Thursday, 7 March 2013

(10) Acheson of Gosford Castle, baronets and Earls of Gosford

Acheson, Earls of Gosford
coat of arms
Sir Archibald Acheson, descended from an East Lothian family, settled in Ireland in 1610 as part of the Plantation of Ulster.  In 1611, he received a grant of all or part of the manors of Baleek, Coolmalish and Drumorgan (Armagh), amounting to about 8,000 acres; and in 1612 the manor of Corrowdownan (in and round the town of Arvagh (Cavan)), which was some 6,500 acres. He was a Master in Chancery in Ireland 1621-27, and was one of the baronets of Nova Scotia created by the Earl of Stirling in 1628 along with a grant of 16,000 acres in the intended plantation in Nova Scotia.   At about this time, however, he returned to Scotland where he served as Second Secretary of State before his death in 1634.  As a centre for his Irish estate, he built a fortified house, known as Clonkearney (or Clancarney) Manor, which was burned in 1641 during the revolt of that year.  It was not rebuilt immediately, but was replaced by a new manor house on a different site in the later 17th or early 18th century, which was called Gosford House after the village in Scotland from which the family came.  Here Dean Swift stayed with Sir Arthur Acheson, 5th baronet, for some months in 1728-29.

Sir Archibald Acheson, 6th baronet (1718-90), who was an MP in the Irish Parliament for thirty-five years, was created 1st Baron Gosford in 1776 and 1st Viscount Gosford in 1785.  In the 1780s he remodelled and modernised Gosford House, but it was burned down in about 1805, shortly before the death of the 2nd Viscount, who had been created 1st Earl of Gosford in 1806.  The 2nd Earl (1776-1849), who married the only daughter and heiress of Robert Sparrow of Worlingham Hall (Suffolk), began the rebuilding of Gosford to the designs of Thomas Hopper as a vast neo-Norman castle in 1819-21: a project which was only completed by his son in 1862.  The 2nd Earl also expanded his Co. Armagh estate to about 12,000 acres by purchasing most of the property of the Richardson family of Richhill (his mother’s family) and all the surviving property of the Graham family, formerly of Ballyheriden (the latter rounding off the existing Gosford estate in the manor of Drumorgan, round Hamiltons Bawn). In 1835, the 2nd Earl was created Baron Worlingham of Beccles in the UK peerage, giving him a seat in the House of Lords, and sent to North America as Governor of Lower Canada, 1835-38.  He became separated from his wife, who returned to live at Worlingham Hall until her death in 1841, after which it was sold.


The building of Gosford Castle and the land purchases by the 2nd Earl crippled the family finances.  The 3rd Earl (1806-64), who was Liberal MP for County Armagh before inheriting the title, and who was created Baron Acheson in 1847, built up a remarkable library at Gosford, which was sold by the 4th Earl (1841-1922) in 1878, reputedly to settle a gambling debt.  The 4th Earl was part of the Prince of Wales’ set, and spent far more than he could afford; in 1921, shortly before his death, the contents of Gosford Castle were sold, and although the family retained ownership of the estate until 1958 (when it was sold to the Northern Ireland Forestry Commission), the house was not privately occupied thereafter.  

Clonkearney Manor (Armagh)

The ivy-clad ruins of Clonkearney Manor in Gosford Forest Park

A fortified house built in the 1620s as a centre for the newly settled estates of Sir Archibald Acheson; it was burned in 1641 and replaced later in the 17th century by Gosford House (q.v.).  The ivy-covered ruins survive within Gosford Park.

Descent: Sir Archibald Acheson, 1st bt. (d. 1634); to son, Sir Patrick Acheson, 2nd bt. (1611-38); to half-brother, Sir George Acheson, 3rd bt. (1629-85).


Gosford House, later Gosford Castle (Armagh)


The first house on the present site was built in the later 17th or early 18th century as a replacement for Clonkearney Manor, destroyed in 1641.  If the depiction on an 18th century estate map can be taken as accurate, it was a seven-bay, three-storey house of early Georgian character.  It was remodelled in the 1780s for the 1st Viscount Gosford but burned down c.1805. 

The 2nd Earl of Gosford, who inherited in 1806, employed Thomas Hopper to rebuild the house as a vast neo-Norman castle set on a ramparted platform in dense woods.  The house is comprised of irregular ranges that partly enclose a courtyard space.  


Gosford Castle: view from the open courtyard

The rather grim though undeniably impressive exterior, all executed in crisp ashlar, is essentially Picturesque in its composition of square and circular masses, but lacks the harmonious qualities evident in Hopper's other and later great neo-Norman castle at Penrhyn in north Wales.


Gosford Castle: perspective drawing of the house as designed by Thomas Hopper in 1819-21

Gosford was the most substantial commission of Hopper’s early career, and was begun when he had not yet proved himself with a house on this scale.  He probably secured the commission after working as arbitrator in a dispute between Nash and Lord O’Neill at Shane’s Castle (Antrim) in 1816, when he would have come to the notice of Lord Gosford’s agent, William Blacker, who also acted for O’Neill.  Hopper was one of the major proponents of the neo-Norman style, and his feeling for the style perhaps came from his familiarity with the great keep of the castle at his childhood home, Rochester in Kent.  But Hopper also studied other Norman buildings, such as Hedingham Castle (Essex) and Castle Rising (Norfolk), and details in his neo-Norman works can be traced back to a variety of such sources.


