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than her share, and endeavours to interest O Hagan and Colonel Henry O Neill in the distribution of the Earl's money and plate. The latter was at this time, and for many years before, serving with the Irish regiment in the Spanish service in Flanders.

The text is printed below, and each portion is provided with a translation. The few words and letters missing in the manuscript are printed in italics, and the places where a word is written twice or mis-written are indicated in the footnotes. To marks of length and of aspiration, added in editing, I have not thought it necessary to draw attention. Some paragraphs are appended dealing with O Neill's marriages and family, and with the other personages mentioned in the Will.

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Bíodh a fhios agaibh gur mar so do righne O Néill a thiomna 7 mar do iarr sé athchuingidh ar en Rígh. An feadh do choimédadh a bhen phósta hí féin go honórach dá choróin dég 7 ocht lfichid do i heith aice sa mi anuair do dhénadh sí a atharrach sin gan pighinn do thabhairt di: ceithre fichit do Sheán O Néill mac Corbmaic. Sé corónach dég 7 dá fhiched ag Enrí O Agán: 7 sé corónach 7 dá fhiched ag Seán O Agán: 7 se corónach deg 7 dá fhiched dEnrí Silis. A uirid eile ag Seón Bá. Fiche coróin don Fherdorcha O Néill. Fiche coróin do Ghiollaruadh O Coinne. A uirid do Bhrian O Coinne: 7a uirid eile dEmonn óg O Maolchraoibhe. Tuilleadh ro fhágaibh sé so scríobhtha rena thabhairt don ambasadóir ionnus go bfaiceadh an Rí hé maille lena bheannacht fa mhaith do dhénuibh ar na daoinibh bochta ag ar fháguibh sin.

Tuilleadh do iarr sé a phláta uile do thabhairt don Choirenéil acht gidhbé diarr sé do thabhairt do Bhrian O Néill fós ro iarr sé a roibhe do thaipstrí síoda astigh 7 leba shíoda 7 culaidh aifrain do thabhairt don Choirenéil mar an ccédna 7 na bruit lethuir agá mhnaoi phósta 7 leba éduigh.

Dá dherbhadh sin atá coipí ionna lebhar aige an noiteóir do scríobh an tiomna1 innsa mbaile so.


Know that the following is the manner in which O Neill made his will and besought a favour of the King:

As long as his wife shall maintain herself honourably, she is to have 172 crowns a month, and whenever she shall fail to do this, not a penny is to be given her.

And Sean, son of Cormac O Neill, to have 80 [crowns a month]. Henry O Hagan to have 56. Sean O Hagan to have 46.2 Henry Silis to have 56. A like amount to John Bath. Feardorcha O Neill to have 20. Giollaruadh O Coinne to have 20. A like amount to Brian O Coinne. And a like amount to Emonn og O Maolchraoibhe.

1 Altered from a thiomna.

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2 Probably the word deag is omitted in the original. If so, Sean O Hagan's allowance would be 56 crowns a month.

Further, he left this in writing to be given to the Ambassador, so that the King might see it; and with it his commission to render a service to the poor people to whom he made those bequests.

Further, he asked that all his plate be given to the Colonel, except whatsoever he requested should be given to Brian O Neill. And likewise he asked that all the silk tapestry in the house, and a bed of silk, and a set of vestments, should be also given to the Colonel. And his wife to have the leather cloaks, and a bed of cloth.

In proof of that, the notary who wrote the will in this town1 has a copy in his book.


Atámaoid dá chur a gcéill dhaoibh, a Enrí, gur cóir dhaoibh a thaisbénadh do mhac Uí Néill mar atá an Chondaois ag ceilt an bhennacht so ro ág O Neill aige an Rí 7 gach tiomna dá nderna sé, 7 a rádh leis gan a bheith réigh ar chor ar bith nó go bfagha sé an tiomna air a láimh féin, 7 an ní do fágadh aige na daoinibh bochta so a chur ar a láimh féin, a bfochuir a bheith ag dul amogha dhóibh dá dhíoghbháil, 7 dob fherr don Choirenéil a rogha cil do dhénamh leis an dá fhichid dég ponta atá amuigh ag an gcethrar ógánach sin lá Lunasa so chugainn leis na hocht bponta 7 ocht bfichid atá agaibhsi amuigh an uair sin (ní oile cuid Sheón Bát ocht bponta 1 ocht bfichid) 7 gidhbé heile do bhen sí don⭑ dá Sheán ná a bheith dá chur a ndroch-chel mar atá ag dul.

