Thomas Soden, 1594 – 1700, Sligo, Ireland
Thomas ‘The Crank’
Poor old Thomas. Well, he probably wasn’t that poor but he certainly was old. All seemed to be agreed he made it over 100 years of age.
The Lands at Grange, Co. Sligo
Thomas Soden and Philip Sulevane were granted the lands at Grange, formerally the property of the O’Creans according to O’Harte. This was the main road from Sligo to Ballyshannon where there was also a military barracks and which they were to guard.
Several stories have followed Thomas through history. Joe McDonagh in ‘Under the Shadow of Ben Bulben’ relates the story where Thomas Soden deceived the original recipient of the land by informing him of the uselessness of the land for anything. At which point Thomas obtained the land for almost nothing. This story in to be found in the local folklore of the parish and in the files of the Folklore Commission in UCD.
The detail of the Cromwellian Settlement of Lands in Ireland as outlined by Prendergast in his book based on files from Dublin Castle does not lead to one to this conclusion. Even the Nazis copied the example of the Cromwellian Settlement of Land for their ‘Lebensraum Politik’ in Soviet Russia in the 1940s, so precise was it in its measurements and description. So it is very unlikely that land would be passed on in this cavalier manner.
‘Its amazing the workings of a wheelbarrow.’
He is recorded in McDonagh’s book as an angry old man being transported around the parish in his later year s by a servant in a wheelbarrow keeping order on matters. This story is again taken from local folklore.
St. Molaise and Target Practice
Stella Durand in her book 'Drumcliffe' writes that it was Thomas Soden who used the ancient statue of St. Molaise found on Inishmurray as shooting target practice from his boat as he neared the island.
I have checked this out with the Director of the National Museum in Collins Barracks , Dublin where the statue can be seen today and he states there is no evidence of shooting on the statue, which means either the story is just another ‘tall’ story to discredit Thomas or that he was a terrible shot.
The native Irish Catholic naturally wouldn’t have liked him and his confreres and the Established Protestant Church of Ireland might well have found a scapegoat in the form of one individual for the all the misery that they had heaped onto the local population though Thomas himself seems to have been of a truculent and bellicose nature.
A Chester Refugee
Towards the end of his long life we have an account of Thomas travelling in 1689 as a Chester Refugee from Sligo in NW Ireland to Chester in NW England. He was accompanying a young woman and child, who may well have been his daughter-in-law and grandson at the time. At this time the forces of the Protestant King William of Orange from Holland were in Ireland and would eventually win the Battle of the Boyne. This would be no time to be a Protestant trapped in NW Ireland by Catholic forces.
At any rate King William won or ‘Billy’ as he was more popularly known, the English continued to rule Ireland and the Sodens carried on as landowners under the Settlement and in civic office.
The Last Laugh
As it turns out Thomas may have gotten the last laugh. His long life is recorded in the deeds for the land, the roll of the Chester Refugees and most impressively on the Plaque in the foyer of the Church of Ireland church at Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo.
Requiescat in pace.
In the Shadow of Ben Bulben, by Joe McGowan, Aeolus Press, 1993,pp. 43 ff.
1661-2 Book of Survey and Distribution 1/Cl/20
Plaque in the foyer of the Church of Ireland, Drumcliffe, Sligo
1655 Hearth Money Rolls , Analecta Hibernica, McLysaght
The Down Survey otherwise
The Book of Survey and Distribution,1641-1661
Thomas Sodden is listed as a new proprietor
page 90,volume 6
Wood-Martin,History of Sligo
Documents in the Folklore Commission from 1938 in UCD