Friday, 26 August 2016

The Beresford Baronets


The surname of BERESFORD was assumed from Beresford, in the parish of Alstonefield, Staffordshire, of which manor,

JOHN DE BERESFORD was seised in 1087, during the reign of WILLIAM II, and was succeeded therein by his son,

HUGH DE BERESFORD, from whom lineally descended

JOHN BERESFORD, Lord of Beresford and Enson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset, of Blore, Staffordshire, and had, with other issue,
John, his heir;
Mr Beresford died in 1475, and was succeeded at Beresford by his eldest son; while the second,

THOMAS BERESFORD (-1473), seated himself at Newton Grange, Derbyshire, where he was resident during the reigns of HENRY VI and EDWARD IV; the former of whom he served in his French wars, and, according to tradition, mustered a troop of horse at Chesterfield, consisting alone of his sons and his own and their attendants.

Mr Beresford wedded Agnes, daughter and heiress of Robert Hassall, of Arclid, Cheshire, by whom he had sixteen sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Aden; but we pass to the seventh,

HUMPHREY BERESFORD, who eventually became of Newton Grange.

This gentleman espoused Margery, daughter of Edmond Berdesley, or Beresley, and was succeeded by his second son (the eldest having left a daughter only at his decease),

GEORGE BERESFORD, whose eldest son,

MICHAEL BERESFORD, was an officer in the Court of Wards, and seated at Oxford, and The Squires, Kent.

This gentleman, who was living in 1574, married Rose, daughter of John Knevitt, and had seven sons and four daughters; of whom

TRISTRAM BERESFORD (1574-), the third son, going into Ulster in the reign of JAMES I, settled at Coleraine, County Londonderry, as manager for the Corporaton of London during the plantation of Ulster.

He settled at Coleraine, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD, of Coleraine, a Knight of the Shire for Londonderry in the parliament of 1661, who was created a baronet, 1665.

Sir Tristram wedded firstly, Anne, edlest daughter of John Rowley, of Castleroe, County Londonderry, by whom he had one son, RANDAL, his heir, and two daughters; and secondly, Sarah Sackville, and had three sons and three daughters, namely,
Susanna; Sarah; Anne.
Sir Tristram died in 1673, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RANDAL BERESFORD, 2nd Baronet, who wedded Catherine, younger daughter of Francis, 1st Viscount Valentia, and niece, maternally, of Philip, 1st Earl of Chesterfield; and dying in 1681, left issue,
TRISTRAM, his successor;
Jane; Catherine.
Sir Randal was succeeded by his son and heir,

SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD (1669-1701), 3rd Baronet, who commanded a regiment of foot against JAMES II, and was attainted by the parliament of that monarch.

Sir Tristram espoused, in 1687, Nichola Sophia, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Hugh, 1st Baron Hamilton of Glerawly, and had issue,
MARCUS, his successor;
Susanna Catherina; Arabella Maria; Jane; Aramintha.
Sir Tristram was succeeded by his son,

SIR MARCUS BERESFORD (1694-1763), 4th Baronet, who married, in 1717, Catherine, only daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, and in consequence of that alliance was advanced to the peerage, in 1720, as Baron Beresford, of Beresford, County Cavan, and Viscount Tyrone; and was created Earl of Tyrone, 1746.

A memorial tablet in Coleraine parish church, was restored by the 1st Baronet's descendant, Henry, 3rd Marquess of Waterford.

In 1872, John, 5th Marquess of Waterford, sold 40,000 acres of Beresford property in County Londonderry, 8,000 acres being acquired by the Beresfords of Learmount.

The present Marquess of Waterford is the 12th Beresford Baronet.

First published in February, 2011.

Owenmore House


WILLIAM ORME, of Hanch Hall, Longdon, Staffordshire, descended from a family of graziers long settled in Cheshire, married, in 1612, Grace, daughter of Nicholas Hurt, of Castern, Staffordshire.

He died in 1623, leaving a son,

WILLIAM ORME (1614-65), of Hanch Hall, who being a Royalist, suffered heavy fines and imprisonment at the hands of the usurper, CROMWELL.

He lived to witness the Restoration, and had a confirmation of his arms by Sir William Dugdale, Norroy King-of-Arms, in 1665.

Mr Orme wedded Anne, daughter of Thomas Brudenell, of Staunton Wivell, Leicestershire, and had issue,
Thomas (c1637-1716), dsp;
William, Colonel in the French Army;
JAMES, of whom presently;
The third son,

JAMES ORME, settled ca 1671 in County Mayo, where he purchased considerable estates.

He espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Barrow, of County Cork, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
William, of Ballintubber.
Mr Orme died in 1707, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT ORME, of Carne, County Mayo, who married, in 1703, Elizabeth, daughter of James Johnston, and had issue,
Thomas, of Carne;
James, of Fairfield;
WILLIAM, of whom hereafter;
Robert (Congressman), settled in America, in Jones County;
Mary; Margaret; Lettice.
The third son,

WILLIAM ORME JP (1810-76), of Owenmore, County Mayo, wedded firstly, in 1837, Janette, daughter of Christopher Carleton L'Estrange, of Market Hill, County Fermanagh; and secondly, in 1858, Margaret Barbara, eldest daughter of the Rev Savage Hall, Rector of Loughgall, County Armagh,

He dsp and was succeeded by his brother, 

ROBERT ORME JP DL (1815-77), of Owenmore, County Mayo, and Enniscrone, County Sligo, who espoused, in 1843, Sidney Frances, daughter of Christopher Carleton L'Estrange, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER GUY, succeeded his brother;
Albert L'Estrange;
Janet Georgina, m 1882, Claude Brownlow, of Killynether.
The eldest son,

ROBERT WILLIAM ORME JP DL (1856-1903), of Owenmore and Enniscrone, died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

CHRISTOPHER GUY ORME JP DL (1858-1929), of Owenmore and Enniscrone, who married, in 1907, the Hon Mary Kathleen Morris, daughter of 1st Baron Morris and Killanin, and had issue,
Lettice Frances; Cicely Dorothea.

