MONEYMORE and DRAPERSTOWN

[Extract from Moneymore and Draperstown: The Architecture and Planning of the Estates of the Drapers Company in Ulster, by James Stevens Curl, published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society in 1979.]

...The Lands of the Drapers' Company:
The Companies were effectively taxed to raise capital, for each member of a Company was assessed, and this began to cause great problems. This taxation was levied because progress in the rural areas was regarded as unsatisfactory. Sir Thomas Phillips drew up survey plans of the lands belonging to the City of London as 'they were divided and let out to the Twelve Companies, and as they do Butt and bound each upon other'. It will be seen that the Drapers' proportion was the southernmost part of the county, being bounded by the lands of the Skinners, Mercers, Vintners, and Salters, and by part of County Tyrone.

When Sir Thomas Phillips brought out his Survey of the Irish Plantation in 1622, he not only produced a 'Plan of the lands belonging to the Company of Drapers', but also showed a layout of the village of Moneymore, or Monnemore, the name of which is derived from the Irish Muine Mór or Big Thicket. The village consisted of two streets that crossed at right angles, with a cross and stocks to mark the crossing. There were sixteen "Brittish men present on this proporcón meanly armed', and one hundred and eighty-six natives. Phillips noted on his plan that it was 'fit there were a good Plantacón made at the foote of the Mountaine of Sleagh gallen where Tyrone made his last fight with the Queenes forces which maie be well seconded by the garrison of Dissert Martin where Sr Will. Windsor his foote Company lies'. There were several substantial timber-framed houses, some smaller two-storey dwellings of stone with slate roofs, and several elliptical huts of the Irish type, roofed with thatch. There was a large house with a bawn, but this 'being neere finnished lyes in part uncovered, the flowers and partitions not made, the timber thereof rottinge and walls decayinge with the weather havinge so remained theis 6 yeares and is now used for a pound for Cattell'. Clearly, all was not well.

Moneymore was fairly typical of a London Company town, but it was unique in that it seems to have been the first village in Ulster to have had piped water. Unlike the other Companies, the Drapers had to undertake the development of their proportion to attract settlers (other Companies leased to persons who were prepared to do the building themselves). John Rowley was appointed Agent, and under his direction the building of Moneymore with its castle and bawn commenced. By 1616 twelve houses were completed, but Rowley died in 1617.

In 1615 Robert Russell had been appointed assistant to Rowley, and it was Russell who planned the water supply. Unfortunately, the tenants complained that they were at Russell's mercy for water, so there was a certain amount of strained relations between the Company and the tenants. Russell became sole agent on the death of Rowley, and the Company's expenditure rose to £2,500. The bawn walls collapsed, and Russell began paying the workmen in beer, of which he had a monopoly, as he had of water. This dreadful state of affairs was not likely to attract settlers, nor assure good standards of workmanship. In fact, it was guaranteed to work against the aims of a successful Plantation.

Sir Thomas Phillips was at pains to point out that the Companies were failing to settle British tenants on their lands in anything like adequate numbers, and said that the problem was the high rents. The Irish were offering higher rents to remain in their native lands. Phillips had a consuming passion to report every problem of the Londoners; even by 1619 not more than eight thousand people of British descent had settled in the escheated counties. These six counties had very little cultivated land, for the native Irish had no security of tenure, and confined their farming to the raising of cattle and sheep, which they could take with them if driven off the land. The English had no stomach to equip and stock farms in the middle of large hostile territories, and it seems that the Scots were altogether more ferocious in carving out for themselves new farms.
Nevertheless, the appearance of the Company lands changed rapidly. New villages with fortified bawns were built, and woodlands were savagely reduced, partly to provide building material, but mostly to realise funds from the sale of timber. In addition, the destruction of Ulster's forests was seen as a method of reducing the dangers from guerrillas, for the Irish fought best in the woods, and it was from the great forests that the chiefs attacked the settlers. It was, after all, in the wooded barony of Loughinsholin that Tyrone had fought his last fight, and it was the policy of Chichester to 'waste and consume' the forests. Six hundred Ulster oaks were felled to build Chichester's own house, and hundreds of trees were used to smelt iron in the Lagan Valley. By 1640 Ulster was no longer heavily wooded.

