Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Moneyglass House

THE HAMILTON-JONESES OWNED 3,690 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM


The family of JONES, of Moneyglass, County Antrim, claim descent from the ancient Welsh family of JONES, of Ystrad, Carmarthenshire, of the line of the ancient princes of the Cambrai.

MORRES JONES (grandson of Morres Jones, of Ystrad, in the reign of CHARLES II), married Anne, daughter of Captain William Dobbin, of Duneane House, Toome, by Sarah his wife, sister of "French John" O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, and first cousin of Jane, wife of Arthur Dawson, of Castledawson, to whom Mr O'Neill granted, as a portion with his niece, a lease in perpetuity of the lands of Moneyglass.

Mr Jones died in 1765, leaving issue (with two daughters, Mary and Anne), an only son,

THOMAS MORRES JONES ("Bumper Squire Jones" of Carolan's Muse), who wedded, in 1740, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Cope MP, of Loughgall, County Armagh.

Squire Jones died in 1769, and was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT MORRES JONES, who died unmarried in 1775, and was succeeded by his next brother,

THOMAS MORRES JONES (1746-1818), of Ivybrook, who wedded, in 1770, Letitia Hamilton, of Glerawly,  County Fermanagh, and had issue,
William Morres, dsp;
Thomas Morres Hamilton, dsp;
KENDRICK MORRES, his heir;

Robert Morres;
Elizabeth; Mary; Ann; Britannia; Emma; Letitia; Harriet; Helen.
Mr Jones was succeeded by his third son,

KENDRICK MORRES JONES (1785-1830), who assumed his maternal name of HAMILTON, and espoused, in 1818, Mabella, daughter of Major Charles Hill, of Bellaghy Castle, County Londonderry, by whom he had issue,
THOMAS MORRES, his heir;
John Charles Hill;
Mabella.
Mr Hamilton-Jones was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS MORRES HAMILTON-JONES JP DL (1821-81), of Moneyglass House, County Antrim, and Jonesborough, County Armagh, and The Cottage, County Fermanagh, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1845, Antrim, 1846, Down, 1847, and Fermanagh, 1850.

Mr Hamilton-Jones married, in 1859, Sara Ellen, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Day, East India Company, and had issue,
KENDRICK JOHN CHARLES, his heir;
ARTHUR HENRY MORRES;

Mary Lizzie Mabella; Emmeline Hawtry Sara; Adeline Ida Sara (twin).
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

KENDRICK JOHN CHARLES HAMILTON-JONES JP (1860-87), of Moneyglass House, Jonesborough House, Flurrybridge, and The Cottage, Belcoo, County Fermanagh, Captain, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who married, in 1882, Hannah, daughter of P McErlain, of Toome, and had issue, two daughters,
MARY SARA LOUISA (1883-99);
EMMELINE ANNIE MABELLA.
Mr Hamilton-Jones was succeeded by his younger daughter,

EMMELINE ANNIE MABELLA, MRS TOBIAS (1885-), of Moneyglass House, County Antrim, Jonesborough House, Flurrybridge, County Armagh, and 91, Via Vinti Settembre, Rome, who wedded, in 1910, Dr Arturo Tobias, Captain, 13th Regiment of Artillery, and Cavalieri of the Crown of Italy, third son of Diament Tobias, of Pinnico, Italy.

Photo credit: FRIVILOUS KATE

MONEYGLASS HOUSE, near Toomebridge, County Antrim, was a fine mid-19th century Italianate house of two storeys over a basement.

It was in the style of Sir Charles Lanyon, with round-headed windows on either side of the entrance porch and elsewhere on the facade.

The central section of the entrance front consisted of five bays, with two bays projecting boldly on each side.

The porch was similar to a three-arched Italianate loggia, with Tuscan columns surmounted by latticed balustrading.


The end piers of the porch had rock-faced rustication around the windows on either side and elsewhere.

The roof was singularly low-pitched, almost concealed.


The mansion house is now demolished, apart from the porte-cochere.

Moneyglass House was re-designed ca 1850, complete with two new gate lodges.

Other former residences ~ Jonesborough House, Flurrybridge, County Armagh; 91, Via Vinti Settembre, Rome.

First published in January, 2013.

The Nugent Baronetcy

THE NUGENT BARONETCY, OF PORTAFERRY, WAS CREATED IN 1951 FOR THE RT HON ROLAND THOMAS NUGENT DL

THE NUGENTS OWNED 4,638 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

The very ancient Anglo-Norman house of SAVAGE was settled at Portaferry, County Down, since the time of the first conquest of Ireland by John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster, in 1177.

