Henry Docwra, 1st Baron Docwra of Culmore
He was born at Chamberhouse Castle, Crookham, near Thatcham, Berkshire, to a minor gentry family, who came originally from Yorkshire.  He was the only son of Edmund Docwra MP and his wife Dorothy Golding, sister of the noted translator Arthur Golding. His father was a prominent local politician, who sat in the House of Commons as MP for Aylesbury in 1571, but he was later obliged due to financial difficulties to sell Chamberhouse: this may be the reason why Henry pursued a military career. His lack of influential family connections was to be a considerable difficulty to him throughout his career, in an age when such connections were almost all-important.
After serving as a professional soldier in the Netherlands and France, Docwra was sent to Ireland about 1584. He was made constable of Dungarvan Castle, and served under Sir Richard Bingham in 1586. Bingham besieged Annis Castle near Ballinrobe, and used Ballinrobe as a base from which to attempt to pacify County Mayo. He was unable to subdue the powerful Burke clan, and the campaign ended inconclusively.
Service with Essex
Docwra left Ireland around 1590: like so many ambitious young officers and courtiers of the time, he entered the service of the Earl of Essex, the prime Royal favourite, and fought with him in the war against Spain. He took part in the Siege of Rouen in 1591-2, and in the Capture of Cadiz in 1596. He was knighted by Essex in person for unspecified "acts of valour" at Cadiz. He saw service with Maurice of Nassau in Maurice's campaigns in Brabant, and spent much of the late 1590s in the Netherlands. He did not take part in Essex's ill-fated Islands Voyage expedition to the Azores in 1597.
Return to Ireland
Main article: Essex in Ireland
In 1599, to his "unspeakable contentment", he was sent back to Ireland to serve with Essex during the Nine Years War, acting as his chief adviser on Irish military affairs. During Essex's disastrous attempts to pacify Ireland, Docwra was mainly occupied with attempting to subdue the O'Byrne clan in County Wicklow. He took no part in Essex's controversial negotiations with Hugh O'Neill, the overall Irish leader during the Nine Years' War, which produced a set of terms, called the Cessation, which was interpreted by Essex's enemies as a total English capitulation to the Irish. The Queen's own reaction was to tell Essex sharply that if she had wanted to abandon Ireland altogether, it would hardly have been necessary to send him there.
From the Cessation, there followed quickly Essex's own inevitable disgrace, and his rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I, which ended with his execution as a traitor in February 1601. Docwra, who had prudently remained in Ireland throughout the crisis, was not suspected of any part in Essex's treason, and he quickly gained the confidence of Essex's successor as Lord Deputy of Ireland, Mountjoy. His biographer remarks that, if he was not in general highly regarded as a politician, Docwra did at least have the true politician's gift for survival.
Conquest of Ulster
In April 1600 Docwra was given 4200 men in order to subdue Ulster.  He landed at Carrickfergus, and proceeded to Culmore where he fortified both the ruined castle there, and Flogh, near Inishowen, Donegal. Proceeding to what is now the city of Derry, he fortified the hill, and laid out the first streets of the new town. Further up the River Foyle he fortified Dunnalong, a position dividing Donegal and Tyrone, in July 1600. He constructed Dutch-inspired star-shaped bastion forts, each with a strong earthen rampart, surrounded by a ditch, at the three sites of Culmore, Derry and Dunnalong. He also engaged in several skirmishes with the Irish, reportedly winning their admiration for his courage and cunning, and was severely wounded by Black Hugh O'Donnell, a cousin of Red Hugh O'Donnell.
Throughout his career in Ulster, he showed a remarkable skill in fostering divisions in the leading Irish clans, and in gaining the support of several prominent Irish chieftains, including members of the dominant O'Neill and O'Donnell clans. His most notable diplomatic coup was to win for the Crown, at least for a time, the loyalty of Niall Garve O'Donnell, cousin and brother-in-law of Red Hugh. The most frequent charge levelled against Docwra by his enemies was of gullibility in believing in the promises of loyalty made by the Gaelic chieftains, but in fact Docwra, who was a sensible man, had no expectation of their remaining loyal "if the Spaniards should approach these shores", or if the English suffered any decisive military defeat. Quite simply he argued that, so long as it lasted, the support of men like Niall Garve was a great asset which the English must exploit.
The winter of 1600/1601 was spent in further military expeditions, and in negotiations with the Irish. In 1602 he secured Dungiven Castle, giving him control of most of the modern county of Londonderry. He joined forces with Mountjoy to finally crush Hugh O'Neill, who made his submission to Mountjoy at Mellifont in March 1603; the military campaign is said to have been one of exceptional savagery, resulting in the death of thousands of Irish civilians. 
On the death of Queen Elizabeth I, it was Docwra's firm action which prevented a rising in the north of Ireland by his chief Irish ally, Niall Garve O'Donnell, who was infuriated at not having been made Earl of Tyrconnell, a title which was instead conferred on his cousin Rory O'Donnell. Niall was, in the short term, persuaded to trust in the promise of further rewards from the Crown.
Founder of Derry
His reputation as "the founder of Derry" rests on his early attempts to develop it as a city, although in the short term his efforts came to nothing, as the colony was burnt in 1608. Docwra had hoped that his services in the Nine Years' War would produce rich rewards, and seems to have set his heart on being created Lord President of Ulster; but he had never been popular, even with his own soldiers, and was utterly lacking in powerful friends or influence at Court, where he was regarded as something of a nuisance. It was said that there was nothing the Queen and Council had dreaded more than yet another verbose letter from Docwra, angrily replying to any criticism of his conduct as commander.
