Saturday, March 25, 2017

Norman overlords of Ofhearghusa alias Knockanore

Norman overlords of Ofhearghusa alias Knockanore

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The district which in medieval times was called Ofhearghusa is a triangular area in West Waterford bounded on the east by the River Blackwater and on the north by the River Bride. The western boundary is the present county boundary between Cork and Waterford. In the time before the Normans (pre 1169) the area was part of the Déise Muman kingdom and the Diocese of Lismore. For an account of Ofhearghusa before 1169 see the article = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2013/09/knockanore-in-cork-or-waterford-in.html

The area of Ofhearghusa

Robert Fitzstephen

In the early days of the Norman Conquest Robert Fitz Stephen was granted the lands of Oglassin in County Cork and Ocarbry in County Limerick for eight knight fees. Later Robert Fitz Stephen leased out these lands to Alexander Fitz Maurice.[1] Robert Fitzstephen left no legitimate heirs and was succeeded by Richard de Carreu in the lands of Imokilly. Richard was succeeded about 1205 by his son Robert de Carreu who in turn was succeded by his son Richard de Carreu (c.1250s). This Richard left two sons, Thomas de Carreu (died pre 1274) and Maurice de Carreu. This Maurice de Carreu would in 1307 recover ownership of Ofhearghusa from the Fitzgerald/de Clare family as shall see below.[2]

Fitzgerald, Barons of Offaly

In the 1180s it is presumed that Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, gave Ofhearghusa to Gerald Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, 1st Baron Offaly. Although we don’t have the exact grant document, we do have another document, dated 1185-1189, in which Prince John gave Oglassin in County Cork to Gerald Fitzmaurice.[3] This Gerald was the brother of Alexander Fitz Maurice above.[4] Oglassin was also known as Imokilly but in later documents from 1299 Oglassin and Ofhearghusa are grouped together.[5]

Gerald Fitzmaurice was succeeded by his son, Maurice Fitzgerald, 2nd Baron Offaly. On 5th July 1215 Maurice Fitzgerald agreed to pay a fine of 60 marks for his father’s lands in Oglassin with the castles of Crumech and Dungarvan.[6] The location of this castle of Dungarvan is undetermined. Dungarvan castle, Co. Waterford had been given to Thomas Fitz Anthony two days before.[7] The documents say that Crumech and Dungarvan were in Oglassin which was the area around Youghal town and later known as the manor of Inchiquin.[8] The 2nd Baron Offaly developed the town of Youghal into a recognised town and thriving seaport. Maurice Fitzgerald founded the Franciscan South Abbey.

The 2nd Baron Offaly served as justiciar of Ireland in 1232-45 and died in 1257 when he was succeeded in Ofhearghusa by his second son, Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald. The elder son, Gerald Fitzmaurice died in 1243 and was the father of Maurice Fitzgerald, 3rd Baron Offaly and grandfather of Gerald Fitzmaurice, 4th Baron Offaly. The 4th Baron died in 1287 without issue and was succeeded by his cousin, John Fitzthomas, 5th Baron of Offaly, who in 1316 was created 1st Earl of Kildare.[9]
In 1272-3 Maurice Fitzmaurice was justiciar of Ireland.[10] His term of office was short lived and without much success. In a military campaign against the O’Connors of Offaly Maurice was taken prisoner. The government made little effort towards his release. Instead King Edward appointed Geoffrey de Geneville as the new justiciar.[11]

Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald was married twice. His first wife was Matilda, daughter of Gerald de Prendergast and widow of Maurice de Rochford by whom he had a daughter, Amabil. In later years Amabil gave her Connacht inheritance to her cousin, John Fitzthomas Fitzgerald. Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald married secondly to Emelina, daughter of Stephen de Longespee and heiress of half of the lands of her grandfather, Walter de Ridelisford.[12]

Thomas de Clare

Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald died in 1286 leaving female heirs.[13] At Ofhearghusa he was succeeded by his daughter, Julianne Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald. In 1274/5 Julianne Fitzmaurice married Thomas de Clare, second son of the 5th Earl of Gloucester.[14] Maurice had settled Oglassin and Ofhearghusa on Julianne in 1274 on her marriage to Thomas de Clare with provision that they regrant the land to Maurice for life with reminder to the heirs of Julianne and Thomas.[15]

Thomas de Clare initially attended Oxford University with the intention of a clerical career but changed his mind. At first he sided with Simon de Montfort against King Henry III but later changed sides and fought for the king at Evesham. Thomas de Clare gained many seized estates and became a wealthy person. In April 1269 Thomas de Clare began his association with Ireland when he gained the wardship of Maurice Fitzgerald, 3rd Baron of Offaly. His marriage to Julianne Fitzgerald gained him lands in Munster and Connacht. In about 1276 Thomas de Clare exchanged his English property with Robert de Muscegros and acquired the large lordship of Bunratty. In January 1276 King Edward made a grant of all of Thomond to de Clare.[16]

It is possible that Thomas de Clare built the riverside section of Strancally Castle. this part of the castle is a rectangular building known as a hall house and were popular in the late 13th century and early 14th century. In the 15th/16th century a tower house was built onto the west side of the castle.

Gilbert de Clare

Thomas de Clare died in 1288 and was succeeded by his son Gilbert de Clare. The inquisition post mortem taken in October 1288 showed that Thomas de Clare held Ofhearghusa and other land at Youghal, Any in Limerick and Bunratty in Clare. Half the land of Ofhearghusa was leased to Jordan de Exeter by the service of 20s and doing yearly suit at the manor court of Inchiquin. The other half of Ofhearghusa was leased to Reginald de Dene on the same terms.[17] In about 1299 Maurice de Carreu, as heir of Robert Fitz Stephen claimed that the heirs of Thomas de Clare held Oglassin and Ofhearghusa from him by service that he was unable to collect.[18]

Gilbert de Clare came of age in 1302 when documents report that his mother had granted Oglassin to her cousin John FitzThomas to hold for the minority. It is presumed that Gilbert came into possession of Oglassin and Ofhearghusa after 1302. In 1308 Gilbert de Clare died without issue and was succeeded by his brother Richard de Clare.[19]

Fitzstephen/Carew re-establishment

In 1307/1310 King Edward II returned to Maurice de Carreu the eight knight fees in Oglassin and Ocarbry wrongly taken from him by previous monarchs.[20] This grant to Maurice de Carreu restored the Fitzstephen/Carew family as overlords of Ofhearghusa which they held of the king. The Fitzgerald/de Clare family were thus sub-tenants of Maurice de Carreu while the de Exeter and de Dene families were tenants of Fitzgerald/de Clare. The ordinary tenant farmers who lived and worked the land of Ofhearghusa were below de Exeter and de Dene. Nineteen century landlordism in Ofhearghusa was simpler. See 19th century local landlords at https://niallbrn.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/kilwatermoy-landlords-in-1851/?frame-nonce=a0db86c8e2

Maurice de Carreu was succeeded in about 1320 by his son, Thomas de Carreu when he got seisin of his father’s lands. In 1336, Thomas de Carreu made a quit-claim of Olethan to David Fitz David de Barry. In 1329 he had enfeoffed Maurice FitzThomas Fitzgerald, later 1st Earl of Desmond, of half of the lordship of Desmond but this was judged illegal by the government as Robert FitzStephen was declared a bastard and died without heirs.[21] This didn’t concern Maurice FitzThomas as he took control anyway. In the sixteenth century Peter de Carew of Devon claimed to be a heir of Thomas de Carreu and sought to acquire Imokilly without success.

