Saturday 29 June 2013

(52) Agar (later Agar-Ellis) of Gowran Castle, Viscounts Clifden

Agar of Gowran Castle
Charles Agar (d. 1696), who moved from Yorkshire to Co. Kilkenny and purchased the Gowran Castle estate, may have been connected to the Agars of Brockfield Hall (see the previous post).  His son James (1672-1733), rebuilt the castle as a modern house in 1713, and it descended in his family until 1899.  James's heir, Henry Agar (c.1705-46) was MP for Gowran in the Irish Parliament from 1727-46.  His brother, James Agar (1713-69), purchased the Callan estate from the Cuffes, Earls of Dysart, and his son became the 1st and only Baron Callan.  On Lord Callan's death in 1815, the Callan estate was added to the Kilkenny estates of the senior branch of the family.  Ellis Agar (1709-89) who married the 7th Earl of Mayo and later the 18th Baron Athenry, and who was reputedly the mistress of King George II, was the daughter of James Agar (d. 1733).  She was created Countess Brandon for life in 1758.  

Henry Agar's son, another James (1734-89) was made a peer as 1st Baron Clifden in 1776 and elevated to be 1st Viscount in 1781.  He and his son, Henry, 2nd Viscount Clifden (1761-1836), were active in politics in both England and Ireland, but the 2nd Viscount largely left Ireland for England after taking a prominent part in the suppression of the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.  In 1802, he inherited the GB peerage title of Baron Mendip on the death of his maternal uncle (whereupon he added Ellis to his surname), and also inherited his uncle’s house at Twickenham (Middx), Pope’s Villa, which he sold in 1807, buying Holdenby House in Northamptonshire from his father-in-law, the Duke of Marlborough, as a replacement English seat.  He remodelled or rebuilt Gowran Castle in 1817-19, but it was probably not much used by the family in the early 19th century.  

The 2nd Viscount’s younger brother, Charles Bagenal Agar (1769-1811) married the heiress of the Lanhydrock (Cornwall) estate, and it was to this branch of the family that the viscountcy passed when the 2nd Viscount’s male line failed in 1899 [see Agar-Robartes, Viscounts Clifden].  The 2nd Viscount’s only son, who was created 1st Baron Dover in 1830, predeceased his father, and left his barony and the lease of Dover House in Whitehall to his son Henry Agar-Ellis, who became 3rd Viscount Clifden on his grandfather’s death in 1836.  He further extended Gowran Castle c.1840 but died in 1866 leaving a young family.  During the long minority of his son, the 4th Viscount, family trustees rebuilt Holdenby House as a new English seat for the family, but when the 4th Viscount died unmarried in 1895, and the family titles passed to his uncle, Leopold, 5th Viscount Clifden (1829-99), and the Holdenby and Gowran estates to his sister, the wife of the 3rd Baron Annaly.  When the 5th Viscount died without surviving male issue the family titles, except the barony of Dover, which became extinct, passed to his cousin, Thomas Charles Agar-Robertes, 2nd Baron Robartes.  The history of the Agar-Robertes family of Lanhydrock is reserved for a future post.

Gowran Castle, Kilkenny

The original Gowran Castle was built in the late 14th century by the Earls of Ormonde.  It was badly damaged in the Cromwellian wars and was all but a ruin when Charles Agar acquired a lease of it about 1660.  His son James carried out much repair work to make it habitable again, but there was a fire in 1713.  Either this, or his acquisition of the freehold, encouraged him to rebuild it.

Gowran Castle, as rebuilt in 1713, depicted in a drawing of c.1810 by Robert Gibbs.
As recorded in a drawing of c.1810 by Robert Gibbs, the new house seems to have been a seven by three bay house of two storeys above a basement, with an elaborately panelled parapet and a curious pierced shaped gable over the centre.  Some of the more classical features of the house are likely to have been later additions or alterations: by 1810 the first floor windows had alternately segmental and triangular pediments and the central doorcase a broken scrolled pediment.  

Gowran Castle as rebuilt in 1817-19, showing the wing of c.1840 removed in 1902.
The house was again remodelled or rebuilt, rather on the same lines but perhaps rather smaller, for the 2nd Viscount Clifden in 1817-19, probably to the designs of William Robertson (1770-1850).  His design is much plainer, with a central pediment, a three bay Tuscan porch (later enclosed), a cut limestone facing to the ground floor (with render above), windows without architraves and plain inset panels over the ground floor windows.  A five bay two storey service range was added to the left of the entrance front before 1840 but removed after the house was sold in 1902.  

James Fraser (1793-1863) made landscaping proposals for extending the park in 1829, and William George Murray (1822-71) designed a Forester’s Lodge in Elizabethan style for the 3rd Viscount in 1858.  

Gowran Castle in a derelict state, before the fire of 2010.  Image: Leanne Fagan
The house became derelict after it was bought by a development company in 1998, and there are press reports of a major fire in 2010 which caused the internal floors to collapse, although the roof remained intact.  

Gowran Castle is now a major restoration challenge. Image: Christie's International Real Estate
The house is currently for sale, although the sale particulars suggest that more of the interior survives, albeit in a derelict condition, than is consistent with such a devastating fire.  At all events, it is a particularly shocking example of neglect which it is to be hoped a new owner can and will address seriously.

