This family was of Scottish origin, the founder of the Ulster branch having settled in County Antrim from Ayrshire during the plantation of Ulster, and settled at Gobrana, Glenavy, where the family continued to reside until 1860.
WILLIAM WHITLA, of Glenavy, County Antrim, born in 1655, had issue by his wife, Elizabeth, three sons,
GEORGE;His eldest son,
GEORGE WHITLA (1689-1762), of Gobrana, Glenavy, married, in 1727, his cousin, Elinor Whitla, by whom he had four sons and three daughters,
William, of Derrychrin (1729-94);Mr George Whitla was succeeded by his youngest son,
John, of Lisburn;
Francis, of Glendona;
VALENTINE, of whom we treat;
Elizabeth; Eleanor; Jane.
VALENTINE WHITLA (1735-1802), of Gobrana, who wedded, in 1779, Jane, daughter of John Bashford, by whom he had five sons and a daughter,
GEORGE, of Inver Lodge, Larne, JP;Mr Whitla was succeeded by his second son,
JAMES, of whom hereafter;
Valentine, of Ben Eadan, JP (1786-1865), dsp;
JAMES WHITLA JP (1781-1862), of Gobrana, who espoused, in 1806, Catherine, third daughter of Alexander Gunning JP, of Carrickfergus, and by her had issue,
GEORGE ALEXANDER, of Ben Eadan;Mr Whitla died at Dunmurry, County Antrim, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
William John, died young;
Francis, died young;
Alicia Jane; Katherine;
Anne; Susannah; Frances.
GEORGE ALEXANDER WHITLA JP (1818-67), of Ben Eadan, captain, Royal Antrim Rifles, who married, in 1858, Isabella Frances, youngest daughter of the Rev John Hammond, of Priston Rectory, Bath, Somerset, and grand-niece of George Hammond, of Portland Place, London, Under Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and First British Minister to America, and had issue,
JAMES ALEXANDER, of whom hereafter;Captain Whitla died in 1867 and his widow married secondly, in 1869, Sheffield Grace Phillip Fiennes Betham, Cork Herald of Arms (2nd son of Sir William Betham, Ulster King-of-Arms).
Valentine George, major, 3rd Hussars;
Mary Isabel Hammond;
Ellen Constance; Isabella Frances Alexandra.
His eldest son,
JAMES ALEXANDER WHITLA (1859-1913), of Ben Eadan, near Belfast,
major, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles; sometime lieutenant, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and 5th Dragoon Guards.Major Whitla wedded, in 1881, Honoria Maria, third daughter of John Handcock Townshend, of Myross Wood, and by her had issue,
GEORGE TOWNSHEND, b 1882; 4th Batt. RIR;
Edith Constance; Norah Kathleen; Alice Mildred.
BEN EADAN was built in 1849 on the site now occupied by St Clement’s Retreat House, which stands above St Gerard’s Church.
In the 1890s, this house was owned by the Whitla family.
The site was acquired by the church in 1951.
The rest of the land was acquired by the Belfast Corporation to complete the link between Belfast Castle and Hazlewood.
Some of the original farmyard buildings still survive.
The House was replaced by St Clement's retreat house ca 1960.