OWENMORE HOUSE, near Crossmolina, County Mayo, built ca 1847, is a house of two storeys over a high basement.

It has a five-bay entrance front, with a single-storey Doric portico.

The other side elevation has a two-storey bowed wing of similar style and height to the main block, though set back.

When the estate was decimated by the Land Acts, about 1926, it was sold to the Knox family.

It was sold again in 1950 to Major Marcus McCausland.

First published in July, 2012.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Dobbs of Castle Dobbs


This family was established in Ulster by  

JOHN DOBBS, only son of Sir Richard Dobbs (a founder of Christ's Hospital and Lord Mayor of London, 1551).

Sir Richard Dobbs. Photo credit: Christ's Hospital Foundation

This John Dobbs accompanied Sir Henry Docwra to the province in 1596, and was subsequently his deputy as treasurer for Ulster.

He wedded, in 1603, Margaret, only child of John Dalway, of Ballyhill, and had two sons, Foulk, who was lost at sea, with his father, in returning from England in 1622; and

HERCULES DOBBS (1613-34), who, succeeding to his father's property, married Magdalen West, of Ballydugan, County Down, and left an only son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1634-1701), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1664, who wedded, in 1665, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of Bryan Willans, of Clints Hall, Richmond, Yorkshire, and had (with three daughters), two sons.

Mr Dobbs left his estate to his younger son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1660-1711), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1694, who espoused firstly, Mary, daughter of Archibald Stewart, of Ballintoy, and had (with two daughters) three sons,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Richard (Rev), Rector of Lisburn;
He married secondly, Margaret Clugston, of Belfast, and by her had three daughters.
This gentleman served in WILLIAM III's army in Ireland until the second siege of Limerick and the Treaty of Surrender. He was Mayor of Carrickfergus. On the 14th June, 1690, he welcomed William of Orange on his landing in Ulster as Mayor of Carrickfergus; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1694.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR DOBBS (1689-1765), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1720, and for many years MP for Carrickfergus, who wedded Anne, daughter of Captain Osborne, of Timahoe, County Kildare, and widow of Captain Norbury, by whom he had issue.

Arthur Dobbs, 6th Governor of North Carolina

He was appointed Engineer and Surveyor-General of Ireland, by Sir Robert Walpole, and was, in 1753, sent out as Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired large possessions, including 400,000 acres in the colony.

Arthur Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS (1727-1811), of Castle Dobbs, MP for Carrickfergus, and High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1752, who married firstly, in 1749, Anne, daughter of Alexander Stewart, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir.
He wedded secondly, Charity, widow of Stephen Rice, of Mount Rice, County Kildare, and daughter of Robert Borrowes, of Kildare, by Mary, his wife, daughter of John O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, and had issue,
Edward Brice, twice Mayor of Carrickfergus;
Robert Conway (Rev);
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his second son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1753-1840), of Castle Dobbs, who espoused, in 1792, Nichola, daughter of Michael Obins, of Portadown, County Armagh, by Nichola his wife, second daughter of Richard, 1st Viscount Gosford, and had issue,
Archibald Edward, barrister, father of
Nichola; Frances; Olivia.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS JP DL (1796-1886), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1841, MP for Carrickfergus, 1832, who married, in 1826, Charlotte Maria, daughter and co-heiress of William Sinclair, of Fort William, County Antrim, and had issue,
Richard Archibald Conway (1842-53);
Olivia Nichola; Frances Millicent; Charlotte Louisa Mary; Alicia Hester Caroline;
Harriet Sydney; Nichola Susan; Millicent Georgina Montagu.
He wedded secondly, in 1875, Winifred Susannah, youngest daughter of Benjamin Morris, of Lewes, Sussex.

Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

MONTAGU WILLIAM EDWARD DOBBS JP DL (1844-1906), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1871, and County Antrim,1888, barrister, who was succeeded by his cousin,

ARCHIBALD EDWARD DOBBS JP (1838-1916), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1909, barrister, who espoused, in 1875, Edith Mary, second daughter of Sir James Timmins Chance Bt, and had issue,
Francis Wellesley;
Archibald Edward.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS DL (1876-1955), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1921, who married, in 1915, Hylda Louise, daughter of Conway Richard Dobbs Higginson, and had issue,
Joan Kathleen.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his son and heir,

barrister, judge of the Circuit Court, 1951-55, Midland Circuit, Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, 1959-94, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, who wedded, in 1953, Carola Day, daughter of Christopher Clarkson, and had issue,
Richard Francis Andrew;
Nigel Christopher;
Matthew Frederick;
Nicholas Arthur Montagu;
Sophia Carola.
The eldest son,

Richard Francis Andrew Dobbs (1955-), married, in 1880, the Lady Jane Alexander, sister of 7th Earl of Caledon; divorced in 1999 and had issue, three daughters.

Nigel Christopher Dobbs (1957-), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 2009; 

Matthew Frederick Dobbs (1959-), Fund Manager, Shroders, 2012; 

Sophia Carola Dobbs (1965-);

Nicholas Arthur Montagu Dobbs (1973-); Director, Wealth Management, Cazenove Capital, 2012.

I HAVE written about Castle Dobbs here.

First published in August, 2012.

