Thursday, 3 May 2018

Castle Caldwell


The founder of the Caldwells in Ulster,

JOHN CALDWELL (c1590-1639), a merchant at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, was born at Preston, Ayrshire.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES CALDWELL (c1634-c1717), who settled at Rossbeg, afterwards called Castle Caldwell, County Fermanagh.

Mr Caldwell was created a baronet in 1683, denominated of Wellsborough, County Fermanagh.

Sir James wedded a daughter of Sir John Hume Bt, of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh.

In 1671, Sir James purchased the estate of Wellsborough, close to the present village of Belleek, County Fermanagh.

He was Captain of Horse and High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1677.

In 1689, Sir James was attainted by the Irish Parliament of JAMES II.

He was Colonel of Foot in 1689.

Sir James was succeeded by his son,

SIR HENRY CALDWELL (d 1726), 2nd Baronet, Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1693, who was a merchant,  in 1714, at Ballyshannon, County Donegal.

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 3rd Baronet, in 1719, married Anne, daughter of the Very Rev John French, Dean of Raphoe, by whom he had five sons and two daughters.

The third son, Hume, was a very distinguished officer in the Austrian service, and attained the rank of colonel. He was killed in a sally from the fortress of Schweidnitz, in 1762.

Sir John died in 1744, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR JAMES CALDWELL, 4th Baronet (c1722-84), who being in the service of the Empress Maria Theresa, was created by that princess COUNT OF MILAN, in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1766, Sir James, in passing through Vienna, having had an audience of leave of the Empress Queen, Her Imperial Majesty, in a very gracious manner, charged him with a magnificent gold box, to present to the Dowager Lady Caldwell, mother of Colonel Caldwell, as a testimony of Her Majesty's gratitude for the signal services performed by that gallant officer.

Sir James raised, in 1759, at his own expense, a body of light horse comprising 250 men, which he commanded for some years.

He married, in 1753, Elizabeth, daughter of the Most Rev Josiah Hort, Lord Archbishop of Tuam, by whom he had, with four daughters, three sons,
JOHN, his successor;
Josiah John.
He was succeeded by his son,

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 5th Baronet (1756-1830), of Castle Caldwell, and a Count of Milan in the Holy Roman Empire.

He wedded Harriet, daughter of Hugh Meynell, and had two daughters, of whom the elder, Louisa Georgiana, espoused firstly, in 1823, Sir Josiah William Hort Bt, of Hortland; and secondly, Major John Colpoys Bloomfield, of Redwood, County Tipperary.

Sir John was Governor of County Fermanagh, 1793; lieutenant-colonel in the Fermanagh Militia; Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1798; Captain in the Belleek Infantry, 1802.

On his death, his Holy Roman Empire Countship became extinct.

SIR JOHN CALDWELL, 6th Baronet (1775–1842), born at Quebec, married Jane Davidson, daughter of an army surgeon, in 1800; buried at St Matthews, Quebec; called to the Canadian Bar, 1798; member of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, 1810-23 Receiver-General, 1823.

SIR HENRY JOHN CALDWELL, (1801-58), 7th Baronet, was a Seigneur and political figure in Quebec.

He represented Dorchester in the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada from 1830-34.

Sir Henry was born in Quebec City, the son of John Caldwell, who was the son of Henry Caldwell, and Jane Davidson.

He inherited the seigneury of Lauzon after the death of his grandfather.

Sir Henry was a Justice of the Peace in 1816.

He married Sophia Louisa Paynter, the niece of Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer.

In 1826, the seigneury of Lauzon was sold to clear his father's debts, even though it had not been part of his father's property; Caldwell's appeal was unsuccessful.

He later operated a sawmill in the seigneury of Île-Verte.

The title became extinct on the 7th Baronet's death in 1858.

Photo credit: David Gore

CASTLE CALDWELL, near Belleek, County Fermanagh, is now an 18th century ruin comprising two storeys over a basement.

It overlooks the shore of Lough Erne.

