The 3rd Earl Of Roden

The 3rd Earl of Roden

1788 - 1870

Robert Jocelyn, the Third Earl of Roden, was born 28 October 1788 in Dundalk, County Louth.  His father was the second Earl of Roden and his mother was the daughter and heiress of the Earl of Clanbrassil of Tollymore Park, County Down.

The Earl of Roden was the conservative MP for County Louth from 1806 to 1807 and again from 1810 to 1820, when he succeeded his father in the earldom. In March 1812 he became a member of the Privy Council and was appointed Treasurer of the Household. In July 1812 he was made Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, a post he held until the Lord Liverpool administration fell in 1827.  In 1821 he was created Baron Clanbrassil, of Hyde Hall in the County of Hertford and Dundalk in the County of Louth, which entitled him to a seat in the House of Lords.

The Earl of Roden was an Evangelical Protestant, who conducted morning and evening prayer in his private chapel at Tollymore and took Deuteronomy 6.9 literally by having the text ‘Hear O Israel’ etc. written above the doors of his house.  He was an enthusiastic supporter of Sunday schools and in 1822 he became president of the Sunday School Society for Ireland.  He was also involved with the Hibernian Bible Society, the Evangelical Alliance, and the Protestant Orphan Society .  
After attending a meeting of the Protestant Association in Dublin in 1831 he joined the Orange Institution, which he saw as a means to unite Protestants.  In 1832 he was elected County Grand Master of County Louth.  He became Deputy Grand Master and presided at the meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland in 1836 when due to governmental pressure the Grand Lodge was dissolved.  He was made the sole trustee of all books, documents and monies.  He handed all these over in 1846 when the Grand Lodge was reconstituted with the Earl of Enniskillen as Grand Master and the Earl of Roden as deputy.

The Earl of Roden was one of the organisers and speakers at a large demonstration held at Hillsborough on 30 October 1834, where his resolution was seconded by Rev Henry Cooke, the great Presbyterian Minister.

In 1849, three County Down Orange districts decided to walk in procession to Lord Roden’s home in Tollymore Park.  Mourne and Castlewellan were close by but Rathfriland District had further to go and had to cross hostile territory at Dolly’s Brae to reach their destination.  On their way home in the evening they were attacked by Ribbonmen waiting at Magheramayo Hill and several lives were lost.  The hostile Government ordered an inquiry and a commission was set up to examine the event, which criticized Roden for his conduct. As a result of this he was removed from his position as a member of the Commission of the Peace.

He was a strong supporter of the 1859 Revival and wrote of his ‘extreme satisfaction to bear my testimony to the effects which have been produced in my neighbourhood – at Tollymore Park – since God has been pleased to send this wonderful Revival into Ulster ... We ought indeed to be most thankful for having been permitted to witness what we have, and more especially those fruits which have sprung from this Revival, and which have appeared in the moral effect produced upon all who have been brought under its influence’.

On 27 September 1869 George Elliott, the WM of LOL 185 Manchester, wrote from his address at 33 Caroline Street, Hulme , Manchester to the Earl of Roden:

‘The members of 185 Orange Lodge desire me to return your Lordship their sincere thanks for your Lordship’s kind and courteous reply to my communication, and they regret that your Lordship’s health did not permit your answering it in person, as your Lordship’s autograph would have been a priceless treasure to us; but they sincerely hope that your Lordship is quite convalescent ere this.  We have decided to have on one side of our Banner, a painting of our Glorious Deliverer William Prince of Orange crossing the Boyne, and on the other a painting of your Lordship.  I have therefore to request your Lordship to send me your Photograph as we have enquired at all the picture dealers in Manchester and failed to obtain one’.
The following reply was received from the Earl of Roden at Tollymore Park, Castlewellan, County Down: ‘I request you will give my fraternal regards to the Members of Orange Lodge 185 for their very kind communication made to me through you, - it is a subject of great regret to me that I am unable to give my personal attendance and support to the meetings of our brave Orange Brethren, with whom I have been connected for so many years. – I have always considered the Orange Institution as a great blessing to this land, where it is as necessary now as it ever was – It has been the means of preserving civil and religious liberty for our Roman Catholic countrymen as well as for ourselves, and I trust the day will never come when our Orange Society will cease to exist.  It is most gratifying to your Irish Brethren that there is in Manchester so large a branch of our Order to encourage and support those who are in the front of the Contest and are willing to sacrifice their lives in defence of those Protestant principles …’.

He died in Edinburgh on 20 March 1870 and is buried in the family plot at Bryansford Parish Church.  His dying words as recorded by his son were ‘I want to be with my Jesus’.
‘Orangeism in Ireland and throughout the Empire’, the official history of the Orange Institution, recorded that ‘The departure of the Earl of Roden in 1870 was greatly lamented.  Presiding at the meeting of the Grand Lodge in June 1870, the Earl of Enniskillen, Grand Master, referred to the great loss his death meant, not only to Orangeism but also to Protestantism, and a committee was appointed ... to prepare an address of condolence to the Countess of Roden on her sad bereavement. 

The Grand Lodge in this address stated:
‘When we recall his fatherly affability and ever-enduring kindliness to the humblest amongst us, words fail us and hearts are wrung.  Yet, in the midst of all, we are grateful, and thankful to Almighty God for the privilege and blessing of such an example and ornament to our Institution being spared so long amongst us, and we feel that the prestige of his good name, and great example, will still hang around us, and serve as a guide to keep us in the straight road which he loved so well, of consistency and truth’.

The Countess in her reply wrote thus of the Earl:

‘It is no small consolation to me, under the afflictive circumstances of the Divine Providence, to be thus assured his name will ever be enshrined, as it so well deserves, in the memory of loved and loyal sons of our Holy Protestant Faith.  May the blessing of God rest upon the noble and time-honoured Order to whose interests he was so devotedly attached, and grant the constant prayer of his soul that it may ever continue to be a bulwark of our civil and religious liberties, and the rallying point from age to age of those who truly love the Brotherhood, fear God and honour the King’.

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