Saturday, 23 March 2019

Leslie of Leslie Hill


This family springs from

THE REV PETER LESLIE (1686-1773), born at Westminster, Rector of Ahoghill, County Antrim, who married, in 1718, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY (Rev),1719-1803;
EDMUND, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE VEN EDMUND LESLIE (1735-90), appointed Archdeacon of Down, 1782, and also a prebendary of Connor, wedded firstly, Jane, daughter of John Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had issue,
Peter, died in London;
Bartholomew, died in India;
JAMESof whom we treat;
Edmund, died in India;
Archdeacon Leslie espoused secondly, Eleanor, daughter of George Portis, of London, and had issue,
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of Connor;
Samuel, Rear-Admiral, of Donaghadee;
The Archdeacon's eldest surviving son, 

JAMES LESLIE JP DL (1768-1847), of Leslie House, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1799, succeeded to the estates on the demise of his uncle, James Leslie, in 1796.

He wedded, in 1795, Mary, daughter of Adam Cuppage, of Donaghcloney, County Down, by whom he had issue,
Henry, JP, of Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae;
Frances Seymour, of the Home Office;
Bartholdus George Albert (1812-15).
The eldest son,

JAMES EDMUND LESLIE JP DL (1800-81), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1854, wedded, in 1823, Sarah, youngest daughter of the Rt Rev Daniel Sandford DD, Bishop of Edinburgh, and by her had issue,
James Sandford, 1824-29;
Henry Erskine, 1825-29;
EDMUND DOUGLASof whom hereafter;
Daniel Sandford, died in infancy;
Seymour Montague, b 1835; father of JAMES GRAHAM;
Francis Macnaghten, b 1837; in the army;
Erskine Douglas, died in infancy;
Frances Mary; Mary Wilhelmina; Sarah Agnes; Jane Elizabeth.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE was granted the honorary rank of Colonel in 1877. 

He was succeeded by his third son,

EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who died a bachelor, and was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES GRAHAM LESLIE JP DL (1868-1949), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1907, Barrister, some time head of a department in the Office of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, who espoused, in 1901, Grace, only daughter of J Lamont Brodie, of Wimbledon, and had issue,
Grace Margaret Hester, b 1905;
Mary Etheldritha (Audrey), b 1908.

THE CREST of this family has traditionally been an angel, though a gryphon is sometimes used by some portions of the family. 

The motto, Grip Fast, has remained unchanged since the time of QUEEN MARGARET of Scotland, by whom it was given to Bartolf (Bartholomew), under the following circumstances:
In crossing a river swollen by floods, the Queen was thrown from her horse, and in danger of being drowned, when the knight, plunging into the stream, seized hold of Her Majesty's girdle; and as he brought her with difficulty towards the bank, she frequently exclaimed grip fast, and afterwards desired that he should retain the words as his motto, in remembrance of the occurrence.
LESLIE HILL, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, was built by James Leslie ca 1750, on the site of an older castle. 

The house originally consisted of a gable-ended main block of three storeys over a high basement, joined to two-storey office wings by single-storey links.

The principal block has a seven-bay front with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; doorway, with two Doric columns and a fanlight under a baseless pediment.

There is a lunette window in the pediment which lights the attic. The former wings were of three bays and the links of two.

There is a flagged hall with screen; principal rooms have modillion cornices and doors with shouldered architraves.

The attic room has a convex-coved ceiling and central roundel containing a portrait which may be of the James Leslie who built the House. 

Alas, the wings and connecting links were demolished in 1955.

The present owner is directly descended from the Rt Rev Henry Leslie (chaplain to CHARLES I, Bishop of Down & Connor, 1635) and the 4th Earl of Rothes, by his marriage to Agnes Somerville. 

Leslie Hill has been occupied continuously by the Leslie family for more than 350 years.

In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger", under John Paul Jones, opened fire on Carrickfergus Castle and attacked HMS Drake, putting it out of action.

This attack, and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which, at that time, was practically bereft of Crown forces.

This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the nobility, at their own expense, to defend the Irish coast and guard life and property.

Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes.

The estate was of considerable acreage, comprising 7,428 acres, with a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903.

Not all the Leslies in Ulster remained there: in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England, USA, to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. 

There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.

It is of significance that another James Leslie and his family left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America.

They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.

James Seymour Leslie (1958-2009) was a NI politician, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His father owns Leslie Hill estate at Ballymoney. He was married with a daughter.

The Castle Leslie demesne, adjacent to Ballymoney, lies in a ridge above the Bann Valley. Continuous ownership of the Leslie family adds interest in the property.

The house of ca 1760 – now minus two wings – has landscaped parkland to the north, with fine trees and a small, artificial, late 19th century lake complete with island and boat-house.

ha-ha separates the south front lawns from parkland and exposes the fine distant views.

There are stands of mature trees and mixed woodland. A late 19th century, ‘Robinsonian’ garden is no longer distinguishable.

A small enclosed garden to the east of the house has two lily ponds constructed ca 1891 of unusual shape.

These are listed, together with the enclosing walls and a nearby ice house.

Ornamental shrubs and trees, with under-planting of wild flowers, decorate the access route to the walled gardens.

The walled garden has a rectangular western part, which is partially cultivated and under restoration to be attractive and productive for modern usage.

The Melon House has been restored. Remnants of other glasshouses are exposed.

The garden is divided into two by a brick wall and the smaller eastern part is uncultivated.

The outbuildings are notable, fully restored and open to view.

