Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Smiley Baronets

THE SMILEY BARONETCY, OF DRUMALIS, COUNTY ANTRIM, WAS CREATED IN 1903 FOR HUGH HOUSTON SMILEY, PROPRIETOR OF THE NORTHERN WHIG NEWSPAPER

WILLIAM SMAILLIE, of Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, who died in 1597, had a brother,

THOMAS SMAILLIE, of Braidsheilburne, Cambusnethan, born about 1554. Dying in 1627, he had two sons, of whom the younger,

THOMAS SMAILLIE, of Cambusnethan and later of Glasgow, married. His youngest son,

ROBERT SMAILLIE or SMILLIE, burgess of Glasgow, born 1619; who married and left a younger son,

ROBERT SMILLIE, of Skerry and Dunard, County Antrim; born 1645; died 1712, leaving issue,

SAMUEL SMILEY, who was father of

JOHN SMILEY, of Invermore, County Antrim; died about 1748. The elder son,

SAMUEL SMILEY, of Inver, County Antrim; born 1720; married and left issue,

JOHN SMILEY, whose youngest son,

JOHN SMILEY, of Larne, County Antrim, married and was succeeded by his second son,

SIR HUGH HOUSTON SMILEY, 1ST BARONET, JP DL.


THE SMILEYS were an old Ulster-Scots family. Thomas Smaillie (1554-1627) lived at Lanarkshire in Scotland.

His grandson, Robert Smaillie (1619-62) was Burgess of Glasgow.

Robert's son, also called Robert, moved to Ulster and lived at Dunard and Skerry in County Antrim, by which time the family surname was spelt Smiley.
Sir Hugh Houston Smiley, 1st Baronet, still had strong links with Scotland and he was a JP for both Renfrewshire and County Antrim; High Sheriff of County Antrim in 1899; and a Deputy Lieutenant.

Sir Hugh was principal proprietor of The Northern Whig, the offices of which were situated at 1-3 Waring Street in Belfast, now known as Commercial Buildings and dating from 1819-22.
Major Sir John Smiley (1876-1930), 2nd Baronet,
Lieutenant in the 4th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; fought in the Boer War between 1899 and 1900; was a Captain in the Northern Ireland Imperial Yeomanry; a Major in the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers); and fought in the 1st World War.
The 3rd Baronet, Sir Hugh Houston Smiley JP DL (1905-90), 
Fought in the 2nd World War; was educated at Eton and Sandhurst; was a Captain in the Grenadier Guards; a JP for Hampshire in 1952; High Sheriff of Hampshire in 1959; Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, 1962-73; and Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, 1973-82.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Philip Smiley (b 1934), 4th and present Baronet,
Educated at Eton and Sandhurst; fought in the Cyprus Campaign between 1958-59; was Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Bermuda, 1961-62; retired from the military in 1986, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, late of the Grenadier Guards; was with Russell Reynolds Associates between 1986-89. Sir John was elected to the Court of the Worshipful Company of Grocers 1987, and Master of the Grocers Company, 1992-93. 
He lived in 2003 at Cornerway House, Chobham, Surrey.


Entrance front

DRUMALIS HOUSE, Larne, County Antrim, is a rambling, two-storey, late Victorian or Edwardian mansion, dominated by a four-storey central tower and turret.

It has an eaved roof; camber-headed windows; a pillared porch; and a solid parapet on the tower and turret. 


By the middle of the 1920s it became clear to the ageing Lady Smiley that she would have to sell Drumalis.

None of her children had decided to make their lives in Larne but were settled in Scotland and England.


The religious order which was to occupy the house eventually did not do so immediately.

In the Larne of the time, the sale of one of the local ‘big houses’ to an order of nuns would have been unthinkable and so it was a more protracted process.


Garden front

The house was first sold in 1927 to a local developer, Mr William Crawford, who had started Ireland’s first ever Electric Light Company.


There was talk that he would build houses on the land but the house was sold again in 1929 to a Mrs Magill, the wife of a local JP; who then resold it within a year to the nuns of the Cross and Passion order - its present owners. 


THE SMILEYS came to Ulster as labourers from Lanarkshire in the 17th century and settled at Larne and Inver in 1720. 

By 1824, John Smiley was a clockmaker and, by 1872, Hugh Smiley was in a position to acquire the site of Drumalis hill and commence building a house there. 

