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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an endowment for a priest to pray for him daily for ever, a legacy to
repair the monastic buildings, the rent of certain lands until his heir
came of age, and a gown of satin and a doubh^t of green velvet to
make vestments; to the Church of Mcriion (tiic site of which is
indicated by the disused burial gi-ouiu1 on Ihe Hlacki-ock Road) he
left also a gown of camlet and a (loul)l(l of satin ; ami (o his
ghostly father his fim.'st ijlack hose. On his tomi:) in tlie Church
of tho White Friars he directed that a great marble stone should
be laid with a luass engravcil with i-eprcsontations of hiui^eir, his
■wife, and his children " after the custoiu <il' ijigland." F(U his


cbildren and for his brothers and sisters, including William, who
rose to high favour at the English Court, Nicholas, who was in
holy orders and held the dignity of Treasurer of St, Pati'ick'e
(,'athedral, Alison, who married Ghristoplier Ussher, a great grand-
uncle of Aixjlibishop James Ussher, and Margaret, who married
William Walsh, of Carrickmiues, he made amplei provision.

The value of the Fitzwilliams' property was then vastly different
to what it is in the present day. The only source of income,
besides agriculture and the sale of rabbits, which abounded in the
sandy lands, was the tribute from the fisheries along the shore
from Blacki'ock to Ringsend ; and probably as lay owners the Fitz-
williams did not derive so much profit from their property as their
neighbours, the moiiastic owners of Monkstown and Kill-of-the-
G range, while their lands were equally liable to devastating raids
fi'om the hillsmen. They were, howevei', the principal residents
and the largest lay landowners on the southern side of Dublin,
and they acquired in the sixteenth century additional projjerty
which added to their importance and influence. Their loyalty to
the Crown was conspicuous, and when the Refonnation came they
adopted the tenets of the Established Church, though in some
instances their compliance with its teaching was formal. In the
reign of Edward VI. it was found necessaiy to remind Nicholas Fitz-
william, the Treasurer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, of the King's
injunctions for godly and true order in the Church, and before the
seventeenth century all the members of the family had reverted to
the Church of Rome (i).

Thomas Fitzwilliam, who succeeded, when about nine years old,
his father, Richard Fitzwilliam, and who made the Castle of
Merrion his principal residence, was one of the most illusti"ious
members of his family, and finally established the greatness of his
house. Archbishop Loftus speaks of him as a man eminent in
Ireland for his services to Church and State ; and, for his bearing
in the field against Shane O'Neill, Sir Henry Sidney, in the autumn
cf 1566, conferred on him at Drogheda the honour of knighthood.
His father had committed the guardianship of his son's estates and
person to his cousin, Patrick Finglas, sometime Chief Justice of the
King's Bench, and to his father-in-law, Robert de Bathe, who was

(1) Memoranda Rolls; Exchequer Inquisitions, Henry Vlll., County Meath,
No. 25, Dublin, Nos. 32, 44-46, 56, 57 ; Historical IMannscripts Conimission, Rept.
ix., App., pt. i., p. 280; Calendar of Irish State Papers, 1509-1572, p. 98;
Lodge's Peerage, vol. iv., p. 308.


afterwards replaced by Cliristopher do la Hyde, one of the puisne
judges in Finglas's Court, and though some self-interest is indicated
in t-lie fact that Finglas secured the hand of his ward for his
daughter, the faithful discharge of the trust is apparent from Sir
Thomas Fitzwilliam's successful career.

