Nicholas Bagenal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Welsh politician, see Nicholas Bagenal (Welsh MP).
Nicholas Bagenal
Born 1509
probably Newcastle-under-Lyme, England
Died February 1591 (aged 82)
Spouse(s) Eleanor Griffith
Children Sir Henry Bagenal, Dudley, Ambrose, Frances, Mary, Margaret, Isabel, Anne, Mabel.
Parent(s) John Bagenall, Eleanor Whitttingham

Sir Nicholas Bagenal or Bagenall or Bagnall/ˈbæɡnəl/ (1509 – February 1591) was an English-born soldier and politician who became Marshal of the Army in Ireland.

Early life[edit]

He was born the second son of John Bagenal (died 1558), a tailor who served as Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme, by his wife Eleanor, daughter of Thomas Whittingham of Middlewhich, Cheshire and cousin of William Whittingham, Dean of Durham. His elder brother, Sir Ralph Bagenal, was one of Henry VIII's courtiers.[1]

In 1538 Nicholas fled to Ireland to escape justice for killing a man in the Staffordshire village of Leek; his two brothers were apparently also involved in this crime. In Ireland he became acquainted with Con O'Neill, 1st Earl of Tyrone and on 7 December 1542 the Irish council, at the suit of Tyrone, begged the King for pardon of Bagenal. Bagenal returned to England in April 1544 and took part in the campaign in France in the following summer.[1]

The Bagenals had family links with the Irish government through Sir Patrick Barnewall, who was the Master of the Rolls in Dublin and married to a cousin of Nicholas. This connection may help to explain how Nicholas was recommended for military service in France in 1544. His descendants gave their name to Bagenalstown in Co. Carlow. During the Colonial wars, his whole family were involved in the undertaking of land in Ireland.


In March 1547 he was appointed Marshal of the Army in Ireland by Edward VI. In November 1551 he was sent by James Croft to expel the Scots who had invaded Dufferin. He was knighted in the same year, and on 22 April 1552 was granted the lands of St. Patrick's and Saint Benedict and St. Mary's Abbey, of Newry and the Cistercian abbey of Carlingford, County Louth. When Mary I's accession took place, Bagenal lost his office of marshal, which she conferred on Sir George Stanley. Accordingly with this change on 7 May 1556 he was fined a thousand pounds ?. In 1559 he was elected to Parliament as member for Newcastle-under-Lyme.

When Queen Elizabeth I of England succeeded to the throne on her sister's passing, Sir George Stanley was asked to continue as marshal in Ireland and on 23 April 1562 Bagenal wrote to the Queen complaining that his lands brought him in nothing, owing to the depredations of Shane O'Neill. Bagenal was reduced to the role of a Captain until Sir Nicholas Arnold's recommendations induced the Queen to reappoint him marshal in 1565, with Sir Henry Sidney as deputy. Bagenal's patent was dated 5 October 1565, but he had scarcely taken up the office when, early in 1566, he entered into an agreement to sell it and his lands to Sir Thomas Stukley who was a close friend of the Pope. The Queen was unhappy with the arrangement and insisted he remain marshal.[1] In May 1577 Sir Nicholas was also appointed chief commissioner of Ulster, with his son Henry Bagenal, born 1556 in Carlingford, as his assistant.

He was involved in some military disasters, such as a defeat at Glenmalure on 25 August 1580 when Lord Grey led the troops (with Bagenal one of the commanders of the rear) into battle with Fiach McHugh O'Byrne and Viscount Baltinglass in the Wicklow mountain passes. In 1584, Bagenal was colonel of the garrison at Carrickfergus when 1,300 of Sorley Boy MacDonnell's Scots landed on Rathlin Island. Bagenal attacked but was ambushed at Glenarm and had to retreat.

