Nathaniel Clements 1705-1777
Robert's son Nathaniel was the first Clements to own the lands around Lough Rynn. When he acquired the estate in the 1750s, it had no main house and the land was completely let to English and Irish tenants. Nathaniel used the estate purely for extra income: he never lived there and his political roles and interests kept him occupied in Dublin and London. This absenteeism was not uncommon among Irish landlords.
A noted architect
Lough Rynn, however, may have missed out more than most: Nathaniel was a distinguished amateur architect who had a great interest in the new-style buildings being erected around Dublin. Although his kind of `gentleman' architect was derided by some, Nathaniel was an accomplished amateur.
He is credited with developing the style of `agricultural layout' where a main dwelling house was linked by quadrant walls to pavilions that housed stables, barns and byres. Through the 1750s, Nathaniel used the style in designing houses such as Colganstown and Newberry Hall. He can take credit for many of Dublin's Georgian houses, including the current Italian embassy.
The house he designed as his own home in the Phoenix Park has been altered greatly since it was completed in 1754, but now forms part of Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the Irish President. He also owned at least seven buildings in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) in Dublin and Leitrim House on Stephen Street. As well as an interest in architecture, Nathaniel was a patron of music. In 1809, he helped to promote the `Irish Harp Society of Ireland' whose aim was to `revive the native music and poetry of Ireland'.
Nathaniel followed his father into the position of Teller of the Exchequer in 1728 and held the position for twenty-seven years. It was in this role that he showed himself to be an accomplished all-rounder, both artist and financier. He used the position to become a personal banker.
In his role as Teller, he disbursed money to officers, pensioners and the military establishment. He developed this role to hold private accounts for officers and in some cases allowing them overdrafts on which he earned interest. In 1746/7 he earned £760 as agent to forty-two individuals and received £764.14s.11d in interest on advances to thirteen of them. His banking profits rose to £2,594 in 1749/50 - more than many of the Dublin Banks reported. When he became Deputy Vice-Treasurer, Nathaniel no longer had the use of Treasury cash, but with his accumulated gains set up a bank with two partners, Anthony Malone and Arthur Gore. Nathaniel funded his share out of his current bank account of £92,405. The bank was set up in 1758 and paid interest on deposits of 2.33% - something quite unknown at the time. By January 1759, Nathaniel's bank account was showing a balance of £155,330 - an enormous sum at the time.
His banking partnership however, only lasted a year and an Act of Parliament put a stop to any further banking activity by holders of public funds. Despite the collapse of his bank, Nathaniel Clements became one of the most powerful members of the House of Commons and was raised to the Privy Council.
In his private life, Nathaniel was also successful. He and his wife were popular amongst the social set in Dublin and London and were admired by the influential social commentators. In 1759, one columnist commented gushingly on the couple's style, wealth and wit.
`Not hear of Mrs Clements! Why she is finer than the first lady in England. Dresses, furniture, house, equipage - excelling all. . . .They set out in life very young and very humble, though both of good families. He . . . has gathered together by degrees an immense fortune if one may judge by the magnificence of his living; and what is quite surprising, they are both very moderate in understanding and yet there is a cleverness and elegance in everything about them that is beyond what could have been expected'.
Nathaniel held a seat in Parliament for fifty-one years and had ambitions to acquire a title for the family. One might have thought with all everything going for him he would be successful, but despite persistent efforts to elevate the family, he died unrewarded.