F. Erlington (Francis Elrington) Ball.

A history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) online

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high a reputation foi' bravery that it reached the English Court.
In 1297 ho was included by Edward I. amongst the liegemen in
Ireland whom that monarch summoned to assist him in his war
against France, — promising as an incentive tO' prompt compliance
that he would keep them close to his side. Again in 1302 le Bret
was honoured with a similar command to join in the war against

The lands of Rathfarnham were occupied, under their owners,
by the great Danish clan of Harold, who, with the Walshes and the
Archbolds, then held so much of the lands bordering on thei terri-
tory of the hillsmen. Their occupation was sometimes only
rendered possible by illegal compacts with their neighbours, and
in 1305 Richard, son of Reginald Harold, paid a fine because Rath-
farnham had afforded shelter to' some of the foes of the Crown.
The owners of Rathfarnham were then resident in Cork. Milo,
son of Geoffrey le Bret, who in 1320 granted to his legal adviser,
John Graunteste. a yearly rent charge of 20.s-. and a robe of pro-
portionate value out of the lands of Rathfarnham, was Sheriff of
Cork, and his grandson, John le Bret, filled the same position. On
account of an apprehended invasion of tlie O'Byrnes, the latter was
ordered in 1356 to proceed with his followers fully armed in martial
array to his manor of Rathfarnham, a.nd in 1375 he was given
license to remove corn from his house at Rathfarnham for his own

The existence towards the close of the fourteenth century of a
bridge across the Dodder at Rathfarnham is indicated by a bequest
in the will, executed in 1381, of a certain Joan Douce, of St.
Audoen's Parish, in Dublin, of one mark towards its construction.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century the Harolds still appear
as tenants, and the lands were in the hands of the Crown owing
to the death of John, son of Geoffrey le Bret. In 1415 they were
committed to the custody of James Fitzwilliam, the first owner



of Merriou of his name. Subsequently, owing to the death of
one John Galvey, two parts of the lands were connnitted in 1423
to Thomas Hall, and in 1424 to James Cornwalsh, the Chief Baron
of the Exchequer, who met his doatli in the Castle of Baggot-
rath (1).

At the tini.e they came into the possession of Archbishop Loftus
the lands of Rathfarnliani. which had })assed from the Brets to
the Eustace family, were, like Monkstown, in the hands of the
Crown, owing to the rebellion of James Eustace, third Viscount
Baltinglass, and before obtaining the custody of the Castle of
Monkstown, Sir Henry Wallop, the Earl of Portsmouth's aiu'cstor.

Rathfarnhuni Castle.

Finm (I I'lxild'jnijih bij 'rii<iin(is Mason.

li.id ap))li('d fur a lease of tliem. A few months later, in the
.•iiiliiiiin ijf 1 ;j(S2, iXi'chbishop l.dt'tiis was sdlicitiiig a lease- of sniiic ct'
the lands forfeited duiiiig the DesiiiDiid llchcllidii, and lliongh i'dr
H time his petition was witluh'awn, this application was probably

(') " 1'lic N'oniuin KcttlenuMit in I.rin^tiT." hy .Fanii's Mills, .Iciininl. U.S.A. I..
vol. ,\.\iv., |). Hi."); Swcfliiunr , ( ali nil.ii : I'Icm and .Mcniniiuiila llnlU; I'liiciit
liolls, J)]). r,1, !».-,, ICT, |r,s, ITm ITI, l'JT, •-':'.! ; llalMl.iy lliid- |ii(-,(i \ cl in IInN.il
Irisli .\( iidcni V.



llie origin of the grant of Rathfarnhani to him. Owing tO' the
incursions of the hillsmen it was then described as a waste village,
and the original castle, if it remained at all, can have been only a
ruin. But within two years of his acquiring the property Arch-
bishop Loftus had built the castle which has come down ;:o the
present day — an edifice of such magnificence in the opinion of a
contemporary w-riter as would for all time be a monument to the
greatness and grandeur of its builder. According to the patent of
a peerage conferred on one of his descendants the object of its
erection was to protect the English subjects of the Crown, but as

Archbishop Loftus.

