THOMAS CROMWELL, EARL OF ESSEX of sixth creation, statesman, chief minister to HENRY VIII, was attainted and beheaded in 1540.
SIR GREGORY CROMWELL KB (c1514-51), born at Putney, Surrey, was tutored by Richard Southwell and attended Cambridge University.
In 1539, he was summoned to Parliament as LORD CROMWELL, attendant upon HENRY VIII; and he was created Baron Cromwell, in 1540.
Lord Cromwell married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Seymour, and sister of Edward, Duke of Somerset, and widow of Sir Anthony Oughtred; by whom he had three sons, the eldest of whom,
HENRY, 2nd Baron (1538-92), summoned to Parliament in the reign of ELIZABETH I, wedded Lady Mary Paulet, daughter of John, Marquess of Winchester.
His elder son,
EDWARD, 3rd Baron (1559-1607).
This nobleman was with the Earl of Essex in his expedition at sea against the Spaniards, and joined in the insurrection three years afterwards, which cost Lord Essex his head.The 3rd Baron received, however, an especial pardon in 1601.
Lord Cromwell, having alienated his estates in England by sale, purchased the barony of Lecale in County Down from Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy, or "made an exchange thereof".
His lordship settled at Lecale, in 1605, after creditors had seized his Leicestershire manors. He was granted lands which had been possessed by a local Irish chieftain, Phelim McCartan, on condition that he educated and provided for McCartan's son in his household.
The King also appointed him Governor of Lecale, with the power to exercise martial law.His lordship married twice and, dying in Ulster, was succeeded by his son,
THOMAS, 4th Baron (1594-1653), who was created by CHARLES I, in 1624, Viscount Lecale.
This nobleman was advanced to the dignity of an earldom in 1645, as EARL OF ARDGLASS.
Lord Ardglass remained firmly attached to the interests of the King during the civil wars, notwithstanding his friendship with Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex.The 1st Earl married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Robert Meverell, of Throwleigh, Staffordshire, and had issue,
Ardglass was an important town during the middle ages, which would explain Cromwell's choice of title.
The 1st Earl was commander of the Regiment of Horse in Ireland for CHARLES I during the Civil War; and subsequently made his peace with Parliament, paying £460 for his "delinquency".
WINGFIELD, his heir;His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
VERE ESSEX, 4th Earl;
WINGFIELD, 2nd Earl (1622-68), who wedded Mary, daughter of Sir William Russell, 1st Baronet, and had by her an only child,
THOMAS, 3rd Earl (1653-82), who married Honoria, daughter of the Most Rev Michael Boyle DD, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland; but dying issueless in 1682, the family honours reverted to his uncle,
VERE ESSEX, 4th Earl (1623-87), PC, second son of the 1st Earl, who espoused, in 1672, Catherine, daughter of James Hamilton, of Newcastle, County Down.
His lordship died without male issue, when the titles expired; except the barony of CROMWELL, originating in the writ of 1539, which devolved upon his daughter,
LADY ELIZABETH CROMWELL (1672-1709), as BARONESS CROMWELL, in which rank her ladyship assisted at the funeral of Queen MARY II, and at the coronation of Queen Anne.
She wedded the Rt Hon Edward Southwell MP, Principal Secretary of State for Ireland, and had issue, two sons and a daughter, who all died sine prole; and another son, Edward, who, marrying the Hon Katherine Watson, daughter of Edward, Viscount Sondes, and sole heiress of her brothers, Lewis and Thomas, Earls of Rockingham, left a son,
EDWARD SOUTHWELL, 20TH BARON DE CLIFFORD, who, in right of his mother, succeeded to the barony of DE CLIFFORD.
Her ladyship died in 1709, and the barony of CROMWELL is now supposed to be vested in Lord de Clifford.
Dundrum Castle was held by the 1st Earl between 1605-36.
The Earls of Ardglass were landlords of most of the barony of Lecale.
The lands of Lecale were held, prior to the Reformation, either by the great religious corporations in Downpatrick or by the descendants of the early English colonists.
The Church lands, having become vested in the Crown, were leased to the Earl of Kildare and, after the expiration of that lease, came into the possession of the Cromwells, Earls of Ardglass.
They still form the Downpatrick estate, except large portions of them that have been sold or leased by the Cromwells or their descendants.
The estates held by the descendants of the early English colonists were almost all confiscated under the Act of Settlement, after the termination of the civil wars of 1641.
The 3rd Baron Cromwell and the 4th Earl of Ardglass are both interred at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, County Down.
First published in July, 2010. Ardglass arms courtesy of European Heraldry.