1 Historical

GENERAL HISTORICAL BACKGROUND/Irish, from the late 1500's


The historical division of lands is a complicated issue.….and it’s a long and sad road we have to travel now, with some ferocious leadership, when many Irish lost their lives, not just by the English but by their own people!

I will try to condense this story into some form of summary. There are leaders who need to be mentioned as we progress towards the division of lands to the rich English and Scottish Land Owners who came to Ulster, under King James 1st in 1607 and onwards, and then to the era where my ancestors/descendants (whom I have traced, from the early 1800’s) became the tenants of these Landlords! However we must take a few steps back in history to find some kind of perspective, which gives more understanding to the situation of Ireland then and now………………..

The history of Ireland should be looked at as a whole, before looking at Ulster with its 9 counties…..6 of which were to form the constitution of Northern Ireland in 1922. I will then try to weave the Allen/Coulter story into this framework of history!

Starting by going back to the 1500’s, although there is a long history prior to that!

The Nine Years' War  or Tyrone's Rebellion took place in Ireland from 1594 to 1603. It was fought between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains Hugh O’Neill, Hugh Roe O’Donnell and their allies, against English Rule in Ireland. The war was fought in all parts of the country, but mainly in the northern province of Ulster. It ended in defeat for the Irish chieftains, which led to their exile in the Flight of the Earls and to the Plantation of Ulster.

The Nine Years' War was caused by the collision between the ambition of the Gaelic Irish chieftain Hugh O'Neill and the advance of the English state in Ireland, from control over the Pale (the area of Ireland controlled by the English, from Dalkey to the south of Dublin to Dundalk, north of Dublin) to ruling the whole island. In resisting this advance, O'Neill managed to rally other Irish who were dissatisfied with English government and some Catholics who opposed the spread of Protestantism in Ireland.

Hugh O'Neill came from the powerful Ó Néill clan of Tyrone, who dominated the centre of the northern province of Ulster. Hugh O'Neill was the son of Matthew O'Neill, Baron Dungannon, who was the reputed son of Conn O'Neill the Lame, the first O'Neill to be created Earl of Tyrone by the English Crown. His father was killed and he was banished from Ulster as a child by Seán 'An Díomais' Ó Néill. He was brought up by the Hovenden family in the Pale…..the area of Ireland controlled by the English, from Dalkey to the south of Dublin to Dundalk, north of Dublin. He was sponsored by the English authorities as a reliable lord. In 1587, he persuaded Queen Elizabeth I to make him Earl of Tyrone (Tir Eoghain), the English title his grandfather had held. However the real power in Ulster lay not in the legal title of Earl of Tyrone, but in the position of The Ó Néill, or chief of the O'Neill clan, then held by Turlough Luineach Ó Neill. It was this position that commanded the obedience of all the O'Neills and their dependants in central Ulster; in 1595, after much bloodshed, Hugh O'Neill managed to secure it for himself.

From Hugh Roe O'Donnell, his ally, he enlisted Scottish mercenaries (known as Redshanks). Within his own territories, O'Neill was entitled to limited military service from his sub lords. He also pressed his tenants and dependants into military service and tied the peasantry to the land in order to increase food production. In addition, he hired large contingents of Irish mercenaries, under leaders such as Richard Tyrell. To arm his soldiers, O'Neill bought muskets, ammunition and pikes from Scotland and England. From 1591, O'Donnell, on O'Neill’s behalf, had been in contact with Philip II of Spain, appealing for military aid against their common enemy (England!) and citing also their shared Catholicism. With the aid of Spain, O'Neill was able to arm and feed over 8000 men, unprecedented for a Gaelic lord, and so was well prepared to resist any further English attempts to govern Ulster.

In 1601, the long promised Spanish expedition finally arrived in the form of 4000 soldiers at KinsaleCork, virtually the southern tip of Ireland. Baron Mountjoy who in 1600 went to Ireland as Lord Deputy, with the able assistance of Sir George Carew, immediately besieged them with 7000 men. O'Neill, O'Donnell and their allies marched their armies south to sandwich Mountjoy, whose men were starving and wracked by disease, between them and the Spaniards. During the march south, O'Neill devastated the lands of those who would not support him.

