Monday, 18 January 2021

Tandragee Castle

THE DUKES OF MANCHESTER WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ARMAGH, WITH 12,298 ACRES

The house of Montacute is of an antiquity at least contemporary with the Norman conquest.

In the reign of EDWARD III, Sir William Montagu, alias de Montacute, was created Earl of Salisbury, which title continued in his descendants until HENRY VI, when the fourth and last Earl was slain at the siege of Orléans in France.

From a younger branch of this family was lineally descended

CHARLES, 4TH EARL OF MANCHESTER (c1662-1722), who married, in 1690, Doddington, daughter and co-heir of Robert Greville, 4th Baron Brooke, by whom he had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
ROBERT, succeeded his brother as 3rd Duke;
Doddington; Charlotte.
This nobleman opposing the measures of JAMES II, was one of the first who espoused the cause of the Prince of Orange, and he took an active part in the campaign in Ireland, being present at the battle of the Boyne, and the subsequently unsuccessful siege of Limerick.

In 1696, his lordship was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Venice; in 1699, accredited Ambassador to the court of France; in 1701, he was constituted Secretary of State for the Southern Department.

Upon the accession of GEORGE I, his lordship was constituted in the Lord-Lieutenancy of Huntingdonshire, sworn of the Privy Council, appointed one of the Lords of His Majesty's Bedchamber; and, finally, in 1719, created DUKE OF MANCHESTER.

His Grace was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Duke (1700-39), KB, who espoused, in 1723, Isabella, daughter of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, but had no issue.

His Grace died in 1739, when the honours devolved upon his brother, 

ROBERT, 3rd Duke (c1710-62), who married, in 1735, Harriet, daughter and co-heir of Edmund Dunch, of Little Wittenham, Berkshire, and had issue,
GEORGE, his successor;
Charles Greville;
Caroline; Louisa.
His Grace was succeeded by his elder son,

GEORGE, 4th Duke (1737-88), Master of the Horse, 1780, who wedded, in 1762, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir James Dashwood Bt, of Kirtlington Park, and had issue,
George, Viscount Mandeville (1763-72);
WILLIAM, his successor;
Frederick;
Caroline Maria; Anna Maria; Emily.
His Grace was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM, 5th Duke (1771-1843), who wedded, in 1793, the Lady Susan Gordon, third daughter of Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, and had issue,
GEORGE, his successor;
William Francis;
Jane; Georgiana Frederica; Elizabeth; Susan; Caroline Catherine; Emily.
His Grace, who filled the offices of Governor of Jamaica, Collector of the Customs for the Port of London, and Lord-Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire, 1793-1841, was succeeded by his elder son,

GEORGE, 6TH DUKE (1799-1855), of Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire, who married firstly, in 1822, Millicent, daughter of Brigadier-General Robert Bernard Sparrow, of Brampton Park, Huntingdonshire, by his wife, the Lady Olivia Acheson, eldest daughter of Arthur, 1st Earl of Gosford, of Gosford Castle, County Armagh, by which lady he had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Robert, of Cromore House, m Ellen Cromie;
Frederick;
Olivia.
His Grace espoused secondly, in 1850, Harriet Sydney, daughter of Conway Richard Dobbs, of Castle Dobbs, County Antrim, and had further issue,
Sydney Charlotte;
George Francis.

The site of Tandragee Castle in County Armagh - formerly spelt Tanderagee - once belonged to the O'Hanlon Clan, one of the most powerful clans in the history of Ulster.

A more detailed account of the O'Hanlon lineage is provided on their website.

(Image: GreyHobbit)

THE CASTLE, Tandragee, County Armagh, was rebuilt by the 6th Duke of Manchester in the Baronial style about 1837.

At one end of the Castle stands a solid machicolated tower; while the opposite end has a gabled block somewhat similar to a Tudor manor-house.

A notable, corbelled "look-out" turret is at another corner.

Image: Roy Vogan ( www.royspics.com )

In the interior, the entrance hall had a grand marble fireplace with Italian woodwork; while the ceiling panels displayed coats-of-arms of families formerly connected with the Castle.
The 7th Duke was appointed a Knight of St Patrick (KP) in 1877. As Prime Minister, Benjamin Disaeli appointed six Conservative peers to the Order: The Duke of Manchester; The Marquesses of Waterford and Londonderry; and the Earls of Erne, Mayo and Portarlington.
The site of Tandragee Castle in County Armagh - formerly spelt Tanderagee - once belonged to the O'Hanlon Clan, one of the most powerful clans in the history of Ulster.

