Monday, 20 July 2009

Comerford Profiles 4: Justice Garret Comerford (ca 1558-1604), judge and politician

4.1: Gerald Comerford’s tomb, dated 1604 and showing his coat-of-arms, in the north aisle of Saint Mary’s Church, Callan, Co Kilkenny. (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

The Hon Gerald or Garret Comerford of Callan and Inchiholohan (Castleinch), Co Kilkenny, is perhaps the most prominent member of the Comerford family at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. His meteoric rise to high judicial office, political power and social prominence was built on his close ties of kinship and patronage to the Ormond Butlers, his ability to take advantage of the mistakes and losses of other members of the Comerford family, and his acceptance of the post-Reformation Elizabethan settlement.

A barrister, judge and politician, Comerford was educated in Kilkenny and in London, and went on to become MP for Callan, Second Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland, Attorney-General of Connaught and Thomond and Chief Justice of Munster. He was a member of both the Council of Connaught and the Council of Munster, played a leading role in the shiring of Connaught, was engaged in introducing and consolidating the Elizabethan Reformation, came into conflict with Grace O’Malley, the Sea Queen of Connaught, and her family, and played a decisive part in the events surrounding both the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Kinsale.

Although Comerford managed to recover and retain his family’s estates in Co Kilkenny and made his home there, he spent much of his working life as a judge and senior government administrator in Galway, Ennis, Athlone and Cork; he was entertained by Archbishop Adam Loftus at Rathfarnham Castle south of Dublin; and, by the end of his career, he was counted among the wealthiest landholders in Munster, holding extensive estates in Co Cork, Co Waterford and Co Tipperary, as well as properties in Co Kilkenny and Co Wexford.

Comerford remains an enigmatic figure for, while he actively supported the Elizabethan Reformation and helped track the movements of the mercurial Jesuit James Archer, there are questions about whether he converted to Roman Catholicism at the end of his life; indeed, some of his sons became prominent Jesuits or members of the Society of Jesus in Spain and in Rome and were active in the Counter-Reformation in Ireland and on the Continent.

Parentage and family background

Although Garret Comerford was a younger son, he eventually succeeded to his father’s estates, and took full advantage of his family connections – particularly those with the Ormond Butlers – to advance his political and judicial careers and to consolidate his wealth, his property holdings and his position in society.

Garret was born ca 1558, a younger son of Foulk Quemerford or Comerford, a lawyer and merchant, of Callan, Co Kilkenny, and his wife Rose (or Rosina) Rothe. Garret’s father, Foulk Comerford, worked as a lawyer and agent to three successive generations of Earls of Ormond: Pierce Ruadh Butler (1467-1539), 8th Earl of Ormond; his son, James Butler (1496-1546), 9th Earl of Ormond; and his son, Thomas Butler (1532-1614), the 10th or ‘Black’ Earl of Ormond and a cousin of Elizabeth I.[1]

As Foulk Comerford was working as a lawyer for the 8th Earl of Ormond, we can surmise that he qualified as a lawyer before 1539. Ten years later, Foulk was among the aides to ‘Black’ Tom, along with Archbishop Edmund Butler of Cashel and others, when Dermot O’Kennedy Fyn surrendered to Ormond on 14 January 1549.[2] Later that month, he was one of Ormond’s lawyers engaged in a transfer of lands that was also witnessed by James Comerford, Sheriff of Co Kilkenny.[3]

Foulk Comerford benefited from the confiscation of ecclesiastical estates at the Reformation, for we find that between 1556 and 1559, probably at the instigation of ‘Black’ Tom, the Vicars Choral of Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, granted Foulk an estate at Ballyclovan, close to Callan, and those grants were confirmed by ‘Black’ Tom.[4] On 10 May 1567, he was living in Callan, Co Kilkenny, with his wife Rosina Rothe.[5] Three days later, following the attainder of Adam Tobin, Foulk Quemerford was given a 21-year lease of Tobin’s lands at Courtnebooley in Mallardstown, outside Callan.[6]

Foulk continued to work as Ormond’s treasurer and one of his legal agents throughout the 1560s, 1570s, and 1580s.[7] ‘Black’ Tom was the most adept Irish magnate when it came to surviving the turmoil during the Tudor era. His upbringing at court paved the way for his success and established him as one of Queen Elizabeth’s favourites at a time when many ‘New English’ holders of office saw him as an obstacle to reform.[8] Foulk’s work on behalf of ‘Black’ Tom during these decades would eventually secure the future career of his son Garret and guarantee his security in holding on to the lands of this branch of the Comerford family.

In 1565, Black Tom – accompanied by three of his brothers, James Butler, Edward Butler and Sir Edmund Butler of Cloghgrenan, Co Carlow, and Roscrea, Co Tipperary, to whom the Revd Dr Nicholas Comerford was chaplain (see Comerford Profiles 3: Revd Dr Nicholas Comerford, SJ (c. 1540–c. 1599), Jesuit theologian) – embarked on a private war against his widowed mother’s second husband, Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, and his brother, John FitzGerald of Desmond. This private war came to an end with Black Tom’s victory at the Battle of Affane, near Cappoquin, Co Waterford.[9]

After the Battle of Affane, Desmond was taken as a prisoner to the Tower of London; on the other hand, Ormond was subjected to a full-scale inquiry into his conduct, and the Lord Deputy, Sir Henry Sidney (1529-1586), dealt severely with the Ormond Butlers in Kilkenny, who were further threatened by an opportunistic claim to Butler territory in Idrone and Leighlin, Co Carlow, by Sidney’s key ally, Sir Peter Carew (1514-1575).[10] The arrest of the leading FitzGeralds in Munster in 1566-1567, the exoneration of Ormond and his supporters, and the partiality of Sidney and Carew towards the Desmonds helped stir the first Desmond revolt (1569-1573). The Desmond Geraldines were angered too by increasing English intrusions into their territories and by Sidney’s creation of the office of Lord President or governor of Munster.[11]

The rebellious Desmonds forged alliances with many disaffected branches of the Butler family. Thomas Comerford of Ballymack was among the supporters of the Desmons, and the rebellion severely disrupted Ormond’s supporters in Kilkenny, including his treasurer, Foulk Comerford, by then described as an old man. In July and August 1569, at height of the rebellion, the home of “old Fulco Comerford of Callan” was plundered and he was robbed of £2,000 in money, plate, household goods, corn and cattle.[12] In a report to Elizabeth’s chief adviser, William Cecil (1520-1598), on 8 July 1569 on the rebellion, the Mayor and Corporation of Waterford said Piers Butler had preyed Callan and robbed Fulk Quemerford.[13] Although at one stage Foulk’s lands were valued at £40,[14] being robbed of this amount of money and goods shows to degree to which Foulk was trusted by Ormond and makes Foulk a man who had amassed considerable wealth.

4.2: Sir Henry Sidney … entertained to dinner by Foulk Comerford at his house in Callan

As a wealthy and influential landholder in the Ormond inner circle, Foulk was seen as one of the key figures in Kilkenny society in the aftermath of the rebellion. When the Lord Deputy, Sidney, visited Kilkenny, Foulk Comerford entertained him to dinner at his house in Callan, despite the fact that Sidney had openly sought to curtail the power of the Ormond Butlers.[15] Hosting Sidney was an astute move, and Foulk was compensated for his loyalty and his losses: on 27 December 1569, Sidney wrote from Drogheda to the Privy Council thanking them for the favour they had shown Foulk and suggesting that he should be rewarded with a portion of his rebel kinsmen’s lands.[16] Thomas Comerford of Ballymack, who supported the rebellion, was the subject of a posthumous act of attainder in 1570; his kinsmen continued to hold his lands illicitly, and Carrigan believes Sidney was suggesting that I was those lands that should pass to Foulk Comerford.[17]

On Sidney’s orders, a large number of Sir Edmund Butler’s followers were hanged in Kilkenny, including Sir Edmund Butler’s eldest son, Piers Butler of Ballysax. Black Tom was bound to the peace, and the three brothers who had supported him, Edmund, James and Edward, were attainted by an act of the Irish Parliament in 1570. However, Sidney was restrained by Elizabeth from curbing Ormond himself, who had suppressed the revolt with ferocity. For his part, Black Tom accused Sidney of provoking the war. Outwitting the Lord Deputy, Black Tom engineered the recall of both Sidney and Carew in 1570, and eventually obtained pardons for his attainted brothers in 1574.[18]

Carrigan suggests that Foulk Comerford died soon after 1570.[19] However, Cecil, who had become Lord Burghley in 1571, refers to Foulk’s case once again in December 1571,[20] and Foulk continued to work for Ormond throughout the 1570s and into the mid-1580s. His land in Callan is mentioned in 1575,[21] and again in 1577.[22] On 27 March 1584, as Fowlke Quemerford of Callan, Black Tom granted him the ‘vill’ of Physicianstown in the parish of Coolaghmore, Kells Barony, Co Kilkenny, and land at ‘Kylmeneghe’ in Callan on a lease for 21 years.[23] On 17 July 1586, Foulk leased some property in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, to his kinsman, Thomas Comerford of Callan, and his heirs for ever.[24]

Despite Carrigan’s approximate date of 1570 for Foulk’s death, from these transactions it appears that Foulk probably died in 1586 or soon after. Carrigan believes he was probably buried in Saint Mary’s Church, Callan, and he alone among the historians of Callan identifies the lower half of a floor slab at the west end of the north aisle as Foulk’s gravestone. Carrigan quotes the inscription as reading: “Hic jacet discretus vir Dom … Thome Butler, comitu Ormonde …” The inscription, as described by Carrigan, began at the left-hand side of the base of the cross, continued up to the top, and then continued around on the opposite side. Carrigan dated this floor slab to the close of the 16th century and surmised: “This is very probably the monument of Foulk Comerford of Callan, who is stated to have been the servant to three Earls of Ormond.[25]

Foulk Comerford’s wife, Rose (or Rosina) Rothe was a daughter of Robert Rothe of Kilkenny, who died in 1543, and his wife Ellen Butler, daughter of Walter Butler of Polestown.[26] She was still living in 1577,[27] but probably died soon after.

