“Last Conquest” ?

Some short time ago we concluded our account of the sixteenth century history of Newry and of the Bagenals’ role in it in particular. Before we enter the fateful seventeenth century, we should perhaps reflect again on the results of ‘The Last Conquest of Ireland’ in the words of our own John Mitchel. 

We should also put this in context. The Irish had been completely routed at Kinsale (1601) and the Great O’Neill was preparing for total submission to the Queen’s Deputy to Ireland at the hugely-significant site at Mellifont (site too of the mother-monastery of Newry’s Cistercians). Hugh O’Neill was not aware that the Queen had died a few days previously in London – or he may have waited to sue for better terms from the new (Scottish) Stuart King!

It would not be long before Hugh, with his large entourage, would head that sorry event that has gone down in history as the ‘Flight of the Earls’.

‘From this day,’ writes John Mitchel in his Last Conquest of Ireland, ‘the distinction of ‘Pale’ and ‘Irish Country’ was at an end. The authority of the Kings of England and their Irish Parliaments became for the first time paramount over the whole of Ireland. The pride of Ancient Erin, the haughty struggle of Irish nationhood against foreign institutions, and the detested spirit of English imperialism for that time, sunk in blood and horror. 

But the Irish nation is an undying essence, and that noble struggle paused for a season only to recommence in other forms and on wider ground – to be renewed.  

 And again renewed.’  

 Mitchel was essentially a political polemicist and a hugely important figure in Ireland even long after his enforced exile. His writings inspired Irish rebels for a further century.

The Seven Years War had left England drained and Ireland defeated and impoverished. Lord Mountjoy having completed his deadly business of conquest by fire and sword returned to England and left behind in Newry as garrison, Sir Richard Trevor – who came originally from Denbighshire, North Wales with 50 horsemen and 100 footmen. Meanwhile at Mountnorris he left Captain Atherton with 150 men and at Moyry Castle, a Captain Smith with twelve warders. 


On 2 March 1605 Letters Patent were passed granting Sir Richard Trevor the governorship of Newry, Carlingford, Mountnorris and the Moyry, with extensive powers. He was not owner but he was in charge. He was not greatly enamoured of his new position and in late 1606 he left to return to his family seat in Wales. As we shall shortly see he was soon replaced by others of his family and name.


By this time Arthur Bagenal, son of Henry and grandson of Nicholas, had come of age and entered into his father’s property. He married Sir Richard Trevor’s daughter Magdalen and in the same year executed a deed settling his estates to their joint use and those of their successors (male) with ultimate remainder to his own right heirs ‘for ever’.

In this case ‘for ever’ lasted barely a century, the male Protestant line eventually running out of successors! Of course, as you know from this site, there were many Bagenals who espoused the old religion, but they were ignored or punished!


… Dr Black … 

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