Monday, 1 June 2020

The Adair Baronetcy

The family of ADAIR was settled in Scotland, and later in Ulster, for many generations, and, according to tradition, derived its descent from a junior branch of the noble house of FitzGerald, Earls of Desmond.

WILLIAM ADAIR, of Kinhilt, Wigtownshire, who was served heir to his father, Ninian Adair, of the same place, in 1608 settled at Ballymacoss, County Antrim, and dying in 1626, was succeeded by his son,

SIR ROBERT ADAIR, of Ballymena, County Antrim, who was served heir to his father and grandfather, in the Scottish estates, 1629.

He married Jane, daughter of Archibald Edmonstone, of Duntreath, in Stirlingshire, and dying in 1665, was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM ADAIR, who dying in 1661, leaving, by his wife, Anna Helena Scott, his wife (to whom he was married ca 1658), an only son,

SIR ROBERT ADAIR (1659-1745), of Kinhilt and Ballymena, who raised a regiment of foot and a troop of horse in the service of WILLIAM III, and received the honour of knighthood from that monarch on the field after the battle of the Boyne.

Sir Robert died in 1745, having married four wives; by the first of whom, Penelope, daughter of Sir Robert Colville, Knight, he left a son,

WILLIAM ROBERT ADAIR, of Ballymena, a captain of horse, who wedded Catherine Smallman, of Ludlow, Shropshire, and died in 1762, leaving two sons,
ROBERT, his heir;
William, in holy orders, of Portsmouth.
The elder son,

ROBERT ADAIR, of Ballymena, married, in 1753, Anne, daughter of Alexander McAuley, of the city of Dublin, barrister-at-law, and had two sons,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Robert, of Acton, Middlesex.
The elder son,

WILLIAM ADAIR (1754-1844), of Ballymena, Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Colehayes Park, Devon, wedded, in 1784, Camilla, daughter and heir of Robert Shafto, of Benwell, Northumberland, and had issue,
ROBERT SHAFTO, his heir;
William Robert, died at Harrow School;
Alexander, of Hetherton Park;
Mr Adair was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR (1786-1869), of Flixton Hall, Suffolk, and Ballymena, County Antrim, who wedded, in 1810, Elizabeth Maria, daughter of the Rev James Strode, of Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, and had issue,
Hugh Edward.
Mr Adair was created a baronet in 1838, designated of Flixton Hall, Suffolk.

His elder son, 

SIR ROBERT ALEXANDER SHAFTO ADAIR, 2nd Baronet (1811-86), of Ballymena Castle, married Theodosia, daughter of General the Hon Robert Meade, second son of John, Earl of Clanwilliam.

Sir Robert, MP for Cambridge, 1847-57, was elevated to the peerage, in 1873, in the dignity of BARON WAVENEY, of South Elmham, Suffolk.
In 1865, Adair began the construction in the demesne of Ballymena Castle, a substantial family residence in the Scottish baronial style. The castle was not completed until 1887, and was demolished in 1957 after having lain empty for some years and being vandalised; the site is now a car park. In 1870, Adair donated a People's Park to Ballymena, engaging fifty labourers to work for six months landscaping it.
The barony became extinct on his death in 1886, and he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his younger brother,

SIR HUGH EDWARD ADAIR3rd Baronet (1815-1902), JP DL, of Ballymena Castle, who wedded, in 1856, Harriet Camilla, daughter of Alexander Adair, and had issue,
Hugh Alexander (1858-68);
ROBERT SHAFTO, succeeded his brother;
Camilla Beatrix Mary.
Sir Hugh was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR FREDERICK EDWARD SHAFTO ADAIR, 4th Baronet (1860-1915), JP, of Ballymena Castle, who died unmarried, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

SIR ROBERT SHAFTO ADAIR, 5th Baronet (1862-1949), JP DL, who married, in 1890, Mary, daughter of Henry Anstey Bosanquet, and had issue,
Robert Desmond Shafto, died in infancy;
ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO, of whom hereafter;
Camilla Mary Shafto.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his only surviving son,

MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ALLAN HENRY SHAFTO ADAIR, 6th and last Baronet (1897-1988), GCVO CB DSO MC JP DL, who espoused, in 1919, Enid Violet Ida, daughter of William Humble Dudley Ward, and had issue,
DESMOND ALLAN SHAFTO, predeceased his father;
Robert Dudley Shafto (1923-25);
Bridget Mary; Juliet Enid; Annabel Violet.
Sir Allan's only son,

Captain Desmond Allan Shafto Adair, born in 1920, died in 1943 at Italy, killed in action.

When the 6th Baronet died in 1988 the title became extinct.

THE CASTLE, Ballymena, County Antrim, was a large Scottish-Baronial Victorian house built in 1869 for Sir Robert Adair, later 1st Baron Waveney.

It had a massive seven-storey tower at one end was built by Lanyon & Lynn of Belfast.

The original castle, built by the Adairs, was burnt in 1720.

The Adair estate at Ballymena was sold to the tenants in 1904 and the castle fell into disuse.

The castle was still standing in 1953, but badly damaged by arson in 1955 and condemned as unsafe the following year.

When the local council demolished it in 1957, Sir Allan Adair bought Holy Hill House, near Strabane, County Tyrone, and installed ten stained glass windows from the castle there, where they remain today.

First published in October, 2010.


Anonymous said...

Descendants of Thomas Jefferson Adair of Charlston, SC 1771 - 1856 moved out west and left posterity including my maternal grandmother. Thomas is a descendent of William Adair of Ballymena, Antrim.

Unknown said...

I believe your family is part of my family. I am the great-granddaughter of Theodocia Adair Neel. Please contact me. You can find me on Facebook, under Shannon Mayton (age 42 in Houston Texas), and my email is
I hope to hear from you!

GeneologyHistory said...

I'm a descendent (mother's side) of John Adair of SC (fought in revolutionary war)
I believe we may all be related. I'm on (DNA and record linked). Grace Leigh Brock-Barba. On FB as Leigh Brock Barba.
I'm in Georgia US.

GeneologyHistory said...

Descendent of John Adair here. (Revolutiomary war/SC- Kentucky gov.) On my mother's side. I'm on Grace Leigh Brock-Barba. We are all related probably.