Previous owners:  leased to Charles Agar (d. 1696); to son, James Agar (1672-1733), who bought freehold; to son, Henry Agar (c.1705-46); to son, James Agar, 1st Viscount Clifden (1734-89); to son, Henry Welbore Agar (later Agar-Ellis), 2nd Viscount Clifden (1761-1836); to grandson, Henry Agar-Ellis, 3rd Viscount Clifden (1825-66); to son, Henry George Agar-Ellis, 4th Viscount Clifden (1863-95); to sister, Liliah Georgiana Augusta Constance Agar-Ellis (d. 1944), wife of Luke White, 3rd Baron Annaly (d. 1922); to son, Luke Henry White, 4th Baron Annaly (1885-1970); sold 1955 to James & Mary Moran, who sold 1998 to Jackson Group.

Pope's Villa, Twickenham, Middlesex

In 1719 the poet Alexander Pope moved to Twickenham and rented three small cottages by the river.  He demolished one and lived in another while a Palladian villa was built facing the river.  

Pope's Villa in 1749.

This was a five-bay house raised on a high basement, with a two and a half storey three bay centre and lower two-storey wings.  The wings were subsequently extended on both sides by additional blocks with three windowed canted bows on the river side.  

Pope's Villa as extended in the later 18th century
The site having only a small garden which was open to the river, Pope rented some more land on the other side of the river and created a more private garden there which he linked to the house by a tunnel, which he decorated as a grotto, with the help of William Kent and others who provided advice and materials.  The grotto was refashioned more than once during Pope’s lifetime.  

Pope's Villa: 18th century plan of the gardens

Pope's Grotto today.  Image: The Londonphile
Beyond the tunnel was a Shell Temple, which had a small porch decorated with shells, ore, and flints. A spring was found during the excavations, and so he was able to furnish his grotto with small water features.  After Pope died his leases fell in, the house was sold to Sir William Stanhope and extended, and his gardens were built over.  Stanhope obtained a design for a fashionable Gothick gate house in 1751, which may not have been executed.  In the early 19th century Lady Howe got fed up with constant stream of visitors and demolished the house, but the grotto survived and was indeed lengthened several times to accommodate road widening.  

Lady Howe's House, built c.1808 to replace Pope's Villa
In place of Pope’s villa she built a rambling partly Gothick house known as Lady Howe’s House, which was itself demolished c.1840.  In 1842 a new and much smaller villa was built on the site of the grotto by Thomas Young, a tea merchant, which has subsequently been much enlarged as a school. 

William Young's house of 1842 on the site of Pope's Villa

William Young's house is now incorporated into the buildings of a school
Descent: Alexander Pope (d. 1744); sold to Hon. Sir William Stanhope; to daughter Elizabeth (d. 1761), first wife of Welbore Ellis, 1st Baron Mendip (1713-1802); to nephew, Henry Welbore Agar (later Agar-Ellis), 2nd Viscount Clifden and 2nd Baron Mendip (1761-1836); sold 1807 to Sophia Charlotte Curzon, 2nd Baroness Howe of Langar, who demolished c.1808; sold c.1840 to William Young.

Holdenby House, Northamptonshire

Sir Christopher Hatton, a court favourite of Queen Elizabeth who became Lord Chancellor in 1587, began building a large new house at Holdenby in 1571.  Building took about ten years, and when it was finished the double-courtyard house is said to have been bigger than any other private house in England.  Work was sufficiently advanced in 1579 for Lord Burghley to walk through it on a visit, and the gardens are shown on a map of 1580.  The surviving forecourt gateways were built in 1583 and a large deer park was enclosed by 1587.  The village of Holdenby was demolished except for the church as part of the preparation of the site.  When ownership of the house passed to the Crown in 1607 the house was refitted as a royal palace.  Although very little of the fabric survives, it is possible to reconstruct the appearance on the basis of a series of 18th century drawings and engravings of the ruins and a ground plan drawn by John Thorpe in the early 17th century.

A reconstruction of the design of Sir Christopher Hatton's palace at Holdenby.
The house was mostly demolished in 1651 by Capt. Adam Baynes, who bought it during the Commonwealth period, and who retained only the forecourt gateways and one end of one wing (originally the kitchen and bakehouse) which he converted into a residence more appropriate in scale to his needs.  At the Restoration the house was recovered by the Crown but in 1709 it was sold to the Duke of Marlborough.  The 18th and early 19th century owners all had principal estates elsewhere and therefore had no need of a larger house at Holdenby, and it was not until the 4th Viscount Clifden inherited at the age of three in 1866 that there was a foreseeable need for it to become a principal seat once more.

Holdenby House: garden front, incorporating a fragment of the Tudor palace.  Image: Matt Beale
Accordingly, a new house was built for Lord Clifden's trusteesincorporating the small domestic block which survived the demolition, by R.H. Carpenter & William Slater in 1873-75 and extended to the designs of William Mills in 1887-88.  The old house is now represented by windows 3, 4 and 5 of an eight-windowed range with two and four-light mullioned windows. The 2 window ranges to left, set back, are c.1887-8, the remainder of the house mainly 1873-5. The projecting porch has double pilasters flanking arched entrance at ground floor and detached twin columns at first floor level flanking a 3-light stone mullion window, also reputedly from Holdenby Palace and re-erected from elsewhere. Some of the tall circular ashlar chimneystacks with linked caps are probably Elizabethan too.  

