Patterns of intermarriage between Affluent Crypto-Catholic Families in 18th Century Cork.

A diverse group of Cork families such as the Galweys/Galways, Meads, Roynanes, Cotters, Coppingers, Terrys, Skiddys, from a diverse background including Gaelic, Hiberno-Norse, Norman as Catholic would appear to have lost all in the upheavals of the 17th century. These families were either merchants in the city or landowners in the county excluding West Cork.

Many of the families had branches when in the course of the 18th century conformed to the Church of Ireland and embraced Protestantism and renounced the ‘Errors of Popery’.

There were contemporaneous complaints from enforcers and supporters of the Penal Laws of the activities of ‘Crypto-Catholics’ who used the fig leaf of conformity for conveyancing and professional purposes. In Dublin in the Legal Profession in particular, there were complains that prominent lawyers had wives who had chapels in the house and priest openly calling.

The Convert Rolls still extant probably underestimate the numbers conforming. Looking at some of the names the conformity is often concurrent with the dating of wills:

It is possible to broadly track families such as the Galweys from 1250 and it is remarkable how prevalent the family and others are to the present day in land ownership, the legal profession and as merchants.

In West Cork certain Protestant families acted as trustees to hold Catholic lands including the Townsends for the O’Heas and the O’Donovans were also such beneficiaries. In Cork City the Tuckeys acted for Nagle in respect of Blackrock lands in the tithe books of St. Finbarr’s Cathedral in the 1780s Tuckeys Land appears as a townland in Ballinure.

In Dublin there were a number of Attorneys who used the actual legal provision of the Penal Laws to circumvent the in conveyancing. Among those from a legal background who had fathers who conformed were Edmund Burke and Lord Clare (Jack Fitzgibbon).

Looking at Herbert Gillman’s marriage index it is apparent that many of the families mentioned continued to intermarry:

It is also interesting that many of the Planter families have a line of ancestor which is Gaelic or Norman even if Protestant, such as the McCarthys to the Bandon Bernards and Dunmanway Shouldhams and Ballineen Welbys, The O’Donovan/Beecher connection, Galwey/Townsend. From early on the O’Sullivans are intermarried everywhere especially in Bandon and Cork City.