The family of ADAIR was settled in Scotland, and later in Ulster, for many generations, and, according to tradition, derived its descent from a junior branch of the noble house of FitzGerald, Earls of Desmond.NINIAN ADAIR, of Kinhilt, in Wigtownshire, lived in the early part of the 16th century, and was father of
WILLIAM ADAIR, of the same place, whose son,
NINIAN ADAIR, was father of
WILLIAM ADAIR, who acquired the estate of Ballymena, County Antrim. His son,
SIR ROBERT ADAIR, who received the honour of knighthood from CHARLES I, died in 1665.
He married Jean, daughter of Archibald Edmonstone, of Duntreath, in Stirlingshire, by whom he had a son,
WILLIAM ADAIR, who, by Anna Helena Scott, his wife (to whom he was married ca 1658), was father of
SIR ROBERT ADAIR, of Kinhilt and Ballymena,
who raised a regiment of foot and a troop of horse for the service of WILLIAM III, and received the honour of knighthood from that monarch on the field after the battle of the Boyne.Sir Robert died in 1745, having married four wives; by the first of whom, Penelope, daughter of Sir Robert Colville, Knight, he left a son,
WILLIAM ADAIR, captain of dragoons; who died in 1762, leaving by Catherine Smallman, his wife, a son and successor,
ROBERT ADAIR, who died in 1798, leaving by Anne his wife, daughter of Alexander McAuley, of the city of Dublin, barrister-at-law, a son,
WILLIAM ADAIR (1754-1844), of Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Colehayes Park, Devon, who wedded Camilla, daughter and heir Robert Shafto, of Benwell, Northumberland, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAFTO, his heir;Mr Adair was succeeded by his eldest son,
William Robert, died at Harrow School;
Alexander, of Hetherton Park;
ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR (1786-1869), of Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Ballymena, County Antrim, who wedded, in 1810, Elizabeth Maria, daughter of the Rev James Strode, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire.
Mr Adair was created a baronet in 1838.
By his wife he had issue,
ROBERT ALEXANDER SHAFTO, his successor;His elder son,
SIR ROBERT ALEXANDER SHAFTO ADAIR (1811-86), 2nd Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, married Theodosia, daughter of General the Hon Robert Meade, 2nd son of John, Earl of Clanwilliam; sometime MP for Cambridge.
In 1873, Sir Robert was elevated to the peerage, as BARON WAVENEY, of South Elmham, Suffolk.
In 1865, Adair began the construction in the demesne of Ballymena Castle, a substantial family residence in the Scottish baronial style. The castle was not completed until 1887, and was demolished in 1957 after having lain empty for some years and being vandalised; the site is now a car park. In 1870, Adair donated a People's Park to Ballymena, engaging fifty labourers to work for six months landscaping it.The barony became extinct on his death in 1886, while he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother,
SIR HUGH EDWARD ADAIR JP DL (1815-1902), 3rd Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, who wedded, in 1856, Harriet Camilla, daughter of Alexander Adair, and had issue,
Hugh Alexander (1858-68);Sir Hugh was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
FREDERICK EDWARD SHAFTO, his successor;
ROBERT SHAFTO, succeeded his brother;
Camilla Beatrix Mary.
SIR FREDERICK EDWARD SHAFTO ADAIR JP (1860-1915), 4th Baronet, of Ballymena Castle, who died a bachelor, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,
SIR ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR JP DL (1862-1949), 5th Baronet, who married, in 1890, Mary, daughter of Henry Anstey Bosanquet, and had issue,
Robert Desmond Shafto, died in infancy;Sir Robert was succeeded by his only surviving son,
ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO, of whom hereafter;
Camilla Mary Shafto.
MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO ADAIR GCVO CB DSO MC JP DL (1897-1988), 6th and last Baronet, who espoused, in 1919, Enid Violet Ida, daughter of William Humble Dudley Ward, and had issue,
DESMOND ALLAN SHAFTO, predeceased his father;Sir Allan's only son,
Robert Dudley Shafto (1923-25);
Bridget Mary; Juliet Enid; Annabel Violet.
Captain Desmond Allan Shafto Adair, born in 1920, died in 1943 at Italy, killed in action.
When the 6th Baronet died in 1988 the title became extinct.
It had a massive seven-storey tower at one end was built by Lanyon & Lynn of Belfast.
The original castle, built by the Adairs, was burnt in 1720.
The Adair estate at Ballymena was sold to the tenants in 1904 and the castle fell into disuse.
The castle was still standing in 1953, but badly damaged by arson in 1955 and condemned as unsafe the following year.
When the local council demolished it in 1957, Sir Allan Adair bought Holy Hill House, near Strabane, County Tyrone, and installed ten stained glass windows from the castle there, where they remain today.
First published in October, 2010.