Gosford Castle prior to restoration

Work progressed slowly on the construction of the castle, partly because of financial constraints, and a good deal was left to the discretion of William Walker as clerk of works.  In 1821 the outbuildings were progressing; in 1828 the Portland stone staircase was constructed; and by 1833 James Donnelly was preparing to organise the plasterers’ and joiners’ work ‘necessary to complete the different apartments’.  In 1834 there was a prospect of Lord Gosford actually moving in, but by then he seems to have become discontented with his house and more especially with his architect; Hopper also wrote ‘I have always felt a sorrow that I ever went to Ireland.  I now consider it a misfortune’.
Further progress on the house was delayed by Lord Gosford’s Governorship in Canada, 1835-39, but when he returned work continued under the superintendence of the Newry architect, Thomas Duff (d. 1848), who completed additions, alterations and improvements to a total value of £5,400.  Despite his differences with his patron, Hopper remained involved and in October 1852 the Armagh Guardian reported that ‘a number of tradesmen are now engaged finishing the remaining wing of this building’. 

Even then the house was unfinished.  The 3rd Earl seems to have been unsatisfied with the rather modest entrance created by Hopper, and commissioned a new bastioned entrance block on the east corner of the north front from George Adam Burn (who had been Hopper’s principal assistant), which was built in 1859-63.   Burn also completed the family apartments in the north-west range.  His additions are a little more eccentric and more freely-detailed than Hopper’s original building.  The total cost of the building over more than forty years was in excess of £75,000.
Gosford Castle, showing the entrance block (with round towers) added by Burn in 1859-62



Inside, Hopper’s plan was essentially picturesque and devoid of symmetry, and his main rooms are on a surprisingly domestic scale considering the vast exterior.  The end of the south wing was set at an angle to the main lines of the composition and contained the principal rooms; the picturesque exterior and the angle allowed the rooms to have distinctive shapes and interesting conjunctions, leading to a climax in the circular Tower Room or drawing room.  This sequence of rooms in particular seems to owe much to the planning of John Nash's castles.  By moving the entrance to the north-east corner of the house, Burn interposed a sequence of impressive spaces between the entrance and the reception rooms, enhancing its grandeur at the expense of comfort.

One of the best and most exotic interiors is the rectangular Library, with a flat compartmented ceiling and bookcases recessed within niches decorated with plaster chevron decoration and elaborately carved architectraves and with the spandrels filled with Byzantine-inspired timber fretwork.  The Tower Room has walls relieved by recessed arches, above which is a deep plaster frieze in the form of a blind arcade, while above that is a coving and a flat ribbed plaster ceiling.


Gosford Castle: the library, showing both the richness of the interiors and the 3rd Earl's valuable collection of books







The house was requisitioned during the war (when Anthony Powell was briefly stationed there) and became a Prisoner of War camp.  The family sold it in 1958 to the Northern Ireland Forestry Commission, which turned the demesne into a Forest Park.  The house was later used later to store public records, and further military occupation followed during the Troubles.  It was sold in the 1980s and briefly became an hotel, which was not successful.  The process of converting it into 23 dwellings was begun by the Boyd Partnership in 2008, but has been only partially completed so far, and some of the principal interiors are now derelict.

The demesne is now densely wooded and picturesque, but this overlies an older landscape, notable for its associations with Swift.  When he stayed at Gosford in 1728-29 he is said to have amused himself by directing the gardeners to make improvements to the grounds but any evidence for what he did has been lost.  The principal older feature now recognisable is a pair of fish ponds, which flank twin gate lodges with shaped rear gables set on either side of the main carriage drive and linked by a semicircular archway with a bolection moulding that points to a 17th century date.  At the south end of the drive, off the Tandragee Road, is a cottage orné lodge, decoratively clad in branches, with a pyramid roof carried on poles to form a surrounding verandah.  There was formerly a similar lodge on the east side of the demesne at Drumalack, now vanished.

Descent: Sir George Acheson, 3rd bt. (1629-85); to son, Sir Nicholas Acheson, 4th bt. (c1656-1701); to son, Sir Arthur Acheson, 5th bt. (1688-1749); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 1st Viscount Gosford (1718-90); to son, Sir Arthur Acheson, 1st Earl of Gosford (c1742-1807); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford (1776-1849); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 3rd Earl of Gosford (1806-64); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 4th Earl of Gosford (1841-1922); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 5th Earl of Gosford (1877-1954); to son, Sir Archibald Acheson, 6th Earl of Gosford (1911-66), who sold 1958.

Worlingham Hall (Suffolk)

Worlingham Hall as engraved in 1818.

