Friday, 31 March 2017

Ardress House


THOMAS EDENSOR, of Cumberland and Staffordshire, married Anne, only daughter of Hopwas, of Hopwas, Staffordshire, and was father of two sons, the elder of whom, JOHN, whose grandson, GEORGE ENSOR, born in 1568, was father, by his wife, E Coleman, of JOHN ENSOR, of Wilnecote, Staffordshire, who wedded Henrietta Coleman, and their only son,

GEORGE ENSOR, espoused Jane, daughter of Francis Saunders, of Northamptonshire, and had one son,

EDWARD ENSOR, who married Jane Darcy, and had issue,
James, of Wilnecote;
JOB, of whom hereafter;
The second son,

JOB ENSOR, wedded Mary Hill, by whom he had issue,
John, of Dublin; ancestor of ENSOR OF ROLLESBY HALL;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1724-1803), married, in 1760, Sarah Clarke, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Thomas, b 1777;
Job, b 1778;
Henry, b 1779.
The family seems to have moved to Ireland between George's christening in 1724 and 1729, when Job Ensor was working on the parliament house in Dublin.

George, a younger half-brother of JOHN ENSOR, was baptised at St Michael's church, Coventry, in 1724.

In 1745, he won first prize for designs for a house in one of the Dublin Society competitions sponsored by Dr Samuel Madden.

The previous year he had been appointed clerk of works in the office of the Surveyor-General.

In 1747, he was given the task of inspecting barracks.

His wife, Sarah Clarke, was heiress to the small estate of Ardress, County Armagh; there is, however, no definite evidence of his having come into the property until 1783.

In the interim, he worked as an architect and developer in Dublin and elsewhere.

He was appointed surveyor of the works at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in 1761.

George Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE ENSOR JP (1769-1843), of Ardress, an eminent lawyer and author, who wedded, in 1804, Esther Weld, and had issue,
Henry, b 1806;
George, b 1808;
GEORGE, of whom we treat;
Charles, 1811-75; father of CHARLES;
Elizabeth; Caroline; Matilda; Florence; Alexa; Anna Maria.
The third surviving son,

GEORGE ENSOR (1809-79), of Ardress, died unmarried and the family estate passed to his nephew,

CHARLES ENSOR (1841-97), who espoused, in 1873, Catherine Howard, and had issue,
Robert &
George, twins, b 1880;
Dudley, 1881-1963;
John, b 1882;
Edward, b 1883;
Henry, b 1885;
Francis, b 1886;
Ernest, b 1891;
Elizabeth Catherine; Harriet; Ester; Alexa; May.
Mr Ensor was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES HOWARD ENSOR OBE JP DL (1880-1963), of Ardress, who married, in 1912, Ethel Clare Sinton, and had issue,
CHARLES HOWARD (1916-2002);
David George, GM, DSM (1917-89);
Ethel Alexa; Katie.
Captain Charles Howard Ensor  © National Trust

Charles Howard Ensor, having been a company commander in the Armagh Regiment, Ulster Volunteer Force, for ten months, enlisted into the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers on its formation and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1914.

He went to France with 36th (Ulster) Division in October, 1915, as Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company.

During the attack at Hamel on the 1st July, 1916, he was wounded in the right leg.

He lay in a shell hole for four days (for the last ten hours up to his armpits in water) before being found.

He was evacuated to hospital in England on the 9th July, 1916, where he remained until the 20th October, 1916.

His wounds precluded general service and he served with the 10th (Reserve) Battalion until released from service in 1919.

On the formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary in November, 1921, he was appointed County Commandant for County Armagh and for his work with the USC he was appointed OBE (Civil).

During the 2nd World War he served as the Commandant of the four County Armagh battalions of the Ulster Home Guard in the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Ensor held the post of County Commandant in the Ulster Special Constabulary until he retired in 1952, aged 74.

He died at Rostrevor, County Down on the 29th January, 1963, aged 85, and was buried at Annaghmore Parish Church, County Armagh.

His brother, Captain Ernest Nash Ensor, also served with the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers and with the Chinese Labour Corps.

Colonel Ensor's son, David George Ensor, GM, DSM, earned a Distinguished Service Medal at sea serving as a Lance Sergeant with Third Regiment, Maritime Royal Artillery during the 2nd World War.

He subsequently earned a George Medal tackling armed robbers in Dungannon and Donaghmore, County Tyrone, in 1952.

An auction of the contents of Ardress House in 1959 attracted interested bidders from throughout Ulster and beyond, including Dr McCann, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, who acquired a Welsh dresser for the archiepiscopal palace.

Entrance front

ARDRESS HOUSE, near Portadown, County Armagh, assumed its present appearance after a series of additions between 1790 and 1810, some of which were evidently made by the author George Ensor (1772-1845) soon after he inherited Ardress from his father in 1803.

Two bays of windows were added to each end of the front façade in order to impress - an exercise that involved constructing no less than five dummy windows and a partly false front hut, which allowed the formation of an elegant garden front with curved sweeps at right angles to the main façade.

New wings were added to the north and east sides, the latter containing the dining-room which, curiously, was linked to the drawing-room by a colonnade along the garden front and was later removed, in 1879.

The garden front in 2016

The room was restored in 1961 and now contains some exceptional furniture, most strikingly a heavily carved grotesque Irish Chippendale side-table and a pair of commodes made in 1759 by Pierre Langlois.
Here hangs a fine collection of paintings from Stuart Hall, near Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and now on permanent loan to the National Trust. They include a group of 'Four Seasons' by Theobald Michau, 'The Road to Calvary' by Frans Francken the younger and 'Christ on the Road to Emmaus' signed by J Myts (1645-64).

