The descendants of William Grant the Elder, son of the 1st Baron Iverk, Co Kilkenny

William Grant the Elder

Occasionally records give a lot of information about a man, and in the case of William the Elder, because of his position as Messenger to the Justiciar of Ireland for a number of years, we can find out many details about his movements.

He is first mentioned in 1230 as attending the court of Henry III at Winchester, concerning the election of the next Bishop of Ossery, and William was given joint custody of the See (together with the Prior of Inistoge) until the election of the new bishop in the following year. He would appear to have been a canon of Ossery at this time as well

From 1231 until 1243 there are many references to him carrying out his duties as Messenger to the Justiciar, Maurice fitz Gerald. The Justiciar was the king's viceroy in Dublin. William received gifts from the king - 3 marks(£2) in 1233. In 1235 he had to tell the king how faithfully the Justiciar was devoting himself to the defence of Ireland and to the defeating of the kings enemies, at a time when Ireland was in a state of turmoil following the War of Kildare and the War of Connaught.

1236 found him involved in the movement of war horses between the king and the Justiciar, and also pardoned of a surety of 10 marks that he put up for a John le Chenu who had been fined for his part in the War of Kildare. In 1238 the king informed the Justiciar that he was sending an inspector to Ireland to view and value the lands that the Justiciar and William Grant jointly petitioned for in Connaught (there is no record of the outcome of this visit, but there is later evidence to show that a Maurice and a Thomas Grant held land in Connaught in 1284, but there is no evidence to show that they kept land there for any period of time.).

In 1241 the king rewarded William Grant for his services with the pension of £ 10 per year until he could be provided with the equivalent in lands or rent. And in the last references to him in the State Documents in 1243, it shows him as receiving 40 marks as a king's gift, and also being paid 21 marks that the king owed him for a war horse bought off him in Gascony the preceding year.

Sir William Grant of Kilmacow

The first references to this man are in 1270 when he was given four years protection for going on a Crusade to the Holy Land with the King and prince Edward. The crusade itself was a failure and Palestine was evacuated. Prince Edward heard of his father's death in Sicily in 1270, and returned to become king two years later.

He must have got married soon after his return, as he is had a son Henry aged 22 in 1297. William acquired Rathlogan through his marriage to Nicola Sommerfield

He is also noted as a juror in a number of cases between 1293 and 1305. Under the feudal Norman system of justice used at that time, the position of juror carried a deal of weight, and was only given to picked men.

He must have died aged about 60 around 1305.

Sir William Grant of Kilmacow

He held Rossinan and part of Cloncurry, Clonmore in 1314. In 1315 the Scots had invaded Ireland after defeating the English at Bannockburn, and by 1317 were plundering Co Kilkenny, marching from Cashel to Kells, before withdrawing northwards. Poor harvests, and an Irish uprising compounded the problems.

In 1319 he was a witness to the deed transferring the Barony of Iverk to the Butlers. In 1322 he was on a list of 184 loyal knights summoned to serve against the Scots. Milo, Baron of Iverk, was the only other Grant on the list.

The wars between the Scots and the English continued off and on for a considerable length of time. And in 1335 the Justiciar sailed to Scotland to aid Edward III. Among the army were William Grant and David Grant. The army returned in 1337. During the 1342 campaign against the Irish, Sir William Grant is mentioned as knighting John le Erchedeacon on the field. And in 1344 he is recorded as a witness to a property deed.

Then in 1345 the Desmond rebellion occurred, and Sir William joined the Desmond side. Edward III had neglected his Irish colony, and since he ascended the throne in 1327, he had pursued wars against France and Scotland, using Ireland as a source of money and men, whilst administrating the country through a corrupt and weak central government. When he found it increasingly more difficult to get either more men or more money out of Ireland, he decided to discipline the country by revoking all the land grants made in Ireland by either himself or his father. Following this, in 1343, with the appointment of a new and unpopular Justiciar, Sir Ralph Ufford. The culmination was that the Earl of Desmond rose in rebellion in 1345.

The Justiciar led his own forces against the rebels, and in one battle Sir William Grant was one of the leaders of the defence of Castle Island, Co Kerry. This was one of the original castles of William Earl Marshall, and was a very strong fortress. This place derives its name from the “Castle of the Island of Kerry,” erected by Geoffrey de Marisco in 1226, and which, in 1345, was taken by Sir Ralph Ufford, lord-justiciary of Ireland, from Sir Eustace de la Poer and other knights, who held it for the Earl of Desmond, and on being captured were immediately executed. The castle was said to have fallen because of treachery after a two week siege. Sir William Grant and three other Grants (William, Clement and Thomas, probably his sons) were among the rebels sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Desmond himself was too powerful to be put down, and after some time in exile, returned to Ireland in 1349, becoming Viceroy in 1355.

Sir William Grant's lands,valued at £40 per year, were forfeited. He appears to have lost Dunbrin and Grenagh in Kilmacow.

This line continued with Sir William's younger brother David (of Ballytarsney) who used the same seal as his father ( a bishops mitre with three stars), and the family continued to hold land at Ballytarsney in Polroan until the Cromwellian confiscations. The seal confirms the families descent from Miles fitz David, the first Baron of Iverk, and son of the Bishop of St Davids.

After about 1350 records are not so plentiful during the Dark Ages, and we enter a more blurred chapter until 1600. Though we cannot be sure of the father to son relationship, we do know that the were three branches of the Grant family - at Polroan, Curlody and Ballytarsney - throughout the Middle Ages, and there are numerous references to both people and places over the period.

Carrigan says that Curlody had a well built, strong castle. It was five stories high, built on the side of a hill, and belonged to the Grants until Cromwellian times. He believed the Curlody branch to be the chief one, followed by the Ballynebouley branch (whose seat was Ballynebouley Castle).

The Grants were obviously becoming more Irish during the Middle Ages. A statute of Henry VI in 1447 declared the Grants, along with the Powers, Daltons and Walshes, to be robbers, rebels and traitors. It empowered the citizens of Waterford to ride against them.

Curlody Castle

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