T. E. HALE, B.A., M.D., V.C., &C.
SURGEON MAJOR, HALF PAY
FORMERLY 7TH ROYAL FUSILIERS
T JOHNSON, STEAM PRINTER
The following Lectures on Irish History were recently delivered in the Brindley and Faddiley Board School, for the purpose of adding if possible to the political information of the newly enfranchised rural classes.
On several occasions a wish has been expressed to the writer that they should be printed, so that they could be read as leisure and opportunity offered; and as the Irish question is still under the consideration of the legislature, and the interest attached to it little if at all diminished, this has been carried out accordingly.
These Lectures are merely a brief epitome or analysis of the History of Ireland from the earliest times to the union of that country with Great Britain in 1801; and they have been compiled in a great degree from the following works, viz.: - Havert’s History of Ireland; Greg’s Irish History; The English in Ireland, by J. A. Froude; Dr. Leland’s History of Ireland; Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion; Barrington’s Personal Recollections; War of Ireland from 1641 to 1653, by a British Officer; Reminiscences of Grattan’s Parliament, by Ross; Birchell’s England under the Tudors and Stewarts; Keightley’s England; Oliver Cromwell’s Letters by Thomas Carlyle; Ireland and it’s Economy, by Bicheno; Macaulay’s Constitutional History; McCullock’s Geographical Dictionary, &c.
There being no division into chapters, in order to facilitate reference, an index has been appended.
Faddiley Lodge T. E. H.
The original copy of the book had deteriorated quite severely by 2005, so in order to permanently (hopefully) secure the contents and to give the opportunity to read the book without causing further deterioration, I scanned and captured the text and proof read to eliminate (minimize) errors. There are some slight changes to page layouts, which could result in the index being up to half a page out. Please accept this as an inevitable consequence of the translation from 19th century typeface to 21st century word processing. The language, spelling, writing style and attitudes reflected are true to the 1880’s when it was written and this hopefully enhances the value of it to a reader in the twenty first century.
I have also added a brief biography of Surgeon Major Hale (see page 110).
T E Hale was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Geographical Society.
Lectures in Irish History was written following his retirement from active service in 1876. I hope you enjoy it.
The subject of Ireland has been before our attention for some years; yearly, I may say, that our observation has been increased in considering the condition of its laws, people, their relation to each other, and to the Imperial Government, until at last our attention has been almost altogether concentrated on Ireland, to the postponement if not neglect of some other matters of political interest. Whether this is to be regretted I need not discuss, but finding ourselves compelled as it were to examine into, and form opinions relating to, abstruse subjects concerning Ireland, it has occurred to me that in order to help ourselves to arrive at correct deductions from the circumstances of the present day, that it is advisable to review the former history of the country; observing its gradual progress from the earliest times, and the relations that have existed between Ireland and this country from those times up to a recent period; and that by so doing we shall be materially assisted in forming a correct judgment respecting its present condition.
A short time previous to the recent election I formed the idea of preparing what I have now to say to you, and in fact partly did prepare it; but I soon discovered that almost any Irish subject that did not refer to recent experiences or difficulties was pronounced as belonging to ancient history, and practically this was the case. But now, after the noise and dust of the conflict are over, it may not be uninteresting in these calmer moments to refer to Irish history as a whole.
I must remark that I have no special knowledge of the history of Ireland, nor can I flatter myself that I shall be able to lay before you anything novel respecting it; but I may perhaps remind many of you of what you may have previously read but may have partially forgotten; and possibly some of you, from want of inclination or leisure, may only have read to a limited extent: and therefore to them what I can say may have some slight interest.
Having passed nearly twenty-four years of my life in intimate association with Irishmen of nearly all classes, and from having lived during some years in Ireland, I approach the subject without any bias, - if anything, rather prepossessed in their favour; but this should not prevent me impartially considering their history, and the circumstances by which they are surrounded. Of this there can be no doubt, that the curiosity of the great majority of us has most certainly been aroused by recent events of which Ireland is the theatre. I therefore propose in this lecture or discourse to give a brief account of the country from the earliest or legendary times up to the death of King Charles II, A.D. 1685. The limited time at our disposal will not permit me to go beyond this period.
The early history of Ireland is involved in much obscurity; yet there are very early chronicles in which many fables are recounted. The legends or fables go back as far as 2300 years before Christ, or thirty years before the flood, but they are really of no historic value. We are told that Queen Keasar and her followers came from the East of Europe 2300 years before the Christian era, and settled in Ireland, and that three hundred years later were driven from the island; others say they died from a pestilence brought by Partolan, who had journeyed with his people from some civilized country, as they brought a knowledge of sowing, reaping, and other agricultural arts, and that they commenced cultivating the country. The coasts about Donegal and Kerry were at this time infested by pirates called Formorians, and portions of the country adjacent were owned by them, who, though they cared nothing for the land themselves, grudged its possession by others, and therefore they fell upon Partolan’s people and destroyed them. The next colony that arrived was led by Nemedius, a cousin of Partolan’s, with 2000 followers; after two hundred years these were also destroyed by the Formorians at Tory island, on the north west coast of Donegal; three captains of the Nemedians escaped. These Formorians are supposed to have been North-men or Scandinavians, - the same dauntless race who invaded and settled in Britain. Then other invasions took place; the Belgoe from Britain, and the Tuatha de Dinann, whose sway continued for one hundred and ninety-seven years; at last they were driven into the mountains and hunted down; and they were said afterwards to appear as Banshees or fairies, the words Tuatha and Banshee both meaning fairy.
