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Author Topic: THE ECHLINVILLE STORY 1613 SAVAGE  (Read 2446 times)
Lena McVea
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« on: July 17, 2009, 09:25:05 AM »


CASTLE HILL was formally an ancient hill fort. Much later it was also an early Savage holding  and they repaired the old church of St. Mary's. There is nothing above ground of the Savage Castle but steps that are supposed to go to a tunnel. I have seen the steps in 2007.
There is also a very ancient place beside the Abbacy Church, the home of the Echlins built 1620, on the site of the old Saint Eynes monastery [HARRIS 1744], which, on the authority of a patent roll among the public records, was seized by the crown during the war between England and France, and was granted, in 1411, by Hen. IV. to Thomas Cherele.

Diocese of Down and Connor, ancient and modern (Volume 1
During his reign the Danes commenced their plundering expeditions. They plundered
A.D. 823, Downpatrick, Movilla, and Inis-Doimhle (perhaps Chapel Island off Grey Abbey);" [OR COULD BE THE MONASTRY OF ST ENYES AT ARDQUIN LENA]

Sitting proud on a hill overlooking the low laying land rolling down to the edge of Strangford Lough.  
The walls on the road side are very old and I can remember years ago seeing the arrow slots in the wall. They are now covered with ivy so nothing can be seen, but substantial parts of the old monastry remain.  There is a very lovely large farm house house sitting between the old monastery ruins which I think is the original Echlin house that had been renovated and updated in the Georgian times.

As you can see there were quite a lot of Echlins at one time.

This old church The Abbacy was featured in a 1991 film called The December Bride by Sam Hanna Bell. The main fictional family are called Echlins.

Little Bird | Film | December Bride
This critically acclaimed  was based upon Sam Hannah Bell's novel of repressed love in rural Ulster in the 19th Century.
A John Echlin once owned the land where Ballyhalbert caravan park now stands. See bottom of this item for details.

The Bishop Mills also gets it's name from these Echlin Bishops.

Their last home was Echlinville, which in later years was the De-La Salle boys home at Rubane.

When the Echlins drained the Great Bog of the Ardes in 1741 this opened up more land and this was when Portavogie was founded. See this below for more information.


My knowledge of Echlinville comes from my love of the local history of my lovely Ards Peninsula, Co Down, Northern Ireland.

The first Echlin in Ireland was Bishop Robert Echlin. He became bishop in 1613 and died 1635; 2nd son of Laird Henry Echline of Pittadro and brother of David Echline Royal Physician.

Robert married Jane Seaton daughter of George, Lord Seaton of Latrisse or Latrisk in Scotland.  It is said that he chose the Ards Peninsula because it reminded him of the Fifeshire Peninsula. He chose to build his Manor House on the site of the ruined St Eynes monastery at Ardquin known as the Abbacy. The house was completed in 1620 on a height overlooking the wonderful Strangford Lough. He was then about 75 years old.

His son  Rev.John Echlin was his heir and married Mary Stafford daughter of Sir Francis Stafford Co. Antrim. They had 2 sons Robert & Francis Echlin. Francis changed his name to Stafford when he inherited his mother's estate.
Francis Echlin Stafford married Sarah daughter of Randal Earl of Antrim.
In 1628 John bought the lands of Castleboy for his eldest son and heir Robert, who rented it to his cousin Robert Echline (Scottish spelling)


[Worn horizontal stone in the centre of the church with arms]
quarterly 1st & 4th, a galley; 2nd & 3rd, a fess cheque; in chief a deer pursued by a dog.
crest a talbot passant.]
Here lyes interd the body of Robert Echline of Castleboye Esq. who died 25th day of April 1657 in the 29th year of his life.
Also the body of his daughter Maria.

Castleboy built in 1200 by Hugh De Lacie, also known as Johnstown formerly belonged to the Hospitallers (the knights of St John of Jerusalem) A small portion of the castle still remains.

Robert (grandson of Bishop Robert) married in 1696, Ann Hamilton daughter of Sir Fr. Blundel Bt. no family
He then married Mary Leslie daughter of Bishop Leslie of Meath. Robert died 1656/7.
They had 3 sons JOHN, Henry & Robert  1 daughter Jane married William Coningham Co. Donegal.

JOHN  (great grandson of bishop Robert) succeeded to Ardquin married in 1678 Hester Godfrey heiress and only daughter of William Godfrey of Coleraine. They had 20 children.
4 sons.
1 Charles married 1770 Anne daughter of Thos. Knox Esq. of Dungannon. no issue.

2 Robert

3 Godfrey (Marlfield) married 1717 Ann Savage daughter of John Ballyvarley, grandson of Rowland Savage (Lord of the little Ards

4 James (great, great grandson of Bishop Robert) the owner of Rubane House; [Echlinville] originally purchased by his older brother Charles in 1736.

Extract from a newspaper 1738
"Last night James Echlin of Echlin Ville Co Down was married to Molly Simpson a lady of exquisite beauty and merit and very good fortune." They had no children. James was High Sheriff of Co. down in 1742.
As was customary the Echlins changed the name of Rubane house and townland  to
Echlin Ville

James died without issue in 1755 and willed all his property to his 2 nephews:

John the first son of his brother Rev. Robert and Godfrey, son of his brother Godfrey, who died without issue so the whole estate passed to nephew John.  

