Sunday, July 15, 2018

Some medieval marriage dowries in the Ormond Deeds


Some medieval marriage dowries in the Ormond Deeds

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Marriage dowries in medieval times fulfilled many different functions. The dowry of a bride added to the estates of her husband and provided an income for his widow after his death at a time when there was no state pension. The size of a dowry also showed the wealth of the bride’s family. Evidence for marriage dowries in medieval Ireland survive from across the country. In 1454-5, Isabella, daughter of Henry Walsh, had a number of animals among the animals of her father which were reserved to Isabella as her marriage dowry.[1] This article examines a number of references to marriage dowries among the published Ormond deeds.

The 12th century

In about 1183-1195 Alexander de Alneto gave the manor of Chamele to William de Marisco on the marriage of his daughter Lucy to William. In return William de Marisco agreed to pay Alexander 47½ marks as an aid to marry one of his daughters. If Lucy died without children then William de Marisco was to have the manor at 6 marks of yearly rent.[2]

The 13th century

In April 1267, Agnes, widow of Henry Scurich, quit-claimed to Sir Ralph Pippard, and five others, the land formerly owned by Henry Scurich at Glasmore and Clonurin (both in Rathdowney parish) along with land at Killdelgi in the barony of Clarmallagh in return for 20s while reserving a third part of the property as her dower lands.[3]

In about 1282 Hugh Purcell quitclaimed to Sir Nicholas de Dunheved twelve librates of land in the lordship of Ardcroile, parish of Aghaboe, on the marriage of Joan, daughter of Hugh, to Nicholas. In return Nicholas gave Hugh land at Clonmin and Drummethan. Later Nicholas and Joan granted the Purcell lands at Ardcroile to Sir Ralph Pippard.[4]

In 1292 Edmund, son of Milo le Bret, quitclaimed to Sir Walter de la Haye and Alice his wife (who was Edmund’s mother) lands in the manor of Cnoctochyr (Knocktopher) which Alice held in dower.[5]

The 14th century

In June 1315, Johanna, widow of Sir Augustine FitzRoger, granted all her land at Lisconegan, which she held in dower to Sir Edmund le Botiller.[6]

In November 1331 Sir Roger de Pembroke granted lands at Cappagh, Ballybrennan, Ballysinun and other places in Stilylkar to Nicholas Cleyn and Margaret his wife, daughter of Sir Roger, for the use of their cattle but not goats as part of a dowry settlement.[7] Another dowry settlement was made in 1335 at Clonmel. In June 1335, Caterina Walche (Walsh), relict of John Whyte, and her daughter Elicia granted all the lands and rents which John Whyte held in the burgage of Clonmel town as a marriage portion to Edmund Dowy.[8]

Sometime before October 1338, Johanna Severne acquired a third part of a messuage with appurtenances in Rosponte as her dowry on the death of Philip Severne, her husband. In October 1338 Johanna quitclaimed this third of a messuage to Robert Dobard and Edussa his wife. In about 1337 Philip Severne was sovereign of Rosponte.[9]




In 1369 Henry Kepagh, chaplain, gave two thirds of all the messuages, rents and lands he held in Kilblethyn (acquired by grant of Richard Moygne) along with the third portion held by Johanna Shirbourne as her dower lands which she got by gift of her late husband, Thomas Moygne, to Sibilla de Shuldham. If Sibilla left no heirs the whole property was to go to Thomas de Shuldham, junior and to other named sons of Thomas Shuldham.[10]  

In January 1376, on the marriage of Alice Forstall to Thomas FitzJohn of Corestown, her father (Richard Forstall) and her brother (Geoffrey Forstall) agreed to pay Thomas twelve marks in silver as her marriage portion.[11]

