In the six years following the ‘Irish Rebellion’ of 1641, upwards of two thousand Irishmen were outlawed, among them my 8th great grandfather Dennis Cavenagh (c. 1620 – after 1685).

Dennis Cavenagh is named in two depositions associated with the County Kildare rebellion 1641, part of a collection held by Trinity College Dublin.

Part of the deposition by Henry Peirse of Clane
  • Thomas Leigh of Killeclone, co Kildare, deposed 19 January 1642 that losses were inflicted on him by Dennes Cavenagh of Clane, William Fitzgerald of Blackhall, Esqres, and Martin Nangle gent. The total loss valued at £1296. [This was a large sum of money. A historic currency converter suggests that £1296 in 1641 was roughly the equivalent of £297,000 pounds today.]
  • Henry Peirse of Clane, Co Kildare, gent, sworn 5 March 1642 states that in December last he was robbed and spoyled of his goods and chattels by WilliamFitzgerald of Blackhall in the same county Esqre, Oliver Wogan of ffersnston (fferanston ?) in the same county, Maurice Eustace of Moone, Nicholas FitzJames als FitzGerald of Clane, Lewes Moore of the same, and Dennys Cavenagh of the same, and Dominick 0 of the same, tailor, with divers others whose names petitioner knoweth not, total loss valued at £1173 [estimated £270,000 pounds today].
A burning house at the time of the 1641 Rebellion
Some of the places mentioned in the depositions are shown in red as is the town of Athy

The name ‘Dennis Cavenagh’ was included on a list of outlaws promulgated on 19 November 1642 at Athy, County Kildare

… indicted of treason in the King’s Bench Dublin in Hillary Term 17th Charles Rex 1641, and outlawed thereupon:

  • Co. Kildare Cavenagh Dionisius of Clane gent.

The depositions do not seem to accuse Cavenagh and associates of treason. However, given the timing, the inclusion of Peirse‘s and Leigh’s depositions in the Trinity College collection, and Cavenagh being named as an outlaw, it seems the robbery of Henry Peirse and Thomas Leigh by Dennis Cavenagh and others was part of the rebellion. Henry Peirse / Persse is I believe Anglo-Irish and one of the Persse family which were the subject of a 2016 book “The Persse Family of County Galway Genealogy and History, 1554-1964” by Gerry Kearney. The book blurb states “Revd Edward Persse and his brother, Henry, were fortunate to survive the worst excesses of the 1641 rebellion.”

In 1652, in an attempt to settle Ireland and bring the troubles to an end, the English Parliament passed legislation punishing owners of Irish land who had been involved in the 1641 rebellion. If they had played a major part they were dispossessed entirely. For a minor role they forfeited a proportion of their land. For this forfeiture they were to be recompensed by grants of land west of the Shannon, where they were to be given an area equal to the proportion they were entitled to retain. This was called transplanting.The province of Connacht and the county of Clare were set aside for the Irish rebels to transplant themselves, their families, dependents, livestock and goods before 1 May, 1654. The penalty for not transplanting was death by hanging. By 1 May 1654, 44,210 names were recorded on certificates of transplantation.

Dennis Cavenagh, almost certainly a Catholic and probably involved to some degree in the rebellion, seems to have been treated fairly leniently. His name does not appear on the list of transplanters, and it seems that after his outlawry he continued to live quietly in the district.

In the church registers of Athy, County Kildare. Dennis Cavenagh’s son James was recorded as a Protestant. The attainder of his father perhaps gave rise to this change in religious affiliation.

Dennis Cavenagh was still living in 1685 as he is is named in his son James’s 1685 will.

The will of James Cavenagh, dated the 8th of March, 1685, was proved in the Prerogative Court at Dublin on the 23rd of April 1686 by Elizabeth, his wife and the Reverend James Moore. James Cavenagh is described as of Grangemellon. He left sixteen pounds to his brother Martin, and one hundred pounds to his wife, to be paid out of a bond for five hundred pounds due by Captain Fitz-Gerald. He directed that what lands were then in the actual possession of his father, Dennis Cavenagh, and of his mother, they were to enjoy the same during their natural lives, with remainder to his son, Wenford [Wentworth]; should he die before his grand-parents, with remainder to Elizabeth, his wife; should she predecease his parents, with remainder to his brother, Martin.

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