Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Earls Cairns: I


The disastrous ending to the insurrection of the elder Pretender in 1715 was the ultimate cause of momentous changes in the circumstances of a vast number of Scottish families.

In many cases, where the family sentiment was clearly in sympathy with one side or the other, the head of the family, imbued with the caution characteristic of the race, refrained from taking active part with either side.

Where the owner of an estate kept rigidly aloof from joining either side, his property was fairly safe whichever side won.

This commendable spirit of caution, however, was no hindrance to the cadets of families joining whichever side they desired without incriminating their chiefs.

Whatever happened the individual cadet only could be held responsible.

When the insurrection was over and the day of reckoning came, many a younger son of the old Scottish families deemed it wiser to be out of Scotland.

In Ulster, where the people had little sympathy with the rising, the consequences of rebellion were not pursued to such an extent as was the case in Scotland.

Hence the Province became a harbour of refuge for a number of Scottish refugees.

Several families, now well known in Northern Ireland, descend from Scottish settlers who arrived in the years immediately following the uprising.

Among the Records at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, are the registers of leases and the rent rolls of the Kilwarlin estate.

Among the leases granted at this period is one for three lives to William Cairns, dated May, 1716.

It seems plausible he was one of the many who fled to Ulster from Scotland ca 1716 in order to escape the consequences of the rebellion.

We have been unable to ascertain with certainty to which of the Galloway Cairns' he belonged, but there are indications suggesting that he was a younger son of William Cairns, of Kipp, who died in 1711.

He certainly was a contemporary of the two sons of this William whose names are recorded.

The Christian names Hugh and William, so frequently encountered in the succeeding generations of the Kipp family prior to 1715, reappear with equal frequency among the descendants of this William Cairns.

In fact, the name Hugh in the Cairns family seems to have been almost entirely confined to the Kipp branch.

WILLIAM CAIRNS, a cadet of Cairnes, of Orchardton, obtained from the Marquess of Downshire a lease of the lands of Magheraconluce, County Down, in 1716.

His son,

WILLIAM CAIRNS, of Magheraconluce, left issue by his first wife, who died in 1754, with six daughters, who dsp, three sons,
John, of Parkmount, 1732-94;
Hugh, of Parkmount and Belfast, banker, 1735-1808;
William, of Magheraconluce, b 1737.
He wedded secondly, Agnes, daughter of William Gregg, of Parkmount, and died in 1775, having by her had issue,
NATHAN, ancestor of the Earls Cairns.
The second son,

Hugh Cairns, left several legacies in his will to his "kinsmen at Annahilt," and £600 to each of his six sisters.

He left Parkmount, which he acquired shortly after the death of William Gregg in 1782, to his half-brother Nathan, whose mother had been a daughter of Mr Gregg.

Mr Cairns stated in his will that "most of my property consists of money lent out at interest on security," from which it appears that he was one of Belfast's early private bankers, some of whom eventually amalgamated, thus founding what are now known as the Belfast, the Northern, and the Ulster Banks. 

William Cairns' third son, William, continued to appear as holder of the Magheraconluce property subsequent to his father's removal to Belfast after his second marriage.

It appears that he remained as tenant, and that Hugh Cairns' "kinsmen at Annahilt", to whom he left money, namely, William and Robert Cairns, were the sons of this William, and therefore nephews of Hugh.

Both appear as fathers of children baptised, in the Annahilt Register, one of the children being called Nathan, evidently after his grand-uncle.

The youngest son,

NATHAN CAIRNS, of Dublin, and Parkmount, merchant, born in 1759, of whom hereafter.

Parkmount House

Parkmount seems to have passed to Mr Gregg from the representatives of Thomas Lutford, who had a lease for three lives, renewable for ever, from the Marquesses of Donegall, in 1769. 

At some period after his marriage to Agnes Gregg, William Cairns seems to have moved with his family to Parkmount, or to a house in Carnmoney. 

After the termination of the Parkmount lease, Hugh Cairns obtained the renewal forever thereof. 

His father died in 1775, the widow Agnes Gregg surviving him, and dying in 1785.

Both are interred at Carnmoney church-yard. 

First published in February, 2011.   Cairns arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1 comment :

elly said...

I am researching my family tree of Cairns, from North East England and scotland, are there any links to the Irish branch?