THE NUGENTS OWNED 4,638 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN
The very ancient Anglo-Norman house of SAVAGE was settled at Portaferry, County Down, since the time of the first conquest of Ireland by John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster, in 1177.
Under that famous warrior, the original ancestor in Ireland established himself in County Down; and by a written document, dated 1205, in the Tower of London, we find Robin, son of William Savage, named as one of de Courcy's hostages for his appearance before King JOHN.
The present barony of Lecale was anciently termed the Territory of the Savages, wherein, at Ardglass, they and their dependants erected seven castles, the ruins of which are still extant.
It appears, also, that a stately monastery of Dominicans was founded at Newtownards, in 1244, by the Savages, "gentlemen of English extraction".
From the extreme scarcity of records in Ireland, it is impossible, at this remote period, to determine, without liability to error, which is the senior branch of the family, that of PORTAFERRY or ARDKEEN CASTLE.
In 1400, HENRY IV granted to Robert FitzJordan Savage the office of sheriff of the Ards; and it appears, by an indenture dated 1538, that Raymond [Savage] should have the chieftainship and superiority of his sept in the Territory of the Savages, otherwise called Lecale.
However, in 1559, the Lord Deputy, Sir William FitzWilliam, made a division between Roland and Raymond Savage of several towns and territories in the Ards.
By pedigree annexed, Roland, in 1572, was in possession of Portaferry Castle, and styled himself "Lord of the Little Ards"; and Lord Deputy Chichester, some years afterwards, addressed him as such by letter.
The Ardkeen family had some territories in the barony of Lecale, and also in County Antrim, that family always being sore enemies of the O'Neills.
ROWLAND SAVAGE, Lord of the Little Ards, County Down, representative of the family in the middle of the 16th century, died at Portaferry in 1572, leaving issue,
PATRICK, his heir;The eldest son,
Edmund; Richard; James.
PATRICK SAVAGE (1535-c1604), Lord of the Little Ards, wedded Anne Plunket, and left two sons, of whom the elder,
ROWLAND SAVAGE, Lord of the Little Ards, succeeded his father.
He married Rose, daughter of Russel of Rathmullan, County Down.
Mr Savage was, however succeeded by his brother,
PATRICK SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who wedded, in 1623, Jean, only daughter of Hugh, 1st Viscount Montgomery, and had issue,
HUGH, his heir;Mr Savage died in 1644, and was succeeded by his son,
ELIZABETH, co-heir to her brother;
SARAH, co-heir to her brother.
HUGH SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who died unmarried in 1683, and was succeeded in the representation of the family by his cousin,
PATRICK SAVAGE, of Derry of the Little Ards, and afterwards of Portaferry, who, by his wife Anne Hall, of Narrow Water, left issue,
EDWARD SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who died a bachelor in 1725, was buried at Portaferry.
His uncle and successor,
JAMES SAVAGE, of Portaferry, wedded Mabel, daughter of Edmund Magee, of Lisburn, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
ANDREW, of whom hereafter;
JOHN SAVAGE, wedded Catherine, daughter of ___ Savage, and had a son, James, who died young.
At his decease he was succeeded by his brother,
ANDREW SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who espoused Margaret, sister and co-heir of Governor Nugent (of Tortola), and daughter of Andrew Nugent, of Dysart, County Westmeath, by his wife, the Lady Catherine Nugent, daughter and co-heir of Thomas, Earl of Westmeath, and had a son and heir,
PATRICK SAVAGE, of Portaferry, who married, in 1765, Anne, daughter of Roger Hall, of Narrow Water, and had issue,
ANDREW, of whom presently;Mr Savage died in 1797, and was succeeded by his eldest son (who assumed the surname of NUGENT and became co-heir of the barony of Delvin),
Patrick Nugent, m Hariett, daughter of Rev Henry Sandford;
Roger Hall, captain RN, d unmarried;
John Levallin, d unmarried;
William, in holy orders;
Barbara; Dorcas Sophia.
ANDREW NUGENT JP DL (1770-1846), of Portaferry House, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Down Militia, High Sheriff of County Down, 1808.
Colonel Nugent succeeded his father in 1797, and assumed his present surname, on succeeding to a portion of the estate of his maternal great-uncle, Governor Nugent, in 1812.
He wedded, in 1800, the Hon Selina Vesey, youngest daughter of Thomas, 1st Viscount de Vesci, and had issue,
PATRICK JOHN, of whom presently;Colonel Nugent was succeeded by his eldest son,
Thomas Vesey, m Frances, daughter of Sir James Stronge Bt;
Andrew Savage, m Harriet, Viscountess Bangor;
Arthur, m Charlotte, daughter of Maj. Brooke, of Colebrooke;
Charles Lavallin, major-general in the army;
Selina, m James, eldest son of Sir James Stronge Bt;
PATRICK JOHN NUGENT (1804-57), of Portaferry House, Lieutenant-Colonel, North Down Militia, High Sheriff of County Down, 1843, who married, in 1833, his cousin Catherine, daughter of John, 2nd Viscount de Vesci, and had issue,
ANDREW;Colonel Nugent was succeeded by his eldest son,
JOHN VESEY, lieutenant-colonel in the army;
ANDREW NUGENT JP DL (1834-1905), of Portaferry House, High Sheriff, 1882, Colonel, Royal Scots Greys, who died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOHN VESEY NUGENT JP DL (1837-1914), of Portaferry House, who married, in 1886, Emily Georgiana, daughter of Herbert Langham.
