Saturday, 23 February 2019

Ballymoyer House


TOBIAS SYNNOT, of County Londonderry, was brought up a Protestant, and was in Londonderry during its celebrated siege.
The family is said to have come originally from Flanders, where the name "Sigenod" meant "Victory-bold". Translations and modifications over time saw the name become "Synad". Various explanations of when and how the family travelled to Ireland have been documented, however all revolve around the Norman Invasion of Ireland.
It is believed that a Richard de Synad was one of the Flemish that crossed to Ireland with Strongbow in the invasion force. After various campaigns from Waterford to Wexford and on to Dublin, he returned to the Wexford region to settle down. He later built a castle at Ballybrennan, close to the present village of Killinick, on the main Wexford-Rosslare road.
This was the family's chief castle, which remained until dispossessed in the Cromwellian confiscations. The castle is long gone, but part of its walls is incorporated into the present large dwelling house at the site.
His eldest son,

THOMAS SYNNOT, Town-Major of the City of Dublin, Captain, Lucas's Regiment of Foot, 1711, was father of

RICHARD SYNNOT, of Drumcondra, Registrar of the diocese of Armagh, who married, in 1694, Jane, daughter of Edward Bloxham, of Dublin, and had (with a daughter) a son,

MARK SYNNOT (1696-1754), of Drumcondra, who wedded firstly, Euphemia, daughter of Mr Rivers; and secondly, in 1769, Anne, daughter of Walter Nugent, of Carpenterstown, County Westmeath, by whom he had issue,
Mark, of Drumcondra;
WALTER (Sir), of whom presently;
Mary, m W Smyth, of Drumcree.
His younger son, 

SIR WALTER SYNNOT (1742-1821), of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1783, built Ballymoyer House in County Armagh.
By the time of his death, he and his son Marcus had made considerable improvements to the estate and many of the beautiful trees, buildings and structural improvements date from this time. The demesne was noted as being very ornate. He was knighted by Lord Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
Sir Walter married, in 1770, Jane, daughter of John Seton, of New York, and had issue, 
MARCUS, his heir;
He espoused secondly, in 1804, Ann Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Robert Martin, and had a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of the Rev Fitzgibbon Stewart, and a son,
Richard Walter.
The son and heir,

MARCUS SYNNOT JP (1771-1855), of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1830, married, in 1814, Jane, daughter of Thomas Gilson, of Wood Lodge, Lincolnshire, and had issue,
MARCUS, his heir;
MARK SETON, of Ballymoyer, succeeded his brother;
Parker George;
William Forbes;
Mary Marcia; Maria Eliza; Agnes Jane; Barbara Cecilia; Juliana Hewitt.
Mr Synnot was succeeded by his eldest son, 

MARCUS SYNNOT JP DL (1813-74), of Ballymoyer House, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1853, who wedded, in 1844, Ann, eldest daughter of William Parker, of Hanthorpe House, Lincolnshire.

Mr Synnot died without issue, when the estates devolved upon his brother,

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP DL, of Ballymoyer, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1876, whose heir,

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1820-90), of Ballymoyer, Captain, Armagh Light Infantry, married, in 1843, Anne Jane, second daughter and co-heir of Mark Synnot, of Monasterboice House, King's County, and Grove House, Clapham, Surrey, and had issue,
MARK SETON, late of Ballymoyer;
MARY SUSANNA, of Ballymoyer;
Rosalie Jane; Eva Charlotte; Charlotte Augusta; Ada Maria; Annette Beatrice.
Mr Synnot was succeeded by his only son, 

MARK SETON SYNNOT JP (1847-1901), of Ballymoyer, Captain, Armagh Light Infantry, who died
unmarried, when the estate devolved upon his eldest sister,

MARY SUSANNA SYNNOT (1844-1913), of Ballymoyer, who married, in 1868, Major-General Arthur FitzRoy Hart CB CMG, who subsequently assumed the name and arms of SYNNOT, and had issue,
RONALD VICTOR OKES, of whom hereafter;
Beatrice May; Horatia Annette Blanche.
The elder son,

BRIGADIER ARTHUR HENRY SETON HART-SYNNOT CMG DSO, married his nurse, Violet Drower, while convalescing from his wounds, though died without issue in 1942.


THE REV WILLIAM HART, of the parish of Netherbury, Dorset, born in 1668-9, possessed land in Dorset, namely Corfe, in the parish of West Milton, Pomice, Hurlands, Colmer's Estate, Camesworth, Greening's Orchard, and Furzelease House, in Netherbury.

He was buried in 1746 at Netherbury, leaving by Ann, his wife, with other issue who died young, a son,

WILLIAM HART (1707-71), of Netherbury, who wedded, in 1731, Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Henville, of Hincknowle, Netherbury, and had issue (with two daughters, Betty and Ann, who both died unmarried), an only surviving son,

GEORGE HART (1744-1824), of Netherbury, who possessed lands in Dorset, viz. Corfe, Cape Leazne [sic], and Pomice.

