Friday, 31 October 2014

Grey Abbey House


This is a scion of the noble house of MONTGOMERY, Earls of Eglinton, in Scotland.


descended from Roger de Montgomerie, kinsman of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and commander of the van guard at Hastings, was raised to the Scottish peerage, in 1448-9, as LORD MONTGOMERIE.
He wedded Margaret, 2nd daughter of Sir Thomas Boyd, of Kilmarnock, and had a son,

ALEXANDER, Master of Montgomerie, who married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Adam Hepburn, of Hales.

Dying before his father, in 1452, he left three sons and a daughter, viz.

ALEXANDER, successor to his grandfather, as 2nd Lord; his son and heir HUGH, 3rd Lord, was cr EARL OF EGLINTON;
ROBERT, laird of Braidstone;
Hugh, of Hislot;
Margaret, m to Alexander, 1st Lord Home.
The second son of the Master of Montgomerie, and brother of the second Lord,

ROBERT MONTGOMERY, obtained for his patrimony, from his grandfather, Alexander, 1st Lord, in 1452, the lands of Braidstane, thus becoming its laird.

He was succeeded by his son, 

ROBERT, 2nd Laird, who left a son and heir, 

ROBERT, 3rd Laird, whose son and successor, 

ADAM, 4th Laird, had two sons, of whom
who inherited as 5th Laird, and purchased other lands from Hugh, Earl of Eglinton, married and had four sons, of whom, HUGH (Sir), 6th Laird, who settled in Ulster, and was raised to peerage, as VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY, of Ards, County Down. He had previously, in 1605, obtained a grant from from JAMES I of the third part of Conn O'Neill's great territory in the counties of Down and Antrim. His lordship was grandfather of HUGH, 3rd Viscount Montgomery, who was created, in 1661, EARL OF MOUNT ALEXANDER, honours which expired with THOMAS, 7th Earl, in 1758;
George, Dean of Norwich, afterwards Lord Bishop of Meath;
Patrick, a colonel in the French army during the reign of HENRY IV;
ROBERT, of whom hereafter.
The youngest son, 

ROBERT MONTGOMERY, was father of 

who went over to Ulster in the early part of the reign of JAMES I with his cousin Hugh, 6th Laird of Braidstane, afterwards Viscount Montgomery, his lordship having brought several of his clan from Scotland, that they might settle upon his new estates, and assist upon the plantation of the country.

To this John he granted lands at Gransha, in the Ards, where he (John) settled, where he was esteemed a man of opulence, which supposition caused his house to be attacked by robbers, himself, his wife, and all his servants were inhumanely murdered, save one, who escaped with his son,
who had been left for dead in attempting to defend his father, but recovering from his wounds, he lived to an old age, on his property at Maghera, County Londonderry, to which he removed after the attack on his paternal dwelling. He represented the borough of Newtownards in Parliament, from 1635-41, and lies buried with his father in the church of Donaghadee.
He left two sons, the elder of whom, 

was an officer in the army and distinguished against the insurgents in 1641. He was captain in Sir John Montgomery's regiment, and afterwards major under Sir Charles Coote. He resided at Maghera.
His only son, 

WILLIAM MONTGOMERY, who married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Captain James Magill, of Kirkistown, County Down, by which marriage he acquired a great accession of property, had an only son, his successor, 

an officer of dragoons, who served with reputation in Spain, under Charles Mordaunt, the great Earl of Peterborough. Captain Montgomery purchased, ca 1715, the estate of Grey Abbey, from his kinsman, James Montgomery, and rebuilt the mansion-house, the former having been burnt accidentally in 1695.
By his first marriage, in 1719, to Catherine, daughter of Francis Hall, of Strangford, he had issue,

WILLIAM, his heir.
Captain Montgomery died in 1755 and was buried in the family vault under the alter in the abbey.
WILLIAM MONTGOMERY, of Grey Abbey, was MP for Hillsborough for more than thirty years.
Mr Montgomery died at Hillsborough in 1790 and, having been interred within the family vault, was succeeded by his heir, 

HUGH MONTGOMERY, of Grey Abbey, a clergyman of the established church.
This gentleman resided constantly at the abbey, made considerable improvements there, and extended his landed possessions by purchase.
He married, in 1782, the Hon Emelia Ward, youngest daughter of Bernard, 1st Viscount Bangor, and had issue, his successor, 

WILLIAM MONTGOMERY, of Grey Abbey, who wedded at Brussels, in 1817, Amelia Elizabeth, second daughter of the Hon Thomas Parker (2nd son of 3rd Earl of Macclesfield).

