Monday, 30 November 2015

Shane's Castle

The house of O'Neill boasts of royal descent, and deduces its pedigree from CONN O'NEILL, Prince of Tyrone, who, upon relinquishing his royalty, was created EARL OF TYRONE, by HENRY VIII, in 1542. 
PHELIM O'NEILL, Lord of Clanaboy, son of Niall Mor, dying in 1533, left two sons,  of whom the eldest son, 

(SIR) BRIAN O'NEILL, married Amy, daughter of Brian Carrach MacDonnell (he married an unnamed Scotswoman in 1568).
This Sir Brian, Captain or Lord of Clanaboy, was later obliged to repulse an invasion by Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, who crossed the ford of Belfast and, though welcomed by Sir Brian as a guest, arranged the massacre of 200 of Sir Brian's people and took Sir Brian and his wife in 1573.
Dying in 1574, he was succeeded by his son,

SHANE McBRIAN O'NEILL, of Edenduffcarrick, otherwise Shane's Castle, who married firstly, Rose Guinness, sister of 1st Viscount Magennis of Iveagh; and secondly, Anne, daughter of Brian Carrach O'Neill of Loughinsholin.
This gentleman was the last captain or lord of Clanaboy, and MP for County Antrim, 1585. In 1598, joined his cousin the 3rd Earl of Tyrone's rising, but was pardoned.

In 1603, at the plantation of Ulster, the Clanaboy O'NEILLs were stripped of over 600,000 acres; however, in 1607, JAMES I settled the castle and estate of about 120,000 acres upon Shane McBrian O'Neill.
Dying ca 1616, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR HENRY O'NEILL, knight, of Shane's Castle, born ca 1600; Lord of Clanaboy, and chief of his name; married Martha, daughter of Sir Francis Stafford, governor of Ulster; and had issue, Rose, who married Randal, 1st Marquess of Antrim.

The Lord O'Neill with a portrait of Rose [O'Neill], Marchioness of Antrim

Sir Henry, who died in 1638 he was succeeded by his brother,

ARTHUR O'NEILL, of Edenduffcarrick or Shane's Castle, married Grace, daughter of Cathal O'Hara, ca 1677, who was succeeded by his son,

CHARLES O'NEILL, of Shane's Castle, who wedded Lady Mary Paulet, eldest daughter of Charles, Duke of Bolton; at whose decease without issue in 1716, the estates passed to his brother,

JOHN O'NEILL, known as French John, of Shane's Castle, who married Charity, daughter of Sir Richard Dixon, and had issue,
CHARLES, his successor;
Catharine, m 7th Viscount Mountgarret;
Rachael; Eleanor; Rose; Anne; Mary.
Mr O'Neill died in 1739, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHARLES O'NEILL, of Shane's Castle,  who married, in 1737, Catherine, third daughter and co-heir of the Rt Hon St John Brodrick (eldest son of Alan, 1st Viscount Midleton, Lord Chancellor of Ireland) by Anne, only sister of Trevor, Viscount Hillsborough, father of 1st Marquess of Downshire

He died in 1769, leaving issue by her,
JOHN, his heir;
St John;
Anne, m Rt Hon R Jackson.
The eldest son,

THE RT HON JOHN O'NEILL (1740-98), of Shane's Castle, wedded the Hon Henrietta Boyle, daughter of Charles, Viscount Dungarvan, in 1777;
privy counsellor; MP for Randalstown, 1760-83; MP for County Antrim, 1783-93.
This gentleman was elevated to the peerage, in 1793, as Baron O'Neill, of Shane's Castle; and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount O'Neill, in 1795.

His lordship was Governor of Antrim at the outbreak of an uprising, and was mortally wounded by an assailant in 1798, having received wounds from insurgent pikemen previously.

By his wife he had issue,
CHARLES HENRY ST JOHN, his successor;
John Bruce Richard, MP, major-general, and Constable of Dublin Castle.
His lordship was succeeded by his elder son,

CHARLES HENRY ST JOHN, (1779-1841), 2nd Viscount, KP, PC, of Shane's Castle.

This nobleman was further advanced to the dignities of Viscount Raymond and EARL O'NEILL, in 1800
Lord-Lieutenant of County Antrim, 1831–41; Colonel, Antrim Militia; Vice-Admiral of Ulster; Grand Master, Orange Order, 1801; Knight, Order of St. Patrick (KP), 1809; Privy Counsellor, 1809.
When the 1st Earl died, unmarried, from a complication of gout and influenza at Shane's Castle in 1855, the earldom of O'Neill became extinct though the viscountcy passed to his brother, 

JOHN BRUCE RICHARD (1780-1855), 3rd Viscount; MP for Antrim, 1802-41; Ensign Coldstream Captain, 1800; Captain, 18th Light Dragoons 1804; Major, 19th Light Dragoons 1807; Lt-Col, Chasseurs Britanniques, 1808; 19th Light Dragoons, 1810; and Coldstream Guards, 1816; Colonel, 1814; Major-General, 1825; Lieutenant-General, 1838.

The 3rd Viscount died unmarried, in 1855, when the titles expired.

In 1868, however, the family honours reverted to his second cousin twice removed, the Rev William Chichester, later O'Neill, who was created BARON O'NEILL.

SHANE'S CASTLE demesne lies at Lough Neagh, between the towns of Antrim and Randalstown in County Antrim.

The original Shane's Castle took its name from Shane McBrian O'Neill, last captain or lord of Clanaboy.

There were two principal branches of the House of O'Neill: Tyrone and Clanaboy.

After a long and turbulent history, JAMES I finally settled the O'Neill estates, in excess of 120,000 acres, on Shane McBrian O'Neill, who had made his peace with the Crown.

After passing through several cousins, the O'Neill estates were eventually inherited by Charles O'Neill (d 1769), who built Tullymore Lodge in Broughshane, the dower house of the O'Neills till the 1930s.

Charles also built Cleggan Lodge, originally a shooting lodge until taken over by Sir Hugh O'Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan, in the early 1900s.

Charles's son John, 1st Viscount O'Neill (1740-98) was a highly respected parliamentarian and was tragically killed at the Battle of Antrim in 1798.

Charles Henry St John, 2nd Viscount, was further elevated to become 1st Earl O'Neill and Viscount Raymond (1779-1841), continued his father's tradition as a distinguished parliamentarian and, for his support of the Act of Union, was granted the earldom.