The house stands on the site of a late 17th century house built for John Felton, described in 1735 as ‘a neat mansion, now the seat of Sir Thomas Robinson'.  In 1785 Robert Sparrow commissioned designs for rebuilding the house from Soane but nothing was done and Soane had to threaten to sue to get his bill paid.  In about 1800, Sparrow finally commissioned local architect Francis Sandys, the builder of Ickworth Hall, to submit fresh plans, which seem to have involved a comprehensive remodelling rather than a complete rebuilding.  The result is a low two-storey seven bay house with a tripartite window and simple porch in the centre.  However the simple external design contrasts with the considerable richness of the interior, as at his Great Finborough Hall in Suffolk. Marcus Binney suggests that Sandys was persuaded to incorporate a number of Soane's original ideas - notably in the the extraordinary octagonal staircase hall, the library with its bowed sides and shallow segmented ceilings, and the picture gallery.  The house was restored in the 1960s by Viscount Colville and again in the late 1990s by Martin and Debbie Robertson-Bond.  The house is now available for holidays.
Descent: John Felton (d. 1703); to daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Sir John Playters of Sotterley Hall, 4th bt. (1636-1721); who sold to Sir Thomas Robinson of Kentwell Hall, 3rd bt. (1681-1743); to widow, Dame Elizabeth Robinson (d. 1758), who sold c.1750 to her brother, Sir George Hare, 5th bt. (c.1691-1764), who sold 1755 to Robert Sparrow (1705-64); to son, Robert Sparrow (1741-1822); to daughter Mary, wife of Archibald Acheson, 2nd Earl of Gosford (1776-1849); to son, Archibald Acheson, 3rd Earl of Gosford (1806-64) who sold 1849 to Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke, 1st bt. (1782-1857); to grandson, Gen. Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke, 3rd bt. (1839-1932) though the house was occupied by his father, Rev. Sir Charles Clarke, 2nd bt. (1812-99), and sold after his death...Alfred Mulholland (fl. 1920)...sold 1962 to John Mark Alexander Colville, 4th Viscount Colville of Culross (1933-2010); sold 1995 to Mr & Mrs Martin Robertson-Bond; sold 1998 to Mr & Mrs Richard Nourse; sold 2010.

 

The Achesons of Gosford


Acheson, Sir Archibald (c.1580-1634), 1st bt., Lord Glencairney.  Son of Capt. Patrick Acheson (?1558-1617) of Edinburgh and his wife Martha (née Drummond), descended from a cadet branch of the Achesons of Gosford, East Lothian; born in Edinburgh about 1580.  He settled in Ireland in 1610 as part of the Plantation of Ulster and was made a denizen of Ireland, 12 February 1618, but he later divided his time between Ireland and Scotland.  He was a zealous supporter of the Protestant settlement of Ulster, and in 1611 he received a grant of all or part of the manors of Baleek, Coolmalish and Drumorgan (Armagh), amounting to about 8,000 acres, from Sir James Douglas of Spott; and in 1612 the manor of Corrowdownan (in and round the town of Arvagh (Cavan)), which was some 6,500 acres; and he later bought more land from his brother, Sir Henry Acheson (fl. 1628) (q.v.) of Dromleck (Armagh).  He was MP in the Scottish Parliament for Haddington, 1625 and was appointed a Master in Chancery in Ireland 1621-27, but resigned this office on being appointed a Lord of Session in Scotland (as Lord Glencairney), 1627; second Secretary of State c.1628-34.  He was knighted by King James I at Theobalds, 31 March or 1 April 1620 and was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 1 January 1628, with a grant of 16,000 acres in Nova Scotia from the Earl of Stirling, but he never had seizin of these lands.  He married 1st, by 1610, Agnes Vernor of Edinburgh and 2nd, about 20 July 1619, Margaret (alive 1629), only child of Sir John Hamilton (c.1576-1604) (2nd son of Claud Hamilton (c.1546-1621), 1st Lord Paisley), and his wife Johanna, dau of Levinius Everard (later Baroness Sempill) and had issue:
(1.1) Sir Patrick Acheson, 2nd bt. (1611-38) (q.v.)
(1.2) Jane Acheson, m. Sir Lewis Lauder of Addistoun, Edinburgh
(1.3) Margaret Acheson (d. after 1659?), m. Sir William Cockburn (d. c.1650), 2nd bt. of Langton (q.v.) and had issue
(2.1) Sir George Acheson, 3rd bt. (1629-85) (q.v.)
As a centre for the new estate, he built a fortified house, known as Clonkearney (or Clancarney) Manor.  In 1633 he built a town house, Acheson House, Canongate in the Edinburgh Old Town, which survives.
He died 9 September 1634 at the house of Sir William Sempill in Letterkenny (Donegal), and was buried 8 October 1634 at Mullaghbracke (Armagh).

Acheson, Sir Patrick (1611-38), 2nd bt.  Son of Sir Archibald Acheson (c.1580-1634), 1st bt., and his first wife, Agnes Vernor.  He married in 1634 Martha (d. 1674/5), only child of William Moore, Clerk of the Signet, but had no issue.
He inherited Cloncarney Manor (Armagh) and Acheson House, Edinburgh from his father in 1634, but sold the latter in 1636.
He died 6 October 1638 at Market Hill (Armagh), when his estates and title passed his half-brother, Sir George Acheson (1629-85), 3rd bt.  He was buried 24 October 1638 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx).  He died intestate and administration of his estate was granted to a creditor, 26 June 1639. His widow married 2nd, March 1640, Richard Atkyns (1615-77) of Tuffley (Glos), son of Richard Atkyns of Tuffley, but again had no issue.

