Richard T. Cooke tells the story of Henry Browne Hayes and his audacious attempt to force a young woman to marry him against her wishes…


In the ghostly crypt of Christ Church, Cork, now the home of Triskel Christchurch, lies the Hayes’ family vault in which rest the remains of the notorious Sir Henry Browne Hayes who was born in 1762, the son of Attiwell Hayes, a wealthy Cork merchant who resided in Vernon Mount House, Douglas, Cork.

Boisterous and spirited by nature, Henry was vain and arrogant. Nevertheless, he was highly regarded and remained quite popular among his friends. He entertained extravagantly and generally lived beyond his means.
A Freeman and a City Sheriff, he secured for himself a Knighthood in 1790 when he welcomed the visiting Lord Lieutenant at Mitchelstown, County Cork.

He married Elizabeth Smyth in 1783, however, in 1794, she died leaving him a widower with several children.
His efforts to provide another mother for his children proved to be unsuccessful, for in 1797, we find him paying court to a Miss Mary Pike.

Mary was the only child of Samuel Pike, a wealthy banker. She received the title of heiress when her father died leaving her a fortune of £20,000. Whether it was her demure appearance or her sizable inheritance which interested him, one cannot tell, but what we do know is that Henry devised a clever plan to forcibly kidnap her.

One Sunday early in July, Henry rode from Vernon Mount to Woodhill, Tivoli. This elegant stately residence was the home of Cooper Penrose, a wealthy Quaker merchant. Miss Pike (his ward) was staying there at the time.

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