A more detailed account of the O'Hanlon lineage is provided on their website. 

*****

Two villagers, Samuel (Tucker) Croft and Edward Kelly, decided to start a football team in an organised league and approached the Duke of Manchester for a playing field.

The Duke, along with various other businessmen from the town decided to back them and both Samuel and Edward were invited to the Castle to discuss the question of a playing field.

Level fields were few and far between, and the right to use the old pitch on the Scarva Road was finally granted as long as it was required for a football team.

Tandragee Rovers was established in August 1909 and the pitch, secured from the Duke, was duly named Manchester Park.

The newly formed team also decided to adopt the coat-of-arms of the Duke of Manchester  as their club badge.

The motto "Disponendo me, non mutando me" dates back to the time of HENRY VIII, and is the most ancient of all the Montagu mottos.

It is said to have originated with Sir Edward Montagu, the executor of the King's will.

The arms are still used as the Club's badge.
In 1911, the 9th Duke brought John Stone, an eminent Scottish professional from Sandy Lodge Golf Club, London, to lay out a private golf course on his estate at Tandragee. In those days, there was no clubhouse and Mr. Stone, his wife and their two daughters collected fees at the Gate Lodge where they had set up residence.
The Duchess of Manchester, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, even designed some of the original bunkers which were laid out in the shape of the Great Lakes and these remain to this day. The golf club received notice to quit the Duke's estate, to take effect from 12th November, 1949.
Tandragee Castle remained a seat of the Dukes of Manchester until 1939.

In 1943 it became home to a garrison of the US Army.

The Montagu connection with Tandragee and Northern Ireland ended in 1955, when the 10th Duke sold the Castle to the founder of Tayto Crisps, Thomas Hutchinson.

Tandragee Castle is now a well-known potato crisp factory.

Manchester arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in November, 2009.

Oliver Cromwell

The family of The Protector, which arose in Wales, and was deemed illustrious by the genealogists of the Principality, bore the surname of CROMWELL, by assumption only, its patronymic, WILLIAMS, having been abandoned at the special desire of HENRY VIII.

His Majesty recommended to Sir Richard Morgan ap Williams to use the surname of CROMWELL in honour of his relation, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex.

Ralph Brooke, York Herald, drew up a pedigree of the family which he entitled "A Genealogy of the Cromwell Family, descended from the Williams of Wales, whose predecessors were Lords of Powys and Cardigan from 1066 to 1602."

MORGAN WILLIAMS married the sister of THOMAS CROMWELL, 1st Earl of Essex, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Walter;
Richard.
The eldest son,

SIR RICHARD WILLIAMS (c1510-44), assumed, as already stated, at the desire of HENRY VIII, the surname of his uncle, THOMAS CROMWELL, and through the influence of that once-powerful relative, he and his family obtained wealth and station.

Additions were made to Sir Richard's possessions by the King, even after the fall of the favourite, Cromwell; so that at the period of his death, his estates probably equalled in value those of the peers of that era.

Sir Richard wedded, in 1518, Frances, daughter and co-heir of the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Murfyn, of Ely, and had issue,
HENRY, his heir;
Francis.
The elder son and successor,

SIR HENRY WILLIAMS alias CROMWELL (1537-1604), of Hinchingbrooke, espoused firstly, Joan, daughter of Sir Ralph Warren, Knight, and had issue,
Oliver, his heir;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
Henry;
Richard;
Philip;
Ralph;
Joan; Elizabeth; Frances; Mary; Dorothy.
He married secondly, Susan Weeks, by whom he had no issue.

The second son,

ROBERT CROMWELL (c1567-1617), settled in the town of Huntingdon, and became a brewer there.

He wedded Elizabeth, daughter of William Steward, and had issue,
OLIVER;
Anne.
The only son and heir,

OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658), married, in 1620, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Bourchier, of Essex, had issue,
Robert;
Oliver;
Richard;
HENRY, of whom hereafter;
James;
Bridget; Elizabeth; Mary Frances.
Cromwell, after a series of military triumphs, was declared LORD PROTECTOR on the 12th December, 1653, and inaugurated on the 16th of the same month.

There is hardly one man in the whole range of history whose good sword achieved an empire, with less of the hero in his composition, than this successful soldier.

