Clontarf Lease Dispute
This is a copy, dated
October 1860, of an original document dated 24 June 1800.
The original document sets out the legal position concerning the
proposed extension or renewal of a lease of lands in Clontarf, which is
being sought by Sir William Gleadowe Newcomen from John Vernon.
John Vernon the Elder acquired the Manor,
Castle and Lands of Clontarf in 1750 on a life tenancy, but with the power
to bequeath this life tenancy to his eldest son George Vernon, who in turn
had the power to bequeath his life tenancy to his eldest son and so on
down the generations.
In addition, George Vernon had the power to lease any or all of the
Manor, Castle and Lands of Clontarf for a term of 71 years or three lives.
It was customary during the 18th century for three persons to
be named in a lease and for the lease to last until all three had died.
Very often, the persons were well-known – for example the Prince
of Wales was often one of the names – so that it would be generally
known when they had died.
26 October 1778, George Vernon issued a lease of part of those lands,
including a Dwelling House, to William Gleadowe Newcomen (who later became
The lease was to last for 71 years from 29 September 1778, or for a
term of three lives.
It was also agreed that George Vernon would renew the lease to Sir
William on two conditions:
the time the original document was written on 24 June 1800, George Vernon
had died and his estate – including the Manor, Castle and Lands of
Clontarf – had come into the possession of his elder son John Vernon,
who had married Elizabeth Fletcher in 1780.
Sir William had enclosed the premises leased to him with a wall,
thus fulfilling the first condition laid down in his lease.
On 1 May 1794, Sir William had also obtained a new lease from the
Earl of Howth of the Mansion House and lands of Killester, which in his
view fulfilled the second condition, entitling him to a renewal of the
lease of Clontarf which he held from the Vernons.
He therefore applied for a renewal or else a new lease of the lands
of Clontarf for a term of 91 years, backdated to 1 May 1794.
While acknowledging that Sir William had
complied with the terms for extending the lease, John Vernon contested
this application on two grounds:
Firstly, under the terms of his own life tenancy of the Manor,
Castle and Lands of Clontarf John Vernon was not in a position to issue
any lease for longer than a period of 71 years.
He could not therefore issue a lease to Sir William for a period of
John Vernon conceded that he might be bound by the terms of the
lease issued to Sir William by his father George Vernon and should
therefore issue a renewal or extension to Sir William.
But even then, this would amount to an extension of the current
lease for an additional period of twenty years, dating from October 1778,
giving a total of 91 years.
John Vernon was completely opposed to issuing Sir William with a
new lease of 91 years from May 1794, as had been requested.
Vernon therefore sought the opinion of his lawyer William Saurin, whose
views were as follows:
second document was prepared by a firm of solicitors called Franks of
Lower Fitzwilliam Street, and is in part a commentary on the first Vernon
Although the document is undated, on internal evidence it would
appear to date from 1801.
It reveals that Sir William had decided to surrender his original
lease of the lands of Clontarf and that John Vernon had agreed to issue
him with a new lease for a period of 91 years, with the commencement
backdated to 29 September 1778.
This would mean that the lease would expire on 29 September 1869.
only point at issue was the question of whether John Vernon did have the
right to issue a lease for a period of 91 years, given that he was only
entitled to issue leases of the lands of Clontarf for a period of 71
William Saurin’s opinion is cited, stating that in his view the new
lease should be issued for a period of 68 years from 29 September 1800.
This would mean that the lease would expire on 29 September 1868 (one year
earlier than the lease sought by Sir William).
William Saurin’s opinion is being submitted to Franks for their view, and so that they can draft a new lease in such a way that it will be legally binding.
The Original Documents may be inspected at Dublin City Archives,
138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2.