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My Irish Journal 1669-1670

William Penn kept a daily journal of his travels while in Ireland which was later published as “My Irish Journal”.

In the 1660’s Admiral Sir William Penn was granted a large area of land in south-east co. Cork in reward for his support of the Restoration.

This land was already largely settled with Protestant tenants under their previous land owner, a Colonel Wallis.

Admiral Penn was getting older and so sent his son, William Penn, to Ireland to meet with his new tenants and arrange new tenancy agreements with them.

While Admiral Penn was not a Quaker his son William had converted to the Friends faith and had spent time in prison in England was publishing a book supporting Quakerism.

In sending William to Ireland upon his release from prison in August 1669 the Admiral probably hoped to separate his son from these undesirable influences in England.

However, on September 26th, 1669, William Penn landed in the Cove of Cork (today’s Cobh) he immediately went ashore and met with local Quaker leaders and visited some who had been imprisoned.

The very next day he met with a larger group of Friends which included a John Boles.  I believe this to have been Captain Thomas Boles’ son John who was born ~ 1644 which would make him about the same age as William Penn.

Captain Boles was one of the Penn’s tenants in Cork.

John Boles seems to have already been a friend of Penn’s or else he had been selected by other Friends close to Penn to accompany him during his visit in Ireland.

For much of the next year John Boles accompanied Penn on his travels around Cork, Tipperary, Queen’s county and Dublin to meet with Friends and Friends Meetings.

William Penn kept a daily journal of his travels while in Ireland which was later published as “My Irish Journal”.

Extracts from Penn’s “My Irish Journal”:

1669 entries

Sept. 25   We arrived at the Cove of Cork and lay there all night.

Sept. 26   We came to Cork. Dined at Thomas Mitchell’s.  Visited the prisoners, Samuel Thornton being there.  We lay at Elizabeth Pike’s.

Oct. 27    William Morros and myself went to the Mayor’s, but to no purpose.  I met Christopher Pennock, F. S., John Boles.  We had a meeting in prison at night where we also had dined.  (the Editor, Isabel Grubb’s, comments for John Boles are “John Boles was of Charleville, co. Limerick (note: Charleville is in Cork but on the Limerick border), at this time, although the family settled in County Tipperary later.  He must not be confused with Captain Boles also mentioned by Penn; they may have been related.  Another note later states “The Boles family lived until late in the 19th century at Springfield about 10 miles north of Shanagarry.”)

Oct. 28 to Nov. 2   William Penn traveled to William Lawford’s in Clogheen, Tipperary, travelled on to John Fennell’s (likely Kilcommonbeg near Cahir), then to Cashel, Clas (this would be Clas nan Gall (Pit of the Foreigners), the site near Silvermines where a number of miners were murdered in 1641), Thurles, Mountrath (Queen’s county), Rosenallis, Mount Mellick, Kildare, Naas and to Dublin where the Friends held a National Meeting.  Later he returned to Cork and started his negotiations with his father’s tenants in SE Cork.

Dec. 5     We left Tallow and came to Captain Bent’s.  We passed by a great company of Irish gathered to the Mass upon a hill.  We dined at Captain Bent’s. Went to see the Vale of Shangarry.  Stopped at Captain Boles’ farm, he holds of my father, well improved; from thence to Captain Bent’s where we supped and lay.

Dec. 8     I stayed to write letters (at Elizabeth Pike’s in Cork town).  I could not agree with Captain Boles.  I went to prison where I spoke a few words in the pure life.  From thence home.  (these last two entries imply that Captain Boles was not a Quaker although John Boles certainly was as several references indicate)

Dec. 9     I left Cork (the town).  John Boles in company to Kinsale.  Cousin (or possibly Captain) Rooth came to visit me at The Green Dragon and Cousin Penn (note: his cousin was also named William Penn).

Dec. 15   We went to admeasure Geiragh and Knocknacaple, Francis Smith being there and John Boles.  It amounts to …. acres …. more than by the Line Survey.  Colonel Wallis came to see me.  Lay at Captain Bent’s.

Dec. 21    We went to Captain Boles’s house, admeasured his lands in part.  Dined there.  I returned and John Hull with me.

Dec. 22    We went to Captain Boles’s, finished his land and so to Aghada to Captain Walkham’s and lay there.

Dec. 23    …. entry about measuring Walkham’s land…. Samuel Thornton came in the while.  Returned with him to Captain Boles’s, so to Colonel Phair’s, …..

Dec. 29    Major Farmer and John Boles came to see me.  I had advice from Farmer.  Dined and supped at Shanagarry (Admiral Penn’s house).