Fanaticism, superstition, and cruelty, were the predominating traits of his character.

A profound hypocrite, he regarded everybody who approached him with suspicion; his nearest kindred were objects of distrust.

He had no friends, and when, with himself, the influence of his name expired, his family fell without a struggle.

Cromwell died at Whitehall, on the 3rd September, 1658, and was publicly interred, with regal pomp, in HENRY VIII's chapel, Westminster Abbey, on the 23rd November following.

His remains, with those of Ireton and Bradshaw, were dug up after the Restoration, and being pulled out of their coffins, hanged at Tyburn on the 30th January, 1661, until sunset; when they were taken down, beheaded, and flung into a deep hole under the gallows.


When Cromwell's coffin was broken into, a leaden canister was found lying on his breast, and within a gilt copper plate, with the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, impaling those of Cromwell, on one side; and on the other, the following inscription:
"OLIVERIUS PROTECTOR REPUBLICÆ ANGLIÆ, SCOTIÆ, ET HIBERNIÆ, NATUS 25 APRILIS, ANNO 1599; INAUGURATUS 16 DECEMBRIS, 1653; MORTUUS 3 SEPTEMBRIS, ANNO 1658, HIC SITUS EST."

Cromwell's mother died four years before himself, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

His fourth son,

HENRY CROMWELL (1628-74), entered on a military life at the age of 16, and served under his father in Ireland, of which kingdom he was afterwards LORD DEPUTY.

So great was his prudent conduct during his Lord Lieutenancy, it is said, that he brought the Irish nation into a flourishing condition, and he behaved with such strict impartiality in his government, as to extort esteem from the most uncompromising royalists.

He was endowed, however, with the same moderate disposition as his brother Richard, and on the demise of his father, quietly resigned his command, returning to England, where he continued afterwards to reside as a country gentleman, unconcerned in the various changes of the state, and un-embittered by the ills of ambition.

It is even thought that he rejoiced in the restoration of the King, and he was not only included in the act of indemnity, but received some marks of royal favour.

He espoused, in 1653, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Francis Russell Bt, of Chippenham, and had issue,
OLIVER;
HENRY;
Francis;
Richard;
William;
Elizabeth.
Henry Cromwell was succeeded at Spinney Abbey by his eldest son,

OLIVER CROMWELL, of Spinney Abbey, Cambridgeshire, who was succeeded by his next brother,

HENRY CROMWELL, who disposed of the estate at Spinney Abbey, and entered the army.

By the interest of the Duke of Ormonde (who was under obligations to his father and grandfather), he became a major of foot; and would probably have obtained further promotion had he not been cut off by a fever, whilst serving under Lord Galway in Spain.

His death occurred in 1711.

Major Cromwell had wedded Hannah, eldest daughter of Benjamin Hewling, a turkey merchant, and had issue,
William;
Richard;
Henry;
THOMAS;
Oliver;
Mary; Hannah.
The fourth son,

THOMAS CROMWELL (1699-1746), married firstly, Miss Frances Tidman, and had surviving issue,
Henry;
Anne.
Mr Cromwell wedded secondly, Mary, daughter of Nicholas Skinner, merchant, of London, and had further issue,
OLIVER, his heir;
Thomas;
Elizabeth; Susannah.
The elder son of the second marriage,

OLIVER CROMWELL, succeeded to the estate at Theobalds, under the will of his cousins, Elizabeth, Anne, and Letitia, daughters of Richard Cromwell, and married, in 1771, Mary, daughter and co-heir of Morgan Morse, by whom he had issue,
Oliver, who died in his father's lifetime;
ELIZABETH OLIVERIA, Mrs Russell.
Mr Cromwell's only surviving child,

ELIZABETH OLIVERIA CROMWELL (1777-1849), of Cheshunt Park, Hertfordshire, wedded, in 1801, Thomas Artimedorus Russell, and had issue,
JOHN HENRY CROMWELL RUSSELL;
Thomas Artemidorus Russell;
Charles William Cromwell Russell;
Elizabeth; Mary Esther; Letitia; Emma Bridget.
Source: A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, by John Burke, Page 428, dated 1834.

Cromwell arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

1st Marquess of Bute

THE MARQUESSES OF BUTE WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN AYRSHIRE, WITH 43,734 ACRES

This noble family claims direct descent from the royal and unfortunate house of STUART.

JOHN STEWART, the founder of this family, was a natural son of ROBERT II, King of Scotland.

