Thursday, 2 September 2021

The Smiley Baronets


ROBERT SMAILLIE or SMILLIE (1619-62), Burgess of Glasgow, married Elizabeth Ramsey, and had, with an elder son and two daughters,

ROBERT SMILLIE (1645-1712), of Skerry, County Antrim, who married and had issue,

SAMUEL SMILEY, who was father of

JOHN SMILEY (-1748), of Invermore, County Antrim, who married and had issue,

SAMUEL SMILEY (1720-97), of Inver, County Antrim, who wedded Christiana, daughter of Guy Robinson, of Fox Hall, Cairncastle, County Antrim, and had issue,

JOHN SMILEY (1744-1833), who married Martha, daughter of Robert Love, and had issue,
Robert Love;
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Mary; Christiana.
The youngest son,

JOHN SMILEY (1796-1878), of Larne, County Antrim, wedded, in 1824, Ann, daughter of John Reid, and had issue,
John MacCullogh;
HUGH HOUSTON, of whom we treat;
Sarah; Margaret Thompson; Margot Love; Annie.
The youngest son,

HUGH HOUSTON SMILEY JP DL (1851-1909), of Drumalis, Larne, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1899, principal proprietor of the Northern Whig newspaper, married, in 1874, Elizabeth Anne, daughter of Peter Kerr, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Peter Kerr;
Hubert Stewart;
Eileen Margaret Kerr.
Mr Smiley was created a baronet in 1903, designated of Drumalis, County Antrim.

The Northern Whig Building, 2-10 Bridge Street, Belfast, ca 1950

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JOHN SMILEY, 2nd Baronet (1876-1930), Major, 6th Dragoon Guards, who wedded, in 1903, Valerie, daughter of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny Bt, and had issue,
HUGH HOUSTON, his successor;
John Claude;
David de Crespigny;
Patricia Margaret.
Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HUGH HOUSTON SMILEY, 3rd Baronet (1905-90), JP, DL, High Sheriff of Hampshire, 1959, who married, in 1933, Nancy Elizabeth Louise Hardy, daughter of Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton, and had issue,

SIR JOHN PHILIP SMILEY, 4th Baronet (1934-), of Cornerway House, Chobham, Surrey, Lieutenant-Colonel, Grenadier Guards, who married, in 1963, Davina Elizabeth, daughter of Denis Charles Griffiths, and has issue,
William Timothy John, b 1972;
Melinda Elizabeth Eirène, b 1965.
Sir Hugh Houstom Smiley, 1st Baronet

THE SMILEYS were an old Ulster-Scots family.

Thomas Smaillie (1554-1627) lived at Lanarkshire.

His grandson, Robert Smaillie (1619-62) was Burgess of Glasgow.

Robert's son, also called Robert, moved to Ulster and lived at Dunard and Skerry in County Antrim, by which time the family surname was spelt Smiley.

Sir Hugh Houston Smiley, 1st Baronet, still had strong links with Scotland and he was a magistrate for both Renfrewshire and County Antrim.
Entrance Front

DRUMALIS HOUSE, Larne, County Antrim, is a rambling, two-storey, late Victorian or Edwardian mansion, dominated by a four-storey central tower and turret.

It has an eaved roof, camber-headed windows, a pillared porch, and a solid parapet on the tower and turret.

By the middle of the 1920s it became clear to the ageing Lady Smiley that she would have to sell Drumalis.

None of her children had decided to make their lives in Larne, and had instead settled in Scotland and England.

The religious order which was to occupy the house eventually did not do so immediately.

In the Larne of the time, the sale of one of the local ‘big houses’ to an order of nuns would have been unthinkable and so it was a more protracted process.

Garden Front

The house was first sold in 1927 to a local developer, Mr William Crawford, who had started Ireland’s first ever Electric Light Company.

There was talk that he would build houses on the land but the house was sold again in 1929 to a Mrs Magill, the wife of a local JP; who then resold it within a year to the nuns of the Cross and Passion order - its present owners. 

THE SMILEYS came to Ulster as labourers from Lanarkshire in the 17th century and settled at Larne and Inver in 1720. 

By 1824, John Smiley was a clockmaker and, by 1872, Hugh Smiley was in a position to acquire the site of Drumalis hill and commence building a house there. 

