Sunday, 24 September 2017

Summer Island House

Summer Island

SAMUEL COWDY, of Taughlumny, near Banbridge, County Down, was a sergeant in Cromwell's army, from whom he received a farm of 273 acres at Taughlumny.

He married and had issue, his youngest son,

JOHN COWDY (c1770-1857), who married M Rollins, and left issue,

ANTHONY COWDY (1809-92), who wedded firstly Elizabeth, daughter of Mr Mahaffy, and had issue, an only son,

ANTHONY COWDY (1843-1908), who married Sarah Frances, daughter of Mr Jones, and left issue, a younger son,

EDWARD COWDY JP DL (1873-1934), of Summer Island, County Armagh (below), who wedded, in 1903, Mary Jane, daughter of Robert McKean JP, of Rockwood, Benburb, County Tyrone.

His eldest son,

ROBERT McKEAN COWDY JP DL, of Summer Island, married, in 1939, Diana Vera Gordon, elder daughter of John Ralph Cope, of Drumilly, County Armagh, and had issue,

RALPH EDWARD COPE COWDY DL (1940-2013), High Sheriff of Armagh, 2007.

SUMMER ISLAND, near Loughgall, County Armagh, was purchased from the Verner family by Edward Cowdy in 1908.

It is a Georgian villa of two storeys and five bays; fine fanlight above the main door, with columns and pilasters.

The roof is hipped with dentils at the eaves.

The main entrance to Summer Island boasts one of the most delightful pairs of gate lodges in the Province, which were built ca 1820.

They are backed by mature lime trees which stand out in the landscape of this slightly raised strip of land in an otherwise flat area.

Shelter belts protect the southern half of the parkland, at the centre of which is the late 18th century classical house.

There is a modern ornamental garden at the house but the walled garden is not cultivated.

First published in September, 2013.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Ewart Baronets


WILLIAM EWART (1759-1851), of Hillsborough, County Down, married, in 1810, Mary Anne, daughter of John Rossman, and had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir;
Sarah Jane; Eliza.
Mr Ewart, of Glenbank House, an alderman of Belfast, was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM EWART JP (1817-89), of Glenbank, Belfast, who wedded, in 1840, Isabella Kelso, daughter of Lavens Mathewson, and had issue,
Lavens Mathewson, father of
Richard Hooker, father of
TALBOT EWART, 5th Baronet;
James Mathewson;
George Herbert;
Frederick William, grandfather of
Marianne; Lavinia.
Mr Ewart, Mayor of Belfast, 1859-60, MP for Belfast 1878-89, was created a baronet in 1887, denominated of Glenmachan House, County Down, and of Glenbank, Belfast.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR WILLIAM QUARTUS EWART JP DL, 2nd Baronet (1844-1919), of Glenmachan House, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1897, who espoused, in 1876, Mary Warren, daughter of Robert Heard, and had issue,
ROBERT HEARD, his successor;
Charles Gordon;
Charlotte Hope; Isabella Kelso; Mary Gundreda.
Sir William was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR ROBERT HEARD EWART, 3rd Baronet (1879-1939), who died unmarried, when the baronetcy devolved upon his cousin,

SIR LAVENS MATHEWSON ALGERNON EWART, 4th Baronet (1885-1939), who died a bachelor, when the title reverted to his cousin,

SIR TALBOT EWART, 5th Baronet (1878-1959), who married, in 1913, Sydney Stuart, daughter of Louis P Henop, though the marriage was without issue, and the baronetcy devolved upon his cousin, 

SIR WILLIAM IVAN CECIL EWART, 6th Baronet (1919-95), DSC, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1976, who married, in 1948, Pauline Chevallier, daughter of Wing-Commander Raphael Chevallier Preston, and had issue,
WILLIAM MICHAEL, his successor;
Susan Eveleen; Patricia Rébé.
Sir Ivan, Lieutenant, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Coastal Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 1945; chairman, William Ewart & Sons, 1968-73; Chairman, Ewart Northern Ltd, 1973-77.

He was succeeded by his only son,

SIR WILLIAM MICHAEL EWART (b 1953), 7th and present Baronet, of Hillsborough, County Down.

THE EWARTS originally lived at Annahilt, near Hillsborough, County Down. The 1st Baronet's father, William Ewart (1789-1873), moved to Glenbank at Ligoniel and became an alderman of Belfast.

In 1716, Thomas Ewart was granted twenty acres for a lease of a farm in the townland of Carnreagh, Annahilt, near Hillsborough. Part of his agricultural activity involved the production of damask, which the then Linen Board encouraged.

The lease was renewed to his son Thomas in 1746; the latter's son William was more ambitious and sometime around 1790 set up his own concern at Ballymacarrett, then a village, now a suburb of Belfast, though he co-operated with the Hillsborough concern.

His business flourished, and he had agents outside Ulster. He took his son, also William, into business with him and as William Ewart & Son set up an office and warehouse in Rosemary Street, Belfast, in 1814.

They were incorporated as William Ewart & Son in 1883.

The Ewart head office was at what has become known as the Ewart Building, formerly Bedford Street Weaving Factory, at 17 Bedford Street, opposite the Ulster Hall.

The tall, red-brick warehouses and weaving sheds at the rear have since been demolished.

Ewart's bought the building in 1876.

They also ran mills at Crumlin Road; Ligoniel; Ballysillan; and Matier Street, all in Belfast.

During Victorian times, Ewart's was the largest manufacturer of linen in the world.

The principal seat of the Ewart family was Glenmachan House (below), which was set in its own grounds off Old Holywood Road in east Belfast.

Glenmachan House in the 1970s

It is thought that the land at Glenmachan was sold by Sir Thomas McClure to the prominent Belfast architect of the time, Thomas Jackson, who proceeded to build Glenmachan House as his own residence; though sold it to Sir William Ewart some time thereafter.

Glenmachan was a relatively large house with stabling and a conservatory.