Foulk and Rose Comerford had at least two sons and a daughter:

1, George Comerford, merchant, of Callan, Co Kilkenny, New Ross, Co Wexford, and Waterford. He was described as a merchant in Callan in 1567, when he appeared in court with his father and other members of the Comerford family.[28] In 1569 or 1570, by an act of parliament granting a custom duty on wines, he was granted the office of Customer and Collector of the wine custom in New Ross, with the fee belonging to the office.[29] He was fined in Callan on 31 January and 21 December 1571.[30] On 10 May 1577, he was questioned in Waterford about the Desmond rebellion.[31] In 1580, he appears to have supported Edward Butler’s participation in a further Desmond rebellion, using his trading contacts to maintain and open a line of contact with the Munster rebels.[32] However, George was soon reconciled to Ormond, and on 6 May 1583 George Comerford and William Comerford were members of Callan Corporation, while Jasper Rothe was sovereign (mayor).[33] On 12 October 1583, George took action with his brother Garret against Francis Lovell to recover the Comerford family estates. However, his evidence was challenged because he had been indicted of “felony and treason,” despite the fact that he had been pardoned.[34] Throughout the 1580s, he was working as a lawyer for Ormond, witnessing grants of a castle and house in Callan to Ormond by Geoffrey Rothe fitzWilliam of Kilkenny and his son William Rothe, and a grant involving lands in Tullaghmine, Co Tipperary.[35] A letter he wrote from Waterford to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir William FitzWilliam, is in the Salisbury collection of manuscripts and is dated 29 March 1589.[36] He may have died soon after.

2, Gerald or Garret Comerford, who is described in various records as a younger son,[37] and who is the subject of this essay.

3, Margaret, who married Robert Rothe, the author of a history of the Ormond family.[38]

Education and early career

Garret Comerford’s close kinship to the Earl of Ormond accounted for his successful career, according to Burtchaell.[39] In addition, a nexus of kinship linked Garret with a large network of influential landholding and political families in Co Kilkenny closely related to and allied to the Ormond Butlers: Garret was a cousin of both Gerald Blanchville and Robert Rothe, who were MPs for Kilkenny at the same time as Garret was MP for Callan, and he was a first cousin of Edward Brenan, the other MP for Callan in 1585.[40]

Garret Comerford was educated at Kilkenny College, which had been founded by Pierce Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond, in 1538 a year before his death.[41] From Kilkenny, Garret was sent to London to study law, and in November 1578 he was admitted to the Inner Temple as a student.[42] There his fellow students included John Purcell of Loughmoe, Co Tipperary,[43] and Sir John Everard of Fethard, Co Tipperary, who became an MP in 1613 but was later forced to resign as Second Justice of the King’s Bench because of his adherence to Roman Catholicism.[44]

A year after Garret’s arrival in London, the Desmond or Munster rebellion broke out in 1579. This revolt, led by the Earl of Desmond’s brother, John FitzGerald of Desmond, continued until 1583. Elizabeth I made Black Tom her commander in Munster at the close of this second Desmond War, and he executed this commission with a guileful combination of conciliation and ruthlessness, providing protections and pardons for some while frequently invoking martial law against others – even his own close relations.[45]

Garret Comerford and his family suffered severe losses during this rebellion. Part of the Comerford estates was forfeited and came into the hands of Frances Lovell. The draconian Lovell had been imposed on Co Kilkenny as Sheriff by Sidney when he returned to Ireland with a vengeance in 1575. Black Tom successfully engineered the dismissal of Lovell in 1578, but he was imposed on Kilkenny as county sheriff once again in 1582, and when the Desmond rebellion came to an end the following year Lovell was still in possession of property forfeited from the Comerfords of Ballymack, held on a 21-year lease, and Garret’s brother George Comerford was involved in legal action to recover those estates from Lovell. [46]

While the case was proceeding, Garret resumed his legal studies at the Inner Temple in London. At the end of that year, on 31 December 1583 – as Garret Comerford of Callan – he sent a petition to Queen Elizabeth asking “for a fee farm in Ireland, or an increase of his annuity of £20 granted in consideration of his hurts.”[47] From these papers, it appears that Garret and his family suffered severely during the Second Desmond Rebellion, and that he was involved in negotiations with a prominent rebel leader David Barry, when he was set upon by the adherents of another leading rebel, Sir John Fitzgerald, and maimed in one of his legs. We find Comerford petitioning Queen Elizabeth for a pension “in consideration of the mayhems which the company of Sir John [Fitzgerald] of Desmond’s traitors inflicted on him, when he conferred with David Barry.”[48]

4.3: William Cecil, 1st Lord Burghley … recommended an annual pension of £20 for Garret Comerford until he received an estate

When the petition came to the attention of Ormond’s friend and ally, Burghley (the former Sir William Cecil), he recommended an annual pension of £20 for Garret until he was given the equivalent in an estate of attainted lands. On 9 January 1584, Elizabeth referred Garret’s claims to the Archbishop of Dublin, Adam Loftus (ca 1533-1605), who was also the Lord Justice, and to the second Lord Justice, Sir Henry Wallop (ca 1540-1599). Wallop, who had made his Irish home at Enniscorthy Castle, Co Wexford, had acted in the Ormond interest during the Desmond rebellion. Now Loftus and Wallop were being asked to approve a pension of £20 a year for Garret Comerford, who had gone “to study the laws for his help, he being a younger brother, and destitute of maintenance.” In addition, “in consequence of the infirmities grown upon him in his limbs,” Elizabeth gave Garret a license to return to his native country for “the better recovery of his health.”[49]

Within weeks, in April 1584, Garret was included among those people who were granted attainted lands,[50] an indication that he had returned home to Ireland from London in the intervening months. Lovell was disturbed by losing the Comerford estates he had acquired to Garret Comerford, and on 22 February 1585, he indicated he was preparing legal action to recover the Comerford estates that had now been given almost as a royal gift to Garret Comerford.[51]

On his return to Ireland, Garret quickly found approval among the senior figures in Elizabethan administration, rising rapidly in legal circles and gaining promotion. He was admitted a barrister of the King’s Inns,[52] and on 5 March 1585 he was appointed the Queen’s Attorney-at-Laws for the Province of Connaught, “with the fee of £20 English out of fines there.” This appointment, which made him one onje of the leading officials in the province and ideally positioned to safeguard Ormond’s interests there, was subsequently confirmed by the Privy Council.[53]

Almost immediately, the Governor of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599), showed his approval of Garret’s work as Attorney for Connaught. Bingham had played a key role in suppressing the Desmond rebellion, and on 24 March 1585, less than three weeks after Comerford’s appointment, he wrote to the Elizabeth’s Secretary of State in England, Sir Francis Walsingham (ca 1532-1590), recommending Garret for further appointments and promotion.[54]

Within a month, on 22 April 1585, Garret was elected MP for his home town, Callan. Earlier that year, Callan had been granted a charter making it a parliamentary borough with two Members of Parliament. The first two MPs for the new borough were Garret Comerford and his cousin Edward Brennan.[55] At the same time, another cousin, Robert Rothe, and Garret’s third cousin, Gerald Blanchville, were elected as the two MPs for Co Kilkenny.[56]

Despite his continuing legal battles against Lovell,[57] Garret continued to find favour at the highest levels in the Tudor administration. On 9 June 1585, the new Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrot (ca 1527-1592), and the Privy Council, at a meeting in Saint Mary’s Abbey, Dublin, agreed to pay Garret £30. Those who signed the order included the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop Adam Loftus of Dublin, the Archbishop of Armagh, John Long, and the Governor of Connaught, Sir Richard Bingham.[58]
The shiring of Connaught

On 15 July 1585, as Attorney for Connaught, Comerford was appointed by Elizabeth to the royal commission for the shiring of Connaught. Along with Bingham, the other commissioners included the Archbishop of Tuam, William O’Mullaly; Donough O’Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond, whose grandmother, Lady Ellen Butler, was an aunt of Black Tom; Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde, whose granddaughter, Lady Margaret Burke, married Black Tom’s brother, Edward Butler of Cloughinche; the Bishop of Clonfert, Stephen Kirwan; the Bishop of Ardagh, Lysach O’Ferrall; the Bishop of Elphin, John Lynch; Edmond de Bermingham, 13th Baron Athenry; Sir Nicholas White, “Master of the Rules”; Sir Edward Waterhouse and Sir Thomas Le Strange, both members of the Privy Council; Thomas Dillon, Chief Justice of Connaught; Charles Calthorp, Attorney-General of Connaught; Sir Tirlagh O’Brien; Sir Donnell O’Connor of Sligo; Sir Brian O’Rourke; Sir Richard Burke; Sir Murrogh na Deo O’Flaherty; Francis Barkley, provost marshal in Connaught; Edward White, clerk of the council of Connaught; Alderman Nicholas Fitzsimons, a former Mayor of Dublin; and Thomas Crofton, Escheator of Connaught. [59]

The commissioners were to survey “all the countries in that province that are not now shire ground, and to divide them into counties, baronies or hundreds, or to add to them any counties or baronies now being.” They were to divide the baronies in each county into manors, and “to lay down any other thing for the quiet of the country.” In carrying out this commission, they were to command “all Mayors, Sheriffs, Bailiffs, Constables, Officers and others to attend to the said Commission, for which they shall answer for the contrary at their peril.” [60]

In 1585, Bingham appointed Comerford, along with Archbishop William O’Mullally of Tuam, the Bishop of Kilmore, John Garvey, the Earl of Clanricarde, Lord Athenry, the Chief Justice of Connaught, Thomas Dillon, and others, to negotiate with the Burkes.[61]

Meanwhile, the Commission for the Shiring of Connaught continued to hold hearings throughout the province. The Annals of Loch Cé, for example, record a session held in Sligo in 1587 by Bingham, Dillon and Master Comartún (sic), Garret Comerford, Attorney of Connaught. The session was attended by the leading inhabitants of the county.[62]

4.4: Galway’s streets still retain some of the charm that dates back to the 16th century, when Garret Comerford was working there as the Queen’s Attorney for Connaught (Photograph © Patrick Comerford 2008)

On 14 September 1587, Bingham’s brother, Sir George Bingham, who was the Governor of Sligo, nominated Comerford to the Council of Connaught.[63] In October 1587, and again in 1588, Comerford was living in Galway while working there as the Queen’s Attorney for Connaught and as a member of the Council or Commission of Connaught.[64]

The Spanish Armada

Meanwhile, in 1588, a critical drama unfolded in Connaught as the Spanish Armada attempted to land on the west coast of Ireland. During the Armada crisis, Elizabeth turned to Ormond as a key adviser on English and Irish security policy, and Ormond was one of the select “inner circle” who remained close to her at Saint James’s Palace in July and August 1588.[65] When the Armada had passed England and arrived off the west coast of Ireland, Comerford was ideally placed to continue to supply Ormond with the intelligence that secured his position at the court in London despite Fitzwilliam’s repeated requests that Ormond should be sent home to pacify restless lords in Ireland.

