Search billions of records on



Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Militia

William Clarke Senior


William Clarke Snr. Story

I have determined that the father of James Clarke in Canada was William Clarke Snr. Born in 1769, Dunleckney Parish, County Carlow Ireland. He was a member of the Carlow Militia and formed control of Irish Catholics. He lived at an interesting time in Ireland.


The last Gaelic chieftain was Hugh O'Neil. He rose against Elizabeth, Queen of England and was defeated, by Lord Deputy Mountjoy. This marked the end of Irish rule. On September 4, 1607, Hugh O'Neil and a shipload of other Irish leaders both old Normans and Irish left Ireland forever, abandoning their lands to the English. The new protestant King of England, James I, decided to divide up the earl's land and give it to protestant settlers. The Catholic Irish were removed from their land and became slaves of the settlers. In 1641 October the Irish Catholics had had enough and rose up and killed and exiled thousands of Protestants. Charles I, son of James, is executed by the Parliament and Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Cromwell is a Puritan protestant and because the Irish are Catholic and sided with Charles I against him he is out to get even. Believing the exaggerated stories of the 1641 uprising atrocities, Cromwell attempted to wipe out Irish Catholics. He killed one third of the population of Ireland.

Cromwell is best known for his ravaging of the town of Drogheda, where his troops killed 1000 men, women and children in an act of violence that made Cromwell's name synonymous with evil.

The Parliament got tired of Cromwell and retuned Charles son to power.  In a subsequent English civil war the Crown shifted from Protestant to Catholic and back to Protestant. Tensions ran rampant, and violence was widespread. In 1690 the throne ended up with William of Orange (probably the namesake of William Snr.) William the Orange produced the hated Penal Laws which forbid Catholics to hold office, be educated, own land, or even own a horse valued at more than 5 pounds. During this period the Irish people switched from Gaelic to English language. The Protestants wanted to make sure that they stay on top this time. This period is called the Protestant Ascendancy.

The Irish try to fight back with several terrorist groups, Whiteboys, Hearts of Steele and Hearts of Oak, and the Carders. To fight back the Protestants form the Peep O'Day Boys which turns into the order of the Orange in 1795. Theobald Wolfe Tone, father of Irish Nationalism forms the United Irishmen dedicated to removal of English rule. Tone gets the French to help in 1797. They send 3000 men and a fleet of ships. Unfortunately the British intercept and capture the French Fleet.

The story of William Clarke Snr.

William Snr is born in Dunleckney Parish, County Carlow Ireland in 1769. The Carlow Militia is formed in 1893 as a temporary force to maintain order. All officers are Protestants and the men mostly Catholic. The unit is established as a draft. Due to some misunderstandings about foreign deployment and to the general distrust of the Catholic Irish for the Protestant Irish there are riots and much resistance to this draft. Although its not too bad in Carlow.

William is Sponsored by Col Bruen. He enlists in 1793. The unit forms in Carlow and then marches to Nenagh in 1793. From there to Charlesfort, Kinsale and then Cobh. They quarter in Cobh in August 1794. In 1795 they march to Waterford. In Dec 1795 Col. Henry Bruen died. A parade is held in the morning at Waterford. Afterwards they march to Trim, Downpatrick, Blairsmore Camp, Drogheda and arrive at Navan in summer 1798.

The United Irish revolt occurs at this time. The United Irish are mostly Catholic but also some Protestants. They believe in a free Ireland. The Carlow Militia marches to Nittstown on the banks of the Boyne. The unit engages a much larger mob of United Irish. The mob is routed. The unit marches on to Cork, Charlesfort, Midleton, Mullingar, and Roscrea. In 1802 peace is restored and the Unit goes home to Carlow. This is called the Peace of Armiens 1802. William takes advantage of the peace and marries Abigail Norris on 14 July 1802, in Dunleckney Parish. Shortly thereafter his first son Thomas is born. The peace doesn't last and in 1803 the Carlow Militia is reconstituted. William becomes a Corporal. Around 1805 or 1806 his second son James is born. Also in 1806 William is promoted to Sergeant. His son William Jr. is born on 8 April 1810. Also his daughter ??? is born. In August 1814 at a hospital in Dublin, William Snr. is discharged for medical reasons. He is diagnosed with dyspepsia. He returns home from Dublin. A daughter Ann is born and a son Robert is born in 17 Dec 1816. The entire Carlow Militia is disbanded in 26 March 1816. Thus ending an important part of Irish history.

William Snr and Abigail Norris hear of free land in Canada and sign up. William is settled on Drummond Twp., Lanark County Ontario Canada on 22 August 1817 at age 48, with his four sons and two daughters. Eldest son Thomas becomes a shoemaker and marries Mary Cannon on 20 May 1828. Second son James becomes a lumberman and farmer and marries Ann Dougherty in Perth on 15 November 1837, Third son William also becomes a farmer and marries Elizabeth. Williamís daughter Ann marries Moses Thornton a Cooper also from Ireland, on 16 Feb 1840 in Perth. Fourth son Robert becomes a carriage maker and moves to Brighton Ontario. There he marries Sophie from the USA. In 1834 William Jr. purchases 100 acres of land in Seymour Twp., Northumberland County, Ontario. William Jr. and Thomas move to this part of Ontario near Campbellford, Seymour Twp., Northumberland Co, Ontario. In 1840 James buy's land in Montague Twp. Lanark Co. Ontario from a William Watson formally of the 104 Reg. British Army. Robert moves to Brighton Ontario.

James and Ann second son William is born on the disputed land in Montague. In 1843 the true land owner returns and gets in dispute with James. James loses and returns to his Dad's farm in Drummond. William Snr. dies 5 December 1843 leaves farm to James. James leaves Canada for Michigan in 1848. In 1850 he is working as a lumberman in Mackinaw Michigan, where his youngest son James is born. Shortly after 1850 he moves to Green Bay Wisconsin.

Source: Keith Thompson
Above sent to Keith Thompson from: Rod Clark - - 18 February, 2001
Edited by M. Brennan for Co. Carlow website c2008


 NEXT PAGE:  Carlow Militia 1715-1908

he information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP TM By Pre-emptive Copyright -  All rights reserved