King family in medieval New Ross
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
This article follows the fortunes of the King family in medieval New Ross as best that documents allow. The medieval town of Rosponte (port of Ross) is today better known as New Ross on the River Barrow in Co. Wexford. The town was founded in the early thirteenth century by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster, to provide a port outlet for the manor of Old Ross (located on the east side of the high hill behind New Ross) and the wider Leinster lordship up the River Barrow.
In 1247, at the partition of the Leinster lordship, the borough of New Ross was given to the Carlow lordship which influences its importance as a port for the communities up the navigable River Barrow. The King family held property interests in New Ross and well up the Barrow into modern Co. Carlow as well as property in south co. Wexford.
The riverside port of New Ross
The port and town of New Ross prospered particularly in the wool trade. But the townsfolk of Waterford city were unhappy with this rival to the trade of south Leinster. The rivalry between Waterford and New Ross continued over many decades with Waterford seeking royal approval of its supremacy while New Ross countered with its independence. In 1268 it was ordered that no ship could go direct to New Ross without first calling at the port of Waterford unless the ship was of the land or inheritance of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke.
In 1281-8 Stephen de Fulbourne, bishop of Waterford and justiciar of Ireland, secured solid restrictions on New Ross shipping. In 1302 Roger Bigod, lord of New Ross petitioned the king for secure travel to New Ross and free from Waterford interference. Even after New Ross became crown property in 1307 and was given to Thomas de Brother (fifth son of King Edward I), 1st Earl of Norfolk, the battle with Waterford continued as in 1319 Earl Thomas again petitioned the king for ships to trade with New Ross without disturbances. Even as late as 1378 the trade war continued when the sovereign of New Ross petitioned for resolution to the case owing to the poverty of New Ross and attacks by the Irish.
The King family of New Ross would be aware of these and other issues yet they would also be concerned with the usual highs and lows faced by families of any century. The King family left no archive of their own but many of their documents and other documents that they witnessed have survived, principally in the archives of the Earls of Ormond of Kilkenny castle. The earliest member of the family was Walter King who lived in the early decades of the fourteenth century.
In April 1317 Walter King was a witness to a deed of release by John Aythan, son and heir of Robert Aythan to Robert Russell of Rosponte (hereafter New Ross) of nine acres of land in the burgery of New Ross.
On 20th August 1338 John, son of Thomas Boscher, gave John, son of Walter King of New Ross, a carucate of land at Loghfolle in the tenement of Balyechan with an extensive area of pasture land and the right to gather sea-sand from the River Barrow. The Boscher family were long settled in the Leinster lordship with the earliest member, David Boscher of 1212 giving his name to Busherstown, Co. Carlow.
Adam King lived in New Ross in the second half of the fourteenth century where he had a number of properties. What connection Adam King had with Walter and John King and with the later personages of Philip, Henry and Robert King is unknown.
A street landscape in New Ross that Adam King could have known
In about 1350-70 Nicholas Coventry of New Ross granted a messuage near St. Mary’s cemetery in New Ross to Christine Arlonde. This messuage was bounded on the east and west by the property of Adam King. To ensure his property boundaries Adam King witnessed the transaction with others.
Around the same time of 1350-70 Nicholas Coventry gave a shop in New Ross to Sir Thomas Broun, chaplain, which was situated near the butcher’s stall in Market Street. Adam King was a witness this deed with others.
In about 1350-70 John Severne and Anstace Boscher his wife gave three arable acres outside the walls of New Ross, with a garden, to Christine Arlonde, former wife of Nicholas Britton. The garden was bounded on the east and west by the property of Adam King and like in other transactions in New Ross Adam King was one of the witnesses to this deed to ensure his own boundaries were respected. Later after the death of John Severne, Anstace Boscher gave a tenement on Market Street in New Ross to Cristine Arlonde. This tenement was bounded on the east by some property of Adam King.
In 1350-70 Adam King was witness to the transfer of an arable acre in the burgage of New Ross and parish of St. Evin (St. Alban parish?) from Maurice Fleming to Nicholas Arlonde.
