Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Freemen of Belfast: 1920-29


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

30  The Right Hon Sir James Johnston JP ~ 1922

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

32  Sir Robert Meyer CH KCVO ~ 1924

33  The Right Hon Sir William George Turner JP ~ 1926

34  Lady Turner JP ~ 1926

35  Sir Frederick William Moneypenny CVO CBE JP ~ 1926

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

First published in August, 2012.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Lighthouse Island

Click on Image to Enlarge

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

The island covers an area of 24 acres.

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

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

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

In 1770, David Ker, of Portavo, purchased the Copeland Islands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was a single family on the island in 1875.

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

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

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

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

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

A weekly boat from Donaghadee brought provisions and mail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its prime role is as a bird observatory.

First published in September, 2012.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Upper Crescent's Revival

University Square from Botanic Avenue, December, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map of ca 1850-60

MY fondness for Upper Crescent should not be underestimated.

I wrote a bit about it five years ago.

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

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

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

11-14 Upper Crescent, Belfast, December, 2019

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

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

87-91, Botanic Avenue, December, 2019

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

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

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

By 1970 the property had been converted into office accommodation.

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

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

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

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

Freemen of Belfast: 1911-19


14  Gustav Wilhelm Wolff ~ 1911

15  Sir Joseph Larmor Kt ~ 1912

16  Sir Almroth Edward Wright KBE CB ~ 1912

17  Sir James Henderson DL ~ 1912

18  Whitelaw Reid ~ 1912

19  Robert James McMordie QC ~ 1914

20  Mrs Julia McMordie CBE ~ 1914

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

22  The Rt Hon Sir Crawford McCullagh Bt ~ 1917

23  Lady McCullagh ~ 1917

24  Henry Musgrave DL ~ 1917

25  Sir William Quartus Ewart Bt JP DL ~ 1917

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

27  Sir Henry Hughes Wilson Bt GCB DSO ~ 1919

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

First published in August, 2012. 

Saturday, 28 December 2019

1st Baron Fermoy


The family of DE LA RUPE, or ROCHE, according to the Irish Peerage, and Rudiments of Honour, by Francis Nichols, published in 1727, were materially descended from CHARLEMAGNE; and in the remarkable pedigree of the ancestors of this family, it is shown that they derive their descent from the most illustrious sources, their progenitors being allied, by intermarriages, with the great Counts of Flanders, the Counts of Bavaria, ALFRED, and other Saxon Kings of England; the House of Capet in France, WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and other Anglo-Norman kings.

The Roches came to Ireland in the reign of HENRY II, along with other Anglo-Norman chiefs in Strongbow's time; and in the reigns of RICHARD I and KING JOHN, they got large grants of lands in County Cork, in the territory of Fermoy, which, from them, was called Roche's Country, and they erected a castle, and founded a Cistercian monastery at Fermoy, and they had seats at Castletown Roche and other places.

RALPH DE LA ROCHE, son of Alexander de Rupe, alias DE LA ROCHE, was the patriarch of the family in Ireland.

He married Elizabeth de Clare, by the Princess Joan of Acre, his wife, daughter of EDWARD I and his Queen, ELEANOR, of Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester.

This Ralph had issue, DAVID, father of John de Rupe or la Roche, Baron of Fermoy, who had MAURICE FITZJOHN, Lord De La Roche, of Fermoy, from whom descended,

DAVID ROCHE, Lord Roche, surnamed The Great, who sat in Parliament as VISCOUNT ROCHE, of Fermoy, in the reigns of EDWARD IV and HENRY VII.

He married Jane, daughter of Walter Burke, called MacWilliam, and had issue,
MAURICE, his successor;
His lordship died ca 1492, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

MAURICE ROCHE, 2nd Viscount, who married twice; and by Joanna, his first wife, daughter of James, Earl of Desmond, had a son and successor,

DAVID ROCHE, 3rd Viscount, father, by Catherine his wife, daughter of MacCarthy Mor, of a son and successor,

MAURICE ROCHE, 4th Viscount, who wedded Grania MacCarthy, and had issue,
DAVID, his successor;
Helena; Marcella; Catherine.
The eldest son,

DAVID ROCHE, 5th Viscount, who succeeded his father in 1566, espoused Helena, daughter of James, 10th Baron Dunboyne, and had issue,
Maurice, his successor;
EDMOND, of whom hereafter;
The third son,

EDMOND ROCHE, died in 1540, leaving (with a daughter, Joan, married, in 1508, to David de Courcy, Baron Kingsale) a son,

MAURICE ROCHE, Mayor of Cork, 1571, received an autograph letter from ELIZABETH I, with a patent and collar of sterling silver, in acknowledgment of his services in suppressing the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond.

