MARMADUKE D'OSSONE, the founder of the Dawson family in England, was amongst the soldiers of fortune in the train of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
From him lineally sprang,
RICHARD DAWSON, of Spaldington, Yorkshire (20th in descent), who married Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Lowther, Knight, of Lowther Hall, Westmorland, and from this marriage descended,
WILLIAM DAWSON, the first member of the family whom we find in Ireland.
This gentleman was collector of the revenue for the counties of Down and Antrim, and the port of Carrickfergus, in the reign of CHARLES II.
He wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Jardine, of the ancient family of Applegirth, in Scotland, by whom he left,
EPHRAIM DAWSON, who having purchased Portarlington and other estates in the Queen's County (now known as Laois), took up his residence there, and represented the county in parliament in the reigns of GEORGE I and GEORGE II.
He espoused Anne, daughter and heir of Samuel Preston, and granddaughter of John Preston, of Ardsallagh, County Meath, by whom he left an only surviving son,
WILLIAM HENRY DAWSON (1712-79), MP for Portarlington and, after his father died, MP for the Queen's County.
This gentleman married, in 1737, Mary, eldest daughter of Joseph Damer, of Dorset, by whom he had five sons and three daughters,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary; Martha; Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
JOHN, 2nd Viscount (1744-98), who was advanced to an earldom, in 1785, as EARL OF PORTARLINGTON.
His lordship wedded, in 1778, the Lady Caroline Stuart, daughter of John, 3rd Earl of Bute, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Caroline Elizabeth; Louisa Mary; Harriet; Anna Maria.
- John Dawson, 1st Earl (1744–1798);
- John Dawson, 2nd Earl (1781–1845);
- Henry John Reuben Dawson-Damer, 3rd Earl (1822–89);
- George Lionel Henry Seymour Dawson-Damer, 5th Earl (1858–1900);
- Lionel Arthur Henry Seymour Dawson-Damer, 6th Earl (1883–1959);
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Charles George Yuill Seymour Dawson-Damer, styled Viscount Carlow (b 1965).
- George Lionel Yuill Seymour Dawson-Damer, 7th Earl (b 1938).
The heir apparent of the heir apparent is his son Henry Dawson-Damer (born 2009).
The building of Emo Court (also known as Emo Park) began ca 1790 for John Dawson, 1st Earl of Portarlington, whose name is recalled in Dawson Street in Dublin.
The house is two storeys over a basement with attics forming end towers at each end of the building.
In the Arts panel, James Gandon can be seen with the plans of Emo Court in his hand. Heraldic tigers stand imposingly at the entrance steps.
The house had not been completed when the 1st Earl died in 1798, and the 2nd Earl was continually short of money, but managed, in 1834, to engage Louis Vulliamy, a fashionable London architect, to complete the dining room and garden front portico.
He added a detached bachelors’ wing which was joined to the house by a curved corridor.
The Portarlingtons used Emo less and less, till the 1st world war.
Thereafter, it stood empty for a decade, until 1930.
In 1930, the house was bought by the Jesuits to use as a seminary, and it underwent inevitable changes to adapt it to its new life: The wall and mahogany doors between the rotunda and drawing room were removed to provide a chapel; the library became the refectory; the dining-room became the conference room.The marble columns in the library were dismantled and removed; statues and a marble Rococo chimney-piece were carefully put in storage in the basement; and other changes were made to turn the home into an institution.
This did not happen, and repairs were made and central heating installed.
In 1969 the Jesuits left Emo, and the house was bought by Major Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison RM (retd).
Major Cholmeley-Harrison had already employed the services of Sir Albert Richardson and Partners, the firm of architects, to restore his previous houses in London and Co Waterford, and at Emo they rose to the occasion.
Over a period of twenty years, Emo Court was restored to its former glory, even more glorious than before: The marble columns and chimney-piece, the magnificent doors, floors and walls were restored to a neo-Classical beauty; the entrance hall was painted in trompe-l’oeil to represent the plaster decoration that Gandon had planned but which was never carried out.All of this was assisted by the discovery of Gandon’s original drawings for the house, which are now in the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin.
He continued to reside in the private apartments till he died, aged 99, in 2008.
Portarlington arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in 2012.