the greedy and dishonest merchant as portrayed by the court proceedings against him? Or was Robert the Patsy?
Given the power and influence of pro-Act of Unionists in Newry, and knowing something of Robert’s life, the plight of his ancestry, and what became of his descendants, I am inclined to think there is more to the court case that ensued, to his self imposed exile, and to the unanswered questions regarding his death in Paris in 1820.
It is reasonable for me to consider the fact that Robert, the only native Irishman of the Bank of Newry partners, was ethnically disadvantaged in the legal proceedings associated with the collapse of the Bank of Newry.
"The opinions given by the author in this article do not necessarily represent the opinions of family members or other descendants. I am eternally indebted to the ancestors of my lineage and I do not intend to discredit my forebears in any way. I hold no judgement on those decisions that were made in difficult times, in difficult circumstances, without the benefit of hindsight."
John Macan, September 11, 2005
John Macan, September 11, 2005
Appendix 1: Forfeited properties of Robert Macan
In the Indenture of 21 June 1816, Robert’s forfeited properties were as follows: a plot of ground in Canal Street commonly known as the Garden, bounded on the north by John Lee’s holding, on the east by the street, on the south by William Young’s tenement and on the west by Edward Corry Esq.’s ground commonly called New Garden, being in Lisdrumgullion in the Lordship of Newry and the Co. of Armagh; a tenement on the northside of Corry Place, Newry; a tenement formally in the possession of Clements Gillespie (Robert’s father-in-law), bounded on the east by the Barrack Wall, being in Lisdrumgullion in the Lordship of Newry, Co. of Armagh; tenements, dwelling houses and out offices in Canal Street; tenements, dwelling houses and premises along the street leading to Linen Hall; tenement on the south side of Corry Place; town and lands of Aghanore (Grange Parish) and sections of Drumacanver, Drumgreenagh, Cavangarvan, Tamlaght, Lisglynn, Farnaloy, Maghery Kilcrany situated in the Parish of Derrynoose, Barony of Armagh being 2,706 acres, 2 roods and 6 perches; tenements in part of Drumard O’Keenan being 86 acres, 1 rood and 20 perches in the Co. of Armagh; part of town and lands of Kennedies (otherwise known as Cannadies); part of town and lands of Enagh, Lisbenoe, Magherarville, Killynure, Aghavilly and Listagh in the Parish of Lisnadill, Co. of Armagh being 18 acres and 15 perches; land at Ballinahonemore being 95 acres, 3 roods and 39 perches; townland of Crossmore being 76 acres and 2 roods together with lands, bog and moss of 7 acres, 2 roods and 10 perches; tenement and garden in the town of Keady formally in the possession of David Blakely together with part of the townlands of Crossmore and Dunlarge being of 7 acres, 2 roods and 33 perches; tenement with house and buildings on the east side of English Street, City of Armagh; parcel of land called the Town Parks adjoining the Barracks near the City of Armagh, being 14 acres, 3 roods and 31 perches; part of the townland of Carnbane, 21 acres in the Lordship of Newry; dwelling house, office, tenements and garden in English Street, City of Armagh, together with part of the fields and lands of Mullynure (Grange Parish) being 6 acres; part of the townlands of Drumadd and Ballinahone being 3 acres and 20 perches in the Parish of Armagh; town park known as Clemens Gardens situated on the east side of the Jail of Armagh (2 acres and 34 perches); part of Drumort near the Jail together with houses, gardens and lands in the possession of Robert Jackson, George Mason, Samuel Johnston and Edward Kern and their undertenants being total of 5 acres; that parcel of land called Tullyasanna and part of Tullyasanna adjoining the road to Callan Bridge in the possession of Dr. Edward Atkinson, Nicholas Carlon, James Cummins, Barbara Olpherts and Thomas Quinn together with the parcels of land called Lurgivallen, Tabbermuck, Tarry McGeough being 15 acres; a parcel of land called Carrickaloughran, being 14 acres; portion of lands of Lurgivallen being 1 acre and 18 perches.
Newry Journal comment:
We will soon add our own comment and assessment, especially of the role of the other principals, Moore and Foxall, in the failed Bank of Newry.
We are pleased and honoured to publish the above account of our friend and long-time supporter, John Macan!