The family of DAWSON was originally from Yorkshire; whence, towards the close of ELIZABETH I's reign, it removed to Ireland.
THOMAS DAWSON, who became, in the following reign, a burgess of Armagh, later held land at Moyola (Castledawson) in County Londonderry, and established an iron foundry there.
WALTER DAWSON (eldest son of John Dawson), died in 1704, leaving issue, two sons,
WALTER, his heir;
Thomas, ancestor of Catherine Maria, Countess of Charleville.
WALTER DAWSON, married Frances, daughter of Richard Dawson, an officer in Cromwell's army, with whom he obtained the estate of Dawson's Grove, County Monaghan.
Mr Dawson was succeeded at his decease by his only surviving son,
RICHARD DAWSON, of Dawson's Grove, an eminent banker, alderman of the city of Dublin, and MP for Monaghan, 1761 (great-grandson of John Dawson, of Armagh, who died intestate).
This gentleman wedded, in 1723, Elizabeth, daughter of the Most Rev John Vesey DD, Lord Archbishop of Tuam, and sister of Sir Thomas Vesey Bt, Lord Bishop of Ossory, by whom he had issue,
John, died in 1742;Alderman Dawson was succeeded by his son,
THOMAS, his successor;
Richard, of Ardee;
THOMAS DAWSON (1725-1813), was elevated to the peerage, in 1770, as Baron Dartrey; and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Cremorne, in 1758.
His lordship married firstly, in 1754, Anne, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Pomfret, by whom he had a son and a daughter, both of whom died in youth.
He wedded secondly, in 1770, Philadelphia Hannah, daughter of Thomas Freame, of Philadelphia, by Margaretta, daughter of William Penn, the celebrated founder of that city, by whom he had another son and a daughter, who died also in youth.
The 1st Viscount, thus deprived of direct descendants, was created, in 1797, Baron Cremorne, with remainder to his nephew, Richard Dawson, and the heirs male of that gentleman.
Dying without an heir in 1813, the viscountcy expired, though the barony of Cremorne devolved upon his great-nephew,
RICHARD THOMAS DAWSON (1788-1827) as 2nd Baron (only son of Richard Dawson, MP for Monaghan), who espoused, in 1815, Anne Elizabeth Emily, third daughter of John Whaley, of Whaley Abbey, County Wicklow, and by her had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,
RICHARD (1817-97), 3rd Baron, who wedded, in 1841, Augusta, second daughter of Edward Stanley, of Cross Hall, Lancashire, by his wife Lady Mary Maitland, second dau. of James, 8th Earl of Lauderdale.
His lordship was installed as a Knight of St Patrick in 1855; a Lord-in-Waiting, 1857-66; Lord Lieutenant of County Monaghan, 1871-97.
In 1866, his lordship was advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF DARTREY.
By his wife he had issue,
VESEY, his successor;He was succeeded by his eldest son,
Richard Westland Westenra.
VESEY, 2nd Earl (1842-1920), MP for County Monaghan, 1865-68; High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1878.
He married, though dying without issue, in 1920, the family honours devolved upon his brother,
ANTHONY LUCIUS (1855-1933), 3rd Earl, who wedded, in 1878, the Hon Mary Frances FitzGerald-de Ros, suo jure Baroness de Ros, only child of the 23rd Baron de Ros.
On the decease of the 3rd Earl in 1933, the titles became extinct.
The Dartrey Papers contain extensive historical information about the family.
DARTREY HOUSE, near Rockcorry, County Monaghan, was a large Elizabethan-Revival mansion by William Burn, built in 1846 to replace an earlier house of about 1770.
It was built for Richard Dawson, 3rd Baron Cremorne and later 1st Earl of Dartrey.
The mansion had long, monotonous elevations of curvilinear gables, mullioned windows and oriels, with, sporadically,a square turret and cupola.
There were numerous Tudor chimneys, a generous application of strapwork and a two-tier terrace along the garden front with many yards of latticed ballustrading.
The quoins were partly curved.
Dartrey House overlooked Lough Dromore where, on a wooded island, the 1st Viscount Cremorne built a domed mausoleum about 1770 in memory of his first wife Anne.
The sheer size of Dartrey House proved too much for the 20th-century financial resources of the family.
Most of its contents were sold by auction in 1937 and the entire building was demolished in 1946 by the Hammond Lane Foundry, Dublin, who paid £3,000 for the salvage – a very poor return on the investment in Dartrey House.
Lady Edith, elder daughter of the 2nd Earl, was the last Dawson to live in Dartrey House, and it was she who was forced to take the decision to demolish it in 1946.
Now, only the magnificent site overlooking Lough Dromore is visible.
