Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Ballyconra House

THE VISCOUNTS MOUNTGARRET WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 14,073 ACRES


This is a branch of the noble house of BUTLER, Earls and Marquesses of Ormonde, springing from

THE HON RICHARD BUTLER (1500-71), second son of Piers, 8th Earl of Ormonde, who was created VISCOUNT MOUNTGARRET, in 1550. 

He married firstly, Eleanor, daughter of Theobald Butler, of Nechum, County Kilkenny, and had one son, Edmund.

He wedded secondly, Catherine, daughter and heir of Peter Barnewall, of Stackallan, County Meath, and had Barnewall, who died unmarried, Pierce, and other issue.

His lordship espoused thirdly, in 1541, Anne, daughter of John, Lord Killeen, from whom he was divorced in the first year of his marriage.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDMUND, 2nd Viscount (c1562-1602), who married Grizzel, daughter of Barnaby, 1st Baron Upper Ossory, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 3rd Viscount (1578-1651), who wedded firstly, Margaret, eldest daughter of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, by whom alone he had issue, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDMUND, 4th Viscount (1595-1679), 

Earls of Kilkenny (1793)



Viscounts Mountgarret (continued)


The current heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, Edmund Henry Richard Butler (b 1962). 
Piers James Richard [Butler], 18th and present Viscount,  is de jure 27th Earl of Ormonde and 21st Earl of Upper Ossory following the death of the 7th Marquess of Ormonde in 1997. 


BALLYCONRA HOUSE is a seven-bay, two-storey over basement house with dormer attic, dated 1724, on an L-shaped plan, possibly originally a mill owner's house with two-bay two-storey side elevations, and single-bay two-storey double-pile return to north-west. Now in use as offices.

This is a well-appointed substantial house representing an important element of the early 18th century architectural heritage of County Kilkenny.

It may originally have had associations with the nearby Ballyconra Mills, though its primary significance was for the connections with the Butler Family, Viscounts Mountgarret, late of Ballyragget Castle (1495) together with the Cahill family.

Ballyconra is located on a slightly elevated site.

This house makes an important impression in a landscape dominated by late 20th-century industrial ranges.  

The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Edmund, 12th Viscount Mountgarret and first and last Earl of Kilkenny, who died in 1846 and was the last Mountgarret to live there. 

Following Lord Kilkenny's death, the house was occupied by Michael Cahill, agent to the 13th Viscount, by whose descendants it was afterwards acquired.

The Mountgarrets' other seat was Nidd Hall, near Ripley, Yorkshire; sold in 1968.

First published in February, 2012.   Mountgarret arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Leslie Hill

THE FAMILY OF LESLIE OWNED 7,428 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM


This family springs from

THE REV PETER LESLIE (1686-1773), born at Westminster, Rector of Ahoghill, County Antrim, who married, in 1718, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY (Rev),1719-1803;
EDMUND, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE VEN EDMUND LESLIE (1735-90), appointed Archdeacon of Down, 1782, and also a prebendary of Connor, wedded firstly, Jane, daughter of John Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had by her,
Peter, died in London;
Bartholomew, died in India;
JAMES, of whom we treat;
Edmund, died in India;
Mary.
Archdeacon Leslie espoused secondly, Eleanor, daughter of George Portis, of London, and had by her,
George;
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of Connor;
Samuel, Rear-Admiral, of Donaghadee;
Ellen.
The Archdeacon's eldest surviving son, 

JAMES LESLIE JP DL (1768-1847), of Leslie House, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1799, succeeded to the estates on the demise of his uncle, James Leslie, in 1796.

He wedded, in 1795, Mary, daughter of Adam Cuppage, of Donaghcloney, County Down, by whom he had issue,
JAMES EDMUND;
Henry, JP, of Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae;
Frances Seymour, of the Home Office;
JOHN CHARLES WILLIAM (Rev);
Bartholdus George Albert (1812-15).
The eldest son,

JAMES EDMUND LESLIE JP DL (1800-81), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1854, wedded, in 1823, Sarah, youngest daughter of the Rt Rev Daniel Sandford DD, Bishop of Edinburgh, and by her had issue,
James Sandford, 1824-29;
Henry Erskine, 1825-29;
EDMUND DOUGLAS, of whom hereafter;
Daniel Sandford, died in infancy;
Seymour Montague, b 1835; father of JAMES GRAHAM;
Francis Macnaghten, b 1837; in the army;
Erskine Douglas, died in infancy;
Frances Mary; Mary Wilhelmina; Sarah Agnes; Jane Elizabeth.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE was granted the honorary rank of Colonel in 1877. 

He was succeeded by his third son,

EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, lieutenant-colonel and honorary colonel, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who died a bachelor in 1904, and was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES GRAHAM LESLIE JP DL (1868-1949), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff, 1907, barrister, some time head of a department in the Office of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, who espoused, in 1901, Grace, only daughter of J Lamont Brodie, of Wimbledon, and had issue,
SEYMOUR ARGENT SANDFORD, b 1902;Grace Margaret Hester, b 1905;Mary Etheldritha (Audrey), b 1908.
*****

THE CREST of this family has traditionally been an angel, though a gryphon is sometimes used by some portions of the family. 

The motto, Grip Fast, has remained unchanged since the time of QUEEN MARGARET of Scotland, by whom it was given to Bartolf (Bartholomew), under the following circumstances:
In crossing a river swollen by floods, the Queen was thrown from her horse, and in danger of being drowned, when the knight, plunging into the stream, seized hold of Her Majesty's girdle; and as he brought her with difficulty towards the bank, she frequently exclaimed grip fast, and afterwards desired that he should retain the words as his motto, in remembrance of the occurrence.
LESLIE HILL, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, was built by James Leslie ca 1750, on the site of an older castle. 

The house originally consisted of a gable-ended main block of three storeys over a high basement, joined to two-storey office wings by single-storey links.

The principal block has a seven-bay front with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; doorway, with two Doric columns and a fanlight under a baseless pediment.


There is a lunette window in the pediment which lights the attic. The former wings were of three bays and the links of two.

There is a flagged hall with screen; principal rooms have modillion cornices and doors with shouldered architraves.


The attic room has a convex-coved ceiling and central roundel containing a portrait which may be of the James Leslie who built the House. 

Alas, the wings and connecting links were demolished in 1955.

The present owner is directly descended from the Rt Rev Henry Leslie (chaplain to CHARLES I, Bishop of Down & Connor, 1635) and the 4th Earl of Rothes, by his marriage to Agnes Somerville. 

Leslie Hill has been occupied continuously by the Leslie family for more than 350 years.

In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger", under John Paul Jones, opened fire on Carrickfergus Castle and attacked HMS Drake, putting it out of action.

This attack, and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which, at that time, was practically bereft of Crown forces.

This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the nobility, at their own expense, to defend the Irish coast and guard life and property.

Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes.

The estate was of considerable acreage, comprising 7,428 acres, with a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903.

Not all the Leslies in Ulster remained there: in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England, USA, to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. 

There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.

It is of significance that another James Leslie and his family left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America.

They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.

James Seymour Leslie (1958-2009) was a NI politician, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His father owns Leslie Hill estate at Ballymoney. He was married with a daughter.

The Castle Leslie demesne, adjacent to Ballymoney, lies in a ridge above the Bann Valley. Continuous ownership of the Leslie family adds interest in the property.

The house of ca 1760 – now minus two wings – has landscaped parkland to the north, with fine trees and a small, artificial, late 19th century lake complete with island and boat-house.

A ha-ha separates the south front lawns from parkland and exposes the fine distant views.

There are stands of mature trees and mixed woodland. A late 19th century, ‘Robinsonian’ garden is no longer distinguishable.

A small enclosed garden to the east of the house has two lily ponds constructed ca 1891 of unusual shape.

These are listed, together with the enclosing walls and a nearby ice house.

Ornamental shrubs and trees, with under-planting of wild flowers, decorate the access route to the walled gardens.

The walled garden has a rectangular western part, which is partially cultivated and under restoration to be attractive and productive for modern usage.

The Melon House has been restored. Remnants of other glasshouses are exposed.

The garden is divided into two by a brick wall and the smaller eastern part is uncultivated.

The outbuildings are notable, fully restored and open to view.