Certainly the exploitation of timber for quick profit as well as for political purposes caused anger in Ireland. The Londoners were not proceeding with the aims of the Plantation, but were more intent on recovering their monies, and making a quick profit. As a result of Phillips' reports and his interventions after 1624, an action was begun against the City in the English Star Chamber. In 1622 the Companies learned that the Lord Deputy had complained of a serious want of arms on their proportions. The British population was fearful of a massacre, and the fact that the members of the Companies had to be coerced into raising money for the Plantation did not encourage the venture to be carried through with the necessary zeal and verve. The Returns of the Drapers' Company are here instructive.

The Guild or Fraternity of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of the Mystery of Drapers of the City of London had sixty-four townlands in its proportion, forty-eight of which were planted with Irish tenants, and rents annually came to £311. 15s. Od. In 1622, only sixteen townlands were planted with British tenants.

In 1625 renewed efforts to get the Plantation under way were made. The native Irish had to live in villages where possible, learn English, and send their children to school. All Irish were to be removed from land reserved for British tenants before May Day, 1626. All fortifications were to be completed.

The Londoners reacted with a marked lack of enthusiasm. Rents were again sequestrated in 1628, and the Great Inquiry and Prosecution of the City took place in the Court of the Star Chamber of 1627-35. The Companies had not carried out the Plantation with the zeal required of them, and progress was painfully slow. By 1628, for example, the Drapers' Company only had thirty-four British, but two hundred and seven Irish on its proportion.

When the division of county lands was first mooted in 1611, the Companies were required to state if they would accept land in Ireland to be planted at their own charge. Apart from the requirement to build bawns, there were rules for the ratio of settlers to area. For every 1,000 acres there were to be ten British families including twenty-four able-bodied men of eighteen years or over. The undertaker and his family were to occupy a demesne of three hundred acres; there were to be two freeholders with one hundred and twenty acres each; three leaseholders for three lives or twenty-one years, with one hundred acres each; and on the remaining one hundred and sixty acres there were to be four families with cottages. British houses were to be securely built, and weapons were to be available. In fact, the undertaker was to arm all the able-bodied men on his holding, thus the number of men-at-arms would be the crucial test of the value of any unit of the Plantation. Phillips spotted this, when he noted there were only sixteen 'meanly armed' men on the Moneymore Division of the Drapers' Company. All undertakers and tenants were to take the Oath of Supremacy. No land was to be alienated or demised to the Irish. The Londoners were left in no doubt about the rules, under the possibility of forfeiture.

The Drapers were, from the beginning, most unfortunate. Perhaps they were ill-advised in appointing a discredited agent of the Irish Society to be in charge of their proportion, and they were definitely foolish in appointing Russell. Yet, in fact, the proportion was the worst of the twelve, being land-locked, poor in quality for the most part, and badly drained. Robert Goodwin inspected Moneymore in 1619, and his report was decidedly unflattering. The bawn was very badly built, and the quality of the houses does not seem to have been very satisfactory either. The corruption of Russell was clear. Phillips had felt that the village was in the wrong place when he surveyed it in 1622, for he said it should have been in the centre of the proportion. In that year, building virtually ceased at Moneymore, so a castle, a bawn, and about a dozen English houses were all the settlement comprised. These houses were of stone or of 'cage-work' (i.e. timber-framed) and usually had slate roofs. Each house was rectangular, some thirty by twenty feet, and was two storeys high. By 1619, the Drapers had sunk £3,500 into their proportion, and Sir Thomas Roper became the tenant. Unfortunately, Sir Thomas was an absentee, and soon the castle and the bawn became dilapidated. In 1628 the Company repaired the castle and the bawn, but expenditure had risen to £5,000, the bulk of which was incurred in Moneymore...

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