Monday, 22 June 2020

Lissan House


This family settled in Ulster during the reign of JAMES I.

THOMAS 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. 

About 1620, he married Charity, 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, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ALEXANDER STAPLES, 3rd Baronet, of Lissan, 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 younger brother,

SIR ROBERT STAPLES, 4th Baronet (1643-1714), of Lissan, MP for Dungannon, 1692, Clogher, 1695, 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;
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), Barrister, 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. 

First published in November, 2010.


Anonymous said...

Is this the house featured a few years ago on 'Restoration'?

Timothy Belmont said...

The very one.

Anonymous said...

An interesting reference from the Great Parchment Book Of Londonderry. Records of the Honourable The Irish Society, now conserved and digitised. Searchable by people and place names.