Clanmorris papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleClanmorris papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D4216
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1605-1924
Extent Mediumc 3,725 documents + c 85 volumes


Creator(s): Ward family, Viscounts Bangor, of Castle Ward, County Down

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Castle Ward estate, originally called Carrick na Sheannagh, has been in the Ward family since the second half of the 16th century, when it was bought [c.1570] from the Earls of Kildare by Bernard Ward, father of Sir Robert Ward, Surveyor-General of Ireland. He came from Capesthorne in Cheshire. ... [The most important survival from the days of these early Wards is a 17th century tower house] standing in the farmyard of the Castle Ward estate ... . Built in 1610 by Nicholas Ward, who was a government official in Ireland towards the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it is a three-storied stone building almost 50 feet high and built for defence. The stairs rise by straight flights in the thickness of the walls. The wicker-mat centring on which the vault over the ground floor was constructed is still intact and may be seen in areas where the plaster has peeled off. ... [The original Bernard Ward's namesake and] great-great grandson, Bernard Ward of Castle Ward [1654-1690], was High Sheriff of Co. Down, and in 1690, in the Grand Jury Room at Downpatrick, he had a furious quarrel with one Jocelyn Hamilton. They went straight outside and fought a duel by the ruins of the old Abbey [of Inch], which, from all accounts, was conducted in the most irregular fashion. The High Sheriff mortally wounded his opponent with a pistol, and he himself was killed "by so brave a thrust" by Hamilton's sword that he was run through almost to the hilt. Source: from successive (1955 and 1982) National Trust Guidebooks to Castle Ward, which has been a National Trust property since 1950. - Extracted from a complete and detailed account of the Clanmorris Papers in the PRONI catalogue:
  • Archival History ↴

    The Clanmorris Papers were purchased by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in 1998.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Ward family, Viscounts Bangor, of Castle Ward, County Down ↴

    The archive contains c.725 Title deeds, leases, case papers, etc 1604-1914, relating to the original estates of the Ward family of Castle Ward, Viscounts Bangor, at Castle Ward, Killough, etc, barony of Lecale, Co. Down, to the Bangor estate of the Hamilton family of Bangor in the baronies of Ards and Lower Castlereagh, half of it inherited by the Wards through Judge Ward’s marriage to Anne Hamilton in 1709 and the other half as a result of Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor’s, purchase of it in 1779, and to the Kircubbin estate (plus detached townlands) purchased by Colonel the Hon. Robert Ward from the Bailie family of Inishargy in 1786. A number of documents relate to the lunacy of Nicholas, 2nd Viscount Bangor.
    The great glory of the Ward Papers are the c.1,000 Castle Ward letters, mainly for the century c.1700-c.1800, but with the outside dates of 1680-1831. The correspondence was to a limited extent quarried by John Stevenson in his Two Centuries of Life in Down, 1600-1800, and came to PRONI soon after the National Trust acquired Castle Ward. It has been fully calendared by PRONI. Much of it concerns the affairs of Michael Ward, who was often absent from his estates, attending to his duties as a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench from 1725 to 1758, and much of it was written to him by a wide range of correspondents: kinsfolk, employees, fellow landlords and tenants. Most of it relates to the Castle Ward demesne and estate and to the Killough estate, rather than to the other estates at Bangor, Co. Down, and at Curryglass near Tallow, Co. Waterford, but itself in Co. Cork. The bulk of the letters cover the period 1720 to 1758 although there are some interesting earlier items.
    Later Castle Ward correspondence comprises c.235 loose letters, 1831-c.1950, all between and among members of the Ward family, and principally relating to their personal, social, military, etc, activities, but with some reference to estate and business matters.

    – Extracted from a complete and detailed account of the Clanmorris Papers in the PRONI catalogue:

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    No further accruals expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    D4216/A Grants of arms and peerages to James Hamilton of Bangor, 1st Viscount Claneboye, and to his son, James Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Claneboye and 1st Earl of Clanbrassil
    D4216/B Early Co. Down title deeds to the Hamilton estate in Upper Clandeboye, the Great Ards, and elsewhere in Co. Down (including the lands of the dissolved abbey of Bangor), and some lands in Co. Antrim as well.
    D4216/C Additional Clanmorris papers: Clanbrassil conveyances
    D4216/D Additional Clanmorris papers: Kircubbin estate
    D4216/E Two boxes of marriage and other settlements
    D4216/F Additional Clanmorris papers: wills and testamentary papers
    D4216/G Co. Down title deeds, mainly relating to the Lordship of Bangor [and excluding Kircubbin, etc – see D4216/D]

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI's rules and regulations.
Conditions Governing ReproductionItems may be copied for personal research use only. If a researcher wishes to publish any documents from this collection, a request must be submitted in writing to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
Creation Dates1605-1924
Extent Mediumc 3,725 documents + c 85 volumes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A full descriptive list is available online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteWesley Geddis
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of DescriptionsMay 2013, Revised March 2014