Sunday, 30 September 2018

Royal County Down Golf Club

The Royal County Down Golf Club, Newcastle, County Down, was established in 1889 by a group of Belfast businessmen.

The Club has two eighteen-hole links courses, viz. The Championship Course and The Annesley Links.

The clubhouse was built in 1896, to designs by Vincent Craig (brother of Sir James Craig, later 1st Viscount Craigavon), and opened in September of the following year.

The building cost of £2,200 and was partly funded by the Belfast and County Down Railway, which ran a Golfers' Express train from Belfast every Saturday.

The railway company and its successor, the Ulster Transport Authority, maintained formal links with the club until 1968.

Slieve Donard Hotel in early 20th century

The Slieve Donard Hotel, adjacent to Royal County Down, has always had close associations with the club, having originally opened, in 1898, as a railway hotel.

Royal patronage was conferred on the Club in 1908 by EDWARD VII.

In 1965, the clubhouse was extended at a cost of £60,000, with additional changing-room facilities added to the ground floor and extensive remodelling of rooms to the first floor.

The Centenary Extension, added in 1989, provided a visitors bar to the first floor and ladies toilets to the ground floor.

The most recent extension and refurbishment occurred in 2005.

The original two-storey Clubhouse is in the Domestic-Revival style.

It has a rosemary clay tile roof, dormers, gables and bays, with a battered Scrabo stone finish to the ground floor which rises to the first floor cill level.

The Clubhouse was extended in 1965, with a sympathetic additional extension ca 1992, the latter to designs by Hobart & Heron.

In the middle of the south elevation an external timber stair ascends to a gabled timber porch with recessed central double doors and a segmental fanlight.

The porch has glazed sides each with three large panes surmounted with a small decorative fanlight.

The Irish Open golf championship will be held at Royal County Down from the 28-30th May, 2015.

A number of Old Brackenbrians (a degree of partiality here!) have served the office of Captain, namely: Michael Harkness; Dr Peter Brown; and Kenneth McCaw.

Royal County Down is widely reputed as being one of the finest golf links in the British Isles and beyond.

First published in June, 2014.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Downhill Revived

As part of the students' National Diploma at Northern Regional College, Ballymoney, County Antrim, they have researched and created a "3D" graphical reconstruction of Downhill House, County Londonderry, as it is looked around the early 1800s.

Staff and Students have produced this reconstruction as a concept of what to expect from future interpretation plans for Downhill.

Downhill Demesne is a property of the National Trust.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Henderson of Norwood Tower


JAMES HENDERSON (1766-1834), of Castlereagh, County Down, married Amelia Magill, and was father of

JAMES HENDERSON (1797-1853), of Newry, County Down, Proprietor, Newry Telegraph, who wedded Ann Peacock, and had issue,
George, b 1814;
Henry, b 1820;
Isabella; two other daughters.
Mr Henderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES ALEXANDER HENDERSON JP (1823-83), of Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast, Mayor of Belfast, 1873-4, Proprietor, Belfast Newsletter, who wedded Agnes, daughter of Alexander Mackay, Junior, of Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, Joint Proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, and had issue,
JAMES, of whom presently;
Alexander Mackay, b 1850; Major, RIR;
William, 1852-75;
Trevor (Sir), KBE, of Norwood Tower (1862-1930);
Charles Westbourne (1865-1935);
Jane; Anne; Agnes; Catherine Mackay; Florence Elizabeth.
Mr Henderson was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES HENDERSON JP DL (1848-1914), of Oakley House, Windsor Park, Belfast, who married Martha Pollock and had issue,
David, 1881;
James, 1889;
OSCARof whom hereafter;
George York, MC (1893-1917), k/a;
Richard Lilburn, 1895;
Mary Agnes Florence Elizabeth, 1899.
Sir James, Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1898, and the first High Sheriff of the city, was credited with the building of the new City Hall.

He was born at Mountcollyer Park, Belfast, the home of his grandfather, Alexander Mackay; took a law degree at Trinity College, Dublin; was called to the Irish Bar, 1872; editor of the Newry Telegraph, 1873-83. 

He became managing proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter and Belfast Weekly News; was appointed President of the Master Printers’ Federation of Great Britain and Ireland; was made a Freeman of the City of Belfast in 1912; and was knighted by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Viceregal Lodge, Phoenix Park, Dublin, in January, 1899.

Sir James's younger son,

COMMANDER OSCAR HENDERSON DSO CVO CBE RN (1891-1969), married, in 1920, Alicia Mary Henry.
Commander Henderson served in a destroyer during the 1st World War and he was second-in-command of HMS Iris at the famous Battle of Zeebrugge, in April 1918, when a British force blocked the Mole by sinking a ship across the entrance.
Commander Henderson assumed command when the Captain was killed, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in this epic He became Comptroller and Private Secretary to the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, 1st Governor of Northern Ireland, and was awarded a CVO and CBE for his services. 

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

During the 19th century, the Hendersons lived at Norwood Tower, Strandtown, County Down, a large mansion in its own grounds.

This rambling Tudor-Revival mansion had two gate-lodges, each about a quarter of a mile apart.

The first lodge was a little beyond the entrance to Clonaver House, the Hendersons' former dower house, which was sold to James Girdwood; while the second lodge was almost opposite the entrance to Ardvarna House.

The gate lodges were both battlemented; while the house, set in a landscaped park, was dominated by a lofty, castellated tower.

The grounds of fifty-two acres extended to the top of Circular Road and Sydenham Avenue. 

It was assumed that Norwood Tower or its dower house, Clonaver, would pass to Oscar Henderson when (Mary Agnes) Florence Elizabeth Henderson, his aunt, died.

She decided, however, to bequeath the estate, together with a majority holding in Belfast News Letter shares, to the Musgrave (baronets) side of the family. 

