James Maurice Wolfe, also known as “The Barrister,” was born in 1732, probably at Templeathea in western County Limerick. He was the son of Maurice James “Old Maurice” Wolfe, a Catholic farmer, and Kathleen Rearden (also Riordan) Wolfe. He had four siblings: Richard Maurice “Short Dick” (b. ca. 1730), Edmond, Patrick “Wiggie,” and Maurice James “Young Maurice.”
Wolfe married Johanna McCoy of Coole, near Athea, County Limerick. The couple had three and possibly four sons: Richard James (b. 1763), James, Maurice James, and Edmund. The last son’s relationship is unconfirmed. James Wolfe died at age twelve.
Virtually nothing is known about the elder James Wolfe. His nickname, “The Barrister,” was passed down through family oral history and suggests a career in the law; however, that cannot be confirmed. In Wolfe’s History of Clinton County (1911), Judge Patrick B. Wolfe noted that “the Wolfe family were also prominent in the church and at the bar,” a reference, perhaps, to his great grandfather, James Wolfe.
Wolfe’s father was a wealthy farmer who, in March 1760, purchased 2,000 acres of land, which constituted the entire townland of Cratloe, in County Clare, about 65 kilometers from Templeathea. Wolfe’s older brother, “Short Dick” Wolfe, inherited that property.
Records indicate that James Wolfe’s eldest son, Richard, was born in Cratloe, suggesting that he followed his family there. At some point he returned to Athea or the surrounding area. Johanna Wolfe died in 1811; James Wolfe died in 1817 at Garryantanvally, a townland near Listowel, County Kerry. They are buried together at Templeathea.
image: woods in Garryantanvally, County Kerry, Ireland, November 2009 (Google Maps Street View)