Elsewhere, previous to 1384 a woman called Petronilla was married to Walter le Poer. When Walter died, Petronilla took seisin of a third of Walter’s estate at Rathgole as her dower property. She still held this third part after her marriage to William Kilrawyn. Meanwhile the government held the other two thirds of Walter’s estate as Arnald le Poer, son and heir of Walter le Poer, was a minor. When Arnald died, his brother Robert le Poer became next heir. In 1384 Robert le Poer took William Kilrawyn and Petronilla to court before the seneschal of the Tipperary Liberty claiming the full estate and that the third was not assigned to Petronilla as her dower lands. A jury found in favour of Robert le Poer and Petronilla was charged 10s as damages and was placed at the mercy of the court. Petronilla didn’t appear at court when summon which didn’t help her case.[12]  

In 1390 Robert, son of John Gras of Erleystown quitclaimed to Walter son of William Coterell of Kells sixty acres of land at Kiltravyn which previously belonged to Johanna, wife of William Outlaw, senior, and William le Blound by gift of John Outlaw.[13] These sixty acres were possibly part of a marriage dowry although the documents remain silent on this.

The 15th century

In March 1402 Elena Coll granted to Geoffrey Coterell of Grana all her lands in Grana forever along with her lands at Shorthallstown. Also included in the grant was the reversion of twenty acres of land in the barony of Kells which Anastasia Tobin held for life as her dower property.[14] This reversion may not have happened for several decades as widows sometimes long outlived their deceased husbands. We are not told what the relationship between Elena Coll and Anastasia Tobin was. Was Anastasia the mother of Elena or were they cousins or was it just a business relationship? The Coterell family held land at Shorthallstown since at least 1353 and Geoffrey Coterell may be a relation of Elena or Anastasia or both.[15]

In July 1439, Joan, daughter of William son of Philip Gibbon, granted the manor of Denghynmore in the barony of Kells along with messuages, land and tenements in the tenement Henry Whiteston in the same barony to James Butler, Earl of Ormond. Included in the grant was the reversion of the dower property held by Margaret, widow of William son of Gilbert Martyn, within the estate, which would revert to Joan on the death of Margaret.[16] In January 1413 William son of Philip Gibbon had quitclaimed to William son of Gilbert Martyn eleven acres and three carucates of land with a further two acres in the tenement of Henry Whiteston which land was divided into five separate acres.[17] The relationship between Joan Gibbon and Margaret Martyn is unknown just like that of Elena Coll and Anastasia Tobin above. But another land transfer of 1456 may suggest that the women were daughters and mothers in both cases.

In November 1456 Katherine Roche, daughter and heir of Redmund Roche, late lord of The Rower, granted all her property in The Rower to Redmund Roche, son of John Roche, to have and hold by his male heirs. If Redmund left no male heirs, the property would pass to other male relatives of the Roche family. Included in the property transfer was the dower lands of Avelina, daughter of James Lysaght and mother of Katherine Roche, which Avelina held in The Rower.[18] The Roche family had interests in the area around The Rower since before 1278.[19]

The 16th century

In September 1524 Philip, son of Walter Hacket, gave lands at Gragfyerik to Cornelius and Donatus, sons of William son of Matthew O’Karran, as a pledge of six horses and sixty sheep which was the dowry of his sister.[20]

In April 1526 Elena Walsh, alias Brenagh, the former wife of Thomas Purcell of Foulksrath, gave to Thomas Butler, son of the Earl of Ormond, a third part of all the lands at Foulksrath, Ballyroo, Culcrayn, Teganagh, Garran ne Parky and Suttonsrath along with a third part of the farm at Clynystown in return for a yearly income of 26s 8d. These lands were formerly owned by Thomas Purcell and were given to Elena Walsh as her dower property.[21] The Purcell family had only acquired Foulksrath in the late 14th century when it came to an earlier Thomas Purcell by way of his mother Katherine de Fraxineto, sister of Geoffrey de Fraxineto.[22] A widow giving away her dower land in return for an annual income saved her a lot of work in managing her estates, hiring staff, organising the planting of corn and harvesting along with keeping the buildings in repair.

