|Andrews of Comber|
In 1863 John Andrews (1792-1864) founded a limited company which built a flax spinning mill in 1863-64; this flourished under his son Thomas Andrews (1843-1916), and descended through several generations to Sir Jack Andrews (1903-86) and his son, John Maynard James Andrews (b. 1929). However in the late 20th century, linen production in Northern Ireland declined rapidly and in 1997 the firm ceased spinning flax and closed the Comber mill. The firm established a mail order business in designer knitwear and Irish linen of traditional designs; they also have a shop in the stable court of Ballywilliam House.
The older business of James Andrews & Sons was badly affected by a slump in the Irish linen industry in the late 1860s, and the family came to an arrangement by which Isaac Andrew (1799-1883) and his sons bought out the interests of the other members of the family in the business. They closed the linen and bleaching sections of the firm, and put all their efforts into the milling and grain trade, and in 1883, they relocated the business from Comber to the long-established Belfast Flour Mills. The firm, now Andrews Flour, has been in its present home in Percy St., Belfast, since 1895.
The family's growing wealth and social status was marked by the marriage of Thomas Andrews (1843-1916) with Eliza Pirrie (1845-1929), the elder sister of William James Pirrie (1847-1924), 1st Viscount Pirrie, who was chairman of Harland & Wolff, the shipbuilders who built the Titanic. The couple inherited both the Ardara and Maxwell Court estates at Comber, built a new Ardara House, and greatly extended Maxwell Court. Their second son, Thomas Andrews (1873-1912) became the principal designer for Harland & Wolff and was lost with the Titanic when she sank on her first crossing to New York. Maxwell Court was left to their eldest son, John Miller Andrews (1871-1956) who was better known for a political career that culminated in his appointment as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1940-43. Maxwell Court descended to his son, Sir Jack Andrews (1903-86), who succeeded his father as MP for Mid Down and who ended his career as the Deputy Prime Minister, 1969-72. Sir Jack's grandson, John William Hunter Andrews (b. 1959) is the present owner. Ardara House passed to his youngest son, William Andrews (1886-1966), who died without issue. He left it to his great-nephew, Thomas Miller Andrews (b. 1938), who converted it into apartments.
Ardara House, Comber, Co. Down
|Ardara House, from an early 20th century photograph|
A large two-storey house built in 1872 for Thomas Andrews in a plain sub-Italianate style with a projecting eaves cornice and a hipped slate roof. The entrance front is on one end of the building, giving an initially misleading impression of its size. Later additions of 1904 include curved bay windows added to both ends of the entrance front, lighting the main rooms, and probably the paired semi-circular headed windows either side of the projecting square porch. The house remains in the family's ownership but has been converted into apartments.
Descent: James Alexander Pirrie; to daughter, Eliza, wife of Thomas Andrews (1843-1916); to youngest son, William Andrews (1886-1966); to great-nephew, Thomas Miller Andrews (b. 1938).
Maxwell Court, Comber, Co. Down
|Maxwell Court, Comber, in recent years|
The house stands in quite extensive grounds on the outskirts of Comber, and was perhaps built originally for the Cairns family, as James Cairns was living here in 1837 and had a working corn mill in the grounds.. The five-bay two storey central block is in origin a late 18th or early 19th century house, but the appearance is now wholly Victorian, thanks to the addition in about 1885 of a gabled centrepiece, dormers in the roof, and long single-storey wings with bay windows to either side.
|Maxwell Court: the central block|
Descent: James Cairns; to James Crea; who sold 1873 to John Miller (d. 1883); to Eliza Andrews (1845-1929); to son, Rt. Hon. John Miller Andrews (1871-1956); to son, Sir John Lawson Ormrod Andrews (1903-85); to son, John Maynard James Andrews (b. 1929); to son, John William Hunter Andrews (b. 1959).
Andrews family of Comber
(1) Thomas Andrews (1747-1809) of Belfast, linen trader; an original member of Belfast Chamber of Commerce, 1783; a Lieutenant in his father's Volunteer Company, 1779; JP for Co. Antrim, 1796; Deputy Governor of Belfast, 1804; married, 28 November 1774, Ann (d. 1816), daughter of Capt. William Forde of 64th Foot, but died without issue;
(2) Agnes Andrews (c.1748-73); died unmarried, January 1773;
(3) Michael Andrews (c.1749-1805) of Annsborough (Down), linen bleacher; married, 1779, Elizabeth (d. 1841), daughter of John Meek of Watersough (Lanarks) and had issue three sons and three daughters;
(4) Mary Andrews (b. c.1750); married, May 1795, David Wilson of Belfast and Tullygirvan House (Down), merchant, and had issue two daughters;
(5) John Andrews (c.1751-1770) of Comber, miller; died unmarried, March 1770;
(6) Elizabeth Andrews (c.1754-78); died unmarried, November 1778;
(7) Margaret Andrews (c.1756-81); married, 17 November 1780, John Gaussen, shipowner, merchant and miller, but died without issue, 1781;
(8) Robert Andrews (b. c.1757), assistant to his father until 1784 when he moved to London;
(9) William Andrews (c.1761-84) of Comber, linen dealer; died unmarried, December 1784;
(10) James Andrews (1762-1841) (q.v.).