A disused gate lodge at the main entrance is of ca 1911 and replaced a pair removed when the road was realigned in the 1850s.

The house is private and grounds are private.

The family formerly had a marine residence, Seaport Lodge, at Portballintrae.

First published in November, 2010.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Favour Royal

THE FAMILY OF MOUTRAY OWNED 6,545 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY TYRONE 


ROBERT MOUTRAY, of Roscobie, Fife, 9th Laird of Seafield, descended from Robert Multrare who had a Royal Charter, 1443, confirming to him the lands of Seafield and Markinch.

This Robert married Anne, only daughter of Sir James Erskine, of Favour Royal, County Tyrone, to whom that estate was granted by JAMES I, grandson of John Erskine, Earl of Mar, and had a son,

JOHN MOUTRAY, of Aghamoyle, alias Favour Royal, County Tyrone, who wedded his cousin Anne, daughter of the Rev Archibald Erskine (son of Sir James Erskine), through whom the Moutray family acquired Favour Royal, and had a son,

JAMES MOUTRAY, of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1682, and MP for Augher, 1692-1703, who espoused Deborah, daughter of Henry Mervyn MP, of Trillick, son of Sir Audley Mervyn MP, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Anketell;
Anne, m George Gledstanes, of Daisy Hill;
Sarah, m Charles Stewart, of Baillieborough.
Mr Moutray died in 1719, was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOUTRAY, of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1695, who married, in 1698, Rebecca, eldest daughter of Colonel James Corry, of Castlecoole, County Fermanagh (ancestor of the Earls of Belmore), and was father of

JOHN MOUTRAY (1701-79), of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1721, who married, in 1720, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Montgomery, of Ballyleck, County Monaghan, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
ANKETELL (Rev), succeeded his brother;
Leslie, of Killibrick;
John;
Mary; Rebecca; Catherine; Sarah; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

JAMES MOUTRAY, of Favour Royal, and Killibrick, MP for Augher, 1761-69, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1762, married Hester, daughter of Thomas Knox, MP for Dungannon, and sister to Thomas, 1st Viscount Northland, but had no issue.

His younger brother,

THE REV ANKETELL MOUTRAY, of Favour Royal, married, in 1768, Catherine, eldest daughter of Thomas Singleton, of Fort Singleton, County Monaghan, by his first wife, daughter of Oliver Anketell, of Anketell's Grove.

He died ca 1801, having had one son, JOHN CORRY, and six daughters, all of whom died unmarried, except the third, Isabella, who espoused Whitney Upton Gledstanes, of Fardross.

The only son and heir,

JOHN CORRY MOUTRAY JP DL (1771-1859), of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1794, married, in 1793, Mary Anne Catherine, second daughter of Major Ambrose Upton, of Hermitage, County Dublin, by his wife Margaret, sister and co-heir of Thomas Gledstanes, of Fardross, and had issue,
ANKETELL, his heir;
JOHN JAMES, of Favour Royal;
WHITNEY, of Fort Singleton;
Thomas (Rev), 1806-43;
William (Rev), 1811-82;
Henry, of Killymoon Castle;
Catherine; Margaret; Sophia; Cecilia; Marion; Mary.
Mr Moutray was succeeded by his son,

ANKETELL MOUTRAY (1797-1869), of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1855, who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV JOHN JAMES MOUTRAY (1802-86), of Favour Royal, who married, in 1836, Maria Dorothea, second daughter of the Rev William Perceval, of Kilmore Hill, County Waterford, and by her had issue,
JOHN MAXWELL, his heir;
Robert Perceval, Captain RN (1840-96);
William Henry, b 1842;
ANKETELL, of Favour Royal;
Charles Frederick, b 1846;
Anna Maria Sophia; Mary Elizabeth; Caroline Helena.
This clergyman's eldest son,

THE REV JOHN MAXWELL MOUTRAY MA LL.D, did not, however, succeed to the family estates, which, under the will of his uncle, Anketell Moutray, of Favour Royal, passed to his younger brother,

ANKETELL MOUTRAY JP DL (1844-1927), of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1877, and for County Monaghan, 1903, who married, in 1877, Gertrude Madelina, third surviving daughter of Matthew John Anketell, of Anketell Grove, County Monaghan (by his wife Catherine Anne Frances, daughter of D Ker, of Montalto, County Down), and had issue,
John Corry (1878-79);
ANKETELL GERALD, JP, of Favour Royal, High Sheriff of Co Tyrone, 1935 (1882-1952?);
Anne Gwendoline Stella Eliza (1875-1902).
FAVOUR ROYAL, near Augher, County Tyrone, was built in 1825. 