About 1894 a fire broke out in the stables.

The hay loft was seriously damaged, according to a local newspaper.

The grounds extended to 33 acres in 1876.

Glenmachan remained in ownership of the Ewart family till about 1976.

Thereafter, it became neglected and derelict, the sweeping lawns reverting to fields.

Despite some strong local opposition, Glenmachan House and grounds were finally sold to a property developer ca 1990, demolished and turned into a new housing development.

Glenmachan House is not to be confused with Glenmachan Tower, further along the road and formerly the Shillingtons' residence.

Glenbank House (ca 1875) used to be the Ewarts' family home.

It was situated on Ligoniel Road in Belfast.

Glenbank was purchased from Robert Thompson by Lavens Mathewson Ewart.

Ca 1920 the house and grounds were presented to Belfast Corporation for use as a public park.

All that now remains to remind us of its former existence are the gate pillars.

The Henderson (Belfast Newsletter/UTV) and Ewart families are related through marriage, Primrose Henderson's mother being Gundreda Ewart.

The Hendersons, whose residence was Norwood Tower (52 acres), would certainly have known the Ewarts, because the families all worshipped at St Mark's parish church.

The famous author, C S Lewis, was a second cousin of the Ewarts and often visited Glenmachan.

The 1st baronet contributed towards the building of St Mark's parish church, Dundela.

First published December, 2009.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Sir Arthur Chichester


I have unearthed this historical extract from a volume of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, which I personally find provides a fascinating insight:-
The intrinsic interest of this humorous narrative of the holiday excursion of a knot of English officers in Ulster in the last days of ELIZABETH I's reign derives an extrinsic attraction from the fact that its author was a brother of the famous founder of the Bodleian Library. 
Sir Josias Bodley (c1550-1617) was the youngest of Sir Thomas Bodley's four brothers. 
In March, 1604, he was knighted by Mountjoy. After the pacification of Ireland he was appointed to superintend the Castles of Ireland. 
In 1609 Bodley was selected to survey the Ulster Plantation, and in recognition of this work received the appointment of director-general of the fortifications of Ireland, a post which he held until his death. 
Bodley, who died in 1617, was buried at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
SIR ARTHUR CHICHESTER, the founder of the fortunes and acquirer of the immense estates (though not the direct ancestor) of the Donegall family, is too well known in Irish history to need much notice here.

He was, at that time, Governor of Carrickfergus; and as Sergeant-Major of the army, somewhat similar to the rank of General, had command over the whole of the troops in Ulster; and had, accordingly, concentrated at Dungannon the troops under his own immediate command;

as well as those of the western parts of Ulster under the command of Sir Henry Docwra (whose headquarters were at Derry, and under whose superintendence the walls and fortifications of that town were shortly afterwards erected) to drive Tyrone out of his fastnesses.

Choosing such a season of the year, to perform such a duty in such a locality, Sir Arthur proved himself as ignorant in strategy as he was subsequently pre-eminent in statesmanship;

and it is amusing to read the growlings [sic] of the rough old soldier, Docwra, as given in his narrative, at being dragged across the country on such a fruitless expedition, and his despair on climbing a hill to view the woods of Glenconkeine*, spread far and wide before him,

without a road to penetrate or a guide to trust; besides having to ford a river which, if swollen by rain, would eventually cut off his retreat.

It reminds us of some of the difficulties we read of as attendant on the late Caffre war.

Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1604-5, and held that office for the long period of ten years, during which time he was created a peer [1st Baron Chichester].

He was then appointed Lord High Treasurer, and held that office till his death in 1625.

His monument is to be seen in Carrickfergus Church.

He died without issue and was succeeded by his brother.
*Glenconkeine - comprised parishes which included Desertmartin ... extended nearly from Dungannon to Dungiven. Dockwra says it was a wilderness of woods, ravines and mountains, extending 20 miles in length and 10 in breadth; and all the writers of that day agree that as a fastness it was almost impenetrable.
Traditions still exist amongst the mountains of Londonderry and Tyrone of the immense forests that filled their valleys; and of their being inaccessible from the total absence of roads.

First published in September, 2015.  Chichester arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Castle Bernard


The house of BERNARD, Earls of Bandon, derives, according to Thomas Hawley, Norroy King of Arms, from SIR THEOPHILUS, a valiant knight of German descent who, in 1066, accompanied WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR into England.

This Theophilus was son of Sir Egerette, and father of

SIR DORBARD BERNARD, the first of his family surnamed BERNARD.

His descendants settled at Acornbank in Westmorland, and in the counties of Yorkshire and Northamptonshire.

Among these we find Robert FitzBernard, who accompanied HENRY II to Ireland, and who, on the King's departure, had Wexford and Waterford committed to his custody.

SIR FRANCIS BERNARD, of Acornbank (the lineal descendant of Sir Dorbard), married Hannah, daughter of Sir John Pilkington, and was grandfather of

SIR HENRY BERNARD, Knight, who married Anne, daughter of Sir John Dawson, of Westmorland, and had four sons, ROBERT, William, Francis, and Charles.

FRANCIS BERNARD, the third son, removed to Ireland during ELIZABETH I's reign and purchased considerable estates.

He died leaving issue, besides two daughters, a son, 

FRANCIS BERNARD, Lord of the manor of Castle Bernard, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Arthur Freke, of Rathbarry Castle (ancestor of Lord Carbery).

Mr Bernard was killed while defending his castle from an attack of the rebel forces, and left issue, with four daughters, all married, two sons,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Arthur, born in 1666.
The elder son,

FRANCIS BERNARD (1663-1731), was attainted by JAMES II’s parliament, but was restored to his estates by WILLIAM and MARY.

He was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland by QUEEN ANNE, Prime Sergeant, and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Mr Bernard represented Bandon and Clonakilty in parliament.

