Monday, 9 September 2013

Killyleagh Castle

THE FAMILY OF ROWAN-HAMILTON OWNED 1,041 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

THE REV HANS HAMILTON (1536-1608), vicar of Dunlop, in Scotland, wedded Margaret Denham, daughter of the Laird of Weshiels, and had, with three younger sons,

SIR JAMES HAMILTON, knight, of Killyleagh, and Bangor, sergeant-at-law, and privy counsellor to JAMES I, who was created, in 1622, Viscount Claneboye.

His lordship wedded firstly, Ursula, daughter of Edward, Lord Brabazon, of Ardee; and secondly, Jane, daughter of Sir John Phillips Bt, of Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire.

Lord Claneboye, dying in 1643, was succeeded by his only son,

JAMES, 2nd Viscount,
who, with his father, was a great supporter of CHARLES I, and maintained a regiment of foot and a troop of horse for eight years, at their own expense, for which his estate was seized by Cromwell, and continued for six and a half years under sequestration, the whole profits thereof, during that time, being received by him.

At length he was included among the Protestants with whom the Protector capitulated for their return, living peaceably at home, and admission to their estates, upon such composition that Parliament should think fit.
In 1647, his lordship was created EARL OF CLANBRASSIL, in the county of Armagh, by CHARLES I; and his son Henry, in 1661, had a grant of the annual rent charge reserved on the territory of Dufferin.

His lordship wedded Lady Anne Carey, eldest daughter of Henry, 2nd Earl of Monmouth, and had issue, his son,

HENRY, 2nd Earl, who married Lady Alice Moore, daughter of Henry, 1st Earl of Drogheda; but dying without issue, in 1675, all the family honours became extinct (though the earldom was revived for a remote cousin in 1719).

The 2nd son,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON ESQ, of Hallcraig, Lanarkshire, who married twice, was succeeded by the 3rd son of his 2nd marriage,

GAWN HAMILTON ESQ, of Killyleagh, who espoused Mary, daughter of David Johnstone Esq, of Tully, County Monaghan, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1747, by his eldest son,

GAWN HAMILTON ESQ, of Killyleagh, born in 1729, who married, in 1750, Jane, only child of WILLIAM ROWAN ESQ, barrister-at-law. Dying in 1805, he was succeeded by his only son,

ARCHIBALD ROWAN-HAMILTON ESQ (1752-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, County Down.
This gentleman, whose patronimic was HAMILTON, assumed the additional surname of ROWAN, in conformity with the will of his maternal grandfather, WILLIAM ROWAN ESQ, who devised his fortune to his grandson, then a boy at Westminster School,

"in the hope that he should become a learned, honest, sober man; live unbribed and unpensioned; zealous for the rights of his country; loyal to his King; and a true protestant without bigotry to any sect."
He married Sarah Anne, daughter of Walter Dawson, in 1781; was a member of the Society of United Irishmen, and took part in '1798'; was sentenced to death, but escaped to the USA (where he fathered several natural children).
His 2nd son,

CAPTAIN GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON CB RN (1783-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, married Catherine, daughter of General Sir George Cockburn, in 1817; Post-Captain, Royal Navy; Companion, Order of the Bath. His eldest son,

ARCHIBALD ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON JP, of Killyleagh Castle, born in 1818; married Catherine Anne, daughter of Rev George Caldwell, in 1842; Captain, 5th Dragoon Guards; High Sheriff of County Down.

His eldest son,

COLONEL GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON JP DL (1844-1930), of Killyleagh Castle, and Shanagonagh Castle, County Dublin,
married Lina Mary Howley, daughter of Sir George Howland Beaumont Bt, in 1876; educated at Cheltenham College; University College, Oxford, with a BA; Captain, 7th Dragoon Guards; High Sheriff of County Down, 1875; Colonel, 3rd Royal Irish Rifles.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton's only son predeceased him in 1915, when the estate devolved upon his nephew, 

BRIGADIER GAWN BASIL (GUY) ROWAN-HAMILTON DSO MC DL (1884-1947), of Killyleagh Castle,
married Phyllis Frances, daughter of the Lord Blackburn and Lady Constance Frances Bowes-Lyon, in 1916; educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; fought in the 1st World War, where he was mentioned in despatches; Military Cross, 1915; Distinguished Service Order, 1917; commander, 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch, 1930-33; commander, 153rd (Black Watch and Gordon) Infantry Brigade, Territorial Army, 1936-40; Aide-de-Camp to GEORGE VI, 1938-39.2; retired from the military in 1945, with the rank of Brigadier, late of the The Black Watch.
His 2nd son, 

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DENYS ARCHIBALD ROWAN-HAMILTON MVO DL (b 1921), of Killyleagh Castle,
married Wanda Annette, daughter of Lt.-Col. Rupert Warburton, in 1961; educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; fought 2nd World War; Member, Royal Victorian Order, 1947; Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1947; Major in 1953 in the 29th Britiish Infantry Brigade, Korea; Military Secretary to West Africa; 2nd in command of the 1st Black Watch, 1957-59; commander of the 45th Black Watch, 1960-63; Defence Attache to the British Embassy, Damascus and Beirut, 1964-67; retired from the military in 1967; High Sheriff of County Down, 1975.
His only son,

GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON DL, born in 1968.


KILLYLEAGH CASTLE, County Down, is one of the most romantic houses in  Northern Ireland, its exotic skyline of turrets and conical roofs dominating the adjacent village and countryside for miles around.

There are claims that it has Norman late-12th century origins, but the house today is basically 17th century, much altered and enlarged from 1847-51.

The grounds are an essential part of the setting of the picturesque house and its geographical association with Killyleagh.


In the early 17th century the house built by Sir James Hamilton, 1st Viscount Claneboye, of which a tower survives, had a large attached deer park , which seems to have fallen into disuse by the 18th century, if not earlier.

There are formal  garden features associated with this early house and/or with the improved late 17th century house, as enlarged in 1666 by Henry, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil.


This includes some of the terraces or hanging gardens on the steep slopes of the south and south west side of the house, together with formal canals or fish ponds.

These terraces were evidently remodelled and enlarged in the Victorian era. The grounds are not extensive and no garden of note is maintained at the present time, but fine mature trees grace the surroundings.

The productive areas are no longer kept. The extensive entrance screen encircles the area of the former bawn.

The property was subject to ownership litigation, and the resulting judgement of Solomon, saw the bawn divided for more than a century; the castle was retained by the Hamilton family and the gatehouse went to the Blackwood family [later Lords Dufferin].

The gatehouse was then rebuilt as a tall Georgian block, enlarged ca 1830; while in the early 19th century the main Hamilton castle fell into decay.

The feud was ended by the 5th Lord Dufferin, afterwards 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, after he inherited in 1841.

He returned the property to the castle owner, Archibald Rowan-Hamilton, and as a further gesture removed the old Georgian house and built, in 1886, an appropriate baronial gatehouse to the design of Benjamin Ferry, then employed at Clandeboye.

He married the daughter of Archibald Rowan-Hamilton, who afterwards himself employed, between 1847-51, Charles Lanyon to enlarge and remodel the house, giving it its present appearance.

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