How are things in Ballyhagen?

Sounds like something Bing Crosby might have sung, doesn’t it?


That photo is entitled “Ballyhagen house” and is from a gallery The World’s Best Photos of armagh. I just like it. Furthermore, it seems my Whitfield ancestors may have once been not far away.

At the beginning of June I posted:

At the funeral I unexpectedly found a family link. Prayers were led at one point by Jean Whitfield of St Marks Church. That made me do a double-take as that was my mother’s name. Turns out this Jean Whitfield is part of our Whitfields, the ones descended from Jacob the convict. We had quite a long talk about it after the funeral over tea and coffee in the church hall.

Jean Whitfield sent me her version of the family tree yesterday. As I had already worked out her late husband was the grandson of my grandfather’s brother William (Uncle Bill) of Picton, who died in 1957. I do remember him quite well.

The earliest available part of the Whitfield line takes us back to the time of King Billy.


Screenshot - 20_06_2015 , 9_59_44 AM

John, born 1695. We are descendants of his grandson Jacob.

Jacob was convicted of horse stealing 1820 and there is a report in The Belfast News Letter of Friday the 4th Aug 1820, no. 8084; page 4, column 3. He was found guilty and was sentenced to hang but was sent to Australia. – Stuart Daniels, currently Whitfield family historian.

That family tree is from Bob Starling, family historian. See also my original family history page – messy as it is with a decade or more of accretions by way of the comment thread – and posts on this blog. Bob Starling summarised on in 2012:

I have extensively researched the Whitfield family in Australia which began with the transportation of Jacob Whitfield in 1822. His Mother’s ancestry in Ireland whilst listed as Susanna Pearson born 1734, married John Whitfield 27 October 1758, no official documentation of the birth or marriage of Susanna has been sighted. John’s parents are listed as John Whitfield born 1695 and Sarah Pearson born 16 January 1701 married 4 March 1723 also unsubstantiated.

In 2014 Bob Starling noted:

The Quaker Data Base covering some 166 Whitfield names from Quaker Meetings in Grange, Lurgan, Dublin, Lisburn, Richhill, has Jacob Whitfield born 5/1774 residing at Ballyhagen to parents John and Susanna. These 166 records have been transcribed from official Quaker records.

So I wonder what world John Whitfield was born into in 1695. I found this detailed timeline. The links are those in the original, not created by me:

Late in the autumn of 1688, rumours began to spread that Irish Catholics loyal to James II were massacring Protestants. News came that a Catholic regiment was to be sent to Londonderry to relieve the old garrison. The people of Londonderry thought it unwise to have Catholic troops protect them. However, establishment figures demanded that the troops be let in, but thirteen apprentice boys locked the door against King James’ troops on 7th December 1688.


(April). The siege began, reaching its full intensity for six weeks in the summer. The Protestant soldier in command of the garrison, Robert Lundy (‘Lundy’ now means a weak Protestant), wanted to surrender, but the citizens opposed him and he was forced to flee. William of Orange’s ships arrived to relieve the city but withdrew.

(May). William’s ships reappeared. James’ men had put a wooden boom across the river Foyle and the relief ships decided not to proceed. 30,000 Protestants were stuck in Derry, starving and plagued by mortar fire. Thousands diedof starvation and disease. The besieging army were ill-trained and badly equipped; there was only one attempt to breach the walls. Eventually 10,000 non-combatants were let out. Once, the besieging commander tried to break the siege by rounding up local Protestants and threatening to let them starve to death in the open. The Derry citizens erected gallows and threatened to execute Catholic prisoners, forcing the release of the Protestant prisoners. The inhabitants of Derry responded to a demand to surrender with ‘No Surrender!’ which has been their watchword since.

(28th July). British ships in the Foyle broke the boom and relieved Derry. Their previous hesitation had left the northern Protestants with the awareness that they were on their own.

By 1695, the amount of land held by Catholics was to drop from 22% to 14%.


William of Orange landed in Ireland and defeated James II at the Boyne on July 1st.  The Battle of the Boyne is now marked by Protestants on July 12th every year.

(July). William’s army moved towards Dublin, pushing James’ forces onto the defensive. There was stern resistance to the Williamite army, but it ended in in defeat at Aughrim on 12th July.

All Catholic armies surrendered at Limerick under Patrick Sarsfield. His troops were exiled to serve Louis XIV and were known as ‘Wild Geese’. William III is still a hero to the Northern Irish Protestants, who refer to their enemiesas ‘Papists’.

