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Defending the English Pale: the viceroyalty of Richard Nugent, third baron of Delvin, 1527–8

  • Steven G. Ellis (a1)

Abstract

The kidnapping by the local chief, O'Connor Faly, of Henry VIII's governor, Lord Delvin, in 1528 plunged the Dublin administration into crisis. Delvin was the most obvious – but not entirely surprising – casualty of an ingenious but flawed experiment by the king, aimed at bolstering as governor a reliable border baron by harnessing to his governorship the manraed of the traditional ruling magnate, so saving the cost to the king of a border garrison. Delvin's weak administration underlined the low priority accorded to Irish affairs at Henry VIII's court; but even after its predictable collapse, the king disclaimed responsibility. Against advice at court and in Ireland, the king then insisted on reappointing a previously unsuccessful governor, thus simply compounding the difficulties faced by the Dublin administration.

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*Department of History, National University of Ireland, Galway, steven.ellis@nuigalway.ie

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1 For an account of his long career, see S. G. Ellis, ‘Nugent, Richard, third Baron Delvin (d. 1538)’ in Oxford D.N.B. The governors of Tudor Ireland served under a range of titles, depending in part on their perceived status and mode of appointment, from lieutenant (the most honourable), to deputy (to the lieutenant, if there was one, or to the king), to justiciar (if elected by the council, later lord justice). Delvin was vice-deputy, because appointed by the king's deputy, Kildare; but it is unclear whether his commission, probably drawn up at court on this occasion, was in Kildare's name or the king's.

2 T.C.D., MS 543/2, sub anno 1528.

3 For the political background, Quinn, D. B., ‘The reemergence of English policy as a major factor in Irish affairs, 1520–34’ in Cosgrove, Art (ed.), A new history of Ireland, ii: Medieval Ireland, 1169–1534 (Oxford, 1987), pp 673–6; Ellis, S. G., Tudor frontiers and noble power: the making of the British state (Oxford, 1995), pp 180–85; Power, Gerald, A European frontier elite: the nobility of the English Pale in Tudor Ireland, 1496–1566 (Hannover, 2012), pp 6871. For a different interpretation, Fitzpatrick, Fiona, ‘Wolsey, the native affinities, and the failure of reform in Henrician Ireland’ in Edwards, David (ed.), Regions and rulers in Ireland, 1100–1650 (Dublin, 2004), pp 110–17. Manraed denoted the number of men (servants, kin, clients, and retainers) a lord could call on for military service in wartime.

4 See, for instance, Ellis, S. G., ‘The great earl of Kildare (1456–1513) and the creation of the English Pale’ in Crooks, Peter and Duffy, Seán (eds), The Geraldines and medieval Ireland: the making of a myth (Dublin, 2016), pp 325–40; idem, Tudor frontiers and noble power, esp. chapters 4, 6.

5 For a succinct survey of these developments, Ellis, S. G., Ireland in the age of the Tudors, 1447–1603: English expansion and the end of Gaelic rule (London, 1998), pp 118–30. An edition of a reform treatise written about this time is ‘Robert Cowley's “A discourse of the cause of the evil state of Ireland and of the remedies thereof”, c.1526’, ed. David Heffernan, in Anal. Hib., no. 48 (2017), pp 1–30.

6 T.N.A., SP 60/6, f. 119 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (i), no. 883).

7 Ibid.; Niocaill, Gearóid Mac (ed.), Crown surveys of lands, 1540–41 (Dublin, 1992), p. 246.

8 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 117; Mac Niocaill (ed.), Crown surveys of lands 1540–41 (Dublin, 1992), pp 246, 259, 328.

9 Fiants Ire., Henry VIII, nos 13, 14; 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 [hereafter cited as Cal. Inq. Co. Dublin] (Dublin, 1991), p. 18. Developments in early Tudor Meath are discussed in Ellis, S. G., Defending English ground: war and peace in Meath and Northumberland, 1460–1542 (Oxford, 2015), chapter 5.

10 Parliament rolls, 3 Edward IV, cc 41–3 (Stat. Ire., 1–12 Edw. IV, pp 134–9), 15 & 16 Edward IV, c. 15 (Stat. Ire., 12–22 Edw. IV, pp 278–81), 16 & 17 Edward IV, c. 33 (Stat. Ire., 12–22 Edw. IV, pp 514–17); Elizabeth Matthew, ‘Nugent, Richard, first Baron Delvin, and baron of Delvin (d. 1475)’ in Oxford D.N.B.

11 Cal. Inq. Co. Dublin, pp 320–21.

12 Mac Niocaill (ed.), Crown surveys of lands, p. 74; White, N. B. (ed.), Extents of Irish monastic possessions, 1540–41 (Dublin, 1943), pp 270–4.

13 Fiants Ire., Henry VIII, p. 8; Mac Niocaill (ed.), Crown surveys of lands 1540–41, pp 70–5; Parliament roll, 15 & 16 Edward IV, c. 89 (Stat. Ire., 12–22 Edw. IV, pp 454–7); Cal. Inq. Co. Dublin, p. 322.

