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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Carlow Material

Petworth House Archives

Ann M. R. Jarvis.

Page 1


ANNE JARVIS is a teacher of English as a foreign language to adults in the city of Cambridge. England. She has just completed a diploma course in Genealogy History of the Family and Historical Demography with Birkbeck College, London. Her thesis was a study of the town of Carlow based on the Petworth House Archives for the Manor of Carlow and the Church of Ireland Parish Registers. Her great-great-great-grandmother, Anne Young, née Keating, was said to have been born in the town of Carlow, c1790, but she has found no record of her there so far. Can any reader shed any light on this!

(Anne Keating married William Young, of Castlebar, Co. Mayo in October 1809, when Anne was said to be of the parish of St Anne’s, Dublin Square. She then went to Castlebar and lived there until her death 1 Nov. 1840.)

Carlow Material in the Petworth House Archives

Donogh, Earl of Thomond, and his son were appointed Constables of Carlow in 1604. and at the same time a grant was made to the said Donogh of the Manor Catherlagh.1 The Earl belonged to the O’Brien family, who are believed to have descended from Brien Boirohm, King of Ireland, 1002. They were uniformly denominated Kings of Thomond, until Murrogh O’Brien surrendered the sovereignty to Henry VIII. The Earls of Thomond owned: extensive estates in Counties Clare, Limerick, Tipperary Carlow, Queen’s County,2 Dublin and Meath. After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the Earl of Thomond retained substantial interests in England and he, and his descendants after him, became absentee landlords, residing at Great Billing in Northamptonshire, England.3

The 8th Earl of Thomond married Elizabeth daughter of Charles, 6th Duke of Somerset, but died without issue, so his property was inherited by his nephew Percy Wyndham (a brother of the 2nd Earl of Egremont who took the surname O’Brien and was created Earl Thomond in 1756. He died unmarried in 1774 and the. peerage became extinct. However, the property went to his nephew, George, 3rd Earl of Egremont.4 It is thought that the documents for the Thomond Irish Estates were taken to Petworth House, in West Sussex, England, in 1774 or soon, after. When the Catalogue of Petworth House Archive was written in the 1830s, the Irish Estates were included.5

The bulk of the material for Carlow is for the period 1680 - 1730, though there are some documents from the early 17th century and others from c1800. There is considerable amount of documentation, which included written surveys, rentals, receipts, disbursements accounts, receivers’ vouchers and correspondence. There also one of the earliest maps of the town, one of a series  made by Thomas Moland in 1703 and commissioned by the Earl.

Towards the later part of the 17th century, with the Earl of Thomond residing in England, the running of the Carlow manor was placed in the hands of commissioners and receivers. The commissioners, like trustees, had overall responsibility for the land, but the receivers were responsible for the day-to-day work, the contracting and renewal of the leases and the collection of rents. There were as many as four commissioners, appointed by the Earl, whose job involved making the occasional visit to the town and generally making sure that the estate was improving in value. There was a succession of receives for Carlow during the period in question. It would appear that they fell in and out of favour with the Earl and were soon replaced by another.7 They tended to live in Dublin and visit the town as and when necessary. This could involve a stay of up to a month, depending on how forthcoming the tenants were with their rents. The collection of rents provided them with a legitimate obtained percentage (sixpence a receipt), and they were also given an allowance. It is clear that it was an unenviable task - correspondence shows that the receiver was frequently chivied to send the rent collected to England, sending it when the exchange rates were favourable whenever possible.8

The Manor of Catherlagh consisted of the town and lands adjacent to it, but also the village of Graigue to the west of the river Barrow, in Queen’s County, which being in the barony of Slievemargy, was considered to be part of the County Carlow in the 13th century.9 By far the most comprehensive survey of the manor was carried out by Thomas Spaight in 1681, in which was noted the details of the lease of each tenant and the denominations of the land held. Records show that in general plots were larger in Carlow, probably with a higher proportion of houses built ‘with lime and stone’ and roofed either with shingle10 or slate - probably with a higher proportion of Protestant.  Whereas in Graigue there was a higher proportion of cabins which were thatched, the plots of land smaller and the rent minimal.11  There are glimpses of the difference between life on the Carlow side of the Barrow, on the edge of The Pale and in Graigue on the western side which was more Catholic, being ‘beyond the Pale’.12 Leases and disbursements give some insight into the structure of the buildings at the time.

