Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Killyleagh Castle

THE ROWAN-HAMILTONS OWNED 1,041 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN
This family is descended from Thomas, youngest son of Sir John Hamilton of Cadzow, from which Thomas many families in Ulster descended; namely, those of Killyleagh, Hallcraig or Neillsbrook, Tollymore, Carnesure, Bangor, Ballygally, and Gransha; founded by the six sons of Hans Hamilton of Dunlop.

THE REV HANS HAMILTON (c1535-1608), Vicar of Dunlop, Ayrshire, wedded Margaret Denholm, daughter of the Laird of Weshiels, and had, with other issue,
James, 1ST VISCOUNT CLANEBOYE;
ARCHIBALD, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, of Hallcraig, Lanarkshire, married firstly, Rachel Carmichael, and had issue,
JOHN;
James;
Gawn;
William;
Hugh.
He wedded secondly, Miss Simpson, by whom he left one daughter, Jane, married to Archibald Edmonstone, of Braid Island, County Antrim.

The third son,

GAWN HAMILTON, of Killyleagh, County Down, espoused Jane, daughter of Archibald Hamilton, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Mary; Rose.
Mr Hamilton died in 1703, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, of Killyleagh, who married Mary, daughter of David Johnstone, of Tully, County Monaghan, and had issue,
William;
GAWN;
Susanna; Jane; Mary.
Mr Hamilton died in 1747, and was succeeded by his younger son,

GAWN HAMILTON (1729-1805), of Killyleagh, High Sheriff of County Down, 1773, who wedded, in 1750, Jane, only child of WILLIAM ROWAN, barrister-at-law, and widow of Tichbourne Aston, of Beaulieu, County Louth, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Sidney.
Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (1752-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, County Down, who assumed the additional surname of ROWAN, in conformity with the will of his maternal grandfather, WILLIAM ROWAN, 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, in 1781, Sarah Anne, daughter of Walter Dawson, of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, and had issue,
Archibald;
GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN;
Sydney;
Frederick;
Dawson;
Jane; Elizabeth; Mildred; Harriet; Francesca.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton's second son,

GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON CB (1783-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, Captain RN, married, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of General Sir George Cockburn, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD ROWN, his heir;
George Rowan;
Melita Anne.
Captain Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his elder son,

ARCHIBALD ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON JP, of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1842, Catherine Anne, daughter of Rev George Caldwell, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, his heir;
George;
Sidney Augustus Rowan;
Frederick Temple Rowan, father of 
GAWN BASIL GUY ROWAN-HAMILTON;
Mary Catherine; Helen Gwendoline; Harriet Georgina.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton died in 1818, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

COLONEL GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON JP DL (1844-1930), of Killyleagh Castle, and Shanagonagh Castle, County Dublin, High Sheriff of County Down, 1875, who wedded, in 1876, Lina Mary Howley, daughter of Sir George Howland Beaumont Bt, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD JAMES;
Orfla Melita.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD JAMES ROWAN-HAMILTON (1877-1915), who espoused, in 1908, Norah, daughter of Frederick Abiss Phillips.

He was killed in action, 1915, without issue, and was succeeded by his nephew,

BRIGADIER GAWN BASIL (GUY) ROWAN-HAMILTON DSO MC DL (1884-1947), of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1916, Phyllis Frances, daughter of Robert, Lord Blackburn, by his wife Lady Constance Frances Bowes-Lyon, and had issue,
Angus David;
DENYS ARCHIBALD;
Gawn Leslie.
The second son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DENYS ARCHIBALD ROWAN-HAMILTON MVO DL (b 1921), of Killyleagh Castle, High Sheriff of County Down, 1975, married, in 1961, Wanda Annette, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Warburton, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, DL, of Killyleagh Castleb 1968;
Constance Orfla; Louisa Anne.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton fought in the 2nd World War; Member, Royal Victorian Order, 1947; Aide-de-Camp, Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1947; Major, 29th Britiish Infantry Brigade, Korea; Military Secretary to West Africa; 2nd in command of the 1st Black Watch, 1957-59; commander, 45th Black Watch, 1960-63; Defence Attache to the British Embassy, Damascus and Beirut, 1964-67; retired from the Army, 1967.


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 Castle stands at the upper end of the principal street in the village; but, though commanding in position, castellated in character, and massive and venerable in appearance, it is strictly a mere mansion, battlemented along the summit, and flanked with large, circular, battlemented turrets.

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.

At Ringhaddy, north of the village, and on Sketrick Island (more celebrated today, perhaps, for Daft Eddy's bar and restaurant), there are two small castles, which acted subordinately to Killyleagh Castle in defence of the barony of Dufferin.

First published in September, 2013.

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