Thursday, 18 January 2018

Temple House

THE PERCEVALS OWNED 7,821 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY SLIGO

GEORGE PERCEVAL (1635-75), youngest son of Sir Philip Perceval, Knight, the distinguished statesman (great-grandfather of John, 1st Earl of Egmont), by Catherine Ussher his wife, daughter of Arthur Ussher and granddaughter of Sir William Ussher, Clerk of the Council, was Registrar of the Prerogative Court, Dublin.

He married Mary, daughter and heir of William Crofton, of Temple House, County Sligo, and had issue,
PHILIP, his heir;
William, ancestor of PERCEVAL-MAXWELL of Finnebrogue;
Charles;
Catherine.
George Perceval was drowned near Holyhead on his voyage to England with the Earl of Meath and other persons of distinction.

His eldest son and heir,

PHILIP PERCEVAL (1670-1704), of Temple House, County Sligo, wedded, in 1691, Elizabeth, daughter of John D'Aberon, of Wandsworth, Surrey, and left, with other issue, a son and heir,

JOHN PERCEVAL (1700-54), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1727 and 1742, wedded, in 1722, Anne, daughter of Joshua Cooper, of Markree, County Sligo, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PHILIP PERCEVAL (1723-87), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1775, who espoused Mary, daughter and co-heir of Guy Carleton, of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, and was succeeded by his son,

GUY CARLETON PERCEVAL, who dsp 1792, and was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV PHILIP PERCEVAL, of Temple House, who married, in 1783, Anne, daughter of Alexander Carroll, of Dublin, and had issue,
Philip, died unmarried;
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Guy, died unmarried;
Anne; Mary.
The second son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL JP (1787-1858), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1809, MP for County Sligo, 1831-41, wedded, in 1808, Jane Anne, eldest daughter of Colonel Henry Peisley L'Estrange, of Moystown, King's County, and had surviving issue,
PHILIP;
Henry (Rev);
ALEXANDER, of whom hereafter;
Charles George Guy;
Elizabeth Dora; Frances; Sophia; Georgina Sarah; Maria Frances; Emily Jane.
Colonel Perceval's third son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL (1821-66), of Temple House, Barrister, espoused, in 1858, Annie E, youngest daughter of George de Blois, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Robert Jardine;
Philip Dudley;
Jeannie; Sophie.
Mr Perceval was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER PERCEVAL JP DL (1859-87), of Temple House, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1882, who married, in 1881, Charlotte Jane, eldest daughter of Charles William O'Hara, of Annaghmore, County Sligo, and had issue,
ALEXANDER ASCELIN CHARLES PHILIP SPENCER, his heir;
Sibyl Annie (1882-84).
Mr Perceval was succeeded by his son and heir,

ALEXANDER ASCELIN CHARLES PHILIP SPENCER PERCEVAL DL (1885-1967), of Temple House,


TEMPLE HOUSE, Ballymote, County Sligo, takes its name from the Knights Templar, the wealthiest of the three military orders founded during the crusades.

Fierce warriors and able administrators, their power stretched across Europe where they operated as a separate sovereign administration within each independent state.

The knights reached Ireland with the Normans and quickly became established, building a castle at Temple House in County Sligo, their most westerly foundation, shortly after 1200.

In 1312 the Pope suppressed the order, citing their alleged heretical and blasphemous practises in justification.

In France, Templars were burnt at the stake and their land seized by the crown, but other countries adopted a more measured approach, transferring their property to the Knights Hospitallers, known today as the Knights of Malta.

As English influence waned in the remote west of Ireland, Temple House was reoccupied by the O’Haras, the principal sept in that region, who built a new castle in 1360.

In 1565 William Crofton was appointed Auditor and Escheator General, and used his position to amass extensive estates in Counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.


These included Temple House, or Tagh-temple, which passed with his great-granddaughter Mary on her marriage to George Perceval, the younger son of another distinguished Irish administrator, and grandson of Richard Perceval, ‘confidential agent’ to Queen Elizabeth’s minister, Lord Burleigh, who correctly identified preparations for the Spanish Armada and was rewarded with Irish estates.

By the 1760s George and Mary’s descendants had replaced her parent’s thatched dwelling of ca 1630 and their new house was further extended in 1825.

Unfortunately the Irish famine ruined the family and the estate was sold to a Mr Hall-Dare along with the town of Ballymote.

Happily, a younger son, Alexander Perceval, went to seek his fortune in China and amassed vast riches in the development of Hong Kong as Tai-Pan for the great trading house, Jardine Matheson.


He returned to Ireland, repurchased the estate and tripled the size of the house in 1864, cladding it in cut-stone in a strict classical style, with three formal fronts and a porte-cochere, always a convenient feature in the wet West of Ireland.

The result is broadly symmetrical, with the Georgian house still clearly evident in the centre of the east front.

The interior has a superb suite of large, grand rooms, lit by serried ranks of vast plate-glass windows.

There are lofty ceilings, the vestibule rises to some thirty-two feet, and decoration of a very high order, reminiscent of the grander London clubs, while much of the furniture was specially commissioned for the house.

The house reputedly contains more than ninety rooms.

Alexander’s neighbours suggested he might be over-spending but he assured them of his imminent return to make an even larger fortune in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, he caught sun-stroke fishing on Temple House Lake and died in 1866, leaving a widow with a large young family and rather less capital than his heirs would have liked to maintain their vast new home.

But they did survive and today the estate comprises 1,200 acres of pasture, woodland, lake and bog, and is home to Alexander’s great-great-great grandson Roderick, along with his wife Helena and their family, the thirteenth and fourteenth generations in almost continuous occupation since the late sixteenth century.

Select bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association.

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