John Echlin (great, great, great grandson of Bishop Robert) was born in 1723; living in Thomastown; owned Echlinville. In 1758 he was High Sherrif of Co. Down.  He married his first cousin Hester daughter of Godfrey of Marlfield. He had 5 sons and one daughter Jane who married George Mathews Springvale now Ballywalter Park.
The home of The Lord Dunleath.

 Jane Echlin Mathews died 1803.
The Dunleaths/Mulholands  bought the Matthew's estate and incorporated it into their own estate.  The old Mathews house was at the junction of the Ballyatwood Road and Greyabbey Road, now inside the walls of the Dunleath Estate.

Below is a link to the Dunleath estate.

 In 2005  Thomastown House  was up for sale. There were a great many out buildings, laundry room fitted with an early type of washer,  and servant quarters too. I thought the old house was lovely. Note there is an old building in 2005, with a row of crosses on the roof, and another with a bell tower.

John and Mary's sons were:

Charles born 1746 had no heir and was succeeded by his brother John.

Robert born 1750 died 1770 unmarried

Godfrey born 1754 died in infancy.


 James died unmarried

John of Thomastown died 1789 and was succeeded by his son Charles of Echlin Ville. (great, great, great, great grandson of the Bishop)

Charles died 1817 without an heir so was successed by his brother John.

John Echlin of Thomastown married in 1786 Thomasine -daughter of George Fleming (of the family of Barrons Slane)

Son John born 1825.

The last Rev. John Robert Echlin formerly of of Echlin Ville died at the Oaks Ambleside Westmoreland on 15th. Sept. 1891 age 80 years.

His second wife was Mary Anne daughter of Ford North of the Oaks Ambleside.

Obituary notice from "The Times" newspaper; London, England; October 3, 1916 page 1, column 2

"ECHLIN- On the 26th Sept., FREDERICK ST, JOHN FORD NORTH ECHLIN, 2nd Lieut., Royal Fusiliers, and Royal Flying Corps, only son of the late Capt. Frederick Echlin, R.N., formerly of Echlinville, Co. Down, Ireland, and of Mrs. Echlin, Wellfield, Walton-on-Thames, and dearly-loved husband of Dorothy Echlin (nee Dobree'), of Guernsey, C.I. Federated Malay States papers.

See Ballyphillip Church of Ireland Graveyard for the Echlin graves where most of this information can be found..

This last John Echlin spent a large part of his life researching his family tree and this information has been taken from that and The Echlin Story by the late Dr. F Duff of Portaferry, and other research that I have done myself via gravestones and other.

The house is once again known as Rubane House and after being a boys home for many years is now again a private house.

Horizontal stone at east end of the Church
Here lieth the body of John Echlin of Priesttown who died 4th sept. 1714 aged 45 yrs.
As also Jane Echlin his wife who died 25th Nov. 1742 aged 67 yrs.


Final Notice to Claimants and Incumbrancers.
LAND PURCHASE ACTS. Record No. E.G. 8529.
Estate of WALTER PAGE ALLEN, County Down.
TAKE NOTICE that the Final Schedule of
Incumbrances affecting the proceeds of the sale
of the lands comprised in the Final Schedule to
the Originating Application herein, which have
been sold under the above Acts in fee-simple, has
been lodged in the Registrar's Office of this Court
at Northern Bank Buildings, May Street, Belfast,
and may be there inspected together with the said
Originating Application; and any persons or
person claiming in respect of
(a) the fee-farm rent of 40/- (Irish Currency)
yearly, payable to the Earl of Clanbrassil
out of the entire townland of Ballyobegan,
which charge is set out as claimed by J. S.
Echlin, Esq., at Item 1 on said Schedule,
where it is stated that the Vendor denies any
liability in respect of said rent and claims
that the purchase monies herein be distributed
without regard thereto ;
6) the annual fee-farm rent of £8 (Irish Currency),
set out as claimed by Sir John Ross
of Bladensburg at Item 2 on said Schedule,
where it is stated that the Vendor denies any
liability in respect of said rent and claims that
the purchase monies herein be distributed
without regard thereto :
(c) an Impropriate Tithe Rent Charge, being
two-thirds of the Lay Tithes of £41 16s. Od.,
payable out of the whole Townland of Ballyobegan,
set out as claimed by Francis Savage
at Item 3 on said Schedule, where it is stated
that the Vendor denies any liability in respect
of the said Rent Charge and claims
that his proportion of same was redeemed in
is required to lodge an objection to said Final
Schedule, stating the particulars of their or his
demand, and duly verified with the Registrar of
this Court on or before the 7th day of January,
1927, and to appear on the following Thursday,
the 13th day of January, 1927, at 10-30 a.m.
o'clock, before the Judicial Commissioner at his
Court, when he will adjudicate upon the said claims
appearing on the said Schedule of Incumbrances
and upon any objections lodged thereto.
Dated the 15th day of November, 1926.
R. R. McCUTCHEON, Examiner.
T. C. G. MACKINTOSH, 36 Arthur Street,
Belfast, Solicitor for the Vendor.

Researched, edited in 2006 and 2009, posted by
Lena McVea Co. Admin


« Last Edit: November 23, 2012, 08:21:07 AM by Lena McVea » Logged
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