Saturday, 26 March 2016

Dumfries House Book

I was at home one day in March, 2014, when, somewhat unexpectedly, a postman arrived with a large parcel.

He handed me the package and I almost immediately recognized the hand-writing of an old school pal who works at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

He knows how keen I am about heritage and country houses.

To my delight, the parcel contained a hard-back copy of Dumfries House.

In this landmark book, the author, Simon Green, draws on previously unpublished documents from the extensive archives of the Bute family, who lived in the house from the early 19th century until the death of Lady Bute in 1993.

There is a wealth of photographs, plans and drawings from the National Trust for Scotland and the RCAHMS.

Exploring the people and the ideas behind a unique building, 'Dumfries House' is the story of the survival of a treasured eighteenth century family residence.

First published in March, 2014.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Convamore House


This ancient family claims descent from the house of HARCOURT, in Lorraine, who were Counts in Normandy.

In 1461,

JOHN HARE, son of Thomas Hare, by Joyce, his wife, daughter of John Hyde, of Norbury, resided at Homersfield, in Suffolk and was father of

NICHOLAS HARE, father of

JOHN HARE, who, by Elizabeth Fortescue, his wife, had two sons, viz.
The younger son,

JOHN HARE, having eventually inherited the estates of his brother, Sir Nicholas, became of Stow Bardolph.

He had a numerous family, seven sons and three daughters.

Of the former,

RICHARD, the eldest, was ancestor of the HARES of Stow Bardolph, raised to the degree of Baronet in 1641; and

JOHN HARE, the youngest, a bencher of the Middle Temple, who wedded Margaret, daughter of John Crouch, of Cornbury, Hertfordshire, and had a son,

HUGH HARE, a faithful adherent of CHARLES I, by whom he was created, in 1625, BARON COLERAINE,  of County Londonderry.

His lordship married and had issue.

From the eldest son,

HENRY, descended the Lords Coleraine; and from a younger, HUGH, sprang the HARES of Listowel, the representative of which branch, 

RICHARD HARE, of Ennismore, (3rd son of John Hare, of Cork, a native of Norfolk), the immediate founder of this family, married Catherine Maylor, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
John, died unmarried, 1774;
Mary; Margaret Anne.
The elder son and successor,

WILLIAM HARE (1751-1837), represented Cork and Athy in the Irish parliament from 1796 until the final dissolution of that assembly.

Mr Hare was elevated to the peerage, in 1800, as Baron Ennismore; and advanced to a viscounty, in 1816, as Viscount Ennismore and Listowel.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1822, as EARL OF LISTOWEL.

He married firstly, in 1772, Mary, only daughter of Henry Wrixon, of Ballygiblin, County Cork, and aunt of Sir William Wrixon-Becher Bt, by whom he had issue,
William Henry;
Margaret Anne; Mary; Louisa; Catharine.
He espoused secondly, in 1812, Anne, second daughter of John Latham, of Meldrum, County Tipperary.

His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

WILLIAM (1801-56), 2nd Earl.
The heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, the Hon Timothy Patrick Hare (b 1966).

THE PRINCIPAL family seat was Convamore, County Cork, though they were also seated at Ennismore Park, County Kerry, which was sold by the Bailey family to the Hares in the late 18th century.

William, 1st Earl of Listowel, built a new house beside the River Blackwater in the early 19th century.

He was residing at Convamore in 1814.

It remained the family seat in 1894.

The house was burned in 1921 and is now a ruin.

The family's town residence was Kingston House, Knightsbridge, London. The 3rd Earl, the then owner of the Kingston House estate, was admitted as copyholder and secured the ground's enfranchisement from manorial control.

In 1855, the substantial portion of the estate built up with houses and stables in the 1840s and early 1950s was sold by the 2nd Earl, but the greater part, including Kingston House itself, remained in the possession of the Hare family until shortly before the Second World War.

With the death of the 4th Earl in 1931, the estate passed not to his eldest son, the socialist 5th Earl, but on trust to a younger son, the Hon John Hare, later 1st Viscount Blakenham. 

The 3rd Earl died at Kingston House in 1924, and the last occupant was his widow, who in turn died there in 1936. In March, 1937, the contents were sold and that autumn the house itself was demolished for the building of flats.

CONVAMORE HOUSE was a large and plain two-storey early 19th century mansion, situated above a fine stretch of the River Blackwater in County Cork.

The entrance front had a single storey Doric portico; while the block with the main rooms was faced with Victorian stucco and plate-glass windows.

The walls of the old Roche castle are said to be stained with tar from a beacon that was lit when EDWARD VII paid a visit as Prince of Wales.

The castle belonged lately to a Major Hirtch, whose father built a gabled fishing lodge beside it.

These decorative cast-iron entrance gates and finely carved piers of solid limestone blocks exhibit high levels of craftsmanship.

The gateway to Convamore House was erected for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1886.

Listowel arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in February, 2012.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The O'Conor Don


Of the O'CONOR family John O'Donovan says,
No family in Ireland claims greater antiquity and no family in Europe, royal or noble, can trace its descent through so many generations of legitimate ancestors.
It will be unnecessary here to give more than a summary of the pedigree, which is provided in detail in "The O'Conors of Connaught" by the Rt Hon Charles Owen O'Conor Don.

FERADACH THE JUST, a legitimate descendant of Hermon, son of Milesius, was elected King of Ireland about 75 AD.

Ninth in descent from him was MUIREDACH TIRECH, King of Ireland, whose son, EOCHAID MUGMEDON, was chosen the Hibernian monarch about 358 AD.

His eldest son, BRIAN, King of Connaught, was set aside in the succession of the monarchy of Ireland by a younger son, NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES.

BRIAN died in 397 AD, leaving a son, DAUÍ GALACH, the first Christian King of Connaught.

Eighteenth in descent from him was

CONVOVAR or CONOR, King of Connaught (son of Teige of the Three Towers), from whom the family name of O'CONOR is derived.

He died in 973, leaving a son,

CATHAL O'CONOR, who is said to have reigned for thirty years but was forced to submit to Brian Boru, King of Munster, who assumed the chief sovereignty.

CATHAL died a monk in 1010, and was father of

TEIGE O'CONOR, of the White Steel, who became King of Connaught in 1015, and died 1030.

His son,

HUGH O'CONOR, of the Broken Spear, King of Connaught, acknowledged the supremacy of the Monarch of Ireland.

He was killed in battle near Oranmore, County Galway, in 1067, and was father of

RODERIC O'CONOR, called Rory of the Yellow Birch, King of Connaught, who was, after an eventful reign, blinded by O'Flaherty in 1092, when he was forced to abdicate.

He died in the monastery of Clonmacnoise, 1118.

His son,

TURLOUGH MOR O'CONOR (1088-1156), King of Connaught, and afterwards monarch of Ireland, was inaugurated as King of Connaught at the ford of Termon, 1106, and having subdued the other provincial kings, reigned supreme over all Ireland after the battle of Moin-Mor, near Emly, in 1151.

His son,

RODERIC O'CONOR, was King of Connaught and Monarch of Ireland after the death of Murlough McLoughlin.

During his reign the English invasion of Ireland occurred in 1170, which culminated in the treaty of Windsor, 1175, whereby the kings of England became paramount of Ireland, and Roderic held the Kingdom of Connaught as vassal of the English crown.

RODERIC eventually abdicated in favour of his son, Conor Moin-Mor, 1186, and died in the monastery of Cong, 1198.

Conor Moin-Mor was killed in 1189, and his son, Cathal Caragh, sometime King of Connaught, who was slain, 1202, leaving issue.

The latter was succeeded by his great-uncle,

CATHAL CROBHDEARG (1153-1224), King of Connaught, son of Turlough Mor O'Conor, who submitted to KING JOHN.

He wedded Mor, daughter of O'Brien, King of Munster, and died in 1224. His eldest son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Rainault, daughter of Auley O'Ferrall, and was murdered 1228. His son,

RORY or RODERIC O'CONOR, who was never King of Connaught, for during his lifetime the sovereignty was held by his uncle FELIM.

He was accidentally drowned in 1244.

His eldest son,

OWEN O'CONOR (1265-74), who for a few months was King of Connaught, was slain by his cousin Rory, son of his uncle Turlough.

His younger son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, acknowledged by the Irish in 1293, though the superiority was claimed by the English king and a great part of Connaught was in the hands of the De Burghs.

He married Finola, daughter of Turlough O'Brien, and was killed in 1309.

His sons, FELIM, ancestor of O'Conor Roe, and TURLOUGH, were successively Kings of Connaught.

The latter,

TURLOUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, married firstly, Devorgal, daughter of Hugh O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell.

He divorced her in 1339, and wedded secondly, Slaine O'Brien.

Turlough died in 1342, having had issue, two sons, HUGH and RORY, who were subsequently rulers of the Irish in Connaught; and two daughters, Finola and Una.

The elder son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Margaret, daughter of Walter de Burgh.

He died in 1356, and was father of

TURLOUGH OGE O'CONOR, called O'CONOR DON to distinguish him from his cousin, another Turlough who was called O'Conor Roe.

At the death, in 1384, of Roderic, King of Connaught, the kingdom was divided between the two cousins, each of whom claimed the sovereignty of the whole province, and from that date the heads of each branch were called respectively O'Conor Don and O'Conor Roe.

O'Conor Don presented himself before RICHARD II at Waterford, and there as Captain of Nation, made his submission to His Majesty in 1395.

He married Evaine O'Kelly, and was killed, in 1406, by his cousin, son of Cathal O'Conor Roe.

He was succeeded in the chieftainship by his son HUGH, who seems to have been succeeded by his brother,

O'CONOR DON, FELIM GEANCACH O'CONOR, who wedded Edwina, daughter of O'Conor Sligo; and died 1474.

His son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR from 1476, espoused Devorgilla, daughter of Felim Finn O'Conor Roe, and died in 1485. His son,

O'CONOR DON, CARBERY O'CONOR (1475-1546), died at Ballintober, County Longford, leaving issue, DERMOT, afterwards O'Conor Don, and Turlough, who died in 1582.

The elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DERMOT O'CONOR, chief of his sept after 1550, wedded Dorothy, daughter of Teige Buidhe O'Conor Roe, and had issue,
Con, killed 1563;
HUGH, his heir;
Dermot O'Conor Don, who died in 1585, was the last of the O'Conors who exercised jurisdiction over the province of Connaught.

His son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, SIR HUGH O'CONOR (1541-1627), on his father's death, compounded with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir John Perrot, for all his estates, and was knighted by the Earl of Essex.

Sir Hugh, the first knight of the shire returned to Parliament for County Roscommon, wedded Mary, daughter of Brian O'Rourke, Lord of Breffny, and had four sons,
CALVACH, of Ballintubber, his heir, whose male line became extinct;
HUGH OGE, of Castlereagh;
CATHAL, of whose line we treat;
Bryan Roe.
The third son,

CATHAL O'CONOR (1597-1634), married Anne, daughter of William O'Molloy, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, MAJOR OWEN O'CONOR, of Bellanagare, County Roscommon, Governor of Athlone under JAMES II, who died at Chester Castle, 1692.

