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Bloomfield with floodlit St Donard's
General page content listing will go here ... in due course!

 John Agnew advertised his home, Bloomfield House, for sale during his last term in office as Sovereign and Chief Magistrate of Belfast. However, it remains unclear as to when he actually left Bloomfield (likely for Donaghadee where he died in August 1844).

As noted on the previous page (see Agnew 1831-1844), 'New Hay, belonging to John Agnew, Esq., Bloomfield, was sold in our market on Wednesday' (Belfast News-Letter, Friday 16 June 1843, page 4). Can it be assumed from that, that John Agnew was still in residence, at least up to that date? The Belfast Street Directory for 1843 still has 'Agnew, John, Esq., Bloomfield', but that may well have been out of date at the time of publication. 
The following advertisement, with a rider stating 'To be inserted once a week', appeared in the Belfast Commercial Chronicle from early September 1840 through to mid-February 1841. Is it safe to assume that Bloomfield House didn't sell at that stage? The 1831 lease surely refers to John Agnew's original purchase; but what is the 1838 lease about?
Eligible Residence near Belfast

THE Mansion-House of BLOOMFIELD, and LANDS connected therewith, containing 79 Acres and 3 Roods, English Statute Measure, held under SAMUEL CLELAND, Esq. by two Leases, for unexpired terms of one, and two young lives and 31 years, one lease commencing from November, 1831, the other from November, 1838.
This most desirable residence is situate in the Parish of HOLYWOOD, adjoining Orangefield, and within one mile and a half of the Town of Belfast. The House is quite new, beautifully situated, and capable of accommodating a large family. The Grounds are extensive, and in the finest order.
For particulars, apply to the Proprietor, at BLOOMFIELD; or to RICHARD DAVISON, Esq. Solicitor, Belfast.
'The House is quite new ...' is a surprise. How does this 'new house' from, say, around 1838, match up to the 1845 complaint from the next owner, Robert Boyd, that  'The dwelling house and offices were in a very dilapidated state'?
So the next chapter in the history of Bloomfield House belongs to Robert Boyd (1803-1869) ... BUT ...

Before delving into his family genealogy to find where he came from, it’s necessary to explain that he was the ‘Boyd’ in the important Belfast trading company Sinclair & Boyd, founded c.1822.

Belfast had several important Sinclair families. This ‘Sinclair’ was William Sinclair jun., of Brookvale (sometimes 'Brookvale Lodge'), New Lodge Road, north Belfast. The house is clearly marked on the map of Belfast made by James Williamson in 1791, though its then resident is named as Mr Warren.
A somewhat abbreviated genealogy for this particular Sinclair family reveals that a John Sinclair was born in 1740 to William and Anne (née Officer) Sinclair.  John Sinclair (1740-????) married Mary Harper and they had three children: William (1758-1842), Henry (1761-1847) and James (1767-1849).
That William (William sen. for our purposes) married Elizabeth Montgomery (c.1764-1834) .
They lived at Brookvale, Belfast. Their surviving children were (or included):

Jane (1801-1878) who married Robert Simms in 1827;
William jun. (c.1804-1841) - more of him below;
John (1808-1856) who married Eliza Pirrie in 1835 -  
Sinclair Seamen's Church in Belfast was built in his memory;
Mary (1809-1842) who married Samuel Gibson in 1829;
and Thomas (1810-1867) of Hopefield House who
married (i) Sarah Archer (1800-1849) in 1835 and (ii) Elizabeth Sydney Edgar in 1855.
RH pic: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Mondays, June 1846.       Below: Banner of Ulster, Friday 21 September 1849.
Brookvale to be let, 1849
William jun. married Mary Gibson (c.1806-1887), 'only daughter of the late James Gibson, Esq. Belfast', on 03 October 1826 in the First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street. (Mary was likely the sister of Samuel Gibson who would marry Mary Sinclair in 1829.)
It was this William Sinclair who was the business partner with Robert Boyd in Messrs. Sinclair and Boyd, East and West India merchants.
By several accounts, Sinclair and Boyd was established in 1822, but the first mention I can find in the press was this report on page 2 of the Belfast Commercial Chronicle for Saturday  5 August 1826:
Yesterday, a fine brig, called the Emulous, about 200 tons burthen, built of British and Sierra Leone oak, was launched from the Ship-yard of Messrs. RITCHIE & McLAINE, and went off the stocks in a desirable style, amidst the cheers of a vast concourse of spectators. She was built for our respectable young Townsmen, Messrs. SINCLAIRE & BOYD, and is intended for the West India Trade.
Thereafter there are many advertisements for Sinclair & Boyd, revealing the breadth of their business. Here are just a select few:
Above: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Saturday 07 October 1826, page 3

