Alex Watson is a researcher and genealogist, based in Glasgow, Scotland, I hope that you find this website informative, it is an ongoing project, based on the research that I started, in 2004, on behalf of my friend Patrick Joynson-Wreford, it will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Please get in touch if you want to ask questions or need some help, also if you have any information, stories, photographs, etc, that you want to share.

Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky Browne-Lecky

of Ecclesville

1881-1961

 

Raymond was born on the 17th of May 1881 he was the second child of Annie & Conolly Browne-Lecky, his sister, Isabella Caroline Annie was born in 21st of Sep 1879, she married 1st. Capt. Kenneth E. Warden, they later divorced, and she married 2ndly Charles Ernest William Bland of Colsterworth House, Lincolnshire. 

Raymond has been described as "theatrical" and "flamboyant", he was an actor, musician and noted female impersonator known as “TIBBY”, he lived in Ecclesville House, Fintona, Co Tyrone. Ecclesville was the ancestral home of his mother, Anna (Annie) Henrietta Eccles, built c.1703. Raymond's favourite colour was mauve, and he was usually dressed in mauve coloured clothes, his private rooms at Ecclesville house were liberally decorated in tones of mauve and pink. He was often seen about the local district, in his chauffeur driven, two toned green Austin 16 motorcar, dressed in mauve.

A letter written by Augustus McClintock (brother-in-law of Raymond's cousin Amy Eccles) dating from c.1896, tells of him in church at Rostrevor, "Nell and I went to church yesterday it was dull enough. Young Raymond was there his hands covered with large diamond rings, big button hole, specs with gold chain, gold chain to hold his Tyrolean hat on with, altogether a terrible sight, I think its a pity of the boy". 

Raymond led a privileged life, he did not have to work for a living, as he had a substantial income from his family estate, he liked the finer things in life and had a natural talent for the arts, he learned to play the piano and studied singing, his great love was performing, during the ‘Season’ in Dublin, guests were frequently invited to attend his ‘at home’ performances. At Ecclesville he converted an outbuilding into a private theatre, it was from here that he invited local dignitaries and other Ascendancy families to his charitable performances, which raised a great deal of money for local and national causes.

Raymond's father, Conolly William Lecky Browne, was the a son of Thomas Richardson Browne Esq., of Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone, and Sarah de Montmorency, daughter of Hervey Randall Saville Pratt de Montmorency of Castle Morres Co. Kilkenny and Rose Kearney.

Aughentaine Castle was built c.1863 to a design by Isaac & W. R. Farrell, Architects, Dublin for Thomas Richardson Browne Esq., of the Estate and Manor of Aughentaine and Mountstewart, the castle was built from stone that was quarried on the estate.

 

'Aughentaine Castle consisted of a two-storey main block and a lower two-storey wing, with two tall Italianate campaniles of equal height, one at each end. There was an open porch; two-light and three-light windows some round-headed and others rectangular'.

 

The estate was sold c.1955 by Mervyn Knox-Browne, (Mervyn moved to Perthshire, Scotland) to Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Hamilton-Stubber, who demolished it and built a neo-classical house, c. 1958 to the design of the Hon. Claud Phillimore.

 

AUGHENTAINE ESTATE—ADDRESS AND PRESENTATION. 


On Tuesday, the 10th instant, a meeting of the tenantry of the estate and manor of Aughentaine and Mountstewart, the property of Thomas R. Browne, Esq., D.L., J.P., took place at the Castle (Aughentaine) which is in course of erection. The object of the meeting was to present J. Hervey Browne, Esq., H.M. 12th Royal Lancers, eldest son and heir of T. R. Browne, Esq , on his attaining his majority, with a gold vase, accompanied by addresses to Mr. Browne and his son. The tenantry from all parts of this extensive estate were in attendance, and among the guests, and others present were—Thomas R. Browne, Esq., Mrs. Browne, J. Hervey Browne, Esq., and the Misses Browne, George F. Frooke, Esq., J.P, D.L , of Colebrooke, county Fermanagh; Rev. William Burnside, of Corcreery House, Rector of Magheracross; Mrs. Burnside; Rev. Aiken Irvine, Incumbent of Fivemiletown; and John Smith, Esq., Cavanakirk.

Belfast Morning News - Monday 23 February 1863.

Interior photographs of Aughentaine Castle.

MORRES/de MONTMORENCY of Castle Morres, Co. Kilkenny.

 

In 1684 the Castle, manor town and lands of Castle Morres along with extensive lands were granted to Hervey Morres Esq., he married Frances Butler, daughter of Pierce Butler of Barrowmount, Co. Kilkenny and had issue:-

FRANCIS MORRES, b.c. 1680, he married in 1706, Catherine Evans, daughter of Sir William Evans of Kilcreene, Co. Kilkenny and had issue:-

Hervey Morres, 1st Viscount Mountmorres, married 2ndly in July 1755 Mary Wall daughter of William Wall and Hon. Mary Ponsonby, (Aunt of 1st wife, Lady Letitia Ponsonby) and had further issue:-

Castle Morres was re-built in the mid-18th century, to a design by Francis Bindon for Hervey Morres, he was created 1st Baron Mountmorres, of Castlemorres, co. Kilkenny [Ireland] on the 4th of May 1756 an later became the 1st Viscount Mountmorres [Ireland] on the 29th of June 1763. His son and heir from his 1st marriage; Hervey Redmond Morres, shot himself through the head at his at his home in York St., St James's Square, London, on the 17th/18th August 1797, the title went to his half-brother Francis Hervey, he left the estate to his sisters, Letitia, and Sarah.

