Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Royal Visit

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have arrived in Belfast on a one-day visit.

Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE.

During their engagements TRH will visit the Florence Nightingale Exhibition at the Ulster Museum, and meet newly qualified nursing staff and museum staff.

Sandown House

SANDOWN HOUSE, Sandown Road, Belfast, is a two-storey Regency-style villa with basement.

This late-Victorian villa was built about 1889 on land owned by Robert Edward Ward, of Bangor Castle, County Down.

Mr Ward, great-grandson of Bernard, 1st Viscount Bangor, owned 5,735 acres of land in County Down.

Robert Corry, a local builder and contractor whose commercial premises were on University Street, Belfast, leased the land from Mr Ward in 1887 and built Sandown House.

Mr Corry and his family were the first occupants.

The census of 1901 described Sandown House as a first-class dwelling with twelve rooms.

The outbuildings (now demolished) included a stable, cow-house, dairy, barn and laundry.

Newspaper Article of ca 1961.  Click to Enlarge

Robert Corry continued to live at Sandown House until his death in 1909.

Sandown House was inhabited for a short time thereafter by William Virtue, managing director of the United Distilleries Company.

In 1919, it was leased to Sir Frederick Ernest Rebbeck KBE JP DL (1877-1964), a distinguished shipbuilder and marine engineer.

It is said that Sir Frederick had a staircase installed, reputedly from a local church.

There is a maritime theme throughout the design of the main hall: a ship’s wheel motif features on the glazed skylight above the main door.

The front hall has glazing or stained-glass reminiscent of work undertaken by Italian craftsmen at the Harland & Wolff shipyard during the 1930s.

Sandown House, January, 1996

Sir Frederick retired in 1962 and died at Sandown House two years later.

Following his death, Sandown House was acquired by William J Glover, a company director, who lived there from 1964 till the 1990s.
Mr Glover's daughter, Carole-June, married Anthony Lyle Skyrme, in 1972. They lived at Eglantine House, near Hillsborough, County Down.
Sandown House was listed in 1987.

It continued to be occupied by the Glover family until 1999, when it was sold to Fraser Homes.

The house remained vacant until about 2009, when it underwent extensive refurbishment and conversion it into a number of self-contained apartments.

Prospect from the Garden, 1995

The central return and flat-roof extension, located to the rear of the building, were added at that time.

The restoration of Sandown House was undertaken to the designs of Sutherland Architects, Belfast, who were also responsible for the construction of the modern red-brick apartment blocks located within Sandown’s former grounds.

First published in September, 2016.

The Hamilton Baronets (1660)

CLAUD HAMILTON (1546-1621), youngest son of James, 2nd Earl of Arran and Duke  of Châtellerault, by his wife, the Lady Margaret Douglas (eldest daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Moreton), one of the most zealous partisans of MARY, Queen of Scots, whose loyalty JAMES VI of Scotland rewarded, in 1587, with a grant of the whole barony of Paisley, and the dignity of BARON PAISLEY.

His lordship married Margaret, only daughter of George, 5th Lord Seton, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
John;
Claud;
George;
Frederick;
Henry;
Alexander;
Margaret; Margaret.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES (1575-1618), 2nd Lord Paisley, who espoused Marion, daughter of Thomas, 6th Lord Boyd, and had issue,
James, his successor;
William, 1st Baronet (c1605-80);
Claud, 2nd Baron Hamilton of Strabane;
GEORGE, of whom we treat;
Alexander;
Anne; Mary; Lucy; Margaret; Isobel.
His lordship was created, in 1603, Baron Abercorn, with remainder to his heirs male, and assigns whatever; and advanced, in 1606, to the dignities of Baron Hamilton, Mountcastle and Kilpatrick, and EARL OF ABERCORN.

He was subsequently called by summons to the house of peers in Ireland, by the same title; and having obtained a large grant of land in the barony of Strabane, erected a strong castle, and a schoolhouse, and church, with a town of about eighty houses there.

His fourth son,

THE HON GEORGE HAMILTON (c1607-79), of Donalong (Dunnalong), County Tyrone, and Nenagh, County Tipperary, a faithful adherent of THE CHARLESES, was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1660, designated of Donalong [Dunnalong], County Tyrone, and Nenagh, County Tipperary.

Sir George married, in 1629, Mary, third daughter of Thomas, Viscount Thurles, and sister of James, 1st Duke of Ormonde, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
George, Comte de Hamilton;
Anthony, Lieutenant-General;
Thomas, Captain;
Richard, Lieutenant-General;
John, Major-General;
Elizabeth, m Philibert, Count de Gramont;
Lucia; Margaret.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR JAMES HAMILTON, 2nd Baronet (c1620-73), MP for Strabane, 1666, who wedded, in 1661, Elizabeth, daughter of John, 1st Baron Colepeper, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
George, Colonel;
William.
Sir James was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES (c1661-1734), MP for County Tyrone, 1692-9, who espoused, in 1684, Elizabeth, daughter of  Sir Robert Reading, 1st Baronet, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
George, MP;
Francis;
William;
Charles, MP;
Elizabeth; Mary; Jane; Philippa.
Captain Hamilton, who succeeded his cousin as 6th Earl of Abercorn, declined assuming the title of baronet upon the demise of his grandfather in 1679, and was known simply as "Captain Hamilton."

Sir George Hamilton, 1st Baronet

THE PERIOD immediately after the Flight of The Earls in 1607 was marked largely by relative peace; however, instability was never far from the horizon.

The 1641 rising led by Sir Phelim O'Neill, of Caledon, was the next major event to beset the district.

After the capture of Dungannon, Charlemont and Mountjoy, Sir Phelim attacked Strabane and carried off Lady Strabane, daughter-in-law of Lord Abercorn.

Colonel Sir George Hamilton retook Strabane three days later with an expeditionary force of Scottish soldiers.

Derrywoon Castle is now within the grounds of Baronscourt, near Newtownstewart, seat of the Hamiltons, Dukes of Abercorn.


A report on the Plantation from 1622 noted that Sir George had 
"begun to build a fair stone house, 4 storeys high, which is almost finished, and a bawn of stone and lime, 90 foot long, 70 foot broad and 14 foot high".
When the compilers of the report arrived at the site they found ‘good store of workmen there upon it’ and were informed that when it was finished Sir George intended to live there himself.

The building was destroyed in the 1640s and by the time of the Civil Survey (1654-56) it was described as a ruinous castle burned by the rebels [and] not yet re-edified’.

There is no evidence that it was rebuilt.

Hamilton was one of the proprietors of the silver mines of Knockaunderrig before the English Civil War.

Hamilton's early advancement was hindered by his Catholicism, but he was appointed a colonel of foot, 1649, and upheld the Royalist cause in Ireland.

He was the commander at Nenagh when Ireton arrived to besiege it for the Parliamentarians in October, 1650.

Initially defiant, Hamilton surrendered to Ireton when the latter threatened to breach the walls with artillery.

Hamilton's Irish lands were confiscated and he went into exile in Paris.

Upon the Restoration, he was high in favour with CHARLES II and was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1660.

Regarding Nenagh in County Tipperary, in 1648 Owen Roe O'Neill took Nenagh Castle.

Lord Inchiquin re-took it that same year and, when Cromwell arrived in Ireland, Nenagh was being held by Sir George Hamilton.

In October, 1650, Cromwell's son Ireton arrived at and demanded the surrender of the town.

Hamilton initially refused, but when field artillery was put in place in front of the town's walls he wisely yielded.

See Duke of Abercorn for further succession.

James, 5th and present Duke of Abercorn, KG, is the 15th Hamilton Baronet.

First published in April, 2011.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Henderson of Norwood Tower

THE HENDERSONS OWNED 52 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir James's younger son,

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

© 2011 Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Drawing by the Rev McC Auld

This was a bitter blow to Oscar and his family.

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

Commander Henderson and his wife Alicia had two sons,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They lived at Ballynahinch, County Down.

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

Hillsborough Castle

THE MARQUESSES OF DOWNSHIRE WERE THE GREATEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY DOWN, WITH 78,051 ACRES


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

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

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

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

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

The said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was succeeded by his son,

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

His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR BLUNDELL SANDYS TRUMBULL WINDSOR, 4th Marquess.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Edmund Robin Arthur Hill, styled Earl of Hillsborough.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is now grassed but retains a summer house.

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

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

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

An impressive feature is the Downshire Monument of 1848.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 28 September 2020

1st Viscount Strangford

This family deduces its descent from

JOHN SMYTHE, of Corsham, Wiltshire, living in the reign of HENRY VIII, who married Joan, daughter of Robert Brouncker, of Melksham, in the same county, and had issue,
John;
THOMAS, of whom presently;
Henry;
Robert;
Richard;
Ann; Jane; Elizabeth.
Mr Smythe died in 1538, and was succeeded by his second son,

THOMAS SMYTHE (1522-91), who removed from Corsham and seated himself at Westenhanger, Kent.

