In the Hans Sloane Centre we have a permanent display on our famous local people, Hans Sloane of course, Rev Hincks, Lady Dufferin and Henry Blackwood. There are walking history tours and history talks by our local historian Clive Scoular. Soon to open is an exhibition on the people of Killyleagh and Shrigley. We plan to exhibit the story of the Ladies Dufferin through the centuries and historical re-enactments. The Historical Society will provide meetings and talks through the Centre. 
The Castle in Killyleagh was built by John de Courcy, an Anglo-Norman Knight, in 1180. John de Courcy built a series of castles in Ulster including the
larger castles at Dundrum and Carrickfergus. In Killyleagh he built a stone tower – the left-hand tower you can see from the gatehouse. By 1604 when the Hamiltons acquired significant landholdings in the North Down from Con O’Neil, the castle consisted of the left hand tower and a stone three story fortified block attached to it. The first three generations of Hamiltons extended the castle by adding the second right hand tower and building the bawn walls. During the Famines, the Hamiltons refurbished the castle, opening up the arrow slits and adding the romantic pointed towers and ornate battlements. In 1850, following the marriage to Hariot Rowan Hamilton, the daughter of the castle, The Marquess of Dufferin rebuilt the gatehouse and “gave” it to his father in law and
cousin, in return for a rent of a golden rose and golden spur on alternate years. The original gatehouse was destroyed by Cromwell’s forces as they swept
through Ireland mopping up the last of the royalists following the English Civil War, following a siege lasting three days. You can still see the remains of
the original gatehouse in the flanking towers – those parts that still retain the lime plastering. It is suggested that Killyleagh Castle is the oldest, continually inhabited castle in Ireland. Since 1604 it has been home to 13 successive generations of the Hamilton family. It remains a private family home.
Hariot Georgina Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Lady

Dufferin, Marchioness of Dufferin, Clandeboye House 1843–1936. Philanthropist, Author and Vicereine of India, was the eldest of the 7 children of
Archibald Hamilton-Rowan of Killyleagh Castle. On 23 October 1862, aged just 19 she married her distant cousin the 5th Baron Dufferin and Claneboye at Killyleagh Castle. As Earl of Dufferin in 1871 he started a career which would see him become one of Britain’s most senior diplomats, governor- general in Canada, and viceroy in India. Whilst in India Lady Dufferin, on the advice
of Queen Victoria, devoted much time to the establishment and running of her Fund, the National Association for Supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India, better known as the Dufferin Fund. She gently but persistently pressed for funds at every opportunity, accepting donations from the Maharajas of Kashmir and Jeypore, holding a sports day and a Jubilee collection that elicited 400 pledges. This fund raising was celebrated by Rudyard Kipling who greatly admired Lady Dufferin for her advocacy of Indian women’s rights and he responded by writing “The Song of the Women” thanking her on behalf of Indian women. The Fund doubtlessly saved lives and achieved its stated aim of alleviating the suffering of secluded Zenana Indian women through childbirth and illness. In 1907, its 23rd year, the Fund had 12 provincial branches, 140 local and district associations, and 260 hospital wards and dispensaries officered by women, who delivered care to over 2 million women
and children. Working for the Fund were 48 ‘lady doctors with British qualifications,’ 90 assistant surgeons, and ‘311 hospital
assistants with Indian qualifications. Another important legacy of Dufferin’s
initiative was its role in helping British and Irish women enter the medical profession. Zenana hospitals were an important source of employment for British women, who had few other opportunities to practice. The
first woman to both train and qualify at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland,
Dr Mary Josephine Hannan, worked at the Dufferin Hospitals in Ulwar and Shikarpur in the 1890s. Lady Dufferin had three daughters and six sons and was an author and a poet. Lady Dufferin’s daughters continued her work of philanthropy and female citizenship. Each were important in the development of women’s leadership with Lady Helen Monro Ferguson establishing the Australian Red Cross, Lady Hermione Blackwood had a leading nursing role with the French Red Cross during the First World War while Lady Victoria devoted her life to her eight children.

