Sir Richard Hansard
The most interesting of all the seventeenth century church monuments in west Ulster is undoubtedly that to Sir Richard Hansard in Clonleigh Church of Ireland church in Lifford, County Donegal. The monument consists of two sculpted figures kneeling on either side of a prayer stool. The figures are presumably meant to represent Sir Richard and his wife Dame Anne. Both are dressed in contemporary costume. Sir Richard is wearing his military armour, while his wife is wearing a long dress and a veil.
The inscription is the most detailed of any in west Ulster in the seventeenth century and contains a great deal of information about Sir Richard. He was born in Biskerthorpe in Lincolne (Lincolnshire), England. He was educated at Cambridge after which he became a soldier. He served in Ireland in a number of places during the Nine Years War (1594-1603) and was governor of Lifford during the latter stages of the war and also during the rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Dogherty in 1608. As a reward for his services he was granted Lifford and the surrounding lands by James I and given permission to found a corporate town at Lifford.
The inscription goes on to describe how Hansard had appointed Sir John Vaughan, Sir George Merbury and Thomas Perkins Esq. as the executors of his will and how these men had carried out the instructions in that will. These included building a church, school and school house and setting aside money from his lands to pay for a schoolmaster and other officials in the town. Sir Richard Hansard died on 5 October 1619. The inscription finishes by pointing out that the executors of his will had been forced to buy the lands from Hansard’s brother for £1,500 so that the instructions in his will could be fully carried out. The inscription is therefore not simply a record of Hansard’s achievements, but also of those of his executors.
Richard Hansard's monument