(This is a highly edited version of the introductory history found in R.T.Grange's "The Granges of Ireland". (1966)
Editorial comments are shown in italics.)

THE name is an Anglicised form of the old Irish word GRAINSEAC (pronounced GRANSHA), meaning the Grange or farmhouse at the Monastery.

Origin of the Name

One early reference to the name is contained in the Hundred Rolls - Atte Grange - in residence, or living at the grange. The Hundred Rolls were documents of historic interest or value, prepared by early English historians.

The 'grange' was an almost exclusively Irish land unit and originated with the Missionary Settlements founded by St. Patrick, St. Columkille and their successors. Originally the word referred to the farmhouse of a Monastery (from which it always stood some distance apart). One of the Monks, called the Prior of the grange would be appointed to inspect the grange books. Later the name came to be applied to the land on which the Monastery food was grown, and later still to any tract of land connected with a Monastery.

Hereditary family names became general in Ireland about the late 10th. Century and the early 11th., the times of Brian Boru. Some historians, in fact, assert that this custom was adopted in obedience to an Ordinance issued by that Monarch. In the very early days some individuals received their name from a personal peculiarity such as the colour of their hair, size, complexion, figure, or bravery, &c., while others acquired theirs through a long association with a place or tract of territory. Thus it is not a difficult matter to see how the Grange family came to acquire their name, - "the Grange at the Monastery," - "the people living at the Grange," - "a Grange man," - and so on, so that with the passage of time the name "Grange" came to be applied to, and accepted by the people living at the farmhouse near the Monastery.

Place Names

Altogether there are five villages in Ireland which bear the name Grange, - one in each of Tyrone, Limerick, and Tipperary, with two in Connaught, (one of these near Sligo) while throughout the country are to be found quite a number of granges, or tracts of land. One, a parish in Co. Armagh comprising about 7,000 acres, has the freestone quarries which provided the material for the restoration cf Armagh Cathedral. The Parish Church here is a handsome building dating from 1779. It has a square tower and octagond spire. The land itself is generally good with a considerable amount of bog.

There are other places in Ireland with this name:

(1)A tithe-free district in the Barony of Shillelogher, Co. Kilkenny, Leinster.

(2)A parish of some 2,828 acres in Co. Limerick, Munster. The river Deel flows through it.

(3) Another parish in Co. Limerick, three miles from Bruff, on the road to Limerick, comprises 1,224 acres very good dairy land. In the district of Bruff there are three Druidical Circles, one of which is 44 yards in diameter and consists of 65 upright stones, principally of limestone, sandstone and clay-slate, but the largest which is 13 feet high, 7 feet broad and 4 feet thick is formed of breccia. The second Circle is 49 yards in diameter and consists Of 72 smaller stones, while the third, %bich consists of 15 large shapeless blocks, is 17 yards in diameter.

(4) Also called Monksgrange or Grangemonk, is a parish in Queen's Co., Leinster, 841 acres, 4 miles from Carlow on the river Barrow.

(5)A parish Of some 2,700 acres in Co. Waterford, Munster, 5 miles from Youghal on the river Lickey and near the coast.

(6)GRANGE of DOAGH - This ancient parish includes the townland of Coggrey and part of the townland of Ballyclare, in Co. Antrim, Ulster. Its Church, St. Mary's, in Church Lane in the village of Doagh, was built in 1251 but is now in ruins. It seems to have always remained a separate parish with a curate supplied from the Abbey of Muckamore, about 2 miles distant. When the Abbey was dissolved Grange of Doagh was joined to the parish of Kilbride.

Origins of the Grange Families

From as far back as 1624, the earliest authentic date to which the family name can be traced in Ireland, the Granges have been divided into two branches; one living in the Counties of Dublin and Wicklow in the South, the other in the valley of the Sixmile Water in Co. Antrim in the North.
The loss of practically all the family papers in 1922, especially those of the Northern Branch, has led to gaps in the records of earlier generations and has been a major obstacle in definitely establishing that the two branches are actually related. Nevertheless despite this lack of documentary evidence, the many characteristic qualities, especially in features, is strong evidence for a common ancestry and close kinship.

Genealogists who have made a close study of the family name state that it is an extremely rare one in Ireland, and has been confined to these two regions of the island. Their investigations indicate that the present-day Granges, both North and South, are descendants of the same ancient family.

[ED. NOTE: That the Southern Branch are Anglican protestants while the Northern Branch are Presbyterians indicates that both branches probably came to Ireland during the "plantations" of the early 17th. Century; the Presbyterians from Scotland and the Anglicans from England. Thus the two branches were already separate when they arrived in Ireland, and moreover, that separation might have predated the Reformation.]

The "Grange Country" of County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Showing many of the places mentioned in this History.

The Granges of Northern Ireland

The townland of Ballylinney in Co. Antrim, which adjoins Ballyclare, was for centuries one of the possessions of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, an Order of Monks dedicated to driving the infidels out of the Holy Land. A blend of Priest and Soldier, they had, at one time, castles all over Furcpe where their troops were trained in the arts of war for service in the Crusades.

