Saturday, 6 May 2017

(260) Aylmer of Donadea Castle and Walworth Castle, baronets

Aylmer of Donadea, baronets
Sir Gerald Aylmer (1548-1634), 1st bt., the third son of Richard Aylmer of Lyons (Kildare) [for whom see the next post], inherited in 1559 an estate at Donadea which his father had bought the previous year. He came of age in 1569 and built a new house at Donadea between 1581 and 1624. He was a lawyer and as a young man was much at Court in England in the retinue of the Earl of Sussex; a position which he used to act as a spokesman for the Irish opponents of arbitrary Elizabethan taxation of the Old English families in the Pale. After 1591, however, his continued adherence to the Catholic religion led to his departure from the court and his occasional imprisonment: his first wife was the widow of the notorious Irish Catholic rebel, Lord Baltinglass, who died in exile in Spain after the failure of his rebellion had led to the capture and execution of forty-five of his supporters.

On the death of Sir Gerald, the Donadea estate passed to his only son, Sir Andrew Aylmer (c.1613-c.1675), 2nd bt., who was a non-combatant in the 1641 rebellion but was nonetheless imprisoned in Dublin. While he was there, Donadea Castle was burned on the instructions of the Lord Lieutenant, and it seems probable that the Elizabethan tower remained substantially ruined until it was remodelled in the late 18th century. Possession of the Donadea estate was fully restored to Sir Andrew under the 1662 Act of Settlement, and when he died in the 1670s, it passed to his grandson, Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1663-85), 3rd bt. He died of smallpox soon after coming of age and was succeeded by his infant son, Sir Justin Aylmer (1682-1711), 4th bt., who was brought up on the Continent after his mother was outlawed for her adherence to the Jacobite cause in 1690. Like his father, Sir Justin died young leaving his widow (who married three more times) and an infant son, Sir Gerald Aylmer (1703-37), 5th bt., who came of age in 1724. Sir Gerald lived hardly any longer than his father and grandfather, and his widow moved to England where she married again. This may explain why Sir Gerald's only son, Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt., was brought up as a Protestant, and from that time forwards the family joined the Anglo-Irish Protestant gentry.

It was Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer who remodelled Donadea Castle in the years before 1772 as a modern mansion and created most of the house the ruins of which remain today. As a Protestant, he was able to play a full part in public life, and he sat in the Irish House of Commons for more than thirty years as an MP for various constituencies. He had four sons and two daughters, and Donadea passed in 1794 to his eldest son, Sir Fenton Aylmer (1768?-1816), 7th bt.  In the first few years of Sir Fenton's ownership he was much caught up in the military struggle between the Government and the United Irishmen, which led to threats to burn Donadea Castle and at least one attempt to ambush and assassinate Sir Fenton himself. Once these troubles were over, however, he settled down to spending money: the biggest strain on his finances was probably founding and supporting the Kildare Hunt, but he also added a new porch to the castle and rebuilt the parish church. When he died, comparatively young, in 1816, he left extensive debts and his son and heir, Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th bt., had to devote many years to clearing these and putting the estate into good order again. Once he had done so, however, he went on to lay out the park, build lodges and garden buildings and a folly, and to remodel the house. In 1874 he was severely injured by an explosion that occurred when he imprudently tried to trace a gas leak at Donadea with a lighted candle and ignited a store of gunpowder, but he survived for a further four years. He was succeeded by his only son, another Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1830-83), 9th bt., who survived his father by only five years. His heir was his undergraduate son, Sir Justin Gerald Aylmer (1863-85), 10th bt., who was tragically killed in a cycling accident in Cambridge. The baronetcy then passed in quick succession to a younger son of the 7th baronet and to his grandson, but the the estate did not follow it, passing instead to Sir Justin's sister, Caroline Maria Aylmer (1856-1935). She was unmarried and left the estate at her death to the Church of Ireland, which sold it the following year to the Irish Government Department of Lands. They unroofed the house in the late 1950s and later turned the demesne into a Forest Park.

Lt-General Arthur Aylmer (1772-1831), the youngest son of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer, 6th bt., married Anne (1778-1857), the daughter and heiress of John Harrison (d. 1819) of Walworth Castle (Co. Durham) in 1807. When Harrison died, Walworth Castle came into the hands of General Aylmer and his wife, and the General became a leading figure in local society, acting as Chairman of Quarter Sessions for County Durham from about 1822 until his death. He was succeeded by his only son, John Harrison Aylmer (1812-68), whose antiquarian interests led him to undertake a major remodelling of the essentially Elizabethan castle in the 1850s and 1860s. The work probably took place mostly after the death of his mother in 1857, and was in full swing in the mid-1860s, but it is not clear whether Aylmer had completed his programme when he, his wife and eldest son were all killed in a horrific railway accident in north Wales in 1868. The estate passed to Aylmer's next surviving son, Gerald Percy Vivian Aylmer (1856-1936), who was educated at Eton and Cambridge, but left university without taking a degree, which was becoming unusual in the late 19th century. His decision may have been related to a serious riding accident in 1876 in which his leg was badly broken; an event which bears a curious symmetry to the death of his cousin, Sir Justin Aylmer, in a cycling accident at Cambridge ten years later. He came of age in 1877 and celebrated by building a new gatehouse at Walworth Castle, perhaps completing an unrealised element of his father's plans. But Walworth Castle was not destined to be focus of his life: he was too restless and adventurous to settle down to the life of a quiet country squire. Instead he devoted his youth and early middle age to travelling, exploring, big game hunting and soldiering. In the 1880s he tried farming in Australia. After the Boer War he returned to England but soon leased Walworth Castle and thereafter divided his time between a home at Castlehaven in County Cork, which he shared with his younger brother, and a house near Dolgellau in north Wales. Walworth Castle was sold after his death, initially to cousins who wished to keep it in the family, but after wartime requisitioning it was again sold and used for institutional purposes.


