Alexandra Prince-Little-Ormsby

Miss A Prince
Photographer ET Church, at 53 Donegall St, Belfast between 1869 and 1890

Alexandra Sophia Prince c.1863-1940 was the third daughter of Stephen Prince and Sophia nee Drew. Currently, in 2020 there is no on-line record of her birth. John Oram’s diaries show that he knew Stephen Prince well before Alexandra was born, so we can assume that she was born at Claggan, Ballycroy. See the Prince family page for more on Alexandra’s parents and siblings.

“Miss Prince”

The first reference to Alexandra in Arthur Oram’s diaries is when on 13 July 1888 “Miss Prince and Mrs Lofting came”. As Mrs Lofting was Alexandra’s sister they were probably visiting their mother’s grave in Newport.

Marriage to Lowther Halliday Little c1860 -1904

On 1 December 1891 in Ballycroy Church Alexandra married Lowther Halliday Little, son of John Little, both gentlemen. The witnesses were J Charles A Little and Margaret H Little.

The Little family

Witness J Charles A Little lived in Quignalecka, Ballina no doubt at the Ice House . The interesting link gives a hint of the history of the building, the Little family and the Moy fisheries. The headstones in St Michael’s churchyard, Ballina show that the Little and/or Lowther families arrived in Ballina from Dumfriesshire, Scotland between the 1820 and 1840.

In the 1901 census witness to the marriage Margaret Little, born in Ballina was living with her 73 year old aunt, fishery proprietor Thomasina Little. The twenty room house in Ballina with its three carriage houses was Downhill or Doonhill House (see aerial photo) and was part of or at least had been part of the Gore Estate. This had been the main Little residence but they probably left soon after Thomasina’s death later in 1901.

“Mr & Mrs Little”

After her marriage Alexandra became “Mrs Little” in Arthur Oram’s diaries. When Arthur visited the Lagduff Estate or attend Fishery Conservators meetings in Ballycroy he often stayed overnight with Lowther and Alexandra at Srahnamonragh Lodge.

Fr. Sean Noone in his 1991 book “Where the Sun Sets” noted that Srahnamonragh Lodge was built about 1850 with extensive renovations ‘seemingly’ carried out in 1876 by the Lowther and Little families. Some time before then the Little family acquired the draft net fishery on the Owenduff River from Archer Clive and started renting Srahnamonragh Lodge from the Bushbys. The Owenduff River runs through Lagduff and enters the sea below Srahnamonragh Bridge.

In April 1895 Arthur reported of learning of “Mrs Little’s sudden death” while he was at Ballycroy. This was Lowther’s widowed mother Helen who was described as ‘late of The Lodge, Bangor Erris‘ in the probate records. Arthur went straight to Srahnamonragh and slept at Lagduff Lodge. The next morning he went home, “changed clothes and on to Newport for down evening train met Mr Prince and F O’Donel on to Claggan” where he stayed the night. The next morning they left Claggan “at 7.30 for the Lodge, left there 9.15” reaching “Ballina at 4.30, to Icehouse and dined there, back to Imperial Hotel at 10.30.” The next day “Home by first train from Ballina”.

Alexandra and Lowther had two children. John Alexander Lowther Little, known as Jack was born in May 1902 in Castlebar. On 9 May Arthur “heard of Mrs Lowther Little having a son at Castlebar”. The birth was belatedly registered in 1903 by the local physician and surgeon Edward C Brabazon who lived in the same street as Alexandra’s sister Kathleen O’Donel. At the same time Dr Brabazon registered the birth of his own 2 year old daughter. Arthur did not mention the birth of the second child, Eileen May Little born in May 1904 at Srahnamonragh.

