Following the end of the primary conflict between the British monarchy and the Celtic chieftains of Ireland with the flight of the Earls in 1607, James I of Ireland set out to defend against a future attack from within or without. In his survey, he found that the town of Derry could become either a great asset as a control over the River Foyle and Lough Swilly, or it could become an inviting back door if the people of the area were against him. He pressured the guilds of the City of London to fund the resettlement of the area, including the building of a new walled city, and the result was the creation of the society.
The Society financed the building of the Guildhall, Derry. Work started in 1887 and it was opened in July 1890, having cost £19,000.