PRATT of Cabra Castle, Co. Cavan.

 

SARAH MORRES m. Rev. Joseph Pratt, son of Rev. Joseph Pratt and Elizabeth Chetwood of Cabra Castle, County Cavan, and had issue,

Right Rev. John Kearney, Bishop of Ossory.

HARVEY RANDALL SAVILLE PRATT, b. September 1782, m. Rose Lloyd Kearney, daughter of Rt. Rev. John Kearney, in July 1811. On the death of his father in 1831 he succeeded to the 4,840 acre Castle Morres estate of his mother's family in Co. Kilkenny, on condition that he assumed the surname and arms of de Montmorency. On 27th September 1831, his name was legally changed to Harvey Randall Saville Pratt de Montmorency by Royal Licence. He held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (D.L.) and lived at Castle Morres, Aghaviller, County Kilkenny, Ireland. He died on 20th September 1859, having had issue:-

The last owner of the Castle Morres estate was John Pratt de Montmorency, he died in Oct 1924, followed by the death in July 1925 of his widow Mary, the house was sold to the Land Commission. In the early 1930s it was unroofed, and a demolition sale took place. Many parts of the house can be found in houses around the country. The house itself was finally demolished in 1978. The grounds now merge with other Coillte woods, totalling approximately 2,000 acres in the district.

BROWNE of Cumber House, Co. Londonderry and Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone.

 

THOMAS R. BROWNE was the son of John Hamilton Browne (of Cumber House, Co. Derry and Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone), and Jane Matilda Lecky, daughter of William Lecky MP of Castlefin Co. Donegal and Hannah McCausland, daughter of Conolly McCausland of Fruit Hill (Drenagh) Co Londonderry. He married Sarah de Montmorency in 1839, he d. 29th May 1882, she d. 1st March 1889, having had issue:-

McCAUSLAND of Newtownlimavady, Co. Londonderry.

 

  • CONOLLY WILLIAM LECKY BROWNE'S grandmother, JANE MATILDA LECKY, b.c.1782, d. 1855, was the daughter of William Lecky and Hannah McCausland.
  • HANNAH McCAUSLAND, b. 3rd Oct 1751, d. 26th Aug 1826, was the daughter of Conolly McCausland of Fruithill, Newtown Limavady*, Co. Londonderry.
  • CONOLLY McCAUSLAND of Fruithill, b. 21st Nov 1713, was the son of Col. Robert McCausland and Hannah Moore, m. ELIZABETH GAGE, daughter of Thomas Gage of Bellarena, Magilligan, Co. Londonderry and Sarah Hodgson. he d. 27th June 1794.
  • Col. ROBERT McCAUSLAND, m. 1709 HANNAH MOORE, she has been recorded as the daughter of William Moore, of Garvey, and widow of James Hamilton, junior, of Strabane.

However, according to Conolly McCausland presently of Drenagh, Hannah was the daughter of William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and this is why he left the lands of Limavady to her husband in his will:-

 

'I likewise give and bequeath to my said Nephew (Wm Conolly Esq.) his heirs Executors and Administrators respectively all my Leases and Terms for years or lives except only the Lease for years which I hold from the See of Derry in the County of Londonderry which lease I do hereby give and bequeath to my Agent Robert McCausland Esq. his executors and administrators as an Acknowledgement for the faithful service he has done me.'

Will of William Conolly of Celbridge, County Kildare, dated 18th Oct 1729.

The National Archives. PROB 11/636/185.

 

*In 1697 William Conolly purchased the Limavady estate from the descendants of Sir Thomas Phillips, who had been granted it at the time of the Plantation. 

Conolly William Lecky Browne, son of Thomas R. Browne of Aughentaine Castle, Co. Tyrone, and Sarah de Montmorency, was the eventual heir to his grand uncle, Conolly McCausland Lecky, of Londonderry, brother of his grandmother Jane Matilda Lecky. In compliance with the terms of the will he assumed the additional name of LECKY after that of Browne, under royal sign-manual, dated the 14th of July 1874.

Conolly McCausland Lecky had amassed a large amount of property in Londonderry that provided a very substantial income from the rentals. He married Anne Harvey, daughter of John Harvey Esq. of Bargy Castle. Co. Wexford.

There were no children of the marriage, Conolly died on the 17th of July 1857, leaving his estate as follows:-

'By his will dated 29 January 1856 Conolly McCausland Lecky devised all his estates real freehold and personal including the several lands comprising this Estate unto the Reverend Robert Gage as Trustee of his will