He wedded Elizabeth Hood, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
His elder son,

WILLIAM HART (1764-1818), of Netherbury, entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman; and was later appointed Ensign in the Dorsetshire Militia, 1792; Lieutenant, 1793; Lieutenant-Colonel, 1812.

Colonel Hart espoused, in 1801, Jane, daughter of Charles Matson, of Wingham, Kent, and had issue,
HENRY GEORGE, of whom hereafter;
Samuel Hood;
Eliza; Mary Anne; Emily.
His third son,

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HENRY GEORGE HART (1808-78), married, in 1833, Frances Alicia, daughter of the Rev Dr Holt Okes, and had issue,
Henry Travers Holt;
Holt William;
George Okes;
Reginald Clare (Sir), VC GCB KCVO;
Horatio Holt;
Jane Margaret; Frances Alicia; Isabel Clara.
The fourth son,

MAJOR-GENERAL ARTHUR FITZROY HART-SYNNOT CB CMG JP (1844-1910), of Ballymoyer, County Armagh, wedded, in 1868, MARY SUSANNA, eldest daughter of Mark Seton Synnot DL, of Ballymoyer, and sister and co-heir of Mark Seton Synnot JP, and had issue,
ARTHUR HENRY SETON, Major, DSO (1870-1942);
Ronald Victor Okes, DSO OBE (1879-1976);
Beatrice May; Horatia Annette Blanche.

The tenanted land of BALLYMOYER estate was transferred to the occupiers under the Irish land acts of 1902 and 1909.

Subsequently Brigadier Hart-Synnot and his brother, Ronald Victor Okes Hart-Synnot, sold the farm land of the demesne and, in 1938, gave the avenue and glen to the National Trust, and had the house pulled down owing to damage suffered from requisitioning.

The estate is now open to the public.

BALLYMOYER HOUSE, County Armagh, was a three-storey 18th century mansion.

It had a pedimented doorway and a shallow curved bow, to which a considerably taller three-storey extension was added at some time in the early 19th century.

The taller block had a projection with a curved bow and the lower storey was adorned with engaged Ionic columns and a balustraded roof parapet.

Sadly the House suffered severe damage caused by requisitioning.

The family were involved not only in the linen industry but also had lead mines in their possession.

By 1838 the family had bought the eight townlands and continued to improve the estate.

In 1901 the demesne passed through marriage to the Hart-Synnot family, who presented it to the National Trust in 1937.

Major-General Arthur FitzRoy Hart adopted the name Hart-Synnot when he married Mary Synnot.

Their son, Brigadier-General Arthur H.S. Hart-Synnot, sold parts of the estate to its occupying tenants prior to 1919, under the Land Acts.

This document relates to the sale of small portions of land in the townlands of Knockavannon and Ballintate. The Conditions of Sale include rights of way for Brigadier General Hart-Synnot and the purchasers through the property to be sold.

Ballymoyer House was later demolished and Brigadier-General Hart-Synnot gave the demesne to the National Trust in 1938.

Comprising 7,000 acres of low hills, moorland and small tenant farms, Ballymoyer was one of the largest demesnes in the county of Armagh.

The Synnots had made their money in the linen trade and mining and had always been resident landlords.

When General Hart added his wife's surname to his own, to become General Hart-Synnot, he thus affirmed his place among the Anglo-Irish gentry.

The general was eager to show Arthur the improvements he had begun to make on the estate, the home farm that was not rented out to tenants, knowing his son shared the same love for the place he would one day inherit.


The original stone manor had been built in the 18th century in a gentle valley at a point where three brooks, after racing down from their own glens, reached flatter land and joined together to continue as one fast-running trout stream.
In the early 19th century a more imposing house in the classical style, with a stucco facade of three stories and a colonnaded porch, had been added onto the earlier, rougher building, and the two were linked with creaking corridors and staircases.
The library, the smaller bedrooms, and the servants' hall were in the old section at the back, but the principal bedrooms, drawing room, and dining room were in the grander addition, looking across the lawns and parkland to stands of beech on the hillside.
Over the years the gardens had been landscaped and replanted, and the streams channelled and directed over weirs, but the sound of rushing water could still be heard all round the house, and gave a calming, almost drowsy background noise.
For Arthur's return, both parts of the house were full, with relatives who had come to greet him and would stay until the following day. The celebrations did not end till after dinner, when the general directed a fireworks display on the lawn.
That night Arthur must have wondered how he was going to tell his family what had happened to his personal and emotional life on the other side of the world, and how he wanted nothing more than to put Ireland behind him as fast as possible and get back to Tokyo.
 First published in August, 2010.

Friday, 22 February 2019

City Hall Visit

I was in two minds as to my choice of attire yesterday.

Was it to be the herringbone tweed jacket and suede shoes, or the worsted grey chalk-stripe suit?

Eventually I settled on a compromise: the suit, with woollen tie and chukka boots.

