Denis Carolan Rushe B.A., T.C.D., F.R.S.A.I.
After the defeats of the Irish in the reign of Elizabeth the estates of most of the Irish gentry in the County of Monaghan were taken from them and bestowed on English soldiers and court favourites, but some portions were returned to the Irish gentry. The County Monaghan was not planted in James I’s reign, and the only settlers were the personal followers of the new aristocracy and discharged soldiers who resided in the towns and villages. The majority of occupiers of the soil were allowed to remain in enjoyment of their farms as tenants to the new owners. Many of the old gentry sold their estates, but there were enough still in possession after the Cromwellian war to tempt further confiscations, so whatever portions of the County still held by “Irish Papists” was taken from the owners and given to the Cromwellian undertakers and soldiers about 1657 for arrears of pay. The undertakers were those people in England who subscribed money to enable Cromwell to fit out his expedition to invade Ireland.
Of course this subscription was an investment, and the subscribers expected a good return for their money, and both they and the soldiers were sadly disappointed at the smallness of the return, for all the valuable properties were seized upon and held by officials. After the officials had been satisfied, the undertakers came next, and although they were not satisfied, still they were treated better than the soldiers. Many of the common soldiers were so disgusted with what they got that they sold their lands either to their officers or to the old natives at a very low price. An interesting letter from Dr. John Leslie of Glaslough, the Protestant High Church Bishop of Clogher, of which the following is a copy, is still extant, and explains the dissatisfaction amongst those who expected more of the spoils than was given to them:
“Bishop John Leslie, to Sir Edward Dering (British Museum MS)
4th March 1666
Noble Sir, – Though I did enjoy the honour of your acquaintance, yet could I expect nothing but punctual justice from a judge of your worth, and now though unacquainted I can look for no less, if you please to take into your consideration the reason and equitie of my request, which is the reducement of accreadge of Termont Mogra to what it is really worth. The surveyors return of two and twenty thousand accres will not be with you (I hope) an uncontrollable Rule of Justice, who heightened that land for their own advantage, they being payed their salaries out of the accres. The land I assure is the worst and most unprofitable in the Province of Ulster and will not afford fourteen hundred accres useful to the tenant, though the bogg and mountains be of a larger extent. My interest in Termont Mogra is nothing but a lease for the See of Cloghor, for which I have already paid more than it is worth. Upon the truth of my information I humbly desire and expect what justice in conscience and honor you refuse to no subject. So wishing you God’s blessing; direction and protection, I shall ever remain Your Most humble and affectionate servant JOH. CLOGHOR”
The Cromwellian undertakers and soldiers do not appear to have taken much root in the soil, and many of them sold their estates, but those who held on and the new purchaser preferred receiving rents from the old tenants than bothering themselves with tilling the land. In a few localities the landlords brought in other planters from other parts of Ulster, who were principally the sons and grandsons of the anglicised Scotch of James I period. A few such settlements were on rich lands in the barony of Dartrey. One extended along the northern part of the parish of Drumsnatt and the parts of Tedavnet and Clones parishes which adjoin it, and a few smaller localities in other parts of the County. As a general rule the method of planting the land with alien tenants was not followed in County Monaghan, as it had been in other parts of Ulster. The manner was much more subtle and gave less cause for irritation by evicting an occasional tenant and gradually filling the vacant holdings with descendants of planters, which was continued with occasional periods of cessation until the rise of the Land League in 1787-79.
Early in the reign of Charles II a tax was imposed on all householders of two shillings for each hearth in County Monaghan; the list of payments is called the Hearth Money Roll. The roll for that County exists for two years 1663 and 1665. As it is from this roll the modern history of the people of our county proceeds, it seems advisable that it should be given in full which will enable most inhabitants of the County to trace their ancestors. The date at the head of the first is given as XV in the Reign of Charles II. The years of his reign are counted from the death of his father, not from the date of his accession to the throne. In reading this list, it must be remembered that those who gave their names spoke only Irish, which accounts for many of the forms in which they are written as being unintelligible. It is probably that the person entering the payments could not catch the sounds accurately so they were written phonetically: many of the Gaelic sounds could not be reproduced in English. It appears that in many of the parishes the collectors of the tax were satisfied with one person paying the assessment in each townland where only a single hearth is returned. In the parish of Monaghan, however it will be observed that the one person whose name is returned paid for as many hearths in the townland as the collector was aware of. Monaghan being the garrison town, it was harder to escape payment in that parish than in farther away localities. Many townlands are missing altogether, for out of the 1,850 townlands in Co. Monaghan, only 1,016 are recorded as having rendered any contribution to the Hearth Tax. The list of 1663 consists of 1,748 names, while that of 1665 contains 1,391 names.
