Tighe family, of Rosanna, Co. Wicklow

William Tighe senr., MP who built the family home had two children by his first wife, Mary Bligh, who were Methodist sympathizers.

(1) William Tighe junr, who became MP for Rosanna, married in 1765 Sarah Fownes of Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny, daughter of Sir William and Lady Fownes. She was widowed in 1782. She had come under Methodist influence in Dublin (at Lady Huntingdon's chapel?) and gave generous support to charitable causes and Methodist evangelistic activities. After her husband's death she lived for a time in Harrow, where John Wesley visited her, advising her on her charitable and educational work at Rosanna. In 1789, on his last visit to Ireland, he also visited her at Rosanna (a scene of a later painting by Maria Spilsbury, now at Wesley's Chapel), and it remained an important staging post for Thomas Coke and other Methodist preachers. Sarah Tighe commissioned John Wesley's portrait by Romney (1789/90) and her daughter Elizabeth, wife of the hymn-writer and Anglican evangelical Thomas Kelly, made one of several known copies.

(2) Theodosia (c.1745-c.1817) married William Blachford, an Irish clergyman and librarian of St. Patrick's Library, Dublin. Following his death in 1773, she and her daughter Mary, wife of Henry Tighe MP, lived for a time in London and were members at Wesley's Chapel. John Wesley called her 'one of our jewels'. She founded the Dublin Female Orphan House in 1790 and a House of Refuge there in 1802. She was influenced by the writings of William Law and corresponded with Henry Moore as her mentor. In 1793 Her daughter Mary Tighe née Blachford (1772-1810) was persuaded by her mother not to marry a nephew of John Fletcher and instead married her cousin Henry Tighe MP (1768-1836). While living in London she gained a literary reputation, notably winning the admiration of Thomas Moore and of the youthful John Keats. Mrs. Felicia Hemans was another acquaintance and admirer. Her major poem Psyche was privately published in 1803 and posthumously reprinted with her other poems in 1811. In her closing years she struggled to retain her piety and suffered bouts of anxiety and guilt. She died at Woodstock, Co. Wicklow, after a protracted battle against consumption, on 24 March 1810.

One of the elder William Tighe's sons by his second marriage (to Margaret Theaker) was Thomas Tighe, born at Rosanna. He became vicar of Drumgooland parish, Co. Down, and was a key figure in the emergence of evangelicalism in the Church of Ireland, though he welcomed Methodist preachers such as Adam Averell to the parish. He is also remembered for his influence on Patrick Brunty (later Brontë). He died at Rathfriland, Co. Down on 25 August 1851.

  • Mrs Richard Smith, The Life of the Rev. Mr. Henry Moore (1844) pp.162-66
  • Richard H. Ludlow, 'Wesley's Friends at Rosanna', in WM Magazine, 1910 pp.527-33
  • Edmund Austen, 'Mrs. Tighe,of Rosanna, County Wicklow', in WHS Proceedings, 19 pp.38-42
  • Dudley Levistone Cooney, 'Once Upon a Time…' in the Journal of the Irish Branch of the Wesley Historical Society, vol. 10 (2014) pp35-43
  • Harriet Kramer Linkin (ed.), The Collected Poems and Journals of Mary Tighe (Lexington KY, 2005)
  • Miranda O'Connell, Mary Tighe (Dromore, 2013)
  • Oxford DNB