The 1st Earl's younger brother, John 1780-1855), succeeded to the titles as 2nd and last Earl O'Neill when the earldom became extinct.

However, his estates were inherited by his cousin, the Rev William Chichester, who assumed the surname of O'Neill in lieu of Chichester the same year.

In 1868, the barony was revived, when the Rev William was created 1st Baron O'Neill, of Shane's Castle in the County of Antrim. This title is still extant today.

The 1st Baron was the great-great-great-grandson of John Chichester, younger brother of Arthur Chichester, 2nd Earl of Donegall. The latter two were both nephews of Arthur Chichester, 1st Earl of Donegall, and grandsons of Edward Chichester, 1st Viscount Chichester..

Lord O'Neill was succeeded by his eldest son, the 2nd Baron, who sat as MP for Antrim.

His eldest son and heir apparent, the Hon Arthur O'Neill, was Mid-Antrim MP from 1910 until 1914, when he was killed in action during the First World War the first MP to die in the conflict.

The 2nd Baron was consequently succeeded by his grandson, the 3rd Baron (the son of the Hon Arthur O'Neill), who was killed in action in Italy during the Second World War.

As of 2010 the title is held by his son, 4th and present Baron, who succeeded in 1944.
As a descendant of the 1st Viscount Chichester, he is in remainder to the barony and viscountcy of Chichester and, according to a special patent in the letters patent, the earldom of Donegall, titles held by his kinsman, the present Marquess of Donegall.
Two other members of the O'Neill family have been elevated to the peerage: Hugh O'Neill, 1st Baron Rathcavan, youngest son of 2nd Baron O'Neill; and Terence O'Neill, Baron O'Neill of the Maine, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, youngest brother of 3rd Baron.

The barony of the present creation really descends through marriage from the Chichester family, Earls and Marquesses of Donegall.

Shane's Castle remains one of the largest and finest private demesnes in Northern Ireland, extending to 2,700 acres.

It lies in a particularly scenic, not to say strategic, position on the north-east shore of Lough Neagh between Antrim and Randalstown.

Part of the Estate is a nature reserve.

The O'Neill family has had a hapless history with regard to the fate of their houses: the first Shane's Castle dated from the early 1600s and was utterly destroyed by an accidental fire in 1816.

The family moved to a small house adjoining the stables.

That house was replaced in 1865 by a larger, Victorian-Gothic castle which, tragically, was maliciously burnt in 1922 (as was the nearby Antrim Castle).

Its ruin was subsequently cleared away, and for the next 40 or so years the family lived once again in the stables.

The extensive and fine walled Shane's Castle demesne lies on the north shores of Lough Neagh.

It was established in the 17th century and surrounds a succession of houses on different sites.

There are ruins of the original dwelling on the shores of Lough Neagh and the 18th century house, with a lake-side terrace and a vault of 1722.

The attached and surviving camellia house, also by Nash, of 1815 is full of plants.

The present house (above) was built in 1958 in a pleasant spot to the north-west of the earlier house and south-west of the intermediate 1860s house (by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon), which was burnt by the IRA in the 1920s.

It is classical, well-proportioned, with a handsome fanlighted doorway.

The parkland is beautiful and contains many well distributed venerable trees.

There are substantial shelter belts, which once accommodated walks and rides. Clumps and plantations also grace the fields.

There has been a long history of ornamental gardens and productive gardens on the site.

It was visited, depicted and remarked upon by various commentators of the 18th and 19th centuries.

A portrait of the landscape gardener John Sutherland by Martin Creggan (1822), hangs in the house.

Early 20th century photographs show well maintained acres in the days when many gardeners were employed to keep up a high standard commensurate with the size of the demesne.

In 1933 the surroundings were described as, 
‘… exceedingly pretty, with old oaks, lovely flowers and enchanting vistas of both river and lake, and with rockeries, water-lily ponds and ferneries in profusion.’  

A large and impressive mid- 19th century rockery built in a quarry near the lough shores is not planted up but is kept clear.

At the present time there are beautifully maintained contemporary gardens at the house and adaptations of the walled garden planting for modern use. Glasshouses have been removed.

The arboretum is being reinforced and much new planting has been added in the vicinity of the house.

There is a family graveyard, with a statue of a harpist by Victor Segoffin of 1923.

There are many well maintained and listed estate buildings such as Ballealy Cottage c.1835.

The surviving gate lodges by James Sands are very fine: Dunmore Lodge, ca 1850; Antrim Lodge, ca 1848; White or Ballygrooby Lodge, ca 1848; and Randalstown Gate Lodge, ca 1848, all listed.

The latter lodges belong to a period of enhancement on the demesne.

Two pre-1829 bridges are Dunmore Bridge and Deerpark Bridge.

The deer-park, on the western side of the River Maine, was sold to the Department of Agriculture before the last war and is known as Randalstown Forest. 

First published in May, 2010.   O'Neill arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

1st Duke of Westminster

This noble family traces its descent in the male line to an illustrious house which flourished in Normandy for a century and a half before the conquest of England, and obtained its surname from having held the high and powerful office in that principality of LE GROVENOUR, from which they took their surname, variously written Grosvenor, Le Grosvenour, Grovenor, Le Groveneur, and Le Grovenour.

The founder of the English Grosvenors,

GILBERT LE GROSVENOR, came over in the train of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and was nephew of Hugh (Lupus) d'Avranches (c1047-1101), afterwards 1st Earl of Chester, uncle of the victorious monarch.

ROBERT, son of Gilbert, obtained lands in Cheshire from the said Hugh, Earl of Chester, and was lineal ancestor, through six generations, of

SIR ROBERT GROSVENOR, who proved his pedigree before a court of chivalry in defence of his arms, azure, a bend or, against Richard le Scrope, who challenged them.

The descent of Sir Robert was fully admitted, but the arms were adjudged to Scrope, and in conclusion Sir Robert Grosvenor was recommended to bear azure, a garb or, from the arms of the ancient Earls of Chester, which has ever since continued the cognizance of his descendants.