  • UPON TRUST out of the rents and profits to pay the outgoings and to pay the outgoings and to pay the residue to Testator's wife for her life and after her death
  • UPON TRUST to apply the residue to the use of Testator's nephew William Lecky Browne for his life and after his death TO the use of Raymond Saville Browne second son of Testator's nephew Thomas Richardson Browne (except £100 per annum which he directed to be paid to the use of Conolly William Lecky Browne third son of Testator's nephew Thomas Richardson Browne for the life of the said Conolly William Lecky Browne)
  • DECLARATION that should the aforesaid Raymond Saville Browne succeed [sic] to the Estate of Aughentaine in the County of Tyrone or become entitled to same the devise therein made was to become null and void and the residue should be paid to the aforesaid Conolly William Lecky Browne
  • AND in case the Testator should succeed to the Aughentaine Estate then the said devise should also be null and void
  • BUT in case no succession should take place of either of them the said Raymond Saville Browne as aforesaid should have the devise as made by the Testator for his life
  • AND AFTER HIS DECEASED [sic] the said Trustee was to stand seized and possessed of the property devised by the said will and to apply the residue of the rents and profits into and to the use of the first and every other son successively of the said Raymond Saville Browne according to priority of birth and heirs male of the body of each such son respectively and successively
  • AND in default of such issue or in case the said Raymond Saville Browne should succeed to the said Aughentaine Estate
  • THEN to pay the residue unto and to the use of the said William Lecky Browne for his life
  • AND FROM AND AFTER HIS DECEASE then unto and to the use of the first and other sons successively of the said Conolly William Lecky Browne according to priority of birth and the heirs male of the body of each and such sons respectively and successively
  • AND in default of such issue or in case the said Conolly William Lecky Browne should succeed to the said Aughentaine Estate
  • THEN the said Revd. Robert Gage was to stand seized and possessed of the said properties to the uses therein mentioned.
  • 1857 July 17.  The Testator died
  • 1857 October 24. Probate of the said Will was granted to Mrs Anne Lecky, William Lecky Browne and Thomas Richardson Browne the Executors therein named.
  • 1862 May 29. The said William Lecky Browne died without issue.
  • 1865 February 14. The said Anne Lecky, widow of the said Conolly McCausland Lecky, died.
  • 1873 August 20. The said Raymond Saville Browne died a bachelor.
  • 1874 May 12. By Deed Poll the said Conolly William Lecky Browne assumed the name of Lecky and attained the age of twenty one years on the 13th. July 1873 and under the limitations of the said Will entered into possession of the lands and hereditaments devised by the said Will and the receipt of the rents and profits thereof.
  • 1924 January 19. The said Conolly William Lecky Browne Lecky died whereupon the lands granted by the lastly abstracted Indenture became in default of any such appointment as aforesaid vested in the said Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky Browne Lecky absolutely'.

William Conolly.

Raymond Saville Conolly de Montmorency Lecky Browne-Lecky

of Ecclesville.

A scrap album of Raymond's deposited at PRONI, covers a period of his theatrical life from 1909-1920, he clearly appreciated the privileged position that his birth had placed him in, and he was keen to put his talent to entertain to good use, to raise money for people less fortunate than himself. There are many news clips about performances that he held:-

“annual concert for the poor of the town of Fintona” Irish Society, Sept 1910,

“concert for the winter coal fund at Warrenpoint” Irish Independent, Oct 1910,

“concert for the Woman’s Health Association”, Tyrone Constitution , Sept 1911.

There were several dramatic and musical evenings held to raise money for the Titanic disaster relief fund in 1912, “The Soldiers’ and Sailors families association” in 1914 and many more causes. In the Abbey theatre in Dublin, Raymond held a dramatic evening on the 9th of March 1914, the patrons of the event were the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn and the proceeds were in aid of the poor in Fintona, unfortunately Raymond was unwell due to a cold and unable to perform himself however the night was a success as the newspapers of the time show: 

“The attendance at the Abbey Theatre on Monday night must have established a record, and seldom has so smart an audience been seen there. Even the back seats in the pit and gallery were gladly taken by society folk who had not booked early. Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky may well feel proud of his success as promoter of the entertainment”.

IRISH LIFE

On Tuesday, November 25th, most excellent amateur theatricals were given by Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky in Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone. “The Ghost,” a play in one act, by Charles Pender, and “Her New Dressmaker” being the plays presented. In the former piece Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky appeared as the ambitious would-be Member of Parliament, “Horace Overend,” and scored a distinct success. Miss Margaret Waring made a very charming “Ethel Desmond,” and acted throughout with great judgement, she wore a most becoming dress of grey and white ninon, the skirt draped “en Panier,” swathed in “ciel” blue satin and a very attractive black velvet hat. Mr Cristie made quite a “hit” as “Frank Wakeley,” and won great applause for his finished rendering of by no means an easy part. Mr. Wilson Guy deserves special praise for his excellent rendering of the part of “Peter” (an old servant), which was most admirably played. In the sketch, “Her New Dressmaker,” Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky fairly brought down the “house,” appearing in the role of a young widow, “Mrs. Forbes,” his “make-up” and disguise being so perfect that many of the audience were completely mystified, and refused to believe that the charming lady was, after all only a “mere man.” Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky’s gown was as follows:- The “jupe” very full, “en cloche” draped with a “Volant” of “point d’Alencon” ; the “corsage” in “crepe de chine,” encircled with a “cincture of passementerie,” “manches en gigot,” veiled with a “Volant de dentelle,” the Rev. J. Hunter was equally successful, and played his part splendidly; both actors received quite an ovation at the fall of the curtain.

XMAS NUMBER 1913.

There is a rather amusing story from “The figure in the cave” by John Montague & Antoinette Quinn, Syracuse University Press, 1989,

Old Browne-Lecky was as sceptical about his compulsory American visitors, the officers who had taken over his stately home. He told me in his quavering voice that they had disturbed his great-aunt by their bad manners. Although dead many years, she made a nightly tour of the Georgian mansion and greatly resented being challenged by a sentry. One night as she sailed past on her tour of inspection the baffled poor man fired right through her. According to Raymond, an actor of the old school as well as an aristocrat, she turned on her well-bred heel, and came back towards the sentry. “Young man, she said, waving a fleshless finger, “whoever you are, and wherever you are from, you have no savoir faire. One simply does not fire on anyone, especially a lady, and especially dead, in their own home.”  