Ardress was inherited in 1845 by the third George Ensor who died unmarried in 1879.

The property then passed to his nephew Charles Ensor, and later to Charles's son, Captain Charles H Ensor, who sold Ardress to the National Trust in 1960.

In addition to upgrading the house, the National Trust has restored the mainly 18th century farmyard, where visitors can inspect a milking shed, dairy, boiler house, forge and threshing barn.

There is also an interesting display of old farm implements.

On display is the 1799 table made for the speaker of the Irish Parliament upon which GEORGE V signed the Constitution of Northern Ireland on 22nd June, 1921.

First published in March, 2013.

The Killynether Acquisition


PROPERTY: Killynether Woods and Buildings, near Newtownards, County Down

DATE: 1937

EXTENT: 42 acres

DONOR: Miss J H Weir

First published in January, 2015

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Greenmount Manor


JOHN THOMPSON (d 1705), of Muckamore, County Antrim, left issue, with three daughters, as many sons,
William, of Muckamore (d 1754);
SAMUEL, of whom presently;
Mr Thompson's second son,

SAMUEL THOMPSON, of Muckamore, left issue,
Samuel, b 1709;
THOMAS, of whom presently;
George, b 1718;
Mary, b 1705.
The third son,

THOMAS THOMPSON (1713-1802), of Greenmount, in the parish of Muckamore, married, in 1741, Eleanor Kinnear, of Cromore, County Londonderry, and had issue,
Samuel, of Belfast (d 1794);
John Kinnear, of Copenhagan, Denmark, died before 1799;
Skeffington (Rev), 1742-1810;
ROBERT STEWART, of whom hereafter;
Elizabeth; Margaret; Eleanor; Mary; Anne.
The fourth son,

ROBERT STEWART THOMPSON JP (1755-1822), of Greenmount, had issue by his wife, Anne,
Caroline Beckman; Margaret Beckman.
Mr Thompson's descendant,

SAMUEL THOMPSON (-1838), of Muckamore, County Antrim, had issue by his wife, Mary, daughter of John Olphert, a son, 

SAMUEL THOMPSON JP (1825-), of Muckamore, who married, in 1865, Maria Hannah, second daughter of Robert Smyth, of Gaybrook, County Westmeath, and had issue,
John, 1867-80;
ROBERT, 1869-1952;
Richard, b 1870;
Hugh, 1874-90;
Alexander, b 1879;
Henry, b 1881;
Mary Frances; Henrietta; Bessy; Eleanor.

THE LANDS occupied by Greenmount once formed part of Muckamore Abbey, founded by St Colmán Elo in 550 AD. 

The Abbey flourished until the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of HENRY VIII.

The family of Thompson, of Scots-Presbyterian extraction, has been associated with Muckamore since about 1650.

Their descendants lived at Greenmount Manor from the mid-18th century.

The Thompsons were an influential family in the Antrim area, who prospered through their successful textile and bleaching businesses.

The manor house was built ca 1820 by Robert Thompson, to the design of Charles Robert Cockerell, with the balcony added by 1835.

It was described as “a sandstone house, presenting a portico and balcony supported by great Ionic columns”.

Greenmount was acquired in 1835 by the Venerable and Hon James Agar (1781-1866), Archdeacon of Kilmore, through his wife Louisa, youngest daughter of Samuel Thompson, of Greenmount.

On Louisa’s death in 1885, Greenmount passed to Richard Dyott MP, whose mother was a Thompson descendant.

In 1902, Greenmount was purchased by William Taylor Malcolm, a tenant farmer from Stirlingshire.

He delegated the management of the farm to his son John.

In 1910, Mr Malcolm sold Greenmount to the Government for £4,400 (£463,000 in today's money).

After some structural alterations to the house, the first term opened in 1912, with 11 students.

The current sandstone house consists of a portico and balcony supported by six great ionic columns.

The present house replaced a previous villa within the demesne.

Extensions were added after Greenmount changed from being a gentleman’s demesne to being an agricultural college in 1912.

The basalt part of the building was added along with the Principal's House (now the lodge) in 1925.

Another extension was added in the 1950s around the time the main student residences were being constructed.

The demesne records show that in 1809 Greenmount was a fine gentleman’s demesne.

There was a landscape in the style of Capability Brown.

A piece then written in 1838 sizes the Greenmount demesne as “about 160 acres, 39 of which were laid out in ornamental grounds and plantings”.

The following extract from Sketch of a Ramble to Antrim, which was published in the Belfast Monthly Magazine of July, 1809, paints a lovely picture of Greenmount in its heyday:-

We crossed the fields to Greenmount, the elegant seat of Robert Thompson Esquire, about one mile from Antrim. This beautiful villa stands on rising ground and is completely furnished in the modern taste.

The demesne is planted with a great number of trees and shrubs laid out into some very pleasing walks. At the rear of the building are two small lakes, well stocked with fish. On them also some swans.

On the verge of one of the fore-mentioned lakes, in a shrubbery is a hermitage build with romantic simplicity and opposite is a small island joined to the mainland by a stonework arch.

Indeed I believe few places in this country surpass in beauty the charming villa at Greenmount.

The stone arch situated at the top end of the Arch Pond, which is about 200 years old, is cleverly constructed from selected stones that press together, holding the arch in place.

This unusual landscape feature once connected an island to the shore in what was then a pond the size of the adjacent car park.

The summer-house, now ruinous, was built about 200 years ago.

