Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Malin Hall


JAMES HARVEY, or HERVY, was presumably son of CAPTAIN GEORGE HARVEY, who had a confirmation of arms and grant of crest, 1602, for this confirmation was afterwards in his (James's) possession, and then in the possession of Robert, his fourth son, and was in the possession of George Miller Harvey, DL, of Malin Hall, a descendant.

James Harvey was a lessee under Lieutenant George Gale, of Dunmore, and his son, George Gale, of Dunmore.

His name is written "James Hervy" in a chancery bill dated 1673.

James Harvey died in 1667, having had issue, four sons,
David, of Dunmore;
John, of Imlick;
ROBERT, of whom we treat.
The fourth son of the above James Harvey or Hervy, of Dunmore,

ROBERT HARVEY, of Londonderry, a storekeeper during the siege of Londonderry, 1688, High Sheriff of that county, 1696, married and had issue,
JOHN, of whom hereafter;
Samuel, of Londonderry;
The elder son,

JOHN HARVEY, of Londonderry, married, in 1685, Martha Rankin, stepdaughter of Captain Michael Browning, of the merchant ship Mountjoy, and had issue,
He wedded secondly, Jane (d 1706), daughter of Richard Godsalve, of Rigmaden, Lancashire; and thirdly, in 1706, Elizabeth (d 1708), daughter of Alexander Lecky, Alderman and Mayor of Londonderry, High Sheriff, 1677.

Mr Harvey espoused fourthly, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel Henry Hart, of Kilderry, Inishowen, by Anne his wife, daughter of Sir Tristram Beresford Bt, by whom he had (with other issue),
GEORGE, of whom presently;
Thomas (Rev).
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE HARVEY (1713-73), High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1754, who acquired a considerable estate in the manor of Malin, Inishowen, and built Malin Hall.

Mr Harvey married, in 1740, his cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel George Hart, of Kilderry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
George Hart, dsp;
Ludford (Sir), knighted 1813;
Mary Anne; Elizabeth; Mary Anne; Alice; Anne.
The eldest son,

THE REV JOHN HARVEY (1742-94), of Malin Hall, wedded, in 1766, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Young, of Culdaff, and had issue,
George, dsp;
George, dsp;
ROBERT, his heir;
Mary Anne.
The eldest surviving son,

ROBERT HARVEY (1770-1820), of Malin Hall, married, in 1801, Barbara Frances, eldest daughter of Robert Gage, of Rathlin Island, County Antrim, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary; Marianne; Barbara; Susan; Catherine.
Mr Harvey was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN HARVEY JP DL (1802-68), of Malin Hall. High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1836, who espoused, in 1831, Emily, daughter of the Rev Dr George Miller, of Armagh, and had issue,
Robert (1833-55);
GEORGE MILLER, his heir.
The son and heir,

GEORGE MILLER HARVEY JP DL (1838-1919), of Malin Hall. High Sheriff of County Donegal, 1870, married, in 1864, Julia Mary, daughter of William Charles Gage, of Drummond House, County Londonderry, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Mary Gage; Julia Emily.
Mr Harvey was succeeded by his son and heir,

JOHN HARVEY (1865-1940), of Malin Hall, who wedded, in 1895, Florita, eldest daughter of J Digby O’Donoghue, of Montevideo, and had issue,
Julia Mary, b 1896;
Emily Georgina, b 1898;
Dora (1903-68).

MALIN HALL, near Clonca, County Donegal, is a two-storey, early 18th century house of 1758 with a five-bay front, the door-case having pilasters and entablature.

The range to the rear has a curvilinear gable.

Malin Hall had been lived in continuously by the Harveys since they built it in 1758 until 1973, when it was sold by George Miller Harvey.

Ian Harvey, born in 1947, left agricultural college in 1966 and lived at Malin Hall, farming the 250 acre estate until its sale seven years later.

First published in August, 2012.

The Earldom

THE EARLDOM, which existed in England before the Conquest, was, it has been said, originally annexed to a particular tract of land.
The Norman baron Sir William d'Aubigny was created Earl of Arundel in 1138 by KING STEPHEN. It is the most ancient earldom in the peerage, currently held by His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, and is used (along with the earldom of Surrey) by his heir apparent as a courtesy title.
For several centuries, earldoms have been created by letters patent, and the descent of the honour regulated accordingly.

The ancient ceremony of investiture, as in other dignities, has been discontinued; and the custom of deriving the title from some county or town was extended, in consequence of the number of earls, to villages, private estates, and family surnames.

The style of an earl is Right Honourable, and he is officially addressed by the Crown, "Our right trusty and right well beloved Cousin".

The last non-royal earldom to be conferred was in 1984, when the Rt Hon Maurice Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister and statesman, was created Earl of Stockton.

THE coronation robes of an earl are similar to those of a duke and marquess, with the exception that there are three guards of ermine and gold lace.

His lordship's cap is of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, having a gold tassel at top; the coronet has pearls raised upon points, with strawberry leaves low between them.

First published in December, 2013.


Archbishops in the British Isles have the ducal title of "Grace", and have historically taken precedence of all dukes next to those of royal blood.