A disused gate lodge at the main entrance is of ca 1911 and replaced a pair removed when the road was realigned in the 1850s.

The house is private and grounds are private.

The family formerly had a marine residence, Seaport Lodge, at Portballintrae.

First published in January, 2012.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Ardnargle House


This branch settled in Ulster during the Plantation.

All the records of the family (originally Ogilvie) were destroyed by fire in Scotland, 1784.

The original residence was at Calhame, Aberdeenshire.

DR JOHN OGILVIE, of Aberdeen, who settled in Limavady, was a great friend of the celebrated Bishop Burnet.

He married Elizabeth Agnew, of the Scottish family of that name, who settled in County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who changing the spelling of the name from Oglivie, married firstly, Ann Smith, and had issue,
ALEXANDER, his heir;
Mary Ann.
Mr Ogilby wedded secondly, Mary Campbell, and had issue,
Robert (Dr), of Spring Hill, Limavady.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ALEXANDER OGILBY, who wedded Mary, eldest daughter of James Alexander, of Limavady (whose family came originally from Clackmannanshire in Scotland), by his wife Elizabeth Ross, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
James, dsp;
Robert, of Pellipar;
David (Sir), East India Company;
Lesley, of Strangmore;Ann; Elizabeth; Mary; Jane.
The fourth son, Robert Ogilby, of Pellipar House, Dungiven, purchased the entire Manor of Limavady from the Conolly family, also large properties in County Tyrone, and estates at Woolwich in Kent.

He was also lessee of the estates of the Skinners' Company in County Londonderry.

Mr Alexander Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN OGILBY, of Ardnargle, who married Jane, daughter of James Simpson, of Armagh, and had issue,
Alexander, dsp;
John, dsp;
JAMES, his heir;
David, dsp;
ROBERT LESLIE, of whom presently;
William, of Kilcatten;
Ann; Jane; Mary.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his third son,

JAMES OGILBY, of Ardnargle, who wedded Bridget Rush, and dsp 1849. 

Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT LESLIE OGILBY JP DL (1798-1872), of Ardnargle, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1854, who espoused, in 1844, Elizabeth Matilda, daughter of Major William Henry Rainey, of the East India Company, and had issue,
John W H, dsp;
David Leslie;
Margaret Harriet; Jane Ann; Elizabeth; Mary Isabella.
Mr Ogilby was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT ALEXANDER OGILBY JP DL (1850-1902), of Ardnargle, and Pellipar House, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1887, Captain, 4th King's Own Regiment, served in Zulu War.

Under the will of his great uncle, Robert Ogilby, he succeeded on the death of his cousin, James Ogilby, to the Limavady, Pellipar, Tyrone and Woolwich estates.

Mr Ogilby married, in 1875, Helen Sarah, second daughter of the Rev George Bomford Wheeler, Rector of Ballysax, County Kildare, and had issue,
Ethel Maude; Eileen Leslie; Mabel Norah; Esther Gladys; Mildred Constance.
Captain Ogilby was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROBERT JAMES LESLIE OGILBY DSO JP DL (1880-1964), of Ardnargle and Pellipar, High Sheriff of County Londonderry, 1911, who married, in 1936, Isabel Katherine, daughter of Captain P C J Webster, though the marriage was without issue.


THE ogilbys were kinsmen of the Earl Alexander of Tunis and the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, through the line of the Alexanders of Limavady.

The Woolwich estate was bought at public auction in 1812 by Robert Ogilby (younger brother of John Ogilby), who also leased, in 1803, the Skinners estate at Dungiven and lived at Pellipar House.

Ardnargle was not strictly, therefore, a dower house for Pellipar, although it was used as such when R A Ogilby (1850-1902) inherited both properties from 1885 onwards.
The Ogilby family has had a proud military tradition: Major Robert Alexander Ogilby married Sarah Wheeler, daughter of Rev George Bomford Wheeler, a founder of the Irish Times, TCD classic scholar and contributor to Dickens' magazine, "All Year Round"; a DL for County Londonderry; captain 4th King's Own Regiment; and took part in the Zulu war (1879, medal). 
In 1902, Maurice Marcus McCausland, of Drenagh, married Eileen Leslie, daughter of R A Ogilby DL, of Pellipar.

Photo credit: Rohan Boyle

ARDNARGLE HOUSE, near Limavady, County Londonderry, was built by John Ogilby ca 1790.

It is a plain, two-storey, five bay house.

About 1854, a porch, three-sided bow, window surrounds with console brackets, and a modillion cornice were added by R L Ogilby.

John Ogilby purchased the farm from the Wilsons in 1781, built the house in 1790 and planted the trees.

Robert Leslie Ogilby extended it in 1840 and created the terrace.

Photo credit:

The interior has classical Victorian plasterwork in the main reception rooms and hall.

First published in April, 2011.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

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.

Belfast Courthouse

THE COURTHOUSE, 88-92 Crumlin Road, Belfast, was built by James Carlisle in 1848-50, to designs of Sir Charles Lanyon.

The clerk of works was W H Lynn.

The building cost £16,500 (almost £2 million in today's money).

The figure of Justice at the apex of the portico was sculpted by William Boyton Kirk, of Dublin.

The building was enlarged in 1905-06 to the designs of Young & Mackenzie, architects, with McLaughlin & Harvey, builders.

The primary designs for the court-house were produced in 1847, though subsequently revised as they were too costly to proceed.

It was built due to the transfer of the assizes from Carrickfergus to Belfast.