Richard de Clare

In 1318 Richard de Clare was killed at the battle of Dysert O’Dea in modern-day County Clare. The defeat, by the hands of the O’Briens, dealt a fatal blow to English power in Clare and North Munster.[22]

Thomas de Clare and Margaret de Badlesmere

Richard de Clare was succeeded at Ofhearghusa and elsewhere by his son Thomas de Clare. This young man did not long enjoy his inheritance as he died in 1321. Thomas de Clare was succeeded by his two aunts, Margaret (wife of Sir Bartholomew de Badlesmere) and Maud (wife of Sir Robert de Well), sisters of Richard de Clare. In 1321 Thomas de Clare had 1½ knight fees in Ofhearghusa leased to Stephen de Exeter while Isabel (wife of Gilbert de Clare) had as her dower land the other 1½ knight’s fees in Ofhearghusa which she leased to Thomas de Dene.[23] The same 1321 inquisition post mortem said that Thomas de Clare held Youghal and Inchiquin from the heirs of Robert Fitz Stephen by the service of 100 shillings or 2½ knight fees.[24] For more on the de Exeter family see =  http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2016/11/affane-athmethan-civil-parish-in.html  

Giles de Badlesmere and his four sisters

Margaret de Badlesmere was succeeded by her son, Giles de Badlesmere. In 1320 Giles de Badlesmere died without any children and was succeeded by his four sisters; Margery (wife of Sir William de Roos), Maud (wife of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford), Elizabeth (wife of William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton) and Margaret (wife of Sir John Tiptoft). Giles de Badlesmere left extensive property in Kent, Sussex, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Essex as well as the de Clare lands in Ireland.[25]

Thus the new owners of Ofhearghusa were all English absentee owners. Maurice Fitzthomas Fitzgerald, 1st Earl of Desmond claimed that Giles de Badlesmere held his Irish property from Maurice and not from the King.[26] With this claim Maurice Fitzgerald made war in Munster and attacked Youghal. In 1329 Maurice Fitzthomas said that he had purchased the lordship of Youghal and Inchiquin from Thomas de Carreu, heir of Robert Fitz Stephen.[27] Maurice Fitzthomas occupied the Youghal area from about 1321 until 1346. In about 1348 the large Irish estate of the Fitzgerald/de Clare inheritance was divided into four parts with each sister getting an equal share.

The four parts of Inchiquin become one unit

In 1360 the 3rd Earl of March inherited the quarter of Youghal and Inchiquin formerly held by the Earl of Northampton. In 1367 the Earl of Oxford gave his quarter share of Inchiquin to the Earl of Ormond.[28]

In 1369 William de Windsor arrived in Ireland as the new Lord Lieutenant. Among his tasks was the restoration of English power. One of the barriers to this was the ownership of much of the English part of Ireland by absentee lords living in England. The local Anglo-Irish gentry had often complained about absentee owners not paying their share of the defence budget. In 1368 an ordinance or Act of Absentees was passed which required these absentee owners to live in Ireland or send men-at-arms on pain of forfeiture.[29]

In 1370 the quarter of Inchiquin held by Lord de Roos was seized by the government under the Act of Absentees but was restored in the following year. In 1372 the government again seized the quarter share of Lord Roos. At about the same time Lord Roos gave his share to William de Hampsterley in an effort to avoid forfeiture and to at least get something for the property.[30] On 18th March 1372 William de Hampsterley made a grant to William de Windsor of his quarter share of Youghal and Inchiquin. William de Windsor appointed John Ducket and Thomas de Holihurst as his attorneys to receive the property.[31]

In February 1367 Robert Tiptoft granted his quarter share of Inchiquin to John Hankyn, King’s serjeant-at-arms, to get round any forfeiture under the Act of Absentees. In October 1369 John Hankyn granted the same to James Butler, Earl of Ormond. In October 1372, Margaret, wife of the Robert Tiptoft, quitclaimed the quarter share of Inchiquin to the Earl of Ormond. Margaret subsequently married Sir John Cheyne and in 1378 they both quitclaimed the quarter share to the Earl of Ormond.[32]

On 24th October 1367 and 18th October 1368 Thomas de Veer made a grant of his quarter share of Youghal and Inchiquin to James Butler, Earl of Ormond, and Elizabeth his wife.[33] The Earl of Ormond now had two parts of Inchiquin.

In 1374 the 3rd Earl of March gave his quarter share of Inchiquin to John Ducket, Ralph de Beltisford and Thomas Holihurst.[34] These three people were associates of William de Windsor, John Ducket was even his brother-in-law.[35] The three recipients subsequently gave the quarter share to William de Windsor, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Thus by 1385 William de Windsor had acquired half of the manor of Inchiquin (including half of Youghal) along with half of the land of Ofhearghusa (Knockanore). William de Windsor gave his share of Ofhearghusa to two tenants, Thomas Uniacke and David de Capella to hold by two knight’s fees each.[36]

Sometime before 1405 James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond gave the manor of Rincrew to his niece and unofficial spouse, Katherine of Desmond, daughter of Gerald Fitzmaurice, 3rd Earl of Desmond. It seems the Earl of Ormond acquired Rincrew from Robert Tiptoft or from Thomas de Veer as their quarter share of the Badlesmere inheritance. In 1443 Katherine of Desmond gave Rincrew manor to her nephew, Gerald Mór Fitzgerald, later 1st Lord of the Decies. The Fitzgerald family held Templemichael, alias Rincrew, until 1750 when they sold it to Richard Dawson of Dublin.[37] For more on Templemichael under the Fitzgeralds of Dromana see = https://niallbrn.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-dromana-estate-in-1640/?frame-nonce=fc141a7c57

On 12th April 1413 John Windsor (nephew of William de Windsor) granted the barony of Inchiquin to Arthur Ormesby to hold of the chief lord. This was to avoid forfeiture under the Absentee Act which was a bit of an irony as his uncle got the land under the same Act.[38] Elsewhere Arthur Ormesby is said to be son of Margaret, daughter of William de Windsor, late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[39] In 1413 or 1420 James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, granted a series of liberties to the town of Youghal.[40] In October 1419 James Butler was mentioned s lord of Youghal.[41] In February 1420 Arthur Ormesby made a grant in full seisin of Youghal and Inchiquin along with the advowson of Youghal to James Butler, Earl of Ormond.[42]

Earls of Desmond begin to acquire Ofhearghusa

In January 1422, James Butler, Earl of Ormond, made James Fitzgerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, his seneschal of Imokilly, Inchiquin and Youghal for life.[43] At about the same time (1420) the Earl of Desmond was lord of Aghern, Mogeely, Lisfinny, Sheanmore, and Tallow.[44] In 1298 Thomas Fitzmaurice of Shanid owned half of Tulachrath (Tallow) which was rented by John le Poher as a free tenant.[45] This 1298 part of Tallow is presumingly the later manor of Lisfinny north of the River Bride. The Tallow of 1420 is presumingly the town and civil parish of Tallow south of the River Bride. The Earl of Desmond must have acquired Tallow from one of the four heirs of Giles de Badlesmere or had occupied it since the time of the first Earl of Desmond and claimed ownership by default. As the medieval archives of the Earls of Desmond have not survived we are left with gaps in the story of the Ofhearghusa overlords and medieval owners that may never be filled in. 

In May 1429 James Butler, Earl of Ormond, proposed to give Thomas, son of James Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, the town and advowson of Youghal along with the Barony of Inchiquin as part of the marriage agreement between Thomas Fitzgerald and Anne Butler, daughter of the said James Butler.[46] But this agreement failed to happen as the marriage did not go through.[47]

By 1460 James Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, had acquired all of Youghal and those parts of Ofhearghusa (excluding Rincrew) that he did not previously own such as Strancally.  

