Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Freemen of Belfast: 1920-29


29  The Most Hon Hariot Georgina Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, VA CI DBE ~ 1920

30  The Right Hon Sir James Johnston JP ~ 1922

31  HRH The Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York, ~ 1924

32  Sir Robert Meyer CH KCVO ~ 1924

33  The Right Hon Sir William George Turner JP ~ 1926

34  Lady Turner JP ~ 1926

35  Sir Frederick William Moneypenny CVO CBE JP ~ 1926

36  The Most Noble James Albert Edward Duke of Abercorn, KG KP PC ~ 1927

First published in August, 2012.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Lighthouse Island

Click on Image to Enlarge

LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND, the second of the three Copeland Islands, is located three miles off the mouth of Belfast Lough, and is an Area of Special Scientific Interest.

The island covers an area of 24 acres.

The common name of the islands came from the family of Copeland who settled here in the 12th century in the time of John de Courcy, but the island had earlier connections with the monks of Bangor Abbey till 1612, when it became the property of Sir James Hamilton.

When it was occupied by Bangor Abbey, it was known for a time as John's Island, after a miscreant monk who refused to leave when the monastery closed its island retreat some four centuries or more ago.

He spent the remainder of his existance there as a hermit.

In 1770, DAVID KER, OF PORTAVO, purchased the Copeland Islands.

Little is known of what happened on the island between 1884 and 1941.

It has been said that a woman lived there on her own, or in the early 20th century, surviving on rabbits which she shot.

Lighthouse Island, with Mew Island in Background. Photo Credit: PSNI Air Support

It is most likely that rabbits were only introduced after 1884, because the lighthouse keepers were always keen gardeners.

The walled garden, built between 1812-16 by two stone-masons, who carved their names on the wall of the cave on the east cliff.

It has also been claimed that, during the 19th century, the walled garden contained a very fine, canker-free orchard of apple and pear trees. 

The original lighthouse and dwelling were built from stones quarried on the island by convicts.

When the tower was built, an iron chafer was erected on top of the three-storied building and the beacon fire came into operation around 1711.

The lighthouse was 44 feet high, standing on an elevation of almost 70 feet. A new light came into operation in 1796.

In 1815 a new 52-foot lighthouse was built, close to the original one.

The work was commenced in 1813 and the new light, equipped with 27 oil burning lamps set in silvered reflectors, 131 feet above high water and visible for sixteen miles, was first exhibited on the 24th January, 1815.

At sunrise on the morning of the 1st November, 1884, the ancient wick lamps of the fixed light on Lighthouse Island were extinguished for the last time; and the same evening Mew Island light and fog signal were brought into operation.

LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND was inhabited in 1742 when a family lived there.

In 1811 there were two families, comprising about fifteen islanders, some employed in looking after the light.

There was a single family on the island in 1875.

They looked after the light and there was a small boat harbour which was probably in the area of the present landing place.

The lighthouse station had two keepers with their wives and families in residence. New houses were built to accommodate them.

For island lighthouses of the time, life on Lighthouse Island was most tolerable: the island was large enough to support goats, sheep and pigs, as well as a donkey.

The two families were virtually self-sufficient in milk, mutton, pork and bacon.

Their walled garden provided ample vegetables; and their poultry gave them chicken for Sunday lunch, and eggs to complement their bacon for breakfast.

A weekly boat from Donaghadee brought provisions and mail.

For many years the island was leased to Robert McConkey for shooting rabbits and sea-birds.

Before the sporting season started, stores were ferried out to the island in readiness for the sportsmen who came out weekly.

In the season there was the harvesting of the eggs by the commercial egg collectors for market on the mainland, and within memory these have been on sale in the relevant season of the year. 

The first recorded ornithological visit was made in 1939 by Douglas Deane.

He dug out a breeding burrow, complete with egg (now in the Ulster Museum), in order to prove that Manx Shearwaters bred on the island.

Another leading ornithologist, Arnold Bennington, brought out parties of enthusiasts after the 2nd World War, between 1947-53, to evaluate the island as a suitable site for an observatory.

His last group, in 1953, was a class of Workers Educational Association adult students. They decided to establish an observatory.

Thus began Copeland Bird Observatory, with a singular lack of formality.

The proprietor of Lighthouse Island, Captain Ker of Portavo, had agreed to let the island for a peppercorn rent of one shilling.

In 1967, he leased the island to the National Trust for 999 years, on the understanding that the observatory could continue as tenants as long as the organization existed.

The observatory's structure was set up swiftly: Three Heligoland traps were erected; accommodation was secured within the derelict lighthouse buildings; and the British Trust for Ornithology sanctioned accreditation in 1956.

The lighthouse keepers' former premises and storehouse now accommodate the Copeland Bird Observatory (CBO) volunteers; and there is a laboratory where migratory birds are captured for examination, ringing, weighing, recorded and then released all within a few minutes from capture to minimise distress.

This island is an important breeding site for Manx Shearwater and Eider.

The rabbits on the island are important to the breeding of the Manx Shearwater, as their grazing keeps a short sward that is desirable for the fledglings and their burrows provide nesting sites.

The island vegetation includes large areas of rank bracken, sea Campions, elder scrub and many more.

Lighthouse Island is now owned by the National Trust, though administered by volunteer wardens of the Copeland Bird Observatory, one of sixteen observatories throughout the British Isles, monitoring bird migration and sea-bird populations.

There is self-catering accommodation at very reasonable rates, in the form of male and female dormitories, with a few family rooms.

Bear in mind, though, that the observatory is not a guest-house, nor a bed & breakfast establishment!

Its prime role is as a bird observatory.

First published in September, 2012.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Upper Crescent's Revival

University Square from Botanic Avenue, December, 2019

Dear readers, I have just returned from an inspiring walk at Belfast's University Quarter and, in particular, Upper Crescent, Botanic Avenue, Rugby Road, Botanic Gardens, and University Square.