I usually wear a suit or overcoat in town at any rate.

If you have been following the Belmont narrative, you will know that I attended the old school dinner several weeks ago in the Ulster Reform Club, where I sat beside Jeff Dudgeon, MBE, who happens to be a Belfast city councillor.

Jeff asked me if I'd been on one of his City Hall tours.

I had not.

So after breakfast yesterday morning I dressed in the glad rags, jumped into the jalopy, and made a bee-line for the City Hall.

This magnificent civic edifice is located at Donegall Square, so I motored into the inner courtyard and found a space.

Without elaborating too much, the City Hall is a grand, ornate, quadrilateral pile made of Portland stone, about 300 feet wide and 174 feet high, with a splendid copper dome.

It is one of the most impressive civic buildings in the British Isles, took ten years to construct, and was completed in 1906.

The interior has abundant Greek and Italian marble, a fine banqueting hall, and a large mural symbolizing Belfast's industrial heritage.

Most of the ground floor has become an exhibition space now.

A civic lamp-posts is displayed.

A pair of ornate lampposts used to be erected outside Lord Mayors' homes, whether they happened to be on the Shankill Road or Malone Park!

Even the Lord Mayor's ceremonial robe is on display in a glass cabinet.

Jeff and I ascended the grand staircase (he pointed out a section of the plasterwork requiring a bit of attention), past many historical items on the walls, and portraits of former Lord Mayors.

The cherub is not amused.

The Lord Mayor has a particularly distinctive robe, made of black silk satin and emblematic gold lace, with white lace cuffs and jabot, white gloves, tricorn hat, and of course the golden chain-of-office.

Most Lord Mayors are far too bolshy to wear it today, even for ceremonial occasions.

We spent some time in the opulent Council Chamber on the first floor, which has the Lord Mayor's chair at one end and the royal dais at the other.

The Royal Dais

Plentiful wood panelling, stained glass, plush carpet and exquisite plasterwork adorn this room.

The stain-glass windows include the armorial bearings of the Marquess of Londonderry, the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, and the City of Belfast.

Alderman Tommy Patton OBE, Lord Mayor, 1982-3

Jeff showed me the Robing Room, something similar in size to a large billiards-room, with a large table and wooden lockers for the councillors' robes.

Sir Edward Coey DL, Mayor, 1861-2

The city's silver mace and the Lord Mayor's robe (or one of them) are displayed here.

Before I departed, Jeff took me into his offices, where we had delicious chunks of fruit (pineapple, melon, grape) on wooden sticks.

I'll revisit the permanent exhibition, perhaps this summer.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Castle Ward Acquisition


PROPERTY: Castle Ward, Strangford, County Down

DATE: 1953

EXTENT: 605.62 acres

DONOR: Ministry of Finance for Northern Ireland


PROPERTY: Mallard Plantation; Mountain Wood; Keeper's Cottage; Terenichol etc

DATE: 1967

EXTENT: 200.92 acres

DONOR: Peter Weatherby


PROPERTY: Mallard Pond, Castle Ward Estate

DATE: 1980

EXTENT: 1.36 acres

DONOR: Edward Crangle

First published in December, 2014.

The Crown Bar

THE CROWN BAR, also known as the Crown Liquor Saloon, is one of three similarly scaled buildings lining the east side of Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

It is located at 46, Great Victoria Street, on a corner site, with its gabled south side elevation fronting onto Amelia Street.

It comprises three storeys, though the southern elevation extends as a two-storey attic return.

The bar stands almost directly opposite the Europa Hotel, at the end of a terrace.

This stucco-fronted building was built ca 1840, and remodelled ca 1898, including a decorative, tiled pub shopfront.

The interior was remodelled about 1885.

The pitched, natural slate roof was reconstructed ca 2005.

A painted fascia reads 'THE CROWN BAR', each corner surmounted by urns.

The elaborately tiled pub shopfront has tiled panels divided into five bays by Corinthian tiled pilasters.

Three central bays are recessed to provide a porch, with a pair of pink and white marble Corinthian columns to full-span gilded glass fascia proclaiming "LIQUOR {THE CROWN} SALOON" and tiled panels to either end, stating "SPIRIT" and "VAULTS".

All are surmounted by a series of scrolls, finials and tiled scallops to either end.

The porch contains a mosaic tiled floor proclaiming "CROWN BAR", with etched and painted fixed-pane windows to three sides and tiled panels below.

THE CROWN BAR was recorded in the 1852 Belfast street directory as the Ulster Railway Hotel and Tavern, the proprietor being Terence O’Hanlon.

In 1859 it was recorded that the Ulster Railway Hotel was let to Mr O’Hanlon by Henry Joy.

The hotel was described as a three-storey, A-class building that measured 19½ by 12 yards.

Mr O’Hanlon continued to occupy the hotel until 1880, when it was taken over by Patrick Flanigan (who later purchased the building in 1885).

Mr Flanigan thereafter purchased numbers 19 and 21 Amelia Street to its rear, and converted the entire premises into a public house.

