Turtle Bunbury

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Ballynatray Chronicles


Chapter 2: Sir Walter Raleigh & Thomas Hariot - New Dawn for Molana Abbey

The following comes from a history of Ballynatray House outside Youghal in Co. Waterford, Ireland. I place the story on view to the world as the world so often responds with unimagined new pieces for jigsaws like these. In time, I will amend, update and illustrate.

Munster in the 16th Century

Between the 12th and 16th centuries, the kingdom of Munster was dominated by two rival dynasties - the FitzGeralds, also known as the Geraldines, headed by the Earl of Desmond, and the Butlers, headed by the Earl of Ormond. By 1540, the monasteries of Ireland had been closed down and the church lands re-granted to a new elite considered worthy of royal patronage by the English Protestant administration in Dublin Castle. The power of both Butler and FitzGerald was thus significantly reduced. However, in 1546, the Earldom of Ormonde passed to 15-year-old 'Black Tom' Butler, a close relation of Queen Elizabeth through the Boleyn family. (1) In 1558, the Desmond estates were inherited by Gerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, a defiant Catholic with strong links to England's enemies in Rome and Madrid. Desmond nurtured the ancient enmity between the FitzGeralds and Butlers and the two clans fought a bloody battle at Affane on the Blackwater. The Lord Deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, subsequently imprisoned Desmond and leadership of the family temporarily passed to his ultra-Catholic cousin, James FitzMaurice. FitzMaurice went into open rebellion against the English, sparking off a four year long guerrilla war. By 1573, Desmond was back at large in Munster. Anglo-Spanish relations, already strained, were plummeting fast. Philip II threatened to send military assistance to Ireland. A number of English settlers in Munster were murdered. The situation continued to worsen as the 1570s wore on. Frustrated and fierce, the Elizabethan army began to respond with mounting aggression, laying waste to farmstead after farmstead and provoking widespread famine.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Into this unhappy foray there now stepped one of the stalwarts of Elizabethan England. Mary Turton, who spent much of her childhood at Ballynatray in the 1920s and 1930s, recalled a portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh by Segar in the dining room that 'hung behind the sideboard and was always being splashed by gravy and food'. After the death of Rowley Holroyd-Smyth, the Raleigh portrait was sold to the Irish National Gallery 'for a very large amount, despite its condition'. (2) Ballynatray's proximity to Youghal is such that Raleigh in inextricably linked with the estate. He became owner of both Ballynatray and Molana Abbey in 1587. The abbey was given to his friend, the brilliant mathematician Thomas Hariot while it was Robert Maule, one of Raleigh's two estate managers in Ireland, who most likely lived at Ballynatray in the late 16th century. When Raleigh's star waned and disgrace loomed, he sold his vast Irish estates directly to Richard Boyle, subsequently the Earl of Cork, for a token £1500. No history of Ballynatray could be complete without an examination of Sir Walter Raleigh, one of the most enigmatic adventurers, soldiers, scholars and courtiers to emerge of the Tudor Age. Much of the following was gleaned from an excellent biography, Sir Walter Raleigh (Allen Lane, 2002), written by his distant descendent, Raleigh Trevelyan.

Piratical Blood

Walter Raleigh was born in about 1554 in the small hamlet of East Budleigh not far from the red cliffs of Devon. (3) His family background was very much in the maritime tradition of prosperous Tudor merchants and shipbuilding families. He was a cousin of the Grenviles, Carews, Gorges, Drakes and Champernownes - and a half-brother of the sea-faring Gilbert brothers by his father's first marriage. His grandfather was stripped of all lands for participating in the Cornish Rising of 1497 but Raleigh's father, a Protestant zealot, recouped the fortunes during the Reformation era. In 1546, Raleigh's father was accused of personally swiping a cross of gold and silver from the dissolved church of St. Mary's in East Budleigh. Such dastardly habits clearly ran in the blood although the older Raleigh narrowly avoided a sticky end during the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 when the troops of Lord Grey de Wilton chanced upon his would-be assassins in the nick of time.

The Early Years

Young Walter grew up listening to the tales of the Cabots and the Hawkins families, courageous souls from his community who had voyaged unknown seas and brought home slaves and ivory, nutmeg and gold. His cousins, the Gilberts and Grenvilles, likewise returned from afar thick with tales from the wars against the French and the Ottoman Turks. By 1569, 16-year-old Walter was putting his crusading abilities to use, fighting alongside the Huguenots during the third of the devastating French Wars of Religion. He was present at the battle of Jarnac when the Huguenots forces were annihilated and the heroic Louis de Borbonne, Prince of Code, was slain. With his sad brown eyes, he watched entire towns put to the swords, women and children included. (4)

The Psychotic Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Even in 1569, the world was a rapidly changing place. Queen Elizabeth was about to be excommunicated. Mary, Queen of Scots was plotting another revolution. The Dutch Protestants were up in arms after the mass execution of thousands by the Duke of Alba. England was alive with anti-Catholic, anti-Spanish rhetoric. In Ireland, FitzMaurice's rebellion had left the east coast in tatters. The rebels were duly crushed with unprecedented brutality by an English army led by Raleigh's half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert. This violent man, educated at Eton and Oxford, was probably the man who first introduced Raleigh to Elizabeth. Gilbert's military policy held that 'no conquering nation will ever yield willingly their obedience for love but rather for fear'. Like most of his English contemporaries, he regarded the Celtic Irish as primitive barbarians, comparable to nettles, which sting even when handled gently. The only solution was to scythe them all down and on that score, Gilbert had no qualms. As Military Governor of Munster, he captured twenty-three castles and massacred all who resisted him, women and children included. Showing seriously Colonel Kurtz tendencies, the avenue leading to Gilbert's military tent was lined with an avenue of severed heads down which their subdued relatives had to walk and kneel before him. Gilbert's rule of terror had the desired effect of subduing protest within two months of his arrival. In his latter days, Raleigh would condemn such tactics but, as a young man, he was only too willing to play along with his half-brother's plans.

Smerwick Harbour

By 1573, FitzMaurice had surrendered to the Queen and an uneasy peace settled on Ireland for the next five years. In the spring of 1579 the Queen received word from her principal spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham that mischief was afoot. FitzMaurice was in Rome. The Pope, who had recently excommunicated Elizabeth, was preparing to proclaim Philip II of Spain the rightful heir to Ireland. A Spanish invasion force was in training. By the summer, FitzMaurice had landed with a fleet of three ships and one hundred men - Spanish, Italian and ex-patriate Irish -in the bleak, windswept bay of Smerwick Harbour on the Dingle peninsula. They built a simple earthwork fortress and settled in. They were not long there when pirates rounded the peninsula and made off with their ships. FitzMaurice made his way north in pursuit of support but ran into trouble and was shot and killed. The Italians and Spanish, isolated at Smerwick, decided to abandon their fort before the cold winter kicked in and were swiftly rounded up and executed by English soldiers. The Earl of Desmond, whose brothers were making regular raids on English settlements, was declared a traitor. Desmond was now in open rebellion against the Crown.

The Sack of Youghal

It is at this point in the turbulent history of Elizabethan Ireland that Youghal becomes relevant. In what Richard Berleth ('The Twilight Lords') calls a coincidence 'at once embarrassingly flamboyant and indisputably factual', a large section of Youghal's defensive wall collapsed within an hour of Desmond's proclamation of rebellion. The walled town had been a stronghold of the Desmonds since gifted by Robert FitzStephen to Maurice FitzGerald in 1215. However, it had long been amenable to English colonists and that was excuse enough for Desmond, along with his relative, the Seneschal of Imokilly, to attack, burn and plunder the town for five days solid. Nothing was spared. Even St. Mary's Church and Our Lady's College, which Desmond's forbears had founded, were 'well nigh demolished'. When Black Tom Ormonde recaptured the town some weeks later, he declared the town's 15th century walls to be in 'deplorable' condition and ordered them fortified. The Lord Mayor, Patrick Coppinger, was hanged from his own doorway for gross negligence. Ormonde claimed it was the sight of Youghal and the gruesome fate of its citizens that turned him against Desmond's 'cankered and alienated heart' ever after.

Maurice Fitz David of Ballynatray

One wonders whether the castle at Ballynatray was amongst those subdued with such violence by Sir Humphrey Gilbert. The earliest record we have is not until 1586 (28 Queen Elizabeth) when 'Maurice Fitz-William Fitz-David, of Ballynatray, was attainted with several others' for joining in the Desmond Rebellion. However, before the rebellion was over, Fitz-David was hanged by the Seneschal of Imokilly, presumably for defection. (5) His castle and lands were confiscated and, in 1587, were given to Sir Walter Raleigh. (6)

Lord Grey de Wilton

The sack of Youghal was quickly pursued by rumours of an impending invasion of Ireland by the Spanish. Raleigh's cousin, Sir Warham St. Leger, wrote to London urgently seeking reinforcements to support the 850 soldiers he had stationed in Cork. The Queen appointed a staunch Puritan called Lord Grey of Wilton to the post of Lord Deputy. He was swiftly dispatched to restore order in Ireland.