Top right: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Wednesday 12 September 1827, page 3
Bottom right: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Wednesday 27 February 1828, page 3 (20 Feb - 08 March)
Page 1 of the Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday 01 January 1828, carried a listing ‘From Cramsie’s Belfast Mercantile Register’ of Belfast Shipping. It was in two sections: (i) Foreign Trade (46 ships) and (ii) Engaged in the British and Coasting Trade (126 ships). The name of each vessel was followed by the Tons Register and the Owners.
Under Foreign Trade, the largest was the Thomas Gelson, 441 tons, owned by ‘John Martin & Co. and others’ (John Martin & Co – presumably without ‘others’ – also owned the Edward Downes, 322 tons, and the Hope, 168 tons); the smallest was the Hopewell of 101 tons owned by Henry Joy Holmes, who also owned the Henry Tate of 258 tons.
Included in the list was the Emulous, 194 tons, of Sinclair & Boyd.
In the second list, Margaret, 67 tons, was owned by J. Holmes and others.

Business began to expand with new ships:
RH pic: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Monday 31 March 1828, page 3
Sinclair & Boyd's new ship Brilliant, 1828
This next quotation is from an unnamed 1942 newspaper. It's from the Irish Emigration Database, ID 9803528 (PRONI D 2015/5/4) and there'll be more later:
The Emulus [sic] had a long career and was a tribute to her builders.
The Lina was another of the firm’s [Sinclair & Boyd's] ships. She was built by Charles Connell & Sons in 1847. A young girl was killed at her launch by a piece of ordnance that was fired as she came off the stocks. In 1851 this vessel arrived at Belfast from Barbados with a cargo of sugar, having made the round voyage, loaded with a full cargo both ways, in two months and 26 days. They were also the owners of the beautiful little schooner Cree, built by Charles Connell in 1840, and said to be the smallest vessel that ever cleared out of this port for a voyage across the Atlantic.
In 1844 their brig the Morgiana made the record passage of the season from Belfast to Miramichi.
Another of their West India traders was the brig Parrsboro. She sailed the day after the mail steamer and arrived at our quay on June 9, 1843, the same day that the mail steamer arrived at Falmouth. In 16 hours she discharged her full cargo of sugar and inside a week sailed again fully laden for a West India port.
The firm were also owners of the barque Rebecca, built by Alen McLaine [=Alexander MacLaine (1774-1856)] in 1834; the Lady May [=Mary] Fox and the Waringsford. The latter vessel went missing in 1851. In nearly all the vessels I have mentioned a Mr. James Macnamara, of Holywood, had a financial interest with Mr. Robert Boyd.

An uncredited newspaper article from 13 June 1941, again from the Irish Emigration Database (ID 9806768, PRONI D 2015/5/5), deals with the Belfast shipbuilding firm of Charles Connell & Sons and mentions several of their ships, along with a Sinclair & Boyd connection:
... Next in succession was launched the Tickler, Hindoo, Brigand, and Splendid.  Of these four vessels the Hindoo was outstanding, and she made a record by being the first full-rigged ship ever built in Ireland.  She was built [in 1835] for the China and East Indian trade, and was supposed to be of 800 tons, and was also one of the largest vessels built in Ireland up to that time.
Her owners were Messrs. Sinclair & Boyd, Messrs. John and Thomas Sinclair [brothers of William Sinclair], and J. McNamara.  Her career was a short one.  On August 9 in the following year she was lost in a heavy gale in Regedopore Bay, 38 miles south of Bombay, and became a total wreck.  It is mentioned that for a period of seventeen days the sun had not been seen at Bombay, an almost unprecedented experience there. (This date would be about the change of the Monsoons).