This gentleman, commonly known as "Customer Smythe", was a customs farmer during the reign of ELIZABETH I, by which he amassed considerable wealth.

He wedded Alice, daughter and heiress of Sir Andrew Judde, of Ashford, by whom he acquired the manors of Ashford and Westure, and had issue,
JOHN, his heir;
Thomas (Sir), Knight, father of JOHN (Sir);
Richard (Sir), Knight, of Leeds Castle.
The eldest son,

SIR JOHN SMYTHE (1557-1608), Knight, of Westenhanger and Ashford, espoused, in 1578, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Fineux, of Hawhouse, Kent, son of Sir John Fineux, Chief Justice of the King's Bench.

Sir John left issue, with two daughters, an only son,

SIR THOMAS SMYTHE KB (1599-1635), who was elevated to the peerage, in 1628, in the dignity of VISCOUNT STRANGFORD.

His lordship married the Lady Barbara Sydney, seventh daughter of Robert, 1st Earl of Leicester KG, and niece of the ever-memorable Sir Philip Sydney, and had issue,
PHILIP, his successor;
Barbara; Elizabeth; Philippa; Dorothy.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

PHILIP, 2nd Viscount (1634-1708), who married, in 1650, his cousin, the Lady Isabella Sidney, daughter of Robert, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and had issue, a daughter, Diana.

He wedded secondly, Mary, daughter of George Porter, eldest son of Endymion Porter, Groom of the Bedchamber to CHARLES I, and had issue,
ENDYMION, his successor;
Elizabeth; Olivia; Katherine Clare.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

ENDYMION, 3rd Viscount, who wedded Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Monsieur le Larget de Bresville, of Chalons.

His lordship died in 1724, was succeeded by his only son, 

PHILIP, 4th Viscount (1715-87), in holy orders, Dean of Derry, who married, in 1741, Mary, daughter of Anthony Jephson, MP for Mallow Castle, County Cork.

He was succeeded by his only son,

LIONEL, 5th Viscount (1753-1801), who entered early in life into the army, and distinguished himself in North America; he subsequently took holy orders, and became a clergyman of the established church.

His lordship married, in 1779,  Maria Eliza, daughter of Frederick Philipse, of New York, and had issue,
PERCY CLINTON SYDNEY, his successor;
Eliza Maria Sydney; Louisa Sarah Sydney.
His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

PERCY CLINTON SYDNEY, 6th Viscount (1780-1855), GCB, GCH, who espoused, in 1817, Ellen, youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Burke Bt, of Marble Hill, and had issue,
GEORGE AUGUSTUS PERCY SYDNEY, his successor;
Lionel Philip Thomas Henry;
Percy Ellen Frederick William;
Philippa Eliza Sydney; Louisa Ellen Frances Augusta.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE AUGUSTUS PERCY SYDNEY,7th Viscount (1818-57), born at Stockholm, Sweden, who died a bachelor, and was succeeded by his brother, 

PERCY ELLEN ALGERNON FREDERICK WILLIAM SYDNEY, 8th Viscount (1825-69), born at St Petersburg, Russia, who wedded Emily Anne, daughter of Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, though the marriage was without issue.

On his death in 1869, aged 43, the viscountcy became extinct.

A Selection from the Writings of Viscount Strangford on Political, Geographical and Social Subjects was edited by his widow and published in 1869.

His Original Letters and Papers upon Philology and Kindred Subjects were also edited by Lady Strangford (1878).

Strangford Arms courtesy of European Heraldry.  First published in February, 2012.

Ballintemple House

THE BUTLER BARONETS OF CLOGHGRENAN WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CARLOW, WITH 6,455 ACRES

The family of BUTLER is one of the most ancient and illustrious in the British Isles; and for the services which, at different periods, it rendered to the Crown, it obtained titles of honour in each of the kingdoms of the realm.

THOMAS BUTLER, supposed to be lineally descended from Sir Edmund Butler, Knight, second son of James, 9th Earl of Ormond, was created a baronet in 1628, designated of Cloughgrenan, County Carlow.

Sir Thomas, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1612-22, married Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Colclough, Knight, of Tintern Abbey, County Wexford, and widow of Nicholas Bagenal, by whom he had four sons and three daughters.

He died ca 1640, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR EDMUND BUTLER, 2nd Baronet, who wedded Juliana, daughter of Bernard Hyde, of Shinfield, Berkshire, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
James;
Eleanor.
Sir Edmund died ca 1650, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BUTLER, 3rd Baronet, who espoused firstly, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Dr Richard Boyle, Lord Bishop of Leighlin and Ferns; and secondly, in 1700, Jane, daughter of Edward Pottinger.