The Archbishop of Canterbury ranks as first peer of the realm, and the Archbishop of York as third, coming immediately after the Lord Chancellor.

The (Anglican) Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin ranked immediately after the Archbishop of York.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is styled "Most Reverend" and "by divine providence"; while the Archbishop of York and bishops adopt the term "permission" instead of "providence".

First published in December, 2013.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Kiltanon House


JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon, second son of JAMES MOLONY, of Kiltanon and Ballynahinch, by his second wife, Mary, daughter of James Lambert, married, ca 1715, Elizabeth, widow of Major Morgan Ryan, and second daughter and co-heir of Thomas Croasdaile, of Clostoken, County Galway, by Mercy his wife, daughter of Colonel Richard Ringrose, of Moynoe House, County Clare, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1717-), of Kiltanon, who married, in 1751, Mary, daughter of Stewart Weldon, of Raheenderry, Queen's County, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Walter Weldon;
Weldon John (Rev);
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY (1752-1823), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1802, who married, in 1780, Selina, daughter of the Rev John Mills, of Barford, Warwickshire, and had issue,
JAMES, his heir;
Charles Arthur, b 1790;
Edmund, b 1794;
Selina; Mary; Harriet; Anne; Lucy.
Mr Molony was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES MOLONY JP DL (1785-1874), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1828, who wedded firstly, in 1820, Harriet, daughter of William Harding, of Baraset, Warwickshire, and had issue,
James, 1822-34;
WILLIAM MILLS, his heir;
Harriet, died in infancy.
He espoused secondly, in 1828, Lucy, second daughter of Sir Trevor Wheler Bt, of Leamington Hastings, Warwickshire, and had further issue,
Francis Wheler (Rev);
Edmund Weldon;
Trevor Charles;
Frederick Beresford;
Charles Mills, CB;
Mary; Lucy Anne; Harriet Selina.
Mr Molony died at Leamington Hastings, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

WILLIAM MILLS MOLONY JP DL (1825-91), of Kiltanon, Major, 22nd Regiment, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1865, who married, in 1865, Marianne Marsh, elder daughter and co-heir of Robert Fannin, of Leeson Street, Dublin, by his wife Henrietta, daughter of Croasdaile Molony, of Granahan, and had issue,
James Edmund Harding (1873-79);
Henrietta Mary; Iva Kathleen; Selina Charlotte; Maud Alice.
Major Molony was succeeded by his only surviving son,

WILLIAM BERESFORD MOLONY (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, High Sheriff of County Clare, 1908, Colonel, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, who wedded, in 1905, Lena Maria Annie, only daughter of George Wright, of Heysham Lodge, Lancashire, and of Coverham Abbey, Yorkshire, without issue.

KILTANON HOUSE, near Tulla, County Clare, was an attractive, pale brick three-storey Georgian mansion with stone facing which overlooked rolling parklands of mature trees of both native and imported variety.  

The house was burnt in 1920

Unique family mementos, including a marble table and an inlaid set of playing cards, perished.  

This classic heirloom was said to have been given to Bishop John O'Molony by LOUIS XIV in atonement for having once lost his temper when playing and tearing up his card.

The top floor was an attic storey.

The fenestration was said to be unusual.

A two-storey wing was set back.

The Molonys managed to hold onto Kiltannon House in the 1690s by a fortunate clause in the Treaty of Limerick which exempted serving officers within the city walls.

In 1878, it was estimated that the lands comprising the Kiltannon Estate numbered 10,000 acres with a rateable valuation of £2,500.

It was then owned by Major William Mills Molony.  

His son, Colonel William Molony, was the last of seven generations to own this estate.

Kiltanon was the home of the Molony family for at least two centuries.

The house, built in 1833, had a drive which linked it to the other nearby Molony residences at Bunavory and Cragg.

The house is now ruinous.

In the second half of the 19th century another house, known as the Home Farm House, was built at Kiltanon for Marcus Molony, eighth son of James Molony, and his agent.

This house remains today.

Kiltanon home farm is on the grounds of the Kiltanon Sport Estate and is 1,000 yards south-west of Kiltanon House and estate.

The folklore history of the Kiltanon Estate is that the lands were given to a Cromwellian soldier as payment for his services in the Cromwellian Army.

After arriving in Galway Harbour, he began his journey on foot, and crossing the mountain from Gort, heading south for Tulla with the newly signed property deed on his person, he stopped a member of the Molony clan at Laughan Bridge to ask directions to his estate:
‘Is the lands of Kiltanon as bad as all of the land around here?" the soldier asked. ‘It’s worse’ said Molony, pointing to the snow covered rocks and heather that formed part of the mountain and was many miles from the fertile Kiltanon lands. "Then I have no business being here’ replied the soldier, ‘do you want to buy it from me?’.
Accepting what money Molony had in his pocket as payment, he handed over the deed to Kiltanon Estate and returned to Galway.

Thus, as local folklore has it, the property came into the Maloney family.

A book by Hugh Weir states that the soldier was James Molony, of Ballinahinch and Kiltanon, who served in O’Brien’s regiment of foot in support of JAMES II.

His property was saved at the Treaty of Limerick by a clause which exempted those from within the city walls.