It is probable that many people evaded payment and escaped from both lists. There are over 850 names on the second list which are not discoverable on the 1663 list. These, when added together bring the total up to 2,600. Some of those omitted were in isolated localities which probably had not many inhabitants, or the houses of the people who lived in them were inaccessible to tax collectors. Besides, there are groups of townlands which must have been inhabited from which no payments are returned. These people may have resisted payment, the collector may have forgotten to give up the money, or no person may have been obtainable who would undertake the task. It is therefore probable that little more than half the house-holders are recorded; allowing six for each family, which is a fair estimate of the families of that period and taking all circumstances into account, the population of County Monaghan would have been 15,000 to 20,000 in the middle of the 17th century.
Few paid taxes on more than one hearth, and where there were two or more the number is indicated by the figure after the name. None but the very rich or very loyal people paid for a parlour as well as a kitchen hearth. The names of those who paid for more than one hearth indicate that they were, with few exceptions, not of the Irish, or if they were, had ‘Englished’ their names, so that very few of the original land owners had been reinstated in their properties after the restoration of the monarchy. When claims were made they were generally met by accusations of treasons, murders, &c., and the claimants called for an enquiry. A commission was accordingly issued, and at the first sitting the charges preferred against the older gentry broke down, with the result that the commission was suddenly recalled.
It was clear that the influence of the new proprietors was so great at the seat of government in Dublin and London that there was no chance of justice being done to the rightful owners of the land. Had the Commission continued its labours it is probably that all the stories of massacres and spoilations which gave excuses for confiscations of properties of the owners as well as having supplied materials to the anti-Irish writers from that day to this would have exploded. Very few of the county Monaghan estates were restored, even the coming of James II brought little relief to the plundered gentry.
From a perusal of the Hearth Money Roll the position of towns and villages are difficult to ascertain. There were then three towns in the County Monaghan – Monaghan, Clones and Carrickmacross The village of Castleblayney was on the east side of the lake in the parish of Muckno. It was around the site of an Augustinian friary, but the only remnant of the old town is the graveyard and ruins of Ballintoy. Early in the eighteenth century the residence of Lord Blayney and the town were moved to the west side of the lake, being more convenient for traffic along the road from Dublin to Derry, and the adjoining townlands of Clontibret were transferred into it and became part of the parish of Muckno.
There is very little record of the old Monastery of Muckno. After its destruction, Augustinian friars kept travelling about in the neighbourhood but owing to the number of Planters brought from time to time by the Blayneys, the Catholics appear to have diminished in the locality. There are records of Priors but whether they were titular Priors who did not live in the County or some travelling Friars who ministered to the religious wants of the neighbourhood is not known. A Prior is mentioned in 1776. Ballybay did not then exist as a town, though there probably was a village at the ford from which it was named; there is only one person given as paying the tax in it.
In Coolmain in the parish of Monaghan there appears to have been a village which was afterwards removed to Knockbuee in the same neighbourhood. In Donaghmoyne, there were villages or clusters of houses at Mullinahunchina, Leamchoill (now Longfield), Laragh, Kiltybegs, Lurganboy, Drumharriff ; in Magheracloon : Tonniskea and Aghavillard; in Currin: Drum ; in Clones: Ballintoppin ; and in Donagh: Glaslough and Killyboley. There must have been many villages and groups of cabins out of which no tax could be obtained.
An examination of the literature written about the period of James and William wars in Ireland discloses that what we are in the habit of accepting for histories are generally political pamphlets, so that it is difficult to find out the truth of the several occurrences of that period. In order to avoid the confusion created by the writers and public men of the period calling each other rebels, the names Jacobite and Williamite will be used in these pages as distinctive enough.
The troubles began in County Monaghan at the Hilary Session 1689, when Major John McKenna, the Sheriff appointed by James II’s Lord Lieutenant, came to take up office. The Protestant gentry who were Williamites, called on the Rev. Charles Leslie of Glaslough to come into the Sessions and oppose the King’s Sheriff, for the reason that he (Leslie) knew law, from which it appeared the other justices did not. Leslie came and lead the Magistrates in their refusal to acknowledge McKenna: the grounds of the opposition appears to have been that McKenna was a Catholic. McKenna’s reply being that he was of the King’s religion. The Magistrates issued a warrant against him. McKenna as Sheriff was the person entitled to execute the warrant to arrest himself. Those of the gentry who sided with William and whom the Jacobites termed rebels had the grounds for dreading that James II and the Irish Parliament might seek to restore the estates confiscated by Cromwell’s agents to their original owners and deprive the descendants of the Cromwellian soldiers and adventurers of property which they had enjoyed for twenty or thirty years. Besides many of the landowners had purchased the property from them, and some lands had changed hands more than once, so that it is not surprising so many should have joined the Williamites fearing a re-settlement of the land of Ireland. The incident of the refusing to acknowledge the Papist Sheriff passed over without any immediate consequence. However, shortly afterwards the Jacobite army took possession of the Town and Castle of Monaghan, whether there was a fight, or whether the Williamite garrison evacuated or surrendered without resistance there is no reliable evidence to show. The Williamites who left Monaghan went to Glaslough, and according to the Williamite accounts Major John McKenna the Sheriff with 400 followers tried to arrest them and several people of quality who were going to Derry, but on the Garrison of Glaslough sallying forth under Matthew Ancketell and Captain Richardson the Jacobites fled to a “Danish fort” where they were followed and scattered by two troops of horse and three companies of foot. The accounts vary as to the number of Jacobites killed. One Williamite historian says 6, another 90, and another 180 – however all agree that none of the Williamites was killed; but that Ancketell was killed after the battle by a man hidden in a bush. This has been called in local history the ‘Battle of Durmbanagher’ Some points require investigation before accepting any of these versions of the incident. The statement that a battle was fought in which no one was killed on one side and many killed on the other excites the reader’s suspicion. Some of the early accounts state that the fort was one mile from Glaslough, another fixes it at half a mile from the town, but all later writers in order to avoid anachronisms fix it at Drumbanagher beside the town. One of the early accounts dates this battle in 1688, a year sooner than the others.
