Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Musgrave Connection

  Norwood Tower © 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland

It was assumed in 1934 that Norwood Tower, Strandtown, Belfast, or its dower house, Clonaver, would pass to Oscar Henderson when Miss Florence Elizabeth Henderson, his aunt, died.

However, she bequeathed both, together with a majority holding in Belfast News Letter shares, to Sir Christopher Musgrave, Bart, OBE, a distant cousin.

This was a bitter blow to Oscar, a distinguished naval officer, and his family.


They could do nothing about the houses, though they did succeed in buying back the News-Letter shares.
Commander Oscar Henderson DSO CVO CBE RN (1891-1969) served in a destroyer during the 1st World War. He was second in command of HMS Iris at the famous Battle of Zeebrugge, in 1918, when a British force blocked the Mole by sinking a ship across the entrance.

Commander Henderson took command when the ship's captain was killed. He was awarded the DSO for his part in this epic.

He became Comptroller and Private Secretary to the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, 1st Governor of Northern Ireland; and was awarded a CVO and CBE for his services. 

Commander Henderson was the father of Bill and Brum Henderson.

Since the James Henderson (b 1797) was Maria Barker's (née Henderson) father; and the aforesaid James Henderson was Florence Elizabeth Henderson's grandfather; it seems reasonable to conclude that James Henderson was Sir Christopher Musgrave's great-grandfather.

Therefore, Sir Christopher Musgrave was Florence Elizabeth Henderson's first cousin twice removed.

Miss Henderson bequeathed Norwood Tower to Sir Christopher Musgrave, whose grandmother was Maria Henderson:
Henderson, Florence Elizabeth of Norwood Tower Strandtown Belfast spinster died 24 March 1934 Probate Belfast 22 February to sir Christopher Norman Musgrave baronet and John Johnson solicitor. Effects £11027 11s [£615,000 in today's money].

Maria Barker (née Henderson) was, therefore, Florence Elizabeth Henderson's aunt, since James Henderson (Maria's father) was Florence's grandfather.

Maria Henderson (1839-1905) was the tenth child of James Henderson (1797-1863) and Anne Peacock, and she was born on the 26th December, 1839.

Maria lived with her brother, James Alexander Henderson, at Norwood Tower and she taught his younger children (most likely including Florence, the youngest).

This was where she met her future husband, Frank Const Barker. 
Frank Barker was one of James Alexander Henderson's business friends. All the Barker family used the middle name Const after a Mr Const of Piccadilly, London. Mr Const was a wealthy business friend of Frank's father, Richard Barker, and when he died he left the family a large sum of money.

Maria Henderson and Frank Barker were married on the 15th September, 1862, and lived at Sorrento House, Dalkey, County Dublin.

They had eight children, of whom their third child was Kathleen Const Barker who married James Musgrave and had four children.

The first child was (Sir) Christopher Norman Musgrave, later 6th Baronet (1892-1956).

First published in May, 2011.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Mount Talbot House

THE TALBOTS OWNED 5,916 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ROSCOMMON

RICHARD TALBOT (c1520-77), of Templeogue, County Dublin, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in Ireland, eldest son of William Talbot, the youngest son of Thomas Talbot, Lord of Malahide, married Alice, daughter of John Burnell, of Balgriffin, was father of

JOHN TALBOT, of Templeogue, whose will was proved in 1584; father of

ROBERT TALBOT, of Templeogue, who wedded Eleanor, daughter of Sir Henry Colley, of Castle Carbury, and had two sons,
John, of Templeogue, dsp 1627;
HENRY, his successor.
Mr Talbot died in 1616, and was succeeded by his younger son,

SIR HENRY TALBOT, Knight, of Templeogue, who espoused Margaret, daughter of Sir William Talbot Bt, of Carton, County Kildare, and sister of Richard, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, and had issue,
JAMES;
WILLIAM, succeeded his brother;
Elizabeth; Bridget; Mary; Alice; Ellen; Barbara.
The elder son,

JAMES TALBOT, of Templeogue, and Mount Talbot, County Roscommon, Colonel in JAMES II's army, was killed at the battle of Aughrim, 1691.

He married Bridget, daughter of Francis, 17th Baron Athenry, and had two daughters,
Mary, m John, 9th Earl of Clanricarde;
Bridget, m Valentine Browne (ancestor of the Marquess of Sligo).
Mr Talbot died without male issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

WILLIAM TALBOT (-1692), of Mount Talbot, who wedded Lucy, widow of George Holmes, daughter and co-heir of William Hamilton, of Liscloony, King's County, by whom he had a son,

HENRY TALBOT (-1729), of Mount Talbot, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1713, who married Isabella Forward, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
John (Rev).
The elder son,

WILLIAM TALBOT (-1787), of Mount Talbot, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1753, wedded, in 1739, Sarah, widow of John Southwell, and daughter of the Rt Hon Henry Rose MP, and had issue,
Henry Rose, dvp 1759;
WILLIAM JOHN, succeeded his brother;
Bridget; Jane.
The younger son,

WILLIAM JOHN TALBOT (-1787), of Mount Talbot, wedded firstly, in 1765, Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of George Rose, of Moyvane, County Limerick, and had a daughter,
Jane, m in 1786 Sir Edmund Stanley.
He espoused secondly, in 1775, the Lady Jane Crosbie, daughter of William, 1st Earl of Glandore, and had further issue,
William, dsp 1851;
JOHN, of whom presently;
Charles;
Theodosia.
The second son,

THE REV JOHN TALBOT, assumed, in 1816, the name and arms of CROSBIE in pursuance of the will of his uncle, John, last Earl of Glandore.

