Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sir Arthur Chichester

SIR JOSIAS BODLEY'S NARRATIVE OF SIR ARTHUR CHICHESTER

I have unearthed this historical extract from a volume of the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, which I personally find provides a fascinating insight:-
The intrinsic interest of this humorous narrative of the holiday excursion of a knot of English officers in Ulster in the last days of ELIZABETH I's reign derives an extrinsic attraction from the fact that its author was a brother of the famous founder of the Bodleian Library. 
Sir Josias Bodley (ca 1550-1617) was the youngest of Sir Thomas Bodley's four brothers. In March, 1604, he was knighted by Mountjoy. 
After the pacification of Ireland he was appointed to superintend the Castles of Ireland. 
In 1609 Bodley was selected to survey the Ulster Plantation, and in recognition of this work received the appointment of director-general of the fortifications of Ireland, a post which he held until his death. Bodley, who died in 1617, was buried at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
Sir Arthur Chichester, the founder of the fortunes and acquirer of the immense estates (though not the direct ancestor) of the Donegall family, is too well known in Irish history to need much notice here.

He was, at that time, Governor of Carrickfergus; and as Sergeant-Major of the army, somewhat similar to the rank of General, had command over the whole of the troops in Ulster; and had, accordingly, concentrated at Dungannon the troops under his own immediate command,

as well as those of the western parts of Ulster under the command of Sir Henry Dockwra (whose headquarters were at Derry, and under whose superintendence the walls and fortifications of that town were shortly afterwards erected) to drive Tyrone out of his fastnesses.

Choosing such a season of the year, to perform such a duty in such a locality, Sir Arthur proved himself as ignorant in strategy as he was subsequently pre-eminent in statesmanship;

and it is amusing to read the growlings of the rough old soldier, Dockwra, as given in his narrative, at being dragged across the country on such a fruitless expedition, and his despair on climbing a hill to view the woods of Glenconkeine*, spread far and wide before him,

without a road to penetrate or a guide to trust; besides having to ford a river which, if swollen by rain, would eventually cut off his retreat.

It reminds us of some of the difficulties we read of as attendant on the late Caffre war.

Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1604-5, and held that office for the long period of ten years, during which time he was created a peer [1st Baron Chichester].

He was then appointed Lord High Treasurer, and held that office till his death in 1625.

His monument is to be seen in Carrickfergus Church.

He died without issue and was succeeded by his brother.
*Glenconkeine - comprised parishes which included Desertmartin ... extended nearly from Dungannon to Dungiven. Dockwra says it was a wilderness of woods, ravines and mountains, extending 20 miles in length and 10 in breadth; and all the writers of that day agree that as a fastness it was almost impenetrable.
Traditions still exist amongst the mountains of Londonderry and Tyrone of the immense forests that filled their valleys; and of their being inaccessible from the total absence of roads.

Chichester arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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