Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Earls Cairns: II

THE EARLDOM OF CAIRNS WAS CREATED IN 1878 FOR THE RT HON HUGH McCALMONT, BARON CAIRNS, PC, QC, LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR
 
WILLIAM CAIRNS became a merchant in Dublin, where he married firstly, in 1778, Sarah Hutchinson, of St James's parish; and secondly, in 1787, Margaret Keine, of St Mark's parish.
He died at Parkmount, in 1819, leaving issue, besides one daughter who died young,

DANIEL CAIRNS, born 1784, who became an officer in the 28th and afterwards in the 62nd Regiment, and died unmarried, at Jamaica, 1802.

In the Belfast Newsletter of October 17, 1775, both William and his eldest son John appear in a list of subscribers to a testimonial to the Rev Matthew Garnett, Vicar of Carnmoney.
 

For my references to early Belfast newspapers and some of my information as to the Gregg family, I am indebted to Mr Isaac Ward, who is probably the greatest living authority on old Belfast History. 
The Gregg family settled in Belfast in the 17th century and became prosperous in business.

In 1700, three brothers, Nathan, Thomas and John Gregg, were merchants in Belfast.

Nathan died in 1705, leaving his sons John and Thomas, then under age.

Thomas had an eldest son, Nathan, and other children, of whom probably William, of Parkmount, was one.


Nathan Gregg mentions these children in his will; also his sisters, Elizabeth, wife of James Smith, of Belfast; and Agnes, wife of John Stevenson, of County Antrim.

Book of Grants of Licenses, Dublin, in the Public Record Office, Dublin
: In both these entries, Nathan is written "Nathaniel", but undoubtedly Nathan was the name.


In the first marriage Hutchinson is given as the wife's name, but in a family bible the name is recorded Hutchins.

 

WILLIAM CAIRNS, of Parkmount, born 1789,
entered the army and became a captain in the 47th Regiment. He married, when only seventeen, Rosanna, daughter of Hugh Johnston, merchant of Belfast. During his father's lifetime he lived at Rushpark, near Carrickfergus, and also had a house in Belfast, which stood on the grounds now occupied by the Robinson & Cleaver building.
Parkmount House

After his father's death, William moved to Parkmount House, which he shortly afterwards sold to John McNeill, a banker in Belfast.

He subsequently lived at Cultra, County Down.

He married secondly, Matilda, daughter of Francis Beggs, of The Grange, Malahide, and dying at Cultra in 1844, left issue, Nathan Daniel, born 1807, who married, in 1839, Mary, daughter of Thomas Miller, of Preston. 
McNeill, of Machrihanish, who came over to Ireland about 1625 with his relatives the MacNaghtens, obtained the lands of Killoquin, County Antrim, where he settled, marrying Rose Stewart of Garry, in that County, John McNeill of Parkmount, having succeeded to a large fortune as heir of his uncle General McNeill, purchased Parkmount and a considerable estate at Craigs, County Antrim, and became a private banker in Belfast, eventually forming, with others, what is now the Northern Bank. 
His grandson sold Parkmount, which, as Belfast extended, became a particularly desirable property.

The new owner of Parkmount was the prominent Belfast merchant Sir Robert Anderson Bt, DL, Lord Mayor and High Sheriff.

The Cairns family, since the Reformation, were all Presbyterian.


The 1st Earl's great-grandfather, or some members of his family at least, seem to have conformed to the established Church (of Ireland) shortly after their move to Parkmount.

In the Belfast News-Letter, dated about 1790, there is an advertisement inserted by John
Cairns, of Parkmount, offering a reward for the recovery of his watch, which he had lost the previous Sunday between Parkmount and Carnmoney Church.

As early as 1775,
both John and his father William appear on a list of subscribers to a testimonial to the Vicar of Carnmoney; however, the History of Belfast (supplement) records that two of John's sisters were members of Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church.


First published in February, 2011.

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