The building was formally opened as the County Antrim Court-house at the Summer Assizes in 1850.

It was closed as a court-house in June, 1998.
Lanyon's original building of 1850 comprised a portico and steps; the Main Hall, with the Record Court to the east, and the Crown Court to west; and the remainder of the building to the south of those three main spaces, except the single storey wings to the side of the Record Court and Crown Court, and the minor insertion of toilet facilities in the open areas or light wells.
It also included a tunnel from the dock in the Crown Court, passing below the Crumlin Road, to link with the gaol opposite; and a tunnel from the rear basement area to the street at the south.

The boundary railings and piers were also part of the original building, erected in 1850, when similar railings and piers were also erected in front of the gaol.

In 1905-06, the front face of the court-house to each side of the portico was brought forward to create front offices, two-thirds of the depth of Lanyon's original portico.

It was extended at each extremity, beyond the line of the Record and Crown courts, to form wings, with single-storey blocks returning to the rear of the wings to flank the courts on the east and west sides.

A pair of staircases was added, one in each wing to each side of the Main Hall at the front of the building, with new arched windows on a raking line to each staircase.

Lanyon's twin staircases were replaced to the rear of the portico by the Postal Office and Switch room to each side of the triple-arched open entrance vestibule.

Sir Charles's raking first floor gallery to the front of the Main Hall was removed and replaced by a transverse first-floor corridor, with four rooms overlooking the covered area within the portico.

Five new first-floor windows were inserted for the new rooms in the rear wall of the portico immediately above the triple-arched entrance.

TODAY the front façade of the building is by Young & Mackenzie, 1905-06, excepting the original portico of 1850.

The windows in the rear wall of the portico were all inserted by Young & Mackenzie.
The entire mid-portion, or main block, from the east wall of the Record Court to the west wall of the Crown Court, together with the broad central rear return, are all by Lanyon and are mostly intact, containing a number of important original interior spaces, including the Main Hall, the Record Court, the Crown Court, the central arcaded corridor, and the western back stair-hall; the former Sheriff's Room and Grand Jury Room in the ground floor of the rear return; the arcaded landings and the former Grand Jury dining-room on the first floor of the rear return.
The two-storey elevations to the south of the long front block (or wings) are thus essentially all by Lanyon, except for the first bay at the north end on each side.

The projecting single-storey blocks are by Young & Mackenzie.

THE COURTHOUSE closed in June, 1998, after almost 150 years of continuous usage.

The two acre site was sold to Ewart properties for the nominal sum of £1, though tied to the construction of the new Laganside court building at Oxford Street, Belfast.

A planning application was submitted in June, 2003, to convert the building into offices, including the demolition of a rear section and construction of a new extension.

This was approved in November, 2004; however, Ewart's sold the building for £35,000 to Barry Gilligan when he left his position within Ewart's in 2003.

In September, 2006, a new planning application was submitted seeking to convert the building into a 161-bed hotel with ten suites, a health suite, conference facilities (within the original Crown court-room) and 92 parking spaces.

Planning permission for the £25m proposal was granted in November, 2007; but in March, 2009, a malicious fire caused extensive internal damage.

A further two fires on the 15th and 16th August, 2009, caused grave damage to the roof.

Consequently, Mr Gilligan claimed that a re-appraisal of the development plans was required, as the lack of grant aid and resulting levels of damage made the hotel project unviable.

In January, 2013, it became apparent that the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development (DSD) was to complete an options appraisal on the future of the court-house, including the vesting or purchase of the building.

In June, 2013, Belfast City Council considered acquiring the old court-house for European Peace IV Capital Funding, to include its renovation as a "Shared History Belfast Story" museum, built heritage centre, and destination point for the North Belfast cultural corridor.

The project could also include the development of Crumlin Road Gaol as a cultural industries space in one of two vacant wings, in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.

This would be in the context of a DSD master-plan for the cultural corridor, as well as Belfast City Councils own master-plan.

To progress this funding option, Belfast City Council was required meet full information requirements by September, 2013, and address the ownership of the building.

DSD thereafter completed their options appraisal.

In August, 2013, the Minister for Social Development announced that Turley Associates had commenced work on a development study.

The Belfast Telegraph reported in March 2017 that the Signature Living hotel group is to acquire the building and convert it to hotel use.

First published in February, 2015.   am grateful to Gary Potter of Future Belfast for information.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Derrymore Acquisition


PROPERTY: Derrymore House, Bessbrook, County Armagh

DATE: 1953

EXTENT: 40.63 acres

DONOR: J S Richardson


PROPERTY: Lands of Derrymore

DATE: 1988

EXTENT: 60.84 acres

DONOR: J S Richardson

First published in December, 2014.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

1st Viscount Taaffe


The members of this noble family resided, for a series of years, in the Austrian dominions, and filled the highest and most confidential employments, civil and military, under the imperial government, doubtless from having been, from theretofore, as Roman Catholics, debarred the prouder gratification of serving their own.

The Taaffes were of great antiquity in the counties of Louth and Sligo, and produced, in ancient times, many distinguished and eminent persons; among whom was Sir Richard Taaffe, who flourished during the reign of EDWARD I, and died in 1287.

Contemporary with Sir Richard was the Lord (Nicholas) Taaffe, who died in 1288, leaving two sons: John Taaffe, Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1306, and


RICHARD TAAFFE, was seated at Ballybraggan and Castle Lumpnagh.

