After the defeat of the McDonnells of Antrim by Shane O’Neill in 1565, Sorley Boy McDonnell was taken to Dungannon where he was imprisoned for two years. By this time O’Neill had created many enemies including the Maguires of Fermanagh and his in-laws the O’Donnells of Donegal. Shane decided to visit Sorley in prison to seek his advice but Sorley remained non-committal. As the conversation continued Shane began to see a chance of getting away from Dungannon. After much talking Shane suggested that probably the McDonnell clan would assist him if he went over to Co. Antrim. Not wanting to display his delight, Sorley “hummed and hawed” as he slyly led Shane into a trap. Eventually Sorley agreed with Shane that the Antrim men would be delighted to assist him. Shane, with a troop of thirty soldiers, brought Sorley Boy to Dunaneanie Castle but the most of the McDonnells were in Cushendun, so they travelled on to the Glens village. The first day or two were spent in hunting the deer on the high Garron and the evenings were spent in dining and drinking. On the third day most people were too tired to travel up again to the mountain so they just lolled around. Idle minds lead to mischief and an argument broke out between Shane’s secretary, Eugene O’Hagan and a McDonnell. O’Hagan insisted that Shane O’Neill was about to marry James McDonnell’s widow, the Duchess of Argyll. This comment was soon relayed to the other McDonnell men standing around and in a moment the daggers were out. Shane attempted to calm the situation and was struck down and in a few moments he lay dead. After this Sorley, with considerable difficulty, got repossession of Dunluce Castle.
The English were not very happy with how things had turned out. Sir John Perrot, believed to be a son of Henry the Eighth, was sent to Ireland as Lord Deputy and he spent most of his time harassing the McDonnells. He felt that Sorley was gathering an army to take over the whole of Co. Antrim and he issued instructions preventing the McDonnells from going back to their native Scotland for recruits. Eventually Perrot began to see that he might be more successful if he began to take a more peaceful approach to the McDonnells.
The lists of pardons, which Queen Elizabeth finally granted, included many well-known North Antrim names. Although some of the spellings may be different to what we know them today, it is possible to guess most of them.
In the documents of the 1570s we find that most of the same families are still residing in North Antrim e.g. McDonnells, McConnells, McListers, McMichaels, McVeighs, McKeowns, McAllisters, McHenrys, McKays, McAlexanders, McCaughans, McNeills, O’Cahans, O’Haras, McGills, McAuleys, McMahons, McRandles, O’Connors, Taggarts, McAfees, McNaughtons, O’Lavertys, Blacks, Mulvennas, Duncans, Magees, McQuillans, O’Neills, McMullans, McVicars, Shiels, McAleese, Kirgans, McGuigans, Bourkes, McToals, McGrattans, McKerry(McCarry), Joye(possibly Henry Joy McCracken’s ancestor),McMurrays, McCollams, McCreas, McNultys.
The document of pardon is recorded below:
Pardon to Sawreley McConnell, (Notice the spelling of Sorley, written by an English scribe), The McDonnells were also known as McConnells. James McConnell,his son, Randal McOwen(McKeown), Enanes Rowe McMicle Allister, (Aeneas Roe McMichael McAllister), Donill Oge McEvie (Donal Og McVeigh), Eanes McEvie, (Aeneas or Angus McVeigh), Sawerley McEanes (Sorley Mc Ennis or McGennis), Gilliaspick McCaye(Gilliaspick McKay), John Duff McAlexangre (John Black McAlexander), Coll McTirlagh McAlexander(Colla Turlough McAlexander), Henry Ballagh McGillduff, McRorie Ballagh, Redmond O’Cahan McNeyl McRorie (Redmond O’Cahan McNeill McRory), Owen O’Cahan McNeil McRory, (as above), Donnogh McMorice O’Cahan (Donough McMorris O’Cahan), Rorie Ballagh O’Harre, (Rory Ballagh O’Hara), Chief of the name, Mortagh Grey McEllary (Murtagh Glassy McAlary), Rector of Ballemonny (Ballymoney), Phelim McGillegan McMahown McGillegan (Phelim McGilligan McMahon McGilligan), Rorie McGillegan McMahown (Rory McGilligan McMahown McGilligan), Donell McGillecollo McMyline (Donal McGillacolla McMullan), Eanes McAlexander Carragh McRannell (Aeneas McAlexander Carragh), Cormack o’Harre (Cormac O’Hara), Fealim Dufff McOwen Carragh (Phelim Duff McOwen Carragh), Cone McCoine, Dean of Ardmoy (Conn
McKeown or Quinn Dean of Armoy), Teig Oge O’Coine (Teag Oge O’Keown or O’Quinn), Donell McFerdorha McAllaster (Donal McFerdorcha McAllister), Moolmorry O’Haggart (Maolmuire O’Taggart), Ferdorce McRorie McEnanny (Ferdorcha McRory McEnany), Wm. McGwigen (William McGuigan), Randall McOwen, Earanagh (Randal McKeown, Eranagh. The Eranagh had responsibility for the maintenance of church property), Donoght O’Hogan (Donagh O’Hogan), Conor McJames McHenry (Conor McJames McHenry).
