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 The Sins of the Father

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Ozymandias
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PostSubject: The Sins of the Father   Thu 05 Jan 2012, 20:12

I came across this recently and am putting it here because I want the focus to be on the people and the human story, not the wider political history.

Most people have heard of Edmund Spenser of Fairie Queene fame http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Spenser . He was granted an estate out of the confiscated lands in Ireland centred on Kilcolman Castle, Co Cork, but was burnt out of it during the 1641 rebellion with the loss of his infant son. The Wiki article says there is a local legend that his wife died too but it will become apparent below that this could not have been the case. It is not surprising that Spenser was attacked since he was the secretary to the Lord Deputy Grey de Wilton and wrote a genicidally provocative pamphlet about the Irish entitled ‘A Viewe of the State of Ireland’. A newcomer to Ireland he considered the Catholic Irish as little better than savages and advocated their reformation by any means necessary, the ultimate sanction if they refused to comply was extirpation. The irony here is that 70 years later his grandson William was dispossessed of his Irish estates in the Cromwellian confiscation as attested by this letter:

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, Whitehall, 27th March, 1657 to the Commissioners for Affairs in Ireland:

Right Trusty and Well Beloved,

A petition hath been exhibited unto us by William Spenser, setting forth that being but seaven years old att the beginning of the rebellion in Ireland, hee repaired with his mother to the Citty of Corke, and during the rebellion continued in the English quarters; that hee never bore arms, or acted against ye Commonwealth of England; that his grandfather, Edmund Spenser, and his father, were both Protestants, from whom an estate in lands in the barony of Fermoy, and county of Corke, descended to him, which during the rebellion yielded nothing towards his reliefe; that ye estate hath been lately given to the souldiers in satisfaction of their arrears, upon accompt of his professing the Popish religion, which since his coming to years of discretion hee hath, as hee professes, utterly renounced; that his grandfather was that Edmund Spenser, who by his writings touching the reduction of ye Irish to civility brought on him the odium of that nation, and for those works and his other good services Queen Elizabeth conferred on him that estate which the said William Spenser now claims. Wee have also been informed that ye gentleman is of civil conversation, and that the extremitie his wants have brought him unto have not prevailed over him to put him upon indiscreet or evil practices for a livelihood. And if upon enquiry you shall find his case to be such, wee judge it just and reasonable, and do therefore desire and authorize you that hee bee forthwith restored to his estate, and that reprisal lands bee given to the souldiers elsewhere. In ye doing whereof our satisfaction will be the greater by the continuation of that estate to ye issue of his grandfather for whose eminent deserts and services to ye Commonwealth that estate was first given to him,
We rest, your loving friend,
Olver P.


This petition was submitted on foot of Cromwell’s order that all landowning Catholics in Ireland were guilty of treason by virtue of their religion and must transplant to government allocated lands across the Shannon – the so-called ‘To Hell or Connacht’ order. Evidently Spenser’s grandson William was reared a Catholic in Ireland despite his father and grandfather being Protestant. This seems to point to the mother being Catholic and having the definitive influence on the child’s upbringing in Cork city. Where was the father? And how did Spenser’s son come to marry a Catholic?

The grandson William was 7 years old in 1641 and so was born in 1634. At the time of writing the petition in 1657 he was 23 years old. There is no record of him being restored to his family’s estate at Kilcolman.


Last edited by Ozymandias on Thu 05 Jan 2012, 21:31; edited 1 time in total
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Thu 05 Jan 2012, 21:26

ozy mate... your wiki link is not working, try going into edit and removing the brackets... it may do the trick.
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Ozymandias
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Thu 05 Jan 2012, 21:33

normanhurst wrote:
ozy mate... your wiki link is not working, try going into edit and removing the brackets... it may do the trick.
Norman, thanks for that. Did as you said and it seems to have worked.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Thu 05 Jan 2012, 21:35

Edmund Spenser died in 1599, and his estate was burnt out in 1598 during the Nine Years War, that which culminated in the Battle of Kinsale. Your point about his grandson William is still valid though, and raises some interesting questions.

However his Catholicsm as stated in the document might not be so clear-cut. In the late 1640s the War of the Three Kings took a turn for the worse from the Confederacy viewpoint. Some crushing defeats in open battle and the loss of control of huge areas of Munster and Leinster put them, by 1648, very much on the back foot and forced to throw in their lot with the emergent English royalist cause as the Civil War developed. Against this background it was not uncommon, especially for those whose estates were situated in these areas which were fast descending into anarchy, to be ambivalent about their faith - at least until it became clear which side might prevail. Until the execution of Charles I and Cromwell's arrival in 1649 this was anything but guessable. The return of Ormonde in 1648 and his pledge of support for those "Old English" who supported the royalists' aims actually saw a "conversion" of many such ambivalents to the Roman Church. Cromwell's arrival however had the effect of copperfastening whichever allegiance held sway at that particular moment, in that his stated policy of treating everyone in any way suspect as an enemy with no prospect of suing for clemency effectively placed everyone (including many Protestants) in a position where such pussyfooting no longer had any relevance. By the time of the Act of Settlement this hardline doctrine had become the law of the land, with the huge consequences for land ownership this entailed.