Edward Hincks 1792 – 1866 was born in Cork, the eldest of seven children. The family moved to Dublin and in 1807, aged just 15, he went to Trinity College. He was elected a Scholar of the College in 1810, and in 1812 won the Gold Medal
and Bishop Law’s Prize for Mathematics. He then took Holy Orders in the Church of Ireland and was the rector of Ardtrea parish in the archdiocese of Tyrone. He married in 1823 and had four daughters. In 1825 he was appointed rector of Killyleagh parish. His chief interest, after his parishioners care, was hieroglyphics, as well as Egyptian, Hebrew languages.
Although he did not have the wherewithal to travel abroad, artefacts arrived by sea to Killyleagh Harbour to be deciphered. Exchanging letters with renowned
archaeologists of the day, such as Austen Henry Layard, Reverend Hincks devoted a great deal of his time to translations and over the years became one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the field. In 1835 he supervised the unrolling of the mummified body of Takabuti at the Belfast Natural History Society. Hincks deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which revealed that she was mistress of a great house. In 1842, archaeologist Paul Émile Botta uncovered the remains of the ancient city of Niniveh, the capital of the Assyrian
Empire. Among the treasures unearthed was the famous library of Assurbanipal, a royal archive containing tens of thousands of baked clay tablets. These tablets were inscribed in a strange pictoral form of writing known as cuneiform. Hincks played a decisive role in the decipherment of this script along with Sir Henry Rawlinson and Jules Oppert. Hincks deduced correctly that cuneiform writing had been invented by one of the earliest civilisations of Mesopotamia, the Sumerians, who then bequeathed it to later states such as Babylon, Assyria and Elam. In 1848 he was awarded the Cunning- ham Medal of the Royal Irish Academy for his achievements as Assyriologist and one of the three decipherers of Mesopotamian cuneiform. Hincks continued with his pastoral work and made further significant contributions to his field of interests. He died at the rectory in December 1866 after 41 years as the rector of Killyleagh and is buried in the church graveyard. A memorial about his life is in the church and a blue plaque on the wall outside the old rectory, now Church Hill House, commemorates his outstanding achievement.


The Blackwood family, originally of Scottish descent, were prominent landowners in Co. Down and controlled the borough constituency

of Killyleagh in the Irish Parliament. They married into the Hamilton family
of Killyleagh Castle. Henry was the youngest of eleven children, born on
18 December 1770. He joined the Royal Navy at the remarkably young age of ten. By 1795, aged just 25, he was promoted to the rank of Post Captain
and in the years that followed he commanded a number of great
battleships. His name became known to Admiral Horatio Nelson who commended him for brave action during sea battles.
such as capturing the Guillaume Telle. By the time of the Battle of Trafalgar
in 1805 Henry Blackwood and Admiral Nelson had formed a strong working
relationship. Henry was commanding HMS Euryalus and was summoned to
attend Nelson aboard HMS Victory. And so it was that Henry Blackwood,
the boy from Killyleagh, was beside his friend when Nelson died of his injuries.
Reportedly Lord Nelson said ‘God bless you Blackwood, I shall never speak
to you again’. As Vice-Admiral of the Blue, Henry Blackwood was the bearer
of dispatches announcing the victory of Trafalgar. Serving for over forty years in the Royal Navy he brought about drastic improvements on board for all sailors –
better education and training as well as improved accommodation and nutritious
food. Henry Blackwood’s son contracted typhus fever during 1832. Whilst visiting his son at Ballyleidy near Clandeboye, Henry himself caught the fever and died on 13th December 1832, just before his 62nd birthday. He was brought to St John’s Parish Church in Killyleagh where he was buried in the Blackwood
vault you can see today. There is also a stained glass window as a memorial to
him in the church and another splendid memorial in Westminster Abbey.
In 2005, HRH Prince Edward attended a service in St John’s Church,
Killyleagh to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and celebrate the contribution of Sir Henry Blackwood.