The Jacobite version is that the garrison of Glaslough went out to arrest the Sheriff, Major John McKenna at his residence which was at Monmurry (the site of the ‘fort’ on which his house was situated was marked on the early Ordnance Survey Maps and was one mile distant from Glaslough) and that some of his retainers resisted and were killed by the soldiers. The Williamites after arresting McKenna hanged him. The head was severed from the body and brought besmeared with blood in a trencher to his afflicted widow. All accounts agree that Ancketell was killed after the incident, the local tradition being that the assassin was a discharged servant of his own.
The reader can do as the writers of the period did, select whichever version pleases him best.
The following letters were written by the agent of Lennard Barrett Clones estate to the owner who lived in England about these times: –
Fletcher (agent) to Dacre Barrett (Nov 21st, 1682)
“We have had a very severe winter, and I think without a new Creation we shall never leave this County see Cock, Blackbird or Thrush.”
(Feb 21st 1685)
“I hope the death of our good King will make no alteracon; we proclaimed James ye Second in this town on Thursday last……….there’s noe money now stirring in the country. I have not received one farthing from the tenants since the King’s death and to drive these Cathlcs. is to noe purpose. I am ashamed to tell how much they are in arrear.”
(Jan 29th, 1688)
According to your desire and commands I have been in the country and have made a stay for some days at Clownish in order to settle your affayres………in the country I found the British for the most pt. had quitted ye houses and were gott into little sort of garrisons; Captain Townley’s one, Red Hill another, the Montgomery’s a third and several other places; the Irish on the other side were raysing a vast number of soldiers, 20 companyes as I believe in ye Countyes of Monaghan and Ffermanagh…….as to the estate in general I find no more disorders that I know well how to redress, yet the tenants are very miserably poore and almost every towne a nest of beggars that destroy the corne that grows; till times settle my advice is, if you please, to make a general abatement except in any particular cases………as to the Tenants yt. have noe leases there’s noe way but to take what they will give, if they will but stay on the lands till times mend, ffor that country and soe indeed generally all the North is perfectly in armes.
The whole country passed under the Jacobites, who remained in control until after the coming of William’s army. During that period the ancient Monastery of Monaghan was restored, and a great ecclesiastical ceremony was performed at the opening of it by Dr. Tyrrell, the then Catholic Bishop of Clogher.
In the Irish Parliament which met in Dublin in May 1689, the County Monaghan was represented in the House of Commons by Bryan McMahon, Esq., and Hugh McMahon, Esq., both of whom took their seats in July. Lord Blayney is returned as sitting in the House of Lords.
The Borough was not represented, as the Charter had been called in and not restored when Parliament had been summoned. Eighteen Boroughs were in similar position for Charles II began to cancel some of the Borough Patents which had been affected by the Commonwealth Revolution and James II continued the disfranchisement of the Boroughs. Whether it was Charles or James disfranchised Monaghan is not certain, for the Borough does not appear to have returned any members to Parliament from 1661 until 1692.
On 20th June, the Committee who acted as a Parliament in London, gave leave to introduce a Bill to attaint for High Treason those in Ireland who sided with James. While towards the end of the same month the Irish Parliament brought in a Bill to attaint those who sided with William. Unfortunately all the papers connected with the Jacobite Parliament were burned by order of the Williamite Parliament in 1695, and we can only depend on the writing of Archbishop King, Harris, &c., on the one side and on Leslie, Jones, &c., on the other for information on the doings of the former body.
King gives a list of those whom he alleges were attainted by the Irish Parliament, but there is evidence that many of the names were not in the original, but were inserted as likely to gain friendship for their owners from the Williamite Government. There are 153 County Monaghan men’s names in King’s list, and it is probably that all of them were connected with risings of WIlliamites in the north-west. (Names given in Appendix II) The list is sadly defective in not giving the part of the County in which the attaints resided. Those of them who lived in Ireland were given until 1st August to signify their loyalty to James II. Those who resided in England had up to October.