He married Elinor, daughter of Roger O'Ferrall, and died without male issue, 1692, when the estate passed to his brother,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES OGE, of Bellanagare, who wedded Cecilia, daughter of Fiachra O'Flynn.

He died in 1696, and was succeeded by his son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1674-1750), of Bellanagare, who espoused Mary, daughter of Tiernan O'Rourke, Chief of Breffny, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Roger (Rev);
Matthew (Rev);
Catherine; Mary; Eleanor; Anne.
The son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES O'CONOR (1710-90), of Bellanagare, a learned and distinguished antiquary, married, in 1731, Catharine, daughter of John O'Fagan, and had (with a daughter) two sons,
DENIS, his heir;
Charles, of Mount Allen.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1732-1804), of Bellanagare, Deputy Governor of Roscommon, who espoused, in 1760, Catherine, daughter of Martin Browne, of Cloonfad, County Roscommon, and had issue,
OWEN, his heir;
Charles (Very Rev Dr);
Catherine; Mary; Bridget; Elizabeth Frances; Eleanor Anne; Alicia.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR (1763-1831), of Bellanagare, MP for County Roscommon, 1830-31, who, on the death of his kinsman, Alexander O'Conor Don, sp 1820, succeeded to the title of O'CONOR DON, as head of the family.

He married, in 1792, Jane, daughter of James Moore, of Mount Browne, County Dublin, and by her had issue,
DENIS, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR JP (1794-1847), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1831-47, who wedded, in 1824, Mary, daughter of Major Maurice Blake, of Tower Hill, County Mayo, and by her had issue,
Denis Maurice, father of
Jane; Kate; Josephine; Eugenia; Dionysia.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON CHARLES OWEN O'CONOR JP (1838-1906), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1860-80, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1884, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Roscommon 1896-1906.

He wedded firstly, in 1868, Georgina Mary, daughter of Thomas Aloysius Perry, of Bitham House, Warwickshire, and had issue,
Owen Phelim;
Charles Hugh, father of
Roderick Joseph;
O'Conor Don espoused secondly, in 1879, Ellen Letitia, daughter of John Lewis More O'Ferrall, of Lissard, County Longford.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON DENIS CHARLES JOSEPH O'CONOR JP (1860-1917), of Bellanagare and Clonallis, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1898, who died unmarried, when the title devolved upon his brother,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN PHELIM O'CONOR (1870-1943), who wedded firstly, in 1913, Mary, daughter of F C McLoughlin, and had issue,
Hélène Françoise Marie, born 1916.
He married secondly, in 1943, Gwendoline, daughter of Charles Matthew O'Conor.

O'Conor Don died without male issue, and was succeeded by his kinsman,

O'CONOR DON, REV FATHER CHARLES DENIS MARY JOSEPH ANTHONY O'CONOR (1906-81), who was succeeded in the family honours by his second cousin,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS ARMAR O'CONOR (1912-2000), who espoused firstly, in 1937, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Stanley P Marris, and had issue,
He married secondly, in 1943, Rosemary June, daughter of Captain James Piers O'Connell-Hewett, and had issue,
Kieran Denis;
Rory Dominic.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DESMOND RODERIC (1938-), of Horsegrove House, Rotherfield, Sussex, who wedded, in 1964, Virginia Anne, daughter of Sir Michael Sanigear Williams KCMG, and had issue,
PHILIP HUGH, b 1967;
Emma Joy, b 1965;
Denise Sarah, b 1970. 
Garden Front

CLONALIS HOUSE, near Castlerea, County Roscommon, is a five-bay, two-storey Victorian house, built about 1878.

It has an attic storey in the late Victorian Italianate style.

There is a projecting three-stage entrance tower with pilasters and balcony to a west-facing side elevation; gabled dormers to the garden elevation flank a central pedimented projecting entrance bay.

The walls are cement-rendered with pilasters to ground floor garden elevation.

Entrance Front

The O'Conor Don family crest emblazons one side of the entrance front.

The ruins of old Clonalis House, courtyard and walled garden are to the south of the main house.

The courtyard of two-and single-storey stone stables and outbuildings is now in use as guest accommodation.

An elaborate cast-iron bridge and single-arch rock-faced stone bridge span the River Suck on the avenue approaching the house.

Ashlar gate piers supporting decorative wrought-iron entrance gates are flanked by limestone sweeps to the roadside.

Clonalis House is arguably the finest expression of the Victorian-Italianate style in County Roscommon.

It was designed by Frederick Pepys Cockerell and is one of the first concrete houses constructed in Ireland.

The use of the entrance tower with a pyramidal roof and embellishing pilasters and balconies is representative of the Italian influence that became popular in the mid-19th century.

As the seat of the O'Conor Don family it is an historically significant site.

The original Clonalis House, an early 18th-century Georgian house, survives in a ruinous condition, as a reminder of the continuity of habitation enjoyed by this estate.

An exceptional county residence, its setting is enhanced by the walled garden, outbuildings, bridges and entrance gates.

Former ancestral seats ~ Belenagare; French Park.  Chambers: 1 Garden Court, Temple, London.

Clonbrock House


This family deduces its descent from a common progenitor with the Dillons, Earls of Roscommon, and the Dillons, Viscounts Dillon.

Sir James Dillon, brother of Sir Maurice, who was ancestor of the Viscount Dillon, was father of Sir Robert, who had two sons, Sir Richard, of Riverston, ancestor of the Earls of Roscommon; and Gerald, ancestor of the Barons Clonbrock.

This Gerald married Elizabeth, daughter of John, Baron Barry, and was ancestor of Thomas Dillon, of Clonbrock, County Galway, Chief Justice of Connaught in 1603; from whom was descended

LUKE DILLON, of Clonbrock, who wedded  Bridget, daughter of John Kelly, of Castle Kelly, County Galway, and the Lady Honoria Burke, daughter of John, 9th Earl of Clanricarde, and had issue,

ROBERT DILLON (1754-95), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1793, as BARON CLONBROCK, of Clonbrock, County Galway.