Agus bíodh a fhios agaibh nach bíonn a bfuil annso beó go brách 7 gur chóra don Choirenéil cuid an fhir do ghéabhaidh bás nó rachaidh go hEirinn a bheith ar áird aige féin nó gan a bheith acasan no aige duine do dhénadh maith ar bith ris, 7 muna ngabha an Chundaois a chomhairle fán gcúis so ní fhuil aige mac Uí Néill acht a leigen air techt chum Rómha 7 as sin don Spáinn ionnas go ndiongnadh an Rí ordughadh annsa gcúis a mháthair ghabháil a mainistir chaillech ndubh. Ní eile muna dherna sé deifir 7 leis an bpláta do bhreith leis go gér 7 le gach ní eile dár fágadh aige, is dóigh lem go mbiaidh aithrech air, 7 gidhbé duine do chuirfe aníos uime sin ní bheidh aige acht iad sin uile do chur a mbarc9 a bhos 1 a bhfagháil thíos a nAnuarb óna cenduighionnuibh, 7 scríobhadh sé aníos fa ccur sgan1o a ccur as chéile uair én gúnna ann is fiú céd 10 go leith ponta.


We make known to you, Henry, that you ought to inform O Neill's son of the manner in which the Countess is concealing the commission

1 These words show that the letter was written in Rome.

* The manuscript has ceill. The error may be due to the fifth word in the paragraph which occurs right over this in the manuscript.

The manuscript has lá la lunasna. The passage in parentheses is in the margin.

This word is written twice in the manuscript.

This is an example of the present tense employed where one would expect the future. The usage, allowable in certain cases, is characteristic of the dialects of Ulster and Scotland.

The article should probably be supplied.

> Immediately before this word sin is written and crossed out.

8 This word might be omitted.

The manuscript has banc.

10 The manuscript has tur sgan gan.

which O Neill gave to the King, and also every bequest which he made; and you ought to say to him that it will not be executed at all until he himself gets possession of the bequest, and delivers into the hands of these poor folk whatever was left to them, instead of its going to destruction and being lost to them. And it would be better if the Colonel would spend in any way he choose the £240 due next first of August to these four young men,1 and the £168 due to you at that date, also John Bath's £168, and whatever she deprived the two Seans of, than that it should continue to be spent ill as it is now.

And consider that those who are here will not live forever, and that it would be more proper if the Colonel entertained expectation that he would himself acquire the portion of whomsoever may die or go to Ireland, than that neither they nor anyone who would make any good use of it should get it. And if the Countess will not accept his direction in this matter, all O Neill's son has to do is to pretend to come to Rome, and to proceed from there to Spain to secure that the King should issue a decree in the matter and have his mother enclosed in a convent of nuns. Further, if he does not hurry and quickly remove the plate, and everything else which was left to him, I think he will regret it. And the person he shall send down for that purpose will have only to put them in a barque 2 here, and they can be recovered from the merchants below in Antwerp. And let him write down to have them sent, and direct that they be carefully handled, for there is one gown there which is worth £150.

The letter here published and the evidence it affords of the slender maintenance O Neill was able to provide for his surviving family and dependents, undoubtedly deepen the tragic element in the career of the great chieftain. By his genius and his valour he had made himself master of the wide principality of Tyrone, which he claimed as his birthright. In addition, when driven to rebellion by the unscrupulous emissaries of Elizabeth, he consolidated all Ulster under his sway, and defied and defeated the best generals that the Queen could send against him. He annihilated her forces and exhausted her treasury. He compelled the other provinces to acknowledge his authority, and with his armies he traversed the land from north to south like an Ard-ri of old. He created earls like a sovereign and set up chieftains like a dictator. He was recognized as one of the greatest soldiers of his age, and were it not for the fatal day of Kinsale, he might have lived to rule all Ireland in peace. Unable to ruin him by the sword, the English Government sought to strip him of his power by legal chicanery, until finally, apprehending treachery, which he could better ward off while at war, he abandoned his great domain and left Ireland for ever. He died after

1 That is, those who were granted 20 erowns a month. This allowance amounted to £60 a year, or £240 for all four.

2 The reading of the manuscript would mean ‘bank.'

nine years of exile, and the sadness of his end is emphasized by the comparative poverty which his last Will discloses, and by the smallness of the gifts whereby he would fain provide for his surviving wife and the few kinsmen and faithful friends who conducted him to a resting-place 'no worse than Armagh.'