Like other proprietors of the Pale, he led a life in which the
occupations of war were blended with those of peace. In com-
pliance with the conditions under wliich he held his inanm- of
Merrion, we find him serving in person with two mounted soldiers,
and contributing towards the supply of carts in the expedition in
1556 against the Scottish invaders, and in those of 1560 and 1566
against Shane O'Neill. He also acted in 1560 as a commissioner
for the must-er of the Militia in Balrothcry Barony, where he had
acquired property, and in later years as constable of the Castle of
Wicklow, which lay in the midst of the enemies of the Pale, whom
it was then sought to subdue. Meantime civil affairs were not
neglected by him; in 1559 he was returned to Parliament as one
of the Knights of the Shire for the County Dublin, and in the same
year appointed Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. He wa-s also prothono-
tary of the Queen's Bench, Sheriff and Chief Guardian of the
Peace in the metropolitan county (where he was gi'anted iti 1564
power to exercise martial law), seneschal of the border lands
inhabited by the Walshes, Harolds, and Archbolds ; and on Wick-
low being constituted a county he was appointed a commissioner
to determine its limits.

To the English Court Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam made at least one
visit, and the success which attended his petitions was probably
largely due to the reputation of his uncle William. This uncle, who
was reared in the house of one of the Fitzwilliams' tenants near
Dundrum, was taken into the service of the great William Fitz-
william, Earl of Southampton, then Lord Admiral of England, who
appears to have acknowledged the Irish Fitzwilliams as kinsmen,
and, as has been already mentioned, under Monkstown, in con-
nection with Sir John Travcrs, whose sister he married, he became
the Earl's trusted attendant. After the dcafh of the Earl
he became attached to the Court. He was appoiulcil a !iieml)er
of the Privy Council and knighted by Edward VI., and is
spoken of by Queen Elizabeth as a person wlio stood high in In r
esteem. His principal residence was at Windsor, wlure lu> was
buried, but he kept np a (onncction witli Ireland, wlicie, while
holding the office of Clerk of the Crown and llanaper, lie was


giveu ill 1537 the Mauor of Celbridge in the county Kildare. In
1559, shortly before his death, he was returned to Parliament as one
of the Knights of the Shire for the County Carlow.

For some time after he came of age Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam
occupied, like his father and grandfather, Baggotrath Castle, and
also the dissolved monastery of Holmpatrick, which he held by
lease from the Crown and lent to the Earl of Sussex during his
Viceroyalty. But in later life Merrion Castle became his constant
residence. From Merrion in 1566 Sir Henry Sidney, after landing
at Dalkey and spending the previous night in Monkstown Castle,
made his entry as Lord Deputy into Dublin. A large portion of
his lands was kept by Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam in his own hands,
and in his will he bequeaths to his son, corn on the lands of
Merrion, Booterstown, and Simmonscourt, as well as at Holm-
patrick. Besides the monastic lands of Holmpatrick he acquired
also others at Kilternan belonging to St. Mary's Abbey.

During his time the Fitzwilliam family became closely allied with
the Prestons, ennobled under the title of Gormanston ; Sir Thomas
Fitzwilliam being connected with Christopher, fourth Viscount
Gormanston, in the most extraordinary manner. First his cousin,
a daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliam, of Windsor, married Lord
Gormanston, and his brother, Michael Fitzwilliam, of Donore, in
the County Meath, Surveyor-General of the Crown lands, married
Lord Gormanston's sister, then his eldest son married a daughter
of Lord Gonnanston, and finally his daughter, who had been
previously married to a son of Sir John Plunkett, married Lord
Gormanston as his second wife. Besides this son and daughter
Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam had a son Nicholas, who settled at Bal-
dungan, and a son Thomas, who was educated at Oxford, and who
settled at Moylagh in the County Meath.

After Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam 's death in 1591 his eldest son,
Richard Fitzwilliam, occupied Merrion for five short years. He
took an equally active part in defence of the Pale. For some time
he was Constable of Wicklow Castle, and Warden of the Marches ;
and after he had succeeded to Merrion, in accordance with the
terms of his tenure, he attended in person a gi-eat assembly of the
Militia at Tara, accompanied by two armed men. His own outlying
lands were still liable to the devastating raids of the hillsmen. For
their protection he rebuilt the Castle of Dundrum, and, doubtless,
the host of retainers, who appear in his will as recipients of such
tokens of his remembrance as his best sorrel horse, his sorrel colt,



and liis dun nag, could be relied on to guard when necessary the
property of their master. Besides the Castle of Merrion he had
a house in Dublin, but he died in the former place, and desired
to be buried in the parish church of Donnybrook, directing
that in the Chapel there belonging to his family a tomb or monu-
ment should be erected to their memory (i).