Donadea Castle, Co. Kildare


The medieval lords of Donadea are said to have had a castle or fortified manor here, which was acquired by the Aylmers in 1558. Sir Gerald Aylmer (1548-1634), 1st bt., built a new tower house on the estate that incorporated parts of the earlier building, and which is said to have been begun in 1581 and completed in 1624.
Donadea Castle: the rear elevation preserves the character
of the Elizabethan tower. Image: © Seamus Cullen
During the wars of the 1640s, Sir Andrew Aylmer, 2nd bt., although a non-combatant, was suspected of siding with the rebels because he was a Roman Catholic, and was imprisoned in Dublin, where he had sought refuge. While he was thus interned, Donadea Castle was captured and burned on the instructions of the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Ormond, even though he was Sir Andrew's brother-in-law. Sir Andrew's sister, who had stoutly defended the castle against Ormond's forces, was not taken prisoner, however, and some accounts say that she later returned to and repaired the castle. The truth of this may never be known, but it seems likely that the Elizabethan house was at least mostly ruinous in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. At best, it must have remained a fairly comfortless and unmodernised tower.


By 1772 a new 'Elizabethan front' had been built for Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt., who is said to have restored the ruined castle at considerable expense. His architect is unknown, but this seems likely to be the moment at which Donadea was transformed from a fortress-tower into a modern mansion. In the 1790s, Sir Fenton Aylmer (1770-1816), 7th bt., as a commander in the yeomanry, became a target for the Irish nationalist rebels, who declared their intention of burning his house at Donadea, but they were diverted on learning that many of their own supporters had lodged valuables there for safekeeping. Sir Fenton's building activity was therefore directed to rebuilding the parish church rather than the house, where a new bow-fronted single-storey porch, erected in 1812 (according to Burke's Views of Seats, 1854) was his only recorded contribution. It has been suggested that this might have been designed by Richard Morrison, and it is much in his style, but there is no documentary evidence for his involvement, which must remain speculative. 


Donadea Castle in the early 20th century.

It was left to Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th bt., to give the Donadea demesne the shape it has today. He was an enthusiastic amateur architect 'with a great taste for building' and began in the 1820s by re-routing public roads away from the castle and constructing a high brick wall around the grounds, with gate lodges at all the entrances; one at least seems to have been designed not by Sir Gerald but by George Wilkinson, an English architect specialising in workhouses who settled in Dublin in 1839.
Donadea demesne: the folly tower on the Hill of Allen.
Image: Mike Searle. Some rights reserved.
A new formal lime avenue was laid out leading to the house, which he had 'modernized, none too wisely' by 1837. Sir George continued his improvements by creating a lake and an ice house, removing the village to a new site, carrying out 
extensive planting in the park, and building a 60-foot high beacon tower on top of the Hill of Allen as an eyecatcher as late as 1859-63.


On the death of the 10th baronet in 1885, Donadea Castle passed to his sister, Caroline Maria Aylmer (d. 1935), who left it to the Church of Ireland. The church quickly sold it on to the Department of Lands of the Irish government, never a trustworthy custodian for a Big House, and it was unroofed in the late 1950s. In 1981 the demesne was designated a Forest Park and handed over to Coillte (the Irish Forestry Commission), which has developed it as a public amenity, most recently in conjunction with a local community group, Tir na Mona. Unfortunately, while the potential of the designed landscape for recreation and public enjoyment has been recognised and exploited, the house itself has slid from dereliction into ruin and there are now serious cracks in the surviving external walls and fears of the collapse of parts of the shell. 


Donadea Castle in its present ruined state, Image: © Neil Jackman of AbartaHeritage.ie.

Although this is a story which could be replicated dozens if not hundreds of times across the Republic, the case of Donadea is a particular scandal because Donadea is not a remote ruin for which no use could possibly be found; it is 20 miles west of Dublin in an area which saw some of the most explosive growth in Europe in the Celtic Tiger time. Very little imagination would have been needed to rescue the house and convert it into much needed housing. It may be too late now, but if the Irish government was serious about its heritage policy it would explore whether a commercial restoration is still feasible with the assistance of some grant-aid from the state to atone for eighty years of malicious neglect of this fragment of the Irish heritage.