Kiltanon Home Farm was built for Marcus Molony JP, son of James Molony JP DL, of Kiltanon, who married Christina Emma of neighbouring Tyredah Castle and acted as land agent for the family estate which comprised of 10,095 acres.

Colonel William (Willie) Molony (1875-1960), of Kiltanon, was the last of seven direct descendents to own Kiltanon. 

BH Memoirs: VII



In April, 1939, Roddens House was burnt down.

We had been carrying out some alterations and were living in one corner of the house.

A high wind was blowing off the sea and one of the front windows had been removed.

It was probably caused by a smouldering beam in the chimney.

We planned to rebuild starting on the 1st September, 1939, but Hitler had different plans.

In the meantime we lived in Roddens Farm House.

Lattice and the children remained there till after the war but built on two extra rooms.

In July, 1939, some of us Reservists were invited to do some voluntary training and I did a fortnight’s attachment to the 4th Hussars commanded by Scotty Cockburn at Tidworth.

To my amusement Bunny Head, who had been a Stockbroker in New York for the previous ten years, was my instructor!

At 9pm on the 31st August, 1939, the wireless announced that all Class “A” Reservists were to rejoin.

It was my 41st birthday.

I crossed over on the evening of the 1st September, having fixed up my affairs as best I could during the day.

I was in camp with the Eton OTC on 4 August 1914, and I remember well the cheer and songs with which we greeted the declaration of war then.

But we’d learnt what war meant since.

Waterloo Station was full of reservists rejoining their units and a sad looking lot they were.

When they actually joined and met their old comrades’ things cheered up in the canteen, but I could not help being struck by difference in atmosphere to that I just remembered a quarter of a century earlier.

During these two months I found plenty to do in connection with the buying of cows; bad reports of milk, and the rejection of 41 cows at one half yearly tubercular test.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Nu Delhi, Belfast

Great Victoria Street, Belfast, is a major part of Belfast's Golden Mile.

Certainly during the Troubles this street was buzzing, despite the bombing campaign which destroyed many businesses and livelihoods.

From the Grand Opera House, the Europa Hotel, the Crown Liquor Saloon, and numerous other establishments towards Shaftesbury Square and Bradbury Place, it remains one of the liveliest parts of town.

All of the said establishments are still there and continue to thrive.

I called for the old school pal, NCS, and we motored in a westerly direction into town, where I managed to find a tight space at the Great Victoria Street end of Wellwood Street.

It was cold, windy and wet.

Our venue, the Nu Delhi Indian restaurant, is on the first floor of a building beside Bruce Street and Hope Street.

It used to be the premises of the house-furnishers, Donaldson & Little.

It's probably necessary to reserve a table in this large restaurant at weekends.

We had booked a table and the place was practically full when we arrived at seven o'clock.

The staff gave a good impression on greeting and tending to us during the meal.

As far as Indian cuisine goes I usually opt for something on the mild side, so I ordered Desi Chicken Masala with pilau rice, accompanied by peshwari naan bread and a glass of lassi.

NCS had a popular lamb dish, I think, and we shared the bread with poppadoms and three types of chutney.

While NCS was getting some fresh air at the open balcony, I had a look round and my eyes focused on the ceiling, one of those non-ceilings, bare, un-plastered, concrete, loose cables, vents.

My meal was good, mild-to-medium hot, I should say.

The bread was light and freshly made, I'm sure.

My meal cost about £20 (we went Dutch).

Thereafter we hopped on to the lift, emerged at Great Victoria Street, and walked to Robinson's Bar or, rather, Fibber Magee's.

I don't know whether you've ever frequented this bar, though it's at the rear end of Robinson's, a former alley called Keyland's Place.

Keyland's Place was largely demolished to make way for Blackstaff Square, the most direct means of entering Fibber Magee's.

It's a kind of spit-and sawdust theme bar, a Victorian general merchant's, probably conceived twenty-five years ago by the proprietor of Robinson's.

Robinson's Bar was fire-bombed and demolished in 1991, so Fibber Magee's, one of those renowned faux Irish pubs, dates from that era.

The atmosphere or ambiance is very lively indeed with merry revellers, a few of whom were raucous; singing, dancing to a live duo of singing guitarists, bare wooden floorboards, wooden stools, wooden benches, dimly lit.

It has a large, unlit fire-place.

It's undeniably popular and the musicians were playing their own version of well-known pop songs.

I was sitting beside a Yorkshire plumber (who lived near Guiseley), who, with his wife, was staying with friends in Bangor, County Down.

He'd certainly had his fair share of stout or whatever, and kept repeating himself on topics like Retirement, Skiing etc.

I'd had enough of it all by ten o'clock, and bade farewell to NCS, who decided to remain for the duration.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

S D Bell's

S D Bell's Original Premises, Knock, Belfast

I met my Aunt M for tea this morning at that venerable Belfast institution, S D Bell & Company, purveyors of finest tea and coffee.

They extended their premises about five years ago to include the remaining units beside them.

You enter by a wide, electric door; the ethereal aroma of freshly-roasted coffee beans beckons visitors and patrons.

I usually meet my aunt here for the weekly chin-wag.

They serve freshly-cooked breakfasts, artisan tea and coffee, scones, iced fruit buns, cakes and biscuits in the morning.

