The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 02372
Date: 3 August 1857
Author: [Charles King Irwin?][1]
Place: Magherafelt, Armagh
Recipient: [George William Whistler?][2]
Place: [Ireland]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler I112
Document Type: ALc

'No. 98[3]'

The Rectory Mag[hera]felt

Aug 3rd


The enquiries[4] you have addressed to me need no apology. I sympathize heartily in the feeling that suggest[s] them and only regret that I can afford you so little satisfaction. In point of fact you seem to have already obtained all the information that exists in this locality respecting the Whistler family. The ruin which Mr Kemble's journal [5] alludes to still remains and is indeed a very fine specimen of the old Bawns (Ballia) in which the first Saxon settlers fortified themselves against the savage aborigines. Its locality is called Salterstown. It stands on the very edge of Lough Neagh[6] and is washed by its waves and it is a curious fact that the only hops I have ever seen in Ireland grow wild in the hedges of this place, relics doubtless of the old colonists who brewed their own beer. There is a round towerlike structure in good preservation but of course devoid of floors. This is connected with another less perfect by a portion of wall still showing the holes where the flooring joists were inserted and enough of other walls to suggest that the building was square with perhaps four such corner towers. The intermediate space of area of the old house is now a little flower garden. The person on whose land the ruin stands is a small farmer of the name of McMaster[7], a family of old residents. [p. 2] There are many families in this neighbourhood who boast that their "Forbears" came over with Ralph Whistler[8] and that they still occupy the original grounds assigned to them. The old monument in our church is 3. Ralph Whistler obit 1656 or 7 - Buried at Mag[hera]felt, Ireland.

The ancient monumental brass, bearing the arms of the Family and the inscription
H. S. E. Radulphus Whistler obit 13 June 1657
was replaced in restored church 1858[.] The original Tenant of 13000 Irish acres of land in Ulster under the Salters Co[9] of London the lands remaining in the hands of the Whistler Family for 132 years then passing to Sir Thos. Bateson[10], afterwards to the Marquis of Londonderry[11], & finally reverting to the Salter's Co: A. D. 1853 -

With reference to the tomb of this Ralph Whistler, the Revd C. K Irwin [12] Rector of Mag[hera]felt writes June 25 1858. "The old monument in our Parish Church is a curious structure. You have the epitaph[13] correctly copied. It is surmounted with the coat of arms. I purpose removing it for its preservation to the new church which is now within a few months of consecration. It is to contain among other stained glass a window formed of armorial bearings and I have already at my own expense ordered the Whistler arms to be inserted by the artist in London who has undertaken the work - "

[p. 3] Correspond with any of his family and are any such old letters extant?

As I understand it he had 15 children. What are the names -

The Whistler family is from England and we have records of it from 1492. Ralph Whistler one of the members of it settled in Ireland in 16[... date incomplete] on lands which remained in the family for 150 years - in Ulster - 13000 acres which are now let to the Salter's Company[.] The family graves are at Mag[hera]felt Ireland -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Charles King Irwin
Charles King Irwin (1837-1915), clergyman [more]. Since this document quotes a letter from Irwin, it is likely that it is a copy with notes by another hand, or the original letter has been annotated by another hand.

2.  [George William Whistler?]
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more]. This copy, originally thought to be from a letter to JW, almost certainly came by family descent from G. W. Whistler to Joseph Whistler Revillon (1886-1955), JW's great-nephew [more], who bequeathed it to GUL. The recipient could also be Thomas Lowe Whistler, Jr (fl. 1840-1868), surgeon [more] (see T. Armstrong to JW, #00196 and T. L. Whistler to JW, #06976).

3.  No. 98
Written in an unknown hand.

4.  enquiries
No reply to C. K. Irwin's letter of 27 May 1856 (#02371) has been found.

5.  Kemble's journal
Not identified.

6.  Lough Neagh
The largest lake in Ireland, bordered by counties Antrim, Derry, Tyrone and Down.

7.  McMaster
MacMaster, farmer by Lough Neagh, Ireland.

8.  Ralph Whistler
Ralph (Randolphus or H. S. E. Radulphus?) Whistler (d. 1656 or 1657) [more].

9.  Salters Co
The London Guild of the Company of Salters. The market town of Magherafelt was still the property of the Company in 1870. [Slater's Ireland, p. 293].

10.  Sir Thos. Bateson
Sir Thomas Bateson (1819-1890), MP for Londonderry [more].

11.  Marquis of Londonderry
Charles William Stewart (1778-1854), 3rd Marquis of Londonderry, general and diplomat [more].

12.  C. K Irwin
See note above. C. K. Irwin's previous letter was dated 27 May 1856 (#02371). No later letters have been located.

13.  epitaph
Probably a reference to the Whistler family motto 'justus et fidelis.'