Descent: sold 1558 to Richard Aylmer (1509-59); to son, Sir Gerald Aylmer (1548-1634), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Andrew Aylmer (c.1613-c.1675), 2nd bt.; to grandson, Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1663-85), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Justin Aylmer (1682-1711), 4th bt.; to son, Sir Gerald Aylmer (1703-37), 5th bt.; to son, Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt.; to son, Sir Fenton Aylmer (1768?-1816), 7th bt.; to son, Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th bt.; to son, Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1830-85), 9th bt.; to son, Sir Justin Gerald Aylmer (1863-85), 10th bt.; to sister, Caroline Maria Aylmer (1856-1935), who bequeathed it to the Church of Ireland; sold 1936 to Irish Government.


Walworth Castle, Co. Durham


The house is essentially a late Elizabethan romantic castle which incorporates one tower of its medieval predecessor.  It was begun for Thomas Jennison (d. 1586), auditor of Ireland, who bought the estate in c.1579, and completed by his widow Elizabeth (d. 1605) before King James I was entertained here in 1603.


Walworth Castle: the house from the south-east. Image: © Storye book. Some rights reserved.

The house now consists of four ranges round a courtyard, with the east and west ranges parallel to one another but set at an angle to the principal three-storey south front with its thick round four-storey angle-towers. The west end wall and the south-west tower represent the earlier house, and preserve gunloops of c.1530. The top-floor windows in the towers have their original three-light mullioned and transomed windows with straight individual hoodmoulds. The eastern return wall has a six-light mullioned and transomed window on the top floor. The rest of the east front is two-storey, with a well-preserved two-storey bay window. The north front is more complex, since it combines the ends of the north and west ranges with a central block built sometime before 1835, probably as a service wing. In the centre of the house is a courtyard with continuous string courses and a spectacular frontispiece of three fairly correct superimposed classical orders: Roman Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, with Tuscan half-columns supporting the (now blocked) entrance arch, and at the top an open balustrade.
Walworth Castle: the Classical entrance portal of c.1600. Image: © P. Ryder/Keys to the Past.



Walworth Castle: the west range, rebuilt in 1864.




The house remained in the Jennison family (apart from a brief period between 1679 and 1687) until 1759, when it was bought by Matthew Stephenson. It seems likely that he was responsible for an extensive modernisation of the castle (usually said to be about twenty years earlier), when new principal rooms were created in the south range. A new staircase was installed to service this apartment which has a Venetian window into the courtyard. The saloon in the centre of the ground floor, an upstairs room to the east and two rooms in the east tower all have Palladian decoration, including plasterwork with some Rococo motifs and an overmantel with caryatids.

Matthew Stephenson sold the estate to John Harrison, a Newcastle merchant, in 1775, and in due course the estate passed to his daughter Ann, the wife of Lt-Gen. Arthur Aylmer (1772-1831). Their son and heir, John Harrison Aylmer (1812-68) had antiquarian interests and invested heavily in remodelling (or, as he saw it, restoring) the castle in the 1850s and 1860s. The present form of the west wing dates largely from his time, and the main staircase was again replaced in 1864. Apotropaic figures on the roofline (which may have been Elizabethan but were more probably 18th century) were replaced by balls on plinths (which have now also gone). The gate lodge was added in 18
77 to the design of George Gordon Hoskins, architect, apparently to celebrate Gerald Aylmer's coming of age, and further works, amounting to 'the reconstruction of portions of Walworth Castle', had been completed by 1891.

Gerald Aylmer let the house soon after 1900 and after he died in 1936 it was bought from his executors by relatives keen to keep it in the family. It is not clear, however, that they were ever able to move in. The house was requisitioned during the Second World War and used as a Prisoner of War Camp, and in 
1950 it was bought by Durham County Council as a residential school for girls. When the school closed in 1981 it was restored and converted into an hotel, and it was further restored in 2000-06; as part of these works the courtyard was covered with a glass roof to make an additional function room. It remains in use as an hotel.

Descent: Richard Hansard (d. 1508); to son, Sir William Hansard (d. 1520); to son, William Hansard (d. 1521); to sister, Elizabeth, wife of Sir Francis Ayscough (d. 1563); to son, William Ayscough, who sold c.1579 to Thomas Jennison (d. 1586); to widow, Elizabeth Jennison (d. 1605); to son, William Jennison (fl. 1605); to brother, John Jennison (d. 1614); to son, John Jennison (1592-after 1666); to son, John Jennison (b. 1623); to son, John Jennison (1667-1739); to son, John Jennison (d. 1759); to son, Francis Jennison (1732-after 1791), who sold 1759 to Matthew Stephenson; sold 1775 to John Harrison (d. 1819) of Newcastle, merchant; to daughter Ann, wife of Lt-Gen. Arthur Aylmer (d. 1831); to son, John Harrison Aylmer (d. 1868); to sons, Gerald Percy Vivian Aylmer (1856-1936), who let it after c.1900; sold 1937 to kinsmen, A. Neville Eade (fl. 1940) and Charles Eade for £26,000; requisitioned for use as a Prisoner of War camp; sold 1950 to Durham County Council for use as a residential girls' school; sold 1981 to John & Jennifer Wain, who converted it into an hotel; sold to Peter Culley, who sold 2000 to Chris & Rachel Swain. 



