Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Emerson-Tennent Baronetcy


The family of EMERSON came originally from Foxton, County Durham.

GEORGE EMERSON, of Ardmore, County Armagh, was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM EMERSON, a Belfast merchant, who married and had a son, 



THE family of TENNENT, originally DANAND, or TENAND, was of respectability in Scotland, and the principal branch resided at Glasgow.

WILLIAM TENNENT (1760-1832), of Tempo Manor,
born in County Antrim and served as an apprentice with John Campbell, a Belfast merchant and banker; joined Belfast Chamber of Commerce, 1783, and was junior manager in the New Sugar House in Waring Street. 
He eventually became a partner in this business, and he held partnerships in the distilling firm of John Porter & Co. and the Belfast Insurance Co.. He was co-founder, in 1809, of the Commercial Bank, and he worked in the bank until it became Belfast Banking Co. in 1827.

Mr Tennent was on the Board of the Spring Water Commissioners and the Belfast Banking Company, and was manager of the Belfast Academical Institution and Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce. After the rebellion of 1798, he was arrested on suspicion of belonging to the United Irishmen, and imprisoned in Scotland for two years.

He returned to Belfast and in 1814, purchased the village and demesne of Tempo, County Fermanagh. He bequeathed property to the Presbyterian Church, and died in the cholera epidemic. 
Mr Tennent's only daughter and heiress,

LETITIA, of Tempo Manor, married James Emerson, later Emerson-Tennent.

The 1st Baronet was born James Emerson (1804-69), and changed his name to Emerson-Tennent in 1832 under the will of William Tennent of Belfast and Tempo, a wealthy Belfast merchant banker whose daughter and heiress, Letitia, he had married in the previous year.
He began his political career as a Whig, but was espoused by the local Conservatives in his first election for Belfast in 1832, and in 1834 went over to the Conservatives under the aegis of his political mentor, Lord Stanley.
photo credit: Belfast City Hall 

Sir James was MP for Belfast, 1832-45 (and his portrait, full-length, hangs in the Reception Hall of Belfast City Hall); Joint Secretary to the India Board, 1841-45; Colonial Secretary in Ceylon, 1845-49; Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade, 1852-67 (and usually regarded as the inventor of competitive examination for the Civil Service).

He was an author of major books on Greece, Ceylon, natural history, antiquities, etc; friend of Dickens and other literary and artistic people; and builder of Tempo Manor in County Fermanagh (to the designs of Sir Charles Lanyon), 1861-69.

Emerson-Tennent was knighted in 1845, and created a baronet on his retirement from the Board of Trade in 1867.

The 1st Baronet survived for a mere two years after receiving his baronetcy.

The title became extinct on the death of his son, Sir William, 2nd Baronet, in 1876, aged 41.

Sir William had an only daughter,

ETHEL SARAH EMERSON-TENNENT,  who married Sir Herbert Charles Arthur Langham Bt in 1893.

The Emerson Tennent Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

Former seats ~ Francfort, County Sligo, and Tempo, County Fermanagh.

Former town residence ~ 25 Duke Street, Westminster.

First published in October, 2010.

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