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Stronge of Tynan Abbey, County Armagh

Tynan Abbey in its heyday. Photo courtesy of Kate Kingan.

The dramatic tale of the Stronge family from their arrival in Ireland on the eve of the siege of Derry through to the brutal murder of Sir Norman Stronge and his son James by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1981.

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The Tynan Estate

 

Back in 2003, maybe 2004, hemisphered beneath a cloudless sky and surrounded by glorious autumnal sunshine,  Sir Jack Leslie and I drove out of Glaslough for Tynan Abbey and Caledon. [1] For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Leslies of Castle Leslie, the Alexanders of Caledon and the Tynans of Tynan Abbey were the closest of neighbours. Jack recalled constant walks in his childhood from one big house to the next. There were four Alexander brothers, contemporaries of his father; one went on to become Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis, another man with McClintock blood coursing in his veins, and another was the racing man, Herbrand ‘Firebrand’ Alexander. [2]

My great-great-great grandmother was Pauline Stronge of Tynan Abbey. Her husband, Captain William McClintock Bunbury, built my family home at Lisnavagh shortly after their marriage in 1842. The grid-like gates to Tynan Abbey are remarkably similar to the old front gates of Lisnavagh, where Pauline would live for nearly twenty years. As a young couple, she and William spent much time up here on the borders of Armagh, Monaghan and Tyrone. By chance, and I think it is chance, my wife Ally grew up in the same area.

The three estates of Tynan, Caldeon and Castle Leslie average at about a thousand acres a-piece and adjoin one another in an unusual manner. Each has its own estate wall so that each of these “famine walls” forms the boundary of their respective county. Thus, while Castle Leslie is in County Monaghan (and therefore within the Republic), Tynan is in County Armagh and Caledon in County Tyrone. The River Blackwater runs nearby and goes all the way to Lough Neagh; I believe it was reshaped during the 18th and 19th century so must look into that more.

High Cross in Tynan.

Avenue up to Tynan Abbey.

Those stone walls all appear to have been built in the late 1840s – the same time as those at Lisnavagh – perhaps by the luckless souls who were stumbling down from mountains of the north to the soup kitchens of Tynan, Caledon and Castle Leslie during the Great Hunger. The wall around Caledon is exceptionally well built and extends for five miles.

Sir Jack and I stopped first in the village of Tynan to view the High Cross, a replica of which now surmounts Bourke and Anne Cochrane‘s grave in New York. Jack told me how Bourke Cochrane taught Winston Churchill how to be an orator; Churchill was a first cousin of Jack’s mum so I’m game on to believe him. The Tynan estate once boasted three ancient crosses. On this one, we could just make out some images 1200 years or more after they were carved – perhaps Shadrach and his brothers hot-stepping it on fire-coals, maybe Adam and Eve contemplating a serpent. The Church where the Stronges are buried stands close by. The last baronet, Sir Norman Stronge, and his son, James, were murdered by the Provisional IRA in 1981.(5) Sir Jack, who knew them both, says father and son were quietly watching TV when a hand grenade blew their front door off its hinges. Sir Norman managed to let off a flare but the police got there too late. The two men were machine gunned to death and their house was burned down. The perpetrators all met unhappy ends – either shot by their own comrades or captured and incarcerated. It was one of many great tragedies in a sorry chapter, now concluded, of Irish history. The first chatelaine of Lisnavagh House was a daughter of the Stronges. Indeed, the McClintock Bunburys and the Stronges have been deeply intertwined for many generations.

 

The McClintock Bunbury Connection

 

The Church at Tynan where Captain William Bunbury and Pauline Stronge were married in 1842.

One of the Gate Lodges at Tynan.

In September 1842, Captain William Bunbury McClintock, future owner of Lisnavagh and father of the 2nd Lord Rathdonnell, married Pauline Stronge. She was the second daughter of 56-year-old Sir James Matthew Stronge, 2nd Bart, of Tynan Abbey in Armagh. Her mother, Lady Isabella Stronge, was the eldest daughter of Nicholas Calvert of Hundson House, MP for Hertfordshire.

In 1879, William and Pauline’s son Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, known as Tom Bunbury, succeeded his uncle John McClintock to become 2nd Baron Rathdonnell. Tom Rathdonnell’s son and heir was my father’s grandfather. See here for more.

 

Matthew Stronge (d. 1716), Warden of Lifford

 

“An Act for the Attainder of Divers Rebels, and for Preserving the Interest of Loyal Subjects. WHEREAS a most horrid invasion was made by your Majesty’s unnatural enemy the Prince of Orange, invited thereunto and assisted by many of your Majesty’s rebellious and traiterous subjects; and having likewise raised, and levied open rebellion and war in several places in this Kingdom and entered into association, and met in conventions, in order to call in and set up the said Prince of Orange, and the said rebels and traitors, having the impudence to declare for the Prince and Princess of Orange against your sacred Majesty, “BE IT ENACTED, that the Persons hereafter named, viz: Hugh Montgomery, Earl of Mount Alexander; …William Caulfield, Viscount Charlemont; ….CAPTAIN JAMES STRONG, …of Ballycastle; all of the County of Londonderry…(and many others)…whether dead or alive, or killed in open rebellion, or now in arms against your Majesty, and every one of them shall be deemed, and are hereby declared and adjudged traitors, convicted and attainted of high treason, and shall suffer such pains of death, penalties, and forfeitures respectively, as in cases of high treason are accustomed….”
This abstract of the Act, is taken from a copy published in the “State of the Protestants of Ireland under the late King James’s Government”, written by William King, Chancellor and Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, during the Glorious Revolution, and afterwards Bishop of Derry.

The Stronges were among the earliest of the Planter families to settle in Ulster. They were, not surprisingly, of Scottish descent – probably an offshoot of ‘the very ancient house of Strang or Stronge’ of Balcaskie, Fifeshire, which acquired considerable estates in Ireland in the early 17th century. One branch, which settled at Clonleigh in 1616, was ensconced at Strabane by 1670.

In 1688, the elderly Matthew Stronge was among those Ulster settlers attainted by King James II’s Parliament. [3] The following year, he took part in the successful defence of Londonderry against James’s Jacobite forces. To be attainted by James II was the ultimate badge of honour for a God-fearing Protestant like Matthew Stronge. When William and Mary later revoked these attainders, the heroes of the Glorious Revolution were duly rewarded with titles and lands.

In consideration of services done and losses sustained at the memorable defence of Derry,” the Corporation of London Goldsmiths granted Matthew the lease of a considerable tract of land in County Derry in 1689. His family had probably been dealing with the London companies since long before the epic conflict of 1688-1691, but Matthew soon purchased lands in Counties Tyrone and Donegal.

Matthew Stronge served as Warden of Lifford, Co. Donegal, in 1713. There are grounds for thinking he may have been close on 100 years old when he died, shortly after the suppression of the Old Pretender’s Rebellion in 1716.

 

James Stronge (1657-??), Sheriff of Londonderry

 

At any rate, Matthew’s son and heir, James Stronge, was born in May 1657 and christened in Derry Cathedral. His elder brother Edward, born in 1654, seems to have died young. James served as Sheriff of Londonderry from 1682 to 1683.

In 1688, like his father, he was attainted by James II’s Parliament for supporting William of Orange. The following year he served as a captain of the loyalist forces, defending the City of Londonderry against the Jacobites.

At this time, the Stronge family had a substantial property at Waterside, just outside the City, which was seized by the Jacobites early in the siege.

One of the indignities Captain Stronge suffered during the siege was being shelled by bombs fired from his own orchard.

Captain James Stronge married Margaret Douglas in 1675/6 and had several children.

 

Rev. John Stronge (1678-1744), Rector of Derryloran

 

Captain Stronge was succeeded by his son, John Stronge. Born in 1678, John graduated from Trinity College Dublin (Sch. 1696; B.A. 1699; M.A.1702) and was ordained into the Church of Ireland on 2 August 1702. He served as a Vicar Choral of Armagh (1701-1709) and Rector of Derryloran, County Tyrone (1709-1738).

