Monday, 25 January 2021

Richhill Castle


The family of RICHARDSON is descended from

WILLIAM RICHARDSON, stated by William Roberts, Ulster King of Arms, in a confirmation of arms dated 1647, to be descended from the ancient family of RICHARDSON of Pershore, Worcestershire.

His second son,

MAJOR EDWARD RICHARDSON, of Legacorry, alias Richhill, County Armagh, MP for Armagh County, 1661, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1665, wedded Anne, only child and heir of Francis Sacheverell, of Legacorry, and Dorothy his wife (daughter and co-heir of Sir John Blennerhassett, Knight, Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer).

Mr Francis Sacheverell was son of Francis Sacheverell, of Rearsby, Leicestershire, who had a grant of Legacorry during the reign of JAMES I.

By Anne his wife Major Richardson (who died in 1690) had issue,
William, of Legacorry (1656-1727), dsp;
JOHN, of whom presently.
The younger son,

JOHN RICHARDSON (1663-c1744), of Legacorry, alias Rich Hill, an army officer, espoused, in 1707-8, Anne, daughter of William Beckett, Prime Sergeant-at-Law, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
HENRY, of whom hereafter;
Hester, m Rev J Lowry, of Pomeroy;
Mary, m Archibald, 1st Baron Gosford.
Mr Richardson was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM RICHARDSON (1749-1822), of Rich Hill, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1777, MP for County Armagh, 1807-20, who married firstly, in 1775, Dorothea, daughter of Henry Monroe, of Roes Hall, Tullylish, by whom he had no issue.

He wedded secondly, Louisa Magennis, of Waringstown, and had issue, three daughters,
Elizabeth, died unmarried 1859;
Isabella, died unmarried 1860;
The youngest daughter,

LOUISA RICHARDSON (-1881), of Richhill, who espoused, in 1832, Edward Bacon, eldest son of Sir Edmund Bacon, 10th Baronet, though the marriage was without issue.

Mr John Richardson's second son,

HENRY RICHARDSON, of Rossfad, Lieutenant-Colonel, 29th Regiment (entered the army as a cornet in the 8th Horse, Ligonier's, 1743), wedded firstly, Catherine, eldest daughter of Samuel Perry, of County Tyrone, which lady died dsp 1765.

He married secondly, in 1766, Jane, daughter and co-heir of Guy Carleton, of Rossfad, County Fermanagh.

Colonel Richardson died about 1794, having had issue, a son,

JOHN RICHARDSON (1768-1841), of Rossfad, Major, Tyrone Militia, who wedded, in 1807, Angel, daughter of Mervyn Archdall MP, of Castle Archdale, by whom he had an only son, 

HENRY MERVYN RICHARDSON DL (1808-82), of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, who espoused, in 1834, Mary Jane, widow of John Johnston, of Crocknacrieve, County Fermanagh, second daughter of Dr Charles Ovenden, of Enniskillen, and Mayfield, Sussex, and had issue,
Charles William Henry (1840-88);
Jane Angel; Angel Catherine Charlotte; Emilie Margaret; Henrietta M Mervyn.
Mr Richardson succeeded on the death of his cousin Louisa, Mrs Bacon, in 1881, to two-thirds of the Richhill estate.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN MERVYN ARCHDALL CARLETON RICHARDSON JP DL (1836-1912), of Rossfad, County Fermanagh, Colonel, 3rd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, High Sheriff of County Tyrone, 1885, County Fermanagh, 1888, who married, in 1880, Mildred Harriet, third daughter of Gartside Tipping, of Rossferry, County Fermanagh, and Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, and had issue,
Guy Carleton, b 1885;
Jane Mary; Mildred Cicely Carleton.
The eldest son,


THE CASTLE, Richhill, County Armagh, was built between 1664-90 by Major Edward Richardson MP.

It comprises two storeys, with a gabled attic in a high-pitched roof.

The house is U-shaped, the entrance front having projecting wings which form a three-sided court.

The centre range has five bays, with one bay at the end of each wing.

There are pedimented Dutch-style gables at the ends of the wings.