The source for that report was clearly the following news report (below, left) from the Northern Whig, Thursday 08 December 1836, page 3. The earlier advertisement (below right) is from page 3 of the Belfast Commercial Chronicle, Wednesday 24 June 1835.
Despite the occasional and tragic loss of ships, business for Sinclair & Boyd seems to have flourished, whether selling 50,000 US barrel staves; Pockets of Sussex Hops 'sold cheap'; Puncheons of Scotch Grain Whiskey [sic]; Hogsheads and Barrels of Trinidad Sugar; Butts, Hogsheads and Quarter Casks of Sherry Wine; Pipes, and Hogsheads of Port, Madeira, Teneriffe, Cape, Claret and Port Wines in Bottle, 1,000 Bushels of Grass-Seed ... the list goes on.
The 1840s marked new directions for Robert Boyd, shortly to take up residence in Bloomfield House.
This next one presumably came as a considerable shock:
William Sinclair death 1841
LH notice from the London Gazette, 24 August 1841.
John was William's younger brother; Robert Simms was the husband of William's sister Jane; James was probably a brother of William's wife.
Things moved quickly in Belfast at that time.
The Northern Whig reported on 12 August that Hugh Magill 'of the respectable house of Messrs. John S. Ferguson & Co., has been proposed as a candidate to fill the situation in the Corporation for the Improvement of the Port and Harbour, caused by the death of Mr. William Sinclair'.

William Sinclair was just 38. His 'younger son', James Gibson Sinclair, had died the previous year (April 1840), aged three; William's father, William Sinclair sen., died the following year (August 1842), aged 84.
A second James, born in 1841, died in November 1842, aged 15 months.
All were buried in Belfast's Clifton Street Cemetery.

For completeness sake, William Sinclair jun., was survived by a son, also called William (c.1827-1881) and a daughter, Sarah (described in her 1851 marriage notice as 'eldest daughter', so there may be another daughter out there!).
Robert Boyd continued to run the business, retaining the name Sinclair & Boyd. So where was he from?
The PDF document, below right, is an attempt at a family tree for this particular Boyd family. I'm indebted to Lawrence H Boyd for his initial draft which was originally available online but has long since disappeared.
The earliest Boyd we have is our Robert Boyd's grandfather and grandmother, the 18th century James Boyd, born 1726, and his wife, Susannah Browne - both said to be from Coleraine. In 1795, their eldest son, Robert Boyd (1772-1846), married Martha Lina Turkington (1773-1843) and they settled at Marlacoo Beg, between Richill and Tandragee in Co Armagh (though perhaps by then, Marlacoo Beg was already the home of Robert's father, James).
Boyd, Robert, family tree.pdf Boyd, Robert, family tree.pdf
Size : 573.098 Kb
Type : pdf
The family seems to have been comfortably 'well off', building (or maybe rebuilding) a dwelling house in 1815.
Marlacoo House, a fine
two storey, three bay, Georgian building, still stands in the townland of Marlacoo Beg in the parish of Mullaghbrack, Co Armagh, beside Marlacoo Lake. Do check out the photographs and a spoken introduction to the house here.
The children of Robert and Martha Boyd erected a fine memorial to their mother in nearby Mullaghbrack Church.

It reads: To the memory of Martha Lina Boyd, wife of Robert Boyd of Marlacoo, born May 1773, died Nov. 1843.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Matt.5.8.
Erected by her children
as a testimony of their regard and affection.