The Rev. John Stronge acquired Tynan Abbey by his marriage in 1711 to Elinor Manson, eldest daughter and coheiress of Captain James Manson, of Fairview, in what was then described as “Armaghshire”, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Echlin. Elinor, or Ellinor, was a granddaughter of Hugh Echlin, the Tynan estate’s original planter owner.

On his death in 1744, John Stronge divided his lands between his four sons, and left a decent annuity to his daughter, Mary, wife of Arthur Benson, Rector of Monaghan. As well as James and Matthew to whom we now turn, the Rev. John and Elinor Stronge had two further sons, John Stronge (of Richmond, near Liverpool) and William Stronge (of Green Park, near Ross Trevor, Devonshire, who married Anne Wane of Dublin, had a daughter Margaret, and died in 1754).

The death of one of these sons was recorded by Pue’s Occurrences of Saturday 15 April 1758:

‘DEATHS. (April 14.) On the Batchellors Walk, Mr. Strong [sic], of the late Rev. Mr. John Strong of Tynan, in the County of Armagh.’

 

Rev. James Stronge (c. 1712- c. 1767), Curate of Tynan

 

The Rev. John Stronge’s eldest son, James Stronge, was curate of Tynan from 1739-1767, and never married. He lived at Fairview and built a new house at Tynan in about 1750 on the site of an earlier house. This was considerably added to and improved over the years. It was a spacious house, built in the abbey style, and had a picturesque appearance, “bearing a very happy semblance of an ancient edifice, a deception which (was) not a little heightened by the nature of the surrounding country“. It stood in about 600 acres of parkland, surrounded by “some remarkably fine timber of various kinds and ages” with a handsome lake added later.

 

Matthew Stronge (c. 1714-1773), Mayor of Liverpool

 

Tynan Abbey from the air. Photo courtesy of Kate Kingan.

The Rev. James Stronge died unmarried in 1767, aged 55, leaving Tynan to his younger brother, Matthew Stronge, a prominent merchant in Liverpool. On 13 February 1759, midway through the Seven Years War, Matthew’s named topped a list of 45 merchants and shipowners of Liverpool who addressed a letter to Mr. Robert Williamson, printer of the Liverpool Advertiser, requesting him to suppress the list of vessels sailing from that port as they had “too much reason to apprehend” that it had “been of very bad consequence this war”. [4]

Back in 1749, Matthew had married Elizabeth Powell, one of ten children – five sons, five daughters – born to another prominent Liverpool merchant, Samuel Powell (1694-1745) of Liverpool and Stanedge (Stannage), by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Richard Richmond, Rector of Walton and Sephton, near Liverpool. [5] Her grandfather, also Samuel Powell, had married the Hon. Elizabeth Folliott, sister and co-heir of Henry, Lord Folliott, of Ireland. The Folliott fortune passed on to her uncle Folliott Powell (1691-1737), high sheriff of Radnorshire in 1725, and upon his death, it passed to her father.

Elizabeth’s eldest brother Richard Powell alienated the Stanedge estate to Richard Knight, esq. and died at Eaton Norris, Lancaster, in July 1794, leaving three sons and four daughters. Elizabeth’s next brother, another Folliott Powell, was a merchant in Liverpool and died in 1791. Many of the Powell family are buried in St. Nicholas Church.

As to Elizabeth Stronge’s sisters, Mary (d. 1808) married William Higginson, of Whitechurch and Liverpool; Sarah (d. 1793) married Ralph Robinson, of Liverpool; Rebecca (d 1775) married Captain Alexander Duff, esq. of Mayer, co. Banff; and Anne, died at the age of nine. [6]

Before he could make the move back to Tynan Abbey, Matthew Stronge had to fulfil his duties as Mayor of Liverpool, in which role he served from 1768 to 1769. Liverpool was then one of the major ports from which whaling, trade and slave ships set out for Africa, the East Indies and the Americas. In 1768, Liverpool made the headlines when the Liverpool Conversation Club launched a debate as to the merits of secret balloting. Stronge’s mayorship also coincided with a new burst of enthusiasm for plans to build a canal from Leeds to Liverpool (via Burnley and Blackpool).

The death of Alderman Matthew Stronge, Treasurer of Liverpool Corporation was recorded in the Oxford Journal of 30 October 1773 and the Hampshire Chronicle of 1 November 1773. He appears to have died in Liverpool. (Other accounts suggest he died in 1780, but 1773 seems persuasive). He was buried at St. Nicholas, Liverpool. His widow Elizabeth Stronge died in 1793, and was also buried at St. Nicholas.

As well as his son and heir, Rev. James Stronge, Matthew left a daughter, Ellinor Stronge who became the second wife of John Blackburne of Hawford House, Co. Worcester, and Wavertree Hall, Lancashire, Lord of the Manor of Garston and Mayor of Liverpool in 1788. Mr. Blackburne’s first wife was Mary Blundell with whom he had one child, his daughter and heiress Alice-Hannah who, in 1814, married Thomas Hawkes of Himley House, Co. Worcester, MP of Dudley.

 

Rev. Sir James Stronge (1750-1804), 1st Bart

 

The portico of Tynan Abbey still stands over four decades after the fire that destroyed the house.

Matthew was duly succeeded at Tynan by his eldest son, the Rev. James Stronge, born in 1750, who would go on to become the 1st Baronet. James also appears to have held property at Thornhill, Co. Dublin.

In 1774, he received a bequest of £100 from the Rev. Dr Benjamin Domville ‘to be laid out in beautifying and repairing the chancel of the parish church of Tynan’.[7]

On 27 May 1785, the Rev. James Stronge married Helen Tew, a granddaughter of Robert Maxwell of Fellows Hall, County Armagh. The previous year, her sister Margaret had married the Rev. William Jones Armstrong. The Tew girls were nieces of John Maxwell, son of Robert and Grace Maxwell, who held a large estate at Fellow’s Hall. The house at Fellow’s Hall had been burned in 1752 but was rebuilt by John Maxwel in 1762. The property would pass to the Stronge’s when John Maxwell died unmarried in 1820. Helen’s sister Margaret Tew was married in 1784 to the Rev. William Jones Armstrong.

On 6 April 1786, Helen Stronge delivered a baby boy, James Matthew Stronge, who would later succeed to the baronetcy. He was their only son to survive infancy.

On 16 June 1803, the London Chronicle published a despatch from Whitehall that announced:

‘The King has been pleafed [sic]to grant the dignity of a Baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to the following Gentlemen, and the refpective [sic] heirs male of their bodies lawfully begotten … Rev. Jame Stronge, Clerk, Master of Arts, of Tynan, in the county of Armagh, andof Thornhill in the County of Dublin.’ [8]

The baronetcy was his reward for helping to secure the passage of the Act of Union, thereby passing control of Irish political and economic affairs from Dublin to Westminster. Memories are evidently short as William McClintock Bunbury, who married the Rev. Stronge’s granddaughter in 1842, was a kinsman of John Foster, Speaker of the House of Commons, who so virulently opposed the Act that he was stripped of office. A hundred years after the Act’s passing, Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury, 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, the eldest offspring of the Stronge-McClintock marriage, was appointed Chairman of the Leinster Unionists and became the third most senior figure in the Freemasons of Ireland. This is a small puzzle to be worked upon.

The 1st Baronet died less than six months after being made a Baronet. He died at his house in Russell Street, Bath, on 29 November 1804. According to The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1804, ‘he had entertained, a large company the preceding night, appeared in good health when he retired to rest, and was found dead in his bed-room in the morning.’[9]

 

Lady Stronge and William Holmes

 

Tynan Abbey in the trees. Photo courtesy of Kate Kingan.

