Thursday 20 June 2024

Kenure Park



ROGER PALMER (alleged to have been the third son of Edward Palmer, of Nayton and Casterton, Norfolk) went over to Ireland and had a grant of Castle Lackin, and many other lands in County Mayo, in 1684. His signature appears to the address from the nobility and gentry of County Mayo to CHARLES II in 1682.

The Palmer family had come to Ireland in 1681 from Norfolk, and had acquired lands in County Mayo, where by the end of the 19th Century, they had amassed 80,000 acres. 

THOMAS PALMER, of Castle Lackin, County Mayo, second son of Roger Palmer, of Palmerstown, in the same county, was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROGER PALMER (1729-90), MP for Jamestown, 1761-8, Portarlington, 1768-83, who was created a baronet in 1777, designated of Castle Lackin.

Sir Roger wedded Miss Andrews, and had issue,
JOHN ROGER, his successor;
WILLIAM HENRY, succeeded his brother;
He was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR JOHN ROGER PALMER, 2nd Baronet, who married Mary, only daughter of the Rev Thomas Althem, and was succeeded at his decease, in 1819, by his brother,

SIR WILLIAM HENRY PALMER, 3rd Baronet, of Castle Lackin, who espoused Alice, daughter of _____ Franklin, and had issue,
Francis Roger;
John Roger;
Charlotte Alice; Augusta Sophia; Ellen Ambrosia.
Sir William died in 1840, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WILLIAM HENRY ROGER PALMER, 4th Baronet (1802-69), who married and was succeeded by his only son,

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR ROGER WILLIAM HENRY PALMER, 5th and last Baronet (1832-1910), MP for Mayo, 1857-65, High Sheriff of County Mayo, 1888.

Kenure Park

The Palmers owned a number of seats, including Keenagh Lodge, Crossmolina, and the ruinous Castle Lackin in County Mayo; Cefn Park, near Wrexham, North Wales; Glenisland, Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Their principal Irish seat (through marriage) was Kenure Park, near Rush, County Dublin, where the estate comprised 3,991 acres.

Lieutenant-General Sir Roger Palmer, 5th and last Baronet, MP for Mayo, 1857-65, was Ellen Palmer's only brother.

He resided at Kenure with his wife, Gertrude Millicent, until his death in 1910.

Lady Palmer survived her husband for many years. She continued to spend much of her time in Kenure (above) until her death in 1929.

There are people in Rush who still remember the parties held in the house for the children of the town.

Sir Roger and Lady Palmer left no heirs, and the property devolved to Colonel Roderick Henry Fenwick-Palmer, who had fought in the 1st World War, and still bore the marks of shrapnel wounds to his face.

He had property of his own in Wrexham, North Wales, and only came to Kenure in the summer.

A plain man, he was not given to living the high life, apart from dining occasionally with friends, such as the late Lord Revelstoke.

He spent a lot of money trying to keep the house in repair.

He was finally defeated by rising costs on a property which was not making money.

Part of the estate had already been sold years before.

He eventually sold Kenure to the Irish Land Commission, in 1964, for £70.000.

Most of the land was divided up among local farmers.

The remainder was sold to Dublin County Council for housing and playing fields.

The woodland was cleared and all that now remains of the trees, which once dominated the skyline, is a small area around the main gate.

The front gate lodge is now the local Scouts' Den.

The gate lodge at Skerries Road belongs to Rush Cricket Club, which has beautifully refurbished it.

The Gate-Keeper's Lodge, the walled garden, the Steward's Lodge, the pond and shady avenues, have all gone the way of the big house itself. Only the portico remains, a stark remainder of what once was there.

The contents of the house were auctioned in September 1964, the auction lasted four days and realised £250,000, which would be over £1,000,000 in present day values.

Socially, Kenure had been a place apart from the ordinary life of the town, but it had been there for hundreds of years, an essential part of the Rush scene.

The general feeling was one of regret and disbelief that it was disintegrating.

As landlords, the Palmers had not been the worst.

However, there had been some evictions, and one action, which is still adversely remembered, was the removal of some of their tenants from their ancient holdings in order to lengthen the main avenue and have the main entrance gate near the town.

Nevertheless the Palmers were in many ways beneficent to Rush.