Drawing by the Rev McC Auld

This was a bitter blow to Oscar and his family.

They could do nothing about the property, but they did succeed in buying back the News-Letter shares. 

Commander Henderson and his wife Alicia had two sons,

1. Captain Oscar William James (Bill) Henderson OBE DL (1924-2010); educated at Brackenber House School and Bradfield; married, in 1949, Rachel Primrose Forrest, daughter of Colonel John Forrest CMG, of Belfast, in 1949, and had issue, three daughters.

2. Robert Brumwell (Brum) Henderson CBE DL (1929-2005); educated, like his brother, at Brackenber House School, Belfast, and Bradfield; took his degree at Trinity College Dublin.

Commander Henderson's first wife was Joy Duncan whom he married in 1952.

Brum Henderson became a career journalist in the Belfast News Letter from 1951-59; was appointed general manager of Ulster Television in 1959; managing director, 1961; and Chairman, 1983-92.

He was appointed CBE in 1979 and received an honorary doctorate of Literature at the Ulster University, 1982.

Brum published a number of books, including Midnight Oil (1961), A Television First (1977) and Amusing (1984). He was a director of ITN from 1964-66; a Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast; a director of Reuters and of the Press Association; and gave many years of service to the Newspaper Society.

A golfer of distinction, he was once runner-up in the Irish Open Championship. They had two daughters. 

Brum married, secondly, in 1970, Patricia Ann, daughter of Matthew Davison, of Belfast.

They lived at Ballynahinch, County Down.

Illustration of gate lodge courtesy of the Rev McConnell Auld.    First published in March, 2011.

Kirkistown Castle

KIRKISTOWN CASTLE, near Cloughy, County Down, was built in 1622 by Roland Savage, of Ballygalget, County Down.

It remained in the Savage family until the 1660s, when it was sold by James Savage to Captain James McGill, Ballyministragh, near Killinchy, County Down.

James McGill, son of the Rev David McGill, married Jean Bailie of Inishargy.

They lived at Kirkistown Castle and Ballynester, Greyabbey.

James McGill "improved the place very much", and also erected a nearby windmill, the stump of which still survives.

He died in 1683.

Captain Hugh McGill was recorded as an overseer of Henry Savage’s will, dated 1655.

Hugh McGill’s daughter, Lucy McGill, was born in 1685 at Castle Balfour, Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh.

She married William Savage, of Audleystown and Kirkistown, who died in 1733.

In 1683 William Montgomery, as well as commending McGill for his investment in the area, described the castle as being in good repair and remarked that its "late erected garden walls are washed with a pleasant fresh lough near the sea" (alluding to land on the eastern elevation of the castle now drained).

In 1744 Walter Harris described the castle as "surrounded by a high wall and strongly built."

He also remarked that "contained within the circuit of it" was "a good dwelling house" in which the then owner, Lucy McGill (Captain McGill's granddaughter) was living.

In the early 1800s Kirkistown Castle was the residence Lucy McGill’s granddaughter, Mary, who married William Montgomery, of Greyabbey.

During this period the building was in poor condition, and William Montgomery commenced the refurbishment of the property, enlarging windows, renovating the interior and, possibly, constructing buttresses and the barn.

When Mr Montgomery died, nevertheless, the work was uncompleted, his son and heir was a minor, and work ceased.

In 1837 it was noted that the structure had a "half-finished roof and broken window", and was reverting to its "former state of ruin."

Mr Montgomery’s widow, Mary, granted use of the castle in 1840 to the Cloughey Presbyterian congregation, in order to hold services whilst the church was under construction.

It is unclear what happened the castle after the congregation had left for their new church, but Alexander Knox, writing in 1875, remarked that the castle was in the possession of Hugh Montgomery, and had been restored and returned to its former use as a dwelling house.

Kirkistown Castle continued to be used as a accommodation by the Montgomerys until the beginning of the 20th century.

The castle was sold thereafter to the Brown family, who in turn passed it on to state care.

The castle today is a state care monument and has never been a listed property.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Hillsborough Castle


This family, of Norman extraction, was originally called de la Montagne.

In the reign of EDWARD III, its members were styled Hill, alias DE LA MONTAGNE; but in succeeding ages they were known by the name of HILL only. 

SIR MOSES HILL (c1554-1630), Knight, descended from the family of Hill, of Devonshire, two members of which were judges of England in the beginning of the 15th century, went over to Ulster, as a military officer, with the Earl of Essex, in 1573, to suppress O'Neill's rebellion.

Sir Moses was subsequently nominated governor of Olderfleet Castle, an important fortress at the period, as it protected Larne harbour from the invasion of the Scots.

He represented County Antrim in parliament in 1613, and having distinguished himself during a long life, both as a soldier and as a magistrate, died in 1630, and was succeeded by his elder son, PETER HILL; but we pass to his younger son, ARTHUR HILL, who eventually inherited the estates, upon the demise of Peter's only son, Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, without male issue.

The said

RT HON ARTHUR HILL (c1601-63), Constable of Hillsborough Fort, County Down, was colonel of a regiment in the service of CHARLES I, and he sat in Parliament under the usurpation of CROMWELL, as well as after the Restoration, when he was sworn of the Privy Council.

Colonel Hill married firstly, Anne, daughter of Sir Richard Bolton, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had, with other issue, Moses, who wedded his cousin Anne, eldest daughter of Francis Hill, of Hill Hall, and left three daughters.

He espoused secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir William Parsons, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, and had three other sons and a daughter; the eldest of whom,

THE RT HON WILLIAM HILL, MP for Ballyshannon, 1661, succeeded to the estates at the decease of his half-brother, Moses, without male issue.

Mr Hill, a member of the Privy Council to CHARLES II and JAMES II, married firstly, Eleanor, daughter of the Most Rev Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, by whom he had an only son, MICHAEL.