He married, in 1811, Jane, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Lloyd, of Beechmount, County Limerick, and had issue,
WILLIAM (TALBOT-CROSBIE), of Ardfert Abbey;
JOHN, of Mount Talbot;
Anne; Diana.
The Rev John Talbot-Crosbie died in 1818, and was succeeded by his second son,

JOHN TALBOT JP DL (1818-95), of Mount Talbot, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1857, formerly of the 35th Regiment, who assumed, in 1851, the name and arms of TALBOT instead of CROSBIE.

He espoused firstly, in 1845, Marianne, eldest daughter of Marcus McCausland, of Fruit Hill (otherwise Drenagh), County Londonderry, and had an only daughter,
Marianne Jane Theodosia.
Mr Talbot married secondly, in 1858, Gertrude Caroline, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Bayly, of Ballyarthur, County Wicklow, by whom he had a son,

CAPTAIN WILLIAM JOHN TALBOT JP DL (1859-1923), of Mount Talbot, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1886, Armagh, 1903, who wedded, in 1897, Julia Elizabeth Mary, only child of Sir Capel Molyneux Bt DL, of Castle Dillon, County Armagh, though the marriage was without male issue.

Captain Talbot was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon, from 1917 until 1922.


MOUNT TALBOT HOUSE, near Athleague, County Roscommon, today lies in ruins.

It was built ca 1750 in the Palladian style, with wings constructed at an angle to the main block, joined by curved arcades.

The arcades, which were open, were embellished with urn finials on the parapets.


The central block was changed, about 1820, into a castellated Gothic, Tudor-Revival edifice.

The main block now had a huge square tower at one end with a pair of pinnacles or miniature turrets; and a third castlellated turret at the other end.

Whereas the garden front boasted a three-bay projection with pointed windows and Gothic pinnacles.


A grand Triumphal kind of arch with rusticated piers still remains at the former main entrance to the demesne.


The Talbot family's great ancestral home was maliciously burnt in 1922.

William John Talbot and his wife probably never returned.

Mr Talbot, the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon, died in London one year later.

Mount Talbot Church

THE charming little church at Mount Talbot, which contains the family mausoleum, was erected by the Talbots in 1766.

It has been described as "a plain, neat, Gothic building, erected in 1766 at an expense of £415, a gift from the Board of First Fruits."

Its last service took place in 1965, it is thought.

First published in December, 2017.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Birr Castle

THE EARLS OF ROSSE WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN THE KING'S COUNTY, WITH 22,513 ACRES

This noble family, of English origin, was brought into Ireland towards the close of ELIZABETH I's reign.

Its members have, at different periods, filled the highest political employments in the state; have taken distinguished parts in the senate; have become eminent upon the Bench and at the Bar; and have twice been enrolled amongst the baronetage of the kingdom, and twice elevated to the peerage.

WILLIAM PARSONS, of Norfolk, father of Lady Poynings (wife of Richard, Lord Poynings), and mother of Sir Edward Poynings KG (1459-1521), was grandfather (it is presumed) of

WILLIAM PARSONS (1570-1650), who settled in Ireland about the close of ELIZABETH I's reign; and being a commissioner of plantations, obtained very considerable territorial grants from the Crown.

In 1602, he succeeded Sir Geoffrey Fenton, as Surveyor-General of Ireland; in 1610, he obtained a pension of £30 per annum for life.

In 1611, he was joined with his brother, Lawrence, in the supervisorship of the crown lands, with a fee of £60 per annum for life.

In 1620, presenting to JAMES I, in person, surveys of escheated estates, in his capacity of surveyor-general, he received the honour of knighthood, and was created a baronet, denominated of Bellamont, in the same year.

Sir William represented the county of Wicklow in parliament in 1639, and was nominated Lord Justice with Lord Dillon in 1640; but that nobleman being soon removed, he was re-sworn with Sir John Borlace, Master of the Ordnance.

He continued in the government until 1643, when he was removed, charged with treason, and committed to prison, with Sir Adam Loftus and others.

Sir William died in Westminster, and was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR WILLIAM PARSONS, 2nd Baronet, of Bellamont, County Dublin (only son of Richard Parsons by his first wife, Lettice, eldest daughter of Sir Adam Loftus, and granddaughter maternally of Walter Vaughan).

This gentleman married Catherine, eldest daughter of Arthur, Viscount Ranelagh; and dying in 1658, was succeeded by his only surviving son,

SIR RICHARD PARSONS, 3rd Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1681, in the dignities of Baron Oxmantown and Viscount Rosse, with remainder to the male issue of his great-grandfather.

His lordship wedded firstly, Anne Walsingham; secondly, Catherine, daughter of George, Lord Chandos, both of whom died issueless; and thirdly, in 1685, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir George Hamilton, and niece of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by whom he two sons and three daughters.

He died in 1702, and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Viscount (1702-41), who was created, 1718, EARL OF ROSSE.

His lordship married, in 1715, Mary, eldest daughter of Lord William Paulet, brother of Charles, 2nd Duke of Bolton, by whom he had two sons and a daughter; and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl; at whose decease, in 1764, without issue, all the honours expired, and the representation of the family devolved upon Sir William Parsons, 4th Baronet, of Birr Castle, MP for the King's County; who married and had issue,

LAURENCE, 3rd Earl, born in 1758,
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Lawrence Patrick Parsons, styled Lord Oxmantown.


The 7th and present Earl is a descendant of the 1st Baronet.