There have been several accounts written about Raymond, they show a man with a very quick wit and flair for being a bit of a drama queen;

“About 1960, when he was nearly eighty, Tibby gave a tea party at which one of the guests was Miss Helen Bonaparte Wyse, a member of a County Waterford Ascendancy family descended in the female line from Lucien Bonaparte, After tea Miss Bonaparte Wyse, who appeared to be a typical Ascendancy spinster of a certain age in tweeds, went out to her car and returned carrying a suitcase from which she produced some sheaves of manuscript and a Napoleon hat. Donning the latter, she proceeded to give very long and very stirring Napoleonic recitations of her own composition. Tibby, in his mauve velvet jacket, began to shift about uneasily. If anybody was to steal the stage it should be himself. He turned to one of the male guests and in his high-pitched voice said: “Rather amateurish, don’t you think?

Miss Bonaparte Wyse was impervious to such asides. On she went: Austerlitz, Jena, la Grande Armee, the retreat from Moscow, the Old Guard; no detail was missed. “Rather amateurish, don’t you think?” repeated her host, in an even more penetrating voice. But Miss Bonaparte Wyse went on. When at last her recitations were over, they turned out to have been only the first part of the performance, for she sat down at the piano and crashed into Rachmaninoff. Her chords were not enough to drown the voice of Tibby as he turned yet again to his neighbour. “Rather amateurish, don’t you think?” a

Mark Bence-Jones, Twilight of the ascendancy, Constable, 1987.

 

Bence-Jones, goes on to write, completely inaccurately that in his early life, his mother dressed him as a girl after the age when this was customary” due to her “longing for a daughter”, Raymond was born in 1881 he was the second child of Annie & Conolly Browne-Lecky, his sister, Isabella Caroline Annie having been born 2 years previously in 1879.

 

Ann Morrow wrote in her book (Picnic in a Foreign Land, published in 1990), 'that Raymond became a resident in his own home, after Ecclesville became a nursing home'.

A following article is very candid and rather revealing about Raymond, it is for the time also quite brave for Raymond to have permitted it to be printed:-

 

Irish Society and Social Review

 May 28th 1921

 

Mrs. Lecky Browne-Lecky who was ill all the late winter and early spring of this year is recuperating well at her northern residence “Ecclesville,” Co. Tyrone the place belonged to her father and his quite a landmark in country. The large entrance- gates are situated at a crossroads not far from Fintona station, and all the country round covering an immense district, has been Eccles property for centuries. Both church and Chapel are on the estate, built by the impartial owner whose beautiful memorial window adorns the chancel of Fintona Parish Church. It was erected by his daughter the present occupant of Ecclesville.

 

Wonderful paintings and objects of art the spacious old house contains, and guests who are freely invited in the summer find plenty of pleasant occupation exploring the stately rooms and the quaint old corridors, in some of the latter of which the kindly lady now recovering from illness took horse exercise in wet weather when a girl. There is a private theatre in the western wing of the mansion, and amateur performances given there afford endless pleasure for visitors. Some magnificent copper beeches, declared by experts to be the finest in the Kingdom, adorn the front sweep of the expansive lawn, and the main avenue to the gates is through double hedges of rhododendrons, glorious in crimson and purple colourings, and blossoming late, as do most growths in the far districts of the north.

 

 Mr. Raymond Brown Lecky, the “actor musician” as he is called, has his own special sanctum fitted up and graded shades of rose-pink, everything in exact harmony and tastefully selected. It is the only modern room in the house. The electric lighting circuits the lofty ceiling and shines through an ornamental cornice; photographs of friends, many of them prominent actors and singers, are freely skirted over mantlepiece and tables, and the semi grand Bechstein piano is draped with rose coloured satin, embroidered in gay-plumaged birds.

 

From this home of sterling luxury Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky went out during the most anxious years for the war, utilising his own car and enduring many hardships while he toured the northern towns giving attractive entertainments for the benefit of the Red Cross. Not knowing, nor caring, where he might find night accommodation, giving no thought to where he lodged or what he ate, or how he was rained upon and blown, so long as his helpers were accommodated, he worked untiringly for the cause which he could not help by soldiering, because he failed to pass the health examination.

 

How few in great cities knew, or know, anything of this devotional sacrifice. It was not paraded. People spoke, and still speak, of this wonderful man as “effeminate,” and say how surprising it is that he did not join up and win distinctions. Such critics do not know anything at all, and what the man criticised thinks off his dissectors is never revealed through the happy smile which with which he greets friends, and others, alike.

Raymond S C de M L Browne-Lecky and his partner Joel Henry Hart, at the wedding of Celeste Ray and Nigel Mathew, 17th of November, 1951, at St. Columba's Parish Church, Omagh. The wedding reception was held at Ecclesville House.

Raymond's partner J Henry Hart died on the 1st of February 1953, aged 84, he was buried in the Eccles lair at Castletown graveyard, Raymond died on the 11th of November 1961 and was buried an the adjoining plot.

