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In this landmark book, the author, Simon Green, draws on previously unpublished documents from the extensive archives of the Bute family, who lived in the house from the early 19th century until the death of Lady Bute in 1993.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

THE EARLS OF LISTOWEL WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KERRY, WITH 30,000 ACRES.


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.
NICHOLAS;
JOHN. 
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, 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 was father of

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

RICHARD HARE, of Ennismore (third 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, and had issue,
RICHARD, father of WILLIAM, 2ND EARL;
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

Clonbrock House

THE BARONS CLONBROCK WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY GALWAY, WITH 28,246 ACRES OF LAND

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

THE DUKES OF SUTHERLAND WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN THE COUNTY OF SUTHERLAND, WITH 1,176,343 ACRES

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

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT

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.

Monday, 14 March 2016

1st Baron Kingsale

THE LORD KINGSALE IS PREMIER BARON OF IRELAND

THE EARLY LINEAGE AND ORIGIN OF THIS ANCIENT BARONY IS OBSCURE.

ONE AUTHORITY STATES THAT MILES DE COURCY MAY HAVE BECOME LORD COURCY OF KINSALE ABOUT 1340, THOUGH CONSIDERS IT MORE PROBABLE THAT THE PEERAGE WAS ACQUIRED FIFTY YEARS LATER.

IN 1397, WILLIAM DE COURCY RECEIVED A PATENT AS DOMINUS ET BARO DE COURCY.

THE NUMBERING OF THE BARONS VARIES, SOME SOURCES INCLUDING THE HOLDERS OF THE ANCIENT BARONY, OTHERS COMMENCING WITH THE BARONS CONFIRMED BY LETTERS PATENT.

THE FEUDAL TITLES OF LORD COURCY AND LORD RINGRONE, PROBABLY CREATED IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY, ARE ALSO HELD.

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;
PATRICK;
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,
Mary;
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;
William;
Michael, Admiral in the Royal Navy;
James;
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;
Gerald;
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.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Florence Court: My Irish Home


My dear mother gave me a wonderful hardback book when we were in County Fermanagh in 1979.

It is entitled Florence Court: My Irish Home, and written lovingly by Nancy, Countess of Enniskillen.

The book was published in 1972 by R & S Printers, The Diamond, Monaghan.

Lady Enniskillen wrote:
On the highest level of The Pleasure Grounds, there used to stand a little "summer house". Here on a warm sunny day ideally without wind and wrinkled only by the wings of birds and insects, on such a day at Florence Court, the Cole family would adjourn to drink their tea and enjoy the tonic view of the valley and the mountain.
On Thursday, the 14th August, 2014, this charming little thatched gazebo was burnt to the ground.


The National Trust has, I'm delighted to say, rebuilt it to the original specifications.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mount Bellew House

THE GRATTAN-BELLEW BARONETS OWNED 10,516 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY GALWAY

This family springs from a common ancestor with the BARONS BELLEW, of Barmeath Castle.

Michael Bellew was a descendant of Christopher Bellew, brother of Sir Patrick Bellew, 1st Baronet.

MICHAEL BELLEW, of Mount Bellew, County Galway, married Jane, daughter of Henry Dillon, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER DILLON, his heir;
Mary Catherine. 
Mr Bellew died in 1797, and was succeeded by his son,

CHRISTOPHER DILLON BELLEW (1763-1826), of Mount Bellew, County Galway, who wedded, in 1794, Olivia Emily, only daughter of Anthony, 4th Baron Nugent of Riverston, and had issue,

MICHAEL DILLON BELLEW (1796-1855), of Mount Bellew, who espoused, in 1816, Helena Maria, daughter of Thomas Dillon, of Dublin, and had numerous issue, of whom
CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
Thomas Arthur, father of 3rd Baronet.
Mr Bellew was created a baronet in 1838, denominated of Mount Bellew, County Galway.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE REV SIR CHRISTOPHER BELLEW, 2nd Baronet (1818-67), a Catholic priest, whose brother,

THOMAS ARTHUR BELLEW (1820-63), married, in 1858, Pauline, daughter of the Rt Hon James Grattan MP, and had issue,
HENRY CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
Mary Helena.
Mr Bellew added the name and arms of GRATTAN in 1859.