In 1807, Sir James’s wealthy widow, Lady Helen Stronge (née Tew) was married, secondly, to William Holmes, a gentleman, who ‘for many years acted as whipper-in to the Tory party, was a native of the county of Sligo, and in his younger days held a commission in the army.’ Holmes served some years in the West Indies, and was military secretary and ADC to Major General Sir Thomas Hislop, Governor of Trinidad. Upon his marriage, Holmes had enough money to retire from the army and the following year he was elected MP for Grampound. Over the next 23 years, he was continually elected to the House of Commons, sitting successively for Grampound, Tregony, Totness (1807), Bishop’s Castle (1820, 1826), Hazelmere (1830, 1831), and Berwick on Tweed. He was ousted between 1832 and 1837 and ended his political ambitions in 1841.

‘In the high and palmy days of Toryism,’ wrote The Annual Register in his obituary, ‘the peculiar talents of Mr. Holmes were in great request, for in the private management of the members of an unreformed House of Commons he was without a rival. In the discharge of those functions he dispensed among the members of the Lower House the greater portion of that patronage which usually passes through the hands of the Secretary to the Treasury; yet, to his honour be it recorded, even his strongest political opponents were unable to accuse him of ever exerting his influence for any private or sinister end.’

Holmes was appointed Ordnance Treasurer in 1820, which post he held until the breaking up of the Wellington Administration in 1830. Mr. Holmes was by the side of Mr. Perceval when he sank under the hand of an assassin, and he also happened to be within a few yards of Mr. Huskisson when that well-known statesman came by a violent though accidental death.’

Mr. Holmes died on 26 January 1852 at his home, 10 Grafton-street, Bond-street, Piccadilly.[10]  His widow, the former Lady Stronge, died in Chelsea on 16 December 1852.

 

Sir James Matthew Stronge (1786-1864), 2nd Bart, & Isabella Calvert

 

Isabella, Lady Stronge, from a bust by by Bertolini.

Upon his death in 1804, the Rev. Sir James Stronge was succeeded, as 2nd Baronet, by his 18-year-old son, James Matthew.

Sir James M. Stronge, who was born on 6 April 1786, earned a Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) degree, and was made Deputy Lieutenant for Counties Armagh and Tyrone. He also served as Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and oversaw a considerable extension of Tynan Abbey.

On 5 September 1810, six years after his succession to Tynan, Sir James married Isabella Calvert. She was the eldest daughter of Nicholas Calvert, M.P., of Hunsdon House, Hampshire, and his beautiful wife, the Hon. Frances Pery, daughter and co-heiress (with the Countess of Ranfurly) of Edmond Sexten, Viscount Pery. [11] Mrs Calvert, his mother-in-law, later recalled of her visit:

“Sir James drives down four beautiful horses which Isabella admires very much. His carriage is built like a stage coach with a railing round the top. He is very near-sighted, and I should tremble at being drove by him”.

Sir James and Lady Isabella had a large family of five sons and three daughters. One son was born at Tours in 1823.[12]

In 1813, Sir James Matthew Stronge (2nd Bart) commenced the transformation of his house at “Fairview” into the Tudor Gothic mansion that would become known as Tynan Abbey. The fire which destroyed the mansion in 1981 consumed a set of architectural perspectives by A.C. Pugin of the Nash office for proposals to rebuild the previous house on the site. These were unexecuted but there is much of the house as carried out to make a confident attribution.

On 15 September 1835, Sir James and Isabella’s daughter Frances Helen Stronge was married in Tynan Church to Thomas Vesey Nugent (1807-1890), a Dublin barrister and the second son of Andrew Nugent (née Savage, 1770-1846), JP, Deputy-Governor and Deputy Lieutenant of Co. Down, and nephew of Thomas, Viscount de Vesci. Thomas was educated at Eton and Trinity College Dublin. They lived at 19 Merrion Square. He may have been a Governor of the Bank of Ireland from 1873-75. Frances died in 1909 aged 96.

[Born on 26 January 1849, Thomas and Frances’s son Edmond Henry Stuart Nugent, a Lincoln’s Inn barrister, eventually succeeded to the Portaferry estate and appears to have been much involved in the administration of the will of Selina, Lady Stronge. He married Grace Conant of Lyndon Hall while his sister Selina Frances Nugent married Sir Edward Winfield Verner, 4th Bart.]

George McClintock

Kate McClintock (née Stronge)

The ties to the Nugent family were strengthened on 17 June 1836 when Sir James and Isabella’s son James, later the 4th Baronet, married Selina Elizabeth Nugent, eldest daughter of Andrew Nugent of Portaferry, Co. Down.

In 1842, Sir James and Lady Isabella’s daughter Pauline married William McClintock Bunbury who, as stated earlier, was my ancestor and the builder of Lisnavagh House.

Eight years later, in April 1850, Sir James and Lady Isabella’s youngest daughter Catherine, known as Kate, was married at St Peter’s Church, Dublin, to 28 year old George Augustus Jocelyn McClintock, youngest son of Bumper JackMcClintock by his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Trench. George, who was William McClintock Bunbury’s youngest half-brother, served with the 52nd Light Infantry and was later promoted Lieutenant Colonel of the Sligo Rifles. He also held the commission of the peace for the counties of Armagh and Tyrone, and was a director of the Ulster Railway Company. George and Kate lived at Fellows Hall in Armagh and had a son, Arthur McClintock (later of Rathvinden House, Co. Carlow), and four daughters. George died on Christmas Eve 1873 and Catherine on 26 November 1914.

On 13 December 1852, Maxwell Dupre Stronge (1852-1917), of the 52nd Light Infantry, was the fifth son of Sir James and Lady Isabella. As a child, he attended a children’s ball at the Tulieries given by Louis Philippe in 1839, and he was with his regiment when helped line the streets at the Duke of Wellington’s funeral. He was a J.P. for County Sligo and formerly commanded the Sligo Rifles and the Duke of Connaught’s Own Sligo Artillery. He was married at Springfield, County Limerick, to Jane-Colclough Goff, only daughter and heiress of the late Joseph Fade Goff, esq. of Raheenduff, County Wexford, and niece of Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan, esq., M.P. of Johnstown Castle, in the same county. [13] Hamilton Grogan Morgan was the Repeal Association’s MP for Wexford from 1847 until 1852. His uncle Cornelius Grogan, a benevolent landlord and a liberal Protestant, found himself serving as Commissioner-General of the army of the Wexford Republic during the 1798 Rebellion, for which he was then executed. The Johnstown estate was restored in 1810 to his brother, John Knox Grogan, Hamilton’s father, who commissioned the building of Johnstown Castle by the Lisnavagh architect Daniel Robertson. Colonel Maxwell Stronge died at Raheenduff aged 92 in 1917.

Festivities at Tynan Abbey

In January 1852, the Armagh Guardian reported on a theatrical evening at Tynan Abbey:

A large party of fashionable were invited to Tynan Abbey on Friday evening, to witness dramatic performances got up some of the family circle assembled for Christmas by Sir James Stronge. At nine o’clock the large drawing-room, converted for the occasion Into an impromptu theatre, was opened to the company, and the performance commenced with the new play of the Two Bonnycastles, now being represented at the Haymarket Theatre, London.

  • Mr. Bonnycastle, alias Jorum .. .. Mr. Strong.
  • John James Johnson .. .. Mr.  J. C. Strongs.
  • Smuggins .. .. Captain Stronge, 52d regiment.
  • Mrs. Bonnycastle .. .. Capt. M’Clintock Bunbury, M.P.
  • Helen .. .. .. Mrs. George M’Clintock.
  • Patty .. .. Miss Nugent.

The acting and dressing were alike perfect—the spirit and plot of the play was well kept up, and the roar of laughter on the entrance of Captain Bunbury, in full and complete Bloomer costume, were such as to interrupt the progress of the piece for some minutes. Mr. Stronge was excellent throughout, and the gallant captain of the 52d was not to be recognised in the old lawyer Smuggins, while the archness of Patty, the maid of all work, left nothing to desire in the young debutante. After a short Interval, the curtain again rose for the popular farce of Slasher and Crasher.

