JOHN MUSGRAVE (1730-1808), of Saintfield, County Down, whose ancestor, according to family tradition, came over to Ulster in 1649 from Cumberland. His son,
DR SAMUEL MUSGRAVE, of Lisburn, County Antrim, and his wife Mary raise a large family.
Dr Musgrave, a general practitioner, practised at Lisburn in 1799. He was about twenty when he started his practice. His wife Mary, was a daughter of William Riddel, founder of Riddel & Company, Donegall Place and Fountain Street, Belfast.One of his sons,
SIR JAMES MUSGRAVE JP DL (1829-1904), of Drumglass House, Belfast; was a Justice of the Peace, a Deputy Lieutenant of Donegal, and Belfast; and Chairman, Belfast Harbour Committee, 1887-1903.
The Musgraves were very successful businessmen. James became the moving spirit behind a firm of iron-founders and engineers.This family may be said to have begun their connection with Belfast at the beginning of the Victorian era, the River Lagan being their natal stream. The Musgrave firm was an off-shoot of the Riddel establishment; whereas the Musgrave family consisted of a dozen children.When Dr Musgrave died at Lisburn in 1834, the family soon moved to Belfast and lived in Upper Arthur Street.
By 1852, they were living at 1 Donegall Square South; and, after this period of residency, they moved to Drumglass House, off Malone Road, which they built ca 1855.
As young men, the brothers Robert and John Riddel were in partnership with their uncle, John Riddel, at 54 High Street in Belfast.
With their brother James they founded the firm Musgrave Brothers and opened the establishment in 1843 (which later became Richard Patterson’s of 59 High Street).
Here the ironmongery trade was carried on successfully until expansion of business brought the manufacturing lines and, from 1860 onwards, this branch was conducted at the Ann Street Ironworks until a limited company was formed.
John and James Musgrave were the principals, Robert having died in 1867.
From this time forward the firm of Musgrave & Company Ltd created what was a new industry which attained world-wide fame with the manufacture of stoves, heating apparatus, stable fittings and high-class ironwork.
John R Musgrave was the chairman and director, and represented his brothers' interests in the company. The expanding business now removed to new works at Mountpottinger.
About 1854, the other brothers, Henry and Edgar Musgrave, started the wholesale tea and sugar business.
The Musgrave family were benefactors of the city of Belfast and its institutions: Sir James, when he retired, devoted a large part of his energy and abilities to developing the Port of Belfast, the possibilities of which he foresaw, the great scheme which he devised and which he lived to see completed.In recognition of these services, James Musgrave was created a baronet.
His name is forever linked with the Musgrave Channel which he did so much to further from the time he was elected chairman of the Harbour Board in 1897 until a year before his death in 1904.
He also proved himself a firm friend of Queen's College (now University), where he founded the chair of Pathology which bears his name.
Like his brother James, Henry gave many benefactions to the City. When the estate at Carrick, County Donegal, was acquired a similar bold policy was adopted.
The Musgraves owned 23,673 acres of land in County Donegal.
The Musgraves' old-fashioned courtesy and graciousness of manner, combined with a distinctive style of dress, gave the impression that evoked a link with the early Victorian period.
Their unbounded generosity to charitable, educational and other worthy institutions will secure for them an imperishable memory.
The Classical villa was built in 1854-6 for the iron-master Sir James Musgrave.
The north-western end of the grounds was donated for a park in 1922 and landscaped by 1924.
It is believed that the grounds extended to ten acres.
This small park fulfils a need in a built-up part of Belfast and is laid out with grass, bedding and a children’s play area.
The land was a gift in the will of the then owner of the house at Drumglass, Henry Musgrave.
He lived in Drumglass House, one of the most prestigious houses in the Malone Road area.
Musgrave died in 1922, leaving six acres of his property to the city to be used as a public park or children's playground.
The park was initially named Drumglass Play-centre and it was opened to the public in 1924 by the Lady Mayoress of Belfast, Lady Turner.
The house and site's remaining grounds now form part of Victoria College Girls' School.
Drumglass Park contains a private gate lodge, located near the Lisburn Road entrance to the park.
It served as the original lodge for Drumglass House and was built in the Queen Anne Revival style ca 1882.
First published in September, 2010.