The first of the family settled in Ireland was SIR ARTHUR CHICHESTER, Knight, a distinguished military officer.
This gentleman was the second son of Sir John Chichester, Knight, High Sheriff of Devon in 1550, MP for Devon, 1554 and 1563, by Gertrude, daughter of Sir William Courtenay, Knight, of Powderham Castle, Devon.In 1595, Sir Arthur commanded two hundred foot-soldiers at Carrickfergus; and at the end of November, in the following year, being garrisoned at that place, laid all the country waste within a circumference of twenty miles.
In 1603, he was sworn of the privy council; and, in 1605, appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland.
Sir Arthur, in consideration of his eminent services, military and civil, obtained considerable grants of land in the province of Ulster, and was elevated to the peerage, in 1612, as Baron Chichester, of Belfast.
His lordship continued in the government of Ireland for ten years successively, and was re-appointed in July, 1613; in which year the harp of Ireland was first marshalled with the arms of England; and thereafter continued to be impressed upon the coin of the realm.
In 1615, he retired from his high office, and was appointed, in 1616, Lord High Treasurer of Ireland.
His lordship chiefly resided at Carrickfergus, where he erected, in 1618, a magnificent mansion called Joymount.
In 1622, he went as ambassador to the Palatinate, and thence to treat of a peace with the emperor.
His lordship married Letitia, daughter of Sir John Perrott, sometime Lord Deputy of Ireland, and died in London in 1625, when leaving no issue, the barony expired, while his large estates devolved upon his brother,
SIR EDWARD CHICHESTER (1568-1648), in whose favour the dignity was revived, with the additional honour of Viscount Chichester, of Carrickfergus, in 1625.
His lordship died in 1648 and was succeeded by his elder son,
ARTHUR, 2nd Viscount, MP for County Antrim in 1630, who, in consideration of his eminent services against the rebels, when Colonel Chichester, and at the express solicitation of the Marquess of Ormonde, had been elevated to the peerage as EARL OF DONEGALL.
His lordship was one of the four hostages sent by Lord Ormonde, in 1647, to the English parliament, as surety for the delivery of Dublin to their commissioners.
After the Restoration, he was Governor of Carrickfergus.
Having had no issue from his marriages, the 1st Earl died in 1674, when his honours devolved upon his nephew,
ARTHUR, 2nd Earl, who married Jane, daughter of John Itchingham, of Dunbrody, County Wexford, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
ARTHUR, 3rd Earl, who, having distinguished himself in the military service of his own country, was appointed, by the Prince of Hesse, in 1704, major-general of the Spanish forces; and fell, in 1706, at Fort Montjuich.
His lordship's second wife was the Lady Catherine Forbes; and by this lady he had two sons and six daughters; three of the latter, Jane, Frances and Henrietta, were unfortunately burnt to death in Belfast Castle, consumed by the carelessness of a servant.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,
ARTHUR, 4th Earl; upon whose demise without issue, in 1757, the honours devolved upon his nephew,
ARTHUR, 5th Earl, who was created Baron Fisherwick, of Staffordshire, in 1790.
In 1791, his lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as Earl of Belfast; and a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF DONEGALL.
The seats of the 2nd Marquess were Ormeau and Hay Park, County Down, and Fisherwick, County Antrim.
The heir apparent is the present holder's only son James Arthur Chichester, styled Earl of Belfast (b 1990).
- Arthur Chichester, 1st Marquess (1739–99);
- George Augustus Chichester, 2nd Marquess (1769–1844);
- George Hamilton Chichester, 3rd Marquess (1797–1883);
- Edward Chichester, 4th Marquess (1799–1889);
- George Augustus Hamilton Chichester, 5th Marquess (1822–1904);
- Edward Arthur Donald St George Hamilton Chichester, 6th Marquess (1903-75);
- Dermot Richard Claud Chichester, 7th Marquess (1916–2007);
- Arthur Patrick Chichester, 8th Marquess (b 1952).
First published in January, 2012.