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Sir Nicholas Bagenal (1510 - 1591):
Landlord; governor; army commander


Sir Nicholas Bagenal was a prominent landowner in and around Newry, and was twice appointed Marshal of the Army in Ireland.

He was originally from Newcastle under Lyme where his father John, a tailor, was five times Mayor, in 1519, 1522, 1526, 1531, and 1533.  Nicholas was the second son; his mother was Eleanor, daughter of Thomas Whittingham of Middlewich, Cheshire and his elder brother served as a courtier to Henry VIII. Nicholas himself was a “gentleman pensioner” of the King and first went to Ireland in 1539, in slightly mysterious circumstances but very probably as a result of murder. At first he was a mercenary soldier for the O’Neills; the newly created Earl of Tyrone, Conn Bacach Ó Neill was instrumental in Bagenal’s Pardon in December 1542.

In April 1544 he returned to England and 1545 saw him serving in France (England and the Holy Roman Empire invaded France during the Italian War of 1542-1546).

In March 1547 he was appointed Marshal of the Army in Ireland, and led several campaigns, against the O’Connors of Offaly, against the Scots who has invaded the Dufferin (west County Down), Shane O’Neill in Tyrone. In 1550 he was given a lease "of the college or house of Newry". He was knighted in 1551 and the following year was granted extensive land in the adjacent areas of Newry, County Down, and Carlingford, County, County Louth. In July 1853 Mary I acceded to the throne and Bagenal was relieved of the Marshalship though this was restored on the accession of Elizabeth to an apparently reluctant Marshal; but despite his wishes he was not permitted to resign the post which nevertheless he occupied with great success, at least from Elizabeth’s point of view. He made his base in Newry, and was most effective at not just dealing with constant raids by Shane O’Neill; he carried out many improvements and retired from post only in 1590 due to age and ill health having done much to extend English power and influence in Ireland through Ulster and not least Newry. He also periodically served in both the English and Irish parliaments.

“Bagenal's Castle” as it now is in the 21st century, “the college or house of Newry” as it had been, a Cistercian Abbey founded in the 12th century, survived enveloped in the premises of a bakery on Abbey Way in the centre of Newry, and was rediscovered in the 1990s; after extensive restoration came to form an important part of the Newry and Mourne Museum.



Born: 1510
Died: 1591
Richard Froggatt
Bibliography:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Dictionary of Irish Biography; bagenalscastle.com