The Sept of O'Mulligan
Millican, Milligan, Millikan, Milliken, Millikin, Mullican, Mulliken, Mullikin etc.



Early O'Mulligans in County Down

The Abbey of Comber


The Medieval Abbey of Comber in County Down was colonised by Cistercian monks from Whitland in Wales c.1199-1200 and is thought to have been founded by Brian O Neill of Clandeboye.  The Latin name of the abbey is derived from its natural surroundings: ‘Comar’ is taken from the Irish word ‘comar’ meaning the confluence of two streams. Very little is known about the Abbey and there are no reliable sources concerning the value of the property, although the abbey is unlikely to have been prosperous. The last abbot, John O Mullegan, resigned voluntarily in 1543, when it was closed by order of the Henery VIII. It is believed to have been of similar size and architecture to the one at Greyabbey.  For nearly a century the O Mullegan family played important role in life of the abbey, and their history can be traced directly back to Odo (Aedh) Omalegan, a priest from the diocese of Connor, promoted by papal authority to be received as a monk of the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary de Cumur in the diocese of Down. He was the illegitimate son of a priest and an unmarried woman [no names are known to exist] and probably the father Nicholas Omalegan, who was granted papal dispensation as the illegitimate son of a priest and an unmarried woman in 1496. He held the rectory of Killinchy and became the abbot of Comber.

The following is a list papal records that relate to the O Mullegans in County Down.


October 12, 1454
To the bishop and the dean of Derry and the prior of St. Mary's, Dungemyn (Dungiven), in the diocese of Derry. Mandate to cause Odo Omalegan, priest, of the diocese of Cambrai (mistake for Connor), who was lately dispensed by papal authority, on account of illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all, even holy orders and hold a benefice even with cure. After this he was so promoted to be received as a monk of the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary de Cumur in the diocese of Down (Dunen), and to receive his regular profession. Cupientibus vitam. (O. and M. A[mici]. | O. Gratis pro deo.Pontanus. Dated at St. Peter’s, Rome, on 4 Id, 1454.
[Twemlow, J. A.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters 1447-1455 (London, 1915), Vol. X, p. 676]

October 12, 1454
To the prior of St. Mary's, Dungemy[n]g in the diocese of Derry. Mandate (the pope having been informed by Odo Omalegan, priest, of the diocese of Connor, that Z[e]fanus Okyeonnayc (rectius Okyeonnaye), abbot of the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary, Cumur (Comber), in the diocese of Down, has committed simony, publicly kept a concubine, and dilapidated and alienated and uselessly consumed its possessions, and is much defamed about these things in those parts; and the pope having this day ordered the above prior and two colleagues to cause the said Odo to be received as a monk of the said monastery) if and after Odo, who was lately dispensed by papal authority on account of illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all, even holy orders, and hold a benefice even with cure, after which he had himself so promoted, and who from fear of Zefanus's power has no hope of obtaining justice in the city and diocese of Down) accuses Zefanus before the above prior, to summon him, and if he find the foregoing to be true, to deprive and remove him, and in that event to make provision of the said monastery, value not exceeding 6 marks sterling, to Odo, whom the said prior is to cause to be blessed by any catholic bishop, and whom the pope hereby dispenses to be appointed abbot and to rule the monastery, etc., notwithstanding the said defect etc. Ex suscepte servitutis. (O. and G. Gonne. Dated at St. Peter’s, Rome, on 4 Id, 1454.
[Twemlow, J. A.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters 1447-1455 (London, 1915), Vol. X, p. 699]