Lord and Lady Rosse live at Birr Castle.
During the period 1979-2007, Lord and Lady Rosse facilitated many decades of research by Dr Anthony Malcomson, former director of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and latterly sponsored by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, to enable the production, for the first time, of a comprehensive calendar of the Rosse Papers in 2008.
The archive is held in the Muniment Room of Birr Castle.

The Calendar is of inestimable value for researchers delving into the history of the Parsons family, including English settlement of the Irish midlands in the 17th century; the Williamite wars; early Irish nationalism; the Royal Navy in the 18th century; 19th century science and astronomy; and the fate of the landed gentry in the early 20th century.


BIRR CASTLE demesne, and the historic town of Birr, County Offaly, lie in the centre of Ireland.

The Castle is private, though the famous gardens of the demesne are open every day.

The demesne includes Ireland's Historic Science Centre whose galleries show what Ireland's leading historic scientists have contributed to astronomy photography, engineering and the art of gardening.


Birr Castle’s most spectacular high ceilinged rooms are its tapestried hall, its great Gothic music saloon overlooking the river, its yellow drawing room and long red dining room.

Other features inside include a unique staircase of the 1660s, an early panelled bedroom and dungeons.

Surrounding the castle is Ireland’s largest heritage garden with rivers, waterfalls, a fountain and lake with a Canadian log cabin, cloisters with urns and statuary.


Beyond that a riverbank wilderness and native woods; a Georgian country house in its own park; even a romantic ruined manor court.

Birr Castle was built on medieval foundations in the 1620s. It has been redeveloped many times over the years with more recent parts of the castle dating to the 19th century.

As such the castle has many stylistic perspectives. The façade of the castle is Gothic.

The reception rooms are high ceilinged and date mainly from the early 19th century with a spectacular Gothic ‘saloon’ or drawing room overlooking the River Camcor.

There is a medieval basement and dungeons beneath the Castle as well as battlements along the roof.

The 100 acre demesne has a huge variety of rare and beautiful trees and plants from all over the world. Some highlights include: The Camcor and Little Brosna Rivers and the Lake.

The Fernery with a waterfall, streams and fountain.

The formal gardens feature the hornbeam cloisters, Bavarian urns and decorative seats.

The walled gardens feature Box Hedges that are over 350 years old.
They are also, according to The Guinness Book of Records, the tallest hedges in the world. Other features include: Orchards, bridges, arboretum, outdoor grass stage (teatre Verde), herbaceous borders, lakeside log cabin, Georgian mansion and derelict manor court and stable muse, bog land, country cottages, moat, drawbridge.
A main feature of the demesne is the "Great Telescope" of the 3rd Earl, an astronomical telescope with a 72" reflector.

When completed in 1845, it was the largest telescope on earth, and capable of capturing more light and seeing further into space than any telescope had done before.

It was dismantled in 1914, but was restored by the state in the 1990s as an Irish scientific icon.

There is a long history of photography at the castle. Mary Rosse (1813-85) was the earliest acclaimed female photographer in world.

Her dark room, in which she developed her own photos, is still preserved in the castle exactly as she left it in the 1890s.

Lord Snowdon, who was, as Anthony Armstrong-Jones, partly brought up at Birr, returned to it as a setting for Viyella and other catalogues in the 1980s.

The gardens are host to wedding photography most weekends in the summer.

First published in June, 2011.  Rosse arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Freemen of Belfast: 1900-10

HONORARY BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF BELFAST

ELECTED AND ADMITTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BELFAST UNDER THE MUNICIPAL PRIVILEGE (IRELAND) ACT, 1875


3  The Most Hon Frederick Temple Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, KP GCB GCSI GCMG GCIE PC ~ 1900

4  The Most Hon Charles Marquess of Londonderry, KG GCVO PC JP DL ~ 1900

5  Sir George Stuart White VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO ~ 1900

6  The Right Hon Frederick Sleigh Earl Roberts VC KG KP GCB OM GCSI GCIE PC ~ 1900

7  The Right Hon Sir Daniel Dixon Bt JP DL ~ 1904

8  The Right Hon Margaret Montgomery Viscountess Pirrie ~ 1904

9  Sir Donald Currie GCMG ~ 1906

10  The Right Hon Anthony Earl of Shaftesbury KP GCVO CBE PC ~ 1908

11  Sir Robert Hart Bt GCMG ~ 1908

12  Andrew Carnegie Esq ~ 1910

13 The Right Hon Sir John Newell Jordan GCMG GCIE KCB  ~ 1910

First published in August, 2012.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Lough Fea House

THE SHIRLEYS WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY MONAGHAN, WITH 26,386 ACRES

This is a branch of the noble and ancient family of Shirley, EARLS FERRERS, springing from

SIR HENRY SHIRLEY, 2nd Baronet (1588-1633), who married, in 1616, the Lady Dorothy Devereux, daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Essex, who possessed the barony and lands of Farney, County Monaghan.

SIR ROBERT SHIRLEY
, 1st Earl Ferrers (1650-1717), married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Lawrence Washington, of Garsdon, Wiltshire; and secondly, in 1699, Selina, daughter of George Finch.

