In the past week of a hurricane, rain, storm and floods in Kerry, I was fascinated to discover not much of a change to what was happening in 1733. It is an account I transcribed from the Ipswich Journal of 31 March 1733.
The background story is that John Fitzmaurice, second son of Thomas 1st Earl of Kerry, Baron Lixnaw, had been appointed High Sheriff of the County. One of his responsibilities was to oversee the visiting Judges who would come to Kerry on circuit for the sitting of the County Assizes. (The County Assizes dealt with the most serious criminal cases). On this occasion John would seem to have decided to impress the judges with both his own importance and that of his family and rain as it often does, ruined his big day and by the sounds of it, also had a dampening effect on the Judges.
We have been informed that the Honourable John Fitzgerald, High Sheriff of the County of Kerry, received the Judges of the Assizes at the Bounds of the County, in a most magnificent and splendid manner. The particulars of which are as follows: Running Footmen led the way, being clothed in white with their black caps dressed with red ribbons and red sashes with deep Fringes. Four Grooms leading four stately horses with embroidered Caparisons, the Mains (sic) and Tails dressed with Roses of red Ribbons. Page in Scarlet, laced with Silver, bearing the Sheriff’s white rod. The High Sheriff in Scarlet, his Sword hanging in a broad Shoulder belt of Crimson Velvet covered with Silver Lace, mounted on a very fine Stone horse, having a Turkish Bridle with reins of Green Silk, intermixed with Gold, the caps and hoosings (sic) of green velvet, that was almost covered with Gold Lace, and bordered with a deep Gold Fringe. Two Trumpets in Green, profusely laced with Silver. Twelve Livery men in the Colours of the Family mounted on black horses from 20 to 40l Price.
The Cavalcade of the Earl’s own Family and all mounted out of his own Stable, to the number of 35, being past, there followed another of the Gentlemen of the County, which was very considerable, there being about 20 led horses with Field Courts (?) attending them.
But the day proved very unfavourable and all this Pomp and Gallantry of Equipage was forced to march under a heavy and continued rain to Listowel, where the High Sheriff had prepared a Splendid Entertainment consisting of 120 Dishes to solace the Judges and Gentlemen after their Fatigues which it seemed they greatly wanted for the roads were so heavy and deep by Reason of the excessive Rain, that the Judges were forced to leave their Coach and betake themselves to their Saddle Horses. But their Repast was short for Tidings being brought that the River Fayl (sic} was swelling apace, they soon remounted, in order to pass over while it was still fordable.
Postcript : John Fitzmaurice did not really need to try so hard to impress. In 1851 he inhertied both the title, the land and estates of the Petty family in Ireland and England. His uncle died without an heir, the inheritance came to him through his mother Anne Petty, daughter of Sir William Petty. John was the father of William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and Prime Minister of Great Britain.