The Stronge Family, 1938. A 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.
"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 avenue to Tynan Abbey
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 recalls 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. (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.
(3) As a young couple they 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 Tynan, Caldeon and Castle Leslie estates, which average at about a thousand acres a-piece, 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.(4) These walls all appear to have been built in the late 1840s - the same time as those at Lisnavagh - by famished peasants 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. In fact, the Tynan estate at one time boasted three ancient crosses. 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. We could just make out some images on the cross, 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 of 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 tragedys in a sorry chapter, now concluded, of Irish history. My own connections to the Stronges of Tynan Abbey are relatively spurious but the first chatelaine of Lisnavah House was a daughter of that clan and I believe the story of the McClintock Bunburys and the Stronges was deeply intertwined for many long decades.
The Church at Tynan where Captain
William Bunbury and Pauline Stronge
were married in 1842.
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.
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 Strangs of Balcaskie, Fifeshire. They settled at Clonleigh in 1616 and were ensconced at Strabane by 1670. In 1688, the elderly Matthew Stronge was among those Ulster settlers attainted by King James II's Parliament.(6) 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. It was "in consideration of services done and losses sustained at the memorable defence of Derry" that 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 long before the epic conflict of 1688 - 1691, but he 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.
The Stronge Mausoleum in Tynan, Co. Armagh
At any rate, Matthew's son and heir, James Stronge, was born in May 1657 and christened in Derry Cathedral. An 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 16756 and had several children.
The Gate Lodge at Tynan Abbey, which strongly echoes that at
Lisnavagh in County Carlow where the Stronge's daughter
Pauline McClintock Bunbury lived.
The Rev. John Stronge's eldest son, James Stronge, was curate of Tynan from 1739-1767, lived at Fairview and built a new house at Tynan in about 1750. 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.
The Rev. James Stronge died unmarried in 1767, aged 55, leaving Tynan to his younger brother, Matthew Stronge, a prominent merchant in Liverpool. On 13th February 1759, midway through the Seven Years War, Matthew’s named topped a list of forty-five 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”. [i]
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, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Richard Richmond, Rector of Walton and Sephton, near Liverpool.[ii] Her grandfather, also Samuel Powell, was 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. Her 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.[iii]
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 would also have coincided with a new burst of enthusiasm for plans to build a canal from Leeds to Liverpool (via Burnley and Blackpool). Matthew Stronge, who later filled the office of Liverpool's corporation treasurer, died in Liverpool on 10th October 1773. (Other accounts suggest 1780). 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.
[i] 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).
[ii] Samuel Powell, esq. some time 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.
[iii] 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.
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. He also appears to have held property at Thornhill, Co. Dublin. On 27 May 1785, the Rev. James 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, tenant or lessee of a large estate, who died unmarried in 1820.
A son, James Matthew, was born on 6th April 1786. James Stronge was awarded a Baronetcy on 22nd June 1803. [Other accounts suggest 14th June] This 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 29th November 1804. (Other accounts suggest 1 Dec 1804). According to The Gentleman’s Magazine (F. Jefferies, 1804, Volume 96, p. 1174), ‘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.’
In 1807, his wealthy widow, Lady Stronge (nee Tew), married 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.'
He 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 26th January 1852 at his home, 10 Grafton-street, Bond-street, Piccadilly.[i] His widow, the former Lady Stronge, died in Chelsea on 16th December 1852.
[i] 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.
Upon his death in 1804, the 1st Baronet was succeeded by his 18 year old son, James Matthew.
On 5th September 1810, six years after his succession, 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 coheir (with the Countess of Ranfurly) of Edmond Sexten, Viscount Pery. Sir James 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. 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.
In 1820, Sir James's great-uncle John Maxwell died and he inherited Fellows Hall which, with Tynan Abbey, gave him 2300 acres and two major houses. (Meanwhile the Armstrongs held 1900 acres but no house.)
