Notes on some of the people associated with Bovagh

Please note that most of this information is taken from the internet. While I have tried to ensure the sources are trustworthy, I have not verified everything that follows. Therefore, please treat as a rough sketch rather than the definitive article.


O’Cahans in the 16th and early 17th centuries

Bovagh townland and much of the surrounding countryside belonged to the O’Cahan clan in the 16th century. They were the chief sept in the County of Coleraine (as County Londonderry was then known), were mostly loyal to the O’Neills and had taken part in the Nine Years War.

Following defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 and the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the O’Cahan lands were confiscated and became part of the ‘plantation’ scheme bankrolled by several London companies.

Four years later, in 1611, agents for the participating City of London companies allocated 13 freeholds to Irish ‘natives’. Among them was Manus McCowy Ballagh O'Cahan who received 1,000 acres, including Bovagh, in Coleraine barony south of the Aghadowey River.

Thomas Raven's 1622 map of the Ironmongers' lands

Manus McCowy Ballagh O'Cahan's freehold lands are shown on the bottom right.

Source: Northern Ireland Community Archive.

Tristram Beresford’s controversial purchase before 1639

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs, written in the 1830s, say that Manus O’Cahan sold the property to Tristram Beresford for “a horse, a fine suit of clothes and a trifling sum of money”.

I don’t have an exact date for the sale, but by 1639 Bovagh was recorded as belonging to Sir Tristram Beresford. A major survey in that year of all the estates managed by The Irish Society and City of London livery companies in Derry contains the following relevant passage:

“Tristram Beresford, his heirs and assigns shall have and hold for ever all those ten several townlands commonly called or known by the several name or names of Culnaman, Moneydig, th[…] Moykillmore, Caheny, Bovagh, Mayohills, and Moyohills, also the two Moyohills [Mayoghill], and Cullyramer. And all cabins, houses, cottages, edifices, and buildings thereupon. All which premises were heretofore the lands and possessions of Manus McCoey Ballagh O’Cahan and being in the parishes of Aghadowey and Desertoghill within the Proportion of land called the Ironmongers’ Proportion or late Manor of Lizard in the late county of Londonderry.” To see the original, visit and search for 'Bovagh'.

Tristram Beresford left Bovagh to his grandson Sir Randall, 2nd Baronet, in a will dated 23 October 1647. Randal’s grandson Sir Marcus Beresford married Catherine Poer, daughter of James Poer, 3rd Earl of Tyrone. In 1746, Marcus was created Earl of Tyrone (a new creation) and in 1789, his son George was created Marquis of Waterford.

Memorial to Sir Tristram Beresford, 1st Baronet d. 1673 in St Patrick's, Coleraine

Source: Timothy Ferres' aka Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland.

Bovagh was built in 1740s, probably by Marcus Beresford

Fellow Aghadowey resident Daniel Calley is an expert on the Beresford family and their buildings in Derry. He thinks that the present house was probably built by Marcus, 1st Earl of Tyrone.

The house was not intended as the Beresfords' principal residence, more it was a place to house their representatives in the area, either appointed agents or family members. The family were one of the most influential in Georgian Ireland, holding vast swathes of land in Derry, Waterford and elsewhere and key positions of power in both church and state.

Bovagh continued in Beresford ownership until 1871 when it was sold by the 5th Marquis in the Encumbered Estates Court, mainly by public sale, although several lots were disposed of by private contract.

Over the centuries it has been occupied by a succession of interesting characters, including the Barnard and Jones families. The Hezlets bought the house outright in 1871, but probably leased it from the 1830s or 1840s. A search of the Hezlet Papers in PRONI would likely clarify this.

Bovagh, or Bovaugh, as shown on a map of 1777
Rev. Henry Barnard, late 18th Century

The Rev. Henry Barnard, Prebendary of Aghadowey from 1763 to 1787, is recorded as living at Bovagh. Henry was son of William Barnard, Bishop of Derry and brother of Thomas, Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe.

One of Rev Henry’s sons was Sir Andrew Barnard, a highly decorated soldier who served with great distinction in the Napoleonic wars (1803–1815), including Waterloo, where he was wounded.

The Duke of Wellington had such a high opinion of his services that he appointed him commandant of the British division occupying the French capital after defeat of Napoleon in 1815.

On the accession of William IV in 1830, Sir Andrew became clerk-marshal in the royal household, and for many years was clerk-marshal to Queen Adelaide.