His lordship married, in 1776, Letitia, only daughter and heir of John Greene, of Old Abbey, County Limerick, and niece, maternally, of John, Earl of Norbury, and had issue,
LUKE, his successor;
Catherine Bridget; Letitia Susannah.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

LUKE, 2nd Baron (1780-1826), who wedded, in 1803, Anastasia, only daughter and heir of Joseph Henry, 1st Baron Wallscourt, by the Lady Louisa Catherine Bermingham, his wife, third daughter and co-heir of Thomas, Earl of Louth, and had issue,
ROBERT, his successor;
Louisa Harriet; Letitia.
The only son,

ROBERT, 3rd Baron (1807-93), espoused, in 1830, Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of Francis, 1st Baron Churchill, and had issue,
Luke Almeric, died in infancy;
LUKE GERALD, his successor;
Fanny Letitia; Caroline Anastasia.
His lordship was succeeded by his surviving son,

LUKE GERALD, 4th Baron (1834-1917), KP PC, who married, in 1866, Augusta Caroline, daughter of Edward, 2nd Baron Crofton, and had issue,
ROBERT EDWARD, his successor;
Georgiana Caroline; Edith Augusta; Ethel Louisa.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

ROBERT EDWARD, 5th Baron (1869-1926), who died unmarried, when the title expired.

CLONBROCK HOUSE, Ahascragh, County Galway, was built between 1780-88 by Robert Dillon, later 1st Baron Clonbrock.

It comprised three storeys over a basement, and replaced a an older castle which was burnt in 1807 owing to a bonfire lit to celebrate the birth of his lordship's son and heir, the 2nd Baron.

Clonbrock had a seven-bay entrance front with a three-bay, pedimented breakfront.

A single-storey Doric portico was added about 1824.

In 1855, the 3rd Baron added a single-storey, two-bay bow-ended wing to the right of the entrance front.

Following the death of the bachelor 5th Baron in 1926, Clonbrock passed to his sister, the Hon Ethel Louisa Dillon.

It was subsequently bequeathed to her nephew, Mr Luke Dillon-Mahon, who sold it in 1976.

Clonbrock suffered a catastrophic fire in 1984 and is now ruinous.

First published in March, 2014.  Clonbrock arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

1st Duke of Sutherland


Many antiquaries coincide in attaching a long and distinguished line of ancestors to this family, and in giving it an Anglo-Saxon origin.

They differ, however, as to the identity of its founder, some tracing that honour to Sir Allan Gower, Lord of Sittenham, in Yorkshire, and high sheriff of that county at the time of the Conquest; while others name William Fitz-Guyer, of Sittenham, who was charged with a mark for his lands in the sheriff's accounts, in 1167.

In more than a century afterwards, towards the close of the 13th century, we find

SIR JOHN GOWER, one of the persons of note summoned to be at Carlisle, with horse and arms, on the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, to march against the Scots; and again, in the following year, the same personage is summoned, for a like purpose, to proceed to Berwick.

After Sir John comes 

LAWRENCE GOWER, who obtained the King's pardon in the reign of EDWARD II for having been concerned with the Earl of Lancaster in the murder of Piers Gaveston (1st Earl of Cornwall), at Blacklow Hill, in 1312.

This Lawrence was succeeded by

SIR NICHOLAS GOWER, who was returned one of the knights of the shire, in Yorkshire, during the reign of EDWARD III, to a great council summoned by Edward the Black Prince, then guardian of the realm, and held at Northampton; for which service, being in attendance fourteen days, he received the sum of £5 and 12s.

Twelve years later, we find Sir Nicholas obtaining the King's permission to go to Rome, with six valets and seven horses in his retinue; and in 1351 he was commissioned to investigate some outrage committed upon Hugh, Archbishop of Damascus, at Newstead, near Boland.

From Sir Nicholas we pass to his grandson,

SIR JOHN GOWER, who was standard-bearer to Prince Edward, son of HENRY VI, and having been made prisoner at the battle of Tewkesbury, in 1471, was there beheaded.

This gallant but unfortunate soldier had married Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Goldsborough, one of the Barons of the Exchequer in the reign of HENRY VII, and left, with other children, his successor,

SIR EDWARD GOWER,  who was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS GOWER, who was captain of a band of light horsemen in the army which invaded Scotland, under the Duke of Somerset, in 1547, and Master of the Ordnance in the expedition against the same kingdom in 1560.

His successor,

SIR EDWARD GOWER, was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS GOWER, whose son,

SIR THOMAS GOWER, Knight, of Sittenham, Yorkshire, was created a baronet, in 1620. He wedded Anne, daughter and co-heiress of John Doyley, of Merton, Oxfordshire, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS GOWER (1605-72), 2nd Baronet, twice sheriff of Yorkshire, who remained firm in his allegiance to CHARLES I, and was ultimately a considerable sufferer.

He was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR THOMAS GOWER, 3rd Baronet, a colonel of foot, who died in the camp at Dundalk in 1689; and never being married, the title reverted to his uncle,

SIR WILLIAM LEVESON-GOWER, 4th Baronet, who, by the adoption of his uncle, Sir Richard Leveson KB, of Trentham, in Staffordshire, inherited the entire of that gentleman's extensive estates.

Sir William was one of the Duke of Monmouth's bail in 1683, and represented Newcastle-under-Lyme in the four parliaments of CHARLES II.