Aylmer family of Donadea Castle, baronets



Aylmer, Sir Gerald (1548-1634), 1st bt. Third son of Richard Aylmer (1509-59) of Lyons (Kildare) [for whom see the next post] and his wife Eleanor (d. c.1593), daughter of Sir George Fleming, born 1548. He was brought up by his mother and her second husband, Nicholas Hussey, Baron of Galtrim. Lawyer; as a young man he was a retainer of the Earl of Sussex and much at Court in England, where he acted as spokesman for the Irish opponents of the 'cess', or the obligation to provide supplies at fixed prices to the king's soldiers and the household of the Lord Deputy. Knighted at Christ Church, Dublin 17 June 1598 and created a baronet, 25 January 1621/2. He was a Roman Catholic in religion, and from 1591 onwards was occasionally imprisoned for his faith; he built a new church at Donadea in 1626. He married 1st, c.1587-88, Mary (d. 1610), daughter and co-heiress of Henry Travers (and granddaughter of Sir John Travers, Master of the Ordnance in Ireland) and widow of James Eustace (d. 1583), 3rd Viscount Baltinglass, and 2nd, 1612, Julia (c.1598-1617), daughter of Christopher Nugent (1544-1602), 6th Baron Delvin, and had issue:
(2.1) Sir Andrew Aylmer (c.1613-c.1675), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2.2) Mabel Aylmer; married, before 1633, Sir Oliver Tuite (c.1588-1642), 1st bt., of Sonagh (Westmeath) and had issue;
(2.3) Julia or Lettice Aylmer; married, before c.1630, Sir Richard Barnewall (1602-79), 2nd bt., of Crickstown (Meath), and had issue.
He inherited the Donadea estate from his father, who bought it c.1558, and built Donadea Castle between 1581 and 1624.
He died 19 August 1634 and was buried at Donadea, where he was commemorated by a monument that was moved to the present church in 1812. His first wife died without issue, 28 November 1610 and was buried with her father at Monktown, 19 December 1610. His second wife died 10 November 1617 and was buried at Donadea.

Aylmer, Sir Andrew (c.1613-c.1675), 2nd bt. Only son of Sir Gerald Aylmer (1548-1634), 1st bt., and his second wife, Julia, daughter of Christopher Nugent, 6th Baron Delvin, born about 1613. He was knighted before 1634 and succeeded his father as 2nd baronet, 19 August 1634. He was a Roman Catholic in religion, like his father, but took no part in the 1641 rebellion, and was indeed one of several gentlemen of the Pale who went voluntarily into Dublin to claim the protection of the Irish Lords Justices but were summarily arrested and imprisoned. Unlike some of the others he was apparently not tortured, but while he was incarcerated Donadea, which had been left in the custody of his wife, was captured and burned on the orders of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Ormonde. He was fully restored to his estates under the 1662 Act of Settlement. He married, 1634, Ellen, daughter of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles and sister of James Butler (1610-88), 5th Earl and later 1st Marquess and 1st Duke of Ormonde, and had issue:
(1) Garret Aylmer (d. 1663) (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Aylmer; married Thomas Aylmer (d. 1681/2) and had issue three sons and two daughters.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1634, but the house was burned in 1641 and he was not fully restored to his estates until 1662.
He died between 1671 and 1681. His widow married 2nd, 1681 Thomas Aylmer (d. 1688), counsellor at law; her date of death is unknown.

Aylmer, Garret (d. 1663). Only recorded son of Sir Andrew Aylmer (c.1613-c.1675) and his wife Ellen, daughter of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles and sister of James Butler, 5th Earl and later 1st Marquess and 1st Duke of Ormonde. He married, 1662, Jane, daughter and heir of Philip Fitzgerald of Allone (Kildare), and had issue:
(1) Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1663-85), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Aylmer.
He died in the lifetime of his father, 20 December and was buried at Christ Church, Dublin, 23 December 1663. His widow's date of death is unknown.

Aylmer, Sir Fitzgerald (1663-85), 3rd bt. Only son of Garret Aylmer (d. 1663) and his wife Jane, daughter and heir of Philip Fitzgerald of Allone (Kildare), born 1663. He succeeded his grandfather as 3rd baronet, c.1675. He is said to have travelled and studied abroad before his marriage. A Roman Catholic in religion. He married, June 1681, Lady Helen, second daughter of Luke Plunkett, 3rd Earl of Fingall, and had issue:
(1) Sir Justin Aylmer (1682-1711), 4th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Luke Aylmer (1684-1706); died unmarried.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his grandfather in c.1675 and came of age in 1684.
He died of smallpox, 9 June and was buried at Donadea, 11 June 1685. His widow was outlawed in 1690 by King William III (reversed 1692) and fled to France; she married 2nd, 1694, Michael Fleming of Staholmock (Meath); her date of death is unknown.

Aylmer, Sir Justin (1682-1711), 4th bt. Only recorded son of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1663-85), 3rd bt., and his wife Helen, second daughter of Luke Plunkett, 3rd Earl of Fingall, born 24 February 1681/2. He succeeded his father as 4th baronet, 11 June 1685. In the aftermath of the Battle of the Boyne his mother refused to surrender Donadea Castle to the Williamite forces, and was outlawed with her son; the outlawry was reversed, 9 August 1692, but he was educated in France, and remained a Roman Catholic in religion. In 1705 he obtained a private Act in the Irish Parliament for the sale of part of his estates for the payment of debts; a previous attempt to secure such an Act in 1703 had failed. He married, 1702, Ellice, eldest daughter of Sir Gerald Aylmer, 2nd bt. of Balrath (Meath), and had issue:
(1) Sir Gerald Aylmer (1703-37), 5th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Peter Justin Aylmer; died young.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1685 and came of age in 1702.
He died in 1711. His widow married 2nd, Philip Roche; 3rd, 1714 (settlement 7 March), Luke Dillon of Clonbrock; and 4th, May 1718, John Dillon of Mile Abbey (Kildare), by whom she had issue two daughters; she died 27 August 1741.

