Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Loftus Hall

THE MARQUESSES OF ELY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WEXFORD, WITH 14,023 ACRES 


The family of LOFTUS, or, as it was anciently spelt, Lofthouse, appears, from the archives of York Minster, to have flourished in Yorkshire as early as the reign of ALFRED THE GREAT.

Before the advent of the Normans, this family held the town and lands of Loftus, Yorkshire, by thaneage, and after the Conquest, by military tenure.

The same records show that Christopher Lofthouse was prior of Helagh, Yorkshire, in 1460.

EDWARD LOFTUS, of Swineshead, Yorkshire, whose descendants have been, in different branches, thrice elevated to the Irish peerage, had two sons, namely,
ROBERT;
ADAM.
The elder son, Robert, whose second son,

ADAM LOFTUS, an eminent lawyer, was appointed LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND in 1619; and created, in 1622, Viscount Loftus, of Ely, a dignity which expired with his lordship' grandson ARTHUR, 3rd Viscount.

The younger son,

THE MOST REV ADAM LOFTUS, accompanied, as private chaplain, the Viceroy, Thomas, Earl of Sussex, into Ireland, and was consecrated Lord Archbishop of Armagh, 1562-3.

In 1567, the Lord Primate was translated to the see of Dublin; and six years afterwards we find him Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.

In 1578, His Grace was constituted LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and he continued to hold the seals until his death.

This esteemed divine having a principal share in the foundation of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed by charter its first Provost, which office he resigned in 1594.

He married Jane, eldest daughter of Alan Purdon, of Lurgan Race, County Louth, and by her had twenty children, of whom seven died young. The survivors were eight sons and five daughters.

The Archbishop died in 1605, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR DUDLEY LOFTUS, of Rathfarnham, who wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenal, of Newry, and had, with other issue,
ADAM, 1st Viscount Lisburne;
NICHOLAS, of whose line we are about to treat;
Edward;
Samuel.
The second son of Sir Dudley Loftus, 

NICHOLAS, of Fethard, born in 1592, Joint Clerk of the Pells and of The Treasury in Ireland, wedded and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 

SIR NICHOLAS LOFTUS, of Fethard, who married twice, and had several children, all of whom died issueless, when the estates descended to his brother,

HENRY LOFTUS, of Loftus Hall, who married twice and was succeeded, in 1716, by his elder son,

NICHOLAS LOFTUS, MP for County Wexford, who was elevated to the peerage as Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall, in 1751.

His lordship was sworn of the privy council in 1753; nominated Governor of County Wexford, and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Loftus, of Ely, in 1756.

He married firstly Anne, 2nd daughter of William, Viscount Duncannon, by whom he had issue,
NICHOLAS, his successor;
HENRY, succeeded as 4th Viscount Loftus;
Mary; Anne; Elizabeth.
His lordship wedded secondly, Letitia, daughter of Sir John Rowley, knight, by whom he had no issue.

He died in 1763, and was succeeded by his elder son, 

NICHOLAS, 2nd Viscount, who was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Ely in 1766.

He married Mary, eldest daughter and heir of Sir Gustavus Hume Bt, of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh; and dying in 1766, was succeeded by his only son, 

NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl, who died unmarried, in 1769, when the earldom expired, but the viscountcy and barony reverted to his uncle,

THE HON HENRY LOFTUS, as 4th Viscount, born in 1709.

His lordship was advanced to an earldom, as Earl of Ely, in 1771; and installed a Knight Founder of the Most Illustrious of St Patrick, in 1783.

Lord Loftus married twice, though died without issue, in 1783, when the titles became extinct; while the estates devolved upon his nephew, 

THE RT HON CHARLES TOTTENHAM, who then assumed the surname and arms of LOFTUS, and was created, in two years afterwards, Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall.

His lorship was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Loftus in 1789; Earl of Ely in 1794.

This nobleman was further advanced, to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF ELY, in 1800.
His lordship was postmaster-general of Ireland in 1789; privy counsellor; Knight of St Patrick; governor of Wexford; governor of Fermanagh; colonel, the Wexford Militia.
*****
GEORGE HENRY WELLINGTON, 7th Marquess (1903-69), styled Viscount Loftus between 1925-35, became known by the courtesy title Viscount Loftus when his father succeeded in the marquessate in 1925.

He was educated at Lancing College and served as a major in the North Irish Horse during the 2nd World War. He was also High Sheriff of Fermanagh in 1931. In 1935 he succeeded in the marquessate on the death of his father.

*****

CHARLES JOHN, 8th Marquess, who died in 2006 aged 92, was a Canadian prep school headmaster for some 40 years and a dogged, if silent, attender at the House of Lords for almost 30 years until his exclusion by Tony Blair's reforms. He was appalled by the "constitutional vandalism" that cost him his seat.

His eldest son, John, who was born in 1943, succeeded to the titles as 9th Marquess.

The Ely Papers are deposited at PRONI.


LOFTUS HALL, near Fethard-on-Sea, County Wexford, is, according to Mark Bence-Jones, a gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a parapet, incorporating parts of a previous, late 17th century house.

The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, an extremely wind-swept spot bereft of trees and shelter.


The present house was built after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely (who also had plans for Ely Lodge in County Fermanagh).

It contains an impressive staircase hall.


In 1917, Loftus Hall was bought by the Sisters of Providence and turned into a convent and a school for young girls interested in joining the order.

In 1983, it was purchased by Michael Deveraux, who re-opened it as "Loftus Hall Hotel", which was subsequently closed again in the late 1990s.


It was privately owned by Deveraux's surviving family until late 2008, when it was sold to an unnamed buyer, rumoured to be "Bono" of U2 fame.

While in need of repair at the time of writing, the nine-bay mansion comprises seven reception rooms, twenty-two bedrooms and a function room spread across three floors.

Ely arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in May, 2012.

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