I often have the fruit scone with butter and raspberry jam, and a pot of their blended Director's Brew tea.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Paddy Fermor Talk

With the Hon Artemis Cooper, Lady Beevor

The Bank Buildings in Belfast city centre remains a disaster zone. Such a pity.

Yesterday the contractor was working away, shifting blocks of stone from the top of the burnt-out building to the ground.

The interior is a complete mess of collapsed debris.

There's a kind of tunnel, which skirts the immediate vicinity of the building, that I passed though en route to the Ulster Reform Club, Royal Avenue, where I'd been invited for a lunch and talk by Artemis Cooper, Lady Beevor.

Her topic was none other than the extraordinary Sir Patrick  (Paddy) Leigh Fermor, DSO, OBE, adventurer, soldier, polyglot, and all-round good egg.

Having relieved myself of the heavy winter overcoat, scarf, gloves and umbrella in the cloakroom, I made my way to the old billiards-room on the third or fourth floor.

This room has a good prospect of building work at the adjacent Bank Buildings.

Only the Tesco Metro (formerly a bank) stands between the Club and Bank Buildings.

There were ten of us yesterday. The room, however, was full with other tables and parties of guests.

We had a large, circular table at the window nearest to the Bank Buildings, and we could hear constant beeping from tractors and machinery reversing within the disaster zone outside.

We were all guests of Ken Belshaw, who also happens to be the honorary consul of Hungary.

Ken follows the blog.

I was seated beside a medical doctor from Garvagh. We had a very good chin-wag about this and that during the meal, including the distinguished naval sub-mariner Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet.

Of course I've written about Garvagh House and the Cannings.

I also chatted at length to a retired detective, who sat to my right.

I happen to know, or be acquainted with, a number of former or retired police officers in the Province.

Rodney Hermon's father was Chief Constable of the RUC, and I recounted my memories of him arriving at Ormiston about 1974 in an Austin Cambridge or Morris Oxford driven by his father, a Superintendent or Chief Superintendent at the time.

Robin Gouk, QPM, was also in my year at Campbell.

We enjoyed sirloin steak, vegetables, apple tart and cream, wine and convivial company.

Artemis Cooper's father was John Julius Norwich (2nd Viscount), and when I met her after the talk, I told her that I recalled her father as a panellist on the BBC series Face The Music in the 1970s.

I've no idea why the BBC doesn't revive it. It had a dummy keyboard and panellists had to guess what piece was being played.

I must have confused her father with somebody else, or so she believed.

Was John Julius Norwich ever a guest on Face the Music?

After luncheon some of us ambled into the Members' Bar, which was packed!

We had a few more drinks (I stuck to port), and the arcane licensing laws obliged us all to vacate the room at five o'clock.

I'm returning to the Club in about a week's time for the annual Brackenber dinner.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Stradone House


This family was established in Ireland by

ROBERT BOROWES, who settled at Drumlane, County Cavan, on the settlement of Ulster by JAMES I.

His eldest son and heir,

THOMAS BOROWES, became possessed of Stradone, of which estate he also received a patent of confirmation from CHARLES I, 1638. 

THOMAS BURROWES, of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1743, married Jane, daughter of Thomas Nesbitt, of Lismore House, County Cavan, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Thomas, of Dangan Castle;
Arnold (Rev);
Margery; Anne; Martha; Jane.
The eldest son,

ROBERT BURROWES, of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1773, married Sophia, daughter of the Ven Joseph Story, Archdeacon of Kilmore, and was father of

MAJOR THOMAS BURROWES (1772-1836), of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1803, who married, in 1807, Susan, daughter of the Rev Henry Seward, of Badsey, Worcestershire, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
James Edward;
Honora Seward.
Mr Borrowes was succeeded by his eldest son,

ROBERT BURROWES JP DL MP (1810-81), of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1838, MP for Cavan, 1855-57, who wedded, in 1838, Anne Frances, only daughter of John Garden, of Barnane, County Tipperary, and had issue,
Thomas, died in infancy;
ROBERT JAMES, his heir;
Arnold Henry (1846-48);
Frances Susan; Honora; Mary Anne Cecilia.
Mr Borrowes was succeeded by his only surviving son,

ROBERT JAMES BURROWES JP DL (1844-93), of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1883, Captain, 1st Dragoon Guards, who married, in 1876, Ella (44, Thurloe Square), daughter of Commodore Magruder, US Navy, and niece of Major-General JB Magruder, and had issue,
THOMAS JAMES, his heir;
Robert Philip;
Helena Mary; Kathleen Fanny.
Mr Borrowes was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS JAMES BURROWES JP DL (1880-1935), of Stradone House, High Sheriff of County Cavan, 1902,  who espoused, in 1920, Blanche Wilson, daughter of Joseph Charles Mappin, and had issue,
Robert Philip (1920-91);
James Edward;
Anne Seward Francis; Susan Honora.

STRADONE HOUSE, near Stradone, County Cavan, was a late Georgian mansion by John Keane, with a two-storey front, and a large return with an extra mezzanine storey.

(Image: Darryl Davey)

The entrance front had five bays, the central bay recessed under a massive arch, beneath a pediment.