The immediate ancestor of the ennobled family before us,

SIR THOMAS LE GROSVENOR, Lord of Hulme, married a daughter of Sir William Phesant, Knight, and had three sons, viz.
ROBERT, Lord of Hulme;
RALPH, of whom presently;
The second son,

RALPH LE GROSVENOR, wedded firstly, Joan, only daughter and heiress of John Eton (now Eaton), of Cheshire, and had, with other issue, his heir,

ROBERT GROSVENOR, who espoused Catherine, daughter of Sir William Norris, of Speke, Lancashire, and was succeeded by his second, but eldest surviving son,

RICHARD GROSVENOR. This gentleman married, in the first year of HENRY VIII, Catherine, third daughter and one of the co-heiresses of Richard Cotton, of Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, and had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Elizabeth; Eleanor; Catherine;
Anne; Margaret; Maud; Dorothy;
Mary; Ursula.
Richard Grosvenor was succeeded at his decease, in 1542, by his eldest son,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, Knight, who wedded Maud, daughter of Sir William Pole, Knight, of Poole, Cheshire, and by her had issue,
THOMAS, his heir;
Elizabeth; Catherine; Grace.
Sir Thomas was succeeded, in 1549, by his eldest son,

THOMAS GROSVENOR, of Eaton. This gentleman married Anne, daughter of Roger Bradshaigh, of Haigh, Lancashire, and had,
RICHARD, his heir;
Mary; Anne;
Thomas was succeeded at his decease, in 1579, by his eldest son,

RICHARD GROSVENOR, of Eaton, who served the office of High Sheriff of Chester, 1602.

He wedded Christian, daughter of Sir Richard Brooke, of Norton Priory, Cheshire, and had issue,
RICHARD, his heir;
Anne; Christian; Frances;
Catherine; Eleanor; Margaret.
Mr Grosvenor was succeeded at his decease, in 1619, by his only surviving son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, Knight (1585-1645), who was created a baronet in 1622.

He married firstly, in 1600, Lettice, second daughter of Sir Hugh Cholmondeley, Knight, and had by her,
RICHARD, his heir;
Christian; Mary; Grace.
Sir Richard wedded secondly, in 1614, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilbraham, of Woodhey; aand thirdly, in 1621, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Peter Warburton, of Grafton, both in Cheshire, but had no other issue.

The 1st Baronet was succeeded at his decease by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 2nd Baronet (1604-64), who espoused, in 1628, Sydney, daughter of Sir Roger Mostyn, Knight, of Mostyn, Flintshire, and had several children.

Sir Richard was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, 3rd Baronet (1656-1700), who wedded, in 1677, Mary, only daughter and heiress of Alexander Davies, of Ebury, Middlesex, by which alliance the Grosvenor family acquired their great estates in London and its vicinity.

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 4th Baronet (1689-1732), who espoused firstly, Jane, daughter of Sir Edward Wyndham, of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset, by whom he had no surviving issue.

He married secondly, Diana, only daughter of Sir George Warburton, of Arley, Cheshire, but had no issue.

Sir Richard was succeeded by his brother,

SIR THOMAS GROSVENOR, 5th Baronet (1693-1733), MP for Chester, who died unmarried and was succeeded by his brother,

SIR ROBERT GROSVENOR, 6th Baronet (1695-1755), who espoused, in 1730, Jane, only surviving child and heiress of Thomas Warre, by whom he had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
Mary; Elizabeth; Dorothy.
Sir Robert was succeeded by his elder son,

SIR RICHARD GROSVENOR, 7th Baronet (1731-1802), twentieth in descent from Gilbert le Grosvenor, the companion-in-arms of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.

Sir Richard was elevated to the peerage by the title of Baron Grosvenor, in 1761; and advanced to the dignities of Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor, in 1784.

His lordship wedded, in 1764, Henrietta, daughter of Henry Vernon, of Hilton Park, Staffordshire, and his wife, Henrietta, daughter of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, by whom he left an only surviving child,

ROBERT, 2nd Earl (1767-1845), who espoused, in 1794, Eleanor, only daughter of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Wilton, by whom he had issue,
RICHARD, his successor;
THOMAS, Earl of Wilton;
Robert, 1st Baron Ebury.
His lordship was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1831, as Marquess of Westminster.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 2nd Marquess (1795-1869), KG, PC, who wedded, in 1819, Elizabeth, younger daughter of George, 1st Duke of Sutherland.

His second and eldest surviving son,

HUGH LUPUS, 3rd Marquess (1825-99), KG, PC, JP, was advanced to the dignity of a dukedom, as DUKE OF WESTMINSTER, in 1874.

GERALD, 6th and present Duke, was born at Omagh, County Tyrone.

Grosvenor House, London

Ancestral and former seats ~ Eaton Hall, Cheshire; Halkin Castle, Flintshire; Motcombe House, Dorset; Moor Park, Hertfordshire.

Former town residence ~ Grosvenor House, London.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Museum Trip

Once Upon A Time, by Arlene McPadden

I visited the Ulster Museum briefly this afternoon.

Stranmillis Road was as busy as ever, so I drove across to College Gardens, almost opposite Deane's at Queen's restaurant.

There was an exhibition by the Royal Ulster Academy at the museum.

A painting of Paddy Mackie at Castle Espie, County Down, by Julian Friers particularly impressed me; as did an exhibit by Arlene McPadden.

Thereafter I went for a stroll at the University quarter.

Almost all of Upper Crescent is for sale or to let.

It's such a shame that the present owners allowed this fine terrace to deteriorate to such a degree.

Nevertheless, let us hope that new owners shall be more sympathetic to one of the city's finest terraces.

2nd Earl of Gosford



The Hon Archibald Acheson (1776-1849) was born at Markethill, County Armagh.

He was the second son of the 1st Earl and Countess of Gosford.

Lord Gosford's town residence was at 22 Mansfield Street, London.

Having been educated at Christ Church, Oxford, Acheson became MP for County Armagh from 1797-1807, when he became heir to the 1st Earl and was styled Viscount Acheson.

Lord Acheson succeeded as 2nd Earl in 1807 and held high office:
    • Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, 1831-49
    • Privy Counsellor, 1834
    • Captain Yeoman of the Guards, 1834-35
    • Governor-General of Canada, 1835-37
    • Vice-Admiral of Ulster
    • Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath (GCB), 1838
      Lord Gosford's most illustrious appointment, however, was as Governor-General of Canada.

