The Honest Lawyer



Most of the inhabitants of the town will remember Colonel Daly, a member of the Barnsley Bench of Magistrates, and how very actively he got about with his wooden leg. He was descended from an ancient family, settled at Castle Daly in County Westmeath, Ireland, and entered the Army at an early age. At that period, as we have seen, the military were frequently being called upon to quell the rioting among the weavers at Barnsley. It was probably on one of these visits that he saw and fell in love with Frances, the daughter of Robert Richardson. Mr Richardson built and inhabited that large stone mansion in Church Street nearly opposite St Mary's, and was very wealthy, owning a large amount of property in the centre of the town as well as in other places.

He refused to accept Mr Daly as a son-in-law, consequently about 1822 the young couple ran away to be married. The father was so angry that he threatened to disinherit his daughter. Almost immediately afterwards Lieutenant Daly was ordered to India, and was present at the siege of Bhurtpore. This city, with walls 60 feet in thickness, ha d successfully resisted a British attack in 1805, but when the walls had been battered for a fortnight, on January 18, 1826, it was captured after a severe struggle.

Lieut Daly, of the 14th regiment of Foot, was leader of the forlorn hope, and lost his leg in mounting the breach. Most soldiers, after such a catastrophe, would have terminated their military career. Not so with him, for he afterwards served on the personal staff of Lord Harris and General Buchan. His abilities were such that after becoming Lieutenant-Colonel, he was appointed Governor of the Military College at Sandhurst.


Mrs Daly's father, Robert Richardson, died in 1836, and at his death it was found that he had been as good as his word and disiherited his daughter. His wealth, estimated at 60,000, was left to Mr John Birks, of Hemingfield, a solicitor; Captain John Staniforth Beckett, the founder of the Beckett Hospital; and Dr Richard Crookes. The latter two gentlemen were co-trustees of the will with Mr Birks.

The lawyer, with their consent, renounced his interest in the property and immediately had it conveyed to Mr Richardson's daughter, Mrs Daly. After leaving Sandhurst, Colonel and Mrs Daly came to reside at Monk Bretton. The Colonel qualified as a magistrate August 16th, 1859, and died on 13th November, 1861, aged 59. His wife, Frances Daly, survived him until May 8, 1875.

John Birks, the 'honest' lawyer, for such was his soubriquet in after years, resided at Hemingfield, but had a large clientele in and about Barnsley. He attended the town chiefly on market days, where he had a roomfor consultation at the 'Three Cranes'. He had a long and prosperous career, and died June 1, 1860, aged 88. He was the oldest member of the legal profession in practice in the West Riding.

                                                                                                                                                                    Barnsley Chronicle

BIRKS link

return to main genealogy page


(replace me with neil)