This summer-house would have looked out over Lough Neigh and the Antrim Town area and the meandering river Six Mile Water.

The Ice house (above) at Greenmount was built around 1820 by the Thompson family and the family crest can be seen above the entrance. 

The Walled Garden at Greenmount College was built in 1801 and has remained in horticultural use until the present day.

Changes in use over the years, and the presence of obsolete or inappropriate features, had by 1996 left a layout which did not do justice to the Walled Garden’s heritage or its potential.

At this stage proposals were put forward to redevelop the site as a resource which would make the best use of the garden’s unique history and aesthetic.

The dramatic formal garden you see today is a result of that vision.

The old farmyard appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1837.

It is built in basalt as a square building enclosing a square courtyard.

Today it houses the main farm office.

The surrounding farmyard has substantially outgrown the courtyard.

In the centre of the building on the roof is an old bell tower.

A branch of the Thompsons lived at Muckamore House. I'm interested in obtaining images.

First published in August, 2011.

1974: Barristers

My old street directory has a section entitled Barristers-at-Law.

This selective list includes judges.

  • R Appleton QC, 12 Waterloo Park South, Belfast
  • R D Carswell QC, 40 Massey Avenue, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge Conaghan, 17 Beechlands, Belfast
  • The Rt Hon Lord Justice Curran, 19 Deramore Park, Belfast
  • The Rt Hon Lord Justice Gibson, 13 Broomhill Park, Belfast
  • F P Girvan, 11 Waterloo Park, Belfast
  • A R Hart, 94 Old Holywood Road, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge Higgins, 2 Waterloo Park, Belfast
  • J B E Hutton, 9 North Circular Road, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge Johnson, 69 Somerton Road, Belfast
  • The Rt Hon Lord Justice Jones, 10 Kincora Avenue, Belfast
  • Brian F Kerr, 23 Ailesbury Road, Belfast
  • C M Lavery QC, 120 Harberton Park, Belfast
  • R L McCartney QC, 35 Malone Park, Belfast
  • L P McCollum, 24 Adelaide Park, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge McGonigal, 16 Hawthornden Road, Belfast
  • Wm B McIvor QC MP, 2 Cherryvalley Park, Belfast
  • John McKee, 40 Malone Heights, Belfast
  • J D McSparran QC, 10 Malone Park, Belfast
  • The Rt Hon Lord Justice McVeigh, 12 Annadale Avenue, Belfast
  • The Hon Mr Justice O'Donnell, 155 Glen Road, Falls, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge Sir Robert Porter PC QC, 86 Marlborough Park North, Belfast
  • J K Pringle, 10 Harberton Avenue, Belfast
  • His Honour Judge Watt, 12 Deramore Drive, Belfast
I wonder if any of them are still practising?

First published in May, 2010.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Garryhinch House


This branch of the family is stated to be of Norman descent, springing from Warburton of Arley, Cheshire.

RICHARD WARBURTON, of Dublin, living there in 1622, left three sons and a daughter, viz.
RICHARD, his heir;
George, of Aughrim, MP;
The eldest son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON (1636-1717), was a junior Clerk of the Council, Ireland, 1654, and afterwards Clerk-Assistant to the Irish House of Commons.

He was styled of Garryhinch in 1662, and was MP for Ballyshannon, 1695-1711 and 1703-13, and High Sheriff of Queen's County, 1701.

Mr Warburton wedded, in 1656, Judith, daughter of William Sandes, of Dublin.

He died in 1717, having had (with five daughters) an only son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON (1664-1715), of Garryhinch, MP for Portarlington, 1692-1715, who married, in 1695, Elizabeth, daughter of John Pigott, and had issue,
RICHARD, of Garryhinch (1696-1711);
JOHN, died unmarried;
GEORGE, of whom presently;
PETER, devisee of his brother Richard;
Gertrude; Judith; Jane.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his third son,

GEORGE WARBURTON, of Dublin, who espoused Jane, daughter of Richard Le Hunte, of Artramont, County Wexford, and was father of

JOHN WARBURTON, of Garryhinch, MP for Queen's county, 1779-94, High Sheriff, 1786.

This gentleman was heir to his uncle Peter.

He served in early life as a military officer, and was at the taking of Quebec, under General Wolfe.

Mr Warburton married Martha, daughter of Bowes Benson, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Colonel Warbuton died in 1806, and was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1778-1853), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff, 1801, who wedded, in 1800, Anne, daughter of Thomas Kemmis, of Dublin, and had issue,
John, of Garryhinch, dsp 1839;
RICHARD, his successor;
William (Very Rev), Dean of Elphin;
Anne; Martha; Susan; Mary.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his second son,

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1804-62), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff of King's County, 1845, and of Queen's County, 1849, who married, in 1844, Mary Ellinor, daughter and heir of Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, of Millbrook, King's County, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Hugh Dutton;
Catherine Janette; Ellinor Mary Anne; Jessie Isabelle;
Frances Sophia; Ada Blanche; Maude Alyne.
Mr Warburton was succeeded by his eldest son, 

RICHARD WARBURTON JP DL (1846-1921), of Garryhinch, High Sheriff, 1869 and 1872, who wedded, in 1867, Georgina Wilhelmina Henrietta, daughter of William Henry Hutchinson, of Rockforest, County Tipperary, and had issue,
Jessie Georgina Hutchinson; Mary Anne.

GARRYHINCH HOUSE, near Portarlington, was a house of early to mid-18th century appearance.

It comprised three storeys with a three-bay centre recessed between two projecting one-bay wings.

