Saturday, 24 February 2018

Botanic Gardens Gate Lodge

Belfast's Botanic Gardens was established in 1828 as the Royal Belfast Botanical Gardens.

Its main entrance was (and remains) at 2, Stranmillis Road.

The Gardens continued as a private park for many years, only opening to members of the public on Sundays, prior to 1895.

It became a municial park in 1895, when the Belfast Corporation (Belfast City Council) bought the gardens from the Belfast Botanical and Horticultural Society.

The park, now comprising twenty-eight acres, contains a large conservatory, tropical fernery, rose garden, and many other interesting features.

Originally the park was considerably larger in size, though portions of land were conveyed to the Department of Education, the Ulster Museum, and the Queen's University of Belfast, for various purposes. 

The Stranmillis Road gate lodge, designed by William Batt, was built in 1877.

It was quite a lofty, single-storey building in red brick with Staffordshire blue bands and pointed stone arches at the openings.

A pair of portico arches were directly below the clock-tower, added three years later, which had buttresses and carved capitals.

This structure was built by public subscription.

The tower's steep roof was in the French château style.

The adjoining lodge had paired windows, a tall roof with elaborate iron cresting, a pair of chimneys, and bracketed eaves.

Only the stone gates, with lamps and poppy finials, survive today.

Hugh Dixon said of its demise:-
The demolition of the lodge in 1965 was unnecessary in that the site remains empty. It was also unfortunate, in removing an important architectural focus for this busy junction, and a feature which gave arrival at the Botanic Gardens a sense of occasion.
First published in February, 2014. 

Wodehouse Gems: IV

Lady Glossop: Do you work, Mr Wooster?

Bertie Wooster: What, work? As in honest toil, you mean? Hewing the wood and drawing the old wet stuff and so forth?

Lady Glossop: Quite.

Bertie Wooster: Well... I've known a few people who worked. Absolutely swear by it, some of them. Boko Fittleworth almost had a job once.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Kenmare House


This family deduces its descent from

SIR VALENTINE BROWNE, Knight, of Croft, Lincolnshire, treasurer of the town of Berwick, auditor of the exchequer in England; and constituted Auditor-General of Ireland in the reigns of EDWARD VI and QUEEN MARY.

Sir Valentine died in 1567, leaving a son,

THE RT HON SIR VALENTINE BROWNE (-1589), his heir, who, in 1583, received instruction, jointly with Sir Henry Wallop, for the survey of several escheated lands in Ireland.

He was subsequently sworn of the Privy Council, and represented County Sligo in parliament in 1583.

In the same year, Sir Valentine purchased from Donald, Earl of Clancare, all the lands, manors, etc in counties Kerry and Cork, which had been in the possession of Teige Dermot MacCormac and Rorie Donoghoemore.

Sir Valentine married Thomasine, sister of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and had two sons; the second of whom,

SIR NICHOLAS BROWNE, Knight, of Ross, County Kerry, who wedded Sicheley Sheela, daughter of O'Sullivan Beake, and had issue,
VALENTINE, his heir;
Sir Nicholas died in 1616, and was succeeded by his son,

VALENTINE BROWNE, High Sheriff of County Kerry, 1623, who was created a baronet in 1622, denominated of Molahiffe, County Kerry.

Sir Valentine, after his father's decease, presented a petition to JAMES I, praying an abatement of the yearly rent reserved on the estate which he held from the Crown, as an undertaker, at the annual sum of £113 6s 8d, in regard of the small profit he made of it, being set out in the most barren and remote part of County Kerry; which request was complied with, and he received a confirmation, by patent, of all his lands at a reduced rent.

He married Elizabeth, fifth daughter of Gerald, Earl of Kildare, and was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR VALENTINE BROWNE, 3rd Baronet (1638-94); who was sworn of the Privy Council of JAMES II, and created by that monarch, subsequently to his abdication, in 1689, Baron Castlerosse and Viscount Kenmare.

His lordship, who was colonel of infantry in the army of JAMES II, forfeited his estates by his inviolable fidelity to that unfortunate monarch.

