Friday, 24 July 2020

Bessborough House


This ancient and noble family derives its origin from Picardy, in France.

Their ancestor accompanied William, Duke of Normandy, in his expedition to England, and his descendants established their residence at Haile, near Whitehaven, in Cumberland.

They assumed their surname from the lordship of Ponsonby, in Cumberland.

The office of Barber to the King was conferred upon them about the same time as the Earl of Arran's ancestor was appointed Butler.

JOHN PONSONBY, of Haile Hall, was great-grandfather of

SIR JOHN PONSONBY (c1609-78), Knight, of Haile, Colonel of a regiment of horse in the service of CROMWELL, who wedded Dorothy, daughter of John Brisco, of Crofton, Cumberland, and had by her a son, JOHN, ancestor of MILES PONSONBY, of Haile.

Sir John married secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, 1st Baron Folliott, and widow of Richard, son and heir of Sir Edward Wingfield, and by her had issue, from which derives the family of which we are about to treat.

Colonel Ponsonby, removing himself into Ireland, was appointed one of the commissioners for taking the depositions of the Protestants, concerning murders said to have been committed during the war, and was Sheriff of counties Wicklow and Kilkenny in 1654.

He represented the latter county in the first parliament called after the Restoration; had two grants of lands under the acts of settlement, and, by accumulating debentures, left a very considerable fortune.

Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HENRY PONSONBY, Knight, at whose decease, in the reign of WILLIAM III, without issue, the estates devolved upon his brother,

THE RT HON WILLIAM PONSONBY (1659-1724), of Bessborough, MP for County Kilkenny in the reigns of ANNE and GEORGE I, who was sworn of the Privy Council in 1715, and elevated to the peerage, in 1721, in the dignity of Baron Bessborough. of Bessborough, County Kilkenny.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1723, as Viscount Duncannon, of Duncannon, County Wexford.

He married Mary, sister of Brabazon Moore, of Ardee, County Louth, and had, with six daughters, three sons,
BRABAZON, his heir;
Henry, major-general;
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

BRABAZON, 2nd Viscount (1679-1758), who was advanced to an earldom, in 1739, as EARL OF BESSBOROUGH; and created a peer of Great Britain, 1749, as Baron Ponsonby of Sysonsby, Leicestershire.

His lordship wedded firstly, Sarah, widow of Hugh Colville, and daughter of James Margetson (son and heir of the Most Rev James Margetson, Lord Archbishop of Armagh), and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
John, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons;
Sarah, m to Edward, 5th Earl of Drogheda;
Anne, m to Benjamin Burton;
Elizabeth, m to Rt Hon Sir W Fownes Bt;
Letitia, m to Hervey, Viscount Mountmorres.
The 1st Earl espoused secondly, in 1733, Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heir of John Sankey, of Tenelick, County Longford (and widow of Sir John King, and of John Moore, Lord Tullamore), but by that lady had no issue.

He was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1704-93), who married, in 1739, Lady Caroline Cavendish, eldest daughter of William, Duke of Devonshire, and had surviving issue,
FREDERICK, his successor;
Catherine, m to Aubrey, 5th Duke of St Albans;
Charlotte, m to William, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

FREDERICK, 3rd Earl (1758-1844), who wedded, in 1780, Henrietta Frances, second daughter of John, 1st Earl Spencer, and had issue,
JOHN WILLIAM, his successor;
Frederick Cavendish (Sir);
William Francis, 1st Baron de Mauley;
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN WILLIAM, 4th Earl (1781-1847), LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND, 1846-7, who espoused, in 1805, the Lady Maria Fane, daughter of John, 10th Earl of Westmorland, and had issue,
JOHN GEORGE BRABAZON, his successor;
William Wentworth Brabazon;
George Arthur Brabazon;
Spender Cecil (Rt Hon Sir);
Gerald Henry Brabazon;
Maria Jane Elizabeth; Kathleen Louisa Georgina; Georgiana Sarah; Augusta Lavinia Priscilla.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN GEORGE BRABAZON (1809-80), 5th Earl, who wedded twice, though the marriages were without issue, and the family honours devolved upon his brother,

FREDERICK GEORGE BRABAZON (1815-95), 6th Earl, DL, who died unmarried, when the titles devolved upon his brother,

THE REV WALTER WILLIAM BRABAZON (1821-1906), 7th Earl, who married, in 1850, the Lady Louisa Susan Cornwallis Eliot, daughter of Edward, 3rd Earl of St Germans, and had issue,
EDWARD, his successor;
Cyril Walter;
Arthur Cornwallis;
Walter Gerald;
Ethel Jemima; Sara Kathleen; Maria.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDWARD, 8th Earl (1851-1920), KP CB CVO JP DL, who wedded, in 1875, Blanche Vere, daughter of Sir Josiah John Guest, 1st Baronet, and had issue,
VERE BRABAZON, his successor;
Cyril Myles Brabazon;
Bertie Brabazon;
Olwen Verena; Helena Blanche Irene; Gweneth Frida.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

VERE BRABAZON (1880-1956), 9th Earl, GCMG PC DL,
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Frederick Arthur William Ponsonby, styled Viscount Duncannon.

BESSBOROUGH HOUSE is located in Kildalton near Piltown in County Kilkenny.

It was first built in 1745 by Francis Bindon for the 1st Earl of Bessborough.

Bessborough House, as stated by Mark Bence-Jones, consists of a centre block of two storeys over a basement joined to two-storey wings by curved sweeps.

The entrance front has nine bays; a three-bay pedimented breakfront with a niche above the pedimented Doric doorway.

The roof parapet has urns, while the basement is rusticated; perron and double stairway with ironwork railings in front of the entrance door.

The Hall has a screen of Ionic columns made of Kilkenny marble.

The Saloon has a ceiling of Rococo plasterwork; and a notable chimney-piece.

Bessborough House had to be rebuilt in 1929 following a catastrophic fire in 1923, and the Bessboroughs never returned to it as a consequence.

In 1940, the Oblate Fathers established a seminary at Bessborough House.

The Oblates worked their own bakery, and farmed dairy cows, poultry, cattle, pigs, sheep. They grew potatoes, grain and other crops.

They also had a very good orchard.

Alas, the great mansion has been altered and added-to since the Ponsonbys left: The urns have been removed from the parapet and are now at Belline.

From 1941 to 1971, 360 priests were ordained in Bessborough House, Kildalton.

By 1970, numbers joining the order had fallen and the Oblates decided to sell the property.

It was bought for £250,000 by the Irish Department of Agriculture in 1971.

It was then opened as an agricultural and horticultural college and renamed Kildalton College.

Other seats ~ Parkstead House, Surrey; Sysonby, Leicestershire; Stansted Park, West Sussex.

First published in September, 2011.  Bessborough arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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