The following comes from a book called ‘Grand Houses’ of Armagh and, if I haven’t done so by the time you read this, please remind me to provide proper details of the book’s name and author:
[Fellow’s Hall burned in 1752 and was rebuilt in 1762 by John Maxwel, son of Robert and Grace Maxwell.] In 1785, the Rev. Sir James Stronge married Helen Tew, niece of John Maxwell who died unmarried in 1820. Her sister Margaret Tew was married in 1784 to the Rev. William Jones Armstrong. The Stronge family soon had some 2300 acres plus two houses, Tynan Abbey and Fellows Hall, close to the Armstrong’s 1900 acres. Tynan was the Stronge’s principal seat and so Fellows Hall was leased to Thomas Knox Armstrong, whose grandmother had been a Maxwell, and who died in 1840.
The next occupier 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. In 1851, her father, the second baronet, took a new 21-year lease of Fellows Hall from the College, and in 1856 he paid a lump sum to convert this into a lease in perpetuity. 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”.
In 1836, Sir James's daughter Frances and son James both married into the Nugents of Portaferry, about whom more follows below.
In 1842, Sir James'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, another of their daughters, Catherine, married 28 year old George Augustus Jocelyn McClintock, youngest son of Bumper Jack McClintock by his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Trench. George was William McClintock Bunbury's youngest step-brother. He served with the 52nd Light Infantry and was later promoted Lieutenant Colonel of the Sligo Rifles. They 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 26th November 1914.
On 13 December 1852, Maxwell Dupre Stronge, of the 52nd Light Infantry, fifth son of Sir James, was married at Springfield, co. Limerick, to Jane-Colclough Goff, only dau. and heiress of the late Joseph Fade Goff, esq. of Raheenduff, County Wexford, and niece of Hamilton K. Grogan Morgan, esq., M.P. of Johnstown Castle, in the same county. (The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 191, p. 295). [It is interesting to note that Johnstown Castle was also built by the Lisnavagh architect Daniel Robertson].
Meanwhile, in December 1843, there was a GREAT AGRICULTURAL MEETING AT MARKET-HILL, followed by a Farmer's Dinner hosted by the Earl of Gosford. Amongtst 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.’[i]
[i] The farmer's magazine (Rogerson and Tuxford, 1844), p. 243.
Pauline McClintock Bunbury's brother James Stronge succeeded as 3rd Baronet on the death of their 78-year-old father on 2nd December 1864. The 3rd Baronet was his parents firstborn, delivered in November 1811. [i]
In 1835 or 1836, his sister Frances Stronge married Thomas Vesey Nugent (1807-1890), a Dublin barrister and the second son of Andrew Nugent (nee Savage, 1770-1846), JP, Deputy-Governor and Deputy Lieutenant of Co. Down. 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 26th January 1849, their 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.
On 17th June 1836, James married Frances's sister-in-law Selina Nugent, a daughter of Andrew Nugent of Portaferry, Co. Down.
A very capable administrator, 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.
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”.’[ii]
He was also a keen huntsman and, in about 1840, he established the Tynan Harriers. He maintained the pack "at his own expense until ill health compelled him to give up the sport. His love of it was intense all through life". 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.
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.
[i] 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.
[ii] The Spectator, Volume 12 (1839), p. 387.
Upon his death in 1885, Sir James was succeeded as 4th Baronet by his 71 year old brother, Sir John Calvert Stronge, another uncle of Thomas Kane McClintock Bunbury. Sir John was born on 21 Feb 1813 and baptised that May at his grandfather's home, Hertfordshire, England.
He married Lady Margaret Zoe Caulfield on 14 Sep 1848. Sir John was a barrister who served as JP 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 John was succeeded as 5th Baronet by his son (Sir) James Henry Stronge. Born on 8th Dec 1849, the 5th Baronet had already embarked on a distinguished legal career when he inherited Tynan Abbey. Having graduated from Lincoln's Inn in 1874, he had gone on to serve as High Sheriff of Tyrone in 1880 and Armagh in 1885. Perhaps more significantly, he was the Imperial Grand Master of the Loyal Order of Orange. 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 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. Indeed, such was his abhorrence of Gladstone and Home Rule that Sir Jack Leslie told me there used to be an etching of the Grand Old Man at the bottom of Sir James's piss-pot at Tynan! (i)
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.