They gave land for the Catholic and Protestant churches, for a presbytery and for a teacher's residence.

In 1896, when the Catholic church was being refurbished, they donated the seating for the nave, and a brass memorial tablet in the church testifies to this.

A portion of the estate was allocated to the local cricket club, and it was certainly the most beautifully situated cricket pitch in north County Dublin.

Dublin County Council was left with an empty mansion, for which they could find no buyer.

The house continued to deteriorate.

During this time it was rented to a film company and a few films were made there, including "Ten Little Indians," "Rocket to the Moon," and "The Fall of Fu Manchu."

In 1978, after a series of incidents in which the house was vandalized and set on fire, with the inevitable water damage that resulted from the fire engines having to put out the blaze, the house was in a very dangerous condition structurally.

The County Council decided it had no choice but to demolish the house.

Within a few days, all that was left of this once great house was a mountain of rubble, from which the massive portico arose, forlorn and lonely against the sky.

First published in September, 2011. Select bibliography: KENURE HOUSE AND DEMESNE

Lissan House


This family settled in Ulster during the reign of JAMES ITHOMAS STAPLES, of Lissan, the founder of the family in Ulster, came from Bristol ca 1610, as part of the plantation of Ulster. This Thomas, fifth son of Alexander Staples, settled in Moneymore, County Londonderry (then being constructed as part of the terms of the plantation grant to the Worshipful Company of Drapers, which had been granted large swathes of the new county in 1611).

His stone house is marked in a map of 1635 as in the centre of Moneymore, beside the Market Cross. 

ALEXANDER STAPLES, of Yate Court, Gloucestershire, married firstly, Avis, daughter of Richard Browne, of Marlborough, Wiltshire, and secondly, Elizabeth.

Tomb of Alexander Staples (Image: Lissan House)

He had issue,
George, purchased the Manor of Fovant, Wiltshire;
Richard, of Boreham;
Alexander, of Nottingham;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Mr Staples died in 1590. His fifth son,

THOMAS STAPLES, of Lissan, County Tyrone, and of Faughanvale, County Londonderry, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1640, wedded, ante 1623, Charity, only child and heiress of Sir Baptist Jones, of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, and had issue,
BAPTIST, his successor;
ALEXANDER, 3rd Baronet;
ROBERT, 4th Baronet;
Charity; Elizabeth.
Mr Staples was created a baronet by CHARLES I in 1628, designated of Lissan, County Tyrone.

About the same date, Sir Thomas purchased several leases, including the lands of the town of Cookstown and 180 acres at what now comprises the Lissan demesne.

It is thought that a dwelling existed on the estate at this time along with an Iron Forge which was used to smelt the iron deposits found across the estate.

Mainly as a result of the existence of the forge, the dwelling house survived the Rebellion of 1641.

Sir Thomas died in 1653, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR BAPTIST STAPLES, 2nd Baronet (1630-72), of Lissan and Faughanvale,, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ALEXANDER STAPLES, 3rd Baronet, of Lissan and Faughanvale, MP for Strabane, 1661-5, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1661, who married Elizabeth Conynham, and had issue,
another daughter.
Sir Alexander died in 1673, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ROBERT STAPLES, 4th Baronet (1643-1714), of Lissan, MP for Dungannon, 1692-3, Clogher, 1696-9, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1703, who wedded, in 1681/2, Mary, daughter of the Most Rev John Vesey, of Abbey Leix, County Laois, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;
Robert, died in infancy;
another son, died in infancy;
ALEXANDER, 6th Baronet;
Thomas (Rev), 1702-62; father of Rt Hon John Staples MP;
Jane; Ann; Rebecca; Mary.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN STAPLES, 5th Baronet (1684-1730), who espoused Mary Goslin, and had issue,
Isabella Elizabeth;
two other daughters.
Sir John died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ALEXANDER STAPLES, 6th Baronet (1693-1741), who wedded, in 1735, Abigail, daughter and heiress of Thomas Townley, of County Cavan, and had an only son,

SIR ROBERT STAPLES, 7th Baronet (1740-1816), who espoused firstly, in 1761, Alicia, daughter of the Rev Thomas Staples, of Lissan, by whom he had one daughter, Sarah, who married Samuel Jacob, of Mowbamam, County Tipperary.