      His appointment took effect in 1835 as governor-in-chief of British North America; he was also selected because the ministers hoped that he might be able to apply in Lower Canada the techniques of conciliation that he had employed so successfully in Ireland.

      For agreeing to accept the appointment he had been created Baron Worlingham in 1835.

      A civilian, unlike his predecessors, Gosford was not appointed commander of the forces in the Canadas, but he was given unusually extensive authority over the lieutenant-governors of the neighbouring colonies, who were sent copies of his instructions.

      Gosford assumed control of the government of Lower Canada in 1835.

      Since his predecessor, Lord Aylmer, had become identified with the English, or Constitutionalist, party, Gosford kept his distance from Aylmer until the latter’s departure the following month.

      Subsequently he held a series of lavish dinner parties and balls, at which he established a reputation as a bon vivant and showered his attentions on the leading members of the Patriote party and their wives.

      Gosford was neither the good-natured incompetent nor the “vile hypocrite” that his critics proclaimed.

      He hoped to create in Lower Canada an alliance of moderate politicians from both parties and to hold the balance of power as the Whig administration did in the Kingdom of Ireland between Catholics and Protestants.

      Whig policy there was to distribute patronage to Catholics and liberal Protestants in order to remedy an historic imbalance in the higher levels of the administration. Gosford pursued the same goal.

      He increased appointments of French Canadians to the judiciary and the magistracy, insisted that a chief justice and a commissioner of crown lands should be chosen from among them, and gave them a majority on the Executive Council and a virtual majority on the Legislative Council.

      He substantially increased their numbers holding offices of emolument.

      Moreover, he refused to allow multiple office-holding, to condone nepotism, or to appoint to prominent positions persons known to be antipathetic to them.

      In 1838, Gosford learned that his resignation had been accepted.

      Back in the United Kingdom, Gosford was given a vote of thanks by the Whig ministry and appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB) in 1838.

      He did not lose interest in Canada.

      On the appointment of Lord Durham as Governor, he commented that “a more judicious choice could not have been made.”

      He wrote to Lord Durham that the majority of French Canadians had not participated in the rebellion and warned against the English party.

      As Durham’s ethnocentrism became more pronounced, Gosford criticised him bitterly for appointing to office several outspoken opponents of French Canadians.

      Indeed, Gosford blamed the second rebellion, in the autumn of 1838, on Durham’s stupidity, and he was equally critical of Colborne and “those savage Volunteers.”

      During the 1840s his interests again focused on Ireland, where he split with O’Connell over the issue of repeal. In his declining years he devoted his primary attention to his estates.

      Gosford had left Lower Canada little loved either by the British minority or by the Patriotes.

      HM  Government ignored his advice and followed the recommendations of Durham, who declared that Gosford was “utterly ignorant . . . of all that was passing around him.”

      Nevertheless, Gosford had shown considerable administrative ability, more political sensitivity than his predecessors, and greater tolerance than his immediate successors. His sincerity is unquestionable.

      He probably did as much to limit the severity of the rebellion as it was possible to do, and if Lord Durham had followed his advice, the second rebellion might have been considerably less bloody.

      That Lord Gosford failed to achieve his goals is self-evident; that he ever had a reasonable chance of success is doubtful.

      First published in December, 2011.   Gosford arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

      Saturday, 28 November 2015

      Princess Royal in Belfast

      The Princess Royal, Patron, the Mary Peters Trust, accompanied by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, attended a Fortieth Anniversary Dinner at City Hall, Donegall Square, Belfast, on Saturday, 28th November, 2015, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs. Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

      The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava

      When the 5th and last Marquess of Dufferin and Ava died in 1988, without issue, Clandeboye estate passed to his widow Serena Belinda (Lindy) Rosemary, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava.

      The marquessate itself is now, sadly, extinct.

      Photo credit: Katybird

      Lady Dufferin inherited a considerable fortune at the time, not least due to the Guinness connection.

      She also inherited the beautiful Clandeboye Estate, near Bangor in County Down, and a London residence in Holland Park.

      Clandeboye Estate comprises about 2,000 acres of prime Ulster woodland and gardens, making it one of the finest private country estates in Northern Ireland.

      Lady Dufferin has a continuing interest in the Arts, painting and conservation.

      Clandeboye Golf Club has now become an integral part of the estate.

      There is a memorial to the 1st Marquess in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

      I have written an article in April, 2009, entitled The Four Great Ulster Marquessates.

      First published in August, 2009.  Dufferin arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

      Friday, 27 November 2015

      Blarney Castle


      The founder of this family in Ireland was Colonel John Colthurst, who was murdered by native Irish rebels in 1607.

      His lineal descendant,

      JOHN COLTHURST, of Ballyally, County Cork, married Eliza, daughter of Sir Nicholas Purdon.

      In 1684, this gentleman was granted extensive land in County Cork. He had issue,
      Nicholas, a colonel in the army, High Sheriff of Cork, 1736;
      JOHN, of whom presently.
      His younger son,

      JOHN COLTHURST, of Ardrum, MP for Tallagh, 1734-57, High Sheriff of County Cork, 1738, who married firstly, Alice, daughter of James Conway; and secondly, Mahetabel, daughter of William Wallis.

      Dying in 1756, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

      JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, who wedded, in 1741, Lady Charlotte FitzMaurice, daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kerry, by whom he had five sons.

      Mr Colthurst was created a baronet in 1774.

      He died in 1775, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

      SIR JOHN CONWAY COLTHURST, 2nd Baronet (c1743-87), who was killed in a duel by Dominick Trant; and dying unmarried, the title devolved upon his brother,

      SIR NICHOLAS COLTHURST, 3rd Baronet, who wedded Harriet, second daughter of the Rt Hon David la Touche, by whom he had issue,
      NICHOLAS CONWAY, his heir;
      Elizabeth; Catherine.
      Sir Nicholas died in 1795, and was succeeded by his only son,

      SIR NICHOLAS CONWAY COLTURST, 4th Baronet (1789-1829), Colonel of the Cork Militia, trustee of the linen manufacture, MP for the city of Cork.
      The heir apparent is the present holder's only son John la Touche Conway Colthurst (b 1988).

      BLARNEY CASTLE, Blarney, County Cork, is an unusually large tower-house of 1446 which incorporates the famous Blarney Stone, high up beneath the battlements.