He espoused Lady Jane Granville, eldest daughter of John, Earl of Bath; and was succeeded in 1691 by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN LEVESON-GOWER (1675-1709), 5th Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage as Baron Gower, in 1703.

His lordship married Lady Catherine Manners, daughter of John, 1st Duke of Rutland. He died at Belvoir Castle in 1709, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN (1694-1754), 2nd Baron. This nobleman was constituted Lord Privy Seal and sworn of the Privy Council in 1742; and subsequently, having been twice one of the Lords Justices during the King's absence from the realm, was created, in 1746, Viscount Trentham and EARL GOWER.

His lordship wedded thrice and had a numerous family.

His eldest son,

GRANVILLE (1721-1803), 2nd Earl, who married thrice.

His lordship, when Lord Trentham, was unanimously returned to parliament for the City of Westminster in 1747; but vacated his seat two years later, in consequence of being appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty.

He filled the high offices of Lord Privy Seal, Lord Chamberlain, and Lord President of the Council.

His lordship was installed a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter; and created MARQUESS OF STAFFORD, in 1786.

He died in 1803, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE (1758-1833), 2nd Marquess, KG, PC, who, during the lifetime of his father, had been summoned to parliament as Baron Gower (a courtesy title).

His lordship, who was a Knight of the Garter and a privy counsellor, was created DUKE OF SUTHERLAND in 1833.

He espoused, in 1785, Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland and Baroness Strathnaver in her own right.
  • George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Earl Gower (1850-58), died in childhood;
Other titles (6th Duke onwards): Earl of Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley, of Brackley in the county of Northamptonshire (1846)
  • Heir apparent: James Egerton, styled Marquess of Stafford, eldest son of the 7th Duke. He has three daughters.

DUNROBIN CASTLE, near Golspie, Sutherland, has been the ancestral seat of the Dukes and Earls of Sutherland.

It was originally a fortified, square keep, with walls six feet thick and a vaulted ceiling, looking out from a cliff-top position.

The keep stood isolated for some two centuries until a staircase and a high house were added.

It was encased by a series of additions from the 16th century onwards.

In 1785, a large extension was constructed. Remarkably this early keep still survives, much altered, within the complex of these later extensions, making Dunrobin one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland.

Sir Charles Barry was retained in 1845 to completely re-model the castle, to change it from a fort to a house in the Scottish-Baronial style that had become popular among the nobility, who were inspired by Queen Victoria's new residence at Balmoral.

There is very much a French influence with conical spires to the whole project, including the gardens, based on Versailles, which he laid out in the 1850s.

Much of Barry's interior was destroyed by a fire in 1915 and the interior today is mainly the work of Scottish architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, who altered the top of the main tower and clock tower at the north side of the building to the Scottish-Renaissance style.

Following the death of the 5th Duke in 1963, the earldom and dukedom were separated.

The Dukedom passed on through the male line; whilst the present Countess of Sutherland inherited the Earldom.

The Castle became a boys’ boarding school for a period of seven years from the late 1960s before reverting back to being a family house.

Trentham Hall

TRENTHAM HALL, Staffordshire, was a seat of the Dukes of Sutherland.

In 1803, when the 1st Marquess of Stafford died, his son succeeded to the family estates, including Trentham, and married Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland.

Thus Trentham was acquired by the future Dukes of Sutherland.

Trentham Hall, it has been said, was the principal residence of the Most Noble George Granville [Leveson-Gower], Duke of Sutherland, Marquess of Stafford, Earl Gower, Viscount Trentham, and Hereditary Sheriff of Sutherland, who owned 12,744 acres of land in Staffordshire.

It was an elegant mansion, situated near the village in a park of 500 acres.

It has been entirely rebuilt during the last 14 years, and now has an elegant stone front and a lofty square tower.

The remodelling was also the work of Sir Charles Barry.

The Hall was one of many to be demolished in the 20th century, when in 1912 its owner, the 4th Duke of Sutherland, razed it after his offer to give it to the people of Stoke-on-Trent was rejected.

However, the gardens and the ornamental park with its lake and the estate woodlands have all been preserved.

There have been tentative proposals to rebuild Trentham Hall as a five star hotel.

However, in 2013, the developer St Modwen stated that the cost of refurbishing what remains of the buildings into a conference centre and an hotel was too much, at £35 million.

First published in February, 2014.

Friday, 18 March 2016

New DL


Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, has been pleased to appoint the following to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, her Commission bearing the date the 14th day of March 2016:

Mrs Michele MARKEN OBE, Belfast

Signed: Gary Smyth MBE, Clerk of the Lieutenancy

Thursday, 17 March 2016

5th Duke's Portrait

A fine portrait of Northern Ireland's premier peer, James, 5th Duke of Abercorn KG, in uniform as Regimental Colonel of the Irish Guards.

The Duke was a serving officer in the Grenadier Guards in 1952 and lately Lord Steward of the Household.

His Grace is a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the most senior Order of chivalry in the personal gift of the Sovereign.

He wears the sash and star of the Order.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge is now Colonel of the regiment. 

First published May, 2008.

Ballyquintin Point

Mount Stewart

I arose from the heavenly slumber (!) at about 7am yesterday morning, breakfasted on muesli, assembled my gear, packed-lunch, and motored out of town.

Bypassing Dundonald and Newtownards (my place of birth, incidentally), I motored in a southerly direction along the Ards Peninsula to the former schoolhouse of Mount Stewart estate, now a property of the National Trust.

We drove the entire length of the peninsula, past Kircubbin and Rubane; Cloghy and Quintin Castle; to our ultimate destination, Ballyquintin Point.

Mount Stewart Estate

Ballyquintin is a 64 acre farm set amid rolling drumlin countryside at the southern tip of the Ards Peninsula, beside Ballyquintin National Nature Reserve.