It is a rather austere, Tudor-Gothic mansion consisting of two storeys with an attic of low-pitched gables in front and three storeys at the rear.

The front of the house has big rectangular windows with elaborate Gothic tracery and hood mouldings over them.


*****

JAMES I granted Sir Thomas Ridgeway 740 acres of land in 1613.

Sir James Erskine later purchased the Augher estates from Sir Thomas.

CHARLES II confirmed the Manor of Portclare (under the name of Favor Royal) to the Erskine family in 1665.

Eventually his estate was divided between his two granddaughters: one half became Spur Royal (Augher Castle); and the other, Favor Royal.

One of Erskine's granddaughters married John Moutray, and they built the first house, creating the demesne in 1670.

This house continued as the family home until it was destroyed by accidental fire in 1823.

Captain John Corry Moutray, the occupant at the time, commissioned the architect John Hargrave to design the new house, built in 1824-5, with an 1825 date-stone on its left elevation.

The earlier 1670 date-stone, also built into the left elevation, is presumably from the first house that was burnt down.

The fireproof vaulted brick floor construction to upper floor landings and the stone staircases are possibly precautionary, to ensure that the new house was not also destroyed by fire.

The painted transom in the book-room of a cavalry officer with white charger may be a depiction of Captain John Corry Moutray.

Captain Moutray also built the parish church of St Mary’s Portclare in 1830 as a private chapel.

It cost £1,000 and its designer may be John Hargrave who had died in a yachting accident only the previous year.

An 1834 map shows the demesne and most of its features as they are today; however, the drive to the north of the main house, its bridge over the river Blackwater, and the later (1856) elements of the outer farmyard are not shown.

The map shows the north drive and the Blackwater Bridge.

A 1903 map shows a boathouse (now gone) on the north side of the lake.

Favour Royal was occupied in 1858 by Whitney Moutray; in 1870 by the Rev John James Moutray; and during the first half of the 20th century by Major Anketell Gerald Moutray.

The house and its contents were sold in 1976.

In 1979 the occupier was a Mr Craig.

It has been said that the Moutrays were the largest landowners in the valley and held the rental of 36 townlands, with a staff of 80 at one time.

Sundials (marked on a 1977 map), one to the front and one to the right of the house, and a large collection of medieval carved stones in the rockery (opposite the front porch) were for sale with the house contents in September, 1976, and were presumably sold and removed at that time.

Following the contents sale, the house remained occupied until the early 1990s.

Although not consulted in detail, the Moutray family papers in PRONI are a wide and interesting range of documents from land leases to personal diaries.

*****

Stephen Paskin has taken 182 photographs of Favour Royal manor-house, including remarkable pictures of its interior features.



The demesne dates from the 17th century. 

It lies in a valley, with the River Blackwater flowing on the north-eastern side. 


Though no longer a fully functioning demesne, disused stabling and farm buildings remain.

There was a deer park and woodland with, ‘… a few fine old trees’ (Young, 1909). 

At the present time there is a small area of lawn at the house and one or two mature notable trees.

The walled garden has a date stone on the entrance gate of 1720.

It is not maintained but was once a fine garden. 

Most of the area is heavily planted with forest trees.

The gate lodge of ca 1825, gardener’s cottage and bridges are listed.

There is a man-made ornamental lake with an island.

Planning permission had been obtained to turn Favour Royal into a hotel and golf resort.


Arsonists badly damaged the house in April, 2011.

The estate was for sale in May, 2014.

*****

SIR THOMAS RIDGEWAY, Earl of Londonderry, was one of hundreds of English and Scottish noblemen who were granted land during the plantation of Ulster.

In Ridgeway's case, he was treasurer of wars in Ireland.

In 1610, JAMES I granted him 4,300 acres in the Clogher valley area of County Tyrone. 