He wedded Jane, only daughter and heir of Sir Nicholas Plunket, and niece of Lucas, Earl of Fingall, and had five sons and four daughters.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR NICHOLAS, 4th Baronet (called 2nd Viscount); an officer of rank in the service of JAMES II, and attainted in consequence, who espoused, in 1664, Helen, eldest daughter and co-heir of Thomas Brown, by whom he obtained a very considerable fortune, but which, with his own estates, became forfeited for his life.

The crown, however, allowed his lady a rent-charge of £400 per year for the maintenance of herself and her children.

Sir Nicholas died in 1720, leaving four daughters and his son and successor,

SIR VALENTINE BROWNE, 5th Baronet (called 3rd Viscount) (1695-1736), who continued outlawed by the attainder of his father and grandfather.

He married, in 1720, Honora, second daughter of Colonel Thomas Butler, and great-grandniece of James, Duke of Ormonde, by whom he had issue, Thomas, his successor, and two daughters.

Sir Valentine espoused secondly, in 1735, Mary, Dowager Countess of Fingall, by whom he left a posthumous daughter, Mary Frances.

He was succeeded by his only son,

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 6th Baronet (called 4th Viscount) (1726-95), who wedded, in 1750, Anne, only daughter of Thomas Cooke, of Painstown, County Carlow, by whom he had a son and a daughter, Catherine, married to Count de Durfort-Civrac.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR VALENTINE BROWNE, 7th Baronet (called 5th Viscount) (1754-1812), who was created (the viscountcy of JAMES II never having been acknowledged in law), in 1798, Baron Castlerosse and Viscount Kenmare.

His lordship was further advanced to the dignity of an earldom, in 1800, as EARL OF KENMARE.

He married firstly, in 1777, Charlotte, daughter of Henry, 11th Viscount Dillon, and had an only daughter, Charlotte.

His lordship wedded secondly, in 1785, Mary, eldest daughter of Michael Aylmer, of Lyons, County Kildare, and had issue,
VALENTINE, his successor;
Marianne; Frances.
The 5th Earl was the last Lord-Lieutenant of County Kerry, from 1905 until 1922.

The original Kenmare House (above) was built in 1726, after the estates were recovered by Sir Valentine Browne, 5th Baronet and 3rd Viscount Kenmare in the Jacobite peerage.

It was a grandiose structure with the characteristics of a French château, perhaps influenced by the Brownes' time spent exiled in France with JAMES II.

Lord Kenmare designed the house himself: It was two stories high and had dormered attics and steep, slated roofs.

There were thirteen bays in front of the house, with three bays on each side of the centre breaking forward. A servant’s wing was added around 1775.

In 1861 Valentine, Lord Castlerosse, played host to Queen Victoria at Killarney.

During the visit of the Queen to Kenmare House, Her Majesty chose the site of Killarney House, a vast Victorian-Tudor mansion, which was the successor to Kenmare House.

The 4th Earl of Kenmare decided to build a new mansion (above), on a hillside with spectacular views of Lough Leane in 1872.

The old house was demolished and an Elizabethan-Revival manor house erected on a more elevated site. The cost was well over £100,000.

This house was supposed to have been instigated by Lady Kenmare (Gertrude Thynne, granddaughter of Thomas, 2nd Marquess of Bath, and inspired by Lord Bath's genuinely Elizabethan seat, Longleat in Wiltshire (which is not red-brick).

It was not unusual for the descendants of Elizabethan or Jacobean settlers in Ireland to assert their comparative antiquity in this period by building "Jacobethan" houses.

The house, which in addition to its other defects apparently did not sit happily in the landscape as it had many gables and oriels.

The interior was panelled and hung with Spanish leather.

It was considered to be one of the finest mansions in Ireland.

Kenmare House was burnt twice: once, in 1879, just after its completion; and again, and finally, in November, 1913.

It was never rebuilt.

The stable block of the older Kenmare House, however, was converted for family use.

Killarney House and the Browne estate in Kerry were donated by Mrs Grosvenor (niece of 7th Earl) to form Killarney National Park.

The Victorian mansion was demolished in 1872 by the 4th Earl, when it was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1913 and never rebuilt; instead, the stable block was converted into the present Kenmare House.

In 1866, King Leopold II of Belgium visited the Kenmares at Killarney.