When the Rata Encoronada was wrecked on Fahy Strand in Tualaghan Bay, near Ballycroy, Co Mayo, that September, Comerford reported on the movements of the Spanish soldiers. When a second Spanish ship was wrecked at Burrishoole in Clew Bay the following month, he reported once again on the movements of the Spanish soldiers.[66] Fahy Strand is at the narrow, treacherous sound known as the Bull’s Mouth, opposite Innisbiggle Island and the Dooniver side of Achill Island. The Burkes of Mayo were the leading clan in the area, but the overlord in that part of Co Mayo was Sir Brian O’Rourke of Breffni, a member of the commission for the shiring of Connaught alongside Comerford. O’Rourke controlled a lengthy stretch of territory, and his patrimony included large portions across Co Sligo, Co Leitrim, Co Cavan and Co Mayo.[67]

News of the wreck of the Rata reached Bingham from Comerford’s hurried messages. As Bingham’s sheriff, Comerford was responsible for watching the area, and Bingham hoped that Comerford could keep a close eye on Alonso de Leiva and his men, keeping him informed of any developments. Comerford reported that 700 Spaniards commanded by de Leiva had taken over Fahy or Doona Castle. According to Fallon, de Leiva lacked any aggressive intentions, and his attention was directed almost totally at ensuring the survival and escape of his men.[68]

The men from the Rata subsequently marched round the eastern side of Blacksod Bay and down the Mullet Peninsula to join up with another ship from the Armada, the Duquesa Santa Ana, which was probably named after the wife of the Duke of Medina Sidonia and which had been anchored in Elly Bay, east of Torane (Tiraun).[69] Comerford recorded the incident briefly: “600 Spaniards who were at Ballycrauhie [Ballycroy] were conveyed to the Castle of Torane, a very strong place, and there joined with 800 more who came out of another great ship which lay at anchor on the road of Torane.” Acting on an earlier report from Comerford, Edward Whyte had already recorded in a letter to his brother Stephen that “400 Spaniards fortify Ballycroohie.”[70]

However, Fallon calculates that both were wrong in their figures: Comerford under-estimated the numbers from the Rata, while over-estimating the company aboard the Duquesa Santa Ana. His combined figures for the men at Tiraun came to 1,200, whereas Fallon says there could not have been more than 1,000 Spaniards on the peninsula.[71]

Meanwhile, Comerford was moving about anxiously. When he heard that de Leiva and his men had left Doona, he immediately sent an armed guard to watch over the charred remains of the Rata and to take anything of value that was left on board. But he was too late: Fallon says the local people had already descended on the bones of the ship and picked it clean like a pack of ravished wolves.[72] On 23 September, “Mr Gerrald Comberford [sic], her Majesty’s Attorney in Connaught,” wrote to Bingham informing him dolefully that “James Blake, Frriegh M’tyrrell, Richard Iccoggy, Moilmory M’Ranyll, Marcus Roe M’Tyriell and Thomas Burke M’inabbe took out of the wreck a boat full of treasure, cloth of gold, velvet, &c.” He told Bingham that he was now planning to move on to Tirawley in north-west Mayo.[73]

After holding out at Elly Castle – now marked by the crumbled remains of Bingham’s Castle on the Belmullet Peninsula – the Spaniards packed onto the Duquesa Santa Ana. They set sail from Elly Bay in a strong wind, hoping to reach Scotland. Their departure was reported joyfully by Comerford: “The ship that was at Pollilly, by Torane, has sailed, taking the company that was wrecked.” Bingham passed on the report to the Lord Deputy in a note written on Sunday morning, 25 September, from Castle M’Garratt, Co Mayo, adding that “the Spaniards, about 1,400 who were at Torrane, are gone by sea.” [74]

Bingham’s laconic comment no doubt concealed a great deal of relief. But within a day or so Comerford was frantically signalling that “a contrary wind” had driven the Duquesa Santa Ana back into Blacksod Bay, although it would soon put to sea again. It had been a false start. The Andalusian met a strong gale when it cleared the north of the bay, and after fighting the gale for a time it gave up and returned. Shortly afterwards, the Duquesa Santa Ana sailed once again for Scotland.[75] After leaving Killybegs, de Leiva and his crew narrowly escaped being wrecked at the towering, cliff-faced Slieve League in Co Donegal. Further north, the ship was driven ashore in Loughros More Bay. The survivors marched back to Killybegs, where they embarked on the Girona, which sailed for Scotland on 16 October, only to be wrecked two days later in Co Antrim at Portnaspania, near Benbane Head at the Giant’s Causeway.[76]

Meanwhile, although the Duquesa Santa Ana had left Co Mayo, Comerford stayed on in the area. Another Spanish ship, the Gran Grin, was reported wrecked in Clew Bay, at “Borreis … which place belongs to the Earl of Ormond.” This was Borris or Burris, a townland with western borders fronting onto the sea at Clew Bay. The name lives on in the smaller and more southerly area now defined as Burrishoole, but in the 16th century it defined a much wider area. Tradition identifies the area of the wreck as Toorglass, half-way along the Corraun Peninsula off the coast road between Mulraney and Achillbeg Island. Achill Island and the Barony of Owle were claimed by the Ormond Butlers. Those claims dated from 1238, and although the territory passed to the de Burgo family in the late 14th or early 15th century, the Butler claims were reasserted by Black Tom.[77]

4.5: Achill Island … Garret Comerford’s presence during the wreck of the Spanish Armada helped consolidate the Ormond claims to Achill and the neighbouring territory (Photograph © Patrick Comerford 2009)

It is obvious, therefore, that Comerford’s presence on Achill Island helped consolidate the Butler territorial claims in West Mayo. On 28 September, Ormond wrote to Comerford instructing him “to save the Spanish wreck at Burrishoole to Her Majesty’s use, taking a perfect inventory of the goods.” Any prisoners taken by Comerford were “to be safely kept at Galway, Clonmel, Kilkenny and Waterford,” with the notable exception of the Duke of Sidona, who was “to be kept without irons and was to have my [Ormond’s] finest horse to ride on.”[78]

Ormond then dispatched Henry Shee from Clonmel to Burrishoole to claim the wreck of the Gran Grin. Comerford noted Shee’s arrival on 17 October. Fallon presumes that everything of value on board the ship had been removed by Comerford on Ormond’s behalf and was by then in Comerford’s custody, while the 16 survivors of the wreck had been sent to Galway as prisoners.[79]

Ormond may have profited from the wrecks of the Armada through the actions of Comerford and his other agents, including Henry Shee. More importantly, though, he used the intelligence sent by Comerford to his political advantage and to consolidate his influence in London: by 1589, Ormond was sitting on the committee for war strategy that met in Whitehall to plan England’s best course for carrying forward the war against Spain.[80]

4.6: Bunratty Castle … Garret Comerford was involved in the surrender and re-grant of the castle in 1590

Surrender and regrant

On 20 January 1590, as attorney for Connaught and Thomond, Comerford – along with Bingham, Dillon, and the Sheriff of Co Galway – received a commission to inquire into the castles, lands and other possessions in Co Clare of Shane M’Ne marrowe Fyn (MacNamara), the Chief of the MacNamara clan. He held large tracts of land across Co Clare, including Bunratty Castle, but was suspected of claiming larger estates than he had surrendered under the surrender and re-grant scheme.[81]

4.7: Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin ... Gerald Comerford stayed here in May 1591 as a guest of Archbishop Adam Loftus of Dublin. Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2008)

By now, Garret was secure in his position in the highest reaches of the judiciary. In May 1591, he stayed at Rathfarnham Castle with the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop Adam Loftus of Dublin.[82] That month, he went to London to give evidence against the rebel Sir Brian O’Rourke in a treason trial. He took the time to win the favour of the Queen’s Chief Minister, Burghley, by assisting him in his ultimately successful efforts to have their common enemy, the former Lord Deputy of Ireland, Perrot, convicted of treason. By the time summer had passed, Burghley and others returned the favour and were recommending that Comerford should be appointed the Queen’s Attorney or Attorney-General of Connaught and Thomond for life (he had previously held the position on good behaviour), with an income of £20. The appointment was made on 14 September, two days after Burghley’s intervention on Garret’s behalf, and ratified on 4 November 1591. Burghley buttressed Comerford from further attacks on his position by stipulating that he could not be removed from office on an accusation without such an accusation being examined in London and an order given by the Queen assenting to his dismissal. With the appointment came the promise too of a further grant of lands in Munster.[83]

4.8: The River Shannon and the twin towers of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Athlone, with Athlone Castle to the left of the bridge … while he was Attorney for Connaught, Garret Comerford often resided in Athlone Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

On 22 January 1592, Comerford was a witness with Bingham and Dillon to a deed involving lands of the O’Briens of Inchiquin.[84] As Attorney for Connaught, he was working in Athlone with Bingham and Dillon from February to April 1592,[85] and in May that year he was still investigating the claims of the MacNamara Clan in Co Clare.[86] During this time, he was living in Galway and in Ennis, Co Clare.