The property is located in one of the most secluded parts of Northern Ireland and is great for walking with spectacular views across the Strangford Narrows to the Isle of Man, and of the Lecale coast stretching south towards the Mourne Mountains.

A path, suitable for wheelchair use leads to an old 2nd World War lookout tower.

The land is let for farming and is managed to provide habitats suitable for the Irish Hare and a number of species of bird that are declining nationally.

An increase in the quality and quantity of the hedgerows is particularly important towards achieving this aim.

There were about eight of us today; and I spent the day digging a shallow trench for a plastic water pipe.

The pipe is conspicuously blue in colour and leads to a water-trough in a large field.

We had our lunch in a sort of barn or byre. Although it was mainly sunny and the sky was blue, this part of the peninsula is particularly exposed to the elements; and there was a chilly breeze.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

1st Earl of Breadalbane and Holland


This ancient family claims a common ancestor with the ducal house of ARGYLL, namely,

SIR DUNCAN CAMPBELL, of Lochawe, who was created Lord Campbell, of Argyll, by JAMES II of Scotland, in 1445.

His lordship wedded Lady Marjorie Stewart, daughter of Robert, Duke of Albany, and granddaughter of ROBERT II of Scotland, by whom he left two sons,

ARCHIBALD, his successor, from whom the house of ARGYLL derives; and

SIR COLIN CAMBELL, upon whom his father settled the estate of Glenorchy, which had come into the Campbell family in the time of DAVID II of Scotland, by the marriage of Margaret Glenorchy with John Campbell.
"Sir Colin" says Douglas, "was a man of high renown for military prowess, and for the virtues of social and domestic life. He was a stream of many tides against the foes of his people, but like the gale that moves the heath to those who sought his aid."
He married firstly, Mary, daughter of the Earl of Lennox, but by her had no issue.
He married secondly, Margaret, 2nd daughter and co-heir of John, Lord Lorne, with whom he got a third of that lordship, which still remains in the family, and Sir Colin quartered henceforward the GALLEY OF LORNE, with his paternal achievement.
By this marriage, his only son,

SIR DUNCAN CAMPBELL, who, in his father's lifetime, was designated of Glenorchy, by charter, dated 1480. The great-grandson of this gentleman,

being in high favour with JAMES VI, was made, by that monarch, in 1617, heritable keeper of the forests of Mamlorn, Bendaskerlie etc, with many valuable privileges; and created, in 1625, a baronet, and High Sheriff of Perthshire, for life.
Sir Duncan married twice, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1631, by the eldest son of his first wife, Jean, daughter of John, Earl of Atholl, Lord Chancellor of Scotland,

SIR COLIN CAMPBELL, 2nd Baronet, who died without issue in 1640, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ROBERT CAMPBELL, 3rd Baronet, whose eldest son,

SIR JOHN CAMPBELL (1635-1717), 4th Baronet,
being the chief creditor of George, 6th Earl of Caithness, obtained a disposition from that nobleman of his whole estate and earldom, with the hereditary jurisdictions and titles; and upon the demise of his lordship, in 1676, was created, by patent dated 1677, Earl of Caithness; but in a few years afterwards, that dignity being allowed by parliament to be vested in George Sinclair (who became, in consequence, 7th Earl of Caithness), Sir John Campbell obtained a new patent of nobility, dated 1681.

His lordship wedded firstly, Mary, daughter of Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland (which earl was beheaded in 1649), by whom he had two sons.

He married secondly, Mary, Dowager Countess of Caithness, 3rd daughter of Archibald, Marquess of Argyll; but by her had no surviving issue.

This nobleman married a third time, and had a daughter, Mary, who wedded Sir Archibald Cockburn of Langton Bt.
The 1st Earl is described, by John Macky, as having the gravity of a Spaniard, the cunning of a fox, the wisdom of a serpent, and the slipperiness of an eel.
His lordship died in 1716, and passing over his eldest son, Duncan Lord Ormelie, was succeeded by his 2nd son,

JOHN, 2nd Earl.
  • John Campbell, 3rd Earl (1692–1782)
    • Hon Henry Campbell (c. 1721-27)
    • Hon George Campbell (d 1744)
    • John Campbell, Lord Glenorchy (1738–71)

Marquesses of Breadalbane; First creation (1831)

Earls of Breadalbane and Holland (1681; Reverted)

  • John Alexander Gavin Campbell, 6th Earl (1824–71)
  • Gavin Campbell, 7th Earl (1851–1922) (created Marquess of Breadalbane in 1885).

Marquesses of Breadalbane; Second creation (1885)

Earls of Breadalbane and Holland (1681; Reverted)

  • Iain Edward Herbert Campbell, 8th Earl (1885–1923)
  • John Romer Boreland Campbell, 10th and last Earl (1919–95).

TAYMOUTH CASTLE, Perthshire, was the main seat of the Earls of Breadalbane and Holland until 1922.

Built in the neo-Gothic style on a lavish scale, no expense was spared on the castle's interior, which was decorated with extravagant sumptuousness incorporating carvings, plasterwork and murals.

Panels of medieval stained glass and Renaissance woodwork were incorporated into the scheme.

Much of this decor survives, though the castle has lost most of its original rich furnishings.

It has been empty since 1979, although plans have been put forward for its redevelopment as a luxury hotel.

In 1720, the 2nd Earl commissioned William Adam to remodel the house and lay out extensive formal gardens.

The 2nd Earl's son oversaw further changes in the 1750s, and by the 1780s the formal gardens had been replaced with a picturesque landscape.

The 4th Earl called upon Robert Mylne to prepare plans for a new "chateau" in 1789, though they were not carried out.