Sir James married Ethel Margaret Burges on 7 Oct 1885. 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 mothers bed when his parents were away.
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’. [ii]
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’.[iii] 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.
Sir James Stronge died on 20 May 1928 aged 78 and was succeeded by his cousin. Curiously Sir Jack Leslie told me he dreamt of Sir James's death the night before he died.
Sir James's only son, James Matthew Stronge (b. 1891) 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.
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. She was married on 14 April 1920 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 moustachiod 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 was born in 1901 and 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 Coy who were based in Macroom. He was with F Coy on 21 Nov 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 "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 now lives 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.
[i] For more information, see notes on The Orange Institution and the Ulster Unionist Council
[ii] Elizabeth Lazenby, ‘Ireland--a catspaw’ (Boswell printing & publishing co. ltd., 1928)
[iii] Thomas Hennessey, 'Dividing Ireland: World War One and Partition' (Routledge, 1998), p. 198.
Also of note at this time was Francis William Stronge, born on 22nd November 1856, second son of the 5th Bart, and thus also a first cousin of the 2nd Baron Rathdonnell. He entered the Diplomatic Service as an attaché in 1878, became minister at Bogota, Columbia, in 1906, and was later Minister in Mexico from 1911-1913 but appears to have made a hayams 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 [Maria Elizabeth Fraser of Castleconnell, daughter of General Sir David Macdowall Fraser] 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’.
Another contemporary was Henry Lane Wilson, US Ambassador to Mexico, who 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.’ Francis was knighted on 3rd 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 Stronge died in August 1924,
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.
Without male heir, the titles and property passed to his cousin, Sir Walter Lockhart Stronge. Sir Walter was succeeded on his death in 1933 by his elderly brother, Sir Charles Edmond Sinclair Stronge, 7th Baronet. Sir Charles was father to the last of the Baronets Stronge - Sir Norman Lockhart Stronge, 8th Baronet. Born in the summer of 1894, Norman was prominent in the Unionists and Orange Order. On Wednesday January 21st 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 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.
Sir Norman's daughter Daphne was mother to James Kingan and his other daughter Evie was alive and well in 2011.
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.
Soldier awarded for his bravery
A RETIRED Unionist MP, 86-year-old Sir Norman Stronge was one of the oldest people deliberately killed during the Troubles.A soldier, politician and a farmer, he was the eighth holder of one of Ulster's oldest baronetcies. Born in Bryansford in County Down on July 23, 1894, Sir Norman was educated at Eton, and his war service took him to France with the 10th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was a second lieutenant when he landed on the continent, and two months later he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.A day after the opening of the Battle of the Somme, on July 2, 1916, 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 wounded near Courtrai on October 20, 1918.
After the war, he lived at Ballydavitt, Aghadowey and in 1921 married Gladys Olive Hall from County Galway. On the death of his cousin Sir James Stronge, he and his wife moved to Tynan Abbey, the family seat. Sir Norman became the eigth baronet in 1939, the year after he became MP for Mid Armagh. He was unopposed in each succeeding election, and after a short period as junior Minister, and then Chief Whip at Stormont, he became Speaker in 1945. 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.
On his resignation as MP for Mid Armagh in 1969, his son James was selected
by the Official Unionists and elected. He held the seat until 1972.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 landsteward 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".
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
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 grid-like gates to Tynan Abbey are remarkably similar to the old front gates of Lisnavagh House in Co. Carlow where Sir James's daughter Pauline went to live with her husband. Captain William McClintock Bunbury.
4. The Blackwater runs nearby and goes all the way to Lough Derg / Neagh?
5. Sir Norman was survived by two daughters, Daphne (who married Thomas John Anthony Kingan of Glenganagh, Bangor, Co. Down) and Evelyn, or Evie. Tynan Abbey is now owned by Sir Norman's grandson, James Kingan, and his wife Kate. Daphne Marian Kingan (nee Stronge) died 15 Jan 2002 at “Glenganagh”, Bangor, Co. Down and is buried in Bangor Cemetery.
6. 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
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.