COAT OF ARMS : An heraldic antelope trippant proper, attired and anguled or.
MOTTO : Vincit veritas
TRANSLATION : Truth prevails.
The name Prendergast is said to be the name of Flemish settlers in
Normandy, France, who took their name from a lost place, Brontegeest
(Prentagast) in Flanders near Ghent. Flanders was under the control
of France in the 11th century, Flanders is on the coast and is now
part of Northern Belgium. In the 9th & 10th century Flanders was
troubled by incursions of the Vikings. The name Brontegeest still
exists in Holland and Belgium and seems to be the Dutch or Low German
expression for Prendergast.
The name in composition and character resembles the following Flemish names that appear in the preface to the Salic Law which is oldest manuscript of the dark ages still existing in England and dates from the 6th century AD, it reads as follows:-
"Those who compiled the Salic Law are, Wisagast, Arigast, Saligast, Windegast.....and goes on to say that "gast" means - host - and that Saligast is an inhabitant of the canton, or district, of Sale", hence Prendergast would mean owner or inhabitant of the district of Prender.
The Norman Conquest: The Norman invaders were a mixture of
adventurers and mercenaries attracted to join William the Conqueror
by his offer of "good pay and the plunder of England" for their
services. They joined William in response to his Proclamation of War
published in the neighboring kingdoms and came from far and near
including Flanders in France The Normans themselves were
Vikings who had settled in France and had been granted their own
territory. They were natural soldiers who proved their worth by
conquering England, Ireland, Southern Italy, the Lowlands of Scotland
Edward the Confessor, king of England (1042-1066), died childless on 5 Jan 1066. It is possible that Edward had promised William (the Conqueror), Duke of Normandy, the throne, as William was Edward's cousin, it is likely that William had been given some encouragement about the succession. Nevertheless, when Edward died, Harold, the powerful Earl of Wessex, had himself crowned king (1066-), and was accepted by the British nobles. William decided to invade England to gain the throne.
By August 1066 William had assembled a force of about 5,000 knights on the coast of Normandy. But contrary winds made it impossible to sail until late September. Meanwhile, Harold made his hold on the crown more secure by defeating an army led by the king of Norway, Harald III Hardraade, at the battle of Stamford Bridge Yorkshire on 25 September, 1066. Finally, on 27 September, 1066 William and his army were able to sail. They landed at Pevensey Bay and the next day marched directly for Hastings (ref. The Battle Of Hastings - 1066).
King Harold marched directly south, and by October 13 he approached Hastings with about 7,000 men many of them poorly armed and poorly trained. The next day William's knights gradually wore down Harold's forces, and toward evening Harold was killed. William made a swift march to isolate London, and the majority of English nobles submitted to him. William was crowned king (1066-1087) at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Sporadic revolts against him continued until 1071, but they were put down. Helping to complete the conquest was the redistribution of land with the rapid building of a great number of castles to house his followers.
The Prendergast name is said to have been brought to England
during the Norman Conquest by one Prenliregast, (also given as
Preudirlegast in The Battle Abbey Roll) a follower of William the
Conqueror. The son of Prenliregast, Phillip, was given land in the
district of Ros in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.
Maurice de Prendergast was one of his descendants and in 1160, lord of the manor (castle) of Prendergast. He was probably a nephew of Nesta, the daughter of Rufus, Prince of Demetia (which was the Norman name for Pembrokeshire) where Maurices family had lived since the Norman Conquest in 1066. Nesta was distinguished for her beauty and infamous for her affairs (ref. "The Norman Invasion of Ireland" by Richard Roche), it has been said that the "first conquerors of Ireland were nearly all descendants of Nesta", either by her two husbands or through the son she had to Henry 1 of England.
The name of Prendergast was given to a parish (village) forming
part of the Borough of Haverfordshire near Pembroke, in Wales, which
continued in their possession until Maurice De Prendergast sailed as
part of Earl Strongbows force to Ireland in the spring of
Current references in and around Haverfordshire are:-
-Prendergast Place which was the seat of the Prendergast family.
-Prendergast is a suburb in North Haverford and at one stage had its own mayor.
-There is a Prendergast Hill.
-There is a St. Davids Church in Parish of Prendergast.
