Etymology of Knightswood

Discover the origins of the name for this unique development.

The Knights were In Ireland at some point before or by 1177, which is when the first reference to Templars in Ireland, a charter granted to ‘Matthew the Templar’ dates to. Crook is one of the two very first estates they were granted, with Kilbarry following closely behind.

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The Templars were founded in Jerusalem in 1118 (between the first and second crusades) , of course with the support of the French King, and were officially recognised by Rome in 1130.

By the rules of the order, they were forbidden from killing another Christian. Due to Ireland being a Christian country, they saw no action here and could fight only in self-defense if necessary, so Ireland was used primarily for one of three reasons:

  • As a sort of retirement home for knights who had seen action in Jerusalem but were now too elderly to fight.
  • For feudal farming/ tenancy, in order to support the knights who lived there and raise money for the cause.
  • For recruiting young soldiers for action in the holy land (the Irish were involved in the third crusade).

As Williamstown is close to the city (and certainly closer than Crook) it would have been perfect for recruitment. It was almost certainly a larger centre of operation than its neighbour at Crook because of this proximity. The Irish holdings made for very profitable farmland for the knights, making them up to £400 per year.


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The other major activity of the Knights in Ireland was banking. They were a very wealthy organisation, and Waterford in the medieval era was heavily supported by foreign money. As the Templars were so trusted by the English crown, they often occupied high offices and carried out important functions. Waterford was the only royal town in the South-East, so it is probably that the fee they owed the crown was probably collected and dealt with by the knights before the first recorded Mayor took office over a century later. They were also involved in early attempts to sell indulgences to the people of Waterford and Nearby Ossory. Due to their place at Crook, guarding the entrance to the three sister rivers, they also probably had some involvement in the shipping and wine trade in the South East.

The holdings in Kilbarry would have consisted of some estates for farming, the church of St. Finbarr which they took possession of on their arrival, a small collection of houses big enough to be termed a ‘vill’ by the charter of Henry II, a possible moated farmstead, and a substantial building known as ‘the monastery’ which would have acted as a dormitory for the substantial Templar community living in the area.

After the order was suppressed in 1308, all Irish holdings were transferred to their rivals, the Knights Hospitaller, including the Waterford estates.