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O'Higgins - Ó hUigin - d'Eguino

Uí hUigin - Ó hUigin - O'Higgins - Higgins

History

Under the English Crown

Elizabeth 1

Elizabeth Tudor became Queen of England in 1558 and reigned until her death in 1603. She also claimed the throne of Ireland which her father had claimed before her. However, the native Irish had never fully accepted the rule of the English monarch and were highly autonomous in the operation of government in Ireland. Elizabeth feared that the Catholic Irish would provide a base for her enemies in Spain to attack England. So she rewarded loyalty with grants of lands and titles but punished those who were against her with confiscation, imprisonment and execution.

In the Elizabethan Fiants (1554-1601) there are a number of references to members of the O’Higgins family in Westmeath. In 1584 Giolla na Naomh Ó hUiginn and 1587 his kinsmen Uilliam, Brian and Giolla Coluim Ó hUiginn were also recorded in the Fiants. Owen O'Higgins of the Kilbeg line was among the Irish rebels who fought in the O'Neill war in Westmeath. He was later granted a Crown pardon in 1597 but failed to adhere to the conditions of surrender attached to the pardon.

James 1

James VI of Scotland replaced his aunt Elizabeth I as King of England and Ireland in March 1603. As a member of the Stuart family he claimed descent from Fergus Mór, the Irish prince who had founded the Scottish colony of Dalriada in Argyllshire in the 6th century.

During his reign he initially took a somewhat more relaxed attitude to the practice of the Catholic faith in Ireland which resulted in the following “rymers” receiving pardons on the 19 April 1603: Uilliam, Tuathal, Cormac, Giolla na Naomh and Tadhg Óg son of Tadhg Dall; Niall mac Giolla Íosa Ó hUiginn.

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