Under that famous warrior, the original ancestor in Ireland established himself in County Down; and by a written document, dated 1205, in the Tower of London, we find Robin, son of William Savage, named as one of de Courcy's hostages for his appearance before KING JOHN.

The present barony of Lecale was anciently termed the Territory of the Savages, wherein, at Ardglass, they and their dependants erected seven castles, the ruins of which are still extant.

It appears, also, that a stately monastery of Dominicans was founded at Newtownards, in 1244, by the Savages, "gentlemen of English extraction".

From the extreme scarcity of records in Ireland, it is impossible, at this remote period, to determine, without liability to error, which is the senior branch of the family, that of PORTAFERRY or ARDKEEN CASTLE.

In 1400, HENRY IV granted to Robert FitzJordan Savage the office of sheriff of the Ards; and it appears, by an indenture dated 1538, that Raymond [Savage] should have the chieftainship and superiority of his sept in the Territory of the Savages, otherwise called Lecale.

However, in 1559, the Lord Deputy, Sir William FitzWilliam, made a division between Roland and Raymond Savage of several towns and territories in the Ards.

By pedigree annexed, Roland, in 1572, was in possession of Portaferry Castle, and styled himself "Lord of the Little Ards"; and Lord Deputy Chichester, some years afterwards, addressed him as such by letter.

The Ardkeen family had some territories in the barony of Lecale, and also in County Antrim, that family always being sore enemies of the O'Neills. 

ROWLAND SAVAGE, Lord of the Little Ards, County Down, representative of the family in the middle of the 16th century, died at Portaferry in 1572, leaving issue, 
PATRICK, his heir;
ROWLAND;
Edmund; Richard; James.
The eldest son,

PATRICK SAVAGE (1535-c1604), Lord of the Little Ards, wedded Anne Plunket, and left two sons, of whom the elder,

ROWLAND SAVAGE, Lord of the Little Ards, succeeded his father and married Rose, daughter of Russel of Rathmullan, County Down.

Mr Savage was, however succeeded by his brother, 

PATRICK SAVAGE,  of Portaferry, who wedded, in 1623, Jean, only daughter of Hugh, 1st Viscount Montgomery, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;
ELIZABETH, co-heir to her brother;
SARAH, co-heir to her brother.
Mr Savage died in 1644, and was succeeded by his son, 

HUGH SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who died unmarried, 1683, and was succeeded in the representation of the family by his cousin, 

PATRICK SAVAGE, of Derry of the Little Ards, and afterwards of Portaferry, who, by his wife Anne Hall, of Narrow Water, was father of

EDWARD SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who died unmarried in 1725, was buried at Portaferry.

His uncle and successor, 

JAMES SAVAGE, of Portaferry, wedded Mabel, daughter of Edmund Magee, of Lisburn, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
ANDREW, of whom hereafter;
James;
Margaret; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

JOHN SAVAGE, wedded Catherine, daughter of ___ Savage, and had a son, James, who died young.

At his decease he was succeeded by his brother,

ANDREW SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who espoused Margaret, sister and co-heir of Governor Nugent (of Tortola), and daughter of Andrew Nugent, of Dysart, County Westmeath, by his wife, the Lady Catherine Nugent, daughter and co-heir of Thomas, Earl of Westmeath, and had a son and heir,

PATRICK SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who married, in 1765, Anne, daughter of Roger Hall, of Narrow Water, and had issue,
ANDREW, of whom presently;
Patrick Nugent, m Hariett, daughter of Rev Henry Sandford;
Roger Hall, Captain RN, d unmarried;
John Levallin, d unmarried;
William, in holy orders;
Barbara; Dorcas Sophia.
Mr Savage died in 1797, and was succeeded by his eldest son (who assumed the surname of NUGENT and became co-heir of the barony of Delvin),

ANDREW NUGENT JP DL (1770-1846), of Portaferry House, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Down Militia, High Sheriff of County Down, 1808.

Colonel Nugent succeeded his father in 1797, and assumed his present surname, on succeeding to a portion of the estate of his maternal great-uncle, Governor Nugent, in 1812.