This gentleman served the office of sheriff of County Louth in 1315, and to his custody was committed the person of Hugh de Lacy, the younger, Earl of Ulster, after his condemnation for high treason, in inciting the invasion of Ireland, by Edward Bruce, until the execution of that unfortunate nobleman at Drogheda.

From this Richard lineally descended

SIR WILLIAM TAAFFE, Knight, of Harleston, in Norfolk, who distinguished himself by his services to the Crown, during the Earl of Tyrone's rebellion, in 1597; and subsequently maintained his reputation against the Spanish force, which landed at Kinsale in 1601.

Sir William died in 1630, and was succeeded by his only son,

SIR JOHN TAAFFE, Knight, who was advanced to the Irish peerage, in 1628, by the title of Baron Ballymote and VISCOUNT TAAFFE, of Corren, both in County Sligo.

His lordship married Anne, daughter of Theobald, 1st Viscount Dillon, by whom he had (with other issue),
THEOBALD, his heir;
Lucas, major-general in the army;
Francis, colonel in the army;
Peter, in holy orders;
Jasper, slain in battle;
His lordship died in 1642, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THEOBALD, 2nd Viscount (c1603-77), who was advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF CARLINGFORD, in 1662.

This nobleman espoused zealously the royal cause during the civil wars, and had his estate sequestered by the Usurper.

After the Restoration, he obtained, however, a pension of £800 a year; and, upon being advanced in the peerage, received a grant of £4,000 a year, of the rents payable to the Crown, out of the retrenched lands of adventurers and soldiers, during such time as the same remained in the common stock of reprisals, and out of forfeited jointures, mortgages etc.

His lordship was succeeded at his decease by his eldest surviving son,

NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl and 3rd Viscount, who fell at the battle of the Boyne, in the command of a regiment of foot, under the banner of JAMES II; and, leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his brother,

FRANCIS, 3rd Earl (1639-1704), the celebrated Count Taaffe, of the Germanic Empire.

This nobleman, who was sent in his youth to the city of Olmuts, to prosecute his studies, became, first, one of the pages of honour to the Emperor Ferdinand; and, soon after, obtained a captain's commission from CHARLES V, Duke of Lorraine, in his own regiment.

He was, subsequently, chamberlain to the emperor, a marshal of the empire, and counsellor of the state and cabinet.

His lordship was so highly esteemed by most of the crowned heads of Europe that, when he succeeded to his hereditary honours, he was exempted from forfeiture, by a special clause in the English act of parliament, during the reign of WILLIAM AND MARY.

His lordship died in 1704, and leaving no issue, the honours devolved upon his nephew,

THEOBALD, 4th Earl, son of Major the Hon John Taaffe, who fell before Londonderry, in the service of JAMES II, by the Lady Rose Lambart, daughter of Charles, 1st Earl of Cavan.

He married Amelia, youngest daughter of Luke, 3rd Earl of Fingal; but dying without issue, in 1738, the earldom expired, while the viscountcy and barony passed to his next heir male,

NICHOLAS, Count Taaffe (c1685-1769), of the Germanic Empire, as 6th Viscount.

This nobleman obtained the golden key, as chamberlain, from the Emperor CHARLES VI, as he did from His Imperial Majesty's successor, which mark of distinction both his sons enjoyed.

His lordship, as Count Taaffe, obtained great renown during the war with the Turks, in 1738, and achieved the victory of BELGRADE with high honour.

He married Mary Anne, daughter and heiress of Count Spendler, of Lintz, in Upper Austria, a lady of the bedchamber to Her Imperial and Hungarian Majesty, and had issue,
John, predeceased his father;
Francis, dsp.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1762-1830), 7th Viscount, who espoused, in 1787, the Countess Josephine Haugwitz, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his successor;
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

FRANCIS JOHN CHARLES JOSEPH RUDOLPH, Count Taaffe (1788-1849), 8th Viscount, who wedded, in 1811, the Countess Antonia Amade de Várkony, and had issue.

Successor to the claim

  • Richard Taaffe (1898–1967), entitled to petition for restoration of the viscountcy, but never did so.
Carlingford arms

Lord Taaffe was seated at Ellischau Castle, Bohemia.

Under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917, his name was removed from the roll of the Peers of Ireland by Order of the King in Council, 1919, for bearing arms against the United Kingdom in the 1st World War.

In 1919, he also lost his title as Count of the Holy Roman Empire, when the newly-established republic of Austria abolished the nobility and outlawed the use of noble titles.

Independent of the legal situation in the UK, the monarchy was abolished in Austria in 1918, and in 1919 the newly established republic of German Austria abolished all noble titles by law.

Heinrich, Count Taaffe, 12th Viscount Taaffe, thus lost both his titles and ended his life as plain Mr Taaffe.

He married, in 1897, in Vienna, Maria Magda Fuchs, and they had a son, Richard (1898–1967).

Upon the death of his first wife in 1918, he married, secondly, Aglaë Isescu,, in 1919, at Ellischau.

He died in Vienna in 1928, aged 56.

EDWARD CHARLES RICHARD TAAFFE (1898–1967) was an Austrian gemmologist who found the first cut and polished taaffeite in November 1945.

Mr Taaffe inherited neither the viscountcy nor the title of Count, as Austria had generally abolished titles of nobility in 1919.

With Richard Taaffe's death in 1967, no heirs to either title remained and both the Austrian and the UK titles became extinct.

Portions of the Taaffes'  County Sligo estate were offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in 1852.

In 1866-67, John Taaffe offered for sale his estate at Gleneask and lands at Drumraine, in the barony of Corran.