He married secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir William Barker Bt, and had issue,
ROBERT, his successor;
Anna Maria, m, 1790, R Smyth.
Sir Robert wedded thirdly, in 1776, Jane, third daughter of John Denny, Lord Knapton, and sister to the Viscount de Vesci, by whom he had issue,
Isabella; Elizabeth Selina; Anne; Catherine.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his only son,

Sir Robert Staples, 8th Baronet

SIR ROBERT STAPLES, 8th Baronet (1772-1832), who died unmarried in 1832, when the title reverted to his cousin,

SIR THOMAS STAPLES, 9th Baronet (1775-1865), a barrister, MP for Knocktopher, 1800, son of the Rt Hon John Staples, of Dunmore, Queen's County, who espoused, in 1813, Catherine, daughter of the Rev John Hawkins.

Sir Thomas Staples, 9th Baronet,  by Martin Cregan

The marriage was without issue, and the baronetcy reverted to his cousin,

SIR NATHANIEL ALEXANDER STAPLES, 10th Baronet (1817-99), DP DL, son of the Rev John Molesworth Staples, Captain, Bengal Artillery, who wedded, in 1844, Elizabeth Lindsay, daughter of Captain James Head, and had issue,
JOHN MOLESWORTH, his successor;
James Head (1849-1917);
ROBERT PONSONBY, successor to his brother;
Cecilia; another daughter.
Sir Nathaniel was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN MOLESWORTH STAPLES, 11th Baronet (1848-1933), who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ROBERT PONSONBY STAPLES, 12th Baronet (1853-1943), who married, in 1883, Ada Louise, daughter of Mr H Stammers, and had issue,
Violet Hope; Beatrice Joyce Head; Nora Lettice Mary.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his only son,

SIR ROBERT GEORGE ALEXANDER STAPLES, 13th Baronet (1894-1970), of Lissan, Lieutenant, Royal Army Service Corps, who wedded, in 1922, Vera Lilian, daughter of John Jenkins, and had issue,
HAZEL MARION, of Lissan;
Elizabeth Hope (1924-70).
Sir Nathaniel Alexander Staples, 10th Baronet (1817-99);
Sir John Molesworth Staples, 11th Baronet (1848–1933);
Sir Robert Ponsonby Staples, 12th Baronet (1853–1943);
Sir Robert George Alexander Staples, 13th Baronet (1894–1970);
Sir John Richard Staples, 14th Baronet (1906-89);
Sir Thomas Staples, 15th Baronet (1905–97);
Sir Gerald James Arland Staples, 16th Baronet (1909–99);
Sir Richard Molesworth Staples, 17th Baronet (1914–2013).

LISSAN HOUSE, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, has recently been fully restored and is now open to visitors.

It owes its existence to Sir Thomas's third son, Sir Robert, 4th Baronet.

There is some evidence of building on the site ca 1580.

Construction of the present building began about 1620.

It was reconstructed ca 1690, with notable alterations in ca 1780, 1840 and  1880.

Lissan House today is mainly a plain, three storey, nine bay Georgian residence (with the later additions).

At one end there is a single-storey wing with a three-sided, mullioned bow.

The other end has a gable-ended office range; and in the middle of the entrance front, a "single-storey protuberance of unusual depth" embodying a porch and a bow-fronted porte-cochére with windows.

At some stage, after the mid-18th century, a garden was laid out here with "an artificial sheet of water with cascades and a picturesque bridge".

Lissan House was originally built ca 1690 by Sir Robert Staples, 4th Baronet.

It was extended in the early 1800s, and altered and extended again in the 1870s, including the addition of a clock tower in 1878 and a windowed porte-cochére ca 1880.

The main staircase and entrance hall were enlarged about 1888.

A long gallery wing to the west integrated with house in the early 1900s to permit easier access to the first floor of the house.

Apart from its 17th century origins and later Victorian additions, the house as it stands now is basically of the 18th century in general form and exterior appearance, while the interior is largely of the 19th century, with some 18th century elements.

The original house of the late 17th century was built of brick made on the estate; local stone, probably from a quarry near the house; and massive oak beams thought to have come from the woodlands on the estate.

Part of this 17th century building can still be seen in the core of the house, particularly in the kitchen area where the walls are between six and eight feet thick; and in the basement, where very old timbers survive.