He wedded, in 1800, Selina, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Viscount de Vesci, and had issue,
PATRICK JOHN, of whom presently;
Thomas Vesey, m Frances, dau. of Sir J Stronge Bt; father of
E H S NUGENT;
Andrew Savage, m Harriet, Viscountess Bangor;
Arthur, m Charlotte, daughter of Maj. Brooke, of Colebrooke;
Charles Lavallin, major-general in the army;
Selina, m James, eldest son of Sir James Stronge Bt;
Anne.
Colonel Nugent was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK JOHN NUGENT (1804-57), of Portaferry House, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Down Militia, High Sheriff of County Down, 1843, who married, in 1833, his cousin Catherine, daughter of John, 2nd Viscount de Vesci, and had issue,
ANDREW;
JOHN VESEY, lieutenant-colonel in the army;
Arthur Vesey;
Frances Isabella.
Colonel Nugent was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW NUGENT JP DL (1834-1905), of Portaferry House, High Sheriff of County Down, 1882, Colonel, Royal Scots Greys, who died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother, 

JOHN VESEY NUGENT JP DL (1837-1914), of Portaferry House, Lieutenant-Colonel, 51st King's Own Yorkshire light Infantry, who married, in 1886, Emily Georgiana, daughter of Herbert Langham.

Colonel Nugent died without issue, and was succeeded by his cousin, 

EDMOND HENRY STUART NUGENT JP DL (1849-1935), who wedded, in 1885, Grace Mary, daughter of Edward Nathaniel Conant, and had issue,

ROLAND THOMAS NUGENT JP DL (1886-1962), Northern Ireland politician. 
He entered the diplomatic service in 1910 and served with the Grenadier Guards in 1918; and again in 1940-43; was a Director of the Federation of British Industries, 1916-17 and 1919-32; and was knighted in 1929.
In 1944, Sir Roland Thomas Nugent entered Northern Ireland politics, serving as Leader of the Senate, 1944-50; Minister without Portfolio in the Northern Ireland Government, 1944-45; Minister of Commerce, 1945-49; Minister in the Senate, 1949; and Speaker of the Senate, 1950-61. 
On his retirement from that post, in 1951, he was created a baronet, denominated of Portaferry, County Down.

Sir Roland died the following year, when the baronetcy became extinct.

Sir Roland married, in 1917, Cynthia Maud Ramsden, daughter of Captain Frederick William Ramsden and the Lady Elizabeth Maud Conyngham, daughter of the 3rd Marquess Conyngham.

The couple had three children, of whom their two sons were both tragically killed in action during the 2nd World War.

The Nugent Papers are available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.


PORTAFERRY HOUSE, Portaferry, County Down, is a large, three-storey, country mansion in a restrained classical style, built ca 1750, and extended about 1790.

It took its present form in 1818-20, when the front fa├žade was remodelled, the grand stairwell added, and the east wing largely rebuilt, all to designs by William Farrell.

The centre of the entrance front has five bays with a Wyatt window in each of the two upper storeys.

The porch has paired Ionic columns and Ionic end piers.

On both sides of the centre block are wide, three-sided bows of two storeys (though the same height as the main block).

The hall, too, affords Ionic columns and good plasterwork.

The original (central) block of Portaferry House was constructed ca 1750 by Andrew Savage on land granted to his ancestor, Patrick, by CHARLES I in 1628.

This original section, which comprises the central and eastern portion of main block of the present house, was a fairly plain, three-storey building.

In 1789, with money reputedly won in a bet with Robert Stewart of Mount Stewart, Patrick Savage had plans drawn up by the Dublin architect, Charles Lilly, for extensions and improvements to the house.


These plans included the addition of a west wing, the three-sided outer bays, and changes to the rear.

In 1814, due to the proceeds of the will of his great-uncle (Nugent of Dysart), Andrew Savage (who was required to change the family name to Nugent in accordance with the same will), employed William Farrell to draw up new plans for further extending and remodelling the house.

Work commenced in 1818.

The east wing was mostly remodelled to include reception rooms to the front, a servants' wing (with classroom) to the rear, and an extended basement floor.

Bays were added to both wings.

In the centre of the house the old staircase was removed, and what had been the old stairwell, hall and drawing room were combined to form a large reception hall.

A new, grander staircase was built to the north of the new hall and extensive plumbing work (including the addition of a new water closet) was carried out to the entire building.

At this period the farmyard was also enlarged and kennels were built to the north side of the demesne.

A threshing mill and horse walk was built to the north-east of farmyard.

The work to the house was completed in 1820 at a total cost of £7,140 (about £622,000 in 2015).


Portaferry House remained in the Nugent family until the 1980s, by which time sections of it had fallen into disrepair.

The present owner has done much to restore the building.

