In order to understand the foundation of Blessington as a new town, it is important to study its development in the context of:-
In 1667 Michael Boyle was granted lands at Burgage, which already had a church, a corn-mill, a fishery, a castle and a village.
Boyle arranged for the incorporation of Burgage as a town in 1669 in the reign of King Charles II and re-named it 'Blessington' in the Charter.
A deerpark of 240 acres was also licensed by the Charter of 1669.
St. Mary's parish church was founded in 1682 to replace the old church of Burgage. Boyle presented the new church with communion plate, an organ and a peal of bells, which bear the date 1682. These are now the oldest church bells in Ireland and are still in use.
In addition to being an archbishop, Boyle was Lord Chancellor of Ireland. In this capacity he held his court of chancery in Blessington House and built houses in the village for the six
clerks of the court. He also reorganised the rules and procedures of the Court of Chancery.
In 1669, when Michael Boyle had moved to Armagh as Archbishop, he secured a charter for Blessington from Charles II.
Blessington House was built soon afterwards, then St Mary's Church, as the town began to develop towards its modern form.
Further lands were granted to the Blessington Estate in 1704, all in County Kildare, which had been forfeited after the war for the throne between James and William/Mary. So in 1704 the Blessington estate reached its maximum extent.
Michael Boyle spent hardly any time in Blessington, and it was in effect the estate of his son Murrough Boyle, for whom he secured the title, Earl of Blessington. Murrough died in 1718 and his son, Charles, was more interested in the gay scene in Paris and spent most of his life there.
Charles Boyle died childless in 1732 and the Blessington estate went to William Stewart until 1769 and then to Charles Dunbar until 1778, who left it in his will in 1785 to the nearest living relative of Michael Boyle, his great-grandson, Wills Hill, of Hillsborough, who obtained the Downshire title.
Michael Boyle obtained a charter from Charles II in 1669 by which he obtained forfeited lands and permission to erect into a manor, and a new town to be called the Blessington. it was to be governed by a corporation consisting of a 'Sovereign, Bailiffs, and Burgesses of the Borough and Town of Blessington'.
The corporation consisted of a sovereign, two bailiffs and twelve burgesses, with power to a majority to admit freemen and choose inferior officers, and the archbishop was authorised to appoint a recorder and town-clerk.
borough of Blessington returned two members to the Irish parliament, elected by its corporation, until the Act of Union in 1800.
In 1785 Wills Hill (later Marquis of Downshire) inherited the Blessington Estate. He set about improving the town and the estate:-
Wills Hill also resurrected the town corporation of Blessington and commissioned a ceremonial mace in 1786.
However, all was not well with the Hill family and by this time they were hard up for cash. Early in 1785, Wills sent a request from Dublin to the family accountant in the north asking that 80 guineas be paid into his bank account as a matter of urgency, 'otherwise', he said `I shall not leave Dublin without danger'.
There were elections in Blessington in 1692, 1695, 1703, 1713, 1715, 1727, 1745, 1761, 1768, 1776, 1783, 1790, 1797.
Name of MP (born – died)
1692 - 1693
Sir Richard Levinge (1656-1724)
1692 - 93, 1703 – 11
William Crowe (c.1657-1711). He later sat for Trinity College, Dublin
1695 - 99
Gideon Delaune (ante 1659-1701)
1695 - 99
Denny Muscamp, (1637-1699). Archbishop Boyle’s son-in-law
1711 - 13 - 14, 1715 - 18
Charles Boyle, (post 1673 - 1732). Son of Morough Boyle, 2 Vsct. Blessington
1719 - 27
David Dunbar, (c.1687-1752). Grandson of Morough Boyle, 1st Vsct. Blesssington
1724 - 26
Joseph Slattery (c.1681-1726)
1727 - 44
Patrick French (1681-1744)
1727 - 48
Sir Richard Levinge (1685-1748)
1745 - 60, 1761-68-69
Charles Ussher (1694-1769)
1748 - 49
Joseph Kelly (ante 1719-1749)
1749 - 59
Francis Macartney (post 1715-1759)
1759 - 60, 1761 - 8, June - Nov 1768
George Smyth (1705-1772)
Hon. John Monck, later sat for St Canice's in Kilkenny. (Not in E M Johnston-Liik)
1771 - 6 - 8
Charles Dunbar, (1717-1778) great-grandson of 1st Viscount Blessington
1776 - 83
Sir John Talbot Dillon (1739-1805)
1779 - 83 - 90 - 97 - 1800
John Reilly (1745-1804)
1783 - 90 - 95
Sir Richard Johnston (1743-1795)
1796 - 97
David Ker (1747-1811)
1797 - 1800
Hon. Richard Annesley (1745-1824)
Source - Based on ‘History of the Irish Parliament, 1692-1800’, Johnson-Liik, E. M. (Belfast, 2002), with additions by John Hussey.