The Hon. Gen. Robert Edward King (1773-1864) aka Lord Lorton was the second son of Robert, the 2nd Earl of Kingston (of King House, Boyle) and Caroline Fitzgerald (cousins). Their large estate, centred around Boyle in County Roscommon, stretched to lands in Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo. The Earls of Kingston also held extensive lands in other parts of the country notably around Mitchelstown, Co. Cork and in Co. Tipperary.

General Robert Edward King and his father, at different times, were tried for the murder of Colonel Henry Fitzgerald (the half-brother of the Earl's wife, who had impregnated their daughter, Mary). Both were acquitted as no witnesses came forward.

In 1799, he inherited the heavily indebted (but subsequently much improved) Roscommon estate and married his first cousin Lady Frances Parsons (1775-1841) from whom the Harman name was later adopted.  He went on to become a distinguished Member of Parliament for Boyle until the Act of Union in 1801. Boyle was disenfranchised, and he received a tidy sum in compensation and was created Baron Erris (which he opposed). He was then created Viscount Lorton on 30th May 1806 and commissioned the building of Rockingham House (his new residence) in 1809-10. 

An anti-Catholic ministerialist, he was Ireland's leading Orangeman at the time, and actively engaged in unpopular efforts to convert the Catholics on his estate through schools and 'moral agents'. He brought up his children in a rigidly Evangelical household and, as soon as he came of age, put his first-born up against the pro-Catholic county Members in the General Election of 1826. (Lorton unsuccessfully brought forward another family member).

However, Lorton was by all accounts a fair landlord, much praised for his generosity to his tenants especially during the Great Famine. He invested a great deal of money in the development of his estate, reduced rents, created jobs and took care of any workers who fell ill.

DEATH OF VISCOUNT LORTON                                                [Dublin Evening Mail - 22 November 1854 ].

It is with extreme regret that we have to announce the death of Viscount Lorton, which sad event took place at his Lordship's residence, Rockingham, County Roscommon, on Monday night last. Viscount Lorton. (Robert Edward King), and Baron Erris of Boyle, county of Roscommon, in the peerage of Ireland ; and one of the representative lords; born 12th August, 1773; married 9th December, 1799 his cousin, Lady Frances Parsons, only daughter and heir of Laurence, 1st Earl of Rosse, and has had issue, Robert, born 17th July, 1804; married 7th December, 1829, Anne, sister of Sir Robert Gore-Booth, Bart, and has a son, Robert, born 18th October, 1831. [Laurence Harman, who assumed the additional surname of Harman in 1838; bora 1816; married 17th May, 1837, Mary, 7th daughter of the late James Rayraend Johnstone, Esq , of Alva, county Clackmannan, and ha* issue. Jane, married to Anthony Lefroy, Esq. of Newcastle, county of Longford. Eleanor died young. Caroline, married in 1827, to Sir Robert Gore-Booth Bart.; and died in 1828. Frances, married 6th April, 1834, to Charles Leslie, Esq., son of the Bishop of Elphin; and died 28th July, 1835.

This nobleman, who was the second son of Robert, 2nd Earl of Kingston, having distinguished himself a military officer, and attained the rank of Lieutenant-General in the army, was created Baron Erris in 1800, and Viscount Lorton, 30th May 1806. His Lordship is Lord Lieutenant and custoa-rotulorum the county Roscommon, and colonel of its militia. Asa resident nobleman, kind and considerate landlord—a pious Christian—in fact, in all the relations of life, his Lordship, through a long and time-honoured career, conspicuous in the peerage of his country; and at its close, full of years, the tomb closes over him amid the deep-felt sorrow and affliction of his family and relatives, and the regret and esteem of his numerous tenantry and friends. On a late occasion we had the happiness to record, in the columns of this journal, expression of the feelings of the noble Viscount's neighbours and tenantry of the county of Roscommon, rating from a numerous and highly respectable meeting, held at Boyle, on the occasion of the marriage of his Lordship's grandson, Mr. King, to the Honourable Miss Chichester; and think cannot better depict the kindly and affectionate state of feeling that existed between his Lordship and his fellow-countrymen than by placing before our readers the observations made by the gentleman who presented the address, and who was well qualified to form a judgment of the feeling subsisting between his Lordship and his tenants and neighbours in Roscommon:

Mr. Flanagan, before reading the address, observed what gratification it gave him to present to his lordship an address adopted at such an important meeting as that which lately assembled in Boyle; and what gave particular interest to it was, that no such unanimity ever prevailed in any meeting convened for a similar purpose; and never was more enthusiasm manifested than on that occasion. He also referred to the happy event which had taken place in his lordship's family in the marriage of his .grandson, and assure- 4 a lordship that he fully agreed in every sentiment contained in the address, and might safely say the same for all those gentlemen who accompanied him a deputation, well as for all who«e names were attached to it; and he earnestly hoped that while they were proud to call him their landlord, would have equal reason be proud of his tenantry."          


He was succeeded by his son, the Hon. Robert King (1804-1869) the 2nd Viscount Lorton & Anne Gore-Booth ... "a disaster from which the family never really recovered".


[Research by Rua Mac Diarmada 2018]


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Additional Information
Date of Birth 12th Aug 1773 VIEW SOURCE
Associated Building (s) Rockingham House BOYLE Erronagh Gate Lodge Boyle WORKHOUSE Grevisk House BOYLE Oatlands House LOUGH KEY King House BOYLE  
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Caroline Fitzgerald (d. 1823), daughter of Richard FitzGerald by the Honourable Margaret King, daughter of James King, 4th Baron King.
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston (1754 – 1799) who represented County Cork in the Irish House of Commons.
Names of Siblings Mary King | George King, Visc. Kingsborough (1771–1839) | Henry King (1772–1839) m. Mary Hewitt | Edward King (1772–1848) | Margaret King (1773–1835) m. Stephen Moore, 2nd Earl Mountcashell | Richard FitzGerald King (1779–1850) m. Williamina Ross
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Lady Frances Parsons (1775-1841) daughter of Laurence Parsons Harman, 1st Earl of Rosse.
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