Dec. 31    …. Met at Shanagarry Colonel Osborne, Richard Hull, Francis Smith, Sergeant Rouls and John Boles, also G. Fitzgerald.  I did little business.  They dined here.  We had some controversy together about matter of liberty.  Sergeant Rouls is to conclude with me about the business.  G. Fitzgerald would have a farm.  None can be set to him.  I went with them, so did John Hull, Colonel Wallis and John Boles almost to Ballicrenane, then returned.


1669/1670 Entries(the Quaker New Year only started in March at that time)

Jan. 1     Colonel Wallis, John Boles and I went to Inch, found the house out of repair.  Thence to Captain Walkham’s and so with John Gossage and Philip Ford home to Shanagarry.

Jan. 4     John Boles came to me.  Colonel Wallis, he (John Boles), John Pennington and I went to Captain Gale’s.  Rode into the sea.  ….. John Boles went home and Woodley to Gale’s.

Jan. 5     I went an hour before day (dawn) to Captain Bent’s for advice.  He came back two miles.  I overtook Captain Walkham and John Boles. …..

Jan. 10   Captain Walkham and John Boles came, the lease agreed upon and drawn at £84 per annum.

Jan. 12   John Burnyeat, John Penington, Samuel (Thornton) and I went to Tallow. Lost our way by 6 miles.  We baited there.  Took a guide to Clogheen (Tipperary).  We were lost on the mountains, fain to grope our way.  At last got over by many precipices and came to Clogheen by another guide from the foot of the mountains, being in all about 29 Irish miles, near 50 English.

Jan. 13   Next morning we went to John Fennell’s (probably Kilcommonbeg just south of Cahir, Tipperary) found Solomon Eccles there.  Had a meeting.  John Burnyeat and Solomon Eccles spoke. It was a most precious meeting.  Many Friends were there, George Baker (of Cashel), John Boles and James Hutchinson etc.  (from here Penn returned to Shanagarry)

Jan. 17   Captain Walkham, Captain Gale, Captain Boles, Major Woodley and Priest Vowell came to see me (note: Christopher Vowell of Charleville was Chaplain to Lord Orrery the Lord President of Munster; this sounds like a deputation to encourage Penn to stop his activities).  Finished with Captain Boles at £62 per annum.  I had much dispute at table with Vowell.

Jan. 25   I went to Captain Boles’s.  From thence to captain Phair’s. …. I called at Colonel Fitzgerald’s.  Was not at home, met him returning to Captain Boles’s.  Supped there.  Returned to Shanagarry.

Jan. 28   (Penn’s guests at Shanagarry returned to Cork by way of Captain Boles’s and Captain Bent’s.)

Feb. 1    Major Farmer and Major Woodley came to Captian bent’s.  I spoke to them.  From thence we went to Cork, John Boles being with us.

Feb. 2 to 5    Penn travelled from Cork to Kinsale, then to Clogheen (Tipperary), on to John Fennell’s again and then to George Baker’s in Cashel returning to Cork after several days.

Feb. 6 to Apr. 22  Penn travelled and conducted a lot of Meetings but there is no mention of any Boles.

1670 Entries

Apr. 23    Captain Boles and his son came and signed their lease.  (to me this reference implies either that John Boles was not Captain Boles’ son or that this reference refers to Captain Boles and some other son of his)

Apr. 24    I followed my book of Liberty and Conscience.  John Boles came hither.

Apr. 25   (Penn negotiated and signed leases with Colonel Osborne and Major Woodley.

Apr. 26   Philip Ford came to Cork.  John Boles came.  Joshua Mantle and his wife.  I followed my book.

Apr. 27   I went to Ballicrenane, John Boles with me. …..

Apr. 29   I went to meet Colonel Osborne at Carabby (near Midleton).  Concluded on nothing.  He said it was in agitation since the last 6th month, called August.  John Boles was with me.  I went thence to Captain Boles’s barn and so to Colonel Phair’s where I dined.  (this is an interesting reference.  if the word is indeed barn and not farm it may imply a meeting place, what other reason would he have for visiting a barn?)

May 4     (Walkham and Penn travelled to Tallow, on to Sir Boyle Maynard’s (at Curraglass near Mogeely, co Cork and on the Waterford border) and then to Walter Croker’s (at Ballyanker, co. Waterford) where Lord Broghill met with them.  (this reference recorded in connection with a later Boles/Croker marriage)

May 8     Back in Cork, Penn “went to Captain Boles’s”.

May 12   We went to prison, stayed mostly with Friends.  J. Gould and John Boles were there. (this is in Cork town, all would have been visiting imprisoned Friends)

May 21   We went into the country at Captain Bent’s.  Fixed Thomas Frankland’s leases and signed John Boles’s.  Wrote to the tenants.

May 22   John Boles came to see us.

We stayed there.

May 26   end of the Journal.