Nearly 800 years ago these Knights Templar built a Monastery at Templepatrick, four miles from Ballyclare, and it was in the surrounding lands that the Granges in the North first farmed. They had land in the Templepatrick, Kilmakee and Derriaghy areas, while another farm was worked near Carrickfergus. Altogether they farmed a total of some five or six hundred acres and many generations of this farming family followed the calling of their ancestors.

The granges were extra-parochial and therefore nominally tithe free. When King Henry VIII suppressed the Monasteries he confiscated the lands and gave them to his friends but he neglected to reserve the tithes or any portion of them for the religious instruction of the inhabitants. Therefore when the Tithe Commission endeavoured to enforce payment, the occupiers of the farms within a grange could legally resist all efforts to compel them to do so. Thus it was that the farmers of the grange of Doagh (in which is included part of the townland of Ballyclare) won their claim against the Tithe Commission in 1840.

The Priory at Templepatrick became the property of Sir Humphrey Norton, an English settler who in 1611 built a castle incorporating earlier remains. In 1628 the castle was purchased by Captain Henry Upton and it has ever since been known as Upton Castle. He was ancestor to Viscount Templetown who lived there in recent years.

The original Temple Church stood near the Priory, while the old graveyard is within a few hundred yards of the castle itself and, for centuries this was the family burying ground of the Granges. The last member of the family buried here was Robert(1861-1938).

The earliest known Granges were prosperous farmers and owned extensive acreages in the Carrickfergus, Derriaghy, Templepatrick and Kilmakee areas with large herds of livestock; and horses too, with which they became closely associated.
However, around the middle of the 18th. Century, they began to neglect their farms, having become hooked on horseracing, dogracing and gambling. (A family tradition of heavy drinking did little to help matters) The loss of work on the farm combined with gambling debts forced the gradual sale of their properties, until, by the beginning of the 19th. Century, all of them were gone.

Robert (b.1777) managed to purchase a farm of slightly over 100 acres at Thornditch, midway between Ballyclare and Doagh, in which he placed his son Hugh (b.1805). But both Hugh and his son William (b.1834) neglected their inheritance and William eventually had to sell the Thornditch farm to meet the demands of his many creditors, spending the rest of his life at the home of an unmarried daughter, Elizabeth, and dying in the early 20th.Century. While William might have neglected his farm work, other responsibilities seemed to have claimed more than their fair share of his attentions as he and his wife, Margaret, had 11 children!

One of them, Robert(b.1861) remained on the farm for a short period assisting the new owner, but then moved to Belfast where he took up employment with a haulier company and in a short time had reached a responsible position in the firm.

Farming was still in his blood, however, and in the early 20th. Century Robert bought a farm near Glengormley, mid-way between Belfast and Ballyclare and prospered sufficiently to purchase an adjoining farm, doubling his acreage. Unfortunately, after his death in 1938, his son Robert was forced by his failing health to sell the farm and retire into private life.

Before the Thornditch farm was sold, Hugh(1805) had placed another son, Robert(b.1832), in another farm, called "Castle" adjoining Thornditch. Robert died sometime between the years 1861 (when his last child was born) and 1864, the year when the registration of deaths became compulsory.

With the assistance of some farm-hands, Jane, his wife, worked the farm until 1874 when the eldest son Robert(b.1853) became of age and took over control of the land.

Robert(1853), for reasons unknown, sold the farm shortly after marrying in 1883 and went into the haulage business in Belfast. He returned to Ballyclare in the early 20th. century and carried on the haulage business for a time between Ballyclare, Larne and Belfast. A few years later the urge to farm once more came upon him and he purchased the "Ashdale" farm in the district of Ballyboley. At his death in 1926 his son, John ('Jack' b.1890) succeeded to the farm and successfully worked it until the late 1950's, when he gave up active farming and retired to private life. Jack was the last of this long line of farming Granges in the North.

The Granges in Southern Ireland

The extensive search conducted by Rochfort Grange(1882-1943), starting in 1918, has enabled the construction of an authoritative history of the Southern Branch of the family that dates back to 1624. This is 37 years earlier than the earliest recorded date in the North. It is lucky for us that he began his search before the destruction of the records in the Dublin Law Courts in 1922 thus managing to save information about earlier generations of Granges that might otherwise have been lost.

The earliest records of the Southern Branch shows that the family were living at Ballynagilloge, a townland in the Barony of Arklow, Co. Wicklow, and it was here that Edmund. the first member of the family of whom there is any record, was born in 1624. The Granges at that time were working a total of some 650 acres, about 400 of which lay in the Ballynagilloge and Raherd areas while the other 250 were in the townlands of Ennereilly and Ballinturney.

The family burying ground was the old Churchyard at Ennereilly and many members directed in their wills that they should be buried near the old home farm no matter where they happened to be when they died. Like most families who have had a centuries-old association with an hereditary home, the yearning was ever present to return to the place of their birth.