IN IRELAND (Refer to the Appendix for a detailed account of the exploits of Maurice de Prendergast)
The Anglo - Norman Invasion Of Ireland.
After a falling out between some of the Irish "kings", Dermot Mc Murrough, the King of Leinster, in return for certain favors, enlisted the aid of the King Henry 11 of England and most of France, who gave Dermot permission to recruit the Norman Barons in Wales to help him regain his lands, the chief of these Barons being Richard, Count of Eu (sometimes referred to as the Earl of Pembroke), nicknamed "Strongbow". Strongbow was the son of the 1st Earl of Pembroke, Gilbert Strongbow fitz Godebert de Clare and Isabel (Elizabeth) de Beaumont.
As things were too slow in moving for Dermot he set sail for Leinster in 1167 with a tiny Norman force and awaited the arrival of more substantial help.
On 1 May 1169 , two years later, Robert FitzStephen, a kinsman of Strongbow, landed at Bannow Bay in County Wexford in three ships with 30 men-at-arms (knights), 60 in half-armour, 300 archers and footmen (Normans, Flemings and Welsh), he was followed later on the 11 May 1169 by Maurice de Prendergast who after embarking at the port of Milford arrived in two boats and landed at Bannow Bay with 10 knights and 200 archers (given as 600 men in other places) and foot soldiers as part of the vanguard of Strongbows force (who didnt arrive until 23 August 1170), though small in number they were experienced fighting men and met with early success. There are variations in the accounts regarding landing dates, site and numbers of men. Dermot taking no chances decided to wait for more reinforcements.
In the fighting that ensued De Prendergast and 200 men were under
siege and asked Dermot for transport back to Wales, on being refused
this they promptly changed sides and Dermot had to swear allegiance
to the local king, who was unaware of the imminent arrival of
Strongbow and the main force.
Another version says that Maurice was so disgusted with the barbarity of Dermot that he renounced his service and joined the Ossary standard. After this hasty decision Maurice was in a dilemma as the Chieftain of Leinster now wanted to attack Dermot, Maurice now decided to return to Wales and was opposed by the Prince of Ossary, he solved this by arranging a treaty between Dermot and Ossary which was confirmed by Fitzstephen, he then returned to Wales to later return with Strongbow.
Another version of this episode is that Maurice and his men wished to return to Wales to visit their wives and were refused passage, upon this they changed sides and Dermot paid dearly for his treachery. Eventually they returned to Wales and later returned to Ireland with Strongbows force, this seems a more likely account.
It is apparent that there are various accounts of this incident
but it is agreed that after a short time in Ireland Maurice de
Prendergast returned to Wales and later returned with Strongbow and
the main force. Strongbow landed near Waterford with 200 knights and
a 1000 soldiers.
On 17 October 1171 King Henry 11 landed at Waterford with 500 knights and 4,000 men at arms and archers, in the face of these forces by 1250 (80 years later) three quarters of Ireland was under Norman rule.
It may be of interest to note that the Normans were a mixture of Celtic blood, Frankish blood and that of the Viking invaders who settled in France in 911 AD when Charles the Simple, King of France, ceded part of his kingdom to the Vikings. That area became known as the land of the Northmen and the name of the people who lived there became shortened to "Normans". Hence Maurice had quite a large part of Celtic and Viking blood before he settled in Wales before going to Ireland.
The Settlement Period In Ireland.
In Ireland the Prendergast family flourished and extended itself. Maurice de Prendergast having played a prominent part in the invasion of Ireland was granted land in Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Mayo and Wicklow, he became the Governor of the County and City of Cork. Amongst other grants he was granted five Knights Fees in the present Barony of Shelmalier East (Territory Fernegenal), south of Wexford town and by the River Slaney.
Sir Bernard Burke (ref. Burkes Colonial Gentry) informs us that soon after the invasion they seated themselves at Newcastle Prendergast on the River Suir, which washed the walls of their manor house on its way to Cahir Castle and Clonmel. Their territory stretched from Cahir to Cappoquin and from Fethard to Cloghean.
Maurice was one of the English lords chosen to witness the signature of Henry 11 to the deed whereby he gave the city and lands of Cork to Robert Fitzgerald and Milo de Cogan in 1170.