The form and siting of Thomas Staples' first residence at Lissan is uncertain, but it may have been in the block attached to the south-west corner of the present house, known today as the Creamery.

The house remained the home of the Staples family for over three centuries, reputedly the longest occupation by any single family of a country house in the western part of Ulster.

The last owner and occupant, and last descendant of the Staples family, was Hazel Dolling, daughter of Sir Robert George Alexander Staples, 13th Baronet, who died in 1970.

She died in 2006 and passed the house and estate in trust, bequeathing the house to the community, intended by her to become a centre for music and arts for central Ulster.
The extensive estate, which is over 250 acres, includes a number of other buildings, including old farm buildings, an ice house, old stone bridges over the Lissan Water river, a walled garden of four and a half acres, a gardener's cottage, a gate lodge and pillars, an 18th century bridge and cascade designed by the architect Davis Ducart, and a generator house dating from 1902.
A 19th century ballroom is attached to the east side of the house.

The ornamental gardens have gone and the 4½ acre walled garden (three walls) is no longer planted up.

The Gardener’s House and offices are no longer used.

There are mature trees and forest planting.

The Lissan Water flows near the house, wooded on either side, and there are several bridges crossing the river, which is also the county boundary.

One of two gate lodges survives of ca 1830.

Lissan House and demesne is now run by a Trust and has an informative website. 

Other former residence ~ 2, Barkfield, Freshfield Road, Formby, Lancashire.

First published in November, 2010.

Wednesday 19 June 2024

The Blackwood Baronets (1763)

The Blackwoods, represented by the noble house of Dufferin, are of Scottish extraction, and can be traced in the public records of Scotland to a very early period. One branch migrated to France, of which was the celebrated Adam Blackwood (1539-1613), privy counsellor to MARY, Queen of Scots (whose marriage with the Dauphin of France he had negotiated), and senator of the Presidial Court of Poitiers.

He died there in 1613, leaving ample proofs of his talents as a civilian, a poet, and a divine; and was there interred with great pomp under a marble monument, inscribed with a long epitaph, styling him "Nobilis Scotus, inclytorum majorum, in Caledonia notus." 

The male line of the French Blackwoods became extinct at the death  of SIMON XAVIER DE BLACVOD, Chevalier, Seigneur des Frozes in Poitou, whose eldest daughter and co-heiress, MARIE THÉRÈSE BLACVOD, married, in 1776, Jean Philippe Bellin de la Bontadière, Chevalier, Seigneur des Cotes. A scion of the Fifeshire family (from which Fifeshire family also derived the Poitou branch) was

JOHN BLACKWOOD, of Bangor, County Down, born in Scotland in 1591, who became possessed of considerable landed property in Ulster, which he settled on the marriage of his son. 

He died in 1663,  and was interred at Bangor Abbey.

His grave-stone reads:
John Blackwood wedded Janet Clerke, and had, with three daughters, a son and successor,

JOHN BLACKWOOD, of Ballyleidy, County Down, who was attainted by JAMES II.

He espoused Anna Wauchope, and died in 1698, leaving, with three daughters, an only son,

JOHN BLACKWOOD, of Ballyleidy, also attainted by JAMES II's parliament. 

He married Ursula, daughter and co-heir of Robert Hamilton, of Killyleagh, and by her had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
James, ancestor of the Blackwoods (now PRICES) of Saintfield;
The elder son,

ROBERT BLACKWOOD (1694-1774), of Ballyleidy, married firstly, in 1721,  Joyce, sister of JOSEPH, 1ST EARL OF MILLTOWN, and had issue,
Leeson, d 1773;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
He wedded secondly, Grace Macartney, and had further issue,
Grace; Sarah; Elizabeth; Ursula Harriot; Dorcas.
Mr Blackwood was created a baronet in 1763, designated of Ballyleidy, County Down.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

 2nd Baronet (1721-99), who married, in 1751, DORCAS, 1ST BARONESS DUFFERIN AND CLANEBOYE, eldest daughter and heiress of James Stevenson, of Killyleagh, and had issue,
JAMES STEVENSON, his successor;
John (Rev);
HANS, succeeded his brother;
Henry, Vice-Admiral; cr a baronet, designated of the Navy;
Anne; Sophia; Dorcas; Margaret Catherine.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR JAMES STEVENSON BLACKWOOD, 3rd Baronet (1755–1836), who inherited the barony at the decease of his mother and succeeded, in 1807, as 2nd Baron Dufferin and Claneboye.

