imageLightDarkIconDark Mary Pike (1776 - 1832)

Sir Henry Browne Hayes'
abduction of Mary Pike

on 22nd July 1797
by Mark McDermott

Sir Henry Browne Hayes 1761 - 1832

Mary Pike 1776 - 1832

Abduction and rescue 22nd July 1797

Sir Henry's trial 1801

Sir Henry's pardon 1812

Mary Pike's death 1832

Sir Henry Browne Hayes

1761 - 1832

Vernon Mount, Cork


Henry Browne Hayes was born in 1761, the eldest son of Attiwell Hayes, a Cork Brewer.

Attiwell Hayes married Mary Catherine Browne at St. Nicholas Church in 1760.

During his career, Henry Hayes won the respect of many, and on the 12th of November 1782, Henry Hayes was admitted a freeman of Cork.

Henry Hayes was an officer in Donerailes regiment of Militia.

In 1783, Henry Hayes married Elizabeth Smyth from Ballinatrea, who was blind in one eye, but had a considerable fortune. Henry Hayes built the house Vernon Mount in 1780, a house with curved walls, that is a short distance from the city.

In 1785, his mother died and in 1794 his own wife died.

Henry Hayes was elected sheriff of Cork in 1790 and on the 8th of October at Mitchelstown, Henry Hayes was knighted.

After Sir Henry's wife died, he had very little money, and decided to court the wealthy miss Mary Pike.

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Mary Pike

1776 - 1832

Miss Mary Pike was born on the 8th of March 1776, the daughter of Samuel Pike and Katherine Hutchinson.

The Pike family was a Quaker family that ran Pikes Bank.

Samuel Pike died in 1796, leaving 20,000 pounds to his only daughter Mary Pike, when she reached the age of twenty one.

The widowed Mrs. Samuel Pike remained in the city under the care of her doctor, Dr. Robert Gibbings.

Sir Henry had heard that Mary had been left money by her father.

Henry visited the domain of Miss Pike, and while looking around the beautiful grounds at the Woodhill estate, met Mr. Cooper Penrose (a brother of her aunt Anne Penrose).

Cooper Penrose invited Sir Henry to dinner, which Miss Mary Pike also attended.

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Abduction and Rescue

22nd July 1797

Mary Pike


After dinner, Sir Henry left Woodhill and decided to abduct Mary Pike.

Henry sent a letter to Dr. Gibbings, so that he could counterfeit the doctors hand writing.

Henry sent a forged letter to Cooper Penrose, stating that Mrs. Pike had been taken sick and that she wanted to see her daughter, before she died.

Cooper Penrose got the servants to fix up the carriage, and Miss Mary Pike and her relative Miss Penrose, set off to visit the sick Mrs. Pike.

When Miss Mary Pike and Miss Penrose left Woodhill, the carriage was stopped by armed men, who asked Mary Pike to identify herself. This she did and she was bundled into another awaiting carriage.

Mary was taken to Vernon Mount and put into a room by herself, and the room locked.

After a while, Sir Henry approached Miss Pike and asked for her hand in marriage. Mary refused, so Sir Henry conducted a false marriage ceremony and put a ring on Mary's finger.

Sir Henry told Mary Pike to write a letter to Cooper Penrose, telling him of her new situation. Mary wrote the letter in the hope of leading her uncle Penrose to her rescue.

At eight o'clock the following morning, Penrose went to Vernon Mount to rescue his niece.

Sir Henry had fled and Penrose took Mary home.

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Sir Henry's Trial


As a result of the abduction, Sir Henry became a wanted man and a reward of 1,000 pounds was offered for his capture by the government. Mary's uncle Richard Pike (Cork banker) also put up a reward of 500 guineas for the capture of Sir Henry and 100 guineas for each of his accomplices.

Mary Pike left Cork to reside in Bath in England.

Sir Henry continued to live in Cork, and for two years somehow managed to evade capture. There are two different accounts as to the eventual arrest of Sir Henry Hayes.

One is that Sir Henry gave himself up, expecting that he would be set free. The other is that Sir Henry got his friend, Mr. Coghlan, to turn him in and collect the reward, again expecting to be set free and then share the reward.

On the 13th of April 1801, Sir Henry's trial began. The judge for the trial was Justice Robert Day, with twelve on the jury.

After the jury heard Justice Robert Day's summing up, they came back with a guilty verdict.

Initially Sir Henry was to be hanged at Gallows Green, Greenmount, but this was commuted to transportation for life to a penal colony.

Sir Henry was despatched to Botany Bay Australia, aboard the convict ship Atlas.

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Sir Henry's Pardon


While in Australia, Sir Henry received a pardon, arranged by his daughter. His daughter had attended a ball in Carlton House, Brighton and spoke to the Prince and obtained a petition to have her father released.

Sir Henry was allowed to leave for home in 1812 and sailed home on the Isabella.

Near Eagle Island Queensland, the ship was wrecked due to the captain being drunk. When the boats were lowered to save the women, Sir Henry and his servant leapt onto a boat and rowed away.

The crew and passengers were saved by an American vessel and taken to Long Island.

Having made it to shore, Sir Henry carried on the journey to Ireland. On arriving in Ireland, Sir Henry lived for a time in Dublin, at number 35 Dawson Street.

During Sir Henry's absence, his son Attiwell had taken a degree at Trinity and in 1801 married the daughter of Alderman John Shaw and decided to live at Vernon Mount, Cork.

Sir Henry joined them and lived there till he died on the 13th of April 1832 (the thirty first anniversary of his trial) and was buried three days later in his father's vault at Christ Church.

Sir Henry's residence Vernon Mount still exists today in Cork, at the south-side of the city, to the south-east of the Bandon Railway Line.

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Mary Pike's death


Mary Pike never married and sadly became deranged.

Her affairs were passed to the care of the courts and Mary Pike died in Cork in 1832.

Her Will dated 21st of October 1797, was proved to be correct in court on the 6th of May 1832, by her cousin Samuel Wily of Shamrock Lodge.

The fortune of 55,000 pounds was bequeathed to various cousins, the Penrose's and her uncle Jonathan Hutchinson (a brother of her mother Katherine Hutchinson).

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