This Day in History December 22
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see also An Oglethorpe Timeline

Happy Birthday 
Jimmy ODecember 22, 1696 Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe, the tenth and last child of Theophilus and Eleanor Oglethorpe, was born in London, England. The Oglethorpe family estate lay in Godalming, located in County of Surrey (some 40 miles SW of London). The Oglethorpefamily lived in a London townhouse during the winter months.

Lady Eleanor Wall Oglethorpe (James' mother) was born in 1661 in Ireland, but at age 17 became a maid to Madam Carwell in the court of Charles II of England. In 1680, Eleanor -- or Ellen, as she was known -- became head laundress to the king. In her new post, she was given lodging at the rear of the palace -- opposite the quarters of a young major in the Dragoons, Theophilus Oglethorpe (Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe ~ Bramham). Before year's end, the two were married. Their union produced a series of ten sons and daughters beginning with Lewis in 1682 and ending with James Edward in 1696. After the death of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Theophilus and Ellen went to France to be with the deposed James II. By 1696, however, they reconciled with England's new monarchs -- William and Mary.

James father, Sir Theophilus, died on April 10, 1702. Ellen was left to raise the seven Oglethorpe children (though some of the daughters continued to live as Jacobites in France. In Ellen's final years, all of her children were dead or in France except for James Edward, who alone was left to care for his mother. Her death on June 19, 1732 allowed him to personally lead the expedition and settlement of Georgia later that year.

Educated at Eton and Corpus Christi College at Oxford, James served as aide to Prince Eugene of Savoy while fighting the Turks, who had invaded Europe. After the truce, Oglethorpe returned to England, where he was elected to the same House of Commons seat that his father and one of his older brothers had held before him.

In Parliament he became known nationally for his efforts on behalf of prison reform. It was here that he and colleague Sir John Percival got the idea of pushing for a new colony in America to which England's worthy poor could be sent on charity. After several years of effort, they finally received a charter for the new colony of Georgia in June 1732. Oglethorpe was named one of twenty-one Trustees of Georgia, and in Nov. 1732 he accompanied the first boatload of colonists (on the Anne) to Georgia. After arriving on Feb. 12, 1733, Oglethorpe obtained permission from Yamacraw chief Tomochichi to build the settlement of Savannah.

On and off, James Oglethorpe was in Georgia from 1733 to 1743. In 1736, he was given the rank of colonel and a British regiment to defend the colony from Spain. Oglethorpe lived the last six years of his stay in Georgia on St. Simons Island, where he built Fort Frederica. Here, in 1742, his forces turned back a Spanish invasion, for which Oglethorpe was promoted to brigadier general in the British Army. Oglethorpe returned to England in 1743, where he became less and less involved in the affairs of Georgia because of his opposition to the trustees abandoning such key cornerstones of the colony as the prohibition on slavery. He married and lived his final four decades divided between London and his wife's inherited estate in Cranham. James Oglethorpe died at age 88 on June 30, 1785. from

What happened on February 25th, a few years later ?

". . . Captain F[raser] told me that at Sinclair, General Oglethorpe, the good and brave English governor of the State of Georgia in its colonial days, had his residence, and that among the magnificent live oaks which surround the site of the former settlement, there was one especially venerable and picturesque, which in his recollection always went by the name of General Oglethorpe's Oak. If you remember the history of the colony under his benevolent rule, you must recollect how absolutely he and his friend and counselor, Wesley, opposed the introduction of slavery in the colony. How wrathfully the old soldier's spirit ought to haunt these cotton fields and rice swamps of his old domain, with their population of wretched slaves! I will ride to Sinclair and see his oak; if I should see him, he cannot have much to say to me on the subject that I should not cry amen to . . . ."


Two of the Georgia Trustees were Thomas and John LaRoche, were they also his kin ? John was clearly French, but what was Thomas' heritage ? Could they be unrelated ? Lady Eleanor Wall's father was Richard WALL of Rathkenny in Tipperary and her mother, Catherine [de la] ROCHE. Catherine's father, in turn, was Lord Roche, but which one and from where. Anyone have any good Leeds ? It is said that she was born in Ireland, so one might think she is from that line, upon which Sir Walter Raleigh and his Elizabethan Queen took revenge. In support is:

Lady Eleanor's father (a Lord Roche) supposedly is mentioned in Ralph Thoresby's History of Leeds -- Ducatus Leodensis (1715); but, the index to the book does not show an entry. In any event the de la Roche family had a 600 year history of serving the English monarchy from Ireland. However, Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have captured one former Lord Roche at his castle in Ireland, in Ireland, who had been pretending to be on the English side, but was really helping the Irish rebels. The true story is less flattering to Sir Walter. The family got on the wrong side of Cromwell in the English Civil War. Their support of the monarchy ended in deaths, exile, poverty and finally obscurity.

In 1295 AD Philip Magnel witnessed Land Grant near Fermoy to Lord Roche (the earliest of that name was David DE LA ROCHE (b 1180AD). Several generations later David ROCHE Viscount Roche Of Fermoy died in 1635 in Castletown Roche, Ireland. During Cromwell's brief dictatorship, the {de la} Roche holdings were confiscated, and even Lady Roche hanged on trumped up charges. It is not clear that Catherine is from this family, which has its original roots in Flemish soil. The source lists Kathleen {could easily be Catherine in England} as the name of one of the daughter's that survived Cromwell's Civil War, her mother hanged, her father exiled; but, there were several more Irish Lord Roche's, during a short span of years when the title was restored, before the title became extinct.

On the English side, Thomas Roche, Lord Roche, was born in Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire, and had a daughter Eleanor about 1386. He is reported to have held several large estates, but died without a son so the title followed his daughter, but no apparently no further in England. Anyone care to share more definite information ?

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