The facade is in the pasteboard Gothic style, with quatrefoil pointed windows, two small projecting turrets, and a battlemented pediment-gable at either end, surmounted by a pointed arch rather akin to a belfry.

The main block is linked by battlemented curved sweeps to a pair a tower-pavilions.

There is an octagon temple in the grounds near the lough.

Castle Caldwell passed to the Bloomfield family through the marriage of Frances, daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Calwell, 6th Baronet, to John Bloomfield, in 1817.

The house became ruinous by the end of the 19th century.


THOUGH Castle Caldwell today is largely covered with forest planting, having been developed for this purpose since 1913, it remains an outstanding site, both for its peninsular position on the shores of lower Lough Erne and for the remnants of the dwelling and garden.

The demesne was established in the early 17th century and the original gardens were in a formal layout, with straight avenues and canals aligned upon the house, known as Castle Hassett.

Extensive changes were undertaken in the grounds in the 18th century, which was by then heavily wooded, though there were views of the lough from the house.

Portions of these features still can be found in the undergrowth. The decline of the ornamental and productive gardens preceded the acquisition of the grounds early in the 20th century for forestry.

The forest planting itself has become historic: There is a noted large Sitka spruce in the car park planted in 1921.

The gate lodge, known as Railway Gate, was built ca 1866 into the newly-constructed railway embankment.

Trains rumbled overhead and carriages entered the demesne underneath and arch beside the castellated porter's house.

Within the demesne there is a 17th century ruined church and graveyard.

Bloomfield ordered a geological survey of his land and was informed that the clay contained all of the necessary raw materials to make pottery (feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale).

He took on two partners (Robert Williams Armstrong and David McBirney), talked the government into building a rail spur to near-by Belleek (4 miles to the west) and built a pottery factory, Mrs Bloomfield laying the first foundation stone in 1853.

Thus were the beginnings of a very successful business and a line of pottery now known the world over as Belleek Pottery. Unusual in its lustre and beauty, it has been a prized possession of royalty and many others for many years.

Blanche Caldwell Grierson (nee Bloomfield) was the only daughter of John Caldwell Bloomfield DL, of Castle Caldwell, a former High Sheriff of County Fermanagh. She was also related to the Brookes of Colebrooke.

During the First World War, Mrs Grierson was an active enthusiastic worker on behalf of the UVF Hospital, where many beds were endowed through her efforts.

She died in 1920.

The Griersons had a daughter, Ula, who married Henry Kinahan and died on 24 February, 1949.

First published in September, 2010.


Anonymous said...

Why is it that romantic visionaries never own these places? One could have a charming house within the keep...


Adrian said...

Hi,Anybody know any history of the Church andd grave yard in the grounds of Castle Caldwell???
Cheers Adrian

Wendy said...

My husband is a descendant of Sir James Caldwell (from what I have found while doing his family tree). He has been told years about Castle Caldwell and has really enjoyed reading the information about his family history from this blog and other websites. :)

Elizabeth Burns said...

I, too, am a descendant of Sir James, and would love to live on the site of the old house (as an impoverished romantic visionary!) Elizabeth Burns

Amanda said...

hi i am a descenent of of Sir james caldwell and have been looking up more and more about my family history, if any body has any info i would love to see what they have to say.


Amy Reeves said...

Hi I am a kiwi and also a descendant of the Caldwells although I never listened intently enough to know which branch. My mother extensiviely traced our ties in more than one direction and I am fond of my shamrock beleek that I believe was a great grandmothers. Am currently googling to show my ten year old son where his anscestors came from.

Sondra Caldwell said...

Sondra Caldwell
This is so amazing i would love to find out more. After visiting with my grandfather James Caldwell {of Ohio} i recently found out of our Irish descent and about the castle Caldwell.I have always wanted to visit Ireland...and hope to someday

Bob Caldwell said...