He was succeeded by his son,

HENRY CHRISTOPHER GRATTAN-BELLEW (1860-1942), of Mount Bellew, who, succeeding his uncle as 3rd Baronet, wedded, in 1885, the Lady Sophia Maria Elizabeth Forbes, daughter of George, 7th Earl of Granard, and had issue,
Herbert Michael, 1886-1906;
CHARLES CHRISTOPHER;
William Arthur;
Thomas Henry;
Arthur John (Sir), Knight, CMG;
Helena Barbara; Moira Jane; Angela Mary.
Sir Henry was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR CHARLES CHRISTOPHER GRATTAN-BELLEW, 4th Baronet (1887-1948), MC, who wedded, in 1923, Maureen Peyton, daughter of Sir Thomas George Segrave, and had issue,
HENRY CHARLES, his successor;
Deirdre Maureen.
Sir Charles, Lieutenant-Colonel, King's Royal Rifle Corps, was succeeded by his son,

SIR HENRY CHARLES GRATTAN-BELLEW, 5th and present Baronet, born in 1933, who married firstly, in 1956, Naomi, daughter of Dr Charles Cyril Morgan; and secondly, in 1967, Gillian Hulley; and thirdly, in 1978, Elzabe Amy, daughter of Henry Gilbert Body.

By his second wife he had issue,
PATRICK CHARLES, b 1971;
Deirdre Sophia, b 1967.
Photo credit: Dr Patrick Melvin & Eamonn de Burca

MOUNT BELLEW HOUSE, Mount Bellew Bridge, County Galway, was a house of mainly late-Georgian style.

It was remodelled ca 1820 by Christopher Dillon Bellew.

Mount Bellew comprised a three-storey centre block, with a single-bay entrance front.

The central block had a Venetian window at the top storey of the centre block.

It boasted a notable library which was said to have held one of the finest collections of books during its era.

Mount Bellew was sold about 1938; and subsequently demolished.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Lookout


There was a very good turnout today for the National Trust Strangford Lough Volunteers.

About a dozen of us met at the Strangford Lough Lookout at the main car-park, Mount Stewart Estate, County Down.

Out task today was to give the exterior of the Lookout a spring-clean, viz. treating the wooden cladding with a stain paint.

We also removed some vegetation from the sea side of the Lookout in order to provide an unrestricted view of the Lough.

At lunch-time, Tomasz gave us Volunteer passes, which are far more beneficial than I thought.

Properties running events permit Volunteers to claim 10% discount; up to 35% off NT Holiday Cottages; up to 30% off at NT Historic House Hotels; discounted RAC membership; 20% off at the NT Online Shop; 15% off at Cotswold Outdoor stores; the NT London Theatre Club.

I have been a volunteer with the National Trust long before the Pass was introduced, though this is a worthy incentive for new volunteers to join us whenever they can, enjoy the camaraderie, and the great sense of satisfaction generated by the work.

I had cheese & onion sandwiches for lunch today, by the way.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Castletown House

THE CONOLLYS OWNED 2,605 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY KILDARE

THE RT HON WILLIAM CONOLLY (1662-1729), of Castletown, Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland during the reign of QUEEN ANNE, First Lord of the Treasury until his decease during the reign of GEORGE II, and ten times sworn one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, espoused, in 1694, Katherine, sister of Henry, 1st Earl Conyngham, by whom he acquired large estates in Ulster.
Speaker Conolly was born in 1662 at Ballyshannon, County Donegal. 
His father, Patrick Conolly, was attainted by JAMES II's Irish Parliament of 1689: otherwise little is known of Patrick Conolly and his wife, Jane, except that they owned an inn or alehouse and must have conformed to the established church at some stage before Conolly's birth. 
Old Irish Christian names like Terence, Phelim and Thady, predominate among his relatives. Conolly appears to have been the oldest of the family, and was early apprenticed to the law in Dublin. 
In 1685, when his sister Jane was only one year old, he was already qualified as an attorney and attached to the Court of Common Pleas.
Speaker Conolly, MP for Donegal, 1692-9, Londonderry, 1703-29, was succeeded by his nephew,

THE RT HON WILLIAM JAMES CONOLLY (1706-54), of Castletown, County Kildare, and Stratton Hall, Staffordshire, who married the Lady Anne Wentworth, eldest daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Strafford, KG, son of Sir Peter Wentworth, and nephew of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford (who was beheaded in the reign of CHARLES I), and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Katherine, m Ralph, Earl of Ross;
Anne, m G Byng; mother of Earl of Strafford;
Harriet, m Rt Hon John Staples, of Lissan;
Frances, m 5th Viscount Howe;
Caroline, m 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire;
Lucy; Jane.
Mr Conolly, MP for Ballyshannon, 1727-54, was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON THOMAS CONOLLY (1738-1803), of Castletown, a member, like his father, of the Privy Council in Ireland, one of the deputation appointed by the Irish Parliament to offer the Regency to the Prince of Wales, on the first indisposition of GEORGE III.

Mr Conolly, MP for County Londonderry, 1761-1800, wedded, in 1758, Lady Louisa Augusta Lennox, daughter of Charles, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Lennox, KG etc, and dsp.

