Monday, 13 April 2020

Bellamont Forest


This is the parent stock whence the noble houses of COOTEEarls of Mountrath, and COOTE, Lords Castlecoote, both now extinct, emanated. 

This noble family derives its origin from

SIR JOHN COOTE, a native of France, who married Isabella, the daughter and heir of the Seigneur Du Bois, of that kingdom, and had issue,

SIR JOHN COOTE, Knight, who coming into England, settled in Devon, and married a daughter of Sir John Fortescue, of that county.

His lineal descendant,

JOHN COOTE, heir to his uncle, 28th Abbot of Bury St Edmund's, wedded Margaret, daughter of Mr Drury, by whom he had four sons,
FRANCIS, of whom we treat;
Mr Coote's second son,

FRANCIS COOTE, of Eaton, in Norfolk, served ELIZABETH I; and by Anne, his wife, had issue,

SIR NICHOLAS COOTE, living in 1636, who had two sons,
CHARLES, his heir;
William (Very Rev), Dean of Down, 1635.
Sir Nicholas's elder son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (1581-1642), Knight, of Castle Cuffe, in the Queen's County, served in the wars against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, at the head, as Captain of the 100th Foot Regiment, with which corps he was at the siege of Kinsale, and was appointed, by JAMES I (in consequence of the good and faithful services he had rendered to ELIZABETH I), provost-marshal of the province of Connaught for life.

In 1620, he was constituted Vice-President of the same province; and created, in 1621, a baronet, designated of Castle Cuffe, Queen's County.

Sir Charles distinguished himself, subsequently, by many gallant exploits; but the most celebrated was the relief of Birr, in 1642.

Being dispatched, with Sir Thomas Lucas and six troops of horse, to relieve that garrison, and some other fortresses, it was necessary, in order to effect the objective, to pass the causeway broken by the rebels, who had thrown up a ditch at the end of it.

Sir Charles, leading thirty dismounted dragoons, beat the enemy, with the loss of their captain and twenty men; relieved the castles of Birr, Borris, and Knocknamase; and having continued almost forty hours on horseback, returned to the camp with the loss of only one man.

This is the surprising passage through Mountrath woods which justly caused the title of MOUNTRATH to be entailed upon his son.

Sir Charles married Dorothea, youngest daughter and co-heir of Hugh Cuffe, of Cuffe's Wood, County Cork, and had issue,
Charles, 1st Earl of Mountrath;
Chidley, of Killester, Co Dublin;
RICHARD, 1st Baron Coote, ancestor of the EARL OF BELLAMONT (1st Creation);
Thomas, of Coote Hill;
The younger son,

RICHARD COOTE (1620-83), for his hearty concurrence with his brother, SIR CHARLES, 2nd Baronet, in promoting the restoration of CHARLES II, was rewarded with the dignity of a peerage of the realm.

Being the same day that his brother was created Earl of Mountrath, Richard Coote was created, in 1660, Baron Coote, of Colloony.

In 1660, his lordship was appointed Major to the Duke of Albemarle's Regiment of Horse; and the same year he was appointed one of the commissioners for executing His Majesty's declaration for the settlement of Ireland.

He was, in 1675, appointed one of the commissioners entrusted for the 49 Officers. 

In 1676, the 1st Baron resided at Moore Park, County Meath, and Piercetown, County Westmeath.

His lordship married Mary, second daughter of George, Lord St George, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Lætitia; Mary; Catherine; Elizabeth.
Following his decease, in 1683, he was interred at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 2nd Baron (1636-1701), Governor of County Leitrim, 1689, Treasurer to the Queen, 1689-93, MP for Droitwich, 1689-95, who was, in 1688, one of the first to join the Prince of Orange.

In 1689, he was attainted in his absence by the Irish Parliament of JAMES II.

His lordship was created, in 1689, EARL OF BELLOMONT, along with a grant of 77,000 acres of forfeited lands.

His lordship was Governor of Massachusetts, 1695, and Governor of New York, 1697-1701.

The King had sent Lord Bellomont to New York to suppress the "freebooting".

Unfortunately he was responsible for outfitting the veteran mariner William Kidd, who turned into 'Captain Kidd', who terrorised the merchants until his capture in 1698.

According to Cokayne "he was a man of eminently fair character, upright, courageous and independent. Though a decided Whig he had distinguished himself by bringing before the Parliament at Westminster some tyrannical acts done by Whigs at Dublin."

His lordship wedded, in 1680, Catharine, daughter and heir of Bridges Nanfan, of Worcestershire, and had issue,
NANFAN, his successor;
RICHARD, succeeded his brother.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

NANFAN, 2nd Earl (1681-1708), who married Lucia Anna van Nassau (1684-1744), daughter of Henry de Nassau, Lord Overkirk, in 1705/6 at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London.

He died at Bath, Somerset, from palsy, without male issue, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

RICHARD, 3rd Earl (1682-1766), who, in 1729, sold the family estate of Colloony, County Sligo, for nearly £17,000.

In 1737, he succeeded his mother to the estates of Birtsmorton, Worcestershire.

Macaulay described him as "of eminently fair character, upright, courageous and independent."

On his death the earldom expired. 