I have to confess that Sir P G Wodehouse's fantastic and wonderful characters, Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves, sometimes spring to mind; so be mindful of a twinkle in the eye as I tap away at the keyboard.

For those of you who have not been zealously following the Belmont narrative since its inception in 2007, I have always had a fondness, bordering on nostalgia, for the Botanic and Stranmillis areas of Belfast.

Much of it is still recognizable, though the Arts Theatre has been closed for decades.

When I was a schoolboy in short trousers we used to queue on Botanic Avenue for matinées and pantomimes there.

I invariably admire University Square, still one of Belfast's finest terraces.

Many pre-eminent physicians and surgeons had consulting-rooms here fifty years ago.

My mother took me to one of them for a sinus ailment in the 1960s.

Rugby Road is an interesting street which runs from University Avenue to Agincourt Avenue.

It comprises mainly terraced townhouses, though there are about half a dozen detached houses at one end, closely beside one another.

Interestingly I could see no basements, though they are quite lofty residences with three or four storeys.

Rugby Road terminates at Agincourt Avenue, though a small terrace known as 'Botanic Court' is tucked in at a side entrance to the park.

Botanic Primary School occupies almost an entire side of the terrace.

Map of ca 1850-60

MY fondness for Upper Crescent should not be underestimated.

I wrote a bit about it five years ago.

Numbers Eleven and Twelve are about to be restored as apartments, thank goodness.

As far as I am aware they have lain derelict and neglected for ages.

Incidentally, if you fancy a period pied-à-terre in town, look no further.

11-14 Upper Crescent, Belfast, December, 2019

Numbers Eleven and Twelve, Upper Crescent are being restored as apartments.

 87-91, Botanic Avenue, also be be restored as flats, was the Botanic Lodge guest house for many years.

87-91, Botanic Avenue, December, 2019

The handsome Victorian (Neo-Regency?) townhouses of Upper Crescent formed part of a three-storey residential terrace built in 1846 by Robert Corry.

Number Eleven was occupied by James Greene (First Clerk, Custom House), followed by Mrs Herdman; and, by 1860, William McNeill.

By the late 1870s, James Festu resided there and, in 1899, the house was home to William Yates; then, pre-1920, the Rev William Beatty; and then T Bell, who remained there from the mid 1920s to the 1960s.

By 1970 the property had been converted into office accommodation.

Number Twelve was originally occupied by Robert Boag (Mayor of Belfast, 1876-7), of Albion Clothing Company, possibly the same person, though likely a father and son.

By 1920 it had become the Crescent Private Nursing Home, though reverted to an conventional dwelling again by 1930, with Miss Mabel Simms in residence.

Miss Simms remained there until at least 1960, but by 1970 the building had been converted into office accommodation.

Numbers Fourteen to Sixteen, Upper Crescent, are also to be restored, by the way.

Freemen of Belfast: 1911-19


14  Gustav Wilhelm Wolff ~ 1911

15  Sir Joseph Larmor Kt ~ 1912

16  Sir Almroth Edward Wright KBE CB ~ 1912

17  Sir James Henderson DL ~ 1912

18  Whitelaw Reid ~ 1912

19  Robert James McMordie QC ~ 1914

20  Mrs Julia McMordie CBE ~ 1914

21  The Rt Hon Edward Henry Baron Carson, PC ~ 1914

22  The Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh Bt ~ 1917

23  Lady McCullagh ~ 1917

24  Henry Musgrave DL ~ 1917

25  Sir William Quartus Ewart Bt JP DL ~ 1917

26  The Rt Hon John Denton Pinkstone Earl of Ypres KP GCB OM GCVO KCMG PC ~ 1918

27  Sir Henry Hughes Wilson Bt GCB DSO ~ 1919

28  The Most Hon Charles Stewart Henry Marquess of Londonderry KG MVO PC ~ 1919

First published in August, 2012. 

Thursday, 26 December 2019

1st Marquess of Exeter

The first who derived dignity from the city of Exeter was JOHN HOLLAND, Earl of Huntingdon, third son of Thomas de Holland, Earl of Kent, by the great heiress, JOAN OF KENT, 'Fair Maid of Kent', who was advanced, in 1397, in open parliament, to the DUKEDOM OF EXETER; but joining in a conspiracy with the Earl of Kent, he was attainted and beheaded in 1400, when his honours expired.

The Duke had married Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and left issue.

Sixteen years later, Thomas Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, youngest son of John of Gaunt, by Katherine Swynford, was created, for life only, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace died in 1426, without issue, when all his honours expired; and from that period the city of Exeter remained without a duke for seventeen years, when JOHN HOLLAND was created, in 1443, DUKE OF EXETER.

His Grace, who was a Knight of the Garter, Lord High Admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine, and Constable of the Tower of London, died in 1447, and was succeeded by his son,

HENRY, 3rd Duke (1430-75), a staunch Lancastrian, who sharing the temporary triumphs and defeats of his party was eventually, in 1461, attainted, when the dukedom expired.

MORE than thirty years subsequently elapsed before the title of EXETER was again borne, when at length HENRY COURTENAY, the restored Earl of Devon, was created, 1525, MARQUESS OF EXETER.

This nobleman, who was a distinguished courtier in the reign of HENRY VIII, sat in judgment on the trial of the unfortunate ANNE BOLEYN; but the year after, incurring the displeasure of the King, he was convicted of high treason, and beheaded in 1538, when the marquessate of Exeter became extinct.

His son and heir, the unhappy EDWARD COURTENAY (c1527-56) was imprisoned in the Tower during the remainder of the reign of HENRY VIII, but upon the accession of QUEEN MARY, he was released and created EARL OF DEVON.

About half a century afterwards the title of EXETER, as an earldom, was conferred upon the present family of CECIL, spelt at different times Seisyllt, Sicell, Seisyll, and Cycell, and founded by one of the most remarkable men in English history.

