William Waring in the early 17th century was a man for his time and of his time. Many today would think of him as an entrepreneur in that he amassed a very large area of land and significant wealth; they would however be doing the man an injustice to attach to him such a monetary label. He was a pious man of armorial descent and yet he intimately knew what hard work was; he was quite prepared to roll up his sleeves and get on with making a better world for the country of his birth and for all of the residents independent of their creed or status. He found expression of his natural leadership by his own example and the medium he chose and what was to become his legacy was his estate. His ideals forged not only the lay of this area of Ireland and more specifically the area to become known as Waringstown but also those of the people who lived within his domain.

Down Survey Copy 003Down Survey at the time William bought his estate.

S1280 001

William was thirty-six when the took his father’s portion and invested it along with the rest of his earnings to purchased land from 63 English soldiers that had been given it in lieu of pay. The land was of the best quality strategically positioned between the popular crossing points of the two main rivers in Ulster and importantly on the main route between all places North and Dublin. While William’s funds may have been limited, many of his business acquaintances also bought land. Their lives and primary interests were vested in England and consequently they were only too pleased to have William Waring act as their agent in Ireland.

On William’s newly acquired land was a very substantial three story English designed house occupied by John Holden. This man was a linen draper; he was growing Flax and weaving it into Linen. William instantly recognised that this was an opportunity not only for him but also for the rest of the country. Rather than occupying Holden’s substantial house William chose to live in a Log cabin on the top of the hill in the middle of his estate and he waited a further ten years before building the first phase of his mansion house which he completed in 1667. The second phase which was also the last substantial change to his home started on 19th April 1673 and lasted for about a year. (Please note all those know-all commentators it was not built in the Jacobean period, it was not built of mud and it was not originally thatched!)

A decade later he built the parish church adjacent to his house to secure the ‘new’ settlement of Waring’s town. Peace did not last long however and in 1690 he was extending his home again; this time to accommodate an extra kitchen for Marshal Schonberg. The Duke stayed in the house while his personal guard was encamped on what is now the cricket ground and his army rested at Gibson’s hill to the west. The duke, a man who was already in his eighties, rested awhile at Waringstown before meeting King William at Loughbrickland and then proceeded to his greatest triumph and fate at the River Boyne. When relative peace returned William noted that the only area not abandoned ‘throughout the country’ was that occupied by the drapers. His strategy for creating wealth at ground level was working and giving a sense of personal ownership to each of his tenants. His son Samuel was traveling around Europe with the Duke of Ormond’s son and this shared precursor of the ‘Grand Tour’ enabled a close study of the techniques used abroad in the production of linen. These Samuel brought back and trialled in Waringstown making the village the showcase for Ireland.


Samuel Waring 1660-1739Samuel Waring 1660-1739

If William laid the foundations for the estate then his eldest son Samuel certainly secured it’s place in history. His father was a hard act to follow but Samuel had been given every opportunity, the best education, a very good marriage into Dublin society and a solid ‘old school’ family background. He drove the estate development apace; he had one of the earliest bleaching greens that enhanced the techniques of damask production, that he brought back from the Dutch Lowlands and to be properly finished. He was driven by the new scientific thinking that was to have fundamental impact throughout society and more particularly in the rural areas. He was perhaps one of the first people to cultivate trees, for sale, to stock other estates; in 1705 he authored what is perhaps the earliest tree manual, it was entitled ‘A Short Treatise on Firr'[Trees.] Distinguished gentry travelled from England to see his new plantation. He completely transformed the stripe farming style maintained by individual tenants to that of enclosed fields scientifically farmed by labourers for the estate. He enthusiastically embodied the concept of field drainage and crop management. His domain now had a demesne at it’s heart that was the educational focal point for the changes that were to sweep across the country and give the landscape that we have inherited today.

Samuel as a member of parliament used his expertise and influence to not only promote the Linen industry – he was instrumental in setting up the Linen Board, but also the general infrastructure of the country – he promoted projects such as the construction of the Newry canal that his father had mooted many decades earlier.

The 1740’s were a very difficult time for Ireland just as the 1640’s had been; this time a greater proportion of the Irish population starved to death that the well publicised famine of the 1840’s. The 1940’s were also a time of great hardship and we can only shudder to think what the 2040’s may bring!

Samuel’s brother Thomas moved to Newry and his line became established as international merchants importing, along with many diverse and exotic goods, huge quantities of Linseed from Belorussia and Pennsylvania. The estuary at Newry was so shallow and therefore unable to handle the large ships required by his trade that he had to establish a pier ten miles to the East. This pier was known as Waring’s Point and a town grew up around it that took his name. This Waring line later merged again by marriage with Samuel’s line and returned to Waringstown.


Waring's Point c1807 - note the number of ships waiting to unload or in the case of the smaller ones waiting for the tide to change to allow travel on to Newry.