Wednesday, 12 May 2021

1st Baron Dunleath

THE BARONS DUNLEATH WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH
13,506 ACRES

The family of MULHOLLAND claims to be a branch of the ancient sept of MacLellan, Argyllshire, and was first established in Ulster, in County Antrim, whence they spread into counties Londonderry, Carlow, Kilkenny and Monaghan.

In the last-named county, Captain John Mulholland held the estate of Conaghy by grant from the Crown, and his lineal descendant, John Mulholland, served as High Sheriff, 1766.

THOMAS MULHOLLAND (1756-1820), of Belfast, wedded, in 1784, Anne Doe, and had two sons,
ANDREW, his heir;
St Clair Kelburn, of EGLANTINE, Hillsborough, County Down.
The elder son,

ANDREW MULHOLLAND JP DL (1792-1866), of Springvale House, Ballywalter, County Down, Mayor of Belfast, 1845, High Sheriff of County Down, 1855, County Antrim, 1858-9, married, in 1818, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas McDonnell, of Belfast.

Andrew Mulholland. Photo Credit: Irish Linen Museum

Mr Mulholland had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Thomas (1832-52);
Annie; Sarah Jane; Mary; Elizabeth; Andrina.
Mr Mulholland was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MULHOLLAND JP DL (1819-95), of Springvale (renamed Ballywalter Park), High Sheriff of County Down, 1868, MP for Downpatrick, 1874-85, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1878, who wedded, in 1851, Frances Louisa, daughter of Hugh Lyle, of KNOCKTARNA, County Londonderry, and had issue,
Andrew Walter (1852-77);
HENRY LYLE, his successor;
Alfred John;
Helen Mary; Alice Elizabeth; Louisa Frances.
Mr Mulholland was elevated to the peerage, in 1892, in the dignity of BARON DUNLEATH, of Ballywalter, County Down.

His lordship was succeeded by his second son,

HENRY LYLE, 2nd Baron (1854-1931), JP DL, of Ballywalter Park, High Sheriff of County Down, 1883, Major, 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who espoused, in 1881, Norah Louisa Fanny, daughter of the Hon Somerset Ward, and had issue,
Andrew Edward Somerset, killed in action at Ypres);
CHARLES HENRY GEORGE, his successor;
Henry George Hill, created a baronet; father of the 5th Baron;
Godfrey John Arthur Murray Lyle;
Eva Norah Helen.
His lordship was succeeded by his second son,

CHARLES HENRY GEORGE, 3rd Baron (1886-1956), CBE DSO JP DL, of Ballywalter Park, High Sheriff of County Down, 1931, who married firstly, in 1920, Sylvia Henrietta, daughter of Sir Arthur Douglas Brooke, 4th Baronet; and secondly, in 1932, Henrietta Grace, daughter of the Most Rev Charles Frederick D'Arcy, Archbishop of Armagh, by whom he had issue, an only child,

CHARLES EDWARD HENRY JOHN, 4th Baron (1933-93), TD DL, of Ballywalter Park, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Irish Horse (TA), who wedded, in 1959, Dorinda Margery, daughter of Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival CB DSO OBE MC DL, though the marriage was without issue, and the barony reverted to his cousin,

SIR MICHAEL HENRY MULHOLLAND, 2nd Baronet and 5th Baron (1915-97), Major, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, who espoused firstly, in 1942, Rosemary, daughter of Major David Alfred William Ker; and secondly, in 1949, Elizabeth, daughter of Laurence B Hyde, by whom he had an only child,

BRIAN HENRY, 6th Baron, DL, born in 1950, of Ballywalter Park, who married firstly, in 1976, Mary Joan, daughter of Major Robert John Fuller Whistler, and had issue,
Tara Miranda, b 1980;
ANDREW HENRY, b 1981;
William alexander, b 1986.
The 6th Baron (third Mulholland Baronet) wedded secondly, in 2006, Vibeke (Vibse) Lunn.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon Andrew Henry Mulholland (b 1981).