Raleigh's Call to Arms

In the Acts of the Privy Council for 11th July 1580, it is recorded that 'Walter Raleigh, gentleman, by the appointment of the Lord Grey is to have charge of one hundred of those men presently levied within the City of London to be transported for her Majesty's service in Ireland'. He duly sailed for Cork and joined St. Leger. The prospect of a war in Ireland for the spunky 26 year old was deeply exciting. Here in this land of opportunity he might not only prove himself in battle but he could also perhaps build up a fortune.

A Brute Amongst Brutes

Captain Walter Raleigh was a complicated character, at once the essence of the Elizabethan Renaissance and the vanguard of the more brutal sides of British imperialism. (7) Indeed, it is staggering to realise just how brutal the courtly knights of Elizabethan England could be. Raleigh was no exception. One of the first accounts of his activities in Ireland concerns the fate of James FitzGerald, brother to the Earl of Desmond, who was being held prisoner in Cork. He was dragged from his cell, hung until nearly dead and then hacked into little pieces. His head was set upon the main gate of the city and there became 'the prey of fowls'. The English may have cheered at the news that 'the pestilent hydra lost another of its heads' but Desmond's commitment to rebel was now absolute. Perhaps more alarmingly, the men who had cut his brother to shreds were commanded by Walter Raleigh.

The Massacre at Smerwick

The following October, a fleet of seven hundred well-armed Italians, mainly press-ganged from Papal gaols, arrived at FitzMaurice's fort in Smerwick Harbour with an Irish priest by name of William Walsh at the helm. When Lord Grey got word, he ordered the entire reserve of the English army to march for the Dingle Peninsula. This included Raleigh's contingent from Cork and various troops under the command of Black Tom Ormond. The army trudged through exceptionally heavy rain, devastating the land as they went. Lord Grey's secretary Edmund Spenser, wrote afterwards: 'At this time, not the lowing of a cow, or the voice of a ploughman, could be heard from Dunqueen in Kerry to Cashel in Munster'. On 7th November, with an English fleet blocking the harbour exit, Lord Grey's 3000-strong army began its bombardment of the Italian invaders. After some time the defenders raised a white flag and a truce party was sent out to parlay. They explained they were here on the Pope's behalf, 'to defend the Catholic faith', rather than as an advance army of any Spanish Armada. Lord Grey, who regarded the Pope as the antichrist, demanded that the defenders surrender. There would be no guarantees of life or death. At length, after further bombardment, the Italians did surrender. They were stripped of all clothing and arms. The fort was searched. A number of Irish women found within were strung up on gallows, their pleas of pregnancy ignored. Walsh and another priest were taken to the village and had their legs and arms smashed on an anvil by a blacksmith. Two days later, they were hanged, drawn and quartered. Two hundred soldiers, led by Captains Raleigh and Mackworth, were then sent into the Fort where they murdered over six hundred of the Italians. The effect of the massacre on Catholic Europe was comparable to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris or the Black Hole of Calcutta in 1756. Grey's name became synonymous with treachery. In fairness to Raleigh, when he was older and wiser and writing his History of the World, he frequently mourns the cruelty of warfare.

Skirmish at Ballinacurra

After Smerwick, Raleigh and his men went on the warpath in Munster. Now 28 years old, Raleigh began to cast his eye on various properties in the area. He was particularly taken by Barryscourt Castle between Cobh and Carrigtouhill. When he denounced its Anglo-Irish owner, Lord Barry, as a traitor, Lord Barry's son David burned the castle, destroyed the surrounding farmland and went on the run. Raleigh gave chase to the Ballinacurra ford outside Youghal. Barry lay in wait for him, alongside the Seneschal of Imokilly, with six horsemen and some kerns. Just as Raleigh and his small posse approached, the Seneschal's men attacked. In the ensuing melee, Raleigh distinguished himself when he saved the life of a fellow Devonian, Henry Moyle, who had been thrown from his horse. Possibly due to the incoming tide, the Seneschal failed to capitalise on his clear advantage and Raleigh escaped with the majority of his men.

Raleigh on the Rampage

Back in safety, Raleigh sent an update to London with a hint that he might be given the ruins of Barryscourt by way of a reward. Black Tom Ormond, by now Governor of Munster and General of the Queen's forces in Ireland, had taken a dislike to Raleigh. He turned down the Barryscourt request. Raleigh hurled silent abuse at Ormond and counselled the Queen that the Desmonds would 'rather did a thousand deaths, enter into a million mischiefs and seek succour of all nations rather than they will ever be subdued by a Butler (Ormond)'. He proposed that his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert be reappointed Governor of Munster. In the meantime, Raleigh became obsessed with Barryscourt. He wrote to the Lord Deputy, assuring him that he would rebuild the castle 'at mine own cost' and 'defend it for Her Majesty'.
As chance would have it, Ormond was recalled and Raleigh became one of three officers appointed to temporary command before the arrival of the new Governor, Sir John Zouch. Raleigh established his headquarters at Lismore and thereabouts 'in the country and in the woods [he] spent all this summer in continual action against the rebels'. This included two skirmishes with the renegade David Barry. On another occasion General Zouch sent Raleigh to arrest Lord Roche whose son was a supporter of Barry. Raleigh used his personal charm to gain access to Lord Roche's castle, breakfasted with his lordship and Lady Roche, and then announced that they were under arrest and must accompany him back to Cork. The castle where the Roches' lived would later form the basis of Castle Widenham, home to one of the sons of Grice Smyth of Ballynatray. But Raleigh was to be denied Barryscourt and he duly became bored with Ireland. The Desmonds had burned thirty-six English settlements but Raleigh had no money to pay his men to counter-attack. Moreover, the Queen had decided to reduce the size of the army.

The Strancally Murders

A particularly gruesome tale from this age is said to have occurred at nearby Strancally Castle, built by Raymond Le Gros, and apparently occupied by Spaniards. The story runs that the wily Spanish, eager to secure ownership of these lands, lured surrounding landlords to the castle for a banquet. After dinner, the guests were shown to their bedroom where there was a trapdoor. Once the trap was sprung, the unsuspecting landowner vanished through the floor into some subterranean cave where he would swiftly drown in the tidal Blackwater. At length somebody managed to escape and broke news of this infamous 'Murder Hole'. The Youghal garrison made haste for Strancally, routed the Spaniards and destroyed the castle.

The Jewish Mayor of Youghal & a Shakespearean Connection

Francis Annyas served as Mayor of Youghal in 1569, 1576 and 1581. It is sometimes said that he was Jewish. Indeed, Cecil Roth maintained that he was Jewish and that his sister Sarah married Rodrigo Lopez, the character upon whom Shakespeare based Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice’. The Shakespeare connection is curious as there is some speculation that the Bard might have once made a trip to Youghal and / or Molana Abbey. The Kassim family website also notes that a William Annyas was Mayor of Youghal in 1553, so one assumes he was an older brother, uncle or father. William Annyas is also mentioned, with Francis, in the Council Book of Youghal as "Agents of the town" in negotiations. There are also mentions of a Genette Annyas and a John Annyas. However, David Kelly (who discussed this case with Gerald Goldberg, former Lord Mayor of Cork) says that if Annyas was a Jew, it was covertly. The history of the Jews website does not mention him or Youghal. (With thanks to Eddie Cantwell and Kieran Groeger),

Famine in Munster

Raleigh left Ireland in December 1582, shortly before the outbreak of a gruesome famine, followed by a plague, which killed over 30,000 within six months. Edmund Spenser later wrote: 'Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them; they looked like anatomies of death, they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat of the dead carrion, happy were they if they could find them, yea, and one after another seen after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of the graves, and if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to feast'.

Forfeiture of the Desmond Estates

In 1583, the Earl of Desmond was betrayed by the Moriartys and captured in a wood outside Tralee. His severed head was sent to London and put on a pole on London Bride. 'And thus', wrote Hooker, 'a noble and ancient family, descended from out of the loins of princes, is now for treasons and rebellions utterly extinguished and overthrown'. As Desmond was a traitor, all his lands in Munster were now forfeited to the Crown. This vast empire amounted to some 300,000 acres of good land and included the town of Youghal and the lands and castle of Ballynatray. Youghal was already sparking interest in London from where Sir Francis Walsingham had been sponsoring English mining experts to explore possible silver and copper mines in the area. It was noted that the walled port was also conveniently located for communications with Wales and south west England.

Mr Rawley's Account of the Irish Rebellion

Raleigh's first experiences in Ireland had not been overly successful. He had inflamed his superiors and left with neither land nor fortune. However he had shown himself capable of immense brutality and, in the context of the times, to be considered a fearless man of action was vital to an ambitious soul. After Ireland, Raleigh began to make a serious impact on the Queen when he personally delivered his side of the story to her. His report, co-written by William Burghley, was entitled 'The Opinion of Mr. Rawley upon motions made by him for the means of subduing the Rebellion in Ireland'. In this summary, he reasoned that most Irish chieftains disliked Desmond and had only followed him out of fear. Moreover, echoing the very core of the divide and conquer policy, he suggested that Her Majesty might save considerable expense if she were able to convince the chieftains to police their own territories under the protection of the Crown.