Holdenby House: the 19th century entrance front.
The north front with projecting wings is wholly 19th century, and has a central porch similar to that on the south front; the carriage arch into the north courtyard has a datestone 1659.  Inside, the entrance hall in the centre of the north front has 19th century panelling and a marble fireplace but probably an Elizabethan structure; the billiard room and boudoir to the left have 19th century moulded cornices; the marble fireplace in the boudoir is decorated with musical instruments. The ballroom on the south front has a large marble fireplace with swags of grapes, and again incorporates part of the original structure. The garden hall on the south front has a 19th century stair with a turned balustrade. The library of c.1583 has the original panelling re-set.  

Holdenby House: an early 19th century watercolour of the forecourt arches.  Image: Mark Hill
In the grounds are two impressive Elizabethan gate arches from the original setting of the house, and the earthwork remains of the gardens themselves, which have been surveyed by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments.

Descent: William Hatton (d. 1546); to son, Sir Christopher Hatton (c.1540-91); to Sir William Newport (later Hatton) (d. 1597), to Sir Christopher Hatton II, who sold 1607 to King James I; to son, King Charles I; confiscated by Parliament during Civil War and sold to Adam Baynes; recovered by Crown, 1660; sold 1709 to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722); to daughter, Henrietta Churchill, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough (1681-1733); to nephew, Charles Spencer, 5th Earl of Sunderland and 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-58); to son, George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817); sold 1802 to Henry Welbore Ellis (né Agar), 2nd Viscount Clifden (1761-1836); to grandson, Henry Agar-Ellis, 3rd Viscount Clifden (1825-66); to son,  Henry George Agar-Ellis, 4th Viscount Clifden (1863-95); to sister, Liliah Georgiana Augusta Constance Agar-Ellis (d. 1944), wife of Luke White, 3rd Baron Annaly (d. 1922); to daughter, Hon. Lilah Charlotte Sarah White, wife of Capt. John George Lowther...James and Karen Lowther (fl. 2013).

Agar (later Agar-Ellis) family of Gowran Castle

Agar, Charles (d. 1696) of Gowran Castle.  Reputedly a soldier in the Parliamentarian Army.  In the troubled years of 1689-90 he initially supported the Jacobites but switched sides to support King William.  He served as portreeve (mayor) of Gowran in 1690-91, and stood unsuccessfully for the Irish parliament in the borough of Gowran in 1692.  He married Ellis (d. 1703), daughter of Peter Blancheville of Rathgarven and Rathcash, Co. Kilkenny and had issue:
(1) James Agar (c.1671-1733) (q.v.)
(2) Peter Agar (c.1682-1716);
(1) Elizabeth Agar, m. September 1692, Samuel Bradstreet and had issue;
(4) Margaret Agar.
He moved from Yorkshire to Ireland in the early years of the Cromwellian Government, probably as a trooper in the army, and later settled at Gowran (Kilkenny), where he bought and leased a number of fairly small properties. He unsuccessfully claimed ownership of the Blanchville estates at Rathgarven in right of his wife, but some of these lands (near Gowran) were purchased by subsequent generations of the family.  He leased the castle and some lands at Gowran before 1692.
He died 14 February 1696.  His widow died 10 October 1703.

Agar, James (c.1671-1733) of Gowran Castle.  Son of Charles Agar (d. 1696) and his wife Ellis, daughter of Peter Blancheville of Co. Kilkenny.  High Sheriff of Kilkenny, 1702-03; Mayor of Kilkenny, 1715; MP in the Irish Parliament for Old Leighlin (Carlow), 1703-13, Gowran, 1713-14, Callan (Kilkenny), 1715-27 and St. Canice (Kilkenny), 1727-33; he was a Tory until 1715 but like many moderate Irish Tories transferred his allegiance to the Whigs after the Jacobite rebellion of that year.  He married 1st, 10 January 1692, Susannah, daughter of James Alexander and had issue, all of whom died young; and 2nd, c.1706, Mary (d. 1771, reputedly aged 106), eldest daughter of Sir Henry Wemyss of Danesfort (Kilkenny) and had issue:
(2.1) Henry Agar (1707-46) (q.v.);
(2.2) Ellis Agar (later Bourke then Bermingham) (1708-89), Countess of Brandon (q.v.)
(2.3) Mary Agar (b. 1709?) m. 1742 James Smyth (d. 1771) MP of Tinny Park (Wicklow), younger son of Rt. Rev. Dr Edward Smyth, Bishop of Down & Connor and had issue one son and three daughters;
(2.4) James Agar (1713-69) (q.v.).
He inherited a lease of Gowran Castle from his father in 1696, bought the freehold from a Dublin merchant, Lewis Chaigneau, and rebuilt it in 1713.  He greatly expanded the family's estate, buying some 1,700 acres around Gowran from Chaigneau and the Dukes of Ormonde, 3,800 acres near Castlecomer, and 14,000 acres around Graiguenamanagh and Thomastown. In 1718 he bought an estate called The Rower in south-east Kilkenny, which included the income from ferry operations across the R. Barrow at Mountgarret near New Ross.
He died in 1733.