Acheson, Sir George (1629-85), 3rd bt.  Son of Sir Archibald Acheson (c.1580-1634), 1st bt., and his second wife, Margaret, dau of Sir John Hamilton, second son of 1st Lord Paisley; baptised at Edinburgh, 4 August 1629.  Succeeded his half-brother, Sir Patrick Acheson (1611-38) (q.v.) in the baronetcy,  6 October 1638.  High Sheriff of Co. Armagh and Co. Tyrone, 1657.  He married 1st, 23 January 1654 at Derry Cathedral, Nichola, elder dau and co-heir of Sir Robert Hannay, 1st bt. of Mochdrum (q.v.) and 2nd, 3 November 1659 at Market Hill (Armagh), Margaret (c.1633-85), dau of Sir William Caulfeild (1587-1640), 2nd Baron of Charlemont, and had issue:
(1.1) Sir Nicholas Acheson, 4th bt. (c.1656-1701) (q.v.)
(2.1) Isabelle Acheson, m. Hector Og Maclean.
He inherited the family estates centered on Cloncarney Manor in Armagh and Cavan from his half-brother in 1638, but the house there was destroyed in 1641.  He was probably responsible for building Gosford House as a new family house in the later 17th century.
He died at Market Hill between 10 March and 17 November 1685.  His will was proved on 17 November 1685, and directed that he be buried at Mullaghbracke (Armagh).

Acheson, Sir Nicholas (c.1656-1701), 4th bt.  Only son of Sir George Acheson (1629-85), 3rd bt. and his first wife, Nichola, dau of Sir Robert Hannay, bt.  High Sheriff of Armagh, 1695; MP for Co. Armagh 1695-99. He married 1686, Anne (d. c.1743), only dau of Thomas Taylor of Kells (Meath), and had issue:
(1) Sir Arthur Acheson (1688-1749), 5th bt. (q.v.)
He inherited the family estates centered on Gosford House in Armagh and Cavan from his father in 1685.
He died late in 1701, and his will was proved the following year.

Acheson, Sir Arthur (1688-1749), 5th bt. Son of Sir Nicholas Acheson (c.1656-1701), 4th bt. and his wife Anne, dau of Thomas Taylor; born 26 January 1688.  Succeeded his father, November or December 1701.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1705; BA 1707); MP in the Irish Parliament for Mullingar 1727-49; High Sheriff of Co. Armagh 1728.  He, or more accurately his wife, was a friend of Jonathan Swift, who stayed at Gosford House for some months in 1728-29, although he came to feel that the house and grounds were wasted on such 'an anti-social recluse'.  He married 1715 Anne (d. 1737), only dau and heir of Philip Savage, Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland, and had issue:
(1) Nicholas Acheson (c. 1716-17), dsp;
(2) Philip Acheson (c. 1717-27), dsp.
(3) Sir Archibald Acheson (1718-90), 6th bt. and 1st Viscount Gosford (q.v.);
(4) A son
(5) A son
(6) Capt. Arthur Acheson (d. 1758), m. 1753 Jane (d. 1800), dau of John King of Charlestown (Roscommon) (who m.2nd, 1763, Abraham Creighton (d. 1772), 1st Baron Erne); he died 23 June 1758;
(7) Anne Acheson (d. 1785), m. 1742 Rt. Rev. Walter Cope DD, Bishop of Ferns & Leighlin and later of Killala; she dsp 11 March 1785
(8) Nichola Acheson (1725-61), m. 1746 Robert ffrench (d. 1778/9) of Monivea Castle (Galway) and had issue four sons and one daughter.
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan, centered on Gosford House, in 1701.
He died 8 February 1748/9 and was buried in the family vault at Mullaghbracke (Armagh), where he was commemorated by a memorial inscription.  His will was proved in 1749.

Acheson, Sir Archibald (1718-90), 6th bt. and later 1st Viscount Gosford.   

Third but oldest surviving son of Sir Arthur Acheson (1688-1749), 5th bt. and his wife Anne (d. 1737), dau of Philip Savage; born 1 September 1718 and baptised 29 September 1718.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin; MP in Irish parliament for Dublin University 1741-60, County Armagh 1761-76; Enniskillen, 1776.  High Sheriff of Armagh 1751 and Cavan, 1761; Deputy Governor of Co. Armagh, 1756-61; appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland 1770.  Succeeded his father in the baronetcy 8 February 1748/9, and was created 1st Baron Gosford of Market Hill, 20 July 1776 and 1st Viscount Gosford of Market Hill, 20 June 1785.  He married 1740 Mary (d. May 1792), yst dau of John Richardson of Rich Hill (Armagh) and had with other issue who died unmarried:


(1) Sir Arthur Acheson (c.1742-1807), 2nd Viscount and later 1st Earl of Gosford
(2) John Acheson (d. young)
(3) Archibald Acheson (d. young)
(4) The Hon. George Acheson (d. 1778)
(5) The Hon. Anna Maria Acheson, m. 1st , 1758, Alexander Boyd (d. 1770) of Ballycastle and had issue and 2nd, 1772, Rev. Henry Maxwell (c.1729-1816), rector of Dromore (Down), son of Capt. Robert Maxwell of Fellows Hall (Armagh);
(6) The Hon. Nichola Acheson (d. 1821), m. 1763, Michael Obins (d. 1798) of Castle Obins (Armagh) and had issue
(7) The Hon. Julia Henrietta Acheson (d. 1829), m. 1766, Alexander Macaulay of Glenville (1734-1817) and had issue; she died 23 or 28 May 1829;
(8) The Hon. Lucinda Acheson (b. 1752), m. 1st, 1776, Thomas St. George (d. 1795), son of Dean St. George of Dublin, and 2nd, Jeremiah ffrench (d. 1819), son of Robert ffrench (d. 1778/9) and his wife Nichola, dau of Sir Arthur Acheson, 5th bt. (q.v.)
(9) The Hon. Mary Acheson (d. 1799), m. 1778 or 1788 Hugh Montgomery (d. 1797) of Castle Hume (Fermanagh) and had issue; she died 10 April 1799;
(10) The Hon. Sophia Acheson (d. 1824), d. unm. August 1824.
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan in 1749, and remodelled Gosford House in the 1780s.
He died 5 September 1790, aged 72.