Pardon to Randall McDonnell, Nyce (Aeneas) McDonnell, Lodevick McDonnell (Luadar: Who was Sorley’s youngest son), Alexander McDonnell, Callow McDonnell (Colla), Alister Oge McDonnell, Archibald McDonnell, Daniel Grouma (dour) McDonnell, Nyce (Aeneas) McDonnell, Gilliaspck McDonnell, Cormock (Cormac) O’Hara (son of Cormac), Guffie McEnre (McHenry), Archibald McDuffie (McAfee), Ferdorcha McDuffie(McAfee), Neil Boy Makeaghine
(Boy= fair-haired McCaughan or McKeegan), Duncan McCloister (Duncan McLister), Daniel McCloister (Daniel McLister), Archibald McCloister (Archibald McLister), John McNeaghtane (John McNaughton), Doarmount O’Mowlvenna (Dermot O’Mulvenna), Hugh McNeill, Daniel Grouma (dour) McNeill, Patrick O’Laffertie (O’Laverty), Alexander McGye (Magee), Bernard O’Laffertie (O’Laverty), Dwuatagh McGye, Hugh and John O’Layffertie, Hugh Grouma O’Layffertie (Hugh Sullen O’Laverty), Patrick Duff O’Lavery ( Patrick Black O’Lavery), Richard McQuilline (McQuillan), Neill McVicar, Richard McSinekine (Sinekine =little John), Tebbott (unknown) McCullinge (McCullinan), Randall McAlaster (Randal McAlister), Bernard O’Cahan (Bernard Boy O’Cahan), Dwoncane Grouma O’Cahine (Dour Duncan O’Cahan), Richard O’Cahan, John Bourke McAllister, John Grouma (Dour) McAlister,Colla McAlister, Tancane (unknown)O’Cahan, Aeneas Giorra (Short) McAlister, Archibald McAlister, Daniel Grouma McDonnell, Dermot McHenry, James McHenry, Neal O’Cahan, Manus O’Cahan, Shetine (unknown) O’Cahan, Bernard O’Cahan, Daniel McKay, Archibald McKeay(McKay), Daniel McKay, Archibald McKay, John McKay, Alister McKay, Rowrie (Rory) O’Hara, Gilladuffe O’Hara, Shane (John or Seán) O’Hara, Tirlagh (Turlough) O’Hara, Felime (Phelim) Duff (Dark) O’Hara, Laghline (Laughlin) McKeaghane ( McCahan), Rorie Og O’Cahan, Hugh O’Cahan, Hugh O’ Mowllane (O’Mullan), Manus O’Mowllane (O’Mullan), Daniel McKrey (McCrea), Archibald McDonnell, John Boye McCrea, Alex Roy Stewart, John Oge Stewart, Art Ballagh O’Hara, Duncan Boy O’Hara, Rorie and Felime McMahon, Archibald Gruama McDuffie (McAfee), Donal Oge McDuffie (McAfee), Hector McKearghane (Kirgan), DuncanMcKearghane,(Kirgan), Neil McKearghane (Kirgan), John Duff McKearghane, Ray Phelime McCulline (McQuillan?), Ewer McCrea , Phelime McAullin (McQuillan), Sinekine McCuilling (Shinny McQuillan), Aeneas Joye, relation of Henry Joy?, Robert Strowbridge, Bernard O’Cahan, Conchur Duff (Black Conor) O’Cahan, Edmund O’Cahan, Edmund O’ Maddegane (O.Maddigan), Ewer McKeay (Iver McKay), Hugh O’Hara, Neacghtaine (Naughton) McKeever, Bernard McAuley, Manus O’Murray 0’Sial (Shiels), Hugh O’Shiels, Duncan Boye O’Shiels, Donal McNeill Boye, Dermot McHenry, Donal McHenry, Neill Og McMullan, Art Magee, John Magee, Bernard Boye Magee, Owen Magee,Donal Magee, Turlough McGuigan, John Duff McGillpatrick, John Og McGillpatrick, John McGiolliosa (McAleese), Aeneas Ballagh McGiolliosa, John Ognieff (Agnew), Art McNulty, Ferflaha Ognieff, HenryMcMarchais (McMarquess), Donchye (Donaghy) Grouma McColla, Alister McDonaghy Grouma McColla, John Ballagh McAlister,