It was in this environment that William Spenser appealed to retain title on the Kilcolman estate, or more exactly the "Rinny estate" which was its legal title once the Kilcolman property had been destroyed and never rebuilt. This had been inherited from Spenser by his son Lawrence in 1599 and a will dated 1654 shows that he intended to leave it to his (unnamed) nephew, the son of his younger brother Perygrine. However this does not seem to reflect the domicile of either. Lawrence resided in a large estate near Bandon whereas it was Perygrine who seemed to have based himself in "Rinny" (Brinny). In 1641 he was described in a letter held in TCD as "a Protestant" and "so impoverished by his troubles that he is unable to pay his debts". William was most likely his son and, while there is no actual evidence for this, might also have been the one who in the period of most turmoil had attempted to secure the estate that his father was signally failing to manage. It may well have been this that encouraged his "profession of the Popish religion" at a crucial point when he attained maturity and which found him tragically on the wrong side of the law once the Settlement Act was passed.

The fact that Cromwell himself appears to have sided with his claim would suggest an understanding on the Lord protector's part that William had simply guessed wrong at a crucial time.

However, as you say, it didn't do him any good. The estate was divided up between two English military commanders and William disappeared from the records. A family called Sherlock living in Cork in the early 19th century claimed descendancy, and they weren't at all on the poverty line, so perhaps William managed to get some compensation out of the confiscation after all.

The loss of an infant son in the Kilcolman burning is also probably apocryphal. Spenser is recorded as having arrived in London with his wife and four children, and there is no record of his ever having any others which did not die of natural causes.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sun 08 Jan 2012, 18:01

Yes, Nordmann, Kilcolman Castle was burned out in 1598, not 1641. I can’t explain why I wrote ‘1641’ by mistake. I did a little research since posting in order to satisfy my curiosity regarding the grandson of Edmund Spenser who petitioned Cromwell in 1657.

Spenser had four children (five if you accept the account of the infant who died in the burning of Kilcolman Castle): Silvanus, Lawrence, Catherine and Peregrine. The poet married a Machabyas Chylde in St. Margaret’s in Westminster in 1579. She went to Ireland with him but died circa 1591. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle, a kinswoman of Sir Richard Boyle (later Earl of Cork), in 1594. Hardly any information survives regarding Machabyas Chylde but quite a lot is known about Elizabeth Boyle. Elizabeth only ever recognized Peregrine as her own child and not the other three who appear to be the children of Spenser’s first wife.

Silvanus was the oldest of the children from the first marriage, being born circa 1580-82 and he secured his father’s estate from his stepmother Elizabeth Boyle who he successfully sued for it when he came of age in 1603. By Inquisition of 1611 he was found to be holding 300 acres in demesne at Kilcolman and another 1200 acres was in lease to 6 English planters in 300 and 100 acre lots as per the Articles of Plantation. A further 300 acres was withheld from him by John Power of Doneraile who disputed title to them. Spenser was found to be in breach of the articles because he was not resident on his estate and most of his subtenants were ‘mere Irish’. In a 1622 survey Silvanus is resident and is recorded as having planted 16 freeholders on the estate which is described as mostly comprising ‘unimprovable mountain’. The survey notes that Kilcolman Castle had originally been destroyed in 1598 but was subsequently ‘re-edified’. However, it goes on to say that ‘it has lately been consumed by fire again, since which time a convenient English house is built in the place thereof’. He settled part of his estate at Rinny (Reenie, Renny) on his much younger half-brother Peregrine, the son of his stepmother Elizabeth Boyle.