Ten years later the main block of the old house was demolished, to be replaced from 1806 by a Gothic building to the designs of the brothers James and Archibald Elliot.

The English-Italian Francis Bernasconi carried out the ornate plasterwork of the staircase and drawing rooms between 1809-12.

In 1818, the old east wing was pulled down and replaced by a two-storey wing designed by William Atkinson.

The 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane completed the improvements from 1838, by the remodelling of William Adam's west wing, which was enlarged and refaced to match the main block.

This time the architect was James Gillespie Graham, with interiors designed by A. W. N. Pugin.

The works were complete by 1842, in time for the first visit to Scotland of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, when they stayed at Taymouth for three days.

On the death of the 2nd Marquess, Taymouth passed to a distant cousin, along with the earldom of Breadalbane. The marquessate was re-created for his son Gavin Campbell in 1885.

The family estates were much reduced during his tenure, and on his death in 1922 Taymouth Castle was sold.

It was converted into a hotel, opening in 1929, with an 18-hole golf course designed by James Braid in the grounds.

It was used as a hospital for Polish troops during the 2nd World War; and between 1950-68 it housed the Civil Defence Corps training school for Scotland.

Taymouth was subsequently used by a boarding school for American children.

This closed in 1979 and the building has since lain empty, though the golf course has continued to be operated separately.

In 2004, it was reported that plans to redevelop the castle as a "six-star" hotel had been approved by Perth and Kinross Council.

By 2006, the buildings was weathertight, but work stopped in late 2006, and in 2009 the company restoring Taymouth Castle was declared insolvent.

Following the purchase of the estate by Meteor Asset Management, work re-commenced late in 2010 and, despite financial problems, the restoration was continuing in 2012.

First published in January, 2014.   Breadalbane arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Monday, 14 March 2016

1st Baron Kingsale







The family of COURCY claims alliance with most of the royal houses of Europe, paternally through the Dukes of Lorraine, and maternally through the ducal house of Normandy.

LOUIS IV, King of France, born in 920, wedded, in 939, Gerberga of Saxony, daughter of HENRY THE FOWLER, King of Germany, by whom he had two sons, Lothair, who succeeded to the French throne (and with whose son, LOUIS V, the race of monarchs descended from Charlemagne ceased), and

CHARLES, Duke of Lower Lorraine; whose immediate descendant,

ROBERT DE COURCY, Lord of Courcy in Normandy, in 1026, was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD DE COURCY, who accompanied his sovereign WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, into England, and distinguishing himself at the battle of Hastings, participated largely in the Conqueror's spoil, having been allotted numerous lordships; amongst which was that of Stoke, in Somerset, and thence denominated Stoke Courcy (Stogursey).

His lordship died in 1098, and was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT, as 2nd Baron of Stoke Courcy, who founded the nunnery of Cannington, Somerset.

This nobleman was steward of the household to HENRY I, and to his daughter, EMPRESS MATILDA; by the former of whom he was appointed one of the greater barons of Westminster.

His lordship espoused Rohais, daughter of Hugh de Grandmesnil, Lord of Hinckley, Leicestershire, and Lord High Steward of England, by whom he had five sons, and was succeeded by the eldest,

WILLIAM, 3rd Baron of Stoke Courcy, and royal steward to HENRY I.

This nobleman, having no issue, was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT, 4th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who, during the reign of KING STEPHEN, had a principal command at the battle of Northampton against the Scots.

This feudal lord wedded Avice, daughter and co-heir of William Meschin, and was succeeded by an only son,

ROBERT, 5th Baron, father of

WILLIAM, 6th Baron of Stoke Courcy, and royal steward to HENRY II; who died in 1171, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN DE COURCY (1150-1219), 7th Baron of Stoke Courcy, who having distinguished himself during the reign of HENRY II, in that monarch's wars in England and Gascony, was sent into Ireland, in 1177, as an assistant to William FitzAdelm in the government of that kingdom.

Sir John having prevailed upon some of the veteran soldiers to accompany him, invaded the province of Ulster, with twenty-two knights, fifty esquires, and about three hundred foot-soldiers, and, after many hard-fought battles, succeeded in attaching Ulster to the English monarchy.

By many prosperous battles fought with great risk to his life, he subdued Ulster to the obedience of HENRY II.

He stretched the bounds of the English Pale as far as Dunluce, in the most northern parts of the province, which he endeavoured to secure by building castles and fortresses in convenient places.

Sir John established Inch Abbey, near Downpatrick, County Down, in 1177.

For this important service Sir John was formally created, in 1181 (being the first Englishman dignified with an Irish title of honour) EARL OF ULSTER, and Lord of Connaught; with a grant by patent to him and his heirs, that they should enjoy all the land in Ireland he could gain by his sword, together with the donation of bishoprics and abbeys; reserving from him only homage and fealty.

In 1182, he was constituted sole governor of Ireland.

By his reputation and conduct he brought the whole kingdom in one year into such regularity and order that " a man with a wand, having treasure about him, might travel along the country with safety."

His lordship continued in high favour during the remainder of the reign of his royal master, and performed prodigies of valour in Ireland.

This splendour and rank having excited the envy of Hugh de Lacy, appointed Viceroy of Ireland by KING JOHN, Sir John, the Earl of Ulster, was seized while performing penance unarmed and barefooted in the churchyard at Downpatrick, County Down, on Good Friday, 1204.

He was sent over to England, where he was condemned to life imprisonment in the Tower of London.

KING JOHN granted to de Lacy all of Sir John's possessions in Ireland, and, in 1205, created him EARL OF ULSTER.

