Most Dubliners pass the Rates office building on Castle Street without giving it a second glance. Few know the story of scandal, bankruptcy and suicide which still haunts its corridors.
In 1722, a banker by the name of William Gleadowe married into the Newcomen family of Carriglass in Co. Longford and assumed their name. In 1781 he was knighted and elected to the Irish Parliament. Here, he voted in favour of the Act of Union. Sir William Gleadow-Newcomen’s wife was rewarded with a peerage as thanks.
In 1778, he commissioned architect Thomas Ivory to build a new bank at 16 Castle Street next to City Hall which traded as Newcomen & co. Bank. It was completed in 1781.
At time of his death in 1807, he was in £74,000 in debt to his own bank. Hhis son Thomas Viscount Newcomen inherited his mother’s title and the management of the Bank.
Thomas followed his father’s example by borrowing £44,000 from the same source. Additionally, he borrowed elsewhere to the tune of £163,000.
He soon turned into a despondent, isolated, Scrooge like figure.
William John Fitzpatrick in his memoir 1892 memoir Secret Service Under Pitt, described how he:
For years he lived alone in the bank, gloating, it was wildly whispered, over ingots of treasure, with no lamp to guide him but the luminous diamonds which had been left for safe keeping in his hands. Moore would have compared him to ‘the gloomy gnone that dwells in the dark gold mine‘. Wrapped in a sullen misanthropy, he was sometimes seen emerging at twilight from his iron clamped abode.
From 1825, the mismanaged bank suffered a number of failures and eventually had to close.
Newcomen, then forty-eight and still unmarried, could not face the scandal. He returned home to Killester House, went into his office and turned a gun on himself.
After his death the title became extinct.
In 1831, the building was sold to the Hibernian bank and it later became the Rates office.