On 26 August 1583 his son, now Sir Henry Bagenal, obtained the reversion of the post of marshal and acted as his father's deputy. Sir Nicholas was appointed chief commissioner on 6 July 1584 for the government of Ulster, and in April 1585 he was returned to the Irish Parliament as member for County Down.[1]

In January 1586 Sir John Perrot complained that Nicholas Bagenal was too old to perform his duties as marshal; a feud between Bagenal and Perrot lasted until the lord deputy was recalled. On one occasion (15 July 1587) there was an affray between the two in Perrot's house, where they were both drinking heavily. Bagenal was pushed to the ground after lunging out at Perrot. On 20 October 1590 Bagenal resigned the office of marshal asking for the post to be conferred on his son, Sir Henry.[1]

Sir Nicholas died at Newry Castle in February 1591 and was buried soon after. He is presumed buried in Saint Patrick's church, which he is alleged to have built at 1578? (no records confirm this – another unknown date). Nicholas Bagenal's date of birth is unknown as well, until now he was born in 1508. His son Henry was killed during the greatest defeat the English suffered in Ireland at the Battle of Yellow Ford on 14 Aug 1598.

Life in Newry[edit]

During his time as Marshal of the Army in Ireland Bagenal supposedly rebuilt Newry. Pollard in 1901 states he could find no records of any building he may have constructed, other than those of secondary value: while it is rumoured that he lived in the Abbot's House (Nicholas Bagenal never ever did, his Castle was elsewhere). The Abbot's house was a fortified monastic palace, source (Cistercians Yorkshire). According to the Cistercian map of Newry Abbey the Abbot's house was located at the top of Mill Street opposite the entry which led to the Cathedral. The outline of the car park behind Andy Boyd's basically marks the outline of the Abbot's House or Abbot Crelly's Castle. This whole car park area was known from Colonial days as Creely's Castle. Robert Lythes drawings of the Abbots house and its interior, cements this site in history. Harris confirms that this is the site of the Abbots house. Side towers were added and the center tower at the front was removed by the Needhams in an upgrade. It then became Needhams Castle, which previously belonged to the Hill family of Hillsborough, the family of Hill purchased the infee deeds for Abbot Crelly's Castle from his family. McCann's bakery are the last owners of this Abbot's house Castle. A view of the Robert Lythe watercolour of the Abbots it can be seen on source of the same drawing is PRONTI, however it's shown under the wrong title there. While Bagenal held the office of marshal for twenty-five years and was appointed to other commissions besides, records suggest that he did not do much outside of his Newry quarters.

Newry's history was redefined in 2006 to facilitate the supposed discovery of the Marshall's supposed long lost Newry Castle. This redefining has far fetching problems in the world's true history, it has enabled the moving of Nicholas Bagenal's supposed lost Castle to the site of the reformed Catholic church. Newry, the once famous power house of British rule in the North of Ireland, has suddenly a Newry Castle which has replaced the reformed Catholic church. Along with this move, and common sense prevailing, all of the De Courcys Newry Castle's ancient history has moved as well. According to this new Newry history De Corcy apparently built his Motte and Bailey Castle of Newry which is recorded in the rent rolls as having 6 tenements, with outbuildings inside its great walls. He apparently built all this right on top of the Cistercian Great Church of Newry. This the very Church which he built the Castle to protect? It is a good job there wasn't a church in Ballybot or he have done the same over there with the Castle that he built there to protect the pass near the turn of the water, accordingly De Lacy signed his Newry Charter in this Church? not in a Castle ? not only that Robert the Bruce seemingly attacked the same Church building,? the proud Shane O Neill (Fedon Castle) now takes his place in history for the first time, as being the first Irish O Neill Prince to attack and destroy the Great Catholic Cistercian Church of Newry? While he did attack it twice this was with the hope of driving the English from the church as they were stabling their horses in it. The mind boggles. It is all a strange curious line of happening, when in De Courcy's case he is seen founding several Cistercian houses and inserting English Benedictines in them.