Chimney-stacks are lofty and prominent.

The doorway boasts Doric columns, pediment and entablature.

The Castle stands on the site of an earlier dwelling erected by Francis Sacheverall, a planter from Rossbye, Leicestershire, in 1611.
In 1610, Sacheverall had received two portions of land, 1,000 acres each, called Mullalelish and Legacorry, and decided to live on the latter. He declared himself to be worth £300 a year and brought over three masons, a carpenter, a smithy, nine labourers, two women, four horses and a cart. Before his death in 1649, Sacheverall had sold the Mullalelish portion to Sir William Alexander, a Scottish speculator who was later honoured with the earldom of Stirling.

Francis Sacheverall's son and heir, also called Francis, and his wife, Dorothy, had an only daughter, Anne, who married Major Edward Richardson in 1654.

Through this marriage, Legacorry became the property of the Richardson family and the present castle was built.

Louisa Richardson married Edward Bacon, High Sheriff of Armagh and, as she had no family, the estate passed to the Rossfad branch of the Richardsons after her death in 1881.

In the early part of this century the castle was the residence of Major Robert Gordon Berry.

There are some stories surrounding him involving secret passages, skeletons and a grave in the castle grounds.

After the establishment of the Government of Northern Ireland in 1920, the castle became the property of the NI Education Authority.

During the 1930s it was occupied by Sam Hewitt, whose main claim to fame was the invention of an egg-washing machine.


The elaborate gates of Richhill Castle were constructed by the Thornberry Brothers of Armagh in 1745. 

They were 18-20 feet high and topped with the Richardson coat-of-arms.

In 1936, the gates were removed during the night to Hillsborough Castle, then the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland, which was being renovated after a fire in 1934.

In spite of a storm of protest from local councillors and villagers, the gates were never returned.

The Richardson family crest adorns the top of the gates.

Villagers are seeking the return of the gates to the Castle.
According to villagers, the gates were taken from Richhill in the late 1930s as part of the 2nd World War effort, when gates and railings all over the UK were seized by the Government to melt down and turn into guns and tanks to fight the Nazis.
But the former Richhill Castle gates, considered too ornate to waste on Hitler, were stashed away during the hostilities. They turned up in Hillsborough to adorn the castle at the top of the town's main street.

Clamours for the gates' return built up a head of steam during 2009, but the death of Gordon Lyttle, the incumbent of Richhill Castle, held things back:

Dr Alan Turtle, chairman of the Richhill Improvements Association:
"But now that the seemingly impossible has happened with the political agreement. It would seem appropriate to give us back our gates.

We are in the process of spending £747,000 donated by the Heritage Lottery Fund on a major scheme in Richhill, and the least the government can do is give us back the gates that were taken, supposedly temporarily, but seem to have a permanent home at Hillsborough.

It's our long-term ambition to buy the castle and turn it into a hotel and conference centre, so we'll be stepping up the gates campaign."
Ca 1681-82, permission was granted for Major Edward Richardson to hold a Saturday market and three fairs per annum.

The fairs were held on Shrove Tuesday, St Swithin's Day and St Francis's Day. New orchards were being planted at this time and houses were springing up along the road sides.
A market-house was built in the Square by William Richardson in 1753, which became a very important centre of the brown linen trade where, in 1804, sales averaged at least £500 per week, despite rival markets in both Armagh and Portadown.

The construction of a new road from Armagh to Belfast, which by-passed Richhill, triggered the decline of the weekly market and the three fairs; thus the market-house was converted into the present parish church in 1837.

It is notable that, in a census in 1814, Richhill had 161 dwellings, six more than Portadown.

Occupations included hand-loom weaving, straw plate-making, shuttle-making, wood-turning and spade-making.

By 1835, the three Misses Richardson, who now owned the estate - and were described as excellent landlords - had built many new country schools on the estate, Mulladry and Derryhale being two examples.

First published in August, 2010.

1 comment :

Gavin Bamford said...

The gates should go back to Richill. It was very sad to hear of the mans death before he got his gates back.