Doyle & McDowell History
"Famous & Infamous Doyles"
A very brief look at the history of
Ireland and the Irish diaspora, with references from
historical records about some of the parts played
by members of the Doyle family.
1640's to the 1690's
The English Civil War kept most of the English busy at
home for much of the 1640’s. In Ireland, the native
Irish and Old English Catholics, allied under the 1641
Confederation of Kilkenny, supported Charles I against the
Protestant parliamentarians in the hope of restoring
Catholic power in the country. After Charles’ execution,
the victorious Oliver Cromwell, leader of the
parliamentarians, decided to go to Ireland and "sort
England responded with great force, despatching an army
of English Civil War veterans under the command of Oliver
Cromwell's Soldiers: All ruthless veterans of
the English Civil War.
Artist: Angus McBride.
When Oliver Cromwell landed with his zealously
Protestant troops at Dublin on 15th August 1649, the fate
of the Catholic Irish was sealed. He rampaged through the
country, leaving a trail of death behind him and shipping
many of the defeated as slaves to the Caribbean. Under the
Act of Settlement (1652) others were dispossessed and
exiled to the harsh and infertile lands in the west of
Ireland, in the province of Connaught. Two million
hectares of land were confiscated - more than a quarter of
the country - and handed over to Cromwell’s supporters,
many of whom remained to settle the land.
This national revolt of the Irish people was brutally
crushed by Oliver Cromwell between 1649 and 1650, its
people murdered by the tens of thousands, the Catholic
religion outlawed, and the rights of its native people
reduced to little more than livestock.
By the time the English had completely subjugated the
entire island in 1653, the combination of massacres,
pestilence, and starvation had killed between half and
two-thirds of the Irish people; untold thousands of others
were shipped off into slavery in the American colonies and
the West Indies. Those who could fled to the Continent,
reminiscent of The Flight of the Earls earlier in the
century. Cromwell’s tour of Ireland has never been
In 1653 Colonel Edward Doyle, an Irish mercenary
officer, was granted a licence by the English to recruit
and transport 3,000 Irish soldiers to Flanders for service
in the Spanish Army. (No doubt this was allowed by
the English in order to be rid of another 3,000 Irish
Worse followed when the English Parliament declared
that after the 1st of May 1654, under penalty of death, no
Irish could live east of the River Shannon and only those
who could prove they had not been rebels could own land
west of the Shannon. All the lands east of the Shannon
were divided among Protestant settlers.
In 1641 when The Rising began, nearly 80% of the land
in Ireland belonged to Catholics. By the year 1665 only
20% remained in Catholic hands. By 1703, less than 5% of
the land of Ulster was still in the hands of the Catholic
Records from this period show that Denis Doyle
was, towards the close of the 16th century, proprietor of
Girtin and other estates in the county of Wexford. He died
in 1625 and his property devolved on his sister, Grace
Doyle, who died in 1627. William Doyle
succeeded to her as next of kin and heir-at-law. During
the Cromwell times these estates were forfeited. James
Doyle, the son of William made an unsuccessful effort
to recover them, claiming by "an old though dormant
title". He obtained, however, a perpetual lease of
the estate of Kilconney from the Bagenals.
Following the massacres and confiscations of property
by Cromwell in 1653, the landed gentry of Ireland had
rapidly converted from that of the Irish and the Old
English (Norman-Irish) to that of the Protestant New
English. Lands in the provinces of Leinster, Munster, and
Ulster were given to veterans of the Parliamentary Army
and adventurers under Cromwell and Ireton. For those who
could accept transplantation, Irish lands were reserved in
the province of Connacht, excluding coastal lands and most
of Counties Sligo and Leitrim.
Peter and Alan Dowell were tituladoes in
the parish of Shankill, barony of Roscommon, in the census
of 1659. Lismacdowell is in the adjoining parish. Colonel
Luke Dowell was one of the county Roscommon Jacobites.
His son, Denis, outlawed under William III, was
wrongly returned as Donnell.
Following the collapse of the Cromwellian regime in
December 1659, Charles II was proclaimed King after the
restoration of the Monarchy in England. He kept his
Catholic sympathies in check. His policies in Ireland
resulted in further land settlement during the 1660’s.
Battle of the Boyne
By 1685 King James II (1633-1700), a Catholic,
succeeded his brother Charles II. Under James II a more
pro-Catholic policy was enacted in Ireland. His more open
Catholicism raised English ire. As a result of Protestant
nervousness, the English Parliament removed him from the
throne in the bloodless "Glorious Revolution" of
of Orange was a Dutch-speaking Protestant married to King
James’s daughter Mary, and he became King of England at
the request of the English Parliament.
King James sought refuge with his old ally, King
Louis XIV of France, who saw an opportunity to strike at
William through Ireland.
He provided French officers and weapons for King
James, who landed at Kinsale in March 1689.
The Lord Deputy of Ireland, the Earl of Tyrconnell,
was a Catholic loyal to King James, and his Irish army
controlled most of the island.
James quickly summoned a parliament, largely
Catholic, which proceeded to repeal the legislation under
which Protestant settlers had acquired land.