In 1177, Maurice made over the Castle de Prendergast in Wales, Pembrokeshire, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, joined the order, and died in 1205 at Kilmainham (near Dublin), the chief seat of the brotherhood in Ireland, being then Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Sir Maurices descendants were listed among the leading gentry of the counties of Waterford, Wexford and Tipperary in 1598 and were also to be found in many other counties notably Mayo and Galway. Some of those who settled in Mayo assumed the surname Fitzmaurice in his honour.
The family married into many of the most Ancient Nobility & Gentry, and appear in their pedigrees, such families include the Le Poer (later Power), Butler, Ormond, Cahew, Dunboyne, Fitzgibbon, Courcey, Condon, Cloncarthy, Desmond & Fitzgeralds.
The arms of Jasper Prendergast were confirmed in Wexford in 1618 whilst in 1639 Edmund Prendergast was confirmed in the Manor (castle) of Newcastle Prendergast in Tipperary. One of Edmunds descendants became Baronet of Gort.
A learned member of the family was John Patrick Prendergast (1808-1893), the historian known for his "Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland" .
Maurice is remembered in history (honorably known as the "Faithful Norman") for his integrity and honesty and was respected by friend and foe. It is probable that many, if not all, present day Irish Prendergasts are descended from Maurice and his wife who was a Fitzgerald
Sir Maurice De Prendergast Maurice had two sons, Phillip and Gerald Mc Maurice.
Maurice De Prendergasts younger Son Gerald Mc Maurice founded a branch of the family in Co. Mayo, generally known by the Irish name of MacMaurice or MacMorrish and gave name to the barony of Clanmorris, now represented in the Castle Macgarret branch by Lord Oranmore (Source: Bourke's Peerage, Oranmore, B., and Gort., V,)
Maurice De Prendergasts Eldest Son Phillip went with
his father to Ireland and became the Lord of Duffry, an extensive
district West of Enniscorthy. He was summoned as a Baron in 1206,
1207 and 1221. In about 1190 Phillip married Maude, daughter and sole
heir of Robert de Quenci, Strongbows standard bearer and
hereditary Constable of Leinster, who was killed in a battle with the
O Dempseys and the Irish of Offailey, a few months after his
During Maude's minority Strongbow gave the Constableship and the custody of the standard and banner of Leinster to Raymond le Gros, to whom he had also given his sister Basilia in marriage at Wexford; on Maudes marriage Phillip obtained it and became Constable of Leinster and long held the office in her right. The lands acquired at Wexford, passed in the third descent to heirs female, the Rochforts.
In 1207 he was granted 40 Knight's fees in Cork. In 1217 he received the town of Enniscorthy in exchange for other lands and in 1225 (Lord of Bantry-Duffrey Estate Enniscorthy) he built the castle at Enniscorthy, County Wexford, that is now the Wexford County museum, they later moved south to settle in the Gurteen, Wexford, near Furth Mountain where they built a castle in 1484. They are also accredited with the building of Rathtimney and Alderton castles in Shelburne barony; the latter was owned by Edmund Prendergast before the Cromwellian Confiscation.
Phillip De Prendergast witnessed the charters of King John and Edward 1.
William the Second Son of Phillip de Prendergast acquired large territories along the River Sur in Tipperary, there the family continued to dwell and spread into many branches (e.g. the Ardfinnan, Frehan and Newcastle branches), until in the days of Oliver Cromwell they were dispossessed (transplanted ), as were many other ancient noble families, gentry, and farmers who supported the Catholic Revolution, and their inheritance divided between the soldiers of the common wealth army and the adventurers, as those were called who adventured money towards a joint fund for raising a private army to put down the Irish Rebellion of 1641. They were later restored (restoration) though to what extent is not apparent.
Enniscorthy Castle: The town of Enniscorthy is about 14 miles north of the town of Wexford in County Wexford . A huge Norman castle on the banks of the river Slaney was built about 1225 by Phillip De Prendergast, elder son of Maurice De Prendergast, The castle now houses the Wexford County Museum.
New Castle (Eskertenan): Newcastle is a village at the
mouth of the lovely Nier valley on the River Suir 5 miles south east
of Ardfinnan. Here on the bank of the River Suir are the remains of
the Prendergast New Castle.