Sir Edwin Lutyens (the architect for Lady Kenmare's brother, the 3rd Baron Revelstoke, at Lambay Castle on Lambay Island, County Dublin, advised Lord Kenmare to build the new Kenmare House.

This Kenmare House was later abandoned and sold when a new Kenmare House was built.

This new manor was confusingly constructed on the site of the former Killarney House by Mrs Beatrice Grosvenor in 1956.

Less than twenty years later, in 1974, the house was replaced.

This last Kenmare House was built on the Killorglin Road, beside the Killarney golf course and the Castlerosse Hotel.

The sale of Kenmare House in 1985 to Denis P Kelleher effectively marked the end of the Kenmare family's proprietary connection with Killarney, after 450 years.

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

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Londonderry Lieutenancy







BOYLE, Mr E A Harry, JP DL

McGINNIS, Mr William, OBE DL

MOORE, Mr W Robert L, DL

HILL, Mr J Desmond, DL

McKENNA, Professor Gerry, DL

O’DONNELL, Mrs Rosemary, DL

DAVIDSON, Mr Alastair, DL

MILLAR, Mrs Alison, DL

McKEOWN, Mr William, MBE DL

DALY, Dr John G, DL

McVEIGH, the Rev Canon Samuel, MBE TD DL


MARK, Mrs Helen, DL

Please advise me of any retirements or deaths.

1st Earl of Mount Alexander


ADAM MONTGOMERY, fourth Laird of Braidstaine (great-grandson of Robert Montgomery, brother of Alexander, 2nd Lord Montgomerie, father of Hugh, 1st Earl of Eglinton) wedded the eldest daughter of Colquhoun of Luss, and died about 1550, leaving two sons, namely,
ADAM, his heir;
Robert, ancestor of MONTGOMERY OF GREY ABBEY.
The elder son,

ADAM MONTGOMERY, fifth Laird, espoused the daughter of John Montgomery, of Hessilhead, and had four sons,
HUGH, of whom hereafter;
George (Rt Rev), Lord Bishop of Meath;
Patrick, colonel in the army;
The eldest son,

SIR HUGH MONTGOMERY, 6th Laird (1560-1636), settled in Ulster, and was raised to peerage, in 1622, as Viscount Montgomery, of the Great Ards, County Down.

His lordship married firstly, in 1587, Elizabeth, second daughter of John Shaw, Laird of Greenock; and secondly, Sarah, daughter of William, Lord Herries, and widow of John, 1st Earl of Wigtown.

By the latter he had no issue; but by the former he had issue,
HUGH, his successor;
James (Sir), ancestor of Montgomery of Rosemount;
George, ancestor of Montgomery of Ballylesson;
Mary; Jean.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

HUGH, 2nd Viscount (1616-42), colonel of a regiment during the rebellion of 1641, who wedded, in 1623, the Lady Jean Alexander, daughter of William, 1st Earl of Stirling, Secretary of State for Scotland.

His lordship died at Newtownards, County Down, and was succeeded by his son,

HUGH, 3rd Viscount (c1625-63), a gallant royalist during the civil war, and consequently a severe sufferer in those times of confiscation and oppression.

His lordship survived, however, to witness the Restoration, and was created, in 1661, EARL OF MOUNT ALEXANDER.

He espoused firstly, in 1648, Mary, eldest sister of Henry, 1st Earl of Drogheda, by whom he had issue,
HUGH, his successor;
HENRY, succeeded his brother as 3rd Earl;
Jean, died unmarried, 1673.
His lordship wedded secondly, in 1660, Catherine, daughter of Arthur, 2nd Viscount Ranelagh.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

HUGH (1651-1717), 2nd Earl, Master of the Ordnance and brigadier-general in the army, who wedded firstly, in 1662, the Lady Catharine Dillon, eldest daughter of Carey, 5th Earl of Roscommon; and secondly, Eleanor, daughter of Maurice, 3rd Viscount Fitzhardinge; but died without surviving issue, and was succeeded by his brother,

HENRY (c1652-1731), 3rd Earl, who espoused Mary, eldest daughter of William, 12th Baron Howth, and had issue,

HUGH, 4th Earl (c1680-1745), of Howth, County Dublin, who married, in 1703, Elinor, daughter of Sir Patrick Barnewall, 3rd Baronet; but dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother,

THOMAS, 5th Earl (c1675-1757), High Sheriff of County Down, 1726, who wedded, in 1725, Marie Angélique Madeleine de la Cherois, daughter of Daniel de la Cherois, of Lisbon, Portugal (by his wife Anne Crommelin, daughter of Louis Crommelin); but died without issue, when the honours became extinct.