The ground-floor windows on either side of the entrance were set in shallow arched recesses.

(Image: Darryl Davey)

The house had an eaved roof on a bracket cornice.

Stradone House is now demolished. 

Former London residence ~ 22 Lowndes Street.

First published in August, 2012.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Marquessate

A MARQUESS, Marchio, ranks next above an earl and is the second degree of the nobility.
"His office (said Sir William Blackstone) formerly was (for dignity and duty were never separated by our ancestors) to guard the frontiers and limits of the Kingdom, which were called the marches, from the Teutonic word marche, a limit; as in particular were the marches of Wales and Scotland, while each continued to be an enemy's country.

The persons who had commanded there were called Lords Marches, or Marquesses, whose authority had abolished by statute, in the reign of HENRY VIII, though the title had long before been made a mere ensign of honour."
The first English marquessate was conferred by RICHARD II, in 1386, upon Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, KG, who was created Marquess of Dublin, and in the next year, Duke of Ireland.

His Grace was, however, banished and attainted in 1388, when his honours became forfeited.

And the second creation of the same dignity occured in the same reign, when John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, KG, was created, in 1397, Marquess of Dorset.

From that period the dignity of Marquess appears to have remained dormant until the reign of EDWARD VI, but thenceforward it became a regular and common grade of nobility.

A marquessate is invariably created by letters patent, and the descent regulated accordingly.

The style of a marquess is "Most Honourable" and he is officially addressed by the Crown, "Our Right Trusty and entirely beloved Cousin".

The last marquessate to be conferred was in 1926, when Rufus Daniel Isaacs, Viceroy of India and statesman, was created Marquess of Reading.

THE ROBES of a marquess at a coronation are of crimson velvet, lined with white taffeta, having four guards of ermine on the right side and three on the left, placed at equal distances, each guards surmounted with gold lace; the robe is tied up to the left shoulder by a white ribbon.

His lordship's cap is of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, having a gold tassel at top; and his coronet is of gold, and is encompassed by pearls and golden strawberry leaves intermingled.

First published in December, 2013.

BH Memoirs: VI



I left the Army on the 1st November, 1935, after 19 years service.

The General Election was taking place a fortnight later.

From Chester I rang up Mr J M Andrews, Ulster’s Minister of Finance, in Northern Ireland, one evening to offer my services in the election in any capacity.

Next day I received a wire from Herbert Dixon [later 1st Lord Glentoran] asking me to contest Tyrone and Fermanagh.

It was a two seat constituency and a Lincolnshire farmer called Deane was to be my colleague.

We never had a chance unless there was a split among the nationalist opposition.

Unfortunately elections in Northern Ireland are a contest between the Roman Catholic Nationalists and the Protestant Unionists.

The election agents knew the exact voting strength of each side.

Up till nomination day we thought it might be a three-corner contest, but it turned out to be a straight fight.

Two nationalist abstentionists defeated us by about 52,000 to 46,000 votes.

We stayed at Colebrooke with Sir Basil Brooke [later 1st Viscount Brookeborough] for the election.

I had never made a political speech in my life before this election.

Since those days I have had quite a bit of experience in Irish Politics.

I fought a by-election in County Down on Sir David Reid’s death in 1945, and stood as one of the Official Unionist candidates for County Down in the General Election in 1945.

I never succeeded.

As everyone knows, antagonism between the Roman Catholic anti-British Irish Free State and the Protestant pro-British North has been the dominant factor in every Northern Ireland Election since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act in 1920.

The Roman Catholics in the North with their co-religionists in Eire want Ireland to be one under an Irish Republican Parliament in Dublin; whereas the Ulster Protestants want to retain every tie that binds them to Britain.

The Ulster Unionist Party has been in power since 1921 without a break; Ulster enjoys great prosperity at present.

Agriculture is Ulster’s greatest industry, and while we are represented in Westminster and are constitutionally part and parcel of the United Kingdom, Ulster farmers enjoy the same guaranteed prices for their farm produce as do farmers in England.

From an economic point of view, therefore, we have no desire to join up with Eire.

As Protestants we have no desire to come under the control of a Roman Catholic Government in Dublin.

We are quite happy as we are.

The Ulster Government is strictly impartial to Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Unfortunately there have been one or two cases of local authorities having been not so impartial and uneducated men on both sides are definitely bigoted, but as far as government policy is concerned it is above reproach and why, then, it may be asked is Eire so anxious to absorb Northern Ireland?

On the map of the world Ireland is a very small place and, on the face of it, it seems ridiculous to have it divided into two countries.

The Irishman is intensely proud of having regained the status of Independent Nationhood.

He says “Ireland was a nation when England was a pup” etc.

Now to what extent is this claim true?

It can’t be denied that Ireland kept the flame of Christianity burning at a time when it was practically extinguished in England.

Neither can it be denied that the Penal Laws drove many fine Irishmen out of their native country.

It can’t be denied either, that the severity of those Penal Laws is still responsible for the present day hatred of England.

It is claimed that the Protestants of the North are not Irishmen at all but that they are all descendants of the Scottish and English Planters in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the early Stewarts.

