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Fermanagh County Museum, Enniskillen Castle, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, N. Ireland, BT74 7HL

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William Cole

William Cole

In Fermanagh, the Plantation of Ulster, begun in 1610, brought about the establishment of the new county town of Enniskillen, and eventually the development of other towns such as Lisnaskea, Newtownbutler, Maguiresbridge and Ballinamallard.

Captain William Cole, a Londoner who had served with the crown forces in Ireland since 1600 and had been appointed captain of boats and barks at Ballyshannon in 1603, played an important role in the 17th century history of Enniskillen Castle.

He was destined to become the key player in the development of the new town of Enniskillen and was knighted in Dublin in 1617.

Cole was given a lease of the crown lands of Enniskillen Castle and two thirds of the adjoining island. In 1612, he was allocated 320 acres for the new town, including the remaining third of the island. In the following year Enniskillen received its charter and the right to return two members to parliaments. Cole became the town's first provost.

Cole's career began to improve in 1607 when his duties were extended to include responsibility for the long boats and barges on Lough Erne as well as those at Ballyshannon.

Two years later he succeeded Edmond Ellis as constable of Enniskillen Castle, and was given the job of extending the accommodation at the castle which at the time housed only ten warders.

In 1608 Sir Josias Bodley had described the castle as 'broken', so this too had to be repaired. By 1611, according to a report by Sir George Carew, Cole had begun to build a 'fair house on the foundation of the old castle' and had completed the turreted building now known as the Watergate. For his work on the castle between 1609 and 1613 Cole was paid £400.

Sir William Cole

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