Phineas Coyne resided at Clogher House (now Moylurg House), near Croghan, Boyle, Co. Roscommon after the death of his brother, James Coyne, in 1785. 

Aside from his wonderfully Dickensian name, newspapers of the time widely reported that Phineas Coyne of Clogher, near Boyle, lived until the ripe old age of 105.

He died at Clogher in 1832, signalling the end of the Coyne family’s 80-year occupancy of the house.

Phineas married a “Miss Farrell of Corker”* – a sister of John Farrell of Bloomfield House, Strokestown, in Co. Roscommon. They had a daughter named Winifreda, who was sent away to boarding school at a nunnery in Galway. In 1797, Winifreda married James Hilles, a prominent iron and wholesale merchant of Abbey Street, Dublin, who also had an ironworks and house at Leixlip, County Kildare (Source: Leixlip Deputy Keeper’s 26th Report).

Winifreda Hilles (née Coyne) came to the public’s attention when she was the final, arguably ‘star’, witness in a scandalous court case of the period. It involved the estate of Madame Catherine Lavinia O’Conor Don (née Kelly) – the widow of Dominick O’Conor Don (d. 1798; the couple had no children), formerly of Clonalis House – versus a distant relative, William French Kelly. 

By all accounts, French Kelly was a disreputable Roscommon attorney’s clerk and coroner, who, in 1829, forged documents to illegally procure the elderly lady’s possessions after her sudden death at her lodgings at 40 Mary Street, Dublin (a sports shop currently occupies the site). 

In the words of Skeffington Gibbon, an irreverent 18th century gossip writer (possibly a pseudonym of Augustus O'Kelly):

"Mrs. James Hilles gave the most luminous evidence that ever was given in the Court-House of Roscommon; and the present inheritor, Mr Robert Nolan, late of the 101st regiment, is much indebted to her, or the estate of Lisananean would at this present moment be in the possession of the attorny’s clerk, French Kelly, of the town of Loughrea, or his heirs. Not only what I have described, but other invaluable and legal information respecting the frauds of the French Kellys and Co. was also obtained through Mrs Hilles.”


*This is most likely a daughter of Richard Farrell of Corker, County Roscommon. Two of his other daughters – Rosa and Louisa – married Patrick Nolan of Logboy, County Mayo, and Edmund Taaffe of Woodfield, Mayo. 

Additional Information
Date of Death 1st Jan 1832
Associated Building (s) Moylurg House Croghan  
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Farrell
Names of Children Winifreda

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