  • Slasher .. .. Lieutenant Colonel Caulfield, M.P.
  • Crasher .. .. Mr. Charles Stronge.
  • Blowhard .. ..  Mr. Edmund Stronge.
  • Lieut. Brown (Marines) .. Captain Stronge, 52d regiment.
  • Dinah .. .. Mrs M’Clintock Bunbury.
  • Rosa .. Mrs. J. Calvert Stronge.

Where all were excellent, it would be invidious to distinguish or criticise, but the personification of Slasher, on whom falls the weight of the performance, perfectly convulsed the company. Indeed the acting and imitation of Buckstone’s well known voice and manner were such as to gain the honourable member continuous and deserved applause. Mr. C. Stronge acted and dressed as Paul Bedford ; the ladies were all that could be desired; and, to use the words of one of the audience, “the artistes of the Adelphi could not have brought out the play to better advantage. “

A handsome supper brought the evening’s entertainment to a close, and the numerous guests retired In high delight. Among those present were—The Earl and Countess of Caledon, Earl and Countess of Charlemont and Hon. Mrs Caufield, Hon. and Rev. Dean Maude, Mrs Maude and daughters, Rev. W. M’Clean and daughters, Mr. Shaw, of Caledon, Misses Shaw. Miss Hyland, Mr. and Mrs. St. George and Miss St Georg, Captain St. George and Miss Pentland, &c; besides the large party staying in the Abbey, and several of the tenantry and domestics of the worthy Baronet, according invariable custom admitted to share the amusement and join in the laughter.— Armagh Guardian.’ [14]

Sir James Stronge was in his prime when the Ulster Canal was built, passing by Tynan Abbey. A nod to his flax-making appeared in the Farmer’s Magazine in December 1843, when the Earl of Gosford hosted a Farmer’s Dinner at a ‘GREAT AGRICULTURAL MEETING AT MARKET-HILL.’ Amongst those who spoke was Mr. Blacker, one of Gosford’s leading tenants who, at one point in the evening told the assembled guests:

‘Sir James Stronge, who got the premium for the second best quality of flax produced at the Belfast show, which is a pretty good proof that it had been managed with considerable skill, informs me that a few bundles of it which, by accident, were left longer in steep than the rest which had been sent to Belfast, proved to be, beyond all comparison, superior to the parcel which got the premium in every respect.’ [15]

Sir James Stronge in 1847 mentioned on page 74 of ‘Loughgall’ book at Bishopscourt; Lonsdale on page 85.

Sir James died on 2 December 1864. The Illustrated London News of 17 December 1864 remarked:

Sir James Stronge was highly popular among his tenantry, and he will be much missed at various local boards of which he was the able chairman, and on account of the active and useful part he took in the affairs of the counties of Tyrone and Armagh.’

 

The Romantic castellated Gothick-style gate Lodge at Tynan Abbey. It dates to 1817 and the architect was probably John Nash who has visited nearby Caledon at this time. The double “portcullis” set in a Tudor archway recessed below machicolations is reminiscent of the former archway and portcullis at Lisnavagh in County Carlow where the Stronge’s daughter Pauline McClintock Bunbury lived. The “prison gates” at Lisnavagh, as some nicknamed them, were removed when my aunt Rosebud and her partner Gerry van Soest moved into the adjoining gate lodge circa 2002. The Lisnavagh gates were rotten at the time and were taken down by Seamus Raben, who replaced them with the present gates, designed by Gerry.

 

 

Fellow’s Hall, County Armagh

 

Sir James Stronge

In 1820, Sir James Stronge, 2nd Bart, inherited Fellows Hall, by Killylea, on the death of his maternal great-uncle, John Maxwell, an uncle of Lady Helen Stronge, née Tew. Along with Tynan Abbey, that gave him 2,300 acres and two major houses. The Armstrongs, their kinsmen and neighbours, held 1900 acres but had no house so, while the Stronges remained at Tynan, Fellows Hall was leased to Thomas Knox Armstrong, whose grandmother had been a Maxwell. After the death of Thomas Knox Armstrong in 1840, the next occupier of Fellows Hall seems to have been Lt. Col George McClintock of the Sligo Rifles [half-brother of Captain William McClintock Bunbury] who was married in 1850 to Catherine Stronge and acted as the family’s land agent.

The following came from a book called ‘Great Houses’ of Armagh, or something like that, which I came across in my younger years but I failed to write down the title or reference so I am unsure which college is referenced here.

In 1851, [Sir James Matthew Stronge, 2nd Bart], took a new 21-year lease of Fellows Hall from the College.  In 1856 he paid a lump sum to convert this into a lease in perpetuity. According to This presumably gave him sufficient security of tenure to embark upon the final enlargements and alterations of the house, hauntingly reminiscent as it is of Deane and Woodward’s Museum in Trinity College, Dublin, completed in 1857.

The architect of the 1850s building is unknown. It seems clear that it cannot have been Benjamin Woodward, despite the resemblance to his style. It has been conjectured that it might have been Catherine McClintock’s brother Edmond Stronge (1822-1911) who was a civil engineer and worked in the offices of Robert Stephenson, the great bridge builder; the two professions has no, in the 1850s, widely diverged. Another possible candidate is Frederick Butler, architect, of Dublin, who carried out other work at Loughgall, and in later years, for the Armstrongs, at Killylea Church and Dean’s Hill; but he seems an insufficiently talented performer judging by the mediocrity of Loughall Manor House.

The McClintocks lived on here for a century as tenants or lessees of the Stronges. “Sir James Stronge had begun the sale of the adjoining estates of Fellows Hall (1258 acres) and College Hall (1052 acres) before the passage of the Wyndham act (in 1903) “but he kept the mansion house of Fellows Hall and the adjoining 300 acres in his own hands … It is a fine house on prime agricultural land” (McCarthy) The Colonel’s widow is shown in the Tenancies Schedule of 1907 as having been a yearly tenant at £89 [check] a year since before 1901. However, notwithstanding their earlier reluctance, the Stronges agreed to [sell?] in 1907 or soon thereafter, for the Land Commission papers note “an agreement in form H has been entered into for the sale of these lands as a parcel at £3725 to this Misses McClintock”. The younger daughter, Miss Isa, who was master of the Tynan Hunt, continued hunting until she was well over the age of 70 and died in 1954; when the last remaining interest of Trinity College was got in, and the place was bought back by JRB Armstrong, great grandson of the Rev. WJ Armstrong, in whose family it remains.”

The house is built on a slope, so that it appears two-storey on basement from the front, three-storey from the rear. The three bays are evenly spaced ta the rear, but in the five-bay front there are three close-set round-headed windows above the porch, and on this front the upper window-sills are linked by a continuous string-course. The roof is hipped, with wide eaves, and prominent chimney stacks in the outer walls. The house was succinctly described by Hugh Dixon in 1984: “The present entrance front facing east dates from the mid 19th century having the grouping of round-headed windows which characterises Italianate and some Ruskinian buildings of the period … This part of the house, however, is built onto the Georgian house which faces west. Originally of just two storeys, easily identified by the Wyatt windows, a top floor was added as part of the Victorian extensions”.

 

The interior of Tynan Abbey before the fire.

 

Sir James Stronge (1811-1885), 3rd Baronet

 

James Stronge, brother of Pauline McClintock Bunbury, succeeded as 3rd Baronet on the death of their 78-year-old father on 2 December 1864. James was his parents’ firstborn child, delivered in November 1811. [16]

On 17 June 1836, he married Selina Elizabeth Nugent, daughter of Andrew Nugent of Portaferry, Co. Down, and sister-in-law of his own sister, Frances. The marriage occasioned this article in the Belfast Commercial Chronicle of 20 June 1836:

MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE.