The third, but, eventually, eldest surviving son of his second marriage,

THE HON GEORGE SHIRLEY (1705-87), of Ettington Park, Warwickshire, Captain, 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, wedded Mary, daughter of Humphrey Sturt, and had issue,
EVELYN, his heir;
Selina; Margaret.
Mr Shirley was succeeded by his eldest son,

EVELYN SHIRLEY (1756-1810), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, County Monaghan, who espoused Phillis Byam, daughter of Charlton Wollaston, and had issue,
EVELYN JOHN, his heir;
Charles;
William;
James;
Horatio;
Arthur George Sewallis;
Selina; Mary; Frances; Emily Harriet.
Mr Shirley was succeeded by his eldest son, 

EVELYN JOHN SHIRLEY (1788-1856), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, who wedded, in 1810, Eliza, daughter of Arthur Stanhope, cousin to the Earl of Chesterfield, MP for County Monaghan, 1826-31, and South Warwickshire, 1836-49, and had issue,
EVELYN PHILIP;
Arthur;
Sewallis;
George Edward;
Walter Devereux;
Selina; Louisa.
His eldest son, 

EVELYN PHILIP SHIRLEY DL (1812-82), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, MP for South Warwickshire, 1853-65, County Monaghan, 1841-7, had issue,

SEWALLIS EVELYN SHIRLEY JP DL (1844-1904), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, MP for County Monaghan, 1868-80, High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1884, who had issue,

EVELYN CHARLES SHIRLEY JP DL (1889-1956), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea; High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1914, Major, Warwickshire Yeomanry, Lieutenant-Colonel, General Staff, whose only son,

JOHN EVELYN SHIRLEY (1922-2009), of Ettington Park and Lough Fea, Major, King's Royal Rifle Corps.

He lived in 2003 at Ormly Hall, Ramsey, Isle of Man.

Major Shirley had issue,
PHILIP EVELYN , b 1955;
Emily Margaret, b 1957;
Hugh Sewallis, b 1961.
The eldest son,

PHILIP EVELYN SHIRLEY (1955-), of Lough Fea, married, in 1989, Augusta, daughter of Hugo Southern, and has issue,
Evelyn Robert, b 1990;
Horatio John, b 1993;
Nathaniel Guy, b 1995;
Perdita Rose, b 1997. 

The Shirley estate is based at Lough Fea, near Carrickmacross, County Monaghan.

It had an area of some 40 square miles, in the western half of the barony of Farney, County Monaghan, in the period 1576-1960.

The Shirley Papers are deposited at PRONI.

The Shirley Association has written a history of Lough Fea.

The Shirleys were semi-absentee landlords. Their main seat was Ettington Park in Warwickshire.

Evelyn Philip Shirley visited Lough Fea several times a year.

The estate was formerly in the ownership of the Earl of Essex, though underwent the first of several partitions: It passed in two halves to Essex's co-heirs, the Marquess of Hertford and Sir Robert Shirley.

Sir Robert himself died in 1656, imprisoned in the Tower of London for supporting the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.

His son and heir was Sir Seymour Shirley, on whose death in 1667 the estate and the rest of the family inheritance passed in turn to his second and only surviving son, Sir Robert Shirley.

Sir Robert entered the House of Lords in 1677, as Baron Ferrers of Chartley, and in 1711 was further ennobled as 1st Earl Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth.

This last title related to the family seat of Ettington in Warwickshire.

About 1750, the Shirleys built a house near Carrickmacross for their occasional visits.

It was not until 1826 that Robert's grandson, Evelyn John Shirley, laid the foundations of a mansion house worthy of the family and estate, near the banks of Lough Fea.



LOUGH FEA is a very large and unusual Tudor-Gothic house by Thomas Rickman, the English architect and architectural writer who invented the terms "Early English", "decorated" and "perpendicular" to describe the different periods of Gothic architecture.

Unlike most houses of its period and style, Lough Fea has no battlements and few gables, but a solid parapet which conceals much of the roof.

There are also hardly any projecting bows or oriels, but rather small, mullioned windows under hood mouldings; so that the elevations, of pinkish-grey ashlar, have a solid effect.


The Entrance Hall

There are several slender, square turrets with sprocketed, pyramidal roofs; also a polygonal lantern and a small tower and polygonal turret at the end of one wing; but no major tower; so that he house seems low and wide-spreading.


The Entrance Front

The entrance front, facing the lough, is flanked on one side by the chapel and on the other by a great hall, which together form a three-sided court.

The interior is of great complexity, with many corridors and ante-rooms.

There is a hall divided by a stone arcade, its walls hung with an early 19th-century wallpaper.


The Dining-Room

There is a large and handsome library, the famous library of EP Shirley, son of the builder of the house.

The chapel is on the scale of a sizeable church, with two pulpits and a gallery.


The Great Hall

The clou of the house is, however, the Great Hall: vast and baronial, with a lofty hammer-beam roof, a minstrels' gallery and an arcade at first-floor level.

It was added after the rest of the house was completed.

According to the story, Mr Shirley and Lord Rossmore vied with one another as to which of them could build the bigger room.

Lord Rossmore enlarged his drawing room at Rossmore Park five times, but in the end Mr Shirley won the contest by building his great hall.

The garden front of the house faces along a vista to an immense Celtic cross.

The demesne is noted for its magnificent woodlands.

At the end of the 19th century the estate comprised 26,386 acres, but these lands had to be sold due to the Irish Land Acts before the First World War.

The estate now has less than 1,000 acres of grass and woodland.

After the sale of the land, which had been rented to tenants, large mansions such as Lough Fea became white elephants with little revenue coming in.


The Sunken Garden, with the Devereux Tower to the right

In 1904, when Major Shirley’s grandfather died, his father moved from his Ettington Park home in Warwickshire to Carrickmacross, County Monaghan.

Between 1904 and 1977, Major Shirley’s father and his family lived there permanently.

There was a serious fire at the house in 1966, which did quite a lot of damage.

In 1977, the family moved to the Isle of Man and thus reverted to its 19th Century role of absenteeism; though because Major Shirley and his sons were brought up on the estate they have a great love of the place and they do their best to keep the main parts of the building waterproof.