      The 4th Earl of Clancarty had supported JAMES II, with the result that his forfeited estate was granted to the Hollow Swords Company at the end of the Williamite wars.

      In 1704 the Mayor of Cork, Sir James St John Jefferyes, purchased the estate and built a new house attached to the original castle.

      This was greatly enlarged by his descendants and developed into large Georgian Gothic building with a central bow, rows of lancet windows and pinnacled battlements.

      In 1820 this house was destroyed by fire and not rebuilt, though its remains can still be seen today.

      In 1846 Louisa Jane, the Jefferyes heiress, married a neighbour, Sir George Colthurst, of Ardrum near Inniscarra.

      He was a man of property, with another large estate at Ballyvourney near the border with County Kerry, along with Lucan House in County Dublin.

      He also inherited Blarney on his father-in-law’s death.

      When her first children died, Lady Colthurst demanded a new house at Blarney on an elevated site.

      This was built in the Scots Baronial style, to the designs of Sir Thomas Lanyon of Belfast who, rather surprisingly, incorporated a number of classical details from Ardrum into the design.

      Their high quality shows that this must have been an important building.

      BLARNEY HOUSE is typical of its type, with pinnacles, crow-stepped gables and a profusion of turrets with conical roofs.

      The interior has a double height inner hall, lit from above, a pair of interconnecting drawing rooms and a massive oak staircase.

      The style varies from faux Jacobean to Adam Revival, and the rooms have tall plate-glass windows which overlook the lake.

      Nearby, the Jefferyes family created the unique Rock Close, an early 18th century druidic garden layout of large rocks, boulders and yew trees; with dolmens, a stone circle and a druid’s altar.

      Today Blarney House is the home of Sir Charles Colthurst, 10th Baronet.

      In 2009, Sir Charles donated the family papers of the Colthurst family to the Cork City and County Archives, adding to a previous legal collection relating to this family already in the Archives.

      First published in November, 2011.

      Thursday, 26 November 2015

      Cassidi of Glenbrook

      The very ancient Celtic family of Úa Caiside or O'CASSIDY was for ages seated in County Fermanagh, where the village of Ballycassidy preserves the name.

      Their territory was called Cuil-na-n-Oirear, i.e. the corner or angle of harbours, situated on the eastern shore of Upper Lough Erne, immediately opposite some beautiful islets, whose indentations form the miniature haven that gave the place its title.

      It became known as the barony of Coole.

      The Úa Caiside were hereditary doctors in medicine, or state physicians of the Maguires, the former chiefs of Fermanagh; and they held their district ex officio, according to the laws of tanistry.

      In 1541, Roderick Cassidy, Archdeacon of Clogher, eminently versed in the historical records of his country, died.

      Besides having written part of the Register of Clogher, he also compiled the latter part of the Annals of Ulster.

      Among inquisitions in the Exchequer is one taken at Ballycassidy, County Fermanagh, in 1630, at which time the family had branched out widely in the counties of Fermanagh, Louth, and Monaghan.

      To one of these scions we refer

      HENRY O'CASSIDY MD, who had followed his ancestral pursuits in medicine, was of Greatwood, Mullaghbawn, and Drumkirk, County Louth, and of various estates in County Monaghan.

      He was born ca 1650.

      Dr O'Cassidy married and had issue, with others,
      FERGUS, his heir;
      Edmund, scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1710;
      Margaret, m Eugene O'Docherty, of Newtown, County Leitrim.
      The elder son,

      FERGUS O'CASSIDY, of Greatwood, County Louth, and of "Derry", County Monaghan, had two sons, of whom the elder,

      PATRICK CASSIDY, of Derry, in the parish of Magheracloone, near Carrickmacross, espoused Catherine Flood, and had issue.

      Mr Cassidy's last will was dated 1753, and proved in 1757.

      Among other directions he desired "to be buried in my tombe at Carrick McCross".

      His youngest son,

      FRANCIS CASSIDY, born ca 1747, of Cashel, County Tipperary, wedded Sarah Magee, a first cousin of the Most Rev William Magee, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, and had issue,
      MARK, his heir;
      Francis Duff, captain, 60th Rifles, private secretary to Lord Castlereagh, the statesman;
      Francis, who died young.
      His eldest son,

      THE REV MARK CASSIDY (1777-1839), scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, 1797; chancellor of Kilfenora, and incumbent of Newtownards, County Down, ca 1808-39.

      He married, in 1808, Henrietta, daughter and co-heiress with her sister Esther, wife of the Rev Prebendary Cleland, of Samuel Jackson, of Stormount [sic], near Belfast, a West Indian planter.

      Mr Cassidy had issue,
      Samuel, of Glenbrook, Co Londonderry; m Esther Scott; d childless, 1843;
      FRANCIS PETER, of whom presently;
      Frederick (Rev), vicar of Grindon, Co Durham;
      Robert, LL.D., of Ballyhackamore House, Belfast, m Anne, daughter of Dr Ardagh;
      Loftus Tottenham, lieutenant-colonel, 18th Hussars;
      Sarah; Henrietta; Fanny; Emily.
      Mr Cassidy's second son,

      FRANCIS PETER CASSIDY JP, of Glenbrook, County Londonderry, a colonel in the 34th Regiment, married, in 1853, Maria Lucy Anne, daughter of Matthew Hayman, of South Abbey, Youghal, and had issue,
      FRANCIS RICHARD, his heir;
      Helen Hayman Henrietta;
      Mary Mortimer.
      Colonel Cassidy served with his regiment during the Indian mutiny, and was severely wounded at the battle of Cawnpore, in 1857.

      Dying in 1859, he was succeeded by his eldest son,

      FRANCIS RICHARD CASSIDI MBE JP MD (1858-1939), of Glenbrook, Director of Transport, First Line Hospitals, Derbyshire, in 1st World War; Associate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

      Dr Cassidi wedded, in 1887, Marion Elizabeth, daughter of Dr John Duncanson, of Alloa, Clackmannanshire, and had issue,
      FRANCIS LAIRD, b 1889;
      Robert Alexander, Lt-Cdr, RN; b 1894;
      Marjorie May, 1888-90.
      The elder son,

      FRANCIS LAIRD CASSIDI VRD MB (1889-1963), of Glenbrook (which property he made over to his son, 1950); surgeon captain, RNVR; honorary surgeon to HM King GEORGE VI.