Thomas Fitzwilliam, who succeeded on the death of Richard
Fitzwilliam, as the latter's eldest son, was destined to obtain the
hereditary honours which his ancestors had earned by their valour
and devotion to the throne, and was raised to the peerage by Charles
I. as Baron Fitzwilliam of Thorncastle and Viscount Fitzwilliam

Thomas, ist Viscount Fitzwilliam.

From a Portrait by Cornelius Janssen in
the. Fitzwilliam Museum.

Margaret, wife of the ist Viscount Fitzwilliam.

From a Portrait by Cornelius Janssen in
the Fitzwilliam Museum.

of Men-ion. When his father's death took place he was still a
minor. About the time he came of age in 1602, he went to com-
plete his education in London and entered as a law student at
Gray's Inn. Three years later he married IMargaret, daughter of


(') Letters and Pajicr.s of Hciiiy \'Ifr. ; CalciKlar <;t' Irish State Papers. LIO!)-
.5; Mantiseripts of Charles HahJlav, published hv Historical .Matniscripts Com-
lission; Christ Thiireh J)eeds, Nos. 4-H, llJ-J7, i:{:{i-':" MetcaltV.- "' Hook of KiiiLrhts."'

lip. 104, 200; Haydn's " JJook of DiKiiities" ; Jleturn of .Meinliers of I'arliaineiit ;
Harris's "History of Dublin," p. I}'); Lodge's Peerage, vol. iv., pp. .•{I'i-:U.") ;
"'{'he Deseriptioii' of Irfland in 15!>S," by Itev. lOdmiind Ho<.'an, p. ."iT ; Foster'.s
" Alumni O.vonienses" ; Exciieqiier Hiquisitions, Eliz., Dublin, Ncs. 'Jl(i,'2r>3.


Oliver Plunkett, fourth Baron of Louth, whose mother was one of
the Bagenalls, then a most powerful family ; and in the same year
he was knighted by the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester.

Some glimjjses of life at Merrion are afforded us at this period.
There we see Lord Fitzwilliam's mother, two years after* her hus-
band's death, in 1597, on a November day, declaring her last will
by word of mouth and leaving all she had to her trusted brother-
in-law, Thomas Fitzwilliani, of Moylagh. There in 1605, just about
the time of Lord Fitzwilliam's marriage, William Fitzwilliani, of
Jobstown, near Tallaght, where a branch of the family had settled,
succumbed to the plague when himself only a few weeks married.
And in 1608 the Lord DejDuty's messenger for the conveyance of
letters relates how he delivered to Lord Fitzwilliam's brother, at
the hall door of Meirion Castle, an order requiring Lord Fitz-
williani to produce the body of Sir Caliir O'Dogherty, who was
married to a sister of Lord Fitzwilliam's mother, and for whom
Lord Fitzwilliani was a surety ; and how on returning to town he
met Lord Fitzwilliani at the cross roads at St. Stephen's Green
riding home with his wife and eight attendants, and told him the
mission on which he had been ensfaoed.


Loi'd Fitzwilliam's father had broken an entail made by his
father. Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam, and in consequence Lord Fitz-
williani, during a great part of his life, was involved in litigation
with his brothers and sisters. These included William, who
married the widow of Primate Henry Ussher, and lived in the
Castle of Dundrum ; Christoj^her, who was the principal litigant;
Patrick, who was in the army, and was killed in 1628 in a quarrel
with Sir Robert Newcomen ; Richard, who is described as of the
Rock ; Catherine, who married Henry Cheevers, of Monkstown ;
Mary, who married Lord Fitzwilliam's brother-in-law, the fifth
Baron of Louth, and, secondly, Gerald Aylnier; and a sister, who
married Patrick Cusack, of Rathaldron. The outlay which this liti-
gation required was large, and was added to expenditure caused by
his devotion to the throne. After his creation as a peer in 1629,
money began to be lavished in the royal cause, and his lands in all
directions became heavily encumbered, the mortgagees including the
great money lender of the time, the Earl of Cork, who lent under
the names of his relatives and friends, the Lord Chancellor Viscount
Loftus, the Attorney-General Sir William Ryves, and the Solicitor-
Gen ei-al Sir William Samback.