June 17, at Ardquin Church, Portaferry, James M. Stronge, Esq. eldest son of Sir James Stronge, Bart, of Tynan Abbey, county Armagh, to Selina Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Andrew Nugent, Esq, Portaferry House, and niece of Viscount de Vesci.

The ceremony was performed the Rev. William Savage, Rector of Shinrone, and uncle to the Lady, in presence of Sir James and Lady Stronge, Miss Stronge, and the Masters Stronge, Mr. John and Mrs. Nugent, Major and Mrs. Blackwood, Miss Blackwood, and the Masters Blackwood, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Hall, and Miss Hall, Rev. Savage and Mrs. Hall, Captain Forde, Miss Dorcas Savage, Mrs. William Savage, the Misses Savage, and Miss Anne Savage, Mr. and the Misses Vesey, Mr. and Mrs. John Echlin, and Miss Echlin, Rev. William St. John Smyth, Rev. Charles and Mrs. Ward, Doctor Chermside, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham Miller, Lieut. O’Brien, &c. &c. &c. who were specially invited on the occasion.

After the ceremony the company partook of a splendid dejeune at Portaferry House; and, at two o’clock, p.m. the happy couple embarked on board the beautiful new steamer the Lady of the Lake, Captain Little, (which vessel had most opportunely arrived from Belfast two hours before,) amidst a salute of artillery from the Old Castle, Windmill-hill, and the Steamer, on their rout to Narrow-water House, the seat of Roger Hall, Esq. to spend the honey moon.

In the evening the towns of Portaferry and Strangford were brilliantly illuminated, and bonfires were to be seen on all the surrounding hills, as far as the eye could reach. In fact all ranks vied with each other in demonstrating their joy on this happy occasion, and in evincing the very high esteem in which Col. and the Hon. Mrs. Nugent and family are held in, not only their own tenantry, but the neighbourhood in general.

It may not be improper to add, that the above Steamer was built, and the engines, &c. fitted up on the most approved principle, and in a manner highly creditable to themselves, by Messrs. Ritchie and M’Laine, Belfast, for the sole purpose of conveying passengers, coaches, horses, &c. &c. from Portaferry to Strangford, and vice versa; one of the safest ferries, and, perhaps, from the surrounding scenery, the most picturesque, in Ireland.’

In 1839, The Londonderry Journal ‘notices a rumour that Mr. Stronge, the eldest son of Sir James Stronge, will oppose Lord Claude Hamilton, who, it is added, has become extremely unpopular with his own party. Lord Claude is an Ultra Orangeman. The same journal remarks, as an “example of growing independence, that a requisition, signed by no fewer than 475 freeholders of the Western part of the county, principally tenants of the Earl of Belmore, has been presented to a gentleman of Reform principles, inviting him to stand for the representation”. [17]

A very capable administrator, Sir James served as High Sheriff of Armagh in 1844, High Sheriff of Tyrone on 1845 and, just before he inherited the family title in 1864, as MP for County Armagh. He was also a keen huntsman.

He was taken ill in 1857, or so, as per this report in the Dublin Daily Express of  11 January 1858:

‘We are happy to know that the health of Sir James Stronge is so far recovered that will, in short time, able to resume the duties of public life.’

Sir James held Armagh for a decade after 1864 and had an estate of 13,000 acres in Armagh. He died on 11 March 1885, at the age of 73.

 

The Tynan Hunt

 

In 1842, Sir James Stronge, 3rd Bart, established the Tynan Hunt, a private pack of harriers that he maintained “at his own expense until ill health compelled him to give up the sport. His love of it was intense all through life“. The uniform was red with silver buttons instead of the usual green coat worn by Harrier Packs. The huntsman was George McAree, whose descendants lived in the same house for generations to come.

In an article for ‘Ulster Illustrated’ by Ernest Strathdee entitled ‘The Tynan and Armagh Harriers’, he described Sir James as:

‘… a very arbitrary person who would stand no interference with the hounds and on one occasion took the hounds home because he mistook the noise of turkeys gobbling for the noises of followers cheering the hounds on.’

A committee was formed to carry on the pack and Sir James gave over hounds, horses and kennels etc rent free along with an annual subscription of €50. He retained the nominal mastership while the field masters were Dr T. Huston and Mr. W Upton Moutray of Fort Singleton, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan. This arrangement continued until Sir James’s death when the kennels were relocated to the forbears of my friend Bruce Armstrong at Killylea. The Tynan Harriers, were regarded as a first rate pack and together with Lord Waterford’s Armagh Harriers made Armagh a very popular place for hunting. Sir James Stronge also once attempted to establish a fox covert at Tynan but without success; it is thought the Fox Covert at Lisnavagh was established at the same time, circa 1850s. They were built to encourage the foxes to go into them for the foxhunters and the hounds were then sent in to chase them out. It wasn’t as grim as it sounds; the fox was generally given a fair start before the hounds went in pursuit. In 1895 the Tynan Hunt amalgamated with the Armagh Harriers, with an arrangement that the Tynan subscribers contribute £105 towards the expenses.

The Hunt covered a large area between Hamilton bawn and Caledon and was run by a committee with the Field Masters Dr R.T. Houston for the Tynan side and Dr Graham for the Armagh side. For more on the Tynan Hunt, see Isa McClintock at this page; she ran the hunt from 1900 until her death in 1952.

 

Sir John Calvert Stronge (1813-1899), 4th Baronet

 

Tynan Abbey, County Armagh. c.1960

Upon the death of Sir James Stronge, 3rd Bart, in 1885, he was succeeded by his 71-year-old brother, Sir John Calvert Stronge, another uncle of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury.

Born on 21 February 1813, Sir John was baptised that May at his grandfather’s home in Hertfordshire, England. On 14 September 1848, he was married at Monkstown to Lady Margaret Zoe Caulfield, only daughter of the Hon. Henry Caulfield, younger son of James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, and Elizabeth Margaret Browne. [18] In 1863, Zoe’s brother James Molyneux Caulfeild (1820-1892) succeeded as 3rd Earl of Charlemont; married into the Somerville and Lambart families, he died in Biarritz in 1892.

Sir John, a barrister, served as Justice of the Peace for Counties Armagh and Tyrone.

In 1888, he opened the grounds of Tynan Abbey to the public. He died on 20 Dec 1899, aged 86.

 

Sir James Henry Stronge (1849-1928), 5th Baronet

 

Sir James Stronge c 1910 by H F Cooper.

Sir John was succeeded as 5th Baronet by his son (Sir) James Henry Stronge. Born on 8 December 1849, John had enjoyed a distinguished legal career by the time he inherited Tynan Abbey. He was. educated at Wellington College. Eton College, and Brasenose College, Oxford.  He played in the Old Etonian eleven in the semifinal for the Association Cup.

Having graduated from Lincoln’s Inn as a barrister-at-law in 1874, he went on to serve as High Sheriff of Tyrone in 1880 and Armagh in 1885.

In 1885, he retired from the 4th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers with the rank of major, after 15 years’ service.

He was a member of the Standing Committee of the UIster Unionist Council, and took a prominent part in the anti-Home Rule campaign.

Perhaps more significantly, he was the Imperial Grand Master of the Loyal Order of Orange andGrand Master of Armagh. In the lead up to the Great War, Sir James was among the most influential Orangemen. He was one of 30 delegates who sat on the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council, alongside the likes of the Duke of Abercorn, Lord Londonderry and the Earls of Erne and Ranfurly; the politician G. Wolff; eminent Liberals like Thomas Sinclair and Thomas Andrews; other Orangemen like Colonel R. H. Wallace and W.H.H. Lyons and leaders of industry and commerce such as Colonel Sharman-Crawford, E. M. Archdale, R. H. Reade, Sir William Ewart and W. J. Allen. This body directed the policy of Ulster Unionism during the next 15 years through the Home Rule crisis and the foundation of the State of Northern Ireland.