Archibald McMurray, Gilladuff McGill, Hugh McGill, Bernard Boy McAuley, Bernard O’Mowlfoul (Mulhall), Bernard O’Mowlvenna, Brian McAuley, Brian Moddera McAuley, Sheaine (Shane) McGill, Shane O’ Cahan, Daniel Grouma McKetine (McGrattan), Hugh McKretine, William Springer, Gilladuff O’Mulvenna, Aeneas McAllester, Brian O’Connor, Gilladuff O’Connor, Brian McTwaill (McToal), Alister McCulline, Art McNulty, Archibald McKerry (McCarry), Hugh McGye, Cathal O’Hara, Shemie (Seamus) O’Hara, Phelim O’Hara, Phelim McCormick O’Hara, Turlough McAuley, Donal Grouma McNeill, Owen O’Cahan, Brian McAuley, Gilladuff McAuley, Daniel O’Mowlfall(O’Mulhall), Aeneas Mulhall, Richard McAlpine, Gillpatrick O’Cahan, Gillagruama Roy McAuley, and John Rawagh (Vigourous) McCloister.
In addition to all the lands granted, including the Toughs of Munerie or Mowbray, and Carey, i.e. Culfeightrin, Ramoan and the Grange of Drumtullagh, Sorley was given the constableship or key-keeping of Dunluce Castle by the delivery of Mr Stafford. He was bound to hold of the Queen by the homage, fealty, and two knights’ fees and on condition of observing the same articles as had previously been imposed.
Sorley Boy knew that there were conditions attached to this pardon:
1. Neither he nor his followers to serve any foreign prince or any other person within Ireland against her Majesty in this realm.
2. No Scots under him, whom he may command, to disquiet the peace of the realm, or to serve against her Majesty in this realm.
3. Not to retain more than 30 Scots other than natives of Ireland, and to deliver a book of their names to the Marshall of the Queen’s garrisons in Ireland.
4. To serve her Majesty with a rising out of 80 foot soldiers in Ulster, at his own and their own charges.
5. He and his tenants not to intermeddle with their borderers in Ulster.
6. To pay a yearly rent of 60 good, and fat beeves at Carrickfergus, between Lammas and Hallowe’en.
7. To serve against all that shall invade this realm, except against the Scots when war is proclaimed against England and Scotland.
8. Not to alien or convey away his lands.
9. To yearly preserve and give to her Majesty one eyrie of the best hawks, either goshawks or falcons. It further adds that he shall preserve all the hawks bred in the Glynns, of whatsoever nature they be, and the same yearly to be sent in safety to the Governor for the time being.
Sorley Boy was in no doubt about the conditions, which were attached to this pardon.
This document was signed by Sorley Boy McDonnell on 18th June 1586