After Catholic surrender there was more confiscation of their property and a rigid anti-Catholic penal code was introduced. The Treaty of Limerick supposedly ensured some tolerance for the Catholics, but this wasn’t carried out. The Protestants were feeling insecure after the recent dramatic Catholicisation of the army and law.

Following William III’s victory, the ‘penal laws’ regulated against Catholics, denying them the right to vote, buy land, be a lawyer, join the army or navy or hold any office of state. A Catholic landlord had to bequeath his inheritance equally to his children unless one turned Protestant, in which case he got the lot. Parish priests could still practise, but friars, bishops and archbishops could not. However, the laws were applied loosely enough to allow bishops etc to exist furtively, and so new priests could be ordained. This laxness was because the vast majority were Catholic; it was easier not to suppress them. Sometimes, as in Galway, the friars would bribe the authorities who had been ordered to crack down on them.


By the end of the seventeenth century, all land that could be put to profitable use had been converted into farms. Irelandentered the eighteenth century with a European  structure.  It was relatively populous, with most people living on the land. The principle exports were textiles and meat. Powerful landlords and the church owned most of the land. Hugehomes were built.

From the 1690s, the fundamental question over the Irish parliament was whether the Dublin assembly could originate legislation without it being adapted in London. This was sharpened by British attempts to restrict the Irish wool trade. The ‘Patriots’, who were nonetheless Protestants and committed to the British connection, didn’t want their parliament to be subordinate to London. The ‘Protestant Ascendancy’, who had been established by seventeenth century land redistributions, came to dominate. They were insecure, having survived a threat to the property settlement in 1689. Protestants looked back in bitterness to 1641 and 1685-89; the Catholics to the Treaty of Limerick.

The Church of Ireland at this time was undermanned but backed by huge reserves of landed property.

From the 1690s, Irish MPs took an oath denying Catholic beliefs


Funnily enough King Billy popped up on my TV last night on SBS: Secrets of the Manor House on Hampton Court Palace.

Learn how William and Mary demolished half of the Tudor palace to replace it with an exquisite baroque structure, making Hampton Court one of the most unusual palaces in the world. Go beneath the brick and stone of this true pleasure palace and now thriving tourist location to uncover an abundance of art and stories that bring Hampton Court alive.

See also this excellent blog post: The Brimstone Butterfly’s Hampton Court: The King’s Apartments.

The documentary in one part looked at the rather homoerotic paintings in William III’s private apartments and raised the question of his having been gay or bisexual.


William III – miniature by Charles Bolt

Andrea Zuvich, a Late Stuart Era Historian, Historical Consultant & Author, the owner of that miniature, thinks not.

He knew he was despised because he was a foreigner – a Dutchman on the throne of England. He felt more comfortable around his fellow Dutchmen, but this only served to make him all the more unpopular.

As a result of being so unpopular, he was subjected to malicious gossip about his sexual orientation in order to discredit him (just saying that someone was homosexual would taint them in those times, and if anything, William was merely not as lusty as his fellow Stuarts. But there is no evidence that he was either homosexual or bisexual. Think about it, he was a very unhealthy man, unlike his sexually voracious uncles Charles, James, and his cousin, Monmouth. Sadly, the rumours – which were largely created by Jacobite propaganda, and fuelled by the gossipy letters of the Duchess d’Orleans – persist to this day, although there is no solid evidence to support them.

On the other hand see Louis Crompton on

…rumors were also rife among those favorable to the king. These include the redoubtable “Madame,” Duchess of Orléans, who was married to France’s most flamboyantly conspicuous homosexual, “Monsieur,” and whose correspondence makes up a veritable encyclopedia of homosexuality in that country and England. Her letters are admiring of the king but speak repeatedly of “men who share King William’s inclinations.”

Rumors also circulated in the Dutch army, which was fanatically loyal to the house of Orange.

Most telling, however, are the remarks of Bishop Gilbert Burnet, who praised William unstintingly as “a person raised up by God to resist the power of France and the progress of tyranny and persecution.” Yet in considering matters that might make it difficult for William to assume the English throne, Burnet refers to one “particular . . . too tender to be put in writing,” which under the circumstances can only be interpreted as a reference to William’s sexual nature.

To nineteenth-century liberal historians such as Thomas Macaulay, William III ranked as one of England’s greatest kings for his fostering of religious and political liberty and for his leadership of the European nations who fought Louis XIV.

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