By 1901, the premises were known as the Crown Bar, comprising ten rooms and a storeroom.

Patrick Flanigan was 45 years of age and lived at the address with his wife and their seven children.

He employed a number of staff including barmaids, shop assistants and domestic servants.

Mr Flanigan occupied the property until his death in 1902, when his widow, Ellen, came into sole possession.

Mrs Flanigan ran the bar until 1927, when Patrick McGreeny took possession.

He also owned 2, Keyland’s Place, a cul-de-sac at the rear of the pub (now part of Blackstaff Square).

The exterior mosaic facade and stained glazing of the bar was considerably damaged through general wear, but also through numerous attacks during the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, in 1980-81 Robert McKinstry undertook a restoration of the bar's interior and restored the mosaic facade using a plan of the original pattern design which was found at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire.

Further changes to the Crown Bar took place after McKinstry’s restoration, when £250,000 was spent on the eradication of dry rot in the walls during the 1980s.

A restaurant was constructed on the first floor in 1988 by Gifford & Cairns costing £450,000.

Marcus Patton, OBE, remarks that this restaurant was named the Britannic Lounge and incorporated panelling from the Harland & Wolff shipyards originally intended for RMS Britannic (sister ship of the Titanic), which was sunk during the 1st World War in 1916.

The Crown Bar continues to operate as a public house and is a popular tourist destination attracting people visiting Belfast with its beautifully preserved Victorian character.

It was listed in 1977 and is said to be the only bar owned by the National Trust, which acquired the building in 1978.

The bar is today administered on behalf of the National Trust by Nicholson's Bars.

First published in February, 2017.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The Argory


JOSHUA MacGEOUGH (1683-1756), of Drumsill, County Armagh, married Anne, only daughter and heir of Brigadier-General the Rt Hon William Graham, MP for Drogheda, 1727-48, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
John, dsp;
Samuel, of Derrycaw;
Elizabeth, m W Houston, of Orangefield;
Mary; Anne.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM MacGEOUGH, of Drumsill, married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Walter Bond, of Bondville, County Armagh, and had a son,

JOSHUA, his heir.
He wedded secondly, the daughter of Joseph Boyd, and had three daughters,
Elizabeth; Mary; Anne.
Mr MacGeough died ca 1791, and was succeeded by his only son,

Joshua MacGeough

JOSHUA MacGEOUGH (1747-1817), of Drumsill, who espoused Anne, daughter of Joseph Johnstone, of Knappagh, County Armagh, and had two sons,
WILLIAM, his heir, of Drumsill, dsp;
WALTER, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

WALTER MacGEOUGH-BOND (1790-1866), of Drumsill, Silverbridge, and The Argory, County Armagh, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1819, Barrister, assumed, in 1824, the name and arms of BOND in addition to his own.

He married, in 1830, Anne, second daughter of Ralph Smyth, of Gaybrook, County Westmeath, and had, with other issue,

JOSHUA WALTER, his heir;
Ralph MacGeough-Bond-Shelton, of The Argory;
Robert John MacGeough, of Silverbridge;
Mary Isabella; Anna Maria.
The eldest son,

JOSHUA WALTER MacGEOUGH-BOND JP DL (1831-1905), of Drumsill, County Armagh, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1872, MP for Armagh City, 1855-57 and 1859-65, married, in 1856, Albertine Louise, daughter of Frederick Shanahan, Barrister, and had issue,
Ralph Xavier, Lt-Col; d 1946;
Angeline Aimee Eliza; Anne Albertine Mary.
Mr MacGeough-Bond was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WALTER WILLIAM ADRIAN MacGEOUGH-BOND JP DL (1857-1945), of Drumsill and The Argory, County Armagh, Vice-President of Court of Appeal at Cairo, Egypt, Knight Bachelor, 1917, who wedded, in 1901, Ada Marion, youngest daughter of Charles Nichols, of Dunedin, New Zealand, and had issue, an only child,


Garden Front

THE EARLIEST document relating to the MacGeoughs' Argory lands -  then known as Derrycaw -  dates from the 1740s, when Joshua foreclosed the mortgage on the property from a family named Nicholson, who stayed on as tenants.

Joshua McGeough's principal house was Drumsill, near Armagh.

He married Anne Graham, and their son William, the first of six children, first married Elizabeth Bond, the daughter and heiress of Walter Bond of Bondville, County Armagh.

When Joshua died in 1756, his house and estate at Drumsill passed to his elder son, William.

Joshua MacGeough, William's only son, rebuilt Drumsill House between 1786-8, apparently to the design of the master mason, William Lappan. He commissioned Francis Johnston to add wings to it in 1805-6, shown in two signed drawings now at the Argory.

Joshua McGeough died in 1817, leaving a curious will by which his eldest son William was given only £400 a year; while Drumsill was left to his second son Walter and his three daughters.

Walter was not, however, permitted to live there after his marriage as long as two of his sisters remained unmarried.