Portglenone House


The elder branch of this family was ennobled, in 1663, by the title of EARL OF STIRLING, in the person of WILLIAM ALEXANDER, of Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. 
The name of ALEXANDER was assumed from the Christian name of its founder, Alexander Macdonald, of Menstrie. 
This branch, on removing into Ireland, adopted into the family shield the Canton charged with the Harp of Ireland, and settled at Limavady, County Londonderry.
JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eridy, County Donegal, 1610, had issue,
ANDREW, his heir;
The eldest son,

THE REV ANDREW ALEXANDER DD, of Eridy, married Dorothea, daughter of the Rev James Caulfeild, and had issue,

CAPTAIN ANDREW ALEXANDERof Londonderry, who wedded firstly, Miss Philips, daughter of Sir Thomas Philips, and had issue,

He espoused secondly, Miss Hillhouse, daughter of the Laird of Hilles, and had issue,

JOHN ALEXANDER (c1670-1747), of Ballyclose, County Londonderry, and of Gunsland, County Donegal, who married Anne, daughter of John White, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, of whom hereafter;
The second son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), of Gunsland, Alderman of Londonderry, 1755, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock, of Dunore, County Donegal, and had issue,
William, of London; barrister; d 1774;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
Mary Jane; Rebecca; Elizabeth; Ann; Jane.
His fourth surviving son, 
ROBERT ALEXANDER (1722-90), of Boom Hall, County Londonderry, wedded, in 1759, Anne, daughter of Henry McCullogh, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his heir;
Henry, of Boom Hall;
William, Lieutenant-General;
Joseph Josias Du Pré;
Elizabeth; Jane; Anne; Rebecca; Dorothea.
Mr Alexander was succeeded by his eldest son,
THE RT REV AND RT HON NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1760-1840), of Portglenone House, Lord Bishop of Meath, Privy Counsellor, who wedded, in 1785, Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Richard Jackson MP, of Coleraine, and had issue,
Richard Jackson;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
William Stuart;
Anne; Elizabeth Rebecca; Henrietta Frances; Jane Mary.
His second son,

THE VEN ROBERT ALEXANDER DD (1788-1840), Archdeacon of Down, married firstly, in 1813, Catherine, daughter of Rt Hon John Staples and Hon Henrietta Molesworth, and had issue,
NATHANIEL, his heir;
John Staples;
Robert, father of
George William;
Harriet Catherine; Alicia Anne; Louisa Maria; Mary Jane;
Grace Frances; Melosine Elizabeth Charlotte; Catherine Staples.
Dr Alexander married secondly, in 1837, Hester Helena, daughter of Colonel Alexander McManus, but had no issue.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1815-53), of Portglenone House, MP for County Antrim, who espoused, in 1842, Florinda, daughter of Richard Boyle Bagley, and had issue,
JOHN STAPLES, succeeded his brother.
Mr Alexander was succeeded by his elder son,

ROBERT JACKSON ALEXANDER JP DL (1843-84), of Portglenone House, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1870, and of County Antrim, 1875, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN STAPLES ALEXANDER JP DL (1844-1901), of Portglenone House, Lieutenant RN, who died a bachelor.

He was succeeded by his cousin,

MAJOR ROBERT CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House (1900-68), son of Robert Arthur Moloney Alexander, High Sheriff, 1938, who married, in 1933, Laura Ina Madeline, daughter of Edward Fraser Lenox-Conyngham.

Major Alexander died without issue.

Portglenone House comprises a square, late-Georgian block of three storeys over a basement.

It was built in 1823 by the Rt Rev Nathaniel Alexander.

The house has a three-bay front, the central bay being recessed.

There is a fine classical hall, with a screen of columns separating it from the corridor and stairs.

The columns, subtle mushroom pink marble with stone capitals of Adam's "Dioclesian" order, were originally at Ballyscullion, along with some the the house's chimney-pieces.

In 1850, a wing was added by Nathaniel Alexander MP, containing a new staircase lit by a stained-glass dome.

The entrance front was also given a large porch and Ionic porte-cochere.

The main rooms were enhanced with cornices and heavy moulded door-cases in the form of aedicules.

Portglenone House was sold by Major Alexander in 1948 and is now part of Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, run as a guest-house.
The guest house provides for those who wish to make private retreats, and can cater for groups who seek to make days of recollection. As such, it does not function as a B&B, nor as a half-board hotel. Guests are encouraged to enter into the silence and solitude which characterize the monastic life in this place, and to take the opportunity for spiritual renewal which is offered.
Portglenone House is set in parkland by the River Bann. An earlier house in the vicinity is recorded.

The present house now forms part of the Abbey, which also has further buildings added from 1962 in the grounds.

This includes the Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey ,which was built in 1948 to the designs of Patrick Murray.

Part of the gardens are private for the monks (the walled garden); parts are ornamental grounds for the Abbey; and parts are cultivated for organic vegetables.

There are mature trees in the remnants of former parkland, an ice house, the Bishop’s Well and two 19th century gate lodges.

Within the walls, part of the demesne is administered by DANI as a forest, which was planted from the 1950s. There is public access and paths are laid out.

In a glade in the forest there is a commemorative plot to Augustine Henry, who was reputedly born nearby.

It was laid out in 1969 with examples of some of the plants that he discovered or introduced from the far east.

First published in August, 2012.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Horse Island Day

I have spent most of the day working with five other volunteers at land owned by the National Trust beside Horse Island.

Horse Island is about two miles south of Kirkubbin on the Ards Peninsula, County Down.

The townland is called Rowreagh.

Horse Island is almost equidistant from Kircubbin and the Saltwater Brig bar and restaurant.

We spent the day picking two trailer-loads of ragwort.

This weed is relatively easy to uproot manually, though it can be stubborn on dry land.

One needs to persist for a few years and therafter most of it is eradicated.

We basked in the lovely sunshine at lunchtime, and I had cheese-and-onion sandwiches today.

The blackberries are early this year. I helped myself to quite a number of ripe ones.

1st Duke of Abercorn


This is the senior male branch of the house of HAMILTON, represented in the female line by Dukes of Hamilton and Brandon.

This illustrious and far-spreading family may vye with, if not excel, any other in Europe, for antiquity and dignity.

The pedigree of the HAMILTONS is authentically deduced from BERNARD, kinsman of Rollo, 1st Duke of Normandy, which Bernard was appointed governor, at the decease of Rollo, to his son and successor, WILLIAM I Longsword, surnamed Longue-Épée, and from him (Bernard) descended Roger de Beaumont, Lord of Pont-Audemer, one of the confidential advisers  and companions (with his two sons) of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

This Roger terminated in a splendid career by founding the abbey of Preaux, in Normandy, and becoming a monk therein himself.