A Royal Favourite

Raleigh's good looks, up-curling moustache, dark hair, extravagant costumes and brash confidence appealed to the Queen. Whether or not the 6 foot tall adventurer really laid down his cloak for her cannot be proved but he certainly impressed her quickly. (8) By 1583, the 29 year old was certainly the Royal favourite. She granted him two lucrative church leases and, more importantly, a wine monopoly which entitled him to charge every vintner in the realm £1 a year to retail wines; import permits also had to be obtained from him. He also became unofficial Royal Secretary and, as such, established his headquarters in Durham House, a fine palace, complete with orchard and garden, which lay on the banks of the Thames where the Adelphi is today. (9) It was from here that Raleigh plotted his various expeditions, the tables overflowing with books, maps and verulam charts as he and an ever-changing circle of friends considered new navigational devices, alchemic interpretations and alternative routes. Crucial to these discussions was the mathematician and astronomer Thomas Hariot who would, in due course, become the owner of Molana Abbey.

The First Colony of Virginia

Raleigh's relationship with the Queen precluded him from joining Sir Humphrey Gilbert's fatal voyage to Newfoundland in June 1583. That September, Sir Humphrey and his ship, the Squirrel, were 'devoured by the seas'. Over the following years Raleigh invested much of his time and money in co-organising the first colonising voyage to Virginia. He was assisted by a number of veterans from the Desmond Wars including his half-brothers John and Adrian Gilbert, his cousin Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane. Also to the fore in the operations was Sir Philip Sidney, the favoured son of Sir Henry Sidney, now Lord Deputy of Ireland. The colony at Roanoke ultimately proved disastrous while the maritime antics of the Gilberts, Sir Francis Drake and others further heightened tensions with Spain.

The Plantation of Munster

In 1585, Raleigh's interest in Ireland was revitalised when Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham united with Christopher Hatton (the Lord Chancellor and a rival of Raleigh) and Thomas Egerton (10) (the Solicitor General) to initiate the Munster Plantation scheme. With his experience in Ireland, Raleigh was almost certainly consulted. At stake were Lord Desmond's forfeited 300,000 acres and a further 300,000 acres seized from one hundred and forty persons accused of having supported him during the rebellion. The scheme divided the richest and most fertile lands into twenty-three blocks of land (seignories) of approximately 12,000 acres each - 'not accounting mountains, bogs, or barren heath'. These seignories were to be granted to twenty-three 'Gentlemen Undertakers', men of wealth and enterprise who would pay a nominal fee of two or three pence an acre. They 'undertook' to develop and cultivate the properties with their own money. They agreed to settle the land with six 'well-affected' English-born freeholders, who would pay no rent for the first five years. There would also be other farmers, copyholders and cottagers. Rents would be from £200 downwards and the Catholic Irish were to be excluded. The post-war famine had driven many survivors out of Munster but the lands would still have to be cleared of wolves and foxes. Buildings would need to be capable of surviving physical assault. The scheme specifically sought the interest of younger sons who had no lands to inherit in England. Raleigh headed the list of Undertakers from Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Other Undertakers included Christopher Hatton, Sir Wahram St. Leger, Sir Richard Grenville, Edmund Spenser, Francis Berkeley, Sir William Courtenay and Hugh Cuffe, ancestor of the Earls of Desart.

Raleigh and the Blackwater Seignories

At the age of 31, Sir Walter Raleigh secured arguably the finest seignory in the entire Munster Plantation. His 12,000 acres occupied the final stunning and fertile stretch of the River Blackwater as it reaches into the walled town of Youghal, then still one of the most vital ports in Ireland. Raleigh's arch-rival, Sir Christopher Hatton, also secured one of the Waterford seignories. The Desmonds managed to retain Ardsallagh and various lands on the east of the Blackwater, which partly explains the predominance of Irish speakers in the area today. Hatton must have gritted his teeth very tightly when he signed his name approving Raleigh's next application.

Raleigh Ups the Stakes

On 27th February 1586, Raleigh hit the jackpot when his application to undertake a further two and a half seignories in Munster received the Queen's approval. Many were appalled for the Munster scheme had deliberately restricted seignories to one per person in order to protect against any monopolies. It may be that Raleigh was simply taking on the seignories of two other Undertakers, Sir John Clifton and Sir John Stowell, who had grown disillusioned with the venture. When Lord Deputy Sir John Perrot raised an objection, wise old William Burghley advised him that Raleigh was 'able to do you more harm in one hour than we are able to do you good in a year'. These were prudent words in an age when the Queen was prepared to execute her own first cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Raleigh Secures Ballynatray

Five weeks after Mary's execution, Raleigh's certificate of ownership was granted. It read as follows:

'Certificate 14th March, 1587, of the lands within the Counties of Waterford and Cork, allotted to Sir Walter Rawley and his associates, i.e., the castle and lands of Inchaquyne, the South Friars, otherwise the Grey Friars, near the town of Yoghall; the castle and lands of Ballynetrae, (11) with Kyllnatora, the castle and lands of Shronecallye, certain lands of David McShane Roche and others, lying along the river called the Bryde, from the lands of Shronecally to the lands of Lesfynyne on the south and south-west of the river Bryde, half a plowland lying on the north side of the river Bryde, called Killnecarrigrie; the castle and lands of Lesfenyn, and the decayed town of Tallow, the castle and lands of Mogilla, and the Sheane, and the castle and lands of Kilmackowe.

Further it is agreed, if the lands above mentioned do not amount to the full quantity or portion of the seignories of 12,000 acres apiece, and one seignory 6,000 acres by estimation appointed for the said Sir Walter Rawlyghe, his associates and tenants, that then they shall have of these lands hereunder specified so much as shall make up the said full number of acres for the said seignories, that is to say, the castle and lands of Mockollopp and Temple Myghell, the lands of Patrick Condon, next adjoining unto the Sheane, four messuages or tofts in the town of Yoghall, with the patronage or gift of the wardenship of Our Lady's College of the same, Whight's Island, alias Ahavounan, and other the lands thereunto next adjoining in Imokillye.

Signed - Christo Hatton Chanc, Valentine Browne, Edward Fetton, John Popham, Richard Phitton, Henry Slingsbye, Arthur Hyde, Thomas Hanam'

John Thickpenny of Molana Abbey

Prior to Raleigh, Molana Abbey was held by another sea-faring merchant from Devon, John Thickpenny. He was born at St. Mary Overy, Devon, in 1525, the son of Henry FitzPen and Alice Pierce. Henry FitzPen (1495 - 1562) was a Cornish merchant and owned the sailing ship Seawynd. At some point he left Cornwall and made his way via Scotland to Ireland. His investments in Ireland floundered during one of the uprisings and so he removed to Dorset. In about 1545, John married Ann Holton, daughter of Robert and Constance Holton, by whom he had ten children. They settled at Weymouth where their son Robert Fippen was born in 1560. John owned a small fleet of sailing vessels including the Ventura, Roma, Anne and Ascension. In the early 1560s, John received a number of warrants from Queen Elizabeth granting him a commission to import wine into Ireland and the contract to supply food and wine to the garrisons in Ireland. He was also given a number of 21 year leases in Ireland and one of these leases covered the island and abbey of Molana. He had an address at Glassmore, Co. Waterford. (12) John died aged 58 in 1583 and was succeeded by his son Robert Fippen Thigpen who married Cicilly, daughter of Thomas Jordon of Melcomb Regis in Dorset. Robert and Cicilly had four sons and a daughter but Robert died 'on the King's service' aged 43 in 1693.

Raleigh Secures Molana Abbey

Raleigh's Irish land-holdings now totalled 42,000 acres, the equivalent of 170 km2. His estate stretched from White's Island near Dromana in County Cork to the town of Tallow and included Ballynatray, the Barony of Inchiquin and various ruined castles in County Wexford. He swiftly capitalised by purchasing various suppressed ecclesiastical properties on the Blackwater. He took over the lease of Molana Abbey from John Thickpenny's widow, the payment passing directly to Myles Magrath, Bishop of Lismore. At the date of its suppression, the vicarages of Tallow, Kilwatermoy, Kilcockan and Templemichael were all dependent on Molana.