In 1460 the four parishes that made up medieval Ofhearghusa were divided among at least three owners. The parish of Templemichael was divided between the Fitzgeralds of Dromana, Lords of the Decies, and Molana Abbey while the parish of Kilwatermoy was of uncertain ownership. The Roche family owned parts of Kilwatermoy in 1640 and may have acquired it in ancient times.[48] For more on Molana Abbey see = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2013/09/molana-abbey-in-county-waterford-ireland.html

The 7th Earl of Desmond was now overlord and owner of two of the four medieval parishes of Ofhearghusa, namely, Tallow and Kilcockan. This Desmond ownership remained until after the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583) when the Earldom of Desmond was seized by the English government and divided among English courtiers with Sir Walter Raleigh acquiring most of Ofhearghusa.

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[1] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 95
[2] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iii, p. 154
[3] G. Mac Niocaill (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964), no. 1
[4] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 95
[5] Paul MacCotter, Medieval Ireland: Territorial, Political and Economic Divisions (Dublin, 2008), p. 161
[6] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland (5 vols. Kraus reprint 1974),  vol. 1 (1171-1251), nos. 586
[7] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 1 (1171-1251), no. 576
[8] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 1 (1171-1251), no. 598
[9] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iv, pp. 128, 129
[10] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 2 (1252-1284), nos. 937, 940
[11] J.T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (James Duffy, Dublin, 1865), p. 143
[12] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iv, p. 129
[13] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iv, p. 112
[14] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 2 (1252-1284), no. 2210
[15] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 96
[16] Ronan Mackay, ‘Thomas de Clare’, in Dictionary of Irish Biography (Royal Irish Academy), p. 533
[17] J.E.E.S. Sharp (ed.) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. II, Edward 1 (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 696
[18] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 96
[19] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), pp. 96, 97
[20] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 96; Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iii, p. 154
[21] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. iii, p. 154
[22] J.T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (James Duffy, Dublin, 1865), p. 143
[23] J.E.E.S. Sharp (ed.) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. VI, Edward II (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 275
[24] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 97
[25] J.E.E.S. Sharp (ed.) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. VIII, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 185
[26] J.E.E.S. Sharp (ed.) Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. VIII, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 185, p. 148
[27] Paul MacCotter, ‘The Sub-infeudation and Descent of the Fitzstephen/Carew Moiety of Desmond (Part II)’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 102 (1997), p. 97
[28] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1934), vol. II, p. 102
[29] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland (London, 1980), 296; Sheelah H. Harbison, ‘The Absentee Problem in Waterford and East Cork during William of Windsor’s Administration, l369-'76’, in Decies, No. 23 (1983), p. 6
[30] Sheelah H. Harbison, ‘The Absentee Problem in Waterford and East Cork during William of Windsor’s Administration, l369-'76’, in Decies, No. 23 (1983), pp. 8, 9
[31] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1934), vol. II, p. 125
[32] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1934), vol. II, pp. 107, 113, 118, 127, 154
[33] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, pp. 368, 369, 380, 381
[34] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1934), vol. II, p. 128
[35] Sheelah H. Harbison, ‘The Absentee Problem in Waterford and East Cork during William of Windsor’s Administration, l369-'76’, in Decies, No. 23 (1983), p. 9
[36] Sheelah H. Harbison, ‘The Absentee Problem in Waterford and East Cork during William of Windsor’s Administration, l369-'76’, in Decies, No. 23 (1983), p. 9 with reference to C.C.H., p. 129, no. 57
[37] Kenneth Nicholls, ‘The development of Lordship in County Cork, 1300-1600’, in Patrick O’Flanagan & Cornelius G. Buttimer (ed.), Cork History and Society (Geography Publications, Dublin, 1993), p. 188, 209, note 228; P.R.O.N.I., Villiers-Stuart papers, T.3131/B/20/8, c.1750 Account of the purchase price for Templemichael
[38] Sheelah H. Harbison, ‘The Absentee Problem in Waterford and East Cork during William of Windsor’s Administration, l369-'76’, in Decies, No. 23 (1983), p. 14
[39] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, pp. 3, 26
[40] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, pp. 3, 4, 5
[41] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, p. 21
[42] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, p. 26
[43] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, pp. 38, 39
[44] Gabriel O’Connell Redmond, ‘The castles in North-East Cork and Near its Borders’, in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 24 (1918), p. 62
[45] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 4 (1293-1301), no. 551, p. 262
[46] Edmund Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds (Dublin, 1935), vol. III, p. 72
[47] Gerald O’Carroll, The Earls of Desmond: The Rise and Fall of a Munster Lordship (Limerick, 2013), p. 32, note 7
[48] Robert C. Simington (ed.), The Civil Survey A.D. 1654-1656 County of Waterford Vol. VI with appendices (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1942), p. 19

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

St. John the Baptist priory, Ardee

St. John the Baptist priory, Ardee

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The hospital of the priory of St. John the Baptist at Ardee was founded about 1207 by Roger Pipard, lord of Ardee.[1] It was originally dedicated to St. Mary and St. John.[2] Later the Carmelite Friary took on the dedication to St. Mary while the priory retained that of St. John as its chief dedication. Yet the chapel of the priory retained or adopted the dedication to St. Mary the Blessed Virgin.[3]
    
An inspeximus of the foundation charters was made in 1340 and provide much detail on those early days. Roger Pipard founded the hospital for his own soul and that of his wife Alice, William his father, Joan his mother, Gilbert and peter his brothers along with his ancestors and successors. Pipard gave the Hospital two carucates of land in the tenement of Ardee on both the north and south sides of the river with part of the island in the river. The Hospital got the fisheries pertaining to the land once held by Machudi. The parish church of St. Mary with its chapels and appurtenances were given to the Hospital. The churches of Stachkillen and Douenachmayn with their chapels were given to the Hospital. The Hospital was to get a pension of 2s per year until the death of Gilbert Pipard, the parson of the parishes. This was witnessed by Eugene, Archbishop of Armagh and Luke, Archdeacon of Armagh among others.[4]
    
By another charter Roger Pipard gave the Hospital one carucate of land held by Osmund Dubleday in the parish of Senlis and to hold this land after the death of Osmund. The Hospital alos got the rights to use a stream which came from the land of Walter le Hauberger and two streams which came from the land of Reginald Niger. With these streams the Hospital could build a mill and construct a mill pond and other associated works. The mill race was still in use in the nineteenth century as it feed a corn mill near the corner of Drogheda Road and Moor Hall. The priory got a well called Lyperpatrick and the space for building a lavatory. The Hospital could construct a road 20 feet in breath for carts between the land of William Carpenter and William Raerdif to their court beyond the water by the bridge. In former times there used to be a dyke along this proposed route. This charter was witnessed by Luke Archdeacon of Armagh, Gilbert Pipard parson of Ardee, Peter de Repentin and Geoffrey Hadsor among others.[5]
    
The monks were of the order of Fratres Cruciferi yet they adopted the rule of St. Augustine.[6] It is not clear when the priory of St. John changed from operating as a hospital under the canons regular of St. Augustine to adopting the additional order of Fratres Cruciferi. The priory of St. John the Baptist outside the Newgate of Dublin originally was organised as a hospital canons regular of St. Augustine. At sometime before 1276 the hospital adopted the additional order of Fratres Cruciferi.[7]

The order of Fratres Cruciferi
     
The origins of the order of Fratres Cruciferi are shrouded in obscurity. Some say that the order was founded in the early Christian times while others say it developed from a hospital monastery in Crusader Jerusalem. At the latter time it was known as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Yet this name is not to be confused with the military order of Knight’s Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. From the twelfth century many different congregations of the order were formed under varying names. These names include the Canons of the Order of St. Augustine of the Holy Cross, Fratres Cruciferi or Crucigeri, Crosier Canons, Cross-bearers and in England Crutched or Crouched Friars.[8]
    
The crusades or military expeditions to recapture the Holy Land which started in 1095 were the impetus to revive the order or its birth place. The Arabs, under the banner of Islam, had conquered the Holy Land in the seventh century. Christians regarded the Holy Land as the birth place of their religion and made pilgrimages there since earliest times. The Arab rulers allowed these pilgrimages to continue. It was only after the Seljuk Turks from Turkestan had captured the Holy Land in 1071 that a complete change of attitude came. Christian pilgrims were interfered with or stop.
    
