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Viscount Gormanston

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Viscountcy of Gormanston
Or, on a Chief Sable three Crescents of the first
Creation date7 August 1478
Created byEdward IV
PeeragePeerage of Ireland
First holderRobert Preston, 4th Baron Gormanston
Present holderJenico Nicholas Dudley Preston, 17th Viscount Gormanston
Heir apparentThe Hon. Jenico Francis Tara Preston
Subsidiary titlesBaron Gormanston
Baron Gormanston, of Whitewood
Former seat(s)Gormanston Castle
Jenico Preston, 14th Viscount Gormanston, GCMG

Viscount Gormanston is a title in the Peerage of Ireland created in 1478 and held by the head of the Preston family, which hailed from Lancashire. It is the oldest vicomital title in the British Isles; the holder is Premier Viscount of Ireland.

The Preston family descends from Sir Robert Preston, who served as Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Sometime between 1365 and 1370 he was created Baron Gormanston by writ to the Parliament of Ireland. His son and heir, the second Baron, played a prominent part in public affairs, and was arrested for treason in 1418. His great-grandson, the fourth Baron, served as Lord Deputy of Ireland: in 1478 he was created Viscount Gormanston in the Peerage of Ireland. His son, the second Viscount, served as Lord Justice of Ireland in 1525. A later descendant, the seventh Viscount, was a supporter of King James II and was outlawed after the Glorious Revolution.

Jenico Preston helped to suppress the Irish Rebellion of 1798,[1] and in 1800 he had the outlawry reversed and was summoned to the Irish House of Lords as the twelfth Viscount Gormanston. He was the great-grandson of Anthony Preston, the de jure ninth Viscount Gormanston, the nephew of the seventh Viscount. The twelfth Viscount was succeeded by his son, the thirteenth Viscount. In 1868 he was created Baron Gormanston, in County Meath, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, which gave the Viscounts an automatic seat in the House of Lords. His son, the fourteenth Viscount, notably served as Governor of British Guiana and as Governor of Tasmania. The 15th Viscount was a Captain in the Royal Irish Fusiliers and a Deputy Lieutenant for County Meath.[2] As of 2023 the titles are held by the latter's great-grandson, the seventeenth Viscount who succeeded to the titles in 1940 at the age of seven months after his father was killed in action during the Battle of France during the Second World War.

Another member of the Preston family was Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara. He was the second son of the fourth Viscount Gormanston. Also, John Preston, 1st Baron Tara, was a descendant of a younger brother.

The unusual first name Jenico borne by many Preston boys derives from the Gascon-born soldier Sir Jenico d'Artois, a prominent military commander who became a substantial landowner in Ireland. His daughter Jane married the 3rd Baron Gormanston, and was the mother of Sir Robert Preston, who was created a viscount.

The family seat was Gormanston Castle, County Meath, close to the county border with Dublin.

Barons Gormanston (1365/1370)


Viscounts Gormanston (1478)


See also



  1. ^ The Observer; Dublin Castle, July 16, 1798, 22 July 1798
  2. ^ Hesilrige 1921, p. 408.
  3. ^ Hon. Jenico Preston @ The British Fashion Council
  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Edward Preston, 13th Viscount Gormanston
  • Hesilrige, Arthur G. M. (1921). Debrett's Peerage and Titles of courtesy. 160A, Fleet street, London, UK: Dean & Son. p. 408.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors); Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  • Tiernan, Sonja, ‘“A Zealous Catholic and a Notorious Trouble-Maker” The Gormanston Papers in the National Library of Ireland’ in Ríocht na Mídhe: Meath Archæological and Historical Society. Vol. XX, 2009, pp. 171–88.
  • Catalogue for Gormanston Estate Papers at National Library of Ireland, qv. www.nli.ie
  • Burke's Peerage & Baronetage