Mr Montgomery, high sheriff of County Down in 1824, left issue,
HUGH, his heir;
WILLIAM EDWARD, of whom presently;
ROBERT ARTHUR, succeeded his brother;
Percy Hugh Seymour;
FRANCIS HENRY, succeeded his brother, Robert;
George Fitzmaurice, commander of Chinese Maritime Customs, 1880-1908, b 1861, m in 1905 Mildred Mary, daughter of the Rev Preb. E F Clayton, vicar of Ludlow, d 1944, leaving issue, HUGH EDWARD, of whom hereafter.
Mr Montgomery died in 1831 and, having been buried in the family vault, was succeeded by his eldest son, 

HUGH MONTGOMERY JP DL (1821-94), of Grey Abbey,
born at Florence, Italy, who became representative of the branch of the house of Montgomery settled in Ulster, and of that of Braidstane in Scotland. This gentleman married Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Herbert, daughter of Edward, 2nd Earl of Powis, in 1846.
His eldest son, 

MAJOR-GENERAL WILLIAM EDWARD MONTGOMERY JP DL, of Grey Abbey, High Sheriff, 1900, died without an heir in 1927, when he was succeeded by his brother,
MAJOR-GENERAL ROBERT ARTHUR MONTGOMERY CB CVO (1848-1931), of Grey Abbey, who married, though died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,
FRANCIS HENRY MONTGOMERY (1857-1941), of Grey Abbey, who died a bachelor, when the estate devolved upon his nephew,
MAJOR HUGH EDWARD MONTGOMERY JP DL, of Grey Abbey, High Sheriff, 1955, who wedded, in 1938, Anne, only daughter of Brigadier Charles Graeme Higgins CMG DSO DL, of Badbury Hill, Faringdon, and had issue,
WILLIAM HOWARD CLIVE MONTGOMERY, (1940-), who married Daphne, daughter of Brigadier the Hon Geoffrey John Orlando Bridgeman, in 1965.
Hugh Geoffrey Clive, b 1966;
Rose Evelyn, b 1968;
Frances Mary, b 1970;
Flora Anne Selina, b 1974.

GREY ABBEY HOUSE, Greyabbey, County Down also known as Rosemount, derives its name from the late adjacent 12th century Cistercian abbey.
The ruins of the abbey can be seen from Grey Abbey House.
The manorial demesne, long known as Rosemount, was established in the early 17th century, and the present house was built in the early 1760s.

Originally the property of the Clandeboye O’Neills, Grey Abbey was granted in 1607 to Sir Hugh Montgomery.

In 1634, his son, Sir James, built a ‘noble house and stately out-offices’.

It was described by William Montgomery in 1683 thus:
a double roofed-house and a baron and fower flankers with bakeing and brewing houses, stable and other needful office houses….built after the forraigne and English manner; with outer and inner courts walled about and surrounded with pleasant gardens, orchards, meadows and pasture inclosures under view of ye said house called Rosemount from which ye manner taketh name. The same was finished by …Sir James AD 1634. 
In 1701, William Montgomery was to add to this account that
"...only some small convenient additions of buildings and orchards were made by ye sd William and improved lately by his sd son James. "
Harris’s County of Down, 1744, related that
Rosemount was the mansion house of Sir James Montgomery …he built here a noble house and stately out-offices (which were afterwards burnt down Ann. 1695) and laid out fine gardens behind it, executed in the form of a regular Fortification, some Bastions of which are yet to be seen. However the present worthy proprietor [William Montgomery] has built a neat and commodious house with handsome offices on part of the site of the former offices, and laid out his gardens and Out-grounds about it in elegant taste.
This house, too, built in 1717 by William Montgomery (d 1725), was itself later burnt.

In the absence of surviving 17th or 18th century Montgomery estate maps (no doubt burnt in one of those fires or in a fire in a fire in the agent’s house), it is difficult to be certain where exactly these various early buildings stood.

The house, which was accidentally burnt in 1695, may have stood in the vicinity of the present stable yard, and indeed could have the 1717 house, but some believe could have stood on the seaward side of the present mansion.

The ‘fortified’ garden may have occupied what is now the walled garden to the north-west, but there seems to be no physical sign of this today.

It is possible that the present yard, being a complex of 18th and 19th century buildings, could incorporate elements of the ‘handsome offices on part of the site of the former house’, mentioned by Harris in 1744.