Raymond died on 11th November 1961, Remembrance day, aged 80. His beloved home Ecclesville was according to his will to be:

 “handed over to the Government of Northern Ireland or such other public body as the Government may desire my Mansion House and Lands known as Ecclesville upon the following conditions:-

(a) That my estate shall be indemnified or relieved from payment of any death duties on the said property and that the said property shall not be aggregated with the rest of my estate so as to increase the rate of duty on such estate.”

he had hoped that the Government would use the house as a nursing home, which he had witnessed happeing to other homes of the gentry, unfortunatley the government did not want to do this, as it had become so costly to convert old house for this purpose, and decided to advertise the house for let, apparently it was subsequently let to a lady from Belfast, who ran it as a nursing home for some years, but in 1978, it was no longer required and demolished. 

Funeral of Late

Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky

 

There were most impressive scenes at the funeral on Wednesday afternoon of last week of Mr. Raymond de M, Browne-Lecky, of Ecclesville, Fintona, when the remains were interred in Fintona old graveyard. It is understood that this will be the last burial in this ancient ground, and it is most appropriate because no one could have shown a more practical interest in Fintona and district than Mr. Browne-Lecky during his whole lifetime.

The body had been resting in Donacavey parish Church, and as might be expected there was a large and representative attendance.

The impressive service with full choir, was conducted by the rector, Canon F.W.C Whitcroft, and Rt Rev. Dr. A.A. Buchanan, Bishop of Clogher, who came specially from Dublin, paid a glowing tribute to the deceased gentleman

He said Raymond Browne-Lecky died on 11th November, on the eve of Remembrance Sunday. It was a significant date because Sunday was the day they had set aside to pay tribute to the dead of two world wars. It was his custom to join them in their remembrance, and he was a benefactor to and a great supporter of the British Legion and ex-servicemen commenced during the First World War. He had been told by a friend in Dublin he recollected Mr. Browne-Lecky organising a concert for the troops in the year 1917 in a theatre in Dublin. That enthusiasm never waned and he was a staunch friend of ex-servicemen. He was proud of his native Fintona and took a keen interest in the community.

They had sung Mr. Browne-Lecky’s favourite hymn: “Take up thy cross the saviour said,” and that indicated his outlook on life. The Bishop spoke of Mr. Browne-Lecky's steadfastness, and said he set a grand example? For all to follow.

He would be greatly missed in Fintona and district.

The body was carried from the church by members of the select vestry, and Mr. Richard Scott presided at the organ. The coffin was carried into the graveyard by members of the British Legion and the service at the graveside was conducted by the Bishop, assisted by the Rector. Mr. Lewis Anderson carried a wreath from the parishioners, and Capt. R. A. Chambers, M.C. carried a wreath from the Fintona British Legion. There were many other floral tributes.

Amongst those observed at the funeral were Mrs. Mervyn Knox-Browne; Mrs. Anketell Moutray; the Earl of Caledon; Capt, peter Montgomery, D.L..; Capt. W. Maddin Scott Mr. H.M. Pollock; Col. C.R. McCausland; Dr. J. Chambers; Mr. Jan Pick; Mr. E.C.W. Baker; Capt. Marcus B. Lendrum; Mrs. J. F. Dickie; Mrs. De la Ray; Capt. B. and Mrs. White, Mr. Roy B. Holmes; Mrs. Sproule, with of course a large representation of the business and professional life of Fintona and district. Mr. Richard Holmes of London, a very old friend of the late Mr. Browne-Lecky, was prevented from attending the funeral but was represented by Capt. Sproule. [sic]

Moira Douglas from the Belfast Telegraph reported the following:

 

Mrs. May Knox-Browne, widow of Mr. Mervyn Knox-Browne, of Aughentaine Castle, who has been living at Ecclesville for the past five or six years. It was Mrs. Knox-Browne who told me about the beautiful Amy Eccles, who sold her family home to her Uncle by marriage, a Lecky-Browne-Lecky. Amy’s portrait hangs in the music room. She married a McClintock and went to live at nearby Seskinore. “A wonderful girl. Very rich – and she spent the lot.”

 

In his will Raymond made the following bequest:-

  1. To Hand over to the Dean and Chapter of Londonderry Cathedral all my family portraits (except the portrait of Mrs. McClintock which I hereby bequeath to her granddaughter who is my second cousin, Xeina Johnstone Wreeford, [sic] my watch in double case, my clock in dining room, the china box in drawing room which formerly belonged to Napoleon, my silver Irish potato Ring and my William and Mary Tankard, also my musical box and my gold headed stick. I direct that the decision as to what portraits are within the above description shall be at the absolute discretion of my Trustees and that the receipt of the Dean for the said articles shall be a good discharge to my Executors.

'Xeina Johnstone Wreeford', was misspelt, it should have been Xenia Joynson Wreford, unfortunately the portrait never reached Xenia, but this is most probably, because, Xenia, who was living in India at the time, was either not informed of it by her guardian, Sheila Boteler or they were unable to trace her.

What is certain is that it was hanging in the music room at Ecclesville, when May Knox-Browne was interviewed (above) by Moira Douglas, from the Belfast telegraph.

 

In June 2008, Xenia and I visited Mervyn Knox-Browne and his daughter Deirdre Yellowlees, at Mervyn's home in Perthshire. Mervyn, said that he believed that his mother had removed the portrait before the auction, and he was sure that it was in amongst her belongings, which he had in storage, however Deirdre disagreed with this. It appears to have been at Seskinore when an inventory was taken by Gallows of London for insurance purposes in Dec 1914 (D1716/19):

 

  • 'Oil painting: Portrait of Mrs. A. H. McClintock , 30in by 25in, by Costa - in heavy florentine frame, valued at £40.'

