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John Carden Tipperary – Stalker Or A Victim Of Love?

Carden’s Wild Domain.

“And the turtle dove sits cooing there, upon the tall oak trees.
The thrush and blackbird warbles loud, their notes come through the breeze.
The cuckoo’s notes are heard to sound along those flowery vales
And echo all the woodland around Carden’s Wild Domain.”

Extract from Lyrics by Rev. Timothy Corcoran (1857-1928)

Very recent public discussions on the “Stalking” of a named RTE1 newsreader; the subsequent arrest of a suspect and the later treatment of the female victim herself by at least one gutter press photographer, leads me to pen this particular article.

John Rutter Carden

John Rutter Carden was born on February 5th 1811 in Oxford, the eldest son of parents John Carden and his wife Ann Rutter. His parents took up residence in Barnane Castle outside Templemore, Co Tipperary in or about the year 1815. In 1822, when John was just 11 years old, his father died.  John’s mother Ann then continued to run the large Estate at Barnane until John himself came of age some ten years later.

The once grand

The once grand Yew Tree Terrace Walk and Barnane Castle, Templemore, Tipperary – Circa 1865.

On inheriting a somewhat run-down Estate, John Rutter Carden set about demanding that tenants on his lands should now pay rent. Under his mother’s management these Irish tenants had paid little or no rent in the past and would now greatly resent being requested to do so under their new landlord, into the future. The inevitable result of this action was that John Carden then began proceedings to evict up to 100 families from their homes on his estate. Because of these evictions Carden’s tenants tried repeatedly to kill him. However all attempts failed, earning him the nickname ‘The Woodcock Carden’ (Scolopax rusticola), because as any lover of gun sports will confirm, Woodcock, when startled, fly with great speed in an erratic and twisting movement, making them difficult to kill while airborne.

Ireland around this period was beginning to be seen as a hostile place (e.g. The Doneraile Conspiracy) in which to live and as a consequence absentee landlords were very common, with some visiting their property only once or twice in a lifetime, and often never at all. These rents acquired in Ireland were then mostly only spent in England, with an estimated £6,000,000 being remitted and spent outside of Ireland in 1842. John, contrary to still locally held beliefs, possibly was not the worst of the Landlord classes then operating in Ireland; he would go on to invest in his locality and even build a local non denominational school for his tenants, offering them free education. He improved the then existing housing stock on his estate and eventually his employee’s and tenants would learn to look on him with a certain respect and admiration, despite he having participated in a couple of them being hanged for an attempt on his life.

Miss Eleanor Louisa Arbuthnot

Miss Eleanor Arbuthnot (1833 – 1894) was the youngest daughter of thirteen children born to George Arbuthnot (1772 – 1843) of Elderslie, Surrey, England and his wife formally Eliza Fraser (1791 – 1834).  Her mother died when she was just one year old and by the age of ten her father was also deceased.  In 1852, Eleanor and her sister Laura (born 1830), latter three years her senior, were residing with their sister Jane, (Born 1816) who had married (1846) the Hon. Viscount George Gough, latter who lived at Rathronan House, two miles from Clonmel, near to Fethard Co.Tipperary.

The case of John Rutter Carden (1811-1866) and Eleanor Louisa Arbuthnot (1833-1894)

The Church and the Rectory at Rathronan were then impropriated in John Bagwell, Esq. of Eastgrove, County Cork and it was through a visit to the latter that Mr John Rutter Carden of Barnane Castle was first introduced to the Arbuthnot sisters, while they were also on a visit to Cork.   John was now aged 41, while Eleanor was just 18, but from that day their names would became forever inextricably linked.

It was no secret that both sisters were independently wealthy, ‘good catches’ one might say, possessing a then reported fortune of some £30,000. John Carden was unmarried and had in the past pursued other attractive and attentive females of his standing in society, but without success. Carden in his own right was a successful Estate landowner, a Magistrate and Deputy-Lieutenant of Co.Tipperary and could therefore, in no respect be classed in society as being a “Gold-Digger” or fortune hunter.

From the very moment Eleanor and John first met in Cork, he was love-struck and so he made the conscious decision to make the acquaintance of Mr George Gough, Miss Eleanor Arbuthnot’s guardian, whom Carden knew only by name and reputation, writing to him at Rathronan. Later he paid two visits to Rathronan and later again he and the Gough party stayed three nights in Ballinacourty Castle, Aherlow, Co Tipperary with Mr George Staunton King Massy Dawson, latter the heir to this same 19,093 acres Tipperary estate.  From there an invitation was extended by Carden to visit Barnane Castle, where for some ten days Eleanor and her party became his guests.

Some six years later in a sworn statement taken before a magistrate in 1858; Miss Arbuthnot referred to this visit;

“That about the month of July, 1852, I first became acquainted with Mr. John Carden, of Barnane, in the County of Tipperary.  I was at the time on a visit with Mr. John Bagwell, at Eastgrove in the County of Cork.  Shortly afterwards I accompanied my brother-in-law, the Honourable George Gough, and his wife, on a visit to Barnane.  On that occasion I found Mr. Carden’s attention to me, without provocation, encouragement, or justification therefore, so marked and annoying, that I left Barnane before the intended period of their visit had expired, and induced my said brother-in-law and sister to accompany me, being actuated solely by my wish to put an end to Mr. Carden’s attention to me.”

Following this visit to Barnane, John continued his infatuation for Miss Eleanor, loosing apparently as lovers can do, all peace of mind and becoming desperate to the point of being illogically dangerous.  Carden next arranged to meet with Mrs Gough, latter who it is understood did not necessarily approve of Mr Carden as a prospective brother-in-law. She assured him of her certain knowledge that he had not a chance of success and begged him to put aside any ideas he held, regarding her younger sister and also confirmed that she did not wish Eleanor to marry for at least a further two years.

In a state of desperation and despair Carden wrote to Miss Eleanor and begged her to elope with him. Miss Eleanor showed the letter to Mrs Gough, and also wrote to her brother-in-law, who was then convalescing from an attack of “Scarlatina” (Now known as  Scarlet Fever and today less regarded as a serious infection, than it used to be in the past) as a guest of Mr Carden at Barnane, to which she refers in her later affidavit;

“Subsequently, my brother-in-law, the said Honourable George Gough, after a severe fit of illness, went down, on Mr. Carden’s invitation, to Barnane, whilst I remained at Rathronan with my sister, Mrs. Gough.
Some time previous to this, as I subsequently learned, the said Mr. John Carden had made overtures to my sister, the said Honourable Mrs. Gough, respecting me, on which occasion the said Mrs. Gough informed him that, from her knowledge of my sentiments with regard to him, it was useless for him to think further on the subject, and declined to advance or favour his suit; and I say that such was a true and fair account of my feelings. Notwithstanding this, the said Mr. Carden addressed a letter to me, at Rathronan, containing a proposal to me to elope with him.

Feeling indignant at such an insulting proposition, for which my conduct towards Mr. Carden had not given the least ground or excuse, I immediately communicated the said letter to my brother-in-law, then at Barnane, as before mentioned, informing him, at the same time, that in the event of his inviting Mr. Carden to visit him at Rathronan, I would leave the house while he was to be there, being determined never to be under the same roof with him.
I know, both from my said brother-in-law and from a letter subsequently written by the said John Carden, which I now produce, that the above determination, and my letter containing it, were fully communicated to Mr. Carden, and I refer to my letter marked P.”

Perhaps some kind of possible reconciliation may have taken place, for according to Mr Carden’s own later account, on 18th May 1853, Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough of Goojerat, (1779-1869), Mr George Gough (1815-1895), and Sir Patrick Grant (1804-1895) latter who had married Viscount Gough’s youngest daughter Frances (1825-1892) in 1844, stayed overnight with Mr Carden at Barnane.

On 1st September Mr Carden dined at Field Marshal Gough’s house, at St Helen’s, in Booterstown, Dublin and met with Eleanor once more. However Miss Eleanor, according to Mr Carden himself “was guarded all the evening,” and he found it impossible to approach her, except for a brief cool handshake with him, before she bade him a casual “good-night.”