He wedded, in 1697, Alice, daughter of Stephen Ludlow, ancestor of the Earls Ludlow, and grandson of Sir Henry Ludlow, of Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire (whose eldest son was the famous General Ludlow), by whom he left at his decease,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Stephen, of Prospect Hall;
North Ludlow, father of JAMES BERNARD;
Elizabeth, m 3rd Viscount Charlemont.
The eldest son,

FRANCIS BERNARD MP (1698-1783), of Castle Bernard, and Bassingbourne Hall, Essex, espoused, in 1722, the Lady Anne Petty, only daughter of Henry, Earl of Shelburne; but died without surviving issue, when he was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES BERNARD (1729-90), of Castle Bernard, son of North Ludlow Bernard, Member in several parliaments for County Cork, who married, in 1752, Esther, daughter of Percy Smyth, and heiress of her brother, William Smyth, of Headborough, and widow of Robert Gookin, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his heir;
Rose; Esther; Mary; Charlotte; Elizabeth.
The only son,

FRANCIS BERNARD, was elevated to the peerage, in 1793, as Baron Bandon; and advanced to a viscountcy, in 1795, as Viscount Bandon.

His lordship was further advanced, in 1800, to the dignities of Viscount Bernard and EARL OF BANDON.

He wedded, in 1784, Catherine Henrietta, only daughter of Richard, 2nd Earl of Shannon, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;
Richard Boyle (Very Rev), Dean of Leighlin;
William Smyth;
Henry Boyle;
Charles Ludlow;
Catherine Henrietta; Charlotte Esther; Louisa Anne.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

JAMES, 2nd Earl (1785-1856), who married, in 1809, Mary Susan Albinia, eldest daughter of the Hon and Most Rev Dr Charles Brodrick, Lord Archbishop of Cashel, and had issue,
FRANCIS, his successor;
Charles Brodrick;
Henry Boyle;
Catherine Henrietta.
The 4th Earl was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Cork, from 1877 until 1922.

CASTLE BERNARD, near Bandon, County Cork, was re-modelled by Francis Bernard, 1st Viscount Bandon and afterwards 1st Earl of Bandon.

He pulled down the two early 18th century fronts in 1798 and began building a new house alongside the old O'Mahony castle, which was joined by a corridor.

It was of two storeys with a nine-bay entrance front overlooking the River Bandon; and a garden front of three bays on either side of a deep curved central bow. 

It was altered and enlarged in Gothic style in the mid-19th century.

Castle Bernard became known as one of the most hospitable houses in Ireland and the house parties held by the 4th Earl and Countess were said to have been legendary.

In an early morning raid on the 21st June, 1921, an IRA gang, under Sean Hales, called at the Castle.

They intended to kidnap Lord Bandon, but "Buckshot" Bandon and his staff had taken refuge in the cellars.

Apparently disappointed in the first object of their call, the IRA decided to burn the house.

Hales was heard to say, "well the bird has flown, so we'll burn the nest".

At that, Lord Bandon and his party appeared from the cellars but it was too late, the fire had started. 

Ironically the IRA carefully took out all the furniture and piled it on the lawn before setting the building on fire.

Lady Bandon had to sit and watch the flames for some hours.

When the flames were at their height, she suddenly stood up in her nightgown and sang God Save the King as loudly as possible, which disconcerted the incendiaries, but while they may not have stood to attention, they let her have her say and did nothing about it.

Lord Bandon was then kidnapped by a local IRA gang and held hostage for three weeks, being released on 12th July.

The IRA threatened to have him executed if the authorities went ahead with executing IRA prisoners of war.

During his captivity, Bandon coolly played cards with his captors, who treated him well.

Tom Barry later stated he believed the kidnapping helped move HM Government towards the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and the cessation of hostilities.

The elderly Lord Bandon never recovered from the experience and died in 1924.

Some years later, when the last of the IRA burning party died, the 4th Earl was asked to go to the funeral, which he did - in full funeral attire of top hat and morning coat.

Castle Bernard continued to be the home of the 5th Earl and Countess: they built a small house within the Castle boundary walls.

The 5th Earl died in 1979 and, as he had no heir, the titles became extinct.

Lady Bandon died in 1999, aged 102. 

Lady Jennifer Bernard, who inherited the property, lived on the grounds of the castle until she died in 2010.

A modern house was built a short distance from the ruin by the 5th Earl in the 1960s and the uncontrolled growth of trees and ivy gives the building its romantic character. 

There is a huge high window in the curved stairwell which would have been a magnificent feature in its day.

Above the grand doorway and grass covered steps are a fine carved crest and standards. 

Several of the attractive stone window frames are still more or less intact which adds to the appeal of this splendid ruin.

Percy, 5th Earl, GBE CB CVO DSO, Air Chief Marshal, was one of the most senior officers in the RAF. 

In his retirement the 5th Earl discovered the pleasures of fishing, particularly in the River Bandon which was well stocked with salmon, and in shooting, snipe and woodcock found in large numbers near Castle Bernard.

He was also developing an enthusiastic skill as a gardener with a particular knowledge of rhododendrons.

The 5th Earl died on 8 February 1979 at Bon Secours Hospital in County Cork aged 74 and without male issue.

Consequently on his death all the titles became extinct.

He was survived by Lois, Lady Bandon and the two daughters from his first marriage, Lady Jennifer Jane Bernard, of Castle Bernard (b 1935) and Lady Frances Elizabeth Bernard (b 1943).

A portrait in oils (painted 1969) of Lord Bandon, in his uniform as an Air Chief Marshal together with his robes as a peer of the realm, hangs in the main dining hall at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell.

First published in August, 2011.  Bandon arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

1st Viscount Massereene


SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON (c1465-1535), Knight, who was appointed by HENRY VIII, in 1529, His Majesty's Commissioner to Ireland, arrived there in the August of that year, empowered to restrain the exactions of the soldiers, to call a parliament, and to provide that the possessions of the clergy might be subject to bear their part of the public expense.

Sir William was subsequently a very distinguished politician in Ireland, and died in the government of that kingdom as Lord Deputy, 1535.