WILLIAM CECIL (1520-98), born at Bourne, Lincolnshire (son and heir of Sir Richard Cecil, an officer of the Court in attendance upon HENRY VIII), having attracted the attention and attained the subsequent favour of his Sovereign by a successful dispute with two intemperate chaplains of O'Neill, the Irish chieftain, on the power of the Pope, the King granted him a reversion of the office of Custos Brevium; and from that period he resolved to pursue a political, rather than a forensic course, which latter he had originally intended to adopt having entered himself at Gray's Inn in 1541.

In the reign of EDWARD VI, Mr Cecil was appointed Secretary of State, when he received the honour of knighthood and was sworn of the Privy Council.

Under the rule of QUEEN MARY, although a zealous reformist previously, Sir William, with the tact of the renowned Vicar of Bray, doffed his Protestant mantle, and conformed to the ancient faith.

This outward demonstration proved not to have been assumed in vain, for we find the wily politician enjoying again the sunshine of royal favour, and actually nominated, with Lord Paget and Sir Edward Hastings, to conduct Cardinal Pole, then invested with a Legatine Council, into England.

In this reign Cecil represented Lincolnshire in Parliament.

Immediately upon the accession of ELIZABETH I, however (when he became once more a staunch denouncer of of popish errors), the star of his fortune arose, and few statesmen have been guided through a more brilliant course.

His first official employment was his resumption as Secretary of State and, in that, so sensible was his royal mistress of his important services that Her Majesty elevated him to the peerage, 1571, as Baron Burghley, although at this period his private fortune does not appear to have been much advanced, for by a letter written by himself just after his elevation, he says that he is "the poorest lord in England."

A conspiracy was soon after discovered against his life, and the two assassins, Barney and Mather, declared, at their execution, that they were instigated by the Spanish ambassador; for which, with other offences, His Excellency was ordered to depart the Kingdom.

As a consolation for these perils, his lordship was honoured with the Order of the Garter in June, 1572; and in September following, at the decease of Lord Winchester, appointed Lord High Treasurer.

His lordship married firstly, Mary, sister of Sir John Cheke, tutor to EDWARD VI, by whom he had an only son,
THOMAS, his successor.
His first wife dying after a short period, he wedded secondly, Mildred, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, Knight, of Gidea Hall, Essex, by whom he had surviving issue,
Anne, Countess of Oxford;
The last memorable act of the Lord High Treasurer's life was an attempt to bring about a peace with Spain, in which he was vehemently opposed by the Earl of Essex, then in the fire of youth.

The young soldier becoming heated in the debate, the venerable minister was induced to pull out a prayer-book and point to the words, "men of blood shall not live out half their lives."

Burghley has been universally condemned for his participation in the destruction of the unhappy MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS - and justly.

Of the manner of living adopted by this eminent person, we are informed that, suitable to his rank and the custom of the times, he kept up an extraordinary degree of splendour in his houses and gardens, and everything belonging to him.

He had four residences:- his lodgings at Court; Cecil House in the Strand; his family seat of Burghley; and his own favourite seat at Theobalds House.

At his lordship's house in London he had dozens of of family members, exclusively of those that attended him at Court.

His expenses there, as we have it from a person who lived many years in his family, were £30 a week in his absence (about £9,000 in today's money), and between £40 and £50 when present.

At Theobalds House he had thirty persons in his family; and besides a constant allowance in charity, he directed £10 a week (about £3,000 today) to be laid out in keeping the poor at work in his gardens etc.

He kept a standing table for gentlemen and two other tables for persons of meaner condition, which were always served alike, whether he were in or out of town.

Twelve times he entertained the Queen at his house for several weeks together, at the expense of £2-3,000 each visit - a fabulous sum.

At his decease Lord Burghley left about £4,000 a year in land, £11,000 in money (£2.6 million today), and in valuable effects, about £14,000.

His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS, 2nd Baron (1542-1623); who was created EARL OF EXETER, 1605, and installed a Knight of the Garter.

His lordship espoused firstly, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his successor;
Richard (Sir);
Christopher, drowned in Germany;
Catherine; Lucy; Mildred; Mary; Dorothy; Elizabeth; Frances.
The 1st Earl married secondly, Frances, daughter of William Brydges, 4th Baron Chandos, and had an only daughter, ANNE.

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM, 2nd Earl (1566-1640), KG, who married Elizabeth, only child and heir of Edward, 3rd Earl of Rutland, by which lady he had a son,
WILLIAM, who, in right of his mother, became 16th BARON DE ROS.
His lordship wedded secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Drury, Knight, and had three daughters, his co-heirs,
Anne; Elizabeth; Diana.
The 2nd Earl was succeeded by his nephew,

DAVID, 3rd Earl (c1600-43), who was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 4th Earl, who was succeeded, in 1678, by his only surviving son,

JOHN, 5th Earl (c1648-1700), who wedded Anne, only daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, and was succeeded by his son,

JOHN, 6th Earl,
John Cecil, 6th Earl (1674–1721);
John Cecil, 7th Earl (c1700–22);
Brownlow Cecil, 8th Earl (1701–54);
Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl (1725–93);
Henry Cecil, 10th Earl (1754–1804) (cr Marquess of Exeter in 1801). 
Marquesses of Exeter, second creation (1801):-
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess (1754–1804);
Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess (1795–1867);
William Alleyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess (1825–95);
Brownlow Henry George Cecil, 4th Marquess (1849–98);
William Thomas Brownlow Cecil, 5th Marquess (1876–1956);
David George Brownlow Cecil, 6th Marquess (1905–81);
William Martin Alleyne Cecil, 7th Marquess (1909–88);
(William) Michael Anthony Cecil, 8th Marquess (b 1935).
First published in October, 2017.  Exeter arms courtesy of European Heraldry. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Ballinacor House