 

A photograph of the hall at Seskinore shows the portrait of Col. J.K, on the opposite wall, which is shown by way of a looking glass above the chimney piece, is a portrait in a heavy Florentine frame, I believe this is Mrs McClintock by Costa, it shows a striking resemblance to other portraits by Costa, and even the frame is similar to the framing of some of his portraiture work. It was most likely painted by Giovanni Costa shortly after Amy and J.K. were married in 1893, commissioned when they were on their Continental honeymoon.

 

I contacted Londonderry Cathedral regarding the bequest to them, of all Raymond's family portraits and the other items, they advised me that they been advised by the auctioneer John Morgan of John Ross & Co Belfast to put them up for sale and receive the proceeds minus fees, which they did, and in June that year they received £778.15.0. Unfortunately, the family portraits that went to auction were not listed in the sale catalogue as it had already been printed, so there appears to be no record of what portraits were put on sale.

The auction of Raymond's personal possessions and house contents took place on the 2nd & 3rd of February 1962, it raised £23,500 over the 2 days, which was a record sale at the time.

UNPRECEDENTED AUCTION SALE AT ECCLESVILLE FINTONA

(February 1962)

Buyers from London and Two Continents

 

The two-day auction of the effects of the late Mr. Raymond Browne-Lecky, at his residence, Ecclesville, Fintona, attracted buyers from as far apart as the United States, the Continent, London, Dublin and Belfast, and it is understood that the total realised in excess of £25,000.

 

The auction revealed that Ecclesville was a veritable Aladdin’s cave, In addition to valuable oil paintings by such famous artists as Gerard Dou, Constable, Tenier, and Breughal, Mr Browne-Lecky’s collection of jewellery attracted the attention of dealers.

 

Highest price for a picture was £560 for an unattributed oil of “Bridge, figures and architectural perspective,” Another “Poultry, owl, bees and landscapes” realised £490, and another “unknown artist” “children” fetched £330. While the astute dealers were snapping up these pictures, private buyers got a fair proportion, and one secured an attractive looking oil at £2-10-0.

An oil entitled “Old man with beard and red cloak,” was purchased for Belfast Museum. Capt. The Hon. John Brooke paid £390 for a picture by Van de Velde.

£460 was paid for a Queen Anne Silver Irish Tankard made in Dublin in 1760 by Joseph Walker, but it is understood it is not the property of the late Mr. Browne-Lecky.

An English dealer paid £410 for a pair of silver candlesticks, made by W. Walsh in Dublin. A set of three early Georgian mahogany male and female plate stands and receptacle container also realised £510. a set of Georgian reeded mahogany economy serving tables fetched £170, and a selection of silver sauceboats £250.

King William III

 

A half-length oil portrait of William III, attributed to Sir Peter Lely was bought by a Northern Ireland dealer at £160.

Jewellery

 

Most of the jewellery was picked by the Dublin dealers, and the best prices were given by Louis Wyne who paid £310 for a gold locket and chain inset with diamonds, and £230 for a gold tie-pin and sapphire and 20 rose diamonds, and another tie-pin set with garnets and  a 11/2 carat diamond went for £145. A George III spade guinea sold at £30.

 

 £460 FOR VIOLIN

 

Mr. Browne-Lecky’s favourite violin, made in 1780 by N. Lupot of Orleans, was bought by Mrs. Greenwood-Gant, better known as Valerie Trimble, the gifted Enniskillen pianist at £460, It is understood that she bought it for her daughter Caroline, aged 11.

The concert grand piano by Steinway was purchased for £230 and it was regarded as one of the “bargain buys.”

Mr. Browne-Lecky’s so well known 1937 Austin saloon car was bought at £40 by a Londonderry motor firm, who it is believed sold the car as new to Mr. Browne-Lecky twenty-five years ago. It was possibly the first two-tone car seen in Tyrone.

Generally there was very keen competition for most of the lots, and so great were the crowds of sightseers as well as buyers that many people found great difficulty in getting into the house. Several ladies, keen on getting bargains, clambered through the windows.

 

AUCTIONEERS HAVE MANY OMAGH FRIENDS

 

The auctioneers of the Ecclesville property, Messrs. Morgan Brothers, Belfast, made the Royal Arms Hotel their headquarters., Incidentally both these gentlemen served as officers in Omagh during the war and they have many friends locally.

In connection with the sales, the Royal Arms register carried some unusual names, e.g. Spellman, Sabin, Tooth, Kaitzer.

At the Melville Hotel, too, there were some well know antique dealers as well as a number of private buyers, mostly from Dublin.[sic]

ECCLESVILLE - AUCTION - FINE ART - SALE - 5-6th February 1962

 

(MAIN HALL)

  • 39 Pair of interesting oil paintings “River & landscape,” by J.C. Crome, 33 ins x 27 ins., in moulded gilt frames (Originally in Aughentane Castle)
  • 40 Gallery oil painting-“Allegorical scene, with figures and river,” 64 ins x 48 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 41 Three –quarter-length oil painting – “Monk at Prayer,” attributed to Guido, 37 ins x 27 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 42 Oil painting – “Classical columns, figures and ships,” 20 ins x 25ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 43 Oil painting – “Dogs with game,” by N. Gillard, 331/2  ins x 42 ins., in moulded gilt frame.