His great-grandson,

JOHN SKEFFINGTON, of Fisherwick, Staffordshire, married Alice, seventh daughter of Sir Thomas Cave, of Stamford, and was father of

SIR WILLIAM SKEFFINGTON, Knight, of Fisherwick, who was created a baronet in 1627, denominated of Fisherwick, Staffordshire.

He married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Dering, and had issue,
JOHN, 2nd Baronet, whose son WILLIAM, 3rd Baronet, dsp;
RICHARD, 4th Baronet;
Elizabeth; Cicely; Mary; Hesther; Lettice; Alice.
The second son,


SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 5th Baronet, who wedded MARY, only daughter and heir of

SIR JOHN CLOTWORTHY, who, in reward for his valuable services in promoting the restoration of CHARLES II, was created, in 1660, Baron Loughneagh and VISCOUNT MASSEREENE, both in County Antrim; with remainder, on failure of his male issue, to his son-in-law, Sir John Skeffington, husband of his only daughter MARY, and his male issue by the said Mary, and failing such, to the heirs-general of Sir John Clotworthy.

His lordship died in 1665, and the honours devolved, according to the reversionary proviso, upon the said

SIR JOHN SKEFFINGTON, 2nd Viscount, who died in 1695 and was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 3rd Viscount (1660-1714), who married, in 1684, Rachael, daughter of Sir Edward Hungerford KB, of Farley Castle, Wiltshire, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Jane, m Sir Hans Hamilton Bt;
Rachael, m Randal, 4th Earl of Antrim;
Mary, m Rt Rev Edward Smyth, Lord Bishop of Down and Connor.
His lordship was succeeded by his son,

CLOTWORTHY, 4th Viscount, who wedded, in 1713, the Lady Catherine Chichester, eldest daughter of Arthur, 4th Earl of Donegall, and had issue,
CLOTWORTHY, his successor;
Arthur, MP for Co Antrim;
John, in holy orders;
Catharine; Rachael.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 5th Viscount (1715-57), who was, in 1756, advanced to an earldom as EARL OF MASSEREENE.

This nobleman wedded, in 1738, Anne, eldest daughter of the Very Rev Richard Daniel, Dean of Down; and secondly, in 1741, Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Henry Eyre, of Rowter, Derbyshire, and had issue,
HENRY, 3rd Earl;
William, Constable of Dublin Castle;
Elizabeth, m Robert, 1st Earl of Leitrim;
Catharine, m Francis, 1st Earl of Landaff.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

CLOTWORTHY, 2nd Earl (1743-1805), who married, though having no male issue the family honours devolved upon his brother,

HENRY, 3rd Earl, Governor of the City of Cork, who died unmarried in 1811, and was succeeded by his only surviving brother,

CHICHESTER, 4th Earl, who wedded, in 1780, Harriet, eldest daughter of Robert, 1st Earl of Roden, and had issue,
The 4th Earl died in 1816, when the earldom expired; but the viscountcy of Massereene and barony of Loughneagh devolved upon his only daughter and sole heiress,

HARRIET, VISCOUNTESS MASSEREENE, who married, in 1810, Thomas Henry, Viscount Ferrard, by whom she had issue,

The heir apparent is the present holder's son the Hon. Charles Clotworthy Whyte-Melville Foster Skeffington (born 1973).
Sir John Clotworthy took his title from the half barony of Massereene in County Antrim, where he established his estates.

In 1668, the Marrereenes owned about 45,000 acres in Ireland; however, by 1701, the land appears to have shrunk to 10,000 acres; and, by 1713, the County Antrim estates comprised 8,178 acres.

Land acquisiton through marriage etc meant that the land-holdings amounted to 11,778 acres in 1887.

In the 1600s the Massereenes possessed the lucrative fishing rights to Lough Neagh by means of a 99-year lease and they were also accorded the honour, Captains of Lough Neagh, for a period.

The Chichesters, Earls of Belfast, were Admirals of Lough Neagh.

Historical records also tell us that Lord Massereene had the right to maintain a “fighting fleet” on the Lough.

The 12th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard DSO, was the last of the Skeffingtons to live at Antrim Castle:
The 12th Viscount was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst; commissioned into the 17th Lancers in 1895; saw action throughout the South African War, 1899-1902; was wounded, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the DSO; and retired as a brevet major in 1907.

Lord Massereene became a TA major in the North Irish Horse later in that year. He later served in the early years of the First World War and is said to have found Lawrence of Arabia 'impossible'. In 1905 he married and succeeded to the title.

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for County Antrim. Although his father-in-law was a Liberal MP and Home Ruler, Lord Massereene was a staunch Conservative and Unionist. Notwithstanding his position as a DL for County Antrim, he is supposed to have sat in his chauffeur-driven car, looking on with approval, as guns were run into Larne Harbour in 1912!

He was HM Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim from 1916-38. From 1921-29 he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and a member of the Northern Ireland Senate.
ANTRIM CASTLE stood at the side of the River Sixmilewater beside the town of Antrim.

It was originally built in 1613 by Sir Hugh Clotworthy and enlarged in 1662 by his son, the 1st Viscount Massereene.


The Castle was rebuilt in 1813 as a three-storey Georgian-Gothic castellated mansion, faced in Roman cement of an agreeable orange colour.
The original doorway, most elaborate and ornate and complete with Ionic pilasters, heraldry and a head of CHARLES I, became a central feature of the new 4-bay entrance front, with a long, adjoining front of 180 feet with 11 bays; mullioned oriels and a tall, octagonal turret were added in 1887 when the Castle was again enlarged.
The demesne boasts a remarkable 17th century formal garden and parterre with a long canal bordered with tall hedges; and another canal at right angles to it making a “T” shape.

There are abundant old trees, masses of yew and walls of rose-coloured brick.

An ancient motte stands beside the ruinous Castle.