Sir James, a first cousin of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell, was an powerful Unionist and took a prominent part in the anti-Home Rule campaign. Indeed, such was his abhorrence of Gladstone, the People’s William’, and his Home Rule campaign that Sir Jack Leslie told me there used to be an etching of the Grand Old Man at the bottom of Sir James’s ceramic chamber-pot at Tynan. This was a frequently used device among those who loathed Gladstone and comprised of a transfer portrait print fired in the bottom of the ceramic pot. [19]

Like Tom Rathdonnell, he was educated at Eton College. He then went to Brasenose College, Oxford, and was pursuing a legal career when he inherited Tynan Abbey and succeeded his father. He graduated from Lincoln’s Inn in 1874. Stronge was appointed High Sheriff of Tyrone in 1880 and High Sheriff of Armagh in 1885. He played for Old Etonians in the 1875 and 1876 FA Cup Finals.

On 7 October 1885, Sir James married Ethel Margaret Burges, daughter of Colonel Y. H. Burges of Parkanaur.  Jack Leslie recalls the Stronges visiting Castle Leslie when he was a child. Apparently young Jack took it upon himself to surreptitiously pour a glass of milk down her ladyship’s tortoise-shell ear trumpet while it was plugged in, which earned him a righteous smack from his nanny, Miss Orr, who would secretly sleep in his mother’s bed when his parents were away.

UVF BIKER RALLY AT TYNAN ABBEY, 1913. ‘”The first mobilisation of the U.V.F.’s ground-breaking mobile force- the Ulster Signalling and Despatch Riding Corps – took place on the last weekend of July 1913. During the mobilisation they “captured” Drogheda (i.e. riders made the journey and posted notes on the Boyne Bridge saying ‘captured by the UVF”). There were displays of signalling- both wireless and by flag. Among those in attendance were Edward Carson and James Craig. The despatch riders also took part in an elaborate race to demonstrate their capability.” Many thanks to Quincey Dougan for providing the above caption, as well as the image of the race circuit above.

Elizabeth Lazenby, who knew Sir James, recalled that his ‘sense of responsibility, as natural to him as breathing, was combined with a delicate whimsicality towards his countrymen of all creeds. This was the fortunate outcome of his subtle contact with places [words missing]’. She also described Ethel as ‘soft spoken’ and ‘gracious’. [20]

In July 1914, 10,000 Orangemen and Loyalists met at Tynan Abbey, according to the Belfast Weekly News of 16 July 1914, p. 10.

His only son James Matthew Stronge (1891-1917) was killed at the age of 26 while serving as a Lieutenant with the Royal Irish Fusiliers at the battle of Ypres in France (August 1917); his name heads the war memorial at the church in Tynan. James had been married just weeks before his death to Winnifred Alexander of Carrickmoyle.

As Imperial Grand Master of the Orange Institution, he was much involved with the division of Ulster and the Irish Free State in the wake of the Irish War of Independence. He deplored the abandonment of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal, remarking that ‘the three counties have been thrown to the wolves with very little compunction’. However, ‘following the South Longford by-election victory for Sinn Fein, Sir James Stronge felt that while Ulster could hardly be asked to accept home rule when they knew they would be expecting an Irish Republic, he also realised that if British public opinion became convinced that Ulter was unreasonably barring progress, then no previous Lloyd-George speech would be able to save Unionists from being ‘thrown over’. [21] He was one of 30 delegates to sit on the Ulster Unionist Council, which directed the policy of Ulster Unionism during the next 15 years and during the Home Rule crisis and the foundation of the partition of Ireland.

In 1924. he was sworn of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland. For a long period, he was chairman if the Armagh Board of Guardians and the Rural District Council.

Lady Ethel Stronge died in 1926. Sir James Stronge died at Tynan Abbey on 20 May 1928, aged 78, after a long illness. He was succeeded by his cousin Walter. Curiously Sir Jack Leslie told me he dreamt of Sir James’s death the night before he died.

 

The Five Daughters of Sir James Stronge

 

Miss Stronge. Photo courtesy of Kate Kingan.

Sir James’s eldest daughter Zoe Edith Stronge, ARRC (1886-1949)massaged Queen Mary and died unmarried on 14 June 1949. 

The second daughter Daphne Helen Stronge an artist, was born on 6 April 1889 and served as a nurse in Pau, France, during the First World War. According to the blog ‘West Ulster & World War One Afternoon‘ she wrote a letter to the press back home in 1915 describing how most of the wounded were former labourers and farmers. “She wrote of how soldiers spent their recovery time knitting and crocheting, attending the local cinema, and making decorative items in metalwork. Most of the wounded had the opportunity to visit nearby Lourdes before returning to the front.” On 14 April 1920, Daphne Stronge was married to General Sir Walter William Pitt-Taylor, KCB, who commanded the 3rd Infantry Division in 1932 and finished up as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Western Command in India before his retirement in 1939. Daphne died on 22 December 1945; the moustachioed general followed her on 22 November 1950.

The third daughter Rose Ethel Stronge was born on 24 January 1894 and married on 18 August 1920 to her second cousin, Edmond St John Richardson of Berkshire.

The fourth daughter Jessy Stronge, MBE, was born in 1896 and lived in Portaferry, Co Down. She was made an MBE for public services in County Down in 1965.

The fifth and youngest daughter Joy Winifred Stronge (1901-1971) effectively ran the estate at Tynan for ten years before her emigration to New Zealand in 1929. Her emigration was prompted when she fell in love with an Englishman called Major James C. Fillery, JP, later of Royal Artillery. Fillery was an Auxiliary Company Commander during the Irish War of Independence. According to David Grant, he was at one time Company Commander of J Company who were based in Macroom. He was with F Company on 21 November 1920, Bloody Sunday, during the Croke Park shootings. Major Mills, who was in command, was back in the thirteenth car. In his report, he wrote that:

The wedding of Daphne and Sir Walter Pitt-Taylor, April 1920.

“… as no shots were coming from the football field and all the RIC constables seemed excited and out of hand, I rushed along and stopped the firing with the assistance of Major Fillery who was in the car with me. There was still firing going on in the football ground.”

The Major went to New Zealand in 1926 (traveling as a 3rd class passenger) and was living there in 1927. His first wife had wife contracted cerebral malaria and suffered severe brain damage. As such, Joy and Major Fillery moved to New Zealand where they were married on 27 November 1929. They had two daughters – Pip, who settled in Hamilton, New Zealand, and Margaret, who died circa 1991. Joy remained in New Zealand until her death in 1971. After she moved to New Zealand, her cousin Norman Stronge took over at Tynan. Pip Fillery’s daughter Kate married James Kingan, Sir Norman Stronge’s grandson, and is the present owner of Tynan Abbey.

 

Sir Francis Stronge (1856-1924)

 

Francis William Stronge, born on 22 November 1856, was the second son of the 5th Bart, and thus also a first cousin of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell. In 1909, he married Maria Elizabeth Fraser of Castleconnell, daughter of General Sir David Macdowall Fraser, a younger brother of Lord Saltown. Francis entered the Diplomatic Service as an attaché in 1878 and, in his early years, served at Vienna, Peking, Constantinople. Rome, and Athens. He was appointed Consul-General for Hungary in 1903, and in the following year was promoted to be Councillor of Embassy at Constantinople. From 1906 to 1911 he was Minister at Bogota, Columbia. He then served from 1911 untll 1913 as Minister Plenipotentiary in Mexico but appears to have made a bags of that particular job. His arrival in Mexico was delayed by ‘his needs to convalesce from a serious operation and receive treatment for arthritis.’ Thomas Hohler, Secretary of the British Legation, later described Stronge as:

‘… a charming old gentleman, well read, writer of excellent despatches, but he seemed incapable of making up his mind … he had a hesitating manner and a stammer, an untidy beard and hairy nose and ears, and to see his parrot nibbling at his ear was a grotesque spectacle. Despite these serious disadvantages which made him a very indifferent British representative – although he would have been an excellent University Don – I was very much attached to him but differed from him in practically every opinion he had or decision he took. His wife was neither intellectual or interesting, but a source of continual amusement. She had developed a philosophy (quite incomprehensible which she induced some of the unfortunate secretaries in the Mexican Foreign Office to translate into Spanish) that had something to do with a belief that plants thought’. [22]

Another contemporary was Henry Lane Wilson, US Ambassador to Mexico, described Francis as:

‘… a Belfast Irishman, who though of sufficiently sedate years, had recently married an Irish lady of respectable maturity. Both [Sir] Francis and Lady Stronge were amiable people, anxious to be on good terms with the world and to meet the exigencies of the diplomatic protocol. Sir Francis had a consuming passion for parrots, and one gathered somehow the suspicion that they participated in his councils. Whether in drawing room, at table, or in the chancellery, one of them was always present, perched upon His Excellency’s shoulder, and mingling affably but insistently in the conversation.’