The English force might have been destroyed by hunger and sickness but the issue was decided in their favour at the Battle of Kinsale. On the 5/6 January 1602, O'Donnell, against the wishes and advice of O'Neill, took the decision to attack the English. Forming up for a surprise attack, the Irish chiefs were themselves surprised by a cavalry charge, resulting in a rout of the Irish forces. The Spanish in Kinsale surrendered after their allies' defeat.

The Irish forces retreated north to Ulster to regroup and consolidate their position. The Ulstermen lost many more men in the retreat through freezing and flooded country than they had at the actual battle of Kinsale. The last rebel stronghold in the south was taken at the Siege of Dunboy by George Carew.

Hugh Roe O'Donnell left for Spain pleading in vain for another Spanish landing. He died in 1602 probably due to poisoning by an English agent. His brother assumed leadership of the O'Donnell clan. Both he and Hugh O'Neill were reduced to guerrilla tactics, fighting in small bands, as Mountjoy, Dowcra, Chichester and Niall Garbh O'Donnell swept the countryside. The English scorched earth tactics were especially harsh on the civilian population, who died in great numbers both from direct targeting and from famine.

END of the War:

Mountjoy smashed the O'Neills' inauguration stone at Tullaghogue, symbolically destroying the O'Neill clan. Famine soon hit Ulster as a result of the English scorched earth strategy. O'Neill’s sublords (O’Hagan, O’Quinn, MacCann) began to surrender and Rory O'Donnell, Hugh Roe's brother and successor, surrendered on terms at the end of 1602. However, with a secure base in the large and dense forests of Co Tyrone (Tir Eoghain), O'Neill held out until 30 March 1603, when he surrendered on good terms to Mountjoy, signing the Treaty of MellifontElizabeth I had died on the 24th of March.


The leaders of the rebellion received good terms from the new King of England, James I, in the hope of ensuring a final end of the draining war that had brought England close to bankruptcy. O'Neill, O'Donnell and the other surviving Ulster chiefs were granted full pardons and the return of their estates. The stipulations were that they abandon their Irish titles, their private armies, their control over their dependents and swear loyalty only to the Crown of England. In 1604, Mountjoy declared an amnesty for rebels all over the country. The reason for this apparent mildness was that the English could not afford to continue the war any longer

Although O'Neill and his allies received good terms at the end of the war, they were never trusted by the English authorities and the distrust was mutual. O'Neill, O'Donnell and the other Gaelic lords from Ulster left Ireland in 1607 in what is known as the Flight of the Earls.They intended to organise an expedition from a Catholic power in Europe to restart the war, preferably Spain, but were unable to find any military backers.

In 1608 the absent Earls' lands were confiscated and were soon colonised in the Plantation of Ulster. The Nine Years' War was therefore an important step in the English and Scottish colonisation of Ulster.

The history of Ireland in the first half of the 1600’s, some of which has been summarized above, was rich in different events/happenings, and very complex with so many different interests involved. What happened during this period can be summatised in a single brief sentence (here I quote from “The Course of Irish History” by TW Moody & FX Martin :

“The land of Ireland changed hands”


Some English settlers “planted” in small pockets in southern Ireland in the 1550’s & 1580’s.

The main administrative land divisions in Ireland in this period of change into which we are about to enter, (largest to smallest) are summarised below:

  • Province
    The province is the oldest and largest land unit in Ireland.  Ireland is currently divided into four Provinces - Ulster in the north, Leinster in the east, Connaught in the west and Munster in the south.
  • County
    The county is the territorial equivalent to the English shire.  It was created by the English administration as the major subdivision of an Irish province in the years following the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland.
  • Barony
    The barony is a now obsolete administrative unit (since 1898). It was mid-way in size between a county and a parish.
  • Parish
    The present day civil parish was once an ecclesiastical unit of territory based on early Christian and monastic settlements in Ireland.  It was later adopted as a civil administrative area.
  • Townland
    The townland is the smallest administrative division throughout the island of Ireland that is still in use.  The significance of the townland today is to help identify small local rural areas.  It is referred to in most local and family history sources.

In theory these units should fit inside each other - townlands into parishes, parishes into baronies, baronies into counties, and counties into Provinces, but there are exceptions.  For example, some civil parishes may be in more than one barony and sometimes in more than one county.