WILLIAM KEMMIS (1777-1864), of Ballinacor, County Wicklow, and Killeen, Queen's County, Crown and Treasury Solicitor for Ireland (see KEMMIS of Shaen), espoused, in 1805, Ellen, second daughter of Nicholas Southcote Mansergh JP, of Greenane, County Tipperary, and had issue,
George (Rev);
Mr Kemmis was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM GILBERT KEMMIS JP DL (1806-81), of Ballinacor and Ballycarroll, who died unmarried, when he was succeeded by his nephew,

WILLIAM KEMMIS JP DL (1836-1900), of Ballinacor and Ballycarroll, Colonel, Royal Artillery, who wedded, in 1862, Ellen Gertrude de Horne Christy, eldest daughter of George Steinman Steinman, FSA, of Sundridge, Kent, and had issue,
Marcus Steinman (Rev);
Lewis George Nicholas;
Edward Bernhard;
Gilbert (Rev).
Colonel Kemmis was succeeded by his eldest son, 

WILLIAM HENRY OLPHERT KEMMIS JP DL (1864-1939), of Ballinacor, High Sheriff of County Wicklow, 1904, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding, Wicklow Royal Garrison Artillery, who espoused, in 1888, Francis Maude, second daughter of the Rev Charles Beauclerk, Chaplain of Holy Trinity Church, Boulogne, France, and had issue,
Thomas Steinman;
Karolie Kathleen.
The eldest son,

WILLIAM DARRYL OLPHERT KEMMIS MC (1892-1965), Captain, Inniskilling Dragoons.

When Captain Kemmis died in 1965, Ballinacor was inherited by his maternal cousin, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Lomer.

BALLINACOR HOUSE, Rathdrum, County Wicklow, is a two-storey, late 18th century house, enlarged, re-faced and re-roofed in the 19th century.

It has a three-bay entrance front with an Ionic portico.

The end elevation has six bays, three of which are in a shallow, curved bow.

There is a gabled office wing with an adjacent conservatory; an Italianate campanile at the junction of the main block and wing.

The clock has been said to keep time for the surrounding countryside.

The entrance hall is stone-flagged, with a plasterwork Victorian cornice; a large, top-lit, two-storey hall with oval lantern; oval gallery with iron balustrade.

The demesne is said to be magnificent, with wooded hills topped by high mountains; a mile-long oak walk; and a mile-long avenue from the front gate to the house, bordered by rhododendrons and firs.

There is a deer-park and the River Avonbeg flows by with abundant cascades and gorges.


THE PRESENT owners, Sir Robert and Lady Davis-Goff, bought Ballinacor Estate in 2001 as a working farm and shoot.

The house underwent an extensive renovation and modernisation project, which was completed in 2009.

This renovation was sympathetic to the time in which the house was built and is furnished appropriately.

The estate has a strong tradition of driven shooting and has game records going back well over a century.

Grouse were previously shot on the estate, and it is hoped to revive the moor in future years.

Lady Davis-Goff inherited Lissen Hall in County Dublin.

First published in May, 2013.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

George Stone DD

ANDREW STONE (-1711), banker and goldsmith, of Lombard Street, London, married Anne Holbrooke, and had issue,
Andrew (1703-73), MP, his heir;
GEORGE, of whom hereafter;
Anne, m Rt Rev William Barnard, Lord Bishop of Derry.
The youngest son,

THE MOST REV AND RT HON DR GEORGE STONE (1708-64), Lord Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan, was buried in the north aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey on the 28th December, 1764.

He was educated at Westminster School, where he was a King's Scholar, he was elected to Christ Church, Oxford after which he was ordained.

His Grace went to Ireland in 1731 as Chaplain to the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

In 1733 Stone was appointed Dean of Ferns, and in the following year he exchanged this deanery for that of Derry.

Photo Credit: Christ Church College, Oxford

Dr Stone was consecrated Lord Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin in 1740, translated to the bishopric of Kildare, 1743, and to the see of Derry in 1745.

In 1747, he was translated to the archiepiscopal see of Armagh as Lord Primate, and enthroned five years afterwards, in 1752.

During the two years that he occupied the see of Kildare, Dr Stone he was also Dean of Christ Church, Dublin.

His Grace died unmarried, of gout, at his brother's house in the Privy Garden, Whitehall.

His coffin lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey prior to interment.

The gravestones to the Stone family were removed, with many others, when the nave floor was re-laid in 1834.

Small lozenge stones with names and dates replaced them but most of these, being worn away, are now covered by a modern stone to William Herschel.

Only George Stone's small stone can now be seen.

The original inscriptions were recorded and the Latin can be translated thus:
Here lies Andrew Stone, treasurer to queen Charlotte. Died 16 December 1773 aged 71. And Thomas Stone his son died 7 February 1761 aged 12. 
Here are also deposited the remains of Hannah, wife of Andrew Stone, died 5 June 1782 aged 73. In the same tomb lies buried Sara Mauvillain sister of Hannah Stone died 22 January 1804 aged 91. 
Here lies the body of George Stone, S.T.P. [professor of sacred theology], archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan. Died December 19 1764 aged 57.

Ballinkeele House


JOHN MAHER, of TullowMacJames, near Templemore, County Tipperary, married Catherine, daughter of William Lanigan, of County Kilkenny, by Mary, his second wife, daughter of Charles Gore, sixth son of Sir Paul Gore Bt, and had issue,
Nicholas, father of Valentine Maher MP;
MATTHIAS, of whose line we treat;
a daughter.
The second son,

MATTHIAS MAHER, of Ballymullen, Queen's County (Laois), wedded, in 1799, Anne, daughter of Maurice O'Donnell, of Carrick-on-Suir, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary Anne; Margaret.
The eldest son,

JOHN MAHER JP DL (1801-60), of Ballinkeele, High Sheriff of County Wexford, 1853, MP for County Wexford, 1835, married, in 1843, Louisa Catherine, daughter of George Bourke O'Kelly, of Acton House, Middlesex, and had issue,
GEORGE MAURICE, succeeded his brother;
John Pentheny;
William Stanislaus;
Mary Anne; Louisa Ellen.
Mr Maher was succeeded by his eldest son,

MATTHIAS AIDAN MAHER JP DL (1846-1901), of Ballinkeele, High Sheriff of County Wexford, 1878, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

GEORGE MAURICE MAHER DL (1848-1932), of Ballinkeele, High Sheriff of County Wexford, 1913, Captain, 7th Dragoon Guards.