There is certainly some foundation for this, but purity of race in my belief can only be rightly claimed by a very few Celts who have been driven by a succession of invaders into the mountains and to the Atlantic Coast.

All the Eastern and Southern Counties were subjected to invasions by Danes, English, Scottish and others long before Ulster was touched.

Each invasion left its mark on the original inhabitants but like China, Ireland seemed to absorb them and they in their turn became “more Irish than the Irish”.

They adopted the Irish language and the Christianity of Ireland.

Fundamentally the Northerner is a materialist and the Southerner is a sentimental theorist.

Throughout history, however, except possibly for a very short time, Ireland never was a nation.

It was an agglomeration of three or four provinces or tribes usually warring against each other under rival chiefs.

Being unable to co-operate they never were able to keep invaders out and no one personality arose strong enough to defeat his competitors and to weld Ireland into a nation.

Far the greatest and most important claim Irishmen can make is that Ireland with England and Scotland were the foundation members of the Great British Empire.

Ireland has every right to make this claim.

It is not till one travels in America or in the British Dominions that one realises what Irishmen have done.

An Irishman is only half a man in Ireland.

We have argued the Irish question from many angles and as one always does, when Ireland is concerned, looked back into medieval history.

We have got no nearer a solution, and I’m beginning to think the present partition is the best we are likely to get for many years to come.

In spite of the fact that Eire was started off on her career with no National Debt and that she has been spared sharing in any cost of the two world wars, yet her economic position is not sound.

That is another very strong reason why she is so anxious to join up with the industrious North.

The Southern Irishman is one of the most pleasant companions in the world.

He is kind and full of good cheer and humour and is popular wherever he goes in the world.

It is a great relief to escape from the ever-present materialistic outlook of the modern world and there are few places where this can be done better than in Eire.

My father used to say “an Irishman is a man who honestly believes what he knows to be false”.

I have studied some of them for a long time now and am certain he was right.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

Monday, 21 January 2019

Blessington House

Arms of the Viscounts Blessington

BLESSINGTON HOUSE, County Wicklow, was one of the largest late 17th century houses in the Kingdom of Ireland.

It was built ca 1673 by the Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr Michael Boyle, Lord Archbishop of Armagh and the last ecclesiastical Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

This prelate had been granted the Manor of Blessington in 1669 by CHARLES II, and laid out the town.

His Grace's eldest son,

MURROUGH BOYLE, was elevated to the peerage, 1673, in the dignity of Baron Boyle and VISCOUNT BLESSINGTON.

He wedded firstly, Mary, daughter of the Most Rev Dr John Parker, Lord Archbishop of Dublin.
By her he had issue an only daughter, who espoused, in 1684, Sir John Talbot Dillon Bt, by whom they had issue a daughter, Mary, married in 1708 to Captain Dunbar; who dying without issue, in 1778, left his estate to Lord Hillsborough, Lord de Vesci, and Lord Longford, as descendants of Lord Primate Boyle.
His lordship married secondly, in 1672, Anne, daughter of Charles, Earl of Mountrath.

BLESSINGTON HOUSE, Blessington, County Wicklow, comprised two storeys with a dormered attic in its high-pitched roof.

The principal front had a five-bay centre recessed between two, three-bay projecting wings joined by a balustraded colonnade.

The house stood at the end of an avenue in an exquisite demesne with a deer-park.

The Blessington estate passed through marriage to the 1st Marquess of Downshire, whose great-grandmother was a daughter of Archbishop Boyle.

In her article about Blessington and the Downshire connection, Kathy Trant tells us that Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire, was a great-grandson of Archbishop Boyle's daughter Eleanor, who had married William Hill of Hillsborough.

Thus began the Downshire association with Blessington, which continued until 1908, when the tenants bought out their holdings under the Wyndham Land Act.

The estate stretched from the Kildare boundary to the uplands of the Wicklow mountains comprised 36 townlands, 31 of which were in County Wicklow and five in County Kildare.

The 2nd Marquess also had residences at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, Hanover Square, London, Gloucester Street, Dublin, Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire,

Blessington House was burnt by insurgents in 1798.

The raids on Blessington continued into September but by then many of the tenants had left the estate.

The town was now in ruins and the surrounding countryside devastated.
When life gradually returned to normal, people began assessing the damage to their property and many submissions were made to the commission established by the Government to consider the claims of those who had suffered losses during the rebellion.
Lord Downshire received over £9,000 for the destruction to his property but he never rebuilt the mansion.

On the Downshire estates, the question now was not whether but when the landlord would sell to the tenants.

This happened on the Blessington estate under the 6th Marquess, who had inherited in 1892, and the sale was completed by 1908.

In reality, the connection between the Downshires and Blessington had virtually ceased four decades earlier upon the death of the 4th Marquess.

The once great dynasties of the Boyles and the Hills, which for so long had dominated the lives of the people of Blessington, quietly came to an end.

Today, the principal reminders of their reign in Blessington are St Mary's Church; the agent's house (until recently, the Downshire Hotel); the Market House (now Credit Union House); the Inn (now the Ulster Bank).

The monument in the square commemorates the coming of age in 1865 of Lord Hillsborough, later 5th Marquess of Downshire.