From an Engraving in the 2MSScssto7i of the Rev. William Bey n ell.

the Archbishop, owing to the disturbed state of the neighbourhood,
had shortly before been obliged to vacate liis^ episcopal seat at
Tallagh, it is probable that it was part of his design to provide a
country residence for himself.

Archbishop Loftus, who was a native of Yorkshire, had come to
Ireland in the train of the Earl of Sussex, who was appointed
Lord Lieutenant soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth,
and had subsequently become Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral
and Archbishop of Armagh. That diocese was then in a distracted
state, and in 1567 he was translated to Dublin — in those days
the most important and valuable of the Ii'ish archbishoprics. For
more than thirty-seven years he held the latter See, and with it for


twenty-four years the office of Lord Chancellor, to which he was
appointed after having been on several occasions the temporary
custodian of the Great Seal. Loftus stands out amongst his fellows
as a man of singular ability, with a reputation as an eloquent
preacher, and in his successful opposition to the diversion of the
revenues of St. Patrick's Cathedral to the establishment of a
university, as well as in the assistance which he gave towards the
fcnmdation of Trinity College, of which he was the first pi'ovost,
he exhibited both high principle and independence of character.
In his time such offices as he held gave power and influence beyond
anything possible in the present day. These advantages ho used,
undoubtedly, for his own advancement and that of his family, al-
though, probably not to a greater degree than others in a similar
position would have done.

Loftus took up his residence at Rathfarnham in the year 1580,
when he had incurred much enmity by his opposition to the
diversion of the endowment of St. Patrick's Cathedral for educa-
tional purposes, and his establishment there, and the nominal
rent of 30.v., for which he was granted the fee farm of the lands,
gave rise to many malicious allegations. In that year he found it
necessary to write to Lord Burghley to explain how he had means
to build a house, and some years later it was said that, while causes
were pending before him, " angels, beasts of the field, and biids of
the air did fly and run to Rathfarnham." As has been mentioned,
the castle was considered a stately residence, and an occasional
reference shows that its contents were in keeping with it. Couches
such as were made for the Archbishop in Ireland were thought
worthy of a place in the home of Lord Burghley 's illustrious son,
the first Earl of Salisbury, as was also a deer's head, '" the rare
greatness " of which had caused the Archbishop to have it hung
in the hall of "' his poor house," and which he wishes might be the
most remai'kable curiosity in Christendom iji order that his love
to his friend might be the more evident. In every room basins
and ewers of pure silver were to be seen, in some great standing
white bowls and others of a smaller size attracted the eye, and
after the deafli of Que(>n Elizabeth the buffet was adorned with
three handsome cuj)s made out of hei' Ii-ish Creat Seal.

Archbishop Loftus had an enoimous family of twenlv children.
f)nlv four of his sons cani(\ howevei', to man's estate, and of these
but two survived him. All f(nii' served in the .iiinv, aud il was
in 1lie wais in Ireland lowaids ihe end (if (^ueen Eli/.ahet h'.s
reign tiiat tiie two who died hef.jie their f.ilhei- iiiel (heir ijealhs.


Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam knighted the eldest, and the unfortunate
Earl of Essex, on his hurried departure from Ireland, after appoint-
ing the Archbishop to act in his absence as a Lord Justice, stayed
a moment on the sands before taking ship to confer a similar
honour on two of the younger. Seven of the Archbishop's
daughters were married — some of them more than once — finding
husbands in the families of, amongst others, CoUey, Blaney,
Berkeley, Colclough, Moore, Warren, and Ussher. In these alli-
ances and in others, which, it was said, were contemplated, the
ArchbishoiD's enemies saw grounds for accusations against him of
an attempt to secure an indispensable position in the government
of Ireland (i).