Bermingham (née Agar, then Bourke), Ellis (1709-89), Countess of Brandon.  
Ellis, Countess of Brandon
by Philip Hussey
Elder daughter of James Agar (c.1671-1733) and his second wife Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Wemyss of Danesfort, born 1709.  She was reputedly a mistress of King George II, and was described as having 'genuine wit, elegance of taste, dignity of manners, and superior understanding'.  She was created Countess of Brandon for life, 15 September 1758: a peerage which is hard to account for except by exceptional royal favour.  She married 1st, March 1726, Theobald Bourke, 7th Earl of Mayo (d. 1742) and 2nd, 7 August 1745, Francis, 18th Baron Athenry (1692-1750); but died without issue.
She died in Dublin, 11 March 1789, aged 80, and the earldom became extinct on her death.  A monument designed by Edward Smyth was erected to her memory in Gowran church by her nephew, the 1st Viscount, to whom she bequeathed a legacy, specifying that £300 should be spent on the monument.

Agar, Henry (1707-46), of Gowran Castle.  Elder son of James Agar (c.1671-1733) and his second wife Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Wemyss of Danesfort (Kilkenny).  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1724).  MP for Gowran in the Irish Parliament, 1727-46.  He married, 29 May 1733, Anne (1707-65), daughter of Rt. Rev. Welbore Ellis, Bishop of Meath and sister of Welbore Ellis, 1st Baron Mendip (whose title passed by special remainder to the heirs of the first three sons of this marriage), and had issue:
(1) James Agar (1734-89), 1st Viscount Clifden (q.v.); 
(2) Welbore Ellis Agar (1735-1805), educated at Westminster School; a Commissioner of Customs, 1776-1805, and Deputy Muster-Master of England; a great collector of pictures, whose collection included works by Van Dyck and Rubens and eight paintings by Claude - the collection was sold to Lord Grosvenor after his death; m. 21 October 1762, Gertrude (d. 1780), daughter of Sir Charles Hotham, 4th bt. but died without legitimate issue, 30 October 1805; buried in St George's, Hanover Square, London, 6 November 1805; left two illegitimate sons (Welbore Felix Agar (d. 1836) and Sir Emanuel Felix Agar (1781-1866)) who were principal beneficiaries of his will, proved 2 November 1805;
(3) Most Rev. Charles Agar (1736-1809), Archbishop of Cashel and later of Dublin; 1st Earl of Normanton (see next post); 
(4) Rev. Henry Agar (1743-98), educated at Westminster School, Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1761; BA 1765) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1761); ordained deacon, 1766 and priest, 1767; rector of Aghabullogue and prebendary of Inishcarra (Cork) in the diocese of Cloyne from 1768; 'led a life of dissipation and scandalised his family and parishioners', culminating in an unproven accusation of attempted incest with one of his own daughters; he was apparently mentally ill, and was probably explicitly excluded on that account from the succession to the barony of Mendip and from Lord Mendip's will; eventually withdrawn from active ministry on the instructions of his brother, the Archbishop; m. Mary, daughter of Benjamin Tyrrell of Oxford and had issue three sons (the eldest of whom was apparently also mentally incapacitated) and a daughter; died 14 May 1798;
(5) Diana Agar (1746-1814); born posthumously; died unmarried in Bristol, July 1814.
He inherited the Gowran Castle estate from his father in 1733.  As a result of his marriage he acquired an interest in the Ellis family's Dublin property on the R. Liffey between Arran Quay and Pheonix Park; this property later passed into the Agar family.
He died 18 November 1746.  His widow married 2nd, 20 January 1753, George Dunbar of Co. Fermanagh, and died 14 April 1765; she was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 17 April 1765.  Administration of her effects was granted by the Prerogative Court of Armagh to her second husband, 11 September 1765.

Agar, James (1713-69). Second son of James Agar (c.1671-1733) and his second wife Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Wemyss of Danesfort (Kilkenny), born 7 September 1713.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1729/30).  MP in the Irish Parliament for Gowran, 1747-60 and Tulsk (Roscommon), 1768-69.  He married, 6 July 1741, Rebecca (d. 1789), only daughter of William Flower, 1st Baron Castle Durrow (1685-1746) and had issue:
(1) Mary Agar (b. 1743), m. 30 August 1760, Philip Savage; died before 1790;
(2) George Agar (1751-1815), 1st Baron Callan (q.v.); 
(3) Ven. Charles Agar  (1755-89), born 28 May 1755; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1775) and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1776; BA 1779); archdeacon of Emly, died unmarried and without issue, 5 May 1789.
He inherited The Rower estate and town property in Kilkenny and Waterford from his father in 1733; he changed the name of The Rower to Ringwood, and this became his principal seat.  He purchased the Callan (Kilkenny) estate from the Cuffes, Earls of Dysart, in 1765 for £17,000, which was largely financed by borrowing.
He was killed in a duel with a political rival, Henry Flood, that resulted from competition between them for the parliamentary representation of Callan, 25 August 1769, and buried at Gowran, 30 August 1769. His widow died 3 March 1789.