First published in June, 2011.

Monday, 25 November 2019

7th Bishop of Down & Dromore

The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland has approved the appointment of the Venerable David Alexander McClay, Archdeacon of Down, as Bishop-designate in succession to the Right Reverend Harold Miller, who announced his decision to retire on the 20th June, 2019.

David was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and was ordained in 1988.

He was appointed to the curacy of Magheralin, and thereafter was incumbent of Kilkeel and Willowfield.

In December, 2016, David was appointed to the archdeaconry of Down.

His appointment as Bishop-designate of the United Dioceses of Down and Dromore was confirmed on the 4th November, 2019.

Freemen of Belfast: 1898-99

HONORARY BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF BELFAST

Elected and admitted by the Council of the City of Belfast under the municipal privilege (Ireland) Act, 1875:-

1898 The Right Hon William James, Viscount Pirrie KP PC

1899 Thomas Henry Ismay

First published in July, 2012.

1st Earl of Mar and Kellie

THE EARLS OF MAR AND KELLIE WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN CLACKMANNANSHIRE, WITH 6,143 ACRES

This is a branch of the noble family of Erskine, Earls of Mar, springing from

THE RT HON SIR ALEXANDER ERSKINE OF GOGAR, Knight, third son of John, 5th Lord Erskine and 16th Earl of Mar de jure, by the Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of Archibald, 2nd Earl of Argyll.

The house of Erskine, Earls and Countesses of Mar, is one of the most ancient families in the Scottish peerage; so old, indeed, that the date of the creation of its honours is lost in its antiquity.

This Alexander was sworn, in 1578, of His Majesty's privy council, nominated Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and constituted Vice-Chamberlain of Scotland.

He married Margaret, daughter of Lord Home, by whom he had three sons and three daughters.

The eldest son, Sir Alexander, fell at the surprise of Stirling Castle, in 1578, and the second,

SIR THOMAS ERSKINE, born in the same year with JAMES I, and educated with that monarch, having accompanied His Majesty to England, was created, in 1606, Baron Dirletoun and Viscount Fenton (the first viscountcy of Scotland).

His lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1619, as EARL OF KELLIE, installed a Knight of the Garter, and sworn of the privy councils of England and Scotland.

He married Anne, daughter of Sir Gilbert Ogilvie, of Powrie, by whom he had a daughter, and a son, Alexander, Viscount Fenton, who wedded the Lady Anne Seton, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, by whom he left three sons:
ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl;
CHARLES;
THOMAS, the eldest.
THOMAS succeeded his grandfather in 1639, and dying unmarried in 1643, the family honours devolved upon his brother,

ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl, who was succeeded, in 1657, by his only son,

ALEXANDER, 4th Earl, who was also succeeded (in 1710) by an only son,

ALEXANDER, 5th Earl, who married twice and was succeeded, on his demise in 1756, by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 6th Earl, who died unmarried, in 1781, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

ARCHIBALD, 7th Earl, who died, unmarried, in 1797, when the peerage reverted to his kinsman,

SIR CHARLES ERSKINE, Baronet, of Cambo, the direct descendant of Charles Erskine (who was created a baronet in 1666), youngest son of Alexander, Viscount Fenton, eldest son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kellie.

His lordship dying unmarried in 1799, the family honours reverted to his uncle,

THOMAS, 9th Earl.
The heir presumptive is Lord Mar's brother, the Hon Alexander David Erskine, Master of Mar (b. 1952). It is known that the lineage survived in the Erskine-Kellies, with the current heir Andrew Erskine (b. 1998) estimated as the 17th Earl of Mar and 19th Earl of Kellie.

CAMBO HOUSE, near Kingsbarns, in Fife, was built between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.
The estate of Cambo was granted to Robert de Newenham by a charter of King William the Lion. His descendents took the name "de Cambhou", and had settled in Fife by the early 14th century. In 1599, the estate was granted to Thomas Myretoun.
In 1668, Sir Charles Erskine Bt (d. 1677), the Lord Lyon King of Arms and brother of the 3rd Earl of Kellie, purchased the property from the creditors of Patrick Merton.

The estate passed through the Erskine family to the 5th Earl of Kellie, who forfeited his lands after supporting the Jacobite rising of 1745.

In 1759, Cambo was sold to the Charteris family, who bought it for their son who was studying at St Andrews University.

Thomas Erskine, 9th Earl of Kellie, bought the estate back in the 1790s.

A successful merchant in Sweden, he invested heavily in improving the estate, building the picturesque Georgian estate farms, and carrying out extensive land drainage.

The 9th Earl commissioned the architect Robert Balfour to remodel the house in 1795.

His descendents continued the improvement of the estate through the 19th century, laying out ornamental gardens, with a series of early cast iron bridges.
The old house comprised a tower house with numerous additions, including a first-floor conservatory. It was destroyed by fire in 1878, after a staff party when the Erskine family was away.
The present house was built on the same site between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.

The house is operated as self-catering and bed & breakfast accommodation, while the walled garden and woodland gardens are open to the public year-round.

The estate woodlands have a significant collection of snowdrops, including over 300 varieties of Galanthus species.

The estate was awarded National Collection status by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.

Kingsbarns Golf Links was laid out in 2000 to designs by American golf course architects Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen.

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, an annual pro-am golf tournament, is played in October at Kingsbarns, St Andrews Old Course, and Carnoustie.


ERSKINE HOUSE, Glasgow,  was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum.