The Acquisition of Lismore Castle

Molana Abbey came under the religious management of the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. From 1582 to 1589, this Bishopric was in the hands of Myles Magrath, perhaps the most infamous Churchmen to emerge in Ireland during this period. Lismore Castle was briefly entrusted to the remarkable knight Sir William Stanley while his half-brother Thomas Bunbury, my direct ancestor, was recorded as a trustee for the castle in 1585. However, Magrath was obliged to resign the see and, on July 20th 1589, by Royal Letters Patent, an Englishman called Thomas Wetherhead, was appointed Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. Like Magrath, Wetherhead appears to have been a man of dubious moral fibre. Before he succeeded to the Bishopric, he was Archdeacon of both Cork and Cloyne, as well as Warden of the new College of Youghal. When word first emerged that he was a contender for the Bishopric, his immediate superior, William Lyons, Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, wrote to the Government, begging that 'the said Wetherhead may have no further footing in God's church'. He claimed Wetherhead had been lobbying to be made bishop, offering to sell the wardenship of Youghal College as a bribe, and to sell the lease of Lismore if successful. The Lord Deputy supported Lyons claims adding that, as Warden in Youghal, Wetherhead had sold off all his sources of income, 'and suffered his honest wife and poor children to wander up and down, begging and ready to famish'. However, such pleas against Wetherhead's 'insufferable wickedness' were in vain, and in July 1589 Wetherhead was consecrated bishop by no less a cad than Myler Magrath, Archbishop of Cashel. The following year, Wetherhead sold the manor and castle of Lismore to Sir Walter Raleigh. (13) Perhaps fortunately, the sale was destined to be the only memorable act of Wetherhead's tenure as Bishop. He died in March 1592, less than three years after his appointment.

Myrtle Grove

Raleigh's estates now included the towns of Youghal, Cappoquin and Lismore, all linked by the navigable River Blackwater. Furthermore, although he was not actually granted their land or buildings, he also secured the 'possessions' in fee-farm for ever of the dissolved priory of the Observant Friars, or the Black Friars, near Youghal, for which he and his heirs were to receive payment in lieu and this was 'surveyed at the yearly value of £3. 13s. 4d.' (Cal. S. P.) It was his intention to one day live in Lismore, then perhaps a half days boat journey up-river from Youghal. In the meantime, he developed a strong affection for Youghal itself - and for his house, Myrtle Grove. Still very much in existence today, Myrtle's origins stem back at least to the 1380s when a residence was built here by a senior figure of the church. Archives certainly confirm a manor house here by 1462 and Raleigh himself referred to it as the "ancient house in Youghal" in his correspondence. He seems to have been much enamoured by the houses' architectural style which reminded him of his birthplace in Devon. He duly renovated the house in the Tudor manner, complete with three front gables, tall chimneys, massive fireplaces and heavy oak panelling, although some of these features may actually pre-date Raleigh. Above the fireplace in the main room are figures of mermaids blowing trumpets, almost certainly carved in Raleigh's time.

The Legends of Sir Walter Raleigh

As with most places associated with Raleigh, Myrtle Grove duly became a hotbed for legends. Raleigh is said to have planted the first potatoes in Ireland here but, as will be seen later in this tale, the true originator of the potato in Europe was far more likely to have been Thomas Hariot of Molana Abbey. Raleigh might also have tried to grow tobacco here, alongside the myrtles, arbutus bushes and yews (standing proud). A famous anecdote recalls how he was having an exploratory puff in the garden when a servant, never having seen tobacco before and fearing his master was on fire, dowsed him with a bucket of water. Another version claims it was a tankard of ale. A further anecdote concerns the lands of Affane where the last battle between the Butlers and FitzGeralds was fought in 1565. One of the FitzGeralds is said to have gifted the lands to Raleigh after a particularly hearty breakfast. At any rate, it was here that Raleigh apparently planted the first cherry-tree in Ireland, having brought the seed from the Canary Islands. (14) But other sources suggest the cherry tree was planted at Whitgate outside Cappagh. He is also said to have introduced a sweet-smelling yellow wallflower from the Azores.

The Mayor of Youghal & the Armada

In 1588, Raleigh was elected Mayor of Youghal. (15) However, the veteran mariner had little patience for civic duties and left much of the administrative work to his deputy William Magner [of Castle Magner]. (16) As such, it seems unlikely that Raleigh had much interest in the controversial appointment of Thomas Wetherhead as Bishop of Lismore and Waterford. For a man of his ambition, Youghal was not enough. He was still orchestrating costly expeditions to the Americas and the unknown world beyond in pursuit of ginger, nutmeg, sugar and other goods. Moreover, he was also now entrusted with preparing the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall for what now seemed like an inevitable attack by the Spanish fleet. By the time the Armada set sail for England in March 1588, it was dubbed the worst kept secret in Europe. To his consternation, Raleigh was confined to looking after the land defences during the subsequent naval confrontations and so could only watch as the glory of victory fell upon Drake, Howard, Hawkins and others. Once the Armada was defeated, Raleigh and his cousin Richard Grenville were assigned the task of patrolling the stormy Irish Sea for any possible counter-attacks. This cannot have been much fun for Raleigh as, contrary to all expectations, it transpires he was prone to seasickness.

Fluctuating Fortunes

By December 1588, it was business as usual for Raleigh. His privateering raids on Flemish and Spanish ships continued. His commercial venture in Virginia was also still to the fore. Thomas Hariot's propaganda treatise 'Brief and True Report', published in 1588, was translated into Latin, French and German and made available on the Continent. Raleigh's name was becoming ever better known. He seems to have escaped the embarrassing disaster of the expedition to Cadiz in June 1589, which left a staggering 11,000 Englishmen dead from disease alone. He also narrowly avoided a duel with the 21-year-old Earl of Essex, a good-looking hot-head who had taken on the mantle of Sir Philip Sidney as the ideal Elizabethan. A duel between such prima donnas would surely have been epic. In August 1589, Raleigh returned to Ireland under a dark cloud. The reason for his departure from London is unknown. There were whispers of an untoward movement in Her Majesty's direction but perhaps Essex's propaganda machine simply had the upper hand. A draft letter of June 1589 written by Elizabeth to Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam indicates he had seriously annoyed the Queen. In it, she decreed that Raleigh surrender his 42,000 acres and revert to a single seignory of 12,000 acres which would have brought him level with the other Undertakers in Ireland. As it happens the letter was never sent.

A Successful Plantation

At any rate, Raleigh was thus far doing rather well on his Irish venture. In May 1589 he produced a report listing 144 men, including craftsmen, who had settled on his lands, most of whom had brought their families, as well as cattle and ploughs. By and large, these settlers hailed from south-west England but there were also a number of old English families and one or two pure Irish converts. As such, he was well on the way to honouring his contract to settle 320 families. His tenants included a number of those who had sailed with him since his earliest New World adventures. Foremost amongst there was his friend Thomas Hariot, who was now established at Molana Abbey, the island directly opposite Ballynatray.

Thomas Hariot of Molana Abbey

Sir Walter Raleigh will forever to be associated with the potato. It may even be true that he grew the first potatoes in Ireland at Myrtle Grove. However, the first Englishman to discover potatoes was Thomas Hariot, a remarkable scientist who came across the plant while wintering with Iroquois Indians by Chesapeake Bay in 1585. In a report published in 1588, Hariot described potatoes, known locally as 'openhauks', as 'roots of round form, some of the bigness of walnuts, some far greater'. Raleigh was Hariot's immediate patron and friend. As such, it was almost certainly Hariot who brought the first potato tubers back across the Atlantic. One wonders are there any ancient furrows buried deep around Molana Abbey for that fine property on the Blackwater Estuary was soon to be Hariot's reward.
Born in 1560, Thomas Hariot was considered the most brilliant mathematician of his day. Some consider him the father of modern science. He was also an astronomer, mineralogist and physicist. He entered St. Mary Hall in Oxford in 1577 and obtained his degree in 1580. During this time he became friendly with Raleigh, then at Oriel College, Oxford. He would become Raleigh's most trusted friend. When Raleigh attempted suicide many years later, it was Hariot who comforted him. In his will, Raleigh left Hariot a generous pension and all his 'black suites of apparel'. At Oxford, the two men were part of an intellectual circle that included Richard Haykult, Arthur Gorges, George Carew, Lawrence Keymis and the Unton brothers, Henry (subsequently twice ambassador to France) and Edward (who was with Raleigh in Ireland in 1586-7).

The Durham House Set

Sharing Raleigh's passionate interest in navigation and exploration, Hariot soon became a key player in the Durham House set. In 1582 he set up a 12-foot telescope on the roof of Durham House, apparently the first telescope in England. The telescope was a vital tool in the Durham House lectures on maritime exploration. Richard Haykult had initiated the concept of these lectures following the third successive failure of Martin Frobisher's expeditions and the triumphant return of Sir Francis Drake from his circumnavigation of the world in 1580. Haykult was convinced that the best way to proceed was to initiate serious discussions on the theory and practicalities of navigation.

The Concept of a Colony

One of Hariot's keenest students was Maurice Browne, an enthusiastic adventurer who had been in the Azores at a time when its Portuguese inhabitants were plotting a rebellion against their Spanish masters. When Browne returned to Durham House in the summer of 1582, he voiced his opinion to Raleigh and Hariot that England could recoup extraordinary wealth if it were to start seeking overseas possessions. It was a relatively novel idea and Raleigh looked again at his map of America. Browne wrote to his friend John Tyhnne of Longleat, forbear of the Marquess of Bath, that he was now studying cosmography and navigation under 'an excellent fellow who dwelleth here in London' (presumably Hariot). Another of Hariot's students was the Hungarian poet Stephen Parmenius. When Sir Humphrey Gilbert's fleet of five ships set sail on its ill-fated expedition to Virginia in June 1584, Parmenius and Browne went with him on the Delight. They made it to Newfoundland but the Delight was wrecked on shoals off Sable Island. Eight men drowned, including Parmenius and Browne. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was himself drowned soon afterwards.