The doorway was pointed; a two-storey, three-bay range was at one side, set back.

The former demesne is now a beautiful picturesque woodland for walking and was formerly part of the Warburton estate until it was sold in 1936.

There are a number of specimen trees (remnants of ornamental plantings which adorned the big house) in the forest including monkey puzzle and lime.

The house was accidentally burnt in 1913 and later demolished for safety reasons.

Ruinous outbuildings can still be seen in the forest.

There is an old, three-arched bridge crossing the Barrow.

The forest is surrounded mainly by farmland.

Portarlington Golf Club, which has written a good history of Garryhinch and its association with the Warburtons, lies to the north-east of Garryhinch.

First published in March, 2013.  Photo credits: Liam O'Malley. 

Ulster Peers' London Homes

Few hereditary peers whose ancestral seats are in Northern Ireland maintain London homes nowadays.

A hundred years ago, though, the position was different.

I have compiled a list of peers with Ulster connections and their London addresses in 1911 and, in a few cases, 1860:-

The Duke of Abercorn: pre-1869, Chesterfield House, South Audley Street; from 1869-1915, Hampden House, Green Street; 68 Mount Street, Park Lane, 1939.

The Marquess of Downshire: Downshire House, 24 Belgrave Square (1860), later the town residence of Lord Pirrie.

The Marquess of Donegall: 22 Grosvenor Square (1860).

The Marquess of Londonderry: Londonderry House, Park Lane.

The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava: 75 Cadogan Square.

The Earl of Roden: No address found other than Tollymore Park, Bryansford, co Down.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: 36 Draycott Place.

The Earl of Antrim: No address other than The Castle, Glenarm, Co Antrim.

The Earl Annesley: 25 Norfolk Street, Park Lane (1860).

The Earl of Enniskillen: No address other than Florence Court, Co Fermanagh.

The Earl of Erne: 21 Knightsbridge.

The Earl of Belmore: 56 Eaton Place (1860).

The Earl Castle Stewart: No Address other than Stuart Hall, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone.

The Earl of Caledon: No Address other than the Castle, Caledon, Co Tyrone; Derg Lodge, Co Tyrone; Tyttenhanger, St Albans, Hertfordshire.

The Earl of Gosford: 22 Mansfield Street.

The Earl of Kilmorey: 5 Aldford Street, Park Lane.

The Earl of Ranfurly: 33 Lennox Gardens.

The Viscount Charlemont: ________

The Viscount Massereene and Ferrard: _________

The Viscount Bangor: _________

The Viscount Brookeborough: __________

The Viscount Craigavon: __________

The Lord de Ros: 22 Wellington Court, Knightsbridge.

The Lord O'Neill: ________

The Lord Dunleath: _________

The Lord Rathcavan: _________

The Lord Glentoran: _________

First published April, 2009.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Florence Court Acquisition


PROPERTY: Florence Court House and Garden

DATE: 1954

EXTENT: 15.53 acres

DONOR: Michael, Viscount Cole


PROPERTY: Land in front of Florence Court House

DATE: 1981

EXTENT: 2.21 acres

DONOR: Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland


PROPERTY: Land at Florence Court and Killymanamly House

DATE: 1985

EXTENT: 121.18 acres

DONOR: 6th Earl of Enniskillen


PROPERTY: Walled Garden, Broad Meadow and Gate Lodges

DATE: 1995

EXTENT: 108.54 acres

DONOR: Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland

First published in January, 2015.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Belfast Steamship Company

Full steam ahead!

I couldn't resist posting this nostalgic advertisement placed the in the 1974 street directory.

We frequently sailed to Liverpool on these ships.

They were very popular in Northern Ireland.

I seem to recall that it took ages for the ferries to negotiate the series of docks at Liverpool!

Do any readers have memories of their voyages in the MV Ulster Prince or MV Ulster Queen?

I believe there was an MV Ulster Monarch, too.

First published in May, 2010.

Castle Ward Visit

Victorian sketch of the Yew Tree Walk

Eager to see the National Trust's admirable and worthy Temple Water project, I motored down to Castle Ward on Sunday, 26th March, 2017.

Castle Ward, ancestral seat of the Viscounts Bangor, is located near Strangford, County Down.

I drove to the farmyard, though there no longer seems to be visitor parking there; so, instead, I parked at the relatively new Shore Car Park at Strangford Bay.

Thence I walked towards the Temple Water, a man-made lake on an axis with Audley's Castle.

It's also beside the old walled garden and overlooked by The Temple, a Georgian summer-house on the top of the hill with a splendid, panoramic prospect of the landscape.

The National Trust has ambitious plans for this part of the demesne, viz. to restore the Georgian parkland and the Temple Water itself.

I walked up to the Temple; down and along the lake; and past the Green row of terraced cottages which overlook Audley's Castle.

Victorian sketch of the Temple Water

Eventually I walked back to the Shore car-park.

I took my packed-lunch up to the stable-yard, where I enjoyed the Spring sunshine on a bench.

At the shop, I purchased a "sit mat"; and across the stable-yard I bought a few books in the excellent second-hand bookshop (Ballywalter Park, UAHS, and St Patrick's (anglican) Cathedral, Armagh).

I had made myself fresh egg and onion sandwiches (County Fermanagh egg, red onion, mustard, cream cheese, granary wholemeal bread).

After lunch I made a beeline for the mansion-house, where I took a tour.

My afternoon concluded in Strangford, about a mile from Castle Ward, where I had a stroll round the village.

The Lobster Pot is back in business, across the Square from The Cuan restaurant and guest-house.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Desart Court


This noble family was originally of the counties of Somerset and Northamptonshire.

