BECTIVE, a parish

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

BECTIVE, a parish, in the barony of UPPER NAVAN, county of MEATH, and province of LEINSTER, 3 miles (S. W.) from Navan; containing 671 inhabitants, This parish, called also De Beatitudine, was granted by Charles I. to Sir Richard Bolton, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in 1639, and is now the property of his descendant, Richard Bolton, Esq. It derived considerable celebrity from a Cistertian monastery founded here, in 1146 or 1152, by Murchard O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, which was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and richly endowed: this establishment, of which the abbot was a lord in parliament, continued to flourish, and in 1195, by order of Matthew, Archbishop of Cashel, at that time apostolic legate, and John, Archbishop of Dublin, the body of Hugh de Lacy, which had been for a long time undiscovered, was interred here with great solemnity, but his head was placed in the abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin. In the same year, the Bishop of Meath, and his Archdeacon, with the Prior of the abbey of Duleek, were appointed by Pope Innocent III. to decide a controversy between the monks of this abbey and the canons of St. Thomas, Dublin, respecting their right to the body of De Lacy, which was decided in favour of the latter.

Hugh de Lacy, who was one of the English barons that accompanied Henry II. on his expedition for the invasion of Ireland, received from that monarch a grant of the entire territory of Meath, and was subsequently appointed chief governor of the country. He erected numerous forts within his territory, encouraging and directing the workmen by his own presence, and often labouring in the trenches with his own hands. One of these forts he was proceeding to erect at Durrow, in the King's county, in 1186, on the site of an abbey, which profanation of one of their most ancient and venerable seats of devotion so incensed the native Irish and inflamed their existing hatred, that whilst De Lacy was employed in the trenches, stooping to explain his orders, a workman drew out his battle-axe, which had been concealed under his long mantle, and at one blow smote off his head. The abbey and its possessions, including the rectory of Bective, were surrendered in the 34th of Henry VIII., and were subsequently granted to Alexander Fitton.

The parish, which is. situated on the river Boyne, and on the road from Trim to Navan, comprises 3726 statute acres, chiefly under tillage; the system of agriculture is improved, and there is neither waste land nor bog. Limestone of very good quality is abundant, and is quarried both for building and for burning into lime, which is the principal manure. Bective House, the seat of R. Bolton, Esq., is a handsome modern residence, pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Boyne. The parish is in the diocese of Meath, and, being abbey land,is wholly tithe-free: the rectory is impropriate in Mr. Bolton. There is no church; the Protestant parishioners attend divine service in the neighbouring parishes of Kilmessan and Trim.

In the R. C. divisions it is included in the union or district of Navan; the chapel at Robinstown is a neat modern edifice. There is a school near the R. C. chapel, for which it is intended to build a new school-room; and there is also a hedge school of 21 boys and 19 girls. The ruins of the ancient abbey occupy a conspicuous site on the west bank of the river, and have a very picturesque appearance: they consist chiefly of a lofty square pile of building, the front of which is flanked by a square tower on each side; the walls and chimneys of the spacious hall, and part of the cloisters, are remaining; the latter present a beautiful range of pointed arches resting on clustered columns enriched with sculpture, and displaying some interesting details. There are also some picturesque remains of an ancient chapel in the vicinity. Bective gives the inferior title of Earl to the Marquess of Headfort.

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