The motte was transformed into a magnificent 'viewing mount' in the early 18th century with a corkscrew path lined on the outside with a yew hedge.

Lord and Lady Massereene and their family were hosting a house party in Antrim Castle when it was burnt down by an IRA gang in 1922.

Many items of historical importance were destroyed in the fire; but the presence of mind of Lord Massereene and his staff, and the length of time which it takes for a very large house to be consumed by a fire, saved much that would otherwise have been lost.

The daughter of the then Archbishop of Armagh, Dr D‘Arcy, who was staying at the time, jumped out of a window to save herself.

A 900-piece dinner service of Foster provenance was thrown from the drawing-room windows into the Sixmilewater river; however, very little of it survived intact.

A great deal of furniture, some of it large, was rescued.

More would have been rescued, except that the good townspeople of Antrim, who turned out in large numbers to help, thought that the most important thing to be saved was the billiards-table!

Thirty men managed to get it out of the castle.

Among the major survivals were the family portraits.

A comparison with the portraits itemised by C.H. O'Neill in 1860 and those surviving in family possession today, suggests a rescue operation of astonishing success (though it has to be remembered that many portraits and other important pieces were probably in the London town house in 1922, or with the Dowager Lady Massereene at her house in Hampshire).

The 13th Viscount, a small boy at the time, recalled the blaze vividly.

He remembered being trapped with his mother in a light well from which they narrowly escaped, and being told by her that they were going to die there.

He particularly recalled the hapless nursery cat with its fur alight.

I wonder if it survived?

Following the fire, Lord Massereene went to live in the nearby dower house, Skeffington Lodge (which subsequently became the Deer Park Hotel).

Further losses of family treasures – this time by sale, not by fire – now followed.

The family considered building a two-storey, Neo-Tudor house on the site of Antrim Castle but nothing came of this.

After the 2nd World War, Skeffington Lodge was abandoned.

The Antrim Castle stable block was converted for use as a family residence and was re-named Clotworthy House.

It was let for about ten years following the death of Lord Massereene in 1956.

Clotworthy was then acquired by Antrim Borough Council and was converted for use as an arts centre in 1992.

The present and 14th Viscount formerly lived with his family at Chilham Castle in Kent till it, too, was sold in 1996. 

First published in June, 2009.  Massereene arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Lissanoure Castle


Of the Auchinleck branch of the ancient Scottish family of Macartney, MacCartney, or MacCarthy, was 

GEORGE MACARTNEY, who married, in 1522, Margaret, daughter of Godfrey MacCullogh, of Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbright.

His son,

PATRICK MacCARTNEY, married the daughter of John McLellan, and had an eldest son,

BARTHOLOMEW MacCARTNEY, of Auchinleck, Kirkcudbright, who wedded, in 1587, Mary, only daughter of John Stewart, of Auchinleck, and had a son,

BARTHOLOMEW MacCARTNEY, who espoused Catherine, daughter of George Maxwell, and dvp leaving a son,

GEORGE MACARTNEY (1626-91), a Captain of Horse, born at Auchinleck, who removed to Ulster, 1649, and settled in County Antrim, where he acquired a large estate, and represented Belfast in parliament.

Mr Macartney was Sovereign of Belfast (mayor), 1662-3.

In 1678 he served as High Sheriff; and in 1688 he proclaimed WILLIAM & MARY at Belfast, for which he was soon after obliged to flee to England, and was attainted by JAMES I's parliament held at Dublin in 1689.

He was restored on the settlement of the Kingdom.

Mr Macartney married firstly Jane, daughter of Sir Quintin Calderwood, and had issue (with three daughters, two of whom died unmarried),
James (1651-1727);
Arthur, father of George, MP for Belfast, 1721;
St Quinton.
He married secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Stephen Butler, and had issue (with a son, Chichester, dsp),

GEORGE MACARTNEY (1671-1757), who married firstly, in 1700, Letitia, daughter and co-heir of Sir Charles Porter, LORD CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND; and secondly, Elizabeth Dobbin.

He was MP for Belfast for 54 years; called to the Bar, 1700; High Sheriff, County Antrim; Deputy Governor and Colonel of a regiment of Militia Dragoons.

Mr Macartney left issue by his first wife (with a son, Charles, dsp, and a son, Hugh), a son,

GEORGE MACARTNEY, who married, in 1732, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev John Winder, and had issue,
GEORGE, his heir;
Letitia, m Godfrey Echlin;
Elizabeth, m John Blaquiere.
Mr Macartney's son,

THE RT HON SIR GEORGE MACARTNEY KB (1737-1806), of Lissanoure, County Antrim, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, and of the most ancient and royal order of the White Eagle of Poland; one of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council; Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Empress of Russia; born in 1737.

Sir George was elevated to the peerage, in 1770, as Baron Macartney; and advanced to the dignity of an earldom, 1792, as EARL MACARTNEY, and Viscount Macartney of Dervock.

His lordship married the Lady Jane Stewart, second daughter of John, Earl of Bute.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and, having entered the civil service, was sent as an envoy to Russia. Macartney was Chief Secretary of Ireland from 1769-72 and, in 1775, was appointed Governor of Grenada. Lord Macartney was taken prisoner by the French in 1779 in Grenada; Knight Companion (KB) of the Order of the Bath, 1768; Governor of Madras, 1781-5.

In 1772, Lord Macartney headed the first diplomatic mission to China.

After a mission to King Louis XVIII at Verona in 1795-6, he went out as Governor to the Cape, but returned due to ill-health in 1798.

Lord Macartney died without issue in 1806, when the earldom became extinct.

The Glens of Antrim Historical Society has written a history of the Macartney family.

Lord Macartney died without issue in 1800, when his titles became extinct.

His ancestral seat was Lissanoure Castle, County Antrim.

LISSANOURE CASTLE lies roughly between Ballymoney and Ballymena, in the heart of County Antrim, at Loughguile.

It is of great historical importance, as the former seat of the 1st and last Earl Macartney. 