Its founder in Ireland,

HUGH CUFFE, Secretary to the Earl of Essex, had a grant, during the reign of ELIZABETH I, of 6,000 acres of land in County Cork, and settled at Cuffe's Wood.

He left, at his decease, two daughters, his co-heirs; viz. Elizabeth, married to Sir Francis Slingsby; and Dorothea, to Sir Charles Coote.

The male line of the family was continued by his nephew,

MAURICE CUFFE, of Ennis, County Clare, merchant ; who died in 1638, leaving a large family, of which the sixth son,

JOSEPH CUFFE, having joined the army under Cromwell, in 1649, was rewarded for his services by considerable grants of lands.

He wedded Martha, daughter of Colonel Agmondesham Muschamp, by whom he had no less than twenty children.

The second son, Maurice, was of Cuffesborough, in Queen's County.

The eldest son,

AGMONDESHAM CUFFE, who was attainted by JAMES II's parliament, in 1689, and had his estates sequestered; but was restored by WILLIAM III.

He espoused Anne, daughter of Sir John Otway, of London, widow of John Warden, of Burnchurch, County Kilkenny; and dying in 1727, was succeeded by his eldest son,  

JOHN CUFFE, of Desart, County Kilkenny, MP,  who was elevated to the peerage, in 1733, by the title of Baron Desart.

His lordship married firstly, Margaret, only daughter and heir of James Hamilton, of Carnesure (descended from the Hamiltons, Earls of Clanbrassil), but had no issue.

He espoused secondly, Dorothea, eldest daughter of General Richard Gorges, of Kilbrew, County Meath, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
OTWAY, succeeded his brother as 3rd Baron;
Hamilton, in holy orders;
Nichola Sophia; Lucy Susanna; Martha; Margaretta; Catherine.
His lordship died in 1749, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN, 2nd Baron (1730-67), who wedded, in 1752, Sophia, daughter and heir of Brettidge Badham, of Rockfield, County Cork, by whom he had three daughters,
His lordship died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

OTWAY, 3rd Baron (1737-1804), who was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Castle Cuffe in 1781; and further advanced, in 1793, to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF DESART.

His lordship wedded, in 1785, the Lady Anne Browne, eldest daughter of John, 2nd Earl of Altamont, and had issue (with two daughters), an only son,

JOHN OTWAY, 2nd Earl (1788-1820), MP for Bossiney, Cornwall, 1808-17, Mayor of Kilkenny, 1809-10, who espoused, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of Maurice O'Connor, and had issue, an only child,

JOHN OTWAY O'CONNOR, 3rd Earl (1818-65), who wedded, in 1842, the Lady Elizabeth Lucy Campbell, third daughter of John, 1st Earl Cawdor, and had issue,
WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, his successor;
HAMILTON JOHN AGMONSESHAM, succeeded as 5th Earl;
Otway Seymour;
Alice Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM ULICK O'CONNOR, 4th Earl (1845-98), who married firstly, in 1871, Maria Emma Georgina, daughter of Captain Thomas Henry Preston, and had issue, an only daughter,
Kathleen Mary Alexina.
He wedded secondly, in 1881, Ellen Odette, daughter of Henri Louis Bischoffsheim, though had no further issue.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

HAMILTON JOHN AGMONDESHAM (1848-1934), 5th and last Earl, KP, KCB, PC.

In his early life he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy before becoming a barrister in 1872. In 1877, he was appointed as a secretary to the Judicature Committee and as a solicitor to The Treasury a year later.

In 1894, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath and as Treasury Solicitor that year, as well as Queen's Proctor and Director of Public Prosecutions.

On inheriting the earldom of Desart from his elder brother William (who died without heirs male) in 1898, he was promoted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

In 1909, the 5th Earl was created Baron Desart in the Peerage of the UK, which enabled him to sit in the House of Lords.

In 1913, he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed a Knight of St Patrick in 1919, one of the last appointees to the Order.
The 5th Earl was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Kilkenny, 1920-22.

Entrance front

DESART COURT, near Callan, County Kilkenny, was a Palladian house of two storeys over a basement, joined to two two-storey wings by curved sweeps.

It was built about 1733 by 1st Baron Desart.

The centre block had a seven-bay front, its main feature being four superimposed, engaged, Doric and Ionic columns and Doric entablature.

Garden front

The drawing-room, in the centre of the garden front, had a ceiling of rococo plasterwork, similar to the hall.

Desart Court was burnt in 1923, though was afterwards rebuilt by Lady Kathleen Milborne-Swinnerton-Pilkington, daughter of the 4th Earl.

In 1957, the house was sold and finally demolished.

First published in March, 2013. Desart arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Campbell College's Charter

CAMPBELL COLLEGE stands in its own grounds on the outskirts of east Belfast.

It is located on the site of what was once Belmont House, seat of Sir Thomas McClure Bt.

The 1st June, 1951, was a very special day for Campbell: The presentation of a Royal Charter by Her Majesty The Queen (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) on behalf of The King (GEORGE VI).

The Chairman of the Governors was the Rev J K L McKean; the Headmaster, Ronald Groves MA BSc.

Major Lytle was Commanding Officer of the Corps.