There is a tradition that his mother's name was Leitch.

About 1385, the King put together the seven islands of Bute, Arran, Great and Little Cumbrae, Holy Isle, Pladda, and Inchmarnock, into a county, and conferred the office of hereditary sheriff thereof on John Stewart his son, with a considerable grant of land.

This grant was subsequently confirmed by charter of ROBERT III, dated 1400.

He wedded Jean, daughter of Sir John Sempill, of Eliotstoun, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
William;
Robert;
John;
Andrew.
The eldest son,

JAMES STEWART, Sheriff of Bute, appears to have been born in 1399, and succeeded his father in 1449.

He married and had issue,
NINIAN, his heir;
James;
David;
John.
The eldest son,

NINIAN STEWART, having succeeded his father in the sheriffdom of Bute, obtained, in 1498, a new grant of the hereditary custody of Rothesay Castle, with a salary of eighty marks yearly out of the Lordship of Bute.

He died in 1539, and was succeeded by his son,

JAMES STEWART, who was installed in his estate and heritable constabulary of Rothesay Castle.

The family favoured the French spelling of the name as Stuart, which was introduced by Mary, Queen of Scots, and is still used today.

The grandson of this James,

SIR JAMES STUART, Knight, of Bute, married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Robert Hepburn, of Foord, by whom he acquired the estate of Foord, with several other lands in Haddingtonshire, and was succeeded by his son,

SIR JAMES STUART, of Bute, who was created a baronet in 1627; and adhering to the royal cause during the civil wars, suffered considerably both by fines and sequestration.

Sir James wedded Grizel, daughter of Sir Dugald Campbell, of Auchinbreck, and had, with other issue, his eldest son and successor,

SIR DUGALD STUART, 2nd Baronet (1630-70), who married, in 1658, Elizabeth, daughter John Ruthven, of Dunglass, and granddaughter, maternally, of Alexander, 1st Earl of Leven, by whom he had (besides daughters), two sons, of whom the elder,

THE RT HON SIR JAMES STUART, 3rd Baronet (1661-1710), who, being of the privy council to ANNE, and one of the commissioners appointed to treat of a union with England, in 1702, which did not then take effect, was elevated to the peerage, in the following year, in the dignities of Earl of Bute, Viscount Kingarth, and Lord Mount Stuart, Cumra, and Inchmarnock, to himself and his heirs male whatever.

In 1706, his lordship opposed the union with all his might; and when he discovered that a majority of parliament was in favour of the measure, withdrew from the house, and retired to his country seat.

His lordship was succeeded by the only son of his first marriage,

JAMES, 2nd Earl; who, after the demise of his maternal uncle, and much litigation, succeeded to the estate of Rosehaugh.

His lordship espoused Anne, daughter of Archibald, 1st Duke of Argyll; and dying in 1723, this nobleman was succeeded by his elder son,

JOHN, 3rd Earl (1713-92), KG, who married Mary, only daughter of Edward Wortley-Montagu, of Wortley, Yorkshire, and great-granddaughter of Edward, 1st Earl of Sandwich.

Her ladyship was created, in 1761, suo jure Baroness Mount Stuart, with remainder to her male issue by the Earl of Bute.

His lordship was a minister of the crown from 1737, when he was made a lord of the police, until his resignation of the high office of 1st Lord of the Treasury, in 1763.

He died in 1792, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 4th Earl (1744-1814), who had succeeded upon the demise of his mother, in 1794, to the barony of Mount Stuart, having been previously (1776) created Baron Cardiff, of Cardiff Castle.

His lordship was advanced, in 1796, to the dignities of Viscount Mountjoy, in the Isle of Wight; Earl of Windsor, and MARQUESS OF BUTE.

He espoused firstly, in 1766, Charlotte Jane Hickman-Windsor, eldest daughter and co-heir of Herbert, 2nd and last Viscount Windsor, of the Kingdom of Ireland.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, John Bryson Crichton-Stuart, styled Earl of Dumfries.
*****
EARLDOM OF DUMFRIES
(NOW UNITED WITH THE MARQUESSATE OF BUTE)

SIR ROBERT CRICHTON, of Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, probably descended from a son of Alexander Crichton, of Crichton, Edinburgh, 1296, signalized himself at Lochmaben, against the Duke of Albany and the Earl of Douglas, when they made an incursion into Scotland, in 1484.