January 1, 1476
To the abbots of St. Mary’s, Vdburnn (Woodburn) and St. Benedict’s, Comur (Comber), and the prior of St. Mary’s, Moemur (Muckamore), in the dioceses, of Connor and Down. Mandate, as below. The pope has learned that the rectory of St. Mary’s, Ballemartin (Ballymartin), is void by the death extra R.c. of Roger Odubaill, the perpetual vicarage of Maygblysac (Grange of Molusk) by the death extra R.c. of John Macfergail, and the perpetual vicarage of Waltaitim (Grange of Ballywalter) by the death extra R.c. of Alan Obeygam, [all three] desolate parish churches in the dioceses of Conoor and Down, and [all three] so long void that their collations have lapsed to the apostolic see. And the recent petition of Patrick Magillarinan, a canon of the monastery of St. Mary, Mocmur, of the order of St. Victor, in the diocese of Connor, contained that the said parish churches are so near one another that the said rectory and vicarages can be easily served by one man. At the petition, therefore, of the said Patrick, who after making his profession had himself promoted to all holy orders, notwithstanding his illegitimacy as the son of unmarried parents, the pope hereby orders the above three, if they find the facts to be as stated, to unite the said vicarages to the said rectory for as long as the said Patrick shall hold it, and in the event of their making such union to collate and assign the said rectory, which has cure, and the value of which and of the said vicarages does not exceed 6 marks sterling, to the said Patrick. The pope further dispenses him to receive and retain the same, notwithstanding that he has made his profession of the said order, and notwithstanding the said defect, etc. At St Peter’s Rome.
[Twemlow, J. A.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters 1471-1484 Part Two 1475-1484 (London, 1955), Vol. XIII, p. 532-3]

August 20, 1485
To the abbot of the monastery of Saul (de Saballo) in the diocese of Down, and Mark Macgyn and Denis Omwsteagh (?), canons of Dromore. Mandate to collate and assign to Bernard Obyrnd, clerk, of the diocese of Down (who was lately dispensed by authority of the ordinary on account of illegitimacy, as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be made a clerk, after which he had himself made a clerk), the rectory of the parish church of Kyllwynchy in the said diocese, of lay patronage, and yearly value not exceeding about 1˝ marks sterling, void because Nicholas Omaeylygan held it for more than a year without having himself ordained priest, and without dispensation, although he has detained it for some years after the said year without having acquired any new title or right, the said Nicholas being summoned and removed. The pope hereby specially dispenses the said Bernard to be promoted to all, even holy orders and receive and retain it, notwithstanding the said defect.
[Twemlow, J. A.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters 1484-1492 (London, 1960), Vol. XIV, p. 108]

May 24, 1490
To the abbots of Bangor and Saul (de Saballo) and the prior of Downpatrick (de Duno), which is usually governed by a prior, monasteries, diocese of Down, mandate in favour of Thomas Magyan, perpetual vicar of the parish church of St. Mary, Talpodim, diocese of Down, who, as he alleged, was dispensed some time ago by apostolic authority on account of his illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman to be promoted to all, even sacred, orders and to hold a benefice, even with cure of souls, following which he was promoted to all the said orders and obtained the perpetual vicarage of the said parish church – canonically collated to him while it was vacant certo modo – which vicarage he has held and possessed since then, as he still does. Thomas has referred to the pope’s audience the fact that Catholicus Omuligan, rector of the rectory of the parish of St. Dermot (sancti Dermitii), Armakaher (Ardmacosse), diocese of Down, has alienated and dissipated some of the immovable goods lawfully belonging to the said rectory, has converted to his own uses the price accruing there from and gave and assigned to the then collator of the rectory certain heifers, so that he might collate the rectory to him, which the collator then did, whereby Catholicus has committed simony and has incurred the censures and penalties promulgated against offenders in this regard. Considering that if this is so, Catholicus has rendered himself unworthy of the rectory, and having learned that the chapel of St Sciw (sancta Sciw), Ruu, diocese of Down, is vacant and has been for so long that by the Lateran statues its collation has lawfully devolved on the apostolic see, the pope, at Thomas’ petition, hereby orders the above three, if Thomas will accuse Catholicus before them in this matter, to summon the latter and other concerned, and if they find the accusation to be true, to deprive and remove Catholicus, and in that event to collate and assign the rectory, of which the annual valve does not exceed 2 marks sterling, to Thomas, uniting etc thereto the said chapel, which is a sinecure and of which the annual value does not exceed half a mark, for Thomas’ life, inducing him etc, having removed Catholicus and any other unlawful detainers. Thomas is hereby dispensed to receive the vicarage and retain it together with the rectory, if collated to him on the strength of the present, notwithstanding the said defect in his birth. With the usual proviso that the benefices in question shall not be defrauded of their due obsequies and that the cure of souls (where there is such) therein shall not be neglected. The pope’s will is that Thomas’ death or resignation of the rectory, the said union shall be dissolved and the chapel shall revert to its original condition, being thereby deemed vacant.
[Haren, Michael J.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, Vol. XV Innocent VIII, Lateran Registers 1484-1492 (Dublin, 1978), p. 281, no. 553]