Next Carden began his coincidental “Shadowing” of his now adored Miss Eleanor.  Mr Carden just happened to go visiting Lord Hill’s estates in Scotland to find himself on the same ship as Miss Eleanor and her party, latter on their way to attend a Ball in Inverness. The next day he walked some 25 miles to Forres, on Scotland’s Moray coast, to accidentally observe the Gough party drive past on their way to visit one Colonel Grant, where they were to be also accommodated.

It was while visiting Inverness, he began to purchase luxury goods, all conducive to the comfort offered to an expected bride.  Items purchased included clothing, shawls, toilet requisites, boots and shoes; all that he was fully convinced would attract and change his already declining attentions. He returned to Barnane, but his recent Scottish “shadowing” of Miss Eleanor had somewhat alarmed and indeed offended her Guardian Mr Gough.

This action resulted in a stiff hand written letter, dated October 24th, penned by Mr Gough from St Helen’s, Booterstown, Dublin, forbidding, for eternity, John Carden from entering the formers private house.

Nevertheless undaunted by this communication, Mr Carden continued to make expensive purchases on behalf of Miss Eleanor. On proceeding to London he purchased a yacht and had it fitted up with every possible convenience and known luxury, staffing it with servants known to her, to put her at ease. His plan, it later emerged, was to abduct Miss Eleanor from the bosom of her family latter whom he saw as having a controlling and biased influence with regard to their possible future togetherness.  His plan was therefore to abduct her and using a relay of coaches and horses to convey her to his yacht in Galway, before sailing to Skye in Scotland. While on board this vessel she would see at first hand the future that would be made available to her while also demonstrating his undying passion.

Learning from friends that Miss Eleanor and her family were going to enjoy a season in Paris, he followed them by yacht and even went to dine in their hotel, continuously dogged their footsteps.

Later, on his return to Barnane, Carden learned, again from mutual friends, that his Miss Eleanor had been thrown from her horse, injuring her ankle. After suffering a good deal of continuous pain in the following weeks it had been decided by her sister Mrs Gough that Miss Eleanor should go again to Paris to attend a specialist surgeon. The ankle injury however improved but Miss Eleanor and Mrs Gough decided to go to Paris anyway to further convalesce.  Carden on hearing of this proposed visit, again followed her to Paris by yacht, seeing her, but refraining  from calling on her person, for fear of further annoying any of her party in attendance. Using his yacht, he later returned to Barnane, harbouring off the Co Galway coast on the 21st June 1854.

Abduction plans now fully completed, on Sunday July 2nd, Miss Eleanor with her two sisters and a governess / friend Miss Lynden, attended service at Rathronan Church, Clonmel. After the service, they climbed into a closed carriage and drove off in the direction of Rathronan House. Close to the gates of Rathronan House suddenly the carriage stopped, three men, later named as Henry Atkinson, James Atkinson and Patrick Kinnealy, dashed out from nowhere; two of them seized control of the horse’s heads, while a third severed the reins, threatening Mr Dwyer the driver with a clasp knife.  Mr Carden then appeared, dismounted, leaned across Miss Lynden and seized Eleanor by the wrist, in an attempt to drag her out. The governess struck him violently several times bloodying his face. Releasing Eleanor, he then seized Miss Lynden by the wrist and dragged her from the carriage, flinging her to the ground.  Believing this woman was Carden’s intended victim his associates grabbed her and carried her to another light, four wheeled horse-drawn vehicle concealed nearby. As Carden persisted in his abduction attempt, he was then set upon by Miss Eleanor’s sisters, joined by some of Gough’s men who came running from nearby, to assist. Having been struck on the head by one of Mr Gough’s employees using a ‘Skull Cracker’ (Wooden club with large timber knot on one end),  Carden fled to his carriage in a somewhat dizzy state and headed in the immediate direction of Templemore. Police were notified and a chase to capture him was begun, which eventually, due to badly potholed roads and Carden feeling unwell and bleeding, ended up close to Farney Castle.

Carden was arrested by Sub-Inspector Mr George Mc Cullagh on a charge of Abduction and taken to Farney Bridge Barracks to await an escort to Cashel. A bottle of chloroform and a bottle of Goulard’s Mixture (Latter used for bruised and swollen areas mainly on horses), all supplied by one Doctor Forsyth, together with smelling salts, Iodine and two loaded pistols, plus ammunition, were amongst the items later recovered from his carriage.