This Sir Robert was created a peer of parliament, in 1488, by the title of Lord Crichton of Sanquhar.

From his lordship descended lineally

WILLIAM, 7th Lord, who was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1622, as Viscount of Ayr, and Lord Sanquhar; and further advanced, 1633, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF DUMFRIES.


DUMFRIES HOUSE, near Cumnock, Ayrshire, was built in 1760 for William Crichton-Dalrymple, 5th Earl of Dumfries.

The 5th Earl's antecedent, William Crichton, 7th Lord Crichton of Sanquhar and 1st Earl of Dumfries, purchased the estate in 1635 from the Crawford family.

The 5th Earl died died eight years after the House had been completed, when the estates passed to his nephew, Patrick McDouall (1726-1803), 6th Earl.

The 6th Earl's only daughter and heir, Lady Elizabeth McDouall-Crichton, wedded John, Lord Mount Stuart, eldest son of John 1st Marquess of Bute.

John, 2nd Marquess of Bute, was the eldest son of this marriage, which combined the estates and titles of the Crichtons and Stuarts.

Dumfries House, Palladian in style, is noted as being one of the few such houses with much of its original 18th-century furniture still present, including specially commissioned Thomas Chippendale pieces.

The house and estate is now owned in charitable trust by the The Great Steward of Scotland's Dumfries House Trust, who maintain it as a visitor attraction and hospitality and wedding venue.

Both the House and the gardens are listed as significant aspects of Scottish heritage.

The estate and an earlier house was originally called Leifnorris, owned by the Crawfords of Loudoun.

The present house was built in the 1750s for William Dalrymple, 5th Earl of Dumfries, by John and Robert Adam.

Having been inherited by the 2nd Marquess of Bute in 1814, it remained in his family until 7th Marquess decided to sell it due to the cost of upkeep.
Due to its significance and the risk of the furniture collection being distributed and auctioned, after three years of uncertainty, in 2007 the estate and its entire contents was purchased for £45m for the country by a consortium headed by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay, including a £20m loan from the Prince's charitable trust.
The intention was to renovate the estate to become self-sufficient, both to preserve it and regenerate the local economy.

As well as donors and sponsorship, funding is also intended to come from constructing the nearby housing development of Knockroon, a planned community along the lines of the Prince's similar venture, Poundbury in Dorset.

The house duly re-opened in 2008, equipped for public tours.

Since then various other parts of the estate have been re-opened for various uses, to provide both education and employment, as well as funding the trust's running costs.

The Marquesses of Bute owned a further 29,279 acres of land in Bute, 21,402 acres in Glamorganshire, and 20,157 acres in Wigtownshire.

Seat ~ Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute.

Former seats ~ Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire; Cardiff Castle, Glamorganshire; Dumfries House, Ayrshire.

First published in April, 2014.  Bute arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Ferns Palace

The diocese of Ferns seems to have been established in 598 by St Edan.

During the prelacy of Bishop Grave, who was consecrated in 1600, the see of Leighlin, which had been for some time vacant, was united with Ferns.

His successors continued to be Bishops of Ferns and Leighlin from that period until 1836, when, on the death of the last bishop, Dr Elrington, both sees were annexed to the diocese of Ossory.

The diocese of is one of the five which constitute the ecclesiastical province of Dublin: it comprises a small part of County Wicklow and of Laois, and almost the whole of County Wexford, extending 46 miles in length and 18 in breadth.

*****


THE PALACE, Ferns, County Wexford, was the seat of the Lord Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin until 1836, when the two dioceses were united to that of Ossory.

St Edan's episcopal palace was erected in 1785 by Bishop Cope, who died in 1787.

The building was finished by his successor, Bishop Preston.

This was a large, square, stone edifice, with a late-Georgian staircase in a side hall leading to the top storey.

Image © Linenhall Library, Belfast

It was plundered and seriously damaged during the 1798 rebellion.

In 1834, Bishop Elrington carried out a number of additions to the design of Thomas Alfred Cobden, probably including the porch with its four Doric pilasters.


St Edan's was severely damaged in 1960 and finally demolished in 1976.

First published in December, 2015.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Ross's Auction-House


It's ages since I paid Ross's a visit. I enjoy wandering round their sale-rooms, simply looking for anything that catches my eye.

There always seem to be one or two dealers about. On one occasion I recognized Peter Maxwell (Lord de Ros).