One of the last references to dower property in the Ormond Deeds shows a wife giving a lease on her dower property to an outsider while her husband was still alive. In 1550 Joan, Countess of Ormond, and her husband, Gerald FitzJames of Desmond, gave John Aylward a lease of five years in return for 60 bushels of corn, viz. 30 of wheat and 30 of oats along with summer sheep and a poundage hog with suit at the Grenagh manor court.[23]

Conclusion

Most of the non-Butler documents in the Ormond Deeds are usually once off pieces, or have a half dozen associated documents, and so tracing the history behind each dower reference is difficult. What they do show is that widows across the geography area of the Ormond Deeds were ensured their dower property by society and by their family for the most part. But there are apparent exceptions like a widow in Clonmel, Margaret Roche, instructed by an ecclesiastical court to return a messuage in Clonmel to an unnamed person, but in this case we are not told if the messuage was part of her dower property or if she had rented it in her own business.[24] In later centuries widows didn’t appear to have the same rights as their medieval predecessors. With the state widow’s pension, the modern state has in some ways relieved the successor of the property from having a third of the property placed out of reach to the successor, for sometimes decades. May be in such terms the medieval world was not too bad of a place for a widow and our modern day sense of progress may be seen by some as reverse of progress.

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[1] Smith, B. (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming, Archbishop of Armagh, 1404-1416 (Dublin, 2003), no. 263
[2] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D. (Dublin, 1932), no. 6
[3] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 142
[4] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., nos. 253, 256
[5] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., nos. 305, 306
[6] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 509
[7] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 635
[8] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 676 = seen on 24th October 2013
[9] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 1172-1350 A.D., nos. 687, 715
[10] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D. (Dublin, 1934), p. 113
[11] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., p. 146
[12] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., pp. 194, 195
[13] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., p. 211
[14] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., pp. 264, 265
[15] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., p. 9
[16] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D. (Dublin, 1935), p. 118
[17] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D., p. 320
[18] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D., p. 178
[19] Brooks, E. St. J., Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century (Dublin, 1950), p. 150, note 2
[20] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D. (Dublin, 1937), p. 98
[21] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 108
[22] Brooks, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century, p. 186
[23] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume V, 1547-1584 A.D. (Dublin, 1941), p. 51
[24] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 18

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Callan Augustinian Friary


Callan Augustinian Friary

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The ruined Augustinian friary is situated in a green meadow on the north bank of the King River, opposite the town of Callan, in County Kilkenny. The friary is a late medieval foundation of the mid-15th century. The present (2018) ruins consist of the church with its central tower belfry. When the friary was suppressed in 1540 there were in addition to the church, a dormitory, hall, three chambers.[1]

Friary west gable and north wall

In 1461 Edmund, son of Sir Richard Butler of the Polestown branch of the Butler family, and his wife petitioned the Pope to establish an Augustinian friary in Callan.[2] In 1455 Edmund Butler and Gyles, his wife, had acquired property in and around Callan from James son of Walter Spellys.[3] The proposed friary could have been built on some of this property. On 3rd November 1461 Pope Pius II instructed the abbot of Ferns to proceed with the foundation. But before anything worthwhile was accomplished Edmund Butler was defeated in battle in 1462 as part of the War of the Roses. In June 1464 Edmund Butler died.[4] After a period of time, Edmund’s eldest son, James Butler, renewed the project. It is said that James Butler was driven by the project as reparations for living with a relative in concubinage for many years before their marriage was formalised about 1467.[5] In 1472 James Butler was granted the lordship of Callan by King Edward IV for life.[6] In 1487 James Butler was buried in the friary church with the title of founder.[7] In 1515 James’s son, Pierce Ruadh Butler, became Earl of Ormond on the death without male heirs of his cousin, Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond and after Pierce denounced his two elder brothers as illegitimate.[8] In 1516 Isabella Blanchfield was examined in Callan friary in which she said that the Earldom of Ormond descended by heirs male and thus Pierce Butler was the rightful Earl.[9]