In 1613, he built a castle in Augher and then sold his entire estate to Sir James Erskine in 1622. 

In 1630, a defect was discovered in the original grant of lands to Ridgeway and CHARLES I made a re-grant of the lands to Erskine.

This royal favour was acknowledged by naming the estate Favour Royal. 

Sir James Erskine's son, Archibald, was the only member of the family to carry on the family name having two daughters, Mary and Ann, between whom the estate was divided. 

Mary married William Richardson and took up living in Augher castle.

Later, as Sir William Richardson, he gained notoriety as the magistrate who kept a supply of Shillelaghs for the settlements of legal disputes. 

The other daughter, Ann, married John Moutray and moved into the house at Favour Royal in 1670.


*****

The Moutray family continued to live there until the death of Mrs Anketell Moutray on New Year's Day, 1975.

The house and what remained of the demesne was sold in 1976.

A major part of the estate was acquired by the Forest service. The total area is ca 1,200 acres.

First published in October, 2010.

The Blaquiere Baronetcy

THE BLAQUIERE BARONETCY WAS CREATED IN 1784 FOR THE RT HON SIR JOHN BLAQUIERE KCB

ANTHONY DE BLAQUIERE, a French noble of Guyenne, married Elizabeth de Montiel, and by her had a son, Florence, who settled at Lozère, Languedoc, and was father of

JEAN DE BLAQUIEREwho took refuge in England in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685.

This Jean married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Peter de Varennes, and died in 1753, having had issue,
Lewis, died unmarried, 1754;
Matthew, died in the East Indies;
John Elias, died in infancy;
James, a military officer;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Catherine; Jane; Mary; Susanna.
The fifth and youngest son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN DE BLAQUIERE (1732-1812), having been appointed principal secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1772, and invested, in 1774, with the order of the Bath, was created a baronet in 1784.

He was sworn of the Privy Council in Ireland, and appointed His Majesty's Great Alnager of that kingdom.

His lordship married, in 1775, Eleanor, daughter of Robert Dobson, of Anne's Grove, County Cork, by whom he had issue, five sons and three daughters, viz.
JOHNhis heir;
WILLIAMof whom hereafter;
Edmund, died young;
George (1782-26); m, in 1826, widow of Mr Leigh;
Peter Boyle;
Anna Maria.
Sir John Blaquiere was elevated to the peerage, as BARON DE BLAQUIERE, of Ardkill, County Londonderry, in 1800.

His eldest son and heir,

JOHN (1776-1844), 2nd Baron, of Ardkill, Alnager and Collector of the Subsidies of Alnage in Ireland, 1797-1817, when the office was abolished; ca 1812 he was a prisoner in France, and never established his right to vote.

The 2nd Baron died unmarried, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

WILLIAM (1778-1851), 3rd Baron, FRS, a distinguished general in the Army, who married, in 1811, Harriet, daughter of George, 1st Marquess Townshend.

His lordship and Lady Harriet separated in 1814.

The 3rd Baron died at Norwood, Surrey, by shooting himself, while suffering from smallpox.

He served in Flanders, at the Cape of Good Hope, and in India; major-general, 1813; lieutenant-general, 1825; general, 1841.

His eldest son,

JOHN (1812-71), 4th Baron, married firstly, in 1849, Anna, daughter of John Christie; and secondly, in 1852, Eleanor Amelia, daughter of William, 1st Baron Hylton, in a childless marriage.

The titles thereafter devolved upon his next brother, 

WILLIAM (1814-89), 5th Baron; captain, Royal Navy; married Anna Maria, daughter of John Wormald, in 1862 at St. Marylebone Church, Marylebone, London.

He died without issue, and was buried at Brockworth Manor, Gloucestershire.

On the decease of the 5th Baron in 1889, the titles became extinct.


THE CHIEF SECRETARY'S LODGE, Phoenix Park, Dublin, was surrounded by 62 acres of parkland and was completed in 1776.


It was purchased by HM Government in 1782 and became the official residence of the Chief Secretary until 1922, when it became US Ambassador's residence. 

I have written an article about the Chief Secretary's Lodge here.