In 1880 John West Pollock offered over 500 acres of the Taaffe estate in the barony of Corran for sale in the Land Judges' Court.

The Gleneask estate derived from an 1808 lease between Henry King and John Taaffe; while the Drumraine lease dated from the same period from the Parke estate.

The Taaffe family are also recorded as the owners of 833 acres in County Galway in the 1870s.

The family also held extensive properties in counties Louth and Meath.

The Congested Districts Board acquired over 5,000 acres of the Taaffe estate in the early 20th century.

SMARMORE CASTLE, near Ardee, County Louth, is claimed to be one of the longest continuously inhabited castles in Ireland.

Records show that William Taaffe was seated here in 1320, after his family arrived in Ireland from Wales at the turn of the 12th century.

Successive generations of Taaffes continued to make Smarmore Castle their main residence in Ireland until the mid 1980s, when the property was sold.

The castle is divided into three distinct sections comprising an early 14th century castle-keep with extensions on either side built ca 1720 and 1760 respectively.

The castle is built of local stone and its walls are eight feet thick.

The 18th century courtyard behind the castle was formerly the stables for the estate.

First published in October, 2012.  Carlingford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

O'Hara of O'Harabrook

GEORGE TAIT, who married Catherine, only daughter and heiress of Cormac O'Hara, of Drummully, County Cavan, a descendant of the ancient family of O'HARA OF ANNAGHMORE, was father of

CHARLES O'HARA JP, of O'Harabrook, County Antrim, Colonel in General Bragg's Regiment, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1758, who married, in 1752, Helen, daughter of Alexander Duncan, of Lundie, Angus, and had a son,

HENRY O'HARA JP (1759-1823), of O'Harabrook, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1785, Lieutenant-Colonel, Antrim Militia, who wedded firstly, in 1782, Amy Lloyd, by whom he had a son, Richard, Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, who died in Jamaica, 1812, and two daughters, Katherine and Mary.

He espoused secondly, in 1792, Eleanor Dunn, and had issue,
CHARLES, of whom presently;
William, d unm 1827;
Henry Robert, d unm 1854;
JAMES DUNN, succeeded his brother;
Eleanor; Helen Elizabeth; Grace; Anne Martha; Louisa; Maria.
Mr O'Hara married thirdly, 1808, Sophia Thwaites, but had no issue by her.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

CHARLES O'HARA JP (1797-1873), of O'Harabrook, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1833, who married, in 1823, Margaret, eldest daughter of Arthur Innes, of Dromantine, County Down, and had issue,
Arthur (1828-66);
William (1830-59);
James (1835-70);
Anne; Ellen Sophia.
Mr O'Hara, leaving no surviving male issue, was succeeded by his brother,

THE REV JAMES DUNN O'HARA (1801-93), of the Castle, Portstewart, and O'Harabrook, County Antrim, Rector of Coleraine, who wedded, in 1842, Caroline Deffel, daughter of William Alves, of Enham Place, Hampshire, and had issue,
HENRY STEWART, his heir;
William James;
Sarah Caroline; Helen Sophia; Caroline Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

THE RT REV HENRY STEWART O'HARA (1843-1923), of the Palace, Waterford, late of O'Hara Brook, Lord Bishop of Cashel, Emly, Waterford, amd Lismore, espoused, in 1872, Hatton Thomasina, daughter of Thomas Scott DL, of Willsboro', County Londonderry.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Waringstown House


This branch of the ancient family of WARING of Lancashire, whose patriarch,

MILES DE GUARIN, came to England with WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, was established in Ulster during the reign of Queen MARY, when its ancestor fled to that province to avoid the persecution of the Lollards.

In the reign of JAMES II, the Warings of Waringstown suffered outlawry, and their home was taken possession of by the Irish at the period of the Revolution, and most of their family records destroyed.

JOHN WARING settled within the civil parish of Toome, County Antrim, and married Mary, daughter of the Rev Thomas Pierse, Vicar of Derriaghy, in that county, by whom he had three sons and several daughters.
One of Mr Waring's sons, Thomas, carried on the family tradition of tanning, having settled in Belfast about 1640. Since he was English and not Presbyterian, he had no difficulty in dealing with the Cromwellian regime.

Having become one of its most prosperous citizens, Thomas Waring was appointed Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast, 1652-55. He lived in Waring Street.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM WARING (1619-1703), became possessed (by purchase from the soldiers of Lord Deputy Fleetwood's regiment of horse) in 1656, of the district of Clanconnell (of which the Waringstown estate formed a part), and shortly after built the present mansion and adjoining church.

He served as High Sheriff of County Down in 1659.

Mr Waring wedded firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of William Gardiner, of Londonderry, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Mary, m Richard Close of Drumbanagher.
He espoused secondly, Jane, daughter of John Close, and by her had issue, with six daughters, seven sons, of whom the eldest,
THOMAS, High Sheriff of Co Down, 1724.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING (1660-1739), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1690, MP for Hillsborough, 1703-15, married, in 1696, Grace, daughter of the Rev Samuel Holt, of County Meath, and had issue,
SAMUEL, his heir;
Richard, died unmarried;
Holt, a major in the army;
Jane, m to Alexander Macnaghten;
Sarah; Frances; Alice.
The eldest son,

SAMUEL WARING, of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1734, died unmarried, 1793, and was succeeded by his nephew (5th son of Major Holt Waring),

