DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.
UK Genealogy Archives logo


CHARLEMONT, an incorporated market-town and district parish (formerly a parliamentary borough), in the barony and county of ARMAGH, and province of ULSTER, 5 miles (N. by W.) from Armagh, and 68 miles (N. by W.) from Dublin; containing 3642 inhabitants, of which number, 528 are in the town. This place derives its name from Charles, Lord Mountjoy, who, while Lord-Deputy of Ireland in 1602, erected a castle here, and called it Charlemont, partly after his name, and partly after his title. It was built to prevent the incursions of the O'Nials into the English pale, and to guard the wooden bridge which then afforded the only passage over the Blackwater. In 1641 it was deemed a place of considerable importance, and was taken by stratagem by Sir Phelim O'Nial, on the 22nd of October. Lord Caulfeild, a brave officer, grown old in the royal service, had been made governor, and lived with his Irish neighbours in unsuspecting confidence, when Sir Phelim invited himself to sup with his lordship, and he and his followers being received, on a pre-arranged signal seized the family, made the garrison prisoners, ransacked the castle, and afterwards killed Lord Caulfeild in one of O'Nial's houses. That chieftain subsequently retiring before the English forces, made this castle his headquarters for a short time. Owen O'Nial, expecting to be besieged here, strengthened the defences; and when the Scottish General Monroe attempted to surprise it, he was repulsed with loss, but the castle was at length captured by Sir Charles Coote. In 1665 it was sold to Chas. II. for £3500, since which time it has been vested in the Crown. It was garrisoned by the Irish for Jas. II., in 1690, under Sir Teague O'Regan, and invested by Duke Schomberg. Caillemote, a French officer, being posted on the Blackwater, and harassing the garrison, after some time the governor was summoned to surrender. O'Regan, a courageous Irish officer, determined to hold out to the last extremity, but the distresses of the garrison becoming intolerable, the governor proposed terms of capitulation on the 13th of May, and on the 14th the garrison marched out with the honours of war, to the number of 800 men. On taking posseesion of the castle, the duke found in it 17 pieces of cannon, one large mortar, 83 barrels of gunpowder, and various munitions of war.

The town is situated near the confluence of the rivers Blackwater and Callen, and on the road from Armagh to Dungannon and Coleraine. In 1833 it contained 111 houses, and is connected with the post-town of Moy by a recently erected stone bridge. Charlemont castle is still a place of great strength, fortified with bastions, a dry ditch, and escarp and counterscarp; and there are two ravelins, one in front, the other in rear of the works, surrounded by a glacis which runs along the side of the Blackwater. It is the ordnance depot for the North of Ireland, and the head-quarters of the artillery for the district of Ulster. Formerly it had a military governor, but on the death of Gen. Sir John Doyle, Bart., in 1835, the office was abolished, as being a sinecure. The barracks, which are occupied by two companies of the Royal Artillery, are constructed to accommodate 5 officers, 151 non-commissioned officers and privates, and 79 horses, with an hospital attached for 22 patients. The town is well situated for trade, the river Blackwater being navigable for vessels of 90 tons' burden to Lough Neagh; it is connected with Belfast by the Lagan canal, and with Newry by the canal of that name, and the great Ulster canal now in progress to Lough Erne will open a communication with the West of Ireland. The linen manufacture is carried on to a considerable extent. There is a good market held on Saturday; and fairs are held on the 12th of May, Aug. 16th, and Nov. 12th, for cattle, linen yarn, and provisions. The charter granted to the corporation a market on Tuesday and a fair on the 1st and 2nd of May, with the tolls; and a subsequent patent to Sir Toby Caulfeild, dated March 1st, 1622, granted to him a market on Wednesday and a fair on the 5th and 6th of August, with the tolls; but these charter and patent fairs and markets have long been discontinued.

The borough, which comprises the townland of Charlemont, containing above 200 acres, and the liberties, containing 20 acres, was incorporated by charter of Jas. I., dated April 29th, 1618. The corporation consists of a portreeve, 12 burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen. The portreeve was to be elected annually, on St. John's day, by the portreeve and free burgesses, the latter of whom were to be elected for life out of the inhabitants; and the freemen were to consist of all the inhabitants, aud as many other persons as the corporation might elect. The charter also conferred on the portreeve and free burgesses the right of returning two members to parliament, which was exercised until the Union, when Francis William, Earl of Charlemont received £15,000, as patron of the borough, for the abolition of its franchise. Since the Union, the regularly elected burgesses have not acted; but Mr. Livingstone, the last portreeve, some time before his death, summoned in his official capacity a "corporation jury," similar to that which existed in Armagh; and in the year 1821 the surviving members of that jury elected a portreeve. From that time meetings have been held annually, at which a portreeve, town-clerk, and other officers have been elected, and burgesses and freemen admitted; and since 1827, the lord-lieutenant has ratified the portreeve's election. The borough court, granted by the charter to be held weekly, under the presidency of the portreeve, with jurisdiction in personal actions not exceeding five marks, having fallen into disuse, has been renewed by the new corporation. Courts leet and baron for the manor of Charlemont are held by the seneschal in the town of Moy, in May and November, and their jurisdiction extends over a wide district.

The agriculture of the surrounding district is in a progressive state of improvement: there is some good peat bog, and coal also is said to exist. The principal seats in the vicinity are Church Hill, the residence of Col. Verner; the Argory, of W. McGeough Bond, Esq.; and Clonfeacle glebe-house and demesne, occupied by the Rev. H. Griffin, all of which can be seen from the town. The living, which was created in 1830, is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Rector of Loughgall. The new parish or district comprises the townlands of Charlemont, Corr, and Douavally, with Anagh McManus, Keenahan, Ahinlig, Lishloshly, Kinnego, Mullaghmore, Termacrannon, Anasamery, and Clenmaine. The church is a handsome structure, resembling in front one of the grand altars of York Minster; it was built and consecrated in 1833, by His Grace the Lord-Primate, and contains a handsome monument to the late Mrs. Jackson. Divine service is performed in two school-houses in the district, and on every alternate Sunday in the barrack for the military, by the perpetual curate. There is neither glebe-house nor glebe; the income of the perpetual curate is an annual money payment from the rector of Loughgall. The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel in the town. The male and female parochial school was built in 1821, near the church, by the Board of Ordnance and the inhabitants; it is supported by subscription. Summer Island male and female school, with a residence for the master, has an endowment of £7. 10. from Col. Verner. Clenmaine school is supported by subscriptions; and Kinnego school, built and supported by W. Parnell, Esq., is situated on the College lands. About 100 boys and 90 girls are educated in these schools, besides which there are a barrack and a hedge school, in which are about 80 boys and 40 girls, and three Sunday schools. There are some remains of the fortifications at Legerhill, from which Duke Schomberg bombarded the town, and of a Danish rath. A curious gold ring, and a gold cross, studded with gems, and said to have belonged to Sir Teague O'Regan, have been discovered here; also, a few years since, a body almost in a complete state of preservation, with the clothes and spurs perfect. In the museum of Messrs. W. & J. Jackson there is a rare collection of minerals, petrifactions, coins, and other relics found in and near the town. Charlemont gives the title of Earl to the family of Caulfeild.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1840 by Samuel Lewis