VIRGINIA, Co. CAVAN

Taylo(u)r Coat of Arms (Marquis of Headfort)

With Cavan beating Fermanagh in the All-Ireland Championship qualifier and with the Virginia Show fast approaching in little over a month’s time, I found a suitable contribution today from blogger ‘Lord Belmont’ on the history of landowners the Marquesses of Headfort. It was originally published in July 2011 and is one of a series of such interesting articles on his website relating the story of the Big Houses of Ulster….
Virginia Park
THE MARQUESSES OF HEADFORT WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY CAVAN, WITH 14,220 ACRES

The first of this family who went over to Ireland was:

THOMAS TAYLOUR, who being a close friend of the celebrated Sir William Petty, accompanied him thither, in 1653.

This Thomas was the son of John Taylour, of Battle, in Sussex, and grandson of Thomas Taylour, of Ringmere, in that parish, who died at Stoneham, in that county, in 1629, aged 70.

Thomas, the grandson, jointly undertook, and perfected, the Down Survey, although the maps were published in the name of Sir William Petty only.

In 1660, he sold his lands in England, and purchased others in County Meath; and, after the Restoration, was appointed a sub-commissioner of the court of Claims, 1664-66.

After some intermediate employments, he officiated as vice-treasurer at war, during the suspension of the Lord Ranelagh, in 1681, in which office he died of dropsy and jaundice in 1682, aged 51.

His only surviving son, THOMAS TAYLOUR was created a baronet in 1704 and appointed a member of the Privy Council in 1726.

His grandson, THOMAS, 3rd Baronet, born in 1724, was raised to the peerage as Baron Headfort, in 1760; and advanced to a viscountcy, as Viscount Headfort, in 1762. Lord Headfort was further advanced, in 1766, to the dignity of an earldom, as Earl of Bective, in 1766. His eldest son, THOMAS, 2nd Earl, KP, was created MARQUESS OF HEADFORT in return for his support in passing the Act of Union, in 1800.

His seat, Headfort House, in County Meath, was the only Adam house in Ireland. In 1901 the 4th Marquess, an eminent horticulturist, caused a sensation when he converted to Rome to marry a showgirl called Rosie Boote. A figure of great dignity, she remained the dominant personality in the family during young Michael’s youth and early adult life. Virginia, in the county of Cavan, was named after ELIZABETH I, “the Virgin Queen”. It owes its origin to the plantation of Ulster in 1609. The lands eventually passed into the possession of Lucas Plunkett, Earl of Bective, a Roman Catholic, who was later created Earl of Fingall.

It can also be said that Lucas Plunkett, along with his son Christopher, frustrated the plans of the Government to proceed with the development of the town and its incorporation during his tenure. He was sympathetic to the rebel Irish and sided with them against the planters during the 1641 Rebellion and the Williamite Wars of 1688-91, earning him the label of ‘traitor’.

Consequently it fell to Thomas, 1st Marquess of Headfort, and his successors, to fulfil the patent in relation to the development of the town in the second half of the 18th century and 19th century – the patent which was originally granted to Captain Ridgeway in 1612. Lord Headfort maintained a beautiful park beside Ramor Lough, where he had a hunting lodge (above) in plain, rambling, Picturesque cottage style; a two-storey house with a three-bay centre and single-storey, three-bay wings. The family often stayed here during the summer or autumn months, between 1750 and 1939.

The former hunting lodge is now a hotel, located on the shores of Lough Ramor. The Headforts also owned 12,851 acres in Westmorland and 7,544 acres in County Meath. (Blog: Lord Belmont)

Tom Doorley pointed out on twitter @tomdoorley that the current (7th) Marquis of Headfort, Thomas Michael Ronald Christopher (Taylour), Earl of Bective, born in 1959, is an estate agent in West London. Thanks also to Tom, there’s a bit of family history in an obituary in the Daily Telegraph for the 6th Marquis, who died in December 2005, aged 73. Tom also recommends a book by Lingard Goulding on The Story of Headfort School.

In a further development it was drawn to my attention by @ThisIsCavan that the Anglo-Celt newspaper in Cavan reports that the Park Hotel, recently on the market for €900,000 with its 28 bedrooms and nine-hole golf course in a 93 acre parkland setting beside Lough Ramor, had now been purchased by a leading London restaurateur in Mayfair, Richard Corrigan.

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