My aunts and uncles were told by my grandfather that his father, John W (Buck) Caldwell came from Ireland and settled in SW Virginia in Giles Co. It is said he still spoke with a heavy brogue. Beyond that I have not been able to trace the tree. Still, while in Ireland a couple years ago we made the trek up the western coast up to Belleek (toured the wonderful factory) and drove out to the Castle Caldwell grounds.
Tho the mansion is seriously in ruins I get thru the barbed wire and came away with a piece of slate from the fallen room and part of a broken brick. The feeling of being where my ancestors may have once walked was indeed romantic. In 1970 Belleek began making Christmas parian china plates. The plate of that year depicts Castle Caldwell in honor of the founder. They are still available on eBay. My plate is among my cherished holiday decorations and I will pass it on to my only daughter when I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

Sir Robin Kinahan of Castle Upton in Templepatrick was the son of Henry Kinahan and Blanche Grierson. Hence one of his middle names was Caldwell

Anonymous said...

I'm a decendent, this was interesting to read

Craig Miller said...

I have never visited the Caldwell castle, but my grandmother, Jessie Caldwell, told many stories she heard from her father Mr. John Caldwell. It is sad that many articles of our history are being destroyed by time.
Mr. John Caldwell and his wife are buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Howell, Michigan. I will see to it that their grave is well kept, in his honor.

Craig A. Miller

Susan Caldwell Stiltner said...

I am a descendant of Sir James Caldwell. I hope to visit Castle Caldwell in the near future. I was wondering if any of that family is buried on the estate grounds.
Susan Caldwell Stiltner
Oct. 4, 2013

Nick Bagshawe said...


james and two Johns are buried in the protestant graveyard in the castle.

Sir James was sort of a kook. There is a book by Mervyn Busteed on him. Luckily, a relative bought the castle records in the auction and they are preserved.

For what it is worth.

Edwin Caldwell said...

Intend to visit first weekend in April whilst fulfilling a work-related engagement in Londonderry.
Really looking forward to it.

Eddie Caldwell, Bury, Lancashire.

Harry P Caldwell Sr said...

Greetings Caldwell cousins,
Yes James & two Johns are in the little church cemetery on the Castle Caldwell grounds, their markers are gone now to time & weather but many of the Caldwell's are in the cemetery in Ballyshannon in the Church of Ireland, more are over in Ennis... Most of the grave headstones beyond 1850 are weathered & near impossible to read, you can download who is buried where in the Ballyshannon church cemetery... In case you want to know, the Caldwell's came out of the Liverpool (1500-1600)area, they were wealthy merchants, branched out to Scotland (there is a in-ruins castle tower there name after us) then to the Donagal area (Ballyshannon/Belleek), my family left Belleek in 1811 for Donagal township in Pa. In the civil war, they were called roundheads..One has to love our family history... Drop us a line any time at, we have a lot of old family history.

Harry in Alaska

Alasdair said...

The entrance to the estate contains the famous fiddlestone and i rmember hearing the story of how the fiddler entertained those passengers going across the lough from where castle caldwell was built. there s a tragic drowning hence the little fiddlestone monument i think Belleek still holds a fiddlestone fair each year there was a great local historian- John Cunningham who taught at the local school and had all the detail .

Tammie Foster-Arundell said...

Sir James Caldwell is my 11th Great Grand Father..... My Caldwell line arrived as free settlers to Australia in 1853 with my 3rd Great Grandmother Jane Caldwell
Birth 1835 • Tyrone, Tyrone, , Ireland
Death 1907 • Moss Vale, New South Wales, Australia

Dawn Caldwell De Wulf said...

I am (maiden name) Dawn Caldwell, daughter of James Caldwell. I visited Ireland for my honeymoon in March 2014...after wanting to visit...actually aching to visit since I was about 8 years old with NO inkling of Irish ancestry. I knew we had some Scottish in the family background, but did not know of the direct link to Ireland until August 2014. Would love to know more Caldwell relations...and see if someday a restoration of the castle as a B and B, historic site, or something could be possible to make our family's history (and contribution as founders of Belleek) come alive....

Nick Bagshawe said...

my great grandfather saved the estate records, some dating from the early 1600s, from the bankruptcy sale at the castle in 1877 and they are in the Rylands University in Manchester.