THE VERY REV HOLT WARING (1766-1830), of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore, who married, in 1793, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of the Rev Averell Daniel, Rector of Lifford, County Donegal, and had issue,
Eliza Jane;
Frances Grace, m Henry Waring, of Waringstown;
The Dean's cousin and son-in-law,

MAJOR HENRY WARING JP (1795-1866), of Waringstown, espoused, in 1824, Frances Grace, fourth daughter of the Very Rev Holt Waring, of Waringstown, Dean of Dromore; and had (with three other sons, who died in infancy),
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Mary Louisa; Elizabeth Mary; Frances Jane; Anne; Susan; Selina Grace.
Mr Waring was succeeded by his eldest son, 

COLONEL THOMAS WARING JP, (1828-98), of Waringstown, High Sheriff of County Down, 1868-9, MP for County Down, who married firstly, in 1858, Esther, third daughter of Ross Thompson Smyth, of Ardmore, County Londonderry. She dsp 1873.

He wedded secondly, in 1874, Fanny, fourth daughter of Admiral John Jervis Tucker, of Trematon Castle, Cornwall, and had issue,
HOLT, his heir;
Ruric Henry, Lieutenant RN;
Esther Marian; Mary Theresa; Frances Joan Alice.
Colonel Waring espoused thirdly, in 1885, Geraldine, third daughter of Alexander Stewart, of Ballyedmond, Rostrevor, County Down.

The eldest son, 

HOLT WARING JP DL (1877-1918), married, in 1914, Margaret Alicia (1887–1968), youngest daughter of Joseph Charlton Parr, of Grappenhall Heyes, Warrington, Cheshire,  banker, industrialist, and landowner, though the marriage was without issue.


When her husband was killed in action at Kemmel Hill, France, she chose to remain at the Waring family's 17th century home, Waringstown House, and became active within the local community.
Mrs Waring took a keen interest in Orangeism, serving as deputy grand mistress of Ireland, county grand mistress of Down, and district mistress of Down lodge no. 4 in the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland in 1929.
In 1929, she was elected to the Northern Ireland parliament as the official Unionist candidate for the single-seat constituency of Iveagh in County Down.

She was one of only two women standing for election and, as the only one to be elected, became the third female member of the Northern Ireland parliament (her two predecessors being Dehra Parker and Julia McMordie).

In 1933, she was appointed CBE for Political, Philanthropic, and Public Services.

Following her retirement from parliament, Mrs Waring continued to participate in public affairs.

From the mid-1930s, she was a member of the Northern Ireland war pensions committee, and in 1934 became a member of the Northern Ireland unemployment assistance board.

A longstanding enthusiast for cricket, in 1923 she was the first woman elected onto the committee of the Northern [Ireland] Cricket Union, and in 1954 became its president.

Failing health in later life having caused her to withdraw from wider public activities.

Mrs Waring died at Waringstown House, Waringstown, County Down, on the 9th May, 1968.

The Waringstown estate was inherited by her nephew, Michael Harnett, his wife Anne, and their children, Jane and William.

WARINGSTOWN HOUSE, Waringstown, County Down, is said to be one of the earliest surviving unfortified Ulster houses.

It was built by William Waring - who also erected the adjacent church -  in 1667.

The house seems to have been originally of two storeys with an attic; with pedimented, curvilinear gables along the front, still existent at the sides.

The front was swiftly raised to form three storeys, thus providing a late 17th or early 18th century appearance.

The centre block is of six bays, with a pedimented doorcase flanked by two narrow windows.

The two central bays are enclosed with rusticated quoins, as are the sides of the centre block and wings.

The front is elongated by two short sweeps, ending in piers with finials.

There are lofty, Tudor-Revival chimneys.

Waringstown House lay empty for a period, when Mrs D G Waring died in 1968.

The Waring family used to own a town house at 13 Victoria Square in London.

THE DEMESNE grounds here have their origin in the late 17th century and are surprisingly modest, considering the considerable architectural importance of this house, built on rising ground (apparently on the site of a rath) by William Waring (1619-1703), who founded the village, formerly Clanconnel.

In 1689, the extension was added to the south by the Duke of Schomberg, who occupied the house before the battle of the Boyne.

Pineapple-topped gate pillars are in the yard, possibly of early 18th century date.

The original house had a bawn, outside of which lay, as shown on a map of 1703, a series of regular enclosures, some of which were gardens and orchards.

These formal grounds, evidently expanded by William's son, Samuel Waring MP (1657-1739), contained some fine trees: In 1802, the Rev John Dubourdieu noted that there were then oaks of great size, a notable walnut in the ‘yard adjoining the house’ and ‘some of the largest beech in this county’.

Some of these were evidently lost in the "Big Wind" of January, 1839, when it was reported that ‘a row of noble beeches were prostrated’.

Although in the later 18th century the grounds were naturalised and extended with additional shelter belt plantations by Samuel Waring (1697-1793), much of original early 18th century planting survived into the 19th century.

In 1837, for example, Lewis remarked on the ‘ancient and flourishing forest trees’ that then existed at Waringstown, noting also that ‘the pleasure grounds, gardens and shrubberies are extensive and kept in the best order’.

The Ordnance Memoirs, also written in the 1830s, noted that the early Victorian gardens here included an ‘ornamental ground very tasteful’ and a flower garden ‘reckoned the best in the county’; this were located to the south of the house.

To the northwest lay the kitchen garden, which was 18th century in origin and enclosed with clipped beech hedges rather than walls. It was approached by a long path from the house court and contained kitchen stuff and orchards; this is no longer used as originally intended.