BALLINKEELE HOUSE, near Enniscorthy, County Wexford, is a two-storey house which has a long office wing at one side.

The Mahers were considerable landowners in north County Tipperary and purchased Ballinkeele, about five miles east of Enniscorthy, in the early 19th century.

John Maher, MP for County Wexford, 1835, commissioned the architect Daniel Robertson to build his new house in 1840.

Ballinkeele is one of the few houses Robertson built in the Classical style and is his last surviving work.

The house is comprised of a ground floor and a single upper storey, with a long, slightly lower, service wing to one side in lieu of a basement.

The facades are rendered, with cut-granite decoration, including a grandiose central porch, supported by six large Tuscan columns and surmounted by an elaborate balustrade, which projects to form a porte-cochère.

The garden front has a central breakfront with a shallow bow, flanked by wide piers of rusticated granite.

These are repeated at each corner as coigns.

The interior is classical, with baroque overtones, and is largely unaltered with most of its original contents.

The hall runs from left to right and is consequently lit from one side, with a screen of scagliola Corinthian columns at one end and an elaborate cast-iron stove at the other.

The library and drawing room have splendid chimneypieces of inlaid marble in the manner of Pietro Bossi, while the fine suite of interconnecting rooms on the garden front open onto a raised terrace.

The staircase hall has a spectacularly cantilevered stone staircase, with decorative metal balusters.

As it approaches the ground floor the swooping mahogany handrail wraps itself around a Tuscan column supporting a bronze statue of Mercury, in a style that anticipates Art Nouveau by more than forty years.

Outside, two avenues approach the house, one which provides a glimpse of a ruined keep reflected in an artificial lake, while both entrances were built to Robertson’s designs.

The Maher family still owns Ballinkeele, and today the house is run by Val and Laura Maher.

Select bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Belvedere House


The ancient and noble family of ROCHFORT, in old deed and writings styled De Rupe Forti, is stated to have been established in Ireland since its first conquest by the English.
Sir Richard de Rochfort was Lord of Crom and Adare, 1243. Sir Maurice Rochfort was Lord Justice of Ireland, 1302. 
His son, Sir William, was father of Edmund Rochfort, whose son, Sir John, lord of Tristledelan, 1384, was father of John, who became settled at Kilbride, County Meath, in 1415, and was father of Thomas, whose son, Robert of Kilbride, 1464 and 1472, was father of Christopher of Kilbride, lord of Castledelan, who was succeeded by his son Robert, who was living at Kilbride in 1569.
This Robert Rochfort's second son, Walter, was seated at Brennanstown, and died in 1630.

His second son, James Rochfort, of Aughrim, County Wicklow, had a second son,

JAMES ROCHFORT, named Prime-iron, Lieutenant-Colonel in CROMWELL's army, youngest son of James Rochfort, of Agherry, County Wicklow (ninth in descent from Sir William Rochford, Lord of the Manor of Killadoon at the beginning of the 14th century), was executed, under a court-martial, for killing Major Turner in a duel in 1652.

By Thomasine his wife, daughter of Colonel Sir Robert Piggott, he left three daughters and two sons, of whom the youngest,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1652-1727),  MP for Westmeath, 1692-1707, chosen Speaker of the Irish house of commons, 1695, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1707, wedded Hannah, daughter of William Handcock MP, of Twyford, County Westmeath, and left two sons, the elder of whom,

, MP for Westmeath, 1707-13, Chief Chamberlain of the Court of Exchequer, wedded, in 1704, the Lady Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Drogheda, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Arthur, MP for Westmeath, 1738;
Mary; Hannah; Elizabeth; Alice; Thomasina; Anne.
The eldest son,

ROBERT ROCHFORT (1708-74), MP for Westmeath, 1731, married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Robert, MP;
Mr Rochfort was elevated to the peerage, in 1737, in the dignity of Baron Bellfield; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1751, as Viscount Bellfield.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1756, as EARL OF BELVEDERE.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE, 2nd Earl (1738-1814), MP for Westmeath, 1761-8, who married firstly, in 1775, Dorothea, second daughter of John Bloomfield, of Redwood; and secondly, in 1803,  Jane, daughter of the Rev James Mackay.

The 2nd Earl died without issue, in 1814, when the titles became extinct.

BELVEDERE HOUSE, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, is an exquisite villa of about 1740, by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell.

It was built for Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose original seat was Gaulston, about five miles away.

The house comprises two storeys over a basement; a long frontage; and curved end bows.

The front has a three-bay recessed centre between projecting end bays.

Belvedere itself has only a few rooms, though they are well-proportioned, with rococo ceilings on the ground floor of exceptional quality, including cherubim gazing down from the clouds.

Belvedere House passed, by inheritance, to the Marlay family; thence to Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury DSO JP DL, leader of the 1921 Mount Everest expedition.

In the period following the 2nd World War, Colonel Howard-Bury restored the house and gardens.

He never married and, on his death in 1963, the estate was inherited by Rex Beaumont, who had been Howard-Bury's friend and companion for 30 years.

Mr Beaumont sold the estate to Westmeath County Council in 1982.

Following a multi-million pound restoration the house and gardens have been opened to visitors.

Belvedere also hosts weekend music festivals and intimate garden theatre performances.