Among those presented to the Royal Party included:
  • Major R D Williams MC BA
    The Rev Canon L W Crooks MA
    The Rev R Hyndman DD BA
    W H Niall Nelson
    R Watts MC
    The Rt Hon the Lord MacDermott MC PC
    John Archer MA
    The Ven C I Peacocke TD MA
    Lieutenant-Colonel J R H Greeves TD BSc
    Dr James Boyd CBE MD BSc
    R S Brownell CBE (Permanent Secretary, Dept of Educ.)
    Mrs Dermot Campbell
    The Headmaster of Cabin Hill School & Mrs Sutton
    Major C A Bowen TD MA (Second Master)
    C B Mitchell MA (President, Old Campbellian Society)
    Major T B Dunn (Chairman, OC Council)
HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Princess Margaret

The weather was clement; the grounds were at their best; the College, "the warm red brick building [standing] out nobly against the background of the trees" (W V Thomas).

Guest began to arrive shortly after two o'clock; the Boys took up position along one side of the Quadrangle under the Masters' Common-room windows.

The Guard of Honour, drawn from the College's CCF, stood on the east side of the Quadrangle.

At three twenty-five, the Royal Standard of Her Majesty was broken over Campbell.

The Royal Party had arrived: HM The Queen; HRH The Princess Margaret; HE the Governor of Northern Ireland, the 4th Earl Granville; the Chairman of the Governors, the Rev JKL McKean; the Headmaster and Mrs Groves.


It is with great pride that we welcome Your Majesty and Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret to Campbell College. Since its foundation in 1894, boys have gone forth from this school to serve the Empire and their generation in many and varied walks of life - in Church and State, the Armed Forces, the liberal professions, the commercial and industrial life of Northern Ireland, and in your Dominions at home and overseas ... in the two world wars 236 Old Boys laid down their lives for God, King and Country; it is with pride that we remember that two of these were awarded the Victoria Cross.
In many other ways its sons have enriched the Ulster heritage and helped to forge the link between Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... which will inspire us and those who follow to even greater efforts to serve Your Majesty and your people with equal loyalty in the future.


The King has asked me to say how very sorry he is not to be able to be here today, as he had been looking forward to the opportunity which his visit to Northern Ireland afforded of coming to one of its most eminent schools, and of seeing some of the boys who will hold many important positions in the varied life of the country in the future ... the notable record to which you have referred prompted your Governors to propose the Campbell College should be given a Royal Charter. The King was very glad to approve this...
On His Majesty's behalf I now present this Charter of Incorporation to the Chairman of the Governors. The King would like to mark this occasion in a form which boys most readily understand and I would therefore ask your Headmaster to add a week to your summer holidays.

Thereafter the Chairman of the Governors replied with a brief word of gratitude.

The Head Boy, Stewart Johnston, came forward and was presented to The Queen.

 The Royal Party were shown the Central Hall and the War Memorials.

Afterwards, the Royal Party walked round the front of the Quadrangle; HM spoke to some of the masters and boys; HM and HRH kindly posed for the rows of boys with cameras; and, as the Royal Salute was played once more, and The Queen's Standard was hauled down, HM and HRH bade farewell.

So ended in every way a golden day in the history of Campbell College.

First published in June, 2011.

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Downhill Acquisition


PROPERTY: Mussenden Temple, Downhill Demesne, County Londonderry
DATE: 1949
EXTENT: 0.59 acres
DONOR: Frederick Smyth


PROPERTY: The Black Glen, Downhill Demesne
DATE: 1961
EXTENT: 17.7 acres
DONOR: Richard Morrison


PROPERTY: Downhill Ruin and Mausoleum
DATE: 1980
EXTENT: 3.1 acres
DONOR: Messrs Robert O'Neill and James Reid


PROPERTY: Downhill
DATE: 2004
EXTENT: 5.98 acres
DONOR: Coleraine Borough Council

First published in December, 2014.

Coolcarrigan House


The first member of the Wright family to settle in Ireland was

CAPTAIN JAMES WRIGHT (1615-1700), of Royston, Yorkshire, son of John Wright and Margaret, daughter of Richard Ratcliffe.

This soldier, an officer in Cromwell's army, landed at Dublin, 1649.

In 1661, Captain Wright was granted lands at Golagh in County Monaghan.

He was, however, attainted by JAMES II's parliament, 1688.

His son,

JOSEPH WRIGHT (1652-1731), of Golagh, married, in 1708, Mary, daughter of Edward Own of Kilmore, County Monaghan, and had a son,

JOSEPH WRIGHT, of Golagh, High Sheriff of Monaghan, married, in 1744, Eleanor Martyn, of Clogher and Dumbartagh, County Cavan.

The second son,

JOSEPH WRIGHT JP, of Carrachor Hall, Rector of Killencoole, Lurgan Green and Harristown, County Louth, married Mary Montgomery and had four sons.

His second son,

RICHARD WRIGHT, of Fortfield, Belfast, and Craigavad House, County Down, married Catherine, daughter of George Dowdall.

He died in 1788, leaving issue five sons and two daughters.

The third son,

EDWARD THOMAS WRIGHT (1810-81), of Donnybrook, County Dublin, Barrister, married, in 1832, his cousin Charlotte, daughter of Joseph Wright, of Beech Hill, Donnybrook, County Dublin.

The eldest son,

EDWARD PERCIVAL WRIGHT (1834-1910), Professor of Botany, Dublin University, married Emily, daughter of Colonel Ponsonby Shaw of the Indian Army.

His second son,

THE REV CHARLES HENRY HAMILTON WRIGHT (1836-1909), married, in 1859, Ebba Johanna, daughter of Nils Wilhelm Almroth (Director of the Royal Mint in Stockholm and a Knight of the Northern Star of Sweden).

His second son,

SIR ALMROTH EDWARD WRIGHT KBE CB (1861-1947), married, in 1889, Jane Georgina, daughter of Robert Mackay Wilson, of Coolcarrigan, County Kildare.