The following is the Oath of Allegiance required by James II
“I hereby acknowledge, confess, testify and declare in my conscience before God and the World that our Sovereign Lord King James is lawful and rightful King of this Realm and His other Majesty’s Dominions and Countries, and I will bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty, his heirs and successors, and him and them will defend to the utmost of my power against all conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which will be made against his or their Crown and Dignity and do my best endeavours to disclose and make known to his Majesty his heirs or successors or the Lord Deputy of Chief Governor or Governors of this Kingdom for the time being all Treasons, Traitorous Conspiracies which I shall know or hear to be intended against His Majesty or any of them, and I do make this recognition and acknowledgement heartily, willingly and truly upon the true faith of a Christian. So help me God.
And I also declare and believe that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatever to take arms against the King, and that I do abhor the traitorous practises of taking arms by his authority against his person or against those that are commissioned by him. So help me God.”
Whether any of the County Monaghan attaints took the oath of allegiance and returned to their duty and loyalty and were pardoned does not appear. If any of them did so, care must have been taken afterwards to keep the fact secret from the Williamite Government, as it would have placed the parties who did it under suspicion and prevent them from getting any of the spoils. At all events this list shows the names of those who had joined the Williamites in the end of 1688 and beginning of 1689. There is no evidence of their property being handed over to Jacobites, but it is not at all improbably that some of the former owners tried to get back their lands.
Rev. Charles Leslie was not attainted, for he appears to have been a Jacobite all the time. The fact of his opposing the appointment of a Catholic Sheriff does not show that he favoured a change of dynasty. The Williamite historians assert that he was recruiting in County Antrim for the Williamites at the time of the Battle of Drumbanagher. It was necessary to show that he was absent from Glaslough in order to establish their version of the alleged battle. The following interesting account of the Rev. Charles Leslie is from the pen of Shane Leslie:
“Charles Leslie was born in 1650 and so named after his sacred Majesty King Charles, whom devout Catholics and Anglicans regarded as a martyr for his principles. Charles remained a family name with the Leslies of Glaslough until the death of the late Charles Powell Leslie, M.P.”
The first Charles Leslie was one of the first journalists and the ablest pamphleteer of his times. The list of his works covers six pages in the British Museum Catalogue. With his father, he is one of the few County Monaghan men to be commemorated in the Dict. of National Biography. His life and Writings are described in a 500 page book by R. J. Leslie, issued by Rivington’s in 1885.
The first edition of the Enclyclop. Britann. Contained an unwarranted legend, that the old bishop hoped before his birth that Charles should prove ‘the greatest scourge the Covenanters ever seen!” 1650 was an ‘annus mirabilis’. In it were born Leslie’s two great enemies, William of Orange and Archbishop King, both of whom his keen pen wounded and disgraced beyond the cure of party-physicians. In the same year, Cromwell, the aversion of his father, defeated David Leslie at Dunbar. The Leslies held out long for the Stuarts both in the Church and the Camp. Charles was the most rabid and devoted Jacobite in literature. He was ordained Deacon by Dr. Sheridan of Cloyne, ancestor of the great Sheridan, and served in the parish of Donagh, from whose pulpit, only destroyed in memory of man, the two greatest controversialists of the time preached – Leslie and Swift.
Leslie disputed with voice and pen against everybody, against the Catholics in Monaghan and Tynan Church; against Socinians, Jews, Deists and Quakers. His only convert seems to have been a Quaker who relapsed! Everybody convinced only themselves. As his Biographer writes “So it was at Monaghan.” Protestants loudly proclaimed Leslie to be the victor. Romanists were as confident their bishop had the best of the argument.
Archbishop King accused Leslie of being “the first to shed blood” in Ireland at the Revolution, referring to the battle of Drumbanagher; but during that skirmish he was in the Isle of Wight, as Clarendon’s Diary testifies. Refusing to take the oath to William, he became Clarendon’s Chaplain and administered to non-jurors in London. He preached at the commemoration of King Charles at Ely House “a most excellent sermon to about 60 persons, a great auditory at this time”. His powers won Dr. Johnson’s encomium that he was a reasoner not to be reasoned against. Hallam attacks him with the venom of a Whig, but Macaulay gives him his meed and place in history. Stephen in his History of English Thought, describes him as a ‘rationalist in principle’. His great rivals in his time were Defoe, who wrote ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and was the most vindictive journalist on the Whig side, and Archbishop King whose ‘State of the Protestants in Ireland’ Leslie demolished from Glaslough, left an indelible stain upon King’s memory. The book was suppressed and the manuscript seized at Glaslough. It was anonymous and is of the greatest rarity. He also exposed King William’s part in the Massacre of Glencoe in a bitter pamphlet called ‘Gallenienus Redivivus’, which secured the real story for history. Defoe issued a reply to exculpate William, but the historians have taken Leslie’s view. Leslie edited the ‘Rehearsal’, a Jacobite journal, which in two years ‘had nearly driven the review of Defoe out of the field’. The government then suppressed it with the same high hand with which they had prosecuted Sacheverell, like Leslie, a Jacobite and High Churchman. Leslie had been accused of coining the phrases High and Low Church. Of Sacheverall’s trial he wrote, “they brought me to trial in person of the doctor.” He had a tremendous conflict with Bishops Hoadly and Burnet. Burnet attacked him in Salisbury cathedral and after his death in his ‘History of His Own Times’. He replied to Burnet in ‘The Good Old Cause or Lying in Truth’, a very keen attack. In 1710 Leslie was outlawed, and a proclamation issued against him for ‘tending to bring in the Pretender.’ Leslie retired to the Pretender’s Court at St. Germain and pursued the policy of securing a Stuart succession. Though the Pretender was a Catholic, Leslie acted as Anglican chaplain to his household, and wrote the famous description of the Pretender, which the Tories reprinted in 1715 in his favour ending ‘He is a Stuart perfect in your language, and though driven by you into another nation yet his and his father’s court was still English.’
