The first Grants in Ireland, the Barons of Iverk in Co.Kilkenny

Family tree from 1st Baron Iverk 1170 to Polroan/Curlody c.1365

Miles fitz David, 1st Baron of Iverk b.@ 1145, d1215

Having landed at Waterford with the first wave of invaders, Miles, the son of the bishop of St Davids, was rewarded with the Barony of Iverk in the south of Kilkenny in 1170. This grant of Iverk to Miles is the only recorded grant of land by Strongbow in Ossery. Miles had accompanied Raymond le Gros to Limerick in 1176. He was left there in command of the garrison of 50 knights and 300 bowmen, but they were forced to withdraw. O'Hart lists the Grants as among the chief families settling in Waterford in 1177.

Miles established two chief manorial centres defended by earthwork castles, at Portnascully and Clone (Clonamery) at either end of his cantred. A lesser manorial center and castle was founded at Listerlin. He and his descendants held this area for nearly 150 years. A southern manor is known to have been established at Grannagh, moving the baronial center down the river Suir from Portnascully.

The leaders of the original invasion soon died. Strongbow, Robert fitz Stephen, Raymond le Gros, Maurice fitz Gerald were all dead by 1188. Henry II made his youngest son John Lord of Ireland. And John came to Ireland in 1185 to try to consolidate royal power. John did this by making more land grants, and also by changing many of the original land grants in favour of his own followers. Among the best known of these was Theobald Walter, butler to the king and founder of the house of Butler in Ormond.

John made another visit to Ireland as king in 1210 (the last reigning English king to do so for nearly 200 years), but there is no record of Miles having been involved with this visit. Miles, named as fitz Bishop, witnessed the charter of the town of Kilkenny. He was also noted in 1200 as having granted the town of Techomicham to the abbot of Valle Dei, in 1213 to have paid 30 marks to place his son, in 1215 to have paid the king 40 marks to exchange his hostages.

He had three sons, David fitz Milo (his heir), Henry fitz Milo (who granted Athnegaddy to the monastery at Kells) and Sir William fitz Milo (probably the first to have adopted the surname "Grant"). Surnames were not normal among the first Norman arrivals in Ireland. The usual way of being known was to use "fitz" to indicate "son of". Eventually the younger son took nicknames to differentiate their families. Names like "Walsh" came from "le waleis" meaning "the Welshman", and "Grace" from "le Gros". "Grant" came from "le Grand" meaning strong or big, and changed to its present form with the passage of time.

Among the Carew manuscripts is a pedigree appended, perhaps by Sir George Carew though it could have been earlier, which shows the Barons of Iverk taking the surname Grant between 1250 and 1300. The balance of evidence at that time would support this conclusion. In addition a Jacobite peerage in 1745 of James Grant as Baron of Iverk, shows that the family continued to trace their roots back to the old Barons of Iverk for the next 500 years.

The first centre of the barony was at Portnascully, and there is still a large earthwork fort there. Carrigan describes it as "an immense circuit, deep wide fosse and lofty protecting citadel". It lies on a small tidal stream flowing into the Suir half way between Waterford and Carrick. The mote was 30 feet high, with a flat circular top 35ft across. The bailey is rectangular and defended on one side by the stream and on the other by the wide ditch. The original was wooden and has of course vanished. It was the normal practice by the Normans in their conquest of Ireland to hold the land with mote and bailey castles, which were superseded by stone castles as soon as time and money allowed. Once the Normans had conquered an area, usually peace and stability followed. By and large the native Irish remained to herd cattle and till the soil. Only the Gaelic chiefs were displaced.

Miles, the first Baron died in 1215. And was succeeded by his eldest son, David, the second baron. Our story continues with one of his younger sons, William fitz Milo, also known as William le Grand the Elder. The barons used a seal of the Fitz Gerald saltire with four stars, whilst William used a seal with a mitre.

On Miles' death the family had consolidated its position in Ireland. They had a large barony in the south of Co Kilkenny, a part of the country that was relatively free from wars, and things were looking pretty good for them.

David fitz Milo, 2nd Baron

In a charter of 1239,signed at Westminster, he gave as a gift to the Abbey of Kilculiheen of one tenth of all his income, plus the townland of Ullid and a number of chapels. Little else is known about him. It may be that he gave away too much of his wealth. On his death his son succeeded him in about 1247. He built a new stone castle on a mote in the north of the Barony at Clonamary. This period coincided with an optimum in the climate, and temperatures reached a maximum during the 13th century. The conditions for crops like wheat were better than they had been for a thousand years, and the population of Ireland and indeed the whole of Europe was growing. This meant that there was a supply of colonists coming over from England to take over new land that was suitable for the Norman form of agriculture. Irish and Norman families in the colonised areas freely intermarried. The Norman lords settled into Irish ways, both cultural and legal, when it suited them to do so. But in spite of the intermingling between the Anglo Normans and the Irish in the colonised parts of the country, there was a great divide between these colonised parts and the rest of the country.

Milo fitz David, 3rd Baron

Both 2nd and 3rd barons are noted as holding 7 knight's fees in the feodaries of 1247 [source: Knights' Fees in counties Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny]. And there are minor references to him in 1286, firstly for owing half a mark for not attending a jury in Kilkenny, and secondly for receiving 4 in Waterford from Walter de Long for his debts.