His second son,

LEONARD ALMROTH WILSON-WRIGHT JP, of Coolcarrigan, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1921, who married, in 1925, Florence, eldest daughter of James Ivory JP, of Brewlands, Glenisla, Forfarshire, and had issue, an only son,

JOCK WILSON-WRIGHT (1928-), who married, in 1953, Sheila Gwendolyn Yate, only daughter of Colonel Henry Patrick Blosse-Lynch, of Partry, Claremorris, County Mayo, and had issue,
Robert (b 1956);
Jane Sheila (b 1958);
Janet, (b 1951) who married Sir Richard La Touche Colthurst, 9th Baronet, of Ardrum, County Cork, and had issue two sons, Charles (b 1955) and James (b 1957).

THE WILSONS descend from John Wilson, of Rahee, County Antrim, said to have landed in Carrickfergus in the suite of WILLIAM III.

Robert Mackay Wilson's great-grandfather Hugh Wilson (d 1822) also lived at Rashee.

Robert Mackay Wilson's grandfather William Wilson, of Daramona House, County Westmeath, and Larkhill, County Dublin, was born in 1787 and married, in 1815, Rebecca Dupre (d 1846), daughter of John Mackay of Elagh, County Tyrone, and Prospect, County Londonderry.

Robert's elder brother John (1826-1906) succeeded to Daramona House and was sometime High Sheriff for counties Westmeath and Longford.

Robert Mackay Wilson JP (b1829), High Sheriff of Kildare, 1887, married, in 1858, Elizabeth, daughter of Murray Suffern, of Belfast.

Mr Wilson purchased Coolcarrigan.

Coolcarrigan passed to his only surviving child,

Jane Georgina Wilson (1860-1926) who married Sir Almroth Wright.

COOLCARRIGAN HOUSE, near Naas, County Kildare, is a mansion of three bays and two storeys in the Georgian style, built in the 1830s by Robert Mackay Wilson to the designs of an unknown architect.

The façade has hooded moldings over the upper windows, a simple parapet and a typical late-Georgian door with fanlight and sidelights, while the central bay is treated as a breakfront by the addition of a pair of pilasters.

Two later curved screen walls, ending in tall piers, project outwards to either side of the entrance front and disguise the fact that the house has been considerably enlarged at the rear.

These additions make Coolcarrigan a very comfortable family home.

There is a beautiful family chapel in the grounds:

Consecrated in 1885 by the Most Rev William Plunket, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and later 4th Baron Plunket, the chapel was built in the Hiberno-Romanesque Revival style, with a Round Tower and a High Cross.

It derives from the 12th century Temple Finghin at Clonmacnoise on the River Shannon.

This tiny complex, surrounded by trees and a dry moat, is the most complete example of the Celtic Revival style in Ireland and makes an attractive view from the house.

The church interior has frescoes in Gaelic script, specially chosen by Douglas Hyde, the first Irish President and a close family friend; while the very good stained glass windows, dedicated to various members of the family, are also in the Celtic Revival style.

The main avenue has a splendid display of spring bulbs while the superb twenty-acre garden has a wonderful collection of rare and unusual trees and shrubs inspired by Sir Harold Hillier, the great 20th century plants-man and collector.

An elaborate 1900s greenhouse in the walled garden has just been authentically restored.

Robert Wilson's daughter Georgina married Sir Almroth Wright, and inherited Coolcarrigan.

Her husband was an eminent physician and a colleague of Alexander Fleming, who worked on the development of vaccination and discovered the cure for typhoid.

Among his friends was the playwright George Bernard Shaw, whose play The Doctor’s Dilemma is based upon Sir Almroth.

Their descendants, the Wilson-Wright family, still live at Coolcarrigan, the fifth generation to live in the house.

First published in March, 2013.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Coates Baronets


VICTOR COATS (1760-1822), of Snugville, Belfast, son of Israel Coats, of The Falls, in the same town, by his wife Grace, carried out business as a surgeon-barber and perfumer.

During the latter half of the 18th century, Mr Coats removed to Ballymacarrett and established the Coats Pottery,
Coats has for sale a good assortment of butter crocks and milk pans of different sizes. Also, flooring tiles of remarkable good quality, and chimney pots made to any shape.
About 1800, Mr Coats inherited a heavy engineering firm, which was to become one of the most successful in Belfast.

His son,

WILLIAM COATES JP (1798-1878), of Glentoran, Belfast, who married Mary, daughter of Thomas Lindsay, and had issue, a son,

DAVID LINDSAY COATES JP (1840-94), of Clonallon House, Strandtown, Belfast, who wedded, in 1864, Sara, daughter of George Mulligan, and had issue,
Harold Vivian Edmund;
Anna Maria.
Mr Coates was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM FREDERICK COATES JP DL (1866-1932), Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1920-22 and 1929-30, High Sheriff of Belfast, 1906, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1931.

Mr Coates established the stockbrokers William F Coates & Co.

He was created a baronet in 1921, denominated of Haypark, City of Belfast.

Sir William espoused, in 1907, Elsie Millicent, daughter of Colonel Frederick William Gregory, and had issue,
Jean Ann Dorothy.

He hosted King George V and Queen Mary when they visited Belfast to open the new NI Parliament Buildings of which he was also a senator (both ex officio as Lord Mayor and as an elected member 1924-29).