Note: The medieval church of Ardmacosse is mentioned in the taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1306, and is believed to be located within the old burial ground of Slanes in the Ards Peninsula.

August 9, 1496
To the abbot of the monastery of B. Mary alias St. Congall, diocese of Down, commission and mandate in favour of Nicholas Omilagan (Omulligan), cleric, diocese of Down. A recent petition on the part of Nicholas stated that at one time, after he – nothwithstanding a defect of birth as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, had had himself dispensed by apostolic authority to be promoted to all even sacred orders and to hold a benefice even if it should have cure of souls. He acquired the rectory of the parish church of Cyllwhci (also spelt Cillwnchy, Killinchy), of the said diocese, which was canonically collated to him while vacant certo modo, he possessed it peacefully for a year and more, but did not – there being no lawful impediment and not having obtained any canonical dispensation for this – have himself promoted to the priesthood, receiving the fruits from it, as he does, de fact; [and] being – while the monastery of B. Mary, Comor (Comber), O Cist, of the said diocese, was vacant certo modo – the custo or administer deputed for the conservation of the goods and property of the said monastery, he also received the fruits etc., of that monastery and [?although] he received the said fruits with intention of rendering an account to the future abbot of the monastery, nevertheless [?he made provision] not only of that (?fruits) but also indeed of his own personal goods for the repair and hospitality to kept of the said monastery; and the pope has learned that the rectory – through [his] lack of promotion, as above – and the monastery – certo modo – have been and are vacant at present. And it has been referred to the pope’s audience by Nicholas that a priest, Seralius Oberynd, and Thomas etiam Oberind, rectors of the parish churches of Cyllumyd (also spelt Cillmuyd, Kilmood) and Balemiceachan (Ballymagreehan) respectively, of the said diocese, have dared, after being bound by sentence of excommunication, declared excommunicated and publicly denounced as such, and not ignorant of this, to celebrate mass and [otherwise] take part in divine offices, contracting irregularity, to commit simony and to keep concubines publicly, on account of which the said priest and Thomas respectively have rendered themselves unworthy of those two rectories. At this petition for, furthermore, the union etc., of the last two rectories to the first rectory, held by Nicholas himself, for as long as he should hold it – asserting that at another time it befell that he, while playing with a certain companion of this, struck him and a certain woman who was annoying him, by way of correction, even in the face, and deprived one of them of sight in one eye – to the pope to absolve him from the excesses in question; dispense him on account of irregularity contracted in foregoing and unite etc., the last two rectories to the first rectory, held by Nicholas himself, for as long as he should hold the latter, the pope – not having certain knowledge of the foregoing – hereby commissions and commands the above abbot to absolve Nicholas, if he so requests, from the excesses in question, after he has made satisfaction to the said companion and woman, for that once only, in the customary form of the church, having enjoined a salutary penance on him etc., to dispense him on account of irregularity contracted by him in the aforesaid matters and to make use of clerical character and be promoted to all the said orders and to minister therein even in the ministry of the alter, and also to receive the monastery, if commented to him on the strength of the presents, and the first rectory, if on the strength of the same, and any number of other benefices, with and without cure, compatible mutually and with the said monastery and rectory, even if they should be canonries and prebends, dignities, personatus, administrations or offices in cathedral – even metropolitan – or collegiate churches, even if the dignities etc., should be customarily elective and have cure of souls, if he obtains them otherwise canonically, and retain them together with a canonry of the church of Connor, collated to Nicholas by ordinary authority, whose fruits etc., are, as Nicholas also asserts, nil; to resign them at once or successively, simply or for exchange, as often as he places, and in their place receive and return any number of other, similar or dissimilar, benefices, mutually compatible, as above – provided that such dignities be not major post pontificalem in cathedral – even metropolitan – churches or principal in collegiate churches; notwithstanding etc., and also the apostolic privileges, indults and letters granted to the Cistercian order, particularly those in which it is said to be provided that benefices of the order when vacant may not be commended to anyone except cardinals of the Roman church and commends made to others are of no force or moment, to derogate these privileges etc., specially and expressly, for that once only; and to rehabilitate him on account of all disability and infamy arising from the foregoing; and in the event of this absolution, dispensation, rehabilitation and derogation if Nicholas will accuse the said priest and Thomas before him in these matters and proceed in forma iuris, thereafter, having summoned respectively the said priest and Thomas and other interested parties, to make inquiry and, if he finds the foregoing to be true, to deprive the said priest and Thomas respectively of the last two rectories and remove them from them; and thereafter to collate and assign the rectories of Cyllwchi, of annual value not exceeding 3, and of Cyllumyd not exceeding 2, and of Balemiceachan, also not exceeding 2, marks sterling (whether vacant then by the above deprivation and removal, or at another time howsoever etc., even if by the free resignations respectively of Nicholas, the priest and Thomas, even if vacant for so long that by the Lateran statues their collation has lawfully devolved on the apostolic see etc.) to Nicholas; and to commend the monastery, of annual value not exceeding 5 marks sterling, vacant howsoever etc., to him to hold, rule and govern for life (he may – due and customary burdens of the monastery having been supported – make disposition of the rest of its fruits etc., just as abbots for the time being could and ought to do, alienation of immovable goods and precious movables being however forbidden), and unite etc., the last two rectories to the first rectory, held by Nicholas himself, with all rights and appurtenances inducting him etc., having removed any unlawful detainers and causing Nicholas (or his proctor) to be admitted to the first rectory and its fruits etc., rights and obventions and those of the other rectories to be annexed to be delivered to him and causing customary services and rights to be given to him by the vassals and other subjects of the monastery. [Curbing] gainsayers by the pope’s authority etc. Notwithstanding etc. With the provisio that – on account of this union etc., and commend – the said united rectories shall not be defrauded of due services and divine workshop and the usual number of ministers in the monastery shall not be diminished and the cure of the souls in the united rectories shall not be neglected, but that their customary burdens and those of the monastery shall be supported; and that on the death of Nicholas or his resignation of the first rectory, after it should be conferred on him on the strength of the presents, as above, this union etc., shall be dissolved and the said untied rectories shall revert to their original condition and thereby be deemed vacant. The pope’s will is however that before the above abbot shall proceed to the [execution] of the presents in any way, Nicholas shall resign the first rectory into his hands altogether.
[Fuller, Anne P.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, Alexander VI 1492-1503; Lateran Registers Part One: 1492-1498 (Dublin, 1986), no. 553]