One of the proprietor's sons was a participant in the BBC series The Apprentice quite a few years ago (a young gentleman with a singularly flamboyant pair of braces).

Ross's premises at 22-26 May Street, Belfast, were built about 1873 for the Presbyterian Church.

This building comprises two storeys over a ground-level basement, and is built of red brick and matching sandstone.

Windows are paired.

The centre bay on the May Street elevation protrudes slightly, with an arcaded balcony, corbels and Venetian-style capitals.

The door is fan-lighted with a rose window below.

Montgomery Street Elevation

The pediment at the top of the building has the carved burning bush emblem of Presbyterianism.

At the Montgomery Street side, there was a four-storey, ecclesiastical-style tower with a pyramidal roof (now the main entrance), though its top has been shorn off.

May Street Elevation

The section of the building at the corner of Montgomery Street and Music Hall Lane is of four storeys, with a large rose window at the top.

It's thought that the premises ceased to be church property post 1905, when the new Church House was built at Fisherwick Place.

This building has been occupied by Ross’s Auctioneers and Valuers for several decades.

It was originally constructed to house the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

When originally constructed the building was owned outright by the Assembly, serving as its headquarters and other Presbyterian organisations and offices.

Ecclesiastical Entrance, with Tower lopped off


In 1877 there were also offices for the Bible & Colportage Society, the Presbyterian Orphan Society and the Sabbath School Society in Ireland.

Offices in the building were also leased out to private businesses and, in 1877, a land and rent agency office operated from the site.

Similar to the construction of Belfast’s Old Town Hall on Victoria Street, the General Assembly found the building on May Street to be too small and inadequate for its needs.

Following the town’s promotion in 1888 to city status, the Assembly sought a new location for their headquarters.

A suitable plot of land was selected on Fisherwick Place (the former site of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church before moving to south Belfast). 

Church House ca 1907, with Tower

The current Presbyterian Assembly Building was constructed between 1899-1905, during which time the offices on May Street continued to be occupied by the various ecclesiastical organisations.

In 1905 the former headquarters in May Street were vacated.

22-26 May Street remained vacant until 1912, when it was occupied by John Wilson & Son and was renamed Downshire House.

Wilson & Sons were linen, damask, handkerchief, ladies underclothing, gentlemen’s shirt and collar manufacturers.

About 1935, John Wilson & Sons vacated the site.

The current occupants of the former Presbyterian Assembly Building, John Ross and Company, came into possession of the site ca 1937.

22-26 May Street survived the heavy bombardment of Belfast’s city centre during the 1941 Blitz.

In 1956 the ground and first floors were occupied by a Mr (or Mrs) D W Gray, who utilised the space as offices, showrooms and stores for John Ross & Co.

This Victorian building has since been the auction-house of John Ross & Company, of whom Daniel Clarke has been proprietor since 1988.

First published in January, 2013.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Earl of Blessington

The ancestor of William Stewart, first and last Earl of Blessington of the first creation, the Rt Hon Luke Gardiner (c1690-1755), MP for Tralee, 1725-7, Thomastown, 1727-55, Privy Counsellor, Vice-treasurer of Ireland, married, in 1711, Anne, only daughter and sole heiress of the Hon Alexander Stewart, second son of William, Viscount Mountjoy and Earl of Blessington.

Mr Gardiner was succeeded in his estates by his son,

THE RT HON CHARLES GARDINER MP (1720-69), also of the Privy Council, MP for Taghmon, 1742-60, who inherited the estates of his maternal great-grandfather, Lord Blessington, upon the extinction of the male issue in that family.

He married, in 1741, Florinda, daughter of Robert Norman, and had issue,
LUKE, his successor;
Florinda; Anne;
William Neville, General in the Army.
The eldest son,

THE RT HON LUKE GARDINER MP (1745-98), Privy Counsellor, Colonel, the Dublin Militia, succeeding to his ample possessions, MP for County Dublin, 1773-79, Colonel, the Dublin Militia, married, in 1773, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir William Montgomery, and had issue,
CHARLES JOHN, his successor;
Margaret; Louisa.
Mr Gardiner was elevated to the peerage, in 1795, in the dignity of VISCOUNT MOUNTJOY, of Mountjoy, County Tyrone.

His lordship's first wife died in 1783, and he wedded secondly, in 1793, Margaret, eldest daughter of Hector Wallis.