Aylmer, Sir Gerald (1703-37), 5th bt. Elder son of Sir Justin Aylmer (1682-1711), 4th bt., and his wife Ellice, daughter of Sir Gerald Aylmer, 2nd bt., of Balrath (Meath), born 1703. He succeeded his father as 5th baronet, 1711.  He married, October 1726, Lucy (1705-93), daughter of Adm. Sir John Norris, kt., of Hempstead (Kent) and had issue:
(1) Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Lucy Aylmer (b. 1729), baptised at St Paul, Covent Garden, London, 22 February 1728/9;
(3) Elizabeth Aylmer (b. 1731), baptised 7 May 1731.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1711 and came of age in 1724.
He died 6 January 1736/7 and his will was proved in Dublin, 1737. His widow married 2nd, November 1737, Robert Fisher (1700-66), and had further issue (including the curiously named daughter, John Norris Fisher (1743-90)) and died in Bath in about December 1793.


Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer, 6th bt.
Aylmer, Sir Fitzgerald (1736-94), 6th bt. Only son of Sir Gerald Aylmer (d. 1737), 5th bt., and his wife Lucy, daughter of Adm. Sir John Norris, kt., of Hempstead (Kent), born 14 September 1736. He succeeded his father as 6th baronet in infancy, 6 January 1736/7, and was largely brought up in England by his mother and her family; he may have been the first of his family to conform to the Protestant religion; educated at Dr. Sauxay's school, Cheam (Surrey). He sat as an MP in the Irish House of Commons on the Duke of Leinster's interest for Roscommon, 1761-68, Old Leighlin, 1769-76, Kildare, 1776-83 and Harristown, 1783-94. High Sheriff of Co. Kildare, 1761; an officer in the Loyal Kilcock Rangers (Capt.). He was Director of the Grand Canal Company, 1772-74 and a member of the Royal Dublin Society from 1764. He married, 15 September 1764, Elizabeth (1741-97), daughter and heiress of Fenton Cole of Silver Hill (Co. Fermanagh), and had issue including:
(1) Margaret Aylmer (1765-1843), born 5 October 1765; married, about October 1789 at Donadea, Sir John Hort (1735-1807), 1st bt. of Hortland (Kildare), HM consul-general at Lisbon; died 15 September 1843 and was buried at Holy Trinity, Cheltenham, where she is commemorated by a monument;
(2) twin?, Sir Fenton Aylmer (1768?-1816), 7th bt. (q.v.);
(3) twin?, Capt. John Aylmer (1768-1839), born 12 May 1768; an officer in the infantry (Capt.); married, 14 June 1801, Grace Jane, daughter of William Evans, third son of Hon. John Evans, and widow of William Speirs, but had no issue; died aged 71, 8 December and was buried at Holy Trinity, Cheltenham (Glos), 14 December 1839;
(4) William Aylmer (b. c.1770), possibly born November 1770; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1786); died unmarried before 1794;
(5) Lt-Gen. Arthur Aylmer (1772-1831) [for whom see Aylmer family of Walworth Castle, below];
(6) Elizabeth Aylmer; died young.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1737 and came of age in 1757. He raised £6,000 by mortgage in 1764 and had rebuilt the house as a modern mansion by 1772. He also had a town house in Grafton St., Dublin.
He died in February 1794; his will was proved in Dublin, 1794. His widow died in Dublin in 1797 and her will was proved there, 1797.