14 Ellis, Defending English ground, p. 128.

15 Cal. Inq. Co. Dublin, pp 18, 322.

16 Ellis, Defending English ground, p. 90.

17 Cal. Inq. Co. Dublin, p. 322.

18 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 126.

19 T.N.A., SP 1/51, ff 18–19 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4933, misplaced in 1528); S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 126.

20 Cal. Carew MSS, Book of Howth, pp 183–4, 186; Ellis, S. G., ‘Henry VII and Ireland, 1491–1496’ in Lydon, James (ed.), England and Ireland in the later middle ages (Dublin, 1981), p. 246.

21 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 126; Ellis, S. G., Reform and revival: English government in Ireland, 1470–1534 (Woodbridge, 1986), pp 25, 7071.

22 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 126, 503; Ellis, Defending English ground, pp 43–4, 113. Previously, the earl of Kildare, as deputy, had billeted his troops when journeying through the Pale maghery, but for no more than a night and a day in each place.

23 T.N.A., SP 1/51, ff 18–19 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4933), SP 60/1, ff 111–112v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4094), f. 116 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4264).

24 T.N.A., SP 1/45, ff 264–5 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 3698), ff 266–7 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 3699), SP 1/51 ff 18–19 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4933), SP 60/1 ff 111–12 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4094), f. 127 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4302), ff 139–140v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5392); Ellis, Tudor frontiers and noble power, pp 135–6.

25 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 126; T.N.A., SP 60/1 ff 139–140v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5392); L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 3698 (quotation).

26 T.N.A., SP 60/1, ff 139–40v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5392).

27 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 135.

28 T.N.A., SP 60/1, ff 111–12v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4094).

29 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 129. Fitzsimons, Fiona, ‘The lordship of O'Connor faly, 1520–70’ in Nolan, William and O'Neill, Timothy P. (eds), Offaly: history and society (Dublin, 1998), pp 207–42 surveys the fortunes of this prominent border chief.

30 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 127, 129; T.N.A., SP 60/1, f. 116 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4264), ff 139–40 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5392); Christopher Maginn and S. G. Ellis (ed.), The Tudor discovery of Ireland (Dublin, 2015), p. 81.

31 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 129, 130, 135; T.N.A., SP 60/1, f. 116 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4264); Ellis, Defending English ground, pp 116–17. T.C.D., MS 594, ff 23–4v, 29v–31 includes a rental of Christopher Cusack's estates, suggesting that they were worth almost £68 a year.

32 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 127–8, 129; T.N.A., SP 60/1, f. 116 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4264).

33 Ormond deeds, 150947, no. 144.

34 T.N.A., SP 60/1, f. 116 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4264), ff 127–8v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4302); Ellis, Tudor frontiers and noble power, p. 136.

35 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 130–34.

36 Ormond deeds, 150947, nos 115, 136–7, 139.

37 T.N.A., SP 60/1, f. 129 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4422).

38 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 134; T.N.A., SP 60/1, ff 127–8v (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4302); Ormond deeds, 150947, no. 140.

39 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 135–6.

40 B.L., Titus B XI (II), ff 306–8 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4510).

41 S.P. Hen. VIII, i, 320, ii, 136–40.

42 B.L., Titus B XI (II), ff 349–50 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 4562); S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 140n.

43 T.C.D., MS 543/2, sub anno 1528.

44 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 145–7; T.N.A., SP 60/1, ff 139–40 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5392).

45 T.C.D., MS 543/2, sub anno 1528.

46 N.A.I., Statute roll, 28–9 Hen. VIII c. 1 (Stat. Ire., Ric. IIIHen. VIII, p. 149); L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, nos 5748 (2), 5815 (8), 6363 (8).

47 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 144–7, 503; L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv, no. 5349.

48 S.P. Hen. VIII, ii, 146.

49 Ormond deeds, 150947, no. 144.

50 ‘in consideration that the greatest part of the said county is destroyed, plundered & devastated through many extortions plunderings & burnings done this present year by the now O'Connor himself & his accomplices and also diverse other injuries to our lieges dwelling in the same county’ (Memoranda roll, 20 Hen. VIII m.18d (commission appointing collectors of the subsidy: N.A.I., Ferguson coll., iv, f. 137)).

51 Memoranda roll, 20 Hen. VIII m.18d (extracts of the council minute: B.L., Add. MS 4791, f. 202v; St Peter's College, Wexford, Hore MS I, pp 1169–70). Most of the enrolment is reproduced in Quinn, D. B., ‘The Irish parliamentary subsidy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries’ in R.I.A. Proc., sect. c, xlii (1935), pp 241–2.

52 Ellis, Ireland in the age of the Tudors, pp 130–48, 367–8.

Defending the English Pale: the viceroyalty of Richard Nugent, third baron of Delvin, 1527–8

  • Steven G. Ellis (a1)

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