*****

PORTLEMAN HOUSE (or Port Loman), near Mullingar, County Westmeath, former residence of the 1st Baron de Blaquiere, was an 18th century house of three storeys and six bays.

It was built on rising ground above Lough Owel. The grounds comprised eight acres.

The main entrance was in a pillared recess; elaborate curved staircase. It is now demolished.

*****

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR JOHN BLAQUIERE, BARONET, KCB, 1ST BARON DE BLAQUIERE

Blaquiere was the fifth son of Jean de Blaquiere, a French merchant who had emigrated to England in 1732, and his wife Marie Elizabeth de Varennes. He at first served in the Army, in the 18th Dragoons (later the 17th Dragoons), where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

In 1771 Blaquiere was appointed Secretary of Legation at the British Embassy in Paris, a post he held until 1772. The latter year Lord Harcourt, HM Ambassador in Paris, was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Blaquiere joined him as Chief Secretary for Ireland.

He became a Privy Counsellor the same year and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Bath two years later.

Blaquiere was to remain Chief Secretary until Harcourt's resignation in January, 1777. He had been elected to the Irish House of Commons for Old Leighlin in 1773, a seat he held until 1783.

After a few months for Enniskillen in 1783, he sat then for Carlingford from 1783-90; for Charleville from 1790-98; and for Newtownards from 1798 till the Act of Union in 1801.

In 1784 Blaquiere was created a baronet, of Ardkill in the County of Londonderry; and in 1800 he was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron de Blaquiere, of Ardkill in the County of Londonderry.

Lord de Blaquiere also sat as MP for Rye from 1801-02 and for Downton from 1802-06.

*****

I HAVE BEEN so far unable to find any record of the de Blaquieres owning a residence in County Londonderry, despite the name Ardkill being in their territorial title.

It is, perhaps, more likely that they simply owned land.

The Ardkill estate, Clondermot, County Londonderry, by marriage: The estate was bought for him by Alexander Tompkins, of Prehen, County Londonderry, father of Maria Tompkins (wife of Robert Dobson), and grandfather of Eleanor Dobson, the 1st Barons' wife.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Castle Caldwell

CASTLE CALDWELL COMPRISED 4,865 ACRES IN THE 19TH CENTURY

The founder of the Caldwells in Ulster,

JOHN CALDWELL (c1590-1639), a merchant at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, was born at Preston, Ayrshire.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES CALDWELL (c1634-c1717), who settled at Rossbeg, afterwards called Castle Caldwell, County Fermanagh.

Mr Caldwell was created a baronet in 1683.

Sir James wedded a daughter of Sir John Hume Bt, of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh.

In 1671, Sir James purchased the estate of Wellsborough, close to the present village of Belleek, County Fermanagh.

He was Captain of Horse and High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1677.

In 1689, Sir James was attainted by the Irish Parliament of King JAMES II.

He was Colonel of Foot in 1689.

Sir James was succeeded by his son,

SIR HENRY CALDWELL (d 1726), 2nd Baronet, Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1693, who was a merchant,  in 1714, at Ballyshannon, County Donegal.

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 3rd Baronet, in 1719, married Anne, daughter of the Very Rev John French, Dean of Raphoe, by whom he had five sons and two daughters.

The third son, Hume, was a very distinguished officer in the Austrian service, and attained the rank of colonel. He was killed in a sally from the fortress of Schweidnitz, in 1762.

Sir John died in 1744, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR JAMES CALDWELL, 4th Baronet (c1722-84), who being in the service of the Empress Maria Theresa, was created by that princess COUNT OF MILAN, in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1766, Sir James, in passing through Vienna, having had an audience of leave of the Empress Queen, Her Imperial Majesty, in a very gracious manner, charged him with a magnificent gold box, to present to the Dowager Lady Caldwell, mother of Colonel Caldwell, as a testimony of Her Majesty's gratitude for the signal services performed by that gallant officer.

Sir James raised, in 1759, at his own expense, a body of light horse comprising 250 men, which he commanded for some years.

He married, in 1753, Elizabeth, daughter of the Most Rev Josiah Hort, Lord Archbishop of Tuam, by whom he had, with four daughters, three sons,
JOHN, his successor;
Fitzmaurice;
Josiah John.
He was succeeded by his son,

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 5th Baronet (1756-1830), of Castle Caldwell, and a Count of Milan in the Holy Roman Empire.

