Monday, 27 August 2012

House of Dobbs



This family was established in Ulster by  

JOHN DOBBS, who accompanied Sir Henry Dockwra to the province in 1596, and was subsequently his deputy as Treasurer for Ulster.

This gentleman married, in 1603, Margaret, only child of John Dalway, of Ballyhill, and by her had two sons, Foulk, who was lost, with his father, in returning from England; and

HERCULES DOBBS, who succeeded to his father's property. He married Magdalen West, of Ballydugan, County Down, and left an only son,

RICHARD DOBBS, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1664. This gentleman left his estate to his younger son,

RICHARD DOBBS, of Castletown, born 1660, who married and was succeeded by his heir,

ARTHUR DOBBS, born 1689, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1720, and for many years MP for Carrickfergus.


Mr Dobbs, who was appointed Engineer and Surveyor-General of Ireland, by Sir Robert Walpole, was, 1753, sent out as Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired large possessions, including 400,000 acres in the colony. 

It is, perhaps, a matter of some curiosity that Arthur Dobbs was not elevated to the peerage or, indeed, the baronetage, for his services. 

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS, of Castle Dobbs, MP  for Carrickfergus, and High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1752. Mr Dobbs died in 1811 and was succeeded by his heir,

RICHARD DOBBS, of Castle Dobbs. His eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS JP DL, born in 1796, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1841; MP for Carrickfergus, 1832. He married and was succeeded by his heir,

MONTAGU WILLIAM EDWARD DOBBS JP DL MA, of Castle Dobbs, born in 1844. High Sheriff for County Kildare, 1871, and for County Antrim, 1888. Barrister. Following his decease in 1906, Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his cousin,

ARCHIBALD EDWARD DOBBS JP MA, of Castle Dobbs, born in 1838, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1909; barrister. His eldest son,

ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS DL BA, born in 1876; lieutenant, Harwich Division, Royal Engineers Militia; captain, Antrim Royal Garrison Artillery; major, Howitzer Battery. He fought in the First World War, where he was mentioned in despatches. High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1921;  Member of the NI Senate, 1929-33 and 1937.

Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his only son,

SIR RICHARD ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS KCVO JP BA, educated at Eton; fought in the Second World War; temporary captain, the Irish Guards (Supp Reserve); was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1947 entitled to practice as a barrister.

Sir Richard (right) was a judge of the Circuit Court, 1951-55, Midland Circuit; Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, 1959-94; subsequently appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

He had five children:-

1  Richard Francis Andrew Dobbs, b 1955; married Lady Jane Alexander, sister of 7th Earl of Caledon, 1990; divorced in 1999 and had issue, three daughters.   

2  Nigel Christopher Dobbs b 1957; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 2009.

3  Matthew Frederick Dobbs b 1959; Fund Manager, Shroders, 2012.

4  Sophia Carola Dobbs b 1965

5  Nicholas Arthur Montagu Dobbs b 1973; Director, Wealth Management, Cazenove Capital, 2012.


In 1610, John Dobbs built a "fair" castle at Kilroot,, two miles north of Carrickfergus, called Castle Dobbs, where he also built a stone bawn. The castle was built upon "Ensign Dalway's land."

This castle was still standing, though ruinous, in Richard Dobbs' time (grandson of aforesaid John Dobbs), 1683.

The present mansion was built for Arthur Dobbs, Governor of North Carolina and possessor of 400,000 acres in that state.


It is a large, Palladian-style seven-bay, two-storey house with a high basement. The two wings consist of five bays, two storeys, and are linked to the main block by pairs of lunette windows.

The garden front boasts thirty-three windows, though has no doors or french windows at all.


The entrance front, beyond which runs the River Kilroot below a steep bank, has a remarkable double staircase of red stone, leading to a veranda, with Ionic columns, and the main door of the house.

Despite its elegance and grandeur, Castle Dobbs, old Castle Dobbs and the demesne remain very much a private estate, little known though of considerable importance in County Antrim and, indeed, Northern Ireland.

The extent of the estate is estimated to be five or six hundred acres. The River Kilroot, which runs though the park, is a major feature. There is a pheasantry.

The image above shows the side elevation of the house from the garden front. The persons are unknown to me.

Commander Richard Conway Dobbs MP RN inherited an estate comprising 7,921 acres in County Kildare, thought to be Donadea, through his daughter Alicia's marriage to Sir Gerald Aylmer Bt.

I have endeavoured to obtain colour images of Castle Dobbs though my requests were declined. 


Northern Scrivener said...

Lady Jane Alexander was married firstly to Rory Forbes Arbuthnot Peck, son of Julian Peck of Prehen House Londonderry.

Irishlad said...

Tim,you did rather well methinks,in obtaining the pictures alone,and your research was top notch as usual :)

Anonymous said...

Rory Peck being the journalist, killed in Moscow.


Anonymous said...

Jonathon Swift is linked to Castle Dobbs during his time in NI.