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The Frosts of County Clare, Ireland by Janet Frost

The Early Frosts

The tradition is that the first Frost who lived in Co Clare was an English soldier THOMAS FROST, a soldier in Cromwell’s army of occupation in Clare and that he had been discharged as unfit and granted land in Clare. Flan Enright quotes from a Report of the Marquis of Ormond KP’s papers (preserved at Kilkenny Castle) by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, Volume 1, Section IX p 270-271. This is an item in a series of papers on The Army in Ireland 1661-66 Commissions, Warrants and Orders.

‘7 May 1663:’Forasmuch as we are certified by the Earl of Orrery, Lord President of the Province of Munster, that Patrick Adams, Nicholas Kelfforde, John Comes, John Barnes and Thomas Lockett, private soldiers in his lordships’ own company, also Thomas Birde, William Johnson, John Rosse, Bryan Doare, Thomas Frost and Robert Lease of Sir Arthur Denny’s company and Edward Vickery, Edward Halloway, and William Mason of Sir Peter Courthopp’s company were all lately disbanded, because they are by wounds and age, disabled and unfit for service and not for any misdemeanour, having nothing to subsist on but their arrears: these are to require to muster master general or his deputy to state the arrears due, according to rule, to the said soldiers respectively and to take care that they receive the same as the army shall be paid for the same time and that warrants be prepared in due time’
‘There are three orders to this purpose drawn for the soldiers in this order mentioned, for each company an order severally for their arrears to be paid with the army of the same date.’

At the PRO (Public Record Office) in London the book Irish History from 1700: a guide to sources at the PRO by A Prochaska was consulted. The following relevant sentences were copied.

‘A calendar of State Papers 1647’
15 Feb 1652
Certificate by the Earl of Thomond certifying that in the first year of rebellion in Ireland, he, being Governor of Clare raised a troop o f horses in the garrison of Bunratty towards preservation of the English and their goods in the county [p 387].


SP60 Calendar of State Papers 1647-1660
1659 fragment of original:-

"An ordinance to empower such persons as the soldiers of Ireland shall authorise to subdivide lands in their respective lots according to their real value.
An ordinance to satisfy arrears of pay due before 1649.
An ordinance to empower Commissioners to satisfy maimed soldiers, widows and orphans."

It is recorded that the English army in Ireland had not been paid for eighteen months. All this supports the tradition that our Thomas Frost was one of the men discharged as being wounded or otherwise unfit and given his arrears of pay and some land. As recorded above there was a garrison in Bunratty, so it is reasonable to assume that Thomas was there also. On discharge he would have married a local girl and so started the Frosts of Co Clare.

It has also been recorded in the Moloney Pedigree that this Thomas Frost had five sons from whom all the Frosts of Clare are descended. No doubt there were also daughters. It has not been possible to check this. They would have been Protestants at that time as Catholics were not then allowed to own land, unless they were from a powerful family.

Further research at the PRO in London has not found details of the English soldiers who were enlisted by Cromwell and sent to Ireland, so it has not been possible to discover where Thomas came from before he went to Ireland.

Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle

The Ormond Paper was written in 1663, so we can guess that Thomas would have been about twenty five years old and therefore born about 1638. His children would have been born over the next 15 years or so, which brings us to about 1678.

Early records are not available to discover what happened to these children. However, a Solomon Frost and his wife Anne Frost were buried in St Munchin’s in Limerick, Anne in 1746 and Solomon in 1758. Because of the names they would appear to be connected with ‘our’ Frosts. Limerick town is just across a bridge over the river Shannon from Clare and about ten miles from Bunratty.

The next relevant reference to the Frosts in Co Clare is later in the 18th century which was more peaceful than the previous two centuries. The number of Frost families multiplied, and each family had more children. We will consider just one branch, possibly the most successful.

Unlike families in England, Irish men often did not marry until they were in their thirties. They then married younger women and had children over perhaps twenty years. The unusual thing about the Frosts is their longevity. Many of them lived into their seventies and eighties, when most people had died much earlier.

This Solomon could have been a great grandson of Thomas, the soldier. It is possible he was a son or grandson of the Solomon buried in Limerick. There was a tradition that the first child was named after the paternal grandfather or grandmother, and the second child after the maternal grandfather or mother. They then alternated until the grandparents names were used up and then used the names of the parents’ brothers and sisters. This makes it very difficult to separate one from another.

An inscription over a door in Feenagh tells us the property was owned by Thomas Frost, son of Solomon senior. (Flan Enright) This tells us that Thomas had a brother, Solomon and a father Solomon. The other two are from the Tithe Applotment Books. (Chris O’Mahoney)

The following names have been given by Flan Enright and Chris O’Mahoney, but there may have been more sons and also daughters. The order is not known.

