Thursday, 1 September 2016

Clonyn Castle

THE EARLS OF WESTMEATH WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY WESTMEATH, WITH 9,783 ACRES

The noble family of NUGENT was settled in Ireland since the subjugation of that country by HENRY II.

Its founder,

SIR GILBERT DE NUGENT, one of the knights who accompanied Hugh de Lacy in the expedition to Ireland, having married Rosa, the sister of the said Hugh, obtained thereby the barony of Delvin; but, his sons predeceasing him, he was succeeded at his decease by his brother,

RICHARD NUGENT, whose only daughter and heiress carried the barony of Delvin into the family of Johns, or Jones, into which she married, and it so remained until brought back by the intermarriage of

SIR WILLIAM FITZRICHARD NUGENT, 1ST BARON DELVIN, of Balrath (descended from Christopher Nugent, third brother of  Sir Gilbert), with Catherine, daughter and heiress of John FitzJones, Baron Delvin.

This Sir William was elected sheriff of Meath in 1401, in which office he was confirmed by the King for one year, and again, 1402.

He was succeeded at his decease, ca 1414, by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 2nd Baron; who, in consequence of his services and expenses in the King's wars, to the impoverishment of his fortune, had an order, dated at Trim, 1428, to receive twenty marks out of the exchequer.

He wedded Catherine, daughter of Thomas Drake, sister and heiress of Nicholas Drake, of Drakerath, County Meath.

His lordship died in 1475, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

CHRISTOPHER, 3rd Baron, who died ca 1483, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

RICHARD, 4th Baron, who had summonses to Parliament in 1486, 1490, and 1493, and was constituted by the Lords Justices and Council, in 1496, commander and leader-in-chief of all the forces destined for the defence of counties Dublin, Meath, Kildare, and Louth.

His lordship was subsequently summoned to parliament in 1498, but failing to appear, he was fined forty shillings for non-attendance.

In 1504, Lord Delvin accompanied the Earl of Kildare to the famous battle of Knockdoe, in Connaught, and was the first to throw a spear into the ranks of the Irish, by which he chanced to kill one of the Burkes.

In 1527, he was nominated Lord Deputy of Ireland, and conducted the public affairs with integrity and honour, until treacherously taken prisoner by O'Connor Faly.

That native chieftain having made inroads upon the confines of the Pale, in 1528, Lord Delvin ordered the detention of a yearly rent due to him out of certain carucates of lands in County Meath; which procedure led to a conference at Rathyn Castle, belonging to Sir William Darcy, when by stratagem the Lord Deputy was seized and detained prisoner, many of his attendants being slain, wounded, and taken.

Walter Wellesley, of Dangan Castle, and Sir Walter Delahyde, of Moyclare, were subsequently deputed to expostulate with O'Connor Faly, and to procure his lordship's liberation, but ineffectually, when another Lord Deputy was appointed to administer the government, and Lord Delvin remained in confinement until O'Connor's pension was restored.

His lordship wedded Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Howth, and had two sons,
CHRISTOPHER;
THOMAS, of Carlanstown, ancestor of the
EARLS NUGENT.
His lordship died in 1538, and was succeeded by his son,

RICHARD, 5th Baron (1523-59), whose son,

CHRISTOPHER, 6th Baron (1544-1602), was sent prisoner to London, 1580, and committed to the Tower, on suspicion of holding correspondence with the rebels of Leinster; but his innocence being soon afterwards fully established, he returned to Ireland, and was present in Sir John Perrot's parliament, in 1585.

In 1588, he obtained a grant of Fore Abbey, County Westmeath; and being, in 1593, appointed by commission leader of the forces raised in County Westmeath at the general hosting on the Hill of Tara, he brought, with the Nugents, his kinsmen, twenty horsemen there; and so acceptable were his services to ELIZABETH I that, by privy seal, 1597, Her Majesty ordered him a grant in fee farm of so many manors and forfeited lands in counties Cavan and Longford at his election as should amount to the crown rent of £100 per annum.

But this grant not having been executed during his life, on account of the troubles in Ireland, JAMES I, in 1603, ordered £60 in lands, per annum, to be granted to his widow and son.

His lordship espoused Mary, daughter of Gerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

RICHARD, 7th Baron (1583-1642), who was arrested in 1607, and committed by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, to Dublin Castle, upon a charge of high treason, being concerned in a conspiracy with the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, and others, to surprise Dublin Castle, cut off the Lord Deputy and Council, dissolve the state, and set up a government of their own.

His lordship effected, however, his escape, by the assistance of his servant, and was subsequently proclaimed a traitor.

Surrendering in the following year, he obtained a pardon under the Great Seal (1608), and so entirely re-established himself in a few years in royal favour; that he was created, in 1621, EARL OF WESTMEATH.

