The Surname 'Anglin'

Chapter 8

An historical supplement to the Anglin study

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A scholar advised me to have an overview when researching the Anglin family name, lest I got lost in undirected detail. In this study attention to historical events was found necessary to gain insight into appropriate sources for Anglins. What follows is a recall of essential historical events impacting the study. It is not a history, simply a naming of relevant events. It is included as a supplement for the benefit of those who living abroad who may be unaware of relevant events of Ireland’s history.

The invasions

  1. The Vikings:
    The first invasion relevant to this study is the Danish invasions of 790 a.d., which lasted a few centuries. They were long lasting raids, attacking, and at times settling in coastal and river towns: They established Dublin and in 840 sacked Ross Carbery in County Cork etc. The Danes who remained can be named the ‘Scandinavian Irish’.
  2. Anglo Norman Invasions:
    These commenced circa 1170, involving Normans and English: persons like King Henry 2nd. Many Anglo Normans settled into Ireland and became integrated. They are the ‘Old English’. They shared the same religion as the Gaelic Irish and gradually also its language and many of its customs while retaining some of their background. Their surnames help identify them. Today they are seen as Irish.
  3. The ‘New English’ Invasions:
    A new kind of invasion occurred with the English Tudor monarchs – colonisation. People from England and Scotland were planted in the countryside, the Irish losing land and control of their country. This ‘invasion’ began in the 1500’s, continued for a few centuries, with consequences experienced for centuries, indeed in small ways still today. The ‘New English’ held to the reformed faith, did not speak Gaelic, and had little love of Ireland or its people. Those who settled and remained till today are now part of the fabric, some being referred to as Anglo Irish while others are considered Irish: Of course others left.

Ireland: Century by Century

  1. Ireland pre-1500:
    The Gaelic Irish lived in a clan/sept structure of organisation, with a Gaelic culture and language, their own legal system based on custom, a Catholic faith linked to the Papacy. Over generations links with Britain and Continental Europe were strong, differing in form country to country. Irish monks spread the Christian Faith and education from the 6th Century onwards in these countries. Ireland’s literature, writings and places of learning show a love of scholarship.
    The Anglo Normans who came in 12th Century had now settled into Ireland and lived happily with the Gaelic Irish sharing life with them, some becoming more Irish than the Gaelic Irish themselves. Circa 1500, military connections grew with the continental countries.
  2. 16th Century Ireland:
    Insight requires awareness of events and the desires of Irelands neighbour England ruled in this century by the Tudors, Henry VIII 1509- 1549 to Elizabeth I who died 1603. In this century England was involved in wars and treaties with individual European countries and one motive for her colonisation of Ireland grew from a fear of invasion by Spain through Ireland.

    The 1500’s exhibit a real evolution of English efforts to bring Ireland tightly under her influence. Initially seeking support from Irish Earls, then, as the century progressed, seeking the destruction of the clan system, the legal system, the language and ultimately it became an attempt to remove the native Irish from their land and replace them with ‘trustworthy’ people from England and Scotland. The Munster plantation of 1585 is an example of what was being attempted – colonisation in the raw. The situation of the native peoples became acute as England having embraced the Reformation felt an Irish people committed to Catholicism endangered her. So the Irish, both Gaelic and Old English were ‘encouraged’ to change ‘religious lane’. I hope this helps readers to understand why Irish migration to continental Europe began.
  3. Ireland in the 17th Century:
    Events of this century had an immense impact on Ireland’s future:
    • Economic problems at different stages had a massive influence particularly on the poor and vulnerable
    • There is a continual effort to force Catholics to conform to the Protestant Reformation

      Some milestones:
    • The defeat of the northern clan leaders by the ‘New English’ led to the destruction of clan control, resulting in the ‘Flight of the Earls’ to Spain and the continent circa 1607.
    • The plantations of Ireland along with the formation of planted towns e.g. Bandon, (planted by people from Somerset), and Clonakilty began. Kinsale becoming an important military port.
    • 1640-1660 saw the formation of Irish Regiments giving over 30,000 soldiers to the French military.
    • The rebellion of 1641 by Gaelic Irish and Old English lasted to 1652; it was against what the ‘New English’ were doing to them.
    • Cromwell and the Commonwealth in Ireland. He opposed the Catholic faith and sadly the Irish themselves. He sought to remove as many traces as possible of it and them by planting, exile or destruction, paying his debts and his soldiers with land confiscated in Ireland. His plantation occurred in 1654. Even Irish Merchants were forbidden to trade.
    • In the 1680’s and early 90’s William and James fought for the possession of the English crown, the wars taking place in Ireland. Many Gaelic Irish and ‘Old English’ supported James. On James’s defeat further problems arose for those Irish who had supported him.
    • A positive comment: In this century three of the great Irish historical works were written, The Annals of the Four masters, by monks in Donegal, the Writings of the priest Geoffrey Keating in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary and the Genealogies of MacFirbhisigh. The love of learning had continued.
  4. Ireland in the 18th Century:
    The efforts at colonisation were more or less finished. One way of summarising the Irish situation during most of this century is to say no Catholics and no Gaelic Irish were in any positions of importance even though the majority population were Catholic and Gaelic. To speak of Ireland as a Protestant nation one would be referring to the years 1775-1800.

    The Age of the Penal laws was 1691- 1778. These were brought to an end with Catholic Emancipation in 1829, though some of their consequences had still to be addressed.

    The Irish parliament, for what it was worth, was closed down by England in 1800.

    Many ‘Old English’ opposed what was going on in the 17th and 18th centuries but were powerless or unwilling to object.

    Some, now Irish, Protestant denominations also suffered in the 17th and 18th centuries, due to various reforming changes in faith and practice by Government leaders in England.
  5. Ireland in the 19th Century:
    The major occurrences of this century were i) the famine of the 1840’s; ii) the arrival of Catholic Emancipation in 1829; iii) Mass migration basically due to hunger, and iv) landlord evictions of the native people from their tenancies. This period is well documented.

A comment

Having recalled the episodes of planting, war, colonisation, imposition of a new way of life and faith it is now incumbent on us to ask the important question, ‘What happened the Irish people, the soldiers, the wives, the mothers, the children and the merchants of those Irish who were on the receiving end of all this?’

Most Irish stayed in the country remaining staunch in their religious faith and love of country in spite of poverty and powerlessness. But many thousands left – the migrations.

The migrations of the Irish


Knowledge of the migrations is necessary in order to trace the movement of Anglins. The two major migrations to be examined are a) Migration to Europe and possibly then to the new world and b) Migration to England and the English speaking new World. What follows is a summary of these migrations, but each migration is made up of separate smaller movements or migrations of Irish people each small movement a result of what was going on within Ireland at a given time.

Migration to Europe and thence to the new world

Who migrated?

  • Ordinary persons, families, the poor, economic migrants, moving as ‘need’ demanded due to hunger, lack of work, oppression
  • The elite and others seeking appropriate education
  • Military personnel and those necessary to support them. Ireland traditionally produced soldiers, often as Irish regiments, fighting on behalf of other nations. The numbers at times measurable in tens of thousands
  • Priests for religious reasons. In post Patrician times, to spread the Catholic Faith. In the 1500 to 1800’s to avoid persecution or again student priests seeking training for the priesthood denied them in Ireland
  • Irish merchants, traders, mariners, seeking opportunities to trade, at times forbidden in Ireland. This movement of traders and mariners had gone on naturally for generations

Migrations were sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent leading to the establishment of Irish communities abroad, sometimes just stages on a longer journey to a further destination.

When and to where did migrants go?

  • Economic movement: In the 1570’s the poor Irish left the country to the continent. This economic migration occurred again in the first quarter of the 17th century and at other times as well. The destinations were Brittany and England; occasionally unwelcome because of the way they lived. The movement was to Quimper, St. Malo on the coast but also and more usually to central Brittany
  • Priests and student priests: From 1550 to circa 1800 they went to one of 40 Irish Colleges established in continental Europe e.g. Louvain, cf. list in Appendix 8.
  • Secular education, Young Catholics sought medicine, law etc. They too used the Irish Colleges and associated universities particularly in Spain, France and Belgium.
  • The military: Irish Earls left after defeat by Elizabeth at Kinsale in 1601 for Spain. This was followed by a mass exodus of the soldiers and their families, thousands of émigrés. There were 20,000 Irish in Spain 1580-1620 and with Spain at war in Flanders Irish soldiers went there too. For a few the stay was permanent but mostly it was temporary. Port of arrival was La Coruna, after arrival scattering to places like Madrid and Valladolid.