In response Pope Urban II held the Council of Clermont to help the Byzantine Empire to free Asia Minor from the Seljuk Turks while the crusaders would free the Holy Land. In the summer of 1099 the First Crusade captured Jerusalem and established Latin Kingdoms along the east Mediterranean coast. The Europeans held much of this region for the next eighty years.[9]
    
Christian pilgrims could once again visit the Holy Land without interference. To provide accommodation for these pilgrims’ religious orders such as the Knights Hospitallers were formed while other orders such as the Knight’s Templars were there to defend the country against Arab attack. The Fraters Cruciferi was part of this formation period.
    
The earliest national congregation appears to have been the Italian Congregation. This group had a hospital at Acre in the Holy Land. By 1159 there were several houses established across Italy. Pope Alexander III found refuge in some of these houses during the persecution of Frederick Barbarossa. In 1169 Pope Alexander granted the order a rule and a constitution. Much of this rule, which was strictly enforced, was based around that of St. Augustine and thus the order were sometimes referred to as canons regular of the order of St. Augustine or Augustinian Hospitallers.[10]
    
The order not only established monasteries but also operated hospitals for the poor and sick. A brief note of the medieval idea of a hospital is possibly warranted at this stage. The first hospitals were more hotels than places where sick people went to recover their health. The Medieval Latin word hospitale means an inn while the plural word hospitalia means guest rooms.[11]  
    
Within a short few years there were over two hundred houses across Italy. In 1245 Pope Innocent IV added to the rules at Lyon and ordained that the order should carry a cross in their hand. It is from this time that the order became known as the Fratres Cruciferi or Friars of the Holy Cross.[12]
    
Statue of some Cruciferi Friars 

About 1109 a group called the Bethlehemites came into existence. Their name came from the fact that they were governed under the titular bishop of Bethlehem. They spread mainly into Bohemia where they operated hospitals. They established one hospital in London and another at St. Germains in Scotland.[13] The hospital at St. Germains still followed the Bethlehemite order under the rule of St. Augustine as late as 1496.[14] The Bethlehemite order could have been the origin of the Irish Congregation but this seems highly unlikely according to most scholars.
    
Yet at least one of the Irish houses of Fratres Cruciferi had adopted the Bethlehemite rite. In a document of 1501 the Fratres Cruciferi hospital at Newtown Trim, Co. Meath was referred to as the ‘hospital of the Cruciferi Sancti Johannis cum Stella’ of the Order of St. Augustine.[15] The stella or star is here referring to the Star of Bethlehem. Other hospitals of the Bethlehemite order were referred to in this manner. The hospital at Newtown Trim was said to be founded by Bishop Simon Rochford of Meath sometime after 1202.[16] It is unclear when the hospital adopted the Bethlehemite order.
    
The Flemish congregation of Fratres Cruciferi was founded by Theodore, son of the baron of Celles near Liege in around 1211. Their first house was at Clair-Lieu near Huy. Pope Innocent III is aid to have given oral approval to this congregation in 1216. In 1244 a group of Flemish Fratres Cruciferi came to a synod at Rochester in England. They requested to be allowed to establish houses in England. It would appear that two or three Cruciferi hospitals existed in England before 1244 but were unorganised. Formal approval to operate in England was granted and the congregation became known as the Crotched Friars. The house in London was their main priory with about four or five other unimportant houses.[17]
    
The houses of Fratres Cruciferi established in Ireland operated hospitals as well as religious houses. Many of these houses preceded the English houses by many decades and were earlier than the Flemish Congregation. The Ardee house was in existence about four years before that in Belgium. Most scholars now believe that the Irish Congregation was established from the Italian Congregation. Both were of the monastery-hospital type and the Irish Congregation early foundation fits in with the Italian dates.[18]
    
The physical evidence of the Fratres Cruciferi in Ireland is mixed. About seventeenth houses of the order were established according to the list produced by Gwynn and Hadcock.[19] Harold Leask in his book on Irish churches and monastic buildings only assigned twelve houses to the order.[20] The best preserved remains are at Rindown in Roscommon. The priory at Newtown Trim, County Meath has had its buildings much altered in post Dissolution times.

Early years of St. John the Baptist Priory
     
In 1211 Archbishop Eugene of Armagh granted confirmation to the hospital of St. John at Ardee.[21] Later Roger Pipard increased the endowments for the hospital for the ‘better support of the house and to enable the brethren to exercise more liberally their works of mercy and charity’.[22] It would seem that no long term financial annuity was granted to St. John’s priory by the Pipard family. This is in contrast to the Carmelite friary at Ardee where a charge of £6 per annum was made on the manor of Ardee to support the friary. This charge was continued for a few years after the crown took over the Pipard estates in Ireland.[23]
    
The management of the hospital was in the care of sisters as well as brothers.[24] At least three houses in Ireland had sisters as well as brothers, namely: at Dublin, Dundalk and Ardee. The sisters worked in the hospital and had a say in the general management.[25]
    
An entry in the Dublin exchequer roll of receipts has an entry at Easter 1281 which records the payment of a fine by the prior of Ardee. The fine was 10 marks for having peace.[26]
    
On 21 November 1302 a royal letter was issued to Brother Robert de St. John of Ardee. Brother Robert was constable of the castles at Ardee and Dovenaghmayn for the Pipard family. These castles had come into royal hands when the Pipard lands were transferred to the crown. The royal letter asked that Brother Robert to surrender the two castles into the royal stewards.[27]
    
In November 1315 an inquisition post mortem was held into the lands of Benedict Pippard. In the district of Adwalath, Co. Louth, Benedict leased 4½ acres from the priory of St. John with fealty for all services.[28]
    
In 1317 Sir Thomas de Mandeville was killed some distance from his parish church. His enemies prevented the safe recovery of his body. This did not prevent the prior of Drogheda from instructing two friars’ preachers, William Aubrey and Florence de Ardin, to successfully recover the body. Consequently de Mandeville was buried in Drogheda. The guardian and Friars Minor of Carrickfergus were not happy with this situation. They petitioned the Pope for redress. This resulted in a mandate issued to the prior of St. John’s and two others. They were to judge the issue.[29]
    
In the third year of Edward II the barony of Atrio-Dei (Ardee) and the town of Mandeville was granted by the king to Richard de Tuyt.[30] It is not clear if the patronage of St. John’s priory was in any way affected by this grant. Another hospital of Fratres Cruciferi at Athy (the priory of St. Thomas the Martyr of Acre) was in 1491 said to be of lay patronage.[31]

The Knight’s Hospitallers house of St. John’s at Kilmainham held a house in Ardee and the rectory of Tallanstown while the altarage of that church belonged to St. John the Baptist priory, Ardee.[32]

Buildings of the priory
     
Very little of the fabric of the priory survives today. Even its exact location is unknown. The discovery of burials in the vicinity of Moore Hall in 1956 and 1963 suggests that the priory could have been close by. The National Monuments Service place the priory between the River Dee and some gain stores at Moore Hall and west of the Parochial House.[33]
    