      Dr Cassidi married, in 1924, Phyllis Mary, daughter of the Rev A C Haviland, of Lilley Rectory, Hertfordshire, and had issue,
      FRANCIS PAUL, of whom we treat;
      Oonagh Teresa, served during 2nd World War in WRNS;
      Catriona Elspeth, b 1955.
      The only son,

      FRANCIS PAUL CASSIDI TD MB, of Glenbrook, born in 1925, married, in 1953, Barbara Geraldine, daughter of Major W T Temple RA, of 118 Shorncliffe Road, Folkestone, Kent;
      He graduated from St Thomas Hospital Medical School, London, in 1948, with a Bachelor of Surgery; RMO, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Territorial Army); major, Royal Army Medical Corps (Territorial Army); Police Surgeon, KCC; Medical Officer at HM Prison, Canterbury, Kent; Territorial Decoration, 1968.
      Dr Cassidi lived, in 1976, at St Dunstan's House, Canterbury, Kent, and at Glenbrook, Magherafelt, County Londonderry, and had issue,
      Francis James, b 1962;
      Penelope Jenetta, b 1954;
      Alison Ruth, b 1955;
      Melian Geraldine, b 1959.

      GLENBROOK HOUSE, near Magherafelt, County Londonderry, is a somewhat Gothic, late-Georgian house.

      Its entrance is in a three-sided, battlemented bow between two gables with finials and small, overhanging oriels.

      The house had become neglected and derelict for a period.

      It was completely restored and enhanced in 2013 by Des Ewing Architects for the new owner.

      First published in November, 2013.

      Ross of Bladensburg


      ROBERT ROSS, of Rostrevor, derived from SIR DAVID ROSS, was commissioner of Ulster under JAMES I, High Sheriff of County Down, 1709, MP for Killyleagh, 1715-27, and for Newry, 1727 until his decease in December, 1750.

      Mr Ross married firstly, Anne, eldest daughter and co-heir of Robert King MP, of Lissenhall, Swords, and had issue,
      ROBERT, his heir;
      Mary; Anne.
      He wedded secondly, Jane _____, and by her had further issue.

      The eldest son,

      ROBERT ROSS, of Rostrevor and Dublin, MP for Carlingford, 1723, 1727, 1761 and 1768, Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1748-9, High Sheriff of County Down, 1771, had issue by his first wife,
      Robert, Colonel in the army, b 1728; d unm;
      DAVID, of whom hereafter;
      Anne, b 1732.
      The younger son,

      DAVID ROSS, (1729-), major in the army, espoused Elizabeth, half-sister of James, Earl of Charlemont, and daughter of Thomas Adderley, of Innishannon, and had issue,
      THOMAS, of whom presently;
      Robert, of Bladensburg, maj-gen, father of DAVID ROSS-OF-BLADENSBURG;
      James, lieutenant RN, drowned at sea;
      Mary, m Rev Dr Blacker.
      The eldest son,

      THE REV THOMAS ROSS, of Rostrevor, County Down, High Sheriff, 1837, wedded, in 1796, Maria O'Brien, granddaughter of Sir Edward O'Brien Bt, of Dromoland Castle, County Clare, and had issue,
      DAVID ROBERT, his heir;
      Edward, m Anne, daughter of Rt Hon TP Courtenay, niece to Earl of Devon;
      The Rev Dr Ross died in 1818 and was succeeded by his elder son,

      DAVID ROBERT ROSS JP DL MP (1797-1851), of Rostrevor, married, in 1819, Harriet Anne, daughter of the Hon and Rt Rev Edmund Knox, Lord Bishop of Limerick, by his wife, Charlotte, sister of Sir Thomas Hesketh Bt, of Rufford Hall, Lancashire, and had issue,
      THOMAS, in the Royal Navy;
      Edward Charles (Sir), CSI;
      Jessie; Harriet Adele.
      David Ross was Governor of Tobago.

      After his death, the part of his property in which is Rostrevor was purchased by his cousin,

      DAVID ROSS-OF-BLADENSBURG JP, of Rostrevor (1804-66), who married firstly, in 1838, Mary Anne Sarah, only daughter of William Drummond Delap, and by her had a daughter,
      KATHLEEN ELIZABETH, m, 1861, Col F J Oldfield, Political Agent at Kolapore; d 1897; she d 1907.
      Mr Ross-of-Bladensburg wedded secondly, in 1843, the Hon Harriet Margaretta Skeffington, sister of John, 10th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard KP, and had issue,
      ROBERT SKEFFINGTON (Rev), SJ, of Rostrevor;
      JOHN FOSTER GEORGE (Sir), succeeded his brother;
      Edmund James Thomas;
      Harriett Margaret.
      Mr Ross-of-Bladensburg was succeeded by his eldest son,

      THE REV ROBERT SKEFFINGTON ROSS-OF-BLADENSBURG, SJ, of Rostrevor, erstwhile captain in the South Down Militia, who died in 1892, and was succeeded by his brother,

      SIR JOHN FOSTER GEORGE ROSS-OF-BLADENSBURG KCB KCVO JP DL, of Rostrevor (1848-), Chief Commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, Major, Coldstream Guards, RA, ADC to the Earl Spencer when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, ADC to the Earl of Carnarvon when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

      Sir John espoused, in 1870, the Hon Blanche Amelia, youngest daughter of John, 10th Viscount Massereene and Ferrard KP.

      He served in the Soudan Campaign, 1885, and was Secretary to the Duke of Norfolk's mission to the Holy See, 1889, and to Sir Lintorn Simmons' mission to the Holy See, 1890.


      Major-General Robert Ross, a major-general in the army, who, after serving with the highest distinction in the Peninsular War, was appointed commander-in-chief of the army sent against the United States, and after a short career of uninterrupted success, during which he achieved the victory of BLADENSBURG, and possessed himself of the American capital, fell in 1814, whilst advancing to attack the enemy's position near Baltimore.

      On his widow and his descendants was conferred by The Prince Regent, in 1816, the honorary distinction "of Bladensburg", to be added to the family name, and an augmentation of arms.

      General Ross married, in 1803, Elizabeth Catherine, eldest daughter of William Glassock.