Of his two sons, Henry (the 2nd son), surnamed Le Neubourg, rebuilt and fortified Warwick Castle in 1076; while ROBERT, the elder, having ably contributed, as commander of the right wing of His Majesty's army, to the triumph of Hastings, obtained large possessions in England from The Conqueror (not fewer than 91 extensive manors became his); and from HENRY I, in 1103, the earldom of Leicester by his second son ROBERT, whose eldest son and successor, Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, had three sons; the youngest of whom, WILLIAM, surnamed de Hamilton, from the place of his birth, the manor of Hambledon or Hamilton, in Leicestershire, became founder of the illustrious house of HAMILTON.

having expressed himself at the court of EDWARD II in admiration of King ROBERT THE BRUCE, received a blow from John le Despencer, a favourite officer of the King; which led, the following day, to an encounter, wherein Despencer fell; and Hamilton sought security in Scotland, about 1323.

Being closely pursued, however, in his flight, he and his servant changed clothes with two woodcutters, and taking their saws, were in the act of cutting through an oak-tree when his pursuers passed by.

Perceiving his servant notice them, Sir Gilbert hastily cried out to him, "Through" ; which word, with the oak and saw through it, he took for his crest, in commemoration of his deliverance.
This detail is, however, liable to many objections: Sir William Dugdale, in his account of the Earls of Leicester, is totally silent as to the descent of the Hamiltons from Robert, 3rd Earl.

That nobleman, according to Sir William Dugdale, had three sons,
ROBERT, 4th Earl of Leicester;
ROGER, Bishop of St Andrew's, Chancellor of Scotland;
WILLIAM, founder of the hospital of St Leonard, Leicester.
That this last William predeceased his eldest brother without issue is evident from the circumstance of the great inheritance of the Earls of Leicester devolving, on the decease of the 4th Earl, in 1204, upon his sisters; and Simon de Montfort, the husband of the eldest, having, in her right, the title of Earl of Leicester. 

WILLIAM DE HAMILTON occurs frequently in Thomas Rymer's "Fœdera" from 1274 to 1306, being employed by EDWARD I in various negotiations and transactions of importance.

He was appointed Dean of York in 1298, and High Chancellor of England, 1305.

This is the first of the name noticed in the "Fœdera". It appears somewhat earlier, however, in Scotland; GILBERT DE HAMILTON being on record in the chartulary of Paisley in 1272.

The younger son of this Gilbert, John, was ancestor of the Earls of Haddington; the elder,

SIR WALTER DE HAMILTON, swore fealty to EDWARD I in 1292 and 1294.
Attaching himself to King Robert, he had divers grants of lands, amongst others, the barony of Kinneil and Cadzow (now Hamilton), in the sheriffdom of Lanark.
From this Sir Walter lineally descended

DAVID, one of the persons who took the oath of allegiance to EDWARD I, in 1292. From this gentleman descended

SIR JAMES HAMILTON, of Cadzow, created Lord Hamilton, in 1445; and succeeded, in 1479, by his only son,

JAMES, 2nd Lord, who was advanced to an earldom, in 1503, as Earl of Arran, and was succeeded, in 1529, by his only son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl.
This nobleman having been declared by the parliament of Scotland, in 1543, heir-presumptive to the crown of that kingdom, was, in consequence thereof, appointed tutor to Queen Mary, and governor of the realm during Her Majesty's minority.
In five years afterwards, his lordship was invested with the French Order of Saint Michael; and created, by HENRY II of France, DUKE OF CHÂTELLERAULT, in Poitou.
His Grace married Lady Margaret Douglas, eldest daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Morton), and died in 1575.

His third son,

LORD CLAUD HAMILTON (1543-1621), being amongst the most zealous partisans of MARY, Queen of Scots, obtained, as the reward of his fidelity, from Her Majesty's son, JAMES VI, in 1587, a grant of the whole barony of Paisley, with the dignity of BARON PAISLEY.

His lordship married Margaret, only daughter of George, Lord Seton, and had four sons and one daughter, namely, 
I JAMES (1575-1618), master of Paisley, who was created, in 1603, Baron Abercorn, with remainder to his heirs male, and assigns whatever; and advanced, in 1606, to the EARLDOM OF ABERCORN, with the minor dignities of Baron Hamilton, Mountcastell and Kilpatrick, attached. His lordship was subsequently called by summons to the house of Peers in Ireland, in the same rank of earl; and by the same title; and having obtained a large grant of land in the barony of Strabane in that kingdom, erected there a strong castle, with a schoolhouse and church, and founded a town of about 80 houses. He wedded Marion, eldest daughter of Thomas, 6th Lord Boyd, and dying in 1617, left issue,
1. JAMES, 2nd Earl, of whom presently;
2. CLAUD, 2nd Baron Hamilton of Strabane, who succeeded to the Irish estates, and, on the resignation of his brother, Lord Abercorn, was created, in 1634, Lord Hamilton, Baron of Strabane. His lordship married, in 1632, Lady Jane Gordon, 4th daughter of George, 1st Marquess of Huntly; and dying in 1638 left (with a daughter) two sons,
James, who succeeded as Lord Strabane, and joined Sir Phelim O'Neill against the Parliamentarians, but was unfortunately drowned in 1655. His lordship died a Roman Catholic;
George, 5th Lord Strabane, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Fagan, of Feltrim, County Dublin, and left, with other issue,
CLAUD, Lord Strabane, of whom hereafter, as 4TH EARL OF ABERCORN.
3. WILLIAM (Sir), dsp;
4. GEORGE, of Donalong, County Tyrone, and of Nenagh, County Tipperary, a faithful adherent of THE CHARLESES, who was rewarded with a baronetcy, in 1660. Sir George espoused Mary, 3rd daughter of Walter, Viscount Thurles, by whom he had six sons and three daughters; of the former was Anthony, the celebrated Count Hamilton, author of the Memoirs of Gramont; and the eldest of the latter was the beautiful and accomplished ELIZABETH HAMILTON, who married Philibert, Count of Gramont. Sir George's eldest son, JAMES, was a colonel in the army, and died of a wound in 1673; leaving three sons, of whom the eldest, JAMES, succeeded as 6th Earl;
5. ALEXANDER (Sir), settled in Austria, and was created a count of the Empire;
6. ANNE, married Hugh, 5th Lord Semple;
7. MARGARET, wedded Sir William Cuninghame;
8. LUCY was contracted by her father to Randal, Lord Dunluce, afterwards Marquess of Antrim; but that nobleman refusing to abide by the contract, his father, the Earl of Antrim, was obliged to pay the Earl of Abercorn £3,000 as compensation: the lady remained unmarried.
II CLAUD (Sir), gentleman of The King's privy chamber, from whom lineally descended Lieutenant-General Sir John James Hamilton Bt, of Woodbrook;
III GEORGE (Sir), of Greenlaw and Rosscrea, in Ireland, whose only daughter, Margaret, wedded Sir Archibald Acheson Bt, of Gosford, Haddingtonshire, a Lord of Session, and Secretary of State for Scotland, ancestor of the Earls of Gosford;
IV FREDERICK, who signallized himself under the banner of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden; was Gentleman-in-Ordinary to JAMES, and to CHARLES I; and obtained large grants of lands in Ireland. He wedded Sidney, daughter and heiress of the Rt Hon Sir John Vaughan, Governor of Londonderry, and had issue.
Lord Paisley died in 1621, and was succeeded by his grandson,

