Friday, 24 September 2021

Woodbourne House


The family of Charley, or Chorley, passing over from the north of England, settled in Ulster in the 17th century, firstly at Belfast, where they were owners of house property for two hundred years; and afterwards at Finaghy, County Antrim, where 

RALPH CHARLEY (1664-1746), of Finaghy House, had a son, 

JOHN CHARLEY (1712-93), of Finaghy, who left a son and successor, 

JOHN CHARLEY (1744-1812), of Finaghy House, who married, in 1783, Anne Jane, daughter of Richard Wolfenden, of Harmony Hill, County Down, and had issue, 
JOHN, of Finaghy House (1784-1844), died unmarried;
MATTHEW, of Finaghy House;
WILLIAM, of Seymour Hill
The third son,

WILLIAM CHARLEY, of Seymour Hill, Dunmurry, married, in 1817, Isabella, eldest daughter of William Hunter JP, of Dunmurry, and died in 1838, having had issue,
JOHN, of Seymour Hill;
WILLIAM, succeeded his brother;
Edward, of Conway House;
Mary; Anne Jane; Eliza; Isabella; Emily.
The eldest son,

JOHN CHARLEY, of Seymour Hill, died unmarried in 1843, aged 25, and was succeeded by his brother, 

WILLIAM CHARLEY JP DL (1826-1904), of Seymour Hill, who married, in 1856, Ellen Anna Matilda, daughter of Edward Johnson JP, of Ballymacash, near Lisburn, and granddaughter of Rev Philip Johnson JP DL, and had issue,
William, 1857-1904;
EDWARD JOHNSON, of Seymour Hill;
John George Stewart, 1863-86;
Thomas Henry FitzWilliam, 1866-85;
Arthur Frederick, of Mossvale, b 1870;
Harold Richard;
Ellen Frances Isabella; Elizabeth Mary Florence; Emily Constance Jane; Wilhelmina M Isabel.
The second son,

EDWARD JOHNSON CHARLEY (1859-1932), of Seymour Hill, was succeeded by his sixth son,

COLONEL HAROLD RICHARD CHARLEY CBE DL (1875-1956), of Seymour Hill, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles; fought in the Boer War and First World War, with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, and was wounded and became a PoW.

In 1916 he started workshops for interned British servicemen at Murren. He was Officer-in-Charge for Technical Instruction for servicemen interned in Switzerland in 1917; Commissioner of British Red Cross Society, Switzerland, 1918; commander of the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, 1919-23.

Appointed CBE, 1920; City Commandant, Ulster Special Constabulary, 1924-52; originator of the British Legion Car Park Attendants scheme (adopted throughout Great Britain); Honorary Colonel, 1938, Antrim Coast Regiment (Territorial Army). 

His eldest son, 

COLONEL WILLIAM ROBERT (Robin) HUNTER CHARLEY OBE (1924-2019), married Catherine Janet, daughter of William Sinclair Kingan, in 1960.

In 1943 he was enlisted in the Royal Ulster Rifles; fought in 2nd World War, and the Korean War; Commanding Officer, OTC Queen's University, Belfast, 1965-68; Officer, Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

He retired from the army in 1971; was on Staff in 1972 at Northern Ireland Polytechnic; lived in 1976 at Seymour Lodge, Larch Hill, Craigavad, County Down.

Colonel Charley was appointed OBE (civil) in 1989, for services to The Forces Help Society and Lord Roberts' Workshops.

WOODBOURNE HOUSE, Dunmurry, came into the possession of the Charleys when it was given to Mrs Mary Anne Charley (1797-1866) by her father on her marriage, in 1819, to Matthew Charley.

When Matthew and Mary moved to Finaghy House in 1844, Woodbourne was taken over by their son John Stouppe Charley.

In 1851, he married Mary Stewart (1832-1915), a daughter of Francis Foster JP, of Roshin Lodge, County Donegal.

Woodbourne House was said to have been a happy home.

It was named after a wood on one side and a burn, the Lady's River, on the other.

There was also a walled garden; an apple orchard; large yards and stables; byres for cows; barns for grain; a pigeon loft, a greenhouse, a pheasantry and a carpenter's shop.

The house had a large entrance hall with folding doors across it to screen off the stairs and back passages.

The Charley coat-of-arms adorned the folding screen.

Woodbourne House was closely associated with local shoots and it later became a hotel before development swamped the area. 

Having suffered bomb damage in the 1970s, the site became a fortified police station.  

First published in March, 2011.

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