He wedded Harriet, daughter of Hugh Meynell, and had two daughters, of whom the elder, Louisa Georgiana, espoused firstly, in 1823, Sir Josiah William Hort Bt, of Hortland; and secondly, Major John Colpoys Bloomfield, of Redwood, County Tipperary.

Sir John was Governor of County Fermanagh, 1793; lieutenant-colonel in the Fermanagh Militia; Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1798; Captain in the Belleek Infantry, 1802.

On his death, his Holy Roman Empire Countship became extinct.

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 6th Baronet (1775–1842), born at Quebec, married Jane Davidson, daughter of an army surgeon, in 1800; buried at St Matthews, Quebec; called to the Canadian Bar, 1798; member of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, 1810-23 Receiver-General, 1823.

SIR HENRY JOHN CALDWELL, (1801-58), 7th Baronet, was a Seigneur and political figure in Quebec.

He represented Dorchester in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada from 1830-34.

Sir Henry was born in Quebec City, the son of John Caldwell, who was the son of Henry Caldwell, and Jane Davidson.

He inherited the seigneury of Lauzon after the death of his grandfather.

Sir Henry was a Justice of the Peace in 1816.

He married Sophia Louisa Paynter, the niece of Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer.

In 1826, the seigneury of Lauzon was sold to clear his father's debts, even though it had not been part of his father's property; Caldwell's appeal was unsuccessful.

He later operated a sawmill in the seigneury of Île-Verte.

The title became extinct on the 7th Baronet's death in 1858.


Photo credit: David Gore

CASTLE CALDWELL, near Belleek, County Fermanagh, is now an 18th century ruin comprising two storeys over a basement.

It overlooks the shore of Lough Erne.

The facade is in the pasteboard Gothic style, with quatrefoil pointed windows, two small projecting turrets, and a battlemented pediment-gable at either end, surmounted by a pointed arch rather akin to a belfry.


The main block is linked by battlemented curved sweeps to a pair a tower-pavilions.

There is an octagon temple in the grounds near the lough.

Castle Caldwell passed to the Bloomfield family through the marriage of Frances, daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Calwell, 6th Baronet, to John Bloomfield, in 1817.

The house became ruinous by the end of the 19th century.

*****

THOUGH Castle Caldwell today is largely covered with forest planting, having been developed for this purpose since 1913, it remains an outstanding site, both for its peninsular position on the shores of lower Lough Erne and for the remnants of the dwelling and garden.

The demesne was established in the early 17th century and the original gardens were in a formal layout, with straight avenues and canals aligned upon the house, known as Castle Hassett.

Extensive changes were undertaken in the grounds in the 18th century, which was by then heavily wooded, though there were views of the lough from the house.

Portions of these features still can be found in the undergrowth. The decline of the ornamental and productive gardens preceded the acquisition of the grounds early in the 20th century for forestry.

The forest planting itself has become historic: There is a noted large Sitka spruce in the car park planted in 1921.

The gate lodge, known as Railway Gate, was built ca 1866 into the newly-constructed railway embankment.

Trains rumbled overhead and carriages entered the demesne underneath and arch beside the castellated porter's house.

Within the demesne there is a 17th century ruined church and graveyard.

Bloomfield ordered a geological survey of his land and was informed that the clay contained all of the necessary raw materials to make pottery (feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale).

He took on two partners (Robert Williams Armstrong and David McBirney), talked the government into building a rail spur to near-by Belleek (4 miles to the west) and built a pottery factory, Mrs Bloomfield laying the first foundation stone in 1853.

Thus were the beginnings of a very successful business and a line of pottery now known the world over as Belleek Pottery. Unusual in its lustre and beauty, it has been a prized possession of royalty and many others for many years.

Blanche Caldwell Grierson (nee Bloomfield) was the only daughter of John Caldwell Bloomfield DL, of Castle Caldwell, a former High Sheriff of County Fermanagh. She was also related to the Brookes of Colebrooke.

During the First World War, Mrs Grierson was an active enthusiastic worker on behalf of the UVF Hospital, where many beds were endowed through her efforts.