By his first wife he had two sons, of whom the elder,

SIR PIERCE BUTLER, 4th Baronet (1670-1732), MP for County Carlow, 1703-14, wedded, in 1697, Anne, daughter of Joshua Galliard, of Enfield, Middlesex.

Sir Pierce died without male issue, when the title reverted to his nephew,

SIR RICHARD BUTLER, 5th Baronet (1699-1771), MP for Carlow, 1730-60, who espoused, in 1728, Henrietta, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Percy, by whom he had four sons and six daughters.

Sir Richard was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BUTLER, 6th Baronet (1735-72), MP for Carlow, 1761-8, Portarlington, 1771-2, who married Dorothea, only daughter of  the Ven Dr Edward Bayley, of Ardfert, Archdeacon of Dublin, and niece of Sir Nicholas Bayley Bt, by whom he had four sons and as many daughters.

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD BUTLER, 7th Baronet (1761-1817), MP for Carlow, 1783-1800, who espoused, in 1782, Sarah Maria, daughter of Thomas Newenham, and had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
James;
Charles George;
Louisa.
Sir Richard was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS BUTLER, 8th Baronet (1783-1861), High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1818, who wedded, in 1812, Frances, daughter of John Graham-Clarke, and had issue,
RICHARD PIERCE, his successor;
Thomas;
Henry William Paget;
Arabella Sarah; Louisa Charlotte; Laura Mary; Antoine Sloet.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD PIERCE BUTLER, 9th Baronet (1813-62), High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1836, who married, in 1835, Matilda, daughter of Thomas Cookson, and had issue,
THOMAS PIERCE, his successor;
Richard Pierce;
Walter Selby;
Emma.
Sir Richard was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS PIERCE BUTLER, 10th Baronet (1836-1909), Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Carlow, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1866, who wedded, in 1864, Hester Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alan Edward Bellingham Bt, of Castle Bellingham, and had issue,
RICHARD PIERCE, his successor;
Thomas Edmond;
Walter Alan;
Edith Alice; Maude Isobel; Dorothea Hester; Eleanor Frances.
 
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD PIERCE BUTLER, 11th Baronet (1872-1955), OBE DL, High Sheriff of County Carlow, 1905, who wedded, in 1906, Alice Dudley, daughter of the Very Rev and Hon James Wentworth Leigh, and had issue,
THOMAS PIERCE, his successor;
Joan; Doreen Frances. 
Sir Richard, Honorary Colonel, the Remount Service, was succeeded by his son,

SIR THOMAS PIERCE BUTLER, 12th Baronet (1910-94), CVO DSO OBE JP, Resident Governor of the Tower of London and Keeper of the Jewel House, 1969-71, who espoused, in 1937, Rosemary Liége Woodgate, daughter of Major James Hamilton Davidson-Houston, and had issue,
RICHARD PIERCE, his successor;
Caroline Rosemary;
Virginia Pamela Liége.
Sir Thomas was succeeded by his son,

SIR RICHARD PIERCE BUTLER, 13th Baronet (1940-), of London, a company director, who married, in 1965, Diana, daughter of Colonel Stephen John Borg, and had issue,
THOMAS PIERCE;
Stephen Patrick;
Rupert Dudley;
Anne Virginia.
 

BALLIN TEMPLE, near Tullow, County Carlow, was a fine three-storey Georgian mansion with a five-bay entrance front.

The centre bay was distinguished by a Venetian window and a pedimented Grecian-Doric porte-cochere.

The centre of the garden front had a colonnaded semi-circular bow. 

The mansion was destroyed by fire accidentally in 1917.

It existed as a shell for a number of years, and has subsequently been demolished apart from its elegant portico.


The following is a section of Turtle Bunbury's article about BallintempleAncient World, Ancient Fish:
Sir Richard Butler’s successful restoration of his family’s ancestral riverside estate at Ballintemple, County Carlow, has earned his small stretch of the River Slaney a well deserved alphabetical placement between Ashford and Ballynahinch Castles in the highly elite Great Fishing Houses of Ireland.

The project, commenced four years ago in conjunction with Robin Eustace Harvey, involved restoring both river banks, rebuilding the weirs and creating twenty four salmon pools.

