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.
SIR WILLIAM DE MUSSENDEN appears to have been Grand Admiral of England during the reign of HENRY I, in 1133.
He founded the abbey of Missenden ca 1660.
THE REV FRANCIS MUSSENDEN, last lord of Leake and Leverton, Lincolnshire, passed over into Ulster.
In 1670-1, this Francis became prebendary of Dunsport, Down Cathedral, and settled at Hillsborough, County Down.
He had two sons,
John, ancestor of the family of LEATHES, of Herringfleet;The younger son,
FRANCIS, of whom we treat.
FRANCIS MUSSENDEN, died in 1686, leaving a son,
DANIEL MUSSENDEN, father of
WILLIAM MUSSENDEN, who wedded Miss 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 Bt, and left at his decease an only child,
WILLIAM MUSSENDEN DL, of Larchfield, born in 1783, married, in 1831, Sarah, eldest daughter of Peter Low, of the city of Dublin, and had issue,
WILLIAM, born in 1836;
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 in the 17th century, is uncertain.
How long the family had been in Belfast is uncertain, 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 wealth, which was considerable, came from his trade with the Baltic and Northern Europe and with the Americas and West Indies.
He also conducted trade with England and Scotland.
His offices and business premises in Belfast were in High Street.
He had, besides, other business interests, including shares in a local wine company; 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 Congregation of Belfast and later of Annahilt Congregation 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 as a mausoleum 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 by Daniel Mussenden JP DL, a founder of the Belfast Banking Company, in 1750.
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 in County Londonderry, near Magherafelt, in 1768.
He married, in 1771, Mary, eldest daughter of Quintin Dick, of the Glarry, near Ballymena, County Antrim, and niece of John Campbell, of Donegall Place, Belfast, banker, and Ardfechan, Shankill, and by her husband had four sons and two daughters, viz.
John;The fourth son,
Hugh, Royal Navy;
CAMPBELL, of whom hereafter;
CAMPBELL GRAHAM, of Belfast, married, in 1806, Helen Jemima, daughter of James Blair Ogilvie, Royal Navy, of Ballyloran, County Antrim, and by her had issue,
John;Mr Graham died in 1834, and was succeeded by his second son,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his heir;
Campbell, in the Army;
Margaret Jane; Maria; Elizabeth;
Dorothea; Dorothea; Dorothea;
Helen Jemima; Dorothea.
OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM JP DL (1820-97), of Larchfield, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1883, and for 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.
This gentleman purchased the Larchfield estate (376 acres) in 1868.
He died in 1897, leaving issue,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his heir;The eldest son,
Marie Louise; Emily Gwendoline.
OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM (b 1865), of Larchfield, captain, 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, married, in 1890, Grace Cottenham, daughter of the Rt Hon John Young, of Galgorm Castle, County Antrim, and had issue,
OGILVIE BLAIR, his successor;His eldest son,
Quintin Dick, b 1895;
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM DSO OBE TD DL (b 1891), of Larchfield House, Lisburn, County Down
High Sheriff, 1946; Rifle Brigade, 1913-35; commanded Fixed Defences NI, 1939-45; Managing Director, York Street Flax Spinning Company.He married, in 1919, Winifred Maud Harford MBE TD. His second son,
ROBIN OGILVIE BLAIR GRAHAM (b 1929), was a barrister-at-law.
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.