The entry for Lissanoure is given thus:
Macartney held property both in Scotland and Ireland. His principal Irish property was situated at Lisanoure, parish of Loughguile, Co. Antrim. A considerable number of unbound letters dating from 1774 to 1826, relate to Lisanoure Castle and demesne and the neighbouring district.

Although he was not able to visit the place very often, Macartney had much work done in improving its amenities. In addition, he helped the inhabitants of Dervock by giving them long leases, building dwelling houses and a market-house, and establishing a linen market there.
Old Lissanoure Castle is now a ruin in a private estate which contains Guile Lake.

The Anglo-Norman, Sir Philip Savage, built a castle here in the 14th century; rebuilt by Lord Macartney about 1787 and dismantled in the early 19th century.

The entrance to the courtyard remains, in the form of a Tudor archway.

The Castle extended around four sides of a sizeable, rectangular courtyard.

It was built in various stages from ca 1770 onwards by Lord Macartney.

It was of two storeys, with a front of five bays between two, three-sided bows.

Inside the two bows were an octagonal drawing-room and dining-room; and between them were two other reception rooms on either side of a hall, behind which was a commodious double staircase in a projection jutting out at the rear into the courtyard.

At right-angles to the front, two long ranges ran back on either side of the courtyard, containing offices and stables; with windows only facing the courtyard, the outer walls battlemented and blank.

The fourth side of the courtyard also had a blank wall, with an archway in its centre.

The ranges facing the courtyard had pointed, Georgian-Gothic windows and dormer-gables.

Following Lord Macartney's death in 1806, Lissanoure was inherited by his great-nephew, George Hume, who assumed the surname of Macartney; and who began rebuilding the house from 1829 onwards.

He pulled down the old castle at one corner; erected a Tudor archway leading into the courtyard, surmounted by an octagonal, battlemented belfry and spire.

He began work on the front of the house in about 1847, having already built himself "an elegant cottage in the later English style, richly embellished" by the side of the lake.

A great ball was scheduled as a “house-warmer” for the night of 5th October, 1847.

At noon on that day it occurred to one of the men organising the move that there was gunpowder in an old vault underneath the castle and it would be a good idea to have a look at it.

When one of the casts was opened, the butler was asked to take the son and heir out of the room for safety, and as he closed the door, the draught blew some gunpowder into the fire and this produced eventually a huge explosion which blew up the castle and killed Mrs Macartney.

From then on the family lived at the cottage and the castle remained in ruins, with only the yard intact.

The estate was sold to the Mackies of Belfast, industrialists, but had already been requisitioned by the Army as a training base for British and American troops in the 2nd World War.

There was also a German prisoner-of-war camp at Lissanoure and the Mackies did not get full possession until the war was over in 1945.

It was used by the Mackies for entertainment of overseas visitors and as a winter shooting lodge; and not regularly inhabited till 1976.

Nowadays the estate is owned and run by Peter and Emily Mackie, with farming and forestry at its core.

They have continued the restoration work at the Castle and gardens; and the estate is now also available for weddings, corporate functions, conferences, shows and other private events.

The house sits in lawns, with a view of the lake and crannog.

The Castle was the centre of a contemporary landscape park laid out within the undulating site and surrounding Lough Guile.

This was created under the direction of Lord Macartney, and he is remembered in ‘Macartney’s Walks’.

As a widely travelled ambassador, this park was laid out by Macartney with sophistication.

Lough Guile was joined to Five Islands Lough by two canals; considerable drainage schemes were undertaken; the islands were planted up, bridges built and boats were used on the waterways.

Shrubberies graced the Castle; tree-lined gravel paths provided walks.

The parkland had clumps and plantations, much of which survive.

Dramatic shelter-belts run along ridges on the tops of hills.

The walled garden has a restored glasshouse backing on to the garden house. It is not cultivated.

The centre of the demesne was altered in the late 19th century and is maintained from that stand-point today.

Extensive tree-planting continues and former walks have been re-established.

Of three gate lodges, two remain: one of ca 1830 by J B Keane; and one at the south entrance of ca 1860.

Loughguile Parish Church contains interesting memorials to the Macartney family.

The Ulster History Circle has a good article here; as has the glens of Antrim Historical Society, which has published a fascinating account of the Macartneys of Lissanoure, by S Alex Blair.

First published in March, 2010.   Macartney arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Dixon Baronets


THOMAS DIXON (1770-1849), of Bonamargy, near Ballycastle, County Antrim, married, in 1804, Mary McNeill, and had an only son,

THOMAS DIXON (1805-68), of Larne, County Antrim, a merchant and ship-owner, who wedded, in 1834, Sarah, daughter of Daniel McCambridge, and had issue,
Francis McCambridge (c1836-66);
Thomas S;
DANIEL, of whom hereafter;
Alexander McCambridge;
Mary McNeill; Sarah.
Mr Dixon's third son,

THE RT HON DANIEL DIXON JP DL MP (1844-1907), Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1893, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1896, Privy Counsellor, espoused firstly, in 1867, Eliza, daughter of James Agnew, and had issue,
THOMAS JAMES, his heir.
He married secondly, in 1870, Annie, daughter of James Shaw, and had issue,
Evelyn Annie; Kate; Edith Sarah; Louise; Beatrice.
Mr Dixon, Lord Mayor of Belfast, 1901-3, was created a baronet in 1903, denominated of Ballymenock, County Antrim.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON  SIR THOMAS JAMES DIXON (1868-1950), 2nd Baronet, JP, of Graymount and Drumadarragh, who wedded, in 1906, Edith Stewart, daughter of Stewart Clark, though the marriage was without issue.

