Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Mote Park

THE BARONS CROFTON WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ROSCOMMON, WITH 11,053 ACRES


The founder of this family in Ireland was

JOHN CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon (descended from the Croftons, of Crofton, Cumberland), auditor-general in the reign of ELIZABETH I, who accompanied the Earl of Essex into Ireland, and obtained large grants of land in the counties of Roscommon and Leitrim.

He wedded Jane, sister of Sir Henry Duke, of Castle Jordan, County Meath, and had four sons,
EDWARD, his heir;
John;
William;
HENRY, ancestor of Sir M G Crofton Bt, of Mohill House.
The eldest son,

EDWARD CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon, left Thomas, ancestor of the Croftons of Longford House, County Sligo, and an elder son,

GEORGE CROFTON, MP in 1639, who erected the Castle of Mote.

This gentleman married Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir Francis Berkeley, MP for County Limerick, and was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD CROFTON, of Mote, who was created a baronet in 1661; which honour ceased with

SIR OLIVER CROFTON, 5th Baronet; when his sister and heiress, 

CATHERINE CROFTON, became representative of the family.

This lady married, in 1743, Marcus Lowther (2nd son of George Lowther MP, descended from a common ancestor with the Earls of Lonsdale), who assumed the name of CROFTON, and being created a baronet in 1758, became 

SIR MARCUS LOWTHER-CROFTON, 1st Baronet, who represented the borough of Roscommon in parliament.

He died in 1784, and was succeeded by his eldest son, 

SIR EDWARD CROFTON, 2nd Baronet, MP for Roscommon and colonel of the Roscommon Militia, who married, in 1767, Anne, only daughter and heiress of Thomas Croker, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
Henry Thomas Marcus (Rev);
George Alfred, captain RN;
William Gorges, captain, Coldstream Guards; k/a 1814;
Caroline; Louisa; Frances; Harriet; Augusta.
Sir Edward died in 1797 and his widow, 

ANNE, LADY CROFTON (1751-1817), was elevated to the peerage (an honour for Sir Edward, had he lived) as BARONESS CROFTON, of Mote, County Roscommon.

Her ladyship was succeeded by her grandson

EDWARD, 2nd Baron Crofton, eldest son of 

THE HON SIR EDWARD CROFTON, 3rd Baronet, the successor of his father in 1797.

This gentleman married the Lady Charlotte Stewart, fifth daughter of John, 6th Earl of Galloway KT; by whom he had issue,
EDWARD, 2nd Baron;
William, 1814-38;
Susanna Anne; Charlotte;
Frances; Sophia; Frederica.
Sir Edward died in 1816, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, 

EDWARD, 2nd Baron (1806-69), who succeeded at the demise of his grandmother to the barony,
known as Sir Edward Crofton, 4th Baronet, from 1816 to 1817, who was an Anglo-Irish Conservative politician; was elected an Irish Representative Peer in 1840, and served in the Conservative administrations of Lord Derby and Benjamin Disraeli as a Lord-in-Waiting in 1852, from 1858-59 and from 1866-68. 
EDWARD HENRY CHURCHILL, 3rd Baron,
a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1867-68; State Steward to the Lord Lieutenant 1880; Gentleman in Waiting to the Lord Lieutenant 1886-92; a Representative Peer for Ireland (Conservative) 1873-1912.
GUY PATRICK GILBERT, 7th Baron (1951-2007), lieutenant-colonel in the Army; commissioned into the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and served as a lieutenant-colonel and Defence Attaché to the British Embassy in Angola.


MOTE PARK HOUSE, Ballymurray, County Roscommon, was built by the Crofton family in the later half of the 18th century, preceding the Castle of Mote erected by the family in 1620.

It was clearly an imposing house and reflected the influence of neo-classicism prevalent at the time.

This style emphasized for the first time a sense of permanence and security among the gentry and nobility in Ireland.

The house was the most impressive of its type built in County Roscommon, the others of this period being located at Runnamoat near Ballymoe, and Sandford House in Castlerea.

The house was originally an irregular two-storey-over-basement house, which the architect Richard Morrison more than doubled in size by adding six bays and an extra storey.

It had a deep hall with a screen of columns, beyond which a door flanked by niches led into an oval library in the bow on the garden front.


These gardens contained many fine architectural features, some of which are still intact.

Perhaps the most splendid surviving feature is the original entrance gate consisting of a Doric triumphal arch surmounted by a lion with screen walls linking it to a pair of identical lodges.


It has been suggested that this was designed by James Gandon, although others have pointed out that while this certainly is feasible, certain elements, most notably the head and keystone of the arch, appear to be of a later date and have a provincial character.

It is worth mentioning at this stage the work of Augusta Crofton: She was a renowned amateur photographer and appointed OBE in 1920.

From the mid-19th century, as with so many other estates, things started to go downhill for the fortunes of the Croftons and their home.

It should be noted at the outset that the Croftons, while not among the best examples of improving landlords, did keep their rents low and endeavoured to help their tenants as much as possible.

The fact that the estate was well managed is evident from many volumes of rentals of the estate dating from 1834-1893, along with family records held at Roscommon Library.

Rents received, expenditure on wages, bills, details of land improvements and summaries of yearly rental statistics for each denomination are clearly recorded.

The problem of absenteeism was largely irrelevant to the Crofton estate during this period as it was administered by competent land agents.

Despite the Land Acts, tenants made no effort to purchase their land. Arrears of rent increased with arrears accounting for over 30% of total rent received by the 1890s.

Clearly the house itself was also falling into disrepair. The 3rd Baron died in 1912 and was interred in the family vault at Killmaine.

In many respects he had become disillusioned with life on the estate long before his death, showing little interest in his Irish properties.

Instead he preferred, among other roles, that of representative peer at Westminister. As he was a bachelor, his titles passed to his nephew Arthur Edward, 4th Baron.

Although the 4th Baron took a practical interest in his inheritance, the last of the Land Acts meant most of the estate was sold piecemeal in the early 20th century.

Ownership of what was left passed to his children and then to his grandson Edward Blaise, 5th Baron, to whom the title eventually passed.

The 5th Baron was the last of the Croftons to reside at Mote, but moved to England in the 1940s.

A sign that the final demise of the big house was forthcoming is evidenced by the public auction of October 1947.

It occasioned quite a large public interest as evidenced by a photograph taken of the house on the morning of the auction.

The 1950s and early 1960s saw the final nail driven in the big house's coffin with the Irish Land Commission demolishing the house completely.

Much of the beautiful woods surrounding the house were also felled, and replaced with newer mixed conifer species.

The remaining land was divided into several properties for families transferred from the nearby congested districts.

Now, instead of the big house, many smaller farm houses lay scattered over what was once the Crofton estate.

Mote Park still attracts many visitors however, marketed now as a heritage walkway, almost ten miles in length and taking in whatever original features still remaining intact.

The house was demolished in the 1960s.

Roscommon Golf Club occupies part of the original Mote Park demesne.

First published in July, 2012.   Crofton arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1 comment :

bryan somers said...

I haven't ben on your blog for some time. I was a little shocked to see you have no holiday blogs since 2015. Are you ok?