Lowther Little’s illness and death

By the time Eileen was born Lowther was very ill. On 10 July 1903 Arthur reported in his diary “…lunched at Lagduff. Called at Mr Little’s found him not at all well his mind quite unhinged.” When Lowther died in July 1904, just two months after Eileen’s birth his death certificate shows that he had been suffering from the painful and debilitating kidney disease described as “Chronic Bright’s Disease 2 years certified”. Alexandra was present at his death at Srahnamonragh Lodge. Unfortunately the pages of Arthur’s diaries covering 7 – 10 July are not in the UCD Digital Library but before I, Carolyn handed the diaries to UCD I noted that on 7 July 1904 Arthur attended Lowther’s funeral in Ballina with Mr Prince and Mr F O’Donel.

Little family headstones in St Michael’s Church Graveyard, Ardnaree, Ballina include

In this vault are also placed the remains of Helen Halliday, wife of John Little, who died at Ballycroy, 29 April 1895, aged 72 years.

Lowther Halliday Little, only son of John & Helen Little, who died at Ballycroy, 24 July 1904, aged 44 years.

Death of Alexandra’s two young children

Arthur was in England for the first half of May 1906 attending his mother’s funeral and visiting two of his offspring so he missed the funeral of Jack and Eileen. Comments left elsewhere on this site by Valerie Chambers and Eamon Little (no relation of Lowther) have filled in the gap. Jack and Eileen share a grave in Newport’s St Catherine’s graveyard with their grandmother Sophia Prince and their uncle by marriage Edgar Lofting. Stephen Prince’s remains are also there but not recorded on a headstone. See Prince family page.

In Loving Memory of My Darling Children Little Jack Aged 4 Years Died May 4th 1906 And Eileen Aged 2 Years Died May 10th 1906 Alexandra Ormsby ‘He took them in his arms’

The death register shows that that Jack and Eileen died from influenza while in Ballycroy there is the myth that that the children drowned in the Owenduff.

1904 to 1906 – three unhappy years for Alexandra

  • July 1904 Lowther Little died.
  • May 1905 death of Frances, wife of Alexandra’s second husband William Ormsby while they were living at Srahnamonragh Lodge, see below.
  • March 1906 Alexandra’s father Stephen Prince died.
  • May 1906 Jack and Eileen died.

Marriage to William Frederick Ormsby 1858 -1940

Alexandra remarried seven months after the death of her children and presumably before the above inscription to the headstone was inscribed. On 11 December 1906 in Monkstown, Dublin Alexandra married widower William Frederick Ormsby son of John Frederick Ormsby, both gentlemen. The witnesses were EM Homan, F Shaw Bingham and Geo. M Verschoyle.

Who was William Frederick Ormsby?

When William died in 1940 the administration of his estate was given to Travers Frederick Ormsby Homan bank official. In the 1911 census 13 year old Frederick Homan was with his parents Francis and Emily and 90 year old great aunt “Nannie” Ormsby born in Co Sligo. Francis and Emily’s marriage was recorded in the 6 March 1893 edition of The Belfast Newsletter under Homan-Ormsby. “Emily Mary, daughter of the late John Frederick Ormsby of Bundoran, County Donegal, and granddaughter of the late John Ormsby JP of Castle Dargan, County Sligo“. Therefore it seems sensible to assume that witness EM Homan was William’s sister.

In 1891 and 1895 Arthur Oram mentioned visiting Mr Little and meeting Miss Ormsby who may or may not have been related to William. In May 1903 Arthur went ” Shranamonragh (meet Mr & Mrs Ormsby for first time) .. Mr Ormsby walks over Lagduff with me.”  This Mr and Mrs Ormsby would have been the the above William Frederick Ormsby and his wife Frances. At the time of the 1901 census they appear to be farming in Lisduff, County Down. It is possible that when Lowther Little’s health declined William came to help run the fishery and that is why Arthur made the point that he was meeting William and Frances ‘for the first time’.