He died in 1593, leaving three sons, JOHN, Edward, and Patrick, and was succeeded by the eldest,

JOHN ROCHE, who dsp, and the estates devolve upon his brother,

EDWARD ROCHE, who died in 1626, leaving three sons,
The eldest son,

FRANCIS ROCHE (c1610-69), High Sheriff of County Cork, 1641, who entertained Sir Warham St Leger, Lord President of Munster, at his seat, Trabolgan, and assisted him for the King.

Mr Roche married Jane Coppinger, by whom he left at his decease (with a younger son, Edmond, an elder son and heir,

EDWARD ROCHE (1645-96), of Trabolgan, who wedded, in 1672, Catherine, daughter of James Lavallin, of Walterstown, County Cork, and had issue (with four daughters),
FRANCIS, his heir;
Maurice and
James, who both died in France.
The eldest son and heir,

FRANCIS ROCHE (c1673-1755), of Kildinan and Trabolgan, died unmarried, when the former estate descended to his elder nephew, Edmond, before mentioned, and the latter of Trabolgan, to his other nephew,

EDWARD ROCHE, of Trabolgan, who wedded, in 1781, Susanna, elder daughter of Sir George Wombwell Bt, of Wombwell, Yorkshire, by whom he had one son, Edmond Edward, who predeceased him in 1803, a prisoner of war at Lyons.

Mr Roche died in 1828, and bequeathed his estates to his nephew (only son of his elder brother, Edmond),

EDWARD ROCHE (1771-1855), of Trabolgan and Kildinan, County Cork, who married in 1805, Margaret Honoria, only child and heiress of William Curtain, and had issue,
EDMOND BURKE, his heir;
Frances Maria.
Mr Roche's only son and heir,

EDMOND BURKE ROCHE (1815-74), Lord-Lieutenant of County Cork, 1856-74, wedded, in 1848, Elizabeth Caroline, daughter of James Brownell Boothby, and had issue,
Alexis Charles Burke;
Ulick de Rupe Burke;
Edmund Burke;
Eleanor Charlotte; Ethel Kathleen; Eliza Caroline.
Mr Roche, MP for County Cork, 1837-55, Marylebone, 1855-69, was elevated to the peerage, in 1865, in the dignity of BARON FERMOY, of County Cork.

His lordship was succeed by his eldest son,

EDMUND FITZEDMUND BURKE, 2nd Baron (1850-1920), JP DL, who espoused, in 1877, Cecila, daughter of Standish, 3rd Viscount Guillamore, and had issue, an only child, ADA SYBIL.

His lordship died without male issue, when the title devolved upon his brother,

JAMES BOOTHBY BURKE, 3rd Baron (1851-1920), MP for East Kerry, 1896-1900, who married, in 1880, Frances Ellen, daughter of Frank M Work, and had issue,
EDMUND MAURICE BURKE, his successor;
Francis George;
Eileen Burke; Cynthia Burke.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

EDMUND MAURICE, 4th Baron (1885-1955), who married, in 1931, Ruth Sylvia, daughter of Colonel William Smith Gill, and had issue,
EDMUND JAMES BURKE, his successor;
Mary Cynthia Burke;
His lordship was succeeded by his son and heir,

EDMUND JAMES BURKE, 5th Baron (1939-84), who wedded, in 1964, Lavinia Frances Elizabeth, daughter of Major John Pitman, and had issue,
Edmund Hugh Burke;
Frances Caroline Burke; Elizabeth.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK MAURICE BURKE, 6th Baron (1967-), who married, in 1998, Tessa Fiona, daughter of Major David Pelham Kayle, and has issue,
Arabella Elizabeth Burke, b 1999;
Eliza Lavinia, b 2000.

TRABOLGAN, near Whitegate, County Cork, was a Georgian house comprising two storeys at the front, and three at the rear.

Single storey wings were added during the 19th century, creating a long facade.