The Archbishop's eldest son. Sir Dudley Loftus, whose marriage
to a daughter of Sir Nicholas Bagenal had alsoi afforded occasion
for suspicious whispering on the part of his father's enemies, suc-
ceeded to Rathfarnham in 1605 on his father's death. In early
life he isi saiid tO' have been an honest young gentleman, " both
loved and well disposed," and during the military operations in
Ulster, as captain of a troop of horse, he displayed conspicuous
valour. It was for the part which he took in an engagement near
Beleek, when after his horse had been killed under him he slew
with his own hand twelve of the enemy, that he was knighted by
Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam, and subsequently he was employed in
seveiral expeditions in which he spared himself neither toil nor
hardship. He does not appear to have been prominent in public
affairs after his father's death, and resided principally in the
suppressed preceptory of Kilcloggan, in the County of Wexford,
which had been granted to him, and where in 1616, at the age of
fifty-five, he died {-).

Rathfarnham Castle was in Sir Dudley Loftus's time occupied
temporarily by the Right Hon. Sir Thomas Ridgeway, then Trea-
surer for Ireland, and afterwards created Earl of Londonderry, who
in September 1611 dates a letter on affairs of State to the Earl
of Salisbury from Rathfarnham, but on Sir Dudley's death, as hisi

(') Calcndai- of Carew State Papers, 1575-1588, p :{7(); " Dictionary of National
Biot;rai)hy," vol. xxxiv., p. 73; Calendar of Irisli State Pajjors ; Manuscripts of
the Marquis of Salisbury, pt. vii., p. 31, published by the Historical Manuscripts
Commission ; " The Description of Ireland in 1598," edited by Rev. Edmund
Hogan, pp. 37, 43 ; Papers relating to Archbishop Loftus from the Library of
l)v. Reeves in Trinity ('ollege Library ; Borlase's " Reduction of Iicland," pj).
148, 180; Will of Archbishoj) Loftus"; Lodge's Peerage, vol. vii., p. 249; Met-
calfe's " Book of Knights," pp. 208, 210.

(-) Calendar of Irish State Papers; Funeral Entry.

RaThfarnham and its castle. 121

Wexford pro^Jcrty went to a younger son, the Castle became the
constant residence of Sir Adam Loftus, who succeeded Sir Dudley
there as his eldest son. Although a time-serving politician, Sir
Adam Loftus was one of the most able of the Archbishop's
descendants, and has the proud distinction of being the father of
Dr. Dudley Loftus, the famous Oriental scholar. He enjoyed the
friendship of the leading people in Ireland in his day. Sir Arthur
Chichester, the planter of Ulster, conferred the honour of knight-
hood on him in 1610, when he was barely of age, and appointed
him Constable of Maryborough Castle. The great Earl of Cork,
the most striking personality of that time, gave the hand of one
of his daughters in marriage to his eldest son. The great Earl's
cousins, Sir William Parsons, the well-known governor of Ireland
at the time of the Rebellion, and Sir Laux'ence Parsons, ancestor
of the jDresent Earl of Rosse, who was a Baron of the Exchequer,
and is said to have died in 1628 at Rathfaruham, both held Loftus
in esteem, and became related to him by the marriage of their
eldest sons to two of his daughters. And the mighty Earl of
Strafford conceived a strong affection for him, regarding him as
a man of intcgi-ity and capacity.

The career of Loftus for many years was bound up with that of
the Earl of Cork, and in the gi-eat Earl's quaint business diary and
correspondence he is frequently mentioned. There the tale is told
of the unromantic marriage of his son to the Earl's daughter. The
first reference to Sir Adam is an account of a conversation between
Sir Adam and Sir Laurence Parsons, who acted as the gx-eat Earl's
confidential legal adviser, regarding a widowed daughter of the
Earl whom Sir Adam desired to receive at Rathfaruham. Then
a year later the betrothal of Sir Adam's eldest son, Arthur Loftus,
to the EaiTs daughtei-, Ddrotliy, hum six years before in Sir
Walter Raleigh's house at Youghal, was accomplished, and the
first instalment of her marriage portion of £3,000 was paid to her
future father-in-law. Soon afterwards young Loftus went to reside
at Lismore, and the little girl with her French attendant came to
Rathfarnham. Then the youth went in the Earl's tram to Eng-
land, where he fell sick of the smallpox, and was provided with
money (which the Earl was careful t<> have refunded), and with
the use of the Earl's medicine chest, and Ixcamc llic constant
companion of the Earl's son, whom lie accompanied to Oxford. And
fiiiallv on Shrove Mondav, I IJiiL', the girl In ide, then <inly fourteen
years of age, was married, as the Karl records, hy the good Primate
Ussher in |{a1 hfaiiiham Castle to the hnshand '<\' her [)arenl's