Queen Anne died and the House of Hanover prevailed. Sacheverall took the oaths but Leslie remained true to Stuart allegiance. He had been out of Ireland since 1691, and as he was outlawed, Glaslough was left to his son Robert, but King George I declared that ‘the old man should come home and die in peace.’ The university of Oxford then published his theological works and five hundred members of the Houses of Parliament subscribed. In 1721, he returned to Glaslough without withdrawing an opinion or soiling his conscience. The next year he died and was buried at Glaslough.
The County Monaghan’s proportion of the sum required for the maintenance of the royal army of King James was £1,052 4s. 0d., which was collected by the following Barony Constables – Captain Hugh McMahon, Captain Bryan McMahon, Captain Farrell Ward, Doctor Henry Cassidy and Alexander McCabe, Esq.
There were two County Monaghan regiments in King James’ army called after their respective Colonels. The officers of the first were principally County Cavan gentlemen, but the names of only a few of the officers of the second regiment are available. Many of the County Monaghan Jacobites served in Colonel Gordon O’Neill’s 1st Tyrone regiment, while others served in the County Louth regiments of Lords Bellew and Louth. There is no record of Major McKenna’s regiment which was said to be at the Battle of Drumbanagher. It’s non-existence goes to throw further doubt on the story of the alleged battle.
Names of the officers in the County Monaghan regiments
After the overthrow of the Jacobites in Ireland about 2,000 gentry and farmers who had sided with James II were outlawed and their properties confiscated. The following are the County Monaghan names in the list:
Claims were made by some proprietors of estates to be entitled to retain them under the Articles of the Treaty of Limerick and 782 succeeded, most of whom were in the centre of Ireland or had powerful connections in Dublin and London.
The Treaty was violated and the Penal Code soon deprived the Catholics of the remnants of their properties.
The following are the names and dates of the judgements given in favour of the few County Monaghan claimants who were adjudged within the Military Articles of the Treaty of Limerick:
Major John McKenna, Donagh, 7th Dec 1694
Capt Jas Rice, Leitrim, 5th July 1699
Patrick Deery, Donagh, 24th Nov. 1694
John Hartford, Derrynalosset, 24th Nov 1692
The following were found to have covered their estates by mortgages, probably made to evade the Penal Laws and save the family properties:
Murtagh McGuinness, Drumhirk, mortgaged to Joanna Graham
Patrick Matthews, The Tates of Latton, mortgage to William Fortescue
Richard Fleming, Lisrerran, a judgement to Francis Stoyle of Latton and Lurganearly
Patrick Matthews estates was sold by order of the court in 1703, and purchased by Capt. Wm. Fortescue, who was probably a relative or friend for £240.
The following are some of the forfeiting persons who failed to have their estates restored:
Richard Fleming, Monaghan – 3516 acres
Patrick Matthews, Cremorne – 120 acres
Lord Slane, Farney – 200 acres
It will be noticed that some of those who still held property had ‘englished’ their names – e.g.
from Mac Mathghamhna : McMahon to Matthews
from O Maol Craoibhe, O’Mulcreevy to Rice
from O Doighre to Deery
and from O h-Aontaigh or Mac Arta to Hartford.
After all the confiscations there were many Williamites still unsatisfied, and an enquiry was instituted for persons who lived abroad and still held lands in Ireland. There being no one to defend the interests of the owners of these estates, judgements for high treason were easily obtained, and the estates so sought were confiscated. The persons who held property in the County Monaghan and who came under these judgements were the following:
Hugh Roe McMahon, Farney
Eugene McMahon, Farney
James Patk. McLoughlan Roe McMahon
Bernard Roe McEaver McMahon
John Duff O’Connolly, Dartrey
Art McConn McTotlogh Oge O’Connolly, Drumgolin
Martin Fleming, Monaghan
Arthur McMahon McArdle McColl, Monaghan
Thos. Conn McTorlagh Oge O’Connolly, Drumackguillin
It is probably that some of these were amongst the estates which subsequently brought William into trouble with his parliament. There was no plantation of Williamites in Ireland. The army with which he conquered this country consisted principally of Continental soldiers – Dutch, Danes, Germans and Huguenots. Efforts were made by the Jacobites and Tory gentry in England to have them restored to their native countries after their return from Ireland.
