Thursday, 7 January 2016

Castlecomer House

THE FAMILY OF WANDESFORDE WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY KILKENNY, WITH 22,232 ACRES

This family was of great antiquity in Yorkshire.

JOHN DE WANDESFORDE, of Westwick, near Ripon, married, in 1368, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Henry de Musters, Knight, of Kirklington, Yorkshire, and widow of Alexander Mowbray.

He died in 1396, and was direct ancestor of

THOMAS WANDESFORDE, of Kirklington, in 1503, who wedded Margaret, daughter of Henry Pudsey.

He died in 1518, having had four sons and two daughters,
CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
William;
Michael;
John (Rev);
Ellen; Elizabeth.
The eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD, of Kirklington, espoused Anne, daughter of John Norton, and died in 1540, having had issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Christopher.
The elder son,

FRANCIS WANDESFORD, of Kirklington, married Anne, elder daughter and co-heir of John Fulthorpe, of Hipswell, and had by her (who wedded secondly, Christopher, younger son of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland),
CHRISTOPHER (Sir);
John;
Jane.
He died in 1559, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD, Knight, of Kirklington, who was knighted in 1586, and served as Sheriff of Yorkshire, 1578.

He espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Bowes, of Streatlam, and dying in 1590, was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR GEORGE WANDESFORD, Knight (1573-1612), of Kirklington, knighted by JAMES I, 1607.

He wedded firstly, Catherine, daughter and co-heir of Ralph Hansby, of Beverley, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, his successor;
John;
Michael (Very Rev);
Anne.
Sir George espoused secondly, Mary, daughter of Robert Pamplin, and by her had a daughter, Margaret, and one son, WILLIAM WANDESFORDE, Citizen of London, to whom and his heirs his eldest brother, in 1637, gave £20 per annum, issuing out of the manor of Castlecomer, and payable upon Strongbow's tomb in Christ Church, Dublin.

Sir George was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1592-1640),
being upon close habits of intimacy and friendship with Sir Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, accompanied that eminent and ill-fated nobleman into Ireland when he was constituted Chief Governor of that kingdom, was sworn of the Privy Council, and was appointed Master of the Rolls. 
He was one of the Lords Justices in 1636 and 1639; and was appointed, in 1640, Lord Deputy; but the fate of his friend Lord Strafford had so deep an effect upon him, that he died in that year.
He married, in 1614, Alice, daughter of Sir Hewet Osborne, of Kiveton, Yorkshire, and by her had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
CHRISTOPHER, successor to his brother;
John;
Catherine; Alice.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE WANDESFORD (1623-51), of Kirklington, who dsp and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1628-87), of Kirklington, who was created a baronet in 1662.

He married, in 1651, Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Lowther Bt, of Lowther Hall, Westmorland, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, his heir;
George;
Charles;
Mary; Eleanor; Catherine; Elizabeth;
Alice; Frances; Christiana.
Sir Christopher, who was MP for Ripon, was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON SIR CHRISTOPHER WANDESFORD (1656-1707), who was sworn of the Privy Council by WILLIAM III, and again, in 1702, by Queen ANNE, who advanced him to the peerage, in 1706, as Baron Wandesforde and VISCOUNT CASTLECOMER.

He wedded, in 1683, Elizabeth, daughter of George Montagu, of Horton, Northamptonshire, and by her had issue,
CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Viscount;
GEORGE, 4th Viscount;
John;
Richard;
Henrietta.
His lordship died in London, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER, 2nd Viscount (1684-1719), MP for Morpeth, 1710, and for Rippon, 1714.

In the latter year he was sworn of the Privy Council to GEORGE I, and the next year appointed Governor of County Kilkenny.

In 1717, he was constituted Secretary-at-War.

His lordship wedded, in 1715, the Hon Frances Pelham, daughter of Thomas, 1st Lord Pelham, and sister to Thomas, Duke of Newcastle, and by her he had an only child,

CHRISTOPHER, 3rd Viscount (1717-36), who died in London of the smallpox, unmarried, and was succeeded by his uncle,

GEORGE, 4th Viscount (1687-51),
The 1st EARL OF WANDESFORD died in 1784, and his son having predeceased him, all his honours, including the baronetcy, became extinct, and his estates upon his only daughter,

LADY ANNE WANDESFORDE, who espoused, in 1769, John Butler, to whom the EARLDOM OF ORMONDE was restored by the House of Lords in 1791 as 17th Earl of Ormonde and 10th Earl of Ossory.