The red-brick stable block contemporary with the 1846 house survives, and was renovated by the Irish Georgian Society (presumably at about the same time as the mausoleum).
There is also a surviving farmyard, in ruinous condition, which seems to be contemporary with (or even earlier than) the early 1770s house.
The following description of the Dartrey Estate near Cootehill, County Monaghan, Ireland, was written in 1773 by the Reverend J Burrows, visiting tutor to the Dawson family:
A thousand acres of lake, three hundred of which flows within a few yards of the house, with hills on each side covered with the most beautiful delicious woods, bring all fairyland to one’s imagination. On the other side of the lake is a large island, wonderfully shaded on all its sides but with a bald pate of open ground on the top, giving a very pleasing and uncommon effect.The Dartrey estate, originally known as Dawson Grove, was established by the Dawson family in the 17th century alongside another estate, Bellamont Forest, of similar size – over a thousand acres.
Beyond that are woods that lose themselves in the clouds. People who are not used to lakes cannot conceive into what delightful forms they throw themselves, and how much the little islands, here and there interspersed, which contain one or two trees, add to their beauty.
Richard Dawson, a banker and Dublin alderman, built the present (Church of Ireland) church on the Dartrey estate in 1729.
It was established in its own separate parish of Ematris soon after.
The Dawsons added a north gallery to the church in 1769, and much later the Corry family (from Rockcorry) added a south gallery, raised on arches to avoid desecrating the burial ground beneath it.
A fire caused serious damaged in 1811 leaving the church for a period without a roof.
The fine west tower was built in 1840, and the sanctuary apse (centre above) in 1870.
With the demolition of the Dawson mansion in 1950, and their once thriving estate turned over to forestry, St John’s appears isolated.
However it shares services with St James’ church, Rockcorry some 2½ miles away, which the Dawsons built in 1855, and both churches continue well supported by the local farming community.
But the view from St John’s cemetery across Inner Lough, once described as “one of the best in Ireland”, is currently obscured by conifers.
The Northern Standard, Saturday, 8th March, 1856:-
FIRE AT DARTREY HOUSE
We regret to announce the breaking out of a destructive fire, on Saturday evening last, at Dartrey House, the magnificent residence of Lord Cremorne, in this county. The fire is supposed to have originated in the flue of one of the rooms in the basement storeys, which broke out near the roof, and before effective aid could be procured, had enveloped the entire of the upper storey of the north-eastern wing of the building.The existence of the fire was first observed about six o’clock, by Mr. Little, Lord Cremorne’s steward, who hastened with a number of his labourers to render all the assistance within their power. Mr. Little’s exertions up to the final subduing of the fire were unremitting.Captain Boyle, of Tanagh, and the Rev. T. A. Robinson, were immediately on the ground, and aided materially in checking the fire, which, however, raged with a great fury until the arrival of the fire engines from Monaghan.Previous to the arrival of the engines, the exertions of those present were directed to cutting off the communication between what is termed the Old and New House, a strong wall dividing the two portions of the house.At a few minutes past seven in the evening, a messenger from Dartrey arrived at Mr. McCoy’s, of Monaghan, in whose care the town engine is ; fortunately, all Mr. McCoy’s staff were about his concern, it being pay night, and were consequently available for immediate work.Four horses from Campbell’s posting establishment were immediately harnessed to the engine, and it started for Dartrey, where it arrived at nine o’clock. In the meantime, Mr. McCoy sent a requisition for the Ordnance engine, to the officer commanding the detachment of Militia stationed here.This engine was placed on a float, and, with a pair of horses from the Canal Stores, proceeded to Dartrey, where it arrived in time to do efficient service, under the directions of Sergeant Crooks, of the Monaghan Regiment, whose exertions elicited the commendation of every person present.Nothing could exceed his intrepidity and cool daring ; indeed, at one moment it was supposed he had fallen a victim, a large beam having fallen just where he had been standing a second before. A. A. Murray Ker, Esq., Lord Cremorne’s agent, was in Monaghan when intelligence of the fire arrived; he immediately started for Dartrey, where he remained until a late hour on Sunday evening; by his presence and individual exertions he animated the energies of the very many who aided in extinguishing the fire.Amongst those present who worked with hearty good will were - and certainly first on the list - the Rev. T. A. Robinson, Captain Boyle, Wm. Murray, Esq., Richard Mayne, Esq., (this gentleman, we regret to say, was severely hurt by an accident), Rev. John Wolfe, Subinspectors Kirwan and Fortesque; a number of young gentlemen from Cootehill and Monaghan were also most effectual aids.We do not know the names of the Cootehill gentlemen or we would gladly give them. Amongst those from Monaghan we noticed Messrs. Watkins, Lewers, and Campbell.The Constabulary from the surrounding stations to a man exerted themselves in a most praiseworthy