The nave looking towards the chancel under the central tower


Once established the friary became noted for its fine library and its care for the poor. In 1472 the friary renewed the rule of St. Augustine by adopting the Observant reform and became independent of the English province. In 1479 the Callan friary was chosen as the centre of the Irish Observant Congregation.[10]

Outside south wall of chancel 


With the friary in operation many other people of lesser means than Edmund and James Butler made donations to the friary of property, goods and money in return for prays to help the soul of the donor, and others, in the afterlife. In April 1507 Richard Trody gave a messuage in Callan to the Augustinian friary.[11] In 1530 Nicholas Avell gave to the friary a bushel of wheat and a bushel of oats.[12]

North wall of the nave


But the 16th century saw a political crisis in England causing a religious revolution. In 1540 the Augustinian friary at Callan was suppressed as part of the general dissolution of the monasteries and religious guilds. William O’Fogarty was the last prior and surrendered the three acre friary site to the government officials with its church, dormitory, kitchen, three chambers and other buildings with gardens and enclosed fields. But these buildings were by 1540 already in a ruinous state and of no monetary value. Extra commercial property owned by the friary did have a monetary value (10s 8d) and this consisted of three messuages, including a bake-house, two gardens and an acre of meadow. In 1541 a revaluation of the friary put 20s 8d on its worth. Yet this amount excluded a ruinous watermill with a parcel of land (2s 6d) and a quarter of an acre in Callan town at a place called Gorttnemraher (4d) which was concealed from the government by Sir Thomas Butler.[13] In November 1590 an inquisition was made at Callan by 3 commissioners and 12 jurors into this concealed land, and then held by Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond.[14]

East window and north wall


In 1540 James Butler, Earl of Ormond, was granted the friary by the government in return for an annual rent but the Earl was not a good payer of the rent which fell into arrears.[15] The lease on the friary was for 21 years at 21s 8d per year.[16] The Butler family acquired not just Callan friary but most of the dissolved religious houses in County Kilkenny such as Jerpoint, Kells and Duiske in return for supporting the Protestant Reformation.[17] In 1548 the site of the friary was held by the executors of the late Earl of Ormond.[18] In 1557-8 the friary was granted to Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, to hold in capite forever. In 1618 King James included Callan friary in a sweeping grant of land to Lady Elizabeth Butler (daughter of Earl Thomas) and her husband, Preston, which included Kilkenny castle and which left the new Earl of Ormond, Walter Butler with a much reduced estate.[19] Meanwhile the displaced Augustinian friars continued to live in the Callan area and in 1766 built a new monastery in the town.[20]


West doorway 



Inside the central tower



Inside the central tower with east to the right


South wall of the nave by the central tower


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[1] Gwynn, A. & Hadcock, R.N., Medieval Religious Houses Ireland (Blackrock, 1988), p. 297
[2] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297
[3] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D. (Dublin, 1935), p. 175
[4] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D., p. 204
[5] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297
[6] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D., p. 214
[7] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297; Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D., p. 323
[8] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D., pp. 207, 296-7; Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D. (Dublin, 1937), pp. v, vi
[9] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 30
[10] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297
[11] White, N.B. (ed.), Irish Monastic and Episcopal Deeds, A.D. 1200-1600 (Dublin, 1936), p. 238
[12] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 140
[13] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297
[14] White (ed.), Irish Monastic and Episcopal Deeds, A.D. 1200-1600, pp. 274-5
[15] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 192
[16] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D., p. 206
[17] Edwards, D., The Ormond Lordship in County Kilkenny, 1515-1642: The rise and fall of Butler feudal power (Dublin, 2003), p. 14
[18] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297
[19] Edwards, The Ormond Lordship in County Kilkenny, 1515-1642, pp. 15, 116
[20] Gwynn & Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 297