Mr Hill wedded secondly, Mary, eldest daughter of Sir Marcus Trevor, who was created Viscount Dungannon, 1662, for his signal gallantry in wounding OLIVER CROMWELL at Marston Moor, and had two other sons.

He died ca 1693, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON MICHAEL HILL (1672-99), of Hillsborough, Privy Counsellor, MP for Saltash, Hillsborough, 1695-9, Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, who espoused Anne, daughter and heir of Sir John Trevor, of Brynkinalt, Denbighshire, Master of the Rolls in England, and First Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal, and had two sons,
TREVOR, his heir;
Arthur, cr 1st Viscount Dungannon.
Mr Hill was succeeded by his elder son,

THE RT HON TREVOR HILL (1693-1742), of Hillsborough, MP for Hillsborough, 1713-14, County Down, 1715-17, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1717, in the dignity of Baron Hill, of Kilwarlin, and Viscount Hillsborough, both in County Down.

His lordship married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Anthony Rowe, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex; and dying in 1742, left (with a daughter, Anne, wedded to John, 1st Earl of Moira), an only son, his successor,

WILLS (1718-93), 2nd Viscount; created, in 1751, Viscount Kilwarlin and Earl of Hillsborough, with remainder, in default of male issue, to his uncle Arthur Hill; and enrolled amongst the peers of Great Britain, in 1756, as Baron Harwich, in Essex.

His lordship was advanced to an English viscountcy and earldom, in 1772, by the titles of Viscount Fairford and Earl of Hillsborough.

Lord Hillsborough was further advanced, in 1789, to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF DOWNSHIRE.

His lordship was a Privy Counsellor, and, in 1763, he was constituted First Commissioner of Trade and Plantations; in 1776, appointed Joint Postmaster-General; and in 1768, nominated Secretary of State for the Colonies, which post he resigned in 1772.

In 1779, he was re-appointed Secretary of State, and became one of the leaders of the administration which had to bear the unpopularity of the American war.

His lordship was Registrar of the High Court of Chancery in Ireland.

He married firstly, in 1747, the Lady Margaretta FitzGerald, daughter of Robert, 19th Earl of Kildare, and sister of James, 1st Duke of Leinster, and had surviving issue,
ARTHUR, his successor;
Mary Amelia; Charlotte.
His lordship wedded secondly, Mary, 1st Baroness Stawell, daughter and heir of Edward, 4th Baron Stawell, and widow of the Rt Hon Henry Legge, son of the 1st Earl of Dartmouth, by whom he had no issue.

He was succeeded by his son,

ARTHUR, 2nd Marquess (1753-1801), who wedded, in 1786, Mary, daughter of the Hon Martin Sandys, and his wife Mary, daughter of William Trumbull, of Easthampstead Park, Berkshire, and had issue,
ARTHUR BLUNDELL, his successor;
Arthur Moyses William, 2nd Baron Sandys;
Arthur Marcus Cecil, 3rd Baron Sandys;
Arthur Augustus Edwin;
George Augusta;
Charlotte; Mary.
His lordship died in 1801, and Lady Downshire having subsequently succeeded to the estates of her uncle Edwin, Baron Sandys, was created Baroness Sandys, with remainder to her second and younger sons successively.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Edmund Robin Arthur Hill, styled Earl of Hillsborough.

The Downshire Papers are deposited at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

In 1870, Lord Downshire owned 2,070 acres in County Antrim, 3,717 acres in the vicinity of Carrickfergus, 73,602 acres of County Down, 1,338 in County Kildare, 101 in County Kilkenny, 13,679 in the King's County, 15,766 in County Wicklow, and 5,000 acres at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire.

These estates generated an income of £80,000 per annum, or £3.6 million in today's money.

The Downshires also maintained a grand residence in London, Downshire House (above) at 24 Belgrave Square, now part of the Spanish embassy, it is thought.

HILLSBOROUGH CASTLE, County Down, has been described by the late Sir Charles Brett as, "by far the largest and grandest house in north County Down."

It was, for 150 years, the home of the Marquesses of Downshire and has provided accommodation for royalty, ministers and high-level dignitaries from home and abroad, as well as being a venue for less formal occasions, such as charitable events.

Moses Hill obtained extensive estates through conquest of Irish chieftains and built a fortified house at Hill Hall in the early 1600s.

His younger son, Arthur Hill, was the first of the family to live at Hillsborough and reconstructed Hillsborough Fort which had been destroyed in the 1641 rebellion.

The village of Hillsborough was given borough status after the restoration in 1660 and had a corporation and the right to elect two MPs to the Irish parliament.

The village subsequently became the residence of the Hill family, who increased in prominence and prosperity, Trevor Hill being elevated to the peerage as Baron Hill and Viscount Hillsborough in 1717.

In the late 17th century Trevor Hill built a house close to the terrace of the present Castle.

No drawings or plans survive, but Harris described it as "a noble large house built within the area of a regular fortification."

This house was burnt down in an accidental fire in the late 1730s.

Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire (1718-93), built a mansion house to the south-east of the present house, the remains of which are still present.

It is evident from Mrs Delaney’s observations of 1758 that Lord Hillsborough had in mind the construction of a new mansion at that time, but an estate map of 1771 shows only a schematic representation of a terrace of houses on the western side of the square.

The 1st Marquess was Secretary of State for the Colonies during the American independence struggle, and Hillsborough was visited by Benjamin Franklin in January, 1772.

Unfortunately Franklin and Hill disliked each other, Hill being unable to countenance American independence.

GEORGE III later blamed Lord Hillsborough for the loss of America.

Arthur, 2nd Marquess (1753-1801), was able to make additions and alterations to the house due to the wealth of his heiress wife and again engaged Brettingham, who added a library to the south-east of the original house, and then a thirteen-bay south front ca 1795.