During the 1st World War it became the Princess Louise Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

It is now the Mar Hall Hotel, its name recalling the estate’s former ownership by the Earl of Mar.
During the early 18th century, the Mar estate and old Erskine House came into the ownership of the Lords Blantyre. In 1828 Major General Robert W Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre and a distinguished veteran of the Wellington’s Peninsular campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars, commissioned the present house.
His architect, Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) was still engaged in designing the British Museum.

That, however, is a very classical design whereas Erskine House is more Gothic with touches of Tudor, in the small turrets and pointed arches in the principal windows and entrance porch.

The stone was quarried locally. Sir Charles Barry produced designs for the gardens.

The house was completed only in 1845.

The final cost was £50,000, about £2.5m today.

When the Blantyre line became extinct in 1900, the house was left derelict but in 1916 it re-opened as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital of Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

In recent years £15m has been invested in the refurbishment of the house and the restoration of its many original features as the Mar Hall Hotel.

First published in November, 2013.   Kellie arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Wooster Advice

From Right Ho, Jeeves, written in 1934 by Sir PG Wodehouse.

Bertie Wooster hailed the spiking of Gussie Fink-Nottle's orange-juice with gin:-

"...it just shows, what any member of Parliament will tell you, that if you want real oratory, the preliminary noggin is essential. Unless pie-eyed, you cannot hope to grip."

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The Reeks

THE McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KERRY, WITH 15,518 ACRES

CORNELIUS or CONNOR McGILLYCUDDY was born ca 1580; died by shipwreck, 1630, having married firstly, Joan, daughter of the Rt Rev John Crosbie, Lord Bishop of Ardfert; and secondly, Sheelagh, daughter of Richard Oge McCarty, of Dunguile, by whom he had a son, Niell, and a daughter.

By his first wife he had, with other issue,

DONOUGH McGILLYCUDDY (1623-c1695), of Carnbeg Castle, County Kerry, Sheriff of County Kerry, 1686.

This Donough obtained a grant of arms from Sir Richard Carney, Ulster King of Arms, in 1688.

He wedded, in 1641, Marie, youngest daughter of Daniel O'Sullivan, of Dunkerron, County Kerry, and had issue,
CORNELIUS, the heir;
Daniel, Colonel, Captain Monck's Regiment; father of DENNIS.
Mr McGillycuddy was succeeded by his elder son,

CORNELIUS McGILLYCUDDY, who married Elizabeth McCarty and dsp 1712, being succeeded by his cousin,

DENNIS McGILLYCUDDY, who married, in 1717, Anne, daughter of John Blennerhassett, by whom he had issue, with four daughters,
DENNIS, his heir;
CORNELIUS, succeeded his brother;
John, dsp;
Philip, dsp.
He died in 1730, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

DENNIS McGILLYCUDDY (1718-35), who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

CORNELIUS McGILLYCUDDY (1721-82), who wedded, in 1745, Catherine, daughter of Richard Chute, of Tullygaron, and had issue,
Denis, b 1747; d unm;
RICHARD, succeeded his father;
FRANCIS, succeeded his brother;
Daniel;
Eusebius;
Cornelius;
Charity; Mary Anne; Margaret; Ruth; Avis; Agnes.
The eldest surviving son,

RICHARD McGILLYCUDDY (1750-1826), of The Reeks, High Sheriff of County Kerry, 1793, espoused, in 1780, Arabella Mullins, daughter of Thomas, 1st Baron Ventry.

He dsp 1826, and was succeeded by his brother,

FRANCIS JOHN McGILLYCUDDY (1751-1820), of The Reeks, who wedded Catherine, widow of Darby McGill, and daughter of Denis Mahony, of Dromore, County Kerry, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Denis;
Daniel;
Frances; Mary Catherine; Elizabeth.
Mr McGillycuddy was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD McGILLYCUDDY (1790-1866), of The Reeks, who married firstly, in 1814, Margaret (d 1827), only daughter of Dr John Bennett, and had issue, a daughter, Dorothea.

He wedded secondly, in 1849, Anna, daughter of Captain John Johnstone, of Mamstone Court, Herefordshire, and had further issue,
RICHARD PATRICK, his heir;
DENIS DONOUGH CHARLES, of The Reeks;
John;
Charles;
Niell;
Agnes; Anna Catherine; Mary Ruth; Sylvia Emily.
Mr McGillycuddy was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD PATRICK McGILLYCUDDY (1850-71), of The Reeks, who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

DENIS DONOUGH CHARLES McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS (1852-1921), DSO, Lieutenant RN, who married, in 1881, Gertrude Laura, second daughter of Edmond Miller, of Ringwood, Massachusetts, USA, and had issue,
ROSS KINLOCH; his heir;
Richard Hugh (1883-1918).
The elder son,

ROSS KINLOCH McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS (1882-1950), DSO, Lieutenant, 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, wedded Victoria, daughter of Edward Courage, of Shenfield Place, Essex, and had issue,
JOHN PATRICK, his heir;
DERMOT;
Denis Michael Edmond (1917-44);
Phyllida Anne.
Mr McGillycuddy was succeeded by his eldest son,

JOHN PATRICK McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS (1909-59), who wedded, in 1945, Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of Major John Ellison Otto, and had issue,
RICHARD DENIS WYER;
Sarah Elizabeth.
Mr McGillycuddy was succeeded by his only son,

RICHARD DENIS WYER McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS (1948-2004), who married, in 1984, Virginia Lucy, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon Hugh Waldorf Astor, and had issue,
Tara Virginia, b 1985;
Sorcha Alexander, b 1990.
Richard McGillycuddy was succeeded in the title by his first cousin,

(DERMOT PATRICK) DONOUGH McGILLYCUDDY OF THE REEKS (1939-), who married, in 1964, Wendy O'Connor, daughter of George Spencer, and has issue,
PIERS EDWARD DONOUGH, b 1965;
Michael Dermot, b 1968;
Jocelyn Patrick Spencer, b 1970;
Lavinia O'Connor, b 1966.