JAMES (c1604-c1670), 2nd Earl and 2nd Baron Paisley.

This nobleman had been previously advanced to the peerage, in 1617, by the title of Lord Hamilton of Strabane, which honour, upon his lordship's petition to CHARLES I, was transferred to his next brother, the Hon Claud Hamilton.

Lord Abercorn was excommunicated, by the general commisssion of the Church of Scotland, in 1649, as a Roman Catholic, and ordered to depart the Kingdom.

He married Catherine, daughter and heiress of Gervais, Lord Clifton, of Leighton Bromswold, relict of Esme, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, and had issue,
JAMES, Lord Paisley, who predeceased him, leaving an only daughter, CATHERINE, married firstly to William Lenthal; and secondly, to Charles, 5th Earl of Abercorn;
William, an officer in the army, killed in the wars in Germany, and dsp;
GEORGE, his successor.
His Lordship was succeeded at his decease by his only surviving son,

GEORGE, 3rd Earl (c1636-c1680), who died unmarried and was succeeded by his cousin (revert to Claud, second son of James, Master of Paisley, 1st Earl of Abercorn),

CLAUD, Lord Strabane, as 4th Earl (c1659-c1691).

This nobleman, attending JAMES II, after the revolution, from France, was sworn of the Privy Council upon his arrival in Dublin.

His lordship, on the discomfiture of his royal master at the Boyne, having embarked for France, lost his life in the voyage.

In 1691 he had been outlawed, and forfeited the estate and title of STRABANE; but the earldom of Abercorn devolved upon his brother,

CHARLES, 5th Earl, who, the late Earl's attainder having been reversed, succeeded likewise to the restored title and estate of STRABANE; but, leaving no issue at his decease in 1701, the honours and estates devolved upon his kinsman (revert to Sir George Hamilton Bt, of Donalong, fourth son of James, 1st Earl of Abercorn),

JAMES, 6th Earl (c1661-1734), who had declined assuming the title of Baronet at the decease of his grandfather, in 1769, but was known as "Captain Hamilton".

This gentleman was in the military service and confidence of JAMES II; but, espousing the cause of WILLIAM III, took a distinguished part at the siege of Londonderry against his royal master. 

Succeeding to the earldom of Abercorn, his lordship, in virtue thereof, took his seat, in 1706, as a member of the Scottish parliament. Ireland was, however, the usual place of his residence; and of that realm, in 1701, he was created Baron Mountcastle and Viscount Strabane.

He espoused, in 1686, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Reading Bt, of Dublin, by whom he had issue nine sons and four daughters.

His lordship died about 1734, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 7th Earl (1685-1744), who married, in 1711, Anne, eldest daughter of  Colonel John Plumer, of Blakesware, Hertfordshire, and had, with one daughter, six sons, of whom,
JAMES, became 8th Earl;
John, m Harriet, dau. of the Rt Hon J Craggs, secretary of state, and had a son, JOHN JAMES, who inherited as 9th Earl;
George, Canon of Windsor, who married and had numerous issue;
His lordship died in 1744, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 8th Earl (1712-89), who died a bachelor, in 1789, when the family honours devolved upon his nephew,

JOHN JAMES, 9th Earl (1756-1818), KG, who was created, in 1790, MARQUESS OF ABERCORN, and subsequently installed a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

His lordship wedded firstly, in 1799, Catherine, daughter of Sir Joseph Copley, of Sprotborough, Yorkshire, by whom he had, with other children,
JAMES, Viscount Hamilton, who died in 1814, leaving issue by Harriet, daughter of the Hon John Douglas, and granddaughter of James, 14th Earl of Morton, JAMES, who inherited the honours from his grandfather and became 2nd Marquess and 1st Duke; Claud, b 1813; Harriet, m to Capt Hamilton RN.
Catherine Elizabeth, m to George, Earl of Aberdeen.
Her ladyship died in 1791.

Lord Abercorn espoused, in 1792, his cousin Cecil, eighth daughter of the Hon George Hamilton, from whom he was divorced, in 1799: By this marriage he had an only child, the Lady Cecil Frances Hamilton, who wedded, in 1816, William, 3rd Earl of Wicklow.

Lord Abercorn married thirdly, in 1810, the Lady Anne Jane Gore, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Arran.

His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

JAMES, 2nd Marquess (1811-85), KG, who was created DUKE OF ABERCORN, in 1868.

