Earl of Antrim

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Randal MacDonnel,
1st Marquess of Antrim of the first creation.

Earl of Antrim is a title that has been created twice, both times in the Peerage of Ireland and both times for members of the MacDonnell family, originally of Scottish origins. This family descends from Sorley Boy MacDonnell, who established the family in County Antrim. His fourth son Randal MacDonnell was created Viscount Dunluce, in the County of Antrim, in 1618, and Earl of Antrim in 1620. Both titles were in the Peerage of Ireland. His eldest son, the second Earl, fought as a Royalist in the Civil War and was created Marquess of Antrim in the Peerage of Ireland in 1645. He was childless and on his death in 1682 the marquessate became extinct.

He was succeeded in the viscountcy and earldom by his younger brother, the third Earl. He represented Wigan in the English House of Commons and also served as Lord Lieutenant of Antrim. Lord Antrim was attainted in 1689 for his support of King James II but was restored in 1697. His grandson, the fifth Earl, was Governor of County Antrim. He was succeeded by his son, the sixth Earl. He represented County Antrim in the Irish House of Commons. Lord Antrim had no sons, and as there were no other male heirs left of the first Earl, the titles were heading for extinction. However, in 1785 King George III created him Viscount Dunluce and Earl of Antrim in the Peerage of Ireland, with remainder to his daughters in order of seniority and the heirs male of their bodies. In 1789 he was further honoured when he was made Marquess of Antrim in the Peerage of Ireland, with normal remainder to the heirs male of his body.

On Lord Antrim's death in 1791 the viscountcy of Dunluce of 1618, the earldom of Antrim of 1620 and the marquessate became extinct. He was succeeded in the viscountcy and earldom of 1785 according to the special remainders by his eldest daughter Anne Catherine, the second holder of the titles. She married as her first husband Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, 2nd Baronet, of Long Newton. Their daughter Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest married Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, and was the great-grandmother of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Lady Antrim had no sons and was succeeded by her younger sister Charlotte, the third holder. She was the wife of Vice-Admiral Lord Mark Robert Kerr, third son of William John Kerr, 5th Marquess of Lothian.

She was succeeded by her eldest surviving son, the fourth Earl. He assumed in 1836 by Royal license the surname of McDonnell in lieu of Kerr. He had no sons and was succeeded by his younger brother, the fifth Earl. On succeeding his brother in 1855 he assumed by Royal license the surname of McDonnell in lieu of Kerr. As of 2013 the titles are held by his great-great-grandson, the ninth Earl, who succeeded his father in 1977. As a male-line descendant of the fifth Marquess of Lothian he is also in remainder to this peerage and its subsidiary titles.

The Hon. Angus McDonnell, second son of the sixth Earl of the second creation, was Member of Parliament for Dartford.

The family seat is Glenarm Castle, near Glenarm, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland.

The Dunluce Cup is awarded at the Larne Music Festival by the Viscount or Viscountess Dunluce, heir to the Earl of Antrim.[1]

Earls of Antrim, First creation (1620)[edit]

Marquesses of Antrim, First creation (1645)[edit]

Earls of Antrim, First creation (1620; Reverted)[edit]

Marquesses of Antrim, Second creation (1789)[edit]

Earls of Antrim, Second Creation (1785)[edit]

Coat of arms of the Earls of Antrim of the second creation: quarterly McDonnell and Kerr.

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Randal Alexander St John McDonnell, Viscount Dunluce (b. 1967).
The heir apparent's heir apparent is his son the Hon. Alexander David Somerled McDonnell (b. 2006).

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