Monday, 26 April 2021

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, created Viscount Loftus;
ADAM, of whom hereafter.
The elder son, Robert, whose second son, Adam, an eminent lawyer, was appointed LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, 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 DR ADAM LOFTUS (c1533-1605), 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, including,
DUDLEY, his heir;
Edward, Recorder of Dublin;
Adam;
Thomas;
Henry;
Isabella; Anne; Catherine; Martha; Dorothy; Alice; Margaret.
His Grace was succeeded by his eldest son, 

DUDLEY LOFTUS (1561-1616), of Rathfarnham Castle, who wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenal, of Newry, and had, with other issue,
ADAM, 1st Viscount Lisburne (1st creation);
NICHOLAS, of whose line we are about to treat;
Edward;
Samuel.
The second son,

NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1592-1666), of Fethard, MP for Fethard, 1613-34, County Wexford, 1640, Joint Clerk of the Pells and of the Treasury in Ireland, wedded and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, 

SIR NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1635-1708), Knight, of Fethard, MP for Fethard, 1661-6, who married twice, and had several children, all of whom died issueless, when the estates descended to his brother,

HENRY LOFTUS (1636-1716), of Loftus Hall, MP for Clonmines, 1692-3 and 1695-9, who married twice and was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1687-1763), MP for Fethard, 1710-13, Clonmines, 1713-14, County Wexford, 1715-51, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1751, in the dignity of Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall.

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 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, 3rd Baronet, 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, and 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, in 1771, as Earl of Ely; and installed a Knight Founder of the Most Illustrious of St Patrick, 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 lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1789, as Viscount Loftus; and Earl of Ely in 1794.

He was further advanced, to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1800, as MARQUESS OF ELY.
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 to 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 High Sheriff of County Fermanagh in 1931.

In 1935 Lord Ely succeeded to 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.

First published in May, 2012.

3 comments :

H P KENNEDY said...

Legend has it that during a storm at sea, a dark stranger approached the Hall on horseback after his ship was driven into nearby slade Harbour with rough seas. He was invited in to seek shelter and spent some days with the Tottenham Family who were living at the Hall at the time. The young Lady Anne Tottenham was especially taken with this dark stranger and fell head over heels for him. One night during a card game, she dropped a card and upon bending down to retrieve it, she noticed that this dark stranger had cloven hoofs instead of feet. As soon as he realised what she had seen, he shot through the roof in a ball of flames.

Anne never recovered, she went into a state of shock and madness and her family locked her in the tapestry room for fear that anyone would see her.She died a couple of years later, still quite young, but her death was no release as servants and family members reported seeing her wandering through the house at night. The family had the local catholic priest Fr. Broaders exorcise the Hall but he could not exorcise the tapestry room.

This story has been told through the years and many have said there is something about Certain areas of the Hall, its atmosphere, the temperature and the general feeling of unease.

Since Loftus Hall was re-opened to the public in 2012 for house tours, people claim to have felt and seen things in the Hall that have left them wondering...

H P KENNEDY said...

THE LEGEND OF LOFTUS HALL
Loftus Hall stands alone and austere on the bleak landscape, This Backdrop adds to its eery story.

It is for many years said to have been visited by the Devil, so many people from the surrounding area are nervous to enter the place after dark.


Legend has it that during a storm at sea, a dark stranger approached the Hall on horseback after his ship was driven into nearby slade Harbour with rough seas. He was invited in to seek shelter and spent some days with the Tottenham Family who were living at the Hall at the time. The young Lady Anne Tottenham was especially taken with this dark stranger and fell head over heels for him. One night during a card game, she dropped a card and upon bending down to retrieve it, she noticed that this dark stranger had cloven hoofs instead of feet. As soon as he realised what she had seen, he shot through the roof in a ball of flames.

Anne never recovered, she went into a state of shock and madness and her family locked her in the tapestry room for fear that anyone would see her.She died a couple of years later, still quite young, but her death was no release as servants and family members reported seeing her wandering through the house at night. The family had the local catholic priest Fr. Broaders exorcise the Hall but he could not exorcise the tapestry room.

This story has been told through the years and many have said there is something about Certain areas of the Hall, its atmosphere, the temperature and the general feeling of unease.

Since Loftus Hall was re-opened to the public in 2012 for house tours, people claim to have felt and seen things in the Hall that have left them wondering...

mem said...

This is very interesting . I have wondered about both the names of Tottenham and Loftus which feature in my Cassidy family forebears who you have also written about . The name seems to start popping up in the early 1800s and I have often wondered why .