The history we have relating to this house dates back to 18th July 1856 when Mr Ambrose Cox, D.L.J.P, purchased number 41 Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2.
His country seat was Clara House, Kings County (today, Co. Offaly) and typical of the time, this house would have been the Cox Family town residence, which fitted their position as Landlords.
Mr & Mrs Cox and family would have stayed in Dublin when entertaining friends and family, attending social functions and for business purposes.
Their main house and Estate was Clara House in Clara, Co. Offaly.
The houses were built as elegant family residences. The ground floor was for family living.
The second floor rooms were the family sleeping quarters, while the first floor, with its two grand rooms and large windows, was reserved for entertaining.
Children and nannies occupied the top floor and servants lived and worked in the basement with its large kitchen.
The use of the returns is not totally clear, but it is thought that they were used as sewing rooms or the maids’ room.
A Brief History of Fitzwilliam Street & The Fitzwilliam Town House in Georgian Dublin Hotel
Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square and Baggot Street were built on Baggotrath on lands owned by Vicount Fitzwilliam and through which the ancient routes leading south of the city passed.
The 6th Vicount Fitzwilliam of Merrion began development of Merrion Square on the great fields of this estate in the 1750’s and Fitzwilliam Square was subsequently laid out in the late 18th century Fitzwilliam Street forms the eastern side of both Merrion Square and the later Fitzwilliam Square and is a long expanse of Georgian architecture terminated by Holles Street Maternity Hospital. Holles Street was designed to run off the square from the corner but was dislocated to allow for the building of Antrim House, now the site of the Hospital.
Both squares and the surrounding neighbourhood instantly acquired a reputation as the prestigious place to live and work in Dublin. The prestige of the location has pertained through the centuries and 50 years ago the majority of these magnificent buildings were used as private residences. Many of the houses have plaques with historical information on former notable residents. Ambrose Cox JP bought 41 Upper Fitzwilliam Street (now Fitzwilliam Townhouse) on 18th July 1856.
Clara House in Clara Co. Offaly was the seat of Ambrose Cox who in 1857 purchased No. 41 Fitzwilliam Street. Clara House was built in the mid 18th Century.
On 4th March 1857 the Kings County Chronicle speaks of Ambrose Cox the then Landlord as follows “"came into possession of that estate which was for the last century and upwards inherited by his respected ancestors." The letter goes on to say that when Mr. Cox came into possession of this estate the greater portion of his tenantry were sunk in abject poverty; they were literally penniless but as a result of his reducing of rents and assisting tenants, the tenantry and the Clara estate became independent and those farmers who only a few years since were the inhabitants of miserable huts and squatted hovels had the happiness to behold them transformed into comfortable dwellings. It also goes on to say that when famine appeared amongst us all kinds of diseases there were little or no poverty and sickness on the Cox.”
Bankruptcy of Colonel Cox, eldest son of Ambrose Cox
A further account of the Cox family appears in the Midland Tribune on the 19th April 1888- but only to report the bankruptcy of Colonel Cox-presumably the eldest son Ambrose Cox. Apparently a receiving order was made in a creditors petition in December of 1887. At the time Colonel Cox held the command of the third Leinster Regiment ( the Old King’s County Militia ) his only pay from this regiment was £35 a year. It is stated that Colonel Cox had no business but occasionally received commissions of business introduced to solicitors etc. The statement of affairs show that he had a life interest in the Clara House estates King’s County which he had mortgaged for £6,000 in 1866 and in 1870 the estate, then borrowing further sum upon it. The estate yielded £1,500 a year but practically there had been no profit rental from it between 1877 and 1882.
He had charged the estate with a pre-marriage settlement in favour of his wife for a sum of £300 per year and the remainder of his son. He was married in 1870 when the settlement was made. His wife had property of her own producing about £900 a year.
In return of the Landowners of Ireland in 1874 Colonel Cox (or he then was Captain Ambrose Clement Wolseley Cox) was a Captain in the King’s County rifles a Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff in Offaly in 1873. He was a late lieutenant of the twelfth Lancers; A.D.C. to Lord Strathcairn Commander of the forces in Ireland. His Irish residence was Clara House and his clubs were navy and military and Kildare Street.
