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Sir Nicholas Bagenal.

Famous People of Ireland.

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Nicholas Bagenal played a pivotal role in the history of Ireland and County Down in particular, he was a native of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stafford shire, England where his father John Bagenal was Mayor of the town.

In 1556 he married Eleanor, 3rd daughter and heiress of Sir Edward Griffith of Penrhyn, North Wales, the couple had nine children Henry, Dudley and Ambrose, and daughters Frances, Mary, Margaret, Isabel, Anne and Mabel

This marriage brought to Bagenal considerable estates in Wales.

In 1539 he was involved in a brawl in Leek, Staffordshire in which a man was killed, he fled the country to Ulster, where he took employment with Conn O'Neill as a mercenary soldier. By 1542 O'Neill had been created 1st Earl of Tyrone, it was 7th December of that year that Conn O'Neill interceded on Bagenal's behalf in the form of a letter sent by the Dublin Privy Council to London petitioning for a pardon for Nicholas Bagenal, which was granted on 2nd March 1543.

Between 1544 and 1547 he served in the French Wars where he gained a high reputation for his military prowess. By 1548 he was back in Ireland serving under Sir Edward Bellingham in the Irish midlands, where a group led by Cahir O' Connor were plundering Laois, Carlow and Kildare, it was in the latter county that Bagenal met O'Connor's superior force, inflicting a crushing defeat on them.

At this time the English Pale was under fairly consistent attack from the native Irish, the policy of strengthening the defenses of the pale can to a large extent be attributed to Bellingham, one of the castles built by him was at Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, in the Barony of Idrone owned by the Carew, the strategic location of this castle enabled the English to subdue a large part of the county. Bagenal was later (1585) to buy the barony from Carew for £2,000 for one of his sons, Dudley, who met a violent death shortly thereafter when ambushed near Ballymoon Castle County Carlow.

The year 1550 was an auspicious one for Nicholas Bagenal in that year he became a member of the Irish Privy Council and was appointed Marshall General of the Army in Ireland. In that year also he received a lease for 21 years on the Abbey lands of Newry and Newry town,and was granted the Lordship of Mourne.

Bagenal's son Henry was killed at the Battle of Yellow Ford in 1598 by the Irish forces led by by Hugh O'Neill who incidentally was married to Henry's sister Mabel Bagenal.

Bagenal's castle in Newry County Down now houses Newry Tourist Information Center and Newry & Mourne Museum, there is some dispute as to whether the castle was built by Bagenal some contend that he modified another building, and that the plans which came to light were just an elaborate scam by him to extract money from Elizabeth I.

Bagenal like several of the English adventurers in Ireland came here as fugetives from English justice capatilising on this to his own advantage and also that of the English crown in his treatment of the Native Irish.

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