First published in June, 2013.   Belvedere arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 13 December 2019

James Ussher DD

A voluminous pedigree of this family, and all the various branches, compiled by Sir William Betham, Ulster King-of-Arms, commences with

ARLAND USSHER, Bailiff of Dublin, 1460-2, Mayor of Dublin, 1469-71, who married firstly, Alsone Taylor, by whom he had a daughter, Margaret, and an only son, Thomas.

He wedded secondly, Anne Berford, and had further issue,
JOHN, of whom we treat;
Robert, dsp;
Philip, dsp;
Christopher, ancestor of USSHER OF EASTWELL.
The eldest son,

JOHN USSHER, Sheriff of Dublin, 1524, espoused, in 1485, Johanna, daughter of William Foster, of Killeigh, and had issue,
THOMAS, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THOMAS USSHER, married Margery, daughter of Henry Geydon, and had issue,
Henry (Most Rev), Lord Archbishop of Armagh;
ARLAND, of whom hereafter;
Rose; Ales; Katherine.
The third son,

ARLAND USSHER (c1552-98), wedded Margaret, daughter of James Stanihurst, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Sarah; Ellinor; Margaret; Mabel; Anne.
The eldest son,

THE MOST REV AND RT HON DR JAMES USSHER (1581-1656), Lord Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, espoused, in 1614, Phœbe, daughter of the Rev Luke Challoner, and had issue, an only child, ELIZABETH (1620-93).

At the age of 13 James Ussher entered the newly founded Trinity College in Dublin and had a distinguished academic career.

He was ordained by his uncle, Dr Henry Ussher (Archbishop of Armagh), in 1602.

Dr James Ussher,  Photo Credit: The National Trust

During the Irish rebellion of 1641 most of Archbishop Ussher's property was destroyed.

His Grace later lived in London and Oxford, and with his only daughter Elizabeth (wife of Sir Timothy Tyrrell) in Wales.

For a short time, while the Dean of Westminster was imprisoned in the Tower of London, Dr Ussher used the Deanery at Westminster.

He attended the funeral of CHARLES I at Oxford, but later also found favour with Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell, in fact, ordered his burial in the Chapel of St Paul in Westminster Abbey, and paid the funeral expenses.

It is thought that this was the only occasion at which the Anglican funeral service was read in the Abbey during the Commonwealth period.

The present Irish marble gravestone in the Abbey, with brass lettering, was erected until 1904, and the Latin inscription was written by Dr Gwynn (Regius Professor at Trinity College) and others.

It can be translated thus:
In pious memory of JAMES USSHER who was born in Dublin in 1581, entered among the first students of Trinity College, promoted to the archiepiscopal see of Armagh, 
Primate of all Ireland, the hundredth heir of St Patrick the apostle of Ireland, historian, critic, theologian, most learned among the holy, most holy among the learned, 
Exiled from his own in this city of Westminster, he fell asleep in Christ in 1656. 
He was expelled from his sacred see and country by those same seditions which went on to grant him burial in this church among the most honoured. 
This stone was placed by George Salmon, Provost of the same college, 1904.
Ussher's coat-of-arms appears at the base of the stone, surmounted by a mitre.

This shows the arms of the See of Armagh impaling Ussher (azure, a chevron ermine between three batons, or).

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Ballynatray House


The ancient and influential family of SMYTH was settled in Ireland for more than three and a half centuries, intermarrying with the houses of England, and always maintaining a distinguished position amongst its great landed proprietors.

Sir Richard Smyth appears to have been established there before the beginning of the 17th century: for an indenture, dated 1602, made between Sir Walter Raleigh and Richard Boyle, Clerk of the Council in Munster, and recorded in the Rolls' Office, Dublin, for the sale by Sir Walter, to the said Richard, of certain lands in counties Cork and Waterford.

Sir Richard Smyth, of Ballynatray, was appointed by the deed a trustee, in conjunction with Edmund Colthurst and Edmund Coppinger.

SIR RICHARD SMYTH, Knight, of Ballynatray, County Waterford, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1613, and Rathcogan, County Cork, who flourished in the reign of ELIZABETH I, married Mary, daughter of Roger Boyle, of Preston, Kent, and sister of RICHARD BOYLE, the first and Great Earl of Cork, and had issue,
PERCY (Sir), his heir;
Catherine; Dorothy; Alice.
Sir Richard commanded as captain in the defeat and expulsion of the Spaniards at Castle Ny Parke, Kinsale, County Cork.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR PERCY SMYTH, Knight, of Ballynatray, distinguished for his loyalty and courage in the rebellion of 1641.

He raised 100 men to assist Sir William St Leger, Lord President of Munster, and obtained at the same time, with Lord Broghill and Captain Brodrick, his commission as Captain of Foot.

Captain Smyth was knighted in 1629, and was military governor of Youghal, 1645.

Sir Percy married firstly, Mary, daughter of Robert Meade, of Broghill, and had issue, two daughters, Mabella and Joan; and secondly, in 1635, Isabella, daughter of Arthur Ussher, by Isabella his wife, daughter of the Most Rev Dr Adam Loftus, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and Lord High Chancellor of Ireland, and had issue,
Boyle, MP for Tallow;
William, his heir;
RICHARD, of whom we treat;
Margaret; Elizabeth; Isabella; Maria; Catherine.
The fourth son,

RICHARD SMYTH, of Ballynatray, wedded firstly, Susanna, daughter of John Gore, of Clonrone, County Clare, who dsp.

He espoused secondly, Alice, daughter of Richard Grice, of Ballycullane, County Limerick, and had (with a daughter, Isabella) a son,

GRICE SMYTH, of Ballynatray, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1710, who married Gertrude, daughter of William Taylor, of Burton, County Cork, and had issue, RICHARD, his heir, and Deborah.

Mr Smyth died intestate in 1724, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

RICHARD SMYTH (1706-68), of Ballynatray, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1739, who wedded firstly, in 1764, Jane, daughter and co-heir of George Rogers, of Cork, and by her had one daughter, Gertrude.