Acheson, Sir Arthur (c.1742-1807), 2nd Viscount and later 1st Earl of Gosford. Son of Sir Archibald Acheson (1718-90), 6th bt. and 1st Viscount Gosford, and his wife Mary (d. 1792), dau of John Richardson of Rich Hill (Armagh); born about 1742.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin; described as ''one of the most elegant and well-bred men of the age".  MP for Old Leighlin, 1783-90; appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland 10 February 1793.  Created Earl of Gosford, 1 February 1806.  He married 1774 Millicent (d. in Paris, 1 November 1825), dau of Lt-Gen. Edward Pole and had issue:
(1) Sir Archibald Acheson (1776-1849), 2nd Earl of Gosford (q.v.);
(2) The Hon. Arthur Acheson (d. young)
(3) The Hon. Arthur Pole Acheson (d. young)
(4) Lady Olivia Acheson (c.1777-1863), m. 14 March 1797 Brig-Gen. Robert Bernard Sparrow (d. 1805) of Brampton Park (Hunts) and Tanderagee Castle (Armagh); she died 12 February 1863;
(5) Capt. The Hon. Edward Acheson CB (c.1778-1828); Coldstream Guards; fought at Waterloo; custom official in port of Dublin; d. unm. 24 July 1828;
(6) Lady Mary Acheson (c.1781-1843), m. 19 February 1803 Lt-Gen. Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck GCB GCH MP (1774-1839), second son of 3rd Duke of Portland and Governor-General of India 1827-35; she dsp 1 May 1843;
(7) Lady Millicent Acheson (c.1798-1878), m. 12 September 1826 Rev. John Hurt Barber (c.1793-1872), rector of Aston Sandford (Bucks) 1821-27 and Little Stukeley (Hunts), 1827-60; she died 13 January 1878.
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan in 1790.  Gosford House was burned down in 1805.
He died 14 January 1807 in Pulteney St., Bath, and was succeeded by his eldest son.  His will was proved in 1807.

Acheson, Sir Archibald (1776-1849), 2nd Earl of Gosford.   Son of Sir Arthur Acheson (c.1742-1807), 2nd Viscount and later 1st Earl of Gosford, and his wife Millicent (d. 1825), dau of Lt-Gen. Edward Pole; born 1 August 1776.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1796; MA 1797).  Described in 1815 as 'a good natured and venerable little fellow without political or personal pretensions', but pursued as active a public career as any member of the family.  He was MP in the Irish and later UK Parliaments for Co. Armagh 1797-1807; a Whig representative Irish peer 1811-49; appointed to the Privy Council, 1834; Custos Rotulorum of County Armagh 1810-49 and Lord Lieutenant 1831-49; a lord in waiting to King William IV, 1831-34; Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, July-Nov. 1834 and April-June 1835; Governor-General of British North America and Lt-Governor of Lower Canada 1835-38; Vice-Admiral of Ulster.  He was created Baron Worlingham of Beccles 13 June 1835 and appointed GCB in 1838.  He married 20 July 1805 (separated) Mary (1777-1841), only dau of Robert Sparrow of Worlingham Hall (Suffolk) and had, with other issue:
(1) Sir Archibald Acheson (1806-64), 3rd Earl of Gosford (q.v.)
(2) Lady Mary Acheson (1809-50), born 27 June 1809; m. 9 July 1835 The Hon. James Hewitt (1811-87), later 4th Viscount Lifford and had issue; she died 13 March 1850;
(3) Lady Millicent Acheson (1810-87), born 26 July 1810; m. 28 May 1842 Henry Bence-Jones FRS MD DCL (1813-73) of Brook St., Mayfair and had issue; she died 29 August 1887;
(4) Lady Olivia Acheson (1811-52), born 2 December 1811; d. unm. 28 March 1852;
(5) Lady Annabella Acheson (d. 1849); d. unm. 26 July 1849.
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan in 1807, where Gosford House had recently burned down, and expanded them through the acquisition of most of the Richardson family estate at Rich Hill (Armagh) and all the surviving property of the Graham family, formerly of Ballyheriden (the latter rounding off the existing Gosford estate in the manor of Drumorgan, round Hamiltons Bawn). He commenced rebuilding the house to the designs of Thomas Hopper as a vast neo-Norman castle in the 1840s, but this was unfinished at his death.
He died 27 March 1849, aged 72 and was buried at Mullaghbracke (Armagh); will proved 7 May 1849.


