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The Taylors of Ballickmoyler, co. Laois

Back to The Bowles of Ballickmoyler
Adam Taylor of Ballickmoyler was one of two Taylors, probably brothers, who came to Ireland from Scotland around 1710.  See The Taylors From Scotland and The Taylors From Scotland Family Tree
See also Taylor References in Quaker Meeting Registers and Some Other Potentially Connected Taylor Lines
For more details on the deed memorials see Ballickmoyler Deed Memorials and for much more details from the Quaker references mentioned on this page see Quaker Source References for the Taylors of Ballickmoyler
Some Background


In 1714 Edward Cooper, a prominent member of the Carlow Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers), bought the entire townland of Ballickmoyler, along with the neighbouring townlands of Sragh (now Coopershill townland) and Cudagh (now Cloydagh) which came with the predominately Roman Catholic tenants already on the land.  As was common with other Protestant landowners, who generally saw traditional Irish farming methods as inefficient, one of his priorities would have been to improve the land’s production.  Typically he would have looked for other Protestant sub-tenants to help him apply more modern (i.e. English) farming techniques.


We know the most about the Taylor family, one of Cooper’s earliest Protestant sub-tenants.  In 1725 Cooper brought a fellow Quaker, Adam Taylor, and his family from Wexford to Ballickmoyler, initially as a free tenant, but giving him a lease on 60 acres in 1737.  Sometime between 1726 and 1745 Cooper leased 60 acres of Ballickmoyler, immediately adjacent to the Taylor family’s 60 acres, to my ancestor John Bowles.  In 1750 his son John Jr signed a lease on 60 acres which had previously been held by his parents.  See The Bowles of Ballickmoyler  Other Protestant tenants of Cooper’s before 1750 mentioned in deed memorials included the town’s blacksmith, John Murray, a William Walsh and an 'the miller' (that was possibly John Furney but the earliest references I can find for him as the miller there was in 1769).


The Taylor Family of Ballickmoyler


The earliest records for this line are found in the records in the Friends (Quakers) Library in Dublin which is an extremely fortunate development for the Taylor family history.  The Quakers kept extremely detailed records of each member’s family and recorded the minutes of regularly scheduled meetings of the council of each Quaker community at which major events in their members lives were often discussed.  These minutes included requests by members who wished to marry or to move between communities.  For images of the actual records mentioned in the following see Quaker Source References for the Taylors of Ballickmoyler


The earliest reference we have for Adam Taylor was when he signed as a witness at a William Taylor's marriage to Hannah Thacker of Castledermot at Newgarden, co. Carlow in 1716.


Then next, the Dublin and Wexford Meeting Minutes record Adam Taylor of Wexford, and Susanna Thacker (daughter of John Thacker of Castledermot and Hannah Thacker's sister) marriage at Baltiboys, co. Wexford on May 20, 1719.


 These records, as shown on the Sources page, are very interesting but of particular interest in these extracts is that Adam had come to Ireland from Scotland 9 or 10 years earlier and that Adam’s own meeting was at Lambstown, co. Wexford.  Susanna’s current meeting was at Balteboys but the Carlow meeting had also been consulted as Susanna’s family home of Castledermot came under the Carlow meeting.  See the section on The Thacker Family History on The Taylors from Scotland page.


The Friends Family Record for Adam Taylor adds the additional detail that he was the son of Allen Taylor of the Parish of Slemanen, Stirling (Stirlingshire, Scotland) and Susanna Thacker was the daughter of John Thacker of Castledermot.


After their marriage Adam and Susannah settled at Ballinclay where son John was born in 1720 and daughter Jane in 1724.  However, according to the Wexford Meeting Minutes, Adam couldn’t find an opportunity for himself at Ballinclay so he approached the nearby Cooladine Meeting.  When they could not help him either they helped him look elsewhere.


The Cooladine Meeting wrote to the Carlow Meeting in July (5th mos) 1724 asking if there would be an opportunity for him there.  Edward Cooper, who was a member of the Carlow meeting, must have agreed to help him as Adam’s family was soon 'migrated' to the Carlow meeting. Their next child, Mary, was born in Ballickmoyler in 1725.  Cooper had met Adam earlier at William Taylor's marriage in Carlow in 1716 as he and Adam both signed as witnesses on William's marriage record as mentioned above.


Adam may have worked as a free tenant on Cooper's land initially but he must have proved himself as in 1737 Cooper granted him a lease on 60 acres in Ballickmoyler (deed memorial 99/106/68160) which his son John renewed in 1766 (deed memorial 247/161/160961). 


I can’t identify those 60 acres for certain although they seem to generally have been the NE quarter of Ballickmoyler as the town is divided into 4 sections where the NS and EW main roads passing through the town cross.  Their neighbor, John Bowles’, land in 1750 was on the SW side of the high road from Adam Taylor’s orchard and from there along the S border of Taylor’s holding to the miller’s holding on the west, along the mill stream to the SE to John Murray’s land and then along the High Road back to Adam Taylor’s orchard (memorial 262/115/168056).  Cooper’s lease to of 18 acres on the west side of the High Road leading to Castletown to the Rev. Edward Whitty in 1769 (memorial 274/390/179247) defines the land as bounded on one side as mentioned above, on a second part by land held by John Taylor and his undertenants, on a third part by a road and little stream running near the mill (this would be the road to Oldleagh) and on the last part by the land of John Furney and Joshua Haughton and their undertenants.   The miller at that time was John Furney.   In 1792 he obtained a mortgage on his mill, mill pond and mill race which states that the miller’s land was bounded on the north by John Taylor’s land, on the south by the road to Doonan, on the east by Taylor’s land and John Bowles’ land and on the west by the road to old Leagh (memorial 472/500/304287).


In 1766 Edward Cooper II (the grandson of the original Edward Cooper) agreed to an annual rent charge of 30 pounds and sufficient grazing and hay for three cows or 6 pounds in lieu to be paid to John Taylor out of Cooper’s income from his holdings in Shraugh and Cudda (memorial 321/577/217868).  A ‘rent charge’ was a legal device where a set fee could be paid by one party in exchange for the release of some property held by the second party for some kind of a development. The details of the development would be contained in the original deed but were not specified in the deed memorial.  However the Taylor land would have included the NE corner of Ballickmoyler town including the north side of the high road leading to Carlow, facing the central square where the police barracks and national school were built in the 1800’s.  Cooper could well have been developing some earlier town facility, possibly the market that is known to have been in Ballickmoyler prior to 1798.


The Taylors Departure From The Quaker Faith


It was certainly the Taylor's connection to the Friends Faith that led to Adam Taylor becoming a tenant of Edward Cooper's in Ballickmoyler.  However, as the Coopers did themselves, the Taylors of Ballickmoyler would find it difficult to live up to the strict moral code practiced by the Quakers.  The heads of three generations in a row would receive Letters of Disunity from their Carlow Meeting for their misbehaviours.  In 1746 the Carlow Meeting received reports that Adam was accused of striking a woman which, when challenged, he admitted to but refused to explain.  He then refused to submit a letter condemning his assault of the woman so the meeting recorded a letter of testimony against him which effectively removed him from further association with the Quakers.  His wife and children remained in the faith although Susannah and daughter Hannah were reported as not attending regular meetings in 1760.  Their son John was also removed from Friends after his non-attendance at meetings and reports of his bad behaviour including lying and drinking surfaced in 1751 and his bad conduct and separation from his wife and family in 1762 reaching the Carlow Meeting resulted in a Testimony of Disunity against him.  John's son Adam was well thought of by the Carlow Meeting when he received a Letter of Clearness from his meeting when he married Mary Devitt of Ballinakill in July 1784 but just 3 months later his meeting charged him with swearing an oath in a court of law, which the Quakers strictly forebade of their members, and he was also disavowed from association with Friends.


The only family witness at Adam's marriage was his brother John.   He was member of the Carlow Meeting in 1783 when he migrated from his meeting to the Mountmellick Meeting.  His elder brother, Adam Taylor, was one of the members of the Carlow Meeting who signed his letter of reference to the Mountmellick Meeting.  There he paid fees for the Mountmellick school for a couple of years and is listed under Superintendants – Officers of the school in 1785.  In 1793 the local meeting noted that he had moved to Wexford some time since. He appears in the Wexford minutes as a representative of the Enniscorthy Meeting from 1793 until he was disowned on the March 8, 1796 for marrying outside the faith.

The family's last mention in the Carlow Meeting records was in 1797 upon Hannah Taylor’s burial at the Friends Cemetery at Newgarden just north of Carlow.   