Sir Thomas, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1912, and of County Down, 1913, Lord-Lieutenant of Belfast, 1924-50, Privy Counsellor, was succeeded by his brother,

THE RT HON SIR HERBERT DIXON, 3rd Baronet (1880-1950), OBE PC, High Sheriff of County Kildare, 1916, who espoused, in 1905, Emily Ina Florence, daughter of John George Barry, 5th Baron Clanmorris, and had issue,
Daphne Maude; Anne Lavinia; Angela Ierne Evelyn; Patricia Clare.
Sir Herbert was elevated to the peerage, in 1939, as BARON GLENTORAN, of Ballyalloly, County Down.

His lordship was succeeded by his only son,

DANIEL STEWART THOMAS BINGHAM (1912-95), 2nd Baron and 4th Baronet, KBE, who wedded, in 1933, the Lady Diana Mary Wellesley, daughter of Henry Arthur Mornington, 3rd Earl Cowley, and had issue,
Peter Herbert;
Clare Rosalind.
The 2nd Baron was succeeded by his elder son,

THOMAS ROBIN VALERIAN, 3rd Baron and 5th Baronet (1935-).

First published in August, 2010.

Kilwaughter Castle


PATRICK AGNEW, said to be a kinsman of the Agnew Baronets, of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire, was Collector of Rents in County Antrim.

This Patrick married Janet Shaw, and built a castle at Kilwaughter, County Antrim, in 1622.

He was succeeded by his son,

JOHN AGNEW, who wedded his cousin, Eleanor Shaw, and had a son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who married and purchased the remaining lands at Kilwaughter which, until 1660, were owned by the Agnews of Lochnaw:
Sir Patrick Agnew, 1st Baronet, 8th Hereditary Sheriff of Lochnaw, father of Colonel Alexander Agnew, of Whitehills, who, with Andrew his brother, afterwards 9th Sheriff, was frequently in Ulster.
Mr Agnew, High Sheriff of Antrim, 1669, was succeeded by his son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who married and had issue,
PATRICK, of whom we treat;
Margaret, m James Crawford;
Jean, m Robert Blair, of Blairmount;
Helen, m James Stewart.
Mr Agnew died in 1724, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

PATRICK AGNEW, who wedded Martha Houston (or Houseton) and had issue,
WILLIAM, of whom we treat;
James (?);
Patrick (?);
Henry, m Grace Harries, and left issue;
Hugh (?).
The eldest son,

WILLIAM AGNEW, married his cousin, Margaret Stewart, of Killymoon Castle, Cookstown, County Tyrone, and had issue,
James, died unmarried;
William, died unmarried;
MARIA, of whom we treat;
Jane, m Henry Shaw, afterwards of Ballygally.
Mr Agnew's elder daughter,

MARIA AGNEW, wedded firstly, James Ross; and secondly, Valentine Jones, by whom she had issue, with a daughter, Margaret, a son,

EDWARD JONES AGNEW, who succeeded his grandfather and assumed the additional surname of AGNEW.

He married Eleanor Galbraith, and dying in 1834, left issue,
William, b 1824, who succeeded though died unm;
Maria, m T C Simon.
The only son,

WILLIAM AGNEW, was succeeded in the Kilwaughter estate by his niece,

AUGUSTA, COUNTESS BALZANI, only child of T C Simon and Maria (Agnew) Simon.

The Countess died in 1895, leaving two daughters,
Gendoluni, Madame Valensin;

KILWAUGHTER CASTLE lies about three miles in a westerly direction from Larne in County Antrim.

The original tower-house was four storeys high with turrets, built for the Agnew family, tax collectors for JAMES VI.

The present building incorporates a Scottish style plantation house of ca 1622, built by Patrick Agnew, whose sister-in-law lived at Ballygalley Castle, which is near by.

Between 1803-07 the present Georgian castle was built for Edward Jones Agnew by John Nash in his "romantic castle" style.

There is a wide, round tower at one corner; and a polygonal tower at another.

The castle incorporates the substantial remains of a 17th century tower house.

The exact date and origin of the tower house is uncertain, though when it first became exposed due to dereliction in the 1950s it was identified as being of T-plan, four storeys in height, in Scottish style.

There are corbelled bartizan turrets at the four main corners, originally with narrow slit windows which were later enlarged.

The process of remodelling begun by Nash continued for some years, until at least 1830, when the oriel window on the east front was added.

The chief architect was recorded in 1840 as John Nash, but Millar and Nelson of Belfast were seemingly also employed as architects.

Old photographs show that the Nash remodelling originally had elaborate Gothic-style timber tracery in all main windows on the south and east fronts.

The single-storey block on the south front was inserted between the original 17th century castle and the square end tower at some stage between 1832 and 1857.

On Edward Jones Agnew's death in 1834, ownership passed to his granddaughter who married her music teacher, an Italian count called Balzani.

On the death of Count Ugo Balzani in 1916, the property passed to his daughters, Madame Valensin, of Florence, and her sister, Signorina Nora Balzani, of Rome.

At the outbreak of the 2nd World War in 1939, the sisters being resident in Italy, Kilwaughter Castle was declared "enemy holding" by the Custodian of Enemy Property and was transformed into an army camp.

Various British regiments were based there and finally it became an American Transit Camp.

It was occupied by military forces until 1945 and thereafter abandoned.

In 1951 it was bought by E H McConnell (Metals) Ltd of Belfast, who purchased it in order to recover lead, woodwork, slates and other fittings.

Subsequently it was left to decay.

At present the castle ruin is part of a farm.

The roof (part of which was originally sheathed with mere sand and tar) has collapsed, as have the floors.

Kilwaughter's parkland is early 19th century, possibly the work of the landscape gardener, John Sutherland; and provided a setting for the now-ruinous house.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1835 noted that the date "1566" was inscribed on a piece of iron on an oak door existing at that time; and it is known that the site had a Norman origin, because the remains of a motte exist nearby.

The 18th century house was set in a formal landscape, with a straight approach avenue aligned on the front door.

The parkland of ca 1810 has had its extensive shelter belts depleted and many parkland tress have been lost.

The artificial lake, created as a result of massive damming, is in danger of silting up.

