Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Andrews of Ardara


JAMES ANDREWS (1762-1841), of The Old House, Comber, County Down, married Frances Glenny, and was father of

JOHN ANDREWS JP (1792-1864), of Uraghmore, near Comber, High Sheriff of County Down, 1857, who wedded, in 1826, Sarah, daughter of Dr William Drennan, of Cabin Hill, County Down, by Sarah Swanwick, his wife, and had issue,
James, JP;
William Drennan;
John, JP;
THOMAS, of whom hereafter;
Sarah; Sarah; Frances.
The fourth son,

THE RT HON THOMAS ANDREWS DL (1843-1916), of Ardara House, Comber, County Down, sworn of the Privy Council in Ireland on the occasion of the Royal Visit, 1903, married, in 1870, Eliza, daughter of James Alexander Pirrie, of Little Clandeboye, County Down, and sister of James, 1st Viscount Pirrie, and had issue,
JOHN MILLER, his heir;
James (Rt Hon Sir), cr Baronet, 1942;
Eliza Montgomery (Nina).
The eldest son,

THE RT HON JOHN MILLER ANDREWS CH DL (1871-1956), of Maxwell Court, Comber, MP for County Down, 1921-9, Mid-Down, 1929-53, PRIME MINISTER OF NORTHERN IRELAND, 1940-3, wedded, in 1902, Jessie, eldest daughter of Joseph Ormrod, and had issue,
Nina Morie; Josephine Miller; Lizzie Jean.
The only son,

THE RT HON SIR JOHN (Jack) ORMROD MILLER ANDREWS KBE DL (1903-86), of Maxwell Court, MP for Mid-Down, 1954-64, married, in 1928, Marjorie Elaine Maynard, daughter of Alfred Morgan James, and had issue,
JOHN MAYNARD JAMES, of whom hereafter;
Thomas Miller, of Ardara, b 1938;
Charles James Morgan, of Ballymaleddy, b 1945;
Heather Lilian Elaine, b 1932.

Jack Andrews was the Northern Ireland Minister of Commerce, 1961-63, and Minister of Finance, 1963-64.
On his elevation to the NI Senate he became Leader of the Upper House, and in 1969 took on the role of Deputy Prime Minister. 
He was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1957, a Deputy Lieutenant in 1961, and was invested as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1974 New Year's Honours List. 
Jack was a member of the Unionist delegation which went to Downing Street in 1972 immediately before the imposition of direct rule from Westminster. In 1974 he resigned from his position as President of the Unionist Council following that body's decision to reject the Sunningdale Agreement - a move which led to the resignation of Brian Faulkner as Unionist leader. 
With Brian Faulkner he helped found the pro-power-sharing Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) which was wound up in 1981. Jack retired from politics in the late 1970s. 
He died on 12 January 1986. His two sons Tom and John and grandson Johnny continued to manage the flax spinning mill until its closure in 1997.
His eldest son,

JOHN MAYNARD JAMES ANDREWS (1929-2014), Director, John Andrews and Company, espoused, in 1957, Edith Morna, daughter of Reginald Redvers Hunter, and had issue,
Charles Robert;
Elaine Mary.

ARDARA HOUSE, Comber, County Down, was built ca 1871-2 for Thomas Andrews.

It was probably designed by Thomas Jackson, an architect who is believed to have already carried out work for the Andrews family.

The original house comprised the eastern portion of the present building, a relatively simple, hipped-roof house without the curved side bays.

Letters written by Thomas Andrews between 1871 and 1872 apprise us that his new house was built by a Ferdinand Fitzsimons, and that work appears to have been completed by September, 1872.

Between 1895 and 1900 Ardara was considerably enlarged to the west side, giving the building a slightly unorthodox, rectangular plan with a short front façade.

The curved bays were probably also added to the north and south facades of the original section at this time.

The changes, which reflected much of the original styling, may have been carried out by Thomas Jackson’s son, Anthony.

Included within the new section of the house was a large billiards-room, whose dark wood panelling is believed to have been the work of craftsmen later employed in the building of the Titanic, no doubt hired by Andrew’s son, Thomas, junior, the man who later designed, and perished on, the ill-fated liner.

About 1988, Ardara House was divided into six apartments by the architect Edward Bell.

MAXWELL COURT, near Comber, County Down, may date from the middle to later 18th century.

It was probably built by the Wilsons (David Wilson was a merchant and ship owner in Belfast, and gave his name to Wilson’s Court in that city).

There is an entry in a street directory of 1824 under the name ‘Maxwell Court’, the property of William Wilson-Maxwell, who may have given it the name.

By 1835 the house passed to a certain James Kearns (sometimes written as Cairns), who lived there until at least 1846.

By 1856 it was the residence of James Anderson, but by 1863 was apparently vacant, with ownership in the hands of "the representatives of George Crea".

Maxwell Court does not seem to have had a permanent resident until at least 1870; but by 1883 the house and its farm had been bought by John Andrews & Company, the owners of the nearby spinning-mill.

Eliza, wife of Thomas Andrews, inherited Maxwell Court on the death of her uncle, John Miller, who died without issue, his wife, Agnes (née Pirrie) having predeceased him.

Eliza Taylor later gifted the house to John Miller Andrews shortly after his marriage.

The present, two and a half storey, central section is the original house might well date from the 18th century.

The side wings may have been original, or added early in the building’s life, but discrepancies in the dimensions compiled in 1835, and their present appearance, suggests that they were completely altered (or rebuilt) in the late 19th or early 20th century.

The major changes to the house, however, appear to have been effected by the Andrews family, when they acquired the property ca 1883.

At the rear, the gabled, two-storey section may have been added (or extended) in the late 1800s or early 20th century along with the dormers.

A photograph of the house dating from the post-1883 period shows the dormers and indicates the presence of the rear section; however, the central, gabled bay and the bays to the side wings are not present, indicating that the principal Andrews’ modifications to the property were carried out at different stages.

The long rear return likely dates from ca 1915-20, a period when much of the interior appears to have been renovated also.

The front bays may have been added at this point.

The farm buildings to the south and west of the main house are in part pre-1834, but most appear to date from the late 1800s and are probably all of Andrews’ construction.

The corn mill to the south of the house was once part of the greater Maxwell Court estate, but was sold off and converted to a dwelling in the 1980s.

First published in December, 2018.

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