It was his marriage to Elizabeth Kerr of Gaillowhill, Paisley in 1874 however, which provided the much more substantial wealth that would enlarge the house to its present size and make it the beautiful home it would become.
As only child and heir to a fortune from the manufacture of sewing thread, Elizabeth’s connection to her parents and to Scotland was to remain strong and to be written into the fabric of the house itself, most notably in the work of the Glasgow designer George Walton, who was commissioned to work on its interior.
By the time of Sir Hugh Smiley’s death, in 1909, it was clear that both house and family occupied a central place in the life of Larne - both as employers and through the benevolence and philanthropy of the family, who had by then built and endowed a cottage hospital in the town and much more.

Sir Hugh's Estate was valued at £96,230 in 1909 which, today, would equate to £8.5 million.

The gardens at Drumalis were developed round the house of 1872.

The site shows as barren on the OS map of 1858, which is not surprising as it is an elevated and exposed spot on a headland with sea on the eastern side. 

Shelter belts of trees planted around the house have been successful in protecting the gardens, which retain many original features and are a good example of a late Victorian layout. 

The house is surrounded by lawns, embanked by balustrading on the western and southern sides.

The latter is terraced with good stonework and hedges. 

Terraces lead to southern sloping lawns, where there is a rose garden. 

The original iron pergolas and supports survive.

There is a recently restored rockery, which was probably once a fernery, and a pond. 

An extension for the present convent was built in the grounds ca 1960; land was sold in the 1930s; and recently more was lost by compulsory purchase, all of which reduced the area of the gardens. 

As it is a convent, it would be impossible to maintain the gardens in their original state but the grounds are well kept.

The attractive gate lodge on the Glenarm Road is listed. 

There is an extensive walled garden to the north of the house, which is rented out for use as a nursery garden.

Vestiges of an orchard exist to the east of the walled garden.

Other former seat ~ Great Oaks, Goring Heath, Oxfordshire.
Former London residence ~ 8 Hay Hill, Berkeley Square.

First published in August, 2010.


Shizzleberry said...

thank you for your post, it gave me more info on my own family history than anywhere else I have found. my mother was a Smiley (Cecilia Katherine) and we have visited the house in Larne and had a look round in the past.
It is also quite interesting that one of my ancestors that owned the house (possibly hugh) was also buried at the nearby cemetery with an enormous boulder in the middle of the yard to commemorate him. This stone allegedly came from the sea front below the house.

I have also heard talk that the house may have been used for smuggling guns and ammunition to (I guess) the protestants rather than the catholics.
Let me know if you have any more input and thank you again for this discussion.

Unknown said...

I am very pleased to find this! My Great grandmother was Jenny Smiley a descendant of Thomas Smiley(b.1660) I believe it was his son John who came to the States.

I am planning a trip to Ireland in 2016, and will be stopping at the house in Larne for sure.

Anonymous said...

The Smiley family were large benefactors to the community in Larne. The Cottage Hospital on Victoria Road was built and gifted to the town along with the Smiley Park opposite. The Town Parks adjacent to Drumalis were also gifted to the town with large ornate railings and entrance gates that were subsequently melted down for iron during WW2 and which have never been replaced. St Cedma's Church of Ireland has an ornamental lynchgate gifted by the Smileys and First Larne Presbyterian church also has a large central raised pulpit with ornamental woodwork and large pipe organ gifted by the Dowager Lady Smiley. There were two entrances to the Drumalis estate, each with gatehouses but sadly the one on Curran Road was demolished in the 1980's leaving only the entrance on Glenarm Road. During the 1914 Larne Gun Running by the Ulster Unionists, the guns were indeed taken into the estate through the Curran Road entrance and out through the Glenarm Road gates. This was because the Curran Road entrance was near the Harbour and the Royal Irish Constabulary Police Station was farther up towards the town on Curran Road which was the sole route to and from the harbour at that time. The Gun Runners were able to take the guns in through the Curran Road gate and out the Glenarm Road entrance and so not have to pass the police station where they may have been stopped or questioned. There is a large family burial plot in the main Larne Cemetery at Craigy Hill where the large boulder sits on top of the first Baronet's grave. There are other depressions in the ground and bronze plaques on the rock indicating other members of the family were buried there. The last plaque dates from the early 1980's but the others all date from 1910-1930.

Anonymous said...

Sir Hugh, the 3rd baronet, married Cecil Beaton's sister.