The rebellion of 1641 and the years which followed were for
Lord Fitzwilliani a critical time; and the claims of family affection
and loyalty to the King did not always indicate similar paths.
The Prestons, who were amongst his dearest and closest relations,
as a ring inscribed with the words '"Remember Gormanston "
reminded him, were prominent in the affairs of the Confederation
at Kilkenny. But Lord Fitzwilliani kept himself free fi*oni the
entanglements into which so many other Roman Catholic lords of
the Pale fell; and, though it was not always possible for him to
restrain his unruly dependents, he ever retained the esteem of that
most loyal servant of the Crowm, the great Duke of Ormonde, who
speaks of him as being, by chance or situation of his fortune, a
man in every way faithful in his allegiance to his sovereign. When
some weeks after the outbreak of the Rebellion the Government
found themselves in danger of being attacked before reinforcements
arrived from England, Lord Fitzwilliani was one of the three lords
of the Pale who ventured to obey the summons of the Lords Justices
to consult on measures fen- the protection of the city of Dublin ;
and subsequently his Castle of Merrion was garrisoned by a coin-
pany of soldiers. Thither in the following March, Sir Simon
Harcourt was conveyed after he had received his mental wound at
the storming of Carrickmines Castle, and thence his body was
carried for interment next day to Christ Church Cathedral.

A few months later, in June, the Castle was betrayed by the
treachery of some of the garrison to a party of the rebels, and three
hundred of them got in at a window before they were discovered.
Owing to the rebels' want of aiiimuiiition the soldiers, some forty
ill number, were able to iiiake good tluMr escape by l)oat to Dublin,
but the Castle was left completely at the mercy of its uniiivitetl
occupants. It was ])i-ol)al)ly guests of a similar kind, or followers
overwiioiii Lord Fitzwilli.im had no control, lliai. three years after-
wards despoiled and dismantled a l)ar(|uc huhn with corn which
was driven ashore at Mcirion. and not, as the niaslci- alleged,
persons acting under the direction of Lord Fitzwilliam"s two
youngest sons. Lord Fitzwilliam, who was occasionallv to be seen
attended by a tall young servant in a red cloak riding through his
devastated estates, had no means of ])rolecting his ])ro])erty oi- of
restraining the excesses of his retainers. He went (o l-'ngl.nni and
tMidffed his services to tiie l\ing, i)n( lliev were iml aeerpled. I I is
ojily resource was a policy of inactivity, and win n his own home


was invaded he sought refuge at llowth with his eldest son,
familiarly known as Dickie Fitzwilliam, and his son's wife (i).

The year 1645 saw the appearance in Irish affairs of Lord Fitz-
williani's second son, Oliver, who succeeded him in his titles, and
was created by Charles II. Earl of Tyrconnel. After completing
his education in London, where, with his eldest brother, he had
in 1628, like his father, entered at Gray's Inn as a law student,
Oliver Fitzwilliam obtained, with the help of the Duke of Ormonde,
about the year 1638, a commission as Colonel in the French Army,
and took out to that countiy under his command 3,000 men
recruited princij^ally from amongst his own countrymen, with
whom he was most popular. He came back to England in 1642
seeking four hundred more recruits, and, though he found it impos-
sible to raise them in Ireland, he secured the required number
and returned to France with them, and with his younger brother,
William, eventually his successor in the titles, whom he appointed
his lieutenant-colonel.