First published in August, 2012.  Blessington arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   Excerpts of The Blessington Estate And The Downshire Connection, by Kathy Trant.

BH Memoirs: V



After a little leave at home I rejoined the 11th Hussars at Tidworth.

In the spring I got engaged to be married to Lettice Stobart, daughter of Harry Stobart of [Thornton Hall] Yorkshire.

I had applied for the adjutancy of the Yorkshire Dragoons but was turned down on the grounds that I was a bachelor.

I had wanted to be in Yorkshire to see Lattice but I could not very well give this reason to the Colonel of the Yorkshire Dragoons!

We were married in July, 1931.

Then I was appointed Adjutant of the Cheshire Yeomanry and was to take over on 1st November, 1931.

After we were married we spent a fortnight in Norway and as it was not worth setting up a house for three months we started living in the Everleigh Hotel near Tadworth.

The rooms were small and the roofs were low and I kept bumping my head, so we decided to pitch a camp on Salisbury Plain and live in it.

We borrowed a large marquee from the Quartermaster and five bell tents.

We engaged an ex-naval chef and I had my soldier servant.

We had a map reference for a postal address but actually we were only 500 yards from Trevor Smail’s house.

George Paul spent a few weeks with us as a guest and during manoeuvres we had visitors from far and wide.

My mother-in-law came and spent a few days with us.

Then we moved up to Eccleston at the Duke of Westminster’s [Eaton Hall] gate and we lived there for the next four years.

Mary and Anne were both born there.

I worked hard with the Cheshire Yeomanry and enjoyed the work with these enthusiastic yeomen.

The men were particularly keen.

We hunted with both the Cheshire and Sir Watkin Wynn’s hounds but mostly with the latter.

I did a bit more flying while at Chester and obtained my “A” certificate but I was never a good pilot.

During the time I was at Chester my father died at Roddens.

After this I had to cross over to Ireland for a three day visit each month to attend to the farms and the estate.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL

Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Viscountcy

THE VISCOUNTCY is the fourth grade in the peerage, which title formerly applied to the sheriff of a county, but was not used as a designation of nobility before the reign of HENRY VI, when that monarch created John, Baron Beaumont, KG, by letters patent, in 1440, Viscount Beaumont, a dignity which expired with his lordship's son and successor in 1507.

A viscountcy is always created by patent, and it descends according to the specified limitation.

The honour was originally conferred as an advancement to barons, but afterwards created frequently with the barony; and latterly it has been created without a barony.

The style of a viscount is Right Honourable, and he is officially addressed by the Crown, "Our right trusty and well beloved Cousin".

The last non-royal viscountcies to be created occured in 1983 and 1984, for the Viscounts Whitelaw, Tonypandy, and Macmillan of Ovenden.

THE ROBES of a viscount differ from those of an earl in having two rows of plain white fur only.

His lordship's cap is of crimson velvet, lined with ermine, having a gold tassel at top; and the golden circle of his coronet is surmounted by fourteen pearls.

First published in December, 2013.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

BH Memoirs: IV


In 1929, I was offered the post of the ADC [Aide-de-Camp] to Lord Stonehaven, the Governor-General of Australia.

After a certain amount of misgivings at first, I accepted and thus commenced one of the happiest and most interesting periods of my service.

The trip out took us six weeks but time went quickly.

Geoffrey Millar, 11th Hussars, who is an Australian, came out with me on the P&O “Multan.”

When we got to Port Said I thought I would like to go down to see my old friends in Cairo and the Royals who were then stationed there.

The Captain kindly arranged that I should join the ship again on a pilot boat in the middle of Lake Timash in the Suez Canal.

Geoffrey came with me to Cairo and after a night there we went off to Ismaïlia to wait for our ship.

While waiting I found the officers of a naval sloop which was lying there was holding a regatta and the Commander offered to allow me to sail the Captain’s longboat (or whatever it is called) in the race.

I had a sailor with me but he knew even less about sailing than I did.

After becoming becalmed I think we finished a good last but got back just in time to join our ship again.

HRH Prince Henry [Duke of Gloucester] was on board another P&O on his way to bestow the Order of the Garter or some such decoration on the Emperor of Japan.

When we arrived at Colombo, HRH and his party were there and we watched him play in a game of polo.

We also found time to motor up to Kandi, the hill station above Colombo and saw something of that lovely island.

We touched at Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, and I reported for duty at Admiralty House, Sydney, in March, 1929.

I found the atmosphere at Government House most strained and unhappy.

Ken Nicholl was Military Secretary and there were two ADCs, David Nicholl, a gunner subaltern, and Ronald Leggett, RN, whom I was to succeed.

Ken Nicholl was exceptionally rude to Lady Stonehaven and to my mind very disloyal to His Excellency as well.

Ken Nicholl had made up his mind that Lady Stonehaven should have no private friends as it might cause jealousy, and seemed to have persuaded His Excellency to back him up in this policy.

I made friends at once with Lady Stonehaven, played tennis with her, and took her for walks.

Lord Stonehaven was a very active and conscientious Governor-General.

He was, perhaps, rather guarded and appeared to be on his dignity in his dealings with the Australians.

I think this was largely the fault of his staff.

He was intensely fond of travelling and we travelled thousands of miles by car, train, air and ship during my 18 months with him.