Silvanus married an Ellen Na(n)gle of Monanimy near Kilcolman. She had a papist mother (a Roche of Ballyhooly) and where religion and politics were concerned the Na(n)gles and Roches shifted whichever way the wind blew. So the Spensers seem to have been heavily involved with landed Catholics or crypto-Catholics, all of whom were living along the Awbeg/Blackwater river network. The Rinny property further downriver near Fermoy was close to the Ballyhooly Roches who rebelled in 1641. Silvanus died in 1638 leaving two sons: Edmund, the eldest, who inherited the estate, and William, born 1634 who was only seven at the outbreak of the rebellion and on reaching his majority petitioned Cromwell for that part of the Spenser estate which had been settled on his outlawed half-uncle Peregrine. This William was four when his father Silvanus died in 1638 and his older brother Edmund inherited the Spenser estate. As the orphaned younger brother he was not likely to inherit the family estate and it is quite conceivable that he was reared a Catholic as he claimed in the 1657 petition. When Edmund inherited the property a new patent was issued to him in February 1639 and all title disputes were resolved. He never married nor had he any children and the estate passed to his younger brother William who would then forfeit it under the Cromwellian confiscation by virtue of his being a Catholic. This last point is clear from his own petition to Cromwell in 1657, a petition that failed to recover him his lands. Instead, however, in 1678 after the Restoration he did manage to acquire a grant of new lands in Galway.

It does turn out, though, that William Spenser was eventually restored to that part of his grandfather’s estate that his father made over to his half-brother Peregrine. Peregrine’s son Hugholine (Hugolin) who was settled at Renny (Rinny) took the Stuart side against William of Orange and forfeited his proerty whereas William Spenser in Galway championed the Glorious Revolution and was finally granted the Renny estate in 1697 for services rendered.

Returning to the children of the poet again, only 3 Spensers/Spencers in the county Cork made depositions in 1642: one, Lawrence, was a yeoman who owned no land but leased a farm near Bandon; a second, Thomas, who had a farm just south-west of Cork city; and a third Katherine, a widow, who lived near Fermoy who was robbed and despoiled of property to the value of £48. There were no depositions by any Spenser associated with either Kilcolman or Rinny. Silvanus is nowhere mentioned in the depositions but Peregrine gets one mention in the deposition given by one Thomas Martin of Doneraile a couple of miles from Kilcolman. This deponent claimed that Peregrine owed him money but could not now repay it being ‘disenabled by this rebellion’.

Nordmann, the Lawrence named above seems to be the poet’s second son who as far as is known never married and had no children. Is he the same person who drew up the 1654 will that you mentioned? He did die in 1654.

The Catherine named above may have been the poet’s daughter.

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sun 08 Jan 2012, 22:55

I envy you access to sources, Oz - I am limited here in Norway to the internet and the office of the Chief Herald in Kildare Street where a friend forwards me pdf files.

But there is another point you raise in your biography of the Spenser descendants which, I feel, has been a woefully underrated one in the context of the preservation of wealth within the upper middle classes of Irish society; just at that moment when the class had been invented. How many families "rescued" their inheritance by backing the Dutch pretender as opposed to the Anglo-Scottish one? And this despite having backed consistently losing causes in the decades beforehand? I can think of three within a mere three miles of my birthplace - two of which retain the title "Lord" and the other which owns half of north County Dublin.

They were big stakes these guys played for!
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Mon 09 Jan 2012, 00:03

nordmann wrote:
How many families "rescued" their inheritance by backing the Dutch pretender as opposed to the Anglo-Scottish one? And this despite having backed consistently losing causes in the decades beforehand? I can think of three within a mere three miles of my birthplace - two of which retain the title "Lord" and the other which owns half of north County Dublin.

They were big stakes these guys played for!
They were. I know of many Catholic landowners who played both sides of the fence. Many Catholics apostasized to hold onto their land. Many Protestants, though usually not landowners, converted also. There are Protestant and Catholic branches of the same family all over the country, my own family name included.

An additional interesting piece of information about the Spenser story I uncovered was that the great Edmund Burke was related to the poet Spenser through the Na(n)gles and may even have been called after the author of the Fairei Queene himself.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Wed 11 Jan 2012, 11:15

Back in the late 70s I worked on an old ex-Dutch coaster then flying the Irish flag and registered in Dublin… the crews were from Arklow and Wicklow as was the owner, the skipper and myself were both from the south coast of England.

During the course of time and much fuelled by copious quantities of alcohol there were many arguments, and a few fights, I often felt obliged to retire to the relative safety of my cabin but I was always intrigued by the shouts of… so’n’so was a black bastard. This was obviously not a racist taunt as I clearly knew who they were referring to…

About ten years ago I was delivering a 54 foot ketch from Poole to Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland with my son and the owner. Fortunately he didn’t drink, he was on enough medication to cloud his senses without the need of alcohol but when he was ‘on one’ and ranting, he often used the same phrase, especially when we entered Arklow and he became engaged in various acrimonious exchanges with the locals of whom I got on with extremely well.