When Charles I.'s position became desperate, Oliver Fitzwilliam
proposed to Queen Henrietta Maria, who was then in Paris, to go
to his assistance, expressing a confident opinion that he would be
able to induce the Kilkenny Confederates, provided their de-
mands respecting the Roman Catholic religion were satisfied, to
send 10,000 men to England to reinforce the royalist ranks. He
had gained a great reputation as a brave soldier in the French
wars, and the Queen, who would gladly have seen the privileges
which the Confederates sought conceded, agreed to the terms which
he placed before her, and recommended him to the King as a man
deserving of every encouragement and zealously affected to the
King's cause. He arrived in England shortly before the battle of
Naseby, and there, under Prince Rupert, gave proof of his valour
and martial skill. What the King said to him is not known, but
he set out from Oxford, where the Court then was, in June, 1645,

(1) Gra3'"3 Inn Admissions; Lodge's Peerage, vol. iv., p. 315, vol. vi., pp. 83,
168; Will of Jane Preston als. Fitzwilliam; Funeral Entry; Calendar of Irish State
Papers, 1606-1008, 1015-32; Chancery Decrees; " Lismore Papers," Ser. i.,
vol. iii., pp. 148, 175, 176, 212, vol. iv., pp. 183, 171 ; Chancery Inquisition, Char, i.,
Nos. 62, 64 ; Carte Papers, vol. cxviii., f. 14, vol. Ixviii., f. 383 : Borlase's " His-
tory of the Irish Rebellion," pji. 73, 123 ; Manuscript Letters to and from Richard
Boyle Earl of Corlv, preserved i;i the Royal Ii'ish Academy and also copies in
British Museum, Egerton ]\Iar.uscripts. vol. 80, u. 96 ; Dei^ositions of 1641 (VVilliam
Hodgson of Ringsend and William Rogers of Workington).


for Ireland, bearing a letter to the Duko of Oniunuk', in wliicli the
King, while leaving eveiything to Ormonde's discretion, expressed
the wish that Oliver Fitzwilliam's services should he accepted, and
that Lord Fitzwilliain, although a Roman Catholic, should be
appointed to the Irish Privy Council. It is said that the King
promised also at that time to confer an English Earhlom on Oliver
Fitzwilliam's father.

When he arrived in Ireland Oliver Fitzwilliaiu found that tlio
Duke of Ormonde had no authority to grant the concessions which
the Confederates desired ; and as he believed that by these means
alone could reinforcements bo obtained, he became an active agent
in the negotiations carried on by Lord Glamorgan and Lord Digby.
lu the summer of 1646 he served under his uncle. General Thomas
Preston, in the expedition of the Confederate Army against the
Parliament forces in Connaught, where he is said to have particu-
larly distinguished himself in the successful assa^ult on Roscommon
Castle ; but, on the Confederates determining to advance on Dublin,
and to compel the King's Government to concede their terms by
force of arms, he resigned his commission, and determined to
return to Paris. As a Roman Catholic Fitzwilliam was anxious that
the fullest privileges should be granted to his Church, but he had
repeatedly expressed his intention of living and dying in the King's
service, and was not willing to assist his co-religionists except in
the paths of diplomacy. Before leaving Ireland \\c addressed two
letters to the Did^e of Ormonde ui'ging him to agree to the terms
which Lord Glamorgan had proposed; he told him that General
Preston was preparing to advance against Dublin witli an over
whelming army, and warned him that if he attemptiMl to com]iel
the inhabitants round Didjlin to adlur(> to iiini and come into llic
city his possessions at Kilkenny wcnild l)i' Imrnod, and all found in
Dublin, men, women, and children, put to the sword (').