The main block comprised two storeys and eight bays, with wings of five bays on either side.

It had a roof parapet and a single-storey Doric portico.

The wings had round-headed windows.

The mansion was approached by an avenue exceeding one mile in length.

Half-way along this avenue there is a triumphal arch; and a tower on the headland between the house and Roche's Point at the entrance to Cork harbour.

The family sold Trabolgan ca 1880 to William Clarke, whose family sold it in 1947.

The mansion house was demolished in 1982.

Trabolgan subsequently became a holiday camp.

Other former seat ~ Kilshannig, County Cork.

Fermoy arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Burrenwood Cottage


JOHN PERCY MEADE JP DL (1847-1919), of Burrenwood, County Down, and Earsham Hall, Norfolk, High Sheriff of County Down, 1897, Captain, Oxfordshire Light Infantry, married, in 1894, Helena Frances, daughter of Sir Allen Johnson Walsh Bt, and had issue,
JOHN WINDHAM, his heir;
Robert Percy, b 1896;
Helena Theodosia Kathleen.
Captain Meade was the elder son of John Meade, of Burrenwood, County Down, and grandson of General the Hon Robert Meade, of Burrenwood, second son of the 1st Earl of Clanwilliam.

The eldest son,

JOHN WINDHAM MEADE JP (1894-1984), of Burrenwood, wedded, in 1932, Grace Dorothea, daughter of Sir Cecil Fane de Salis, and had issue,
Francis Windham, b 1941;
Theodosia Frances, b 1932.

BURRENWOOD, near Castlewellan, County Down, is a 6,170 square foot, horseshoe shaped, rustic villa and cottage ornée, built in the late 18th century.

It stands on land, which, in the mid 1700s, belonged to Sir John Hawkins Magill, of Gill Hall, near Dromore.

When Sir John died all of his estate passed to his daughter, Theodosia.

Burrenwood in 2002.  Photo Credit: By Rodolph at English Wikipedia

Theodosia, who married Sir John Meade (later 1st Earl of Clanwilliam) in 1776, was a very able woman, who, unusually for the era, managed all of her estates personally.

Theodosia, Countess of Clanwilliam, died in 1817, and left her personal estate to her second son, General the Hon Robert Meade.

General Meade is believed to have extended the original house ca 1820, adding the new ornée cottage front section and the wing to the west, as well as increasing the planting around the house.

The newly extended "Burrenwood Cottage" is shown on a map of 1834.

General Meade lived mainly in London, using Burrenwood as a summer residence.

Photo Credit: By Rodolph at English Wikipedia

After his death, in 1852, the Meade family largely abandoned Burrenwood and the property left to the care of trusted tenants.

It was reoccupied by a Meade descendant in 1934 who, during the 2nd World War, removed the thatch for safety reasons.

The house appears to have remained occupied until ca 1980s.

The Clanwilliam Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

First published in May, 2010.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

1st Marquess of Exeter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this reign Cecil represented Lincolnshire in Parliament.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

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

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

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Ballinacor House


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Lady Davis-Goff inherited Lissen Hall in County Dublin.

First published in May, 2013.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Newtownards Priory

Newtownards Priory was a medieval Dominican priory founded by the Savage family around 1244 in Newtownards, County Down.

Only the lower parts of the nave and two blocked doors in the south wall (leading to a demolished cloister) survive from the period of the priory's foundation.

The upper parts of the nave date from a 14th-century rebuilding.

The western extension and the north aisle arcade were undertaken by the de Burgh family.

The priory was dissolved in 1541, and was sacked and burned.

It was granted to Hugh Montgomery, who built a house within the ruins, rebuilding the north aisle and adding a tower at the entrance.

The Priory was subsequently consecrated for use as a parish church.

The Stewart family vault lies within the Priory, as does the large tomb of Frederick William Robert, 4th Marquess of Londonderry, KP.

The Colville vault also exists within the ruins.

The Colvilles were landlords of Newtownards from 1675 until 1744.
The Colville family traces its origins to Scotland in the 1100s, when Philip de Colville settled there following the Norman Conquest.

The first member of the family to settle in Ulster was  Dr Alexander Colville. He had been a professor of divinity at St Andrews University before coming to the Province in 1630.