There are some funny episodes. Empress maria Theresa of Austria was about to award a major eclesiastical award to Hume Caldwell, assuming that, because he was Irish, he was Catholic. This was discovered not to be the case and he had to be given another, civil, title instead.

Then, about 1760, Sir James decided to dress up his peasants as maoris in honor of James Cook and send them across Lough Erne to impress Lord North.

If you have time, read Busteed's book

Katarzyna Fedorko said...

I visited ruins of Castle Caldwell today. It is really very sad that nobody is looking for this beautiful historical place. It belonged to Ireland centuries ago, even there is Celtic cross on one grave......

Harry P Caldwell Sr said...

Check out the video on Caldwell Castle August 2017 by Drone" on We were there last week, August 23, 2017, video shows a 360 degree pan-view of the Caldwell Forrest & castle from 400' feet above our families castle. Its sad to see it in such a state but then again its beautiful. Life moves on & so did our Caldwell family.

Harry Caldwell Sr.

Anonymous said...

I am completing my family tree ! My Grandmother is a Caldwell. Her parents were Christopher Caldwell and Florence Amelia McJanet. I am looking forward to visiting the Caldwell Castle one of these days!!

Kathleen Crawford said...

Its amazing how many descendants there are from this line of Caldwells. I am also a descendant of the Caldwells through my 5th great grandmother Mary Caldwell of Botetourt county Virginia. She married my 5th great grandfather English Crawford (also of Botetourt county Virginia)I believe in 1793 and I have been able to trace her family back to John Caldwell. I haven't definitively proven any more lineage beyond him from the 1500s. I'm planning on someday visiting Ireland to see some of the beautiful area our ancestors lived in. I can't wait!

Harry P Caldwell Sr said...

Greetings Kathleen & Caldwell cousins,

You need to get a copy of "Castle Caldwell & its Families" by John B. Cunningham, 1980, Watergate Press, Enniskillen, 210 pages on us! It is very full of the detailed history of county Fermanagh, the brutal murders of the locals (Irish vs Scot/English) in the wars from 1300s up to Cromwell & how the wars started up our lineage in this area, it also connects with John Caldwell of Scotland (Preswick) son of Wm Caldwell of Ayrshire at Caldwell Tower/Castle. It help confirm my genealogical records, hopefully your too, if not, you are missing out on a lot of family & social history.


Tower Caldwell Scotland was in the recent TV show, Restorationman in the UK.....

WDS said...

I am curious as to why the surname Caldwell appears in my family tree.
My grandfather was Alfred Caldwell Scott (1852-1931) and his brother was Alexander Caldwell Scott (born about 1850).
They were sons of George Scott, ship's pilot, of Portrush County Antrim, and hs wife Margaret Doherty.
George Scott was a son of John Scott, also of Portrush (approx dates 1760-1848).
Maybe John Scott had married a Caldwell?
Any relevant info gratefully received!
Thank you
Dermot Scott

Anonymous said...

I am a decedent of the Caldwell Family. My 3rd great grandma was Mary Margaret Caldwell(1854-1922).However, she married Daniel Franklin Shane. They had a son Elmer. E Shane. Elmer's daughter is Margaret Shane and my great grandma, she married Robert Nelson, resulting in my last name "Nelson". Mary Margaret Caldwell's father was Ezekial Caldwell. Ezekial's father was Alexander Caldwell. Alexander's father was John J Caldwell. John's father was James Caldwell V then James Caldwell IV and so on.

-Mara Nelson, Dowagiac, Mi

Unknown said...

James Caldwell March 14, 1763. (source: Book; Reverend James Caldwell Patriot, 1734-1781. Author; Norman F. Brydon: Published by; Caldwell Bicentennial Committee, Caldwell New Jersey, 1976, pg. 17). Married Hannah Ogden Caldwell.
They are apparently my Great grandparents x5 or 6, I'm not exactly sure. I know my great grandmother was Lola Smith. I know that my Great Uncle remembers meeting my Great, great grandparents and he says they Still had a very heavy Irish accent. I'm trying to find more and piece more of it together :)