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The Lascelles Letters

The Lascelles family and Killough

Lascelles is a surname that is for the most part confined to Lecale and the family owes its origin in the area to a Francis Lascelles who arrived here in the early eighteenth century. The Lascelles family originally came from Yorkshire, where a certain Colonel Lascelles, of the Parliamentary army, was elected MP for Yorkshire in 1653. He had eleven children and some of them decided to emigrate to seek their fortune. One of his sons, Daniel, went to Barbados and subsequently became extremely rich, presumably as a plantation owner. His sixth child, Thomas, was less adventurous and instead headed for Dromore and later to Lisburn.

We know little of this Thomas but he gave birth to a son, also called Thomas, in about 1667. The younger Thomas set up a business in Lisburn selling broadcloth and 'Gold Lace' and began to amass a large amount of wealth, but unfortunately he lent many thousands of pounds to King William of Orange's army and this was never repaid. To add further to his problems his house and most of his property was destroyed in a great fire in Lisburn in 1707 and he was left in financial ruin. He decided that enough was enough and he returned to Yorkshire, with his wife Elizabeth Donne, whom he had married in 1792, and his family, and began to rebuild his fortunes. At some stage the family moved to Bristol and in about 1718 Anne died leaving him with a family of two sons and five daughters. Her dying wish was that Thomas should return with their children to Ireland.

He hired passage on a ship and loaded all his effects and possessions on board. For some reason he took a dislike to the other passengers and decided that his young family would not be 'comfortable' on board. He instead hired another vessel for them but left all his property on board the first ship. The two ships set sail for Dublin but once again Lascelles' fortune took a turn for the worse. The vessel with his possessions was shipwrecked and the family arrived in Ireland in a destitute state. Luck, however, was at hand and he was granted a tenement of land in Killough in 1721 or 1722 by Judge Michael Ward, of Castle Ward. Thomas was now 53 and seems to have decided, quite wisely, that is was the turn of his children to look after him. He died in 1729 and was buried in Killough but not before the family fortunes were re-established, especially by his son Francis.

This Francis greatly enhanced his prospects by marrying the daughter of one the most wealthy inhabitants of Killough for within two years of his arrival be became betrothed to Frances, the only daughter of Cornelius and Anne Feattus. At about the same time he was appointed as the Resident Agent and General Manager of Killough by Judge Ward. Francis was appointed to oversee the building and development of Killough as a port to the Bangor estate. He oversaw the construction of the harbour and the development of the salt-works in the village and by the time of his death in 1743 Killough was one of the busiest ports in Ulster. We are fortunate that he kept Judge Ward well informed of developments in the village during his term of office and the letters that he wrote still survive in the Public Records Office in Belfast.

Francis and Frances had five sons; Michael, Thomas, Cornelius, John and Rowley, and three daughters; Frances, Jane and Elizabeth. We have little information about most of these children. Jane married a Hugh Smith of Dunsford and Frances, known as Fanny, married William Trotter of Downpatrick in 1786 at the age of 45. He was a widower with a family of nine and his marriage to Fanny produced no further children. William was Agent to the de Clifford estate of Downpatrick and was also Magistrate for the county of Down. He and Fanny first lived in a four storied house at the top of Irish Street and later at Frankville at the Quoile quay. She died in 1807 having outlived her husband by thirteen years. Francis and Frances' final daughter, Elizabeth, seems to have died at an early age.

We also know little of the lives of most of the sons of Francis Lascelles. Nothing is known of John, while Thomas died at the age of three months in 1731 and is buried in St Anne's churchyard in Killough. Rowley married a certain Alice Dunne. He must have lived locally, as a headstone in St Anne's records that he died and was buried there in 1797 at the age of 61. Cornelius seems to have married and lived locally for some time, as Sophia, his daughter who died at the age of 14, was buried in Killough in 1784. His son John died at the age of 32 and was also buried in Killough in 1831. Michael, who was born in 1743, seems to have gone into the shipping business and as late as 1774 was involved in financial dealings with Bernard Ward, son of Judge Michael Ward. In 1775 or 1776 this Michael married Martha, 'daughter of Thomas Allen Esq. of London' and they seem to have settled in or near Killough.

Francis Edward Lascelles

Corneliusí son Francis Edward was born in 1770. At the age of fifteen he went to Trinity College Dublin. He acquired a BA in 1789 and was ordained a minister at Down in 1792. He married Margaret Jane Magill in 1797. He was Curate in Hillsborough from 1795 to 1814 while also holding the position of vicar at Kilmood during the same period, and vicar in Donaghadee from 1814 to 1824. During his latter years he seems to have been a minister in Kirkubbin. He installed a curate there and spent his time travelling about Ireland. He moved to Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1840 and died there in January 1844. As well as drawing salaries from his different ministries he also rented out land near Killough. The letters presented here date from 1838 to 1843 and are written to his unmarried cousin Lucy who lived in Palatine Square, Killough. They concern many aspects of his life, especially his travels about Ireland and in the north-east of England. They show the life of leisure enjoyed by a person of his station.

The Letters