From 1913 to 1919 he was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Santiago. He was knighted on 3 June 1915 in recognition of his help in negotiating the timely purchase from Chile of two battleships that were initially being built in British yards for the Chilean Navy.

The Stronges lived at Kilbroney House, Rostrevor, County Down, where Francis Stronge died in August 1924.

 

Sir Walter Lockhart Stronge (1860-1933), 6th Baronet

 

A Stronge family gathering at Tynan Abbey in 1938, a year before Norman succeeded to the title. Captain Norman Stronge with Mrs Stronge and their daughters Evelyn and Daphne stand behind their son James (accompanied by Mr Pooh). To James’s right are seated Mrs Stronge’s parents, Major H.T. Hall and Mrs Hall. On James’s left are Lady Stronge and Sir Charles Stronge. Sir Norman and his son James were murdered in 1981.

Without male heir, the titles and property passed to Sir Walter Lockhart Stronge on the death of his cousin James Mathew Stronge at the battle of Yprs in 1917.

In his younger years, Captain Walter Stronge served as land agent to the Fordes of Seaforde. He was employed in succession to a Mr Parsons who took his life. Prior to Parsons, the agent was Arthur King, son of Stewart King (also Steuart) of Donaghmede, one of the Masters of his Majesty’s High Court of Chancery in Ireland. Walter was the last land agent at Seaforde and saw out the Land Acts.

 

Sir Charles Stronge (1862-1939), 7th Baronet

 

Sir Walter was succeeded on his death in 1933 by his elderly brother, Sir Charles Edmond Sinclair Stronge, 7th Baronet. He lived at Lizard Manor, Aghadowey, which this cadet branch of the Stronges had purchased circa 1900, having lived there from circa 1873 as the agents for the Ironmongers Company. The house was built in 1859-60 as the agent’s house for the Ironmongers Company’s estate and was known as the Manor of Lizard.

Born on 5 February 1862, Charles was the second son of Captain E. R. F. Stronge, fourth son of the second baronet. Educated at Armagh Royal School, he served as a young man in the Royal Tyrone Fusiliers, afterwards the 4th Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. In 1885 he was appointed a magistrate for Co. Down, in 1890 for Co. Louth, and in 1896 for Co. Derry.  In about 1909, he was appointed a D.L for Co. Derry, of which he was High Sheriff in 1910. He was appointed H.M. Lieutenant for Co. Derry in July 1938. He was a member of the Ulster Unionist Council.

Sir Charles was married in 1892 to Marian Iliff, daughter of Mr. Samuel Bostock, of The Hermitage, Walton Heath, near Epsom.

Sir Charles died at Lizard, aged 77, in December 1933. His only son, Captain Norman Stronge, succeeded as eighth baronet. Sir Norman was to be the last of the Stronge Baronets.

 

Sir Norman Stronge (1894-1981), 8th Baronet

 

Sir Noman Stronge, Speaker at Stormont. Courtesy of Kate Kingan.

Lady Stronge, OBE, née Gladys Olive Hall, who died a year before her husband’s murder. Courtesy of Kate Kingan.

Born in Bryansford in County Down on July 23, 1894, Charles Norman Lockhart Stronge grew up at Lizard Manor and was educated at Eton. When the Great War broke out, he arrived on the Western Front as a second lieutenant with the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Two months later, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. On 2 July 1916, the day after the devastating opening day of the Battle of the Somme, he was raised to the rank of captain. His courage under fire was recognised by a series of bravery awards, and he was the first soldier mentioned in despatches by Lord Haig after the ill-fated Somme offensive began. Sir Norman became adjutant of the 10th Battalion in February 1918, but the unit having been practically wiped out, Captain Stronge was appointed adjutant of the 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles in April. He received the Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre, and was twice mentioned in dispatches. He was wounded near Courtrai on 20 October 1918.

After the war, he lived at Ballydavitt, Aghadowey and in 1921 married Gladys Olive Hall, OBE, from County Galway. With the death of the heir to the Stronge baronetcy in the Great War, Norman’s uncle Walter had became heir to the baronetcy and Tynan Abbey. After both Walter (1928) and Norman’s father Charles (1933) inherited, the baronetcy passed to Norman in 1939. Whilst Sir Norman moved to Tynan, his mother remained at Lizard until her death in the later 1940s. Both of Sir Norman’s parents and his uncle are buried at St Guire’s, the parish church in Aghadowey. After his mother’s death, Norman put Lizard up for sale and eventually it was bought by Phelim and Bridget O’Neill, whose daughter Rosetta was born in the house. Phelim had lately become an MP, having taken over his father’s seat for North Antrim after the latter received a peerage. Phelim later succeeded as the 2nd Lord Rathcavan.

A picture of the newly married Daphne Stronge and T.J.A. Kingan at Tynan Church from The Tatler, 19 January 1955.

In 1938, Norman was elected MP forMid-Armagh in the Northern Ireland Parliament, He was unopposed in each succeeding election, and after a short period as junior Minister, and then Chief Whip at Stormont, he became Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons. He was also President of the Royal Overseas League, President of the Northern Ireland Council of the Royal British Legion, Sovereign Grand Master of the Black Institution, from which he resigned in 1971, President of Boys’ Clubs and Chairman of Armagh County Council from 1944 to 1945. Sir Norman was Her Majesty’s Lieutenant for Armagh, and was Justice of the Peace for both Counties Armagh and Londonderry, having property in both places. He was also the Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution and a member of Derryshaw Boyne Defenders Orange Lodge of the Orange Order.

On his resignation as MP for Mid Armagh in 1969, his only son James was selected by the Official Unionists and elected. He held the seat until 1972.

Sir Norman also had two daughters, Daphne and Evelyn. Daphne Marian Kingan (née Stronge) married Thomas John Anthony Kingan of Glenganagh, Bangor, Co. Down. Daphne died at Glenganagh on 15 January 2002 and was buried in Bangor Cemetery. She was mother to James Kingan, who married Kate.

Born in 1925, Evelyn Elizabeth Stronge, or Evie, was alive and well in 2011. On 17 September 1960, she was married (as his second wife) to Brigadier Charles Harold Arthur Olivier (1912-1992), Chief of Staff, Northern Ireland Command. He was a second cousin of the actor Laurence Olivier. [40]

 

A Brutal Conclusion, 1981

 

The Stronge graves at Tynan.

On Wednesday 21 January 1981, a gang composed of some of the most hardened republicans from the South Armagh / North Monaghan / South Tyrone area arrived at Tynan shortly after 9pm and staked out the Tudor-Gothic building and the surrounding 1,000-acre estate.

Sir Norman and his only son James were alone in the library when the assassins struck. They blew off the doors, assassinated Sir Norman and James and then burned the house down. The Catholic politician Austin Currie declared afterwards that “even at 86 years of age, [Sir Norman] was still incomparably more of a man than the cowardly dregs of humanity who ended his life in this barbaric way.”

