Armagh Plantations, Dirricrevy and Dromully Manors, 1622

(4) The Manors of Dirricrevy and Dromully (3,000 acres).

These proportions were granted to Lord Saye and Seale. His Lordship did not, however, take possession so the lands were passed to Sir Anthony Cope, Knt. July 5, 1611, but whether by purchase or because of the original grantee’s defection is uncertain. Carew informs us that Sir Anthony had sent over a sufficient overseer and assistant, both of
whom were resident in 1611. A fair castle of free stone was then in process of erection upon which 14 or 15 workmen and 9 carpenters were employed, 16 mares and horses being engaged upon the transport of materials from a quarry some eight miles away. This castle, commonly called Castleraw, survives in a somewhat fragmentary condition in the townland of Ballyrath in the Dirricrevy proportion and is not to be confused With the bawn of lime and stone described by Pynnar eight years later who, curiously enough, makes no mention of the castle, contenting himself with noting 2 water-mills and 1 windmill with 24 houses erected near the bawn. The latter with the houses and mills was situate, however, on the portion known as Dromully close to the lake where its walls now enclose a garden.

In 1622 the castle at Ballyrath is referred to as “a house of lime and stone three and a half storys high” wherein Anthony Cope, Esq. resides with his wife and family. At that time the bawn on the Dromully proportion had “four good flankers three of which contained small buildings of lime and stone 2 ½ storys high in one of which William Pierson dwells” the latter the ancestor of the Pearsons of Loughgall and Kilmore parishes. On the two estates there were then 72 men furnished with arms and 40 Irish families.

Sir Anthony Cope of Hanwell in Oxfordshire is believed to have purchased these lands for the benefit of his second and third sons, Anthony and Richard, but if so he took out the Patent in his own name and by his will settled his County Armagh property upon his son Anthony. There must, however, have been some kind of family arrangement for Richard was subsequently of Drumilly.

Sir Anthony was born in 1548 and in 1606 admitted to Gray’s Inns. He was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire three times between 1582 and 1603, and also served as a Member of Parliament for Banbury and Oxford. Having presented to the Speaker a Puritan revision of the Common Prayer Book and a bill abrogating the existing ecclesiastical law he
was committed to the Tower and there remained from February 26, 1586, until March 23. 1587.

In 1606, and again in 1612, he entertained James I at Hanwell and in June of the year previous to the King’s second visit was created a baronet. He died at Hanwell and was buried there in the family vault July 23. 1615.

Sir Anthony was succeeded at Hanwell by his eldest son William for whom he had purchased an estate in County Tyrone. Sir William, however, did not retain his Irish property, which by 1633 had passed from his ownership into other hands. Five years later he died leaving a son John, ancestor of the succeeding baronets down to the eleventh baronet at whose death in 1851 the title reverted to the Rev. William Henry Cope of whom later. Anthony Cope, second son of Sir Anthony above, was the builder of Castleraw alias Ballyrath and possibly of Drumilly also, leaving with other issue a son Henry who succeeded him at Castleraw but later moved to Loughgall and was the ancestor of the Copes of the Manor and of a son Anthony who settled in Dublin and was the direct ancestor of the above mentioned Rev. Sir William Henry Cope, from whom the present and 15th baronet. Sir Anthony M.L. Cope descends.

Castleraw was badly damaged in the Civil War of 1641 and is not believed to have been repaired. It seems to have been of the fortified manor-house type and was enclosed by a ramparted trench much of which remains in tolerable order.

Drumilly an interesting old mansion. occupies a fine position on a hill overlooking the lake, its crannoge and the old Drumilly bawn, with an excellent prospect of the Loughgall Manor House on a like eminence on the opposite shore. In the Civil War of 1641 Richard Cope the then owner was taken prisoner with his wife and two sons at Monaghan, in which county he also had lands, and imprisoned at Carrickmacross. His son Walter returned to Drumilly and after the Restoration is believed to have built the present house. He was resident there in 1673 when visited by Archbishop Oliver Plunkett whom he describes in a letter as ” a man of gentle birth and much learning.”

The Cope estate was largely increased in the 18th century by the acquisition of the Manor of Mountnorris in April 1738 and the Manor of Grange O’Neiland in the same year.

from from “County Armagh In 1622 A Plantation Survey”
Edited byT. G. F. PATERSON, M.A., M.R.I.A. published in Seanchás Ardmhaca

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