He had to be content with being appointed the first Governor and Provost of Derry with a charter to hold markets and a fair. It was his duty to appoint the Sheriffs, Recorder and justices of the peace, and to hold a county court.
Docwra was, for the time being, weary of life in Ireland, and in 1606 he was bought out of his public offices by George Paulet, whose relations with the Irish leaders of the area, and particularly the ruler of Inishowen, Sir Cahir O'Doherty, whose loyalty Docwra had sought to win, were far less amicable.
During O'Doherty's subsequent rising in 1608, Paulet was murdered by O'Doherty and Derry was burned. Docwra's policy of seeking to conciliate the leading Gaelic nobles of Ulster was now utterly discredited: he was accused of neglect of duty and undue leniency towards the native Irish, and retired to England in temporary disgrace. Following the Flight of the Earls, and the O'Doherty rebellion, the English Crown no longer saw any advantage in conciliating the chieftains of Ulster: Docwra's Irish allies were ruined, and many of them, like Niall Garve O'Donnell and his son Neachtain, ended their days in the Tower of London.
In retirement in England, Docwra protested bitterly to King James I that he had been unfairly accused of incompetence, and poorly rewarded for his services to the Crown: in particular he complained of the failure to make him Lord President of Ulster. In 1614 he published his Narrative, which is both a description of, and a justification for his military actions in Ireland.
His decade-long campaign to return to active Government employment finally bore fruit. In 1616 he was made Treasurer of War for Ireland and returned to live there; in 1621 he was raised to the peerage, with a modest grant of land at Ranelagh, near Dublin city, and he had another estate at Donnybrook. Despite his title, he was a comparatively poor man, partly because he had not been given the office of Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, which had previously been associated with the office of Treasurer of War, so that Docrwa had only half the income he might have expected. After his death all his colleagues praised him as "an honest man who died poor". As Treasurer he avoided the temptation, to which so many of his contemporaries sucumbed, of using his office to enrich himself; in 1618 the Privy Council of England commended him to the Lord Deputy for his care and diligence in carrying out his duties. His one serious fault as an official, it was agreed, was exceptional slowness in compiling his accounts.
In 1628 he was one of fifteen peers empanelled to try Lord Dunboyne for manslaughter, and was the only one to vote "guilty". He died on 18 April 1631 in Dublin, shortly after retiring from his public offices, and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. His fellow Irish councillors sent a petition to their English colleagues, praising him as "an excellent civil servant", who died poor, and recommended his widow and surviving children to their care.
He married Anne Vaughan, daughter of Francis Vaughan of Sutton-upon-Derwent. They had two sons, Theodore and Henry. Theodore, the elder son, succeeded to the barony but died without issue. Little is known of him except that he was obliged to sell his Ranelagh estate and was in some poverty when he died in England in 1647: since his brother Henry had predeceased him, the title became extinct. The 1st Baron also had three daughters, Anne, Frances, wh died young, and Elizabeth; Anne married Captain Shore of Fermanagh, and Elizabeth married Basil Brooke of Brookeborough. Lady Docwra outlived her husband and both of her sons, and survived till 1648: like her son she was in a state of some poverty in her later years, despite receiving a legacy from Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, who had been a close a friend and ally of her late husband in his last years.
As a soldier Docwra was brave, skillful and ruthless; the Irish themselves admired him as "a knight of wisdom and prudence". He showed considerable skill in negotiation with the Irish clans, and in fomenting quarrels among them to strengthen the Crown's position. Historians have remarked that accusations made against Docwra of excessive "leniency" towards the Irish would have astonished the Irish themselves, many thousands of whom died directly or indirectly as a result of his actions. As Treasurer of War, although he had his critics, he had an enviable reputation for being diligent, conscientious and upright, if also rather slow.
In private life he had a reputation for being honest, public-spirited and independent, as he showed by his dissent in the Dunboyne manslaughter trial. In religion he is said, by the standards of his time and place, to have been tolerant enough; although there is no doubt that troops under his command killed a number of Roman Catholic priests, his biographer argues that Docwra neither ordered nor approved of these killings.
- Moore, Norman "Henry Docwra" Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900 Vol.15 p.140
- McGurk, John Sir Henry Docwra 1564-1631 - Derry's Second Founder Four Courts Press Dublin 2007 p.18
- Some sources refer to his mother as Marjorie Puttenham.
- Ford, David Nash Royal Berkshire History
- Moore p.140
- McGurk pp.37-40
- McGurk p.41
- McGurk p.39
- McGurk p.51
- McGurk p.53
- McGurk p.76
- McGurk p.92
- McGurk p.146
- McGurk p.198
- Moore, p.140
- New History of Ireland, vol.3 eds. Moody, Martin and Byrne (OUP 1991) p.196
- Docwra's Narrative edited by William P.Kelly 2003 p.2
- Reprinted 2003, edited by William P. Kelly
- McGurk p.242
- McGurk p.248
- Moore, p.140
- McGurk p.22
- McGurk p.269
- McGurk p.20
- McGurk p.21
- Moore, p.140
- McGurk p.22
- Moore, p.140
- McGurk p.26
- McGurk p.248
- McGurk p,20