Dr Colville may have been invited to Ulster by Bishop Robert Echlin, whose mother was Grissel Colville. He was appointed rector of Skerry in 1634 and built Galgorm Castle near Ballymena.

His son, Sir Robert, joined the army and in 1651 was a Captain. He married four times. He was knighted at some period between 1675 and 1679, and bought the Montgomery estates at Newtownards and Comber.

Sir Robert  rebuilt the ruined Montgomery home, Newtown House, which had been accidentally burned down in 1664. He also built a private chapel at Movilla cemetery.

A relative, Alexander Colville, was brought from Scotland to become Minister at the Presbyterian Church in Newtownards in 1696.

Sir Robert Colville died in 1697, with a memorial at the Priory in Newtownards. His third wife, Rose, died in 1693 and was buried at the Priory.

Their son Hugh died in 1701 aged 25, with a similar memorial.

By 1744, the memorial inscriptions had been removed from the family tomb, described as “...A large Tomb of the Colville Family (to a descendant of which the town now belongs), stands in the North Isle, raised five or six feet above the Floor, but naked of any inscription...”

Hugh Colville's daughter, Alicia Colville (1700-62), sold the estates to Alexander Stewart in 1744 for £42,000.
First published in September, 2013. 

Pheasant Percy

I like the festive tale of Percy the Pheasant, as originally revealed by BBC Northern Ireland

Pupils at a County Down primary school took a beady-eyed friend under their wing - but the creature appears to have ruffled a few feathers.

Percy the pheasant took up residence in the grounds of Towerview Primary School in Bangor.

He lived there for two months and was particularly fond of the playground.

Percy followed the children around all day, sat in the front porch when it was raining, loitered around the dinner ladies looking for snacks, and peered through the assembly windows to listen to the songs.

As Christmas Day approached, however, the school principal, Alan Brown, suggested that Percy could soon be on a dinner plate.


Well, it seemed Percy had taken a dislike to the headmaster.

When he saw Mr Brown he attacked his shoes which became full of holes.
"The reason I dared to suggest to pupils that he would be on my Christmas dinner list was that he suddenly became a little aggressive towards my black shoes. He arrived about four or five weeks ago as a small animal and he loves to walk behind me as I go to greet parents in the morning and walks out with me in the afternoon as well."

The headmaster said Percy has started to rule the roost, deliveries were having to be taken via another door and even the caretaker had taken to wearing hobnailed boots.

All the children were horrified at the headmaster's proposal and wrote letters begging for mercy for Percy.

They also made placards in protest.

Primary Seven pupil Amber McGimpsey said,
"He is great, he's very colourful. He mainly goes into the key stage one playground and we feed him at lunchtime. He likes most people except Mr Brown".
Luckily for the pupils, the principal said he had 'grown to love' Percy, so the bird remained safe for another year.

First published in December, 2012.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast

Grand Central Hotel, Summer, 2018

MARCUS PATTON OBE, in his invaluable Historical Gazetteer of Central Belfast, describes numbers 9-15 Bedford Street thus:
In 1852 a new stone warehouse had been built on this site for Messrs Robert and John Workman, linen and muslin manufacturers, by Charles Lanyon. 
One of the first developments in the street, this was four storeys high with channelled ground and first floors, central first floor balcony, arched tops to third-floor windows, outer bays set slightly forward, and chimneys rising above deep eaves.

The Workmans' warehouse was demolished in the early 1970s and construction began on Windsor House.

Windsor House ca 2015

Windsor House, now the Grand Central Hotel, is currently the tallest building in Northern Ireland (after the Obel Tower), measuring approximately 262 feet in height.

The Bedford Street (eastern elevation) of the main block is relatively narrow, though the building extends backwards along Franklin Street on the south side and James Street South on the north side for a considerable distance.

A massive extension, forty or fifty feet in height, has been built around these three sides.

In 2015 it comprised approximately 122,500 square feet, set over ground and twenty-two upper floors.

Franklin Street Elevation, April, 2017
Most of the floors extend to about 5,300 square feet.

The building incorporated a double-deck car park at ground and first-floor levels, with 96 car-parking spaces accessed via James Street South.

Bedford Street Elevation, August, 2017

The external walls were of a mosaic-covered, prefabricated concrete cladding with a steel and reinforced concrete structure.

A concrete mineral felt-finished flat rood covered the building, capped with a communications mast.