The following entry was circulated in the London Gazette, 1921:-
The KING has been graciously pleased on the occasion of the opening by His Majesty of the Parliament of Northern Ireland to signify his intention of conferring a Baronetcy of the United Kingdom on the undermentioned: — William Frederick Coates, Esq., D.L. For two years successively Lord Mayor of Belfast. Has rendered conspicuous valuable service during very anxious times.

Clonallon House was a large Victorian villa in its own grounds, between Belmont Road and Sydenham Avenue.

The main entrance was probably at Belmont Road, where there may have been a gate lodge.

Sir William lived for a period at Glynn Park House (above), near Carrickfergus, County Antrim, which features in Dean's Gate Lodges of Ulster.

He was succeeded by his only son,

BRIGADIER SIR FREDERICK GREGORY LINDSAY COATES (1916-94), 2nd Baronet, who married, in 1940, Joan Nugent, daughter of Major-General Sir Charlton Watson Spinks, and had issue,
Elizabeth Sara Ann; Moira Louise.
Sir Frederick was succeeded by his only son,

SIR DAVID FREDERICK CHARLTON COATES (b 1948), 3rd Baronet, of Dorchester, Dorset, who wedded, in 1973, Christine Helen, daughter of Lewis F Marshall, and had issue,
Robert Lewis Edward, b 1980.
Sir David is vice-president of the Poole Maritime Trust.

First published in July, 2010.

Seaport Stables

SEAPORT STABLES are situated at the entrance to Seaport Lodge in Portballintrae, County Antrim.

They comprises a pair of two-storey, rendered and whitewashed buildings.

The roofs are hipped and slated with leaded ridges and hips.

There is a tall, ashlar, sandstone chimney-stack with equally lofty clay chimney-pots.

The walls are rendered.

The southern block has been converted into a bar and restaurant.
Its principal elevation faces south and comprises four segmental-headed windows at first floor level; and two sash windows at the ground floor, flanking a modern, sympathetically-styled, semi-circular entrance porch.
The western elevation is accessed at first-floor level via a grassy verge.

The southern elevation has a variety of modern window openings and an off-centre modern timber-sheeted door with fanlight.

The eastern elevation is fully abutted by a modern uPVC conservatory.

The northern block has been converted into a dwelling and office, and its main elevation faces south.
The central bay has three glazed oculi at first floor level, over two round-headed windows and a round-headed entrance containing a timber-sheeted door with cast-iron door furniture, surmounted by a four-paned fanlight.
The western elevation has a central, square-headed recess containing a modern timber sash window.

There is a roughcast rendered boundary wall, topped by undressed stone coping, to the Bayhead Road at south; modern rubble-stone wall to entrance at east.

A large, gravel parking area at the front of the southern block.

The coaching stables were originally constructed in the Georgian period, prior to 1832.

No major alteration has been made to the layout of the site in almost two centuries.

The two-storey buildings were formerly utilised as the coaching stables for Seaport Lodge, which was the property of James Edmund Leslie.

In 1832, Portballintrae comprised only a few houses, chiefly occupied by pilots, but near this to the west side of the bay was Seaport House, the summer residence of James Leslie.

The Lodge was built ca 1790, and although its situation was exposed and unprotected, [the location] was admirably calculated for that of a bathing lodge.

Seaport Lodge's coaching stables were probably built at the same time as the main dwelling and were located at the main approach to the estate from the village.

By 1859, occupation of Seaport Lodge had passed to James's brother, Henry Erskine Leslie, who was also recorded as owner of the site.

Henry Leslie continued to reside at Seaport Lodge until his death in 1864, at which time the property passed to his widow, Harriet Ann Leslie.

In 1882, Colonel Edmund Douglas Leslie came into possession of the site and its associated outbuildings, including the coaching stables.

Colonel Leslie resided at Seaport Lodge until 1908, when his nephew, James Graham Leslie (1868-1949) took possession.

Despite the change in ownership during this period, Seaport Lodge remained a summer residence, vacant during both the 1901 and 1911 censuses which were both conducted in the month of April.

James Graham Leslie remained the occupant of Seaport Lodge until 1929.

Historians cite the construction date of Seaport Lodge as ca 1770, despite the Ordnance Survey Memoirs claiming a later date of about 1790.

Sir Charles Brett stated that the dwelling was constructed by James Leslie, soon after the completion of his other main residence, Leslie Hill, in 1772.

James Leslie's ability to erect two major houses within such a short period led Brett to suggest that Leslie "much over-strained the family finances" to realise his ambition of possessing a grand country house with a leisurely seaside retreat.

Local tradition claims that Seaport Lodge was constructed gradually over a period of many years.

The Lodge's main domestic block was the first section of the building to be constructed.

Sir Charles remarked that the two-storey western service wing was added later, most likely in 1827, as that date is inscribed on many of the later wing's wall plates.

It is not known at what stage in the estate's development the pair of two-storey coach stables were erected; however, it was certainly prior to 1832.

Seaport Lodge remained in the possession of the Leslie family until the mid-20th century.

The northern former coaching stable was listed in 1977, and since that time has continued to be privately occupied.

By the 1970s, the two coach stables were no longer utilised as out-offices, but had been converted into a private dwelling named Beach Park and designated Number 6, Seaport Avenue.

In the late-20th century the southern block was converted into a bar-restaurant called Sweeney's; however, the northern block has been maintained as a private dwelling and office space.

As part of the conversion of the site, a modern glass conservatory was added to the eastern elevation of the southern block, whilst the interior was completely refurbished.

A pair of charming Gothic gate lodges once faced each other at the main entrance to Seaport Lodge.

They stood at the main road, the present entrance into Sweeney's (now Bartali).

First published in March, 2015.