The History of the Barons of Orhera, Co Armagh, Ulster, Ireland

At the time of the de Courcy grant, that part of Orgiall, afterwards forming the county of Armagh, was possessed partly by the families of O'Hanlon and MacCann, and partly by those of O'Neill, O'Larkin, O'Duvany or O'Devany; and O'Garvy of the Clan-na-Rory, who, according to O'Brien, possessed the Craobh Ruadh of the territory of that famous Red Branch Knights of Ulster.

The native chiefs held their independence down to the reign of Elizabeth I, when Armagh was formed into a county in 1586 by the Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrott.

The modern noble families in Co Armagh have been: Acheson, Earls of Gosford; Caulfeild, Earls of Charlemont; and Brownlow, Barons of Lurgan. The Hamiltons in former times had the title of Earls of Clanbrassil, and the Needhams, Earls of Kilmorey.

Henry II, the head of the House of Anjou, had much more than he could properly care for in terms of land to rule. Thus he was content to be overlord of any lands outside of England proper that his Feudal Barons could conquer and rule for him. Many times the lands that were bestowed by the king were not under any control or rule. It was up to the new Baron to conquer the land and instill himself as the new Baron. The local rulers of what is today the Barony of Orhera were many, such as: John de Courcy run out of Ireland by his rivals, the de Lacys, Earls of Meath and later Earls of Ulster. Then the lands and rule passed on to the Mortimers, Earls of March in England.

In the reign of Queen Mary I (1553--1558), the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare, obtained Orhera on the forfeiture of Gerald, the 11th Earl. The Orhera Barony was soon to pass into the hands of the O'Neills, Earls of Tyrone under the reign of Henry VIII. Henry VIII, the first to created himself King of Ireland in 1536.

About 1611 the English government started the infamous "Plantation of Ulster" whereby King James I began his re-population of Ireland with old English families loyal to the King. The Needham family was among his chief "planters", one Robert Needham of Shavington [Shenton], Shropshire, whose son Sir Robert Needham, KB who went to Ireland was granted the Barony of Orhera in Co Armagh among other lands in Co Down by James I (1603--1625) in the 10th year of his reign and created Viscount Kilmorey on April 18, 1625 by King Charles I.

The original grant of Orhera was made to Arthur Bagnall sometimes spelled Bagenal whose ancestor, Sir Nicholas Bagenal was granted the Barony by his late Majesty King Edward VI in 1552. Arthur Bagnall was the son of Ellen Bagdall, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenal and Thomas Needham of Poolpark, younger brother to Robert Needham, created Viscount Kilmorey in 1625.

The Bagenals died out in 1708 in the person of Nicholas Bagenal by whose will his estates were divided between his cousins, Edward Bayly and Robert Needham, Viscount Kilmorey. Under the terms of a division in 1716 between Edward Bayly and Robert Needham, Viscount Kilmorey, Robert Needham, Viscount Kilmorey, received the Irish estates, including the Barony of Orhera.

Orhera, by its older name, Orier Bar or by its modern name, Orior Lower, has remained with the Needhams, now Earls of Kilmorey, Viscounts Kilmorey, Mourne and Newry since early in the 17th century. The Barony, which lies east of the Co Down border and 12 miles south of Lough Neagh in Co Armagh occupies approximately 31, 927 acres.

As of October 1996, Sir Richard Francis Needham, 6th Earl of Kilmorey (Queen's Co), 17th Viscount Kilmorey, 7th Viscount Mourne & Newry (Co Down), Hereditary Abbot of the Exempt Jurisdiction of Mourne & Newry, Privy Councilor of the House of Commons is the 17th Feudal Baron of Orhera, Co Armagh, one of 331 Barons of Ireland. Kilmorey is pronounced Kilmurry.

Seventeen generations of the Needham family have been the Barons of Orhera since 1625.

The Needham family Blazon of Arms and Crest

The official Kilmorey papers.

Joyce Ream is the 7 x ggd of Sir Charles Needham

Amy Parrish is a descendant of Lady Alice Needham.

The Peerage explained.

Last updated Oct 7, 2004

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