Sir Fenton Aylmer, 7th bt.
Aylmer, Sir Fenton (1768?-1816), 7th bt. Eldest son of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt., and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Fenton Cole of Silver Hill (Co. Fermanagh), born at Donadea, 12 May 1768?* Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (BA 1788). He succeeded his father as 7th baronet, February 1794. JP for Co. Kildare; High Sheriff of Co. Kildare, 1795; an officer in the Donadea Yeomanry Cavalry (Capt., 1796). As a young man he sought a 'middle way' through the divisions of Irish politics and had connections with the leaders of both the protestant ascendancy and the United Irishmen, but his experiences of the 1790s moved him closer to the Loyalist mainstream. In 1795 he arrested six men who had formed a conspiracy to burn Donadea Castle. When rebellion loomed in 1798 one of the leaders of rebel forces was his own kinsman, William Aylmer (1778-1820) of Painstown, who after surrendering was allowed to live at Bristol. It seems likely that, foreseeing hostilities, Sir Fenton and his wife initially decamped to Wales (where his eldest son is said to have been born later that year), but he returned to Ireland after the violent and unexpected attacks by rebels in north Kildare in May. He was an officer of the Donadea Troop of Yeomanry Cavalry, but this unit was not activated during the troubles, presumably because its loyalty was doubted, and units of the regular army were instead employed to suppress the troubles. From 4 June, Sir Fenton and his kinsman, Michael Aylmer of Courtown, whose house had been sacked by the rebels, were based in Dublin Castle but rode out under heavy guard to perform their duties as magistrates. In July, an attempt was made by the rebel leaders to ambush and assassinate them under guise of parley, but they fortunately escaped; a further threat was also made to burn Donadea Castle which was only averted because some of the rebels' own supporters had lodged valuables there for safekeeping. After the surrender of the rebels in July 1798, he turned his attention to happier things, becoming a freemason, 1798, and helping to establish the Kildare Hunt, of which he was Master, 1798-1810, 1813-14. He was described as 'a small man, full of spirits, rather boisterous, and a great spendthrift', and he left the estate severely in debt at his early death. He married, 4 June 1795, Jane Grace (1767-1827), daughter of Sir John Evans Freke (1744-77), 1st bt. of Castle Freke (Cork) and sister of Sir John Evans-Freke, 6th Baron Carbery, and had issue:
(1) Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Margaret Susan Aylmer (1799-1892), born 1799; married, 29 December 1828, as his second wife, John Aylmer (1784-1857) of Courtown (Co. Meath) [for whom see the following post] and had issue one son and seven daughters; died aged 92, 26 December 1892 and was buried at Cloncurry (Kildare); will proved in Dublin, 18 March 1892 (effects £14,279);
(3) Sir Arthur Percy Aylmer (1801-85), 11th bt., born 31 August 1801; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1818; BA 1823; MA 1826); JP; Hon. Secretary of the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor of Ireland; succeeded his great-nephew as 11th baronet, 15 March 1885; married, 12 December 1833, Martha (c.1810-87), daughter of Richard Reynell of Killynon (Co. Westmeath) and had issue four sons and seven daughters; died at Cork, 7 May 1885, when the baronetcy passed to his senior grandson, Sir Arthur Percy Fitzgerald Aylmer (1858-1928), 12th bt.; will proved 9 July 1885 (effects £752);
(4) Rev. William Josiah Aylmer (1802-83), born 6 December 1802; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1820; BA 1825; MA 1832); ordained deacon, 1827 and priest, 1828; prebendary of Donadea and curate of Dunmurghill, 1828-51; emigrated to New Zealand, 1851, where he built Aylmer House at Akaroa; vicar of St Peter's church, Akaroa, 1851-73; married, 24 November 1830, Elizabeth Frances (d. 1880), eldest daughter of Rev. Henry Lambart Bayly of Ballyarthur, and had issue five sons and two daughters; died 9 August 1883 and was buried at Akaroa (New Zealand);
(5) John Freke Aylmer (1807-74), born 6 May 1807; lived at Green Bank, Bray (Wicklow); an officer in the infantry (Ensign, 1826; Lt., 1827); married, 22 May 1832 in Philadelphia (USA), Anna, third daughter of Richard Austin Parrish of Philadelphia, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 22 December 1874 and was buried at Bray; administration of his goods granted to his daughter, 22 June 1875 (effects under £200).
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in February 1794.
He died 23 May 1816. His widow died 31 December 1827.
* Many sources give his date of birth as November 1770.

Aylmer, Sir Gerald George (1798-1878), 8th bt. Eldest son of Sir Fenton Aylmer (1768?-1816), 7th bt. and his wife Jane Grace, daughter of Sir John Evans Freke, 1st bt., of Castle Freke (Cork), born 15 December 1798. Educated at Armagh and Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1815). He succeeded his father as 8th baronet, 23 May 1816, and devoted many years to returning the estate to a sound economic footing and paying off his father's debts. An officer in the 1st Dragoon Guards (Cornet, 1823; Lt., 1825) and Kildare militia (Maj., 1838). JP and DL for Co. Kildare; High Sheriff of Co. Kildare, 1827. In 1874 he was seriously injured at Donadea Castle caused when escaped gas was ignited and caused a store of gunpowder to explode. He married, 24 April 1826 at Carlisle (Cumbld), Maria (d. 1879), eldest daughter and co-heir of Col. James Hodgson of Carlisle, and had issue:
(1) Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1830-83), 9th bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1816, and was responsible for remodelling the house, laying out the park, and building lodges and a folly; he also reconstructed Ballyteague Castle as a reproduction tower house.
He died 8 February 1878; his will was proved 14 March 1878 (effects under £30,000). His widow died in Dublin, 9 May 1879; administration of her goods was granted 11 June 1879 (effects under £1,000).

Aylmer, Sir Gerald George (1830-83), 9th bt. Only son of Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1798-1878), 8th bt., and his wife Maria, eldest daughter and co-heir of Col. James Hodgson of Carlisle, born 20/26 May 1830. Educated at Sandhurst. JP for Dublin, Meath and Kildare; High Sheriff of Co. Kildare, 1854. A freemason, 1863-83. He succeeded his father as 9th baronet, 8 February 1878. He married, 6 April 1853, Alicia Hester Caroline (c.1831-1907), daughter of Conway R. Dobbs of Castle Dobbs (Co. Antrim), and had issue:
(1) Caroline Maria Aylmer (1856-1935) (q.v.);
(2) Helen Charlotte Nichola Aylmer (c.1859-69), born about 1859; died in Edinburgh aged 9, 28 February 1869;
(3) Sir Justin Gerald Aylmer (1863-85), 10th bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1878.
He died 25 June 1883; administration of his goods was granted in Dublin, 13 July 1883 (effects in Ireland, £6,695) and in London, 28 July 1883 (effects in England, £4,668). His widow died 6 March 1907; her will was proved in Dublin, 13 April 1907 (effects in Ireland, £4,103) and sealed in London, 19 April 1907 (effects in England £1,138).