(DINING ROOM)

  • 208 French Musical Box in Ebonised and Gilt Case, painted panels of cupids and mermaids, inset fine Water colour of Paris, circa 1780.
  • 209 Fine oil painting-“Equestrian figures with classical landscape background,” 28 ins x 25 ins., in moulded gilt frame (English school).
  • 210 Fine oil painting – “River, Bridge and classical architecture, with figures,” 53 ins x 71 ins., in moulded gilt frame (Italian school).
  • 211 Oil painting – “Hound and swan in combat,” attributed to Snyders, 39 ins x 51 ins, in moulded gilt frame.
  • 212 Interesting gallery oil painting – Harbour scene, with classical architectural background,” 88 ins x 63 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 213 Half-length oil portrait – “William III,” attributed to Sir Peter Lely, 23 ins x 28 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 214  Oil painting – “Swans and ducks,” by Hondecooter, 58 ins x 43 ins., in black moulded frame.
  • 215 Three-quarter-length oil portrait – “Boy with Dog,” 24 ins x 29 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 216 Oil painting – “Classical buildings, River and figures,” 36 ins x 51 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 217 Oil painting – “Stag at Bay,” (signed), 49 ins x 29 ins., in moulded gilt frame.

(PASSAGE TO DRAWING & MUSIC ROOMS)

  • 249 Oil painting—“Salmon,” 30 ins. X 16 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 250 Oil painting—“Shipping at sunset,” by Moltino, 63 ins. X 35 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 251 Oil painting—“Salmon,” by H.L.Rolfe, 171/2 ins. X 111/2 ins., inmoulded gilt frame.
  • 252 Two Oil paintings—“Salmon” by H.L Rolfe, 29 ins. X 19 ins., in moulded gilt frame.

(MUSIC ROOM)

  • 280 Three-Quarter-Length Water colour Portrait “Lady, with black lace shawl,” 18 ins. X 131’2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 285 Coloured Print—“The Dresden Beauty,” 131/2 ins. X 9 ins., in moulded gilt frame, and Two framed Music covers.
  • 288 Three-Quarter-Length Oil Portrait – “Gentleman with cravat, holding eyeglass,” 14 ins. X 11ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 298 Woolwork Picture—“Flowers,” and Coloured Print “Field Marshal, Sir Henry Wilson.”
  • 299 Half-Length Oil Portrait—“Officer in red and green jacket,” on copper panel, 51/2 ins. X 41/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 300 Silk Needlework Picture—“Ship Wreck,” 101/2 ins. X 10 ins.. in moulded gilt frame.
  • 302 Very Interesting Dutch Oil Painting on Panel – “Woman holding Game Bird, with figures, drapery and vegetables,” by Gerard Dou, signed and dated 1651, 12 ins. X 10 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 303 Oil Painting – Virgin  Mary,” attributed to Carlo Dolci, 12 ins. X 9 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 313 Interesting Oil Painting –“Christ with Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection,” on cradled canvas, by B. Van Orley, 23 ins. X 17 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 324 Oil painting –“Young Girl with striped bodice, carrying basket with flowers,” 29 ins. X 22 ins. In Florentine gilt frame.
  • 338 Oil Painting—“Girl,” attributed to Greuze, 171/2 ins. X 141/2 ins., in gilt frame.
  • 339 Half-Length Miniature on Ivory of Young Girl, 31/2 ins. 23/4 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 341 Oil Painting –“Dutch Interior,” attributed to Peter De Hooge, 18 ins. X 23 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 343 Interesting Oil Painting –“Biblical Scene,” attributed to Carracci, 24 ins. X 181/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.

(DRAWING ROOM)

  • 484 Interesting Oval Oil Painting—“The Veil of St Veronica,” on copper panel, attributed to Carlo Maratti, 6 ins. X 41/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 485 Oil Painting—“Sunset and landscape,”  81/2 ins. X 13 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 486 Oil Painting – “Cattle, Figures and Landscape,” by A. Vandevelde, 30 ins. X 40 ins., in carved wood and gilt openwork frame.
  • 487 Interesting Oil Painting – “Biblical Scene, with classical architecture and figures,” on copper panel, 131/2 ins. X 111/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 488 Oil Painting—“Fox and Landscape,” in moulded gilt frame, 16 ins. X 111/2 ins.
  • 489 Oil Painting—“Classical Architecture and Figures,” 49 ins. X 59 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 490 Oil Painting—“Still Life, Stag’s Head and Game,” attributed to Weenix, 241/2 ins. X 301/2 ins. In moulded gilt frame.
  • 491 Pair of Interesting Oval Oil Paintings—“Fishermen, Landscape, Castle Figures and Classical Architecture,” attributed to J. Breughel, on panel 41/2 ins. X 6 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 492 Oil Painting—“Rural scene with trees, cottage, figures and sheep,” signed J. Constable, 111/2 ins. X 9 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 493 Interesting Oil Painting—“Interior, with seated and Drinking Figures,” by D. Tenier, 61/2 ins. X 9 ins., in moulded gilt frame (signed).
  • 494 Interesting Oil painting on Panel – “Girl in Red Coat,” attributed to Metzu, 12 ins. X 9 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 495 Oil Painting—“Children,” 24 ins. X 29 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 496 Oil Painting—“Dutch Scene,” in style of Tenier, 11 ins. X 141/2 ins., in carved and moulded gilt frame.
  • 497 Oil painting—“Shepherd Boy,” 211/2 ins.  X 151/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 498 Pair of Oil paintings on Panels—“Shrimp Gatherers,” by M. Day, 51/2 ins. X 12 ins., in moulded gilt frame.
  • 499 Pair of Interesting Oil paintings on Panels—“River, Figures, Trees and Landscape,” attributed to J. Breughel, 81/2 ins. X 41/2 ins., in moulded gilt frame.