It was here at New Castle that Sir William De Prendergast, First Lord of Eskertenan, and second son of Phillip De Prendergast, in about 1230, obtained Newcastle from Jeffrey de Marisco in exchange for other lands, the castle is given elsewhere as being owned by the Birmingham family. It eventually passed to the Perry family at the time of the rebellion. It was in ruins in 1832, after being destroyed by Cromwells orders in 1649, and forms a very picturesque feature on the bank of the Suir.
One mile north east, on an overlooking hill, are the remains ( viz. the remains of the church and traces of the conventional buildings) of the New Castle manorial church, Molough Abbey. A nunnery dedicated to St. Brigid was founded here in the 6th century by the daughters of Cinaed, King of the Deise, whose seat was at Crohan. In the 14th century it was revived by the Butlers of Cahir.
The Molough Abbey manorial ruins occupy the crest of a hill with a beautiful, peaceful outlook, many graves are located in what were the rooms of the Abbey, the graves of Prendergasts dating around the 1800s are located at the entrance to the ruins outside of the building. These graves are those principally of the later occupants of the restored Ardfinnan Castle.
Ardfinnan Castle: Ardfinnan (Ard Fhionain - possibly means
Fionan's Height) is a small village on the River Suir about 10 miles
from Clonmel and 5 miles north of Newcastle. The name of the village
commemorates St. Fionan Lobhar who founded a monastery here in the
7th century, the Protestant church now stands on the site.
On a precipitous rock commanding the river-ford are the remains of a strong castle wrecked by the Cromwellians. Maurice De Prendergast is said to have built the castle (1199 - 1216), other records say it existed before this date and that Prince John had portion of it erected in 1185. Records seen for the 1700s refer to the Prendergasts of Ardfinane Castle.
There is a photograph and description of Ardfinnan Castle, Ardfinnan, Co.Tipperary in "Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Ireland", by Mark Bence-Jones, published 1978, this is taken from an earlier work by "Burke". This is the description:-
"An old tower-house above the River Suir, with a 3 storey gable-ended Georgian wing and also a 3 storey battlemented tower added in the 19th century when the gable of the Georgian wing was stepped and the old tower was given impressive Irish battlements."
The oldest part of the extant castle is a fragment of a late 13th century round keep .
It appears that the last owner of the Castle was R.J. Prendergast who sent a letter to Agnes Podger (nee. Prendergast) in Australia when he was preparing the castle for disposal in the late 1940s, (ref.4.)
The tenancy in this area by the Prendergast family is undoubted and it appears that after the castle was destroyed by the Cromwellian forces in 1649 it was again obtained and re-built by the family in the 1700/1800s, Burkes Colonial Gentry (1891-1895) and gravestone inscriptions at Newcastle show members of the Prendergast family again in occupancy.
It seemed to be secondary to the Castle at Newcastle. The Parish Register for Ardfinnan lists many Prendergast births & marriages.
Neddans the home of the Mulcahy family for many years is located mid way between Ardfinnan and Newcastle.
Frehan Castle: In ref.5 a direction was given by Cromwell
that Captain James Prendergast, the then possessor of Newcastle
Castle, receive a license to return to his estates of Newcastle,
Mullough and Frehans (which is convenient to Newcastle) only provided
all Castles and Strongholds therein were to be destroyed (the two
castles were both dismantled after a weak attempt at resistance).
Burkes Colonial Gentry (1891-1895) refers to the Frehans castle on page 774
Curraghcloney Castle: Three and a half miles south east of Newcastle are the ruins of the Prendergast castle of Curraghcloney, see ref.10.
Exploits of Maurice de Prendergast before the landing of Strongbow:-
Feat 1:- In the first battle Mc Donehid (now Dunphy) King of Ossary is defeated when Maurice leads them into an ambush of 40 English archers, and then turning around on his white charger, Blanchard, leads them on to his war cry of "St. David".
Feat 2 :- This was a march to Glendaloch where they brought a large prey to Fernes, Mc Murroughs residence, without a stroke given or taken.