An estate map of about 1800 shows the house with its new south front, and the wing to the north that was present on the 1780 map, now gone.

The 3rd Marquess (1788-1845), oversaw further changes to the estate.

The main road to Moira ran across the south front of the house at this time and it is clear that by 1810, Lord Hillsborough was planning to re-route the road in order to enhance the appearance of his new house.

Lord Downshire presided over alterations and additions to the house by Thomas Duff in the late 1820s and by William Sands, who was resident in the town during the works and for the remainder of his life, in the 1840s.

Plans made by Henry Murray in 1833 and 1839, showing that between these two dates the library was extended and given a giant portico.

William Sands, working with his relative James Sands, made several changes to the house and demesne in the 1840s, giving the house much of the appearance that it assumes today.

The south front was extended to the east and a large Ionic portico added.

In order to achieve symmetry, a single bay was demolished to the west.

In 1846, the Parliamentary Gazetteer set out both what were perceived to be the shortcomings of the house at this time, and its charm:-
“Criticism has remarked that of the town would have been greater if...the mansion, with its picturesque home-view, had been removed a little farther from the public road. 
Yet whatever may be said about the demesne, the town acquires an almost aristocratic air from the proximity of the mansion and seems as if caressed between the lawn and the park.”
In 1867 it was recorded that a new billiards-room had been added to the mansion house, a two-storey room of cut stone measuring approximately 20' x 17'.

The 5th and 6th Marquesses tenuous connections with Hillsborough, preferring to live elsewhere.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, Lord Arthur Hill, younger brother of the 5th Marquess, lived at the Castle, managing the estates and representing County Down in parliament.

The 6th Marquess (1871-1918), who succeeded to the title in 1874 while still a small child, was easily the largest landowner in Ulster at the end of the 19th century.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century, his estates began to be sold off under the Land Acts.

Given the huge reduction in Lord Downshire's tenanted holdings in County Down, Lord Arthur retired to his London residence.

As a consequence of this, the house was let to Sir Thomas Dixon, son of Sir Daniel Dixon, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Sir Thomas lived at Hillsborough Castle from 1910-19, when he purchased Wilmont, near Dunmurry.

In 1922, the Castle was purchased by the Ministry of Works in London as a residence for the His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland.

Following three years of preparation, the 3rd Duke of Abercorn took up residence at the new Government House in 1925.

It would seem that the Ministry of Works in London (as the Department of the Environment) retained responsibility for upkeep of the fabric of the building until 1990, when ownership passed to the Northern Ireland Office.

Following a fire in 1934, the house was refurbished internally and the gatescreen (from Richhill Castle) was added to the market square entrance.

The 3rd Duke of Abercorn was succeeded as Governor by the Earl Granville, the Lord Wakehurst, the Lord Erskine of Rerrick, and the Lord Grey of Naunton.

The office of Governor was abolished when direct rule was introduced in 1972.

In 1987, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Tom King MP, set up a committee to advise on ‘the structure, decoration, furnishing and maintenance of Hillsborough Castle and the planting and maintenance of its grounds’.

It was felt that the 1930s refurbishment of the house had not been entirely successful and the committee concluded that the house should reflect ‘the appearance and atmosphere of an Irish Country Mansion’ while being decorated in a manner befitting its ceremonial purposes.

John O’Connell of Dublin was appointed as architect and interior design consultant and the refurbishment was completed in 1993.

Since 2014, Hillsborough Castle has been managed by Historic Royal Palaces.

The Downshires also had a holiday home, Murlough House, near Dundrum, in the same county.

Lord Downshire sold Hillsborough Castle to the Government about 1921, I think, and Murlough remained with the family till the 1940s or 50s.

There are references to the building of demesne walls around the "Large Park" at Hillsborough in 1668.

This was the site of a former house and surrounding ornamental grounds, now much altered.

 It contains a lake, parkland, an artillery fort, mature trees and forest planting.

The Small Park, on the west side of the village of Hillsborough, is the site of the present house of ca 1797.

This area was totally enclosed by walls during the 1840s, after the main road to Moira was re-routed away from the house.

The property has had the advantage of being in the hands of one family until the 1920s, when it was acquired by HMG.

Atkinson, in 1823, observed that the Hills paid more
‘… attention to the profitable results of a good estate, than to the fanciful decorations of a picturesque landscape.’
Yet handsome lakes were created in both Parks and early 19th century maps show extensive walks, rides and tree- planting.

The Small Park is described in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1837 as, 
‘… beautifully wooded and the walks tastefully laid out. The garden is extensive, in it are green houses, hot houses and a pinery.’ 
The ‘garden’ referred to is the walled garden, which was cultivated until the 1970s.

It is now grassed but retains a summer house.

After the enclosure of the Small Park it was further enhanced in the vicinity of the present house.

Terracing was added to the south front, the Yew Walk going west towards Lady Alice’s Temple and the Lime Walk with north-south orientation leading to a pinetum belonging to the late 19th century improvements.

There are some notable plants, including a very large Rhododendron arboretum hybrid, which is in the Guinness Book of Records.

An impressive feature is the Downshire Monument of 1848.

Following the departure of the Downshire family, the Large Park, of almost 1,000 acres, was divided for use by the Department of Agriculture for NI, half for farming and half for forestry.

The latter part (northern) is open to the public and both areas have been developed as such for the last seventy years.

The Small Park has been used by the former Governors of Northern Ireland and latterly by Secretaries of State.

Some have had an interest and impact on the gardens, such as Lord and Lady Wakehurst, who developed a glen on the west side and Lady Granville, who created a Rose Garden.

The cast-iron gates from Richhill House at the main entrance to the Castle, are a feature.

Other buildings of note are:- Lodge and Guard House; Ice House; and Garden Store.

Boundary walls and gates in the "Small Park" are included with the house.

The house and grounds of the Small Park are private, used by the Royal Family and as the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and sometimes open for official functions.