The present house (above), Rosemount, located on a rise in the park, was built from 1762 by William Montgomery, who had succeeded to the property in 1755.

It was still being erected when James Boswell visited the place on 2nd May 1769 and noted the excellent house of Mr Montgomery’s own planning, and not yet finished.

The house is a three-storey block over basement, Palladian in style, with six bay entrance front, hipped roof and balustraded roof parapet.

There is a three-sided bow in the centre of the garden front (Gothic windows on ground floor, inspired by Castle Ward, are a later addition, possibly ca 1785) and canted projections and diagonally set single-storey side porches on the side elevations, the latter being added in 1845-6 to design of James Sands, commissioned by Hugh Montgomery, who succeeded to the family property from his father William in 1831.

The roof-balustraded parapets were also added in the 1840s. A single-storey smoking room extension was added to the north-east in 1895.

The existing naturalistic landscape park with its woodlands, shelter belts, meandering walks and sweeping carriage drives, was laid out as a setting for this house in the 1760s or 1770s. 

The old abbey ruins were made a feature of this park and a sunken drive was created below the garden front of the house.

In the 1840s, a masonry pedestrian humped bridge was built, allowing access to the park across this sunken way.

Near the abbey a well house was built in the 1770s, known as ‘The Nun’s Well’, possibly replacing a medieval well-house mentioned by Harris in 1744.

The stable yard, being a complex of one and two-storey ranges of both 18th and 19th century construction, including a free-standing game larder, are hidden within the park, as is the walled garden lying to the north-west.

The three 19th century gate lodges were added in the 19th century; viz. the old gate lodge ca 1820, known as Rosemount Cottage, made redundant by a re-alignment of the public road; the Abbey entrance of ca 1815-20; and the village West Gate Lodge of ca 1860.

The entrance lodge is in Georgian-Gothic style, as is the pinnacles gate-screen, and appears to have been inspired by the lodges at Mount Stewart, designed by George Dance (the younger), in 1808-09.

In 1843, the garden designer, Ninian Niven, made some alterations to the park layout, notably adding a parterre to the terrace on the north east side of the house. This has been grassed over in recent decades. 

The parkland survives today in good order and contains fine mature trees with shelter belts and woodlands down to the lough shore.

Contemporary ornamental planting is maintained to the east and west of the north front; the south entrance front is in lawns, with a sweeping carriage drive.

Part of the walled garden to the northwest of the house is cultivated. A portion of what was once a much larger orchard is retained.


Mr William Montgomery
, who lives with his family at Grey Abbey estate today, is descended from the younger brother of the 1st Earl of Mount Alexander, Sir James, who was given the Grey Abbey estates which remain, in part, in the family today.

The family is, therefore, of the same family but not directly descended from him.

In early Victorian times, the family owned land in the Ards Peninsula extending to some 5,000 or more acres, though this figure would have been closer to 100,000 acres in the 16th century.

The Montgomerys also owned the Tyrella estate, near Rathmullan, County Down - it having come into the family through the marriage of William Montgomery to Suzanne Jelly in 1749.

Mrs Daphne Montgomery is the granddaughter of 1st Viscount Bridgeman. William Montgomery is a Trustee of Weston Park estate in Shropshire.

The Bridgeman family inherited Weston Park itself during the 18th century and today it is run as a trust by the Weston Park Foundation.

Images of Grey Abbey House by kind permission of William Montgomery.  First published in May, 2010; revised in 2014.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Gurteen Le Poer


SIR ROGER LE POER, knight, came over to Ireland with Gilbert de Clare, 1st Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow, and accompanied him in his expedition to regain the kingdom of Leinster for Dermot MacMurrough, and also assisted John de Courcy in the reduction of Ulster.

For his services, Sir Roger obtained considerable territorial grants in Ireland.

Sir Roger wedded the niece of Sir Armoricus Tristram, otherwise St Lawrence, the ancestor of the Earls of Howth; and being murdered in 1189, he left issue by her,
His youngest son,

SIR EUSTACE LE POER, who sat in a parliament held in 1295, died in 1311, leaving issue,

In 1309, this Lord Arnold slew Sir John de Bonneville in single combat, and was acquitted of that act in a parliament held at Kildare in 1310, it being proved to be done in his own defence. He was one of EDWARD I's commanders in the army which opposed Edward Bruce in 1315.
In 1325, EDWARD II appointed this Lord Arnold seneschal of the county and city of Kilkenny. In 1327, Lord Arnold was the cause of a great war between the noblemen of Ireland, by calling the Earl of Desmond.
In 1328, Lord Arnold was arrested and accused of heresy by the Rt Rev Richard Ledred, Bishop of Ossory, and confined in Dublin Castle, where he died before he could be tried.
He left issue,

MATTHEW LE POER, living during the reign of EDWARD III, in 1349; and by Avicia his wife had issue,

JOHN LE POER, who left issue, by Joan his wife,

RICHARD LE POER, who died in 1371, leaving issue,

NICHOLAS LE POER, his son and heir, who was summoned to parliament, in 1375, as BARON LE POER in the reign of EDWARD III.