Agar, George (1751-1815), 1st Baron Callan of Kilmurry and later Westcourt House.  Elder son of James Agar (1713-69) and his wife Rebecca, daughter of William Flower, 1st Baron Castle Durrow, born 4 December 1751.  Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge; MP for Callan in the Irish House of Commons, 1776-90; admitted to Irish Privy Council, 1789; created 1st Baron Callan, 6 June 1790; elected to UK House of Lords as one of the first 28 representative Irish peers, 1800.  He died unmarried and without legitimate issue, although he left sixteen illegitimate children by two London mistresses, one of them an actress.  He provided for the education of his children in his will and left each of them £1000 when they came of age.
He inherited the Callan and Ringwood estates from his father in 1769.  He never lived at Callan after his father's murder, but rented Kilmurry near Thomastown (about halfway between his two estates) from the Bushe family.  After 1790 he leased Westcourt Castle in Callan from the Ormondes and in 1794 he bought the freehold, pulled down the castle and built a mansion called Westcourt House.  After his death, Westcourt, Callan and Ringwood all passed to the 2nd Viscount Clifden.
He died 29 October 1815, when his peerage became extinct.  His will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

Agar, James (1734-89), 1st Viscount Clifden, of Gowran Castle.  Eldest son of Henry Agar (1707-46) and his wife Anne, daughter of Rt. Rev. Welbore Ellis, Bishop of Meath and sister of Welbore Ellis, 1st Baron Mendip (q.v.), born 25 March 1734.  Educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1752); MP in the Irish Parliament for Gowran 1753-60, Co. Kilkenny, 1761-76 and for Gowran again, 1776-77; Commissioner of the Revenue, 1771-85; Commissioner of Excise, 1776-85; appointed to the Irish Privy Council, 1784;  joint Postmaster-General (Ireland), 1784-89; Col. of the Gowran volunteers, 1779; created 1st Baron Clifden in the Peerage of Ireland, 27 July 1776, and 1st Viscount Clifden, also in the Peerage of Ireland, 12 January 1781 (Clifden was the new name the family gave to the Rathgarvan estate).  He married, 20 March 1760, Lucinda (known as Lucia) (c.1732-1802), eldest daughter of Col. John Martin and widow of the Hon. Henry Boyle-Walsingham, 2nd son of Henry, Earl of Shannon, and had issue: 
(1) Henry Welbore Agar (later Ellis) (1761-1836), 2nd Viscount Clifden and 2nd Baron Mendip (q.v.); 
(2) Hon. & Rev. John Ellis Agar (1764-97), born 31 December 1764; educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1784; BA 1788; MA 1791); ordained deacon and priest, 1789; rector of Duntrileague (Limerick), 1789; prebendary of Emly, 1789; rector of St. George, Dublin; Precentor of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 1796; m. 11 March 1792, Harriet (d. 1813) (who m.2, 20 July 1798, Pryse Loveden-Pryse MP), daughter of William Flower, 2nd Viscount Ashbrook; but died without issue, 3 January 1797;
(3) Hon. Charles Bagenal Agar (1769-1811), born 13 August 1769; educated at Westminster School, Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1788; BA 1792; MA 1795); and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1788; called to bar, 1796); barrister-at-law; a Commissioner of Bankrupts, 1799; Deputy Recorder of Oxford, 1801; High Sheriff of Cornwall, 1809; married 15 November 1804 Anna Maria (d. 1861), daughter and co-heir of Thomas Hunt of Mollington Hall (Cheshire) and sole heir to the Robartes estates in Cornwall, and had issue (this branch of the family will be the subject of a future post under the title of Robartes (later Agar-Robartes) of Lanhydrock, Earls of Radnor, Barons Robartes and Viscounts Clifden); died 16 June 1811;
(4) Anne Agar, died unmarried.
He inherited the Gowran Castle estate from his father in 1746.  In 1773 he purchased Dunbell and Maddoxtown from the Knaresborough family. He left debts of £48,000.
He died in Ireland, 1 January 1789, aged 54, and was buried at Gowran, where he is commemorated by a monument designed by Edward Smyth.  His widow died at Pope's Villa, Twickenham, 26 July 1802 aged 70, and was buried at Twickenham, 29 July 1802.

Ellis, Welbore (1713-1802), 1st Baron Mendip, of Pope's Villa.  Only surviving son of Rt. Rev. Welbore Ellis, Bishop of Meath, and his wife Diana, daughter of Sir John Briscoe of Amberley Castle (Sussex), born at Kildare, 15 December 1713.  Educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1732; BA 1736; DCL 1773).  MP for Cricklade 1741-47, Weymouth & Melcombe Regis 1747-54, 1774-90, Aylesbury 1761-68, and Petersfield 1768-74,  1791-94; a Lord of the Admiralty, 1747-55; Joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, 1756-62, 1765-66, 1770-77; Secretary at War 1762-65; Treasurer of the Navy 1777-82; Secretary of State for America and the Colonies, Feb-Mar, 1782; appointed to Privy Council, 1760.  Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1745.  He was created 1st Baron Mendip in the peerage of Great Britain, 13 August 1794, with remainder to the three elder sons of his sister, Anne, wife of Henry Agar of Gowran.  He married 1st, 18 November 1747 Elizabeth (d. 1761), only daughter and heir of Hon. Sir William Stanhope KB, and 2nd, 20 July 1765, Anna (d. 1803), daughter of George Stanley of Paulton Park (Hants) and sister and heir of Rt. Hon. Hans Stanley, but died without issue.
He acquired Pope's Villa at Twickenham through his first marriage in 1747 and a life interest in Paultons Park (Hampshire) in 1780 through his second wife.  At his death Pope's Villa passed with his title to 2nd Viscount Clifden.
He died 2 February 1802, aged 88, when his barony devolved upon his great-nephew, Henry Welbore Agar (1761-1836), 2nd Viscount Clifden (q.v.).  He was buried in Westminster Abbey, 7 February 1802.  His widow died at Twickenham, 7 December 1803 and was buried with her husband, 12 December 1803.  His will was proved in January 1804.

