Friday, 23 October 2015

The Religious Houses of Wexford Town (Walsh)

From Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 1891, c. lxv, p. 712 ff:

Wexford, the capital of the county, and a sea-port, market-town, and parliamentary borough, in the barony of Shelmaliere.

Priory of canons regular, under the invocation of SS. Peter and Paul, was founded, according to the most approved opinion, by the Danes, in the early part of the twelfth century, to which the Roches, a noble and an influential family, were munificent benefactors.

A.D. 1240, John, bishop of Ferns, held a synod here on the morrow of the nativity of the blessed Virgin.

A.D. 1418, Sir John Talbot, Lord Talbot of Fumeval and Wexford, granted to this priory the chapel of St. Nicholas of Carrick.

The prior of this abbey sat in parliament as a baron.

The first inquisition, taken in the thirty-first of Henry VIII., found in the possession of the last prior, John Heygarne, four orchards, two parks, fifteen messuages, with their gardens, and the rectories of St. Patrick, SS. Peter and Paul, and St. Tullogh, in the town of Wexford; two hundred and sixty acres of land and eighteen capons, together with the rectories of Killmacree, St. Margaret, Ballynane, Slaney, Killuske, and various others in the county of Wexford. In the first year of Edward VI., this priory and the greater part of its possessions were granted to John Parker, at the annual rent of 16s.

Tlie church of SS. Peter and Paul, or Selskir Abbey, yet remains, with a very large tower in the centre.

Knights Hospitallers. This priorj', founded by William Mareschal, Earl of Pembroke, and dedicated to St. John and St. Brigid, was, antecedent to the period in which the order of Templars was abolished,
the grand commandery. But Kilmainham being granted to tlie Hospitallers, it immediately became the grand establishment of that order.

A.D. 1376. The prior recovered against A-dam, the son of John de Bocher, sixty acres of land with the appurtenances thereunto belonging, and situate in Ballycollock, in this county. There still remains part of the old church of St. John, without the walls.

Gray Friars. The conventual Franciscans procured a settlement for themselves in this town, in the reign of King Henry III., and were reformed A.D. 1486.

Thirty-first of Henry VIII, the prior of this house was seized of a church and belfry, chapter-house, dormitory, hall, kitchen and some other buildings, with eight burgages in the town of Wexford, annual value, besides reprises, 17s.

February 20th, thirty-fifth of Henry, this monastery, with the aforesaid burgages in Wexford, were granted for ever to Paul Turner and James Devereux, at the annual rent of lOd. Irish money.

Leper Hospital. Henry IV., on the 26th of January, and tenth year of his reign, granted to the son of William Rochford, during life, the custody of the hospital for lepers, under the invocation of the brethren and sisters of St. Mary Magdalen, near Wexford, with the lands, rents, possessions, churches, tithes thereunto belonging; the said John to support the houses, buildings, &c., and to defray all other expenses at his own proper cost and charge.

A.D. 1649. Wexford was besieged by Oliver Cromwell. As soon as the regicide had ordered his batteries to play on a distant part of the town, on his summons being rejected, "the commander of the garrison, Staff'ord," admitted his men into the castle, whence issuing suddenly and attacking the wall and gate adjoining, (they were admitted, either through the treachery of the townsmen or the cowardice of the soldiers, or perhaps both,) the slaughter was almost as great as at Drogheda.
By Cromwell himself, the number of the slain is reduced to two; by some writers it has been swelled to five thousand.  "No distinction was made between the defenceless inhabitant and the armed soldiers, nor could the shrieks and prayers of 300 females, who had gathered round the great cross, preserve them from the swords of those ruthless barbarians."