A few months after this marriage had been arranged Sir Adam
Loftus became, jointly with a member of the Parsons' family,
Surveyor-General of Ireland and an official of the Court of Wards.
He subsequently acted as a keeper of the Great Seal during the
absence of his cousin, Viscount Ely, then Chancellor of Ireland,
and was made a member of the Privy Council. While the Earl of
Cork was a Lord Justice, before the arrival of the Earl of Strafford,
Sir Adam Loftus was at his right hand. We find him riding with

The Hall of Rathfarnham Castle.

From a Photograph by Thomas Mason.

the Eari and Sir William Parsons on more than one occasion to
give orders for the rebuilding of Maynooth Castle, and being lent
by the Eai'l one of his two precious copies of Stafford's "' Pacata
Hibernia." But no sooner had the Earl of Strafford landed than
Sir Adam began to worship the rising sun. He obtained a seat
as member for the borough of Gorey in the Parliaments held under
Strafford; and Charles I., in response to a recj^uest from Strafford


that he would give Sir Adam " a scratch of the pen," sent him a
gracious message of thanks for the help wliicli he had rendered to
his Viceroy in the Privy Council. In spite of his devotion to
Strafford, Sir Adam managed to retain the Earl of Cork's goodwill.
With the great Earl's approval lie was appointed Vice-Treasurer of
Ireland, and the Earl relates that, when going to take the oaths
of office. Sir Adam, who was accompanied by all the judges, many
of the Privy Council, and very many of the Lord Deputy's gentle-
men mounted on his great horses, rode between him as Lord Trea-
surer and Strafford's son. When the clispute between Strafford
and the Earl arose, Sir Adam was instant in urging the Earl to
submit himself to Strafford's judgment, and probably from that
time they drifted more and more apart, until at last the Earl
recorded that Sir Adam had used him uncivilly, and spoke to him
in a harsh and displeasing manner.

Sir Adani Loftus took an active part in the proceedings insti-
tuted by Strafford against his cousin, the Lord Chancellor, and
from letters written to him by Strafford from the Tower of London
he appears to have been one of the few in Ireland on whom
Strafford thought he could rely. But Strafford's execution was
not long a thing of the past when Sir Adam became deep in the
councils of the Parliament. In this line he was followed, doubt-
less to the unspeakable regret of the Earl of Cork, by his eldest
son. Soon after Strafford's arrival in 1634 Arthur Loftus had
received from him knighthood, and in the same year — a year in
which the Earl of Cork records his thanks to God for the birth of
her first child to his daughter. Lady Dorothy Loftus, at Rathfarn-
ham- he was returned to Parliament as member for the borough
of Enniscorthy. Subsequently Sir Arthur had a very unpleasant
passage with his father-in-law touching a domestic squabble, in
which he showed himself both " heady and untractable," to the
Earl's gi-eat discontent- and is not again iiuMilioiuMl in tli(> Karl's
correspondence or diaiy (').

