Waringstown House

1996/97 - 1997

Waringstown House

by Kieran Clendinning

While the name of Waring is associated with the foundation of the village of Waringstown, it should not be forgotten that the family was intimately connected with the progress and prosperity of Belfast in the 17th century. The immediate founder of the Belfast family was Thomas Waring, son of John Waring, a wealthy tanner, from Chorley Lancashire, who had settled at Toome.

Shortly, after his arrival in Ireland, John Waring married the daughter of the Rev. Piers, some time rector of Derryaghy, and had issue two sons. William was the eldest, became heir to the Toome estate which he sold to purchase the Waringstown property. The second son Thomas moved the family tanning business to Belfast, where the Earl of Donegall granted him several parcels of land in the "fields of Belfast and Strondmoore." Thomas must have been a man of some repute for his name appears as Sovereign of the town in 1653, 1656, 1665 and 1666.

Thomas died shortly after 1666. His will dated 1665, contains some interesting items, amongst them a bequest for £40 to the poor of Belfast, with the additional bequest that

"if it please God that my vessel called the 'Providence' returns safely from St. Se Basstins [presumably the Spanish port of Sebastian] where unto Shee is gone, and Laden. with several commodities to that place, doe saflie return without damage bot to gain, then my will and my mind us that Twenty Pounds more shall be given to the said Poore of the Towne of Belfast" This presumably was the original Chapel of the Ford the site of which is now occupied by St. George's Church.

His son William succeeded him, and in his will, dated 1676, he also directs his remains to be "Buryed in the Church of Belfast. " After demising his property in which he refers to his "pretended wife" - a phrase never satisfactorily explained - he directs his executors to make his departure a "Devout funeral, for Wine and Tobacco giving to strangers I think it needless." The bulk of his property was bequeathed to his brother Rodger Waring a Minister in Holy Orders.

Dean Swift connection

It may not be out of place to point out that Jane Waring, of whom Dean Swift was so deeply enamoured with, is supposed to have been the daughter of William Waring. Better known by the name of "Varina" bestowed on her from the poetical imagination of the Dean of St. Patrick's. Jane Waring was the heroine of one of the most romantic episodes in the life of that extraordinary genius. Of Jane Waring's subsequent history practically little is known. For four years Swift remained in suspense, and finally she rejected him.

Waringstown House built by William Waring in 1667.

The house was considerably extended in the 18th century when the east front was enlarged.