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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Appendix I - Borough of Ennis

By Letters Patent of the 26th September, 1612, dated from Hampton Court, Ennis was constituted a borough, to be managed by a Provost, twelve burgesses, and commonality, the Provost to be chosen on the 24th of June, and sworn on the 29th of September, before the Provost of the preceding year. He was to be clerk of the market, to have two sergeants at mace, and other inferior officers. The borough was authorized to send two members to Parliament, these to be chosen by the Provost or Portrieff and the burgesses. The Provost was directed to hold a daily court of record for trial of all actions for debt, etc., not exceeding five marks. He was to make bye-laws, to have a mercatory guild, and a common seal.

As an illustration of the spirit in which the franchise of Ennis was exercised, the following incident is presented to the reader:—

In 1634, Sir Barnaby O’Brien, Knt., afterwards Earl of Thomond, and Sir Richard Southwell or Sacheverall, Knt., were members of Parliament for that borough. A vacancy was created by the election of Sir Barnaby for Carlow, and thereupon an order was sent by the Lord Deputy to the Provost and the twelve burgesses to elect in his stead a man named Francis Winderbank, an utter stranger. Without a moment’s hesitation they complied, and their certificate to that effect is signed by Maurice Cuffe Prepositus, Hugh Norton, Gregory Hickman, and others. [1]

In 1609, February 27th, Donogh, Earl of Thomond, had a grant to hold a Tuesday market and two fairs at Ennis on Easter Monday, and on the 24th of August, and on the day after each, at the yearly rent of twenty shillings Irish.

In 1680, Mr. Hugh Brigdall describes Ennis as having a trade in hides, tallow, and butter, which the purchasers there transmitted by boat to Limerick. The town was composed of about 120 houses, containing 600 inhabitants. About twenty houses were slated and the remainder thatched. Only a dozen English families resided there. The better sort of the Catholic townspeople were persons who had been born in Limerick and who had been driven thence by Ireton in 1651. Brigdall states that they had grown prosperous by commerce and trade at Ennis. [2]

The new corporation of Ennis, as established by James II. in 1687, consisted of a Portreve and twelve burgesses, as undernamed:—

David White, merchant, Portreve. Burgesses—Daniel Viscount Clare, Donogh O’Brien of Dough, Esq.; Florence M‘Namara, Esq.; John M‘Namara, Pierce Creagh, merchant; James Casey, merchant; Peter Rice, merchant; Andrew White, merchant; Andrew Wolfe, merchant; Obadiah Dawson, apothecary; James White, merchant; and John Lentall, vintner; Denis Casey, town clerk.

The family of Burton of Buncraggy were long and intimately connected with the town. Archdall, in his Peerage, under the heading of Marquess of Conyngham, gives a genealogy of that house, as follows: Francis Burton came into Ireland in 1610, accompanied by his brother, and settled at Ballyea, part of the estate of Buncraggy, in 1611, as appears by a lease thereof granted to him in that year by the Earl of Thomond; and the town of Ennis being incorporated by charter, dated 26th of February, in the tenth year of King James I., the said Francis was therein appointed one of the first free burgesses, and dying without issue, he appointed his brother Thomas his heir—which Thomas was seated at Buncraggy, a lease of that estate being granted to him by Donogh Earl of Thomond, as appears in a demise to his son Samuel of the said estate of Buncraggy by Barnabas Earl of Thomond. Samuel succeeded at Buncraggy in 1657, and was sheriff of the county of Clare in 1669. He married Margery, daughter of . . . Harris, Esq., and deceased in 1712, for the probate of his will is dated in December of that year, leaving issue by her, a daughter, Dorothy who married David Bindon of Cloony, Esq., and three sons—Francis, his successor; Charles, and Benjamin. Francis, the eldest succeeded his father; he was usher of the Court of Chancery in Ireland, 28th July, 1690. He was appointed sheriff of the county of Clare by King William, then in the camp near Kilcullen. No person was returned member of Parliament for the county in 1691, but we find the same Francis returned in November, 1692, in which year, and again in 1695, 1703, and 1713, he was elected to represent the borough of Ennis in Parliament. His descendants, Francis Pierrepoint Burton and others of the family represented Clare and Ennis until comparatively recent times.