      The Ross Monument (obelisk) in the General’s native village of Rostrevor, County Down, was restored in 2008.

      With uninterrupted views of Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains, the monument is situated almost on the exact spot where General Ross had planned to build his retirement home, had he returned safely from his expedition to America in 1814.

      Writing of Carlingford Lough and Rostrevor, the famous English nineteenth century writer, William Makepeace Thackeray, wrote,
      "were such a bay lying upon English shores, it would be a world's wonder; or if on the Mediterranean or Baltic, English travellers would flock to it". 
      Aware of Ross's importance as a figure in world history, Newry and Mourne District Council provided seed funding to assist the Rostrevor-based historian, Dr John McCavitt, with his research into the career of the General.

      Besides playing a pivotal role when British forces inflicted a morale-boosting first ever victory over Napoleon's 'invincibles' at the Battle of Maida (1806), Ross later carved out a highly distinguished career during the Peninsular War in Europe.

      As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 approaches, it is also hoped that a deeper understanding of the nature and impact of Ross's brief career in the USA is realised.

      Thus, besides the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of the public buildings in Washington, it is also recognised that the manner in which Ross met his death at Baltimore in September, 1814, contributed in no small measure to inspiring the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner.

      The ties that bind Rostrevor to this pivotal period in American history are remarkable.

      There is some evidence that there were plans afoot to send an American privateer to burn Rostrevor in revenge for Ross's attack on Washington.

      The inscription on the Obelisk in Rostrevor reads as follows:-





      Neither Ross nor his immediate descendants were knighted or received a title of nobility.

      However, his descendants were given an augmentation of honour to the Ross armorial bearings (namely, a second crest in which an arm is seen grasping the American Flag on a broken staff) and the family name was changed to the Victory Title ROSS-OF-BLADENSBURG which was granted to his widow.

      In honour of Washington DC's history, there is also a portrait of General Ross in the Capitol's rotunda.


      The Rostrevor demesne was very modest in size, comprising about 640 acres in 1870.
      The park and garden setting of this early Tudor-Revival house (1835-37) was the focus of one of the most important tree and shrub collections of late Victorian and Edwardian Ireland. 

      Although not maintained as a garden for some decades, many rare trees survive in these grounds, which are attractively located on the southern spur of the Mourne Mountains, overlooking Carlingford Lough. 

      Rostrevor demesne has 18th century origins.

      The original house, called Carrickbawn, was built by the Maguires and was known locally as ‘Topsy-Turvy’, because of the ‘unusual manner in which it had been built’. 

      It was acquired by Major David Ross in the late 18th century, and in 1809 passed to his famous second son, Major General Robert Ross (1766-1814), who is commemorated by the nearby obelisk built in 1826. 

      After the Major General's death in the American war in 1814, the property passed to his widow, Elizabeth Catherine Ross, while their descendants were granted the hereditary distinction 'of Bladensburg' in his honour by the Prince Regent. 

      With a generous government pension, Mrs Ross was able to considerably expand the parkland planting; in 1820 for example, she is known to have put down some 30 acres of larch, oak and Scotch Fir. 

      In 1835 the old Maguire house was demolished and the present Tudor-Revival mansion, one of the earliest examples of this style in Ulster, was erected in its place.

      It was most probably designed for Mrs Ross by the Dublin based architect William Deane Butler (d 1857). 

      After the death of General Ross's widow in 1845, the property passed to their eldest son, David Ross-of-Bladensburg.

      He made little impact on the demesne, spending long periods on the continent, while his eldest son, Robert, who inherited Rostrevor House in 1866, decided to leave Ireland in the early 1870s and become a Jesuit and later a priest. 

      Consequently, management of the property passed to his younger brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Ross-of-Bladensburg KCB KCVO (1848-1925), who eventually inherited the place in 1892. 

      The famous tree and shrub collection at Rostrevor was begun by Sir John Ross-of-Bladensburg in the 1870s, though he was not able to take up full time residence in Ireland until 1882, when he was assigned as a member of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland's staff. 

      His plantings were largely confined to the slopes to the north-east, east and south of the house, covering an area of about fifty acres.
      His collection of 'hardy, half-hardy and very tender shrubs, trees and to a lesser extent, herbaceous plants, became one of the best known in Ireland, if not the United Kingdom', and in 1911 a comprehensive catalogue of the 'Trees and Shrubs grown in the Grounds of Rostrevor House' was published [University Press, Ponsonby and Gibbs]. 
      This lists about 2500 plants, many of great rarity, and these numbers were to increase so considerably in subsequent years that in 1919 an article in Irish Gardening was able to state that the garden had 'the largest collection of plants growing in the open in the whole country'. 

      Not surprisingly, the garden was described in numerous Edwardian journals and books, while Sir John himself contributed many lengthy articles on plants growing in his gardens, mostly published in the monthly journal Irish Gardening.

      Sir John Ross-of-Bladensburg had no male heirs and, after his death in 1925, the gardens went into decline. 

      After standing empty for a number of years, the house was acquired in 1950 by a missionary order, the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, who established it as an inter-denominational retreat house and novitiate. 

      In the 1960s they added a large extension to the north side of the house, but in 1998, due principally to insurance considerations, the house's role as a centre for retreat had to be curtailed, while at the same time the sisters decided to share the old house with a small Benedictine community. 

      It is believed that, as of 2011, Rostrevor House belonged to Ballyedmond Estates.

      While many trees and shrubs disappeared from Rostrevor in the 1930s and subsequent decades, many evidently dying because of livestock grazing, there are still many rare and important plants in the grounds.
      Most of these lie in the area south of the house and on the hillside above the house and drive. Some of the trees include a fine Nothofagus soalndri (70ft); a Nothofagus dombeyi (80ft), a Macedonian Pine (Pinus peuce- 90ft), Chilean Laurel (Laurela Serrata), Cupressus cashmiriana (30ft), a remarkably tall Pittosporum bicolor, an outstanding kowhai (Sophora tetraptera), a Sophora tetraptera (30ft), a Zelkovo carpinifolia and many others. 
      First published in June, 2011.  Use of the photograph of Rostrevor House by kind permission of  ANNEKA TEMMINCK.

      Wednesday, 25 November 2015

      Island Taggart Trip

      I've spent the day with seven other National Trust volunteers on Island Taggart, one of the largest islands on Strangford Lough, County Down.

