Will of Robert Rolleston of Gortavey in the County of Tyrone dated 16th day of July 1847:
In the Name of God Amen. I Robert Rolleston of Gortavey in the County of Tyrone farmer being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say, I give, devise and bequeath to my brother the Reverend Thomas Rolleston of Killea in the County of Donegal, Clerk, Thomas Ramsey of Gortmesson in the County of Tyrone, Gent, and Alexander Sinclair Humphreys of Killea aforesaid Esquire, and the survivors and survivor of them my farm in Gortavey aforesaid with all the stock of cattle, grain, farming implements, furniture and other chattels in and upon the same and all my right, title and interest therein or thereto and all other real or chattel property of which I may die possessed In Trust to pay and discharge thereout all my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, and also to pay and discharge thereout the several sums of money at the times and in the manner hereinafter mentioned viz. the sum of One hundred pounds to and for the use of my son Hugh Love at present residing in the Island of Antigua, also the sum of One hundred and fifty pounds to and for the use of my son Thomas, and the sum of Fifty pounds to an for the use of my son William. Said several sums to be paid to them respectively at such time and in such manner as my said trustees or the survivors or survivor of them may direct or think proper to pay the same.
And I further Order and direct and my will is that my said trustees have full power to with hold any or all of the above named sums of money in case the conduct of my said sons or any of them be such as they may disapprove of and that my said trustees shall have full power and authority and I do hereby give such unto them and the survivors and survivor of them to sell and dispose of my said farm with the stock and all my other property should they think fir to do so and that the produce arising from be secured for and applied to the use of all my children in such shares as my said trustees or the survivor or survivors of them may appoint. It is my hope that the conduct of all my sons may be such as to give satisfaction to the trustees and to all their friends and in such case it is my will and desire that they should permit my son James to hold, occupy and possess my said farm in Gortavey with the stock and crop thereon subject to the debts and legacies herein before mentioned. My dear wife having expressed her intention of bequeathing the sum of One hundred and twenty five pounds which she retains in her won possession to my youngest son William, it is my desire that she may have power to do so. And in case my said son James shall marry it is my will that he remove to the Lower Dwelling House leaving the other to his mother and her other sons & that he provide and keep for their use a Cow in full milk with five hundred weight of good Oatmeal and three tons of Coal or Turf of equal value & pay to and for their use the sum of Fifteen pounds in money yearly at such times and manner as my said Trustees or the survivor of them shall direct.
And my will further is that the cost of providing for the family be borne by my said son James so long as he remains with them namely the education & maintenance of his brothers and his mother as at present. And in case my said wife shall marry it is my will that she remove from Gortavey retaining the said sum of One hundred and twenty five pounds and that my said trustees shall have and I do hereby give unto them & the survivor of them power to make the necessary compensation to my said son William in lieu thereof. And I hereby nominate and appoint the said Revd Thomas Rolleston, Thomas Ramsay and Alexander Sinclair Humphrys Executors of this my last will & testament hereby revoking all former & other wills by me at any time heretofore made. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of July in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty seven.
[signed] Robert Rolleston Signed, sealed, published & declared by the said testator and for his last will and testament in presence of us who in presence of said testator & of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses:
F. J. Porter, Presb. Min.
I Robert Rolston of Gortevay, County of Tyrone, farmer, believing that it is right in me to change certain parts of the Will made by me in July one thousand eight hundred and forty seven now do so. Firstly, I revoke that portion which declares that my son Hugh Love then residing in Antigua shall receive one hundred pounds. Having received a portion of some already I order that he only be paid fifty pounds, and that this sum be given him on or before the first of April next. Secondly I revoke that which declares that the sum of fifty pounds be paid to my son William, and instead thereof order and appoint that the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds be given him at whatever time my Trustees and Executors appoint. Thirdly I revoke those parts of my Will aforesaid which specially refer to the provision and arrangements respecting my sons James and Thomas. I order and appoint that my farm in Gortavey with stock, crop etc. be equally divided between them at such times and in such manners as my executors approve, they, James and Thomas, being held equally accountable for all debts, charges and liabilities incurred by my son James, provided the entire concern as previously settled had been in his hands. It is my wish also should any my sons, James & Thomas, wish to part with the half appropriated that the other become purchaser.