Before we leave them I must mention two or three remarkable circumstances about this ancient people. By them the Stone of Destiny, on which the Irish Kings were crowned, was brought to Ireland. This stone was said to emit certain mysterious sounds when touched by the rightful heir to the crown. It was afterward carried in the 6th century to Scotland by the Irish who invaded North Britain. For several ages it was left in the monastery of Scone, and afterwards carried into England by Edward I and placed in Westminster Abbey, and it is believed to be identical with the large block of stone now to be seen under the coronation chair. Secondly, as regards the Tuatha de Dinann, there is evidence to shew that the stupendous mounds near Drogheda on the banks of the river Boyne are the sepulchral monuments of the Kings and Chiefs of the Tuatha de Dinann, and as such they rank next after the Pyramids of Egypt, on account of the almost superhuman efforts required to raise them. The Scoto Milesian invasion now took place, said to have been 1000 years before Christ; and it is probable that an invasion from the Spanish peninsular really took place at the time Solomon was King of Israel. This invasion was headed by Milesius, and having got possession of the country they ruled it in an unbroken line of nearly two hundred Scoto Milesian Kings up to the time of the Norman invasion from England.
In these early times Ireland was divided into four or five provinces, each governed by its own head king, and each having many petty kings or chieftains ruling under him; and the kings of these provinces were perpetually fighting for the supremacy. The five provinces were Ulster Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Meath. The petty chieftains themselves were in a perpetual state of warfare. The King of Ulster was usually victorious; but about A.D. 70 the King of Meath gained the title of King of all Erin, and held his court at Tara, a hill in co. Meath, and this spot, then so celebrated, and although covered in A.D. 975 with grass and weeds, still shows obscure remains of the regal banqueting halls, the mound of the heroines or women soldiers, and others.
The ancient Irish in those days had a kind of volunteer force to preserve the country from foreign foes, and they were called Fenians, or heroes of Erin; they answered their purpose, but eventually these Fenians became troublesome and abused their power; there was no longer any dread of a Roman invasion, so they were gradually got rid of and the force faded away.
As to the origin of the name of Ireland, it must be mentioned that in the ancient chronicles the names of Eire, Banba, and Fodhla are each given; these were the names of three Queens of Ireland, and that as it was in the reign of Eire that the Scoto Milesian invasion took place, that name became permanently used - Eire, and by inflection Erin, which latter is often now used in poetry. At the time of the Roman invasion it was called the land of Eire, and finally Ireland. In the Celtic language it had been Inis Fail, or Isle Of Destiny; Inis Ealga, Noble Island; Froodh Inis, Woody Island; also Scotia.
We now come to notice the times of St. Patrick, and the introduction of Christianity. St. Patrick was born in Brittany, and as a boy was taken captive from France to Ireland, where he lived for some years as a shepherd, and then escaped to his own country. His birth was said to have been noble, and thence he was called Patricius. He then became a monk and archbishop, and by order from Rome, he in company with 20 priests, set out as a missionary to evangelize Erin, A.D. 432. He had the advantage of knowing the language of the Irish; there had previously been four unsuccessful missions to Ireland, and there were a few Christians in the south, but the mass of the people were still heathens or pagans. Their exact mode of worship is not well known, except that they had a superstitious veneration for fire, the sun, and wind. Druidism, says O’Reilly, cannot be proved to have been the religion of the Pagan Irish, nor did they offer up sacrifices, nor is there any mention of any general deity or god recognized by the whole people, in fact there is nothing on Irish authority to define their religious system, but during pagan times the Irish were singularly irreligious.
At this time of the arrival of St. Patrick we must notice very briefly the state of civilization among the Pagan Irish. The laws administered by The Brehons or judges were just and properly carried out: death was the punishment of murder and theft; but these crimes could be atoned for by the payment of fines to the family of the injured person, i.e. if the injured family agreed to it.
The law of inheritance was that known as Gavelkind; the sons, whether legitimate or otherwise, taking equal shares; if there were no male heirs, then the uncles, nephews or cousins divided equally, the females were excluded altogether, taking no share in the inheritance. You will remember that the Irish, with the gallantry peculiar to their nation, christened the country after the name of one of their queens, but when it was a question of inheritance of property and goods they neglected their female relations altogether.
There is little doubt that the Irish knew the art of writing before St. Patrick’s time. They were by no means a barbarous people; their houses were of wrought wood, usually oak, and thatched with rushes, dome-shaped at the top, with an opening for the smoke to escape; generally consisting of one room; but the dwellings of the nobles had as many as eight rooms.