The Countess who survived O Neill was Catherine, daughter of Sir Hugh Magennis, last inaugurated chieftain of Iveagh, County Down, and sister of Sir Arthur, the first Viscount. Her marriage took place subsequently to the death of Mabel1 Bagenal, in 1596. She was O Neill's fourth wife, and was considerably younger than the Earl. Particulars of her family will be given below.

O Neill's first marriage was with a daughter of Sir Brian mac Feilim O Neill, chieftain of Clannaboy, whose revolting murder by the Earl of Essex is described by the Four Masters at the year 1574. His divorce from this lady was effected, as he himself tells us, 'by the orders of the Church.' It took place prior to 1574. In 1591 the marriage of the Earl and Mabel Bagenal created a storm of protest on the part of the English officials, among whom the most violent was Sir Henry Bagenal, Marshal-General of the Queen's forces, and brother of the bride. The Lord Deputy FitzWilliam took action in the matter, and after an investigation, in the course of which the judges in the case were examined, he reported to Burghley on October 25 :-1

The Earl of Tyrone's divorce is a valid one. The gentlewoman who was divorced from him was soon after married to Neil mac Brian Fertagh O Neill. The Earl had shown him the original sentence of his divorce under the seal of the judges that pronounced it.2

The name of Brian mac Feilim's daughter has not been ascertained. The Baron of Dungannon had a family by her, as we learn from the Queen's letter to Lord Deputy Perrot, published in the Carew Papers of the year 1585, page 407. Neill mac Brian Fertagh, whom she married later, became lord of upper or southern Clannaboy in 1590. See Calendar of State Papers, January 26 of that year, and Fiant of Elizabeth, No. 5443.

1 This lady is named Ursula in a pedigree compiled by John P. Prendergast, and published in the Kilkenny Archaeological Journal for 1860-1.

2 Calendar of State Papers (1591).

Hugh O Neill's second marriage was with Siobhan or Joan, sister of Hugh Roe O Donnell. Hugh Roe's mother, the celebrated Inghean dubh, was married to Black Sir Hugh, not earlier than 15691; consequently, as Joan was O Neill's wife less than ten years later, she must have been the issue of a previous marriage of O Donnell. In his petition to the Queen, presented in 1587, O Neill speaks as follows:

most humbly beseecheth that it may please your Majesty of your princely bounty to grant and confirm all and singular the contents of your said father's letters patents unto your said subject for term of his life, the remainder to Hugh O Neill, the eldest son of your suppliant and the lady Johan his wife, and to the heirs males of the body of the said Hugh, the remainder to Henry, another son of your said suppliant and the said lady, and the heirs males of the body of the said Henry. Joan died before January 31, 1591, on which date Tyrone informed Burghley of the death of his countess.'

The year following Joan's death, the Earl's romantic marriage with Mabel Bagenal took place. This girl was then aged about twenty years. The documents bearing on the event have been published in the Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society for the years 1856-7 (pp. 298311), and later, in Father Meehan's Fate and Fortunes of Tyrone and Tyrconnell (third edition, p. 288 ff). The following summary of them by Hill, in his MacDonnells of Antrim (p. 212), is worth reproducing here :

Soon after her [Joan O'Donnell's] death, he met Mabel Bagenall, by whose youth, and beauty, and graceful manners he was willingly captivated. His admiration or love was fully reciprocated, but when Tyrone proposed for her, sir Henry Bagenall, her brother, declined to sanction the marriage, ostensibly on the grounds of the uncivilised condition of the earl's country, but really because he was unable to part with his sister's dowry, which he held in trust. He also removed her from his own residence at Newry, to the house of his sister, lady Barnwell, of Turvey, nine miles north of Dublin. Here, however, the earl was made very welcome to visit her, and they were formally betrothed in July, 1591. At the end of that month, Tyrone and his affianced suddenly disappeared during a festive evening at Turvey and rode to Drumcondra, within a mile of Dublin, where they were married at the house of a friend named Warren. The bishop of Meath, who performed the ceremony, hesitated until he should first speak with the bride apart. Having asked her whether she had really plighted her troth to O Neill, Mabel very distinctly replied in the affirmative, that she had received from him a gold chain as a token,

1 See Hill, The MacDonnells of Antrim, p. 151,

2 See Section III. of this paper. 'Her marriage is announced by Essex writing to Leicester and others, from Dublin, 14th June, 1574' (O Grady, Catalogue, p. 372).

3 Calendar of State Papers (1587), p. 290.

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