My information about the Abercorn family and estates comes from several sources, including the Abercorn Papers at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland; and the NI Environment Agency. Despite the length of this article, it has, nevertheless, been greatly condensed.

The best documented Abercorn property outside Tyrone and Donegal is the Dublin town-house on the corner of York Street and Stephen's Green which was held by lease from the Dean and Chapter of St Patrick's, and was brought into the family through the 6th Earl's marriage in 1684.


The Priory, Stanmore, Middlesex, was another property of the Dukes of Abercorn.

In 1852-1854, this was sold (for over £90,000) by the 2nd Marquess, afterwards 1st Duke, in order to pay off his debts and, it was said, after some deliberation over whether Baronscourt should be sold instead.

Most of the title deed material relating to the Middlesex estate passed to the purchaser, Sir John Kelk.


Hampden House, in Green Street, London, became the town house of the Abercorn family in 1869.

In 1868, at the time the dukedom of Abercorn was created, the rental income of the estates had been restored to its 1818 level, standing at nearly £40,000 a year.

By the mid-1850s, the 1st Duke had spent nearly £30,000 buying church lands and other property in the vicinity of Baronscourt, and at least £20,000 more on improving and planting them.

During the financial crisis which beset him at that time, and which obliged him to sell The Priory, outlying townlands in his inherited fee simple estate in Tyrone and Donegal with a rental of over £2,000 a year were sold for £51,000.

Both the composition and character of the estate changed greatly during this period.


The Abercorns were never extensive landowners in England: The Priory estate, for example, which was probably the largest English property they ever owned, produced a mere £2,750 of income per annum in 1840.

In 1797, the 1st Marquess described the Priory as "a large house, [run] at great expense, without what deserves the name of property around it".

Yet, from at least the late 17th century, when the 5th Earl was in possession of a property in Oxfordshire, the Abercorns were never without an English base.

Indeed, during the period 1868-1918, three of the 1st Duke's sons sat in parliament for English constituencies.

The 7th and 8th Earls maintained town houses, first in Cavendish Square and then (by 1763) in Grosvenor Square, as well as Witham Place, to which the 8th Earl added a wing in the 1740s.

The 1st Marquess sold Witham, but retained his uncle's town house, and greatly extended his own house and estate at Stanmore.

Ironically, the proximate reason for the 1st Duke's having to sell The Priory in 1852-1854, was an over-ambitious attempt to extend his English base by spending nearly £100,000 (which he did not possess) on buying the estate of Dale Park, near Arundel, Sussex.

Both before and after the sale of The Priory, the 1st Duke kept up a succession of London town houses:
Dudley House (Park Lane);
Chesterfield House (Audley Street);
Hampden House (Green Street), from 1869 till 1st World War.

BARONSCOURT, near Newtownstewart, County Tyrone, is one of the grandest stately homes in Northern Ireland and, indeed, further afield.

It has been in continuous use as the ancestral seat of the Hamiltons, Earls and Dukes of Abercorn, since 1780.

It affords the finest quality in detailing and craftsmanship.

Baronscourt has been associated with a number of distinguished architects and has undergone at least three periods of extensive remodelling since its construction.
It was originally designed by George Steuart; subsequently enlarged by Sir John Soane, in 1790; and again by William Vitruvius Morrison, ca 1830; taking on its current appearance only ca 1945, when the house was reduced in size by Sir Albert Richardson.
As a result, the house has quite a complex plan, especially at the north side, where rooms are on a number of levels.

It is neo-classical in style, faced in ashlar sandstone; generally two-storey over a basement; with formal gardens to the front and south; and entrance elevation with a huge portico and asymmetrical pavilions to the north.

Internal refurbishment by David Hicks ca 1970 is also notable.

The main house is complemented by the lower level garage block, a detatched store and an ornate gate screen to the south.

Baronscourt is beautifully situated in an extensive demesne with formal gardens, parkland, woodland, and three loughs.

It is overlooked by the stableyard to east and has numerous ancillary structures, including a two earlier ducal residences, an 18th century classical villa, and a 17th century plantation house.

The mansion house and wider demesne are of considerable architectural, historical and significance.

DURING the plantation of Ulster, extensive lands in County Tyrone were granted to the 1st Earl of Abercorn, in 1611, by JAMES I.

Baronscourt was included and was part of the manor of Derrygoon.

The demesne lies in the townland of Barons Court, within the parish of Ardstraw, about 2½ miles south-west of Newtownstewart.

The present mansion house was originally constructed ca 1780; remodelled and extended ca 1790; and again ca 1835 and ca 1945.

The Abercorn family originally had their residence in what is now the Agent's House.

Baronscourt House was built on its present site ca 1780.

Correspondence shows that the building was complete by 1781; plans were already underway to convert the earlier house; and to carry out other improvements in the demesne.

The 8th Earl employed George Steuart as his architect.

(Sir) John Soane was employed by the 1st Marquess to remodel the house during 1791-92.

Alterations included enlarging and remodelling the house and reorienting, to create a north-facing front.

Building accounts show that these changes cost the 1st Marquess at least £14,500, or £1.8 million today.

In 1793, James Hamilton described the change as
completely metamorphosed, both as to house and grounds, as scarcely to bear a single trace of resemblance to the former appearance of either.
In 1796, an accidental fire at the house gutted the main block of Soane's building, causing the loss of distinctive features.

Robert Woodgate, already at Baronscourt overseeing work for Soane, was put in charge of reconstruction between 1797-98.

Additional changes were subsequently made in 1810 by Mr Turner.

In the 1830s, considerable improvements and alterations were made to the house.

Around this time, the 2nd Marquess asked William Farrell and William Vitruvius Morrison to produce plans for remodelling. Morrison's plans were chosen.

His father, Richard Morrison, took over after his death in 1838. Remodelling cost almost £20,000 (£1.8 million today).

The house was further enlarged and a massive, pedimented port-cochere was added.