She died in 1920.

The Griersons had a daughter, Ula, who married Henry Kinahan and died on 24 February, 1949.

First published in September, 2010.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Cabin Hill

CABIN HILL COMPRISED 39 ACRES OF LAND DURING THE VICTORIAN ERA.

CABIN HILL, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, is a fairly large and considerably extended two-to-four storey house, built around a sandstone Tudor-Revival gentleman’s residence of ca 1860, itself extended in similar style ca 1903-5.

A large, modern, flat-roofed, four-storey, rendered block was added to the rear by the school in 1946 with an adjacent, equally large and equally modern, brick wing of about 1980.
When it was built, Cabin Hill was originally closer to the village of Dundonald - or, indeed, Knock - than to the city of Belfast.

This small farm in the townland of Ballycloghan was adjacent to the Belmont estate and the Clelands' Stormont estate.

The name Cabin Hill refers to a "cabin" built in 1786-7 by Samuel McTier and his wife Martha, on a small parcel of land they had acquired for £50 (about £6,700 today).

The house itself, as the name implies, was a single storey, thatched dwelling; however, a painting of 1847 shows that, by the standards of the day, it had a fairly prosperous appearance, being relatively large and prosperous looking ~ not the "cabin" one might have expected.

After Samuel McTier's death in 1795, Martha continued to use Cabin Hill as a country retreat, being joined on frequent occasions by her brother, the Belfast radical and founder of the United Irishmen, Dr William Drennan.

Drennan died in 1820 and Martha in 1837; however, the property appears to have been disposed of some time before the latter date, for in the 1833 valuation it is recorded as the home of a Mr Tomb.

By 1852, it had been acquired by John Dinnen, a Belfast solicitor.

Dinnen appears to have retained the original house for some years, though, by 1861, a new, much larger building appears to have been built.

This new dwelling, a two-storey gentleman's villa in the Tudor-Revival style, remained in possession of Dinnen's descendants until 1903, when it was acquired by Robert James McMordie QC, Lord Mayor of Belfast.

About 1903-5, McMordie greatly extended the house by adding the large section to the eastern side and the new entrance conservatory, all to designs by Hugh Brown.

Mr McMordie died at Cabin Hill in 1914.

Between, 1920-22, his widow leased the property to the Rt Hon Sir James Craig Bt (afterwards 1st Viscount Craigavon), the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

Several cabinet meetings were held at the house.


In 1924-25, McMordie's widow sold Cabin Hill to Campbell College, which converted it for use as their preparatory school.

Ca 1935, the school added a porter's lodge to the main gateway and, in 1946, the large four storey modern style wing was added to the rear of the main building itself.

Further separate classrooms were built to the north east side of the building in 1973, with a further modernist extension added to the main school later.

These books give no indication of major building work at Cabin Hill between 1864 and the McMordie extension of ca 1903-5, suggesting that the original section of the Tudor Revival house is pre 1864.

First published in May, 2014.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Laconic Parrot

Pele

During my vacation on the Canarian island of Fuerteventura I often walked past a block of offices, en route to the beach.

I regularly passed a slatted door in a tiny room which housed an ancient parrot with a minuscule dog.

Occasionally the door was open in order, presumably, to provide them with some daylight.

This parrot looked down on the tiny dog, which looked up mournfully at me every time I peered in.

The parrot had to be encouraged to sing, though I observed that it made two clicking noises prior to any further utterances.

Accordingly, I began by whistling my patriotic rendition of Rule Britannia! to it.

No joy there.

My next effort was a stirring few lines of Eternal Father, Strong To Save.

The old bird was clearly unimpressed with this old, traditional hymn.

Finally, I succumbed to the cheerful ditty, Consider Yourself, from that marvellous musical Oliver!

Christopher Bellew had fun with the learned double yellow-headed amazon, Pele, at the pub where he stayed.

Had I a copy of HMG's EU referendum leaflet at hand I'd have shoved it in the firing line directly below my old parrot.

Alas (!) a copy has not been received even at Belmont GHQ, as yet; though in hindsight, given the wicked sense of humour, I might have taught it to exclaim a rude or vulgar phrase to unsuspecting passers-by.