There is public access to the northern half of the Large Park.

The Most Honourable Arthur Francis Nicholas Wills [Hill] is the 9th and present Marquess of Downshire, Earl of Hillsborough, Viscount Kilwarlin, Viscount Fairford, Baron Hill of Kilwarlin and Baron Harwich.

Lord and Lady Downshire live with their family at Clifton Castle, near Ripon in Yorkshire.

In 2005, when Royal Ascot re-located to York race-course, the Daily Telegraph published this about the Castle:
"Clifton Castle, a Georgian country house in Masham belonging to the Marquess and Marchioness of Downshire - or Nick and Janey to guests - has seven bedrooms and sleeps 14. It costs £40,000."
That was for one week, incidentally.
*Select bibliography: NI Department of the Environment Historic Buidlings Section; Downshire arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in July, 2010.

The Stewart Baronets


This is a branch of the royal house of STEWART, springing from Robert, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland, third legitimate son of ROBERT II, King of Scotland.

MURDOCH, 2nd Duke of Albany (1362-1425), succeeded his father, Robert, as Regent of the Kingdom, but was beheaded with his two eldest sons, 1425.

His third son, JAMES MOR STEWART, called James the Fat, fled to Ulster, and was father of

ANDREW STEWART, 1st Lord Avondale (c1420-88), who died without issue; and of WALTER, whose son,

ANDREW (c1505-48), succeeding to the titles and estates of his uncle, became 2nd Lord Avondale, and "exchanged" the title for that of OCHILTREE.

His lordship married Margaret, natural daughter of James, 1st Earl of Arran, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

ANDREW (c1521-91), 2nd Lord Ochiltree, who married Agnes Cunningham, and had a son and heir, Andrew Stewart, styled Master of Ochiltree, who predeceased him in 1578, and was succeeded by his grandson,

ANDREW, 3rd Lord Ochiltree (c1560-1629), who having sold the feudal barony of OCHILTREE to his cousin, Sir James Stuart, of Killeith, was created, 1619, Baron Castle Stewart, of County Tyrone, where he possessed considerable estates.

His lordship wedded, ca 1587, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Kennedy, of Blairquhan, and had issue,
ANDREW, his successor;
JOHN, 5th Baron;
Robert, ancestor of the Earl Castle Stewart;
Margaret, George Crawford, of Crawfordsburn;
Maria, John Kennedy, of Cultra;
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ANDREW, 2nd Baron (1590-1629), who had been previously created a baronet.


ARTHUR PATRICK AVONDALE, 8TH EARL CASTLE STEWART is the 15th and present Stewart Baronet.

Seat ~ Stuart Hall,
 Stewartstown, County Tyrone.

First published in April, 2011.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The O'Conor Don


Of the O'CONOR family John O'Donovan says,
No family in Ireland claims greater antiquity and no family in Europe, royal or noble, can trace its descent through so many generations of legitimate ancestors.
It will be unnecessary here to give more than a summary of the pedigree, which is provided in detail in The O'Conors of Connaught by the Rt Hon Charles Owen O'Conor Don.

FERADACH THE JUST, a legitimate descendant of Hermon, son of Milesius, was elected King of Ireland about 75 AD.

Ninth in descent from him was MUIREDACH TIRECH, King of Ireland, whose son, EOCHAID MUGMEDON, was chosen the Hibernian monarch about 358 AD.

His eldest son, BRIAN, King of Connaught, was set aside in the succession of the monarchy of Ireland by a younger son, NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES.

BRIAN died in 397 AD, leaving a son, DAUÍ GALACH, the first Christian King of Connaught.

Eighteenth in descent from him was

CONVOVAR or CONOR, King of Connaught (son of Teige of the Three Towers), from whom the family name of O'CONOR is derived.

He died in 973, leaving a son,

CATHAL O'CONOR, who is said to have reigned for thirty years but was forced to submit to Brian Boru, King of Munster, who assumed the chief sovereignty.

CATHAL died a monk in 1010, and was father of

TEIGE O'CONOR, of the White Steel, who became King of Connaught in 1015, and died 1030.

His son,

HUGH O'CONOR, of the Broken Spear, King of Connaught, acknowledged the supremacy of the Monarch of Ireland.

He was killed in battle near Oranmore, County Galway, in 1067, and was father of

RODERIC O'CONOR, called Rory of the Yellow Birch, King of Connaught, who was, after an eventful reign, blinded by O'Flaherty in 1092, when he was forced to abdicate.

He died in the monastery of Clonmacnoise, 1118.

His son,

TURLOUGH MOR O'CONOR (1088-1156), King of Connaught, and afterwards monarch of Ireland, was inaugurated as King of Connaught at the ford of Termon, 1106, and having subdued the other provincial kings, reigned supreme over all Ireland after the battle of Moin-Mor, near Emly, in 1151.

His son,

RODERIC O'CONOR, was King of Connaught and Monarch of Ireland after the death of Murlough McLoughlin.

During his reign the English invasion of Ireland occurred in 1170, which culminated in the treaty of Windsor, 1175, whereby the kings of England became paramount of Ireland, and Roderic held the Kingdom of Connaught as vassal of the English crown.

RODERIC eventually abdicated in favour of his son, Conor Moin-Mor, 1186, and died in the monastery of Cong, 1198.

Conor Moin-Mor was killed in 1189, and his son, Cathal Caragh, sometime King of Connaught, who was slain, 1202, leaving issue.

The latter was succeeded by his great-uncle,

CATHAL CROBHDEARG (1153-1224), King of Connaught, son of Turlough Mor O'Conor, who submitted to KING JOHN.

He wedded Mor, daughter of O'Brien, King of Munster, and died in 1224. His eldest son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Rainault, daughter of Auley O'Ferrall, and was murdered 1228. His son,

RORY or RODERIC O'CONOR, who was never King of Connaught, for during his lifetime the sovereignty was held by his uncle FELIM.