Feat 3:- He led another expedition against the King of
Ossary at Achadur (Freshford), in the county of Kilkenny, forces the
entrenchments and after three days of battle disperses the men
Mc Murrough being brought to pride by the these successes attempted to oppose the return of Maurice and his soldiers back to visit their wives in Wales in that when they arrived at Wexford to take ship they found that Mc Murrow had forbade the shipmasters giving them passage. Maurice in revenge offers his services to the King of Ossary who jumped with joy. Mc Murrough soon rued his mistake while on the other hand the men of Ossary grew so attached to Maurice that they wished to make him one of their chiefs and confer on him the title of Maurice of Ossary, an honor that he refused. The men of Ossary were reluctant to part with their new allies and tried to waylay them when they eventually departed for Wales.
Exploits of Maurice de Prendergast after the Landing of Strongbow:-
-On one occasion when Dublin is besieged by O Connor and his forces and the English are forced to treat with them the two commissioners sent to their camp were the Archbishop of Dublin and Maurice de Prendergast, whose character for strict faith was no doubt well known to all the Irish through his conduct to the King of Ossary (see below).
-In another incident, of which I have read at least three
different accounts, Maurice is sent by Strongbow to bring
Maurices friend, the King of Ossary, under safe conduct to
Strongbows camp to treat of peace.
"O Brien of Munster, brother-in-law of Mc Murrough, with his troops who formed part of Strongbows force persuaded Strongbow to imprison the King of Ossary, Maurice however, calls on his men to mount and unfurls his banner and swears by his sword, in the face of Strongbow and the whole camp that there is no vassal so audacious if he dare to raise a hand against the King of Ossary to dishonor him, in jest or in earnest, but he shall pay with it with his head. At length, with Strongbows consent he leads him safe home.
On Maurices return next day there is murmuring against him in the camp for his rescuing their greatest enemy, and he challenges his accusers to meet in the Earls Court if they wish to maintain their impeachment."
This incident is immortalized in the following poem taken from "The Story of Ireland" by Alexander M. Sullivan, published in 1891.
THE FAITHFUL NORMAN
Praise to the valiant and faithful foe!
Give us noble foes, not the friend who lies!
We dread the drugged cup, not the open blow:
We dread the old hate in the new disguise.
To Ossory's king they had pledged their world:
He stood in their camp, and their pledge they broke:
Then Maurice the Norman upraised his sword;
The cross on its hilt he kiss'd, and spoke:
"So long as this sword or this arm hath might,
I swear by the cross which is lord of all,
By the faith and honour of noble and knight,
Who touches you, Prince, by this hand shall fall!"
So side by side through the throng they pass'd;
And Eire gave praise to the just and true.
Brave foe! the past truth heals at last;
There is room in the great of Eire for you!
1. Burkes Colonial Gentry (1891-1895).
2. Article obtained from "The Public Library at Haverfordwest" on the history of the Prendergast Family, it is pre.1865. It
contains other historical material on the campaigns of Maurice de Prendergast.
3. Items from Close Rolls, Patents, Inquisitions and Papal registers obtained from "The Public Library at Haverfordwest".
4. Letter received from the Castlemaine Historical Society included a copy of correspondence received from a descendant of Nicholas Prendergast.
5. The "History and Pedigree of the Prendergast Family from their First Settlement in Ireland", collected and presented to Lord Baron Killarton as a mark of esteem and respect, dated AD 1811. The original document is held at Welsh National library, I have a copy.
6. Visit to Mullough Abbey graveyard at Newcastle.
7. "The Norman Invasion of Ireland" by Richard Roche.
8. John Patrick Prendergast a Dublin lawyer (1008-1893) wrote "The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland". The preface includes some interesting anecdotal information on the Prendergast family.
9. For castle details refer to "Burke's Guide to Country Houses, Ireland", by Mark Bence-Jones, Published 1978
10. For castle details refer to "The Shell Guide to Ireland" (Killanin and Duignan, Ebury Press, London)
11. There is a printed genealogy of this family in the Irish Supplement of Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937 edition, page 2664
12. "My Ancestors Came With The Conqueror", by Anthony J. Camp, 1990.
13. "The Story of Ireland" by Alexander M. Sullivan, published in 1891, which is a 29th edition, but I believe the first edition was printed in 1867.