  1. James of Rosmanagher, (Feenagh)
  2. Robert of Cappa
  3. Solomon junior of Clonmoney
  4. THOMAS OF FEENAGH about 1760 – 1837 - known as Tommy the croppy.
    Details of these sons follow. N.B. Tom Frost’s direct ancestors are in BOLD

The Sons of Solomon Frost
1. JAMES had at least two sons - John James of Cappa South and Robert.

2. ROBERT OF CAPPA – had at least four sons – Robert James Jun of Cappa S., John Robert of Cappa S., Thomas Robert of Newpark, and Patrick who married Margaret Hogan.

Robert James Frost 1789-1875 was probably the first of these. He was married to Margaret (1804-1867), and they lived at The Hill. He was 86 when he died. In his will he left £450. Their tombstone is in Bunratty. Their children, not in the right order, were:-

  1. Catherine who later married John (the coroner) Frost. She died in 1878
  2. Ellen 1846-1873 who later became the first wife of Edmond Frost. (Tom Frost’s grandfather)
  3. Michael of Cappa who died in 1900 leaving £1602. He married Louisa (1849-1926). They had at least 2 sons and 2 daughters. In 1876 he owned 477 acres of land in Cappa South.
  4. James of Lismoyle, died in 1878 and left £1500. He was married to Anastasia Dundon. She died in 1898. They had 2 sons and eight daughters. In 1876 he owned 274 acres of land at Lismoyle. In 1983, his grandson James Frost wrote that his family had lived at The Hill for generations. The family is buried in Bunratty.
  5. Bridget who married Pat Enright in 1878
3. SOLOMON Jun Clonmoney.

4. THOMAS FROST about 1760 – 1837 m MARGARET McNAMARA
Thomas was known as Tommy the Croppy from the rebellious days of 1798, probably a description of his hair style! The rebellion was by the Catholics against the ruling Anglo-Irish. The beginnings of Catholic emancipation followed as Catholics, if wealthy, were given the right to vote in the 1790s, and other concessions followed. Daniel O’Connell, became the first Catholic MP and was elected in Ennis, Co Clare. Presumably Tommy was one of the Catholic rebels who won these concessions! We cannot know when he became a Catholic or why! Maybe his wife was a Catholic and persuaded him to join her. Maybe his family were already Catholics. However, the Frost family prospered. In the 1827 Kilfintinan Tithe Applotment Book Thomas is stated to have occupied 96 acres of land in Rosmanagher in 11 lots ranging in size from 1.5 acres to 26. He was also connected with Feeenagh.
NB The order of the following children is not known.
  1. SOLOMON OF ROSMANAGHER 1784 – 1871 married ANN BAKER in 1825.
  2. Mary married John Clune in 1800 (MARRIAGE CONTRACT in Registry of Deeds)
  3. Mrs King
  4. Mrs Miller
  5. Mrs Weldon
  6. Mrs Collins
  7. Bridget married Mr O’Donoghue
  8. Possibly William of Ballymorris.1801 - 1833
    William is included here tentatively. See later
  9. Thomas Jun of Ralahine died 1879 in USA, married Lucy Baker in 1839, sister of Ann.

    Details of the sons follow. There is no information re the daughters except for the names of their husbands!

The Sons of Thomas Frost of Feenagh Tommy the Croppy
1. THOMAS who died 1879 in US, m LUCY BAKER in 1839 in Newmarket on Fergus.
They had four sons and five daughters though we do not know how many lived to be adults.

The US Frosts. The third son of Thomas and Lucy was Patrick Joseph, born 1852. He married Margaret Mary O’Brien in Newmarket. The first two sons of this pair were born in Clare, though only the second, John, born 1874, survived infancy. The family then emigrated in about 1875 to the USA where four more sons were born. Patrick had been intending to farm, but instead he had a grocery store somewhere in Iowa. Both Patrick and Margaret died in about 1890, and the boys were raised by a Mrs Mahoney in Chicago. They moved to California in the 1900s. Three of them worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Gerald Frost, who supplied this information, had not heard that his great grandfather Thomas had died in USA. He wondered if Thomas had gone to USA with the family, or was he just visiting? Because of the early deaths of his parents he had been told little about his Irish ancestors and had had to find what he could later in his life. There are descendants from this line in California.

Solomon was a farmer and landlord and he and his family prospered.
He married Anne Baker, as his brother Thomas had married her sister, Lucy Baker. Their father Edmund Baker was also a farmer, from Sixmilebridge. In 1855, after his daughters had left home, Edmund was living at Mogullan House, having rented the house and 59 acres from James Healey. (Houses of Clare – Hugh Weir). The name Edmund was passed on to his grandson and other descendants as was the custom, sometimes spelt Edmond, and sometimes Edmund.