My first assignment was to accompany him to New England.

Here we stayed for the Inverell Carnival Week.

There were agricultural shows or Polo Tournaments every day and dances every night.

I’ve never before seen so many really lovely girls together.

Thanks to the generosity of an old Mr Ronald McKie, and Gordon and Douglas Munro I was mounted to play with them in one of the Polo Tournaments.

I was not long off the boat and was not in hard condition.

The Australians play polo in a saddle with a “roller” which I found rubbed my knees.

At that time everyone played in snaffles.

A few months later a team from India came out and defeated all their best teams.

After this the Australians schooled their ponies to play in double bridles and the saddler in Sydney
told me he did an enormous trade in bits.

David Nicholl was also keen on polo and we decided that as one of us had always got to be in attendance on HE we would get no polo unless we made him play too.

David was commissioned to buy him a couple of ponies and from then on we ran a Government House team.

From time to time we had different people to make the fourth player but while we were in Melbourne we often had that good sportsman “Bran” Davidson, who I had known well in Egypt.

HE told me afterwards that this polo changed his whole outlook on life.

We stayed up on one occasion with Alan Currie for a polo week in the Eastern District of Victoria.

I still have a Cup we won there at the Caramut Tournament.

The Governor-General had three homes in those days and he divided his time between them.

They were Admiralty House, Sydney; Government House, Canberra; and Government House, Melbourne.

David and I liked Canberra best. The new capital of Canberra.

HE, David, and I used to go up to the Brindabella River in the snowy mountains to fish.

We stayed in a hut up there belonging to John Joceland.

HE was very keen fisherman.

The river was as clear as crystal and ran through one of the loveliest bit of mountain scenery in Australia.

It was all up-stream fishing and we used to catch very good baskets of rainbow trout.

Later on I started a small “bobbery” pack of hounds at Canberra.

I was given hounds by both the Findon Harriers, and the Melbourne Hunt.

We usually hunted hare.

The country was not ideal; it was mostly fenced with barbed wire and we had to gallop for the gates.

One day I remember running a hare down into Canberra, and checking opposite the Parliament House, just as all the government clerks and officials were going home from their offices.

There was an Irish policeman on duty at the crossroads when we checked.

He left his point and with his hat held high cheered us unto the line of our hare.

HE’s two daughters, Ariel and Ava, aged 13 and 11, used to come out to their ponies.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts reproduced by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL.

Monday, 14 January 2019

BH Memoirs: III



In March, 1924, I went home on a year’s leave on full pay.

Dermot Kavanagh also got a year’s leave.

I’m sure we were the last two officers in the British Army ever to be granted a year’s leave, except for special reasons.

Colonel Geoffrey Lockett had once praised me and said, “If ever you want anything, let me know”, so when the leave-book came round I put down March 1924 to March 1925.

The Colonel, of course, sent for me and asked me for my reasons and I reminded him of his promise.

He signed it, saying, “Of course the Brigadier will turn it down”.

However, it so happened the Mouse Tomkinson had just been appointed to the Brigade a few days before.

He came with one reputation – that he was in the habit of getting more leave than anyone else in the Army.

I suppose he thought he would not like to feel that his first act as Brigadier-General was to turn down two poor fellows leave – so it went through.

My parents were living at Finlaystone, near Glasgow in the winter and at Roddens in the summer.

My brother, George, was working in the Clyde Shipping Company in Glasgow.

I went with my father grouse-shooting and spent part of the winter hunting in County Meath.

Tommy Ainsworth [Sir Thomas Ainsworth Bt] and Holmpatrick were joint masters that year.

Ireland was still in an unsettled state.

The Government of Ireland Act had been passed in 1922 but the Free State Government were having trouble with the Republican element and there were frequent clashes between the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and the Free State Army.

I stayed with my uncle, George Fowler, at Kells.

The Republicans had painted up on his wall, “FOWLER PREPARE FOR DEATH”, but that did not appear to worry my uncle.

My aunt used to tell an amusing story,

One day a taxi drove up to the National Bank in the small town of Carrickmacross, and three men got out. 
The leader produced a dirty bit of paper and presented it to the Manager. 
Written on it was “These men have been ordered to protect you, IRA”
Rumour flew round the town that the IRA had sent some men to protect first. 
The IRA leader replied that his orders were to protect the National Bank but he’d see what he could do to oblige, if the Manager stayed in the Bank and waited after closing hours. 
He left his two assistants in the National Bank and went on up to the Bank of Ireland. 
When he got to the strong room he took over the keys and gave the Manager a gentle push and locked him inside. 
The taxi drove up and collected the swag from both banks and proceeded on its way to Drogheda.

My aunt had another story about an unfortunate gentleman who had his house burned down by the IRA.

The house was a complete ruin but in the fire one wall had taken on a dangerous lean.

He received a letter from the IRA instructing him to take down this dangerous wall forthwith as it was endangering the lives of the people searching for “souvenirs” in the ruins.

In August, 1925, my brother George was accidentally drowned while shooting duck at Finlaystone.

His death was a great blow to me.

First published in January, 2015.  Extracts by kind permission of RP Blakiston-Houston OBE JP DL