The 4th and 5th Barons

The Barony passed on the death of the 3rd Baron to his son Milo fitz Milo in about 1287. The 4th Baron was summoned to fight for the king in the war against Scotland in 1302, and it would appear that he probably died in this war. The title then passed to his brother Roger fitz Milo, the 5th and last Baron Iverk, who held the title from 1302 until he sold it for no clear reasons to the Butlers in 1320. His seal on the sale document still exists in Dublin and shows the Fitzgerald saltire with 4 stars.

On June 20, 1314 an Extent of the Barony of Overke appears in the Red Book of Ormond. Among those in the list include: Roger fitz Milo, Henry fitz Henry de Rupe (Rowyr), Agatha filia Maurice (Lesteling), John fitz Alexander de Rupe (Corcleyn), Radulfus de Denne (Kylgrelan), Michael Sparke (Ballicoyne), John of Balliagueran, Thomas fitz William de Sco. Albino (Ballymacallgorme), Philip fitz walter Mancell, John & David fitz Philip fitz Milo, Theobald le Botiller & Johanna his wife, the four persons listed above at Odae, Thomas de Denne (Kilcrone), Maurice fitz David (Donkyt), Philip fitz William Lerchedekyn (Oryanan), Richard le Poer (Rathforby), Robert Tyrmore (Tyrmor), John fitz William (Portenhull), Nicholas Blundell (Corlodymor ( Leghlinensi), Herbet de Marreys (Polrohan), John de la Rockell (Croc' & Ballybrameth), Philip fitz William Bronyn (Polroan), Alicia Argentyme (Adbary), Matthew fitz Oliver (Catrykmoclagh), Walter le Poer (Ballyheyn), Maurice fitz William (Ballyleyn), William de Rockell (Kylroske), Edmund le Gras (Ownyng), Roger fitz Milo & Mabillia his wife, David le Graunt (Hyllyd & Ballytarsin), William le Graunt (Clontory), David le Graunt (Ballycorry), William Graunt (Kymacboyth), Robert Wodlok (Douncole), Theobald le Poer (Loghmoing), Gerald fitz Henry (Polesculle & Loghmoynyn). Among the jurors witnessing the extent included: John fitz Alexander, Maurice fitz David, David Grege, Meiler fitz Roger, John fitz Reymund, Andrew fitz David, David fitz David, Richard fitz William, Hnery Lydyr, David fitz Reymund, Henry Cadegan, Griffin fitz Matthew, Maurice fitz Matthew, Peter Coule, Gilbert fitz Andrew, Philip fitz Milo, John fitz Milo, and Thomas Box.

The sale was in two parts, the first in 1314 and the second in 1320. Documents show that he sold the barony for 8 marks annual rent, which seems a modest price to have received. In 1320 Roger was given as holding court at Polroan, the stone castle that had become the Grants' stronghold (it has now entirely disappeared). The castle was excluded from the sale, as were the homage and services of Herbert de Marisco in Polroan, Richard le Poer in Rathcurby and David Grant in Ballytarsney.

One can only postulate as to the reasons for this very odd sale. But it seems to me that the most likely reason is the sheer might of the Butlers, who probably made the fifth Baron an offer that he could not refuse. Indeed the murder of his son in 1313 may have been part of the pressure to sell. The Ormond deeds show that Sir Edmond Butler acquired a great deal of property in Co Kilkenny at this time.

The north of Co Kilkenny reverted back to Irish rule under the MacGillapatricks by 1349, But the southern part continued under Norman rule. With the sale of the barony, whether it was a free sale or a forced one, the Grants henceforth held their lands as tenants of the Butlers, the Earls of Ormond. However the family always seems to have remembered its past, and amazingly in 1745 one James Grant, soldier and mathematician, had conferred on him the title "Baron D'Iverque" by Bonnie Prince Charlie. He was declared to be a descendant in a direct line from the old Barons of Iverk and the Knights of Glen Grant (Glen Grant is part of Iverk, at the very tip of Co. Kilkenny). He was the colonel in command of Prince Charlie's artillery. I have been unable to trace what happened to his family, but they did not return to Ireland. Maybe one day they will be found still living in France.

Throughout the 13th century the English kings, through their deputies in Dublin, held less influence on the local people, whether rich or poor, than did the local Earl. In 1217 the Magna Carta was published in an Irish version, and directed that English Common Law should apply in Ireland. Indeed in 1277 the Archbishop of Cashel petitioned Edward to make English law compulsory over Irish law, but it took until 1292 for him to decree in council that any Irishman had the right to demand the protection of English law. Indeed neither Henry II nor Edward I were to visit Ireland, and it was to John Wogan, his Justiciar, that Edward gave the responsibility of enforcing English law. He held Ireland's first real parliament in 1297, but was able to accomplish very little.

Then following the English defeat at Bannockburn in 1314, the High Kingship of Ireland was offered by the Irish to Robert Bruce's brother Edward, in an attempt by the Irish to rid themselves of the Normans. Edward Bruce landed with an army, and stayed until he was defeated by an Anglo-Norman force in 1318.

It was during this period that the three great Earldoms which were to dominate Irish history for many centuries to follow, were created. The Earldom of Kildare in 1316, of Ormond in 1328 and Desmond in 1329.

But the "sons of the Bishop, David FitzGerald" did not die out with the sale of the Barony. William Grant of Rathlogan in 1305, and David Grant of Illid both used the seal with the bishops mitre. We will now go on to review the descendants of Sir William le Grant, son of the first Baron of Iverk, whose family bore the bishops mitre on their coat of arms.

Map of Baronies in Kilkenny

Map of Iverk Barony

Return to the Grant genealogy index