Sir James married, in 1801, Anne Dorothea, daughter of John, 1st Baron Oriel, though the marriage was without issue.

He was succeeded in the family honours by his brother,

HANS, 3rd Baron and 4th Baronet (1758-1839), who espoused firstly, in 1784, Mehetabel Hester, daughter of Robert Temple, and had issue,
Robert Temple (1788-1815);
PRICE, 4th Baron;
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1801, Elizabeth, daughter of William Henry Finlay, and had further issue,
William Stear (Rev);
Henry Stevenson;
Anna Dorothea; Elizabeth Dorcas; Henrietta Catherine; two other daughters.
The 3rd Baron was succeeded by his son and successor,

PRICE, 4th Baron and 5th Baronet (1794-1841), who married, in 1825, Helen Selina, daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and had issue,

FREDERICK TEMPLE, 5th Baron and 6th Baronet (1826–1902), who was created, 1871, Earl of Dufferin; and advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1888, as MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA.


John Francis Blackwood, 11th Baron Dufferin and Claneboye (b 1944), would be the 12th Blackwood Baronet of Ballyleidy, and the 8th Blackwood Baronet of the Navy; the baronetcy, however, remains dormant.

The Blackwood Baronets' London residence was 13 Cavendish Square.

First published in June, 2012.

1st Earl of Mar and Kellie


The family of Erskine probably took their name from the lands of Erskine, Renfrewshire.

THE RT HON SIR ALEXANDER ERSKINE OF GOGAR, Knight, third son of John, 5th Lord Erskine and 16th Earl of Mar de jure, by the Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of Archibald, 2nd Earl of Argyll.

The house of Erskine, Earls and Countesses of Mar, is one of the most ancient families in the Scottish peerage; so old, indeed, that the date of the creation of its honours is lost in its antiquity.

This Alexander was sworn, in 1578, of His Majesty's privy council, nominated Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and constituted Vice-Chamberlain of Scotland.

He married Margaret, daughter of Lord Home, by whom he had three sons and three daughters.

The eldest son, Sir Alexander, fell at the surprise of Stirling Castle, in 1578, and the second,

SIR THOMAS ERSKINE, born in the same year with JAMES I, and educated with that monarch, having accompanied His Majesty to England, was created, in 1606, Baron Dirletoun and Viscount Fenton (the first viscountcy of Scotland).

His lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1619, as EARL OF KELLIE, installed a Knight of the Garter, and sworn of the privy councils of England and Scotland.

He married Anne, daughter of Sir Gilbert Ogilvie, of Powrie, by whom he had a daughter, and a son, Alexander, Viscount Fenton, who wedded the Lady Anne Seton, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, by whom he left three sons:
ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl;
THOMAS, the eldest.
THOMAS succeeded his grandfather in 1639, and dying unmarried in 1643, the family honours devolved upon his brother,

ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl, who was succeeded, in 1657, by his only son,

ALEXANDER, 4th Earl, who was also succeeded (in 1710) by an only son,

ALEXANDER, 5th Earl, who married twice and was succeeded, on his demise in 1756, by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 6th Earl, who died unmarried, in 1781, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

ARCHIBALD, 7th Earl, who died, unmarried, in 1797, when the peerage reverted to his kinsman,

SIR CHARLES ERSKINE, Baronet, of Cambo, the direct descendant of Charles Erskine (who was created a baronet in 1666), youngest son of Alexander, Viscount Fenton, eldest son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kellie.

His lordship dying unmarried in 1799, the family honours reverted to his uncle,

THOMAS, 9th Earl.
The heir presumptive is Lord Mar's brother, the Hon Alexander David Erskine, Master of Mar (b. 1952). It is known that the lineage survived in the Erskine-Kellies, with the current heir Andrew Erskine (b. 1998) estimated as the 17th Earl of Mar and 19th Earl of Kellie.
Cambo house (Image: Wikipedia/ Dr Richard Murray)

CAMBO HOUSE, near Kingsbarns, in Fife, was built between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.
The estate of Cambo was granted to Robert de Newenham by a charter of King William the Lion. His descendents took the name "de Cambhou", and had settled in Fife by the early 14th century. In 1599, the estate was granted to Thomas Myretoun.
In 1668, Sir Charles Erskine Bt (d. 1677), the Lord Lyon King of Arms and brother of the 3rd Earl of Kellie, purchased the property from the creditors of Patrick Merton.