Isabella died later in the same year, leaving Walter her jointure of £10,000, but Mary-Ann and Eliza lived on as rich spinsters at Drumsill (with £20,000 each) for the rest of their lives.

Walter MacGeough, who had become a barrister after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1811, must have realised that his sisters were unlikely to marry, or to give up Drumsill. He therefore lost no time in adding to the land he had inherited at Derrycaw, and building a new house there - later to be known as the Argory.
Work began on The Argory in 1819, and the main block and offices were more or less complete by 1824, when he assumed the additional name and arms of Bond, from 'affectionate regard to the family of his deceased grandmother'. 

Since Walter's eldest son, Joshua Walter, had already inherited Drumsill from his spinster aunts, The Argory was left to the second son Ralph, or Captain Shelton, who adopted the additional name of Shelton after a distant relation who may have left him some money.

Entrance Front

When Ralph died without issue in 1916, Walter Adrian MacGeough-Bond, who had already inherited Drumsill in 1905, inherited The Argory.

He moved most of the contents of Drumsill to The Argory and sold Drumsill in 1917.

He was a lawyer, ending his career as Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in Cairo, and received a knighthood for his services.

In 1901 he married Ada Marion, daughter of Charles Nichols, of Dunedin, New Zealand, a founding partner of Dalgety, Nichols & Company.

Their son, Walter Albert Nevill (Tommy) MacGeough-Bond DL, was born in 1908, attended Eton, and King's College, Cambridge.

Long a student and patron of the Arts, he and his family's interest in music is reflected throughout the Argory.

He formed a large personal art collection, including many works by Ulster artists.

Sir Walter's son and successor, the late Walter Albert Nevill MacGeough-Bond, presented The Argory and demesne of 320 acres to The National Trust in 1979.

He died in 1986 and is buried in the grounds beside the house. 

Quoting selectively from  The MacGeough Bonds of The Argory, by Olwen Purdue:

"Sir Walter was The Argory's most reluctant owner. He had worked as a judge in Cairo, Egypt and was knighted for his efforts and, like Captain Shelton, had an unwelcome culture shock on coming to The Argory.
He was also an unenthusiastic Moy resident and wrote: The Argory is not a desirable residence for me on account of the excessive dampness of the valley of the Blackwater.
I have, as you know, been advised by high medical authority to avoid a damp climate. And avoid it he did, spending as much time as possible in Rome and Nice.
He even brought an Italian man, Secondo Belucci, to work in The Argory. Some members of the local Orange Order found this really offensive and wrote this nasty letter to him saying basically 'we've got perfectly good Protestant people here, why don't you get them to work for you?"

Dr Purdue says that Sir Walter oversaw the sale of much of the family's lands in the final stages of land reform, choosing safe investments for the proceeds of sale.

He had married Ada Nicholls in 1901.

Their marriage was deeply unhappy and, again, they lived separate lives.

Sir Walter's wife Ada, Lady Bond, was known to leave The Argory and stay in a hotel whenever her husband was expected home.

Their son Nevill inherited The Argory and lived there for 30 years, becoming towards the end an "increasingly isolated and eccentric addition to the community". 

Like his father, he hated the damp weather, spending his summers in Jamaica, and only ventured into the chilly St James's Church in Moy, wrapped in several coats.

"The Troubles" deeply affected Nevill. His friends in Tynan Abbey, Sir Norman Stronge and his son, James, who was in the RUC, were murdered by the IRA on January 21, 1983.

Nevill's driver, Frederic Lutton, was also ambushed and shot dead by the IRA in 1979, inside The Argory's grounds.

A bullet was fired at Nevill and embedded in the door of the car. Terrified, he stayed away for a time. In addition, The Argory was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain, so Nevill decided to give the house to the National Trust:

"It was a very hard thing... having been in the family for these generations, for him to have to be the one to pass it out of the family,"

Dr Purdue continues: 
"But basically the family line died out with him and there wasn't going to be anyone else that would step in."

The demesne was established for the present house on the banks of the River Blackwater, built in 1824, and includes Pleasure Gardens, stable yard, South Lodge, gate screens and gates.

The grounds are fully maintained with fine mature trees, shrubs and lawns.

The architects, A & J Williamson, made plans for the gardens in 1821, the shape of which is adhered to, but the internal layout differs from the original plan.

The Pleasure Ground to the north-east of the mansion house has herbaceous borders, yew arbours, a tulip tree, a well- placed cedar and twin pavilions.

There is an enclosed early 19th century sundial garden at the house, with box-edged rose beds.

A riverside lime walk under pollarded limes is planted with daffodils.

An ilex avenue leads to the walled garden, which is made of brick and not cultivated.

Of the three gate lodges, two of ca 1835 are occupied; and an earlier lodge of ca 1825 is not used.

First published in August, 2010.

