Ulsterheart Chapter 4 (St. Kerog's)
pages 85 through 92
Chapter 4 begins here. Pages 93 to 121 of Chapter 4 were not scanned
These unscanned pages describe the families of Erskine, Walker, Roan,
Hamilton, Morrison, Neely, Harvey, Moutray (Multrer), and Speer
"Dull memorials above the bones of men
Who in their day had heard the mirth
Of rooks rebuilding homes at Springs rebirth"
Two boys called James grew up together in Sterling Castle. James Erskine's Dad was Governor of the Castle. The Erskines reared James Stewart for the first ten years of his life, because he was born an orphan. He was born in 1567. Five months earlier his Dad had been murdered. In 1622 James Erskine was a Landlord in Kerog. By that time, James Stewart was King of England.
In 1611 King James published a book which was read in Kerog for three and a half centuries - the Authorized Version of the Bible. But he was often short of money. When in 1614, Parlaiment refused to vote him certain funds, King James I, turned to Sir Arthur Ingram, "the greatest and shrewdest of financiers" behind the throne, and appointed him Keeper of the King's Purse.50 Incidentally, Sir Arthur bought Temple Newsam, Leeds, in the very year St. Kerog's was built. Though a puritan, Sir Arthur kept the Crown solvent throughout the decade before the English Civil War.
One of Ingram's most bizarre enterprises was the sale of titles of horour. "Anything the Lord Chancellor had to sell might be had through Sir Arthur Ingram, if the price were right." And now, one of these royal favours created Favor Royal. He found a salesman ready to peddle this odd merchandise around Ireland - none other than King James's pal since childhood, James Erskine.
(image of Sir Arthur Ingram, of Temple Newsam, Leeds, Originator of Favor Royal: image not copied)
For a cash payment the King would create an Earldom. Erskine headed for Clogher, where another school-friend of his, James Spottiswoode was Bishop. He asked Bishop Spottiswoode how he could get the best profit from his strange merchandise. The Bishop referred him to his Dean, Robert Barclay who got him "much more than ever he expected".51
Ten years earlier, on 12th July 1611, the King had given three thousand acres to his Military Treasurer, Sir Thomas Ridgeway of
(1620 Barony map not copied)
Devon. The huge estate included Agher, Portclare, and Killygirie (Ballykergir). By 1619 Sir Thomas had built a three-storey castle, but he still hadn't realised enough to buy the Earldom. Dean Barclay "drave the bargain" that he should give Erskine the Estate and the Castle he had built at Agher. Ridgeway agreed, and on 19th August 1622 walked out of the room as Lord Londonderry !
Erskine then found that Bishop Spottiswoode held a mortgage on Agher Castle, which he had accepted from Sir James Balfour of Glenawley some years earlier. Balfour had "screwed himself in more and more" into the Bishop's credit, and eventually handed over the mortgage in settlement.
Incidentally, Balfour, on some other occasion, confronted the Bishop on a certain matter, and when he didn't get satisfaction, attacked the Bishop who "whirled him round and round" and threw him on his back in the chimney corner.52. Erskine's bonanza
was signed and sealed on 19th August 1622. Since the records assure us that St. Kerog's Church was already "abuilding" (i.e., being built) in that year, the most likely promoter would be Archibald Hamilton of Kosker which apparently stood behind the present Martray Manor. Archibald's grandfather was Hans Hamilton (1536-1608) Vicar of Dunlop. The promoter's son is commemorated in stone on the east wall of Kerog porch. Archibald (n.c. 1588-1622) was involved in building at this time, having completed a 312 by 16 feet Bawn on the Millex side of Martray Lake. The Robert Hamilton who was Rector of Kilishel, the next parish to Kerog, from 1617 to 1623 was almost certainly another member of the family - the Hamiltons of Raplock, in Clydesdale.
In its 210 years Kerog III had fourteen Rectors. The first seven were Carter, Erskine, Moore, Walker, Roan, Semple, Stewart. Carter may have accompanied Ridgeway from Devon in 1610. He was in Kerog in 1612, when Morrin's calendar says "Roveagh, the church land, reserved from the proportion of Ballykirgir, was granted to Hugh Carter Rector of Vicar of Errigallkeroge". Does this mean that the property now known as Raveagh, near Eskra was an outlying Glebe? Since O'Neill had destroyed the parish church forty years earlier, Carter may have conducted services, like Lawrence Harley whom he may have displaced, in the disused friary.
