Newry seized in 1641

The iniquitous Plantation consequent upon the defeat of Gaelic Ireland and the seizure of the lands of the Gaelic Chiefs (of many of those who remained as well as of those who fled with Hugh O’Neill) affected Newry and Mourne in a unique way. 

The Crown restored the Bagenal’s (Arthur now) position here and they continued with renewed fervour to import Protestants of their ilk to ‘settle’ their huge domain. They were given dominance too over those few Irish chiefs (Magennis for example) who had survived by submission to the Stuart King and a new inferior role, characterised by acceptance of an English title (knighthood, mainly).


But resentment simmered and exploded in uprising in 1641. The Newry was one of the first towns seized. Suddenly the town and the whole of the South-East of the County were in Irish hands. Later there would be tales told of the slaughter of garrison and Protestants but this seems not to have been the case. Indeed, the following missive of Sir Con Magennis, commander of the Irish forces holding the town would strongly indicate no bloodshed.






To my lovinge friends Captain Vaughan, Marcus Trevor and the other commanders of Down these be …


Deere Friendes,


My love to you all … although you think it to be as yet otherwise.

Sure it is I have broken Sir Edward Trevor’s letter, fearing that anythinge should be written against us.


We are for our lives and liberties, as you may understand out of that letter. 

We desire no blood to be shed:

but if you mean to shed our blood, be sure we will be as ready as you for the purpose. 


I rest,

your assured friende,


Connor Magneisse


The above might be considered to give the lie to the false testimony of vindictive ‘witnesses’ whose later depositions (held in Ms at Trinity College Dublin) allege the massacre of fifteen townspeople at the taking of the town by the Irish. 


Indeed in the Report of the Lords Justices (Sir William Parsons and Sir John Borlase) to the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Ormond, after speaking of the Irish seizing the town and the taking of their arms and the plundering of some inhabitants, it is expressly stated


‘and this, though too much, is all that we yet hear is done by them.”


The conflict between the English and the Confederation of Kilkenny would later assume a more ferocious aspect.  And the massacre of Newry women at the retaking of Newry by the English and Scottish troops is a story already told here.


… David Warden …

… more later …




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