1st Marquess of Hastings

The illustrious family of RAWDON deduced its pedigree from Paulinus de Rawdon, to whom WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR granted considerable estates by the following deed:-
I, King William, in the third year of my reign, give to Paulinus Rawdon, Hope and Hopetown, with all the boundaries both up and down, from heaven to earth, from earth to hell, for you and your heir to dwell, as truly as this kingdom in mine; for a crossbow and an arrow, when I shall come to hunt on Yarrow; and in token that this thing is true, I bite the white wax with my tooth, before Meg, Maud, and Margery, and my third son, Henry.
This Paulinus, or Paulyn, commanded a band of archers in the Norman invading army, and derived his surname of RAWDON from the lands of that denomination, near Leeds, which constituted a portion of the royal grant.

From this successful soldier lineally sprang (19th in descent), through a line of eminent ancestors,

GEORGE RAWDON (1604-84), who settled in Ulster, and took an active part, as a military commander, during the Irish rebellion of 1641; and subsequently, until his decease, in 1684, in the general affairs of that Province.

Mr Rawdon was created a baronet in 1665, denominated of Moira, County Down.

He married firstly, in 1639, Ursula, daughter of Sir Francis Stafford, of Bradney, Shropshire, and widow of Francis Hill, of Hillhall, by whom he had no surviving issue.

Sir George wedded secondly, in 1654, Dorothy, eldest daughter of Edward, 2nd Viscount Conway, and had issue,
John, a military man; killed in France, 1656;
ARTHUR, his successor;
Dorothy; Brilliana; Mary.
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR ARTHUR RAWDON, 2nd Baronet (1662-95), MP for County Down, 1692-3 and 1695, who espoused Helena, daughter and heir of Sir James Graham, and granddaughter of William, Earl of Menteith, and had, with a daughter, Isabella, married to Sir Richard Levinge Bt, an only son,

SIR JOHN RAWDON, 3rd Baronet (1690-1724), MP for County Down, 1717-24, who wedded, in 1717, Dorothy, second daughter of Sir Richard Levinge Bt, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and had issue, with other children,

SIR JOHN RAWDON, 4th Baronet (1720-93), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1750, in the dignity of Baron Rawdon, of Moira, County Down.

His lordship was further advanced to an earldom, in 1762, as EARL OF MOIRA.

He espoused firstly, in 1741, Helena, youngest daughter of John, Earl of Egmont, by whom he had two daughters, Catherine and Helena.

The 1st Earl married secondly, in 1746, Anne, daughter of Trevor, 1st Viscount Hillsborough, by whom he had no issue; and thirdly, in 1752, the Lady Elizabeth Hastings, eldest daughter Theophilus, 9th Earl of Huntingdon, who inherited the baronies of Hastings etc upon the demise of her brother Francis, 10th Earl of Huntingdon, without issue, 1789.

By this last union his lordship had issue,
FRANCIS, his successor;
John Theophilus;
Selina Frances; Charlotte Adelaide Constantia; Anne Elizabeth.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS EDWARD (1754-1826), 2nd Earl, KG GCB etc, a gallant soldier, an eloquent senator, and a popular statesman, MP for Randalstown, 1781-3, who wedded, in 1804, the Lady Flora Mure-Campbell, suo jure Countess of Loudoun, only daughter of James, 5th Earl of Loudoun, and had issue,
Flora Elizabeth, Lady of the Bedchamber to HRH The Duchess of Kent;
Sophia Frederica Christina; Selina Constance; Adelaide Augusta Lavinia.
His lordship inherited, upon the demise of his mother, in 1808, the ancient baronies of Hastings, Hungerford, etc; and was created, in 1816, Viscount LoudounEarl of Rawdon, and MARQUESS OF HASTINGS.

Photo Credit: National Army Museum

He had been previously created a peer of Great Britain, 1783, by the title of Baron Rawdon, of Rawdon, Yorkshire.

All of these subsidiary titles, including the Baronetcy, became extinct following the death of the 4th Marquess and 8th Baronet, in 1868. 

Moira Castle. Photo Credit: Royal Irish Academy © RIA

Shortly after acquiring Moira Castle, Major Rawdon married Lord Conway's daughter.

He was to give fifty years of devoted service to the family, serving three successive Viscounts Conway, the 3rd Viscount of whom was created Earl of Conway.

When George Rawdon acquired Moira demesne and other land, he established a dynasty similar to that of the Hill family at Hillsborough  (Marquesses of Downshire).

Later, his own descendants were to marry into the Hill family, who were among the richest landowners in the Kingdom.

Rawdon was created a baronet in 1665.

Sir George, 1st Baronet, had done much to foster the early growth and development of Lisburn after the Rebellion.

His family was largely responsible for the foundation of Moira as it is today.

He was known as the "Great Highwayman", responsible for constructing many of the highways in the county.

Sir George's wife, Dorothy, died in 1665 and was buried in the chancel of Lisburn Cathedral.

Sir George died in 1683 and was also buried in Lisburn Cathedral.