In about 1331 Philip King was a witness to a deed of Henry Hethan, perpetual vicar of Balihethan church in which he granted a tenement in Market Street, New Ross, to Thomas de Seutysbury. A second deed confirming the grant by Thomas Hethan, son of Henry Hethan, was not witnessed by Philip King.
In 1350-70 the son of Philip King of New Ross, called Henry King, received property from William Boscher as noted below.
In 1350-70 William Boscher, son of William, son of Luke Boscher, made a grant of a messuage in ‘le grannaks’ and 2½ carucates in Dergary between le Garuagh and Karumaccertire to Henry son of Philip King, burgess of New Ross. A second document relating to this transaction was made on 20th March 1361 whereby William Boscher released and quit-claimed the property to Henry King. At this point an addition twenty acres was included in the transaction in the tenement of Crothan. On 28th March 1361 William Boscher appointed Maurice Prendergast and Henry Roche, his bailiffs, as attorneys to give Henry King full seisin of the property which he was to have ‘freely, quietly and peacefully with all liberties and free customs … for ever’.
It is not known how the King family acquired the wealth to be able to buy property in New Ross and in places far apart as Carlow and south Wexford. In about 1350-70 Henry King held land in the burgage of Ross in the parish of St. Evin. This land was to the west of the garden held by Philip Leysche before Philip gave it to Nicholas Britton. The transaction between Leysche and Britton was witnessed by Henry King and Adam King, clerk, among others.
In about 1360 Henry King was a witness to the grant by Philip Leysse, burgess of New Ross, to Nicholas Britton and Christine his wife of a half an acre in New Ross that was bounded on the east and west by property owned by Henry King.
Henry King, burgess of New Ross, left at least one son, called Robert King, who in 1383 was described as a chaplain. On 10th June 1383, John Underhill and Margaret King, his wife, made a quit-claim to Robert King, chaplain, of a garden in New Ross, situated in St. Mary’s Street. It was not disclosed what relationship Margaret King was to Robert King and it would be dangerous to speculate.
In about 1380 Martha Fisse made her will and left Johanna Fisse (her sister) a gold ring. Robert King, the chaplain, was to receive 4s and was one of the three executors while Tibina Meyler, the wife of Robert King, was to receive a half mark. John Underhill was another executor of the will as was John Redmond, husband of Martha Fisse.
Robert King did not confine his activities to New Ross and district. In October 1388 Henry Lang, chaplain and vicar of Jerpoint, made a grant of all his lands, tenements, ponds and fisheries in Jerpoint and Gowran to Thomas Seys (chaplain), John Shortals, Robert Ragyt and Robert King, chaplain.
On 17th March 1409, Johanna Fisse made a quit-claim all her lands in New Ross to Robert King, chaplain, his heirs and assigns. These messuages, lands, rents and tenements were formerly held by Henry King, father of Robert King.
On 5th August 1408 Robert King, burgess of New Ross, made a grant for ever to John Britton, burgess of New Ross, of the town of Kingstown with five carucates of land in ‘le Crecke’ in the barony of Bantry along with Morystown with all appurtenances. In another document Robert King appointed his bailiffs, Robert Cormegane (chaplain), and Adam son of Thomas Prendergast as attorneys to give John Britton full seisin. In February 1543 Rose Britton, daughter and co-heir of Nicholas Britton of New Ross granted Edmund Edward all her land in New Ross, Clonmene. Ballymontyne and Ryok, commonly called Kingstown in County Wexford. Rose Britton and her sisters were bound to Edmund Edward to the sum of £200.
King family disappears
In 1442-3 a person called Robert King of Rosbercon rented a meadow for 12d in Rosbercon. But it is unknown what relationship he had to the King family of New Ross. After the life of Robert King, chaplain, in the early fifteenth century, the King family of New Ross seem to disappear form the records while other families like that of Britton continued on well into the sixteenth century.
End of post
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 Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans, 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. III, p. 81
 https://chancery.tcd.ie/document/other/henry-iii/28 accessed on 11th August 2017
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 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, nos. 623, 624
 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, no. 834
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 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, no. 828
 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. II, p. 54
 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. II, p. 191
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 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. II, p. 209
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 Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. II, pp. 284, 285
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