Select Nugent Miscellany

Here are some Nugent stories and accounts over the years:

Nogent/Nugent Origins

Nogent, originally no-gent or "new settlement," was a name for towns that were situated on the banks of a river, such as Nogent-sur-Seine and Nogent-sur-Marne.  Nogent-le-Rotrou was and is a town in northern France located west of Chartres.  

The Nogent/Nugent family originally was a branch of the house of Belesme in Normandy, being descended from Wulke de Belsame, Lord of Nogent le Rotrou.  This Rotrou family was a powerful one, ruling an area known as the Perche (the district south of Normandy) from 1000 to 1126.  

The Nogents/Nugents who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 may have been illegitimate sons of Rotrou I de Chateaudun, ones who had been left out in the cold in the succession.  

Reader Feedback - Gilbert be Nogent in Ireland

Gilbert de Nogent and brothers did not come to Ireland with Strongbow in 1172.  In fact King Henry sent forces to Ireland in October 1171 under the command of Hugh de Lacy, with the object of stopping Strongbow in his obvious intentions of taking much of Ireland for himself.  Strongbow had been out of favor with the King and Henry sent him to Ireland with a small expeditionary force, with the object of getting him out of the way.  He regretted this decision less than a year later, and so went to Ireland himself to bring Strongbow to heel.  Hugh de Lacy was given the title of Viceroy and proceeded to name Barons and allocate land to his mercenary followers (including Gilbert de Nogent)  

So did the family settle in Ireland, with Sir William Nugent taking the name Nugent in about 1415. 

Francis Nugent
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Bishop Nugent's Crozier from Fore Abbey

One of the most important properties that the Nugents owned in Westmeath was the Abbey at Fore.  The Abbey was very much a part of Nugent history because each generation was involved in it.  Many Bishops of Meath and Abbots of Fore were in fact Nugents. 

The time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 1530’s proved to be a very divisive time for the Nugents. The then Baron of Delvin had to depose his own brother who was Bishop William Nugent of Fore Abbey.  Those were his orders.  He had to do it, whether he liked it or not. 

The Bishop took all his belongings and went to live with his cousin at Farrenconnell.  He brought with him the original crozier that had been used in Fore Abbey.  It remained at Farrenconnell until recent times and is now in the National Museum in Dublin.  

The crozier is so well used that the bronze crest has been worn away over time on the top where the Bishop’s thumbs had been on it.  The crest was beautifully crafted. There were designs of ram's heads and tiny little horns on the ram's head.  It was used in the old days in Farrenconnell as a holy relic and also to get the truth out of people.  It seemed to have been far better than swearing on the Bible.

The Nugent Wild Geese

Many Nugents fought for King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689.  One account of the battle had the Nugents thinking that they had won the day.  However, the Orangemen rallied and the Jacobites lost.  Sixteen Nugents were said to be slain during the battle.

Nugent property was confiscated after the defeat and Nugents fled, joining the army of “Wild Geese” in the armies of France and Austria.


After the siege of Limerick in 1691 Christopher Nugent took service with the French and commanded what came to be known as Nugent's regiment.   He took part with James II in the 1715 expedition to Scotland. John Nugent, fifth Earl of Westmeath and the last Catholic holder of the title, also served with distinction in James II's Irish army and in that of France.


Ignatius Nugent was made a Count in Austria and became the Governor of Prague, but he was killed in the battle for Belgrade.  His son Laval joined the Austrian army in the war against Napoleon and later fought in Italy.  In 1824 he bought a castle at Trsat overlooking Rijeka in what is now Croatia.  That castle remained in Nugent hands for three generations until the line ran out during the Second World War.


Oliver Nugent of Drumcree had had his property confiscated in Westmeath after the defeat.  His son Walter departed Ireland for the Caribbean island of Antigua in 1718.  His descendants were to stay there for over two hundred years.

Walter and Antoinetta Nugent in Antigua

Walter Nugent made a total of three voyages to Antigua before settling there and marrying the daughter of a wealthy French merchant.  After his second visit,this wealthy Frenchman Jacob Le Roux - a Huguenot – had agreed to give his only daughter Antoinetta in marriage.  Asking his fiancée what he should bring her she was said to have replied:  “a handsome doll and a large plum cake.”

They were married at St John’s Church in Antigua in 1721, he being then thirty three and she just twelve and a half.  We must assume, given Antoinetta’s Huguenot upbringing, that Walter had by this time embraced Protestantism.  Surprisingly, given the amount of immigration from Ireland, there has never been a Catholic church in Antigua.

Walter and Antoinetta were the progenitors of the Nugents of Antigua. Their first child, also called Walter, born when Antoinetta was just fourteen, died aged 9 months.  But six of their nine children grew to maturity.

In 1724 Walter and Antoinetta lived at Nugent’s, a few miles east of the capital St John’s.  He died there in 1758, aged about 70.  Antoinetta outlived him by nearly forty years, inheriting twenty sheep, three cows, a coach, chaise and four coach horses, and 52 acres called Dennings and the house thereon. She died in 1794 or 1795.

Father James Nugent of Liverpool

Father James Nugent was born in Liverpool in 1822. He was the eldest of nine children born to an Irish greengrocer father.  At that time public educational facilities for Catholics in Liverpool were few.  But he was fortunate in getting an education at a private school.

After he was ordained in 1848, he was tireless in his devotion to the social issues of the day:- working with the prisoners at Walton Prison, establishing a refuge for homeless boys and another one for fallen women, and campaigning all the time for temperance.

He was much loved in his native Liverpool.  In 1897 at a huge public gathering its citizens presented him with his own portrait.  It now hangs in the Liverpool Art Gallery.  After his death a bronze statue was erected near St. George's Hall commemorating him as:

“Apostle of Temperance,
Protector of the Orphan Child,
Consoler of the Prisoner,
Reformer of the Criminal,
Savior of Fallen Womanhood,
Friend of all in Poverty and Affliction,
An Eye to the Blind, a Foot to the Lame, the Father of the Poor

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