By his will he devised his estates to his widow for life, and at her death, which occurred in 1821, they devolved upon his grand-nephew, EDWARD MICHAEL PAKENHAM, who, assuming his surname and arms of CONOLLY in 1821, became

EDWARD MICHAEL CONOLLY (1786-1849), of Castletown, County Kildare, and Cliff, County Donegal, Lieutenant-Colonel, Donegal Militia, MP for County Donegal, 1831-49, who espoused, in 1819, Catherine Jane, daughter of Chambré Brabazon Ponsonby-Barker, by the Lady Henrietta Taylour his wife, daughter of Thomas, Earl of Bective, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Chambré Brabazon, d 1835;
Frederick William Edward, d 1826;
Arthur Wellesley, 1828-54;
John Augustus,
VC;
Richard, d 1870;
Louisa Augusta; Henrietta; Mary Margaret; Frances Catherine.
Mr Conolly was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS CONOLLY JP DL (1823-76), of Castletown and Cliff, High Sheriff, 1848, MP for County Donegal, 1849-76, who married, in 1868, Sarah Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Shaw, of Temple House, Celbridge, County Kildare, and had issue,
Thomas (1870-1900), killed in action at S Africa;
William, 1872-95;
EDWARD MICHAEL, of whom hereafter;
CATHERINE, Baroness Carew, mother of
6th BARON CAREW.
Mr Conolly was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

EDWARD MICHAEL CONOLLY CMG (1874-1956), of Castletown, Major, Royal Artillery, who died unmarried, when Castletown passed to his nephew,

William Francis (Conolly-Carew), 6th Baron Carew.

The Conolly Papers are held at PRONI.


CASTLETOWN HOUSE, near Celbridge, County Kildare, is not only the largest, though also the earliest Palladian house in Ireland.

It was built in 1722 for the Rt Hon William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish house of commons, who rose from relatively humble origins to become a man of colossal wealth and power.

Speaker Conolly accumulated his massive fortune by dealing in forfeited estates.

He refused to accept a peerage, preferring instead to remain, like his descendants, as plain "Mr Conolly of Castletown".

He desired a residence within easy reach of Dublin, and purchased land near Celbridge, County Kildare, in order to build the grandest, finest Palladian house in Ireland.

Castletown was designed by the Italian architect, Alessandro Galilei and also partly by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce.

It is said that Castletown's design was an influence on that of The White House in Washington DC, USA (built between 1792 and 1800).


The main block comprises three storeys over a basement, with thirteen bays.

The centre block is joined by curved, Ionic colonnades to two-storey, seven-bay wings.

The entrance hall, designed by Pearce, rises to two storeys.

Lady Louisa Conolly (daughter of 2nd Duke of Richmond and sister of Emily, Duchess of Leinster) and her husband, Tom Conolly, employed the Francini brothers to embellish the walls of the staircase hall with rococo stucco-work.

The refurbishment of the house was mostly supervised by Lady Louisa (notably the Print Room, and the magnificent Long Gallery on the first floor).

The Long Gallery

Lady Louisa had the Long Gallery (eighty feet in length and one of the most beautiful rooms in Ireland) decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian style by Thomas Riley in 1776.

The Long Gallery and other principal rooms face the garden front and a two-mile long vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk elevated on arches erected by Speaker Conolly's widow in 1740.

This obelisk stands on ground belonging to the Earls of Kildare (later Dukes of Leinster) at Carton House.

The Conolly Folly
The Print Room was conceived by Lady Louisa in the 1760s, likely with assistance from her close friends, probably as a diversion on rainy days.

The Print Room

The Conolly family continued to own Castletown until 1965.

In 1967, it was purchased by the Hon Desmond Guinness for £93,000 as the GHQ of the Irish Georgian Society.

Thereafter, Castletown was restored, and in 1994 it was transferred to the Irish government's Department of Public works.

Former estates ~ The manors of Castletown and Leixlip, in County Kildare; of Rathfarnham, in County Dublin; of Ballyshannon and Parkhill, in County Donegal; besides estates in County Roscommon and the King's County, all purchased by His Excellency the Rt Hon William Conolly, Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland, and Lord Justice of Ireland.

Former London residence ~ 20 Grosvenor Square.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Connswater Bridge


I ambled across to the Connswater Bridge this afternoon and took a few photographs of developments as part of the Connswater Greenway Project.

What, I wonder, is happening?

The river has been considerably narrowed immediately below the south side of the bridge.

It is culverted for a few hundred yards to the north.


Will this be stylish new terracing? And what are the short cylindrical columns?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Orlock Revisited


The weather has been quite treacherous today.

I arrived at Orlock, County Down, shortly before 9am, where we all assembled for our tasks, viz. burning old branches and foliage; and planting hawthorn saplings.

It was wet, windy, 5c, muddy, you name it. It actually felt colder due to the wind chill.

Nevertheless, we carried on intrepidly; mission accomplished.

Mind you, a modicum of diesel fuel fostered the blazes.

I had a healthy lunch today: banana sandwiches.