THE REEKS, near Beaufort, County Kerry, is a two-storey, five-bay, late Georgian house.

It has an eaved roof and pilastered porch, doubled in length with an extension of the same height and style.

Effectively this forms a continuous front of ten bays, the original porch, no longer central, remaining the entrance.

The two end bays of the extension protrude slightly.


AT THE end of the 19th century, before the Land Purchase Acts, Richard McGillycuddy's grandfather, whose mother had injected American money into the family, distinguished himself in the 1st World War, winning the DSO and the Légion d'Honneur.

From 1928 to 1936, he sat in the Senate of the Irish Free State as a supporter of the moderate WT Cosgrave and an opponent of the republican Eamon de Valera.

In the 2nd World War, he returned to the colours and became a regular informant on what was happening in neutral Ireland.

His grandson, Richard Denis Wyer McGillycuddy, was born in 1948. Richard's father, the senator's son, who had succeeded in 1950, himself died in 1959 as a result of wounds sustained during the 2nd World War in the Northampton Yeomanry.

At the time Richard was only 10 and still at his preparatory school before going on to Eton.

His English mother, although never feeling at home in Ireland, carried on dutifully at Beaufort to preserve the family inheritance for her son.

Every August, she organised a rather gentrified cricket match played on the lawn of the house - but it was abandoned around 1970 after young Richard, who had little interest in cricket and was not watching, was knocked unconscious by a mighty drive by a visitor who had played for the Cambridge Crusaders.

The young McGillycuddy's passion was cars, and he went into the motor trade in London after a brief sojourn at the University of Aix-en-Provence.

He was unreceptive to the efforts of his uncle Dermot, a Dublin solicitor much beloved of McGillycuddys of every class and creed, to interest him in Ireland.

Tall and dashing, the rugged and auburn-haired young McGillycuddy of the Reeks was much in demand in London among the Sloane Rangers.

Eventually, in 1983, at the age of 35, he married Virginia Astor, the granddaughter of the 1st Lord Astor of Hever.

Feeling that he had little in common with the local people in Kerry, McGillycuddy decided to sell The Reeks, and moved to France, where he acted as a property consultant to prospective British purchasers of chateaux and lesser French properties.

After the birth of his second daughter in 1990, the family returned to live in Ireland - not, however, in their ancestral territory, but nearer Dublin, where they rented a succession of houses, the last of them in Westmeath.

He continued to dabble in property, and latterly sold insurance; but it was a handicap that his upper-class English demeanour disappointed expectations raised by his Irish-sounding name.

Although he could be charming in the appropriate company, he did not relate well to Irish people outside his own class.

Meanwhile, despite poor health, his wife carved out a niche for herself doing valuable work as a prison visitor.

McGillycuddy was active in the council of Irish chieftains who had been recognised by the Irish Genealogical Office.

Richard McGillycuddy was survived by his wife and two daughters.

He was succeeded by his first cousin, Donogh, who lives in South Africa.

First published in March, 2013.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

1st Viscount Thurso

THE SINCLAIR BARONETS, VISCOUNTS THURSO, WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN THE COUNTY OF CAITHNESS, WITH 78,053 ACRES


This family, which descends from George, 4th Earl of Caithness, has possessed the lands of Ulbster, in an uninterrupted succession, for more than two centuries.

There is a charter extant, dated 1615, from the 4th Earl, confirming "for the particular love and favour that he bears his much beloved cousin, John Sinclair, of Ulbster, all and hail the town and lands of Ulbster etc" to the said

JOHN SINCLAIR, which grant was afterwards sanctioned by the Crown.

From this John Sinclair lineally descended

JOHN SINCLAIR (1691-1736), of Ulbster, Heritable Sheriff of the County of Caithness, who married, in 1714, Henrietta, daughter of George Brodie, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
James;
John;
Emilia.
Mr Sinclair was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE SINCLAIR, who wedded Janet, daughter of William, Lord Strathnaver, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Helen; Mary; Janet.
Mr Sinclair died in 1766, and was succeeded by his son,

THE RT HON SIR JOHN SINCLAIR (1754-1835), of Ulbster and Thurso Castle, who espoused firstly, in 1776, Sarah, daughter of Alexander Maitland, of Stoke Newington, by whom he had a daughter, Janet; and secondly, in 1788, Diana, daughter of Alexander, 1st Baron Macdonald, and had issue,
GEORGE, his successor;
Alexander;
John;
Archibald;
William;
James;
Elizabeth Diana; Margaret; Julia; Catherine; Helen.
Mr Sinclair was created a baronet in 1786, designated of Ulbster.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR GEORGE SINCLAIR (1790-1868), 2nd Baronet, of Ulbster, who wedded, in 1816, Catherine, daughter of William, Lord Huntingtower, and had issue,

SIR JOHN GEORGE TOLLEMACHE SINCLAIR DL MP (1825-1912), 3rd Baronet, of Ulbster, who married, in 1853, Emma Isabella Harriet, daughter of William Standish Standish.

His grandson,

THE RT HON SIR ARCHIBALD HENRY MacDONALD SINCLAIR (1890-1970), 4th Baronet, KT, CMG, JP, of Ulbster, espoused, in 1918, Marigold, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Stewart Forbes.

