Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Nicholson of Balloo


The family of NICHOLSON originally came from Cumberland.

The first who was located in Ulster settled at Ballymagee, near Bangor, County Down, in the reign of JAMES I.

He had (with two daughters), two sons,
William (1587-1665), of Ballymagee;
HUGH, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

HUGH NICHOLSON, of Ballymagee, married Miss Isabel Orr, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Mr Nicholson was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (1659-1704), of Balloo, County Down, who wedded Miss Eleanor Dunlop, and had two sons, of whom the elder,

HUGH NICHOLSON (1697-1722), of Balloo, died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (1699-1740), of Balloo, who espoused Mary, daughter of Hugh Whyte, of Ballyree, and had issue,
Hugh, died in infancy;
WILLIAM, his heir;
ROBERT DONALDSON, succeeded his brther;
Mr Nicholson was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (1728-98), of Balloo, who married firstly, in 1774, Agnes, daughter of John Cleland, of Whitehorn, in Scotland, and widow of William Rose, an officer in the East India Company's military service.

She died in 1775.

He wedded secondly, Sarah, daughter of George Wells, of Belfast, but had issue by neither.

Mr Nicholson devised his estates, failing issue of his brother, Robert, to his nephew, William Nicholson-Steele, who eventually succeeded.

Mr Nicholson was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT DONALDSON NICHOLSON, of Balloo, who died unmarried in 1803, and was succeeded by his nephew,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON STEELE-NICHOLSON JP (1772-1840), of Balloo House, who assumed the additional surname of NICHOLSON, in compliance with the testamentary injunction of his uncle William, who espoused, in 1807, Isabella, sixth daughter of Jacob Hancock, of Lisburn, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Elizabeth, m James Rose-Cleland;
Margaret; Mary; Isabella; Emily.
The eldest son,

ROBERT STEELE-NICHOLSON JP (1809-70), of Balloo, Barrister, wedded, in 1841, Elizabeth Jane, youngest daughter of Walter Nangle, of Clonbaron, County Meath, and had issue,
Hugh, b 1842;
Edward, b 1845;
William Otway;
Gilbert Hamilton.

BALLOO HOUSE, near Bangor, sometimes spelled Ballow, was half a mile to the east of the Bangor-Newtownards Road, about one and a half miles south of Bangor.

It was, indeed, almost a stone's throw from Rathgael House to its west.

The property had been in the possession of the Nicholson family since 1641, as evidence by a stone inscribed "W N 1641", which was built into a quoin.

The house, however, was of 18th and early 19th century origin.

Balloo House (Image: Alan Steele-Nicholson, 2021)

It was considered of sufficient interest to be described and illustrated (doorway only) in An Archaeological Survey of County Down (1966) and yet, within ten years, when it passed into local government hands, it was burnt by vandals and then demolished.

The Nicholson family is buried in Bangor Abbey under a fine armorial stone.

The family vault was on the eastern edge of the wooded area and was built into a low mound.

Nicholson Vault (Image: Ryan Bradley, Ulster Wildlife Trust, 2021)

It was severely vandalized and the well-cut slab at the entrance was smashed in two.

Nicholson Vault (Image: Ryan Bradley, Ulster Wildlife Trust, 2021)

The vault was built in 1792 by William Nicholson (d 1798), and after his death the property passed to his brother and eventually to his nephew William Steele-Nicholson who was buried there.

Balloo House in 1974 (Image: Alan Steele-Nicholson, 2021)

It was demolished in 1976 to make way for a factory development, at which date the remains were re-interred in the family burial plot in the Abbey church-yard.

Until the early 1970s traces of the old monastic road running from Bangor to Newtownards could be seen about twenty yards to the east of the mausoleum.

Balloo Woodland Nature Reserve is an oasis for wildlife and people in the heart of the Balloo Industrial Estate.

It is full of mature, native (and some exotic) trees and woodland plant life, with a small pond.

Balloo Woodland was previously the grounds of Balloo House.

The house was demolished, though the remains of the family mausoleum, built in 1792 (known locally as "Nicky’s Tomb"), still exist on the eastern edge of the wood.

North Down Borough Council bought the woodland in 1995 to prevent it from being developed.

First published in April, 2012.

1 comment :

Alan Steele-Nicholson said...

I have a photo of the house (and indeed had visited the house in the 1950s). I'll have to dig it up. It depicts some of the family on horses (before a hunt?) just in front of the entrance to the house. While I've clicked on "follow-up emails" to be sent to my gmail account, I'd actually rather they be sent to my hotmail account (see below).
Alan Steele-Nicholson