Acheson, Sir Archibald (1806-64), 3rd Earl of Gosford.  Son of Sir Archibald Acheson (1776-1849), 2nd Earl of Gosford, and his wife Mary (d. 1841), dau of Robert Sparrow of Worlingham Hall (Suffolk); born in Portland Place, Marylebone, 20 August 1806.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1825; BA 1828) and built up a remarkable library at Gosford which was sold after his death.  Liberal MP for Co. Armagh, 1830-47; Lord Lieutenant of Co. Armagh, February-June 1864; Honorary Col., Armagh Militia.  He was created Baron Acheson of Clancairney (Armagh), 18 September 1847, and succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Gosford, 27 March 1849; KP 22 February 1855.  He married, 22 June 1832, Lady Theodosia Brabazon (1808-76), only dau of John Chambré Brabazon (1772-1851), 10th Earl of Meath and had, with other issue:
(1) Lady Gertrude Emily Acheson (1833-1927), born 30 June 1833; m. 20 February 1856 Francis John Savile Foljambe MP (1830-1917) of Osberton (Notts) and Aldwarke (Yorks) and had issue; died 17 December 1927;
(2) Lady Mary Acheson (1835-92), born 21 March 1835; m. 27 February 1862 Hon. Leopold William Henry Fox-Powys (1837-93) of Bewsey Hall (Lancs), 2nd son of 3rd Baron Lilford and had issue, died 30 January 1892;
(3) Lady Katharine Acheson (1839-98), born 24 June 1839; m. 28 July 1868 Capt. Frederick William Duncombe (1840-78) of Sydney House, Ryde (IoW), son of Adm. The Hon. Arthur Duncombe of Kilnwick Percy (Yorks) and had issue; died 5 March 1898;
(4) Sir Archibald Brabazon Sparrow Acheson (1841-1922), 4th Earl of Gosford (q.v.)
(5) Maj-Gen. The Hon. Edward Archibald Brabazon Acheson (1844-1921), born 22 May 1844; m. 1869 Clementina (c.1852-1929), dau of Gen. Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant GCSI KCB (1803-74); died 3 July 1921 and had issue.
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan; and completed the rebuilding of Gosford Castle in 1862.
He died at 59 Grosvenor Street, Westminster (Middx), 15 June 1864, aged 57, and was buried at Mullaghbracke (Armagh); his will was proved 19 August 1864.

Acheson, Sir Archibald Brabazon Sparrow (1841-1922), 4th Earl of Gosford.  Son of Sir Archibald Acheson (1806-64), 3rd Earl of Gosford and his wife Lady Theodosia Brabazon, dau of 10th Earl of Meath; born at Worlingham Hall (Suffolk), 19 August 1841 and baptised at Worlingham, 27 September 1841.  Educated at Harrow.  Succeeded his father, 15 June 1864.  Lord Lieutenant of Co. Armagh, 1882-?; Vice-Admiral of Ulster; Lord of the Bedchamber to HRH The Prince of Wales, 1886-1901; Vice-Chamberlain to HM Queen Alexandra 1901-22; Honorary Col., 3rd bttn, Irish Fusiliers.  He was appointed KP 1869, Knight Grand Cross of Dannebrog, Order of the Redeemer (Greece), Order of White Eagle (Russia).  As a member of the Prince of Wales’ set, he spent far more than he could afford.  In 1878 he sold the library built up by his father at Gosford Castle, and in 1921 the remaining contents of the castle.  He married 10 August 1876 at St George’s Hanover Square, Westminster, Lady Louisa Augusta Beatrice Montagu (1854-1944) DBE DGStJ, second dau of William Drogo Montagu (1823-90), 7th Duke of Manchester and had issue:
(1) Sir Archibald Charles Montagu Brabazon Acheson (1877-1954), 5th Earl of Gosford (q.v.)
(2) Lady Alexandra Louise Elizabeth Acheson (1878-1958), born 11 August 1878; m. 17 June 1905 Lt-Col. the Hon. Frederick William Stanley DSO (1878-1942), eighth son of 16th Earl of Derby, and had issue; died 21 January 1958;
(3) Lady Mary Acheson (b. 1881), born 2 June 1881; m. 24 July 1906 the Hon. Robert Arthur Ward OBE MP (1871-1942), third son of 1st Earl of Dudley, and had issue
(4) Lady Theodosia Louisa Augusta Acheson (1882-1977), born 5 June 1882; m. 3 August 1912, Sir Alexander George Montagu Cadogan OM GCMG KCB PC (1884-1968), seventh son of 5th Earl Cadogan and had issue;
(5) Capt. The Hon. Patrick George Edward Cavendish Acheson (1883-1957) RN, born 30 June 1883; m. 24 December 1915 Norah (d. 1970), dau of Alfred Jones of Halifax, Nova Scotia and had issue
He inherited the family estates in Armagh and Cavan, centered on Gosford Castle, in 1864.
He died in London, 11 April 1922 and was cremated and buried at Golders Green, 14 April 1922; will proved at £41,570.