*****

IN 1803, Thomas Mulholland, described as a dealer, bought two houses in Upper Church Lane, Belfast, signing the contract with a simple cross (X), an indication of illiteracy and, presumably, of fairly modest origins.

About 1815, the family entered the flourishing cotton industry by purchasing a mill.

Thomas Mulholland & Co. operated a calico-weaving business with his sons at Winetavern Street in Belfast.

Thomas died in 1820, and the business flourished: in 1822 his sons built a very large spinning mill in the Point Field, near York Street.

One Sunday morning in June, 1828, however, disaster struck when this mill was almost totally destroyed by fire. Yet in fact time was to prove this a most fortuitous disaster for the Mulhollands. The brothers, Thomas, Andrew and St Clair, with the support of their partner John Hind, decided to rebuild the mill, but for the spinning of flax not of cotton.

In addition to their business interests, the Mulhollands also took an active part in civic affairs: St Clair was a JP for County Down and High Sheriff of County Louth and in 1865 he donated money for the erection of a new wing at what was to become the Royal Victoria Hospital.

His elder brother, Andrew, had married Elizabeth McDonnell in 1818 and had one son and four daughters.

He was elected Mayor of Belfast for the year 1845.

He built Ballywalter Park, to which he moved in 1846; and he is perhaps best remembered in Belfast today for having provided the Ulster Hall with its fine Grand Organ in 1862.

Andrew Mulholland bought the Ballywalter estate from the Matthews family in 1846 for the sum of £23,000 (£2 million in 2010).

Andrew's eldest and only son John (1819-95) was educated at the Royal Academy in Belfast and eventually assumed control of the family interests, which aside from the mills included a substantial amount of land: 13,500 acres in County Down and over 1,000 acres near Cookstown in County Tyrone.

John was noted for his business and financial acumen which carried him well beyond the linen industry.

He was, for instance, involved in 1860 in advising HM Government during negotiations with the French over an important commercial treaty regulating trade between the two countries – and, among various other provisions, lowering French duties on flax and linen.

He also played a prominent part in organising the finances of the Church of Ireland after it was disestablished in 1869.

He was a JP and High Sheriff for both counties Down and Tyrone.

In 1868 he stood as a Conservative candidate, with Sir Charles Lanyon, the architect of Ballywalter, for the seat of Belfast. Both, however, were defeated, with John coming bottom of the poll. Yet John persevered and in 1874 he was returned unopposed for Downpatrick, a seat he retained until 1885 [and where his influence, as ground landlord of most of the town, was very strong].

Although he held no political office, he spoke frequently on Irish questions and was a strong supporter of Tory policies.

Mr Mulholland was raised to the peerage, in 1892, in the dignity of BARON DUNLEATH, of Ballywalter, on the recommendation of the outgoing Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury.

Following his decease in 1895, the 1st Baron's estate was valued at almost £600,000, the equivalent of almost £71 million today.

In 1878 he owned 13,506 acres of land in County Down, and 1,182 in County Tyrone.

The 4th Baron was instrumental in the restoration of the grand Mulholland organ in Belfast's Ulster Hall.

The present 6th Baron Dunleath is also the 3rd Mulholland Baronet.

The 6th Baron's father, the 5th Baron, was better known as Sir Michael Mulholland Bt, and lived formerly at Storbrooke House in Massey Avenue, Belfast.

When Sir Michael succeeded to the titles the barony it merged with the baronetcy.

The Dunleath Papers are held at PRONI.


BALLYWALTER PARK, one of the finest stately homes in Northern Ireland, is on the Ards Peninsula in County Down.

The estate today comprises about 1,000 acres of beautiful parkland, woodland and forest.


The present Lord Dunleath formerly managed the Duke of Abercorn's Belle Isle estate in County Fermanagh until he succeeded his father as 6th Baron.

Lord Dunleath has three children: his eldest son and heir, the Hon Andrew Mulholland; the Hon Tara Mulholland; and the Hon William Mulholland.

First published in June, 2010.

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