Sunday, 26 March 2017

Desart Court

THE EARLS OF DESART WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 8,000 ACRES

This noble family was originally of the counties of Somerset and Northamptonshire.

Its founder in Ireland,

HUGH CUFFE, Secretary to the Earl of Essex, had a grant, during the reign of ELIZABETH I, of 6,000 acres of land in County Cork, and settled at Cuffe's Wood.

He left, at his decease, two daughters, his co-heirs; viz. Elizabeth, married to Sir Francis Slingsby; and Dorothea, to Sir Charles Coote.

The male line of the family was continued by his nephew,

MAURICE CUFFE, of Ennis, County Clare, merchant ; who died in 1638, leaving a large family, of which the sixth son,

JOSEPH CUFFE, having joined the army under Cromwell, in 1649, was rewarded for his services by considerable grants of lands.

He wedded Martha, daughter of Colonel Agmondesham Muschamp, by whom he had no less than twenty children.

The second son, Maurice, was of Cuffesborough, in Queen's County.

The eldest son,

AGMONDESHAM CUFFE, who was attainted by JAMES II's parliament, in 1689, and had his estates sequestered; but was restored by WILLIAM III.

He espoused Anne, daughter of Sir John Otway, of London, widow of John Warden, of Burnchurch, County Kilkenny; and dying in 1727, was succeeded by his eldest son,  

JOHN CUFFE, of Desart, County Kilkenny, MP,  who was elevated to the peerage, in 1733, by the title of Baron Desart.

His lordship married firstly, Margaret, only daughter and heir of James Hamilton, of Carnesure (descended from the Hamiltons, Earls of Clanbrassil), but had no issue.

He espoused secondly, Dorothea, eldest daughter of General Richard Gorges, of Kilbrew, County Meath, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
OTWAY, succeeded his brother as 3rd Baron;
Hamilton, in holy orders;
William;
Nichola Sophia; Lucy Susanna; Martha; Margaretta; Catherine.
His lordship died in 1749, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 2nd Baron (1730-67), who wedded, in 1752, Sophia, daughter and heir of Brettidge Badham, of Rockfield, County Cork, by whom he had three daughters,
Sophia;
Lucy;
Catherine.
His lordship died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

OTWAY, 3rd Baron (1737-1804), who was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Castle Cuffe in 1781; and further advanced, in 1793, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF DESART.

His lordship wedded, in 1785, the Lady Anne Browne, eldest daughter of John, 2nd Earl of Altamont, and had issue (with two daughters), an only son,

JOHN OTWAY, 2nd Earl (1788-1820), MP for Bossiney, Cornwall, 1808-17, Mayor of Kilkenny, 1809-10, who espoused, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of Maurice O'Connor, and had issue, an only child,

JOHN OTWAY O'CONNOR, 3rd Earl (1818-65), who wedded, in 1842, the Lady Elizabeth Lucy Campbell, third daughter of John, 1st Earl Cawdor, and had issue,
WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, his successor;
HAMILTON JOHN AGMONSESHAM, succeeded as 5th Earl;
Otway Seymour;
Alice Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, 4th Earl (1845-98), who married firstly, in 1871, Maria Emma Georgina, daughter of Captain Thomas Henry Preston, and had issue, an only daughter,
Kathleen Mary Alexina.
He wedded secondly, in 1881, Ellen Odette, daughter of Henri Louis Bischoffsheim, though had no further issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

HAMILTON JOHN AGMONDESHAM (1848-1934), 5th and last Earl, KP, KCB, PC.

In his early life he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy before becoming a barrister in 1872. In 1877, he was appointed as a secretary to the Judicature Committee and as a solicitor to The Treasury a year later.

In 1894, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and as Treasury Solicitor that year, as well as Queen's Proctor and Director of Public Prosecutions.

On inheriting the earldom of Desart from his elder brother William (who died without heirs male) in 1898, he was promoted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

In 1909, the 5th Earl was created Baron Desart in the Peerage of the UK, which enabled him to sit in the House of Lords.

In 1913, he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed a Knight of St Patrick in 1919, one of the last appointees to the Order.
The 5th Earl was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Kilkenny, 1920-22.

Entrance front

DESART COURT, near Callan, County Kilkenny, was a Palladian house of two storeys over a basement, joined to two two-storey wings by curved sweeps.

It was built about 1733 by 1st Baron Desart.

The centre block had a seven-bay front, its main feature being four superimposed, engaged, Doric and Ionic columns and Doric entablature.

Garden front

The drawing-room, in the centre of the garden front, had a ceiling of rococo plasterwork, similar to the hall.

Desart Court was burnt in 1923, though was afterwards rebuilt by Lady Kathleen Milborne-Swinnerton-Pilkington, daughter of the 4th Earl.

In 1957, the house was sold and finally demolished.

First published in March, 2013. Desart arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

I think the last Earl & Countess were grandparents of Iris Orrigo who lived in Italy through the war and saved many British lives (she wrote War in Val D'Orcia about it) - an amazing life and good biog written about her by Caroline Moorehead.

Tom Carew said...

The widow of the 4th Earl, Ellen Countess of Desart, was the first Jewish parliamentarian in Ireland, being a Senator from 1922 to her 1933 death. An heiress to the very wealthy Bischoffscheim London banking dynasty, she generously funded very many projects in Kilkenny, both economic, cultural [a theatre ] and sporting -Talbots Inch Handball Club, as well as Aut Even Hospital, and when he died succeeded her brother-in-law Capt Otway Cuffe [ex-Rifle Bde ] as Kilkenny Gaelic League Pres. My late maternal grandfather Michael Davin was Land Steward on both their Estates.

Anonymous said...

Aren't both pictures of the Entrance Front of the house? One is labelled 'Garden Front'. VC

Michael MacRoberts,MA(Dubl) said...

I'm left wondering on the derivation of the nam Desart as it's the name of a lane & house owned by my sister-in-law,Sylvia McRoberts,MBE,former Lord Mayor of Armagh.