Ancestral Stories

Bartholomew Ball was Mayor of Dublin in 1553–54. He is my 12th Great Grandfather and comes through my mothers side of the family and more specifically a descendant of the Seagraves line.

He was the son of Thomas Ball and Margaret Birmingham. The Ball family owned lands in Dublin at Ballygall near Glasnevin and operated the bridge over the River Dodder after which Ballsbridge, Dublin, is named.

A merchant, Bartholomew Ball served as high sheriff of Dublin City for 1541–42 before becoming mayor for 1553–54.

He married Margaret Bermingham in 1530 and lived in Ballygall, County Dublin. They had ten children, of whom only five survived. Their sons Walter Ball and Nicholas Ball both served as Mayor of Dublin.

Bartholomew Ball died in 1573, and is buried in St. Audoen’s Church, Dublin.


Walter Ball was from a wealthy Irish merchant family. His father Bartholomew Ball, his brother Nicholas Ball and sons Robert Ball and Edward Ball all served as Mayor of Dublin. He married Eleanor Ussher, daughter of Alderman Robert Ussher. He conformed to the established religion (Anglican) to progress politically, and became Commissioner for Ecclesiastical Causes, imposing the Reformation on Dublin. This led to the conflict with his mother, Margaret Ball, whom he imprisoned for recusancy in Dublin Castle, where she endured conditions of appalling squalor for four years. Despite protests from other family members, especially his brother Nicholas, Walter defended his actions, arguing that he had shown clemency by sparing his mother’s life, and that she could free herself by swearing the Oath of Supremacy (although it was almost impossible for a Roman Catholic to do this in good conscience). He remained implacable and during his brother’s term as Mayor managed to thwart his efforts to free their mother. Margaret died in prison, and now is venerated as the Blessed Margaret Ball by the Catholic church for being Martyred for her faith.

Elected an Alderman in 1573, he served as mayor of Dublin from 1580 to 1581. He took great interest in the foundation of Trinity College Dublin, and was one of the collectors for its building. Along with John Terrel and William Usher, they took possession of the land of All Hallows Monastery. He died on 8 December 1598.


Nicholas Ball  served as Lord Mayor of Dublin, and MP for Dublin in the Parliament of Ireland. He was from a wealthy Irish Merchant family: his father Bartholomew Ball and brother Walter Ball were also mayors of Dublin. Unlike his brother who converted to Anglicanism, Nicholas remained a Roman Catholic like his martyred mother Blessed Margaret Ball. He married Begnet Luttrell and they had three children, Margaret, Jane and Bartholomew, The lived near Kells, County Meath.

Nicholas served as Master of the Merchants Guild, Sheriff of Dublin City, an Alderman of Dublin from 1574 and Mayor of Dublin from 1582-1583. During his time as Mayor he tried to have his aged mother released from Dublin Castle, where she had been imprisoned for recusancy on the orders of his brother Walter, but Walter, who seems to have been determined that their mother must die in prison, managed to thwart his efforts, and she died, still a prisoner, in 1584. In 1585 he was elected to serve in the Irish House of Commons for Dublin. He died in 1609 and is buried in St. Audoen’s Church, Dublin.