After Sir John had been in confinement about a year, a dispute happening to arise between KING JOHN and PHILIP II of France, concerning the Duchy of Normandy, the decision of which being referred to single combat, KING JOHN, more hasty than advised, appointed the day, against which the King of France provided his champion;

but the King of England, less fortunate, could find no one of his subjects willing to take up the gauntlet, until his captive in the Tower, Sir John de Courcy, was prevailed upon to accept the challenge.

However, when everything was prepared for the contest, and the champions had entered the lists, in the presence of the monarchs of England, France, and Spain, the opponent of the Sir John, seized with a sudden panic, put spurs on his horse and fled the arena; whereupon the victory was adjudged with acclamation to the champion of England.

The French king being informed, however, of Sir John's powerful strength, and wishing to witness some exhibition of it, his lordship, at the desire of KING JOHN, a sturdy helmet was laid on a block of wood, which Sir John cleft asunder, and with the same blow struck so deep into the wood, that no person present except himself could withdraw his sword.

The King was so well satisfied that this signal performance, that he not only restored Sir John to his estates and effects, but desired him to ask anything within his gift, and it should be granted.

His Majesty would now have restored his earldom, which was held back by Hugh de Lacy, who refused to surrender it.

KING JOHN could only accede to Sir John de Courcy the permission to repair to Ireland to re-conquer it for himself; at the same time granting to him and his male heirs the privilege of appearing covered before the Kings of England.

To which Sir John replied, that having estates and titles enough, he desired that his successors might have the privilege to remain covered in the presence of His Majesty, and all future kings of England, which request was immediately conceded.

Contrary winds prevented his succeeding in several attempts to cross the Irish Sea.

Sir John de Courcy died in France in 1219, and was succeeded by his only son,

MILES DE COURCY (c1286-c1344), who, being unable to recover his father's earldom, was created, ca 1340, BARON KINGSALE, in Ireland, as a compensation for the earldom of Ulster, which was retained by Hugh de Lacy.

His lordship was thereafter obliged to reside in Ireland, and neglected to claim the English barony of Stoke Courcy.

For three centuries afterwards the honours descended uninterruptedly to,

JOHN, 13th Baron, died in 1628, leaving four sons,
GERALD, his heir;
Edmond, dsp;
David, grandfather of
JOHN, 25th Baron.
The eldest son,

GERALD, 14th Baron, died without male issue, about 1642, leaving a daughter, MARY, who wedded firstly, John Galway, of Kinsale; and secondly, Donogh O'Driscoll.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

PATRICK, 15th Baron, who died about 1663, leaving four sons and three daughters, viz.
JOHN, his successor;
Edmund, dsp;
Miles, father of GERALD, 24th Baron;
Gerald, dsp;
Alice; Elizabeth; Margaret.
The eldest son,

JOHN, 16th Baron, died in 1667, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK, 17th Baron (c1660-69); who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

ALMERICUS, 18th Baron (c1664-1720); outlawed, 1691, for his adhesion to the fortunes of King JAMES II; but the oulawry was very soon removed, and his lordship took his seat in the Irish parliament in 1692.

This nobleman, in observance of the ancient privilege of his house, appeared in the presence of WILLIAM III covered, and explained to that monarch, when His Majesty expressed surprise at the circumstance, the reason thus:
Sire, my name is Courcy; I am Lord of Kingsale in Your Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland; and the reason of my appearing covered in Your Majesty's presence is, to assert the ancient privilege of my family, granted to Sir John de Courcy, Earl of Ulster, and his heirs, by JOHN, King of England.
The King acknowledged the privilege, and giving Lord Kingsale his hand to kiss, his lordship paid his obeisance and continued covered.

He died without issue, when the title reverted to his first cousin,

GERALD, 19th Baron (1700-59), grandson of Patrick, the 20th Baron; who, upon being presented to GEORGE I, in 1720, had the honour of kissing His Majesty's hand, and asserting his ancient privilege.

His lordship espoused Margaretta, only daughter and heir of John Essington, of Ashlyns, Hertfordshire, and had issue,
Elizabeth Geraldine;
Eleanor Elizabeth.
His lordship thus leaving no male issue, the Barony devolved upon his second cousin,

JOHN, 20th Baron (c1717-76), who married, in 1746, Martha, daughter of the Rev William Heron, of Dorchester, Dorset, by whom he had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Michael, Admiral in the Royal Navy;
Gerald (Rev);
Mary; Martha; Elizabeth; Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 21st Baron, who wedded, in 1763, Susan, daughter of Conway Blennerhasset, of Castle Conway, County Kerry, by whom he had issue,
John, died 1813;
THOMAS (Rev), his successor;
Michael, Captain RN;
Martha; Elizabeth; Anne Geraldine; Mary.
His lordship died in 1822, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

THOMAS, 22nd Baron (1774-1832); at whose decease, unmarried, the title devolved upon his nephew,

JOHN STAPLETON, 23rd Baron (1805-47), who wedded, in 1825, Sarah, daughter of Joseph Chadder, and had issue,
JOHN CONSTANTINE, his successor;
Michael Conrad;
Florence Helena; Catherine Adela.
  • John Constantine de Courcy, 24th Baron (1827–65);
  • Michael Conrad de Courcy, 25th Baron (1828–74);
  • John Fitzroy de Courcy, 26th Baron (1821–90);
  • Michael William de Courcy, 27th Baron (1822–95);
  • Michael Constantine de Courcy, 28th Baron (1855–1931);
  • Michael William Robert de Courcy, 29th Baron (1882–1969);
  • Nevinson Mark de Courcy, 31st Baron (b 1958).
 The heir presumptive is the present holder's kinsman, Joseph Kenneth Charles de Courcy (b 1955).

The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son, Patrick Miles Hugh de Courcy (b 1993).

Kingsale arms courtesy of European Heraldry.