Select McCartney Miscellany

Here are some McCartney stories and accounts over the years:

McCartney Origins

The McCartneys are believed to have originated in the 13th century with Donal Cartnach in Ireland.  His eldest son Donal served under Robert the Bruce’s standard in Ireland.  After the Battle of Dundalk he was said to be rewarded with land in Scotland called Glen Artney. 

However, this land was lost and many of Donal's descendants decamped to Galloway, acquiring land at Loch Urr. 

Macartney Gravestone at Dundrennan Abbey in Kirkudbright

There are a number of Macartney gravestones in the burial grounds of Dundrennan Abbey.   One of the most interesting has the following inscription:

"Sacred to the memory of Robert Macartney, born 1722, died at Auchenleck in 1798
and of his wife, Elizabeth Mac briar, born 1732, died at Auchenleck in 1807.

Also of John Macartney in Hall and Auchenfad, second son of the above, born at Auchenleck in 1764, died at Auchencairn in 1849
and of Marion his wife, daughter of John Macartney and Mary Barton, born in 1768, died at Auchenfad in 1831.

Also of Robert Macartney, eldest son of the above, born at Auchenfad in 1799, died at Dundrennan House, in 1886
also of Eliza, his wife, eldest daughter of Ebenezer Halliday of Kirkland of Gelston, born in 1802, died at Dundrennan House, in 1881.

Also of Jeanne, Lady Macartney, nee du Sautoy, the beloved wife of Sir Halliday Macartney, Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, fourth son of the above, died at Hove, Sussex, 1902, in her 41st year
also of the said Sir Halliday Macartney, born 1833, died at Kenbank, Dalry, Galloway, in 1909."

Sir Halliday Macartney made his name and his reputation in China.  He arrived there in 1862 and helped the Chinese establish a military arsenal in Nanking.  He was Governor there for twelve years before the Chinese entrusted him with being their representative in Europe.  By this time his unrivalled knowledga of the Chinese language, customs and policies led to him being described by Anglo-Chinese officials as "a thorough Chinaman."

Macartney Merchants in Belfast

There were three Macartney merchants, all called George, in Belfast in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. 

  • The first was George Macartney from Auchinleck who arrived in Belfast in 1649, was foremost in his Protestant allegiance during the Glorious Revolution, and died there after King William had retaken the town in 1691.  His son George was an MP and acquired the Lissanoure estate in 1733.
  • The second was “Black” George Macartney from Blacket, who arrived shortly afterwards and was a merchant and shipowner in Belfast.  He probably died around 1702.  His son Isaac followed in his footsteps, being described in the 1720’s as “one of the most opulent merchants and bankers in Ulster.”  He inherited estates through his wife in Down and Armagh.  Later Macartneys of this line were to be found in Australia.
  • The third was "Brown" George Macartney, who arrived later.  He was also a Belfast merchant and lived onto 1722.

Lissanoure Castle

George Macartney the diplomat loved Lissanoure and would come home as often as he could. In 1770 he began the re-building of the old castle when the Gothic mansion overlooking Lough Gill was replaced with a Georgian manor house and semi-circular yard of grand dimensions.

However, by the 19th century the castle was often in need of repair as it suffered from damp.  The family would then have to move out for periods.  A later George Macartney had a cottage by the side of Lough Gill, just a short distance from the castle but in a beautiful setting, rebuilt in 1833 for the family’s use.  After a time at the cottage, the family was preparing to return to the castle when a terrible incident took place which was talked about all over Ireland.

A great ball was scheduled as a “house-warmer” for the night of October 5, 1847.  About noon on that day it occurred to one of the men organizing the move that there was gunpowder in an old vault underneath the castle and that it would be a good idea to have a look at it. When one of the casts was opened, the butler was asked to take the son and heir out of the room for safety.  As he closed the door, the draught blew some gunpowder into the fire and this produced eventually a huge explosion which blew up the castle and killed Mrs Macartney.

From then on the family lived at the cottage and the castle remained in ruins, with only the yard intact.

James McCartney, Revolutionary War Soldier

James McCartney of Ross county, Ohio made the following statements in his application for pension for his service in the Revolutionary War:

“that he was born in the county of Londonderry in Ireland on the 11th day of April, 1745 (and this appears in the record of his age in the old family bible that belonged to his father Isaac),

that he came to America about four or five years before the commencement of the Revolutionary War, landed at Philadelphia, and afterward removed to Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, from which place he was drafted to serve as a private soldier in the Militia.” 

This application was started on the 10th day of October, 1832.  McCartney did get his pension and lived on in Ross county before dying in 1835 at the ripe old age of ninety.

Paul McCartney's Family History

The McCartneys were originally Irish and Paul’s great great grandather James McCartney, an upholsterer by trade, left Ireland in the 1850’s, initially to Galloway in Scotland before moving south with his family and settling in Liverpool.  His son James married under-age in Liverpool in 1864 and a son Joe soon arrived.  Joe, Paul's grandfather, was a tobacco-cutter by trade.  The story goes that he never drank alcohol, went to bed at 10 o'clock every night, and the only swear word he used was "Jaysus."

Paul’s parents married at St. Swithin’s Roman Catholic chapel in Liverpool in 1941.  Father James was a cotton salesman, mother Mary Mohin from another Irish family.  When Paul was 15, his mother came home one afternoon and announced that she had been diagnosed with the late stages of breast cancer.  She then went into the bedroom, took out a crucifix and a picture of her first cousin who was an Irish missionary priest in Africa, and began to pray.  A few short weeks later, she was dead.

Paul's father bought him a guitar to help him ease his sorrow after her death, thus – it was said - embarking him on his career in music.

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