Friday, 5 August 2016

Nicholson of Balloo

THE STEELE-NICHOLSONS OWNED 402 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY DOWN

The family of NICHOLSON, originally from Cumberland, was established in Ulster by 

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (1587-1661), who settled at Balloo, near Bangor, County Down, in the beginning of the 17th century, and left, by his wife, Janet Brown, a son and successor, 

WILLIAM NICHOLSON, of Balloo, who wedded Miss Eleanor Dunlop, and dying in 1704, was succeeded by his son,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (1699-1740), of Balloo, who espoused Mary, daughter of Hugh Whyte, of Ballyree, and had issue,
Hugh, died in infancy;
WILLIAM, his heir;
Robert Donaldson;
Susannah;
MARGARET MAXWELL, mother of
WILLIAM NICHOLSON-STEELE.
Mr Nicholson was succeeded by his elder surviving son,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON (-1798), of Balloo, who married firstly, in 1774, Agnes, daughter of John Cleland, of Whitehorn, in Scotland, and widow of William Rose, an officer in the East India Company's military service.

He wedded secondly, Sarah, daughter of ____ Wells, of Belfast, but had issue by neither.

Mr Nicholson devised his estates to his nephew,

WILLIAM NICHOLSON STEELE-NICHOLSON JP (1772-1840), of Balloo House,who assumed the additional surname of NICHOLSON.

He espoused, in 1807, Isabella, sixth daughter of Jacob Hancock, of Lisburn, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
John;
William;
James;
Charles;
Elizabeth, m James Rose-Cleland;
Margaret; Mary; Isabella; Emily.
The eldest son,

ROBERT STEELE-NICHOLSON JP (1809-70), of Balloo, Barrister-at-law, wedded, in 1841, Elizabeth Jane, youngest daughter of Walter Nangle, of Clonbaron, County Meath, and had issue,
Edward, b 1845;
Robert;
William Otway;
Gilbert Hamilton.


BALLOO HOUSE, near Bangor, was half a mile to the east of the Bangor-Newtownards Road, about one and a half miles south of Bangor.

The property had been in the possession of the Nicholson family since 1641, as evidence by a stone inscribed "W N 1641", which was built into a quoin.

The house, however, was of 18th and early 19th century origin.

It was considered of sufficient interest to be described and illustrated (doorway only) in An Archaeological Survey of County Down (1966) and yet, within ten years, when it passed into local government hands, it was burnt by vandals and then demolished.

The Nicholson family is buried in Bangor Abbey under a fine armorial stone.

The family vault was on the eastern edge of the wooded area and was built into a low mound.

It was severely vandalized and the well-cut slab at the entrance was smashed in two.

The vault was built in 1792 by William Nicholson (d 1798), and after his death the property passed to his brother and eventually to his nephew William Steele-Nicholson who was buried there.

It was demolished in 1976 to make way for a factory development, at which date the remains were re-interred in the family burial plot in the Abbey church-yard.


Until the early 1970s traces of the old monastic road running from Bangor to Newtownards could be seen about twenty yards to the east of the mausoleum.

Balloo Woodland Nature Reserve is an oasis for wildlife and people in the heart of the Balloo Industrial Estate.

It is full of mature, native (and some exotic) trees and woodland plant life, with a small pond.

Balloo Woodland was previously the grounds of Balloo House.

The house was demolished, though the remains of the family mausoleum, built in 1792 (known locally as Nicky’s tomb), still exist on the eastern edge of the wood.

North Down Borough Council bought the woodland in 1995 to prevent it from being developed.

First published in April, 2012.

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