Sir Archibald was elevated to the peerage, in 1952, in the dignity of VISCOUNT THURSO, of Ulbster in the County of Caithness.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, the Hon James Alexander Robin Sinclair.

THE CASTLE, Thurso, Caithness, was built in the 1870s by the architect David Smith for Sir Tollemache Sinclair, 3rd Baronet, replacing the original castle of about 1660.

The Victorian castle was built in the style of a French chateau close to the shore on the east of the river mouth.

During the 2nd World War, a sea mine exploded nearby and the castle became structurally unsafe.

Consequently, much of it was demolished to make it safe in 1952.


The contractor who had the job of taking the roof off and demolishing other parts to make it safe was paid by being allowed to keep the lead from the roof.

What is left standing shows the height and number of floors that made it a very impressive structure given its position on the coast where it could be seen a long way off.

Its position gave it marvellous views over Thurso Bay.

First published in November, 2013.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Garbally Court

THE EARLS OF CLANCARTY WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY GALWAY, WITH 23,896 ACRES


This family, which has been ennobled in two branches, assumed the name from the Seigneurie of LA TRANCHE, in Poitou, of which they were formerly possessed.

The first of the family in England was

FRÉDÉRIC DE LA TRANCHE, or TRENCH, who fled from France after the massacre of St Bartholomew, and took up his abode in Northumberland about 1575.

He married, in 1576, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Sutton, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
James (Rev), Rector of Clongill, m Margaret, daughter of Hugh, Viscount Montgomery;
Adam Thomas.
Mr Trench thereafter crossed into Scotland, where he died in 1580.

The eldest son,

THOMAS TRENCH, married, in 1610, Catherine, daughter of Richard Brooke, of Pontefract, Yorkshire, and had issue,
FREDERICK, of whom we treat;
John (Very Rev), Dean of Raphoe; ancestor of BARON ASHTOWN.
The elder son,

FREDERICK RICHARD TRENCH (1681-1752), MP for Galway County, 1715-52, succeeded at Garbally; from whom descended the 1st Earl's grandfather, Richard Trench, who espoused Elizabeth, second daughter of John Eyre, of Eyre Court, County Galway; and was grandfather of

RICHARD TRENCH (1710-68), MP for Banagher, 1735-61, Galway County, 1761-68, who wedded, in 1732, Frances, only daughter and heir of David Power, descended from the Barons de la Poer, and, in the female line, from the Lords Muskerry, afterwards Earls of Clancarty, by the marriage of John Power with Elena, daughter of Cormac, Lord Muskerry.

Through this marriage, Mr Trench obtained the united fortunes of the families of POWER and KEATING.

He died in 1768, having had issue,
FREDERICK and DAVID, both died in infancy;
WILLIAM POWER KEATING, of whom hereafter;
John, a major in the army;
Eyre, a Lt-Gen in the army;
Nicholas;
Elizabeth;
Hester;
Rose;
Jane;
Anne, m C Cobbe, of Newbridge.
Mr Trench's eldest surviving son,

WILLIAM POWER KEATING TRENCH (1741-1805), MP for County Galway, 1768-97, was elevated to the peerage, in 1797, in the dignities of Baron Kilconnel, of Garbally, County Galway, and Viscount Dunlo, of Dunlo and Ballinasloe, in the counties of Galway and Roscommon.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1803, as EARL OF CLANCARTY (2nd creation), in consequence of of his descent from Elena MacCarty, wife of John Power, daughter of Cormac Oge MacCarty, Viscount Muskerry, and sister of Donough MacCarty, Earl of Clancarty in the reign of CHARLES II.

He wedded, in 1762, Anne, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Charles Gardiner, and sister of Luke, 1st Lord Mountjoy, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Power (Most Rev), Lord Archbishop of Tuam;
William, Rear-Admiral;
Charles (Ven), Archdeacon of Ardagh;
Thomas;
Luke Henry;
Robert le Poer (Sir), KCB;
Florinda; Anne; Elizabeth; Harriet; Frances; Louisa; Emily.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD LE POER, 2nd Earl (1767-1837), GCB, PC, who was created a peer of the United Kingdom, as BARON TRENCH, 1815, and raised to an English viscountcy, in 1824, as VISCOUNT CLANCARTY.

In 1813, his lordship was appointed ambassador to The Hague, and was created by the King of the Netherlands, in 1818, Marquess of Heusden, having obtained permission of his own Sovereign to accept the said honour.

Lord Clancarty wedded, in 1796, Henrietta Margaret, second daughter of the Rt Hon John Staples, and had issue,
WILLIAM THOMAS, his successor;
Richard John;
Robert;
Louisa Augusta Anne; Harriette Margaret; Emily Florinda; Lucy.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

WILLIAM THOMAS, 3rd Earl.
There is no heir to the peerages.

GARBALLY COURT, Ballinasloe, County Galway, is a large, austere, two-storey mansion, built in 1819 to replace an earlier house burnt in 1798.

It is square, built round what was originally a central courtyard.

The eleven-bay entrance front has a single-storey Doric porte-cochere.

There is an adjoining front, also of eleven bays, with pediments over the ground-floor windows.


The rear elevation has a single-storey curved bow.

The hall boasts Ionic pilasters and niches, with an arch leading to a grand picture gallery, built in the central courtyard about 1855.

The 5th Earl of Clancarty sold Garbally Court in 1907, following the decimation of his estate caused by the Land Acts.


Garbally College, a Roman Catholic boys' school, purchased Garbally Court in 1922.

First published in December, 2012.  Clancarty arms courtesy of European Heraldry.