He was accidentally drowned in 1244.

His eldest son,

OWEN O'CONOR (1265-74), who for a few months was King of Connaught, was slain by his cousin Rory, son of his uncle Turlough.

His younger son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, acknowledged by the Irish in 1293, though the superiority was claimed by the English king and a great part of Connaught was in the hands of the De Burghs.

He married Finola, daughter of Turlough O'Brien, and was killed in 1309.

His sons, FELIM, ancestor of O'Conor Roe, and TURLOUGH, were successively Kings of Connaught.

The latter,

TURLOUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, married firstly, Devorgal, daughter of Hugh O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell.

He divorced her in 1339, and wedded secondly, Slaine O'Brien.

Turlough died in 1342, having had issue, two sons, HUGH and RORY, who were subsequently rulers of the Irish in Connaught; and two daughters, Finola and Una.

The elder son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Margaret, daughter of Walter de Burgh.

He died in 1356, and was father of

TURLOUGH OGE O'CONOR, called O'CONOR DON to distinguish him from his cousin, another Turlough who was called O'Conor Roe.

At the death, in 1384, of Roderic, King of Connaught, the kingdom was divided between the two cousins, each of whom claimed the sovereignty of the whole province, and from that date the heads of each branch were called respectively O'Conor Don and O'Conor Roe.

O'Conor Don presented himself before RICHARD II at Waterford, and there as Captain of Nation, made his submission to His Majesty in 1395.

He married Evaine O'Kelly, and was killed, in 1406, by his cousin, son of Cathal O'Conor Roe.

He was succeeded in the chieftainship by his son HUGH, who seems to have been succeeded by his brother,

O'CONOR DON, FELIM GEANCACH O'CONOR, who wedded Edwina, daughter of O'Conor Sligo; and died 1474.

His son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR from 1476, espoused Devorgilla, daughter of Felim Finn O'Conor Roe, and died in 1485. His son,

O'CONOR DON, CARBERY O'CONOR (1475-1546), died at Ballintober, County Longford, leaving issue, DERMOT, afterwards O'Conor Don, and Turlough, who died in 1582.

The elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DERMOT O'CONOR, chief of his sept after 1550, wedded Dorothy, daughter of Teige Buidhe O'Conor Roe, and had issue,
Con, killed 1563;
HUGH, his heir;
Dermot O'Conor Don, who died in 1585, was the last of the O'Conors who exercised jurisdiction over the province of Connaught.

His son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, SIR HUGH O'CONOR (1541-1627), on his father's death, compounded with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir John Perrot, for all his estates, and was knighted by the Earl of Essex.

Sir Hugh, the first knight of the shire returned to Parliament for County Roscommon, wedded Mary, daughter of Brian O'Rourke, Lord of Breffny, and had four sons,
CALVACH, of Ballintubber, his heir, whose male line became extinct;
HUGH OGE, of Castlereagh;
CATHAL, of whose line we treat;
Bryan Roe.
The third son,

CATHAL O'CONOR (1597-1634), married Anne, daughter of William O'Molloy, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, MAJOR OWEN O'CONOR, of Bellanagare, County Roscommon, Governor of Athlone under JAMES II, who died at Chester Castle, 1692.

He married Elinor, daughter of Roger O'Ferrall, and died without male issue, 1692, when the estate passed to his brother,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES OGE, of Bellanagare, who wedded Cecilia, daughter of Fiachra O'Flynn.

He died in 1696, and was succeeded by his son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1674-1750), of Bellanagare, who espoused Mary, daughter of Tiernan O'Rourke, Chief of Breffny, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Roger (Rev);
Matthew (Rev);
Catherine; Mary; Eleanor; Anne.
The son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES O'CONOR (1710-90), of Bellanagare, a learned and distinguished antiquary, married, in 1731, Catharine, daughter of John O'Fagan, and had (with a daughter) two sons,
DENIS, his heir;
Charles, of Mount Allen.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1732-1804), of Bellanagare, Deputy Governor of Roscommon, who espoused, in 1760, Catherine, daughter of Martin Browne, of Cloonfad, County Roscommon, and had issue,
OWEN, his heir;
Charles (Very Rev Dr);
Catherine; Mary; Bridget; Elizabeth Frances; Eleanor Anne; Alicia.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR (1763-1831), of Bellanagare, MP for County Roscommon, 1830-31, who, on the death of his kinsman, Alexander O'Conor Don, sp 1820, succeeded to the title of O'CONOR DON, as head of the family.

He married, in 1792, Jane, daughter of James Moore, of Mount Browne, County Dublin, and by her had issue,
DENIS, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR JP (1794-1847), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1831-47, who wedded, in 1824, Mary, daughter of Major Maurice Blake, of Tower Hill, County Mayo, and by her had issue,
Denis Maurice, father of
Jane; Kate; Josephine; Eugenia; Dionysia.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON CHARLES OWEN O'CONOR JP (1838-1906), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1860-80, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1884, Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon, 1896-1906, who wedded firstly, in 1868, Georgina Mary, daughter of Thomas Aloysius Perry, of Bitham House, Warwickshire, and had issue,
Owen Phelim;
Charles Hugh, father of
Roderick Joseph;
O'Conor Don espoused secondly, in 1879, Ellen Letitia, daughter of John Lewis More O'Ferrall, of Lissard, County Longford.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON DENIS CHARLES JOSEPH O'CONOR JP (1860-1917), of Bellanagare and Clonallis, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1898, who died unmarried, when the title devolved upon his brother,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN PHELIM O'CONOR (1870-1943), who wedded firstly, in 1913, Mary, daughter of F C McLoughlin, and had issue,
Hélène Françoise Marie, born 1916.
He married secondly, in 1943, Gwendoline, daughter of Charles Matthew O'Conor.

