The Halls of Narrow Water: A family history, by Bill Hall

Second paragraph of third section of main narrative:

On arrival in Ireland, William Hall is believed to have been involved in mining at Red Bay near Carrickfergus  in Co. Antrim and to have died there in 1640.  There were other Halls in Antrim at that time.  However, they were no connection to William Hall and the subsequent Halls of Narrow Water.  William’s son Francis was born in 1620 and married Mary Lyndon daughter of Judge Lyndon of Galway.  We do not have any historical background on the Lyndon family of Galway, but given his status as a judge he would have been from a family of some influence.  There is a Francis Hall recorded as holding land in 1663 in the Barony of Glenarm, which is where Red Bay is located. Francis subsequently moved to Glassdrumman in County Armagh before buying the townland of Narrow Water and eight other townlands in 1680. Francis and Mary had four children, Roger, Edward, Alexander, Trevor and Frideswid.  The marriages of these children saw the beginning of a series of marriage alliances between the Halls and several influential and powerful families in Ireland.  Roger married Christine Poyntz, daughter of Sir Toby Poyntz; Edward married Anne Rowley and moved to Strangford, establishing another branch of the Hall family who were also to marry into a number of prominent families.  Frideswid married Colonel Chichester Fortescue of Drumiskin, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Thomas Fortescue Governor of Carrickfergus Castle, continuing the link with the Chichester Family.

I have mentioned previously that one of my father’s best friends as a child was Roger Hall, of the Halls of Narrow Water Castle near Warrenpoint on the southern shore of County Down; and my aunt Ursula and Roger’s sister Moira Hall shared a house in London for many years. I renewed contact with the Halls last summer, for the first time in decades; here’s F with Roger’s son M, who now runs the castle and the estate, in the snooker room which carries many memories.

Growing up, I didn’t especially know Roger and Moira’s younger brother Bill (formally Sir William Hall), but we had a great lunch together with various other relatives last August, and I was subsequently sent his book about the Hall family, which is available by private circulation only.

It’s a breezy 250-page compilation of archival material and personal reflection. The Troubles and the wider political situation are inevitably part of the book. One of the worst atrocities of the whole period took place literally at the castle gate. But the focus is on the Hall family and on their role within the community, and I must admit that my personal interest was in the anecdotes about my own family in the book.

To be honest, for most of the the three and a half centuries that the Halls have been based in Narrow Water, they kept their heads down and were unremarkable County Down landlords. The picture becomes more interesting with Frank Hall (Bill, Moira and Roger’s great uncle), a UVF gunrunner and spy. To Frank’s disgust, his nephew married a Gibraltarian and their children were brought up as Catholics, the ultimate betrayal for a fervent Loyalist.

Bill, Moira and Roger’s father died when the boys were still quite young, which led to complications in the administration of the Narrow Water estate. The legal convolutions to prevent it falling into the hands of the Catholic church are apparently a case study in such things. Undaunted, all of the children of that generation (there were three more sisters, but I only knew Moira) had adventurous lives. I’m very glad that Bill took the time to compile it all into digestible form.

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