The church of St. John the Baptist, sometimes referred to as a chapel, was dedicated to St. Mary the Blessed Virgin. The church contained a nave and chancel along with a high altar.[34] This last point would suggest that there were other altars in the church like you find in large parish churches and in cathedrals. The church was sometimes used by the archbishop of Armagh as a location for sittings of the archbishopric court. This occurred in 1407 and 1408.[35]
    
Like many religious houses St. John’s priory had a cloister. This was used in 1412 by the brothers when sending the results of their election of a new prior.[36] Somewhere around this cloister was the priory’s main hall. This place was used in 1476 as a neutral venue to hear an excommunication case against the vicar of Carlingford by three senior members of the priory of St. John of Jerusalem of Kilmainham.[37]
    
The chapter house was also somewhere surrounding the cloister. This room was used by Archbishop Octavian on his ordinary visitation of the priory in 1482.[38] The room was also used by the convent when conducting the administration of the priory. In 1494 the convent agreed in the chapter room to give an annual pension in clothes and victuals to a cleric in return for his services.[39]
    
The prior had a private chamber for his living and sleeping. Yet this privacy was sometimes used for important meetings. In 1425 the chamber was used for an important meeting between James Butler, Earl of Ormond and lieutenant of Ireland and the McMahon brothers of south Monaghan.[40] Somewhere near the priory was a dovecote.[41]

Hospitality at the priory
     
In April 1378 Brother Walter Benge was priory of St. John’s yet he was not a happy man. The priory had been reduced to poverty by the quartering of soldiers upon its hospitality. Prior Benge requested permission from Archbishop Milo Sweteman of Armagh to hold the chapel of Shanlis along with retaining the priorship. This request was granted in August 1378 and Prior Benge was to have rule both of the chapel and the souls of the parishioners.[42] The parish of Shanlis is the next parish immediately to the south west of Ardee and so was within easy reach of the priory.
    
If the royal soldiers were a cost upon the hospitality of St. John’s priory and at times unwelcome the priory did make an effort for special guests. Towards the end of the summer of 1405 Nicholas Fleming, the newly appointed and consecrated archbishop of Armagh, came to live at the priory. In a letter to Pope Innocent VII, written from the priory on 20 September 1405, we learn that Archbishop Fleming held a number of benefices before his provision to Armagh and which enabled him to live ‘honourably’.
    
Yet for the lack of papal bulls the temporalities of the archdiocese still remained in the king’s hands and Nicholas couldn’t lawfully deal with the spiritualities. The letter also states that the church of Armagh was afflicted with wars and other adversities including the recent fire in the cathedral. Archbishop Nicholas took up residence in the priory until these legalities could be sorted.[43]
    
It would seem that Archbishop Nicholas could have stayed in the priory until at least 20 November 1406 as many archbishopric letters are dated from Ardee up to that time. The Archbishop then moved on the primal seat of Armagh.[44] There was held a convocation of the archbishop’s clergy was held at Ardee some time before January 1408 but we don’t know if this was held in the Priory of St. John or elsewhere in the town.[45]    

Brothers in the priory

In March 1406 William Say; a Crouched Friar of the house of St. John the Baptist, Ardee received a papal dispensation. The dispensation was due to the illegitimacy of William as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman. By the dispensation William was allowed to hold dignities, even if conventual and elective, administrations and other offices of his order.[46] William Say was still a brother in the priory in 1412 when a new prior, John Broun, was elected.[47] It would appear that William say later succeeded Broun as prior of the Hospital.[48]
    
Another brother who was at the 1412 election was John Paker. A few years before, in 1407, a number of people were ordained by Archbishop Nicholas in the church of St. John the Baptist, Ardee. One of these was John Paker. He was ordained as a sub-deacon and priest.[49] We can not be absolutely certain that this two people are the same John Paker but it is reasonable to suppose that the John of 1407 is the same person as the John of 1412.
    
By 1470 the fortunes of the priory had declined such that there were only two brothers in the priory. These were Brothers Richard Harvey and William Algode.[50]
    
In 1479 Stephen Hasard and William Bane were described as brothers of St. John’s priory.[51] Later in 1487 Stephen Hasard and William Penkystone were noted as brothers of the priory at which an enquiry was held concerning endowments to the collegiate church at Ardee. The document relating to this matter described the priory as part of the Order of Fratres Cruciferi.[52]

Papal Mandates and Letters
     
Several papal mandates were issued to the priors in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In December 1418 the prior of St. John the Baptist was asked to assign the rectory of Archlacachliuga in the diocese of Armagh to Thomas Oluchurean who had a previous claim to the rectory. Thomas was to resign all claims and then be assigned no matter how the rectory was originally vacant.[53]
    
In November 1427 the prior of St. John the Baptist was given a papal mandate along with the prior of Newtown Trim and the bishop of Adria. They were asked to assign the archdeaconry of Armagh to William Hadesor, a priest of the diocese of Armagh. Hadesor had previously got a papal dispensation, as the son of a married man and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all holy orders. Following this he got the parish church of Darver, diocese of Armagh and the three judges were to assign the archdeaconry notwithstanding the parish provision and Hadesor could hold both for life.[54]
    
In September 1450 the prior of St. John the Baptist was asked to adjudicate in a papal mandate along with the dean of Clogher and Maurice O’Lergassa, a canon of Clogher. This mandate concerned the canonry and prebendary in the diocese of Armagh formerly held by John Leche. Thomas Oculan, clerk of Armagh, got an unnamed papal delegate to pass sentence against John Leche. Thomas Oculan then occupied the prebend for some time and took its fruits. Later the two parties were summoned to appear before the archbishop of Armagh but Thomas Oculan didn’t appear so that the prebend was given to Leche and Oculan was told to leave the prebend. This he refused to do and the papal mandate to the prior of St. John was examine the case. They were to remove Thomas Oculan if they found his occupation to be illegal and to publicly excommunicate him if he did not leave.[55]  
    
Towards the end of the fifteenth century St. John’s priory in Ardee disappeared from the papal registers. Other houses/hospitals of Fratres Cruciferi continued to appear such as the priory of St. Mary de Urso, Drogheda in 1494 and the priory of St. Leonard, Dundalk in 1506.[56]

Parishes of the priory
     
The priory of St. John the Baptist was located on the south side of the River Dee surrounded by its own parishes. The parish of Ardee was situated north of the river and encompassed the town and surrounding area. It would appear that the advowson of the parish of Ardee remained with the lord of the manor. Up to 1302 Ardee was owned by the Pipard family. In that year Ralph Pipard gave most of his Irish lands to King Edward I including any advowsons he had to various churches.[57] The advowson to the parish of Ardee seems to have remained with the future lords of the manor. Yet for a number of decades in the fifteenth century the priory of St. John claimed to have the presentation.
    