Artica and the Lusty Savages

In 1584, Hariot published his Durham House lectures in a pamphlet entitled Artica, which has sadly since vanished. It was full of complex tables explaining the astrolabe, the forbear of the sextant, the cross-staff, how to read the sun and stars, how to use a compass and chart, how to manipulate the trade winds and such like. Artica was to become essential reading for all sailors for the nearly 200 years that would elapse before the discovery of longitude. Hariot's immense intellect had other advantages. For instance, in 1584, a Raleigh-sponsored expedition came upon an island off the North Carolina coast. The captains met the island's chieftain, Wingina. They duly returned to England with two 'lusty savages' called Manteo and Wanchese, convinced the island was called 'Wingandacoa'. When Raleigh subsequently offered this island to his Queen, he is said to have christened it 'Virginia'. At the back of his mind must have been Hariot's discovery from conversations with Manteo and Wanchese that 'Wingandacoa' simply meant 'You have nice clothes'. Raleigh, for his pains, was knighted shortly afterwards.

Harriot in America

At the age of 25, Hariot's geographical and linguistic skills were such that he was invited to accompany Sir Richard Grenville on the subsequent expedition to Virginia. Raleigh had hoped to lead it but the Queen was eager to keep this dashing sailor close to hand. The purpose of this adventure was to establish a garrisoned fort in the New World with a view to creating a full English colony. Ralph Lane, a seasoned veteran of the Desmond Wars, was designated Grenville's lieutenant and eventual Governor of the colony. In April 1585, five ships left Plymouth laden with 600 ambitious men, comprising 300 sailors and soldiers and perhaps 300 potential colonists. Hariot voyaged on the same ship as the Indians Manteo and Wanchese. Manteo had by now take a liking to English customs but Wanchese had not. Up until now, relations between the English and Indians had been remarkably peaceable. This voyage was to prove ultimately disastrous for the indigenous people of North America. The immediate catalyst was a silver cup.

A Stolen Cup

After great difficulty, Grenville's fleet landed on the American coast and a delegation of men went to visit neighbouring Indians. The aforesaid cup was apparently stolen while they were at the village of Aquascogoc. When the theft was discovered, Grenville sent Philip Amadas, one of Raleigh's household, back to Aquascogoc to investigate. Amadas found the village deserted and decided burn the entire place, including its surrounding cornfield. Shortly afterwards, with the hurricane season imminent, Grenville sited the English fort on the north-western tip of Roanoke Island. Aided by a chance encounter with a Spanish treasure ship, Grenville's expedition returned to England laden with goods, much of it plundered, including 40,000 ducats of gold, silver and pearls, and a massive cargo of ivory, sugar, cochineal and ginger.

Harriot's Briefe and True Report

Governor Lane remained at Roanoke with 107 men, including Thomas Hariot, subsequently of Molana Abbey. The colonisation was duly hailed as a terrific success in England. Thus it was with considerable shock that the public greeted these same Virginia colonists, Lane and Hairot included, as they disembarked from Sir Francis Drake's fleet in Plymouth in July 1586. Hariot subsequently complied his 'A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia', completed in February 1587. It has been said that parts of it were written at Molana Abbey but I think Harriott did not aquire Molana until 1589. The report was illustrated by a series of evocative drawings by his companion, the painter John White, who was granted an estate at Ballynoe (Kilmore), near Ballynatray Kilmore.

Potatoes and Tobacco

From the Roanoke Fort, Hariot and White had surveyed much of the surrounding territory and gathered considerable information on its flora and fauna. They wintered together by Chesapeake Bay for three months, often sleeping rough. Hariot described the bay as a 'paradise of the world', full of 'merchantable commodities' and edible fruits, fowls and animals, including a 'multitude of bears being an excellent good victual'. There was also fish and timber to be had. And, for the purposes of a good tale, there were two particularly interesting goods - openauk and uppowoc, otherwise known as potatoes and tobacco. Of potatoes, we have already discoursed. Of tobacco, it was Harriot who first described how Indians dried and powdered the leaves, then smoked them in their pipes. In his 'Reporte', Hariot recommended smoking as a medicinal product, perfect for purging 'superfluous phlegm and other gross humours', and for opening 'all the pores and passages of the body'. Before long, Raleigh had made tobacco smoking enormously popular with his trademark silver pipe; even the Queen tried a puff but the effect made her queasy. During their three-month stay at Chesapeake, Hariot and White befriended the natives, Iroquois and Algonquin alike. The tribesmen were much impressed with Hariot's game-on attitude and his mastery of their language. Hariot even had some success in teaching them about the Christian faith. (17)

The Failure of Roanoke

However, elsewhere along the coast, tensions between the indigenous natives and Lane's settlers were escalating. A strange disease, possibly influenza, was killing people and English demands for maize were becoming excessive. Chief Wingina (also known as Pemsipan) ultimately led the campaign to oust the settlers and before long a volley of arrows was whizzing through the skies. The terrifying sound of English bullets scattered the attackers and the settlers made haste for the safety of their fort. When Lane killed Wingina during a truce soon afterwards, things became extremely dangerous. It was at that moment that Drake's fleet had chanced to arrive on the scene and whisked everyone away to safety. When Richard Grenville's relief squadron arrived at the abandoned fort of Roanoke two weeks later, he decided to leave fifteen men there with supplies for two years. Those men were never seen again.

Thoughts from Molana Abbey

It is commonly believed that Hariot subsequently wrote his 'Brief and True Reporte' on the Virginia expedition while he was in residence at Molana Abbey. The paper was something of a propaganda piece, designed to reassure other investors and possible settlers that all was not lost. Nonetheless, he expressed genuine fury with the ignorant attitude of many of the settlers. Those who spoke loudest of Indian treachery, he maintained, had never even left the fort. All they were concerned with was filling their pockets with gold and when that prospect faded out, they had simply gone grumbling to their beds. Others, he reasoned, were too well brought up and quite unable to handle conditions without 'their old accustomed dainty food, nor any soft beds of down and feather'. (18)

The School of Night

By 1587, Hariot was one of three principal advisors to Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland. Known as the Wizard Earl, this kindly and peaceable young intellectual was a friend and admirer of both Raleigh and Hariot. In later years he gave Hariot an annual subsidy and a house on his Syon House estate. It was here that Hariot founded the School of Night. His fellow 'magi' were William Warner, then investigating blood circulation, and Robert Hughes [Hues], a mathematician who had accompanied Thomas Cavendish on his voyage around the world. Also in this circle were the scientist Nathaniel Torporley, the geographer Emery Molyneaux, the astrologer Thomas Allen and the Italian occultist, Giordano Bruno. On the periphery were Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare (The Tempest was inspired by the School) and Northumberland's literary protégé, Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe, whose classic play 'Dr. Faustus' was inspired by Bruno. The elderly Dr. Dee was regarded as the godfather of them all. The late American poet Muriel Rukeyser believed that this School of the Night actually met at Molanna Abbey on several occasions. The fact that Shakespeare is said to have based the character of Shylock on Rodrigo Lopez, brother-in-law of Francis Annyas, Mayor of Youghal, is also perhaps relevant. At any rate, the group ultimately met with unhappy ends. Raleigh was beheaded. Northumberland and Hariot were imprisoned. Bruno was burnt at the stake. Spenser was effectively exiled and Marlowe murdered with a dagger. (19)

Raleigh, Spenser & Molanna the Nymph

Perhaps it is mere coincidence that Edmund Spenser uses the name 'Molanna' to describe the river-nymph who betrays the natural mysteries of Diana's nakedness to the curiosity of a Faun. In September 1589, the poet received a visit from Sir Walter Raleigh. Spenser's 3000-acre estate was centred upon Kilcolman Castle near Doneraile in north Cork. The two men had known each other at least since the sombre days of the Smerwick massacre. Aubrey described Spenser as 'a little man, wore short hair, little band and little cuffs'. At the time of Raleigh's visit, he was nearing completion of 'The Faerie Queen', his long Arthurian allegory for Queen Elizabeth. He was also in the early stages of his Arcadian poem, 'Colin Clout's Come Home Again', in which he would first describe Raleigh as the 'Shepherd of the Ocean'. Both poems were to be heavily influenced by his friendship with Raleigh. The latter, a devotee of poetry, was deeply impressed and the two men, perhaps lonely in a foreign land, became close friends.

A World of Ps and Us

By October 1589 Raleigh was back at Lismore with his cousin George Carew, Master of Ordnance, discussing repairs that would be necessary on the castle. He left his 'servant' Robert Maple behind as steward of the castle and grounds, before leaving for England with Spenser in tow. In a world of interchanging p's and u's, it would be tempting to consider Robert Maple and Robert Maule of Ballynatray [of whom more anon] to be one and the same man. At St. Audeon's Church in Dublin, there is a tomb beneath the east window for Robert Maple who died on 8th January 1618, while Raleigh himself was making his last journey to the Orinoco.