Lord Fitzwilliam had before that time rcturncMl to Merriou
Castle, for the protection of wliicli his son had been given, soon
after his arrival from England, ten muskets out of the ordnance
store, but when General Preston's advance upon |)iil)lin was

,") Tiray's Inn A'lniission'^ ; Lo(I;tc'k Pccrauc, vol. iv.. p. ;!17; ('i<n|i,r I'.i|>crs
])iil)lishc(l liy Historical Maniisfripfs (Vnnniission, v()i. ii.. p. '_M('>: Carlr l'a|»'r,s,
vol. XV., f. SH, vol. \vi.. IT. •J(»4, :{(iH. vol. xvii., f. IH-J, vol. xviii.. IT. ISli. 1 Id. .V.:{,
r>()2, vol. cxviii., f. It: Hisforiciil .Maiiiiscripls ('ciiiinission, I'vtpt. v., pi. i.,

pp. 7, \'.),'i.>2: Calcnrlar of Iriii Stiili; I'apcrs, I(i:!:5 HUT; ('alnidar nl It stic

State I'apers, 1044 l(i47.


expected he received permission, as did also his son Richard, and
his son William, who was then living at Dundrum, to seek neutral
quarters at Leixlip, Luttrellstown, Howth, or Turvey, and tO' take
with him all his letinue and goods. Lord Fitzwilliam was then
reduced to a state of the inost dire poverty. When the Duke
of Ormonde was about to give up Dublin to the Parliament, in the
following year, 1617, Lord Fitzwilliam wrote to him from Louth
begging for payment of a small sum of £lb due to him for hay
supplied for the army. Again in 1648, after the Duke of Ormonde
had returned to Ireland, a proclamation calling upon all liege
subjects to withdraw from the neighbourhood of Dublin, was made
the ground of a petition from Lord Fitzwilliam for assistance, and,
as he had no means of stocking lands if assigned to him, he was
promised a pension of £100 a year. He had probably left his castle
at Merrion, however, before that time, for it had been garrisoned
by the Parliainent, and in 1648 three officers. Major Gary Dillon,
Lieutenant John Withers, and Ensign Thomas Davis, seven non-
commissioned officers, and forty-seven soldiers, were quartered there.

Several of Lord Fitzwilliam's near relatives took a more active
part than himself or his sons on the side of the Confederation.
In the year 1650 his brother, Christopher, being then a sojourner
in Carlow and on his death-bed, declared his last will, leaving all
he possessed to the children of his brother, Richard, who had died
before him. He had been actively engaged in trade between the
Irish and English quarters during those troublous times, and pro-
bably sometimes used, on behalf of the Confederation, a sword,
which he had obtained from Gormanston Castle, and which he:
desired his relatives, Robert Preston and Robert Finglas, a jDriest,
to return (i).

Oliver Fitzwilliam, after his arrival in Paris, had written to the
Council of the Confederation, in February, 1647, in the most san-
guine terms of the prospects of the royal cause, owing to dissen-
sions which it was hoped would rend the Parliament, and recom-
mended the Council to persist in the demand which they had made
for the control of the churches, only advising them, as a matter of
policy, to allow one church to be open in Dublin for the English
religion. As a consequence of the middle course, which he adopted.

(1) Carte Papers, vol. xiv., f. 03, vol. clxiv.. fL 21, .31.^, 341, vol. .xxi., f. 325,
vol. clxii., f. 51 ; Historioal ^Manuscripts Commission, Kept, viii., pt. i., j,-. 595 ;
Will of Christopher Fitzwilliam.



he was the victim of much luisrepi'esentation. The English said he
was promising freely the offices of State to Roman Catholics, and
giving out that the Confederation was so pow'erful that he wished
there were 40,000 English and Scots in Dublin for them to defeat,
w^hile the Irish said he was a friend to the Duke of Ormonde's
policy, and not faithful to his Church. During the two following
years he doubtless exei'ted himself to uphold the failing royal
cause, until the establishment of the Commonwealth and the arrival
of Cromwell in Ireland rendered it hopeless (i).

His second marriage — for he was twice married — had an im-
portant bearing on his position during the Commonwealth. His
first wife, one of the Breretons of Malpas, in Cheshire, a relative of
Sir William Brereton, who was created Baron Brereton of Leighliu,

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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 2 of 16)