Thursday 4 January 2024

Larchfield Estate


The family of De Mussenden came over with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and became possessed of the lordship and lands of Mussenden, or as it is now written, Missenden, Buckinghamshire, about that period.

THE REV FRANCIS MUSSENDEN, of Leake and Leverton, Lincolnshire, a descendant of the Buckinghamshire family, passed over into Ulster.

In 1670-1, he became Prebendary of Dunsford, Down Cathedral, and settled at Hillsborough, County Down.

The Rev Francis Mussenden had three sons,
John, ancestor of LEATHES of Herringfleet; grandfather of HILL MUSSENDEN;
FRANCIS, of whom we treat.
The youngest son,

FRANCIS MUSSENDEN, Registrar of the Diocese of Down, died in 1686, leaving a son,

DANIEL MUSSENDEN (c1685-c1763), father of

WILLIAM MUSSENDEN (1712-80), who wedded _______ Johnstone, sister of Arthur Johnstone, of County Down, and had a son and successor,

DANIEL MUSSENDEN, of Larchfield, who espoused, in 1782, Frideswide, sister of SIR STEWART BRUCE, 1st Baronet, of Dublin, and left at his decease an only child,

WILLIAM MUSSENDEN DL (1782-1860), of Larchfield, who married, in 1831, Sarah, eldest daughter of Peter Low, of the city of Dublin, and had issue,
WILLIAM, b 1836;
Louisa; Elizabeth.

According to Burke's Landed Gentry, the Mussendens are descended from the De Mussendens, who were related to the Leathes' of Herringfleet.

There is evidence in the archive to support the latter claim, but whether or not the Leathes were the same family that had been prominent in Belfast during the 17th century remains uncertain.

How long the family had been in Belfast is unclear, though Daniel Mussenden was active in business there from the very early 18th century.

Mussenden was one of Belfast's principal merchants from 1720 till his death in 1763, and in a period when specialisation was rare, owned a general merchant business, dealing in both exports and imports.

The bulk of his considerable wealth was generated by his trade with the Baltic and Northern Europe, the Americas and the West Indies.

He also conducted trade with England and Scotland.

His offices and business premises in Belfast were in High Street.

Mr Mussenden had, besides other commercial interests (including shares in a local wine company) an interest in a salt company; a partnership with John Bradshaw connected with the linen industry; and an involvement in the Tyrone Colliery Company.

His principal non-mercantile activity was in banking and he was a partner in the first bank in Belfast, Mussenden, Adair & Bateson, established in 1753.

Although the bank went out of business within ten years, its establishment marks an important stage in the development of Belfast, and it was soon succeeded by other banks.

Mussenden seems to have acted in a banking capacity before the bank was formally established, which was not unusual with successful merchants at this time.

By the late 1750s Mussenden seems to have acquired enough wealth to retire from business.

His new country residence at Larchfield, between Lisburn and Ballynahinch, was ready in 1757, and he moved out of Belfast.

Although he continued in the business, his son, William, seem to have become more and more active.

The revenue generated by the Larchfield estate, which comprised 1,300 acres, would probably have been insufficient, therefore the family retained their business interests, although they probably ceased to be actively engaged in trade.

There are also several references in the Papers to the Macartneys, merchants in Belfast at this time, but later to achieve fame in the political and diplomatic arena in the person of Lord Macartney, whose seat was Lissanoure Castle in County Antrim.

The Mussendens were Presbyterians and remained thus after joining the ranks of the landed gentry.

The elder Daniel was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church in Belfast and later of Annahilt, near Larchfield.

The Mussendens had a connection with Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry, and his Mussenden Temple at Downhill, which was built for Fridiswide Bruce, a second cousin of the Earl Bishop who had married the younger Daniel Mussenden in 1781.

The Mussenden Temple was dedicated to Mrs Mussenden after her death in 1784, when she was a mere 22 years old.

The Mussenden Papers contain estate letters of Daniel, William and Daniel Mussenden, 1719-1800, referring to various land transactions in County Down and to property in Belfast.

These letters include some about the purchase of the townlands of Duneaght, Lisnow and Clogher, County Down, from the Montgomery family, Earls of Mount Alexander, by Daniel Mussenden in 1745.

There are also letters from Arthur Hill MP, later 1st Viscount Dungannon, concerning the purchase of Robert Kyle's estate at Lisleen.