Acheson, Lt-Col. Sir Archibald Charles Montagu Brabazon (1877-1954), 5th Earl of Gosford, soldier.  Son of Sir Archibald Brabazon Sparrow (1841-1922), 4th Earl of Gosford, and his wife Lady Louisa Montagu (d. 1944), dau of 7th Duke of Manchester; born 26 May 1877.  Educated at Harrow; entered the army, 1898: Coldstream Guards (Lt, 1899; Lt-Col.) in Boer War (wounded) and First World War (wounded twice and mentioned in despatches); Assistant Adjutant-General, War Office, 1918; DL for Co. Armagh.  He was appointed a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and was awarded the MC and the Croix de Guerre.  He married 1st, 21 June 1910 at St George’s Hanover Square, (div. 1928), Mildred (d. 1965), only dau of John Ridgely Carter, US Minister at Bucharest; and 2nd, 1 October 1928 Beatrice (d. 1967), dau of Arthur Clafin of Southampton, New York and formerly wife of Robert P. Breese of New York, and had issue:
(1) Sir Archibald Alexander John Stanley Acheson (1911-66), 6th Earl of Gosford (q.v.);
(2) The Hon. Patrick Bernard Victor Montagu Acheson (b. 1915), m. 21 December 1946 Judith Bate, dau of Earle P. Gillette of Minneapolis (USA) and had issue; resident in Virginia (USA) in 2003;
(3) Lady Patricia Acheson (d. August 1913, in infancy);
(4) Lady Camilla Mildred Nichola Acheson, m. 1st, 25 November 1937 (div. 1949), Freiherr Hans Christoph Schenk von Stauffenberg and had issue; m. 2nd, 20 June 1950, Freiherr Axel von dem Bussche-Streithorst and had further issue;
(5) Lady Mary Virginia Shirley Acheson (1919-96), m. 12 December 1941 Fernando Corcuera (d. 1978), son of Pedro L. Corcuera y Palomar of Mexico City and had issue.
He inherited the Gosford Castle estate in Armagh and Cavan in 1922, shortly after the contents of the house had been sold to meet his father’s debts, and never occupied the house. He lived at Topping, South Shaftsbury, Vermont (USA).
He died in New York, 20 March 1954 and was buried at Maple Hill Cemetery, Shaftsbury, Vermont (USA).


Acheson, Group Capt. Sir Archibald Alexander  John Stanley (1911-66), 6th Earl of Gosford. Son of Sir Archibald Charles Montagu Brabazon Sparrow Acheson (1877-1954), 5th Earl of Gosford and his first wife Mildred (d. 1965), dau of John Ridgely Carter; born 14 January 1911.  Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA, LLB 1932, MA 1946).  Assistant Air Attaché, Paris, 1938-40; served in Royal Air Force in World War II (Group Capt.), commanding 613 Squadron and 32 Wing; Parliamentary Secretary, MoD, 1946-57; Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs 1957-58; Lord in Waiting (Gov. Whip), 1958-59; Member of Council, British Olympic Association 1954; Vice-President RAF Association; Chairman, British Road Federation; elected FRSA, and appointed Officer of Legion of Honour (USA).  He married 1st, 14 December 1935 (div. 1960), Francesca Augusta Maria, elder dau of Francesco Cagiati of Rome and 2nd, 21 September 1960, Cynthia Margaret (1911-2015), dau of Capt. Henry Cave West MC RHA and widow of Maj. James Pringle Delius (d. 1944) and had issue:
(1.1) Sir Charles David Nicholas Alexander John Sparrow Acheson (b. 1942), 7th and present Earl of Gosford;
(1.2) Lady (Francesca Georgina) Caroline Acheson (1940-91), m. 15 September 1967 David Wallace Fleming (d. 1991), son of Wallace Fleming of Santa Barbara (USA) and had issue;
(1.3) Lady Isabella Augusta Acheson (b. 1950), m. 1979 Tevita T. Maka of Tonga and had issue; resident in Arizona, USA.
He inherited the Gosford Castle estate from his father in 1954 but sold it to the Northern Ireland Forestry Commission in 1958. 
He died 17 February 1966 and was buried at Maple Hill Cemetery, Shaftsbury, Vermont (USA). His widow died 15 January 2015, aged 103.

Sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, successive editions; M. Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish country houses, 2nd edn, 1988, pp. 143-44; Country Life, 12 March 1970, pp. 624-28; C.E.B. Brett, The buildings of County Armagh, 1999, pp. 91-94; K.V. Mulligan, The buildings of Ireland: South Ulster, 2013, pp. 344-50;  introduction to Gosford papers in Public Record Office of Northern Ireland; http://www.gosford.co.uk/history.html;http://www.countrylife.co.uk/news/article/448108/Outstanding-Suffolk-country-house-for-sale.html

Location of archives

Acheson family, Earls of Gosford: family and estate papers, 18th-20th cents., marriage settlement and subsequent deeds, 1870-1929: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, D1606, D4210
Acheson, Archibald, 2nd Earl of Gosford: papers relating to administration in Canada, 1824-40: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, D2259

Revision
This page was first published 7 March 2013 and was revised 2 April and 30 August 2015 and 4 December 2016.

15 comments:

  1. Interested to know where you get the information about "(8) Nichola Acheson (1725-61), m. 1746 Robert ffrench (d. 1778/9) of Monivea Castle (Galway) and had issue two sons and four daughters." Burke's Irish family records lists Nichola as having 4 sons and 1 daughter. Another document in NLI ,'The Ffrench of Monivea' which seems to have been a vanity publication for Robert Percy ffrench, hence lists only the people he is directly descended from or deemed illustrious.

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    1. Thank you for pointing this out. It does seem to be an error, which I will correct. Unfortunately, although this post is only a few weeks old the research on which it was based was done some years ago and I have mislaid my detailed notes on this family, so I cannot check the source for this information, although my recollection is that it came from a work on the ffrench family rather than on the Achesons.

