The Ewart family originally lived at Annahilt, near Hillsborough in County Down. The 1st Baronet's father, William Ewart (1789-1873), moved to Glenbank at Ligoniel and became an alderman of Belfast.They were incorporated as William Ewart & Son in 1883.
In 1716, Thomas Ewart was granted twenty acres for a lease of a farm in the townland of Carnreagh, Annahilt, near Hillsborough. Part of his agricultural activity involved the production of damask, which the then Linen Board encouraged.
The lease was renewed to his son Thomas in 1746; the latter's son William was more ambitious and sometime around 1790 set up his own concern at Ballymacarrett, then a village, now a suburb of Belfast, though he co-operated with the Hillsborough concern.
His business flourished, and he had agents outside Ulster. He took his son, also William, into business with him and as William Ewart & Son set up an office and warehouse in Rosemary Street, Belfast, in 1814.
Mr Ewart was created a baronet in 1887.
He was President of the Irish Linen Trade and Flax Supply Associations; Mayor of Belfast, 1859-60; representative for the NI linen trade negotiating French Treaty in 1864; Conservative MP for Belfast, 1878-89.His eldest son,
SIR WILLIAM QUARTUS EWART JP DL (1844-1919), 2nd Baronet,
Knight of Grace, Order of St John of Jerusalem; graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a MA; head of William Ewart & Son; Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast; Justice of the Peace, County Down; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1897.His eldest son,
SIR ROBERT HEARD EWART (1879-1939), 3rd Baronet, also a Director of the family business, died unmarried and without issue, when the baronetcy devolved upon his cousin,
SIR LAVENS MATHEWSON ALGERNON EWART (1885-1939), 4th Baronet, who also died at a relatively young age, unmarried and without issue. His cousin,
SIR TALBOT EWART (1878-1959), 5th Baronet, married and graduated from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A., with a Bachelor of Arts; though he, too, died without issue, when the title devolved upon another cousin,
SIR WILLIAM IVAN CECIL EWART (1919-95), 6th Baronet, DSC,
Educated at Radley College; fought in 2nd World War, where he became a PoW; Lieutenant, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Coastal Forces; awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 1945; chairman, William Ewart & Sons, 1968-73; chairman, Ewart Northern Ltd, 1973-77; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1976.William Ewart Properties Ltd still exists as a business, though it is thought that the Ewarts no longer hold directorships.
SIR WILLIAM MICHAEL EWART (b 1953), 7th and present Baronet, was educated at Radley and, in 2003, resided at Hill House, Hillsborough, County Down.
The Ewart head office was at what has become known as the Ewart Building, formerly Bedford Street Weaving Factory, at 17 Bedford Street, opposite the Ulster Hall.
The tall, red-brick warehouses and weaving sheds at the rear have since been demolished. Ewart's bought the building in 1876.
They also ran mills at Crumlin Road; Ligoniel; Ballysillan; and Matier Street, all in Belfast.
During Victorian times, Ewart's was the largest manufacturer of linen in the world.
The principal seat of the Ewart family was Glenmachan House (below), which was set in its own grounds off the Old Holywood Road in east Belfast.
|Glenmachan House in the 1970s.|
It is thought that the land at Glenmachan was sold by Sir Thomas McClure to the prominent Belfast architect of the time, Thomas Jackson, who proceeded to build Glenmachan House as his own residence; though sold it to Sir William Ewart some time thereafter.
Glenmachan was a relatively large house with stabling and a conservatory.
About 1894 a fire broke out in the stables. The hay loft was seriously damaged, according to a local newspaper.
The grounds extended to 33 acres in 1876.
Glenmachan remained in ownership of the Ewart family till about 1976.
Thereafter, it became neglected and derelict, the sweeping lawns reverting to fields.
Despite some strong local opposition, the old house and grounds were finally sold to a developer ca 1990, demolished and turned into a new housing development.
Glenmachan House is not to be confused with Glenmachan Tower, further along the road and formerly the Shillingtons' residence.
Glenbank House (ca 1875) used to be the Ewarts' family home.
It was situated at Ligoniel Road in Belfast. Glenbank was purchased from Robert Thompson by Lavens M Ewart.
Ca 1920 the house and grounds were presented to Belfast Corporation for use as a public park.
The Henderson (Belfast Newsletter/UTV) and Ewart families are related through marriage, Primrose Henderson's mother being Gundreda Ewart.
The Hendersons, whose residence was Norwood Tower (52 acres), would certainly have known the Ewarts, because the families all worshipped at St Mark's parish church.
The famous author, C S Lewis, was a second cousin of the Ewarts and often visited Glenmachan.
The 1st baronet contributed towards the building of St Mark's parish church, Dundela.
First published December, 2009.