He lived to a very advanced age, and died leaving issue,  his son,

SIR RICHARD POWER, knight, of Curraghmore, County Waterford,
sheriff of the county in 1535, whose ancestors had been summoned to attend Parlimant as Feudal Barons, was created by patent, in 1535, in the reign of HENRY VIII, BARON POER or POWER, of Curraghmore.
Lord Power married Lady Katherine Butler, daughter of Piers, 8th Earl of Ormonde, by whom he had issue,
PIERS, his successor;
JOHN, 3rd Baron.
Lord Power died in 1551, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR PIERS, 2nd Baron, born in 1522,
a minor at his father's death, and granted in ward to James, 9th Earl of Ormonde, in 1540. He took part in the siege of Boulogne, and died of his wounds at Calais, unmarried, in 1545.
This nobleman was succeeded by his brother,

SIR JOHN, 3rd Baron, who was then a minor.

He married Lady Elinor FitzGerald, daughter of James, 15th Earl of Desmond, and had, with three younger sons,
RICHARD, his successor, 4th Baron;
Lord Power died in 1592, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 4th Lord Power, born in 1550, who espoused the Hon Katherine Barry, daughter of James, Viscount Buttevant, and had issue,
JOHN, killed by "The White Knight";
Lord Power died in 1607, and was succeeded by his grandson,

JOHN, 5th Baron (c1599-1661), who had livery of his grandfather's lands in 1639.

He wedded Ruth, daughter of Robert Phypoe, of St Mary's Abbey, Dublin, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor, 6th Baron;
Lord Power was excused from transplantation at the hands of OLIVER CROMWELL, as he was bereft of reason, and had been so for twenty years, in 1654.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 6th Baron (1630-90), who was created, in 1673, Viscount Decies and EARL OF TYRONE.

He married, in 1654, Lady Dorothy Annesley, daughter of Arthur, 1st Earl of Anglesey, by whom (who was buried in Waterford Cathedral) he had issue,
JOHN, his successor, 7th Baron & 2nd Earl;
JAMES, 8th Baron & 3rd Earl.
Lord Power, 1st Earl of Tyrone, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, as a Jacobite, where he died in 1690, and was buried at Farnborough, Hampshire, when he was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN (c1665-93), 7th Baron and 2nd Earl, who died unmarried in Dublin, in 1693, and who was buried at Carrick-on-Suir, when he was succeeded by his brother,

JAMES, 8th Baron and 3rd Earl (1667-1704), who wedded Anne, daughter of Andrew Rickards, of Dangan Spidoge, County Kilkenny, by whom he had an only daughter,

LADY KATHERINE POWER, who espoused, in 1717, Sir Marcus Beresford Bt, of Coleraine, and brought her husband the Curraghmore estates.

She died in 1769.

Sir Marcus (1694-1763) was created, in 1746, EARL OF TYRONE, and was ancestor of the Marquess of Waterford.

Lord Power, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, died without male issue in 1704, when his earldom and viscountcy became extinct; but his barony of POWER, of Curraghmore, reverted to his heir male,

JOHN, 9th Baron Power,
de jure, who, being a colonel in the army of King JAMES II, and attainted and outlawed on account of the rebellion in 1688, could not take his seat, but he was allowed a pension of £300 per annum by the Crown.
He died in Paris, in 1725, and left, with two daughters, Charlotte and Clare, an only son,

HENRY, 10th Baron, but for the attainters of his father and grandfather.
He took out administration to his father in 1725, and petitioned the Duke of Bolton, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for the Curraghmore estate, as heir male, upon which petition the Lords Stanhope and Harrington made a favourable report to His Grace, but the petition never came to a hearing.
Lord Power died intestate and unmarried in 1742, and was buried at St Matthew's Church, Irishtown, Dublin.

Administration was granted to his sisters in 1743.

