Monday, 21 December 2020

1st Viscount Pirrie


WILLIAM PIRRIE, of Conlig House, County Down, married Elizabeth, daughter of William Morrison, and Letitia, his wife, daughter of Robert Miller, of Conlig, and Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of Thomas Leach, of Rathgael, who died in 1756.

He left issue, three sons and four daughters, of whom the second son,

JAMES ALEXANDER PIRRIE (1822-49), of Little Clandeboye, County Down, wedded Eliza, daughter of Alexander Montgomery, of Dundesert, County Antrim.

Mr Pirrie died in 1849, leaving (with a daughter, Eliza, who married, in 1870, the Rt Hon Thomas Andrews), an only son,

 WILLIAM JAMES PIRRIE (1847-1924), born at Quebec, Canada.
W J Pirrie's grandfather, Captain William Pirrie, of Conlig, County Down, was the son of a tenant farmer from Auchenmalg, Wigtownshire. Captain Pirrie was a trader in the Mediterranean Sea during the Napoleonic Wars; and was instrumental in the drainage of Belfast Lough. 

    • Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1896
    • Privy Counsellor (I), 1897
    • High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1898
    • Created Baron Pirrie, 1906
    • Comptroller of the Household to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1907-13
    • Order of St Patrick (KP), 1909
    • HM Lord-Lieutenant of the City of Belfast, 1911-24
    • Privy Counsellor (UK), 1918
    • Northern Ireland Senator, 1921
    • Created Viscount Pirrie, 1924
    Pirrie Memorial at Belfast City Hall

    Lord and Lady Pirrie's principal residence in Northern Ireland was Ormiston House.

    Their London home was Downshire House, 24 Belgrave Square.

    It was at Downshire House that plans for the Titanic and her sister ships were conceived at dinner between Lord Pirrie of Harland & Wolff and Joseph Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line.

    The 1st Marquess of Aberdeen, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1905-15, appointed Lord Pirrie Comptroller of the Household at Dublin Castle in 1907 (at an emolument of £300 per annum).

    £300 in 1907 was equivalent to about £36,000 in 2019.

    On the 4th February, 1909, he was installed as a Knight of St Patrick (KP), the third most senior order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.

    The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick ranked after the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle.

    Downshire House, London

    Here is the entry in the London Gazette of 12th July, 1921:

    To be a Viscount: The Rt. Hon. Sir William James, Baron Pirrie, K.P., LL.D., D.L. For valuable services to the Government in connection with ship-construction during the war. Charitable work in connection with the Royal Victoria and other hospitals.

    Lord Pirrie died on 6th June 1924, aged 77, from pneumonia while voyaging off the coast of Cuba, without issue, when the titles became extinct.
    First published in May, 2010.


    Sandy said...

    This was removed from the City Cemetery a couple of years ago due to the fear of vandalism. Incidentally the cemetry is well worth a visit. The victorian grave architecture is astonishing. BCC are doing fantastic work in renovating it, due in no small part to C. Tom Hartley (SF!) who is a noted historian and chronicler of the cemetery.

    Sandy said...

    Just drive in off the Falls Rd. You can drive around it! The most interesting graves are in the first 55 acres!
    You will not believe the size of the Pirrie plot.

    Anonymous said...

    There's a very good book on the City Cemetery - available via the Library Service.
    How did Pirrie Park near Ravenhill get it's name?

    The Wombat

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, Pirrie Park contains MCB's preparatory department, Downey House. It used to be a sports ground for Harland and Wolff. Very extensive and well kept, with some fine trees. Google Earth it! VC

    Anonymous said...

    I was at school there in 1960's, the grounds were used as sports area for the whole of the Methody school, there was much black boiler ash around the site, I imagine that it was brought from the Yards! The wooden pavilion building, adapted, became the school building, added to time and again I see. We were lucky kids to have the run of it! NDC

    Anonymous said...

    I was wondering if you know the names of Captain Pirrie's children???