Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Headfort House

THE MARQUESSES OF HEADFORT WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MEATH, WITH 7,544 ACRES

THEY OWNED A FURTHER 14,220 ACRES IN COUNTY CAVAN AND 12,851 ACRES IN WESTMORLAND


THOMAS TAYLOR, of Ringmer, Sussex, died in 1629, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN TAYLOR, of Battle, Sussex, who died in 1638, leaving an only son,

THOMAS TAYLOR, who removed to Ireland, in 1653, in the train of Sir William Petty, in order to undertake the Down Survey, in which kingdom he purchased lands in 1660, of which the town and townlands of Kells formed a portion, having disposed of his estates in England.

After the Restoration, Mr Taylor was appointed one of the sub-commissioners of the court of claims.

In 1669-70, he was deputy receiver-general under Sir George Carteret, and immediately before his death he officiated as vice-treasurer and treasurer-at-war.

Mr Taylor married, in 1658, Anne, daughter of William Axtell, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, and had one surviving son, THOMAS, his heir, and one daughter, Anne, married to Sir Nicholas Acheson Bt.

He died in 1682, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON THOMAS TAYLOR (1662-1736), who was created a baronet in 1704, and sworn of the Privy Council, 1726.

He wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Cotton Bt, of Combermere, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Robert (Very Rev), Dean of Clonfert;
Henry;
James;
Henrietta; Salisbury; Anne.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR THOMAS TAYLOR (1657-96), 2nd Baronet, MP and a privy counsellor, who married Mary, daughter of John Graham, of Platten, County Meath, and left, with a daughter, Henrietta, an only son, 

SIR THOMAS TAYLOR, 3rd Baronet, KP, PC, MP (1724-95), who wedded, in 1754, Jane, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Hercules Langford Rowley, by Elizabeth, Viscountess Langford, by whom he had issue,
THOMAS;
Robert, a general in the army;
Clotworthy, created Baron Langford;
Henry Edward, in holy orders;
Henrietta.
Sir Thomas was elevated to the peerage, in 1760, as Baron Headfort; advanced to a viscountcy, in 1762, as Viscount Headfort; and further advanced, to the dignity of an earldom, in 1766, as Earl of Bective.

Lord Bective was installed, in 1783, a Founder Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick (KP), and sworn of the Privy Council of Ireland.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Earl (1757-1829), who espoused, in 1778, Mary, only daughter and heir of George Quin, of Quinsborough, County Clare, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
George;
Mary; Elizabeth Jane.
His lordship was created MARQUESS OF HEADFORT in 1800.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 2nd Marquess, KP (1787-1870), KP, MP for co Meath, 1812-29, Lord Lieutenant of County Cavan, 1831-70, who wedded firstly, in 1822, Olivia, daughter of Sir John Stevenson, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
Robert;
John Henry;
Olivia; Mary Juliana; Virginia Frances Zerlina.
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1853, Frances, daughter of John Livingstone Martyn.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 3rd Marquess, KP PC (1822-94),
High Sheriff of Meath, 1844, and of Cavan, 1846, State Steward to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1852-3; High Sheriff of Westmorland, 1853; MP for Westmorland, 1854-70; Lord Lieutenant of Meath, 1876-94; Privy Counsellor, 1879; Knight of St Patrick 1885.
GEOFFREY THOMAS, 4th Marquess, Senator of the Irish Free State, 1922-28.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Thomas Rupert Charles Christopher Taylour, styled Earl of Bective (b 1989).
The Taylour family became very much involved in the political life of the locality, and several members of the family served as MPs for Kells and the county of Meath.

They were also a "Patrick Family", the 1st Earl, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marquesses all having been appointed Knights of St Patrick.


HEADFORT HOUSE, near Kells, County Meath, is a large, austere mansion, built in the early 1770s.

Sir Thomas Taylour, 1st Lord Headfort and afterwards 1st Earl of Bective, commissioned Irish architect George Semple to build the house.

It was designed in a severe, unadorned neo-classical style with an impressive scale and position.

The mansion house has three storeys, eleven bays and long, single-storey side wings.

The façade of the house is a severe, almost drab grey.


It is built of Ardbraccan limestone in an extremely plain style. The interiors were designed by the Scottish architect Robert Adam.

Much of the interior remains in very good condition, thanks mainly to Headfort School's occupancy.

In a previous era, there were three large estates surrounding the town.

Of these, Headfort was until recently the sole survivor.

The others had been split or large portions sold off in face of financial pressure.


In the 1980s, Lord Headfort sold Headfort House and estate to a Canadian multi-millionaire, B.J. Kruger. Mr Kruger's twin passions in life were shooting and fishing.

Headfort's 1,000 acres provided ample scope for the rearing of pheasant and duck.

Mr Kruger also undertook extensive renovation of the estate until his death.

Land was reclaimed, fencing replaced and the 8 miles of roadway were all resurfaced.

After Mr Kruger's death, the estate was split into three lots: a farm, the woodlands and the school and its environs.

The estate formerly stretched from Kells to Virginia.

The land found its way into the Headfort family as a result of the Down Survey, being granted to Thomas Taylour, 1st Earl of Bective, as a result of his helping Sir William Petty in that survey. Gradually the estate shrank is size and chunks were sold off to pay debts.

Most recently, Headfort Golf Club bought its course from Mr Kruger.

The present 7th Marquess is thought to live in the Far East and his son, Lord Bective, in the UK.

Headfort remained the private residence of the Taylour family until 1949, when the family removed to one wing and the central pavilion was leased to the newly formed Headfort School.

In 1996, ownership of the buildings was transferred to a building preservation trust, the Headfort Trust, and the buildings are currently leased back to Headfort School.

This relationship has saved the interiors from the fate of many similar sized properties which have suffered from alteration and over-repair.

The Headforts also had homes at Virginia Park Lodge, County Cavan, and Underley Hall, Lancashire.

First published in January, 2013.  Headfort arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

3 comments :

Paul Clerkin said...

Unbuilt design for Headfort House
http://archiseek.com/2013/headfort-house-co-meath-2/

Anonymous said...

There is a Canadian multi millionaire who owns a castle called Rathaldrin near Navan and his name is Kruger or possibly Kroger - surely he must be a rellie? Two coincidental otherwise! Mostly lives nowadays in Canada but his wife came from near Navan which is why he bought the castle there for holidays etc.

Anonymous said...

The Kroger, or Kruger, of Rathaldrin (recently sold as he no longer comes to Ireland) is the son of the Headfort one. Seems to own half Canada.