The arrangements regarding my dear wife I wish to stand as in the Will with this exception, that should Thomas marry in her lifetime a portion of this house only be set apart for her exclusive use. Inasmuch as my Trustees & Executors the Revd Thomas Rolston and Thomas Ramsay are dead I appoint instead thereof with similar powers, George Love of Gortivey & Samuel McClements of Tamnaclare, farmers, my Executors and Trustees.
Given under my hand seal this eighteenth day November one thousand eight hundred and fifty three.
[signed] Robert Rolleston
Signed and sealed in our presence and in presence of each other
F. J. Porter
This will was discovered on 30 April 2004 in a solicitor’s office in Strabane. Its existence was not known to me before this.
Robert Rolleston was the son of James Rolleston and was born about 1781. He had one brother named Thomas and probably another named James. In 1830 bought out the two Hamilton farms, totally between them 125 acres, in the townland of Gortavea in Donagheady parish. Gortavea formed part of the Abercorn estate and was in the manor of Donelong (Dunnalong). In the deed for this conveyance he was styled 'of Gannaghan'. This was Ganvaghan, a townland south of Castlederg.
Robert Rolleston quickly established himself in Donagheady and in 1831 was listed as a member of the parish vestry. In 1835 a major re-letting took place in the Abercorn estate when nearly 400 new leases were issued. An examination of these deeds reveal that Robert Rolleston's holding in Gortavea was the fourth largest and third most valuable of all the farms for which new leases were issued at this time (in the Manor of Donelong it was the largest and most valuable).
Robert Rolleston died in January 1854. He was taken back to Castlederg for burial on 21 January 1854. His funeral card still survives. He was married to Mary Love. His will reveals that he had four sons: Hugh Love, James, Thomas and William. Hugh was unknown before the discovery of the will. William emigrated to Australia. The farm was divided between Thomas and James. James had a son named Gaston Rogan Rolleston – Gaston Rogan was the name of a doctor in Strabane. About 1880 James left Gortavea and moved to Donegal.
Thomas had nine children: eight sons and a daughter. He was succeeded at Gortavea by his second son Charles. By this time the name had changed from Rolleston to Roulston. Charles bought the farm outright from the Duke of Abercorn in 1898. Charles had three sons and two daughters. He died in 1943. The farm then passed to his son James Alexander Roulston who had seven children. When he retired the farm was taken over by his third son William. William Roulston married Jean Stevenson and had four sons: William, Tynan, Christopher and Jonathan. Tynan Roulston now runs the farm.
The farm in Gortavea has thus been in continuous occupation by six generations of the Roulston family and for over 170 years. At present there are five Roulston houses within half a mile on the Dunnalong Road, Bready, four of which stand on the site of the original farm.
Robert Rolleston’s brother Thomas studied at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated BA in 1809. In the matriculation album his father was given as James Rolston generosus or gentleman. He ministered in a large number of parishes, including Clonleigh (Lifford), Camus-juxta-Mourne (Strabane), Aghadowey [Co. Londonderry]. When his brother Robert made his will he was at Killea, near Carrigans [Co. Donegal]. At the time of his death in January 1850 aged 64 he was curate in the parish of Tullaghobegly in west Donegal.
The Strabane Morning Post of Tuesday, December 7, 1830 carried a notice that he had married, on the previous Friday, Eliza, widow of the late Captain I. Humphrys. Thomas kept a Classical school in Strabane which had a good reputation. Among his pupils was William Alexander who went on to become Bishop of Derry and was the husband of the hymn-writer, Cecil Frances Alexander. Thomas was described as a ‘fierce Protestant, who delighted in controversy.
Great-great-great-grandson of Robert Rolleston
Dr William Roulston
Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast