Thursday, 9 March 2017

Leslie of Leslie Hill

THE LESLIES OWNED 7,428 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY ANTRIM

This family springs from

THE REV PETER LESLIE (1686-1773), born at Westminster, Rector of Ahoghill, County Antrim, who married, in 1718, Jane, daughter of the Rt Rev Anthony Dopping, Lord Bishop of Meath, and had issue,
HENRY (Rev),1719-1803;
EDMUND, of whom hereafter.
The younger son,

THE VEN EDMUND LESLIE (1735-90), appointed Archdeacon of Down, 1782, and also a prebendary of Connor, wedded firstly, Jane, daughter of John Macnaghten, of Benvarden, County Antrim, and had issue,
Peter, died in London;
Bartholomew, died in India;
JAMESof whom we treat;
Edmund, died in India;
Mary.
Archdeacon Leslie espoused secondly, Eleanor, daughter of George Portis, of London, and had issue,
George;
Henry (Very Rev), Dean of Connor;
Samuel, Rear-Admiral, of Donaghadee;
Ellen.
The Archdeacon's eldest surviving son, 

JAMES LESLIE JP DL (1768-1847), of Leslie House, County Antrim, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1799, succeeded to the estates on the demise of his uncle, James Leslie, in 1796.

He wedded, in 1795, Mary, daughter of Adam Cuppage, of Donaghcloney, County Down, by whom he had issue,
JAMES EDMUND;
Henry, JP, of Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae;
Frances Seymour, of the Home Office;
JOHN CHARLES WILLIAM (Rev);
Bartholdus George Albert (1812-15).
The eldest son,

JAMES EDMUND LESLIE JP DL (1800-81), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1854, wedded, in 1823, Sarah, youngest daughter of the Rt Rev Daniel Sandford DD, Bishop of Edinburgh, and by her had issue,
James Sandford, 1824-29;
Henry Erskine, 1825-29;
EDMUND DOUGLASof whom hereafter;
Daniel Sandford, died in infancy;
Seymour Montague, b 1835; father of JAMES GRAHAM;
Francis Macnaghten, b 1837; in the army;
Erskine Douglas, died in infancy;
Frances Mary; Mary Wilhelmina; Sarah Agnes; Jane Elizabeth.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE was granted the honorary rank of Colonel in 1877. 

He was succeeded by his third son,

EDMUND DOUGLAS LESLIE JP DL (1828-1904), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel, 4th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, who died a bachelor, and was succeeded by his nephew,

JAMES GRAHAM LESLIE JP DL (1868-1949), of Leslie Hill and Seaport Lodge, High Sheriff of County Antrim, 1907, Barrister, some time head of a department in the Office of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, who espoused, in 1901, Grace, only daughter of J Lamont Brodie, of Wimbledon, and had issue,
SEYMOUR ARGENT SANDFORD, b 1902;
Grace Margaret Hester, b 1905;
Mary Etheldritha (Audrey), b 1908.
*****

THE CREST of this family has traditionally been an angel, though a gryphon is sometimes used by some portions of the family. 

The motto, Grip Fast, has remained unchanged since the time of QUEEN MARGARET of Scotland, by whom it was given to Bartolf (Bartholomew), under the following circumstances:
In crossing a river swollen by floods, the Queen was thrown from her horse, and in danger of being drowned, when the knight, plunging into the stream, seized hold of Her Majesty's girdle; and as he brought her with difficulty towards the bank, she frequently exclaimed grip fast, and afterwards desired that he should retain the words as his motto, in remembrance of the occurrence.
LESLIE HILL, near Ballymoney, County Antrim, was built by James Leslie ca 1750, on the site of an older castle. 

The house originally consisted of a gable-ended main block of three storeys over a high basement, joined to two-storey office wings by single-storey links.

The principal block has a seven-bay front with a three-bay pedimented breakfront; doorway, with two Doric columns and a fanlight under a baseless pediment.


There is a lunette window in the pediment which lights the attic. The former wings were of three bays and the links of two.

There is a flagged hall with screen; principal rooms have modillion cornices and doors with shouldered architraves.


The attic room has a convex-coved ceiling and central roundel containing a portrait which may be of the James Leslie who built the House. 

Alas, the wings and connecting links were demolished in 1955.

The present owner is directly descended from the Rt Rev Henry Leslie (chaplain to CHARLES I, Bishop of Down & Connor, 1635) and the 4th Earl of Rothes, by his marriage to Agnes Somerville. 

Leslie Hill has been occupied continuously by the Leslie family for more than 350 years.

In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger", under John Paul Jones, opened fire on Carrickfergus Castle and attacked HMS Drake, putting it out of action.

This attack, and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which, at that time, was practically bereft of Crown forces.

This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the nobility, at their own expense, to defend the Irish coast and guard life and property.

Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes.

The estate was of considerable acreage, comprising 7,428 acres, with a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Land Act of 1903.

Not all the Leslies in Ulster remained there: in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England, USA, to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. 

There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.

It is of significance that another James Leslie and his family left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America.

They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.

James Seymour Leslie (1958-2009) was a NI politician, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His father owns Leslie Hill estate at Ballymoney. He was married with a daughter.

The Castle Leslie demesne, adjacent to Ballymoney, lies in a ridge above the Bann Valley. Continuous ownership of the Leslie family adds interest in the property.

The house of ca 1760 – now minus two wings – has landscaped parkland to the north, with fine trees and a small, artificial, late 19th century lake complete with island and boat-house.

ha-ha separates the south front lawns from parkland and exposes the fine distant views.

There are stands of mature trees and mixed woodland. A late 19th century, ‘Robinsonian’ garden is no longer distinguishable.

A small enclosed garden to the east of the house has two lily ponds constructed ca 1891 of unusual shape.

These are listed, together with the enclosing walls and a nearby ice house.

Ornamental shrubs and trees, with under-planting of wild flowers, decorate the access route to the walled gardens.

The walled garden has a rectangular western part, which is partially cultivated and under restoration to be attractive and productive for modern usage.

The Melon House has been restored. Remnants of other glasshouses are exposed.

The garden is divided into two by a brick wall and the smaller eastern part is uncultivated.

The outbuildings are notable, fully restored and open to view.

A disused gate lodge at the main entrance is of ca 1911 and replaced a pair removed when the road was realigned in the 1850s.

The house is private and grounds are private.

The family formerly had a marine residence, Seaport Lodge, at Portballintrae.

First published in January, 2012.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

Arre you certain about Seaport Lodge still being a Leslie seat - or does this refer to the past?

Timothy Belmont said...

That was in the past! Seaport now belongs to S Sweeney Esq.

Handelian said...

When I was at school (Dalriada) a good 40 years ago we were sent on cross country runs round the Prunty pitch and then through the grounds of Leslie Hill which were adjacent to the school grounds. I never was any good at cross country and I hated it, but I was interested to see the house and old farm buildings as I trudged past. I am by no means convinced that school days are the best days of your life.