The estate passed through the Erskine family to the 5th Earl of Kellie, who forfeited his lands after supporting the Jacobite rising of 1745.

In 1759, Cambo was sold to the Charteris family, who bought it for their son who was studying at St Andrews University.

Thomas Erskine, 9th Earl of Kellie, bought the estate back in the 1790s.

A successful merchant in Sweden, he invested heavily in improving the estate, building the picturesque Georgian estate farms, and carrying out extensive land drainage.

The 9th Earl commissioned the architect Robert Balfour to remodel the house in 1795.

His descendents continued the improvement of the estate through the 19th century, laying out ornamental gardens, with a series of early cast iron bridges.
The old house comprised a tower house with numerous additions, including a first-floor conservatory. It was destroyed by fire in 1878, after a staff party when the Erskine family was away.
The present house was built on the same site between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.

The house is operated as self-catering and bed & breakfast accommodation, while the walled garden and woodland gardens are open to the public year-round.

The estate woodlands have a significant collection of snowdrops, including over 300 varieties of Galanthus species.

The estate was awarded National Collection status by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.

Kingsbarns Golf Links was laid out in 2000 to designs by American golf course architects Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen.

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, an annual pro-am golf tournament, is played in October at Kingsbarns, St Andrews Old Course, and Carnoustie.

ERSKINE HOUSE, Glasgow,  was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum.

During the 1st World War it became the Princess Louise Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

It is now the Mar Hall Hotel, its name recalling the estate’s former ownership by the Earl of Mar.
During the early 18th century, the Mar estate and old Erskine House came into the ownership of the Lords Blantyre. In 1828 Major General Robert W Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre and a distinguished veteran of the Wellington’s Peninsular campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars, commissioned the present house.
His architect, Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) was still engaged in designing the British Museum.

That, however, is a very classical design whereas Erskine House is more Gothic with touches of Tudor, in the small turrets and pointed arches in the principal windows and entrance porch.

The stone was quarried locally. Sir Charles Barry produced designs for the gardens.

The house was completed only in 1845.

The final cost was £50,000, about £2.5m today.

When the Blantyre line became extinct in 1900, the house was left derelict but in 1916 it re-opened as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital of Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

In recent years £15m has been invested in the refurbishment of the house and the restoration of its many original features as the Mar Hall Hotel.

First published in November, 2013.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Rokeby Hall


GRACE ROBINSON (1718-76), youngest daughter of Thomas Robinson, of Rokeby, Yorkshire, and sister of Sir Thomas Robinson, 1st Baronet, and of the Most Rev Richard Robinson, Lord Archbishop of Armagh (created BARON ROKEBY), married, in 1739, the Very Rev Dr William Freind, of Whitney, Oxfordshire, Dean of Canterbury, and had, with other issue,
William Maximilian;
JOHN, of whom we treat;
The youngest son,

JOHN FREIND (1754-1832), assumed, in 1793, his maternal surname of ROBINSON.

Mr Robinson was created a baronet in 1819, designated of Rokeby Hall.

This gentleman wedded, in 1786, Mary Anne, second daughter of James Spencer, of Rathangan, County Kildare, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Henry James;
Robert Spencer (Admiral Sir), KCB;
Jane; Louisa; Charlotte; Mary Anne; Henrietta; Grace Alicia; Emily;
Caroline; Frances; Sophia; Selina; Isabella Esther.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD ROBINSON, 2nd Baronet (1787-1847), who espoused, in 1813, the Lady Eleanor Helena Moore, daughter of Stephen, 2nd Earl Mount Cashell, and had issue,
JOHN STEPHEN, his successor;
Helena Esther Florence; Elizabeth Selina.
Sir Richard was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN STEPHEN ROBINSON, 3rd Baronet (1816-95), JP DL, High Sheriff of County Louth, 1849, who married, in 1841, Sarah, only daughter of Anthony Denny, of Barham Wood, Hertfordshire, and granddaughter of the celebrated Lord Collingwood, and had issue,
Richard Collingwood;
Maud Helena Collingwood.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR GERALD WILLIAM COLLINGWOOD ROBINSON, 4th Baronet (1857-1903), who was succeeded by his nephew,

SIR RICHARD HARCOURT ROBINSON, 5th Baronet (1828-1910), Lieutenant-Colonel, 60th Rifles, who died without male issue, when the baronetcy expired.