      We met in Killyleagh and took the little boat from an old quay across to Taggart.

      Today we were mainly gathering gorse and brambles for burning.

      We have a new trolley cart. It is black, with collapsible sides, and can carry up to about 300 kilogrammes.

      This cart, which has four pneumatic tyres, proved useful for the logs and tools.

      I lunched on tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches today.

      1st Earl of Mar and Kellie


      This is a branch of the noble family of Erskine, Earls of Mar, springing from

      THE RT HON SIR ALEXANDER ERSKINE OF GOGAR, knight, third son of John, 5th Lord Erskine and 16th Earl of Mar de jure, by Lady Margaret Campbell, daughter of Archibald, 2nd Earl of Argyll.
      The house of Erskine, Earls and Countesses of Mar, is one of the most ancient families in the Scottish peerage; so old, indeed, that the date of the creation of its honours is lost in its antiquity.
      This Alexander was sworn, in 1578, of His Majesty's privy council, nominated Governor of Edinburgh Castle, and constituted Vice-Chamberlain of Scotland.

      He married Margaret, daughter of Lord Home, by whom he had three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Sir Alexander, fell at the surprise of Stirling Castle, in 1578, and the second,

      SIR THOMAS ERSKINE, born in the same year with JAMES I, and educated with that monarch, having accompanied His Majesty to England, was created, in 1606, Baron Dirletoun and Viscount Fenton (the first viscountcy of Scotland).

      His lordship was advanced to the dignity of an earldom, as EARL OF KELLIE, in 1619, installed as a Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and sworn of the privy councils of England and Scotland.

      He married Anne, daughter of Sir Gilbert Ogilvie, of Powrie, by whom he had a daughter, and a son, Alexander, Viscount Fenton, who wedded Lady Anne, daughter of Alexander, 1st Earl of Dunfermline, by whom he left three sons:
      ALEXANDER, the 2nd son, became 3rd Earl;
      THOMAS, the eldest.
      THOMAS succeeded his grandfather in 1639, and dying himself unmarried, in 1643, the family honours devolved upon his brother,

      ALEXANDER, 3rd Earl, who was succeeded, in 1657, by his only son,

      ALEXANDER, 4th Earl, who was also succeeded (in 1710) by an only son,

      ALEXANDER, 5th Earl. This nobleman married twice and was succeeded on his demise, in 1756, by his eldest son,

      THOMAS, 6th Earl, who died unmarried, in 1781, when the family honours devolved upon his brother,

      ARCHIBALD, 7th Earl. This nobleman died, also unmarried, in 1797, when the peerage reverted to his kinsman,

      SIR CHARLES ERSKINE, baronet, of Cambo, the direct descendant of Charles Erskine (who was created a baronet in 1666), youngest son of Alexander, Viscount Fenton, eldest son of Thomas, 1st Earl of Kellie.

      His lordship dying, unmarried, in 1799, the family honours reverted to his uncle,

      THOMAS, 9th Earl.
      The heir presumptive is Lord Mar's brother, the Hon Alexander David Erskine, Master of Mar (b. 1952). It is known that the lineage survived in the Erskine-Kellies, with the current heir Andrew Erskine (b. 1998) estimated as the 17th Earl of Mar and 19th Earl of Kellie.

      CAMBO HOUSE, near Kingsbarns, in Fife, was built between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.
      The estate of Cambo was granted to Robert de Newenham by a charter of King William the Lion. His descendents took the name "de Cambhou", and had settled in Fife by the early 14th century. In 1599, the estate was granted to Thomas Myretoun.
      In 1668, Sir Charles Erskine Bt (d. 1677), the Lord Lyon King of Arms and brother of the 3rd Earl of Kellie, purchased the property from the creditors of Patrick Merton.

      The estate passed through the Erskine family to the 5th Earl of Kellie, who forfeited his lands after supporting the Jacobite rising of 1745.

      In 1759, Cambo was sold to the Charteris family, who bought it for their son who was studying at St Andrews University.

      Thomas Erskine, 9th Earl of Kellie, bought the estate back in the 1790s. A successful merchant in Sweden, he invested heavily in improving the estate, building the picturesque Georgian estate farms, and carrying out extensive land drainage.

      The 9th Earl commissioned the architect Robert Balfour to remodel the house in 1795.

      His descendents continued the improvement of the estate through the 19th century, laying out ornamental gardens, with a series of early cast iron bridges.
      The old house comprised a tower house with numerous additions, including a first-floor conservatory. It was destroyed by fire in 1878, after a staff party when the Erskine family was away.
      The present house was built on the same site between 1879-84, to designs by the architects Wardrop & Reid.

      The house is operated as self-catering and bed & breakfast accommodation, while the walled garden and woodland gardens are open to the public year-round. The estate woodlands have a significant collection of snowdrops, including over 300 varieties of Galanthus species.

      The estate was awarded National Collection status by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens.

      Kingsbarns Golf Links was laid out in 2000 to designs by American golf course architects Kyle Phillips and Mark Parsinen.

      The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, an annual pro-am golf tournament, is played in October at Kingsbarns, St Andrews Old Course, and Carnoustie.

      ERSKINE HOUSE, Glasgow,  was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum.

      During the 1st World War it became the Princess Louise Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

      It is now the Mar Hall Hotel, its name recalling the estate’s former ownership by the Earl of Mar.
      During the early 18th century, the Mar estate and old Erskine House came into the ownership of the Lords Blantyre. In 1828 Major General Robert W Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre and a distinguished veteran of the Wellington’s Peninsular campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars, commissioned the present house.
      His architect, Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) was still engaged in designing the British Museum. That, however, is a very classical design whereas Erskine House is more Gothic with touches of Tudor, in the small turrets and pointed arches in the principal windows and entrance porch.

      The stone was quarried locally. Sir Charles Barry produced designs for the gardens.

      The house was completed only in 1845. The final cost was £50,000, about £2.5m today.

      When the Blantyre line became extinct in 1900, the house was left derelict but in 1916 it re-opened as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital of Limbless Sailors and Soldiers.

      In recent years £15m has been invested in the refurbishment of the house and the restoration of its many original features as the Mar Hall Hotel.

      First published in November, 2013.   Kellie arms courtesy of European Heraldry.