The house was given a rich neo-classical interior and a formal garden was added at this time.

The Morrisons contributed largely to the interior of Baronscourt: Greek Ionic columns, the Rotunda, and a large dining room with scagliola pilasters, were amongst the additions.

Richard Morrison's own contribution is the Palladian-Revival ceiling in the library, in 1839.

The house was subject to another fire ca 1940.

It is said that, thereafter, Sir Albert Richardson made some changes for the 3rd Duke ca 1945, including the demolition of two substantial wings.

David Hicks was commissioned to remodel the interior between 1975-6.

Woodland planting began here in 1746, when the 8th Earl sent a gardener here called James Broomfield to put down trees, and in 1751, on the opposite side of Lough Fanny, the deer park established and stocked with deer from England.

This was planted by Broomfield with clumps of lime, beech and laburnum.

Extensive large-scale landscaping took place at Baronscourt in 1770s and 1780s as a setting for the new Steuart designed house.

Much of this work was supervised by Thomas Hudson, then the head gardener [discharged 1790].

When Daniel Beauford came here in 1786 he commented upon the ‘magnificent seat’ and ‘the great number of fine oaks and three long narrow lakes which ornament this place and give it an air of great grandeur’.

The park with its extensive plantations, enclosing all three lakes, covered about 900 acres by the early 19th century.

In the 1840s, following the remodelling of the house by the Morrisons, the park was considerably enlarged and extensively re-designed, almost certainly to designs of the famous landscape gardener James Frazer.

The Lough Fanny deer park was also enlarged to occupy the whole area between the lake and the public road skirting the demesne; at this time the deer was landscaped to form an integral part of the landscape park.

In consequence to this development, the view across the lough to the rising ground of the Deer Park is now decorated with a great number of splendid mature parkland trees.

In the decades following the Morrison improvements a number of garden embellishments were added near the house itself.

In the late 1840s or early 1850s an enormous ramped Italian parterre terraced garden was added to the lake or west front, with a parterre designed by W. Broderick Thomas.

It is believed that thirteen gardeners alone were needed to tend this parterre, which was cleared in 1913 and replaced for many years with rather unsatisfactory island beds; eventually these, too,were removed and now only some stone balustrading survives.

On the south side of the house a terraced garden was made by the Dublin gardener Ninian Niven in 1876 for the 1st Duke, after his second term as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1874-6).

This garden was formed on three terraces with terracotta balustrading and urns and a semi-circle of yew-hedges on the lowest terrace.

It was here that the pale peachy orange Potentilla ‘Sophie’s Blush’ was discovered.

In the early 1990s this was restored and herbaceous borders replanted in the middle terrace.

Northwest of the house an avenue of alternating Monkey Puzzles and Lawson Cypress ‘Erecta viridis’ was planted in the 1860s, some reaching over 100 feet tall when they were removed in the 1980s.

To the west of this was a woodland garden with a shelter of Scots Pine.

The area was planted with Japanese maples and later; in the 1920 and 1930s, rhododendrons were placed here.

In the 1890s, the 2nd Duke created a bog garden for his wife, Mary Anna.

It was made astride a small stream between Lough Fanny and Lough Mary; bamboo inevitably took over much of this area in later years.

The 2nd Duke also added the stable block in 1889-90 to a design of the Belfast architect Joseph Bell.

Around this time a second deer park was made at Baronscourt on the hills east of the demesne; it was created in imitation of Scottish Deer Parks of the time and was used mainly to stock Red Deer.

It remained in use until the 1920s.

The whole of Baronscourt is a fully maintained domestic and working demesne. Farmland and acres of mixed woods are managed.

There are large traces of commercial forest, composed mainly of larch, white fir, western hemlock, Scots Pine and some popular, much of which was the product of the extensive planting by the 4th Duke, who had a passion for forestry and introduced Nothofagus as a crop, using seed from Chile.

Lying in unexpected places within some of the plantations are found old magnolias and walnuts, planted by the 3rd Duke as ‘surprise trees’.

The walled garden is used by Baronscourt Nurseries.

The demesne includes many subsidiary buildings, notably the highly picturesque ‘Rock Cottage’ of c.1832, designed by Peter Frederick Robinson and located at the Largybeg Gate.

Other gate lodges by Robinson, who was probably recommended by Soane, includes the picturesque Church Lodge or ‘Devine’s Gate’ (1835) and the Newtownstewart Gate Lodge, the latter being an adoption from Robinson’s book Designs for Lodges and Park Entrances (1833).

Another lodge, ‘Moore’s Lodge’ of ca 1780 has been demolished and may have been the work of John Soane.

Richard Morrison ca 1837 drew plans for three entrances and accompanying lodges, but none were executed.

The demesne church lying above Lough Mary was consecrated in 1858; its grounds contain a large Celtic cross, 1885, designed by Dublin architect Walter Glynn Doolin (1819-1900) and restored in 2005.

In recent years a log-built Russian style house, designed by Richard Pierce, has been built as a retreat in the park south of the House.

The Abercorn family owns the Belle Isle estate in County Fermanagh, run by the Duke's younger son, Lord Nicholas Hamilton.

 Abercorn arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in December, 2009.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Mote Park


The founder of this family in Ireland was

JOHN CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon (descended from the Croftons, of Crofton, Cumberland), auditor-general in the reign of ELIZABETH I, who accompanied the Earl of Essex into Ireland, and obtained large grants of land in the counties of Roscommon and Leitrim.

He wedded Jane, sister of Sir Henry Duke, of Castle Jordan, County Meath, and had four sons,
EDWARD, his heir;
HENRY, ancestor of Sir M G Crofton Bt, of Mohill House.
The eldest son,

EDWARD CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon, left Thomas, ancestor of the Croftons of Longford House, County Sligo, and an elder son,

GEORGE CROFTON, MP in 1639, who erected the Castle of Mote.

