First Recorded Instance
The first use of the Nowland family name seems have been in Yorkshire, England, where, on the 11th of November 1572, one “William Nowland” had his son Thomas christened in the church of Saints Peter and Paul in the small town of Howden. Howden, a market town, was home to a vibrant community of Anglo-Catholics, also known as “Anglican Papalists”, committed to following Catholic rites for their services and considering themselves still under papal supremacy even though they were not “in communion” with the Roman Catholic Church. Such an environment would have been very welcoming for anyone coming from the Ballon area in Co. Carlow, whether they be a Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Crypto-Catholic or simply a committed Anglican. The Howden area also had a reputation for its expertise in training horses, a reputation which still exists today. In the 1807 issue of The Sporting Magazine the Howden fair was cited as being the “largest fair for horses in the Kingdom”. This expertise in training horses is believed to have been what attracted a Nolan from the Ballon area to Howden. To understand why horse training was an attraction, especially for a Nolan from the Ballon area, it is important to review the definition and origin of the word “marshal”. As you may recall, under Gaelic rule, in times of war, the Nolan Chief seated at Ballykealy House in later times, acted as “marshal” for the kings of Leinster. This involved rallying and preparing the troops for battle providing them with mounts as necessary. Welltrained horses could make the difference between winning or losing a battle. Horses were important especially to anyone who saw the possibility that they might one day become the marshal for the kings of Leinster, the O’Nolan chief. Reviewing pages 245-246 of the Nolan book published in 2000 we see that William O’Nolan of Kilbride lived in the timeframe of interest and is the prime candidate for being the father of the William Nowland who had a child christened Howden in 1572.
From the Nolan book, we also learn that William of Kilbride had at least 7 sons but, strangely, none seems to have been named William This strongly suggests that our William of Howden was none other than William O’Nolan Jr. of Kilbride, an eldest son sent away to England to learn the art of marshalling as practiced by the O’Nolan Chief, their close relative, seated at the nearby Ballykealy House. Based upon the findings in an earlier article (“Templar Knights & the O’Nolans” in issue 20 of the Newsletter) it appears as if this was not the first time that a Nolan related to the Chief line had been sent away to a foreign land to learn about the art of marshalling. Another reason why William O’Nolan Sr. of Kilbride might have sent his son to Howden could be that he simply wanted to shelter him from the open warfare which was then raging in Ireland. Starting in 1565 war would rage on and off for several years involving two main factions, the Butlers (associated with the Earl of Ormonde and the rule of English law in matters of succession) and the FitzGeralds (associated with the Earl of Kildare and Desmond and enforcement of Brehon law) finally ending in 1583. This period of on and off fighting is known to historians as the Desmond Rebellions.
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