Upon his death the whole male descendants of Richard, 4th Baron, became extinct, and the representation of the 1st Baron Power devolved on the heir male of Piers Power, of Rathgormuck, the brother of the 4th Baron,

JOHN POWER, of Gurteen, County Waterford, and of Grange, County Galway.
He served in France under his maternal uncle, Colonel John Power, 9th Baron Power, and on his return to Ireland he wedded, in 1703, Mary, daughter and co-heir of Richard Power, of Ballydrimney, County Galway, at the request of his kinsman, he being the next relation in blood of the male line.
By this lady he had five daughters,
Mr Power died at Grange in 1743, and was succeeded by his brother,

WILLIAM POWER (FitzEdmond), of Gurteen, who died without an heir at Gurteen in 1755, and was buried at Kilsheelan.

He was succeeded by his nephew,

EDMOND POWER, of Gurteen, who espoused, in 1739, his cousin Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of John Power (FitzEdmond), of Gurteen, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Mr Power was succeeded by his son and heir,

WILLIAM POWER (1745-1813), of Gurteen, who married Mary, daughter of Captain Walter Delamar, in 1765.


JAMES, succeeded as 13th Baron La Poer in 1755, de jure. His great-grandson,

EDMOND, 16th Baron (1775-1830), of Gurteen; 8th Light Dragoons (later 8th Hussars); fought in the Flanders Campaign, under the Duke of York. His 2nd son,

JOHN WILLIAM, 17th Baron, JP, DL (1816-51); MP for County Waterford, 1837-40; MP for Dungarvan, 1837; High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1841. His eldest son,

EDMOND JAMES, 18th Baron, JP (1841-1915); MP for Waterford, 1866-73.

The 18th Baron was created 1st Count de la Poer [Papal States] in 1864.

The Count was High Sheriff of County Waterford in 1879; Private Chamberlain to HH Pope Pius IX; HM Lord-Lieutenant for the County and city of Waterford, 1909.

His second son,

JOHN WILLIAM RIVALLON, JP, 19th Baron and 2nd Count (1882-1939); 4th Battalion, Leinster Regiment; High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1913.

In 1922, he claimed the barony of Le Poer and Coroghmore, and Committee of Privileges of House of Lords decided that but for the attainder of John Power in 1691, the claim had been established.

His eldest son,

EDMOND ROBERT ARNOLD, TD, 20th Baron and 3rd Count; was commissioned, in 1936, in the London Irish Rifles; fought in the Second World War.

He succeeded to the title of 20th Baron le Power and Coroghmore in 1939; Captain, the Royal Ulster Rifles; awarded the Territorial Decoration; was an engineer. He lived in 1976 at Gurteen.

In 1998, the world-renowned artist, painter and photographer Gottfried Helnwein purchased Gurteen House, where he lives with his family.

GURTEEN LE POER, near Kilsheelan, County Waterford, is a large Tudor-Baronial house of great importance, which retains its original form and massing together with important salient features and materials, both to the exterior and to the interior.

Built in 1866 to designs prepared by Samuel Roberts for Edmond, 1st Count de la Poer, the architectural quality of the house is enhanced by the complex arrangement of gables, towers and turrets, all of which enliven the skyline.

The construction in limestone ashlar attests to high quality stone work, which is particularly evident in the fine detailing throughout.

A group of gateways to the grounds enhances the artistic design quality of the site, while a garden turret contributes to ornamental quality of the battlemented enclosure, itself augmenting the medieval tone of the grounds.

The house is of additional importance in the locality on account of its associations with the de la Poer family.

The main block is massive, with a lower service wing to one side.

The garden front has the same grouping of gables and three-sided bows, with a great tower in the entrance front.

The interior of Gurteen is commodious and agreeable, the centre boasting a galleried top-lit great hall, divided by a screen of Gothic arches.

Perhaps one of the most notable rooms in the house is the dining-room, said to contain one of the most perfect Victorian-Baronial interiors in Ireland.

The chimney-piece, of carved oak, is most exquisite with its heraldic angels holdings shields of the family arms, and its head of St Hubert's Stag - the family crest - complete with antlers and crucifix, mounted atop the mantel-shelf like a trophy.

First published in November, 2012.   Colour photos by kind permission of Gottfried Helnwein.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

McCutcheon's Day

Groomsport from McCutcheon's Field

I've spent the day with other National Trust volunteers at a place known as McCutcheon's Field.

This comprises several acres of coastline at Brigg's Rocks and close to Sandeel Bay, in north County Down.

There's a holiday park here called Windsor Caravan Park.

This field is close to Groomsport.

Today we were gathering old gorse cuttings and burning them.