To the west of the house there is a Victorian rockery, made of massive flints from Magheralin, with a pond and rustic stone arch, built sometime after 1834 and before 1860.

In the 1980s, Alan Mitchell made a list of the present collection of flora, now in possession of the owner of the house.

The UAHS publication for the area (1968) noted that the grounds and planting here associated with the building, were not just ‘of equal value as a setting and an amenity’, but were also important to the village of Waringstown itself - a self-evident observation perhaps, but worth re-stating.

By and large, the layout of the demesne has changed little from 1834.

The southern end is taken up by the cricket ground, which includes a rath.

First published in March, 2013.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

English Lesson

Jeeves in the Offing was published by Sir P G Wodehouse in 1960.

In Chapter Eighteen Bertie Wooster is discussing his old prep schoolmaster, Aubrey Upjohn MA:-

“Audacity,” I said, throwing her the line.

“The audacity to dictate to me who I shall have in my house.”

It should have been “whom”,  but I let it go.

“You have the ...”


“...the immortal rind,” she amended, and I have to admit it was stronger, “to tell me whom” - she got it right that time - “I may entertain at Brinkley Court, and who” - wrong again - “I may not.”

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Mount Trenchard House


EDWARD RICE, of Dingle, County Kerry, during the reign of HENRY VIII, married Anne, daughter of John Wall, of County Limerick, and was father of

ROBERT RICE, of Dingle, who wedded Julia, daughter of Sir James Whyte, Knight, of Cashel, County Tipperary, and was father of

STEPHEN RICE, of Dingle, MP for Kerry, 1613, who made a deed of settlement of his estates, 1619, and died in 1623.

He espoused Helena, daughter of Thomas Trant, of Cahirtrant, County Kerry, and had two sons, JAMES, MP for Dingle, 1635, from whom descended the RT HON THOMAS SPRING-RICE MP, of Mount Trenchard, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon; and

DOMINICK RICE, MP for Dingle, 1635, who married Alice, daughter of James Hussey, Baron of Galtrim, from which marriage descended

THE RT HON SIR STEPHEN RICE (1637-1715), Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer, and a supporter of JAMES II, who wedded Mary, daughter of Thomas FitzGerald, of County Limerick, and had issue,
EDWARD, of whom we treat.
Sir Stephen's elder son,

THOMAS RICE, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son,

STEPHEN EDWARD RICE, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Mary; Catherine Ann.
Mr Rice died in 1831, and was succeeded by his son,

THOMAS SPRING-RICE (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39, who wedded firstly, in 1811, the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick, and had issue,
STEPHEN EDMUND, his successor;
Charles William Thomas, father of SIR CECIL SPRING-RICE GCMG GCVO;
Edmund Henry;
Aubrey Richard;
William Cecil;
Mary Alicia Pery; Theodosia Alicia Ellen F Charlotte; Catherine Anne Lucy.
Mr Spring Rice was elevated to the peerage, in 1839, by the title of BARON MONTEAGLE OF BRANDON, of Brandon, County Kerry.

My his first wife he had issue,
STEPHEN EDMOND, his successor;
Charles William Thomas;
Edmond Henry Francis Louis;
Aubrey Richard;
William Cecil;
Theodosia Alicia Ellen F Charlotte; Mary Alicia Pery; Catherine Anne Lucy.
His lordship's eldest son,

THE HON STEPHEN EDMOND SPRING-RICE (1814-65), of Mount Trenchard, espoused, in 1839, Ellen Mary, daughter of William Frere, and had issue,
THOMAS, 2nd Baron;
FRANCIS, 4th Baron;
Aileen; Lucy; Theodosia; Mary; Alice; Frederica; Catherine Ellen; Amy.
The Hon Stephen Edmond Spring-Rice predeceased his father, and was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1849-1926), of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1875, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Most Rev and Rt Hon Samuel Butcher, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
Stephen Edmond (1877-1900);
Mary Ellen (1880-1924), of Mount Trenchard.
Thomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron (1849–1926);
Thomas Aubrey Spring Rice, 3rd Baron (1883–1934);
Francis Spring Rice, 4th Baron (1852–1937);
Charles Spring Rice, 5th Baron (1887–1946);
Gerald Spring Rice, 6th Baron (1926–2013);
Charles James Spring Rice, 7th Baron (b 1953).
The heir presumptive is the present holder's uncle, the Hon Michael Spring Rice (b 1935).
The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son, Jonathan Spring Rice (b 1964).
The heir presumptive's heir apparent's heir apparent is his son, Jamie Alexander Spring Rice (b 2003).

MOUNT TRENCHARD HOUSE, near Foynes, County Limerick, is a late-Georgian house of three storeys over a basement, with two curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the River Shannon estuary.

There is a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front, too.

One side of the house has a two-storey Victorian wing, which is almost as high as the main block; while the other side has a one bay, three storey addition and a lower two-storey wing.

Mount Trenchard was occupied by the Irish Army in 1944.

When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.

Lady Holland lived there for several years.

In 1954, the Sisters of Mercy acquired the estate and ran it as a private school for girls.

They extended the complex to include inter alia a large 1960s dormitory block, classrooms and a church.

Mount Trenchard House became the preserve of the nuns and continued in use as a dwelling.

Subsequent owners acquired the estate in 1996 and began restoring Mount Trenchard House for use as a centre for holistic medicine.