In about 1431 the priory of St. John contested the right of Thomas de la Faunte, lord of Ardee, to have the presentation and claimed it for the priory. An inquisition was held at Drogheda in September 1431 before John Prene, archdeacon of Armagh. Here nineteen jurors found that de la Faunte was the owner of the advowson and Prene issued a certificate to that effect.[58] Subsequently the vicar of Ardee, William Smith, resigned the position and was granted a pension out of the parish of £10 per annum. Because Thomas de la Faunte was under age at the time it was the king who held right of presentation and by this authority William Core was appointed vicar.[59]
    
William Core served as vicar of Ardee for nearly fifty years. He died around January/February 1479. On 19 March Henry Corkeran, archdeacon of Armagh, held an inquisition at Ardee into the vacancy and patronage of the vicarage. Two brothers of St. John’s priory came to say that the proposed vicar, John Cashel, could not be instituted unless by presentation of the priory. Twenty jurors found the vicarage to be vacant for more than a month following the death of Core. Yet on the question of patronage the juror’s decision was not recorded. Shortly after this John Cashel was made vicar of Ardee.[60]
    
Nearly thirty years later the priory had secured strong title to the parish of Ardee but the conditions of the title were not always pleasing. John White, the vicar of St. Mary’s, Ardee, was entitled to a pension of £10 from the parish. The one time vicar, John Cashel, now prior of St. John’s, refused to accepted responsibility for the pension. Archbishop Octavian published a decree that the priory had to pay. Prior Cashel protested that the archbishop’s decree was unfair as John White had refused to abide by previous judgements. In June 1508 Prior Cashel sent an appeal to Rome to decide the matter.[61]
    
To find the parishes that the priory did have better title to we have to look in various documents. In 1546 the then archbishop of Armagh, George Dowdall said that the archbishopric of Armagh had a number of procurations and synodals from property belonging to St. John’s priory. These charges included a procuration from the priory along with a synodal from the rectory of Ardee. A further synodal was due from each of the seven chapels belonging to the priory. These chapels were Mosstown, Knock, Shanlis, Charleston, Mapstown, Arthurstown and Tallanstown.[62] An undated document from the time of Archbishop Milo Sweteman (1361-1380) said the synodal charge on these chapels was 6d each while the procuration charge was 9 marks.[63]
    
We are told in a document of 1411 that from time immemorial the priory of St. Mary’s of Louth and St. John’s priory at Ardee had joint interest in two parishes in the diocese of Clogher. These parishes were Dounaghmayn (Donaghmoyne) and Rosse (Maghcross). The papal taxation of 1302 valued these parishes as 20s and 10 s respectively.[64]  
    
In 1411 Gilbert Oscheyg, a clerk in Clogher diocese, disputed the title of both priories to the parishes. The priories took appealed to the court of Armagh and to the Apostolic See. In February 1411 Archbishop Nicholas of Armagh issued a mandate to the clergy of Clogher to inhibit Oscheyg from disturbing the parishes while the appeal is pending.[65]
    
Many years later before 1456 other people began to disturb the rights of St. Johns in its Clogher parishes. Gerald and Peter O’Bryn were the perpetrators as they usurped the incomes in the parishes of Donaghmoyne, Maghcross and Clone. Prior Alan Ashe was unable to evict the invaders. Instead he got Brother James Lyndessey, prior of St. Mary’s prior, Louth as subcustodian of the spiritualities of Armagh, to issue a mandate to Roger Maguire, bishop of Clogher and the clergy of both diocese to help.[66]    
    
In 1443 the vicarage of Donaghmoyne in County Monaghan was valued at 8 marks.[67] In 1506 the vicarage of Maghcross was valued at 3 marks[68] and by 1516 this had increased to less than 5 marks.[69]

The first half of the fifteenth century
     
At the beginning of the fifteenth century Brother John Palmer was prior of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Ardee. Some time before January 1412 Prior Palmer resigned. On 27 January the brothers of the priory met and with the help of the Holy Spirit they were animously inspired to elect John Broun, a priest, as their next prior. A decree of the election sent to Archbishop Nicholas was signed by Brothers William Gernon, William Say and John Paker. They prayed for confirmation of the election and the installation of the new prior by the archdeacon of Armagh. This decree was signed in the cloister of the priory which seems a strange place to sign letters in the middle of winter.[70] The joy of the occasion must have warmed their hearts and dispelled the cold.
    
The community selected their senior brother, William Gernon, to act as proctor in seeking the confirmation from Archbishop Nicholas to the election of John Broun.[71] The Gernon family were of long standing in the land of Louth and Meath.
    
On 12 May 1425 a large group of important people, both locally and nationally, gathered in chamber of the prior in the Hospital of St. John at Ardee. Among the locals who came were Sir Bartholomew Verdun, Sir John Hadsor, Sir James White, sheriff of Louth and Richard Gernon, squire. The occasion was a conference between the king’s lieutenant in Ireland James Butler, Earl of Ormond and the three McMaghon brothers. The McMaghan brothers swore loyalty to the English king and made agreement to put in place compensation procedures for losses among the English in Ireland for McMaghon transgressions.[72]
    
At some time in the first half of the fifteenth century John Broun was succeeded as prior by William Say.[73] He was followed Brother Richard Ashe who served as prior until his death in 1431. Henry Cusack, a cleric from outside the priory, was then unanimously elected prior.[74] By 1447 Alan Ash had succeeded as prior. In January 1447 Prior Alan was appointed proctor for the clergy of Armagh at the parliament called for Trim in that month.[75] Brother Alan was still prior in around 1456.[76]
   
The second half of the fifteenth century
     
Brother Reginald Dovane was the prior of St. John’s priory up to his death before June 1470. Under Prior Reginald the number of brothers in the priory reached a very low level. This caused problems in the election of his successor as by June 1470 there were only two brothers left, namely; Brothers Richard Harvey and William Algode. The two brothers came before Archbishop John Bole in the chapel of the priory to resolve the issue of a new prior. The archbishop stressed the need for a new prior in order to safeguard the possessions of the priory. Yet with only two brothers they could not hold an election.
    
To add further complications to the situation, the two brothers could not agree on a compromise candidate. Instead they were assigned John Stackpole and Henry Corkeran as legal counsel. After hearing what the legal counsel had to say the two brothers recited the Veni Creator before the high altar. They then returned to the Archbishop and agreed to comprise on a suitable prior.[77] We are not told who the successful suitable prior was but John Stackpole seems to be the winner. Master John was described as prior of Ardee in January 1471.[78] Although the name of St. John the Baptist is not written in the document it is usually implied that when talking about a prior of Ardee that St. John’s is house and not the Carmelite friary.
    
The difficulties in electing a new prior present us with information about the priory of St. John that we may not otherwise have discovered. An inventory of goods belonging to the priory was made by four appointed officials.[79] The disputed election also offers us a picture of some debts of the priory in 1470.[80]
    
Brother William Water was prior of the St. John’s priory in 1476. In that year Prior William was first witness at a hearing held in the main hall of the priory into a sentence of excommunication against Peter Roger, vicar of St. Mary’s, Carlingford.[81]
    
In February 1482 Archbishop Octavian of Armagh made an ordinary visitation upon St. John’s priory. It was customary for bishops and archbishops to make visitations upon the religious houses in their dioceses so as to see that proper management was in place. The archbishop first read proofs to his authority and then proceeded to read out some injunctions against the priory. The nature of these injunctions has not survived but the some were not acceptable. The prior issued a protest and lodged an appeal against the injunctions. Archbishop Octavian was not concerned by the protestations. Instead, as he near the end of his visit, he commanded that the priory pay all the procuration fees that it owed.[82]
    
This latter request for payment of procurations was not that St. John’s was a slow payer of its bills. The archbishop requested the same money on his visits to other houses.[83]
    
By 1485 the former vicar of St. Mary’s parish, Ardee had become prior of St. John’s priory. John Cashel had served as vicar from 1479 until 1481 and his appointment to the vicarage was possibly by way of approval from St. John’s. In January 1485 Prior Cashel presided over a synod of the clergy of Armagh in the English area along with Henry Corkeran.[84]      
    
During the Parliament of Henry VIII held at Dublin in June 1493 an Act of Resumption was passed. The members of Commons complained that the they were reduced to penury and poverty due to robberies, extortions, war and other reasons such that they were unable to fund the Dublin government. They requested that all royal grants of castles, manors, revenues, fee-farms, etc., made since 1422 should be taken back into crown ownership. By this means the crown revenue would be increase to pay for its expenditure and by result the commons members would have less taxation. A great body of boroughs, religious houses and individuals were excluded from the implications of the Act. Prior John and the convent of St. John the Baptist at Ardee got an exemption to protect all gifts they received since 1422.[85]

