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Meiler Fitzhenry Part II
Posted by: Ed Fitzhenry Date: August 24, 2000 at 10:20:49
In Reply to: Fitzhenry Family Origins, Meiler by Ed Fitzhenry of 184

Part II:
Another lawless Norman noble was William de Burgh, who was now engaged in the conquest of Connaught. But while de Burgh was devastating the region, Fitzhenry and his assessor Walter de Lacy, led a host into de Burgh's Munster estates. De Burgh lost his estates, though on appeal to King John he ultimately recovered them all, except those in Connaught. Fitzhenry had similar problems with Richard Tirel and other Nobles.

Walter de Lacy, at one time his chief colleague, quarreled with him in 1206 about the baronies of Limerick. In 1204 he was directed by the King to build a castle in Dublin to serve as a court of justice as well as a means of defense. He was also to compel the citizens of Dublin to fortify the city itself.

Fitzhenry continued to hold the justiciarship until 1208. The last writ addressed to him in that capacity is dated June 19, 1208. Mr. Gilbert says he was superseded between 1203 and 1205 by Hugh de Lacy, but many writs are addressed to him as justiciary during these years. On several occasions assessors or counselors were associated with him in this work, and he was directed to do nothing of exceptional importance without their advice.

Fitzhenry remained one of the most powerful of Irish barons, even after he ceased to be justiciar. About 1212 his name appears immediately after that of William Marshall in the spirited protest of the Irish barons against the threatened deposition of John by the Pope, and the declaration of their willingness to live and die for the King.

Several gifts from the King marked John's appreciation of his administration of Ireland. But it was not till August 1219 that all the expenses incurred during his vice royalty were defrayed from the exchequer. He must by that date been a very old man. Already in 1216 it was thought likely he would die, or at least retire from the world into a monastery. There is no reference to his acts after 1219, and he died in 1220.

He had long atoned for his early want of piety by the foundation in 1202 of the abbey in Connall in county Kildare, which he handed over to the Austin canons of Llanthony, near Gloucester. This he endowed with large estates with all the churches and benefices in his Irish lands, with a tenth of his household expenses, rents and produce. He was buried in the chapter house in Connall. He had by the niece of Hugh de Lacy a son named Meiler, who in 1206 was old enough to dispossess William de Braose of Limerick, and whose forays into Tyrconnell had already spread devastation among the Irish. The brother of the elder Meiler, Robert Fitzhenry, died about 1180.


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