Death of Frances Ormsby c1834-1905

On 28 May 1905 Arthur received a “letter at hotel from Mrs Little re Mrs Ormsby’s funeral tomorrow. I leave at 4pm and drive to Mr Prince and stay there.” The next morning Arthur “Left Claggan with Mr Prince 10.30 for Shranamonragh Lodge, funeral left for church at 12.10 I return with Mrs Little and go to Lagduff after luncheon …. I return to Claggan by Keeper’s car and home leaving Claggan at 8.25 reaching Wilford at 11 o’c pm.” 71 year old Frances Ormsby died on 25th May at Shranamonragh after “Paralysis 14 days certified” Nurse L Trinham was present at her death. There is a memorial to Frances in the ruins Ballycroy C of I church. Eighteen months later in December 1906 widower William would marry widow Alexandra.

“Mr & Mrs Ormsby”

During 1907 Arthur only mentions “Mr & Mrs Ormsby” a few times. On 13 May he spent two days in the Ballycroy area and spent the night at Shranamonragh “with Mr Ormsby, Miss Robin Bingham there”.

An interesting aside. When Robin Bingham was born in 1884 her certificate named her as Robert Augustus Shaen Bingham, male son of RA Bingham of Bangor and Helen Bingham formerly Little. In 1909 female Robin was a lecturer crossing the US-Canada border and was described in the 1911 Irish census as Robert Bingham ‘female’. In 1913 ‘male’ on her birth certificate was changed to ‘female’ following a statutory declaration by Robin’s cousin Denis G Bingham and friend EN Flynn but her forenames were not altered. Robin married in 1917 under the name Robert A Bingham and has descendants.

On 6 January 1908 Arthur noted that he …“Met Mr Ormsby who with Mrs O and Miss Bingham came to Ardagh yesterday”. Ardagh Lodge is on the peninsular to the east of Wilford and throughout his diaries Arthur mentions various people who are connected to the house. In April 1908 the Ormsby’s decide to rent Rockfleet Lodge, a short walk away from the Oram family home at Wilford. During May Arthur describes his part as agent getting the house ready for for William and Alexandra. For instance on 23 April Arthur went “to Rockfleet and arranged with with Mrs Curran about the garden for Mr Ormsby. He to pay her £2 for all the garden save a little bit already planted by her in potatoes. Mr O to have the manure.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7011966425_e831739a39_z.jpg
Rossyvera closest house with farm buildings to right. Wilford above and to right of Rossyvera on first rise of ground. Rockfleet Castle on left.

In early 1909 William and Alexandra were considering moving to nearby Rossyvera House, Arthur noting that he “walked Rossyvera” with them on 28 and 29 January. On 4 February Arthur was writing “to Mr Stoney re Rossyvera”. William was not willing to accept Mr Stoney’s terms and on 12 February “Mr & Mrs Ormsby call 5pm and make final offer for Rossyvera viz £45 [or £15 or £5?], Mr S paying rates and head [taxes?] and allowing £5 for repairs which I write him barely having time for post!”. 16 February “Letter from Mr A.B.Stoney accepting Mr Ormsby’s offer” 17 February “I write Mr Stoney sending draft agreement”. On 5 March “..went over Rossyvera inventory with Mrs Ormsby found furniture badly needing repair, no bedroom ware or glass entered”. The next day William was working in the Rossyvera garden. Rosturk Castle, further west along the coastline from Wilford and Rossyvera was the Stoney family’s local residence.

Alexandra’s widowed sister Clara Lofting was at Rossyvera for the 1911 census. William is included in Thom’s directories as a magistrate from 1913 to 1926 with two addresses, Shranamonragh and Rossyvera.

Alexandra S Ormsby

This photograph of Alexandra came from home of Arthur’s son James where it was always on display. Arthur’s diaries show that the Ormsbys and Orams were good friends from 1908 until Arthur died in 1919 and Catherine in 1920. James added that Alexandra was particularly kind and helpful to Catherine after she became housebound with arthritis in 1912.

At some time after 1926 William and Alexandra moved away from Rossyvera and in 1940 were living in Macreddin, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow. William died in January 1940 at St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin from cardiovascular degeneration and senility. Alexandra died 7 months later on 9 August 1940.