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Lord Docwra and Sir John Bolle in Ulster

Back to Sir John Bolle in Ireland, Bolles of Haugh in the Military or The Bolles of Haugh
In 1600 Lord Mountjoy was appointed the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland charged by Queen Elizabeth with the task of ending the Tyrone Rebellion.  While the fighting continued in the south he also initiated a plan to lay waste to the rebels home ground, Ulster, in order to weaken their supply lines and to force them to split their forces.

Elizabeth had agreed to provide 2000 more men to supplement the Irish army.  The force gathered in Chester, departed from Liverpool on April 22, 1600, met up with further troop ships in Dublin and sailed together for the north coast of Ireland.  The fleet of 69 sails was divided into three squadrons, The Moon with Mountjoy, the chief commander, at vanguard, The Battle led by Sir Matthew Morgan and the rear guard commanded by Sir John Bolles. 

They were equipped with masons and carpenters and a large quantity of tools to build the necessary fortifications and houses for a garrison. The most vulnerable period for this force would be the period after landing, before adequate defensive works had been prepared.  Accordingly Mountjoy landed in the north in May in order to attract O'Neill's forces towards him, and to give the Lough Foyle force time to dig in and prepare fortifications.  Under cover of this feint, Docwra's force sailed into Lough Foyle and on May 15th they landed by Castle Culmore and began a fort. 

On the 22nd they left 700 men at Culmore and moved on to Derry where they established their headquarters.

Docwra described his first view of the town as: “A place in manner of an island comprehending within it 40 acres of ground, wherein were the ruins of an Abbay, of a Bishopp's house, of two churches, and at one of the ends of it an old castle, the river called Loughfoyle encompassing it all on one side, and a bogg most comonlie wet, and not easilie passible except in two or three places dividing it from the main land.”   Using locally scavenged materials and their own provisions, Docwra's men built two more forts. The lower one at the river's edge (constructed around the ruins of the old O'Doherty castle) was for the stores and the upper or great fort on the high ground above was for the soldiers' quarters and other housing. Both projects were overseen by Docwra’s second in command, Sir John Bolles of Haugh.


In July Docwra moved 800 men upriver to the site of a ruined O’Neill castle at Dunnalong.  Sir John Bolles was left there with six companies of foot to establish a base for a garrison.

See Sir John Bolle at Dunnalong Fortress for the next part of this history.



This site was last updated 02/02/21