One aspect of the conservation plan was to restore the historic approach to the house which was originally from the south side (in the second half of the 19th century the house had been re-oriented to the north).

This involved changes to the present grounds and paths and woodlands, on the recommendation of the architects leading the project, the owners appointed me to advise them on the forestry and arboriculture aspects of the woodland, heritage, veteran/ancient and champion trees on the estate.

Mount Trenchard is currently used by an agency of the Irish government as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers.

First published in January, 2013.

Wilmont House


WILMONT HOUSE, Dunmurry, is located on Upper Malone Road in south Belfast.

It is a plain two-storey Victorian house, built in 1859, with a three-bay front and a balustraded porch.

There is a lower wing, ending with the wing as high as the main block.

The adjoining front has a central curved bow and one bay on either side; and camber-headed windows in the upper storey of the main block.

The roof is eaved on a bracket cornice.

There is a good article here about Wilmont's history.

The estate was formed in the mid-18th century by William Stewart, a member of a family which had come from Scotland, over a century before, to neighbouring Ballydrain.

The Stewarts were prominent farmers.
It is recorded that carrots, on a field scale, were grown at Wilmont in the early 1800s - a novel crop in those days - and that one of the early threshing machines was erected on the Wilmont Farm in 1811. There was a bleach-green on the property until 1815.
Bleach-greens, common features of the Lagan Valley during the 18th and 19th centuries, consisted of grass areas where long strips of brown linen were pegged out to bleach in natural light.

The original house, which stood on the site of the present-day barbecue area, dated back to 1740 and was replaced by the present red-bricked house in 1859.

This house was designed by Thomas Jackson (1807-90), one of Belfast`s most notable Victorian architects.

Wilmont House is typical of Jackson's domestic designs, sensibly and comfortably planned, undemonstrative in an age when many buildings were excessively ornate, and providing a composition entirely suiting the situation.

One unusual feature of the house is the false window which has been painted on the brickwork above the porch to balance the facade composition.

In the 19th century, Wilmont was inhabited by the Bristow family, influential bankers who were descendants of the Rev William Bristow, Sovereign (mayor) of Belfast in the latter years of the 18th century.

The initials of James Bristow, the first of the family to take up residence, are inscribed on the side of the house.

The Bristows sold Wilmont to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade, JP, DL (1837-1913) in 1879.

His son, George Reade, subsequently sold the house to Sir Thomas Dixon Bt.

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon purchased Wilmont demesne in 1919.

Wilmont was one of three homes belonging to the Dixons, the others being Drumadarragh and Cairndhu, both in County Antrim.

The Dixons were a highly respected and illustrious couple.

Sir Thomas, 2nd Baronet, born in Groomsport, County Down in 1868, was the eldest son of Sir Daniel Dixon, Bt.

Both Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon had distinguished public careers: From 1939-41 they served as first Mayor and Mayoress of Larne, and were great benefactors to the Borough.

In 1935, they donated Dixon Park to Larne Borough Council as a gift, together with £500 for the provision of music in the park.

Cairndhu was donated to the Hospitals Authority, for use as a convalescent home.

In 1957, Lady Dixon presented the Mayoress's chain of office to Larne Borough Council; and in 1964, robes, to be worn by Aldermen, Councillors and Mace Bearer.

In the early 1960s, Lady Dixon donated £10,000 towards the cost of converting and renovating the former technical college into Council Offices.

They are now known as Sir Thomas Dixon Buildings.

Sir Thomas died at Harrowgate in 1950. Lady Dixon, who was appointed DBE after the 1st World War in recognition of her service to HM Forces, died in 1964. 

A year before her death, in 1963, Wilmont demesne was officially handed over to Belfast Corporation.

The house, according to her wishes, was shortly afterwards opened as a home for the elderly; while the grounds, at her behest, were opened to the public.

The present park, named after its benefactors, consists of 134 acres and has been the venue for the City of Belfast International Rose Trials since 1964.

Over the years, it has become one of the most popular parkland areas in the city of Belfast.

Many distinguished visitors have stayed at Wilmont House in the past: Captain Scott, the famous Antarctic explorer, was a guest, during his visit to Belfast in 1904.

In 1934, the house became the temporary residence of His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland when Government House, Hillsborough, was damaged by fire on 7th August of that year.

The Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Ulster, was a guest in 1935, during Sir Thomas's period as Lord-Lieutenant. 

During World war II, the house served as the Northern Ireland headquarters of the United States Army.

The property, as already mentioned, was given to Belfast Corporation by Lady Dixon in 1963.

ALAS, the future of Wilmont House is uncertain at the time of this article (February, 2015).


The 134 acres formed part of a demesne founded in the 18th century for a house of 1740, which is now gone.

The grounds retain many features from the gardens for this house and many subsequent developments added by Belfast City Council.

There are fine mature trees in undulating woodland and parkland, with the River Lagan adding interest.

A large part of the park contains the International Rose Trial grounds, set up in 1964 and remodelled from the late 1980s. 

Judging takes place over a long period but the highlight is Rose Week, which has been marked every year in July since 1975.

Camellia trials have taken place since 1981. 

A Japanese Garden was added in 1991.

The walled gardens have been redesigned from their traditional layout and contain interesting plant material.

There are also remains from former times: for example, an ice house; gate lodge; stable block; and a yew walk.

The recreational facilities take the form of picnic benches, children’s playground, lawns, good planting, band concerts, café and shop. 

This is not a park designated for organised sports, though part of the original holding is now a private golf course.

First published August, 2010.