Francis Turnly 1765-1845

THE name Turnly is one that is synonymous with the small Village of Cushendall and if it weren’t for the man Francis Turnly there might never have been a “Cushendall”.

Between Carnlough and Cushendall there are four pieces of architecture that has strong links to the name. Drumnasole House, Turnly Cut, The Red Bay Arch and the most unusual of them all the Curfew Tower.

But who was Francis Turnly and how did he come to be in the Glens?

Francis John Seymor Turnly was born in Newtownards, Co Down and was one of seven children, the second son of Francis Turnly of Newtownards and Catherine Black of Bordeaux in France. Catherine’s father was from Belfast and her mother from Aberdeen, Scotland. Both families seem to have business interests in the Bordeaux region of France and Francis Senior was to carry on in the family business becoming a Belfast merchant and landowner.

The family held extensive lands in Co Down and Co Antrim. One of the major businesses that the Turnly’s were involved in was a large brewery in Belfast, located near the Queen’s Bridge at Donegall Quay. This was ideally located right beside the River Lagan and would have helped with their import business. They were in partnership with their friends, the Batt Family, with the most famous of the family Narcissus Batt playing a part in strengthening the partnership. Narcissus Batt was one of the first partners in what became known as the Belfast Bank. The bank played a large part in the industry in Belfast at the time and after a leadership change then became known as Batt and Co. If the bank helped invest in the Turnly enterprises, we can only speculate. We have some records of the imports coming into the brewery company in 1796 and 1800 of which these materials are all linked with the brewery industry such as liquorice, almonds, corkwood etc.

Francis Senior and Catherine were to have a large family, with his namesake born in 1765.

Unfortunately, detail on the early life of young Francis is scant and will require more research and study, but by 1783 he was studying at Glasgow University. Leaving the university in 1784, he was to complete a course in mental, moral and natural philosophy.

For more on this see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle

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