Friday, 12 August 2016

Boom Hall

The elder branch of this family was ennobled, in 1663, by the title of EARL OF STIRLING, in the person of WILLIAM ALEXANDER, of Menstrie, Clackmannanshire. 
The name of ALEXANDER was assumed from the Christian name of its founder, Alexander Macdonald, of Menstrie. 
This branch, on removing into Ireland, adopted into the family shield the Canton charged with the Harp of Ireland, and settled at Limavady, County Londonderry.
JOHN ALEXANDER, of Eridy, County Donegal, 1610, had issue,
ANDREW, his heir;
John;
Archibald;
William;
Robert.
The eldest son,

THE REV ANDREW ALEXANDER DD, of Eridy, married Dorothea, daughter of the Rev James Caulfeild, and had issue,


CAPTAIN ANDREW ALEXANDERof Londonderry, who wedded firstly, Miss Philips, daughter of Sir Thomas Philips, and had issue,

Jacob.
He espoused secondly, Miss Hillhouse, daughter of the Laird of Hilles, and had issue,


JOHN ALEXANDER (c1670-1747), of Ballyclose, County Londonderry, and of Gunsland, County Donegal, who married Anne, daughter of John White, and had issue,
William;
NATHANIEL, of whom hereafter;
John;
Martha.
The second son,

NATHANIEL ALEXANDER (1689-1761), of Gunsland, Alderman of Londonderry, 1755, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William McClintock, of Dunore, County Donegal, and had issue,
William, of London; barrister; d 1774;
John;
Nathaniel;
ROBERT, of whom we treat;
James, 1st Earl of Caledon;
Mary Jane; Rebecca; Elizabeth; Ann; Jane.
His fourth surviving son,

ROBERT ALEXANDER (1722-90), of Boom Hall, County Londonderry, wedded, in 1759, Anne, daughter of Henry McCullogh, and had issue,
Nathaniel (Rt Hon & Rt Rev);
HENRY, of Boom Hall;
William, Lieutenant-General;
James;
Joseph Josias Du Pré;
Elizabeth; Jane; Anne; Rebecca; Dorothea.
Mr Alexander's second son,

HENRY ALEXANDER MP (1763-1818), of Boom Hall and Glentogher, County Donegal, espoused, in 1807, Dorothy, daughter of Francis Rivers, and had issue,
ROBERT, General in the Army;
James;
Mary; Ann; Catherine; Eliza; Frances.

Boom Hall, near the city of Londonderry, was built ca 1772 by James Alexander, to the design of Michael Priestly.

He had returned from India. Alexander was later to purchase the estate of Caledon, County Tyrone.

The house was built with cut stone; two storeys over a basement.

It has a seven-bay entrance front, with a three-bay breakfront centre.

A projecting porch was added later.

The garden front has a three-sided bow and side elevation of five bays.

The window surrounds have blocking and blocked quoins.


The roof was rather high, on a cornice.

There was was a large, cubical central hall.

Boom Hall estate eventually passed to James, 3rd Earl of Caledon.

The Hall was occupied in the early 1830s by the Very Rev Thomas Bunbury Gough, Dean of Derry.

The lessee was Daniel Baird and the lessor was the Honourable The Irish Society.

Daniel Baird lived there from 1849 until his death in 1862; and his widow Barbara continued to live there until her death in 1879.

Baird was a very successful businessman, merchant and ship owner who rose to prominence from fairly humble origins in the 1830s ~ the Cookes and McCauslands were friends and business rivals.

A one-time Mayor of Londonderry and alderman of the city, he was also High Sheriff of Tyrone, where he had acquired an estate of around 5,000 acres in and around Newtownstewart.
When Daniel Baird died, his entire estate was left in trust to his only surviving descendant, his grandson Daniel Baird Maturin-Baird, then aged 13; with his widow and second wife Barbara (nee Delap) having “the benefit and living of Boom Hall for her natural life”.
On her death, Boom Hall passed into Daniel Maturin-Baird's full control.

He was aged 30 by this time and had established a life for himself in London and chose not to live at Boom Hall, instead leased the house, grounds and contents to the Cooke family (John and Joseph Cooke were both trustees of Daniel Baird’s will).

Meanwhile Mr Maturin-Baird built himself a new house on the Newtownstewart estate.

It is believed that the Cooke family continued to live there until around 1920.

Charles Edgar Maturin-Baird inherited the estate in 1924.

It was then leased to Michael Henry McDevitt, whose family ran a hosiery business, until the war when it was requisitioned by the Royal Navy.

The WRNS left the house in a deplorable state and Mr Maturin-Baird received compensation for damages.

Prior to the war, Michael Henry McDevitt had expressed an interest in buying the house, and after repairs had been carried out in 1946-47, the estate was sold.

Mr Maturin-Baird had, by this time, acquired an estate in East Anglia.

Interestingly, McDevitt chose only to buy the house, contents and immediate surroundings of around 26 acres along with the stable block, but not the stack yard or majority of parkland, which originally totalled 135 acres.

The remaining land was sold to various purchasers in the 1950s ~ although it is believed that the Maturin-Bairds still own the foreshore, as it would appear that this was never sold.

Under McDevitt’s daughter the house fell into a state of serious dilapidation and the contents were routinely and systematically ransacked.
Pat, who keeps horses in one of the fields now, described how, as a teenager, he witnessed a group of vagabonds remove the contents of the dining room to outside the house, and sit down for a makeshift dinner around the table, before loading it all into a lorry and speeding away down the drive!
A fire in the early 1970s destroyed the roof, since when Boom Hall has gradually decayed.

When Miss McDevitt died, the property was left to a niece who sold off the land separately, and then the bricks and mortar to a ‘developer’.

It is thought that the local Council now owns the stable-block and some of the surrounding land, though not the building itself.

The site of Boom Hall is still a valuable open space, though it has lost many of its attributes.

It is of interest because the core of the late 18th century house remains, with some fine mature trees and a walled garden.

The Foyle bridge sweeps above the grounds, which go down to the shore of the River Foyle.

First published in August, 2012.   I am grateful to William Maturin-Baird for providing information.

3 comments :

Northern Scrivener said...

Andrew Ferguson ,later Sir Andrew , married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Alexander of Boom Hall. It is postulated that he received his baronetcy as compensation for the loss of his seat in the Irish House of Commons. The baronetcy became extinct with the death of his son Andrew Ferguson in1860. I recently put a post on my own blog regarding the latter - "Londonderry's Black Man."

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating!!! I have only just started researching my family tree and this was a great bit of information. Thank you

Garvagh said...

Great piece, but sad tale of decline and fall of a country house and estate.