Ellis (né Agar), Henry Welbore (1761-1836), 2nd Viscount Clifden and 2nd Baron Mendip.  Eldest son of James Agar (1734-89), 1st Viscount Clifden and his wife Lucia, eldest daughter of Col. John Martin and widow of the Hon. Henry Boyle-Walsingham, born 22 January 1761.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1778; BA 1782).  Travelled to Rome in 1783 and to Bologna in 1787-88, where he was regarded as a 'Dilettanti' by one commentator and bought pictures.  He succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Clifden, 1 January 1789 and his uncle as 2nd Baron Mendip, 2 February 1802, whereupon he took the sole surname of Ellis.  Clerk of the Privy Council of Ireland, 1775-1817; MP for Co. Kilkenny in the Irish Parliament, 1783-89 and for Heytesbury (Wilts) in the UK Parliament, 1793-1802: as an Irish peer who was not one of the 28 elected representative Irish peers he did not have a seat in the UK House of Lords until he inherited the Barony of Mendip in 1802.  In politics, a supporter of Pitt, but after Pitt's death in 1806 reverted to the Whigs, whom he had supported in the Irish House of Commons before the French Revolution.  Commander of a yeomanry troop in Ireland during the 1798 rebellion; after the Union he spent most of his time in England.  Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, 1803.  He married, 10/19 March 1792 at Syon House (Middx), Lady Caroline Spencer (1763-1813), eldest daughter of 4th Duke of Marlborough KG and had issue:
(1) George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1797-1833), 1st Baron Dover (q.v.); 
(2) Hon. Caroline Anne Agar-Ellis (d. 1814); died unmarried and without issue. 
He inherited the Gowran Castle estate from his father in 1789, along with debts of £48,000.  In 1800 he received about £30,000 compensation from the Government for the disenfranchisement of the boroughs of Gowran and Thomastown. In 1802, he inherited Pope's Villa from Lord Mendip, but this was sold in 1807.  In 1802 he purchased the Holdenby House estate (Northants) from his father-in-law, the Duke of Marlborough.  In 1815 he inherited the Westcourt, Callan and Ringwood estates from his cousin, Lord Callan.  In 1817-19 he rebuilt Gowran Castle.
He died 13 July 1836, and was succeeded in his title and estates by his grandson.  He was buried at Twickenham, 31 July 1836.  His wife died at Blenheim Palace, 23 November 1813, and was buried there, 29 November 1813

Agar-Ellis, George James Welbore (1797-1833), 1st Baron Dover.  
1st Baron Dover, by
Sir Thomas Lawrence (det.)
Only son of Henry Welbore Ellis (né Agar) (1761-1836), 2nd Viscount Clifden and 2nd Baron Mendip, and his wife, Lady Caroline Spencer, eldest daughter of 4th Duke of Marlborough KG, born 17 January 1797.  Educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1816; MA 1819); MP for Heytesbury, 1818, Seaford, 1820, Ludgershall 1826, Okehampton, 1830; Chief Commissioner of Woods & Forests, 1830 (for 2 months); trustee of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, a commissioner of the public records; President of Royal Society of Literature, 1832; published various works on art and history, including the letters of Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann (1833) and the Ellis correspondence (1829); formed an important collection of works by English painters.  Fellow of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries.  Created 1st Baron Dover, 20 June 1831.  He married, 7 March 1822, Lady Georgiana Howard (1804-60), daughter of 6th Earl of Carlisle KG, and had issue:
(1) Henry Agar-Ellis (1825-66), 2nd Baron Dover and 3rd Viscount Clifden (q.v.);
(2) Hon. Lucia Caroline Elizabeth Agar-Ellis (1827-95), m. 13 August 1851 3rd Baron Bagot (d. 1887) and had issue;
(3) Hon. Caroline Anne Harriett Agar-Ellis (1828-46); died unmarried and without issue;
(4) Leopold George Frederick Agar-Ellis (1829-99), 5th Viscount Clifden (q.v.);
(5) Hon. George Victor Agar-Ellis (1830-53); christened 27 May 1830; served in the Army; died unmarried and without issue;
(6) Hon. Diana Mary Blanche Georgiana Agar-Ellis (1832-90), m. 5 August 1851, Hon. Edward Coke (d. 1889) but died without issue, 18 July 1890;
(7) Hon. George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1833-72); served in HM Diplomatic Service at British legation in Athens; died unmarried at Ticehurst (Sussex), 31 December 1872; will proved 11 March 1873 (estate under £25,000).
In 1830 he bought a lease of Melbourne House, Whitehall, London and renamed it Dover House.
He died in the lifetime of his father, 10 July 1833, and his will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 31 July 1833.  His widow died 17 March 1860 and administration of her estate was granted 30 April 1860 (estate under £25,000).