Religious Tensions in Ballickmoyler


The Taylor’s would not have farmed that 60 acres themselves.  The first Edward Cooper had divided Ballickmoyler up between several Protestant major tenants in the 1730’s but there would already have been Irish Catholic tenants on this land who would have become their undertenants.  That their tenants were Catholic is further demonstrated by the absence of any memorials between the Taylors and any other party until 1765 when Adam’s son John Taylor leased their orchard on the High Road in Ballickmoyler to a Protestant, Murtho Lawlor, at a yearly rental of 4 pounds 10s (memorial 265/149/173416).  There were no other deeds or leases as at that time Catholics were prohibited from holding land.  They worked their allocated land, without any legal right to it, as ‘at will’ tenants of the Protestant landholders.  This wasn’t unique to the Taylors or to Ballickmoyler, this was the system throughout Ireland. 


The polarization between the Protestant landholders and their Catholic tenants was further aggravated by the compulsory church tithes which were enforced nationally.  Every land occupant, whether landholder or tenant and regardless of their religion, was assessed a fee or tax on their land’s production which they had to pay to the Church of Ireland’s representative in their parish.  These church tithes had been in place for a long time already but in the later 1700's the rates increased and their collection was strictly enforced with the support of army troops if necessary.  If they were unable to pay their tithe their stock could be seized for the payment, if that was not available they could be, and often were, evicted.  This situation resulted in the growth of the Whiteboys, an agrarian resistance movement which was particularly active in Tipperary, Kilkenny and Queen’s county.  (Ref. Captain Rock In The Queen’s County, chapter 17 of Laois, History and Society)


With The Rev. Edward Whitty’s (the Canon of Killaban parish from 1765 and Archbishop of Leighlin Diocese from 1777) move to Ballickmoyler in the 1760’s Edward Cooper II was put in a difficult position.  As a Quaker he was forbidden by his faith to pay the church tithes himself and also he wasn't to take up arms or use any other form of force for any reason.  However, he would have been required by law to pay his tithes.  Further he would have to enforce Rev. Whitty’s rights to collect the Established church tithes from Cooper’s tenants within Whitty’s parish including from his Catholic tenants.  With the growth of the Whiteboys in the coal colleries just south of Ballickmoyler Edward could not have avoided those confrontations.  This isn’t just hypothetical, Whitty’s use of force to collect unpaid tithes is documented in the January 1787 issue of The Hibernian Magazine in which Whitty and his tithe agent, my ancestor John Bowles, with an armed party were seizing some cattle for overdue tithes when they were set upon by a ‘multitude armed with scythes etc.’ who knocked down his party and threatened to hang Bowles.  Edward Cooper’s sons William and Edward Jr. appear to have put their duty as members of the gentry before his faith as the Dec. 28, 1788 minutes of the Carlow Meeting reports that they had received a letter from William and his brother Edward Cooper stating that ‘they desire to be looked on no longer as members of our religious society’ which the meeting agreed was appropriate ‘having taken into consideration with the conduct of the said William, which has been in divers respects quite inconsistent with our religious principles, ….particularly it being reported that he hath taken an Oath and served on a Grand Jury’.


The Taylors were now fully members of the Established Church, the Church of Ireland.  As such they likely participated in the loyalist resistance to the United Irish Rebellion in 1798 as Adam Taylor’s house was one of the ones burned down by the rebels.  The Taylors were probably one of the 6 or 7 loyalist families from Ballickmoyler that took refuge with the Rev. Whitty at Providence Lodge where they held out overnight against a siege by the rebels.  See Ballickmoyler in the United Irish Rebellion of 1798


Ballickmoyler’s Protestant chapel, which I’ve been told was in the Bowles house prior to 1798 but I’ve not been able to confirm that, was also burned in the rebellion.  Afterwards they decided to build a new church to be located at Castletown, the site of an earlier, probably Catholic, church where there was a graveyard in which the earlier local gentry had been buried.  Adam Taylor was at the founding meeting of the church in 1801 and would have been involved in the building of the church.  Unfortunately I examined the vestry minutes which contain these records at the Church of Ireland archives in Dublin before becoming interested in the Taylors and so only noted the Bowles references. They are not currently available online.  See The Bowles of Ballickmoyler and the Church at Castletown 


I have not researched the Taylor family after my own ancestors left Ballickmoyler for Dunleckney, co. Carlow by 1808 and ultimately went on to Canada shortly after that.


This site was last updated 12/18/18