Lord Mountjoy fell at the head of his regiment, during the unfortunate rebellion in Ireland, in 1798, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

CHARLES JOHN, 2nd Viscount (1782-1829), who was created, in 1816, EARL OF BLESSINGTON (of the second creation).

His lordship married firstly, in 1812, Mary Campbell, daughter of Alexander MacDougall, and had issue,
Luke Wellington (1813-23);
Harriet Anne Jane Frances.
He espoused secondly, in 1818, Margaret, daughter of Edmund Power.

The peerages expired on the decease of the first and last Earl in 1829.


Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington (1782-1829)  was best known for his marriage to Margaret Farmer, née Power, whom he married at St Mary's, Bryanston Square, London, on 16 February 1818 (only four months after her first husband's death).

He was present at the trial of Queen Caroline.
After she left her first unhappy marriage, Margaret Power had stayed for almost three years with her parents, then moved to Cahir, in 1809 to Dublin, and from 1809-1814 with a Dublin acquaintance, Captain Thomas Jenkins, of the 11th light dragoons, with whom she formed a close relationship.

It was during her Hampshire stay that she met Gardiner, seven years her senior (Gardiner's first wife died sometime after 1812, having borne him two illegitimate children prior to their marriage and two legitimate children, Lady Harriet Gardiner and Luke Wellington Gardiner, Viscount Mountjoy).
Jenkins received £10,000 from Gardiner to cover the jewels and clothing that he had purchased for Margaret, buying his approval for Gardiner's and Power's marriage, after which she changed her name to Marguerite.

Honeymooning in Ireland, they returned to a newly leased town mansion at 10 St James's Square, London, in 1820.

This address (now the base of Chatham House) soon became a social centre, but their heavy spending and extravagant tastes meant that, despite his annual income of £30,000 from his Irish estates, they were soon both heavily in debt.

On the 25th August, 1822, they set out for a continental tour with Marguerite's youngest sister, the twenty-one-year-old Mary Anne, and servants.

They met Count D'Orsay (who had first become an intimate of Lady Blessington in London in 1821) in Avignon on 20 November 1822, before settling at Genoa for four months from 31 March 1823.

There they met Byron on several occasions, giving Lady Blessington material for her "Conversations with Lord Byron".

After that they settled for the most part in Naples, also spending time in Florence with their friend Walter Savage Landor, author of the "Imaginary Conversations" greatly admired by Lady Blessington.

It was in Italy, on 1 December 1827, that Count D'Orsay married Harriet Gardiner to strengthen the tie between himself and her stepmother Lady Blessington.

The Blessingtons and the new couple moved to Paris towards the end of 1828, taking up residence in the Hôtel Maréchal Ney, where Lord Blessington suddenly died aged 46 of an apoplectic stroke in 1829.

D'Orsay and his wife then accompanied Lady Blessington to England, but the couple soon separated.

D'Orsay lived with Lady Blessington until her death, and she let out Lord Blessington's St James's house.

Lord Blessington's country seat was Mountjoy Forest Lodge, near Omagh, County Tyrone.

His London residence was at 10 St James's Square.

The County Tyrone estates, comprising about 40,000 acres in Newtownstewart, Rash and Mountjoy Forest, contained two residences of quite modest size, Rash House and The Cottage.

Given his wealth, status and interest in architecture, it is surprising that Gardiner never constructed a large country residence in County Tyrone, although it was reported in 1791 that he was ‘about building’ a great house near Omagh.

The Blessington estate stretched from Newtownstewart to Mountfield at its height.

The afforestation was supervised by John McEvoy from 1791.

Part of the estate was sold ca 1846 to a prosperous Omagh family balled Spiller, who acquired 400 acres, including Rash House, the original shooting-lodge of Old Mountjoy and built by the Gardiners.

Luke Gardiner, Viscount Mountjoy, developed large parts of the city of Dublin, including Mountjoy Square.

His principal Dublin homes were at 10, Henrietta Street, and Mountjoy House, Pheonix Park.

J A K Dean, in his useful gazetteer, The Gate Lodges Of Ulster, tells us that,
Mountjoy Forest was an estate with a convoluted history. Sir William Stewart bought the property here at Rash in 1631, his grandson becoming Lord Mountjoy in 1688. By 1782, the property had passed to Luke Gardiner, a rich Dublin banker, who became Viscount Mountjoy in his own right.