During the rule of Tyrconnell, the first Catholic
Viceroy since the Reformation, Protestants had seen their
influence eroded in the army, in the courts, and in civil
in Ulster did they offer effective resistance
In late 1688, with rumours spreading among Irish
Protestants that Irish Catholics were about to rise in
support of James II, the Protestant citizens of Derry
heard that a Catholic regiment was to be stationed in
their city. After furious debate among the local worthies,
13 apprentice boys purloined the keys to the city and
slammed the gates in the face of James’s soldiers.
The siege of Derry (Londonderry) began in earnest in
April, and ended after mass starvation with the arrival of
William’s ships in July. The Protestant slogan "No
Surrender!" dates from the siege, which acquired
mythical status among Irish Protestants over the following
April 1689, the city refused to surrender to James’s
army, and survived the hardships of a 3 month siege before
relief cam by sea. The
Protestants of Enniskillen defended their walled city with
equal vigour, and won a number of victories over Catholic
James withdrew from the northern province.
could not ignore the threat from Ireland.
In August 1689 Field Marshal Schomberg landed at
Bangor with 20,000 troops and, with Ulster secure, pushed
south as far as Dundalk.
James’s army blocked further progress towards
Dublin, but there was no battle and the two armies
withdrew to winter quarters.
In March 1690 the Jacobite army was strengthened by
7,000 French regulars, by King Louis demanded over 5,000
Irish troops in return.
The Williamites were reinforced by Danish
mercenaries and by English and Dutch regiments.
When William himself landed at Carrickfergus on 14
June, he was able to muster an army of 36,000 men.
He began the march towards Dublin.
There was some resistance near Newry, but the
Jacobites soon withdrew to the south bank of the River
In 1690 William landed in Ireland at Carrickfergus,
just north of Belfast, with an army of 35,000 men to fight
A great many Doyle men served in the Irish Army of the
Catholic King James II during the Jacobite War of 1689,
against the forces of William of Orange.
Initial research has so far found a Captain Doyle
on the strength of the Westmeath Regiment. And, in Clifford’s
Regiment of Dragoons, the Quartermaster and the
Catholic Chaplain were both Doyle men.
Battle of the Boyne was fought on 1 July 1690 at a
fordable river bend 4 miles west of Drogheda.
The main body of Williamite infantry was
concentrated on fording the river at the village of
Oldbridge, which was approached by a deep and sheltering
however, a detachment of cavalry and infantry made a
flanking attack upstream, which forced James to divert
troops to prevent his retreat being cut off.
William’s army was stronger by at least 10,000
men, but after these troops were drawn off he had a 3 to 1
superiority over the Jacobites in the main arena.
By mid-afternoon the Jacobite army was in retreat,
outpaced by James himself, who rode to Dublin to warn the
city of William’s approach.
James was in France before the month was out. On 6 July William entered Dublin, where he gave thanks for
the victory in Christ Church Cathedral.
The Battle was fought between
Irish Catholics (led by James II, a Scot) and English
Protestants (lead by William of Orange, a Dutchman). To
make things more complicated; James was William’s uncle
and his father-in-law. James II’s principal supporter
was Louis XIV of France, and fear of growing French power
led both the Catholic king of Spain and the Pope himself
to back William and the Protestant side! King James’s
Irish army of 23,000 were outnumbered and defeated. James
II then fled Ireland for exile in Europe.
Battle of the Boyne is recalled each July in the
celebrations of the Orange Order, not on the first day but
on “the Twelfth”, for 11 days were lost with the
change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
It was not the end of the Williamite campaign, and
King William had returned to England before the Dutch
general Ginkel’s victory at Aughrim and the formal Irish
surrender after the siege of Limerick in 1691.
The war ended with the Catholic leader Patrick
Sarsfield signing the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. He and
thousands of his troops went into exile in France where
they served in the French army. The terms of the Treaty
were satisfactory to the Irish, but were subsequently
dishonoured and Limerick became known as the city of the
violated treaty. The Treaty of Limerick was not ungenerous
to the defeated Catholics, but they were soon to suffer
from penal laws designed to reinforce Protestant
ascendancy throughout Irish life.
Following the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion, during
the period 1690 to 1730, it is estimated that as many as
120,000 Irishmen (many of whom were from the "Old
Irish" and "Old English" military and
gentry families) sailed for the safe haven of mainland
Europe. Many of them stowed away on sailing ships that
were smuggling wine from France to Ireland, and they
became known as "The Wild Geese".
show that two of the “Wild Geese” leaving for France
to continue the fight against England were Colonel Philip
Doyle and Major Alexander Doyle... both of County
The Flag of Dillon's Regiment,
Irish Brigade of France.
"Wild Geese" Soldier of
in the French Army, 1735.
(All the Irish Regiments in French Service
wore Red Coats to
symbolize their status as the legitimate Jacobite
Army of the Catholic Stuarts, who still claim to
the crown of Britain)
In the Catholic countries of France, Spain, Austria,
Portugal and Italy they were well received. They took up
arms against England as volunteers in the military service
of all of these countries. (There were 15 Irish regiments
in the French Army alone.) They were natural soldiers, and
soon occupied important positions within the armies of
Europe. They later put their administrative talents to
work in the courts of Europe. A good many of them settled
in Europe, never to return to Ireland.
Far from defeating Irish Catholicism, the flight of
"The Wild Geese" served to spread Irish
influence throughout Europe.