JOHN MUSGRAVE, of Saintfield, County Down, born about 1730, whose ancestor, according to family tradition, came to Ireland about 1649 from Cumberland, and settled in Ulster. He died in 1808, leaving a son,
DR SAMUEL MUSGRAVE, of Lisburn, County Antrim.
Sir James Musgrave lived at Drumglass House, Belfast; was a Justice of the Peace; Deputy Lieutenant of Donegal and Belfast; Chairman, Belfast Harbour Committee, 1887-1903.
The Musgraves were very successful businessmen: James became the moving spirit behind a firm of iron-founders and engineers.
The Musgrave family may be said to have begun their connection with Belfast at the beginning of the Victorian era. The River Lagan was their natal stream.
James Musgrave's father, Samuel Musgrave, was a general practitioner, who began there in 1799. Dr Musgrave was about twenty when he started his practice.
His wife was Mary Riddel, a daughter of William Riddel, founder of Riddel & Company, Donegall Place and Fountain Street, Belfast.
The Musgrave firm was an off-shoot of the Riddel establishment.
The Musgrave family consisted of a dozen children.When Dr Musgrave died at Lisburn ages 66 in 1834, the family soon removed to Belfast and lived in Upper Arthur Street.
By 1852, they were living at 1 Donegall Square South; and, after this period of residency, they moved again to Drumglass House, Malone Road, which they built ca 1855.
As young men, the brothers Robert and John Riddel were in partnership with their uncle, John Riddel, at 54 High Street in Belfast.
With their brother James they founded the firm Musgrave Brothers and opened the establishment on the 30th May 1843 (which later became Richard Patterson’s of 59 High Street).
Here the ironmongery trade was carried on successfully until expansion of business brought the manufacturing lines and, from 1860 onwards, this branch was conducted at the Ann Street Ironworks until a limited company was formed.
John and James Musgrave were the principals, Robert having died in 1867.
From this time forward the firm of Musgrave & Company Ltd created what was a new industry which attained world-wide fame with the manufacture of stoves, heating apparatus, stable fittings and high-class ironwork.
John R Musgrave was the chairman and director, and represented his brothers' interests in the company. The expanding business now removed to new works at Mountpottinger.
About 1854, the other brothers, Henry and Edgar Musgrave, started the wholesale tea and sugar business.
The Musgrave family were benefactors of the city of Belfast and its institutions: Sir James, when he retired, devoted a large part of his energy and abilities to developing the Port of Belfast, the possibilities of which he foresaw, the great scheme which he devised and which he lived to see completed.
His name is forever linked with the Musgrave Channel which he did so much to further from the time he was elected chairman of the Harbour Board in 1897 until a year before his death in 1904.
In recognition of these services the dignity of baronetcy was bestowed upon him.
He also proved himself a firm friend of Queen's College (now University), where he founded the chair of Pathology which bears his name.
Like his brother James, Henry gave many benefactions to the City. When the estate at Carrick, County Donegal, was acquired a similar bold policy was adopted. The Musgraves owned 23,673 acres in County Donegal.
The Musgraves' old-fashioned courtesy and graciousness of manner, combined with a distinctive style of dress, gave the impression that evoked a link with the early Victorian period.
Their unbounded generosity to charitable, educational and other worthy institutions will secure for them an imperishable memory.
It is believed that the grounds extended to ten acres.
This small park fulfils a need in a built-up part of Belfast and is laid out with grass, bedding and a children’s play area. The land was a gift in the will of the then owner of the house at Drumglass, Henry Musgrave.
He lived in Drumglass House, one of the most prestigious houses in the Malone Road area. Musgrave died on 2 January 1922, leaving six acres of his property to the city to be used as a public park or children's playground.
The park was initially named Drumglass Playcentre and it was opened to the public on 9 September 1924 by the Lady Mayoress of Belfast, Lady Turner.
The house and site's remaining grounds now form part of Victoria College Girls' School.
Drumglass Park contains a private gate lodge, located near the Lisburn Road entrance to the park.
It served as the original lodge for Drumglass House and was built in the Queen Anne Revival style around 1882.
First published in September, 2010.