It is served by five high-speed lifts from the foyer.

Franklin Street Elevation, August, 2017

Windsor House was purchased in 2015 by the Hastings Hotels group.

The former Windsor House block was virtually rebuilt and extended on all sides, especially the Bedford Street elevation.

James Street South Elevation, August, 2017

The old building was gutted and new walls, electrification, and almost everything else was renewed and replaced.

The new Grand Central Hotel opened in June, 2018.

First published in May, 2015.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

1st Marquess of Hertford

EDWARD SEYMOUR, 1st Duke of Somerset (c1500-52), the celebrated Lord Protector in the reign of EDWARD VI, had, by his first wife, Catherine, daughter and co-heir of Sir William Fillol, of Fillol Hall, Essex, two sons, namely,
John, who dsp, leaving his estates to his brother.
The elder son,

LORD EDWARD SEYMOUR (c1528-93), who received the honour of knighthood for his conduct in the battle of Musselburgh, and was seated at Berry Pomeroy, near Totnes, Devon, obtained an act of parliament restoring him in blood, so far as to enable him to enjoy lands that might subsequently come to him from any collateral ancestor.

Sir Edward, Sheriff of Devon during the reign of ELIZABETH I, married Mary, daughter of Mr Justice Walshe, of the Court of Common Pleas, and was succeeded by his son,

EDWARD SEYMOUR (c1563-1613), of Berry Pomeroy, MP for Devon, who was created a baronet in 1611, designated of Berry Pomeroy.

He wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Arthur Champernowne, Knight, of Dartington, Devon, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR EDWARD SEYMOUR, 2nd Baronet (c1580-1659); who had received the honour of knighthood from JAMES I, and was returned to two parliaments by the county of Devon in that monarch's reign.

In the latter part of his life he lived in retirement at Berry Pomeroy Castle, upon which he is said to have expended £20,000 (£3.5 million in today's money).

Sir Edward espoused Dorothy, daughter of Sir Henry Killigrew; and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR EDWARD SEYMOUR, 3rd Baronet (1610-88), MP for Devon in the last two parliaments of CHARLES I.

Adhering to that unhappy prince, Sir Edward had his seat, Berry Pomeroy Castle (the ancient abode of the Pomeroys), plundered and burnt to the ground.

He married Anne, daughter of Sir John Portman; and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR EDWARD SEYMOUR, 4th Baronet (c1632-1708), made a distinguished figure, both in court and parliament, during four successive reigns.

He served constantly after his first election to the time of his death, and few had more weight in the House of Commons.

In 1667, he promoted the impeachment of Lord Clarendon; was the first that moved it, and carried it up to the House of Lords.

Sir Edward wedded firstly, in 1661, Margaret, daughter and co-heir of Sir William Wale, Knight, an alderman of the city of London, by whom he had two sons, and was succeeded in the Baronetcy by the elder, EDWARD, whose eldest son, EDWARD, inherited the Dukedom of Somerset.

The 4th Baronet espoused secondly, in 1674, Lætitia, daughter of Alexander Popham; and his eldest son by that lady,

POPHAM SEYMOUR (1675-99), inherited the estates of his cousin, Edward Conway, Earl of Conway, who dsp under the will of the said Earl, and assumed, in consequence, 1683, the surname of CONWAY.

This gentleman fell in a duel with Colonel George Kirk, in 1699; and dying unmarried, those estates devolved upon his next brother,

FRANCIS SEYMOUR (1679-1732), who also assumed the surname and arms of CONWAY, and was elevated to the peerage, 1703, in the dignity of Baron Conway, of Ragley, Warwickshire.

Part of his extensive inheritance being situated in Ulster, his lordship was created a peer of Ireland, in 1712, as Baron Conway, of Killultagh, County Antrim.

He did not, however, take his seat in the Irish House of Lords until 1721.

His lordship was sworn of the Irish Privy Council, and in the following year, Governor of Carrickfergus (1728-32).

His lordship married firstly, in 1703, the Lady Mary Hyde, third daughter of Laurence, 1st Earl of Rochester, by whom he had four daughters; the second of whom, Mary, wedded Nicholas Price, of Saintfield, County Down.