The Scots were now returning to Ulster in great numbers, principally from the parts of Britain where their ancestors had settled a thousand years earlier, in the wake of withdrawing Legions. So Carter may have suggested to Hamilton that he build a new Church. A Royal Visitation of 1622 noted that Hugh Carter was the Preacher, £ 10 per year stipend, that he was living in the parish - "The Incumbent dwelleth upon his Glebe." If Kerogites were now worshipping for a decade in the Friary, it might explain why Carter or Hamilton shifted the parish centre one mile eastwards, from the townland of Errigle to the townland of Ballinasagart. Of course, he also had the convenience of building St. Kerog's where there was to hand a good supply of seasoned building materials in the old Friary. The earliest eyewitness description of St. Kerog's that has survived in that written down about 1817 for the Shaw Mason Survey.
Page 89 (Barony map: not copied)
On 14th June 1628 Carter got another Grant of Glebe. Perhaps this may have been in connection with the building of a Rectory. Could one of the large houses to the west of Clonully Mill have been an early Rectory disposed of during some of the subsequent absentee incumbencies?
The times were perilous. O Neill resented the Scots and worse still they were at loggerheads among themselves. Bishop Spottis-woode complained that he was "hated by divers of his countrymen. Lord Balfour and Sir James Areskine and others have sold themselves to work all wickedness, and were great oppressors of their neighbours." They hated him because of his zeal for the Church and free schools, and his relief of those who were wronged. He rejoiced that His Majesty had sent such a Governor (Wentworth) that would "ere long know him and his adversaries". In fact, Balfour was accused, fled to England, and died. Sir James Areskine "perceiving he prevailed nothing by clampering (quarrelling) desired to be reconciled to the Bishop. When he died in Dublin, Bishop Spottiswoode preached at his funeral, on request of Areskine's son."53
When, in 1641 Sir Phelim O Neill was repulsed at Spur Castle, Augher, he ordered McDonnel to massacre all Protestants in the adjacent parishes54. The authorities had anticipated this, and in 1631 ordered Landlords to prepare a list of all the able-bodied men in their Estates, who could be mustered in any emergency. The chief value of this Muster Roll today is for genealogy. Landlords and Chieftains kept their pedigrees, but here for the first time we find the names, if nothing else of some of the ordinary Kerogites who tilled the soil of Kerog nearly four centuries ago. Of the whole 137, the only one of whom we have any subsequent note is Richard Waltham. He was described as "Gentleman" on his tombstone when Kelly Groves saw it being used as a hearthstone in St. Kerog's porch in 1817. So it probably found its. way to some cottage hearth when McCoy got the use of the stones of St. Kerog's in 1833. Waltham died in 1684.
MUSTER ROLL ON LANDLORD'S ESTATES ca 1631
John Bennet er
John Bennet yr
John Headen er
John Headen yr
William Moore yr
Thomas Penny er
Thomas Penny yr
Robert Symington yr
About a dozen of these names look strange to us today. Do they represent the original spelling of surnames surviving today? This seems unlikely, since these 1631 forms do not occur elsewhere. Could they be the work of some semi-literate local official? Hardly, since so many of the spellings are so like later standardizations. A more fascinating explanation, and none the less likely for that, is that we here have a recording of the local accents of 350 years ago, with some official, perhaps an Englishman, attempting to record phonetically names he had not heard before.
Carrudhowse, Caughton, Gilpatrick, and Meliken we can readily recognise as Carrothers or Cathers, Carleton, Kilpatrick or Kirkpatrick, and Milligan or Mulligan. Ffixter may be the name Fricker which still prevails in north Tyrone. Halkeny may be the Omagh name Elkin. The only guess we can offer about Shearall is that it may be Shirley or even Sheridan, a name which, because of its three syllables was prone to misconstruction as in the later Surgeon and then Sturgeon. The surname Snowball is not unknown in other corners of Ulster, but it is more likely that our Simon was a Somerville.
About this time some doubt seems to have arisen about whether Kerog had been included in Erskine's acquisition, so Kerog as part of the bargain was confirmed by a re-grant dated 12th July 1630.
Sir James Erskine's third son, Archibald was ordained by the Bishop of Cashel, Malcolm Hamilton in 1627. He became Rector of Ballybay, and in 1633 succeeded Carter as Rector of Kerog. He also held the parishes of Derrygonnelly and Newtownbutler. He was in Kerog during the Troubles of 1641. In the House of Commons Library there is a letter written by Col. Audely Mervyn of Cavan praising the Rector of Kerog for his defence of Augher Castle during the Insurrection. Later he was installed in the prebendary of Devenish. Canon Erskine married twice. His first wife was Beatrice Spottiswoode, the Bishop's daughter. His second wife was Letitia daughter of Londoner Sir Paul Gore. Incidentally, her brother married a daughter of Capt. Rbt. Parke of Sligo
Pages 93 through 121 of Chapter 4 have not been scanned, but
the last 3 pages of Chapter 4 (pages 122 to 124) are available