LH pic: The Boyd Memorial in St John's Parish Church, Mullaghbrack (or Mullabrack), photograph courtesy of Primrose Wilson.
The 1838 Ordnance Survey Memoirs mention two flax mills in the townland, both the property of Robert Boyd: one is described as having a wheel '10 feet in diameter and 3 feet in breadth. It is a breast wheel and machinery of wood, built 1837'. The other has a wheel '16 feet in diameter and 3 feet in breadth, the machinery [also] of wood'.
RH pic: Marlacoo House, 1815.  For the use of this photo I am grateful to Primrose Wilson and the Bygones and Byways local-history website about Markethill and District in mid-Armagh.
Do check out more photographs and a spoken introduction to the house here on the Bygones and Byways website.
As already noted, Martha Boyd died in 1843. Her husband, Robert Boyd sen., died in 1846. It was the end of an era.
The house and lands were advertised for sale across August to November 1846. It wasn't a quick sale. The contents were advertised in May 1848 as an unreserved sale by auction on the first and second of June: 'the entire Household Furniture, &c., &c., &c., of Marlacoo House, the Residence of the late ROBERT BOYD, Esq.'  The headline mentioned a piano, gig, car, farming implements, &c.
The following advertisement, with occasional variances, appeared frequently in the Northern Whig and the Newry Telegraph between August and November, 1846:
THE TOWN AND LANDS OF MARLACOO-BEG, with its sub-denominations, situate in the Parish of MULLABRACK, Barony of O’Neiland, and County of Armagh, containing 208 Acres, Statute measure, or thereabouts, including about 11 Acres under water, held in fee, and subject to neither Quit nor Crown Rent.

The Lands are adjacent to the public road from Armagh to Tandragee, which runs past the entrance gate leading to the Mansion-house, a little more than 5 miles from the former and not 3 from the latter town, about 11 miles from Newry, 8 from Lurgan, 4 from Portadown, 2 from Markethill, and in a most respectable, quiet neighbourhood. They are all of prime quality, well sheltered and watered; upwards of 140 Acres of them are held by a respectable, industrious, and solvent tenantry, at fair rents, producing £206 per annum, as will appear by the published Rentals. The remaining portion was held by ROBERT BOYD Esq., deceased, the late Proprietor, in his own hands, and is in the best possible condition. There are Five Acres of this portion occupied by Ornamental and other Planting; and the late Mr. BOYD, on it, built a Capital and Comfortable RESIDENCE, for the Family of a Gentleman, with suitable OFFICES, GARDENS, &c., situate in an extensive Lawn, terminated by a Lake, of great extent and considerable beauty. The House and Offices are in good order, and fit for the immediate reception of a Respectable Family. There are Two Falls, of Sixteen Feet each, on the Lands, at present used by the Mills for the Dressing of Flax.

This property is advertised by Messrs. WILLIAM STEEN and ROBERT BOYD, of Belfast, and by Mr. JAMES BROWN BOYD, of Balleer, Armagh, Trustees and Executors of the late Proprietor, under the trusts of his will; and they, or Mr WILLIAM PEEBLES, North Frederick-Street, Dublin, or Dungannon, their Law Agent, will afford every information to a purchaser, who, by application to Mr. PEEBLES, can see the abstract of Title and Title Deeds, and also the Map, Rental, &c., of the Estate.
Rentals are in course of publication, and will shortly be ready for delivery.
The Lands will be Sold by PUBLIC AUCTION …
Dated this 29th day of October, 1846
The sale was unsuccessful. In 1848, the house, garden and orchard, &c., (what a multiplicity of things is contained in these ampersand etceteras!) were being advertised 'To be let' (e.g. Northern Whig, Saturday, 1 April 1848, page 3).  I recall reading somewhere, and I haven't managed as yet to retrace my steps, that the house was finally sold in 1856.
The 1839 Belfast Street Directory has Sinclair & Boyd, ship owner and general merchant, at 45 Donegall Quay and Robert Boyd himself living at 7 Great George's Street - a house which must have been almost 'above the shop'.

Having grown up in Marlacoo House, and with a business partner, William Sinclair, 'of Brookvale', it's no wonder that Robert Boyd aspired to his own mansion house.

His appetite was whetted by the 1840/41 newspaper advertisements for a  'most desirable residence', viz. the Mansion-House of Bloomfield and its 79 acres of land, with its landlord Samuel Cleland.
Belfast News-Letter, 12 November 1852


Belfast News-Letter, 3 April 1869

Belfast News-Letter, 23 May 1874