He wedded Jenet, daughter of Christopher, 9th Baron Killeen; and dying in 1642, was succeeded by his grandson,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl (1621-84), only son of Christopher, Lord Delvin, who pre-deceased his father, by Anne, eldest daughter of Randal, 1st Earl of Antrim.

His lordship espoused Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Nugent Bt, of Moyrath, and had, with junior issue,
CHRISTOPHER, father of RICHARD, 3rd Earl;
Thomas, 1st Baron Nugent of Riverston;
Anne; Mary.
His lordship was succeeded by his grandson,

RICHARD, 3rd Earl, who, adopting a religious life, became a friar of the Order of Capuchins; and dying in 1714, at Wassey, in a convent of his order, the honours devolved upon his brother,

THOMAS, 4th Earl (1669-1752); who had a colonel's command in the army of JAMES II, and was outlawed in consequence in 1691; but being one of the hostages exchanged for the observance of the articles of Limerick, the outlawry was reversed, and he was restored to his estates and honours.

His lordship wedded Margaret, only daughter of John, 1st Baron Bellew of Duleek, by whom he had issue,
Christopher, Lord Delvin, dsp;
John, dsp;
Katherine; Mary.
His lordship died at the advanced age of 96, and was succeeded by his brother,

JOHN, 5th Earl (1671-1754), a major-general in the army, who married Marguerite Jeanne, daughter of Count Charles Molza, of Modena, Italy, by whom he had issue,
THOMAS, his successor;
James;
John;
Richard;
Edward;
Marie Charlotte; Francois Christine.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

THOMAS, 6th Earl (1714-92), who conformed to the established church, and wedded firstly, in 1742, Mary, only daughter and heiress of Walter Durand Stapleton, by whom he had an only son, Richard, Lord Delvin, who fell in a duel in 1761.

He espoused secondly, in 1756, Catherine, daughter and co-heiress of Henry White, of Pichfordstown, County Kildare, by whom he had issue,
Thomas, Lord Delvin, died young;
GEORGE FREDERICK, his successor;
Henry;
Catharine.
His lordship was a founding knight of the Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, 1783.

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,

GEORGE FREDERICK, 7th Earl (1760-1814), who wedded firstly, in 1784, Maryanne, eldest daughter of Major James St John Jeffries, of Blarney Castle, County Cork, and niece of John, 1st Earl of Clare, LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR OF IRELAND, and had issue, by whom he had issue,
GEORGE THOMAS JOHN, his successor.
His lordship espoused secondly, in 1797, the Lady Elizabeth Emily Moore, daughter of Charles, 1st Marquess of Drogheda, and had issue,
Robert Seymour;
Thomas Hugh;
Elizabeth Emily; Catherine Anne; Mary Frances.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,

GEORGE THOMAS JOHN, 8th Earl (1785-1871), who wedded, in 1812, the Lady Emily Anne Bennet Elizabeth Cecil, second daughter of James, 1st Marquess of Salisbury, and had issue,
William Henry Wellington Brydges (1818-19);
Rosa Emily Mary Anne.
His lordship, Lord-Lieutenant of County Westmeath, Colonel of the Westmeath Militia, was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1822, as MARQUESS OF WESTMEATH.

He died without surviving male issue, when the marquessate expired.

The Earldom, however, reverted to his kinsman,

ANTHONY FRANCIS NUGENT, as 9th Earl.
The heir apparent is the present holder's son, Sean Charles Weston Nugent, styled Lord Delvin.


CLONYN CASTLE, also known as Delvin Castle, is situated in Delvin, County Westmeath.

The first castle (now in ruins) is believed to have been built in 1181 by Hugh de Lacy the Norman, Lord of Meath for his brother-in-law, Sir Gilbert de Nugent.

Sir Gilbert, originally from the Nogent-le-Rotrou area in France, came to Ireland with Hugh de Lacy in 1171 and settled on some land in Delvin and was granted the title Baron of Delvin.

The ruins of Nugent Castle, burnt when Cromwell's army approached, remain near the centre of the city.


Clonyn Castle is a square, symmetrical, two-storey, 19th century castle of cut limestone.

It has four tall, round corner towers.

The interior has a large two-storey hall with gallery and enormous arcading.

In 1639 Richard Nugent, 1st Earl of Westmeath, build another more recent castle, situated on the dominating ground, and now overlooking Delvin urbanised area today, may be referred to as either Delvin or Clonyn Castle.


Following the death of the 8th Earl and 1st and last Marquess of Westmeath in 1871, Clonyn passed to his only surviving child Lady Rosa, wife of the 1st Lord Greville.

After the 2nd World War, the castle served briefly as a home for 97 Jewish children, most of them orphans of the Holocaust.

A public golf course lies behind the more recent castle, 500 yards from Delvin centre.

First published in July, 2012.    Westmeath arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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