*****

THE DEMESNE is laid out as a fine landscape park for the 1760 house, enlarged in the early 1820s after additions and alterations were made to the house by Andrew Nugent.

It is placed in a splendid position overlooking lawns, pleasure grounds, a series of small lakes and parkland to Strangford Lough.

The original 18th century house was built by Andrew Savage, a former officer in the Spanish army, on a site chosen because it was near ‘a beautiful well-spring up to which from the old castle’.

The Savages changed their name to Nugent: Seemingly the Portaferry House branch of this Anglo-Norman family, Savage of the Ards, changed its name to Nugent in 1812, following the succession of Andrew Savage of Portaferry to certain estates.

Portaferry Castle was probably built in the 16th century by a member of the Savage family. In 1635, Patrick Savage's brother-in-law, Sir James Montgomery, of Rosemount,  repaired the castle by roofing and flooring it so that his sister could live in greater comfort there.

The parkland incorporates extensive woodland blocks, screens and isolated park trees.

Nugent’s Wood, alongside the shore, belongs to the National Trust.

The pleasure grounds, to the south of the house, are not maintained.

However, there are banks of rhododendrons that give colour.

A folly tower, which resembles a windmill stump, has far-reaching views from the top.

The walled garden, near the town, which belongs to the local borough council, has an interesting ziggurat wall to allow maximum heat for wall fruit.

It is adjacent to the 16th century tower house, Portaferry Castle.

There are listed farm buildings and three gate lodges built in 1830.

Portaferry House is now owned by the Beverland family.

First published in  May, 2010.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Blessington House

Arms of the Viscounts Blessington
THE MARQUESSES OF DOWNSHIRE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WICKLOW, WITH 15,766 ACRES

BLESSINGTON HOUSE, County Wicklow, was one of the largest late 17th century houses in the Kingdom of Ireland.

It was built ca 1673 by the Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh and the last ecclesiastical Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

This prelate had been granted the Manor of Blessington in 1669 by CHARLES II, and laid out the town.

His Grace's eldest son,

MURROUGH BOYLE, was elevated to the peerage, 1673, in the dignity of Baron Boyle and VISCOUNT BLESSINGTON.

He wedded firstly, Mary, daughter of the Most Rev Dr John Parker, Lord Archbishop of Dublin.
By her he had issue an only daughter, who espoused, in 1684, Sir John Talbot Dillon Bt, by whom they had issue a daughter, Mary, married in 1708 to Captain Dunbar; who dying without issue, in 1778, left his estate to Lord Hillsborough, Lord de Vesci, and Lord Longford, as descendants of Lord Primate Boyle.
His lordship married secondly, in 1672, Anne, daughter of Charles, Earl of Mountrath.


BLESSINGTON HOUSE, Blessington, County Wicklow, comprised two storeys with a dormered attic in its high-pitched roof.

The principal front had a five-bay centre recessed between two, three-bay projecting wings joined by a balustraded colonnade.

The house stood at the end of an avenue in an exquisite demesne with a deer-park.

The Blessington estate passed through marriage to the 1st Marquess of Downshire, whose great-grandmother was a daughter of Archbishop Boyle.

In her article about Blessington and the Downshire connection, Kathy Trant tells us that Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire, was a great-grandson of Archbishop Boyle's daughter Eleanor, who had married William Hill of Hillsborough.

Thus began the Downshire association with Blessington, which continued until 1908, when the tenants bought out their holdings under the Wyndham Land Act.

The estate stretched from the Kildare boundary to the uplands of the Wicklow mountains comprised 36 townlands, 31 of which were in County Wicklow and five in County Kildare.

The 2nd Marquess also had residences at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, Hanover Square, London, Gloucester Street, Dublin, Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire,

Blessington House was burnt by insurgents in 1798.

The raids on Blessington continued into September but by then many of the tenants had left the estate.

The town was now in ruins and the surrounding countryside devastated.
When life gradually returned to normal, people began assessing the damage to their property and many submissions were made to the commission established by the Government to consider the claims of those who had suffered losses during the rebellion.
Lord Downshire received over £9,000 for the destruction to his property but he never rebuilt the mansion.

On the Downshire estates, the question now was not whether but when the landlord would sell to the tenants.

This happened on the Blessington estate under the 6th Marquess, who had inherited in 1892, and the sale was completed by 1908.

In reality, the connection between the Downshires and Blessington had virtually ceased four decades earlier upon the death of the 4th Marquess.

