This family is said to derive from a common ancestor with the Scottish house of ALEXANDER, Earls of Stirling.
JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eredy, County Donegal, in 1610,
lands he rented from Sir James Cunninghame of Glengarnock, Ayrshire, who had acquired them on condition that he did not "alienate the premises to no mere Irishman or any other person unless he or they first take the Oath of Supremacy", was succeeded by his eldest son,THE REV ANDREW ALEXANDER DD, of Eredy, a Presbyterian minister, who married Dorothea, daughter of Rev James Caulfeild. Dying ca 1641, his only child,
CAPTAIN ANDREW ALEXANDER, married twice.
In 1666 he was granted the lands of Ballyclose, near Limavady, by Sir Thomas Phillips, Governor of Culmore Fort. In 1689 he was attainted by JAMES II's parliament in Dublin.His second son,
JOHN ALEXANDER, married and died in 1747. His second son,
NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock. He was an alderman of Londonderry in 1755. By his wife he had issue,
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
ROBERT ALEXANDER, of Boom Hall,
was grandson of Captain Andrew Alexander, of Ballyclose, County Londonderry. On his estate of Boom Hall, near Londonderry, he erected a family mansion, at the spot where a boom was constructed to prevent ships sailing towards the city during the siege of 1689. At Londonderry he engaged in merchandise, and became prosperous. He died in 1790, aged sixty-eight, and his remains were deposited in the family burial-ground in the Chapel of Ease churchyard, Londonderry (Tombstone Inscription).By his wife, Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Henry McCulloch, of Cladymore and Ballyarton, County Londonderry, he had five sons and five daughters, viz.
NATHANIEL, of whom presently;This gentleman was succeeded by his eldest son,
Elizabeth; Jane; Anne;
THE RT REV AND RT HON NATHANIEL ALEXANDER DD (1760-1840), of Portglenone House,
who wedded Anne, daughter of the Rt Hon Richard Jackson MP, of Coleraine, in 1785. This divine was Lord Bishop of Meath. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge. The Bishop, a privy counsellor, lived at Portglenone House, County Antrim, which he built, and took up residence there.His second son,
THE VEN ROBERT ALEXANDER DD (1788-1840), Archdeacon of Down, married firstly, Catherine, daughter of Rt Hon John Staples and Hon Henrietta Molesworth, in 1813.
Dr Alexander married secondly, Hester Helena, daughter of Colonel Alexander McManus, in 1837.
There were no children of the second marriage. His eldest son,
NATHANIEL ALEXANDER, MP for County Antrim (1815-53), extended Portglenone House. He had issue, two sons,
ROBERT JACKSON, JP DL, of Portglenone House, (1843-84), High Sheriff of Co Londonderry, 1870, and of County Antrim, 1875;A cousin of the above,
JOHN STAPLES, JP DL, lieutenant RN, of Portglenone House (1844-1901).
MAJOR ROBERT CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER JP DL, of Portglenone House (1900-68), son of Robert Arthur Moloney Alexander, succeeded to the estate.
Major Alexander married Laura Ina Madeline, daughter of Edward Fraser Lenox-Conyngham, in 1933; was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; High Sheriff in 1938.
He fought during the 2nd World War in the Irish Guards. 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, have stone capitals of Adam's "Dioclesian" order. They 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.