It was his marriage to Elizabeth Kerr of Gaillowhill, Paisley in 1874 however, which provided the much more substantial wealth that would enlarge the house to its present size and make it the beautiful home it would become.
As only child and heir to a fortune from the manufacture of sewing thread, Elizabeth’s connection to her parents and to Scotland was to remain strong and to be written into the fabric of the house itself, most notably in the work of the Glasgow designer George Walton, who was commissioned to work on its interior.
By the time of Sir Hugh Smiley’s death, in 1909, it was clear that both house and family occupied a central place in the life of Larne - both as employers and through the benevolence and philanthropy of the family, who had by then built and endowed a cottage hospital in the town and much more.

Sir Hugh's Estate was valued at £96,230 in 1909 which, today, would equate to £8.5 million.


The gardens at Drumalis were developed round the house of 1872.

The site shows as barren on the OS map of 1858, which is not surprising as it is an elevated and exposed spot on a headland with sea on the eastern side. 

Shelter belts of trees planted around the house have been successful in protecting the gardens, which retain many original features and are a good example of a late Victorian layout. 

The house is surrounded by lawns, embanked by balustrading on the western and southern sides.

The latter is terraced with good stonework and hedges. 

Terraces lead to southern sloping lawns, where there is a rose garden. 

The original iron pergolas and supports survive. There is a recently restored rockery, which was probably once a fernery, and a pond. 

An extension for the present convent was built in the grounds ca 1960; land was sold in the 1930s; and recently more was lost by compulsory purchase, all of which reduced the area of the gardens. 

As it is a convent, it would be impossible to maintain the gardens in their original state but the grounds are well kept.

The attractive gate lodge on the Glenarm Road is listed. 

There is an extensive walled garden to the north of the house, which is rented out for use as a nursery garden.

Vestiges of an orchard exist to the east of the walled garden.

Other former seat ~ Great Oaks, Goring Heath, Oxfordshire; former town residence ~ 8 Hay Hill, Berkeley Square, London W1.

First published in August, 2010.

3 comments :

Shizzleberry said...

thank you for your post, it gave me more info on my own family history than anywhere else I have found. my mother was a Smiley (Cecilia Katherine) and we have visited the house in Larne and had a look round in the past.
It is also quite interesting that one of my ancestors that owned the house (possibly hugh) was also buried at the nearby cemetery with an enormous boulder in the middle of the yard to commemorate him. This stone allegedly came from the sea front below the house.

I have also heard talk that the house may have been used for smuggling guns and ammunition to (I guess) the protestants rather than the catholics.
Let me know if you have any more input and thank you again for this discussion.

Deanna Kariotakis said...

I am very pleased to find this! My Great grandmother was Jenny Smiley a descendant of Thomas Smiley(b.1660) I believe it was his son John who came to the States.

I am planning a trip to Ireland in 2016, and will be stopping at the house in Larne for sure.

Anonymous said...

The Smiley family were large benefactors to the community in Larne. The Cottage Hospital on Victoria Road was built and gifted to the town along with the Smiley Park opposite. The Town Parks adjacent to Drumalis were also gifted to the town with large ornate railings and entrance gates that were subsequently melted down for iron during WW2 and which have never been replaced. St Cedma's Church of Ireland has an ornamental lynchgate gifted by the Smileys and First Larne Presbyterian church also has a large central raised pulpit with ornamental woodwork and large pipe organ gifted by the Dowager Lady Smiley. There were two entrances to the Drumalis estate, each with gatehouses but sadly the one on Curran Road was demolished in the 1980's leaving only the entrance on Glenarm Road. During the 1914 Larne Gun Running by the Ulster Unionists, the guns were indeed taken into the estate through the Curran Road entrance and out through the Glenarm Road gates. This was because the Curran Road entrance was near the Harbour and the Royal Irish Constabulary Police Station was farther up towards the town on Curran Road which was the sole route to and from the harbour at that time. The Gun Runners were able to take the guns in through the Curran Road gate and out the Glenarm Road entrance and so not have to pass the police station where they may have been stopped or questioned. There is a large family burial plot in the main Larne Cemetery at Craigy Hill where the large boulder sits on top of the first Baronet's grave. There are other depressions in the ground and bronze plaques on the rock indicating other members of the family were buried there. The last plaque dates from the early 1980's but the others all date from 1910-1930.