O'Conor Don died without male issue, and was succeeded by his kinsman,

O'CONOR DON, REV FATHER CHARLES DENIS MARY JOSEPH ANTHONY O'CONOR (1906-81), who was succeeded in the family honours by his second cousin,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS ARMAR O'CONOR (1912-2000), who espoused firstly, in 1937, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Stanley P Marris, and had issue,
He married secondly, in 1943, Rosemary June, daughter of Captain James Piers O'Connell-Hewett, and had issue,
Kieran Denis;
Rory Dominic.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DESMOND RODERIC (1938-), of Horsegrove House, Rotherfield, Sussex, who wedded, in 1964, Virginia Anne, daughter of Sir Michael Sanigear Williams KCMG, and had issue,
PHILIP HUGH, b 1967;
Emma Joy, b 1965;
Denise Sarah, b 1970. 
Garden Front

CLONALIS HOUSE, near Castlerea, County Roscommon, is a five-bay, two-storey Victorian house, built about 1878.

It has an attic storey in the late Victorian Italianate style.

There is a projecting three-stage entrance tower with pilasters and balcony to a west-facing side elevation; gabled dormers to the garden elevation flank a central pedimented projecting entrance bay.

The walls are cement-rendered with pilasters to ground floor garden elevation.

Entrance Front

The O'Conor Don family crest emblazons one side of the entrance front.

The ruins of old Clonalis House, courtyard and walled garden are to the south of the main house.

The courtyard of two-and single-storey stone stables and outbuildings is now in use as guest accommodation.

An elaborate cast-iron bridge and single-arch rock-faced stone bridge span the River Suck on the avenue approaching the house.

Ashlar gate piers supporting decorative wrought-iron entrance gates are flanked by limestone sweeps to the roadside.

Clonalis House is arguably the finest expression of the Victorian-Italianate style in County Roscommon.

It was designed by Frederick Pepys Cockerell and is one of the first concrete houses constructed in Ireland.

The use of the entrance tower with a pyramidal roof and embellishing pilasters and balconies is representative of the Italian influence that became popular in the mid-19th century.

As the seat of the O'Conor Don family it is an historically significant site.

The original Clonalis House, an early 18th-century Georgian house, survives in a ruinous condition, as a reminder of the continuity of habitation enjoyed by this estate.

An exceptional county residence, its setting is enhanced by the walled garden, outbuildings, bridges and entrance gates.

Former ancestral seats ~ Belenagare; French Park. Chambers: 1 Garden Court, Temple, London.

First published in March, 2016.

Dunnamanagh Castle

Dunnamanagh Castle, Donemana, County Tyrone, is an abandoned three-storey, three-bay Georgian-Gothic dwelling, believed to date from the late 18th century.

Old maps of 1813 describe it as ruinous, though it isn't mentioned thus on maps of 1905.

In 1828-40 it was listed as an "old castle and tower", providing dimensions and declaring that the castle was uninhabitable.

The well-known publisher Samuel Lewis wrote in 1837,
"The greater part of this parish was granted by JAMES I to Sir John Drummond who founded the town of Dunnamanagh and built a bawn 109 feet square, no part of which remains as the bawn was removed some years since and the modern building called the Castle was erected on its site."
Another publication of 1666-78 described Downemanagh [sic] as the property of "Sir William Hamilton, of Elston [Manor Elieston], Knight and Protestant."

His descendant, Sir John Stuart Hamilton, 1st Baronet and MP for Strabane, is mentioned several times in late 18th-century correspondence between the 1st Marquess of Abercorn and his agent, James Hamilton, as being in residence at Dunnamanagh Castle or Earlsgift.

James Hamilton wrote in 1793, that "Sir John Hamilton’s brother died last week at Donemanagh, his weight 42 stones ... it took 16 planks to make his coffin…"

In 1798 Mr Hamilton remarked:
"Your Lordship will be astonished when I tell you that Sir John Hamilton has subscribed his entire pension £300 a year towards the war [and] is living the life of a hermit at Donemanagh".
James Hamilton’s letters recount Sir John Hamilton's death in 1802 and speculate that the baronetcy would expire following the death of "Young Sir John".

He added: "If I can credit his surgeon and housekeeper he will never leave an heir."

Sir John Hamilton, the 2nd and last Baronet, died in 1818.

Hamilton, Lord Abercorn's agent, suggested that his lordship endeavour to obtain the reversion of  the second and last Baronet's estates.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Adam of Blair Adam


The surname of ADAM is of great antiquity in Scotland, as proved by many documents in the public record.

HENRY ADAM, a military man, living in the reign of WILLIAM THE LION, King of Scotland, was father of

ALEXANDER ADAM, Laird of Roscobie, near Forfar, in the reign of ALEXANDER III of Scotland, who was father of

DUNCAN ADAM, living in the reign of ROBERT THE BRUCE, who had four sons, the youngest of whom,

DUNCAN ADAM, accompanied James, Lord Douglas, in his expedition to Spain en route to the Holy Land, with the heart of King Robert of Scotland; from whom is stated to have descended,

JOHN ADAM, who accompanied JAMES IV of Scotland to Flodden Field, and there lost his life, 1513.

His son,

CHARLES ADAM, seated at Fanno, Forfarshire, ca 1549, married Margaret Ferguson, by whom he had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
David, progenitor of Adams of Kingsbarns, Fife;
two daughters.
The elder son,

CHARLES ADAM, of Fanno, wedded Isabel Bisset, by whom he had several sons and daughters.

The second, but eldest surviving son,

ROBERT ADAM, about the end of the reign of Queen MARY, married Isabel, daughter of James Hunter, and was father of

DAVID ADAM, of Fanno, who wedded his cousin, Jean Hunter, by whom he had a son and successor, 

ARCHIBALD ADAM, of Fanno, who sold his patrimonial lands in the time of CHARLES I, and acquired those of Queensmanour in the same county.