Mr Smyth espoused secondly, in 1756, Penelope, daughter of John Bateman, of Oak Park, County Kerry, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
GRICE, heir to his brother;
Elizabeth; Penelope.
Mr Smyth was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD SMYTH, of Ballynatray, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1793, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

GRICE SMYTH (1762-1816), of Ballynatray, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1803, who wedded, in 1795, Mary Brodrick, daughter and co-heir of Henry Mitchell, of Mitchell's Fort, County Cork, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Henry Mitchell, ancestor of SMYTH of Castle Widenham;
Grice Blakeney (Rev);
John Rowland (Sir), KCB, General in the Army;
Ellen; Penelope; Gertrude.
Mr Smyth was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD SMYTH JP DL (1796-1858), of Ballynatray, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1821, who married, in 1821, Harriet, daughter of Hayes, 2nd Viscount Doneraile, by Charlotte his wife, sister of the 1st Earl of Bandon, and had an only surviving child, CHARLOTTE MARY.

Mr Smyth was succeeded by his daughter,

MISS CHARLOTTE MARY SMYTH, of Ballynatray, who wedded, in 1848, Charles William, 5th EARL MOUNT CASHELL, who assumed, in 1858, the additional name and arms of SMYTH, and was High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1862.

Her ladyship died in 1892, having had issue,
Richard Charles More (1859-88), dvm;
Helena Anna Mary; Charlotte Adelaide Louisa Riversdale.
The Countess Mount Cashell, having no surviving male issue, was succeeded by her elder daughter.

The 5th Earl died in 1898, when the Moore Park estates passed to his eldest daughter,

THE LADY HARRIETTE GERTRUDE ISABELLA MOORE (1849-1904), of Ballynatray, and Moore Park, Kilworth, County Cork, who married, in 1872, Colonel John Henry Graham Holroyd-Smyth CMG JP DL, High Sheriff of County Waterford, 1902, and had issue,
Charles Edward Ridley;
William Baker;
Isabelle Charlotte Sophie Wilmot; Helena Anne Mary Moore;
Gwendoline Harriette; Sophia Beryl Sheila; Penelope Victoria Minna.
The eldest son,

ROWLAND HENRY TYSSEN HOLROYD-SMYTH DL (1874-1959), married, in 1902, Alice Isabelle, youngest daughter of Chambré Brabazon Ponsonby, of Kilcooley Abbey, and had issue,
John Rowland Chambré, b 1903;
Henry Horace Digby, b 1905;
Bryan Hubert Holroyd, b 1908;
Mary Lavender, b 1910.

BALLYNATRAY HOUSE, near Youghal, County Cork, stands on the River Blackwater, County Waterford.

It was granted to Sir Richard Smyth, brother-in-law to the Great Earl of Cork, in the early 17th century.

His son’s "castellated residence" was largely destroyed in the rebellion of 1641, and his successor built a larger, Dutch-gabled dwelling in the 1690s.

In 1795 this was incorporated into a very large Palladian house, built by Grice Smyth to the designs of Alexander Dean, of Cork.

The house is eleven bays long and five bays wide, with two storeys over a basement and a ballustraded parapet, originally decorated with elaborate urns.

The river façade has a pedimented breakfront, while the three central bays of the entrance front are deeply recessed and filled by with a long, single-storey porch.

The interior was clearly built for entertaining on the grandest scale.

There is a sumptuous suite of interconnecting rooms, all with stupendous views; wide, double mahogany doors and some fine early 19th century plasterwork.

The hall has a frieze of bull’s heads (the Smyth crest) and the billiards-room an imaginative cornice of billiards balls and cues.

The Hall

Originally, the bedroom floor had a curious curvilinear corridor but this has since been altered.

In 1843, Charlotte Smyth married the 5th Earl Mount Cashell.

Her son predeceased her, as did her young grandson, Lord Kilworth, so the estate passed to her daughter, the wife of Colonel Holroyd, who assumed the name and arms of SMYTH.

In 1969 their grandson, Horace Holroyd-Smyth, bequeathed Ballynatray to his cousins, the Ponsonby family of Kilcooley Abbey, who sold the house to Serge and Henriette Boissevain in the late 1990s.

They subsequently carried out a major restoration programme and today Ballynatray is the home of Henry Gwyn-Jones.

The situation, on a double bend of the river which gives the impression of a very large lake, is unrivalled.

Steep, oak-covered hills slope downwards on all sides while the ruins of Molana Abbey nestle amongst the trees on the riverbank.

These contain the classical Coade stone ‘tomb’ of Raymond Le Gros, one of Strongbow’s knights, and a statue of the abbey’s founder, St Molanside.

Select bibliography: Irish Historic Houses Association. First published in November, 2017.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Tynan Abbey

TYNAN ABBEY, County Armagh, was built in 1750 and enlarged in the Tudor-Gothic style around 1820-30.

It had an imposing two-storey entrance front, battlemented and pinnacled; a battlemented central tower and doorway too, with pointed Gothic windows.

Photo Credit: Stuart Blakely

The Rt Hon Sir Norman Stronge, 8th Baronet, MC JP, and his only son, James, were murdered by the IRA in the Abbey, which was burnt to the ground in 1981.

I have written about the Stronge Baronets elsewhere on this blog.

Photo Credit: Stuart Blakely

Originally the estate extended to some 8,000 acres. 

The late Douglas Deane OBE recalled the 8th Baronet's passion for wildlife at Tynan:
He went to live and farm at Tynan Abbey in 1928 and always his interest was in wild things; often he told me about the wildfowl which visited the lake in winter; the groups of Bewick swans; the flocks of white-fronted geese...

...he showed me an incubating woodcock, hidden in a pool of brown leaves by the edge of the main drive at Tynan and told me that his gamekeeper had seen a woodcock carry one of its young, held between its legs, from an open patch in the woods in to cover; and many times had watched a woodcock feed its young in the same fashion as pigeons.