On 26 November 1849, the Duke of Wellington appointed him lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital, and on 11 November 1851 he obtained the rank of general. The Barnard River in New South Wales was named for him by the explorer Thomas Mitchell.

(Barnard/Hill/Beresford connection: Rev. Henry Bernard's daughter Mary married Capt. Marcus Samuel Hill, brother of Sir George Hill, who was married to Jane Beresford, see below.)

Sir Andrew Barnard

Portrait of Sir Andrew Bernard by William Salter, showing him ready for the 1836 Waterloo banquet. Source: Wikipedia.

Dilapidation in the early 19th Century


I found this gem in PRONI when we were starting renovations in 2012. The 2nd Marquess of Waterford, writing to his relation Sir George Hill of Brook Hall near Derry in 1804, sounds a bit fed up:

“Bovagh is in a very bad state. The house must be entirely new roofed and fitted up, a kitchen built, servants' office and stabling, etc, etc. What a damned place the garden is in. Next Spring I think I shall begin, if nothing prevents. Is there such a thing as an architect in your part of the world that could give a plan of gutting a house and act honestly?”

More than 200 years later we were thinking exactly the same thing...

(Hill/ Beresford connection: In 1788, Sir George Hill married Jane Beresford, daughter of Hon. John Beresford , son of the Marcus Beresford, 1st Earl of Tyrone.) 

Theobald ‘Toby’ Jones of Bovagh, MP for Londonderry 1830-1857

(Sources consulted include The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832.


Another member of the wider Beresford family associated with Bovagh was Admiral Theobald Jones, an Irish officer in the British Royal Navy, a Tory politician, a noted lichenologist and a fossil collector.

Theobald who was known as ‘Toby’, perhaps to distinguish him from his similarly named elder brother Theophilus, was born in 1790 at Kilcronaghan, a rural parish near Magherafelt in south Derry, where his father James was rector.

Toby's mother Lydia (nee Wolfe) died in 1793. His father remarried in 1796 the relict Anne Ryder, daughter of Sir John Blackwood of Ballyleidy House, County Down. At about this time, James was moved to Tamlaght O’Crilly and from 1814 until his death in 1835 he was the incumbent of Urney, in the diocese of Derry.

Toby's paternal grandfather was Theophilus Jones (1729–1811) who represented his native county Leitrim as well as Coleraine and Monaghan in the Irish House of Commons from 1761 to 1800, and county Leitrim at Westminster in 1801-2. His paternal grandmother, Catherine Beresford, was daughter of the 1st Earl of Tyrone, making the 3rd Marquess of Waterford (1811–1859) Toby Jones's second cousin.

Entering the navy aged 13 during the Napoleonic Wars, the teenage Jones survived several naval engagements and the burning of his ship at night when he was 16. After ten years serving under the captaincy of his step-mother's brother, Henry Blackwood, Jones reached the rank of commander by age 25, and captain at 38, but never actually sailed as a captain.


In late 1829, now aged 40, Jones was considered by the family managers as a possible candidate to replace the now pro-Catholic George Dawson on their interest in county Londonderry. Henry Barré Beresford observed that the "Joneses are natives of Derry, well known and well liked and in certain parts of the county where they reside could gain many freeholders."


Toby stood at the general election in mid-1830 and boasted that his Orange, anti-reform and retrenchment principles coincided perfectly with those of the electors. Dawson’s withdrawal meant that he was returned unopposed with the like-minded Sir Robert Bateson on 16 August 1830.


Henry Beresford reported that: "His speech was much approved. The uproar was great when he said he would have voted against the Roman Catholics [emancipation] bill, but it was from the lowest mob. His conduct is much approved by all and I have no doubt he will be a useful working man, diligent and persevering."

A member of several learned societies, he occupied his retirement from politics by making the first comprehensive catalogue of Irish lichens, laying the foundation of Irish lichenology.

Ordnance Survey map showing Bovagh in late 1840s. 


Sections on Bovagh's more recent inhabitants - golfing sensation May Hezlet, her nephew ace submariner Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet and 1899 US Open winner and New York socialite Herbert Melville Harriman - coming soon... 


Tel: +44 (0) 79 4052 7841

Bovagh, 76 Mullaghinch Road, Coleraine, Co Londonderry.

Northern Ireland BT51 4AU

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