On 30 June 1592, Comerford reported from Cloonenegasshel to Burghley that the Burkes of “Slight” Ulick in Co Mayo had been stirred up to revolt “by the wicked practices of an Irish bishop [who had recently] arrived in O’Donnell’s country,” probably a reference to Co Donegal. But he noted calmly that “the execution of divers bad members by the common law had procured great quietness in this province.”[87] This policy appears to have worked, for two days later, on 2 July, he was reporting with Bingham and others that the Burkes were willing to surrender.[88]

On 25 May 1593, as Garret Comberford (sic), he was commissioned with Bingham and Dillon to inquire into the title of Edmund Barrett and his son Edmund of the Barony of Orrus [Erris], Co Mayo, and their titles to lands in the Baronies of Iaris [Erris] and Tirauly [Tirawley] under the surrender and re-grant scheme.[89]

By the end of that year, Comerford appears to have been back in Co Kilkenny, and on 24 October 1593 he witnessed the grant of a castle and house in Callan to Black Tom’s eventual successor, Walter Butler of Kilcash, later 11th Earl of Ormond, by Geoffrey Rothe fitzWilliam and his son, William Rothe of Kilkenny.[90]

In October 1594 Comerford was accused, along with Sir Geoffrey Fenton, Peter Lynch, a Galway merchant, and the Countess of Clanricarde, of wrongfully holding onto lands belonging to Darby O’Shaughnessy.[91]

On 22 March 1595, a commission was issued to Gerald Commerford [sic], Queen’s Attorney for Connaught, and Thomas Dillon, Chief Justice of Connaught, to accept the office of Athlone Pursuivant from William Cotgrave of Curaghboy, Co Roscommon, under the provisions of the surrender and regrant scheme. Cotrgave duly surrendered his office on 15 April 1595.[92] This was one of the principal heraldic offices in Ireland, but once again it provides an example of how Garret used his own offices to act on behalf of Ormond’s interest: at the end of 1590 or early in 1591, following the death of the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, Ormond was appointed Earl Marshal of England, one of the five historic great offices of state and for about a year and a half he presided over the College of Arms and the High Court of Chivalry. Apart from adjudicating on grants of arms and titles to the English and Welsh nobility and gentry, as Earl Marshal he also deputised for the monarch as supreme commander of the royal forces in England and had authority to summon parliament in an emergency. Although Ormond resigned as Earl Marshal in 1592 and returned home to Kilkenny, Comerford’s actions on this occasion indicate how important these posts remained for Ormond’s grip on political power.[93]

Encounter with Grace O’Malley

Meanwhile, throughout this time Comerford was involved on behalf of Bingham in a series of conflicts and negotiations with Grace O’Malley’s family members and allies, including the O’Flahertys, the Burkes and the Joyces, beginning in 1589. Gráinne Ní Mháille (ca 1530-1603), is also known as Granuaile or Gráinne Mhaol, and sometimes as “The Sea Queen of Connaught.” She was married at the age of 16 in 1546 to Dónal an-Chogaidh (Donal of the Battle) O’Flaherty, heir to the O’Flaherty title and the lands of Iar Connacht, the area roughly equivalent to modern Connemara. By 1566, she had married her second husband, Richard MacWilliam Burke (Bourke), also known as “Iron Richard,” of Burrishoole Castle and Rockfleet or Carraigahowley Castle, near Newport, Co Mayo. Tradition says they were married under Brehon law, and that after a year and a day she divorced Burke summarily and kept Rockfleet Castle.[94]

After initial negotiations with the Burkes of Mayo broke down in March 1589, a battle ensued with the Burkes and their allies, the O’Flahertys, in which Garret slew sixteen of the rebels, and he was involved in fortifying Galway against Grace O’Malley’s son, Morough O’Flaherty.[95]

4.9: Grace O’Malley’s meeting with Elizabeth I (frontispiece to Anthologia Hibernica, vol 2, 1793)

Bingham claimed in 1593 that Grace O’Malley was “nurse to all rebellions in the province for this forty years.” When Bingham captured her sons, Theobald (Tibbot) Burke and Murrough O’Flaherty, and her half-brother, Donal-na-Piopa, that year, O’Malley sailed to England to petition Elizabeth I for their release. It is said that their talks in Greenwich Palace were conducted in Latin, as O’Malley spoke no English and Elizabeth spoke no Irish. But the two women reached sufficient agreement for Elizabeth to grant O’Malley’s requests, provided she ended her support for Irish rebellions and piracy.[96]

Within two years, however, Comerford returned to this encounter, and in 1595 he was entangled in an inquiry into the lands and extensive holdings of Grace O’Malley and her extended family circle in Co Galway and Co Mayo, despite her appeals to Black Tom to intervene on her behalf against Bingham.[97]

On 20 August 1595, a royal commission was issued to Bingham, Dillon, Garret Commerforde [sic] and others to inquire into the lands of a number of leading traditional leaders in Co Galway and Co Mayo under the surrender and re-grant scheme, including their manor, lands, and islands of many of Grace O’Malley’s family, friends and allies. They included: Grace O’Malley’s husband, Donal an Chogaidh O’Flaherty, and their son, Morough O’Flaherty, in the Barony of Ballynehenssy [Ballynahinch], Co Galway; Grace O’Malley’s father and brothers, Owen O’Malley, Dermot O’Malley and Donnell O’Malley, in the manors, lands, islands and hereditaments of Owll O Mallie, called the Uppermost Owle O Mallie, Co Mayo; her second husband, Sir Richard Burke, also known as McWilliam Burke of Nether [Lower] Connaught and Lower Owles, Boressuile (Borrishoole), Co Mayo; and Myles Stanton fitzMiles of Castle Karrye, Co Mayo.[98]

Grace O’Malley had soon returned to her old ways, supporting the Irish rebels, and she probably died at Rockfleet Castle in 1603.[99]

Continuing work in Connaught

In a dispatch to Sir Robert Cecil on 6 January 1597, John Danyell recommended using Comerford as an English spy at the Groyne.[100] However, he was still the Queen’s Attorney-at-Law in Connaught, and on 15 January 1597, Comerford was reappointed as one of the Commissioners of Connaught, along with Archbishop Adam Loftus of Dublin, with whom he had stayed at Rathfarnham Castle in 1591; Comerford’s patron Black Tom Butler of Ormond; the Archbishop of Tuam, Nehemiah Donnellan; Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare; Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricarde, Donogh O’Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond, the Bishop of Meath, Thomas Jones; the Bishop of Kildare, Daniel O’Neylan; the Bishop of Clonfert, Stephen Kirwan; and others.[101] This reappointment was reaffirmed on 14 May 1597.[102]

Comerford was in Ennis, Co Clare, on 27 August 1599 as Attorney-General of Connaught, and from there he sent a comprehensive report on the rebellions in Ireland. The difficulties of communications, and the distances involved become apparent from the fact this report, no matter how urgent this comprehensive piece of intelligence may have appeared at the time, was received at Richmond almost eight weeks later on 25 October 1599.[103]

Once again, on 21 September 1599, Comerford was reappointed to the Commission of Connaught. Despite the crown’s grip on Connaught having been bropken decisively, Comerford had remained in the province, at some personal risk to himself, spending much of his time either in Galway City or under the protection of the principal loyalist lords in the west, Ulick Burke, 3rd Earl of Clanricard, and Donough O’Brien, 4th Earl of Thomond. He took the precaution of moving around with an armed company to safeguard himself against rebel attacks, but noted bitterly that he maintained these guards out of his own pocket and that his government salary had fallen heavily in arrears. Not only had he been long unpaid for his energies and his troubles in Connaught, but he appears to have become disillusioned with his appointments. On 20 December 1599, Ormond wrote from Kilkenny Castle to Cecil, pointing out that Comerford had never been paid for his work as Attorney-General for Connaught, and recommending that his claims for payment should be acted on by the Privy Council. Ormond added that Comerford had served faithfully in Connaught for seventeen years, and that during that time he had suffered at the hands of the Irish rebels.[104]

As he pursued his claims for payment, Comerford retained the position of Attorney-General of Connaught and on 2 January 1600 he wrote from Inchiholohan to Cecil about the situation in Connaught.[105] On 8 April 1600, the Lord Deputy, Charles Blount (1563-16106), 8th Lord Mountjoy (later 1st Earl of Devonshire), and the President of Munster, Sir George Carew (1555-1629), later Lord Carew, wrote from Dublin to the Privy Council, pointing out that since the change in government Comerford, who had been Attorney-General of Connaught for fourteen years, had not received allowances for his meals, although similar expenses had been paid to the Chief Justice of Connaught and the Clerk of the Council in the province.[106]

The Council of Munster

Perhaps it was Comerford’s work and service that were honoured; perhaps it was his disaffection that prompted the move; either way, on 23 March 1600, as “Justice Comerford” he was one of 23 leading citizens appointed to the Council of Munster and as assistants to the Lord President of Munster; other members of the council included the Earls of Ormond, Kildare and Thomond, and the Bishops of Cork and Limerick.[107] Comerford was sworn a member of the Council of Munster on 1 July 1600, along with Sir Charles Wilmot, on the foot of a warrant issued by Mountjoy to Carew.[108]

Despite the move to Munster, and despite the efforts of Mountjoy to appoint a new royal attorney for Connaught, Comerford retained his post of Attorney-General of Connaught, and was named as such on 27 July 1600 when he and John Everard were appointed by Ormond as administrators in the case involving the Archbishop of Cashel, Miler Magrath (1523-1622).[109] A year earlier, Magrath had been taken prisoner by Con O’Neill, son of Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone. Hugh O’Neill ordered Magrath’s release on the ground that only the Pope had authority to lay hands on his “friend and ally,” having received a promise from Magrath to return to Roman Catholicism.

In 1600, Magrath went to London, convinced Robert Cecil of his loyalty, and was granted a pension. At court in London, Magrath also became embroiled in accusations of treason against Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley. Eventually, Magrath set out from Bristol in October 1600, returning to Ireland with James FitzGerald, the English-backed pretender to Earldom of Desmond and rival to James FitzThomas FitzGerald, known as the “Súgán Earl.” Back in Ireland, Magrath claimed poverty as a consequence of the Nine Years’ War (1595-1603), while Cecil complained that Magrath was allowing the Church of Ireland to lie like “an hogsty” and urged Sir George Carew to remonstrate with him.[110]

The Battle of Kinsale

4.10: The port of Kinsale today … Comerford was central to the political manoeuvres before and after the Battle of Kinsale (Photograph: Valdoria)

Comerford was a member of the Council of Munster at a critical period prior to and following the Battle of Kinsale, fought between 2 October 1601 and 3 January 1602. During that time, as Dr Margaret Clayton Curtis points out, all the common law courts of assize and gaol were also conducted by the presidency.[111] Comerford was the Queen’s Attorney for the province[112] and Second Justice from 1600 until 1604, when he briefly held the office of Chief Justice of Munster.[113]

Comerford worked closely with Carew in Munster, travelling throughout counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare and Waterford over a four-year period, taking part in meetings court sittings in Shandon (1601, 1602),[114] Cork City (1601, 1602, 1603, 1604),[115] Youghal (1603),[116] Limerick (1604),[117] as well as meetings of the Council of Munster in Dublin Castle (1603),[118] and in Drogheda (1604).[119]

On 25 August 1600, Carew reported from Cork to the Privy Council that Comerford, as a Member of the Council of Munster, had “very carefully attended me,” and had gone into Kerry to negotiate with the Lord of Caher “to recover his castle from his brother.”[120]

Comerford was appointed Second Justice of the Province of Munster on 5 or 15 October 1600, in succession to James Gold and with a fee of 100 Marks English.[121]

In January and February 1601, Comerford was still working for Carew in Munster with the Earl of Thomond.[122] He was in Ennis on 31 January, when he reported to Carew on key advance movements ahead of the Battle of Kinsale; the Ulster rebels were planning to march through Connaught and Munster, and he urged Carew to move some forces to the borders of Limerick to stop them.[123]

Carew’s report from Mallow on 11 February 1601 mentions Mr Justice Comerford, and from March to June 1601, various report show that Comerford was working on Carew’s behalf in Munster, on occasion with Sir Nicholas Walsh.[124] On 22 May 1601, Mountjoy, in correspondence with Carew, said Comerford should hold on to his office of Second Justice of Munster, despite doubts about holding two offices[125] – an indication that Comerford still retained the office of Attorney-General of Connaught.