Spenser in London

Back in London, Raleigh provided the necessary introductions for Her Majesty duly invited Spenser to read extracts of his epic to her 'at timely houres'. He was granted a pension and secured the title to his Irish estate. Spenser's gratitude to Raleigh was immense. However, he soon grew bored with the corrupt networking of courtly life and returned to his pastoral life at Kilcolman. By the time 'Colin Clout' was published in 1595, Raleigh had fallen from grace again. In the meantime Spenser fell in love with Elizabeth Boyle, celebrated in his 'Amoretti' sonnets, a kinswoman of the Great Earl of Cork.

Raleigh Sub-Lets his Irish Estates

Before he left Ireland in the autumn of 1589, Raleigh sub-let part of his estates to people who were, for the main, from his home county of Devon.
Accordingly the following leases were made (20):

Robert Maule, the lands of Ballynetray (possibly Robert Maple)
Andrew Colthurst - the Castle of Lisfinny, and the decayed town of Tallow (21)
Thomas Colthurst - the Castle of Shean (22)
Thomas Salisbury - 400 acres (23)
Denis Fisher - Lisnabrin and the adjoining lands (24)
John Peard - two ploughlands (25)
Captain Morris - the Castle, town, and lands of Strancally (26)
John Barbisher - Templevalley and Curriglass (27)
Robert Carew - the weirs and salmon fishing of Lismore, also the Mill and Mill stream of Lismore, etc.

Robert Maule - the Agent of Ballynatray

In December 1589, Raleigh sailed for England to superintend the publishing of Spenser's Faerie Queene. Before he left, he arranged a series of leases for his estates in Munster. Amongst these was the lease of the lands at Ballynatray to Robert Maule (or Mawle). These had been granted to Raleigh only two years earlier. Presumably this lease also included the castle at Ballynatray, such as it was. This may well have been the tower house, traces of which can be found in the cellar today, just east of the hall. There are also remnants of a second house in the cellar thought to date to the early 17th century. Again in the yard, a small single storey building has window opes that may have been installed in the 16th century. At any rate, Robert Maule would, along with Andrew Colthurst of Lisfinny Castle, become Raleigh's principal land agent in Ireland. Together, they supervised the arrangements for all settlers.

The Maule Family of Scotland

The Norman family of Maule (sometimes Mawle) were much admired in Christian circles during the 13th and 14th century on account of their crusading zeal. (28) A junior branch of the family settled in Midlothian, Scotland, and became closely allied to the Earl of Huntington, later King David I. In due course, Sir Peter Maule obtained the baronies of Panumre and Benvie in Forfarshire. When Edward Longshanks came north with his terrible catapults and battering rams, Sir Thomas Maule managed to hold Brechin Castle for 20 days. As the battering rams continued to assault his walls, Sir Thomas calmly wandered out onto the ramparts in full view of the English, whipped a cloth out of his pocket and began to brush the dust off his walls. Alas, a stone missile crashed nearby and sent a fatal splinter Sir Thomas's way. (29)
For a more detailed look at the Maule family, consider the findings of Professor Jim Maule.

Womanisers and Brigands

During the reign of Henry VII, Alexander Maule, the heir apparent to Panmure, left Scotland for good. The motive for his departure was apparently down to a 'hatred he conserved against his wife and her friends for her misbehaviour'. He took large sums of money with him, as well as his second son, but nothing is ever heard of either man again. It was believed they had been attacked by brigands and murdered. As such, Alexander's elder son succeeded as Sir Thomas Maule. As a boy he met every ship that came up the Tay in the forlorn hope that it would be his father and brother - or at least word of their fate. He developed into a boisterous, womanising young man, but became fanatically religious in later life bestowing great sums on the church. He also became exceedingly fat which ultimately brought about his death during the battle of Flodden in 1317 when unable to draw his sword at a vital moment.

Football and Golf in the 16th Century

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his 16-year-old son, Sir Robert Maule. A contemporary described him as a tall, fresh-faced man of 'comely behaviour and good language', but prone to fits of intense rage. He was also described as an impressive drinker, occasionally 'given to lecherie'. He was a gifted horseman, a noted hawksman and a keen footballer (he had his own pitch on the moor at Bathill). In 1527, he earned the distinction of being the first commoner in Scotland to play golf. The game was played on Barry Links near the modern-day Carnoustie. The death of his much loved wife caused him to 'embrace the Reformed religion'. When Henry VIII attempted to marry his son Prince Edward to the Catholic infant Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Robert was amongst the strongest protestors. As such he was severely wounded when an English force subsequently attacked him at Panmure. In later life, he often went for evening strolls around Panmure with his youngest son Robert, 'a godlie person given to reading of the Scripture'.

Sir Thomas Maule

When the golf and football loving Sir Robert Maule died in 1560, his eldest son, Thomas, succeeded at Panmure. He was a ruddy-cheeked man with a reddish-yellow beard and a happy face. Like his father, Thomas was a keen huntsman and hawker. He enjoyed a glass of ale in the morning. A contemporary genially described him as a man 'not curious of the world' who would rather 'suffer the loss of goods than enter in ploy [strategic disputes] with his neighbours'. As a young man, he was contracted to marry an illegitimate daughter of the soon to be murdered Cardinal David Beaton. (30) James V personally intervened and forbade the marriage. Following Lord Darnley's murder by Boswell - the lover of Mary Queen of Scots - Thomas Maule became a zealous supporter of the Regent Moray and of the cause of the infant king, James VI.

The Maule's Irish Connection

It is not clear exactly how Robert Maule of Ballynatray fits into this family but is almost certain he was a close relation. Thomas of Panmure died aged 79 in 1600. His first wife bore him no family but, in 1546, he married secondly Margaret Haliburton, 'a religious and godly woman' who bore him eight sons and three daughters. (31) The fourth son, Robert, was Commissary of St. Andrews and wrote a history of the Maule family as well as a rare treatise in Latin on the Culdee monks called 'De Antiquitite Gentis Scotorum'. There is no mention of this Robert ever having ventured to Ireland. However, it may be relevant that his younger brother Thomas is described as 'the father of Lieutenant Colonel Maule who settled in Ireland and from him was descended Henry Maule, successively Bishop of Cloyne, Dromore, and Meath under George I'. (32) In 1666, there is record of a Thomas Maule being appointed Surveyor-General 'of the ports' in Ireland so perhaps this is one and the same man. (33) Another contender is Robert Maule, born in 1656, son of David Maule of Boath, and grandson of William Maule of Auchrinnie.

The Pipe and Stave Business

Part of Maule's duties in Munster were to oversee Raleigh's successful pipe and hogshead stave business. In 1594 Raleigh also despatched fifty Cornish miners to work in iron mills outside Youghal, mills that would be destroyed in the 1598 Rebellion. Raleigh was exporting the pipes and staves to the vineyards of the Canaries and Madeira to make wine barrels. The timber was floated down the Blackwater, past Ballynatray and Molana Abbey, and loaded onto ships at Youghal. By 1590, it was estimated that 340,000 such staves had been exported. However, Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam, another of Raleigh's sworn enemies, began probing his claim to the 42,000 acres and his lease of Lismore Castle. Suddenly Fitzwilliam banned the export, citing the sale of staves as planking for Spanish ships as his motive. There was even an allegation that Raleigh's stave agent was being used as a communication channel for Catholic refugees in Ireland and England. Confident that he was back in the Queen's favour, Raleigh angrily rejected any allegations of falsehood. Fitzwilliam was also genuinely concerned by the decimation of the Irish forests along the Blackwater necessitated by the demand for staves. (34)

Raleigh Settles in Dorset

The next period of history saw the disappearance of the Virginia colonists (aside from John White who returned safely to Newtown, Co. Cork, and retired), the death of Sir Richard Grenville in action against the Spanish at the Azores and the rise of the Earl of Essex as Royal favourite. For a short period, Essex and Raleigh were united by a mutual regard for the Puritans whose popularity was on the rise to the horror of the Anglican Bishops. Raleigh continued to reap the benefits of favouritism, including the command of sixteen ships dispatched by the Queen to ransack the Spanish treasure fleet off Panama in 1592, and the gift of a 99-year lease on the magnificent Sherborne Castle in Dorset. Henceforth it would seem he spent much less time in Youghal and lived at Sherborne. He was also married in secret to a cousin of the Carews by name of Bess Throckmorton. That she was a lady-in-waiting to the Queen was one thing. That she was four and a half months pregnant when he married her was quite another. The scandal resulted in Raleigh's first imprisonment in the Tower of London during an era of monstrous plague. Here he wrote 'The 21st (and Last) Book of the Ocean to Cynthia', a despairing ode to his unrequited love for the Queen.