Solomon and Anne had eleven children who survived infancy, seven sons and four daughters. He lived to the great age of 87. In his will he left about £4000.

  1. John (the coroner) of Clonmoney. 1827 – 1923. m. Catherine Frost (Kate of Cappa)
  2. Michael of Rossroe ..-1886. m Bedelia Burke of Broadford. About 14 children.
  3. Solomon Jun of Rosmanagher and Sixmilebridge. Living descendants at Drumline.
  4. Patrick 1831-.. m Kate Maloney in 1853. MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT
  5. Mary 1836-.. m Dr Patrick Kelly of Cree in 1858. MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT
  6. Anne 1838-.. m John Nolan of Kilbane.
  7. Sarah 1838-.. m Simon O’ODonoghue of Quin1861. MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT
  8. Bridget 1840-.. m ..Power of Eribull.
  9. Thomas 1842 of Feenagh m Catherine Mulcahy1867. MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT
  10. EDMOND WILLIAM 1844-1917 m 1) Ellen Frost d. of Robert Frost of Cappa
                                                     2) MARY GREENE
                                MARRIAGE SETTLEMENTS FOR BOTH MARRIAGES
  11. Robert 1848 m Margaret O’Brien of Clarina. He was a vet.

In the 1855 land Valuation Solomon is recorded as holding 96 acres including House Offices and Land, probably the same land that his father had occupied 28 years previously. The owner of the land was R.K.D’Esterre. However the family was adding to the land. John had 19 acres including house Offices and Land, and Solomon Jun had 80 acres. Patrick and Thomas also had property. Some of this land would have been owned and but most of it was leased.

Clearly, Solomon was an intelligent and educated man, but it is difficult to see how he became educated. During the 17th and 18th centuries Catholics were forbidden to teach and Catholic schools were illegal until 1782, which is about the time that Solomon was born. Possibly he was sent abroad to school or he may have been one of the few Catholic boys who attended Erasmus Smith College in Ennis or possibly a school in Limerick.

In 1832 he witnessed an indenture between James Frost of Rossroe and Richard Kenny Esq. of Limerick, concerning the lease of some land in Rossroe.

Indenture between James Frost of Rossroe and Richard Kenny Esq. of Limerick

Solomon died on 11 March 1871 at Punchbowl, Leemick, aged 87.

By 1876, five years after Solomon’s death, in the ‘Return for Owners of Land’, we find only three of the many Frost families listed which included only eight individuals. They are all from this branch of the Frosts. They are Solomon, his cousins Robert and William and some of their sons. Previous records had shown land leased by the Frosts. Before he died Solomon had amassed sufficient wealth to buy land. The same is true of his cousins Robert of Cappa, and William of Ballymorris, Cratloe.

The list below shows entries for the Frosts of Clare in the book The Return of Owners of Land 1876.

Entries for the Frosts of Clare in the book 'The Return of Owners of Land 1876'

James of Ballymorris, John of Clonmoney and Patrick were the sons of William Frost who farmed at Ballymorris. James of Ballymorris was the writer of The History and Topography of the county of Clare, and JP. John of Bindon St. Ennis was the solicitor son of William. Patrick of Castlebank was the youngest son.

James of Lismoyle and Michael of Cappa South were the sons of Robert of Cappa.

John of Clonmoney was the coroner and eldest son of Solomon. Thomas of Feenagh was the fifth son of Solomon. Reps of Solomon referred to the property of Solomon which he left to his family when he died five years earlier.

It seems to have taken the family a long time to sort it out!!

Solomon managed to educate all his family. Were his children also sent abroad? Were the girls educated at home? Some of the sons had higher education and all were bought property by their father. Education was not free. There are records of Marriage Settlements for most of his children. This family somehow not only survived the potato famine in 1845, but actually amassed property. One surmises that as people died or emigrated so land became available very cheaply and Solomon was the man who obtained it. Despite ensuring that all his children were well educated and provided for he still left ‘under £4000’ in his will.

Solomon’s actual will was destroyed in 1922, but in the index of wills is written:-

FROST SOLOMON 26 April 1871
Solomon Frost late of Rossmanagher House Sixmilebridge Co Clare deceased who died 11 March 1871 at same place was proved at the Principal Registry by the oaths of Anne Frost of Rossmanagher House (the widow) and John Frost of Clonmoney Bunratty.for under £4000. (NB John was the eldest son and the coroner.)

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The Children of Solomon Frost