On the outbreak of the Kel)ellion in IGll every ])recaution was
taken to prevent Rathfarnham Castle falling- \u\n the hands of
the rebels. All the Loftus family took u[) .nnis. Sir Adam
Loftus and Sir Arthur Loftus commanded each a troop of horse,
and, as they were engaged elsewhere, th(> care of the Castle was

(') fill. Hilar <<i [rish State I'afKTS ; " Diitioiiary nf \aii(Uial T.io^irapliy."
vol. .\lviii.. |). -JT!*: M.-tcalfc's " JiooU of Knitrlits." |.|). I'l-J. -Jl I : Carte I'apers.
vol. l.xii., f. -JH : '• [.isiiiore Pai)ers " ; i^•tnrn <>!' Meinl)ers <it' Parliament :" Stnif-
i'ur'i's l^ettcrs " idil.^il li\- William Knnuler. v.il. i.. |.|i. '.IS. '.I'.l. I I r.. \nl. ii.. |.|i.
2<ill, 414, 41;j.


committed to Sir Adam's second son, the learned Dudley Loftus,
then just returned from his studies at Oxford. As its custodian,
Dudley Loftus is said to have done good service in defending
Dublin from the rebels, who swarmed down from the mountainous
country. Amongst those who resorted to the Castle during that
winter of disorder was an extraordinary genius called John Ogilby,
who is said to have been nearly killed there by an explosion of
gunpowder. Ogilby, who had been brought to Ireland by Strafford,
as tutor to his children, and was then Master of the Revels, and
owner of a theatre in Dublin, had gained some military training as
a member of Strafford's guard of honour, but possibly the literary
tastes which he displayed afterwards in the publication of various
books, including the first guide to the roads of England — a noble
folio volume — may have had something tO' do with his association
with the scholarly custodian of Rathfarnham Castle.

The state of siege in which the inhabitants of the Castle lived
for several years may be gathered from tlie outrages committed in
the immediate neighbourhood. In the Easter week following the
outbreak of the Rebellion, one Henry Jones, the tenant of Scholars-
town, was murdered, his body being found pierced with fourteen
wounds. Soon afterwards some of the rebels came tO' the house of
Henry Buttei-field, from whom, doubtless, the modern townland
of Butterfield derives its name, and after killing one of his servants
and robbing him of his cattle, carried off Butterfield to Powers-
court, and there hanged him on a gallows. After the Cessation,
when the great sweep of cattlei wasi made at Rathmines, Thoinas
Wood, a tailor, and Ralph Morris, a wheelwright, both of Rathfarn-
ham, were alsoi carried off to Powerscourt, but made good their
escape the next day, not, however, before ropes had been placed
round their necks and threats tO' hang them had been uttered . The
owner of a cloth mill at Rathfarnham, John Iligginson by name,
also suffered severely. He had contracted for the supply of trans-
port for the artillery, and from time to time seventy-seven of the
horses employed in that service were carried off from him at.
Rathfarnham. During the Cessation, when he was building a mill
at Rathfarnham, a notorious rebel, whom he had seen riding one
of the horses which had been taken from him, threatened him, and
subsequently his cloth mill was broken into. The caretaker and
his family were assailed with shots and great stones, and the care-
taker only saved his life by escaping through the sluice of the mill
and taking refuge in the Castle. Besides the loss of cloth to the
value of £60, Higginson's business was destroyed, as he tells us, by
his customers being frightened away, and he was obliged to obtain


soldiers to guard liis property at a cost of three sliillings weekly.
About the same time the house of one Edward Thorpe, at Rath-
farnham Bridge, was robbed, and his sei-\^ant maid lost licr eye-
sight through shots fired by the burglars, and forty cows and six-
teen horses belonging to Sir Adam Loftus were taken from the
lands of Newtown by a party of the Confederate troops, who were
called upon by the Marquis of Ormonde to make reparation for
this violation of the Treaty of Cessation (i).