Lady Mount Alexander survived her husband, and when she died the remnants of the great estate went to her cousins, Samuel de la Cherois, of Donaghadee, and Nicholas Crommelin, of Carrowdore Castle.

Grey Abbey House

THE MONTGOMERYS have been of great antiquity and historical importance in Ulster and the Ards Peninsula.

Sir Hugh Montgomery (1560-1636), 1st Viscount, was founder of Newtownards.

The name, Grey Abbey, which is also that of the adjacent village, derives from the late 12th century Cistercian Abbey at the site.

The ruins of the abbey can be seen from Grey Abbey House. 

The manorial demesne, long known as Rosemount, was established in the early 17th century and the present house was built during the early 1760s.

Originally the property of the Clandeboye O’Neills, Grey Abbey was granted in 1607 to Sir Hugh Montgomery.

William Montgomery, who lives with his family at Grey Abbey demesne today, is descended from the younger brother (Sir James) of the 1st Earl of Mount Alexander, who was given the Grey Abbey estates which remain, in part, with the family today. 

The present family is, therefore, of the same family though not directly descended from him. 

In mid-Victorian times, the Montgomerys owned land in the Ards Peninsula extending to some 5,000 acres.

They also owned the Tyrella Estate in County Down - it having come into the family through the marriage of William Montgomery to Suzanne Jelly in 1749.

Mount Alexander arms courtesy of European Heraldry.   First published in November, 2010.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Nesbitt Estate


ALEXANDER NESBITT (of the Nesbitts of Dirleton)  was the first of this branch who went from Scotland to Ulster.

He married his cousin Alice, daughter of the Very Rev Alexander Conyngham, of Tower, County Donegal, Dean of Raphoe, and had three sons,
JAMES, of Woodhill;
The eldest son,

JAMES NESBITT, of Woodhill, County Donegal, married Margary, only daughter of the Rt Rev Andrew Knox, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, and had issue,
George, his heir;
JAMES, of whom we treat;
The second son,

JAMES NESBITT, of Tubberdaly, County Offaly, who married and had issue.

This branch became extinct in the male line; the representative in the female line, however,

THOMASINA NESBITT, heiress of Tubberdaly, wedded the Rev Clotworthy Downing, and their son, John Downing, assumed the surname of NESBITT.

This John inherited the farm at Tubberdaly from his uncle, Gifford Nesbitt (son of Albert Nesbitt), in 1773.

When William George Downing Nesbitt died in 1847 (at Leixlip House), he left Tubberdaly to his sister, Catherine Nesbitt.
Miss Nesbitt, as she was known, was very good to her staff and to the local people. She gave large amounts of money to such projects as building a bird house at Dublin Zoo and the building of a branch railway line from Edenderry to Enfield to join up with the main line from the west.
As well as her estate at Tubberdaly, Miss Nesbitt had large tracts of land in counties Roscommon, Londonderry, Antrim and Kildare.

In 1886, Miss Nesbitt left Tubberdaly to her nephew, Edward John Beaumont-Nesbitt, who was High Sheriff of King's County, 1892-93.

THE NESBITT FAMILY originally occupied the tower house in Tubberdaly onto which they built a gazebo from where there was a commanding view of the estate and the surrounding area.

They later built a large house and employed a large staff of people to work on the estate.

They also had a walled garden, which provided a large quantity of fruit and vegetables.

In 1923 the family home of the Nesbitts was burned to the ground.

It was one of eight country mansions burned on that night in County Offaly.

It is thought that the motive was to persuade the new government to divide the land among the local people when the landlords had been driven out.

Also burned on that night was the home of Judge Wakely at Ballyburley and the lovely Greenhill House, the home of The Dames family.

