Friday, 10 November 2017

Slane Castle

THE MARQUESSES CONYNGHAM OWNED 7,060 ACRES OF LAND IN COUNTY MEATH

The family of CONYNGHAM was originally of Scottish descent, and of very great antiquity in that part of the United Kingdom.

THE HON WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, Bishop of Argyll in 1539, a younger son of William, 4th Earl of Glencairn, left a son,

WILLIAM CONYNGHAM, of Cunninghamhead, Ayrshire, who had two sons, WILLIAM, who succeeded at Cuninghamhead, and was created a baronet; and

ALEXANDER CONYNGHAM, who, entering into Holy Orders, and removing into Ireland, was appointed, in 1611, the first Protestant minister of Enver and Killymard, County Donegal.

Mr Conyngham was appointed to the deanery of Raphoe on the consecration of Dean Adair as Lord Bishop of Killaloe in 1630.

Dean Conyngham settled at Mount Charles, County Donegal, which estate he held, by lease, from the Earl of Annandale, and wedded Marion, daughter of John Murray, of Broughton, by whom he had no less than twenty-seven children, of which four sons and five daughters survived infancy.

He died in 1660, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

SIR ALBERT CONYNGHAM, Knight, who was appointed, in 1660, Lieutenant-General of the ordnance in Ireland.

This officer fought on the side of WILLIAM III at the Boyne, Limerick etc, and fell in a rencounter with the Rapparees, near Colooney in County Sligo.

He espoused Mary, daughter of the Rt Rev Robert Leslie, Lord Bishop of Raphoe, and was succeeded by his only surviving son,

MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY CONYNGHAM, of Slane Castle, MP for Coleraine, and for Donegal, who served during the reign of JAMES II as a captain in Mountjoy's Regiment.

When JAMES II desired his army to shift for itself, Conyngham prevailed upon 500 of his regiment to remain united, and with them offered his services to WILLIAM III.

He became subsequently a major-general, and fell, in 1705-6, at St Estevan's, in Spain.

General Conyngham wedded Mary, daughter of Sir John Williams Bt, of Minster Court, Kent, and widow of Charles, Lord Shelburne, by whom he got a very considerable property, and had issue,
WILLIAMhis successor;
Henry;
Mary.
He was succeeded by his elder son,

WILLIAM CONYNGHAM, of Slane (an estate forfeited, in 1641, by Lord Slane), who was succeeded at his decease by his brother,

THE RT HON HENRY CONYNGHAM (1705-81), captain of horse on the Irish establishment, and MP from 1727 until raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Conyngham, of Mount Charles, in 1753.

His lordship was advanced to a viscountcy, in 1756, as Viscount Conyngham; and further advanced, in 1781, to the dignity of an earldom, as Earl Conyngham; the barony to descend, in case of failure of issue, to Francis Pierpoint Burton, the eldest son of his sister Mary, by Francis Burton.

The 1st Earl married, in 1774, Ellen, only daughter and heir of Solomon Merret; but dying without an heir, in 1781, all his honours became extinct, except the barony of Conyngham, which devolved, according to the limitation, upon the above-mentioned

FRANCIS PIERPOINT BURTON (c1725-87), as 2nd Baron; who wedded, in 1750, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Rt Hon Nathaniel Clements, and sister of Robert, Earl of Leitrim, by whom he had issue,
HENRYhis successor;
Francis Nathaniel (Sir), GCH;
Catherine; Ellena; Henrietta.
His lordship, on inheriting the title and estates of his uncle, assumed the surname and arms of CONYNGHAM.

He was succeeded by his son,

HENRY, 3rd Baron (1766-1832), who, in 1787, was created Viscount Conyngham, of Slane, County Meath.

He was also created, in 1797, Viscount Mount Charles, of Mount Charles, County Donegal; and Earl Conyngham.

Lord Conyngham was appointed a Knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick in 1801.

In 1803, he was appointed Governor of County Donegal, a post he held until 1831, and Custos Rotulorum of County Clare in 1808, which he remained until his death.

His lordship was created, in 1816, Viscount Slane and Earl of Mount Charles; and further advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, as MARQUESS CONYNGHAM.

In 1821, he was created Baron Minster, of Minster Abbey, Kent, sworn of the Privy Council, and appointed Lord Steward, a post he retained until 1830.

From 1829 until his death in 1832, the 1st Marquess served as Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Alexander Burton Conyngham, styled Earl of Mount Charles.

The heir apparent's heir apparent is his son Rory Nicholas Burton Conyngham, styled Viscount Slane.

SLANE CASTLE, Slane, County Meath, stands augustly above the River Boyne in County Meath.

During Victorian times Lord Conyngham owned about 7,060 acres in County Meath.

His lordship was, however, the greatest landowner in County Donegal, where he owned 122,230 acres.

It has been the principal seat of the Marquesses Conyngham since it was built in 1785 by Francis, 2nd Baron Conyngham, to the designs of Francis Johnston.

The Castle was completed by his son Henry, 3rd Baron and 1st Marquess Conyngham.

It is said that "Capability" Brown, James Gandon, Thomas Hopper and other architects were consulted at the time.


Slane Castle comprises three storeys over a basement, which serves as a lower ground floor at the river, where the ground falls away quite steeply.

There is a bow in the centre of the river front, elevated to form a massive round tower.


With the exception of this round tower and lesser square towers at each corner, the house is essentially a battlemented Georgian block.

The interior is Classical in style.

The hall boasts Tuscan columns; while the drawing-room has a frieze of late-Georgian plasterwork, terminating in a kind of apse.

The great circular library or ballroom encompasses two lower storeys of the round tower and is reputed to be the finest of its kind in Ireland, with its exquisite and delicate Gothic plasterwork.

The upper storey of the round tower is divided into three bedrooms.

The floor below, however, contains the two grandest bedrooms in the house, which were designed for King George IV and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

His Majesty stayed at Slane as Prince of Wales and again as the Sovereign in 1821.

The 1st Marquess's wife was a favourite of the King; even the straight road from Dublin to Slane is said to have been specially made for him.


This approach affords elaborate Gothic entrance gates; though the entrance from the north, through the village, is particularly striking.

Conyngham arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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