The Irish Times reported:

“They were completely the local big family, still living in an enormous mansion though everyone knew the father and son used only a few rooms of it, with a housekeeper and a land steward who lived out. Neither had much interest in farming – most of the acres was let. The family position and name carried weight almost on a par with the Brookborough name, in the days when Unionism was a seamless whole. The pedigree was long – eight generations in the Tynan area – and the tradition of public life unbroken. Sir Norman’s great grandfather was Speaker in the Irish House of Commons”.

The assassins are believed to have been commanded by Jim Lynagh, a unit commander within the Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade. Lynagh was, in turn, killed in an ambush by the SAS at Loughgall in 1987.

 

APPENDIX 1: NEW REPORTS ON THE 1981 MURDER

 

Father and son murdered in library

STORMONT speaker Sir Norman Stronge and his bachelor son James were murdered as they sat in the main library of Tynan Abbey 20 years ago this Sunday. Under the cover of darkness, IRA gunmen stormed into the Abbey in one of the biggest and most reported gun battles in the province during the history of the Troubles. And on that night on January 21, 1981, the killers torched the Abbey, which was built in 1750 by Rev James Stronge and remodelled and rebuilt between 1820 and 1830 by Sir James Stronge. Until December 1998, only a shell of the grand Tudor-Gothic style home stood in the 1,000-acre estate. Then, the remains were flattened, just a year before the Abbey would have been 250 years old. Provo gunmen burst into the home of one Tynan family and took them in their own car to a neighbouring house as the drama of that night in January 1981 began to unfold.Two of the gang held both families captive in the second house while at least five other heavily armed men made off in the family cars. They drove to Tynan Abbey, where Sir Norman (86) and his heir James (48) were sitting alone in the main library of the rambling grey-stoned mansion. Just before 9.45pm, the terrorists bombed the heavy front doors and burst in on the two men. They opened fire with an assortment of weapons, and shot both at point blank range with what are believed to have been high velocity firearms. Both died instantly.The gang then bombed the Abbey, leaving the bodies to burn along with the many valuable books and antiques in their home. The multiple explosions at the Abbey were heard by a police patrol who rushed to the scene as the two cars carrying the terrorists sped down the driveway.The police had already set up a road block at the end of the driveway, but the terrorists rammed the block, dived from the cars and engaged in a gun battle with the RUC. After 10 minutes they scattered, and escaped into nearby woods and over the border. Tynan Abbey burned fiercely throughout the night and was almost completely destroyed. Despite the blaze, firemen were able to recover both men’s bodies from the wreckage.

Thousands mourn at double funeral
THE village of Tynan was crowded for the double funeral of Sir Norman Stronge and his son James. Mourners came from throughout the province and from England, including lords, politicians, policemen, judges and church leaders. The remains of Sir Norman were carried by the men of the 5th Battalion the Royal Irish Rangers. On the coffin were the cap and sword of Major John Hamilton-Stubber, Lord Lieutenant for County Tyrone, for all Sir Norman’s possessions were destroyed in the fire which gutted the Abbey. James Stronge’s coffin was carried by colleagues from the RUC Reserve, and a Constable’s hat was placed on top. The coffins were met by the Rector of Tynan, former RAF Chaplain the Rev Tom Taylor, a close friend of the family. Two Royal British Legion standards were carried into the church. Sir Norman’s daughters Daphne and Evie were accompanied by their husbands, and his grandson Mr James Kingan was also present. The funeral service was relayed over an amplifying system, as the church could only accommodate a small proportion of the mourners. After the service, the chief mourners moved out into the churchyard where the Last Post was sounded and a Royal British Legion farewell was given. The two coffins were laid in the family plot, where Lady Stronge, Sir Norman’s wife and mother of James, was buried a year previously.

 

See also David B. Stronge’s excellent website: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~donegalstrongs/tynan001.htm

 

Acknowledgments

 

With thanks to Sir Jack Leslie, Kate Kingan, Peter Mant, Sammy Leslie, Sandra Thorne, Mourne McKay Lewis, David B Stronge, David Grant, Mathew Forde, Nicky Scott, Joy Fletcher and Janey Beattie.

 

 

End-Notes

 

[1] The drive took us past the Glaslough’ converted rectories, barracks, Orange Lodge and new housing estate, the Castle Leslie Pinereium (planted circa 1850 with unusual trees), the Steward’s house, the farm and back gate lodges and a few sadly severed rail-bridges.

[2] Sir Jack’s father, Sir Shane Leslie regularly visited Lord Alexander when he was Governor of Canada.

[3] The Parliament called in Dublin by King James II, 7th May 1689, had no representatives from the counties of Derry, Donegal, or Fermanagh; and, as many Protestants from those counties were engaged in the defence of Londonderry then under siege by forces loyal to the King, the protestants are described in the Act of Attainder as being “of Donegal and Derry“. Many of the attainted persons listed in the abstract from the Act also appeared in the corporation Minutes or many of the Derry diaries, as participators in the defence of Derry, Sligo, or of the Passage of the Bann (eg: the ford across the River Bann, running through Cames Parish, County Tyrone.

[4] Gomer Williams, ‘History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque: With an Account of the Liverpool Slave Trade‘, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 155).

[5] Samuel Powell, esq. sometime of Liverpool, afterwards of Stanedge, brother and heir male of Folliott Powell, was baptized at Brampton Brian, 5th January, 1694, and died 17th April, 1745, and was buried at St. Nicholas’ church, Liverpool, having had issue, by Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of the Rev. Richard Richmond, rector of Walton and Sephton, near Liverpool (who died 18th December, 1781, aged eighty-one, and lies buried near her husband), five sons and as many daughters.

[6] A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank: but uninvested with heritable honours, Volume 3 (Published for Henry Colburn, by R. Bentley, 1836), p. 574.

[7] Saunders’s News-Letter – Friday 09 December 1774, p. 1.

[8] London Chronicle – Thursday 16 June 1803, p. 1.

[9] The Gentleman’s Magazine (F. Jefferies, 1804, Volume 96, p. 1174. Other accounts suggest he died on 1 December 1804.

[10] The Annual register, or, A view of the history and politics of the year 1852, Volume 93 (J.G. & F. Rivington, 1852), p. 257; The parliamentary guide, a concise biography of the members of both houses of parliament, Richard Bartholomew Mosse (1837), p. 179.

[11] There is a detailed account of Frances Calvert’s life, complete with family trees and details of the Stronge family called ‘An Irish beauty of the regency, compiled from the unpublished journals of Frances Pery Calvert‘ (London; New York: J. Lane, 1911) which is available at this link.

[12] The Gentleman’s magazine, Volume 137 (1824) noted the birth in Tours of a son to Lady Stronge on 4 December 1823.

[13] The Gentleman’s magazine, Volume 191, p. 295.

[14] Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent – Tuesday 20 January 1852, p. 3.

[15] The Farmer’s Magazine (Rogerson and Tuxford, 1844), p. 243.

[16] Some reports say the 25th, but his birth was noted by the Edinburgh Annual Register as taking place on 18 Nov 1811 – ‘a son and heir’ for Sir James Stronge. The Gentleman’s magazine, Volume 137 (1824) also noted the birth in Tours of a son to Lady Stronge on December 4th 1823.

[17] The Spectator, Volume 12 (1839), p. 387.

[18] Oxford Journal – Saturday 23 September 1848, p. 4

[19] For more information, see notes on The Orange Institution and the Ulster Unionist Council

[20] Elizabeth Lazenby, ‘Ireland – A Catspaw’ (Boswell Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd., 1928)

[21] Thomas Hennessey, ‘Dividing Ireland: World War One and Partition’ (Routledge, 1998), p. 198.

[22] Peter Calvert, ‘Mexican Revolution 1910-1914: The Diplomacy of the Anglo-American Conflict’, Volume 3 of Cambridge Latin American Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 118-120. Click here for more.