There was little land left to the older Irish proprietors most of them realising that they could not hold free-hold land owing to the penal laws, sold their estates, either left the country or became merged in the farming community. Some got grants or leases from the new owners of the lands which had formerly been their own, while some opened businesses in the towns. It will be seen later on how they fared.
The state of Clones after the Williamite war appears from the Lennard Barrett correspondence:
Westgarth (July 31st, 1690) writes:
“The whole country from Kells to Clownish except a few at Cavan being only a wilderness with a few houses uninhabited ; the town of Clownish is something better, what escaped being burning being for the most pt inhabited either by townes people or strangers, the accs on the side will informe you how the towne is…..the mill of Cumbre is quite destroyed, that of Anlore standing but the front gone, the Castle wants a deal of slating and one of the joysts above the dining room floor is from the wall. It was I am told full of dung, but it is now clean and a part of it inhabited by Eugene Lee, Tom Morgan is in another pt for a while. I thought fitt to affix the paper on the Cross which I left there sticking.”
Registered Priests, 1710
During the early part of the eighteenth century Ireland was in the lowest economic condition it had reached since the Cromwellian wars. Trade with foreign lands was prohibited; all industries except linen manufacture had been suppressed; the sole market for Irish produce was England, and that only for such goods as did not interfere with the English producers or manufactures. It is difficult to trace the social or economic history of any single Irish county for that period. Such histories as we have of the times deal almost entirely with political events, and it is only by the greatest assiduity that anything can be ascertained of how the inhabitants of the County then lived. The whole country was getting poorer all through those years, for men’s minds were directed to political matters, to the neglect of the more material needs of their nation. The cause of the decay was in the first instance due to the penal enactments against the industries and the religion of the large majority of the people. It is probable that William III would have acted justly by both had he been able to do so, for he was bound to those who had furnished him with means of overthrowing his father-in-law to treat Ireland and her people in an equitable manner. But unfortunately shortly after he ascended to the throne of these realms he got into trouble with his parliament, owing to his attempts to appropriate some of the confiscated estates and bestow them on a favourite. The representatives of the English people were very indignant at this. It was bad enough to try to enrich his Dutch followers, as he had been trying to, but this act they looked on as a fraud on the nation and a public insult to the Queen, so they refused to allow it, and considerably curtailed his powers thereafter, and when parliament enacted laws destroying Irish trade and industries seeking to suppress the Catholic religion he was powerless to stop them. Some of the confiscated estates were in the County Monaghan, and had there been no objection to William’s generosity to his friends the landlords of the County would have included amongst them a descendant of the ducal house of Villiars and Orkney, who could have borne the arms of William III with a bar sinister. The English merchants insisted on crushing out woollen manufacturing, then the staple trade of Ireland, and curtailing the export trade of Irish ports, so restrictions were placed on all the wealth producing industries of the county except linen. The English climate did not suit the culture of flax and handling of linen, so it escaped the general destruction.
The bigots of both England and Ireland insisted on crushing out the Catholic religion, and the Penal Laws against Catholics were enacted. No doubt some of those in power in Ireland believed they were doing right in persecuting the Catholics, but there were many others who used the penal laws for the purpose of taking from the Catholics whatever remnants of property they still possessed. When any efforts were made to draw public attention to the manner in which the country was being robbed, the government excited the bigotry of the Protestants and enacted additional penal laws. The anti-Irish feeling was kept alive amongst the landlords by the fear that in the event of a foreign invasion the Stuarts would be replaced on the throne of these countries and the confiscated estates returned to their former owners. Thus little was done by the resident gentry to improve their properties or benefit their country, while many of the larger landowners were absentees and consumed “above one-half the rents of the nation abroad.” It is not therefore, to be wondered at that there are so few records from which any knowledge of the inner life of the country can be gathered.
The records of the inland counties consist of letters about proclamations about Peace and War, of the enactment of the Penal Laws against Catholics, and proclamations against Rapparees. There are a few documents of national importance which contain references to Monaghan. One of the first of these occurs in the year 1704 under the following circumstances: –
Early in the reign of Queen Anne an Act of Parliament was passed permitting the Catholic Priest of each parish to live and exercise his calling provided he registered his name &c., during the year of 1704 with the Clerk of the Peace and gave two sureties for good behaviour. The parish priests complied thinking they would be allowed to live at peace, but soon afterwards in 1710, the registered priests were required to take the oath of abjuration (denying some of the tenets of their religion). This they refused to do, and became liable to the penalties against Regular Priests.