Let us not enter into the realms of fantasy here to facilitate a supposed Bagenal Castle which is recorded across the internet with nothing but guessed dates. History provides dates for the great churches survival throughout Newry's history, Harris records it still standing in 1734, Lewis records it at a later date, Basset says it is still there in 1820 getting its bell tower removed by gunpowder to facility Mr Corry's refurbishing of the area, since this date of 1820 the Great Church is seen still standing in many photographs on exactly the same spot where this supposed lost Castle has just appeared on. The reality is that the Georgian style houses at Abbey yard which Mr Corry is supposed to have erected have no plans for the same an d rightly so because the building in question is the medieval abbey hall and adjoining buildings which are recorded in the Bagenal patent as still standing, they are also recorded in the Newry rent Rolls. The planning office has no record of who built any of these buildings on Castle Street, so no matter how history has dressed them up they are our Newry abbey buildings. Conclusion on the redefining, the Marshall's Castle is still lost. Newry's history is now best described by an English word, one which is found in every abbey in Ireland, a "shambles" that is until it is put right, which will be very soon.

Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, who was godfather to one of the Marshall's children, remarked on a visit to Newry Castle, he said "it's advantageous position is out on the High Way". Not a very accurate statement given the area where the supposed new Castell site is today, Castle Street was never a highway nor any part of one, it was the center of the town at that date, while the supposed 1568 map of Newry clarifies this point, it is not a map, it is a plan, quite a different thing, open your eyes when looking at it, learn the plans lethal purpose in life.

The highway for Newry at this date in time is well recorded as a steep muddy hill which Carriages can get up, it combines High Street and Mill street and across the bridge at the bottom of the same and over to Ballybot, which is described as the new English town of Newry in the 18th century, it is also described by Bagenal as the area where his soldiers were settling, he erected a fort on the O'Meath road to give them free passage.

The Marshal's proper name (Bagnol) is engraved in stone on St Patrick's Church tower, Newry with the inscription "This stone was taken from the South Wall of the belfry on repairing this Church and placed here by order of Francis, Earl of Kilmorey, Lord of the Exempt Jurisdiction of Newry the 18 June 1830." Lord Kilmorey had a Bagenal connection, as his family had inherited part of their estates when the senior Bagenal line died out in Newry in 1712.

St Patrick's was deemed the first Protestant church ever built in Ireland, while it held this title for some years even though there's not a document that verifies its building date which is rumoured as being 1578?, it no longer holds it. The title was removed because the building was almost destroyed at one stage,during the Colonial wars, after which all that remained was a small part of the tower until it was rebuilt. This rebuild removed the first church title, accordingly it is now the second oldest Protestant church in Ireland. A church in Derry is now seen as the first Protestant church in Ireland.


Sir Nicholas married Eleanor Griffith, daughter of Sir Edward Griffith of Penrhyn,[1] and had at least nine children, some were born in Newry Castle, Henry was born in Carlingford:

Henry succeeded his father as Marshal, played a leading part in the Nine Years War, and was killed in action against his brother-in-law Tyrone at the Battle of the Yellow Ford in 1589 in County Armagh.

Dudley became a major landowner in County Carlow; he was ancestor of the Bagenal family of Bagenalstown. He was killed in a skirmish with the local Kavanagh family.

Mabel eloped with Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone; she became one of the most romantic figures in Irish history, "the Helen of Troy of the Elizabethan Wars". Mabel and Mary are major characters in the play Making History by Brian Friel; their father and brother Henry are frequently referred to but do not appear on stage.

The landowner and politician Nicholas Bagenal, who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Anglesey and Custos Rotulorum of Anglesey, lived 1629 to 1712, was the grandson of Sir Henry.


Recent information has allowed for the correct date of the Marshalls death, this being Feb 1591.

There are two additional daughters found in "A Family Tapestry" by Eva Plewman Appleton. This being the History of the Phepoe, Bagnall, Rothwell and Plewman families. Their names are Ursula and Jane Bagnall. There is no marriage or children information beyond this.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPollard, Albert Frederick (1901). "Bagnal, Nicholas". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

External links[edit]