However, on Comerford’s own admission, he was losing his grip on the changing events in Connaught, and on 20 July 1601 he reported from Waterford to Sir Robert Cecil that his employment by Carew in Munster had made him “in a manner a stranger to the affairs of other provinces.”[126] Reports throughout 1601 and 1602 show that Comerford, as Second Justice of Munster, was working from Shandon Castle, Co Cork, then owned by Richard Boyle.[127]

In a report from the camp at Kinsale on 3 December 1601, Richard Boyle gave an account of the fighting with the Spanish, and noted that Comerford was engaged in fighting with Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone.[128] After the Battle of Kinsale, Comerford was involved once more in the surrender and re-grant of Irish-owned lands. Most notable, these included Blarney Castle with the surrender and re-grant in 1602 of the lands of Sir Cormac Mac Dermot Mac Carthy of Blarney Castle, chief of the Mac Carthy family of Muskerry, and son-in-law of Theobald Butler, Lord Caher.[129] He was a member of the Council of Munster throughout 1602,[130] and was Second Justice of Munster from as early as 4 February 1602, until at least 31 March 1604.[131]

4.11: Blarney Castle … Garret Comerford was involved in the surrender and re-grant of the castle in 1602

By then, Comerford appears to have stepped down as Attorney-General of Connaught: on 16 December 1602, Mountjoy received a request that “Gerald Comerford, esquire, Second Justice of Munster, whom we understand to be a gentleman of very good desert,” should continue to hold office as a Justice of the Assize in Connaught and Thomond, an office he had held while he was Attorney-General of Connaught.[132]

Comerford was still the Second Justice of Munster on 3 March 1603.[133] A letter signed that month by the citizens of Cork to the lords of Parliament in Dublin in March 1603 indicates the standing and comparative wealth acquired by Gerald Comerford during his career in Munster. Each of the signatories indicates his annual income in brackets, “besides creeks and havens,” with Comerford sharing the position of the third wealthiest political leader in Cork. The list was headed by Carew at £2,200, followed by Lord Bernewall of Berhaven (£1,600), Lord Cogan of the Great Haven (£1,300), and the Lord Baron of Comerford (sic) at £1,300, making him one of the four wealthiest landholders in Cork.[134]

Comerford’s loyalty and his political useful were unquestionable. On 4 May 1603, as “Ger Commerforde,” he was among those who accused the Mayor, Recorder and Bailiff of Cork of treason and rebellion after the death of Queen Elizabeth.[135] When he was back in Inchiholohan on 4 August 1603, he wrote to Carew telling him he wanted to go to Ulster, and asking why he had been prevented from doing this.[136] On 15 June 1604, Justice Comerford sat in court with the Lord Deputy, the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Primate, the Bishop of Meath and others at the trial of the Youghal jury which was accused of crimes.[137]

When the Council of Munster met in Drogheda on 18 June 1604, Comerford was present as the Chief Justice of Munster,[138] and when he was sworn again to the Council of Munster on 21 July 1604, he was described once again as Chief Justice of Munster.[139]

According to Cooke’s list of students admitted to the Inner Temple, Ball’s list of Irish judges and Clavin’s essay in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, Comerford also became a Baron of the Exchequer in 1604.[140] Shelley, Carrigan and Kennedy, in their transcriptions of Comerford’s tomb in Callan, also say he became both Second Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland and Chief Justice of Munster at the end of his career.[141]

Continuing work for the Ormond Butlers

4.12: Black Tom, the 10th Earl of Ormond … throughout his career, Garret Comerford acted in the interests of his kinsman and patron

Despite holding high judicial and political office in the provincial administrations of Connaught and Munster, Comerford maintained a close involvement in events in his native Co Kilkenny. Throughout his ambitious and self-serving legal career, Comerford remained loyal to his patrons and kinsmen, the Ormond Butlers, continued to act on their behalf, and he constantly returned to his native Co Kilkenny to attend to their interests.

4.13: The crossroads at Castleinch, which was Garret Comerford’s principal estate in Co Kilkenny. Today there are no surviving remains of the Comerford castle at Inchiholohan (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2009)

Despite the extensive wealth he amassed in Munster, Garret’s principal land holdings were in Co Kilkenny. These included lands in Castleinch or Inchiholohan, Brownstown and Goslingstown, and lands in Callan and Shellumsrath, Co Kilkenny, as well as other property in Rosbercon near New Ross, Co Wexford, and in Cork and Waterford.[142] Throughout his judicial career in Connaught and Munster, Garret continued to live in Inchiholohan,[143] often acting in a legal capacity on behalf of the Ormond Butlers. He witnessed a number of Ormond grants and papers in 1593, 1595, 1599 and 1601, and was a lawyer in a number of cases involving Ormond manors in Tipperary, Kilkenny Carlow and neighbouring counties, including Carrick-on-Suir, Thurles, Clonmel, Arklow, Clonmore, Rathvilly, Kilkenny, Gowran, Callan and Dunfert.[144]

Comerford’s appointment as Attorney-General of Connaught was aided if not secured through Black Tom’s close working relationship and friendship with Burghley. That close friendship with Burghley and his antagonism towards Sir John Perrot is reflected in the evidence Garret gave on 15 November 1591 to Burghley against Perrot.[145] Perrot had strongly opposed Ormond from the moment he arrived in Ireland in 1585, and had been enthusiastic in his support of Lovell in Kilkenny,[146] so Garret’s evidence was predictable.

During the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603), Ormond used the military power at his disposal to keep his own territories free of conflict. In the midst of the efforts to pacify Grace O’Malley and her allies, Comerford returned to Co Kilkenny at the end of 1595, and throughout most of the following year he was living in Castleinch, acting in the interests of the Ormond Butlers. Others had different plans, although they never came to fruition, such as the proposal to use him as an English spy in Spain. [147]

On 1 September 1595, with Philip Comerford and Richard Comerford fitzThomas, he was a party to a deed signed by Black Tom.[148] On 7 April 1596, he was holding lands in the Callan area.[149] But he soon wanted to return to his political and judicial roles in Connaught and Thomond, and on 21 July 1596 he wrote to the Lord Deputy from Inchiholohan outlining his plans to hold sessions in Co Clare and reporting on potential rebellious plots.[150]

On 17 January 1597, two days after his reappointment to the Commission of Connaught, Comerford reported from Ardagh to Black Tom on the distressed state of Co Galway. In his letter, he tells Ormond that he was in Galway the day before it was attacked by Red Hugh O’Donnell, and was forced to protect himself with his own guard, which he was paying out of his own resources, as the only official payment he was due was his £20 a year – and this had gone unpaid for the past three years.[151]

Elizabeth made Black Tom her lieutenant-general of Ireland in 1597, and once again he executed this commission with a mixture of conciliation, providing protections and pardons, and ruthlessness, through his frequent use of martial law – even towards his close relations. By the end of the year, Comerford was back home in Co Kilkenny, probably for Christmas, and on 22 December 1597, as Attorney-General of Connaught, he wrote from Inchiholohan to Black Tom reporting on the state of affairs in Connaught.[152]

As 1599 began to draw to a close, Comerford was back in Co Kilkenny, acting in Black Tom’s interest. In the Michaelmas law term that year, he was involved in a number of cases on behalf of Ormond, including a dispute over a number of Butler manors, including Carrick, Thurles and Clonmel in Co Tipperary,[153] and a similar case involving the manors of Arklow, Clonmore and Rathvilly in Co Wicklow and Co Carlow.[154]

On 6 October 1599, a final settlement was reached in court in Dublin in a case involving Gerald Comerford, the Oxford-educated lawyer Philip Comerford, Richard Rothe and Henry Shee, as petitioners, and the Earl of Ormond, Sir Richard Shee and others as defendants. The case involved a number of Butler manors in Co Kilkenny, including the manors of Kilkenny, Gowran and Dunfert, and other Butler lands.[155] Another similar case involving Ormond lands was settled on 24 October 1599.[156] These cases may have been no more than a matter of legal housekeeping and tidying up, for Comerford continued to act in the Ormond interests, and Black Tom continued to act as his patron. On 20 December 1599, Ormond wrote from Kilkenny Castle to Sir Robert Cecil, pointing out that as Attorney-General for Connaught, Gerald Comerford had never been paid for his work, and recommending that Comerford’s action for payment should be acted on by the Privy Council. In his letter, Ormond pointed out that Comerford had served faithfully in Connaught for seventeen years, and that during that time he had suffered at the hands of the Irish rebels.[157]

In April 1600, Black Tom was tricked into attending a meeting with Owney O’More and was taken hostage. In the ensuing scuffle, Philip Comerford was killed. But the local gentry raised £3,000 for Ormond’s release and seventeen of the most prominent local leaders stood hostage for him. Eventually, Ormond was freed in June 1600 and returned to Kilkenny in triumph.[158]

Meanwhile Comerford had moved to Munster as a member of the council and second justice, and there he continued to work on behalf of Ormond. On 22 October 1601, the case involving Gerald Comerford, Richard Comerford fitzThomas and Philip Comerford the estates of the Earl of Ormond was before the courts in Dublin again.[159]

A religious revolt and Comerford’s faith

After Elizabeth’s death in 1603, central government pressure on Ormond’s territories increased. In Ormond’s absences from Kilkenny, his authority was exercised by Justice Comerford, Justice Everard and Sir Nicholas Walsh. But in April and May 1603, at the height of Comerford’s success in his career in Munster, there were reports of revolt in Waterford, Limerick, Cork, and other towns and cities.[160]

Meanwhile, in Kilkenny, the urban elite including the Sovereign (Mayor) of Kilkenny, and four other principal citizens, supported by Black Tom’s nephew and potential successor, Sir Walter Butler of Kilcash, were suspected of resisting Ormond’s authority. They were accused of overthrowing the Anglican church order in Kilkenny in their “recusancy revolt,” seizing the parish churches in the town, along with Blackfriars Abbey, and allowing Masses to be said by Dr James White of Clonmel, a Jesuit and former master of Kilkenny College, and Edward Barry, a “seditious friar” said to be a “bastard son” of James FitzMaurice, the rebel Earl of Desmond.