Ardee manor   
     
In May 1319 John de Bermingham of County Louth was granted the manor of Ardee.[86] In 1325 Walter de la Pulle made a request to be granted the manor of Ardee.[87]
    
In the 1340s the manor of Ardee was held by Eustace le Poer in right of his wife Maud. During this time le Poer leased the manor to Roger and Robert de Preston for life. At the same time le Poer pledged mainprise for Maurice, Earl of Desmond but when the Earl did not appear le Poer’s lands were declared forfeit and taken into the king’s hand. But le Poer died soon after and the king’s ministers were instructed to deliver the manor to Maud le Poer.[88]  
    
In the time of Richard II the manor of Ardee was held by Walter Lenfaunt as tenant in chief. Following Walter’s death the manor was taken into the king’s hands during the minority of Walter’s son, Thomas. In the 7th year of Richard II Philip de Courtenay agreed to pay Walter Reynell £106 13s 4d for the custody of the manor and marriage of the heir.[89]
    
Ardee castle 

The manor of Ardee was held of the king by Lavallan Nugent of Braklyn in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. His widow, Elizabeth Plunkett, held her one third dower share until her death on 3 January 1529. Before her death the two thirds portion of Ardee manor was held by Robert Barnewall of Dromnagh.[90] In 1555 Thomas Nugent of Bracclyn, Co. Westmeath was found to hold one third of the manor of Ardee at his death in 1553.[91]
    
In February 1569 Edward Barnewall of Dromnagh granted two parts of the manor of Ardee to Christopher Barnewall of Gracedieu, Sir Patrick Barnewall of Stacullen, Mark Barnewall of Dunbro, John Barnewall of Brymore and John Barnewall of Lespopell.[92]
    
In May 1597 Maurice O’Cullen of Dromnagh, yeoman, granted to Sir Patrick Barnewall of Gracedieu and others two parts of the manor of Ardee along with other property. This land was given for the use of Mark Barnwell who died in July 1597 leaving a daughter Elizabeth, wife of James Barnewall of Brymore.[93]

The final years
     
In January 1509 Prior John Cashel journeyed to Termonfeckin to defend the rights of the priory to the tithes of Toryeslondes. John Nangle, vicar of Kildemok and Richard Kelly appeared before Prior Cashel on that matter.[94]
    
George Dowdall was the prior in 1524.[95] On 20 June 1536 George Dowdall was a party with Christopher Dowdall of Arthurstown, Patrick Fleming, James Taaffe of Lyaghestown, and Richard Taaffe of Cokeston along with Janico Taaffe, horseman to a charter concerning property of Patrick Fleming of Kells, Co. Meath. The wording of this charter has not survived.[96]
    
In 1536 Prior George Dowdall was described as ‘a papistical fellow (able to corrupt the whole country’. The priory was at the same time described as ‘serveth to no purpose’. At that time the priory was valued at £100.[97]
    
In May 1537 it was found that William Mann, rector of Maudlynstown and Ardee was absent from his parishes since June 1534. The two parishes were valued at 40 marks per annum. A later enquiry in 1541 found William Mann still absent from the vicarage of Ardee. The vicarage was valued at £10 per annum.[98]
    
Prior George Dowdall surrendered the priory on 6 December 1539 and got a pension of £20.[99] Around the same month O’Neill attacked the priory. He made waste of some property while burning other parts. When the valuation jurors came to St. John’s priory a year later much of this destruction was still waste and was excluded from the priory’s valuation.[100]
    
On 30 September 1540 the valuation jurors arrived at Ardee. They said that the church could be thrown down while all the other buildings were necessary for the farmer. The possessions included over 780 acres, a castle, numerous messuages and cottages along with eight chapels. The gross value of the priory was £125 19s while the net value was £107 17s.[101]
    
During 1540 dispositions were taken from members of the king’s council in Ireland and from many others concerning the treasons and misdemeanours committed by Lord Leonard Grey while Lord Deputy of Ireland. George Dowdall, as prior of St. John’s, gave evidence against Grey.[102]
    
On 18 May 1542 George Dowdall, the late prior of St. John’s, Ardee was assigned to work with three others, namely; Lord Louth, Sir John Plunkett and Sir James Gernon to settle disputes between leaders of the O’Neill country. Bryan O’Neill took prey from his father, Lord O’Neill and took them to Phelim Roe O’Neill who consumed the prey. The four persons were to adjudicate the matter.[103]
    
On 21 June 1542 the late prior George Dowdall was a juror at Trim in the arbitration between Lord O’Neill and Phelim Roe O’Neill.[104] Later in Tuesday after the feast of St. Peter, George Dowdall and the Baron of Louth were to sit before a number of people to determine the meters and bounds of Lord O’Neill’s territory in Tyrone.[105]
    
John Travers was the occupying farmer of St. John’s priory around 1541.[106]
    
In 1544 George Dowdall was appointed archbishop of Armagh by Henry VIII.[107] Archbishop Dowdall did not long enjoy his new position. The dignity of the primate position was always the pride and joy of the archbishop’s of Armagh for many centuries. But the new government King Edward VI took away the primacy and gave it to the archbishop of Dublin. Soon Archbishop Dowdall came under attack and was forced to flee the country. In his absence the property of Armagh was taken by various persons.[108]
    
Shortly after the Protestant King Edward VI died, and was succeeded by the Catholic Queen Mary. George Dowdall sensed an opportunity and renounced his schism from the Catholic Church. As a reward Queen Mary granted him the priory of Ardee for life in 1554.[109] The priory property was at that time valued at 80 marks.[110]
    
On 3 March 1571 Edward Moore was granted a lease on the priory of St. John’s along with the eight attached chapels, namely; Moorestown, Knock, Richardstown, Stickillen, Shanlis, Charlestown, Mapstown and Tallanstown in Co. Louth. This grant was for 21 years at a rent of £79 3s 4d per annum.[111] In 1579 the site and property of St. John’s priory was granted to Edward Moore for 41 years from the end of the 1571 grant. This grant was at the reduced rent of £35 17s 4d per year. As part of the grant a detailed inquisition was made of the former priory’s property.[112]
    
The property included the former hospital site along with a temple (or former church), a garden, a dovecote, 11 acres beside the New Mill, 15 acres called Ashfield, 10 acres beside the Friar’s Gate, 1 acre called Little Park, a field of 1 acres beside Keith’s Bridge, 15 acres beside Knockony, 5 acres beside Arreballagh, and a field opposite the West Gate. Moore also got a field of 2 acres beside the mill and a mill along with 14 acres at Killymocke, the fish weir of Babesland and an eel pass called Curraghweir.
    
There was also 17 acres in Atherdee, 2 acres in Ardballagh with 16 messuages and 5 gardens in same, the custom of the toll booth at Mansfieldtown, 26s 8d out of 40 acres in the grange of Shanlies, 213 acres and 8 cottages in the manor of Shanlis and the customs of the tenants of same. There was 30 acres in Purchestown, 80 acfes in Mullaghclo with the customs of same, 40 acres in Knock, 15 acres in Hurlestown, 1 messuage and 1 acre in Pohellstown, 120 acres in Blackstown and 60 acres at Babestown with the custom of same.[113]  
    
An enquiry taken in August 1605 found that Edward Moore was in arrears of his rent by £235 2s 8d. The Dublin government declared the remainder of his term was forfeited.[114] Yet the site of the priory remained in the Moore family. In 1616 Sir Garret Moore, baron of Mellifont, transferred the priory along with other property to his sons Thomas and Charles Moore.[115]

Over the succeeding centuries the site of the priory of St. John the Baptist at Ardee was built upon with houses, corn mills and tan yards. Today (2017) the site of the priory, bounded by Bridge Street and William Street, shows little trace above the ground of its former religious life. This article will hopefully bring some of that life back from the pages of the past.