The Monaghan registered priests, all of whom appear to have refused to take the oath of abjuration, continued their ministrations in their respective parishes, but there are few records of their after lives. In County Cavan some of the Protestant landlords became sureties for the priests in their parishes, and when the Act of 1710 was passed the bigots of that county sent up a presentment to the Grand Jury to have the priests outlawed for refusing to abjure and their recognizances estreated. The Grand Jury, which contained many of the Bailsmen, were very indignant and rejected it. The bigots then sent up bills to the quarter sessions Grand Jury to have the recognizances estreated, but the gentry brought the proceedings into Superior Courts where the magnitude of the bills of law-costs put an end to the ardour of the bigots.
Monaghan Registered Priests 1710
A grandson of Patrick O’Connolly of Drumsnat, a small landowner whose estate was confiscated by Cromwell.
“Parra Glass’s” father was said to have married a peasant’s daughter and settled down as a farmer in Cornaglare. There is no record or tradition to account for why Patrick and his family left their farm, but it is probable that he may have served in the Jacobite army, and that after its defeat he became an outlaw. He was described as a tall, powerfully built man of strange appearance ; instead of a hat he wore a mass of shock hair and an unkempt beard, both of a greenish grey colour, from which his cognomen was derived. He kept the country for miles around Monaghan in terror. All his family became outlaws and lived by plundering all the well-to-do people within a day’s journey of Monaghan. He lived in a cave near Tullygillen, where the mill now stands, and one of his women had a hut in the Glen near Monaghan, from which information as to the movements of the authorities in the town was regularly dispatched to Tullygillen. It was necessary to proclaim him an outlaw and to put aprice upon his head, so that anyone could kill him.
At the Summer Assizes, held on 24th August, 1711, the following proclamation was read in open court:
“We present Patrick Glass O’Connolly, late of Cornaglare, Parish of Kilmore, James O’Connolly, late of Cornaglare aforesaid, formerly in Sligo Gaol, married to Reggie O’Connolly, daughter of Patrick Glass O’Connolly’s sister, Peter O’Connolly, son of James O’Connolly’s brother married to Paralone O’Connolly’s daughter, and Peter and Jas. O’Connolly, reputed sons of John O’Connolly, formerly in the Gaol of this County, to be dangerous Robbers, Tories and Rapparees out upon their keeping, in arms and not amenable to the laws, but robbing and plundering His Majesty’s good subjects.
ALEXANDER MONTGOMERY, sheriff.
“Presentment duly read in Court and confirmed, Humbly Certified to Counsellor Barard in order to have said persons proclaimed as by Act of Parliament is directed.”
JNO MULLAN, J.
Parra Glass was such a formidable outlaw to have roving about the country that seventeen Grand Jurors – a large number for those times – assembled at the Assizes at which this Proclamation was “presented”. They seemed determined to have him captured, and the following signed the Presentment:
Alexander Montgomery, W. d. Wildman, Wm. Robinson, Edward Lucas, Jos. Wright, John McKenna, William Irwin, John D’Alton, Adam Listole, John Fford, Michael Ennis, George Tumcks, James Stannus, Charles Conveg, John Hamilton, W. Johnston and Aldboro Wrightson.
There were three Catholics on this Grand Jury, but by the operation of the Penal Laws they were gradually deprived of their property and their social position.
There is a tradition that Parra Glass was captured, but the story of his arrest exactly corresponds to the story of similar arrests of other Raparees in other parts of the country, so there is considerable doubt on the point, and there is no evidence of such in any record, although there is evidence of the capture of some of his gang.
There were many old songs and ballads recounting his prowess and deeds of daring. His strange appearance while he lived, alarmed many, both young and old, and for many a long year after he died, the mention of his name was used to frighten children to sleep.
The other proclamations of Raparees at that time were:
1707, Bryan Roe O’Murphy ; 1710, a presentment of £5 to reqard Daniel Boy (Buee), servant of Samuel Eyre for taking a Tory ; 1711, three robbers whose names the governments did not know were proclaimed ; 1712, two robbers names unknown were proclaimed ; 1714, presentment against Patrick Duffy & Patrick Kerr for being Tories and having “Broke Gaol,” i.e. escaped from prison ; 1716, Thos. Murphy, son of Loughlin Murphy of Dernasell, Parish of Tedavnet proclaimed ; 17177, John Lamb, of Castleblayney proclaimed. There were no Raparees proclaimed south of Castleblayney in this County.
The attempts to colonise the Barony of Farney with English or Scotch planters had failed, and except in the town of Carrickmacross there was no element of the population favourably affected towards the government. The landlords were absentees, and consequently the Reparees had a very friendly people to quarter themselves amongst.
The inhabitants of the town at that time were Protestants, and the Catholics who carried on business there during the day were obliged to lie outside the walls at night. The following petition, dated 17th December, 1717, was forwarded to the Government by some inhabitants of Carrickmacross : –
“To His Grace Charles Duke of Bolton, Lord Lieutenant General and General Governor of Ireland.