Last year I posed this topic on the BBC HH, but didn’t get an answer that I understood, our dear friend Cass seemed to hijack the thread and it went nowhere. What’s the chance of getting an explanation here?
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Wed 11 Jan 2012, 11:39

I believe it was most likely a contraction of "black protestant bastard" which had been stripped of its religious content, either in deference to yourself (or your captain on the coaster) or maybe in light of "the troubles" and the inadvisedness of being too specific with sectarian insults in mixed company.

"Black" as a derogatory term in English has an etymological pedigree far exceeding the recent history of racism directed against Africans. It has been employed with negative connotations in many contexts and phrases (blackguard, blackball,etc). In the case you mention I assume it has been derived from "black-hearted".
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Wed 11 Jan 2012, 17:39

It's also a pejorative much used in Glasgow, not just about people but about places as well and not as far as I'm aware with either racial or sectarian implications. I'm reminded of 'Black Douglas' so its pedigree extends far back and may indeed relate to Nordmann's suggestion.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Fri 27 Jan 2012, 20:05

Norman, I think I added a note to your BBC post, which may have escaped your notice!

The main Protestant organisation in Ireland is the Orange Order, named after 'Yer Man', the Wee Dutch Fella who came over here for a row with his father-in-law in 1690.

However, there is another - the 'Royal Black' organisation, which is (I think) a more Presbyterian organisation, and is open to Orangemen 'in good standing'. It is regarded by the Catholics as a sort of 'Super Orange', and even more anti-catholic than the Orange Order. They have an annual 'big day' on the last Saturday in August (called the 'Black Saturday' over here) with marches, bands, etc, much like the Orangemen on 'The Twelth' (12th of July) parades. Check it out on Google.

I think this is the most likely origin of the 'Black B*d' name, which is a common Catholic description for anyone regarded as anti-catholic, or even (for some) any Protestant.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 05:07

Thanks, I didn't know that! The Orange Order, of course, but I can't recall the Royal Black ever being mentioned.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 05:27

Cheers for that Giraffe… is it a derogatory remark aimed to cause offence… as I noted from the safety of my locked cabin its constant use certainly inflamed various arguments amongst the crew.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 16:56

In the Irish language 'dubh' (pron. dove = black) does not just indicate the colour but, like English, it has associated meanings, e.g. malevolent, rotten, bad, severe, etc. For example, Ir. 'dán' = Eng. 'fate' but 'dubh-dánach' = doomed. Ir. 'obair' = Eng. 'work' but 'dubh obair' = hard labour. Also, an Englishman was a 'sasanach' but a 'sasanach dubh' was a Protestant (or black Englishman)! In the 18th century there was an agrarian secret society called Ribbonmen that was split into two types: the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet. The Blackfeet were the ones that rejected the moral authority of the priests. During the Famine of the 1840s the potatoes (Ir. 'prátaí, pron. 'prawtee) rotted in the ground due to blight. Diseased potatoes were known as 'prátaí dubha'. The worst year of the Famine was called Black '47.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 17:39

The Royal Black is almost as old as the Orange Order, but usually more religious, less political, less inclined to get into rows about marches, etc, so it does not get the same TV profile! It is probably more politically influential, as members tend to be the most senior, and most respected, members of the Orange order.

Catholics using the term 'black ba*d' would definitely mean it as an insult, although these days I have heard of Protestant youths calling the police the same name! Possibly a carry-over from the name the Catholics called them, and/or the the very dark (bottle green) uniforms of the RUC.

This place is too civilized - it is strange to be able to post anything on N.Ireland without an avalanche of abuse!

Even saying is a wet day in Belfast usually brings the 20 posts blaming it on 800 years of English oppression, and an equal amount saying it was obvious that 30 years of murderous IRA bombs had destroyed the weather system.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 18:02

If a decent rant would make you feel more at home Giraffe, I'm sure someone would be able to oblige you Very Happy . But seriously, we are usually a fairly civilised lot and haven't had cause to use this once.....well not yet anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: The Sins of the Father   Sat 28 Jan 2012, 18:09

'Black' seems to be a very old insult and have been current long before it acquired any racial or sectarian associations. The OED gives ' Very evil or wicked; iniquitous; foul, hateful.' as one meaning and an OE souce ' Byrhtferð Enchiridion (Ashm.) iii. i. 124 Hig [sc. the faithless] ne þicgeað þæs lambes flæsc þe soð Crist ys, ac þæs dracan þe wæs geseald þam blacan folce to mete, þæt ys þam synfullum.' as well as many other examples from the 14th c. onwards. It also evidences the usage a 'black' time or day as unhappy or calamitous being as old.
There's also the 'filthy, ingrained with dirt' sense which is commonly used up here as an general insult; "You're black" often serving when a better rejoinder doesn't spring to mind....... Fighting

Are you missing the cut and thrust, Giraffe? here's some anyway Fighting
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