Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Notes on Boomhall, Londonderry


The Boom Hall estate on the outskirts of Londonderry was sold by James Dupre Alexander, Earl of Caledon to Daniel Baird of Cassino, Londonderry on 29th October 1849 for the sum of £6,000. The estate extended to one hundred and twenty five acres. Some forty five acres were held under two leases for lives renewable for ever. These leases were dated 10th August 1848 and 3rd July 1849. The centui que vie were Queen Victoria, Prince George of Cambridge and Augusta Caroline, Duchess of Mechlenburgh Strelitz. On 30th September 1854 Baird obtained Fee Farm Grants of these forty five acres under the provisions of the Renewable Leadehold Conversion Act 1849.


Daniel Baird passed away on 2nd March 1862 having previously made his last will on 15th June 1861 with codocil dated 3rd July 1861. Boom Hall and the immediate demesne being the lands comprised in and assured by the aforesaid fee farm grants was left to his wife Barbara for her life (died 22nd January 1879) with remainder in strict settlement to his grandson David Baird Maturin at age twenty five conditional upon him adopting the name Baird as his surname. Not unsurprisingly his grandson applied to adopt the surname of Baird pursuant to the terms of the, "name and arms clause," imposed by his grandfather. The ground rents reserved by the 1849 Fee Farm Grants were purchased from the Irish Society on 22nd January 1878 for the sum of £416.3.4.


Daniel Baird Maturin Baird died on 6th June 1924 resident in England. His eldest surviving son was Lieut. Col Charles Edgar Maturin-Baird who became tenant in tail male. A disentailing deed was executed on 8th December 1924 so as to vest the fee simple in Lieut Col Maturin Baird. The feoffee to uses was his solicitor, King Houston of Omagh. Coincidentally I have a writing set presented to King Houston by Omagh Solicitors Association. Strange that.


On 3rd November 1949 Lieut Col Maturin Baird sold Boom Hall and a total of 26a 3r 38p to Michael Henry McDevitt of Red House, Castlerock for £3,000. He was to die a bachelor and intestate on 18th May 1969. Letters of administration were granted to a niece, Helen Mary McCann on 8th September 1969. Certain of the lands were vested for roadworks in connection with the construction of the Foyle Bridge. Certain other of the lands were sold by Mrs McCann in her capacity as personal representative with the rump of the lands being sold to Derry City Council in 1996.



  1. How interesting! I have a counterpart copy of this map, with annotations, and several other maps relating to my grandfather's sale of Boomhall and the surrounding parkland in the late 40s and 50s. I wonder whether you have any information on Daniel Baird's former residence, Casino - which I understand was a regency villa whose grounds contained the remains of the Windmill, another site with historical connections to the Seige...

  2. Many thanks for your comments. As you say the ,"old windmill," site like Boomhall has connections to the Siege. In Colby's Survey of 1837 it is described as a pigeon house at the Cassino. The same Survey states the Casino, (different spelling employed), to be the residence of Ross T Smyth. The house was erected by the Earl of Bristol, Bishop of Derry. Colby describes it as irregularly built, presenting a handsome front and that the principal apartment is tastefully decorated with paintings of bas-reliefs. Prior to Ross T Smyth residing at the Casino I believe that one of the Cary family of Whitecastle resided there.

    1. Thank you - you are well informed! Do you know if any images of the house exist?
      I was in Derry earlier this week and visited Boomhall, as I have many times over the last 30 years or so. Each time I notice distinct signs of further deterioration, and wonder whether Derry City Council have any plans now to rescue the house and stable block, if not already too late. There was a rumour a few years ago that the stables may be converted to an art gallery - but in austere times this idea has obviously been shelved. A great shame.

    2. I am not aware of any images of the Casino but I will check with my father next week. You are probably aware of the photograph but I have a copy of a 1900 photo taken at Boomhall. At that time the Cooke family had I think leased the property from your family. My grandfather who was probably 20 or 21 appears in the photo.

  3. Searching through my grandfather's archive relating to the sale of Boomhall and the surrounding parkland, I came across a 1952 letter from The Apprentice Boys of Derry Memorial Hall Committee referencing 'The Boom Stone' used to anchor the boom from that side of Lough Foyle. Apparently at some point it had been dragged up from the river bank and placed at the front of the house (as referred to in Lord Macaulay's account of the siege). The committee urgently request my grandfather to intervene on their behalf to persuade Mr McDevitt to hand over the stone to them. It is not clear whether he did or what became of the stone. Perhaps you know?
    I don't think my grandfather would have been inclined to intervene - he and McDevitt had rather fallen out over repairs to the house and grounds following the Admiralty's occupation during the war. The house was left uninhabitable and the claim for damages against the War Office amounted to £2600 (almost as much as McDevitt paid for the house and 26 acres!) The claim was eventually settled in full and my grandfather commenced repairs, but Mr McDevitt objected to the pace of the work and the colour of the paint (green throughout). Ultimately my grandfather agreed to hand over the remaining funds so that Mr McDevitt could complete the work to his own taste, and move back into the house. I think this took about 2 years...

  4. Do the Maturin-Bairds still to this day own the land to the foreshore?
    I've read:

    "Interestingly, McDevitt chose only to buy the house, contents and immediate surroundings of around 26 acres along with the stable block, but not the stack yard or majority of parkland, which originally totalled 135 acres.

    The remaining land was sold to various purchasers in the 1950s ~ although it is believed that the Maturin-Bairds still own the foreshore, as it would appear that this was never sold."