Larchfield House was built in 1750 by Daniel Mussenden, a founder of the Belfast Banking Company.

His relative through marriage, Lord Bristol, who was Lord Bishop of Derry, stayed at the original house in 1783.


JOHN GRAHAM, of Scottish descent, settled near Magherafelt, County Londonderry, in 1768.

He married, in 1771, Mary, eldest daughter of Quintin Dick, of the Glarry, near Ballymena, County Antrim (niece of John Campbell, of Donegall Place, Belfast, banker), and had issue,
Hugh, Royal Navy;
CAMPBELL, of whom hereafter;
MARY; Elizabeth.
The fourth son,

CAMPBELL GRAHAM, of Belfast, married, in 1806, Helen Jemima, daughter of James Blair Ogilvie, Royal Navy, of Ballyloran, County Antrim, and had issue,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his heir;
Campbell, in the Army;
Margaret Jane; Maria; Elizabeth; Dorothea; Dorothea;
Dorothea; Helen Jemima; Dorothea.
Mr Graham died in 1834, and was succeeded by his younger son,

OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM JP DL (1820-97), of Larchfield, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1883, County Down, 1884, who espoused, in 1861, Louise Sara, daughter of Ambrose Lanfear, of New Orleans, USA, by Mary Hills his wife, and great-granddaughter of Captain Hayes RN, and had issue,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his heir;
Charles Lanfear;
Marie Louise; Emily Gwendoline.
Mr Graham, who purchased the Larchfield estate (376 acres) in 1868, was succeeded by his son,

OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM (1865-1928), of Larchfield, Captain, 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, who married, in 1890, Grace Cottenham, daughter of the Rt Hon John Young, of Galgorm Castle, County Antrim, and had issue,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his successor;
Quintin Dick, b 1895;
Patrick Charles.
Captain Graham was succeeded by his eldest son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM DSO OBE TD DL (1891-1971), of Larchfield House, County Down, High Sheriff of County Down, 1946, Managing Director, York Street Flax Spinning Company, who married, in 1919, Winifred Maud Harford MBE TD, and had issue,

ROBIN OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM (b 1929), barrister-at-law.

RICHARD MICHAEL JOHN OGILVIE GRAHAM, MP for Gloucester, 2010-,  is Colonel Graham's grandson.

LARCHFIELD HOUSE, near Annahilt, County Down, is a Georgian house of two storeys and four bays, with quoins at the corners and a fine Ionic porch with four columns and balustraded.

There are three reception rooms on the ground floor, including a drawing-room, dining-room and library; a fine hall; all facing south.

The first floor comprises eight principal bedrooms and three bathrooms.

A good stable-yard adjoins the House, with provision for carriages, stabling and storage.

The estate also has a walled garden with vinery, greenhouses, peach-house and potting-sheds.

There are two farmhouses, two gate-lodges and a gamekeeper's house.

Larchfield was sold in 1968 to Leslie Mackie who, coincidentally, also had a connection with Ulster's linen trade.

It comprises about 600 acres today.

Larchfield is a member of the Historic Houses Association.

The estate and garden (exclusive of the house) can be hired for corporate events, concerts or film making.

This demesne is completely walled in and has considerable shelter belting within the walls.

The present house dates from 1834 and is listed, as are the stables and coach house.

Lewis remarks in 1837 that there was, ‘… a handsome mansion and extensive demesne.’

These remain today.

There are patches of woodland and parkland trees in the fields, including new planting of specimen trees.

Formal gardens to the north of the house have been re-planned and are fully maintained with lawns and borders.

Beyond, further north is an extensive planted rock garden and beyond that a man-made pond.

The part-walled garden is partially maintained as a garden, though the original glasshouses have gone.

A portion of this area is now a field.

This site is a good example of a traditional demesne adapted to modern use, with all elements in good order.

First published in November, 2011.


Irishlad said...

I remember reading that the late Roy Bradford one time Minister for Home Affairs in the old Stormont regime was trying to buy Larchfield at the same time as Leslie Mackie,however, he was outbid by the mighty Mackie.

Unknown said...

Our Stepfather James Martin, had some bee hives that he tended to on the estate, he also looked after the hives belonging to O B Graham who owned the property.
This would be in the 1950's