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
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’.
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
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
- 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
- 6 Expenditures of the receivers of the
- 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
Please report any images or links which do not open to
The information contained in these
pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others
researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects,