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Sir John Bolle at Dunnalong Fortress

Back to Lord Docwra and Sir John Bolle in Ulster, Bolles of Haugh in the Military or The Bolles of Haugh


Extracts from a letter from Sir John Bolles to Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State, Sir Robert Cecil on March 7th, 1601:

"Whereby in my poor opinion there are two ways open to the pacifying of this land; the one speedy but of doubtful continuance; the other assured to make a perfect cure but will ask more time; ..... The second way I take to be, denying to receive any of them in, but such as come armed, and by some bloody service testify their purpose to be loyal.  Hereby shall all the peasants, women and children be forced to live on last year's store, and being kept by dispersed garrisons from ploughing, must the next year of necessity starve.  How infallible a course this is, the late wars of Connaught, finished by this means only, can testify."

puts the official point of view in this way. The first method is to allow the people to come in through the persuasion of their priests, so allowing them to retain their strength and ability to resist. The second method is to force them to submit because the country is so ravaged that resistance is no longer possible. 

According to Bolles the perfect cure was to keep the people from ploughing by dispersed garrisons, and to force them to live on their stocks so that they would starve in the following year.  This was no doubt attractive from the military point of view: ‘less consideration seems to have been given to the long-term effects of such a ruthless policy upon those whom it was hoped to govern peaceably.’ 

In the same letter Bolles relates the story of one of the first major raids that were to occupy this second year. On this raid he says: “We got about 80 lean cows and burned many more in the houses, besides sheep, goats and corn and slew betwixt 80 and 100 persons. This was in O’Cahan’s country, and his people being gathered in small numbers together fought with us the marching of 5 miles, but so coldly that in all that time they killed but one of our men and hurt 5.”


Sir John also led an expeditionary force against Lifford Castle which yielded immediately upon their approach. 

Henry Docwra to ??????
The 8th of October I assigned unto the said Neale Garvie 500 foote & 30 horse, under the leading of Sr John Bowles, to goe to take the Liffer, where 30 of O'Donnell's men lay in Garrison in a Forte in one of the Corneres of the towne, & most of them being abroad when they came, were surpriced & slaine, & the place taken, yet soe as one of them had first putt fire into the Forte, which consumed all the Buildings in it, but the rest of the Houses scattered abroade in the towne (which were about 20) were preserved & stood us after- wards in singuler good steade.
Considering that this entire campaign was basically the Anglo Protestant conquest of the native Irish Catholic population it's interesting that Sir John's wife may have been Catholic herself.  Shortly after Sir John's death in England his wife was accused of recusancy.
Grant to Sir Tho. Monson of benefit of the recusancy of Dame Eliz. Bolle, of Thorp-hall, Lincoln. Calendar Volume Title: Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the reign of James I, 1603-1610, preserved in the State Paper Department of her Majesty's Public Record Office. Vol. 1: 1603-1610. Reign: James I   Entry Number: VOL. XXVIII., [101f]   Page Number: 386   Date: Dec. 10 1607  
 VOL. XXVIII., [101f].  Dec. 10 1607.  Grant to Sir Tho. Monson of benefit of the recusancy of Dame Eliz. Bolle, of Thorp-hall, Lincoln


This site was last updated 01/18/20