Aylmer, Sir Justin Gerald (1863-85), 10th bt. Only son of Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1830-83), 9th bt., and his wife Alicia Hester Caroline, daughter of Conway R. Dobbs of Castle Dobbs (Co. Antrim), born 17 November 1863. Educated at Harrow, Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1882) and Inner Temple (admitted 1882). He succeeded his father as 10th baronet, 25 June 1883. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Donadea Castle from his father in 1883, and came of age the following year. At his death the Donadea estate passed to his elder sister.
He died as the result of a bicycle accident in Cambridge in which his neck was broken, 15 March 1885; on his death the baronetcy but not the estate passed to his great-uncle, Sir Arthur Percy Aylmer (1801-85), 11th bt; his will was proved in Dublin, 9 April 1885 (effects £14,401).

Aylmer, Caroline Maria (1856-1935). Elder daughter of Sir Gerald George Aylmer (1830-83), 9th bt., and his wife Alicia Hester Caroline, daughter of Conway R. Dobbs of Castle Dobbs (Co. Antrim), born 13 May 1856. She was unmarried and without issue.
She inherited the Donadea Castle estate on the death of her brother in 1885. At her death she bequeathed it to the Church of Ireland, which sold it to the Irish Government Department of Lands in 1936.
She died 13 May and was buried at Donadea, 15 May 1935; her will was proved in Dublin, 22 October 1935 (effects in Ireland £13,393) and in London, 25 November 1935 (estate in England £29,775).



Aylmer family of Walworth Castle




Lt-Gen. Arthur Aylmer
(1772-1831)
Aylmer, Lt-Gen. Arthur (1772-1831). Third son of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer (1736-94), 6th bt., and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Fenton Cole of Silver Hill (Co. Fermanagh), born 1772. An officer in the infantry (Ensign, 1788; Lt., c.1790; Capt., 1794; Major, 1794; Lt-Col., 1804; Col., 1810; Maj-Gen., 1813; Lt-Gen., 1825); retired on half-pay and served as one of the Inspecting Field Officers of Yeomanry and Volunteer Corps, 1807. JP for Co. Durham, 1812 and the North Riding of Yorkshire; Chairman of Co. Durham Quarter Sessions, c.1822-31. He was noted for his 'integrity and gentlemanly conduct, unostentatious charity and deep religious feeling'. He was a Tory in politics, but possessed of friends across the political spectrum. He married, 9 June 1807 at Heighington (Co. Durham), Anne (1778-1857), only daughter and heir of John Harrison of Walworth Castle, and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Margaret Aylmer (c.1808-53), born about 1808; married, 5 January 1833 at Heighington (Co. Durham), Rev. John James Scott (1807-90?), patron and incumbent of Holy Trinity, Barnstaple (Devon), 1845-53 and later curate in various places (who m2, 30 August 1855 at Widcombe, Bath (Somerset), Katherine Mutton, and had further issue) and had issue two sons and two daughters; died at Barnstaple, 24 July and was buried at Lynton (Devon), 29 July 1853;
(2) Grace Anna Aylmer (c.1810-86), born about 1810; married, 21 October 1828 at Heighington, Rev. Charles Pasley Vivian (1800-41), of Hatton Hall (Northants), rector of Wellingborough (Northants), and had issue; died 22 August 1886; will proved 19 October 1886 (estate £7,725);
(3) Louisa Lucy Eleanor Aylmer (c.1811-63), born about 1811; lived latterly with her married younger sister at Aycliffe (Co. Durham); died unmarried, 17 March, and was buried at Seaton Carew (Co. Durham), 21 March 1863;
(4) John Harrison Aylmer (1812-68) (q.v.);
(5) Catherine Dorothy Aylmer (1813-1904), baptised at Heighington, 6 February 1813; died unmarried aged 91, 10 February and was buried at Aycliffe, 13 February 1904;
(6) Augusta Anne Aylmer (c.1816-1912); married, 1845, Rev. John Davy Eade (1808-81), vicar of Aycliffe, and had issue two sons and four daughters; died aged 96, 29 July 1912; will proved 24 August 1912 (estate £6,241).
On the death of his father he inherited a half-share in a plantation on the island of Montserrat, and later bought the other half from his brother, John. He inherited Walworth Castle in right of his wife in 1819.
He was taken ill during the Easter Quarter Sessions in Durham, died there, 5 February 1831, and was buried at Heighington; his will was proved 28 February 1831. His widow died 1 March and was buried at Heighington, 7 March 1857; her will was proved 15 February 1858 (effects under £4,000).

