London Companies' Estates, Church Lands & Native Freeholds in the County, 1613

This map shows the distribution of the various lands within the county granted to the London Companies, the Church, the Native Irish and Sir Thomas Phillips. For more detail on the geographical pattern of estates at barony, parish and townland level use the Landlords of Individual Townlands in Co. Londonderry, c.1859 and 1600s database.

Beginning in the west of the county, were the Goldsmiths with their main settlement at Goldsmith’s Village (later called Newbuildings); the Grocers with their main settlement at Muff (later called Eglinton); the Fishmongers with their main settlement at Ballykelly; the Haberdashers with their main settlement at Artikelly; the Clothworkers with their main settlement at Articlave. Then south from Coleraine, the Merchant Taylors with their main settlement at Macosquin; the Ironmongers with their main settlement at Agivey, later Garvagh; the Mercers with their main settlement at Movanagher, later Kilrea; the Vintners with their main settlement at Bellaghy; the Salters with their main settlement at Salterstown, later Magherafelt; the Drapers with their main settlement at Moneymore. Then west of the Drapers were the Skinners with their main settlement at Dungiven. The Skinners’ estate was perhaps the most scattered of all the estates. It had land in three different baronies – Loughinsholin, Keenaght and Tirkeeran. In the east it ‘marched’ with the Drapers’ estate and in the west with the Goldsmiths’ estate.

The map shows clearly the patchwork quilt pattern of the company lands amongst the lands which were allocated to the church and to some Irish families. The latter were known as native freeholds. The main beneficiaries of the native freeholds, which tended to be located well away from the main planter settlements, were the O’Cahans in the baronies of Tirkeeran, Keenaght and Coleraine and the O’Mullans in the baronies of Tirkeeran and Keenaght. The townland of Ballycarton in Magilligan was granted to a McGilligan and the townland of Boveedy, near Kilrea, was granted to a McCowell. Note that these freeholds were all located in O’Cahan’s country, i.e. the old County of Coleraine. No native freeholds were granted in the barony of Loughinsholin which was in O’Neill’s country. By the time of the Civil Survey in 1654 only a few native freeholders remained. The rest had either sold their lands to speculators such as the Beresfords or had them confiscated by the Crown in either 1615 or after the 1641 rebellion.

There were two ‘private’ estates in the county which originally belonged to Sir Thomas Phillips, a servitor. These were at Limavady and Moyola. The Limavady estate was eventually bought by the Conollys [who also bought the Vintners at Bellaghy] and the Moyola estate by the Dawsons who gave their name to the main settlement, Castledawson.

Copyright 2010 W. Macafee.