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  2. Very interesting. Thank you for your research. My grandmother Lady Camilla Mildred Nichola Acheson would have loved this site.

    DvS

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  3. I find one problem with the parentage of Isabella Atcheson who married Hector MacLean. Hector was probably born around 1583, and Hector and Isabella had sons Donald (born around 1610) and my ancestor John (born around 1611). Assuming Isabella was 16 when she had her first child, she would have been born around 1594 the latest. You have Isabella as the daughter of George Atchison and Margaret Caulfield who were married 1659 (65 years later than she could have been born). I have seen other references stating that Isabella was the daughter of Archibald Atchison and Agnes Vernor, which is still a stretch, but plausable. If Isabella had her first child at age 16 (very well possible), and if she was Archibald's oldest child, and Archibald had Isabell when he was 16, that gives Archibald a birthdate of 1578 the latest, which is not far off from the estimated 1580 birth year, but allows only 2 years of lee-way. It would allow for Patrick to have fathered Archibald at age 20, assuming Patrick was born 1558.

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    1. Thank you for this suggestion, which seems entirely plausible. Unfortunately there is often very little evidence other than recorded genealogies for the earlier generations of Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish families. Another possibility might be that there were two Aitcheson-Maclean marriages in different generations, which have become confused over time. I find repeated intermarriage between the same families was quite common at this period.

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  4. Is there any more information on Gosford estate East Lothian?
    I have a Sinclar ancestor who was born 1742 at Gosford E L.
    any information would be most welcome.
    Jeff Mikkelsen

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  5. Gosford in East Lothian belonged (and still belongs) to the Charteris family, Earls of Wemyss & March, who will be the subject of a future post. In the meantime, the Wikipedia article on the family may be of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Wemyss_and_March.

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  6. Just stumbled upon the graves of the 5th & 6th Earls of Gosford while on a drive in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Would you know how & why they were buried in Vermont if they had been living in New York?

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    1. I assume they must have had a home nearby but I don't know what it was. I see the 5th Earl's gravestone is on 'findagrave' at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=29975237, but it gives no clue. I will add the grave locations to my blog and see what else I can find out.

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    2. A little research supplies the answer: the 5th Earl's widow was living at Topping, South Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1959.

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  7. Very interesting. My family is from Shaftsbury, and the 5th Lord Gosford and his wife were godparents to my grandmother, as well as a number of children who lived on the East Rd. where the Earl had a summer home. The Earl's wife sponsored a "Chapel in the Meadow" to further the spiritual education of the local children, and my grandmother remained an Episcopalian (Anglican) for the rest of her life. I always wanted to know more about the Acheson family and it's nice to see the line persists. Thanks for the research!

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  8. I'm curious about whether you have ever traced the Acheson family through to Lila Bell Acheson, one of the founders of The Reader's Digest, and who is said to be descended from the Earl of Gosford. I've been trying to connect the dots between Lila and any earl of Gosford, and I can't seem to find the resources to put it together.

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    1. No, I had not heard she was supposed to be a descendant. What do you know of her ancestry?

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  9. I've traced her family tree back several generations. Multiple newspaper articles about her keep mentioning that she was descended from the Earl of Gosford, but I'm not sure which earl. I suppose it's also possible that it's a family story, without basis in fact. But here's what I have:

    Eliza "Lila" Bell Acheson (1889-1984), dau of Thomas D. Acheson (1857-1932) and Mary Eliza Huston (1857-1941).

    Her father Thomas D. Acheson is the son of Thomas Acheson (1821-1884) and Mary Barclay Mason (1825-1898).

    Thomas Acheson (1821-1884) is the son of Samuel T. Acheson (1789-1877) and Isabella Davis.

    Samuel T. Acheson (1789-1877) is the son of William Acheson (1750-?) and Mary Hunter. He has brothers John, William, Matthew, James, and Henry, and a sister Clara.

    William Acheson is the son of William Acheson and Mary ??. He may have brothers George and John.

    William Acheson is the son of John Acheson. John had a brother William. (So that's three generations of Williams. My apologies for mistakes in how to write the notations; I'm better at the research than I am at the reporting.)

    I might have other bits and pieces, but I'm not sure where else to look, or what to look for, especially since I don't have dates for the oldest generations.

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    1. Margie and Nick, thank you both for your research, as well as your time and interest to post your findings so that others may read them as well. I also am an Acheson descendant, non-title-bearing, with similar names, and from the same area in Ireland, but have been frustrated by the lack of records accessible from North America.

      George Gosford Acheson is the son of Mathew Henry Acheson (1886-1966) and Evalena Clancy (1887-1954).

      Mathew is the son of George Acheson (1838-1913) and Charlotte Adele Hardy (dau. of William Hardy and Elizabeth Dynes). Mathew had brothers George (1882-1965) and William Joseph Acheson (m. Lily Little, sons George and Howard). Mathew was born in Portadown, NI.

      George is the son of William Acheson (~1800-1887), and has siblings Margaret (m. Henry Irwin), Mary (m. William Harrison), and James.

      If you recognize any of these names or ties, I would love to get in touch and share more details. If not, then any help you could offer on recommended sources for information would be greatly appreciated. I've been at it for over 30 years, but this line has held me at arms length.

      Thank you, Pete

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Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.