Aylmer, John Harrison (1812-68). Only son of Lt-Gen. Arthur Aylmer (d. 1831) and his wife Anne, only daughter and heir of John Harrison of Walworth Castle (Co. Durham), born 19 January 1812. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1830). A long-standing member of the Grand Jury for Co. Durham, he was later appointed JP (by 1859) and DL (from 1852) for Co. Durham; High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1864. In 1868 he was a promoter of a petition to the bishop of Durham against the introduction of High Church ritualism into the Church of England. He had an interest in antiquarian matters reflected in his 'restoration' of Walworth Castle and was a member of the Surtees Society (elected 1836). He married, 7 February 1849 at Holy Trinity, Cheltenham (Glos), Rosanna Louisa (1821-68), eldest daughter of Vice-Adm. Sir Josiah Coghill Coghill, 3rd bt., and had issue:
(1) Arthur Fitzgerald Harrison Aylmer (1850-68), born 26 January 1850; admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1867 but was killed with his parents in the Abergele railway accident, 20 August 1868 before taking up residence;
(2) Herbert Willoughby Coghill Aylmer (1851-66), born 31 January 1851; died young, 24 January and was buried at Seaton Carew, 30 January 1866;
(3) Gerald Percy Vivian Aylmer (1856-1936) (q.v.);
(4) Edmund Kendal Grimston Aylmer (1859-1931), born 19 August 1859; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1877); an officer in the 19th Hussars (Lt-Col.); served in Egypt, 1882-85 and South Africa, 1899-1902 and commanded a reserve regiment in 1914; appointed CB 1902; he died unmarried and without issue at Farchynys, Dolgellau (Merioneths.), 28 March 1931; his will was proved 4 May 1931 (estate £30,344).
He inherited Walworth Castle from his father in 1831 and came of age in 1833.
He and his wife were burned to death with their eldest son in a railway accident near Abergele when the Irish mail train collided with a goods train carrying barrels of petrol, 20 August 1868; the remains of the thirty-three victims of the accident were buried together at Abergele as individual remains could not be securely identified. J.H. Aylmer's will was proved 6 October 1868 (effects under £12,000).

Aylmer, Gerald Percy Vivian (1856-1936). Third son of John Harrison Aylmer (1812-68) and his wife Rosanna Louisa, daughter of Vice-Adm. Sir Joshua Coghill Coghill, 3rd bt., born 8 July 1856. After the death of his parents he was brought up by his mother's sister Alicia and her husband, the Rev. George Ray, rector of Fingall (Yorks). Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; while an undergraduate he was involved in a serious riding accident in which his leg was broken, 1876. A freemason from 1874. JP (from 1880) and DL (from 1890) for Co. Durham; High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1887. An officer in the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry Cavalry, 1886-91 (Lt.) and 3rd London Rifle Volunteers (2nd Lt., 1899); served in South Africa, 1899-1900 (medal with four clasps). In the 1880s he undertook several adventurous expeditions for exploration and big game hunting in Africa with his friends F.L. & W.D. James and E. Lort-Phillips, including crossing the unknown Horn of Africa to the Webbe Shibeli River, during which he kept diaries (unpublished) and made observations on natural history and native tribes; author of A recent journey in northern Somaliland, 1898. In 1888 he and the Earl of Ranfurly bought 160 acres at Mildura, Victoria (Australia) with the idea of establishing a farm there together. He was an expert mechanic and worked in wood and metals in a fully equipped workshop at Dolgellau; he was also a keen fisherman and yachtsman. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Walworth Castle on the death of his father in 1868, added a gate lodge to the estate when he came of age in 1877, and reconstructed part of the castle before 1891. By 1901 he was living with his younger brother at Castlehaven (Co. Cork) and Dolgellau (Merioneths), and the castle was let.
He died in Newcastle, 20 December and was buried at Heighington (Co. Durham), 22 December 1936; an obituary was published in The Times, 1 January 1937.



Sources


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 1924, pp. 173-74; Burke's Irish Family Records, 1976, pp. 42-43; Anthologia Hibernica, vol. 2, 1793; p. 82; Anon, History of the rebellion in Ireland in the year 1798, 1806, pp. 25-27; Durham County Advertiser, 10 April 1891, p. 8; G.E. C[okayne], Complete Baronetage, vol. 1, 1900, pp. 231-33; W.B. Bolton, A history of the Kildare Hunt, 1913, ch. 2; Sir. N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: County Durham, 2nd edn., 1983, pp. 482-83; Sir R.J. Aylmer, 'Sir Fenton Aylmer, 7th baronet of Donadea', Fugitive Warfare: 1798 in North Kildare, 1998, pp. 50-56; E.M. Johnston-Liik, History of the Irish Parliament, 2002, vol. 3, pp. 117-18; J.B. Leslie & W.J.R. Wallace, Clergy of Meath and Kildare, 2009, pp. 49, 305; 
http://seamuscullen.net/donadea.htmlhttp://www.dia.ie/works/view/637/building/CO.+KILDARE%2C+DONADEA+CASTLEhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walworth_Castle


Location of archives


No significant accumulation of records is known to survive.


Coat of arms


Argent, a cross sable between four Cornish choughs proper.


Revision and acknowledgements


This post was first published 6 May 2017 and was updated 12 May 2017.

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