The last Earl was succeeded in the barony of Coote by his first cousin once removed,

CHARLES, 5th Baron (1738-1800), KB PC, son of Charles Coote, MP for County Cavan, 1761-6, son of the HON THOMAS COOTE, a Justice of the Court of the King's Bench of Ireland, younger son of the 1st Baron.

THE HON THOMAS COOTE (c1655-1741) was the father of

CHARLES COOTE (c1695-1750), of Coote Hill, County Cavan, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1719, MP for Granard, 1723-27, Cavan County, 1727-50, who wedded, in 1722, Prudence, daughter of Richard Geering, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Frances; Elizabeth.
His only son,

SIR CHARLES COOTE (1736-1800), KB PC, of Coote Hill (afterwards renamed Bellamont Forest) married, in 1774, the Lady Emily Maria Margaret FitzGerald, daughter of James, 1st Duke of Leinster, and had issue,
Charles, Viscount Coote (1778-86);
Mary; Prudentia; Emily; Louisa.
Sir Charles succeeded his cousin, Richard, in 1766, as 5th Baron Coote; and was created, in 1767, EARL OF BELLOMONT (3rd creation).

1st Earl of Bellamont KB

His lordship was created a baronet, in 1774, designated of Donnybrooke, County Dublin, with remainder to his natural son, Charles Coote, of Dublin.

Following his death in 1800, the titles became extinct as he left no legitimate male issue, though he was succeeded in the baronetcy according to the special remainder by his illegitimate son Charles, 2nd Baronet.

BELLAMONT FOREST, near Cootehill, County Cavan, now sits amid approximately one thousand acres of parkland and lakes.

Bellamont is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest 18th-century Palladian houses in the British Isles.

It is thought to be one of the earliest brick houses in Ireland.

An article published in Country Life in 2010 tells the story of Bellamont and some of its owners:
Despite its historical importance as the first and most perfect Palladian villa built in Ireland, Bellamont is relatively little known, whereas the Cootes, who built it, were very well known, not to say notorious, in their day. 
The first to make his mark in Ireland was Sir Charles Coote, a military adventurer who died in battle at Trim, County Meath, in 1642, leaving estates in four counties to his four sons. 
His youngest son, Colonel Thomas Coote, was granted the O’Reilly lands in County Cavan at the Act of Settlement in 1662. 
He married a Miss Hill from Hillsborough in County Down and founded the town of Coote Hill (now Cootehill). 
On his death in 1671, his estate passed to his nephew, also Thomas Coote, who became a Lord Justice of the Kings Bench in Ireland, and was made a Knight of the Bath ‘in testimony of his good and laudable service in suppressing tumultuous and illegal insurrection in the northern parts of Ireland’. 
He also established Cootehill as a prosperous linen town, which, by 1800, was attracting buyers from Belfast, Dublin and London. 
On marrying his third wife, Ann Lovett, in 1697, Coote became the uncle-in-law of Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, a cousin of Vanbrugh, and by far the most important architect working in Ireland in the early 18th century. 
According to architectural historian Dr Maurice Craig (Country Life, May 21 and 28, 1964), it was Pearce who built Thomas Coote’s new house at Cootehill in 1729-30, the design of which was reputedly based on Palladio’s Villa Rotonda at Vicenza and Villa Pisani at Montagnana. 
Its name was later changed to Bellamont Forest by Coote’s grandson, Charles, who inherited in 1764 and became the Earl of Bellamont in 1767. 
The new Lord Bellomont was a complex figure, being variously described as a man of ‘the highest refinement’, but also as a ‘tyrant’, ‘madman’ and ‘a person of disgusting pomposity’. 
An inveterate womaniser, he sired at least six illegitimate children, all of whom were provided for in his will. 
On his death in 1800, the estate passed to these descendants who lived on at Bellamont Forest, becoming gradually ever poorer. 
In 1874, Edward Smith JP, having amassed a considerable fortune from the coal trade between Liverpool and Newry, bought Bellamont Forest and lands for £145,000 (equivalent to £16.5 million in 2019). 
The mansion, built between 1725-30 for the Hon Thomas Coote, is four bays square, built over two storeys, with a mezzanine floor and a basement.

It is built of red brick with ashlar facings, and has a Doric limestone portico, with pediments over the windows.
There are both excellent formal reception rooms and beautiful entertaining rooms, coupled with a comfortable family atmosphere.

It provides extensive bedroom accommodation for both family, guests and staff, and in addition boasts the former linen hall.

The gardens have also been developed and greatly enhanced and act as further entertaining space.

A particular feature is the walled garden.

The descendants of the last Earl of Bellomont sold Bellamont Forest in 1874 to Edward Smith, a wealthy coal merchant.

The Dorman-Smiths sold the estate to Bryan Mills in 1981; and they sold it in 1987 to John Coote.

Mr Coote died in 2010, and in 2015 Bellamont Forest was purchased by its present owner, John Manuel Morehart.

The mansion, outbuildings, and demesne are currently undergoing a major restoration.

First published in August, 2013.   Bellomont arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1 comment :

Mem said...

coyote hill was restored by John Coote an interior designer from Melbourne Australia He went To Ireland in the 1990s I think and took on the house . I don’t know if he still lives there now.