    The next migration of thousands of Irish soldiers was 1635-1660, to France, 30,000 or more, of course the wives go with them; Women had a role in those wars. Destination towns were in Brittany and pockets of Irish formed in St. Malo, Rouen, Nantes Qumper, Paris etc.

    The next major military migration follows in the 1690’s and again to Brittany and again some joined the established Irish, some even intermarried with local families.

    Military migrations continued on and off, but by 1760 the mass movement of Irish regiments to Europe had come to a complete end.
  • Merchants, mariners: With Cromwell a movement of Irish based merchants and their shipping to Europe occurs. They knew these countries, so they knew what to do. They moved to Nantes, St. Malo, LaRochelle, Port Louis, Lorient even into Ostend and Bruges in Flanders. This movement of businesses was temporary for some permanent for others. It resulted in an Irish merchant and mariner presence for the next hundred years along the European coast from Ostend to Cadiz and Malaga even to the islands of Madeira and the Canaries. Again history speaks of Irish communities . These Irish traders and mariners became part of a European trade based on the continental mainland, a trade extending even to the West Indies. This network developed and included oversees colonies of France, Spain and the Netherlands.
  • Movement to the Colonies of Spain particularly, but also to French and Portuguese colonies. This aspect of this study is very much in its infancy but there was migration to Spanish and Portuguese colonies even military.

Summarising these comments

The destination of choice for most Irish in the years 1550 to the end of the 1700’s was Europe, some going on to colonies set up by France Spain, the Dutch etc. Throughout the two hundred year story of migration to Europe, some Irish became residents of their adopted country, some intermarried with the native populations of France Spain and Flanders, some remained strangers and left again when things were better at home. While the different migrant groups have been emphasised here, it must be realised when they were abroad these groups intermingled and helped one another, often with the clergy being the link e.g. between the military and the merchants for example.

Once we enter the 1800’s there is a marked change in the direction of Irish migration. The destination of choice changes for the mass of émigrés now to the English speaking new world of America, Canada and Australasia.

Migration to England and the English speaking New World

Only a few comments on the migration to the English speaking New World is given, as relevant information is already well publicised.

The major movement of Irish from 1500’s to 1800 was to Europe, but during this time there was a smaller movement of Irish to the English speaking New World. In the 1500’s it was initially a trickle but as time passed it grows and becomes very great indeed. This migration is closely related to England and her policies both in Ireland and the new World.

In the 16th century the trickle of Irish emigrants to the new world was influenced by an individual’s relationship with the ‘New English’ and by England’s involvement in the Caribbean, Virginia etc. There were also Irish who were fond of adventure.

In the 17th Century the numbers of Irish emigrants to these places increased. Some going by choice; others unwillingly. Some forced to go to the new world by decisions of the English authorities particularly in the Cromwell period. Irish slaves etc. come to mind.

This small and growing movement of the 17th Century to the English colonies of the USA and the Caribbean continued growing during the 18th. Then in the 1800’s the movement to the new World was at times massive as in the Irish famine period.

Migration to England herself is different from all of these migrations. Through these centuries 1500 to 1900 there was always movement of the Irish to England, particularly at times of economic hardship in Ireland.

Brief bibliography

  • Narrative History of Ireland by Micheal O Siochfhradha ISBN 1-903497-21-3 published by Aubane historical Society Millstreet Co. Cork. I recommend this book for someone seeking to know our genuine history but in a brief narrative form
  • A Concise course of Irish History by Moody and Martin
  • The Illustrated History of Ireland by cf. Cusack (Nun of Kenmare) written in 1860’s
  • The Irish in Europe 1580-1815 ed. Thomas O’Connor
  • Irish Migrants in Europe after Kinsale edited by Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons
  • Irish communities in Early Modern Europe edited by Thomas O’Connor and Mary Ann Lyons