This gentleman married Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Francis Berkeley, MP for County Limerick, and was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD CROFTON, of Mote, who was created a baronet in 1661; which honour ceased with

SIR OLIVER CROFTON, 5th Baronet; when his sister and heiress, 

CATHERINE CROFTON, became representative of the family.

This lady married, in 1743, Marcus Lowther (2nd son of George Lowther MP, descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Lonsdale), who assumed the name of CROFTON, and being created a baronet in 1758, became 

SIR MARCUS LOWTHER-CROFTON, 1st Baronet, who represented the borough of Roscommon in parliament.

He died in 1784, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR EDWARD CROFTON, 2nd Baronet, MP for Roscommon and colonel of the Roscommon Militia, who married, in 1767, Anne, only daughter and heiress of Thomas Croker, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
Henry Thomas Marcus (Rev);
George Alfred, captain RN;
William Gorges, captain, Coldstream Guards; k/a 1814;
Caroline; Louisa; Frances; Harriet; Augusta.
Sir Edward died in 1797 and his widow, 

ANNE, LADY CROFTON (1751-1817), was elevated to the peerage (an honour for Sir Edward, had he lived) as BARONESS CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon.

Her ladyship was succeeded by her grandson

EDWARD, 2nd Baron Crofton, eldest son of 

THE HON SIR EDWARD CROFTON, 3rd Baronet, the successor of his father in 1797.

This gentleman married the Lady Charlotte Stewart, fifth daughter of John, 6th Earl of Galloway KT; by whom he had issue,
EDWARD, 2nd Baron;
William, 1814-38;
Susanna Anne; Charlotte;
Frances; Sophia; Frederica.
Sir Edward died in 1816, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, 

EDWARD, 2nd Baron (1806-69), who succeeded at the demise of his grandmother to the barony,
known as Sir Edward Crofton, 4th Baronet, from 1816 to 1817, who was an Anglo-Irish Conservative politician; was elected an Irish Representative Peer in 1840, and served in the Conservative administrations of Lord Derby and Benjamin Disraeli as a Lord-in-Waiting in 1852, from 1858-59 and from 1866-68. 
a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1867-68; State Steward to the Lord Lieutenant 1880; Gentleman in Waiting to the Lord Lieutenant 1886-92; a Representative Peer for Ireland (Conservative) 1873-1912.
GUY PATRICK GILBERT, 7th Baron (1951-2007), lieutenant-colonel in the Army; commissioned into the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and served as a lieutenant-colonel and Defence Attaché to the British Embassy in Angola.

MOTE PARK HOUSE, Ballymurray, County Roscommon, was built by the Crofton family in the later half of the 18th century, preceding the Castle of Mote erected by the family in 1620.

It was clearly an imposing house and reflected the influence of neo-classicism prevalent at the time.

This style emphasized for the first time a sense of permanence and security among the gentry and nobility in Ireland.

The house was the most impressive of its type built in County Roscommon, the others of this period being located at Runnamoat near Ballymoe, and Sandford House in Castlerea.

The house was originally an irregular two-storey-over-basement house, which the architect Richard Morrison more than doubled in size by adding six bays and an extra storey.

It had a deep hall with a screen of columns, beyond which a door flanked by niches led into an oval library in the bow on the garden front.

These gardens contained many fine architectural features, some of which are still intact.

Perhaps the most splendid surviving feature is the original entrance gate consisting of a Doric triumphal arch surmounted by a lion with screen walls linking it to a pair of identical lodges.

It has been suggested that this was designed by James Gandon, although others have pointed out that while this certainly is feasible, certain elements, most notably the head and keystone of the arch, appear to be of a later date and have a provincial character.

It is worth mentioning at this stage the work of Augusta Crofton: She was a renowned amateur photographer and appointed OBE in 1920.

From the mid-19th century, as with so many other estates, things started to go downhill for the fortunes of the Croftons and their home.

It should be noted at the outset that the Croftons, while not among the best examples of improving landlords, did keep their rents low and endeavoured to help their tenants as much as possible.

The fact that the estate was well managed is evident from many volumes of rentals of the estate dating from 1834-1893, along with family records held at Roscommon Library.

Rents received, expenditure on wages, bills, details of land improvements and summaries of yearly rental statistics for each denomination are clearly recorded.

The problem of absenteeism was largely irrelevant to the Crofton estate during this period as it was administered by competent land agents.

Despite the Land Acts, tenants made no effort to purchase their land. Arrears of rent increased with arrears accounting for over 30% of total rent received by the 1890s.

Clearly the house itself was also falling into disrepair. The 3rd Baron died in 1912 and was interred in the family vault at Killmaine.

In many respects he had become disillusioned with life on the estate long before his death, showing little interest in his Irish properties.

Instead he preferred, among other roles, that of representative peer at Westminister. As he was a bachelor, his titles passed to his nephew Arthur Edward, 4th Baron.

Although the 4th Baron took a practical interest in his inheritance, the last of the Land Acts meant most of the estate was sold piecemeal in the early 20th century.

Ownership of what was left passed to his children and then to his grandson Edward Blaise, 5th Baron, to whom the title eventually passed.

The 5th Baron was the last of the Croftons to reside at Mote, but moved to England in the 1940s.

A sign that the final demise of the big house was forthcoming is evidenced by the public auction of October 1947.

It occasioned quite a large public interest as evidenced by a photograph taken of the house on the morning of the auction.

The 1950s and early 1960s saw the final nail driven in the big house's coffin with the Irish Land Commission demolishing the house completely.

Much of the beautiful woods surrounding the house were also felled, and replaced with newer mixed conifer species.

The remaining land was divided into several properties for families transferred from the nearby congested districts.

Now, instead of the big house, many smaller farm houses lay scattered over what was once the Crofton estate.

Mote Park still attracts many visitors however, marketed now as a heritage walkway, almost ten miles in length and taking in whatever original features still remaining intact.

The house was demolished in the 1960s.

Roscommon Golf Club occupies part of the original Mote Park demesne.

First published in July, 2012.   Crofton arms courtesy of European Heraldry.