White reconsecrated Saint Mary’s and Saint Patrick’s and, according to one report, ran into the throng of the people with a crucifix in his hand, crying out: “This is the God that you must fight for.”[161]

Ormond bound the Sovereign, Martin Archer, and four others to appear before the Council. In his efforts to deal with the aftermath, Lord Mountjoy ordered Comerford, Walsh and Sir Anthony St Leger to issue a proclamation condemning White, Barry and the other accused priests as “seditious traitors.”[162]

The “recusancy revolt,” Comerford’s role in dealing with its aftermath, and the fact that three of his sons became Jesuit priests on the Continent, returning regularly to Ireland, raise important questions for historians about his religious loyalty and his adherence to Anglicanism. Like his patron, Black Tom, was he a death-bed convert to Catholicism, or even a closet Catholic for the latter part of his career?

Comerford held high political and judicial offices throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth and at the beginning of the reign of James I, was a close ally and confidante of Archbishop Adam Loftus, staying with him in Rathfarnham Castle, and was involved in enforcing the Reformation in Kilkenny and throughout Munster and Connaught, including taking action against prominent Catholics who were within his nexus of kin and family friendship, such as James White and James Archer.[163]

In his letter to Cecil from Waterford on 20 July 1601, reporting on his employment by Carew in Munster, Comerford also reported that the Kilkenny Jesuit, James Archer, whom he describes as an “arch traitor,” had arrived in Munster.[164] Comerford continued to monitor Archer’s movements, and in his letter from Inchiholohan to Carew on 4 August 1603 asking why he could not go to Ulster, Comerford reported that Archer was arriving in England. In this letter, which was delivered to Carew on 9 August, Comerford described Archer’s features and also gave a description of his brother, Robert Archer.[165]

Yet Carrigan asks whether Comerford was a secret Roman Catholic or whether he accepted the Reformation, and suggests that he died a Catholic, an assertion that is repeated by Clavin.[166] Comerford’s kinsman, the 17th century Roman Catholic Bishop of Ossory, David Rothe, describes “Geraldus Quemerfordius” pejoratively as a “dissimulator,” like his brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Walsh, and his patron, Black Tom Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond. According to Rothe, Comerford in his last illness was “reconciled to Holy Church, and died after the victory of penance.”[167]

Garret’s brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Walsh, who like him was raised to high judicial office, had also accepted the Elizabethan Reformation, yet Rothe claims that he too returned to Rome and become a sincere penitent prior to his death on 22 April 1615.[168]

But, as Edwards points out, only those who conformed to the Elizabethan Reformation could rise in the state service, and three men alone in Co Kilkenny qualified in this respect: the Earl of Ormond, Gerald Comerford and his bother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Walsh. Both Comerford and Walsh accepted the Royal Supremacy and they were handsomely rewarded for this. “Their success set them apart from the rest of the shire community.”[169]

Comerford’s patron, Black Tom, who died in Carrick Castle on 22 November 1614 aged 82, was buried in Saint Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny. He too is said to have become a Roman Catholic on his deathbed, and he was succeeded by his Catholic nephew, Sir Walter Butler of Kilcash, as 11th Earl of Ormond.[170]

The questions surrounding Comerford’s religious affiliation in the later days of his life and immediately prior to his death are obviously still open to question.

Garret Comerford’s death

Gerald Comerford died ten years before Black Tom in 1604 at Coolnamuck, Co Waterford, on 29 October (according to the inquest Gowran in 1608) or 4 November (according to his tombstone), and he was buried in the north aisle of Saint Mary’s Church, Callan.[171] Healy notes the discrepancy between the date of his death given on Comerford’s tomb in Callan (4 November 1604) and that given at his inquest in Gowran (29 October 1604), and explains: “This discrepancy counts as nothing since the inquisition was not taken until 1608, that is four years subsequently, when the jurors may have been supposed to have forgotten the exact date.”[172] Burtchaell, however, favours 29 October as the accurate date of Comerford’s death.[173]

Comerford’s fine altar tomb in Saint Mary’s, Callan, is described in detail by Shelley, Carrigan, Kennedy and in the Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead.[174]

4.14: The side panel on Gerald Comerford’s tomb in Saint Mary’s, Callan, showing carved symbols of Christ’s Passion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Both Shelley and Carrigan describe it as a fine altar tomb, which in Carrigan’s time was still in good preservation, although the east end panel had fallen down by then. The emblems of the passion and crucifixion were sculpted on the front panel, and there was a shield with armorial bearings on each of the end panels. The armorial bearings on the west end show a bugle horn between three mullets for Comerford, impaling a chevron between three pheons or arrow heads for Walsh, with the date “1604” underneath.

The descriptions of the shield panel at the east end by both Shelley and Carrigan are so confused that it is difficult to identify the heraldic representations involved. Shelley described it thus: “Quarterly: 1st and 4th a pile between two others reversed; 2nd, 3rd, a cross flore between three swans.” Carrigan described it thus: “quarterly, 1st and 4th a pile between two reversed; 2nd and 3rd a Greek cross between four swans.” On the covering slab, he noted a raised cross running the full length, with a short traverse bar, and the initials “IHS” a little below the intersection of the arms and shaft of the cross. The inscription runs round the edge and is continued over and at the left side of the cross. Although a small piece of the end of the flag was broken off, with a few words of the inscription, missing, Carrigan supplied what he thought were the missing words in square brackets.[175]

Carrigan’s transcription of the inscription reads:

Hic. jacet. celeberrimus. Geraldus. Comerford. armiger. quonda. Regius. Atturnaius. Conatiae. et. Thomon[diae. Secundarius. Justiciarius. Momoniae. Secun]darius. Barro. Scaccarii. et. demum. Capital. Justiciarius. predicate. Momoniae. e. vivis. eccessit. apud. Cowlnamuckie. i. comitatu Waterfordiae 4 Novemr. 1604. nec. non. illustrissimi. Dni. Regid. Jacobi. Secundo. et. Scotiae. tricessimo. septimo.”[176]

Shelley and Kennedy provide the following translation:

“Here lies the celebrated man, Gerald Comerford, Esquire, who was [the] King’s Attorney of Connaught and Thomond, Second Baron of the Exchequer, and finally was appointed Chief Justice of Munster. His life departed at Coolnamuck, in the county of Waterford on the 4th November 1604, in the second year of the happy government of our illustrious Lord King James, and the seven-and-thirtieth of his reign in Scotland.”[177]

Carrigan provides this translation:

“Here lieth the most celebrated man, Gerald Comerford, Esq., formerly Queen’s Attorney for Connaught and Thomond. Second Justice of Munster, Second Baron of the Exchequer, and lastly Chief Justice of Munster aforesaid. He died at Cowlnamuckie, Co. Waterford, Nov. 4th 1604, in the 2nd year of the most illustrious King James and 37th of his reign over Scotland.”[178]

Comerford’s will, dated 8 September 1596, was proved on 16 November 1604. His will mentions his sons Fulk, James, Nicholas, Edward and Patrick, his daughter Mary, his wife Johanna, his brother-in-law Robert Rothe, and his nephew James.[179]

After his death, the pension granted to Comerford, which was worth £26.13.4 in 1602, was granted to Edward Carey on 8 December 1604.[180] Meanwhile, a legal dispute arose over some of the lands in Comerford’s estates, with claims that they belonged to either Ormond or to the Bishop of Ossory. On 22 February 1607, Robert Rothe wrote from Dublin to Salisbury about the alienation of the Earl of Ormond’s lands, giving an account of proceedings of inquiry in the Exchequer. Fines had been imposed on Comerford and others, and he recounted that the Bishop of Ossory had recovered lands from Comerford.[181]

An inquest or inquisition held at Gowran four years after Comerford’s death, on 11 November 1608, listed his lands and holdings.[182] At that inquisition, it was found that Comerford owned the fee of the manor and lands of Inchiholohan (Castleinch) and of the advowson belonging to same, with 38 acres freehold; eight acres in the town and lands of Brownstown; a yearly rent of 6s. 8d. from the lands of Maurice […] in the townland of Gosland (Goslingstown), because of the common pasture he had in the lands of Inchiholohan; lands in Sholdamrath (Shellumsrath) and “le motch Moere” (i.e. the Big Mor or Moor, Hibernice Moin mor); land in the townland of Goslan (Goslingstown); land in Rosbercon, outside New Ross, Co Wexford; and ten messuages, nine gardens, and 21 acres, small measure, within the town and burgagery of Callan.[183]

The inquest also recorded that Foulk Comerford was his lawful son and heir, and was then of full age and unmarried, and that his wife, Johanna Comerford, otherwise Walsh, held a life interest in the moiety of the manor of Inchioleghan and the towne of Brownstowne.[184]

Garret Comerford’s children and descendants

Garret Comerford married Johanna Walsh, sister of Sir Nicholas Walsh, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.[185] Garret and Johanna Comerford had at least five sons and a daughter, but they may have had seven sons and two daughters:

1, Foulk Comerford (ca 1578-1623),[186] his heir, who succeeded to the Kilkenny estates of the Castleinch branch of the family.[187] Like his father, Foulk entered the Inner Temple in 1604.[188] He was of full age and unmarried in 1608,[189] indicating he was born ca 1587. Foulk had livery of seisin on 16 October 1612, indicating he was born before 1591. He died on 22 February 1623, leaving two sons:

1a, Gerrot Comerford, born in 1612.[190]
2a, William Comerford.[191]

2, (The Revd) Richard Comerford, SJ, of Waterford (1579-1625). He is identified by Hogan as a nephew of Chief Justice Walsh, a cousin of the Revd Thomas Wales SJ, and a nephew of Archbishop Peter Lombard of Armagh. If so, it would appear that this Richard Comerford was a son of Garret Comerford, although he is not named in Garret’s will, nor is he so identified by Carrigan, Healy or Burtchaell.[192] He was born in Waterford in 1579. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1604. He was living in Bordeaux in 1606, but was back in Ireland and living in the Diocese of Meath in 1617. He was Rector of the College of Salamanca 1621-1624. He died ca 1624-1626.[193]