Agar-Ellis, Henry (1825-66), 2nd Baron Dover and 3rd Viscount Clifden, of Gowran Castle.  Elder son of George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1797-1833), 1st Baron Dover, and his wife Lady Georgiana Howard, daughter of 6th Earl of Carlisle, born 25 February 1825.  Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1845); Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Prince Consort, 1846-52.  A Liberal in politics.  He inherited the barony of Dover from his father in 1833 and the barony of Mendip and viscountcy of Clifden from his grandfather in 1836.  He married, 23 September 1861, Eliza Horatia Frederica (1833-96), daughter of Frederick Charles William Seymour and great-granddaughter of 1st Marquess of Hertford, a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria (who m2, 1875, Col. Sir Walter George Stirling, 3rd bt (d. 1934)), and had issue: 
(1) twin, Hon. Liliah Georgiana Augusta Constance Agar-Ellis (1862-1944), born 6 August 1862; m. 1884 Luke White, 3rd Baron Annaly (d. 1922) and had issue; died 27 January 1944; will proved 16 May 1945 (estate £144,141);
(2) twin, Hon. Lucia Georgiana Mary Agar-Ellis (1862-64), born 6 August 1862; died 20 October 1864;
(3) Henry George Agar-Ellis (1863-95), 4th Viscount Clifden (q.v.).
He inherited Dover House, Whitehall, London from his father in 1833 and Holdenby House and Gowran Castle from his grandfather in 1836.  At his death his widow acquired a life interest in Dover House, which she retained until 1885, when the lease was surrendered to the Crown.  Dover House subsequently became the Scottish Office.
He died 'of softening of the brain' at Dover House, Whitehall, 20 February 1866, aged 40; will proved 13 March 1866 (estate under £70,000).  His widow died 23 April 1896 at Burr's Wood and was buried at Groombridge (Kent).

Agar-Ellis, Henry George (1863-95), 4th Viscount Clifden, of Gowran Castle.  Only son of Henry Agar-Ellis (1825-66), 3rd Viscount Clifden, and his wife Eliza Horatia Frederica, daughter of Frederick Charles William Seymour, born 2 September 1863 at Dover House, Whitehall.  He inherited the baronies of Mendip and Dover and the viscountcy of Clifden from his father in 1866.  Educated at Eton.  He was a Liberal in politics until 1886 and thereafter a Liberal Unionist.  He died unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Gowran Castle and Holdenby House from his father in 1866, and his trustees rebuilt the house at Holdenby c.1872-75; he carried out further works in 1887-88 after coming into his inheritance.  According to Bateman, in 1883 he owned 4,774 acres in Northamptonshire, 2,976 acres in Buckinghamshire; 2,537 acres in Somerset; 1,107 acres in Oxfordshire, 36 acres in Middlesex; 35,288 acres in Kilkenny; 821 acres in Dublin; 978 acres in Kildare and 500 acres in Meath.  At his death his estates passed to his sister, Lady Annaly, but the Gowran estate was broken up under the Land Acts shortly afterwards.
He died at 7 Carlton Gardens, London, of pneumonia, 28 March 1895, aged 31, and was buried at Holdenby (Northants).  Administration of his estate was granted 5 August 1895 (estate £251,726).

Agar-Ellis, Leopold George Frederick (1829-99), 5th Viscount Clifden, of Gowran Castle.  Second son of George James Welbore Agar-Ellis (1797-1833), 1st Baron Dover, and his wife Lady Georgiana Howard, daughter of 6th Earl of Carlisle, born 13 May 1829.  Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (MA 1852); Inner Temple (called to bar 1854). DL & JP, Kilkenny.  Major, Kilkenny Militia; ADC to Earl of Carlisle while Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1855-58, 1859-64; Liberal MP for Co. Kilkenny, 1857-74.  He inherited the baronies of Mendip and Dover, and the viscountcy of Clifden from his nephew in 1895; the barony of Dover became extinct on his death.  He married, 8 February 1864, Harriet (1836-1914), sixth daughter of Thomas Stonor, 3rd Baron Camoys, and had issue:
(1) George Robert Agar-Ellis (1864-72), born 8 November 1864; died 30 March 1872;
(2) Caroline Agar-Ellis (1866-91), married 20 October 1888, Lt.-Col. James Farish Malcolm Fawcett of Peckleton House, Hinckley (Leics); died without issue, 28 January 1891;
(3) Hon. Harriet Agar-Ellis (1867-1928), m. 24 February 1897, Thomas Granville Knox and had issue; died 4 July 1928;
(4) Hon. Evelyn Mary Agar-Ellis (c.1869-1952), m. 27 June 1896, Hon. Edward Henry Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone (d. 1903), son of 1st Baron Derwent, and had issue; died 8 June 1952.
He lived in London and at Gowran Castle, which was owned by his father and later his elder brother.
He died 10 September 1899, when the barony of Mendip and the viscountcy of Clifden passed to his cousin, Thomas Charles Agar-Robartes (1844-1930), 2nd Baron Robartes, of Lanhydrock (Cornwall); he and subsequent generations will be the subject of a future post.  He was buried 14 September 1899 at Brompton Cemetery.  His will was proved 21 October 1899 (estate £4,334).


Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, successive editions; M. Bence-Jones, A guide to Irish country houses, 2nd edn, 1988, p. 144; J. Heward & R. Taylor, The country houses of Northamptonshire, 1996, pp. 235-238; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1997, p.10; A. Beckles Wilson, ‘Alexander Pope’s grotto in Twickenham’, Garden History, (26:1), 1998, pp. 31-59; A.P.W. Malcolmson, Archbishop Charles Agar, 2002; A. Kavanagh, Agar of Gowran and Blunden of Castleblunden, 2013;

Where are their papers?

