The family of LOFTUS, or, as it was anciently spelt, Lofthouse, appears, from the archives of York Minster, to have flourished in Yorkshire as early as the reign of ALFRED THE GREAT.
The same records show that Christopher Lofthouse was prior of Helagh, Yorkshire, in 1460.
Before the advent of the Normans it held the lands and town of Loftus, in Yorkshire, by thanage, and after the Conquest by military tenure.
EDWARD LOFTUS, of Swineshead, Yorkshire, living about 1480, left two sons, namely,
ROBERT;The elder son, Robert, whose second son,
ADAM LOFTUS, an eminent lawyer, was appointed LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND in 1619; and created, in 1622, Viscount Loftus, of Ely, a dignity which expired with his lordship's grandson, ARTHUR, 3rd Viscount.
The younger son,
THE MOST REV ADAM LOFTUS, accompanied, as private chaplain, the Viceroy, Thomas, Earl of Sussex, into Ireland, and was consecrated Lord Archbishop of Armagh, 1562-3.
In 1567, His Grace was translated to the see of Dublin; and six years afterwards we find him Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.
In 1578, His Grace was constituted LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and he continued to hold the seals until his death.
This esteemed divine having a principal share in the foundation of Trinity College, Dublin, was appointed by charter its first Provost, which office he resigned in 1594.
He married Jane, eldest daughter of Alan Purdon, of Lurgan Race, County Louth, and by her had twenty children, of whom seven died young.
The survivors were eight sons and five daughters.
The Archbishop died in 1605, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
SIR DUDLEY LOFTUS (1561-), of Rathfarnham, who wedded Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenal, of Newry, and had, with other issue,
ADAM, 1st Viscount Lisburne;The second son of Sir Dudley Loftus,
NICHOLAS, of whose line we are about to treat;
NICHOLAS, of Fethard (1592-1666), Joint Clerk of the Pells and of the treasury in Ireland, wedded, in 1623, Margaret, daughter and heir of Thomas Chetham, of Nuthurst, in Lancashire, and Hacketstown, County Dublin; and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
SIR NICHOLAS LOFTUS (1635-), of Fethard, who married firstly, Susan, daughter of Thomas Adderley, of Innishannon, County Cork, by whom he one surviving daughter, Margaret, wedded to Thomas Mildmay, of Lisburn.
Sir Nicholas espoused secondly, Eleanor, third daughter of Sir Edmund Butler Bt, and had several children, of whom the sons all died issueless, when the estates descended to his brother,
HENRY LOFTUS (1636-1716), of Loftus Hall, who wedded firstly, Annie, daughter of John Gorges, of Coleraine, County Londonderry, and had a son (who died young) and three daughters.
He married secondly, Anne, daughter and heir of Henry Crewkern, of Exeter, by whom he had two sons; and was succeeded by his elder son,
NICHOLAS LOFTUS (c1687-1763), MP for County Wexford, who was elevated to the peerage as Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall, in 1751.
His lordship was sworn of the privy council in 1753; nominated Governor of County Wexford, and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Loftus, of Ely, in 1756.
He married firstly Anne, second daughter of William, Viscount Duncannon, by whom he had issue,
NICHOLAS, his successor;His lordship wedded secondly, Letitia, daughter of Sir John Rowley, Knight, by whom he had no issue.
HENRY, succeeded as 4th Viscount Loftus;
Elizabeth, mother of CHARLES TOTTENHAM.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,
NICHOLAS (1714-66), 2nd Viscount, who was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Ely in 1766.
His lordship married, in 1736, Mary, eldest daughter and heir of Sir Gustavus Hume Bt, of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh; and dying in 1766, was succeeded by his only son,
NICHOLAS, 2nd Earl, who died unmarried in 1769, when the earldom expired, but the viscountcy and barony reverted to his uncle,
THE HON HENRY LOFTUS (1709-83), as 4th Viscount.
His lordship was advanced to an earldom, as Earl of Ely, in 1771; and installed a Knight Founder of the Most Illustrious of St Patrick, in 1783.
His lordship espoused firstly, in 1745, Frances, daughter of Henry Munroe, of Roe's Hall, County Down; and secondly, in 1775, Anne, daughter of Hugh Bonfoy, but had no issue.