Accusations of Atheism

It was soon after this that the first Jesuit-propelled rumours emerged that Raleigh was hosting a School of Atheism at Durham House. Hariot, the master of Molana Abbey, was portrayed in a new and more sinister light as the exponent of 'true knowledge'. The 'Wizard Earl' Northumberland, Keyms, Hughes, Warner and Bruno were also to be tainted. The School of Night was atheist insomuch as it eschewed orthodoxy in favour of mathematics, astrology and alchemy. Hariot's winter with the Indians at Chesapeake must surely have influenced his spiritual thinking. Hariot was also, like the soon-to-be-murdered Kit Marlowe, a homosexual. At a dinner party in Sir George Trenchard's house in Dorset, Raleigh engaged a snooty clergyman named Ironside in a heated debate over the existence of God. Before long, the word was out that Raleigh had fallen under Hariot's spell and turned atheist. A steady stream of ill-wishers came forward. A parson told how Raleigh's brother Carew had commandeered his horse the day before a sermon; Carew Raleigh said the horse could preach for him. The stories were largely ridiculous and ultimately ignored but the stigma of atheism remained with Raleigh ever after.

Miler Magrath - The Survivor

When Bishop Wetherhead died in March 1592, the see of Lismoer and Waterford returned to its previous incumbent, Miler Magrath. This extraordinary man was already Archbishop of Cashel and Bishop of Emly. It was said that he had first secured the Bishopric in October 1582 as a reward for supplying valuable inside information on the whereabouts of the Desmond outlaws during the rebellion. Magrath's colourful biography is one of astonishing corruption, persistent back-stabbing and relentless gall. At various times in his life, he managed to simultaneously hold sees from both the Catholic and Anglican Churches. By the time James I ascended the throne in 1603, he held four bishoprics and seventy spiritual holdings. With the Protestant reformation apparently in full steam, this was indeed a marvellous feat. It was too marvellous for either Sir John Davies, the attorney general, or Thomas Jones, Archbishop of Dublin. Their protests came to a head in 1607 when the 84-year-old Magrath was finally obliged to give up the Waterford and Lismore see. Magrath had purchased the Lismore estate from Raleigh for a nominal fee. But he miraculously managed to hold on to as Archbishop of Cashel until his death, at the sprightly age of 100, in 1622.

Hariot and Raleigh in El Dorado

Raleigh's desire was to settle down to enjoy fatherhood, horse breeding and falconry. However, in Ireland, the Earl of Tyrone was stirring up trouble again and he needed to stay alert. A large number of his leases in Munster had been sold and resold by London merchants, much as one plays the stock exchange. The money raised most likely went towards Raleigh's fast approaching Guyana adventure. This expedition took place in 1595 and concerned the then unexplored territory of Venezuela and Guyana, lands reputedly awash with the lost gold of El Dorado. Hariot served as Raleigh's accountant in organising this expedition. The following year, Raleigh took part in the raid on Cadiz. His continued prominence at court placed him in a bizarre triumvirate with Essex and Robert Cecil.

Anarchy in Munster

On 14th August 1597, Sir Henry Bagenal, Marshall of the English army in Ireland, marched from Armagh with 4000 men and 300 cavalry to relieve a garrison besieged by Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone. On the way, they were ambushed at Yellow Ford with disastrous consequences. Perhaps as many as 2000 of the English were killed, including Bagenal and thirty of his officers. Rebellion quickly spread across Ireland to Munster which rose up under Sugane FitzGerald, nephew of the slain Earl of Desmond. Total and bloody anarchy encompassed Raleigh's seignories. Tongues were cut out, noses hacked off, babies smashed against walls, wives raped and beheaded. Edmund Spenser only just escaped but his new-born baby is said to have died in the inferno that engulfed his beloved Kicolman. Thousands of cattle, sheep and horses were seized. Tallow was totally destroyed. The castles of the Blackwater were besieged and laid waste. It was total ruin for most of the Undertakers. Financially, Raleigh survived intact because of the nature of his leases; he had already made his money back. Nonetheless, he too began to hunt in haste for someone to buy his lands.

The Downfall of the Earl of Essex

In the meantime Essex was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and sent to quell the rebellion with the greatest army yet sent in the country. It consisted of 1300 cavalry, 16,000 foot soldiers and 2000 veterans of the Dutch wars. They left Islington amid a downpour of rain and hail on 27 March 1599. The ensuing campaign was one of mixed results. Essex mopped up rebel fighting in Munster and re-established some control in the province of Leinster. The Queen however criticized the southern campaign as pointless, and ordered him north to battle with Tyrone. Despite the magnitude of his force, Essex was unable to secure victory in Ulster. In September 1599 at the end of the campaigning season, he met alone with Tyrone to parlay a ceasefire, without the crown's authority. See: Essex and the Campaign of 1599.
While in Ireland, Essex was constantly looking over his shoulder at events in the English court. He blamed Sir Robert Cecil, leader of the aristocratic faction of moderates, for his sudden loss of favour with the Queen. At length, Essex decided his best course of action would be to visit the Queen personally. On 24th September 1599, he left his Irish command, without permission, and, accompanied by his private secretary, Henry Cuffe, journeyed to London in a vain attempt to regain the Queen's favour. With the rebellion in Ireland still continuing, this proved a foolhardy decision for it was a treasonable offence for the Lord Lieutenant to abandon his post without license from the crown. Essex was arrested on arrival in London and placed under house arrest for 18 months. He subsequently went into open rebellion against the Queen's government but was captured and executed in February 1601.

The Battle of Kinsale

In September 1601, Raleigh received reports that a Spanish fleet of twenty-five warships and 7000 soldiers was en route for Ireland under the command of Don Juan de Aguila. The fleet had planned to land at Cork but, due to unfavourable winds, eventually docked at Kinsale, close to the lands of their ally, Florence MacCarthy. The Spaniards duly occupied the existing James's Fort (Dún Rí Shéamuis in Irish) on the Castlepark peninsula and began to strengthen its fortifications. Unknown to them, Lord Mountjoy (the Viceroy) and Sir George Carew were already in the ascendance across Munster. Their army arrived at Kinsale two weeks later, blocked the harbour exit and began to occupy strategic positions. The besieged Spaniards were now obliged to wait for Tyrone's army to come south from Ulster to relieve them. By the time Tyrone's 6000 strong force reached the outskirts of Kinsale on 9th December, Mountjoy's army was suffering from disease, desertion, a shortage of food and plummeting morale. The final battle took place on Christmas Eve and was both brief and devastating. Tyrone was routed and lost upwards of 1,200 men dead. Captain Richard Smyth, subsequently of Ballynatray, commanded a cavalry regiment that ousted the Spanish from James's Fort. The Spanish surrendered, on honourable terms, and were shipped back to Spain with all their colours, artillery, money and possessions. The battle changed the entire course of Irish history and spelled the end for the chieftains of Celtic Ireland and all that they had represented.


1. Black Tom Butler's family lived at Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. There are reasons to believe Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII and wife of Queen Elizabeth, was actually born in Carrick-on-Suir.
2. The portrait was by Sir William Segar who was active from about 1580 and died in 1633. His other sitters include the Queen and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. It has sometimes been attributed to the Spanish baroque artist, Francisco de Zurbaran (1598 - 1664) whose works included 'A Cup of Water and a Rose on a Silver Plate', 'Oranges and a Rose' and the controversial 'St. Agatha', which depicted the mutilated martyr with her severed breasts on a tray.
3. There are over seventy variations of his surname (eg Rawley, Ralegh etc) but Raleigh is the most popular and that's what we will use here.
4. He might even have been present in Paris on 24th August 1572 for the wedding of Princess Margot de Valois to Henry of Navarre, a marriage supposed to cement a Catholic - Protestant alliance. The wedding back-fired and tragically turned into the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a horrific week that resulted in the murder of several thousand Protestants across France. Consider 'La Reine Margot', a film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' epic novel, for a typically saucy French version of these events.
5. Cal. State Papers, Ireland, IV, p. 381.
6. Fiants, Eliz., no. 5046.
7. His 'History of the World' remains an incredible and neglected masterpiece.
8. An early anecdote about the flirtation between the couple concerned Raleigh scratching words on a window pane with a diamond: 'Fain I would climb, yet I fear to fall'. Seeing what he had written, Elizabeth wrote beneath: 'If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all'. Before long he was writing her long and syrupy sonnets, known as the 'Poems to Cynthia'. Most authorities doubt there was ever any actual sensual love between the two but the platonic love was strong.
9. The unfortunate Lady Jane Grey had married there some thirty years earlier.
10. He was a kinsman of Thomas Bunbury of Stanney.
11. 'In the 28th Queen Elizabeth [1586], Maurice Fitz-William Fitz-David, of Ballynatray, was attainted with several others'.
12. The Index to Prerogative Wills of Ireland refers to a will from 1581 of 'John Thickpenny, Gent, of Glassmore, Co. Waterford'.
13. On 1st December 1585 a feoffment (ie: a trust) was set up by Sir William Stanley of Hooton with regard to the future of the castle etc. of Lismore 'to the use of his wife and children'. The manor and castle of Lismore, located on the banks of the River Blackwater, were leased by Patrick, Bishop of Waterford & Lismore, to Sir William Drury for 61 years on 8th October 1576. However, Sir William Stanley is recorded as paying rent for the castle to Anne Thickpenny, widow of John Thickpenny, from 1584-1586. The three executors of this trust were Stanley's two brother-in-laws John Egerton [the Younger of Olton, Cheshire], John Poole [of Poole] and his step-brother, Thomas Bunbury of Stanney.
14. In 1628 Affane was the birthplace of Valentine Greatrakes.
15. The Mayor of Youghal's sword is now at Lismore with Devonshires.
16. The information that the Magners held several castles in north Cork came from Mrs. Molly Hickey of the Duhallow Historical Society.
17. White made a total of five voyages to Virginia. His daughter Eleonara, wife of Ananias Dare, accompanied him on one of these and gave birth to a daughter on 18th August 1877. Christened Virginia, she was the first English child born in America. White was also given land on Raleigh's Irish estates at Newtown in County Cork and settled there after 1590. He was probably a better cartographer and artist than he was a leader.