He erected the house later known as The Old House, Comber.
He died 3 June 1808. His wife died 23 February 1790.
(1) John Andrews (1792-1864) (q.v.);
(2) William Glenny Andrews (1793-1871) of Comber, born 2 October 1793; educated at Crumlin Academy and Glasgow University; in partnership with his father from 1812; received Gold Medal of Royal Dublin Society, 1835, for an essay on the failure of the potato crop; erected the family mausoleum at Comber, 1867; died unmarried, 23 November 1871;
(3) Margaret Andrews (1795-1876), born 14 February 1795; died unmarried, 2 February 1876;
(4) Mary Andrews (1796-1884), born 14 March 1796; died unmarried, 19 October 1884;
(5) Thomas Andrews (1798-1838) of Comber, born 5 May 1838; educated at Crumlin Academy and Glasgow University; in partnership with his father from 1821; died unmarried, 29 May 1838;
(6) Isaac Andrews (1799-1883) of The Square House, Comber, born 8 April 1799; educated at Crumlin Academy and Glasgow University; in partnership with his father and brothers 1821-79 and then took over the milling side of the business as Isaac Andrews & Sons; awarded Gold Medal of Royal Agricultural Improvement Soc. of Ireland, 1845; married 1st, 25 April 1844, Mary Ann (d. 1852), daughter of John Drew of Glasgow and had issue one son and two daughters, and 2nd, 4 September 1862, Jane (d. 1882), daughter of Henry Quinn of Newry (Down) and widow of James Boomer of Seaview, Belfast; died 13 September 1883;
(7) James Andrews (1800-75) of Belfast and Dublin, born 1800; educated at Crumlin Academy and Glasgow University; admitted a solicitor, 1822; trustee of Belfast Savings Bank, 1836; instrumental in forming the Northern Law Court, of which he was the first President; married 1st, 1826, Isabella Anna Minty (d. 1854) and had issue two sons and three daughters; married 2nd, Jane Thompson (d. 1904) and had issue one daughter;
(8) Robert Andrews (1802-65) of Dublin, born 6 May 1802; educated at Crumlin Academy and Trinity College, Dublin (LLD 1830); barrister (QC 1849); chairman successively of the Louth, Carlow, Wexford, Cork (East Riding) and Donegal Quarter Sessions; member of Queen's University, Belfast; Commissioner enquiring into condition of lunatic asylums in Ireland, 1857; married, 17 December 1832, Anne Jane (d. 1895), daughter of James Thomas Kennedy of Summerhill, Dublin and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 20 February 1865;
(9) Joseph Andrews (1804-35), born 28 June 1804; educated at Crumlin Academy and Glasgow University; admitted a solicitor, 1828; in partnership with his brother, James; married, 12 December 1833, Jane (who m.2, George Boylan of Merino, Dublin), daughter of William Johnson of Fortfield, Belfast and had issue one son; died 24 July 1835;
(10) Frances Andrews (1806-1905); married, 6 April 1841, Henry James Leslie, barrister-at-law, son of John Leslie of Court McSharry (Cork); died 1905;
(11) Charles James Fox Andrews (1808-91), born 1808; educated at Crumlin Academy and Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1830; MA 1835); barrister-at-law (called to bar, 1832; QC 1858); married, 11 November 1839, Anne, daughter of John Leslie of Court McSherry (Cork) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 1891;
(12) George Andrews (1810-33), born 19 March 1810; died unmarried, 11 April 1833.
He inherited The Old House at Comber from his father in 1808.
He died 2 July 1841. His wife died 5 December 1835.
(1) Sarah Andrews (1827-29), born 12 November 1827; died in infancy, 17 October 1829;
(2) James Andrews (1829-82) of Carnesure House, Comber, born 23 November 1829; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution and Queens University, Belfast; partner in James Andrews & Sons, 1827 and John Andrews & Co., 1863; JP for Down (1870); married, 21 March 1863, his cousin, Mary Catherine (1836-86), daughter of Robert Andrews QC of Mountjoy Sq., Dublin and had issue four sons and two daughters; died 7 February 1882;
(3) William Drennan Andrews (1832-1924) of Dublin, born 24 January 1832; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution, Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1854; LLD 1860) and Kings Inns, Dublin (called to bar, 1855; QC 1872; bencher 1882; hon. bencher 1910); barrister-at-law; Judge of Exchequer Division of High Court in Ireland (later merged in King's Bench Division), 1882-1910; sworn of the Privy Council, 1897; married, 20 August 1857, Eliza (d. 1901), daughter of John Galloway of Monkstown (Dublin) but died without issue, 3 December 1924;
(4) Sarah Andrews (1834-45), born 23 May 1834; died young, 2 March 1845;
(5) John Andrews (1838-1903), born 27 January 1838; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution and Queens University, Belfast; partner in James Andrews & Sons and John Andrews & Co.; member of Grand Jury for Co. Down; married, 5 May 1868, his cousin Ann (1845-1937), daughter of Isaac Andrews of Uraghmore, Comber and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 28 March 1903;
(6) Thomas Andrews (1843-1916) (q.v.);
(7) Frances Andrews (1850-1936), born 19 February 1850; married, 3 April 1878, Edmund William Garrett (d. 1936) of Ardeevin, Epsom (Surrey), Metropolitan Police magistrate, son of Henry Garrett of Cromac House (Antrim) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died November 1936.
He inherited The Old House at Comber from his father in 1841.
He died 13 May 1864. His widow died 13 February 1902.
(1) Rt. Hon. John Miller Andrews (1871-1956) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Andrews (1873-1912) of Dunallan, Windsor Ave., Belfast, born 7 February 1873; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution; Chief Designer and Managing Director of Harland & Wolff, shipbuilders, of Belfast; Member of Institute of Naval Architects and Institute of Mechanical Engineers; member of Society of Naval Architects and Society of Marine Engineers of New York; married, 26 June 1908, Helen Reilly (who m2. Henry Harland), daughter of John Doherty Barbour of Conway, Dunmurry (Antrim) and had issue one daughter; drowned at sea in loss of RMS Titanic, which he designed, 1912;
(3) Eliza Montgomery Andrews (1874-1930), born 21 June 1874; married, 26 April 1906, Lt-Col. Lawrence Arthur Hind (d. 1916), solicitor, son of Jesse Hind of Edwalton (Notts) and had issue three daughters; died 30 June 1930;
(4) Rt. Hon. Sir James Andrews (1877-1951), 1st bt., of Eusemere, Comber (Down), born 3 January 1877; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution, St. Stephen's Green School, Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1899; hon. LLD 1938) and Kings Inns, Dublin (called to bar 1900; KC 1918; bencher 1920); barrister-at-law; Lord Justice of Northern Ireland, 1921-37 and Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, 1937-50; sworn of Privy Council of Northern Ireland, 1924; Bencher of Inn of Court of Northern Ireland, 1926; Senior Pro-Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast; Chairman of Ulster Savings Committee, 1939-46; created a baronet, 6 July 1942; married, 17 May 1922, Jane Lawson (d. 1964), daughter of Joseph Ormrod of Heaton (Lancs) and widow of Capt. Cyril Gerald Haselden of Spetisbury (Dorset), but had no issue; died, 18 February 1951, when the baronetcy became extinct;
(5) An unnamed son, born 26 December 1883 and died in infancy, 27 January 1884;
(6) William Andrews (1886-1966) of Ardara, born 25 August 1886; educated at Belfast Royal Academical Institution and Queens University, Belfast; director of John Andrews & Co. from 1916; member of committee of Northern Bank from 1940; served in WW1 and WW2 with Royal Army Ordnance Corps (Capt.) and Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (Lt.); a well-known Ulster cricketer; died unmarried, 26 April 1966.
His wife inherited Ardara.
He died 17 September 1916. His widow died 10 March 1929.
|John Miller Andrews|
(1) Sir John Lawson Ormrod Andrews (1903-86) (q.v.);
(2) Nina Morie Andrews (b. 1904), born 30 October 1904; married, 13 November 1933, Malcolm Adair Alexander Crawford, son of Lt-Col. Frederick Hugh Crawford of Belfast and had issue two sons;
(3) Josephine Miller Andrews (b. 1909), born 26 October 1909; married, 7 September 1932, Savell Ormrod Hicks, son of Rev. Ernest Savell Hicks of Dalkey (Dublin) and had issue two daughters;
(4) Lizzie Jean Andrews (b. & d. 1915), born 22 and died 25 September 1915.
He lived at Maxwell Court, Comber.
He died 5 August 1956. His wife died 26 November 1950.