Her fourth, but second surviving son,

THE HON CHARLES HARWARD BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE (1780-1860), of Castlecomer and Kirklington, inherited his mother's estates, and assumed, in 1820, the additional surname of CLARKE after Butler; and, in 1830, the additional surnames of SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE after Butler-Clarke.

He espoused, in 1812, Lady Sarah Butler, daughter of Henry Thomas, 2nd Earl of Carrick, by whom he had issue,
John, dspvp;
HENRY BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE, d unm;
Walter, father of
CHARLES;
SARAH, of Castlecomer and Kirklington.
The Hon Charles HBCS Wandesforde was succeeded by his grandson,

CHARLES BUTLER-CLARKE-SOUTHWELL-WANDESFORDE, of Castlecomer and Kirklington, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1879, who died unmarried in 1881 and was succeeded by his aunt,

SARAH PRIOR-WANDESFORDE (1814-92), of Castlecomer, and of Kirklington, Hipswell, and Hudswell, Yorkshire, who married, in 1836, the Rev John Prior, of Mount Dillon, County Dublin, Rector of Kirklington, Yorkshire, son of the Rev Dr Thomas Prior, Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and by him had issue,
Charles Butler, father of RICHARD HENRY PRIOR-WANDESFORDE;
Henry Wallis;
Sarah Butler; Sophia Elizabeth.
Mrs Prior-Wandesforde succeeded to the Castlecomer and Kirklington estates on the death of her nephew, 1881, and in accordance with the provisions contained in her father's will, assumed, in 1882, for herself and her issue the additional surname and arms of WANDESFORDE.

She was succeeded by her grandson,

RICHARD HENRY PRIOR-WANDESFORDE JP DL (1870-), of Castlecomer, and of Kirklington Hall, Hipswell, and Hudswell, Yorkshire, High Sheriff of County Kilkenny, 1894.

He wedded, in 1896, Florence Jackson von Schwartz, daughter of the Rev Ferdinand Pryor, Rector of Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and had issue,
CHRISTOPHER BUTLER, b 1896;
Ferdinand Charles Richard, b 1897;
Richard Cambridge, b 1902;
Vera; Florence Doreen.
*****

During Lady Ormonde’s time on the estate, the coal mines were mainly run by master miners who leased the land and employed teams of about fifty men to operate them.

Her son, Charles Harward Butler-Clarke-Southwell-Wandesforde, took a great interest in the running of the estate and in the welfare of his tenants and attempted to reduce the role of "middle men" by reducing rents and providing assistance.

He even helped some of his tenants to emigrate.

He was succeeded by his daughter Sarah, who married John Prior.

She outlived all her children and was succeeded by her grandson Richard Henry who inherited the estates and assumed the Wandesforde name in 1892.

When Captain Richard Henry Prior-Wandesforde inherited the estate in the late 19th Century, the family owned thousands of acres of woodland in the area.

In previous years, the mines had been operated by master miners who leased the mines from the Wandesforde family, but ‘the Captain’ took personal control of the mines.

He introduced many improvements in the mine workings including overhead ropeways to transport the coal to the Deerpark railway depot.

He also established the Castlecomer Basket Factory, the Castlecomer Agricultural Bank and the Colliery Co-operative Society and built a number of housing schemes for the mine workers.

Captain Prior-Wandesforde took personal control of the coal mines and invested his own money in upgrading and modernising the mine workings.


CASTLECOMER HOUSE in County Kilkenny, the family seat, was originally built in 1638. It was burned down during the battle of Castlecomer in 1798.

A bigger house was built in its place in 1802 during the time of Lady Ormonde.

It was a very large 18th and 19th century mansion consisting of a square, two-storey main block with fronts of five bays; a slightly lower three-storey wing of great length.

There was a battlemented parapet on the main wing and block; rectangular sash windows, mostly astragals. Also an enclosed Gothic porch.

Most of the building was demolished in 1975 as it was no longer in use and had fallen into disrepair.

Nothing now remains of the house.


Castlecomer Discovery Park is situated on grounds that once formed part of the Wandesforde family estate.

The Visitor Centre is located in what was originally the farm yard and kitchen gardens of the estate.

The stables and many of the farm buildings have been restored and now house the craft units and the education facilities.

The original walled garden is now home to a small herd of Fallow and Sika Deer and a flock of Jacob Sheep.

First published in December, 2011.

1 comment :

ELang said...

I would be grateful if you would you have any information on the master miners who leased the mines from the Wandesfordes during the years 1835-1872? Particularly William Hall?
Thank you