There were several young Dexter cattle in the vicinity.

We numbered about twelve today, enjoying our packed lunches at the coast-line, watching the ferries and container ships sailing up and down Belfast Lough.

Phil treated us all to some of his wife's German biscuits.

I visited Clandeboye estate on my way home. The walled garden no longer sells spindleberry shrubs, though they still grow some for the seeds.

The Savoy Chapel

The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty

The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, off The Strand, London, has long been associated with the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Chapel is the only building of a hospital founded by HENRY VII for homeless people in 1512.

This hallowed place of worship belongs to Her Majesty The Queen in Her Right as Duke of Lancaster.

It is a ‘free’ chapel or ‘peculiar’, not falling within any bishop’s jurisdiction, though remaining firmly within the established Church.

The Chapel remains an important part of the Savoy Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster’s principal London land holding.

It continues to provide spiritual service to the community, as it has done for nearly five hundred years.

The Savoy Chapel is also the chapel of the Royal Victorian Order, an Order of Chivalry within the Sovereign’s personal gift.

By The Queen’s appointment, the present Chaplain is also Chaplain of the Order.

The expenses of the Chapel are borne by the sovereign, and collections are donated to charity.

Maintenance of this historic building remains the Duchy of Lancaster’s responsibility.

Work began on a new development plan for the Chapel in 2012.

The last extensions were constructed in 1957, with the creation of the ante-chapel, the royal Robing room and the Chaplain's office.


The new work, improved and extended in a project in 2012, included:-

  • The royal Robing room was enlarged.
  • A new door from the retiring room into the newly-excavated semi-circular courtyard.
  • The Chaplain's office was divided into a new office for the Verger.
  • A new Chaplain's office was created adjacent to the Verger's office, accessible to the courtyard.
  • The present ante-chapel now has windows opening on to the new courtyard.
  • The choir vestry was refurbished.
  • There is a new kitchen.
In the chapel itself, the wooden dais was removed to reveal the earlier Victorian stone and patterned tile dais.

The chancel carpet was removed to reveal the Victorian tiled floor, together with the brass memorials to two bishops, both of whom are buried in the churchyard.

Heraldic banners are being made for the Sovereign and the Grand Master of the Royal Victorian Order.

The brief was also for the re-landscaping of the Chapel in conjunction with a major development on the adjoining land.

The vestries were re-roofed with copper; the churchyard re-landscaped, to form an oval lawn, path and stone border carved with an inscription recording the re-opening by Her Majesty the Queen.

THE ROYAL VICTORIAN ORDER has about eighteen members in Northern Ireland.

The photograph above shows His Grace the Duke of Abercorn, KG, attending a reception with some members of the Order at Hillsborough Castle.

First published in January, 2014.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Bewitching Spindleberry

Many thanks to all those readers who apprised me of this shrub's name.

I am informed that the wood of Euonymus europaeus is very hard and was once used for spindles, skewers, pipe stems and artists' charcoal.

The bark was used medicinally to treat liver disorders.

I took these pictures myself on Sunday, 26th October, 2014, at the National Trust's Minnowburn property, near Shaw's Bridge, Belfast.

The spindleberry stands out alone among a newly-planted wood beside the Rose Garden.

Phoenix Lodge

Charley of Seymour Hill

The family of CHARLEY or CHORLEY, passing over from the north of England, settled in Ulster in the 17th century, at first at Belfast, where they were owners of house property for two hundred years; and afterwards at Finaghy, County Antrim, where  

RALPH CHARLEY (1664-1746), of Finaghy House, County Antrim, left a son,

JOHN CHARLEY (1712-93), of Finaghy House, who died aged 81, leaving a son and successor,

JOHN CHARLEY (1744-1812), of Finaghy House, who married, in 1783, Anne Jane, daughter of Richard Wolfenden, of Harmony Hill, County Down.

