Friday, 23 December 2016

Garvagh House

THE BARONS GARVAGH WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY LONDONDERRY, WITH 8,247 ACRES


The family of CANNING has been of distinction in England since the reign of HENRY VI.

The lands of Foxcote, Warwickshire, were in this family for more than four centuries. 

The branch of which the BARONS GARVAGH are members removed into Ulster during the reign of ELIZABETH I, when

GEORGE CANNING, a younger son of Richard Canning, of Foxcote, Warwickshire, and Elizabeth Petty, his wife, had a grant of the manor of Garvagh, County Londonderry, from ELIZABETH I, and settled there. 

This gentleman died ca 1646, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM CANNING, of Garvagh, to whom succeeded his son,

GEORGE CANNING, of Garvagh, who was succeeded by his son,

GEORGE CANNING, of Garvagh, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Londonderry Militia.

This gentleman married Abigail, fourth daughter of Robert Stratford, MP for County Wicklow, 1662, and aunt of John, 1st Earl of Aldborough, by whom he left an only son, 

STRATFORD CANNING (1703-75), of Garvagh, who married Letitia, daughter and heiress of Obadiah Newburgh, of County Cavan, by whom he had issue, 
GEORGE, of the Middle Temple;
PAUL, succeeded at Garvagh;
Stratford, a merchant at London;
Mary; Jane Elizabeth; Frances; Letitia.
The eldest son,

GEORGE CANNING, of the Middle Temple, author of a volume of poems, died in 1771 (having incurred the displeasure of his father, and the penalty of disinheritance, by an improvident marriage), leaving an only child, then an infant,

GEORGE CANNING (1770-1827), who having passed through Eton and Oxford, with more than ordinary ├ęclat, entered early into public life, and became distinguished as a political writer, and one of the most eloquent parliamentary orators.

Mr Canning filled, for several years, some of the higher offices in the government, until eventually, sustained by his own transcendent talents, and enlightened views alone, he reached the summit of a statesman's ambition, and became (in 1827) PRIME MINISTER; but scarcely had the hopes of the nation been raised by this most popular appointment, than it pleased Providence to render those hopes delusive - the Right Honourable gentleman's death ensuing a few months after his elevation.

His third son, Charles John Canning, was created EARL CANNING in 1859.

Mr Stratford Canning's second son,

PAUL CANNING, of Garvagh, espoused Jane, daughter of Conway Spencer, of County Antrim, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1784, by his only son,

GEORGE CANNING (1778-1840), first cousin of the prime minister, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1818, as BARON GARVAGH, of Garvagh, County Londonderry.

He married firstly, in 1803, Georgiana, fourth daughter of Robert, 1st Marquess of Londonderry, by whom he had no issue.

His lordship wedded secondly, in 1824, Rosabelle Charlotte Isabella, eldest daughter of Henry Bonham MP, of Titness Park, Berkshire, and had issue,
CHARLES HENRY SPENCER GEORGE, his successor;
Albert Stratford George;
Emeline Rosabelle.
His lordship was Lord-Lieutenant of County Londonderry in 1840.
  • Charles Henry Spencer George Canning, 2nd Baron (1826-71);
  • Charles John Spencer George Canning, 3rd Baron (1852–1915);
  • Leopold Ernest Stratford George Canning, 4th Baron (1878–1956);
  • (Alexander Leopold Ivor) George Canning, 5th Baron (1920--2013);
  • Spencer George Stratford de Redcliffe Canning, 6th Baron (b 1953).
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon Stratford George Edward de Redcliffe Canning (b 1990).
© Garvagh House, the Sam Henry Collection; courtesy of the Craig Family

GARVAGH HOUSE, County Londonderry, is claimed to have been first built in the early 17th century and enlarged twice thereafter.

The house eventually evolved a late Georgian appearance, with a front of three bays between two, three-sided bows and an eaved roof on a bracket cornice.

There was a long enfilade of reception rooms, one having a modillion cornice and a Georgian bow; another with a broken pediment of a 19th century appearance over its door-case.

When the Canning family sold Garvagh House, it was used as flats for single female teachers, and some classrooms.


The house had fallen into disrepair over the years, suffering from wet and dry rot, and vermin infestation. 

The local education committee decided to demolish Garvagh House and to build a new primary school on its site.

This was duly done and Garvagh Primary School opened in 1965.

The village of Garvagh is unique in that, unlike other villages in the county, it was not developed by the Irish Society, nor was it an ancient settlement.

It is, in fact, a private plantation; that is, a town set up over a period of nearly 300 years and developed by the local Lords of the Manor, the Cannings.

The family association with the Garvagh area began in 1615 when George Canning, of Foxcote, Warwickshire, was appointed as agent for the Ironmongers' Company of London, a company actively involved in JAMES I's plantation of Ulster. To begin with, the townland of Garvagh was not part of the Ulster Plantation, as it had been granted to Manus O'Cahan, the local Irish chief, as a native freehold.
After the Great Irish Rebellion of 1641 the situation changed, when O'Cahan joined forces with Sir Phelim Roe O'Neill in the insurrection and, as a result, he lost the freehold. In 1649, one of George Canning's sons, Paul Canning, acquired the townland of Garvagh and began to develop it, by first building St Paul's parish church, which initially was intended as a private chapel for him and his family.
The Canning family continued to play an active part in the development of Garvagh until 1920 when they sold the estate and moved to England, exactly three centuries after they had established the first village.
The village of Garvagh lies between Coleraine and Maghera.

There is a museum and heritage centre in the village.

Covering over 550 acres, Garvagh Forest is situated on the Western outskirts of the village, with trees from over 80 years old to those only planted at the turn of the century.

The final unusual habitat in Garvagh Forest is the Garvagh Pyramid, created as a burial chamber for Lord Garvagh in the 19th Century.

Unfortunately the pyramid was never allowed to fulfil the task it was designed for and was sealed shut, with no incumbent, a number of years ago.

I wish to express my gratitude to the Craig family and Coleraine Museum for making this possible.

I have written about the House of Canning. 

Garvagh arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in March, 2011.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

Interesting - reminds me a bit of Tyrella House.

W.

Garvagh said...

The townland of Garvahey was granted to Gilduffe McBrian O'Cahan about 1611. {"Aghadowey", by Rev. T. H. Mullin]. George Canning purchased it in 1618.
According to Nicholls, in his "Account of the Ironmongers", George Canning had ten children.

Anonymous said...

According to an extract of George's will proved 11th May 1646, his eldest son William had died prior to his death. The will leaves 100 pounds to "George Canning son of my dead son William" upon his maturity. Cheers, S.C.

Garvagh said...

Thanks, S.C. George Canning's will mentions (or mentioned) several of his grandchildren. And eldest son William was of course killed in the 'battle of Garvagh' 1641.