Sunday, 16 October 2016

Dromantine House

 THE INNES FAMILY OWNED 2,822 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

This family claims descent from that of INNES of Leuchars, a younger branch of the ancient house of INNES, proprietors of the lands of that name in the year 1160; when by a crown charter of MALCOLM IV of Scotland,

BEROWALD, styled of Flanders, became first feudal baron or lord of Innes.

His lineal descendant, 

JAMES, 16th feudal Baron of Innes, held the appointment of Esquire to JAMES III of Scotland; and among the family papers is still preserved a charter of some lands granted to him by that monarch, "for faithful service to us of our beloved Esquire, James Innes of that Ilk."

JAMES INNES, laird of Innes, who, in 1490, had the honour of entertaining JAMES IV of Scotland, and many distinguished personages of his court, at his mansion of Innes, married Lady Janet Gordon, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Huntly, and had two sons,
Alexander, whose line subsequently failed;
ROBERT, of Cromy & Rathmackenzie, m daughter of W Meldrum, Baron of Fyvie.
This Robert was succeeded by his younger son,

ALEXANDER INNES, of Blackhills, ancestor of the family of INNES of Leuchars, Fife. His grandson,

ALEXANDER INNES, of Cotts,
and afterwards on the death of his half-brother in 1619, of Leuchars, and Baillie of the Regality and Constable of the Castle of Spynie, known in the family by the quaint sobriquet of Craig-in-Peril, married his cousin, Marjory, eldest daughter of William Gordon, Baron of Gight, great-great-grandson of George, 2nd Earl of Huntly, and his Countess, the Princess Annabella Stewart, youngest daughter of JAMES I of Scotland.
Mr Innes died in 1634, leaving with other issue, his eldest son,

JOHN INNES, of Leuchars, Baillie of the Regality and Constable of the Castle of Spynie (offices confirmed to him by Act of Parliament, 1641).

In 1625, he joined the Scots Guards in the service of the King of France.

Mr Innes married, in 1622, Elizabeth, only daughter of Archibald Douglas, of Pittendreich, and had issue,
JOHN, of Leuchars, imprisoned by the Covenanters; his estate sequestered till the Restoration;
Robert, killed by the Covenanters at Leuchars;
ALEXANDER.
He died in 1645, and was succeeded by his son,

ALEXANDER INNES, called by some the second, and by others the fifth son of John Innes.

He is said to have gone to Ulster at the Restoration, and from him is traced the Irish branch of the family.

He married the daughter of the Rev Edward Brice, Minister of Ballycarry, County Antrim, and had issue,
Brice, of Drumalig;
John, of Dublin;
Robert, Captain in Lord Charlemont's Regiment;
WILLIAM.
The youngest son,

WILLIAM INNES, of Belfast and of Dublin, married his cousin Jane, daughter of Robert Brice, of Castle Chichester, County Antrim, and had, with two daughters, five sons,
Joseph, merchant and shipowner at Belfast;
John;
Alexander;
WILLIAM;
Robert.
The fourth son,

THE REV WILLIAM INNES, born in Dublin, 1691, wedded Isabella, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Simpson, and died in 1735, having had, having had, with five daughters, three sons,
WILLIAM, of whom presently;
John;
James.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM INNES, of Glen Manor, now Dromantine, County Down, married, in 1744, Dorothea, daughter of Charles Brice, of Castle Chichester, County Antrim.

He died in 1785, having had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Edward;
ARTHUR, succeeded his brother;
Dorothea; Rose.
The eldest son,

CHARLES BRICE INNES, of Dromantine, High Sheriff of County Down, 1775, died unmarried in 1804 and was succeeded by his brother,

ARTHUR INNES (1755-1820), of Dromantine, Captain, Dragoon Guards, High Sheriff of County Down, 1814, who married, in 1796, Anne, daughter of Major Edward Crow, of Tullamore, King's County, and had issue,
Charles, died in infancy 1799;
ARTHUR, his heir;
William George;
Margaret; Dorothea Elizabeth.
The son and heir,

ARTHUR INNES JP DL (1805-35), of Dromantine, High Sheriff, 1832, Lieutenant, 3rd Dragoon Guards, married, in 1829, Mary Jervis, daughter and heir of William Wolseley, Admiral of the Red, and had issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES, his heir;
Mary Catherine; Anne Northesk.
The only son and heir,

ARTHUR CHARLES INNES-CROSS JP DL (1834-1902), of Dromantine, MP for Newry, 1865-68, espoused firstly, in 1858, Louisa Letitia Henrietta, second daughter of James Brabazon, of Mornington House, County Meath, and had issue, a daughter,
Edith Clara Brabazon, who died young in 1866.
He wedded secondly, in 1887, Jane Beauchamp Cross, of Dartan, was daughter of Colonel Cross DL, of Dartan, County Armagh (whose name he assumed by Royal Licence), having had further issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES WOLSELEY INNES, his heir;
Sydney Maxwell;
Marian Dorothea.
His widow married secondly, in 1907, Herbert Martin Cooke, eldest son of Mason Cooke, of Ely, who assumed, in 1908, the name and arms of CROSS.

Mr Innes-Cross died in 1902, and was succeeded by his son,

ARTHUR CHARLES WOLSELEY INNES-CROSS MC, born in 1888, of Dromantine, Captain, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, who married, in 1915, Etta, daughter of William Bradshaw, of 1, Wilbraham Place, London.


DROMANTINE HOUSE, near Newry, County Down, was described as new in 1834, replacing a former dwelling of 1741; and was re-modelled from 1860-64, to the designs of McCurdy.

In the 1860s, Arthur Charles Innes-Cross extended the original house, making it even more stately and imposing.

In the early 20th century, the fortunes of the Innes family waned and they decided to sell Dromantine estate.


THE SOCIETY of African Missions (SMA), based in County Cork, was looking for a suitable property in which to prepare their students for missionary work in Africa.

They bought Dromantine House and the 320 acre estate in 1926.

Paying special attention to a harmonious blend with the original architecture, work on St Patrick's wing on the east side commenced in 1931.

St Brendan's wing on the west side was built in 1935 and a new Chapel, which was added to the end of this wing, was consecrated by Bishop Mulhern in 1937.

St Colman's wing, with 62 study-bedrooms for students, and a new assembly/lecture hall, was opened in 1959.


In 1996, major renovation work was completed.

In 2004, the original 19th century courtyard building was sensitively and completely renovated to provide additional conference rooms and facilities.

The 320 acre, part-walled demesne is in a beautiful situation, in undulating drumlin country, and is well maintained.

In 1806 Arthur Innes built the original part of the existing house in Neo-classical style.

When he died in 1820 he left a magnificent house within a beautifully landscaped demesne complete with a newly formed lake.

Parkland and stands of trees occupy most of the ground, which is laid out in the style of a landscape park, possibly designed for the present house.

There is a good deal of woodland. One area, known as Racecourse Wood, possibly used as such, has now gone.

Terracing at the house is now in lawns but a decorative fountain remains.

There is a modest, late 19th century arboretum to the northeast of the house.

The gardens are mentioned in the Garden Annual & Almanac of 1908.

The walled garden is some distance from the house, to the southwest. It is no longer cultivated and ruinous glasshouse can be seen. The head gardener’s house has been modernised.

The site has been a missionary college since 1928.

There were two gate lodges, of which one remains. One was built pre-1834; the other, late Victorian.

First published in October, 2012.

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