The barrister, Joseph Lysaght Pennefather, was one of nine children from a second marriage of Rev. John Pennefather to Elizabeth Percival. He was the half-brother of our 4 x great grandfather, Edward Pennefather, who had been born to the Rev. John Pennefather and his first unknown wife. Edward named a son after Joseph Lysaght Pennefather.
Joseph Lysaght Pennefather was a barrister who opposed his father on the tithe question. Rev. John Pennefather was the rector of Newport Union which generated a healthy income of £1500 per year in tithes.
The trial of Joseph Lysaght Pennefather was heard before Judge Torrens at Clonmel on Monday 29th October 1832. Joseph’s attorney was Richard Lalor Shiels. Joseph was charged with conspiracy to hinder tithe collection and with inciting others to resistance at the Borrisokane tithe sale of 22nd September 1832, where he displayed a placard which read ‘No Tithes and Repeal of the Union’. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying his precence at Borrisokane had been accidental and unpremeditated.
The Rev. Pierse Goold was rector of the Finoe and Cloughbryan Union near Borrisokane, where resistance to the tithes had been virulent. His son, Rev. Richard Goold, acted as his curate and tithe agent, contrary to Anglican Church law. Richard had attempted, with the help of a large body of police, to collect arrears on the 7th or 8th of September. Those in arrears had their cattle seized and put up for auction; when the auctioneer refused to take part in the sale, Rev. Richard Goold stood as auctioneer in his place. Nobody put in a bid and Richard found himself boycotted by the local community.
During the trial of Joseph Lysaght Pennefather, Rev. Goold gave evidence, saying that, during the tithe sale, he’d seen a jaunting car with a large placard driving through the crowd. He’d also heard that a gentleman had addressed the crowd in the yard of Murphy’s Hotel. Constable Robert Young stated that he’d seen Joseph Lysaght Pennefather with the placard and that Joseph had addressed the crowd, saying ‘...any man who bids or takes part in the sale, mark him!...and hold him up as an enemy of the people.’
Joseph Lysaght Pennefather was found guilty. He was given five months in Clonmel Gaol and a fine of £100. The fine was remitted but he later stated that he had no regrets and that the tithe system was most oppressive.
Other men jailed at the Clonmel Tithe Trials were Laffan, Doheny, Bradshaw and Mulcahy.
Joseph continued to oppose the tithe system. In January 1834, a Great Repeal meeting was held at Cashel to demand the abolition of the tithes and a restoration of the National Legislature in Dublin. Both Joseph Lysaght Pennefather and Richard Lalor Shiels spoke at the meeting.
Joseph was involved, along with many O’Connell supporters, in the 1836 Tipperary Society which called for an end to agrarian crime by secret rural societies such as The Whiteboys. The aims of the Society were to prevent faction fighting at fairs, to refuse to employ or associate with people of bad character, and to report to the local magistrate any suspicion of bad character or any facts that might prevent outrages.