Ambrose Cox owned 41 Fitzwilliam Street between 1857 and The family seat was in Clara, Co. Offaly. The Cox family purchased the Estate in 1802 for £20,200.
Ambrose Cox Senior, by his will on 25th August 1815, bequeathed his Estate to Edward Cox. Edward died without children and the Estate passed to his brother Ambrose. Ambrose died on 27 April 1863.
“This Ambrose Cox by his last will dated the 25th of August 1815 bequeathed his lands to his son Edward Cox by way of life interest with remainders to the first and other sons of Edward Cox and so forth. Ambrose Cox died in October 1823 without altering his will. On his death Edward Cox went into possession of the ands and continued so until his death. He is the Edward Cox who occupied the property at the time of the publication of Lewis Topographical Dictionary and this Edward Cox died without issue in April 1843. As he died without issue the property went to his brother Ambrose Cox, the second who continued in possession of the property until his death on the 27th April 1863. It is this Ambrose Cox the second who is the subject of the congratulatory letter in the King’s County Chronicle of 1857.
On the death of Ambrose Cox the second the property was inherited by his eldest son Lieutenant Colonel A.C.W. Cox as a tenant-in-trail. He attained the age of 21 years on the 14th of August 1866
41 Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2.
On 18th July 1856, Ambrose Cox, D.L.J.P, purchased Number 41. His country seat was Clara House, Kings County (today, Co. Offaly). Typical of the time, this house would have been the Cox’s town residence, which fitted their position as Landlords. Their main house and Estate was Clara House in Clara, Co. Offaly. Mr. Cox paid £200 for the house, including the furniture.
“CLARA, a market and post-town, and ecclesiastical district in the barony of KILCOURSEY, KING's county, and province of LEINSTER, 6 miles (N.N.W.) from Tullamore, and 48½ miles (W. by S.) from Dublin; containing 7743 inhabitants, of which number, 1149 are in the town.
This place is situated on the river Brosna, near the Grand Canal, and on the road from Tullamore to Athlone. The town contains 228 houses, most of which are neatly built, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with timber, fuel, and water. It had formerly a considerable trade, and an extensive market for grain; not less than eleven distilleries were conducted with success; but since the completion of the canal it has been deprived of most of its trade. The weaving of cotton and linen employees about 260 persons; the manufacture of tobacco, soap, and candles, is carried on; there are a brewery, a tanyard, and four corn and flour-mills, the produce of two being exclusively for the English market; also an extensive bleach-green. The market is on Wednesday, and is amply supplied with grain; and fairs are held on Jan 6th, Feb 1st, March 25th, May 12th, June 29th, July 25th, Sept 26th and 27th, and Nov. 1st, for cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs. It is a constabulary police station; and petty sessions are held every Wednesday. The gentlemen's seats are Clara House, the residence of Edw. Cox, Esq., proprietor of the town; Woodfield, of A. Fuller, Esq.; and Kilclare, of John Armstrong, Esq.
The district, which forms part of the union of Ardnorcher, comprises the parishes of Kilmanaghan and Kilbride-Langan, forming the perpetual curacy of Clara, in the diocese of Meath, and in the patronage of the Incumbent of Ardnorcher. The church, a handsome edifice, was built about 60 years since; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners lately granted £212 for its repair. The glebe-house was built in 1812, by aid of a gift of $450 and a loan of £50 from the late Board of First Fruits. The income of the perpetual curate is £92.6.11. per annum, arising from 10 acres of glebe, a stipend of £55.7.8½. per annum paid by the incumbent of Ardnorcher, and £18 per annum from Primate Boulter's augmentation fund. In the R.C. divisions the district forms part of the unions of Kilmanaghan and Clara; the latter also comprising the parishes of Ardnorcher and Kilbride-Langan, and containing two chapels, one at Horseleap, and the other at Clara, where preparations are in progress for erecting, in a handsome style, St. Bridget's Abbey, as a new R.C. church, on an eminence overhanging the town. There are places of worship for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and one for Baptists; also a dispensary. About two miles north from Clara is the extensive bog of Kilmaleady, which in 1821 burst its bounds and flowed for nearly a mile and a half down an adjoining valley. Its further progress was arrested by judicious measures, but not till after it had covered about 150 acres, of which 60 to 80 were buried under a superincumbent stratum of bog from six to ten feet in depth.”