Gift Offer by Govt.

Gets Refused.

ECCLESVILLE, the 250- year - old haunted mansion in Co. Tyrone willed to the Government by its late owner, may turn out to be a headache for the authorities. But the problem is not the lady-in-silk ghost who reputedly flits from room to room.

The big question is: What will the Government do with the house? 

This week the Ministry of Health and Local Government inquired if Tyrone Welfare Committee was interested in it for possible use as an old people's home. But the Committee decided it didn't want to be burdened with the upkeep of an old mansion and said

"No, thank you."

Said a Ministry of Finance spokesman: "We will have to see if anyone else is interested."

When he died last November 80-year-old bachelor. Mr. Raymond de M. Browne-Lecky, directed in his will that his land and mansion house at Fintona should be handed over to the Government or whatever public body the Government should nominate.

Conditions

But even though the Ministry offered the mansion to Tyrone Welfare Committee it seems that the Government doesn't actually own the mansion yet.

Said the solicitors handling the estate: "Ecclesville was willed to the Government for whatever purpose it could And—on certain conditions the Government had to comply with. The Ministry has given us no official Intimation that it has accepted it yet."

"Mr. Browne-Lecky had no family of his own and he possibly thought the Government might turn the place into an old people's home or something like that."

But nowadays Tyrone Welfare Committee prefers to build new homes.

"We are not anxious to take any more old buildings over and convert them," said Mr. A. P. Fields, County Welfare Officer.

"We were compelled to do that sort of thing in the early days when building was difficult. We took over one or two old houses, but there are repairs and upkeep to be considered. Nowadays we start from scratch."

"Anyway we have an old people's home at Clogher, 10 miles away, and we have a new one opening in Omagh this autumn."

And so, for the present, the phantom in silk has Ecclesville to herself.

 

Belfast Telegraph - Friday 23 February 1962

The Government could not find a use for the house and advertised it for let, eventually in 1978, it was decided that it was not required and the notice of application to demolish the house was published in The Belfast Gazette on the 1st Jan 1978.

Site of Ecclesville House.

There were several other bequests, after which Raymond directed his Trustees:

 

“to hold all the remainder of my estate Upon Trust as to one half thereof for the Trustees of the Charity in aid of members of the theatrical profession now located at Denville Hall, Northwood, Middlesex, to be applied by them for the purposes of said Charity, the receipt of the Treasurer or Honorary Secretary thereof for the time being to be a good discharge to my Trustees and as to the remaining one half of my said estate Upon Trust for the Musicians Benevolent Fund c/o St. Cecilia’s House, Carlos Place, London, W.1., the receipt of the Treasurer thereof for the time being to be a good discharge to my Trustees.”

 

As already mentioned, under the terms of will of his great grand uncle Conolly McCausland Lecky, Raymond had inherited his estate in Co. Londonderry, this largely amounted to a substantial income paid out of ground rents. As per the bequest in his own will, the title to Raymond's Londonderry properties became vested in 2 charities, close to his heart: The Actors Charitable Trust (ACT) and the Musicians Benevolent Fund (MBF/Help Musicians). On 23rd of January 2006, I  contacted the charity's, only to find out that they had been receiving money annually for the properties held which had been held in trust, but that the payments had stopped shortly after the title to the remaining properties had been vested in the charity's names in 1993.

I contacted Robert Ashby of (ACT) and asked the charities if I could investigate what had happened to the residue of Raymond’s estate, he contacted the (MBF) and they both agreed to authorise me to investigate on their behalf.

After several visits to PRONI and the Land Registry in Belfast, the residue of the trust was identified, and in 2010, the file for the management of the Trust was located by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, this confirmed my calculations of unpaid ground rent which amounted to almost £10,000. going back to shortly after the title was vested in the Charities names in 1993.

The main sticking point appeared to be that the counterpart lease (the freeholders copy) which dated from the 4th of February 1900 for the remaining property was missing from the trusts file and therefore the City Council, which had been paying the ground rent since 1961, decided that they would stop in 1993. I wrote to the Council and asked for a copy of the lease under a (FOI) Freedom of Information request, and duly received the said copy of the lease.

From this point I was unable to get anyone from the Council to talk to me on the matter and eventually realised that without taking legal action (which the charities did not want to do, as they were concerned about the costs involved), I would be unable to get a resolution for the charities, the lawyers who had been appointed under Raymond's will, told me that as far as they were concerned, it was not worth pursuing and the file was closed. 

For me, it was not that a great amount of money was at stake, but morally a matter of principle. The Council knew that they should have been paying the rent, but also knew that it was legally going to be prohibitive for the charities to pursue it.

In August 2011, I contacted Julie McCullough, a journalist with the BBC in Northern Ireland and explained the situation to her, Julie agreed, that it was definitely a story of public interest and she agreed to investigate it further. She door-stepped Londonderry City Council and took them to task over the non-payment of the ground rents, which led to Londonderry City Council accepting their responsibility and agreeing to pay some of the withheld back rent and resolving to continue to pay future ground rent money to the charity's, it was just over 50years after Raymond's death on the 11th of November 1961, that his legacy was finally settled, and the payments of the ground rent has resumed. Julie’s Newsline report aired in November 2011.