The once great dynasties of the Boyles and the Hills, which for so long had dominated the lives of the people of Blessington, quietly came to an end.


Today, the principal reminders of their reign in Blessington are St Mary's Church; the agent's house (until recently, the Downshire Hotel); the Market House (now Credit Union House); the Inn (now the Ulster Bank).


The monument in the square commemorates the coming of age in 1865 of Lord Hillsborough, later 5th Marquess of Downshire.

First published in August, 2012.  Blessington arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   Excerpts of The Blessington Estate And The Downshire Connection, by Kathy Trant.

BH Memoirs: V

REMINISCENCES OF LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN MATTHEW BLAKISTON-HOUSTON DL (1898-1984), OF BELTRIM CASTLE, COUNTY TYRONE, AND RODDENS, COUNTY DOWN, BORN AT ORANGEFIELD HOUSE, BELFAST


HE SERVED IN THE FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS; WAS AIDE-DE-CAMP TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF AUSTRALIA, 1929-30; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY DOWN, 1944; DEPUTY LIEUTENANT OF COUNTY DOWN, 1946; HIGH SHERIFF OF COUNTY TYRONE, 1954


After a little leave at home I rejoined the 11th Hussars at Tidworth.

In the spring I got engaged to be married to Lettice Stobart, daughter of Harry Stobart of [Thornton Hall] Yorkshire.

I had applied for the adjutancy of the Yorkshire Dragoons but was turned down on the grounds that I was a bachelor.

I had wanted to be in Yorkshire to see Lattice but I could not very well give this reason to the Colonel of the Yorkshire Dragoons!

We were married in July, 1931.

Then I was appointed Adjutant of the Cheshire Yeomanry and was to take over on 1st November, 1931.

After we were married we spent a fortnight in Norway and as it was not worth setting up a house for three months we started living in the Everleigh Hotel near Tadworth.

The rooms were small and the roofs were low and I kept bumping my head, so we decided to pitch a camp on Salisbury Plain and live in it.

We borrowed a large marquee from the Quartermaster and five bell tents.

We engaged an ex-naval chef and I had my soldier servant.

We had a map reference for a postal address but actually we were only 500 yards from Trevor Smail’s house.

George Paul spent a few weeks with us as a guest and during manoeuvres we had visitors from far and wide.

My mother-in-law came and spent a few days with us.

Then we moved up to Eccleston at the Duke of Westminster’s [Eaton Hall] gate and we lived there for the next four years.

Mary and Anne were both born there.

I worked hard with the Cheshire Yeomanry and enjoyed the work with these enthusiastic yeomen.

The men were particularly keen.

We hunted with both the Cheshire and Sir Watkin Wynn’s hounds but mostly with the latter.

I did a bit more flying while at Chester and obtained my “A” certificate but I was never a good pilot.

During the time I was at Chester my father died at Roddens.

After this I had to cross over to Ireland for a three day visit each month to attend to the farms and the estate.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Viscountcy

The Viscountcy is the fourth grade in the peerage, which title formerly applied to the sheriff of a county, but was not used as a designation of nobility before the reign of HENRY VI, when that monarch created John, Baron Beaumont, KG, by letters patent, in 1440, Viscount Beaumont, a dignity which expired with his lordship's son and successor in 1507.

A viscountcy is always created by patent, and it descends according to the specified limitation.

The honour was originally conferred as an advancement to barons, but afterwards created frequently with the barony; and latterly it has been created without a barony.

The style of a viscount is Right Honourable, and he is officially addressed by the Crown, "Our right trusty and well beloved Cousin".

The last non-royal viscountcies to be created occured in 1983 and 1984, for the Viscounts Whitelaw, Tonypandy, and Macmillan of Ovenden.

THE ROBES of a viscount differ from those of an earl in having two rows of plain white fur only.

His lordship's cap is of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, having a gold tassel at top; and the golden circle of his coronet is surmounted by fourteen pearls.

First published in December, 2013.

The Countess of Wessex

THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX is 54 today.

Her Royal Highness's full style is as follows,
Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward Antony Richard Louis, Countess of Wessex, Viscountess Severn.

HRH received the Royal Family Order of QUEEN ELIZABETH II in 2004.

She was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 2010.

The badge of the Royal Victorian Order features on The Countess of Wessex's armorial bearings.

When the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne, The Countess of Wessex shall become Baroness Greenwich, Countess of Merioneth and Duchess of Edinburgh.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Ross's Auction-House


The 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.


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.

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.

After the town’s promotion in 1888, 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

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.