In the early years the farms were carefully tended by generations who were quite content to follow the traditional ways of their ancestors. The acreage was gradually increased, both by purchases and by dowries and marriage settlements. Towards the end of the 18th. Century, however, many of the younger family members were raising their sights. Some went into the Church (they were all Anglicans), others into military service. Those who entered the military usually served with famous cavalry regiments of the British and Indian armies, for, like their northern cousins, they were very comfortable around horses. The drift from the land steadily increased throughout the century and by about 1880, practically all the Southern farms had been sold. Today no Grange farmers remain in any part of Ireland.

The Granges in England

Edmund (b.circa 1782-4) with his wife Diana (Coates) are the earliest known names in the English branch. While their origins have not been completely nailed down, the family christian names they used strongly suggest that they were southern.
Edmund and Diana had three sons, all of whom entered the Army, and two daughters, both of whom married into the army. The second son, Lieut-Colonel George John, emigrated to Canada and settled in County Wellington of which he was Sherriff from 1840-76. He was president of a railway company there for many years. One of his sons, Dr. E. A. Grange, graduated from Ontario Veterinary College in 1873 and after a distinguished career in various colleges in both Canada and the U.S.A., he finally became president of the college from which he had originally graduated.
Farming doesn't seem to have been an option in the English branch, most entering the professions, especially the military where several rose to a high rank in the service of their country.

The Granges in America

It is not known exactly when the first Grange from Ireland settled in the U.S.A.
During the first half of the 19th. Century, there was a major migration from Ireland to the USA, reaching, from Ulster alone, a maximum annual rate of 12,000, mainly Presbyterians. While the Potato famine of the '40's was doubtless a strong contributing factor, another, even stronger one was the intolerable landlordism of the established church. Episcopalian Bishops who controlled large tracts of land refused permission to erect either a Presbyterian Church or house on their property, and wealthy landlords of the same persuasion followed the example of their clergy and usually refused to let land on any terms to a Presbyterian, or if given at all, would charge him an exorbitant rent.

It would have been about 1850 that a Robert Grange, (b.1819 in Ireland) arrived in America with Alicia Rhames (b.1830 also in Ireland). They settled in Watertown, a town in the State of Wisconsin. Alicia came from a Quaker family and whether it was a question of religious or social prejudice, there was strong family opposition to the marriage and the young couple decided to leave Ireland.

It is unclear in which part of Ireland Robert was born, for an intensive search of all the existing Church registers in Ireland yielded no record of the marriage. [Ed. note: they were married in Emmet, Dodge, Wisconsin in 1851 according to IGI records. So it is possible that the departure from Ireland was part of an elopement!]
He was said to have claimed that he was a Presbyterian and that he'd been born near Dublin. But these two claims contradict each other, for the Granges in the South, according to all known records, were all Anglicans while the Northerners were all Presbyterians.

About the time of Robert's arrival, civic records indicate that there were several Irish-born Grange families in the Watertown area. :- Robert, a farmer (b.1810) and his wife Anne (b.18I5); [Ed. Note IGI records show that a Robert Grange married an Anne Barker in Mullinacuff, Wicklow, Ireland in 1858; so that "about" could be rather widespread!] and John, a physician, (b.1780) (There are no records at either Trinity College, Dublin or Edinburgh University of his graduation). Living in the same house with John, Robert and Anne were Sarah Watson and her 2 children, Jane and John who were all born in Ireland, - Sarah in 1810. She may have been a married daughter of John. In another house were John(b.1830) and his wife Harriet(b.1837) with their two children, Matthew aged 3 years and Robert R, aged 5 months. These two children whad been born in Wisconsin. Again the registers in Ireland could show no trace of any of these births or marriages.
A partial family tree for Robert Grange's descendants can be found at: Glenda Grange's Page

While it is quite possible that there were earlier arrivals than Robert(1810), up to now no records of them have been found so, for the purpose of this family history, he is the first known generation of the U.S.A. Branch of the Granges of Ireland.

The records of the Granges in Watertown were obtained by Betty Grange of Vancouver, Washington, USA.


IGI Records show that in 1778, in the Diocese of Dublin, a William Grange married a Martha Ashenhurst and that a Jane Grange was born of this couple in 1780.
In 1796, a John Grange, possibly the John(1768) son of Richard Chappell Grange, married a Jane Grange, possibly William and Martha's as she would have been 16 then. (The Granges of Leinster were all Anglicans and could only marry other Protestants. In a 95% Roman Catholic country this severely limited their choice of mates and marriages of cousins would have been relatively common.)
In 1819, Robert was born to John Grange and Jane Grange. Jane would have been 39. (In these birth records, the mother's maiden name, if known, is used.)
This was the Robert who emigrated to the US with Alicia Rhames in 1850, settled in Wisconsin and initiated the first US BRANCH.
One of Robert's & Alicia's sons was Robert Ashenhurst Grange, a name which harks back to the 1778 marriage of his great-grandparents!

Many more Granges have emigrated since, of course, and some of these are shown on the Main GRANGE (Northern Ireland) page.

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