The Gumbleton family purchased the land on which Fortwilliam stands now and in the early eighteenth century and was eventually left to the youngest son William Conner Gumbleton who in the early part of the nineteenth century built a house on the land. This was named after himself – Fort William.
William Gumbleton died an unmarried man and therefore left his beloved Fortwilliam to his nephew, John Bowen Gumbleton. In 1836, this nephew demolished the existing house and reconstructed a house in the Tudor Revival style in the design of James and George Richard Pain of Cork.
Fortwilliam was then passed down to John’s son, who died in 1866; it then passed on to John’s daughter Frances. By 1910, Frances was living abroad and rented Fortwilliam out to Richard Henry Keane of Cappoquin and his family for twenty one years. Frances Gumbleton died in 1914; however the Keane family continued to rent Fortwilliam until 1925 when Lieutenant Colonel Keane died. At this time, the property had been inherited by Frances’ nephew, John Currie, who went on to sell it to Paddy Dunne. Fortwilliam was leased out to many different tenants, one of which was Adele Astaire.
Eventually in 1944 the Gumbleton family bought Fortwilliam back before selling it once more in 1946, this time to Hugh Grosvenor, the second Duke of Westminster. It was not until his death in 1953 that Fortwilliam became the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Drummond-Wolfe and then Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell who ran a donkey sanctuary here.
The previous owners bought Fortwilliam on a whim. Mr. Ian Agnew had spotted an advertisement in the Country Life and whilst in a hurry, ripped the page out, stuffed it in his pocket and forgot all about it. It was not until a few years later when fishing on the Blackwater River that Mr. Agnew remembered and went on the hunt to find Fortwilliam. What he found was that it was still unsold and three days later he had managed to buy it at auction. The next two years were spent restoring the house and once more reviving the house and filling it full of light and life.
Today Fortwilliam is kept alive by a busy, lively family who work the farm and nurture the gardens whilst enjoying the magnificent setting in which Fortwilliam is situated with the River Blackwater forming a key part. The River and Fortwilliam Farming farm is at the heart of the Fortwilliam family partnership, all working together with the fishing, house, gardens, holiday cottages, cattle, arable farming and horses.