FAMILIES OF ALEXANDER OF EREDY, COUNTY DONEGAL, AND GIRLAW, COUNTY TYRONE.
excerpted from Charles Rogers, Memorials of the Earls of Sterling and of the House of Alexander, Vol. II (Edinburgh, 1877) pp. 58-66 available online at http://www.archive.org/stream/memorialsofearlo02rogeuoft/memorialsofearlo02rogeuoft_djvu.txt
A SURVEY of the province of Ulster, commenced in 1580, was completed in 1609 by Sir Thomas Ridgway, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. Among the owners of lands or baronies, the family name of Alexander does not appear (Maps of Ireland, 1609 ; Petty 's Census Eeturns ; Hardinge on the Earliest Irish Census).
In April 1610, James I. issued a commission for the plantation of Ulster. The Commissioners, who were certain English and Scottish noblemen, were authorised "to agree and conclude as to the planting of the several counties, with power to grant warrants for letters-patent under the Great Seal " (Transcripts from the State Paper Office, 2d series, vol. L, 1603-1624, fol).
The Commissioners divided the forfeited lands into portions of two thousand, fifteen hundred, and one thousand acres. Those who received the largest portions were bound, within four years, to build a castle and bawn, the latter being a walled enclosure with towers at the several angles. The castle was built in the interior of the enclosure, being intended to secure the inmates and their cattle from the incursions of plundering natives. Owners of the second class were called on, within two years, to erect a stone or brick house and bawn; and those of the third class a bawn only; while all were bound to plant British families on their possessions, and to provide them with defensive weapons (Reid's Presb. Church in Ireland, vol. i., passim).
On the recommendation of the Commissioners, letters-patent, dated 19th July 1610, were granted to Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock, Ayrshire, conferring on him and his heirs two thousand acres in the precincts of Portlagh, barony of Raphoe, and county of Donegal. This grant was declared to embrace " the quarters or parcels of land" designated Moragh, Dryan, Magherybegg, Magherymore, Tryan Carickmore, Grachley, and two portions of land called Eredy, while it was made a condition that the grantee should "alienate the premises to no mere Irishman, or any other person or persons, unless he or they first take the oath of supremacy" (Inq. Can. Hib. Rep., vol. ii.).
The lands of Glengarnock, in the parish of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, and extending to 1400 acres, were acquired in 1293 by Reginald Cuninghame, second son of Sir Edward Cuninghame of Kilmaurs, through his marriage with the heiress, whose surname was Riddell. The lands and barony remained in possession of the family till 1613, when Sir James Cuninghame of Glengarnock assigned the estate to his creditors (Cuninghame Topographised, pp. 168- 178).
On the 1st May 1613, Sir James Cuninghame granted legal tenures on his lands in Donegal to thirty-nine persons who had made settlements thereon. That portion of the lands called Eredy was divided among nine settlers, one of whom was John Alexander (Inq. Can. Hib., vol. ii.).
The name Eredy closely resembles Eradall, one of the merk lands in South Kintyre, granted by James III. in 1484 to Tarlach MacAlexander of Tarbert (Reg. Mag. Sig., lib. x., 9). Sir William Alexander of Menstry, afterwards Earl of Stirling, maintained a correspondence with his relatives in Kintyre, while he and his predecessors were in habits of intimacy with the House of Cuninghame of Glengarnock. When he had obtained his first step in the peerage, he invited to visit him at Menstry his relative, Archibald Alexander of Tarbert, and procured him burghal honours at Stirling, while the chief of MacAlexander, in reciprocal friendship, acknowledged him head of his clan (vol. i., p. 147). Between the families of Alexander of Menstry and Cuninghame of Glengarnock, an intimacy had subsisted for generations. "John Cunynghame of Glengarno" was associated with Alexander Alexander of Menstry, great-grandfather of Sir William Alexander and others, in a contract with John, Bishop of Dunkeld, and Donald, Abbot of Coupar, the instrument bearing date 22d December 1547 (Acta Dom. Concilii Sessionis, xxvi., p. 32). By Robert Alexander of Stirling, a scion of the House of Menstry, was granted a loan of 200 merks to James Cuninghame, fifth Earl of Glencairn, to whom Sir James Cuninghame was related, alike by kindredship and marriage (Will of Lord Glencairn, Edin. Com. Keg.).
To enable him to complete the purchase of his lands in Donegal, Sir William Alexander granted to Sir James Cuninghame a loan of 400 sterling, for which, on the 26th February 1613-14, he obtained a mortgage on the lands (Records of the Irish Eolls, vol. v., p. 96). As Sir James's creditors continued importunate, Sir William Alexander proceeded, on the 24th June 1618, to foreclose the mortgage, and to take sasine of the lands (Records of Irish Rolls). But this proceeding was only intended for his friend's protection.
According to Pynnar, who, under the direction of the Plantation Commissioners, made a survey of Ulster in 1619, Sir James Cuninghame had, on his estate in Donegal, erected "a bawne of lyme and stone, and a small house in it, and in which the lady and her daughter do now dwell." Pynnar found near the bawn "a small village, consisting of twelve houses, inhabited with British tenants " (Survey of Ulster).