The court room at Clonmel Assizes was packed to capacity, both inside and out, for his trial on 28th July 1854, before Mr Justice Ball. The Attorney-General, Mr. George Q.C., and Mr. R.Pennefather, appeared for the prosecution; Mr. Martiey Q.C., Mr. Rollestone Q.C., Mr. D. Lynch Q.C., and Mr. Shaw, for the defence. The Grand Jury, which consisted entirely of Mr Carden’s neighbours and friends, found him “Not Guilty” of abduction, but “Guilty” of attempted abduction, since Miss Eleanor had not been actually fully removed from her mode of conveyance. On 31st July, when the charge of felonious assault on one of Mr Gough’s servants was heard, the jury, after a brief retirement, gave a verdict of “Not Guilty.” On the guilty charge however Mr Carden was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labour.

The verdict was received with loud cheers, by the assembled ladies in the gallery, all who waved their handkerchiefs enthusiastically. While the prisoner was being removed, society in Tipperary now became sharply divided regarding the outcome. He was dismissed from the Deputy-Lieutenancy and Magistracy of Tipperary. In spite of what some saw as public disgrace, his friends made every effort to procure his early release. No remission of the two year sentence could be obtained, but after some months a proposal came from the then British Government. Mr Carden would be released if he agreed not to “annoy or molest” Miss Eleanor Arbuthnot “in any manner whatever, by word, deed or gesture.”  When he discovered that the bond was to endure for 10 years and placed upon him the obligation of £20,000, and his own two sureties of £5,000 each, he refused to sign the undertaking and served his time in full.

Following his release from prison in 1856, Mr Carden continuously and systematically followed Eleanor both here in Ireland and abroad, often appearing unexpectedly in neighbourhoods where she was staying. When they last met it was in a hotel abroad, she instantly rose and asked him to leave the room, stating that if he did not do so, she herself would retire and leave the building.

John Rutter Carden died in 1866 unmarried following a brief illness and was succeeded by his brother, Andrew Carden (1815-1876). Eleanor never married either, but Cardenite society had by now labelled her as haughty, arrogant and heartless and were known to have even hissed at her on certain public outings. Later, mainly due to these public annoyances she moved from Ireland to reside in Edinburgh, devoting herself to caring for the sons of her sister Laura (Lady Lenox-Conyngham). She died at Lough Cutra Castle, Edinburgh in 1894, reportedly after a year suffering from a rather painful illness.

Perhaps John Carden’s passion for Miss Arbuthnot are best summed up in more modern lyrics, penned by songwriter Trevor Peacock in his hit song from the 70’s, entitled;

“That’s What Love Will Do”
“But when I lost you it could never be put right again.
What can I do? My memory won’t let go of you.
I can’t forget you and that’s what love will do.
That’s what love will do.”

If you really love your history, with a bit of romance thrown in, Tipperary is certainly the place to visit.


7 comments to John Carden Tipperary – Stalker Or A Victim Of Love?

  • John Fogarty

    I enjoyed that, very well written.

  • Matt Doyle

    Great detail. Being a descendant of the Cardens, that was a very interesting. John Fogarty are you the famous singer?
    I believe the picture is actually two pictures joined together?

  • John Fogarty

    Hi Matt , alas no , not a note in my head !


  • Jennifer

    Hi Mr. Doyle, I am researching the Irish Draught Horse & my information so far has lead me to John Carden who is believed to have what was known then as the ”Hobbie Horse”, which may be what is today known as the Irish Draught Horse. I was wondering if you might know about this or could point me in a direction that mey give me more accurate information please. Thank you

  • Matt Doyle

    Hello Jennifer, If you research the Cardens you will find Arthur Cardens name, he has done extensive research on them all, he might have information to help you. I don’t recall anything about the horses.

  • Betty Gough

    I thought I knew the story, but hadn’t realized he pursued and pestered her for most of her adult life.
    He obviously suffered a great deal. Prison was not exactly the answer to his compulsive obsession.
    Elizabeth Gough.

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