Monday, 15 June 2015

Belmont House

THE MACKYS OWNED 2,647 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY LONDONDERRY

WILLIAM MACKAY (-1849), of Belmont, County Londonderry, married, in 1796, Ann, daughter of James Porter, and had issue, a son and heir,

JAMES THOMPSON MACKY JP DL (1800-85), of Belmont, and Castlefin, County Donegal, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1860, Director, Finn Valley Railway, who wedded, in 1843, Caroline, daughter of Rear-Admiral Francis Holmes Coffin (1768-1842), of Alwington House, Stonehouse, Devon, and had issue,
William;
FRANCIS COFFIN, of whom hereafter;
Caroline.
Mr Macky was succeeded by his younger son,

FRANCIS COFFIN MACKY JP DL (1847-1920), of Belmont, High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1888, Captain, 3rd Dragoon Guards, who espoused firstly, in 1873, Frances Caroline, daughter of the Rev George Robinson, and had issue,
FRANCIS CHARLES THOMPSON, born in 1874.
He married secondly, in 1881, Emma Clara, daughter of John Barré Beresford JP DL, of Learmount and Ashbrook, County Londonderry, and had further issue,
John Barré Beresford, b 1889;
Eleonora Caroline Lucia; Frances Mary; Gladys Kathleen; Emma Clara.


BELMONT HOUSE, Londonderry, thought to date from 1833, is an early Victorian house in Neo-Renaissance Style.

Its character is retained in the west and south façades, the entrance hall and main staircase area.

Segmented bays are a feature of the south side.

Additional alterations were undertaken in the second half of the 20th century.

*****

BELMONT'S original history can be traced as far back as 1696.

The family of Lecky, from Scotland, leased the land from the Honourable the Irish Society in 1614, and proceeded to build a large house, in 1696, on a hill at Belmont on the present site of Belmont House.

In 1692, Alderman Lecky was the mayor of the city.

The Leckys lived at Belmont until about 1831, when it was sold.

In 1833, Dr Sir William Miller, Mayor of Londonderry 1875-77, is believed to have built the house, when it was described as being a "plain lodge".

The house and estate were acquired by the Macky family ca 1837, who lived there until the 1940s.

In 1858, James Thompson Macky was lessee; the Honourable the Irish Society and the Marquess of Londonderry, the lessors.

ca 1930s, photo credit ~ Gordon Bell

The Mackys remained resident at Belmont until the outbreak of the 2nd World War, when it was occupied by the American Forces.

After the war the house was divided into flats.

In the late 1950s, it was acquired by the Education Authority.

Belmont Special School was opened in 1961.

In the early 1970s, the Western Education & Library Board assumed responsibility for the area, during which period numerous additions and adaptations took place to and within the original building.

In the walled garden is an inauguration stone (St Columb's Stone), believed to be one of the crowning stones of the ancient kings of Ulster.

A member of the Macky family, Captain Ross Macky, records that his father dug around the stone in 1900, searching for treasure though none was found.

However it revealed that the stone was pear-shaped.

Near the stone, buried in the ground, a stone effigy of an armoured knight was unearthed in the 19th century.

The effigy, clad in cloak and armed with brooch and sword, with hands joined and head missing, appears similar to the figure on O'Cahan's tomb in the former Augustinian Monastery in Dungiven, County Londonderry.

*****

THE WALLED GARDEN is recorded in the Heritage Gardens Inventory of 1992 and is partly cultivated.

Parkland remains around the house in an otherwise built-up area and contains some fine mature trees.

1 comment :

Annette Miller said...

Belmont was owned by a William Miller but not Sir William Miller. William Miller (1773-1834) who owned Belmont was the Collector of Excise for Derry, Letterkenny and Strabane and County Surveyor. I have a copy of the newspaper sale notice in 1834, following his death. He married Catherine Croker, the daughter of John Croker, Surveyor-General for Customs & Excise and Catherine Welsted. She was the half sister of John Wilson Croker, MP and 1st Secretary of the British Admiralty.

William was the son of John Miller and Margaret Oulton. John Miller was the Agent for the London Draper's Company, managing it Irish estate from Moneymore. This position passed to the sixth son Rowley Miller who was High Sheriff of Londonderry in 1861 and oversaw the the building of what is the preservation area of Moneymore. The Agency remained in the family from 1779 until the death of Rowley's grandson Henry Rowley Miller in 1873. Henry Rowley Miller married Elizabeth Sawyer, daughter of William Henry Sawyer, Secretary of the Drapers' Company, London.

Sons John Miller and William Miller obtained clerkships in the British Admiralty Office through the patronage of their uncle.

The third son, Croker Miller was a Captain in 17th Regt and served in New South Wales (Australia) and India before returning to Londonderry, serving in the militia. He was a Cess Collector for the City and County of Londonderry at the time of his death in 1857. He married Matilda Kinchela, the daughter of John Kinchela and Ann Bourne. John Kinchela was Mayor of Kilkenny, Attorney-General of New South Wales and a Judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.

William Miller's daughter Catherine Croker Miller married James Major QC. Daughter Sarah Hester married Pitt Skipton, sixth son of George Crookshank (Kennedy (later Skipton) of Beech Hill and Sarah McCausland. Pitt Skipton was an Alderman of Derry and Mayor in 1871-1872.

William, his wife Catherine, son Croker and daughter Mary are buried in the graveyard of St Columb's Cathedral. There is a memorial plaque to his son Croker Miller inside the Cathedral.

I am a descendant of William Miller through his third son Croker Miller.

Annette Miller
Melbourne, Australia