ROKEBY HALL, Dunleer, County Louth, is a mansion built in the neo-classical style ca 1785 for the Most Rev Richard Robinson, Lord Archbishop of Armagh (later 1st Baron Rokeby).

The original design of the house was probably by Thomas Cooley.

Rokeby Hall comprises two storeys over a rusticated basement.

There are two bays on either side of the central pedimented feature, which is of three bays.

The pediment apex is adorned with Lord Rokeby's coat-of-arms.

This elegant and noble house is topped by a high roof parapet.

The front is constructed with a fine, crisp ashlar; and the steps leading up to the front door curve elegantly, too.

First published in June, 2018.

Quintin Castle

QUINTIN CASTLE is located on the Ards Peninsula, about 2½ miles east of Portaferry,  County Down.

It is one of the very few inhabited Anglo-Norman castles in Ulster.

The original castle was built by John de Courcy in 1184.

In the later middle ages the castle was held by the Smiths, a dependent family of the Savages.

In the mid-1600s, Sir James Montgomery, a relation of the Savages, purchased the castle and the surrounding lands from Dualtagh Smith.

Sir James and his son William renovated the castle, adding a large house to it as well as a walled courtyard.

At some period after an interlude in the 1650s, when a Cromwellian officer held Quintin, the Montgomerys sold the castle to George Ross, a member of an influential local family who held lands at Kearney.

Ross never lived at the castle, which remained in its mid-17th century form until the 1850s, when one of his descendants, Elizabeth Calvert, set about remodelling it.

Entrance Front of Quintin Castle. Image: Robert John Welch (1859-1936)

Quintin Castle was, by that time, a ruinous structure, much of whose stone, according to the OS Memoirs, had been taken by local people.
This remodelling included the raising in height of the central keep, the construction of drawing and dining rooms and the general decoration to the entire building, as well as rebuilding the courtyard walls, gates and outer towers.
In 1897, the estate was sold by the Land Commission.

The house, however, remained with the descendants of the Calverts, one of whom, Magdalen King-Hall, became a writer whose many works included The Wicked Lady, a story of highwaymen and women, which later became a successful film.

The King-Halls sold the castle in the 1920s and Quintin passed though a series of owners, one of whom, James O'Hara, ran the building as a nursing home during the 1980s.

It may have been at this stage that that the secondary entrance in the front facade was added, perhaps to provide easier access for some of the elderly residents.

The central keep was raised; a walkway constructed within the battlements; a drawing-room which opened into the inner gardens; and a dining-room constructed on the lowest floor of the great tower. 

Most of the grounds were also enclosed by a massive stone wall.

In the 1870s the estate comprised 1,007 acres.

Quintin Castle was extensively refurbished by the builders McGimpsey and Kane, changing hands most recently in 2006.

It underwent a further restoration ca 2006, when it was bought by the property developer, Paul Neill.

In 2011, one bank moved against him taking control of two of his retail parks in Bangor over a £37m debt. 

Mr Neill was subsequently declared bankrupt.

Consequently, the Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (Nama) repossessed the castle in 2012.

In June, 2013, Quintin Castle was sold (asking £1.65m with 22 acres) to the Tayto Group (owned by the Hutchinson family's Manderley Food Group).

In July, 2016, the new owners applied for planning permission to convert the castle into an eight-bedroom "boutique hotel," with permission to utilize the courtyard for functions such as weddings.


The original demesne is now split up, but the house retains stone-walled terrace gardens, which were depicted as being fully planted up.

The walled garden is in separate ownership.

There is medieval-style gateway leading into the grounds of ca 1855, and a tall octagonal rubble-constructed folly tower within the grounds.

First published in January, 2011.

Monday 17 June 2024

The Jackson Baronetcy

THOMAS JACKSON, of Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland, and of Coleraine, County Londonderry, was at the battle of the Boyne, and stood high in the favour of WILLIAM III.