He was succeeded by his son Arthur, 2nd Baronet (1662-95) who, like his father, was a member of Parliament, and was one of the generals in King William of Orange's armies.

When King William landed in Ireland, Sir Arthur raised troops and rallied to his side.

Before long he was besieged at Derry where he became ill, but, encouraged by his friends, he managed to escape and so ended his part in military affairs.

When Sir Arthur inherited the lands at Moira he rebuilt the mansion, which became one of the most magnificent castles in the country. Records describe this mansion as a 

"commodious habitation, surrounded by a wood, which affords beautiful walks, a large lawn extends in front, where sheep feed, and is terminated by trees, and a small Lough eastwards, the rear of the castle grounds contains a wood, with large opening fronting the castle, which forms a fine perspective".

The 2nd Baronet was a renowned botanist and, on his estate at Moira, he built the first hot-house in Europe.

The gardens were adorned with a pretty labyrinth, ponds, canals and woods.

In Lisburn, Lord Hertford had beautiful hanging gardens which were the inspiration of Sir Arthur Rawdon, and they cascaded from the present Castle Gardens to the large basin.

All that remains today are the terraces, which are maintained by the local Council.

Just over twenty years ago they were a wilderness and some shrubs remained, which may have been part of the original planting.

Sir Arthur lived only a short time to enjoy the garden which he created and loved; he died in 1695, at the premature age of thirty-four.

For two generations Rawdon's descendants maintained the garden; however, when, in 1788, Moira passed into other hands, the garden became neglected and was subsequently vandalised.

By the middle of the next century there were scarcely any trees of note.

Nothing now remains of either house nor gardens.

Sir Arthur's successor was Sir John, 3rd Baronet (1690-1723).

Throughout his short life he suffered from tuberculosis.

At the time of his death, St John's Church in Moira had just been consecrated.

He was buried in the family vault underneath the church.

Sir Hans Sloane encouraged Sir John to correspond and, in 1711, in response to a letter from Sloane enquiring about the plants at Moira, Sir John replied that owing to the 'carelessness of servants and the death of Mr Harlow, most of the plants were withered to nothing'.

Outside, however, the trees and shrubs fared better.

His son, also Sir John, 4th Baronet (1720-93), inherited the estates and the baronetcy at the age of three.

Sir John was later elevated to the peerage as Baron Rawdon and further ennobled as Earl of Moira in 1762.

Lord Moira was a well known figure in Irish government circles.

When he died in 1793, his funeral was said to have been the largest ever seen in the Kingdom of Ireland: Over four hundred horse-drawn carriages were in the procession from all parts of the country.

He died at his grand town residence in Dublin, Moira House, and was buried in the family vault at St John's, Moira.

The 1st Earl, by this stage, had removed the family seat to Montalto, near Ballynahinch.

The 2nd Earl, afterwards 1st Marquess of Hastings KG PC, Francis Rawdon-Hastings (right), was undoubtedly the most distinguished member of the Rawdon family.

He took on his mother's maiden name, inherited his mother's titles as well as his father's, and also much of the estates belonging to the Huntingdon dynasty.

He was educated at Harrow and, in 1774, went to America and fought with distinction in the American War of Independence, and was present at the Battle of Bunker's Hill.

Lord Moira became Adjutant-General of the British Armed Forces in America, and during the illness of Lord Cornwallis, commanded the armies that brought victory to the colonists.

He is said to have been one of the most courageous generals in the whole war.

Some of his soldiers founded towns in America called Moira, in memory of his exploits.

One can be found in New York State, and another in Canada where there is also a river of the same name.

On his return home, the 2nd Earl became an MP and was an advocate of the Act of Union.

He later became the first Governor-General of India (1813); and, having purchased Singapore Island in 1819, was largely responsible for the establishment of India as an important part of the British Empire.

The 2nd Earl's reward for this illustrious service was to be further ennobled as Marquess of Hastings in 1817.

The 1st Marquess, by now a knight of the Garter and privy counsellor, was, in 1824, appointed the first Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta, where he died off Naples in 1826. Lord Hastings was buried at Valetta.

By 1805 the Rawdon family had moved to their other estates in Ireland, including Montalto at Ballynahinch.

The new tenant of Moira Castle was William Sharman, a member of Grattan's Parliament, who was very prominent in the history of the area.

This family owned Moira Castle only for a relatively short period.

The last direct descendant, Henry Rawdon, a great nephew, became 4th Marquess of Hastings and died without issue.

As a consequence, the titles became extinct in 1868.

At this stage the Moira demesne was purchased by Sir Robert Bateson, Bt, who also owned Belvoir Park in Belfast.

The Bateson family did not live for any lengthy period in Moira and used the Castle as a secondary residence. Bateson's son Thomas became 1st Baron Deramore.

Former seats ~ Donington Hall, Leicestershire; Rawdon Hall, Yorkshire; Loudoun Castle, Ayrshire; Moira, County Down; Montalto, County Down.

