Nangle Family (Barons of Navan)
One of the most famous of Meath’s Anglo Norman families, the Nangle history began with the Norman invasion of Wales in the 1090s, when Norman barons settled in Pembrokeshire. It was from that colony that the Norman invaders of Ireland came in 1169/1170.
(left) The Nangle Family Crest with its distinctive 3 lozenges surmounted by a Palatinate cap signifying that the Nangles stem from one of the 10 Palatinate Barons to whom De Lacy gave territorial grants in the 12th century.
Gilbert de Angulo was one of the Norman rulers recruited by Richard Fitzgilbert Clare [better know in this country as Strongbow] when he was organizing help for Dermot MacMurrough. He and his sons Jocelyn and Honestia arrived as mercenaries.
Within two years of their arrival the Normans were in possession of some of the richest territory in Ireland, the ancient kingdoms of Leinster and Meath. And while Strongbow consolidated his hold over Leinster one of his brother knights, Hugh de Lacy, was given the old Kingdom of Meath by Henry ll as a way of balancing the power between him and Strongbow. De Lacy then parcelled out some of his lands to his faithful knights and that is how the de Angulo family came to Meath in 1170s and 1180s.
Land around Nobber was allocated to Gilbert and areas around the river Boyne and Blackwater were given to Jocelyn. (link The Song of Dermot and the Earl )The names Nangle, Costello and Nagle also derive from the name de Angulo.
The Nangle family followed the same pattern of settlement right throughout Ireland, first building a motte and bailey by which they could defend the territory against Irish attack. Initially the de Angelo settlements within the ‘Liberty of Meath’ prospered. In Navan the motte and bailey were followed by the construction of an abbey, run by the Augustinian order. Members of the Nangle family served as priors of the abbey at various times, political and church power going hand in hand.
The early generations of Nangles then, settled into the job of defending their territory, providing military service to Hugh de Lacy and building what ultimately became the town of Navan. Navan is really the creation of the Nangle family and they had a title to go with it – Barons of Navan – a title that would remain in the family until the 18th century.
In the early 1200s the Nangles founded themselves involved in a civil war between the de Lacys and the de Courcys, a war which eventually brought to Ireland the Lord of Ireland, King John. The Nangles fought on the de Courcy side and against the de Lacys. For a brief period they lost their land, having thus been seen as “bad boys” in the eyes of King John. Restoration of lands occurred in the period 1207/1210. The 1220s saw the Normans push westward across the Shannon, the fifth Baron being granted title to land in the old kingdoms of Connaught.
Out of that branch are descended the Costello family, ruling the Barony of Costello. In 1303 the then Lord of Navan was involved in the English invasion of Scotland, which was featured in the film Braveheart. Another branch of the family had taken root in Munster, where the name became Nagle. In the late 15th century the Nangle family became involved in the Lambert Simnel conspiracy.
The Lord of Navan seems to have been present at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin on the 24th May 1487 when the young imposter was crowned King Edward VI of Ireland. This was not really a clever move on the Nangle’s part as they were marked down as potentially disloyal, but according to the speaker Henry VII could not really do much about it as he needed his Irish lords.
Throughout the sixteenth century the Nangles continued to survive and to make marriage alliances with other Norman families.
In 1641 the Ulster Rising occurred, and by October it had spread southwards into Meath. The Nangles choose the Catholic cause and became participants in the Civil War and afterwards in the first modern Irish Independent Government. Robert Nangle served for a while on the supreme council of the Confederation of Kilkenny.
On the military front the Nangles served in the armies of Leinster. But they had backed the wrong cause again. Much of their land was confiscated under the terms of the Cromwellian plantation. They were lucky – their lands were restored under Charles II – but the restoration settlement could not give them back political power over the town of Navan or the County of Meath.
One of the Nangles, Walter Nangle, managed to serve as High Sheriff of Meath in 1663, However. Many Nangles were listed as having taken part in the Battle of the Boyne. From the Meath area were Captain Walter Nangle and his brother, George, grandsons of the Robert Nangle who served in the Confederation Parliament. The last person to hold the title Baron of Navan was Francis Nangle who died in Austria in 1781.
Burke’s peerage lists a Francis Edward Nangle OBE, who served as High Sheriff of Armagh in the 1960s but the most direct line of descent from the Nangles is Jocelyn Francis Nangle, born 1910, and listed as living in Surrey.
The town of Navan is the personal legacy of the de Angulo / Nangle family. They were a remarkable family who made a successful career for themselves in Ireland and whose history in Co. Meath extends through the highest offices of the land, in the Government of King James II and in the Catholic Confederation, and outwards into Europe and to the ranks of the Irish Brigade of the French Army and to the Imperial Artillery regiments of the Austrian Army of the eighteenth century.