Ballintemple started life as a sanctuary for members of the Knights Templar on leave from the Crusades. The estate formed part of William Marshall's vast inheritance through his marriage with Strongbow’s daughter in the late 12th century. 500 years later, the land was granted to Sir Thomas Butler of Cloghrennan, a first cousin of the “Great Duke” of Ormonde.

Sir Richard is the thirteenth generation in descent from Sir Thomas. His forbears generally played a modest role in the affairs of state. Perhaps the most notable family member was Piers Butler, sometime Senator of South Carolina and co-signatory of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

One hundred years ago the Ballintemple estate amounted to some 7,000 acres, upon which Sir Richard’s grandfather developed his passion for breeding Aberdeen Angus and Clydesdale shire-horses. He married Alice Mease, a granddaughter of the American actress Fanny Kemble.

On moving to the ancestral manor house at Ballintemple, the well-travelled Lady Alice described the estate as "one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen … in the spring the woods are literally carpeted with bluebells, the bluest and largest I have ever seen, often having fifteen bells on one stalk".

The burning of Ballintemple House in 1917, attributed to a plumber's blow-lamp and dry-rot filled rafters, was a great loss to Carlow’s architectural legacy. The shell was later demolished and only the 19th century classical portico now remains.

The Butler family then relocated to England where Sir Richard’s father, Sir Tom Butler, served as Resident Governor of the Tower of London. Subsequent confiscation’s and compulsory purchases by the Irish Land Commission whittled the Butler estate down to a few acres when Sir Richard inherited the property.

Sir Richard Butler, a former director with Chase Manhattan and founder of the Pestalozzi Children's Trust, could never shake off his desire to return to his Irish homeland. His family likewise continue to view Ballintemple as an intrinsic part of their heritage. Over the past decade, Sir Richard and his neighbour Robin Eustace Harvey have been steadily resurrecting the estate.

An ancient wood of some 20 hectares running along the riverbanks has been designated a Special Area of Conservation by Duchas. Sir Richard’s eldest son Tom has created an exceedingly nutritious 10-hectare organic farm while Tom’s Canadian wife Pam (aka Kamala Devi) runs a popular yoga retreat at Ballintemple during the summer.


The reopening of the Ballintemple fishing beat in 2003 met with widespread approval by fishermen and conservationists alike. The Slaney is one of Ireland’s longest rivers, wending its way 120 kilometres from the Glen of Imaal in the Wicklow Mountains south through Carlow and Wexford and into the sea at Wexford Harbour. It offers salmon in spring and sea trout in summer.
 First published in February, 2012.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Dobbs of Castle Dobbs

THE DOBBS FAMILY OWNED 5,060 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM

This family was established in Ulster by  

JOHN DOBBS, only son of Sir Richard Dobbs (a founder of Christ's Hospital and Lord Mayor of London, 1551).

Sir Richard Dobbs. Photo credit: Christ's Hospital Foundation

This John Dobbs accompanied Sir Henry Docwra to the province in 1596, and was subsequently his deputy as treasurer for Ulster.

He wedded, in 1603, Margaret, only child of John Dalway, of Ballyhill, and had two sons, Foulk, who was lost at sea, with his father, in returning from England in 1622; and

HERCULES DOBBS (1613-34), who, succeeding to his father's property, married Magdalen West, of Ballydugan, County Down, and left an only son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1634-1701), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1664, who wedded, in 1665, Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of Bryan Willans, of Clints Hall, Richmond, Yorkshire, and had (with three daughters), two sons.

Mr Dobbs left his estate to his younger son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1660-1711), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1694, who espoused firstly, Mary, daughter of Archibald Stewart, of Ballintoy, and had (with two daughters) three sons,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Richard (Rev), Rector of Lisburn;
Marmaduke.
He married secondly, Margaret Clugston, of Belfast, and had three daughters.

Mr Dobbs served in WILLIAM III's army in Ireland until the second siege of Limerick and the Treaty of Surrender.

On the 14th June, 1690, he welcomed Prince William of Orange on his landing in Ulster as Mayor of Carrickfergus.

Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR DOBBS (1689-1765), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1720, MP for Carrickfergus, 1727-41, who wedded Anne, daughter of Captain Osborne, of Timahoe, County Kildare, and widow of Captain Norbury, by whom he had issue.

Arthur Dobbs, 6th Governor of North Carolina

He was appointed Engineer and Surveyor-General of Ireland, by Sir Robert Walpole, and was, in
1753, sent out as Governor of North Carolina, where he acquired large possessions, including 400,000 acres in the colony.

