Thursday, 11 June 2020

The Brooke Baronetcy (1764)

SIR BASIL BROOKE (1567-1633), Knight, of Magherabeg and Brooke Manor, County Donegal, went over to Ulster during the reign of ELIZABETH I.

Sir Basil served under Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, and was appointed Governor of the town and castle of Donegal.

He was likewise one of the commissioners for the settlement of Ulster, and obtained from the crown large grants of land in County Donegal.

Sir Basil's son and successor (by Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of John Leycester, of Toft),

SIR HENRY BROOKE, Knight, of Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Governor of Donegal, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1669, MP for Brooke's Borough, received, in recompense for his services during the rebellion of 1641, grants of lands in County Fermanagh.

He married firstly, Elizabeth, daughter of Captain John Wynter; and secondly, Anne, daughter of Sir George St George Bt, of Carrickdrumrusk, County Leitrim.

For his third wife, Mr Brooke espoused Elizabeth, daughter of Henry, Lord Docwra.

He died in 1671, and was succeeded by the eldest son (by his second wife),

THOMAS BROOKE, of Donegal, MP for Antrim Borough, 1695, Major, Williamite Regiment of Foot, who wedded Catherine, daughter of Sir John Cole Bt, of Newlands, County Dublin, and sister of Cole, Lord Ranelagh.

Major Brooke died in 1696, leaving a son,

HENRY BROOKE (1671-1761), of Colebrooke, High Sheriff of County Fermanagh, 1709, MP for Dundalk, 1713-27, County Fermanagh, 1727-60, Governor of County Fermanagh, who married, in 1711, Lettice, daughter of Mr Alderman Benjamin Burton, of the city of Dublin, and had issue,
ARTHUR, his heir;
Mr Brooke was succeeded by his eldest son,

THE RT HON ARTHUR BROOKE (1726-85), Governor of County Fermanagh, High Sheriff of Fermanagh, 1752, MP for County Fermanagh, 1761-83, Privy Counsellor, who married firstly, in 1751, Margaret, daughter of Thomas Fortescue, of Reynoldstown, County Louth, and had issue,
Henry, died in infancy;
Arthur, died in infancy;
Letitia; Selina Elizabeth.
Mr Brooke was created a baronet in 1764, designated of Colebrooke, County Fermanagh.

He died at Dublin, and his sons having predeceased him, the baronetcy became extinct.

The baronetcy was, however, revived in 1822 in favour of Sir Arthur's nephew, Henry Brooke.

The Brookeborough Papers are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.


IN HIS Brooke family history, Barton states that
...the first Basil Brooke [1567-1633] ... was a soldier-adventurer who came to Ireland in the late 16th century ... . He came as a captain in the English army bringing reinforcements to Ireland [in 1597], and later commanded a cavalry regiment under Sir Henry Docwra in the conquest of Ulster.
He distinguished himself as a servitor during the Tyrone wars and was one of those selected by the King for a proportion of the plantation. He was knighted in 1619, styled of Magherabeg and Brooke Manor, [Co. Donegal], became a Governor of [Co.] Donegal, and later was a member of the commission ordered by Charles I to enquire into how thoroughly the undertakers had fulfilled the conditions of their grants.
Thus the Brookes first entered Ulster under English arms and initially held their property in Donegal, not Fermanagh.

The former county was never truly colonised; due in part to its wildness and inaccessibility, colonists proved reluctant to attempt settlement.

Brooke appears to have been an energetic, determined and resourceful planter, eager to establish himself permanently in his adopted home.

Sir Basil's grant of 1,000 acres was in a rugged precinct set aside for servitors and natives.

The land was of poor quality, the barony in which the land was located being described in the Book of Survey and Distribution fifty years later as "mountainous, boggy, rocky and with many ... ways hardly passable".

By 1622, however, Brooke was reported as having repaired a round bawn within which a house was standing, which had been occupied by an English settler in 1619.

He also acquired other property.

One of the written complaints of the Earl of Tyrconnell was that the Lord Deputy had appointed Captain Brooke to live in his castle, and
constrained the Earl to accept such rents as he had given order of to the said Captain to pay and to pass a lease thereof and four acres of the best lands thereunto annexed, for one and twenty years unto the said Captain.
By 1611, with the help of a royal grant, Brooke had repaired the castle, voluntarily built a bawn to enclose it, and a strong house of lime and stone adjacent to it.

This relatively secure and less isolated dwelling he occupied with his wife.

He was in fact appointed constable of the castle and given the ownership of it and the town of Donegal, both of which were inherited, with his other property, in 1633 by his only son Henry, who was then married and of full age.

The latter fulfilled the confidence which the commissioners had earlier expressed in his father.

During the rising of 1641, he was successful in "preserving from plunder" the town and castle and the surrounding district.

He afterwards fought on the parliamentary side in the civil war, serving as a captain of foot.

In consequence, he acquired a substantial area of land, worth more than £900 yearly, mostly by grant.

These new estates lay in the adjacent counties of Monaghan and Fermanagh, and had become available through the forfeitures of property by two leading local native landholders.

In Fermanagh he acquired most of the confiscated estates, including the old ancestral home, at Largie, of Lord Maguire, who had been hanged at Tyburn and whose family had ruled the county for most of three centuries from their base at Lisnaskea.
The latter's property  [ca 30,000 acres], which had until then survived "as a little bit of Gaelic Ireland left untouched", now formed the basis of the future Colebrooke estate (It was confirmed to Henry by royal patent in 1667).
The Donegal estates of the senior branch of the family passed by direct descent through three generations to Henry Vaughan Brooke, member of parliament for the county in the late 18th century.

In 1761 Thomas Brooke's grandson, Sir Arthur Brooke, 1st and last baronet of the first (1764) creation, succeeded.

In Sir John Blaquiere's "Members of the House of Commons 1770-1773, Notes on Same 1773", the entry under Fermanagh is:
Sir Arthur Brooke, Bt, has the principal interest in the county and will continue to do so while he unites with Archdale. He has the character of being one of the worst tempered men living and very stingy. ...
Sir Arthur inherited through his grandmother's brother, Lord Ranelagh, large and valuable property [either in possession or reversion], in the city of Dublin, Tipperary, Clare and Wiltshire, at his death in 1785 ... [little] was left but Colebrooke, denuded of trees and heavily encumbered.

First Published in January, 2011.

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