Sir Nicholas Barnewall (1st Viscount Barnewall of Kingsland)


Nicholas Barnewall, a towering figure in seventeenth-century Ireland, left an mark as a distinguished politician and esteemed landowner. Born into the esteemed Barnewall lineage, Nicholas’s family history was intertwined with Ireland’s tumultuous past, marked by resilience and adaptability. Nicholas’s ancestors, tracing back to Michael de Berneval, established roots in Drimnagh near Dublin, after the upheaval of the Irish uprising against them in the reign of King John. Despite initial adversity, the Barnewalls flourished, maintaining their Roman Catholic traditions amidst changing political tides, a testament to their enduring legacy.

Born in 1592 to Sir Patrick Barnewall of Turvey House and Mary Bagenal, Nicholas inherited a rich heritage of public service and stewardship. Educated at Douai in the Spanish Netherlands and Gray’s Inn, London, Nicholas cultivated a deep understanding of law and governance, laying the groundwork for his illustrious career.

Nicholas’s foray into politics began with his representation of County Dublin in the Irish House of Commons, a role he fulfilled with dedication and acumen. Amidst the turmoil of the 1641 rebellion, Nicholas was appointed Governor of County Dublin, demonstrating his commitment to safeguarding the interests of his constituents.

However, faced with escalating tensions and political uncertainty, Nicholas sought refuge in Wales with his wife, Susanna Stockdale, during the height of the rebellion. Despite his flight from Ireland, Nicholas’s sympathies lay with the Roman Catholic cause, a sentiment rooted in familial tradition and personal convictions.

Nicholas’s loyalty and service to the Crown did not go unnoticed, earning him the prestigious titles of Baron of Turvey and Viscount Barnewall of Kingsland from Charles I. His contributions to Irish governance and his son Patrick’s service to the royalist cause during the civil wars further solidified his standing among the political elite.

Throughout his life, Nicholas remained deeply connected to his familial roots in Drimnagh, where he maintained a substantial presence and engaged in local affairs. His marriage to Lady Bridget FitzGerald, daughter of the Earl of Kildare, strengthened his ties to Ireland’s noble families, ensuring his legacy endured through generations.

Nicholas’s passing in 1663 marked the end of an era, yet his contributions to Irish society and politics reverberated long after his death. His descendants, including his son Henry, 2nd Viscount Barnewall, carried forward his legacy, upholding the values of integrity, service, and resilience that defined the Barnewall name for centuries to come.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Prominent landowner who was active in local affairs around his home at Drimnagh.