His second son, 

MATTHEW CHARLEY (1788-1846), of Finaghy House, married, in 1819, Mary Anne, daughter of Walter Roberts, of Colin House. His eldest son,

JOHN STOUPPE CHARLEY JP (1825-78), of Finaghy House, and of Arranmore Island, County Donegal,

a magistrate for counties Donegal, Antrim, and Belfast; High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1875-6. Mr Charley owned 6,498 acres of land in County Donegal.
This gentleman married, in 1851, Mary, daughter of Francis Forster JP, of Roshine Lodge, County Donegal. His third son,

WILLIAM CHARLEY, of Seymour Hill, Dunmurry, married, in 1817, Isabella, eldest daughter of William Hunter JP, of Dunmurry; and dying in 1838, was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN CHARLEY, of Seymour Hill,  who died unmarried in 1843, aged 25, and was succeeded by his brother, 

WILLIAM CHARLEY JP DL (1826-1904), of Seymour Hill, who wedded, in 1856, Ellen Anna Matilda, daughter of Edward Johnson JP, of Ballymacash, near Lisburn, and granddaughter of Rev Philip Johnson JP DL. 
Mr Charley was juror of Great Exhibition, 1851; chairman of J & W Charley & Company. He wrote the book Flax And Its Products.
He was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD JOHNSON CHARLEY (1859-1932), of Seymour Hill; whose sixth son, 

officer, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles; fought in the Boer War, and 1st World War, with 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles; wounded and became a PoW. In 1916 he started workshops for interned British servicemen at Murren. He was Officer-in-Charge for Technical Instruction for servicemen interned in Switzerland, 1917; Commissioner, British Red Cross Society, Switzerland, 1918; commander, 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, 1919-23. CBE, 1920; City Commandant, Ulster Special Constabulary, 1924-52; originator of the British Legion Car Park Attendants scheme (adopted throughout Great Britain); Honorary Colonel, 1938, Antrim Coast Regiment (Territorial Army). 
His eldest son, 

COLONEL WILLIAM ROBERT (Robin) HUNTER CHARLEY OBE (b 1924), married Catherine Janet, daughter of William Sinclair Kingan, in 1960.

IN 1837, the Ulster Railway Company opened its first line from Belfast to Lisburn. 

To encourage more use of the railway, free passes were offered to people if they built new homes near the stations and halts.

 It is thought that this may have influenced William Charley (1790-1838) to build Phoenix Lodge for his daughter, Anne Jane, in 1837, shortly before he died.

In 1842, Anne married William Stevenson, of Belfast, and they lived at Phoenix Lodge until his death in 1855.

His widow then moved to live with her mother at Huntley.

In 1882, the name of the house was changed simply to The Lodge, following the notorious Phoenix Park murders in Dublin.

Captain Arthur Charley (1870-1944) lived there with his wife, Clare, after the Great War until his brother, Edward Charley (1859-1932) died and he moved into Seymour Hill House.

In the 1930s, The Lodge was rented by Lord and Lady Ampthill.

In 1940, Major-General Sir James and Lady Cooke-Collis lived there (he was the first Ulster Agent in London, but died in 1941 as the result of a German air raid on his club in London).

Thereafter it was occupied by Major-General Vivian Majendie, GOC Northern Ireland.

In 1947, The Lodge was bought by Mrs Harland, sister of Sir Milne Barbour Bt, of Conway House.

Despite being listed, the house was vested in the early 1960s, following Mrs Harland's death.

The grounds taken over for the expansion of a nearby factory. 

A large, weeping ash tree dominated the front lawn of the Lodge.

The information has been sourced from Lisburn Historical Society.    First published in March, 2011.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Leigh Baronetcy



The LEIGH entry for arms at Ulster's (King of Arms) office, dated 1608, reads as follows:
CAPTAIN EDMUND LEIGH, commander of the army in County Tyrone: "azure, on a chevron, between three ducal coronets or, as many hurts, a crescent for difference."
County Tyrone was planted by nine English and seventeen Scottish undertakers, and five servitors, of whom:-

The undertakers for the barony of Clogher were:-

  • Sir Thomas Ridgeway: 2,000 acres at Portclare and Ballykerigire (in addition to his allocation as a servitor);
  • Francis Willoughby, son of Sir Perceval Willoughby: 2,000 acres at Fentonagh;
  • George Ridgeway (Sir Thomas's brother): 1,000 acres at Ballymackell.
Captain John Ridgeway possessed 1,000 acres near Lough Ramor, County Cavan.


Captain Edmund Leigh was appointed sheriff in 1607.

He was said to have been detested by the Earl of Tyrone, who called him 'that whispering companion' sent to spy on him.

A document drawn up by Sir Arthur Chichester on 25 January 1608 indicates that Lower Tyrone (an area which surrounded the town of Omagh, or Omey), was governed by Captain John Leigh. 

John Leigh and his brothers were  'adventurers' who funded the war effort and were entitled to lands in return.

The portion allocated to Francis Willoughby was either sold by him or confiscated, when he failed to comply with his undertakings.