Edward John Beaumont Nesbitt had left Ireland in 1920 following a number of disputes with his staff, including a strike which lasted for three months.

In 1925, the Irish Land Commission took over the estate and paid compensation to Mr Nesbitt for his loss.

The land was eventually divided among local people.

Ernest Frederick Charles Spiridion, Count de Lusi (1817-87), was married to Jane Downing Nesbitt.

First published in January, 2012.

Cross of Dartan


This Lancashire family settled in Ulster at the time of the Plantation, 1611, in the parish of Tynan, County Armagh.

From a tombstone in Tynan churchyard it appears that JAMES CROSS was buried there in 16_8 (the third figure is indecipherable and the church books for a lengthened period are not forthcoming).

Two of his sons, JOHN and WILLIAM, were amongst the defenders of Londonderry, who signed the address to WILLIAM & MARY on the relief of that city in 1689, when they returned to County Armagh, where the descendants of John fixed their abode.

William Cross died unmarried.

JOHN CROSS died in 1742, having had issue by his wife, Jane, five sons and three daughters.

The eldest son,

RICHARD CROSS, of Dartan, succeeded his father, and died in 1776, having had issue by his wife, Margaret, two sons and four daughters.

The second son and successor,

WILLIAM CROSS, of Dartan, married, in 1743, Mrs Mary Stratford, of Dartan (née Irwin), and had issue,
Richard, dsp;
William Irwin (1785-1809);
JOHN, of whom presently;
MAXWELL, succeeded his brother;
William Cross, Deputy Governor of County Armagh, 1793, died in 1812, and was succeeded by his third son,

JOHN CROSS (1787-1850), of Dartan, an army officer who saw much service in the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Light Infantry during the Peninsular War.

He accompanied the expedition to Sweden in 1807, and proceeded thence to Portugal, 1808.

He took part in the battle of Corunna, the actions preceding it, and all the subsequent campaigns wit the 52nd regiment; Battle of Waterloo, and occupation of Paris; thrice wounded; received the War Medal with ten clasps, also the Waterloo Medal; subsequently commanded the 68th Light Infantry, from which regiment he retired in 1843.

Colonel Cross was a Member of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order, Lieutenant-Governor commanding the forces in Jamaica.

He died in 1850, and was succeeded by his brother,

MAXWELL CROSS JP DL (1790-1863), of Dartan, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1847, who wedded Sarah, daughter of William Hardy JP, and was succeeded by his only son,

WILLIAM CROSS JP DL (1815-82), of Dartan, High Sheriff of County Armagh, 1860, Captain and Adjutant, 68th Light Infantry and Colonel-Commandant of the Armagh Light Infantry Militia, who espoused, in 1844, Frances Jane, only daughter of Major-General Pennell Cole, Royal Engineers, and had issue,
Maxwell (1845-69);
SARAH JANE BEAUCHAMP, succeeded her brother.
The second son,

WILLIAM PENNELL CROSS JP LL.B (1849-1906), of Dartan, married, in 1883, Beatrice Lucinda, daughter of the Rev Dominick Augustus Browne, and dsp 1906, when he was succeeded by his only sister,

MRS SARAH JANE BEAUCHAMP COOKE-CROSS (-1911), who wedded, in 1887, ARTHUR CHARLES INNES, of Dromantine, who assumed  the additional surname and arms of CROSS, and had issue,
ARTHUR CHARLES WOLSELEY, of Dromantine (1888-1940);
Sydney Maxwell (1894-1914);
Marian Dorothea (d 1965).
MRS INNES-CROSS married secondly, in 1907, HERBERT MARTIN COOKE (eldest son the Mason Cooke, of Ely), who assumed, in 1908, the additional name and arms of CROSS.

DARTAN HALL, near Killylea, County Armagh, is situated 6 miles east of the city of Armagh.

The present house was built between 1850-60 by the Cross family.

The house comprises two storeys over a basement.

It remained inhabited by the Cross family until 1906, when it was leased a son of the Very Rev Robert Shaw-Hamilton, Dean of Armagh.

The property subsequently passed to the Knox family, when it lay vacant for many years.

John Erskine acquired the property in 1987, since when it has been extensively restored.

Dartan has recently been sold.