He married Mary, daughter of John Hay, of Montrose, and died in the reign of CHARLES II, leaving issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
JOHN, successor to his nephew, of whom hereafter;
Alexander; Patrick; Phyllis; Mary.
The eldest son,

CHARLES ADAM, of Queensmanour, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Wishart, of Logie, Forfarshire; and had a son and successor,

JAMES ADAM, of Queenmanour, who sold the paternal estate.

He died unmarried and was succeeded in the representation of the family by his uncle,

JOHN ADAM, who married Helen, daughter of William, 3rd Lord Cranstoun, by whom he left a surviving son,

WILLIAM ADAM (1689-1748), an eminent architect who purchased several estates, particularly that of Blair, in the county of Kinross, where he built a house and village, which he named Maryburgh.

Mr Adam married Mary, daughter of William Robertson, of Gladney, and had, with other issue,
JOHN, of whom we treat;
Robert, architect to
GEORGE III; MP for Kinross-shire, 1768;
Janet; Helen;
Mary, m Dr John Drysdale, Dean of the Chapel Royal;
Susanna, m John Clerk;
Mr Adam was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM (1721-92), of Maryburgh, who wedded, in 1750, Jean, daughter of John Ramsay; by whom he had, with other issue, a son and successor, 

THE RT HON WILLIAM ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM (1751-1839), Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland, Lord-Lieutenant of Kinross-shire, Baron of the Scottish Exchequer, MP, who wedded Eleanor, daughter of Charles, 10th Lord Elphinstone.

His second son,

ADMIRAL SIR CHARLES ADAM OF BLAIR ADAM KCB (1780-1853), a distinguished naval officer, married was succeeded by his son and heir,

THE RT HON WILLIAM PATRICK ADAM CIE DL (1823-81), colonial administrator, politician, Companion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire; whose eldest son,

CHARLES ELPHINSTONE ADAM (1859-1922), Barrister, military officer, was created a baronet in 1882, denominated of Blair Adam, Kinross-shire.

Sir Charles died childless in 1922, when the baronetcy became extinct.

His estate devolved upon his nephew,

CAPTAIN CHARLES KEITH ADAM DSO RN (1891-1971), Lord-Lieutenant of Kinross-shire, 1955-66.

Captain Adam was raised in Australia but returned to Scotland to manage the estate.

His son, Keith Robert Adam (b 1944), is the present owner.

The estate comprises 200 acres today.

BLAIR ADAM HOUSE, is located near Kelty, in Fife.

William Adam purchased the Blair Crambeth (subsequently Blair Adam) estate in 1731 and shortly afterwards built the modest five-bay two-storey house which forms the centre of the present building.

By 1736, Adam had enlarged the house by the addition of harled single-storey wings, originally of three bays, which continued the line of the original block.

Both were extended by John Adam in 1775, the south wing being heightened and given a bowed end.

The north wing was made an L-shape by the construction of a block across its end which stretches back to the west and joins it to the office range.

This range, originally very plain, was remodelled in 1815-16 and a low rubble-walled tower was built behind it.

First published in December, 2013.

1st Baron O'Hagan


The O'HAGANS, whose principal seat was at Tullahogue, County Tyrone, were the lawgivers to the O'Neills, Princes of Tyrone.

THE RT HON SIR THOMAS O'HAGAN KP QC (1812-85), LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, only son of Edward O'Hagan and his wife Mary, daughter of Captain Thomas Bell, of Belfast, married firstly, in 1836, Mary, daughter of Charles Hamilton Teeling, of Belfast, and had issue,
Charles (1838-40);
Madeleine; Frances Mary.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1871, Alice Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Colonel Charles Towneley, of Towneley, Lancashire, High Sheriff of Lancashire, 1857, and had issue,
THOMAS TOWNELEY, his successor;
Maurice Herbert Towneley;
Kathleen Mary; Mary Caroline, MBE.
Sir Thomas was elevated to the peerage, in 1870, in the dignity of BARON O'HAGAN, of Tullahogue, County Tyrone.

His lordship's father, Edward O'Hagan, carried on business in Gordon Street, Belfast, though later moved to another part of the town and became a general merchant.

Upon his retirement, in 1882, Lord O'Hagan was appointed a Knight of St Patrick.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS TOWNELEY, 2nd Baron (1878-1900), Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, who served in the South African War, 1899-1900, and died of enteric fever whilst on active service.

His lordship was succeeded by his brother,

MAURICE HERBERT TOWNELEY, 3rd Baron (1882-1961), JP, who espoused firstly, in 1911, Frances Constance Magdalena, only daughter of Edward, 1st Baron Strachie, and had issue,
(THOMAS) ANTHONY EDWARD TOWNELEY, dvp 1955; father of 4th Baron;
Helen Frances Alice.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1937, Evelyn Violet, daughter of Harry Thornton Ross.

He was succeeded by his grandson,

CHARLES TOWNELEY STRACHEY (1945-), 4th Baron, who espoused firstly, in 1967, Her Serene Highness Princess Tamara Imeretinsky, daughter of HSH Prince Michael Imeretinsky, and had issue,
Nina Natalia O'Hagan, b 1968.
He divorced in 1984.

His lordship wedded secondly, in 1985, Mary Claire, daughter of the Rev Leslie Roose-Francis, and had issue,
Antonia Philippa Mary.
The 4th Baron divorced in 1995, and married thirdly, in 1995, Elizabeth Leslie Eve, daughter of Hubert Smith, of Exeter, Devon.

The heir is his younger brother, the Hon Richard Towneley Strachey (b 1950).

Former London residence ~ Hereford House, Mayfair.

The O'Hagan Papers are deposited at PRONI.

First published in September, 2014.