Every year Sir Norman would invite me to Tynan to see the azaleas in colour and the seas of bluebells in the woods and always there was talk of butterflies, painted ladies, peacock and the rest. Sir Norman was the envy of his friends, being an excellent shot.

He would often finish a day's shooting with close to 200 pigeons...his cousin, Sir Basil Brooke [1st Viscount Brookeborough], had the edge on him and always seemed to finish the day with more.
First published in September, 2013. 

Monday, 9 December 2019

James Spottiswood DD

Arms of Dr John Spottiswoode
Archbishop of St Andrews

The surname of SPOTTISWOOD was assumed by the proprietors of the lands and barony of Spottiswood, in the parish of Gordon, Berwickshire, as soon as surnames became hereditary in Scotland.

The immediate ancestor of the family was

ROBERT DE SPOTTISWOOD, Lord of Spottiswood, who was born in the reign of ALEXANDER III, King of Scotland, and died in that of ROBERT THE BRUCE, leaving a son and heir,

JOHN SPOTTISWOOD, of that ilk, living in the reign of DAVID II, King of Scotland, whose son and heir,

ROBERT SPOTTISWOOD, of that ilk, married a daughter of the ancient family of Lichton, of Ulishaven, Forfarshire, sister of the celebrated Dr Henry de Lichton, first Bishop of Moray, and was father of

HENRY SPOTTISWOOD, of that ilk, who died in the end of the reign of JAMES II, of Scotland, leaving a son and successor,

JAMES SPOTTISWOOD, of that ilk, a staunch loyalist and firm adherent to the interest of JAMES III, for which he was forfeited, but reinstated subsequently, by JAMES IV; soon afterwards he died, leaving by his wife a son and heir,

WILLIAM SPOTTISWOOD, of Spottiswood, who fell at Flodden, in 1513, with JAMES IV.

He had married Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Hop Pringle, and had issue (with a daughter and a son, Hugh), two elder sons,
David, his heir;
JOHN, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

JOHN SPOTTISWOOD (1510-85), DD, a man of great learning and piety, espoused Beatrix, daughter of Patrick Crichton, of Lugton and Gilmerton, and had issue (with a daughter), two sons,
John, his heir;
JAMES, of whom hereafter.
Dr Spottiswood's younger son,

THE RT REV DR JAMES SPOTTISWOOD (1567-1645), Lord Bishop of Clogher, was born at Calder in Scotland on the 7th September, 1567.

He was admitted to the University of Glasgow in 1579, and in 1581 entered royal service.

He travelled with JAMES VI, King of Scotland, on his voyage to meet his wife, Anne of Denmark, and in 1598 acted as secretary to ambassadors to Denmark and Germany.

After JAMES VI became also JAMES I of England, Spottiswood was ordained in the Church of England, 1603, and became Rector of Wells in Norfolk.

Dr Spottiswood remained there until 1616, when he was involved in a visitation of the University of St Andrews, from where he graduated Doctor of Divinity.

In 1621 Spottiswood accepted the bishopric of Clogher in Ulster, but fled to England when the Irish rebellion broke out in 1641.

He died at Westminster in 1645, and was buried in St Benedict's chapel in Westminster Abbey on the 31 March.

No record survives of his grave or of any inscription which may once have been on it.

Spottiswood had married before his ordination and left a son, Sir Henry Spottiswood, and a daughter Mary.

The latter married Abraham Crichtonancestor of the Earls of Erne.

Mooresfort House


CHARLES MOORE JP (1804-69), MP for Tipperary, 1865-9, son of Arthur Moore, of Crookedstone, County Antrim, by Mary O'Hara his wife, purchased Mooresfort, County Tipperary.

He married, in 1835, Marian Elizabeth, daughter of John Story, and had issue,
Charles Henry O'Hara, deceased; 
ARTHUR JOHN, of Mooresfort;
Marian Edith;
Helena Blanche, a nun;
Laura Mary, m  G A Vaughan, nephew of 3rd Earl of Lisburne.
Mr Moore's younger son, 

COUNT ARTHUR JOHN MOORE JP DL (1849-1904), of Mooresfort, MP for Clonmel, 1874-85, Londonderry, 1899-1900, High Sheriff of County Tipperary, 1877, wedded, in 1877, Mary Lucy, daughter of Sir Charles Clifford, 1st Baronet, of Hatherton Hall, Staffordshire, and had issue,
Arthur Joseph Clifford, 1878-1900;
Edith Mary.
Mr Moore, Commander of the Order of St Gregory, Chamberlain to Pope LEO XIII, was created a Count by His Holiness in 1879.

His younger son,

CHARLES JOSEPH HENRY O'HARA MOORE MC JP (1880-1965), of Mooresfort, and Aherlow Castle, Captain, Irish Guards, married, in 1917, the Lady Dorothie Mary Evelyn Feilding MM, daughter of 9th Earl of Denbigh.

MOORESFORT HOUSE, near Lattin, County Tipperary, was built in 1725 as a three-storey block.

The house was remodelled in the 1850s by Charles Moore MP, converting the house to a two-storey building in order to have higher rooms.

The Italianate remodelling of the house included the addition of an ornate portico and pediment to the front elevation and canted-bay windows flanked by classically influenced pilasters giving the building an overall Victorian character.

The decorative stained glass window is due to the addition of a chapel designed by George Ashlin also added about this time.

The house retains notable interior features including timber shutters and graceful plasterwork to the drawing room depicting musical instruments.

The extensive ranges of outbuildings adjoining the house are still used to serve a working farm, and contribute positively to the over all setting of the house.

AHERLOW CASTLE, near Bansha, County Tipperary, was also a seat of Arthur Moore MP.

This small castle stands in the Glen of Aherlow.

It has a polygonal tower with loops at one end; a square tower at the other.

Former town residences ~ 64 Prince's Gate, London; 10 Grafton Street, Dublin.

First published in August, 2013.