In 2005, Marian O’Halloran, Chairperson of Youghal Celebrates History, invited a group of actors who specialize in Elizabethan re- enactments to participate in the Youghal festival that year which had a strong focus on Sir Walter Raleigh. They hailed from a town called Manteo, on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, and their visit was such a success and their Mayor subsequently requested a twinning with Youghal. Marian was among those who visited Manteo in 2006 and signed the twinning charter.

18. When Richard Hakluyt published his conclusions on the Virginian expedition, he singled Hariot out for praise: 'By your (Raleigh's) experience in navigation, you clearly saw that our highest glory as an insular kingdom would be built up to greatest splendour on the firm foundation of the mathematical sciences, and so for a long time you have nourished in your household, with a most liberal salary, a young man well trained in those studies, Thomas Hariot; so that under his guidance you might in spare hours learn those noble sciences and your collaborating sea captains, who are many, might very profitably unite theory with practice, not without almost incredible results'.
19. The School Of Night, by Frederick Turner
20. 'Lismore during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth', William H. Grattan-Flood. (The Lismore Crozier)
21. Andrew was a forefather to the Colthursts, Baronets of Ardrum and MPs for Doneraile, Youghal and Castle Martyr. A descendent, Colonel John Colthurst, was murdered by rebels in 1607, as was his son Christopher outside Macroom in 1641.
22. There are still the remains of the ancient Desmond castle of Lisfinny - a square tower with 84 foot high 'walls of immense thickness'. The property passed onto the Croker family, also of Devon, and then to the Pynes. During the Land Wars of the 1880s, Lisfinny was in the possession of Jasper Pyne, MP, son of the Rector of Oxted in Surrey and brother to the squire of Ballyvolane House. Pyne threw himself into the cause of radical Irish politics and was an MP in Parnell's party. However, following the infamous Scrahan evictions of October 1887, he delivered a speech so inflammatory that he was charged with incitement. 'Ignoring a summons to attend court, he withdrew in early November to Lisfinny Castle where, with supplies to last six months, he withstood a determined siege by the police. In fact it ended after 'only' two months, with Jasper Pyne's dramatic escape from the castle, and with his total and permanent disappearance, in 1888'.
23. The ruins of the square keep of Shean or Sheanmore Castle are two to three miles east of Mocollop. The name means 'fairy mound'. In 1420 it was the property of James FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond and Seneschal of Imokilly, Inchiquin and Youghal.
24. He must be some connection with Thomas Salisbury (b. 1564), son of Sir John Salisbury of North Wales. In 1586 Thomas was arrested for alleged involvement in the Babington Plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. His projected role was to raise the Catholic gentry of north Wales and, quite possibly, of Munster. Their execution on September 20th 1586 involved startling cruelty. Babington, Salisbury and the others were dragged through the streets on sleds, hanged until nearly dead and then had their privates cut off. They were then disembowelled, drawn and quartered.
25. Among other suspected Catholics to become Undertakers in Munster at this time was Sir Rowland Stanley of Hooton, Cheshire, a cousin of the Bunbury family. His warrior son, Sir William Stanley, a step-brother to Thomas Bunbury of Stanney, leased Lismore Castle from 1584 - 1586. Sir William had been involved in Raleigh and Gilbert's failed settlement of Virginia. He subsequently stunned society by defecting to the Spanish in January 1587.
26. Lisnabrin, formerly part of the Desmond estate, lies near Curraglass and Tallow. 'A branch of the Coppingers had, from remote times, lived at Lisnabrin, and when Sir Walter Raleigh acquired the estate, in 1586, he secured the Coppingers in the lands of Lisnabrin under a lease for 4,000 years at the rent of 4d. per acre. Raleigh stood sponsor to the son of Mr. Coppinger, the son being called Walter'. There was also a connection to the Croker family of Devon.
27. Mary Broderick Smyth, wife of Grice Smyth of Ballynatray, was a granddaughter of Richard Peard of Coole. The Peard family came from Barnum Church in Devon. Perhaps John was a forbear of John Whitehead Peard (1811-1880), noted for his association with the heroic Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi and for his prominent role in the battle of Milasso (1860). Legend has it that during their first meeting on the field of battle, a movement in the Austrian lines attracted Peard's attention. 'Pardon me, but there's a devil of an Austrian over there who's catching my eye,' he declared. He then insouciantly raised his rifle and fired a shot. Every member of Garibaldi's entourage trained his field glasses on the Austrian, who took a few stumbling paces before falling face down in the dirt. Peard nodded with satisfaction, held out his hand to Garibaldi and said 'Good day, general. I hope I see you well'.
28. The ancient castle of Strancally, near Knockanore, which formerly belonged to the Earls of Desmond, was granted to Sir Walter and then assigned to the Earl of Cork. In 1837, Lewis noted that the castle, then property of J. Keily Esq, 'appears to have been partially demolished with gunpowder a long time since, and was recently struck by lightning, which caused a large portion of it to fall into the Blackwater'. The castle contained an infamous murdering hole, which dispatched those who incurred the wrath of a Desmond to the river below. There is no access to the Desmond castle. The present day Strancally Castle was designed by James and George Pain and built for John Kelly around 1830. It is now is a private estate owned by the Billensteiner family. For more, see Heffernan, K.; Billensteiner, F. (1999) 'The History of Strancally Castle and The Valley of the Blackwater between Lismore and Youghal'.
29. Curriglass House was later seat of the wonderfully named Gumbletos.
30. 'The Great Historic Families of Scotland'. Much of the information on the Maules comes from a 2 volume set discovered in an antiquarian bookshop and written by James Taylor, M.A., D.D., F.S.A and published in 1887 as set 88 of a 250 print run.
31. Wallace Papers, p.21
32. Cardinal Beaton was murdered by Protestant reformers in 1546. In 1542 Thomas served at the battle of Hadden-rig where the Scots were victorious but he was captured and held prisoner until freed by personal order of Henry VIII. Thomas narrowly escaped death in the savage massacre that took place in the battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547. Pinkie Cleugh is considered the first 'modern' battle to be fought in the British Isles.
33. Their eldest son Patrick was another hawking and hunting man and renovated the house at Panmure but died in 1605. Patrick's only son, also Patrick (1585 - 1661), went on to become the 1st Earl of Panmure.
34. Bishop Henry Maule (1679 - 1758). Henry's rise through the Church of Ireland hierarchy began with his appointment as Dean of Cloyne on 29th June 1720. He became Bishop of Cloyne from 1726 until 1731 when he was raised to Bishop of Dromore. (In 1733, the see of Cloyne came to George Berekely for whom the Californian University is named). He was the author of a 'Sermon on Popery' in 1741 and became Bishop of Meath 1744. He held this last see until his death in 1758. He also became a Privy Councillor in 1751. He married Lady Anne Barry, the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Barrymore, by whom he had two sons, Thomas and James and a daughter Anne.
35. It would seem he succeeded to the post on the Duke of Ormond's recommendation following the death of Stephen Smith, the incumbent 'Comptroller of Customs in the Port of Dublin' in November 1664. Carte Calendar Volume 44, July-December 1666, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, ed. Edward Edwards (2005), MS. Carte 43, fol(s). 553-554.
36. Eileen McCracken in 'The Irish Woods since Tudor Times - Their Distribution & Exploitation' (David & Charles, 1971, p. 45) says that Cork and Raleigh were both responsible for felling woods of Munster - and that these forests 'in the first part of the 17th century were to cask nearly all the wine that France and (to a lesser extent) Spain would produce, which would float as the hulls of many of the East India Company's ships, which until the mid-18th century would fill the insatiable furnaces of the ironworks that lined the river valleys and which would provide the bark for the tanneries of Killarney'. When Boyle acquired Raleigh's lands, it is said that he used their timber both in his ironworks and for stave-making. In his diaries, Boyle recorded transactions involving about 4 million staves (approx 500,000 cubic feet) between 1616 and 1628. Working in conjunction with Henry Pyne, Raleigh was one of the first men to exploit Irish woodlands until the export of staves was made illegal in 1596. The ban was lifted in 1611 but re-enacted again in 1615 although a Henry Milton of Youghal obtained a special and exclusive license. Much of Boyle's disputes with Lord Deputy Wentworth involved woodland.

With thanks to Penny Leith, Tom Sykes, Kieran Groeger, Eddie Cantwell, Dagmar Oriain & others.