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[1] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland (Irish Academic Press, Blackrock, 1988), p. 210
[2] Calendar of the patent rolls, Edward 3, vol. 4, p. 444 – accessed from
[3] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), Registrum Octaviani Alias Liber Niger: The Register of Octavian de Palatio archbishop of Armagh 1478-1513 (2 vols. Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1999), nos. 127, 476
[4] Calendar of the patent rolls, Edward 3, vol. 4, pp. 444-5
[5] Calendar of the patent rolls, Edward 3, vol. 4, p. 444
[6] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[7] Eric St. John Brooks (ed.), Register of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist without the New Gate, Dublin (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1936), p. vii
[8] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 208
[9] Nigel Heard, The Dominance of the East (Blandford press, London, 1968), pp. 83-6
[10] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 208
[11] Clarence L. Barnhart (ed.), The World Book Dictionary (2 vols. Field Enterprises, Chicago, 1975), vol. 1, p. 1013
[12] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 208
[13] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 208
[14] Anne P. Fuller (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland (7 vols. Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1978-ongoing), vol. XVI, no. 545
[15] Anne P. Fuller (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XVII, part 1, no. 416
[16] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 215
[17] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 208
[18] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 209
[19] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[20] Harold G. Leask, Irish churches and monastic buildings (3 vols. Dundalgan Press, Dundalk, 1966), vol. 2, p. 22
[21] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[22] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[23] Philomena Connolly (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments (Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1998), pp. 178, 185, 192, 590, 597
[24] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[25] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 209
[26] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland (5 vols. Kraus-Thomson, Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. 2 (1252-1284), p. 381
[27] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 5 (1302-1307), no. 157
[28] J.E.E.S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem preserved in the Public Record Office (14 vols. Kraus-Thomson, reprint, 1973), vol. 5, no. 583
[29] W.H. Bliss (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland (14 vols. Stationery Office, London, 1893-1960), vol. II, p. 171
[30] J.S. Brewer and William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew manuscripts preserved in the Archiepiscopal library at Lambeth (Kraus-Thomson, Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. 5, p. 396
[31] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XIV, p. 282
[32] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions formerly in the Office of the Chief Remembrancer of the Exchequer prepared from the Mss of the Irish Record Commission (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1991), no. H VIII 195/57
[33] www.archaeology.ie/NationalMonuments/FlexViewer and search under County Louth and Ardee 
[34] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 127
[35] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming archbishop of Armagh 1404-1416 (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 2003), nos. 63, 79
[36] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming archbishop of Armagh, no. 195
[37] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 296
[38] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 404
[39] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 332
[40] Paul Dryburgh and Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar of Sources for Medieval Ireland in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (National Archives U.K. & Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 222
[41] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions formerly in the Office of the Chief Remembrancer of the Exchequer prepared from the Mss of the Irish Record Commission (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1991), no. H VIII 28/27
[42] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Milo Sweteman archbishop of Armagh 1361-1380 (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1996), no. 250
[43] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming archbishop of Armagh 1404-1416 (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 2003), no. 4
[44] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13
[45] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, no. 71
[46] W.H. Bliss and J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. VI, p. 75
[47] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, no. 195
[48] W.G.H. Quigley and E.F.D. Roberts (eds.), Registrum Iohannis Mey: The Register of John Mey Archbishop of Armagh, 1443-1456 (Stationery Office, Belfast, 1972), pp. 300-2, 306
[49] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, nos. 45, 195
[50] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 127
[51] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 22
[52] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 534
[53] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. VII, p. 43
[54] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. VII, p. 559
[55] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. X, p. 459
[56] Anne P. Fuller (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XVI, no. 349; Michael J. Hearn (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XVIII, no. 652
[57] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 5 (1302-1307), nos. 149, 155
[58] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 56
[59] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 53
[60] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, nos. 18, 22
[61] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 202
[62] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions formerly in the Office of the Chief Remembrancer of the Exchequer prepared from the Mss of the Irish Record Commission (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1991), no. H VIII 192/55
[63] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Milo Sweteman archbishop of Armagh 1361-1380 (Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, 1996), no. 248
[64] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of documents relating to Ireland, vol. 5 (1302-1307), p. 212
[65] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, no. 151
[66] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 85
[67] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. IX, p. 397
[68] Michael J. Hearn (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XVIII, no. 680
[69] Anne P. Fuller (ed.), Calendar of Papal Letters relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol. XX, no. 597
[70] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, no. 195
[71] Brendan Smith (ed.), The register of Nicholas Fleming of Armagh, nos. 194, 195
[72] Paul Dryburgh and Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar of Sources for Medieval Ireland in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, pp. 216-222
[73] W.G.H. Quigley and E.F.D. Roberts (eds.), Registrum Iohannis Mey: The Register of John Mey Archbishop of Armagh, 1443-1456 (Stationery Office, Belfast, 1972), pp. 77, 102, 300-2
[74] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 52
[75] W.G.H. Quigley and E.F.D. Roberts (eds.), The Register of John Mey of Armagh, pp. 77, 102, 300-2
[76] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 85
[77] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 127
[78] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 364
[79] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 128
[80] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 129
[81] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 296
[82] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 404
[83] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, nos. 400, 403
[84] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 397
[85] Philomena Connolly (ed.), Statute rolls of the Irish Parliament: Richard III-Henry VIII (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2002), pp. xxxii, 113, 119
[86] Charles McNeill (ed.), ‘Harris: collectanea de rebus Hibernicis’, in Analecta Hibernica, no. 6 (1934), p. 340
[87] James Hogan (ed.), ‘Miscellanea of the Chancery, London’, in Analecta Hibernica, no. 1 (1930), p. 191
[88] Philomena Connolly (ed.), ‘Irish material in the class of ancient petitions (SC8) in the Public Record Office, London’ in Analecta Hibernica no. 34 (1987), p. 22
[89] Calendar of the patent rolls, Richard 2, vol. 2, p. 544
[90] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. H VIII 43/27 (c)
[91] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. P & M 1/27
[92] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. J I 64 (1)
[93] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. J I 44/31
[94] Mario Alberto Sughi (ed.), The Register of Octavian de Palatio of Armagh, no. 544
[95] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[96] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. Eliz 39/186
[97] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[98] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, nos. H VIII 100/120, 140/131
[99] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[100] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[101] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[102] J.S. Brewer and William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew manuscripts preserved in the Archiepiscopal library at Lambeth (Kraus-Thomson, Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. 1, p. 171
[103] J.S. Brewer and William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew manuscripts, vol. 1, p. 188
[104] J.S. Brewer and William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew manuscripts, vol. 1, pp. 190-1
[105] J.S. Brewer and William Bullen (eds.), Calendar of the Carew manuscripts, vol. 1, p. 192
[106] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[107] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[108] Charles McNeill (ed.), ‘Harris: collectanea de rebus Hibernicis’, in Analecta Hibernica, no. 6 (1934), p. 361
[109] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[110] Charles McNeill (ed.), ‘Harris: collectanea de rebus Hibernicis’, in Analecta Hibernica, no. 6 (1934), p. 361
[111] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. J I 27/26
[112] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland, p. 210
[113] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. H VIII 28/27
[114] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. J I 28/27
[115] Margaret C. Griffith (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions of the Exchequer, no. A 32