Wogan, John (DNB00)

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WOGAN, Sir JOHN (d. 1321?), chief justice and governor of Ireland, was, according to pedigrees supplied to Lewis Dwnn about 1590, a son of Sir Matthew Wogan (by Avicia, heiress of Walter Malephant), and great-grandson of Gwgan, son of Bleddyn ap Maenarch, lord of Brecknock. Gwgan, whose name in course of time was softened into Wogan, married Gwenllian, the heiress of Wiston in Pembrokeshire, where his descendants were subsequently settled. Others, with less probability, trace the family from the De Cogans, two of whom, Milo and Richard, accompanied Robert Fitz-Stephen from Pembrokeshire to Ireland in 1170, and then began the English conquest of that country (Laws, Little England beyond Wales, pp. 123, 131–2). Still more fanciful is the descent from a Roman patrician named Ugus, given by a writer of the last century, on the authority of a manuscript pedigree shown him in 1742 at Florence by a Chevalier Ughi (De Burgo, Hibernia Dominica).

Wogan was probably first introduced to Edward I's notice by William de Valence, earl of Pembroke [q. v.], when in November 1284 the king and his consort visited St. David's shrine on the completion of the Welsh war. At all events, his name first appears under the date of 22 May 1285, when Edward I granted him letters of protection with the view of his proceeding to Ireland (Cal. of Documents relating to Ireland, 1285–1292, p. 33). In 1290 he was a referee with Hugh Cressingham [q. v.] in a dispute between the queen and William de Valence, earl of Pembroke, and his wife (Rot. Parl. i. 31, 33). In 1292 he was one of the justices itinerant assigned to the four northern counties, and in 1295 was appointed chief justice of Ireland. Wogan arrived in Ireland on 18 Oct. 1295, and among his first acts he made a truce for two years between the Burkes and the Geraldines. In the same year he also convoked a parliament in Kilkenny, where it was enacted that the English colonists should not adopt Irish names. Immediately after, he took a troop of the English settlers to aid the king in Scotland, and it is mentioned that on 13 May 1296 the leaders were entertained by the king at Roxburgh Castle. On his return in 1298 he had the task of again reconciling the Burkes and the Geraldines, and thenceforward he ‘kept everything so quiet that we hear of no trouble in a great while’ (Cox). In 1300 he made a second expedition to Scotland, and on his return called another parliament in 1302, when he also tried to levy a subsidy on the clergy. Edward II charged him with the duty of suppressing the knights templars in Ireland, which he carried out successfully in February 1307–8. In the following August he was recalled home, and some writers (e.g. O'Kelly) have erroneously fixed his death at this date, but in June 1309 he was reappointed to his former office. He convoked two more parliaments at Kilkenny, one on 2 Feb. 1309–10, the other in 1311. He suffered defeat at the hands of the rebels on 7 July 1312, but they afterwards voluntarily surrendered to the king's mercy, whereupon Wogan towards the end of the month finally quitted Ireland, leaving behind him a great reputation as a firm administrator. He probably retired to live in his native county of Pembroke, his interest in which had been shown during his absence in Ireland by his founding in 1302 a chantry at St. David's in the chapel of St. Nicholas (also called the Wogan chapel) for the souls of himself, Edward I, and Bishop David Martin; and in grateful memory of the king's visit to St. David's in 1284 he also founded the chapel of King Edward (‘Acta et Statuta Ecclesiæ Menevensis’ in Harl. MS. 1249; Freeman and Jones, p. 100; Fenton, Pembrokeshire, p. 88). He also procured from the king the livings of Llanhowel and Llandeloy (in Dewisland), and from the heirs of Hugo, baron of Naas in Kildare (a descendant of Maurice Fitz-Gerald), the manor of Maurice Castle, also in Dewisland (Owen, Pembrokeshire, p. 406).

Wogan appears to have died in 1321. A tomb with the effigy of a knight, cross-legged, generally supposed to be Wogan's, formerly stood in the Wogan chapel at St. David's, but is now in Bishop Vaughan's chapel (Book of Howth, p. 146; cf. Cal. Close Rolls, 1318 and 1323, pp. 175, 200). He married Joan, sole heiress of Sir William Picton of Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire, which property was therefore added to his previous estate of Wiston. His offspring by her is variously given by different genealogists. Dwnn mentions three sons, viz. William, from whom the Wogans of Wiston were subsequently descended; John, whose descendants lived at Picton; and Thomas, who settled at Milton, all in Pembrokeshire. Wogan is said to have had by a second marriage another son, named Harry, who married Margaret, heiress of Wilcock Dyer of Boulston, and became the founder of that branch of the family which in time absorbed the Milton estate (Phillipps, Glamorganshire Pedigrees, p. 41).

According to another pedigree of Wogan's descendants, said to have been compiled in 1840 by Sir William Beetham, Ulster king-at-arms, his children are said to have settled in Ireland. Thomas, who is described as the eldest son, is said to have succeeded his father as justiciary of Ireland, but on failure of his issue the second son John became the head of the family and the founder of the Wogans of Rathcoffey in Ireland. The original grant of Rathcoffey to John de Wogan on 27 Aug. 1317 is found in the Exchequer Roll (9 Edward II, No. 1200). The names of the other children in this pedigree are Walter (described as escheator of Ireland), Bartholomow, Jane, and Eleanor. In spite of this discrepancy there is no doubt that both the Wogans of Rathcoffey and the Pembrokeshire families of that name were descended from Wogan the justiciary, but perhaps they represent the offspring of different wives.

[Lewis Dwnn gives pedigrees showing the ancestors and descendants of Sir John Wogan, in his Heraldic Visitations of Wales, i. 42, 90, 106, 108 (correcting an erroneous pedigree on p. 107) and 229, especially footnote, ii. 55. The chief source of information as to Wogan's administration in Ireland is the Calendars of Documents relating to Ireland, vols. for 1293–1301, and 1302–7. The numerous documents here calendared are also summarised (and other information added) in an article on the Wogans of Rathcoffey by the Rev. Denis Murphy, printed in the Proc. of the Royal Soc. of Antiquaries of Ireland (1890–1), 5th ser. i. 119 et seq. (cf. p. 716), and in Mémoire historique et généalogique sur la Famille de Wogan … par le Comte Alph. O'Kelly de Galway (Paris, 1896). There are other documents summarised in the Cal. of the Carew MSS. (Book of Howth), pp. 125–7 (cf. p. 146). See also Cox's Hibernia Anglicana (1689), pp. 85–92; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Fenton's Pembrokeshire, pp. 233, 235, 278, 321; Archæologia Cambrensis, 2nd ser. v. 33, 39, 5th ser. xv. 225–37.]

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