During the two years succeeding the outbreak of the Rebellion
Sir Adam. Loftus constantly attended the meetings of the Privy
Council, aiui was one of the chief supporters of Sir William Par-
sons and his brotlier Lords Justices ; and Sir Arthur Loftus, who
had sent his family to England, continued to act as an officer in
the King's Irish Army, serving as Lieutenant-Colonel of Sir
Charles Coote's regiment and as Governor of Naas. When the
Treaty of Cessation with the Irish was proposed both Sir Adam
Loftus and his son joined in the opposition to it, and on account
of their sympathy with the Parliament were imprisoned in Dublin
Castle. Sir Adam Loftus underwent a prolonged confinement,
owing to a public attack which he made on Lord Brabazou, the
eldest son of the first Earl of Meath, for his loyalty to the King,
but Sir Arthur Loftus was only detained for twenty-five weeks.
Oi' reaching England they were received with every mark of favour
by the Parliament. Sir Adam Loftus, besides being given a
command in its ami}-, was appointed a Counsellor of State and
Treasurer for War in Ireland, and Sir Arthur Loftus was given
pennission to beat his drums in London for men to join in an
expedition to relieve Duncannon Fort, and afterwards served with
Lord Broghill in Munstcr. Biit evil times came then for the liouso
of Loftus, and they were reduced to a state of extreme poverty.
Sir Adam Loftus, whom Colonel Michael Jones earnestly desired,
" as honest men were scarce," to have with him in Dublin, was a
prisoner for debt in London, and subseqiientlv, while receiving a
pension of 10-'>'. a week from the State, was obliged to ask for
assistance to take his family to Dublin. Sir Adam Loftus, wlm
was in an o(|ually impecunious state, on liis accounts as Treasurer
(if Wai' failing to give satisfaction, was for a tinu- imprisoned, and
was placed on a pension of £4 a week (-).

P) Lodge's Pecrajic, vol. vii.. p. 2.')S ; " Dirtioiiary of National niofrrajjliy."
v"l. xxxiv.. p. 70 ; vol. xlii., i>. I ( ; Depositions of Ki-H (.lolin II ij.'j.'iMS()n, 'I'lioinas
W'odil, :iiiil H.ilpli Murtis of Ratlifai'iiliain) ; Cai'tc Papers, vol. xv., f. (>.S7.

(-) Caleiiilai oi IiInIi Stale T'apers and of Doineslie State Papers ; ('art(> l*a])ers,
vol. xi., pp. Mil. .").")('»: vol. Ixviii.. )). .")0:{ : Historical .Manuscrij)ts Connnission,
Hepl. vii., .\|ip., pp. :!■-', :i7, I!e|if. viii.. p. ')'.)'.


Meantime Kathfarnliam Castle appears to have been derelict,
except so far as it may have been occupied by the military. When
in the summer of 1647 the Marquis of Ormonde surrendered
Dublin to the Parliament it was suggested by Lord Digby that
leave for him to remain in Ireland, with Rathfarnham as a
residence, should be one of the conditions of surrender. Two
years later, in July, 1649, as has been meiutioned under Rathmines,
the Castle was garrisoned by the Parliament, and a few days before
the disastrous Battle of Rathmines it was stormed and taken by
the Royalist troops. All in it were made prisoners, and Ormonde,
in a letter to Charles II., takes credit for the fact that although
500 of his men obtained entrance into the Castle before an officer
had done so, not a single member of the garrison was killed — a
great contrast, he i-emarks, to the conduct of the soldiers of the
Parliament on similar occasions. During the Commonwealth, Dr.
Dudley Loftus, who held various offices of State, and was returned
to the Parliament of 1659 as representative of the grouped
Counties of Wicklow and Kildare, appears to have been recognised
as the owner of the Castle. A considerable village then existed
round it. A census of that period gives the number of the inhabi-
tants of Rathfarnham as seventy persons, occupying twenty-two
houses. Amongst these were three gentlemen, Mr. Darby
Burgoyne, Mr. James Bishop, and Mr. William Graham, and the
cottiers included a smith, a carman, and a cow herd, besides a
gardener and a cooper, who were in Dr. Dudley Loftus's employ-
ment. In addition, seventy-seven inhabitants, occupying twenty
houses, are returned as residing in Butterfield. These included
Mr. Robert Dixon, who had thirteen servants in his employment,

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Online LibraryF. Erlington (Francis Elrington) BallA history of the County Dublin; the people, parishes and antiquities from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 16)