Andrews, Sir John Lawson Ormrod (1903-86) of Maxwell Court. Only son of Rt. Hon. John Miller Andrews (1871-1956) and his wife Jessie, daughter of Joseph Ormrod of Heaton (Lancs), born 15 July 1903. Educated at Moure Grange Prep School and Shrewsbury School. Managing Director of John Andrews & Co. Ltd from 1927. MP in Northern Ireland Parliament for Mid Down, 1953-64; sworn of Privy Council of Northern Ireland, 1957; Minister of Health & Local Government in NI Cabinet, 1957-61; Minister of Commerce, 1961-63; Minister of Finance, 1963-64; member of Northern Ireland Senate, 1964-72; Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 1969-72; President of Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, 1974; appointed KBE 1974; DL for Co. Down, 1961. He married, 17 May 1928, Marjorie Elaine Maynard (1906-80), youngest daughter of Alfred Morgan James of Newport (Monmouths.), and had issue:
(1) John Maynard James Andrews (b. 1929) (q.v.);
(2) Heather Lillian Elaine Andrews (b. 1932), born 17 May 1932; married, 9 April 1955, Trevor Dempster Boyd, son of Austen Boyd of Cultra (Down);
(3) Thomas Miller Andrews (b. 1938) (q.v.);
(4) Charles James Morgan Andrews (b. 1945) of Ballymaleddy, Comber, born 15 April 1945; educated at Campbell College, Belfast; director of Isaac Andrews & Co. Ltd; married, 12 August 1969, Elizabeth Mary, only daughter of John Davidson Carson of Craigarusky, Ardmillan (Down) and had issue one son and one daughter.
He inherited Maxwell Court from his father in 1956.
He died 12 January 1986. His wife died in 1980.
Andrews, John Maynard James (b. 1929) of Maxwell Court. Eldest son of Sir John Lawson Ormrod Andrews (1903-86) and his wife Marjorie Elaine Maynard, daughter of Alfred Morgan James of Newport (Monmouths.), born 25 September 1929. Educated at Shrewsbury School. Director of John Andrews & Co. Ltd. to 2007. He married, 19 January 1957, Edith Morna, only daughter of Reginald Redvers Hunter of Bangor (Down) and had issue:
(1) John William Hunter Andrews (b. 1959) (q.v.);
(2) Elaine Mary Andrews (b. 1961), born 8 November 1961; married, 29 April 1989, Kevin Hugh Lindley-Perry and had issue one son;
(3) Charles Robert M. Andrews (b. 1971), born 17 November 1971; married, 29 November 1999, Vicky Sunter.
He inherited Maxwell Court from his father in 1985.
Andrews, John William Hunter (b. 1959) of Maxwell Court. Elder son of John Maynard James Andrews (b. 1929) of Maxwell Court, and his wife Edith Morna, only daughter of Reginald Redvers Hunter of Bangor (Down), born 6 August 1959. Educated at Campbell College, Belfast and Pembroke College, Cambridge (MA). Chartered accountant (FCA); finance director & co. secretary, John Andrews & Co. Ltd.; director, Comber Regeneration Community Partnership Ltd. JP for Co. Down. He married, 25 September 1990 (div. 2014), Iona Mary Erskine, and had issue:
(1) Morna Diana Gwendolyn Andrews (b. 1993), born 14 February 1993;
(2) Thomas John Erskine Andrews (b. 1996), born 4 June 1996.
Andrews, Thomas Miller (b. 1938) of Ardara. Second son of Sir John Lawson Ormrod Andrews (1903-86) and his wife Marjorie Elaine Maynard, daughter of Alfred Morgan James of Newport (Monmouths.), born 17 September 1938. Educated at Campbell College, Belfast. Director of John Andrews & Co. Ltd, flaxspinners. He married, 22 June 1962, Dianne Maureen, eldest daughter of Lt-Cmdr. William Gifford Carson of Ballyrosky House, Killinchy (Down) and had issue:
(1) Christopher Thomas Andrews (b. 1963), born 30 November 1963; orthopaedic surgeon; Director of John Andrews & Co.;
(2) Michael William Andrews (b. 1968), born 28 February 1968; Director of John Andrews & Co.
He inherited Ardara from his great-uncle in 1966 but converted it into apartments.
Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, pp. 22-27; K. Rankin, The Linen Houses of County Antrim and North County Down, 2012, pp. 151-59; http://www.comberhistory.com/chsandrewsfamily.htm.
Location of archives
Andrews family of Ardara and Maxwell Court: account of Robert and James Andrews, 1756-1802; family correspondence, papers and photographs, 1796-1956 [Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, T3214; D3655]. Some business archives are also at the PRONI [D1769; D4189]
Coat of arms
Azure on a fesse or three mullets of the field