He married Susannah, sister of SIR TRISTRAM BERESFORD Bt (ancestor of the Marquesses of Waterford).
Miss Beresford's family was considerably powerful in the Coleraine area and her marriage to William Jackson, who also owned substantial estates near Coleraine and acted as agent for the Irish Society, was deemed a dynastic alliance. 

She had perhaps seven surviving children from her first and her husband's second marriage. Her husband fell out of favour with the Irish Society over the improper exploitation of timber belonging to them. 

Richard Jackson, of Draperstown, who served in Michelburne's regiment, was probably her son. 

In the aftermath of the siege, Susannah married John Michelburne. Both she and her daughter stood guarantee for a loan given by the Stronges to her new husband. 

Her son, William Jackson, stood in the 1697 by-election for County Londonderry, which followed the death of George Philips MP. Although the election was won by James Lennox, Mayor of Londonderry, Jackson overturned the result and had himself declared MP for the county.
Mr Jackson was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM JACKSON, of Coleraine, who married Miss Gorges, of Kilbrew, County Meath, and was father of

WILLIAM JACKSON, who espoused, in 1729, Frances, only daughter of George Eyre, of Eyre Court, County Galway, by Barbara his wife, daughter and co-heir of Thomas, 1st Earl Coningsby, and had (with a daughter, Mary, married to the Ven Edward Goulding, Archdeacon of Derry), a son,

THE RT HON RICHARD JACKSON (c1731-89), MP for Coleraine, 1751-89, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1760, Chief Secretary for Ireland, who married firstly, Lydia, niece of William Richardson MP; secondly, Nicola, daughter and co-heir of Arthur Cecil Hamilton, of Castle Hamilton, County Cavan; and thirdly, in 1768, Anne, daughter of Charles O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, County Antrim, and sister of JOHN, 1ST VISCOUNT O'NEILL.

By his first two wives he had no child, but by the third he had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Richard, died unmarried, 1767;
Anne, m Dr Nathaniel Alexander, Lord Bishop of Meath;
Mary, m John Hamiltom O'Hara, of Crebilly;
His eldest son,

GEORGE JACKSON (1776-1851), MP for Coleraine, 1789-96, Randalstown, 1797-1800, was created a baronet in 1813, designated of Fork Hill, County Armagh, and of Beech Hill, Surrey.

He married, in 1814, Anne, daughter of William Woodville, of Edgehill, Lancashire.

Sir George, having served in the army and attained military rank, had no surviving issue, and the baronetcy expired.

THE MANOR HOUSE, Coleraine, County Londonderry, was a building of two storeys over a basement with a dormered attic, and six bays. It was originally built in 1680.
This building was seemingly the official residence of the agents of the Clothworkers' livery company: The Jacksons and Edmond Stronge both filled this office. In 1871, the estate was bought by Sir Hervey Henry Bruce Bt for £150,000 (£1.5 million in today's money) and became part of the Downhill estate, created originally by The Earl-Bishop.
The old manor-house was enlarged and remodelled about 1770 by Richard Jackson, who gave it an extraordinary roof parapet of curving open-work, Chinese-style; and apparently open porches surmounted by ball finials in front of the dormers.

The windows received octagonal glazing.

The manor-house was originally faced in brick, though was rendered in cement during the 1920s.

Most of the windows were subsequently re-glazed.

The manor house was inhabited by the Jacksons from 1680 till 1803, when it was occupied by the Rev Michael Alexander.

Mrs D Maxwell was the tenant and manager between 1824-42.

From 1840-71, the Clothworkers' Company occupied the house; Charles James Knox and Edmond Stronge were successive agents.

Sir Henry Hervey Bruce Bt was resident there, 1871-1907; H T Barrie, 1914; D H Christie, 1930; Coleraine Health Centre; and ultimately Londonderry County Council, 1956-82.

Captain Stronge changed its name to the Manor House and built a lodge.

Coleraine Manor house, 6th June, 1982, two days before demolition (Image: Norman Maxwell)

It was demolished it in 1982 to form a car-park at the rear of the County Hall.

Former seats ~ Fork Hill, County Armagh; Beech Hill, Surrey.

First published in May, 2012.