The walled garden, in separate ownership from the greater part of the park, is partly cultivated.

There is an ice house near the lake.

The main entrance gates were designed by Nash ca 1807, but the lodge, ca 1835, is possibly by Millar and Nelson; a picturesque cottage with barge-boards and latticed windows.

First published in March, 2010.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Clogher Palace

THE see of Clogher was founded by St Patrick, about the same time as Armagh.

It stretches 78 miles from north-west to south-east by a breadth of 25 miles.

The diocese comprises some portion of five counties, viz. Fermanagh, Tyrone, Monaghan, Donegal, and Louth.

THE PALACE, Clogher, County Tyrone, is a large and handsome edifice adjacent to the Cathedral, on the south side of the village, and consists of a central block with two wings.

The entrance is in the north front by an enclosed portico, supported by lofty fluted columns. 

It is built throughout of hewn freestone, and standing on elevated ground commands extensive views over a richly planted undulating country. 

It was built by the Most Rev and Rt Hon Lord John George de la Poer Beresford, Lord Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, when he was Bishop of Clogher.

The building was completed in 1823 by the Right Rev Lord Robert Ponsonby Tottenham, Lord Bishop of Clogher.
Attached to the palace was a large and well-planted demesne of 566 acres, encircled by a stone wall; and within it are the remains of the royal dwelling-place of the princes of Ergallia, a lofty earthwork or fortress, protected on the west and south by a deep fosse; beyond this, to the south, is a camp surrounded by a single fosse, and still further southward is a tumulus or cairn, encircled by a raised earthwork.

According to Mark Bence-Jones this is a restrained, cut-stone Classical mansion of 1819-23, begun by Lord John Beresford (Lord Bishop of Clogher 1819-20; Lord Archbishop of Dublin, 1820-22; Lord Archbishop of Armagh, 1822-62; Bishop of Clogher again in 1850).

Building work continued under the next prelate, the Rt Rev and Hon Percy Jocelyn; and finally completed by Lord Robert Tottenham between 1822-50. 

The house has a centre block of three storeys over a high basement, with lower wings.

The entrance front, which stands off the main street, has an enclosed portico of fluted columns.

The garden front, which overlooks the demesne, consists of six bays in the central block, which has a lofty, arcaded basement. 

The walled demesne was set out for the 18th century bishop’s palace.

The present house, entrance and lodge replaced an earlier 18th century house and is a very fine one, though constricted by the road through the village of Clogher on the north side, the cathedral to the west and a steep slope on the south side.

It was designed by Warren and built between 1819 and 1820, possibly retaining earlier wings.

Although the house is no longer a bishop’s palace, the landscape park retains an elegance of proportion and planting that compliments the house.

There are very fine mature lime clumps around a beech encircled fort.

Parkland trees have been felled and many are now ageing but a few new trees have been added near the pond.

Mrs Delany visited the previous house in 1748 and commented on the steep slope, a basin of water with swans and expressed delight at a proposed grotto.

In a later era of garden history, there is a mention in Robinson’s Garden Annual & Almanac of 1936.

436 acres were sold by the Church of Ireland in 1853 for a private residence and during the 1970s the site was a convent.

There is a deer park, now farmland, and a walled garden that is used for agricultural purposes.

An Ice House remains, as does the man-made pond and indications of earlier water features.

There are two gate lodges: a classical one by Warren ca 1820 and a later lodge of ca 1890.

In 1850, a very curious coincidence occurred.

In that year the bishopric of Clogher was merged with the archbishopric of Armagh (which it remained until 1886). 

In 1874, Clogher Palace was bought by the Rev Canon John Grey Porter, who sold it to his kinsman, Thomas S Porter, in 1922.

Thus Mr Porter had seized the opportunity to buy the now abandoned palace and demesne, and re-named it Clogher Park.

Paradoxically, Bishop Porter himself had had nothing to do with the building of Clogher Park: it had been built, in the period 1819-1823, by the three bishops who succeeded him.

It was presumably his son, the Rev John Grey Porter, who made the alterations to the building of 1819-23 which were noted by Evelyn Barrett.

She describes Clogher Park as having,
'... a pillared portico above a flight of steps and two wings added in Victorian times [presumably by the Rev. John Grey Porter]. Classic restraint was relieved by a balcony running the length of the south front ..., in summer smothered in purple clematis and red and yellow climbing roses ..., like the warmth of a smile on the formal façade.'
By his will, made in 1869 and subsequently much embellished with codicils, Porter left Belle Isle, Clogher Park and effectively all his landed property to his son and heir, John Grey Vesey Porter, with the proviso that his widow should enjoy Clogher Park for her life, together with the very large jointure of £3,000 a year.

The Rev John Grey Porter presumably lived at Clogher Park, when not at Kilskeery, until his death in 1873, when he was succeeded there by his widow until her death in 1881.

The demesne comprised 3,468 acres of land in 1871.

By 1890, it was the seat of John William Ellison-Macartney, MP for County Tyrone, 1874-85, who had married Porter's third daughter, Elizabeth, in 1851.

Eventually, Clogher Park was to pass to the Ellison-Macartneys' second son, and their occupation of the house must have been a grace-and-favour or leasehold arrangement anticipating this outcome.

This supposition is made the more probable by the fact that their second son, Thomas Stewart Ellison-Macartney, had assumed the name Porter as early as 1875.

The Roman Catholic Church purchased Clogher Park in 1922. According to this article:
I helped to prevail on Bishop McKenna, of Monaghan, to buy Clogher Palace and grounds for £20,000 [£886,000 in 2010], as it was the ancient seat of St. Macartan, patron of the diocese. 
This enraged the Orangemen, and as it is within the Tyrone border, the day after the Bishop took possession, it was commandeered by the Belfast Specials without notice! 
To bring an injunction the Bishop would have to sue in Belfast, and they have got a military authorization, ex post facto. The malice of this is deplorable. 
Clogher Park is now a residential care home.

First published in August, 2011.