This land was consequently taken over by John Leigh who, with his two brothers, Daniel and Captain Edmund, had built the English fort on the Strule at Omagh, where Edmond had been granted 330 acres, as warden of the fort.
John and Daniel were appointed wardens when he died.

The brothers had come to Ulster under the auspices of Henry Bagenal.

In 1611, disputes arose between Mr Clapham, Sir Thomas Boyde, Sir John Davyes, and Captain John Leigh, regarding land in County Tyrone.

The friary lands of Omagh, which were owned by the Leigh brothers, had been unwittingly allocated to undertakers.

The dispute was settled when John Leigh surrendered his church lands, and this so impressed the King, that he allowed Leigh to take the lands on his own terms.

In 1612-13, a survey of undertakers planted in county Tyrone, in 1609, reported as follows under the headings: 2,000 acres, Clogher, Undertakers.

Sir Daniel Leigh is mentioned in a Chancery Inquisition Juries Summoner's Roll, for Tyrone quarter Sessions in the reign of JAMES I, 1624/5.

In 1629-30, a listing of able-bodied men (capable of combat), which was called the Muster Roll, was compiled, and John Leigh gave seventeen names, less than most of the other undertakers.

Many of the names on this list were Irish, so Leigh was not in favour in London, on account of his tolerance for so many of the 'meere Irish' on his land.

It was recorded that Sir Daniel Leigh died in 1630, and that John Leigh, lord of the manor of Fintona, died in 1631, and his nephew, Sir Arthur Leigh, knight, son of Daniel, succeeded to the manor at Fintona, which was called Castle Leigh.

The summoner's roll for Tyrone assizes in 1636 records that 

"Arthur Leigh, Baronet, was fined £15 because at Assizes of 20 August, 11 Charles I, 1635, he was paid for building a bridge across the river at Omagh which he had not done".

In the civil survey of 1654-56, in the barony of Clogher and parish of Doncavie (which included Fintona), 

"lands amounting to 1,682 acres, (960 profitable, and 722 barren, bogg and mountaine); and 200 acres in the same parish, of church lands, are now in possession of the widow of Sir Daniel Leigh,an English Protestant, and her new husband, Alderman William Smith of Dublin. She is named as 'ye Lady Leigh' and 'Lady Ley', in the same document.

Another account declares:-

Petition to the King of Dame Mary Leigh, relict and administratrix of Sir Daniel Leigh, Kt. and Bart., showing that : — King James by letters of 26 October, 1609, granted to John Leigh and Daniel Leigh, afterwards Sir Daniel Leigh, the constableship of the fort of Omagh, with 20 warders, viz. : — 6 horsemen and 14 footmen. 
The constableship was given him in reward for his service in The Queen's Irish wars. The patent stated that Daniel or John should hold during pleasure, and the garrison was not to be diminished without his knowledge.

It has been so diminished that, by 1629, all the warders had been lost. 

Petitioner's husband never received a return of the money he spent in building the fort of Omagh, and had left her with heavy debts and an expensive family. 

The now Lord Deputy was anxious to help her; but, under the recent establishments, his hands were tied. She prays for relief from the Irish Treasury or Court of Wards.

The Leighs served as sheriffs of Tyrone as follows:-
  • Edmund, 1607
  • John, 1610 and 1614
  • and Sir Daniel Leigh, 1624.
The national archives state:-

"The Fort of the Omye: Here is a good fort, fairly walled with lime and stone, about 30 foot high above the ground with a parapet, the river on one side and a large deep ditch about the rest, within which is built a fair house of timber after the English manner.

Other buildings described. All begun by Captain Ormond [Edmund] Leigh and finished by his brothers John and Daniel Leigh at their own charges upon the lands of the Abbey of Omye, at which place are many families of English and Irish who have built them good dwelling-houses, which is a safety and comfort for passengers between Donganon and the Liffer.

The fort is a place of good import upon all occasions of service and fit to be maintained."

John Leigh was an engineer by profession, and came to Ulster with the Earl of Essex in 1572.

Before the time of the Plantation he had visited many localities in this province as an engineer, and knew many of its leading Irish inhabitants.

He appears to have bought the proportion of Fintona from Sir Francis Willoughby, even before the latter had taken out a patent, for the grant was made in Leigh's own name.

Leigh apparently had no particular taste for planting for, instead of bringing strangers on his lands, he leased them to the Irish, at the risk of being forfeited for thus doing. 

At his death, he was succeeded by his nephew, Sir Arthur Leigh, who sold the estate to Captain James Mervin or Mervyn.

First published in May, 2011.