First published in June, 2010.   Hastings arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The Lost Caravaggio: II

Photo Credit: National Gallery of Ireland

THE leading expert in Baroque paintings and specialist in Caravaggio was Sir Denis Mahon, an art historian and collector of Baroque paintings, who had twice been a Trustee of the National Gallery London.

At this time he was 82-years old and had spent his entire adult life studying Baroque paintings.

When the restoration was complete he was invited to visit Dublin, was led to the Restoration Studio, shown the painting on an easel, studied it closely, ‘nose to canvas’, and was asked who was the painter?

In a matter of minutes he said ‘Caravaggio’.

He later explained that he was persuaded by the ‘masterly’ painting of the hands in the picture, objects which many artists find particularly difficult to portray. 

WITH an attribution by Sir Denis Mahon of the ‘Honthorst’ painting as a genuine Caravaggio its estimated market value in 1993 was as much as £50 million.

The Jesuit community decided that, having received it as a gift from Dr. Lea-Wilson, now dead, they held it on a charitable trust and were not free to sell it.

They retain ownership but placed it on permanent loan to the National Gallery of Ireland.

BUT is it really the original of The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio or a variation on the original by Caravaggio himself or even a very good copy of the original by another artist such as Honthorst? 

The original painting had been commissioned in Rome in 1602 by its richest citizen, Ciriaco Mattei.

Caravaggio was then living in his palace and painted at least three paintings for him.

Ciriaco was a meticulous book-keeper and his account books, in his own hand, show four payments to Caravaggio, seemingly based on the size of the paintings, including a payment in 1603 of 125 scudi (enough to rent a house in Rome for three years) ‘for a painting with its frame of Christ taken in the Garden’.

This refers to St. Mark’s Gospel description of Judas betraying Christ to soldiers with a kiss.

THE Mattei family’s wealth diminished in the following two centuries.

Family inventories of possessions became less specific.

The painting of ‘The Taking of Christ’ was attributed to Caravaggio until 1753 when a new inventory described a painting as ‘The Betrayal by Judas’.

A 1786 guidebook called ‘An Instructive Inventory of Rome’ by one Guiseppe Vasi was replete with errors and attributed the ‘Taking’ picture to Gherardo della Notte.

Whoever prepared the 1793 Mattei inventory appears to have drawn on Vasi as his source, rather than previous family inventories.

The painting in the Mattei family’s possession was attributed for the first time in the 1793 inventory to Gherardo delle Notti.

Was this the Caravaggio? 

IN 1798, when Napoleon invaded Northern Italy, he imposed heavy taxes on landowners to pay for his army.

The Mattei family had to sell assets to pay these taxes.

In 1802 they sold six paintings to a very wealthy Scotsman called William Hamilton Nisbet, including one which had been labelled as ‘The Taking of Christ’ by Honthorst.

An export licence was obtained for the six paintings which again refers to the painting being by Honthorst.

The six paintings purchased from the Mattei Palace in Rome in 1802 remained in the Hamilton Nisbet family’s possession until 1921.

IN that year, the last direct descendant of William Hamilton Nisbet was his great-granddaughter Constance Ogilvy.

She offered 31 of her family’s paintings to the National Gallery of Scotland which took all but three of them.

The rejected three included the Honthorst.

Together with other family paintings from ‘the Mansion-House of Biel, East Lothian’ it went to auction at Dowell’s in Edinburgh on 16 April 1921.

An annotated catalogue for that sale shows £8-8-0 beside the entry for ‘The Betrayal of Christ’ by Gerard Honthorst.

THE paper trail for Caravaggio’s painting from the Mattei Palace in Rome in 1603 to Dowell’s auction house in Edinburgh in 1921 is not perfect but is convincing.

It is supplemented by the oral history of Dr Lea-Wilson acquiring the painting in Edinburgh in the 1920s, giving it to the Jesuits in the 1930s and the painting going to the NGI in 1990.

THERE are at least twelve known versions of Caravaggio’s painting.

Two of them are claimed to be the original of ‘The Taking of Christ’, one in Odessa in the Ukraine and another which was bought from the Sannini family in Florence, Italy, by a Roman art dealer in 2003.

The Odessa painting is probably a copy of the Caravaggio made for Ciriaco Mattei’s brother Asdurabale by an artist called Giovanni di Attile for which he was paid 12 scudi.

Sir Denis Mahon described the fingers in the Odessa painting as being like ‘sausages’, not typical of Caravaggio’s best work.

Although Sir Denis thought that the Sannini painting was one of a series of the same subject painted by Caravaggio, its claim became doubtful in 2008 when analysis of its pigments showed traces of ‘Naples Yellow’, a paint not known to have been used until 1615, five years after Caravaggio’s death.

ON balance, the paper trail from Rome to Edinburgh, the oral history in Dublin and Sir Denis Mahon’s attribution to Caravaggio, indicate that ‘The Taking of Christ’ painting in the NGI is the original painting commissioned by Ciriaco Mattei in Rome in 1602.