The Plantation of Ulster was a very ambitious plan, after the Earls had fled, and was systematic! In each of the planted counties the native Irish were to be segregated into defined areas. A new network of entirely Protestant communities were to be established. Much of the lands was confiscated in Ulster, only to be granted out again in lots of 1,000-2,000 acres, at low rents with the condition that Protestant tenants should be brought in to cultivate the land and build defences, making sure the new settlements would be safe.

An interesting note ! For the region around Derry City,  City of London livery companies were enlisted as the collective “undertaker”* to rebuild the ruined city of Derry. Derry was now renamed Londonderry, and the former county of Coleraine  with some land taken from Tyrone, became county Londonderry! The year was 1609.

There was no shortage of British applying for land. King James 1st’s conditions were strict as he was wanting men of substance/wealthy to implement the plantation conditions. English *undertakers were assigned 7 baronies initially, totalling 81,500 acres. Scottish undertakers were assigned 9 baronies, totaling 81,00 acres.

*Undertakers was the name used for those who were granted huge areas of land to manage in Ulster

The years after 1609 the plantation began taking shape. The commission set up by James to divide and allocate these lands, began in November of that year. Co Tyrone was the first, of which Lissan Demesne was one of the parishes!

The new county of Londonderry as described above, was NOT included, as plans were in place, granting all of the “old” county of Coleraine, with the addition of the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN and a portion of Donegal and Antrim adjoining Derry and Coleraine to the City of London (“The London Drapers Company”, see below)

These “Settlers” arrived in Ulster from 1609 and onwards brought with them their own traditions, culture, institutions, and ways of life. They levelled forests and developed arable farming, endeavouring to change the “pastoral” ways of the Irish. They established the markets idea, developed local industry, built schools and churches and in Moneymore they provided the residents with piped water supply. It should be noted that Moneymore was located in Co Londonderry.

AS described above, The Drapers Company London were allocated the lands in this county. Moneymore is the home territory of our ALLEN’s, therefore there will be a concentration of information from this area as you read through the web site, as well as the COULTER townlands of Cloghog, Tyresson and Drapersfield, which also formed part of the London Drapers land management programme.




Applying these land divisions to “MY STORY - MONEYMORE TO KARLSKOGA”, I will be activating several connections……… the feeling of shaking hands with the past, bringing our family situation into direct contact with these Land Owners (the “landed gentry”) of the past and present!

Griffiths Land Registry shows in their printed data 1859 that my great great great grandfather, SAM ALLEN was a tenant farmer with a poor parcel of land, comprising 40 acres, in the townland of Tintagh, in the Barony of Loughinsholin and the parish of Lissan Upper.

How far back in time eg the 1700’s, did the Allen’s live in this area? Being researched!....da remarks

Furthermore Griffiths LR shows that James Colter (spelling of that period) tenanted 20 perches (less than 1 acre) in Cloghog and 9 acres 3 roods and 35 perches in the marching townland of Terressan (Tyresson to day, 2012) in the Barony of Upper Dungannon, the parish of Derryloran. The Landlord was the London Drapers Company.


The London Drapers Company

(Click for more detail, as produced by PRONI = Public Record Office Northern Ireland)

The Company leased the estate to Sir Thomas Roper in 1619 for 51 years. He was an absentee and did not pay his rent. The Company repossessed the estate in 1622. In 1628 Peter Barker, a drover from Co. Antrim, obtained a lease for 60 years. Barker died in 1631 and a new lease was given in 1632 to Sir John Clotworthy [later Viscount Massereene] of Antrim. Clotworthy attempted to purchase the estate in 1663 but a new lease was granted to his sister-in-law Mary Clotworthy. In 1676 this lease was acquired by Captain Dawson of Castledawson. In 1725 Captain William Rowley married Arabella Dawson and acquired the Dawson lease. In 1756 Rowley, by then Sir William Rowley, was granted a lease for three lives or 61 years. Sir William Rowley died in 1768 and his son Sir Joshua Rowley tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain a new lease in 1789. His son, Sir William, also tried unsuccessfully to obtain a new lease. By 1816 the last life in the lease had expired and the Company regained direct control of the estate in 1817.

It was during this period we discover through the Griffiths Land Registry, that James COLTER leased his 10 acres directly from the Drapers and that Sam ALLEN his 40 acres from Staples, Lissan Demesne!

The towns of Moneymore and Draperstown were rebuilt at that time and improvements followed throughout the estate. The Company's agents managed the estate until the tenants bought out their farms under the Wyndham Land Purchase Act of 1903.

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