Ancestors of a 21st century British family

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  • ID: I29545
  • Name: Aedh or Hugh ?The Great? O?Neill
  • Suffix: 2nd Earl of Tyrone
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: ABT 1550 in Dungannon 1
  • Death: 20 JUL 1616 in Rome, Italy 1
  • Burial: San Pietro, Rome, Italy
  • Note: 1 1

    Some say he was son of Brian, 2nd Baron of Dungannon, others that he was his brother.
    Regarded as the last King of Ulster.
    Third Baron Dungannon and Second Earl of Tyrone, at nine he was taken by Sir Henry Sidney to his castle at Ludlow, Shropshire, and brought up there, at Penshurst in Kent, and in London. Described by a contemporary, Sir John Dowdall, as ?a little rascal horse boy?, he was reared by his English patrons in ?the new religion?.

    His career after his return to Ireland in 1568 reflects the chaotic state of affairs. At first he remained loyal to his English connections and led a troop of horse in the Queen?s pay during the Desmond rebellion of 1569; but in 1588 he gave succour in Inishowen to survivors from the wreck of the Spanish Armada and awakened in the English suspicions of his loyalty.

    In 1590 he was involved in the killing of Hugh Geimhleach (Fettered Hugh), son of Shane O?Neill, but after a visit to London received the Queen?s pardon. He divorced his first wife in 1574; his second wife died in 1591, and in Aug of that year he eloped with Mabel Bagenal, daughter of Marshal Bagenal, who refused to give her her dowry and thus became O?Neill?s implacable enemy. The marriage came under strain because, O?Neill said, ?I affected two other gentlewomen,? and Mabel left him and made public complaint against him to the Council. In the same year he engineered the escape of Red Hugh O?Donnell from Dublin Castle.

    In 1595, on the death of Turlough O?Neill, he was inaugurated as the O?Neill in traditional fashion. He was publicly proclaimed a traitor in Newry in Jun 1595 but in the autumn sued for peace and pardon. From subsequent events it would seem that he wanted temporary peace merely to gain time until Spanish aid should arrive. In Dec his wife died at Dungannon, and in the spring of 1596 he married his fourth wife, Catherine Magennis.

    The unrelenting enmity of Bagenal and his own ambition to regain all the hereditary powers of his family in Ulster gradually drew him to take arms against the English. In 1595 he defeated Sir John Norreys in the Battle of Clontibret. As yet there was no open war, and O?Neill and other chiefs engaged the English in parleys and truces while opening secret communication with Spain. They demanded liberty of conscience, full pardon, and restoration of their titles and lands. Towards the end of 1596 an uneasy peace was arranged.

    In 1597, with the arrival of a new Lord Deputy, Lord Thomas Borough, hostilities broke out again, culminating in the Battle of the Yellow Ford, near Armagh, in Aug 1598, in which the English suffered a heavy defeat and their commander, Marshal Bagenal, was killed. O?Neill came to be spoken of as Prince of Ireland, and in great alarm the queen sent over Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599, providing him with an army of twenty thousand men and giving him almost as much power as if he had been made King of Ireland. O?Neill asked for a parley, and the two leaders met in the middle of a river near Dundalk in Sep 1599. They agreed on a truce until 1 May 1600, and Essex returned to England, where Elizabeth?s displeasure resulted in his disgrace and execution.

    O?Neill, now at the summit of his power, asked in effect for autonomy, and Cecil, the English Secretary, said: ?He means to be head and monarch of Ireland?. O?Neill made a royal progress through Ireland, taking submissions and preaching a holy war. Elizabeth then sent over Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, as Deputy, with Sir George Carew as president of Munster. Mountjoy proposed ringing Ulster with forts and using famine ?as the chief instrument of reducing this kingdom?. Sir Henry Dowcra persuaded Niall Garbh O?Donnell and Sir Art O?Neill to join him, and many Irish chiefs deserted O?Neill to side with Mountjoy. In Sep 1601 the long-awaited Spanish force arrived at Kinsale under Don Juan del Águila. O?Neill decided to harass Leinster and the Pale in order to lure Mountjoy from the south, but he would not be moved from his determination to attack the Spaniards, and he proceeded to besiege Kinsale.

    O?Neill arrived at Kinsale with Red Hugh O?Donnell in Dec 1601. The English supplies were precarious, their army had already been greatly reduced, and O?Neill?s first plan was to avoid direct confrontation and wear down the enemy. The traditional view is that he was overruled by the impetuous O?Donnell and by del Águila, who believed that the English would be no match for the combined Spanish and Irish forces. They decided to attack on 24 Dec 1601, but the battle ended in confusion and defeat, the Spaniards failing to sally out as arranged.

    Kinsale marked the end of the Gaelic order. O?Neill retreated to Ulster and was harried there by Dowcra while he waited for further aid from Spain. In Dec 1602 he offered his submission, but this was rejected by Mountjoy. In Mar 1603 he again offered submission, which this time was accepted. Queen Elizabeth died the next day, 24 Mar, and O?Neill, unaware of her death, surrendered to Mountjoy at Mellifont, Counth Louth. When he learned in Dublin in Apr that the queen had died he wept for rage.

    In the years following his submission he was baited by the Dublin government, which took from him great tracts of his lands and forbade him to practise his religion. Abandoning hope, he sailed from Lough Foyle with other chiefs in Sep 1607 (the ?Flight of the Earls?) and settled in Rome. He was received with honour and given a Papal pension. The distinguished émigré, in Ó Faoláin?s words, became ?habituated to melancholy and homelessness and the routine of idle days.? He died on 20 Jul 1616 and was buried with great pomp in San Pietro beside his son.
    O'Neill was four times married, and had a large number both of legitimate and illegitimate children. One of his sons was Sean or John O'Neill and was recognized by King Felipe III of Spain as the 4th Earl of Tyrone in 1616. This John spent his life in the service of Spain as a Regimental commander in the Spanish Netherlands.
    (Source: A Dictionary of Irish Biography, Henry Boylan (ed.), Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1998)
    Married 1: Joan (Judith) O'DONNELL ABT 1583
    1. Alice O'NEILL (b. 1583 - d. ABT 1663)
    Married 2: ¿?
    Married 3: Mabel BAGENAL 3 Aug 1591
    Married 4: Catherine MAGENNIS
  • _UID: 4E232A0A55734F7BBFF8093BEB7DCD83EA6E
  • Change Date: 14 JUN 2006

    Father: Ferdoragh or Mathew O?Neill
    Mother: Joan Maguire

    Marriage 1 Joan or Judith 0?Donnell
    • Married:
    1. Has Children Alice O?Neill b: 1583

    Marriage 2 Mabel Bagenal
    • Married: 3 AUG 1591 in Eloped 2

    1. Type: Web Site
      Author: Jorge H. Castelli
    2. Type: Web Site
      Author: Jorge H. Castelli
      Page: Date
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