Two events were to have a significant effect on the people of Carlow. The first was the war between Jams II and William of Orange, which lasted from 1688 to 1691. Being a military outpost of the Pale, Carlow had a strong military presence throughout the period in question.  However, during these war years the armies of both parties both quartered in and passed through Carlow. Little or no pay, a shortage of food and inadequate clothing exacerbated by severe winters, forced the soldiers to plunder the country without pity and Carlow was no exception. Tenants complained of their homes and land being ‘subject to ye depradations of ye army’ and of the meadows and pasture lands ‘being greazed by ye Army’.  In the case of Edward Jones, who had lands in Graigue at a tenement in Cotlane, Carlow, it was recorded that there had been “Three affdits yt the hay of this meadow in l688 was K Jam’s taken away and ye meadows and house 89, 90 and 91 used by both ye Army’s for a hospital!.”13

Considering that many houses were highly flammable, it is not surprising that the second ‘calamity’ hit Carlow was a fire which destroyed a considerable part of the town in June, 1693. So great was the damage done that well after the turn of the century tenants were complaining of their losses occasioned by the fire. Fires were not uncommon, but the scale of this and another major one in 1698, though less severe, must have rendered a considerable number of the inhabitants homeless and for some it was years before they began to rebuild. The five year period 1688 - 1693 was known as ‘ye troublesome times’. 14

There is much that can be gleaned concerning trade in the town. In 1696 Carlow was said to be on ‘the greatest thoroughfare in Ireland and where tennants get money for accommodating travellers the soonest of any other towne’.15 When in 1661 John Masters[on] was innkeeper of the ‘Signe of the Redd Cow’, at which the depositions of the Ridout Court Case were taken, it was no doubt just one of a number. In 1681 there were four main inns, but other, smaller ones must have existed both in Carlow and in Graigue.16 The townspeople took in boarders from the protestant school in the town. Some tenants appear to have -worked open coal seams in a small way on their land, Leather and leather goods were manufactured in the town.:

There must have been a goodly number of carpenters, masons and thatchers; repair and building work being even more plentiful after the fire. Carlow was ideally situated for milling - of various kinds. There were mills for grinding corn and also at least one tuckmill,17 with a small linen industry. Both Carlow and Graigue had important fairs and markets, which served the region rich in agriculture. It is probable that the Nicotiana rustica tobacco plant was grown there, at a time when tobacco smoking and the use of snuff was commonplace.18

The following extract gives but a ‘flavour’ of the wealth of material that remains extant for Carlow in the Petworth House Archives, shedding light on both the lives of individuals and their families, as well as the Manor as a whole.

1  The name used for Carlow until the 18th century.
2  Now County Laois.
3  Brien O Dalaigh, Thomas Moland’s Survey of Ennis. 1703’. The Other Clare, Vol., XI, I984. pp. 12-17.
4  Petworth House Archives. Vol. I, (Chichester, 1968) Edit. Frances W. Steer and Noel H. Osborne, p.xvi; George Baker. The history and antiquities of the County of Northampton. Vol. I, (London, 1822-30) pp.20-22; Honourable Donough O’Brien. History of the O’Briens. (Cairn, 1949) Chapter 5; The Earls of Thomond’, pp. 61-80; Geoffrey H. White, The Complete Peerage Vol XII. (London, 1953) pp. 708- 713.
5  Documents in the Petworth House Archives are the property of Lord -Egremnont, and can only be seen at the West Sussex Record Office, County Hall. Chichester, West Sussex, England P019 1RN. (Tel: 0243 533911). Two weeks’ notice must be given so that the documents can be brought from Petworth, where no access whatsoever is allowed.
6  Expenditures of the receivers of the Manor.
7  Of Thomas Spaight’s records it was stated that ‘noe papers were ever in greater confusion and eventually he was dismissed in disgrace. C6/4; See also Ciaran O Murchadha, The Unfaithful Steward - Thomas Spaight of Bunratty Lodge (Cappagh) in The Other Clare, Vol XI, 1984, pp 20-21.
8  PHA 353:1707; C6/5; C6/11; C8/lb.
9  Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Vol. I, (Dublin. 1837) p. 251.
10  A thin piece of wood having parallel sides and one end thicker than the other, used as a house-tile.
11  C27/B. See also Wakefield, E., An Account of Ireland. Vol I, pp. 698-699.
12  It was a common saying that ‘they dwelt beyond the law that dwelt west of the Barrow. Rev. M. Devitt, The Rampart of the Pale’, Journal County Kildare Arch. Soc. Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 284-289; Rev. Dennis Murphy, The Pale’, Journal County Kildare Arch. Soc. Vol.11, No. 1, 1898-1899, pp. 48-58.
13  B11/32b B11/33.
14  B11/32b
15  B11/34
16  Carlow Church of Ireland register records the burial of John Doyle of Graige, Innkeeper, on 19 April. 1713.
17  The place where cloth was dressed or finished after coming from the weaver.
18  The 7 acre plot to the south of the influx of the river Burren into the Barrow, opposite the castle, was known as ‘Tobacco Meadows’. See also Compton Mackenzie, Sublime Tobacco. (Gloucester, 1957, 1984) pp. 82-84, 144-145, 163-164, 217; LM. Cullen, Life in Ireland, (London, 1968) p.53.
Source: Michael Purcell (C2005)
Previously published in: Carlow Past & Present. ISSN 0790 555 Vol.1. No.4. 1993

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