manner, both by individual exertion and protection of property.Amongst the most exertive and daring of them was one named Kinsella, from Cootehill station. The costly furniture, pictures, and mirrors were all saved, with the exception of such injuries as their removal caused.On learning the existence of the fire, our own chief anxiety was as to the safety of an exquisite group of statuary, “Cupid and Psyche”, which stood in the vestibule of the Grand Staircase; - this beautiful piece of art, though in extreme danger, escaped with but the fracture of one of the arms of the descending figure; the injury is not material, and can be remedied.The portion of the building entirely destroyed consists of Lord and Lady Cremorne’s private apartments, Drawing-room, and her ladyship’s Boudoir, both of which were magnificent apartments; the cut stone walls seem safe; all the apartments over the east point are destroyed; the Grand Hall, Billiard-room, and Drawing-room are safe, as is also the entire of the basement storey.The fire continued smouldering and occasionally to blaze out up to five or six o’clock on Sunday evening. The assurance on the house was heavy, and will more than cover the estimated damages; but much depends on the decision architects arrive at as to the state of the outer walls.It is, on the whole, surprising that the damage done is not of much greater extent, when the means of overcoming it were so distant.The tenantry in the neighbourhood all assembled on Tuesday with carts and horses, and cleared away all the debris of the fire, before the arrival of Lord and Lady Cremorne.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE NORTHERN STANDARD
Sir, Allow me, through your paper, to render Lord Cremorne’s grateful thanks to all those who used such strenuous exertions in checking the conflagration at his Lordship’s beautiful mansion on last Saturday night.The Assurance Companies concerned have every reason to be thankful, (and indeed have already expressed themselves to that effect), to the assembled multitude who lent their best exertions towards arresting the progress of the flames, and saving such a large amount of property.It would be impossible to personally thank each and all of those I saw distinguishing themselves, for their name was “Legion”. The constabulary were early on the ground from Rockcorry, and very shortly after from Cootehill, Drum, and Newbliss, and were most efficient and steady.The fire engines from Monaghan arrived in quite the brigade style, and certainly deserve especial consideration. The Corporation engine, under the direction of Mr. McCoy and his very active and intelligent workmen, and the Barrack engine, managed by Sergeant Crooks, who most creditably kept up the character of his regiment by his cool and daring conduct.The tenantry to a man worked with a will. I could name hundreds who were towards morning nearly - and often quite - exhausted and faint. Nothing could exceed the care taken of the furniture, pictures, and mirrors, in their removal, and wonderfully little damage has been done.I am happy to say that the Assurances cover the loss and damage to both building and furniture - and again thanking most sincerely those who so kindly gave their valuable aid in time of need.I remain, your obedient servant, A A Murray Ker, Newbliss.
Henry Skeath has sent me interesting information with regard to Dartrey:
I have attached an article (above) from The Northern Standard about a serious fire at Dartrey House in 1856 just ten years after the place was built. Two good articles on Dartrey appeared in recent editions of the Clogher Record.
In 2004 June Brown detailed the rise and fall of the estate. June was friendly with Lady Edith, the last of the family at Dartrey, and keeps in touch with her descendants.
The 2009 edition contains a well-researched article by June's granddaughter, Victoria Baird, about Lady Augusta wife of the 1st Earl of Dartrey. Lady Augusta endowed St. James's in Rockcorry where a photograph of her still hangs.
St. John's Church is affectionately known as St. John's in the Wood. The Dawson gallery contains a fireplace for the comfort of the family. In 1996 St. John's celebrated 275 years of worship and the Rev. J. T. Merry, rector, produced a short history of the parish.
The Dartrey Heritage Group is undertaking wonderful refurbishment work on the mausoleum which was designed by James Wyatt. The building has been stabilised and a new domed roof erected. The Rev. Daniel Beaufort visited in 1780 and noted that the sculptural group within, by Joseph Wilton, had cost £1,000. The quarterly bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society for Jan-Mar 1961includes an article on it.
Wilton's work suffered at the hands of vandals but there are ambitious plans for restoration.In 2008 the Heritage Group completed the restoration of a 60-foot column, also designed by James Wyatt, erected in 1807 to the memory of Richard Dawson who was elected to five successive Parliaments. It stands prominently along the main road.
The 1846 stable block, five sides of an octagon, restored by the Irish Georgian Society in 1961, has been allowed to fall into disrepair again in recent years.Of Dartrey House, hardly a vestige remains. Parts of the basement can be seen and the once-graceful terraces on the garden front can still be traced. It was once one of the finest estates in Ireland.
The 1st Earl had a town house at 30 Curzon Street, London.
First published in September, 2011. Dartrey arms courtesy of European Heraldry.