Agar-Ellis family, Viscounts Clifden: Gowran estate papers, 1840-1901 (National Archives of Ireland); Irish estate papers 1746-1828  (Northants RO Annaly)
Agar-Ellis, George James Welbore (1797-1833), 1st Baron Dover: diaries, correspondence and papers, 1811-33 (Northants RO)

Revised 11th January 2014


  1. Bermingham (née Agar, then Bourke), Ellis (1709-89), Countess of Brandon.
    Ellis, Welbore (1713-1802), 1st Baron Mendip, of Pope's Villa.
    Both the above parties interest me as I know that Welbore Ellis transferred to my Great x4 times Grandfather John Leonard a property described as Brownstown House + 63 acres. in Co Kildare Ireland. I am attempting to finally locate the House and from various deeds (held in Registry of Deeds) I found a reference to the transfer of the house and land from Welbore Ellis within a different deed dated 1779 which indicates the following: 'Brownstown about 63A. 11 December 1760. Rt. Honourable Wellbore Ellis Esq to John Leonard RENT £40-0-0'. There are 4 Brownstowns in Co Kidare. Two I can reasonably exclude which leaves one in Ballysax Civil Parish and the other in Carnalway Civil Parish. From different sources both now have equal status but Ballysax I tend to favour as it looks more like the type of house my ancestor would have lived in (perhaps I am losing objectivity). Can you help?
    Richard H Leonard

    1. I don't have any firm evidence to suggest, but might be inclined to favour the Carnalway Brownstown. I can find online an abstract of a deed of 1809 which mentions John Leonard of Newton (Co. Kildare) and Deborah his wife and I see there is a Newtown just north of Carnalway on the OS 6" map. Since the Hibernian Magazine reported in 1787 the marriage of Eliza, daughter of John Leonard, late of Brownstown, county of Kildare esq. we know he had left Brownstown by then, and it is quite likely he stayed in the same area. Against this, the Brownstown townland was more than 63a, but that applies to all of the Kildare Brownstowns. I am sorry not to be more help.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. In response to a query from a user, I did a little more research on the immediate antecedents of Benjamin Preston (later Agar), which it seems worth posting here.

    According to Burke's Landed Gentry 1847 ed., Benjamin PRESTON (later AGAR) was the son of Thomas PRESTON (d. 1782) and Mary DRIFFIELD. Thomas Preston (d. 1782) was in turn the son of Thomas PRESTON and Anne WILSON, who I find were married at Normanton (Yorks WR) in 1747. The Thomas Preston who married in 1747 was of York, 'esq'., and I am pretty sure he can be identified with the Thomas Preston of York, solicitor, who was buried at York in 1757. Since she was widowed so young, it seemed likely that Anne married again, and I found a marriage at Stockton-on-the-Forest (Yorks), which is quite near York, between Anne PRESTON widow and Rev. John BUXTON of Carleton Rode (Norfolk) on 5 November 1763. His name has been incorrectly indexed on Find My Past as John Burton, but if you look at the original entry it is fairly clearly Buxton.

    According to the Clergy of the Church of England database, the Rev. John Buxton was rector of Carleton Rode until his death in 1781. What seems likely to be Anne's burial is at Stockton-on-the-Forest on 12 November 1808, when she was 85, putting her date of birth at about 1723, which is very plausible. According to Burke's again, Anne was the daughter of the Rev. Benjamin WILSON and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas AGAR. I failed to find a marriage between a Benjamin Wilson and Elizabeth Agar, but I did find a marriage in 1720 between Mr. Benjamin WILSON and Mrs. Elizabeth LOWCOCK, and a little casting about found a marriage on 29 April 1712 at St Crux, York for the marriage of Rev. Thomas LOWCOCK and Elizabeth AGAR. Thomas LOWCOCK, who was rector of Full Sutton (Yorks), died in 1713 according to the Clergy of the Church of England database. According to the licence for their marriage, Elizabeth was then 22 years of age, and so born about 1690. I actually found a baptism record for Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas AGAR at All Saints, Pavement, York on 3 June 1688. The Margaret and Mary AGAR who eventually bequeathed Brockfield Hall to Benjamin PRESTON (later AGAR) were her sisters, and their baptisms are also recorded in churches in York in 1692 and 1687 respectively. I hope this detail will be useful to some readers.

  4. Hi,
    I have just read your fine research on the Agar family. My name is Des Butler and I am researching my Butler family from the Rower Co Kilkenny at the moment. I have come across an article which states that the Agars of Ballymalis castle Co Kerry were related to the Kilkenny Agars. A Robert Agar 1609 married to A Hamilton (1614-1656) being the parents of Alexandar Agar, the Kerry line, and also the parents of Charles Agar 1639-1696 the Kilkenny line. It mentions "A Genealogical history of the Eagar family " by F J Agar printed in Dublin 1861 and "Ager families of the Co Kerry" by Michael O'Loughlin. I have DNA links with the Kerry branch thru my mothers side of the family and The Kilkenny Agars purchased Gowran from the Butler line. The Kerry Agars came to Ireland as Officers in the Cromwellian campaign also. Have you come across any of this in your research?

    1. First of all my apologies for taking so long to publish your comment, which had been caught by my Spam filter for some reason and which I have only just found. I haven't heard of this connection before and will investigate further. Can you tell me the source of the article you found?

  5. Thank you for your reply. Gosh I seem to have missed your reply as well until now.
    I have gone back through my notes. I have the page from Michael O'Loughins book photocopied. I can send it to you by email. It gives a Major Robert Eagar as father to both Alexander (1635) and Charles (1637). Also according to a family member tree on Major Robert Eagar was born 1609 in Danby. Yorkshire.

    1. If you send me a private message through the Contact Form in the right-hand side bar I will reply from my email address.


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