At his demise, therefore, in 1783, the honours all expired, while his estates devolved upon the son of his sister (the Hon Elizabeth Tottenham), his nephew,
THE RT HON CHARLES TOTTENHAM, who then assumed the surname and arms of LOFTUS, and was created, in two years afterwards, Baron Loftus, of Loftus Hall.
His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Loftus in 1789; Earl of Ely in 1794.
This nobleman was further advanced, to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS OF ELY, in 1800.
He wedded, in 1766, Jane, elder surviving daughter and co-heir of Robert Myhill, of Killarney, by whom he had two sons,
JOHN, his successor;His lordship was a privy counsellor, a Knight of St Patrick, joint postmaster-general in Ireland, and governor of County Wexford.
Robert Ponsonby (Rt Rev), father of CHARLES JOHN.
The Ely Papers are deposited at PRONI.
- Charles Loftus, 1st Marquess (1738–1806);
- John Loftus, 2nd Marquess (1770–1845);
- John Loftus, 3rd Marquess (1814–57);
- John Loftus, 4th Marquess (1849–89);
- John Loftus, 5th Marquess (1851–1925);
- George Loftus, 6th Marquess (1854–1935);
- George Loftus, 7th Marquess (1903–69);
- Charles Tottenham, 8th Marquess (1913–2006);
- John Tottenham, 9th Marquess (b 1943).
- The heir presumptive is the present holder's brother, Lord Timothy Tottenham (b 1948).
- The heir presumptive's heir apparent is his son Scott Tottenham (b 1977).
The Loftus family relocated to Ely Lodge from nearby Castle Hume, through the marriage of the Hume heiress to Nicholas Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely.
Work began in 1813, under the direction of the celebrated landscape gardener, John Sutherland (1745-1826), in advance of the construction of a new Georgian house by the Dublin architect, William Farrell.
Located on a ‘greenfield site’ on the north side of Ely Island (171 acres), Ely Lodge (above), consisted of a two-storey, five-bay stuccoed block with Tuscan pilasters and flanking single-storey bowed wings.
It was built for John, 2nd Marquess of Ely, as a replacement for the earlier (1729) mansion that stood 1½ miles to the south on the Ross Inner peninsula.
The park extended into Rossnafarran and Drumcose on the west bank of Lower Lough Erne, with two porter’s lodges on the Enniskillen Road, both apparently by Farrell.
One was based on Blenheim’s Eagle Lodge in Oxfordshire; while the other is a Tudor-Picturesque style lodge of ca 1830, with an associated causeway bridge incorporating flood arches.
Farrell also designed a pump house; and possibly the main landing pier, now mostly high and dry; while Sutherland was probably responsible for the Garden House and the original walled garden, located in the woods on the south side of the island.
Sutherland’s landscape, essentially Reptonian in style, was considered to be ‘a perfect example of the serpentine outlines so much admired by him’.
It was later criticised by some advocates of the Picturesque, among them Edmund Murphy, for harmonizing ‘indifferently with the bold projections and deep irregular lines of the natural woods’.
In 1870, Ely Castle was blown up as part of the twenty-first birthday celebrations of the 4th Marquess, whose intention had been to build a new house.
Doubtless he had expended too much of his income on his principal seat, Loftus Hall.
However, in the 1880s the former stable range, lying on the south side of the old house site, was converted into a residence with good views of the lough.
By this stage, the Elys spent most of their time at Loftus Hall and were mainly absentee landlords in County Fermanagh.
His Grace had acquired the property in 1947 from George, 7th Marquess of Ely, sold the property ca 1948 to Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Grosvenor DSO TD JP DL, Lord Hugh Grosvenor's younger son, who subsequently became 5th Duke of Westminster.
The 5th Duke upgraded the former stable-block into a fine residence about 1965.
The 5th Duke's son Gerald, 6th Duke of Westminster, was born at Omagh, County Tyrone.
The 6th Duke was then known as Gerald, Earl Grosvenor.
Both he and his sisters spent their childhood at Ely Lodge.
Ely Lodge remained part of the Westminster Estates till about 1987, when Viola, Dowager Duchess of Westminster, Lord-lieutenant of County Fermanagh, was tragically killed in a car accident.
In 1994, Charles Plunkett, the Duchess's land agent, inherited the estate on Her Grace's death, and sold the estate privately.
Ely arms courtesy of European Heraldry. First published in January, 2010.