3. Things just as they were

When Folliott Wingfield came of age in 1660, he married Lady Elizabeth Boyle. She was the eldest daughter of Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, later Earl of Orrery. He had been appointed Folliott’s Guardian after the death of his father. The marriage was a powerful match. Broghill was the third son of Richard Boyle—the “Great Earl of Cork” and one of the “upper tier” of the Irish ascendancy—and he was both a favourite of Cromwell and subsequently a prominent player in securing the restoration of Charles II.  Charles rewarded him by elevating him in 1660 to Earl of Orrery. He was thus a useful ally for Folliott.

A few remaining precious documents exist in the Powerscourt Papers from the seventeenth century. One of these, which probably only exists now as a photocopy, is a letters patent from Charles II confirming the Wicklow lands that had belonged to “Sir Edward Wingfield Knight, grandfather to our subjecte Folliott Wingfield, of Powerscourte in the County of Wicklow.” As this is dated 1663, it indicates that Folliott had little trouble in re-establishing the Wingfield’s base at Powerscourt after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Photocopy of letters patent confirming estates in county Wicklow to Folliott Wingfield (from National Library)

Photocopy of letters patent confirming estates in county Wicklow to Folliott Wingfield, July 1663 (from National Library of Ireland)

Further evidence in the handful of seventeenth century documents available is the conveyance of lands elsewhere in Wicklow by Sir Charles Meredith to Folliott in 1680. These lands were previously in the hands of Sir Edward Wingfield, Folliott’s grandfather, before the Cromwellian invasion, and this conveyance, ordered by King Charles II, returns the lands to Folliott. They had been granted to Sir Charles Meredith, one of Cromwell’s officers, as payment for services.

It’s clear then that Folliott reclaimed his estate in its entirety following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Things moved quickly for him—as mentioned, he had married Elizabeth Boyle in that year and had the support of the Earl of Orrery, who was a member of the Cork dynasty. Francis Boyle, another son of the Earl of Cork was elevated in 1660 to Viscount Shannon, and it was likely that Folliott’s association with Orrery helped him too secure an elevation in 1665, when he became the first and only Viscount Powerscourt of the second creation. Much of the reason for this elevation was stated to be in recognition of the achievements of Folliott’s ancestor, Sir Richard, but Ohlmeyer describes these elevations as the influence of established peers (in this case the Cork lineage) to form “cadet lines” to secure future generations.

The “Restoration” was in many ways aiming to restore what had been before Cromwell’s activities and the resulting interregnum (1649-1660). The return of the lands to the Wingfields of Powerscourt and the elevation of Folliott to Viscount are symbols of the the return to the “old order” prior to 1649. The Monarchy was back, and things were going to be just as they were before…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>