Lord Conway espoused secondly, Jane Bowden, of Drogheda, by whom he had a son, who died in infancy, and a daughter who died unmarried; and thirdly, in 1715/16, Charlotte, daughter of Alderman Sir John Shorter, Knight, Lord Mayor of London, 1688, and sister-in-law of the celebrated statesman, Sir Robert Walpole, afterwards Earl of Orford, by whom he had (with three daughters) four sons; of whom
FRANCIS, succeeded to the honours;
Henry (Field-Marshal the Hon).
His lordship died at Lisburn, County Antrim, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS, 2nd Baron (1718-94); who was created, in 1750, Viscount Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford (similar honours had been conferred upon his lordship's ancestor, Edward, Duke of Somerset, which expired with Algernon, 7th Duke), with remainder, in default of male issue, to the male descendants of his brother, Field-Marshal the Hon Henry Seymour-Conway.

His lordship was installed a Knight of the Garter in 1756; and in 1765 he was constituted Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; the following year, Lord Chamberlain of the Household, having previously filled the office of Master of the Horse.

He married, in 1741, the Lady Isabella Fitzroy, youngest daughter of Charles, 2nd Duke of Grafton, by which lady he had thirteen children.

His lordship was advanced, in 1793, to the dignities of Earl of Yarmouth and MARQUESS OF HERTFORD.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS, 2nd Marquess (1743-1822), KG, MP for Lisburn, 1761-8, Antrim, 1768-76, Lord Chamberlain of the Household, Lord-Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Governor of County Antrim, who espoused firstly, in 1768, Alice Elizabeth, daugther of Herbert, 2nd Viscount Windsor, though the marriage was without issue.

His lordship had a natural son by Margaret Williams, HARRY AUGUSTUS, of Knockbreda, ancestor of the Seymour Baronets.

He wedded secondly, in 1776, Isabella Anne, daughter of Charles, 9th Viscount Irvine, and had further issue,
FRANCIS CHARLES, his successor.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

FRANCIS CHARLES, 3rd Marquess (1777-1842), KG GCH PC, MP for County Antrim, 1812-18, who espoused, in 1798, Maria Emilia, daughter of William, 4th Duke of Queensbury, and had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Francis Maria.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 4th Marquess (1800-70), MP for County Antrim, 1822-26, who died unmarried.

His lordship had a liaison with ca 1818 in Paris with Elizabeth Agnes Dunlop-Wallace, by whom he had a natural son, RICHARD WALLACE.
Francis Hugh George Seymour, 5th Marquess (1812–84);
Hugh de Grey Seymour, 6th Marquess (1843–1912);
George Francis Alexander Seymour, 7th Marquess (1871–1940);
Hugh Edward Conway Seymour, 8th Marquess (1930–97);
Henry Jocelyn Seymour, 9th Marquess (b 1958).
The heir apparent is the present holder's eldest son, William Francis Seymour, styled Earl of Yarmouth (b 1993).

Seat and former seats ~ Ragley Hall, Warwickshire; Sudbourne Hall, Suffolk; Lisburn, County Antrim.

Hertford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Stuart Hall Album

I am indebted to those who send me old pictures of Northern Ireland's proud heritage.

Stuart Hall is a good example.

It gives me great pleasure to post these old images.

The Earls Castle Stewart were the second-greatest landowners in County Tyrone, with 32,615 acres in the 1870s.

Lord and Lady Castle Stewart still live at the estate. 
Stuart Hall was built about 1760.

It was originally a three-storey Georgian block with a pillared porch, joined to an old tower-house by a 19th century Gothic wing.

The top two storeys of the main block were later removed, giving it the appearance of a Georgian bungalow.

The mansion house was burnt by the IRA in July, 1972, and subsequently demolished.

A bungalow was built on the site in 1987.

Stuart Hall was actually larger than it appeared from the entrance front, due to high basement or storey to the rear.
Paul Wood has kindly sent me some old photographs taken by his grandfather, William Homewood, who used to travel with the family to Ireland and Scotland.

His grandmother told him that the people (in the photos) were very kind.

It is thought that the gamekeeper's wife was the housekeeper.
They are ca 1919-22. Paul Wood's mother was brought up at Old Lodge on the estate.

I'm afraid I don't know the names of the gamekeeper and his wife.
I have written at length about Stuart Hall near Stewartstown in County Tyrone.
First published in November, 2010.