3, (The Revd) James Comerford, SJ, of Waterford (1583-1640). He was born in Waterford in 1583. Hogan identified him as a nephew of Chief Justice Walsh, a cousin of the Jesuit James Wales and a nephew of Archbishop Peter Lombard of Armagh. He entered the Jesuits in Spain 1600, but returned to Ireland in 1630. He died in Waterford on 8 July 1640.[194]

4, (The Revd Professor) Thomas Comerford, SJ, of Waterford (1583-1636). He was born in 1583, and is identified by Hogan as a nephew of Chief Justice Walsh, a cousin of the Jesuit James Wales and a nephew of Archbishop Peter Lombard of Armagh, although he is not named in Garret Comerford’s will, nor is he named as his son by Burtchaell, Carrigan or Healy. Thomas entered the Jesuits in Rome 1604. He was Professor of Theology at Compostella. Later he was a distinguished preacher in Cork and Waterford. He died in Waterford on 10 September 1636.[195]

5, Nicholas Comerford of Kilkenny City, living at the time of his father’s will in 1596.[196] He was the King’s Gaoler in Kilkenny, according to his son, Nicholas.[197] He was the father of:

1a, Nicholas Comerford (ca 1626-ca 1670), of Radcliffe in Stepney and later of Wapping, London, mapmaker.[198] [See Nicholas Comberford]

6, Edward Comerford, who was living at the time his father made his will.[199] He was probably the same person as the Edward Comerford who lived in New Ross, Co Wexford. That Edward was one of the principal owners of property in New Ross prior to the Cromwellian Confiscations in 1641, and his properties included nine houses in Saint Mary’s Parish, and four acres at Conway’s Land, near Mountgarret.[200] Edward married Anne Hore, daughter of William Hore (1587-1662) of Harperstown, Co Wexford, Treasurer of Co Wexford for the Confederation in 1646, and his wife Margaret Keating.[201] Barney Comerford suggests he was the father of:

1a, Richard Comerford, who married Catherine Hippsley.[202] Catherine (nee Cormack) was the wife of (firstly) Richard Comerford, (secondly) James Murphy, and (thirdly) Geoffrey Hippsley. Richard Comerford was living in Callan in 1664, but died before 1672, leaving a son and two daughters:[203]
●● 1b, Edward (or Edmond) Comerford, living in 1672 and 1673. He married Kate Love or Lowe, and may have left descendants.
●● 2b, Anstas.

Catherine and her third husband, Geoffrey Hippsley had at least three sons and a daughter:

●● 1b, Thomas Hippsley.
●● 2b, Geoffrey Hippsley.
●● 3b, Henry Hippsley.
●● 4b, Catherine, married James Comerford, living ca 1672.

7, Patrick Comerford, who was living at the time of his father’s will in 1596.[204] He died in 1630. He married Elizabeth Brett and they had at least a son and a daughter:[205]

1a, Garret Comerford. Barney Comerford says he had a daughter:
●● 1b, Catherine, born ca 1665, died ca 1705. She married Darby O’Reilly and they were the ancestors of:
●●● Archbold O’Reilly, living in 1845.[206]
2a, Elizabeth Comerford.

8, Mary Comerford, who was living when her father made his will in 1596, and in 1644, when her nephew Garret Comerford made his will.[207]

9? Margaret.[208]

Footnotes and sources:

[1] Carrigan 3, pp 230, 306; Terry Clavin, ‘Gerard (Gerald, Garret) Comerford,’ pp 711-713 in Dictionary of Irish Biography (eds James McGuire and James Quinn), vol 2 (Cambridge: Camnridge University Press/Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2009), p. 711.
[2] Ormond 5, p. 33; Hayes 1, p. 654.
[3] Ormond 5, pp 33-34.
[4] Ormond 5, pp 94-95, 110.
[5] Fiants Eliz 1042 (742), Report DKPRI 11 (1879), p. 155; Carrigan 3, pp 230, 306.
[6] Fiants Eliz 1054 (894), Report DKPRI 11 (1879), p. 159; Carrigan 3, p. 230.
[7] see Ormond 5, pp 137, 140, 151, 166-167, 235, 282, Ormond 6, p. 1; Hayes 1, p. 654.
[8] See David Edwards, The Ormond Lordship in County Kilkenny 1515-1642 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), passim.
[9] Edwards, pp 185-187; G. Butler, ‘The Battle of Affane,’ Irish Sword 8 (1967/1968), pp 33-47.
[10] See Edwards, pp 187-195.
[11] Edwards, pp 188-189.
[12] Fiants Eliz 1482 (1062), Report DKPRI 11 (1879), p. 223; Cal State Pap Irel 1509-1573, p. 424; Carrigan 3, p. 230; Edwards, pp 196-200.
[13] Cal State Pap Irel 1509-1573, p. 412; Edwards, pp 204-209.
[14] Carew Mss 1 (1515-1574), p. 402.
[15] Edwards, p. 38.
[16] Fiants Eliz 1482 (1062), Report DKPRI 11 (1879), p. 223; Carrigan 3, p. 230; Cal State Pap Irel 1509-1573, p. 424.
[17] Carrigan 3, p. 230; Edwards, pp 209-210.
[18] Edwards, pp 188-189, 204-207.
[19] Carrigan 3, p. 230.
[20] Cal State Papers Irel 1509-1573, p. 462.
[21] Ormond 5, p. 272.
[22] Ormond 5, p. 282.
[23] Ormond 6, p. 1; Hayes 1, p. 654.
[24] Ormond 6, p. 2; Hayes 1, p. 654.
[25] Carrigan 3, p. 306.
[26] Burtchaell, Rothe Family, p. 513, n. 1; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[27] See Ormond 5, p. 282.
[28] Carrigan 3, pp 230, 306.
[29] Fiants Eliz 1436 (DKPRI 11), p. 214.
[30] Fiants Eliz 1676 (DKPRI 12), p. 27; Fiants Eliz 1880 (DKPRI 12), p. 55.
[31] Cal State Pap Irel, Eliz 1574-1585, p. 114.
[32] CPRI, Eliz I, 70; Edwards, p. 229.
[33] Ormond 5, p. 324.
[34] Cal Pat Cl, 18-45 Eliz, 2, p. 70.
[35] see Ormond 6, pp 3, 7, 31.
[36] HMC Report 4 (1877), p. 262.
[37] Carrigan 3, p. 230.
[38] Carrigan 3, p. 230.
[39] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[40] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[41] Browne, Kilkenny College, p. 227; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19; (Revd) W. Healy, History and Antiquities of Kilkenny (County and City) (Kilkenny: P.M. Egan, 1893), 2 vols, vol 1, p. 120.
[42] W.H. Cooke (ed), Students Admitted to the Inner Temple, 1571-1625 (London: F. Cartwright, 1868), p. 25; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19; Clavin, p. 711.
[43] Students Admitted …, p. 25.
[44] Students Admitted …, p. 25.
[45] Edwards, pp 228-229.
[46] Cal Pat Cl, 18-45 Eliz, 2, p. 70; Edwards, pp 238-239.
[47] Cal State Papers Irel 2 (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 485; Clavin, p. 711.
[48] Cal State Papers Irel 2 (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 485; Clavin, p. 711.
[49] Cal Pat. Cl Rolls (18-45 Elizabeth I), vol 2, p. 72; Cal State Papers Irel 3 (Eliz 1586-1588), p. 407; JAPMD, vol 2, p. 147; Carrigan 3, pp 230-231; Healy 1, p. 120; Clavin, p. 711.
[50] Cal State Papers Irel 2, (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 510.
[51] Cal State Papers Irel 2, (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 552.
[52] Healy 1, p. 120; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[53] Fiants Eliz 4625 (DKPRI 15), p. 84; Cal State Papers Irel 3 (Eliz 1586-1588), p. 393; Burtchaell, Rothe Family, p. 513, n. 2; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Clavin, pp 711-712.
[54] Cal State Papers Irel 2 (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 556.
[55] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 15, Burtchaell, Rothe Family, p. 513, n. 21; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Clavin, p. 711.
[56] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[57] see Cal State Papers Irel 2 (Eliz 1574-1585), p. 564.
[58] Cal Pat Cl 18-45 El, vol 2, p. 99.
[59] Fiants Eliz 4732 (DKPRI 15), p. 114; Fiants Eliz 4745 (DKPRI 15), p. 119.
[60] Fiants Eliz 4732 (DKPRI 15), p. 114; Fiants Eliz 4745 (DKPRI 15), p. 119.
[61] CSPI 3, Eliz 1586-1588, pp. 131, 172; Carew Mss 2, p. 431.
[62] W.M. Hennessy (ed), The Annals of Loch Cé. A Chronicle of Irish Affairs from AD 1014 to AD 1590 (Dublin: Eamonn de Burca, 2000), vol. 1, pp 653; vol. 2, pp 689.
[63] Cal State Pap Irel 3 (Eliz 1586-1588), p. 407.
[64] Cal State Pap Irel 3 (Eliz 1586-1588), pp 407, 428; Fiants Eliz 5233 (DKPRI 16), p. 60; Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1586-1592), p. 37.
[65] See Edwards, p. 245.
[66] Niall Fallon, The Armada in Ireland (London: Stanford Maritime, 1978), passim; Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), pp 43, 54, 74.
[67] Fallon, p. 66.
[68] Fallon, pp 68-71.
[69] Fallon, pp 71-72; see Comerford’s correspondence with Ormond, 18 September 1588.
[70] Fallon, p. 72.
[71] Fallon, p. 72.
[72] Fallon, p. 72.
[73] Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), p. 43; Fallon, p. 72.
[74] Fallon, pp 72-73.
[75] Fallon, p. 73.
[76] Fallon, pp 74 ff.
[77] Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), pp 43, 74; Fallon, pp 51-53; Edmund Curtis, ‘Original Documents Relating to the Butler Lordship of Achill, Burrishoole and Aughrim, 1236-1640,’ Journal of the County Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 15/2 (1930), pp 121-128; Theresa McDonald, Achill: 5000 BC to 1900 AD (Dooagh: IAS Publications, 1992), pp 67-71.
[78] Fallon, p. 51.
[79] Fallon, p. 51.
[80] Edwards, p. 245.
[81] Fiants Eliz 5741 (DKPRI 16), p. 210.
[82] Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), p. 396.
[83] Cal Pat Cl 18-41 Eliz 2, pp 216-217; Fiants Eliz 5583 (DKPRI 16), p. 166-167, Fiants Eliz 5584 (DKPRI 15), p. 167, Fiants Eliz 5595 (DKPRI 16), p. 169; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Cl;avin, p. 712.
[84] Ormond 6, p. 48.
[85] Cal State Papers Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), pp 463, 490.
[86] Fiants Eliz 5741 (DKPRI 16), p. 210.
[87] Cal State Papers Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), p. 533.
[88] Cal State Papers Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), p. 541.
[89] Fiants Eliz 5817 (DKPRI 16), p. 236.
[90] Ormond 6, pp 2-3.
[91] Cal State Papers Irel 5 (Eliz 1592-1596), p. 277.
[92] Fiants Eliz 5922 (DKPRI 16), p. 265.
[93] See Edwards, pp 245-246.
[94] Anne Chambers, Granuaile: the life and times of Grace O’Malley, c 1530-1603 (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, new ed., 1988), passim.
[95] Cal State Pap Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), pp 118, 138, 144-147, 173-174; Clavin, p. 712.
[96] Chambers, pp 127-152.
[97] Chambers, pp 152-156.
[98] Fiants Eliz 5948 (DKPRI 16), pp 272-273.
[99] Chambers, p. 168.
[100] Salisbury Mss 7 (1899), p. 8; Hayes, Manuscript Sources 1, p. 653.
[101] Fiants Eliz 6032 (DKPRI 17), pp 42-43.
[102] Fiants Eliz 6090 (DKPRI 17), p. 53.
[103] Cal State Papers Irel 8 (Eliz 1599-1600), pp 132-136.
[104] Fiants Eliz 6335-6336 (DKPRI 17), p. 113; Clavin, p. 712.
[105] Cal State Papers Irel 8 (Eliz 1599-1600), p. 375.
[106] Cal State Papers Irel 9 (March-October 1600), p. 81.
[107] M. Curtis Clayton (ed), The Council Book of the Province of Munster c. 1599-1649 (Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission, 2008), pp 302-305; Clavin, p. 712.
[108] Carew Mss 3, p. 406.
[109] Cal State Papers Irel 9 (March-October 1600), p. 378; Clavin, p. 712.
[110] Check refs.
[111] Clayton, passim.
[112] Clayton, p. 303.
[113] For this period, Clayton lists the Chief Justices of Munster as William Saxey (1600-1604), and Dominick Sarsfield (1604-11608), but Comerford is described as Chief Justice of Munster at a meeting of the Council in Drogheda on 18 June 1604 (pp 178-179) and was sworn a member of the council once again as Chief Justice on 21 July 1604 (Clayton, p. 350).
[114] Clayton, pp 12, 15, 116.
[115] Clayton, pp 20, 34, 35, 28, 40, 41, 53, 81, 105, 120, 130-131, 412-413, 415.
[116] Clayton, p. 122.
[117] Clayton, p. 39.
[118] Clayton, p. 28.
[119] Clayton, pp 178-179.
[120] Cal State Papers Irel 9 (March-October 1600), p. 369; Carew Mss 3, pp 428-429.
[121] Fiants Eliz 6444 (DKPRI 17), p. ??; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Clavin, p. 712.
[122] Carew Mss 4, pp 7, 18.
[123] Salisbury Mss 11, pp 25-26.
[124] Cal State Papers Irel 10 (1600-1601), p. 187; Carew Mss 4, pp 27, 95.
[125] Carew Mss 4, p. 69.
[126] Cal State Papers Irel 10 (1600-1601), p. 444.
[127] Carew Mss 4, pp 147, 355.
[128] Cal State Papers Irel 10 (1600-1601), pp 197-198.
[129] Clayton, pp 400-401.
[130] Carew Mss 4, pp 338, 355.
[131] Clayton, pp 28, 105, 110-111, 115, 120, 130-131.
[132] Carew Mss 4, p. 389.
[133] Fiants Eliz 6766, 6773 (DKPRI 18), pp 138-139.
[134] Carew Mss 4, p. 441.
[135] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 50-53, 121-122.
[136] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 71-73.
[137] Egmont Mss 1, pp 28-29.
[138] Clayton, pp 178-179.
[139] Clayton, p. 350.
[140] Cooke, Students Admitted, p. 25; F. Elrington Ball, The Judges in Ireland, 1221-1921 (2 vols, London: John Murray, 1926), vol 1, p. ??; Clavin, p.713.
[141] Thomas Shelley, Ossory Archaeological Journal, 1874, p. ??; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Kennedy, pp 460, 567.
[142] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120.
[143] Carew Mss 4, 3, p. 190; Cal State Papers Irel 6 (Eliz 1596-1597), pp 43, 475; Cal State Papers Irel 8 (Eliz 1599-1600), p. 375; Cal State Papers Irel, James I, 1603-1606, pp 71-73.
[144] Ormond 6, pp 2-3, 83, 184, 194-195.
[145] Cal State Papers Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), p. 439.
[146] See Edwards, pp 244-245.
[147] Salisbury Mss 7 (1899), p. 8; Hayes, Manuscript Sources 1, p. 653.
[148] Ormond 6, p. 83.
[149] Ormond 5, p. 240.
[150] Cal State Papers Irel 6 (Eliz 1596-1597), p. 43.
[151] Cal State Papers Irel 6 (Eliz 1596-1597), pp 223-224.
[152] Cal State Papers Irel 6 (Eliz 1596-1597), p. 475.
[153] Ormond 6, p. 194.
[154] Ormond 6, pp 194-195.
[155] Hayes, Manuscript Sources 1, p. 654.
[156] Ormond 6, p. 184.
[157] Check refs.
[158] Edwards, pp 257-259.
[159] Ormond 6, p. 195.
[160] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 32-33.
[161] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 32-33; Edwards, pp 264-265.
[162] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 32-43; Edwards, pp 264-265.
[163] Cal State Papers Irel 4 (Eliz 1588-1592), pp 144, 533; Cal State Papers Irel 10 (1600-1601), p. 446; Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 32, 34, 50-53, 71-73, 121-122.
[164] Cal State Papers Irel 10 (1600-1601), p. 446
[165] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1603-1606, pp 71-73.
[166] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Clavin, p. 713.
[167] Patrick Moran (ed), The Analecta of David Rothe, Bishop of Ossory (Dublin: MH Gill & Son), pp 43-44. This was originally published as David Rothe, Analecta Sacra Nova et Mira, de Rebus Catholicorum in Hibernia (Coloniae, 1617). Rothe was born in Kilkenny in 1568, studied theology in Douai and Salamanca, and later was Vicar-General of Armagh, Bishop of Ossory (1618-1650) and Vice-Primate (pp xi-xii). His father, John Rothe (d. 1590), was a younger brother of David Rothe, whose son Robert Rothe, the bishop’s first cousin, married Comerford’s sister Margaret (Carrigan 3, p. 76).
[168] Rothe, Analecta, pp 43-45.
[169] Edwards, p. 247.
[170] Edwards, p. 273.
[171] Shelley, p. ??; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, pp 19-20; Healy 1, p. 122.
[172] Healy 1, p. 122.
[173] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[174] Shelley, p. ?; Carrigan 3, p 302-303; Carrigan Mss 71, f. 60; Kennedy, p. 567 # 52 and photograph; JAPMD 2, pp 146-147.
[175] Shelley, 2, p. ??; Carrigan 3, pp 302-303; see also Carrigan Mss 71, f. 60; Kennedy, p. 460.
[176] Carrigan 3, p. 302.
[177] Shelley, p. ?; Kennedy, pp 460, 567.
[178] Carrigan 3, p. 302.
[179] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30.
[180] Carew Mss 6, p. 186.
[181] Cal State Papers Irel James I 1606-1608, p. 121.
[182] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120.
[183] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120.
[184] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 210.
[185] Carrigan 3, p. 231; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19; Healy 1, p. 120.
[186] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[187] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[188] Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[189] Healy 1, p. 120.
[190] Betham 1-9, f. 82; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[191] Betham 1-9, f. 82.
[192] Hogan, Irish Jesuits, pp 12, 15.
[193] Hogan, Irish Jesuits, pp 12, 15; M’Donnell, Salamanca, 3, p. 521. He is not mentioned in his father’s will, but Hogan identifies him as a brother of the Jesuits James and Thomas Comerford, and as a nephew of Chief Justice Walsh.
[194] Betham 1/9, ff. 29-30; Hogan, Irish Jesuits, pp 12, 15; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19; M’Donnell, Salamanca 3, p. 529.
[195] Hogan, Irish Jesuits, pp 12, 15; M’Donnell, Salamanca 3, p. 528. He is not mentioned in his father’s will, but Hogan identifies him as a brother of James and Richard and as a nephew of Chief Justice Walsh.
[196] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[197] William Dobbyns to John Percivale, Egmont Mss, 1 (London: HMC, 1905), pp 569-73; see Comerford (1999), pp 92-102.
[198] Check refs.
[199] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120.
[200] Simmington, Civil Survey of Wexford, 1654-1656, pp 235-247, 252; Hore 1, p. 315.
[201] Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, various eds., s.v. Hore; this Edward is often confused with Edward Comerford, MP for Callan (see Chapter 6).
[202] Barney Comerford, Table 11 C, p. 155.
[203] Betham 1/9, f. 159; Walsh, Ossory and Leighlin Wills, pp 479-480; Carrigan 3, p. 295; Carrigan Mss 52, no f. number; Carrigan Mss 59, f. 48, and NLI Pos No 907, notebook ca 1890-1892, f. 13.
[204] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[205] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30; Carrigan 3, p. 231; Healy 1, p. 120; Burtchaell, Kilkenny MPs, p. 19.
[206] Barney Comerford, Table 11 C, p. 155.
[207] Betham 1-9, ff 29-30, 82.
[208] Carrigan 3, p. 231, although this may be an error in transcription from Betham’s will and should read Mary.

© Patrick Comerford 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013.

Last revised 21 July 2009, 17 August 2009; 16 April 2010, 13 November 2010; 16 March 2011; 6 June 2011; 13 April 2013.


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1 comment:

stephen said...

Excellent. You don't leave anything out, do you!