Arthur Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS (1727-1811), of Castle Dobbs, MP for Carrickfergus, 1768-85, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1752, who married firstly, in 1749, Anne, daughter of Alexander Stewart, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir.
He wedded secondly, Charity, widow of Stephen Rice, of Mount Rice, County Kildare, and daughter of Robert Borrowes, of Kildare, by Mary, his wife, daughter of John O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, and had further issue,
Edward Brice, twice Mayor of Carrickfergus;
Robert Conway (Rev);
Frances.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD DOBBS (1753-1840), of Castle Dobbs, who espoused, in 1792, Nichola, daughter of Michael Obins, of Portadown, County Armagh, by Nichola his wife, second daughter of Archibald, 1st Viscount Gosford, and had issue,
CONWAY RICHARD, his heir;
Archibald Edward, barrister, father of
ARCHIBALD EDWARD DOBBS;
Acheson;
Nichola; Frances; Olivia.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

CONWAY RICHARD DOBBS JP DL (1796-1886), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1841, MP for Carrickfergus, 1832, who married, in 1826, Charlotte Maria, daughter and co-heiress of William Sinclair, of Fort William, County Antrim, and had issue,
Richard Archibald Conway (1842-53);
MONTAGU WILLIAM EDWARD, his heir;
Olivia Nichola; Frances Millicent; Charlotte Louisa Mary; Alicia Hester Caroline;
Harriet Sydney; Nichola Susan; Millicent Georgina Montagu.
He wedded secondly, in 1875, Winifred Susannah, youngest daughter of Benjamin Morris, of Lewes, Sussex.

Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

MONTAGU WILLIAM EDWARD DOBBS JP DL (1844-1906), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1871, County Antrim, 1888, Barrister, who was succeeded by his cousin,

ARCHIBALD EDWARD DOBBS JP (1838-1916), of Castle Dobbs, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1909, Barrister, who espoused, in 1875, Edith Mary, second daughter of Sir James Timmins Chance Bt, and had issue,
ARTHUR FREDERICK, his heir;
Francis Wellesley;
Archibald Edward.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his eldest son,

ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS DL (1876-1955), High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1921, who married, in 1915, Hylda Louise, daughter of Conway Richard Dobbs Higginson, and had issue,
RICHARD ARTHUR FREDERICK, his heir;
Joan Kathleen.
Mr Dobbs was succeeded by his son and heir,

SIR RICHARD ARTHUR FREDERICK DOBBS KCVO JP, 
Barrister, Judge of the Circuit Court, 1951-55, Midland Circuit, Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, 1959-94, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, who wedded, in 1953, Carola Day, daughter of Christopher Clarkson, and had issue,
Richard Francis Andrew, b 1955;
Nigel Christopher, b 1957; High Sheriff of County Antrim, 2009;
Matthew Frederick, b 1959;
Nicholas Arthur Montagu, b 1973;
Sophia Carola, b 1965.
The eldest son,

Richard Francis Andrew Dobbs, married, in 1980, the Lady Jane Alexander, sister of 7th Earl of Caledon; divorced in 1999 and had issue, three daughters.


I HAVE written about Castle Dobbs here.

First published in August, 2012.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Fountain Pen Ink


When I attended Primary and Prep school in the 1960s and early 1970s some of the wooden desks had little ink wells.

These old desks had a lid at the top which opened upwards for storage of books, writing pads etc.

Fountain pens were still commonly used in the 1960s, though ballpoint pens were beginning to supersede them.

I seldom use my fountain pens today; I hardly use any writing instruments, in fact. Instead I type on desktop, iPad, and iPhone keyboards.

Nowadays I use the fountain pen for signing documents, cards, and so on.

It's a shame, really, that I don't use my fountain pens more frequently.

I inherited a lovely vintage De La Rue Onoto pen from my father in 2002.

About 2000, I think, I purchased a very grand Mont Blanc fountain pen and ballpoint.

I wrote an article about the Onoto here.

Dear reader, do you have any notion of how difficult it is to purchase fountain pen ink in Belfast today?

I mean ordinary black ink, not the Mont Blanc or calligraphic premium variety.


I sent out a plea for help on Twitter and Facebook; and, lo and behold! My friend Mags asked me if I had tried Proctor's of Belfast, printers, suppliers of offices, arts and crafts, wedding stationery, not to mention a vast array of miscellaneous goods.

I called them and inquired about fountain pen ink. To my surprise they sell it, Parker Quink, to be precise.


Proctor's, 201-213, Castlereagh Road, Belfast, was established about 1966.

What a Godsend.