Sir James Cuninghame died in 1623, leaving a widow. This lady, a daughter of James, seventh Earl of Glencairn, was pursued by her husband's creditors, from whom she was successfully defended, through the efforts of Sir William Alexander (Reg. of Letters). In 1629, Sir John Cuninghame, son of the original patentee, obtained the superiority of his father's lands, and had them erected into a manor, with power to create tenures (Morris's Calendar, Charles I., p. 453). Thereupon the original settlers, including John Alexander at Eredy, received new titles to their lands, and taking the oath of supremacy obtained denization (Irish Inquisitions, vol. ii., 1629).
The district of Laggan, lying between Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly, in county Donegal, was on the plantation of Ulster chiefly appropriated to Scottish settlers (Hill's Montgomery MSS., p. 183, note). In that district 'John Alexander of Eredy' occupied several holdings. In the Subsidy Roll of the county of Donegal for 1662, he is, in the parish of Taghboyne, assessed for 4, 18s. In the Hearth Tax Roll* of Raymoghy parish for 1663, he is styled "John Allexander of ye Dukes [i.e., Duke of Lennox] land." In Clonmany parish he is described as "John Allexander of Erithy" (Eredy), and in the parish of Raphoe as "John Allexander of Maghercolton." He is also named in the Hearth Tax Roll of the parish of Clonleigh.
- In 1662 the Parliament of Ireland passed an order that a tax for public purposes should be imposed "on the several hearths, firing places, and stoves," in the different counties. Lists were therefore made up, by certain commissioners, of all persons who owned fire-places, i.e., occupied respectable houses throughout the kingdom. These lists are, for genealogical purposes, extremely valuable.
John Alexander of Eredy appears to have had several sons. In the Hearth Tax Eoll of Clonmany parish for 1665, is named, as a householder, " John Alexander, jun." In Taghboyne parish Archibald Alexander is, in the Subsidy Eoll for 1662, assessed for 13, 15s.; he is, in 1663, in the Hearth Tax Roll of Taghboyne parish, entered as "Archibald Alexander of Ballybiglimore."
In the parish of Clonleigh, in 1663, John Alexander is associated with a "William Alexander," and in the roll of that parish for 1665 he is named along with William Alexander of the parish of Raphoe. In the Hearth Tax Roll of the parish of Errigal, county Londonderry, in 1663, is named Robert Alexander at Dunvanaddy and Mevoy.
The district of Laggan, in which John Alexander of Eredy and his sons occupied lands, became a scene of contention. In this neighbourhood, in 1641, Sir Phelin O'Neill raised the standard of revolt. For its suppression the English Government granted commissions to the Viscount Montgomery (husband of Lady Jean Alexander), Sir James Montgomery, Sir William Stewart of Aughentane, and his brother Sir Robert. These were authorised to raise four regiments of infantry and as many troops of horse (Eeid's Irish Presb. Church, vol. i., p. 344). The small army was entrusted to the command of Sir Robert Stewart and Sir Alexander, son of Sir William Stewart of Aughentane. Garrisons were provided to the forts of Omagh and Newton Stewart, while Sir Robert Stewart at once relieved the garrisons of Lymavaddy and Ballycastle. Sir Robert afterwards attacked O'Neill at Glenmakwin, near Raphoe, and destroying five hundred of his followers, inflicted on him a heavy discomfiture. Sir Alexander Stewart, along with Sir Thomas Staples and Colonel, afterwards Sir Audley Mervyn, vigorously followed up these successes. The rebels were worsted everywhere, till, at a decisive engagement at Clones, county Monaghan, on the 13th June 1643, Sir Robert Stewart subjected O'Neill to an overwhelming defeat.
The rebellion was renewed in 1649. On the 21st March of that year the Laggan troops recovered from the rebels the forts of Newton Cuninghame and the Corrigans, and proceeded to lay siege to Londonderry. But in the following August a party of Irish dragoons burned the fort of Corrigans and Manor Cuninghame and the town of St Johnstone, compelling the Stewarts to abandon the siege of Londonderry and return to the Laggan. In former, as well as present operations against the rebels, John Alexander of Eredy and his son John, had rendered important service, and so recommended themselves to the favour of Sir Alexander Stewart, younger of Aughentane, one of the commanders of the Laggan army. Probably on his recommendation, John Alexander the younger received compensation for the destruction of his property by the rebels in 1649. He is named tenth in a long list of persons so compensated, in a document issued on the 2d January 1668, by Sir Edward Smyth, Lord Chief-Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Sir Edward Bering, Bart., Sir Allan Brodrick, and others, commissioners for the settlement of Ireland. The entry respecting him is in these words : "To John Allexander, forty-seaven pounds two shillings and ten pence" (Parchment Roll, Act of Settlement).
John Alexander, younger of Eredy, joined the army of the Laggan, in which he obtained the rank of captain. He resided some time at Londonderry, and latterly at Dublin. He died at Dublin in the year 1690. His will, dated 23d September 1690, was proved in the Prerogative Court on the 21st of the following February. The testator styles himself " Captain John Alexander," and appoints his wife, Susanna Alexander, his executrix and sole legatee. In the Register of the Prerogative Court, the testator is styled " Captain John Alexander nuper de Londonderry," while the seal attached to his will displays a dexter arm embowed, the hand holding a dagger, the crest of his Scottish ancestors, the MacAlexanders of Tarbert.
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