October 15, 1496
To Bernard Maclosca and Donald Otachyll, canons of the church of Derry, and Nicholas Omuligan, canon of the church of Connor, commission and mandate in favour of Matthew Omulracna (also called Marcus in the first instance, thereafter Matheus), priest, diocese of Connor. It was been referred to the pope’s audience by the said Matthew that Patrick Omallatayy, rector of the parish church of Tachineciewryn (Dtachineciewryn), of the said diocese, being excommunicate and publicly denounced as such and not ignorant thereof, dared to take part in divine offices, contracting irregularity, commit perjury, keep a concubine publicly and dissipate the moveable goods of this church. The pope therefore – considering that if the foregoing is true, Patrick has rendered himself unworthy of the church in question – hereby commissions and commands that the above three (or two or one of them), if Matthew will accuse Patrick before them in these matters and proceed in forma iuris, thereafter, having summoned Patrick and others concerned, shall inform themselves as to the foregoing and if they find the above related matters be true, shall deprive Patrick of the parish of church and remove him from it and in that event collate and assign the said church, whose annual value does not exceed 3 marks sterling (whether vacant then by the said deprivation and removal or at another time howsoever etc., even if vacant for so long that by the Lateran statues its collation has lawfully devolved on the apostolic see, etc.), with all rights and appurtenances, to Matthew, inducting him etc., having removed any unlawful detainer and causing the fruits etc., rights and obventions thereof to be delivered to him; [curbing] gainsayers by the pope’s authority etc. Notwithstanding etc.
[Fuller, Anne P.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, Alexander VI 1492-1503; Lateran Registers Part One: 1492-1498 (Dublin, 1986), no. 743]

November 24, 1496
To the archdeacon of the church of Dromore and Bernard Maclossryd, canon of the church of Derry, and Nicholas Omulagan, canon of the church of Connor, mandate in favour of Senequinus Suerdus, monk of the monastery of St. Patrick, Down, OSB (who asserts that he is expressly professed of the above order; and that the resources of the monastery have – on account of several suits which the prior and convent of the monastery (which is usually governed by a prior) have had with several clerics and laymen, as they have at present – been made so meagre that he cannot sustain himself suitably from them and be present at divine offices in the monastery). The pope has learned that the perpetual vicarage of the parish church of St. James, Ramylyn, diocese of Down (which is of lay patronage), is vacant at the present and has been for so long that by the Lateran statues its collation has lawfully devolved on the apostolic see, although Patrick Maguyrym and de facto, for a certain time, as he still does. Therefore, he hereby commands that the above three (or two or one of them), if, having summoned Patrick and others concerned, they find the vicarage, whose annual value does not exceed 2 marks sterling, to be vacant (howsoever etc., even if specially reserved etc.), shall collate and assign it, with all rights and appurtenances, to Senequinus, inducting him etc., having removed Patrick and any other unlawful detainer and causing Senequinus (or his proctor) to be admitted to the vicarage and its fruits etc., rights and obventions to be delivered to him; [curbing] gainsayers by the pope’s authority etc. Notwithstanding etc. Also, the pope dispenses Senequinus to receive and retain the said vicarage, if conferred on him on the strength of the presents, notwithstanding etc.
[Fuller, Anne P.: Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, Alexander VI 1492-1503; Lateran Registers Part One: 1492-1498 (Dublin, 1986), no. 666]

1541-43
An Inquisition which was taken at Ardquin, on July 4 1605 which states that John O'Mullegan, abbot of the late abbey of Cumber, in the Upper Clandeboy, at the time of the dissolution of the said abbey, was seized in fee as of right of his abbey, of seven townlands lying around, viz Ballymonster (the land adjoining the monastery itself); Balleneyany (called in other Inquisitions Ballengona, now Ballygowan) Ballycarnesmer (Carnasure); Ballengartoige, Ballenecullentre (Cullintraw); Ballygaruffe, with their appurtenances, and of all the tithes of said lands.' It was also found that he was seized of the rectories of Ballymacgeehan, Kilmood, Saintfield, or Tawnaghneeve, Kilaney, and Temple Effin, in Island Magee, with the right of nominating the vicars in these parishes; and from each of these parishes he received two-thirds of the tithes.
[O’Laverty, Rev. James: An Historical Account of the Diocese of Down and Connor, Ancient and Modern (Dublin, 1880), Vol. II, p. 136-7]

Note: Extracted from the Inquisitionum in Officio Rotulorum Cancellariae Hiberniae, Asservatarum, Repertorium (1839), Vol. II, 2 Jac’ I, granting this church and lands to James Hamilton. O’Mullegan was the last abbot of Comber, who resigned his office in 1543 at the dissolution of the abbey.







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