It was he who was mainly responsible for giving the estate its present appearance, planting upwards of 200,000 trees in a programme of afforestation that was to be continued by his son Charles John, who became Earl of Blessington in 1816. At this time the demesne was "7-8 miles in circumference, and enclosed in an 8' high stone wall for much of its length".

He also gave the house, then called "The Cottage", its present castellated Tudor character. The Earl is best known for his lavish theatrical entertainments here, his beautiful and wayward wife and the squandering of his inheritance before his death in 1829.

A visitor in 1854 refers to an auction six years previous: "...the once magnificent demesne ... affords nothing of the attention of the tourist , being quite broken up, and sold to different proprietors".
There were two gate lodges, both pre-1833.

S J Murphy has written an account of the Gardiners here. 

First published in June, 2012.  Blessington arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

The Andrews Baronetcy


THE RT HON SIR JAMES ANDREWS, BARONET, WAS THE THIRD LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND


JAMES ANDREWS (1762-1841), of The Old House, Comber, County Down, married Frances Glenny, by whom he had a son,

JOHN ANDREWS JP (1792-1864), of Uraghmore, near Comber, High Sheriff of County Down, 1857, who wedded, in 1826, Sarah, daughter of Dr William Drennan, of Cabin Hill, County Down, and Sarah Swanwick, his wife, and had issue,
James, JP;
William Drennan;
John, JP;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Sarah; Sarah; Frances.
The fourth son,

THE RT HON THOMAS ANDREWS DL (1843-1916), of Ardara House, Comber, County Down, was sworn of the Privy Council in Ireland on the occasion of the Royal Visit, 1903.


He married, in 1870, Eliza, daughter of James Alexander Pirrie, of Little Clandeboye, County Down, and sister of James, 1st Viscount Pirrie KP, by whom he had issue,
John Miller (Rt Hon Sir), CH;
Thomas;
JAMES, of whom hereafter;
William;
Eliza Montgomery (Nina).
The third son,

THE RT HON SIR JAMES ANDREWS (1877-1951), LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND, wedded, in 1922, Jane Lawson, daughter of Joseph Ormrod, of Bolton, Lancashire, but had no issue.

He was created a baronet in 1942, designated of Comber, County Down.
  • Pro-Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast, 1929-51
  • President of the Law Society, 1937-51
  • Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, 1937-51
SIR JAMES and Lady Andrews lived at Eusemere, Killinchy Road, Comber, County Down.

Eusemere in 2018 (Image: Richard Graham)

Eusemere House was built ca 1909 by Major Bruce, the largest shareholder in the Comber Distillery.
Captain George James Bruce DSO MC was the son of Samuel Bruce, and was Managing Director of Comber Distilleries Company in County Down. 
Born in 1880, George Bruce was educated at Winchester and played cricket for North Down and the North of Ireland Club. 
He also played off a golf handicap of 2 and was regarded to be a magnificent shot and a fine tennis and billiards player. 
He married, in 1907, Hilda Blakiston-Houston, daughter of John Blakiston-Houston, of Orangefield, Belfast; was commander of a company of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and drilled his men in the Distillery Yard on the Newtownards Road. 
At the outbreak of the 1st World War, and the formation of the 36th Ulster Division, he obtained a Commission in the 1st County Down Battalion, commanded by Colonel WH Savage. 
He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1914; went to train with his men at Clandeboye, before proceeding to France with his Comber men. 
He was prominent in all the battles in which the 13th Battalion, The Royal Irish Rifles took part, including the Battle of the Somme, at Thiepval, on the 1st July, 1916. 
Captain Bruce eventually became Brigade Major of the 109th Infantry Brigade and was killed in action on 2nd October, 1918 at Dadizelle, in Flanders, at the age of just 38 - and just about 6 weeks before the Armistice was signed on 11th November 1918. 
Captain Bruce was decorated with the awards of Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order. There is a tablet to his memory in Comber Parish Church.
Eusemere House was sold to Sir James andrews Bt in 1937.

Eusemere in 2018 (Image: Richard Graham)

Sir James divided Eusemere into two properties about 1930.

From the 1950s onwards both properties went through a number of different owners, including Mr Clokey; Mr Mitchell; John William Richard Durham Ashdown (father of the late Paddy, Lord Ashdown); and a Mr Miskimmin, in Number 20.

Sir James died without issue, and the baronetcy became extinct.

Comber Historical Society has published a biography of the Andrews family.

First published in May, 2010.