Colonel Nugent died without issue and was succeeded by his cousin,
EDMOND HENRY STUART NUGENT, whose son,
ROLAND THOMAS NUGENT (1886-1962), who was a Northern Ireland politician.
He entered the diplomatic service in 1910 and served with the Grenadier Guards in 1918; and again in 1940-43; was a Director of the Federation of British Industries, 1916-17 and 1919-32; and was knighted in 1929.
In 1944, Sir Roland Thomas Nugent entered Northern Ireland politics, serving as Leader of the Senate, 1944-50; Minister without Portfolio in the Northern Ireland Government, 1944-45; Minister of Commerce, 1945-49; Minister in the Senate, 1949; and Speaker of the Senate, 1950-61.On his retirement from that post, he was created a baronet, though he died in the following year, when the baronetcy became extinct.
Sir Roland married, in 1917, Cynthia Maud Ramsden, daughter of Captain Frederick William Ramsden and the Lady Elizabeth Maud Conyngham, daughter of the 3rd Marquess Conyngham.
The couple had three children, of whom their two sons were both tragically killed in action during the 2nd World War.
The Nugent Papers are available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
PORTAFERRY HOUSE, Portaferry, County Down, is a large, three-storey, country mansion in a restrained classical style, built ca 1750, and extended about 1790.
It took its present form in 1818-20, when the front façade was remodelled, the grand stairwell added, and the east wing largely rebuilt, all to designs by William Farrell.
The centre of the entrance front has five bays with a Wyatt window in each of the two upper storeys.
The porch has paired Ionic columns and Ionic end piers.
On both sides of the centre block are wide, three-sided bows of two storeys (though the same height as the main block).
The hall, too, affords Ionic columns and good plasterwork.
The original (central) block of Portaferry House was constructed ca 1750 by Andrew Savage on land granted to his ancestor, Patrick, by CHARLES I in 1628.
This original section, which comprises the central and eastern portion of main block of the present house, was a fairly plain, three-storey building.
In 1789, with money reputedly won in a bet with Robert Stewart of Mount Stewart, Patrick Savage had plans drawn up by the Dublin architect, Charles Lilly, for extensions and improvements to the house.
These plans included the addition of a west wing, the three-sided outer bays, and changes to the rear.
In 1814, due to the proceeds of the will of his great-uncle (Nugent of Dysart), Andrew Savage (who was required to change the family name to Nugent in accordance with the same will), employed William Farrell to draw up new plans for further extending and remodelling the house.
Work commenced in 1818.
The east wing was mostly remodelled to include reception rooms to the front, a servants' wing (with classroom) to the rear, and an extended basement floor.
Bays were added to both wings.
In the centre of the house the old staircase was removed, and what had been the old stairwell, hall and drawing room were combined to form a large reception hall.
A new, grander staircase was built to the north of the new hall and extensive plumbing work (including the addition of a new water closet) was carried out to the entire building.
At this period the farmyard was also enlarged and kennels were built to the north side of the demesne.
A threshing mill and horse walk was built to the north-east of farmyard.
The work to the house was completed in 1820 at a total cost of £7,140 (about £622,000 in 2015).
The present owner has done much to restore the building.
THE DEMESNE is laid out as a fine landscape park for the 1760 house, enlarged in the early 1820s after additions and alterations were made to the house by Andrew Nugent.
It is placed in a splendid position overlooking lawns, pleasure grounds, a series of small lakes and parkland to Strangford Lough.
The original 18th century house was built by Andrew Savage, a former officer in the Spanish army, on a site chosen because it was near ‘a beautiful well-spring up to which from the old castle’.
The Savages changed their name to Nugent: Seemingly the Portaferry House branch of this Anglo-Norman family, Savage of the Ards, changed its name to Nugent in 1812, following the succession of Andrew Savage of Portaferry to certain estates.
Portaferry Castle was probably built in the 16th century by a member of the Savage family. In 1635, Patrick Savage's brother-in-law, Sir James Montgomery, of Rosemount, repaired the castle by roofing and flooring it so that his sister could live in greater comfort there.
The parkland incorporates extensive woodland blocks, screens and isolated park trees.
Nugent’s Wood, alongside the shore, belongs to the National Trust.
The pleasure grounds, to the south of the house, are not maintained.
However, there are banks of rhododendrons that give colour.
A folly tower, which resembles a windmill stump, has far-reaching views from the top.
The walled garden, near the town, which belongs to the local borough council, has an interesting ziggurat wall to allow maximum heat for wall fruit.
It is adjacent to the 16th century tower house, Portaferry Castle.
There are listed farm buildings and three gate lodges built in 1830.
Portaferry House is now owned by the Beverland family.
First published in May, 2010.