The humble petition of Francis Dobbs and Edward Dixie, Esq., on behalf of themselves and the inhabitants of Carrickmacross
That there are many proclaimed Tories, Robbers and Rapparees who do infest the above County and parts adjacent and convenient. Many robberies and barbarous murders have been committed to the great damage and sorrow of the country, and are often harboured by the Popish inhabitants near said town, and lately are growing so insolent as to appear publicly in great numbers well armed and mounted. Your Petitioners therefore in order to suppress said robbers and murderers most humbly pray that your Grace will be pleased to order that an active Quartermaster or Sergeant and eight Dragoons be forthwith quartered at Carrickmacross aforesaid, whom your Petitioners with great submission humbly conceive may be conveniently detached from Atherdee, Dundalk or Monaghan, and may be of great service at Carricmacross, especially if orders are given them to obey the Civil Magistrate, and your Petitioners do promise to provide convenient quarters there for that number of Dragoons and that they shall be supplied with other necessaries at moderate rates.
And your Petitioners will ever pray
Francis Dobbs and Edward Dixie”
The following endorsement appears on the Petition:
“Proposals of several gents to apprehend Rapparees by the Military assistance being at the discretion of the Civil Magistrates as occasion shall require, 17th December 1717, Received from Mr. Secretary Webster.”
No appeal was made to the local gentry, for the larger landowners about Carrickmacross took little interest in the country, and did nothing to improve it. Many of them were absentees, and only a few of them bothered about local affairs. They seldom attended the Assizes, and left the work of the Grand Jury principally to middlemen, agents and the smaller holders. The Grand Jury did scarcely any but criminal business and “present” proclamations for outlaws. The Monaghan Grand Jury in 1718 was as follows: –
Gilb. E. Ellis
Sherriff, Andrew McKerr and
Clerk of the Crown and Peace, John McMullen
Channen Rock, between Carrickmacross and Dundalk, for some centuries was looked on as the boundary of the Pale at that point ; the country about it being very wild and formed good shelter for outlaws from the Pale. In after years it became the shelter of the Raparees and robbers who infested North Louth and South Monaghan. At that period, two infamous Rapparees held sway from the fastnesses about Channen Rock. They were Neil McShane, alias Johnston, nicknamed ‘Forty Rags,’ and Bryan Byrne, called ‘Bryan na Poreen.’ They were both proclaimed at Dundalk in 1718.
There appears to have been a fight in January 1718, near Carrickmacross between the Rapparees and the Tory Hunters, at which, one of the former, named Richard Gainshenan, and one of the latter, James Boyle, were killed. Soon after ‘Bryan-na-Poreen was captured by one Edward Lucas, of Moynalty, and two others of the gang ; Ever Roe McMahon and Edmond McKenna were captured by James Hughes (a Tory Hunter) and his assistants. Amongst those of the gang who escaped were John Reilly and Charles Carraher. The last Rapparree captured in the County was Bryan McKenna, on 14th February 1722, except those mentioned in Bashford’s petition, referred to below. The greatest Raparee, Edmond O’Hanlon, infested North Monaghan. O’Hanlon’s Walk is still shewn in the old wod at Glaslough. Carleton heard about him when schooling at Donagh, and wrote a book of that name.
But, whether or not the Sergeant and the eight Dragoons to whom Messrs. Dobbs and Dixie promised to sell cheap provisions became their customers there appears to have been little improvement in the state of the country for some years after. It therefore became necessary to admit Catholics to reside in Carrickmacross, and soon afterwards they began to live in the town. A very remarkable fact is that many of the Catholic business men were educated, although the Penal Laws enacted that Catholics should be illiterate.
At Carrickmacrosss, in 1723, on a Coroner’s Jury – the only sort of Jury Catholics could serve on, and then only when there were not enough Protestants available – there were six Catholics – viz., Art O’Neill, Edmond Carrollan, James Carrolan, and Randal McDonnell. The handwriting of the four literates is exceedingly good and shows evidence of great care in their schoolmaster’s teaching. The signatures of the last three are very neat, and bear a marked contrast to the scribble in which these pages were originally written by their last descendant in Monaghan.
It must be remembered that it was against the law to educate a Catholic, and that those who taught such persons to write did so at risk of their liberty first and the peril of their lives afterwards. This produced the class of educationalists known as ‘Hedge Schoolmasters,’ truly depicted in the old ballad as
“Paddy Byrne, was a big man of a very great knowledge, oh,
Behiond a quickset hedge in a bog he kept his College, oh.”
Although in after years many of their successors deteriorated into Carleton’s “Philomath,” their existence added a glorious chapter to the history of education in Ireland, and a worthy tribute was paid to them by Dr. Douglas Hyde, when he recognised their public services in his short and terse dedication of ‘Beside the Fire’ to the memory of the Hedge Schoolmaster.