The under dress of both sexes was a tight fitting garment - stockings, trousers and waistcoat, all in one; the men wore a long mantle over this; the women full plaited skirts reaching below the knee: the colour was generally black, made from the wool of their sheep, and trimmed with bands of dyed cloth, often yellow and green; the higher the rank of the person the greater number of colours he wore. The Women wore a linen koif or kerchief on the head; the men a pointed Phygian cap.
Their goldsmithry in olden times was very beautiful, and the quantity of gold ornaments found in Ireland at different times is almost incredible. In digging for a railway cutting in the co. Clare in 1855, a hoard was found worth £2000. The question arises, where did this gold come from? There are no gold mines in the country sufficient to produce so much, and there has been no account of trade with other people from whom it could have been obtained. We are therefore led to conclude that some tribe or colony who migrated to Ireland carried these ornaments on their persons. It is an Eastern custom for women, and men too, to wear large quantities of golden ornaments, and this may confirm the impression that some of the early settlers in Ireland came from Eastern Europe, where the custom would prevail.
The land belonged to the tribe that dwelt upon it, and was essentially a tribal or family right, and not like the Feudal system in England introduced by the Normans, which vested the land in a single person; but all the members of a family in Ireland had an equal right to their proportionate share of the land occupied by the whole.
There was land for the chief, and also common lands on which the whole élan had the right of pasturage, also lands cultivated by the members of the tribe, and for which they paid tribute or rent.
There were seven kinds of grain grown, but generally the people kept cattle and lived off the milk and flesh obtained from them.
Sometimes, if the tribes emigrated into a district where they had no hereditary claim, they obtained land by the payment of rent to the chief of the place; and in some cases these rents were so heavy that they had to seek for a home elsewhere.
To return to St. Patrick: he landed in Wicklow, A.D. 432, and by his knowledge of the language, and his tact, he soon gained converts, ingratiating himself with the chiefs first of all, converting them by twos and threes; but as the fame of the new faith spread, they came in by thousands, and after fifteen years he had to go to Britain for more clergy.
The entire conversion of the Island was completed during St. Patrick’s lifetime; and during the fifth and sixth centuries Ireland produced so many holy men and women that it was called the Isle of Saints; and an old author says that it was enough to be an Irishman or even to have been in Ireland to be considered holy.
There is a legend that St. Patrick extirpated snakes from Ireland: none of the three British varieties are to found there; the extreme humidity of the climate is probably the cause. Toads are said to be met with only in the southwest, and frogs were introduced in the last century in the northwest; moles are unknown.
Until about A.D. 800 Ireland, as a Christian country, was much more prosperous and peaceful than when it was pagan. They followed the arts of peace, viz.: building, sculpture, goldsmithry, and illumination of manuscripts. All this quietness was rudely disturbed by the Danish invasion. The Danes, in spite of their strength and ferocity, only partially conquered the Irish; they had, from various causes, to a greater extent overcome the English and French. The Danes gave no quarter, carrying on a war of extermination as far as they could. Success bred carelessness; the Irish, perceiving this, collected their forces and defeated them with great slaughter at the battle of Clontarf, under their king, Brian Boru. This was A.D. 1014; after Brian’s death, the chiefs, as usual, contended for the supremacy, and the country became exhausted by petty wars, so that it fell an easy prey to the ambition of Henry II of England, in A.D. 1172.
Henry had obtained the sanction of the Pope to invade Ireland, but could not avail himself at the time of the permission. But a king of Leinster, in difficulty with his neighbour, begged the aid of some Norman Barons, and they, under Strongbow, shortly afterwards landed in Ireland, and obtained possession of Wexford and Waterford. King Henry did not approve of his barons carrying on war for their own advantage and profit, and so he, with an army, landed in Ireland himself, and the southern Irish chiefs, alarmed at the strength of the force, did homage to King Henry. McCarthy, King of Cork, was the first to come in, and then was followed by the surrounding princes, who made their submission. The King was almost directly compelled to leave Ireland, having been called upon by the Pope to account for Thomas a Beckett’s murder, and he left Earl Strongbow as the Governor.
The Norman power extended over the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Louth, and the cities and neighbourhoods of Cork, Waterford and Limerick only. These counties were called the Pale; and Henry had divided them among about a dozen Anglo-Norman families; though they had not actually taken possession.
It will be seen-that what was called the Norman conquest of Ireland was really no conquest of the country; certain portions as mentioned were occupied and held by force; the English could scarcely advance beyond their borders, except to make raids, to steal cattle and forage; and the Irish, whenever opportunity offered, did the same, penetrating at times as far as the walls of Dublin,
The Norman lords settled down, thinking soon to become masters of the whole country. The King had presented them with estates, but it was another thing to actually take possession of them, as they had to dispossess the native Irish to do so. Now the idea of the Normans in taking a province to become the owners of the land, and dividing it amongst their followers, who cultivated certain parts, paying rent for them; but this the Irish did not understand. With them, and under their chiefs, when a province was conquered, the same, people continued to reside on their own lands, and to pay tribute for them to the chief of the district; but when the imperious and grasping Norman took possession, he considered himself the actual owner, being able to buy and sell the land as he wished, and that the ownership of the natives had passed away. To this the Irish objected, and resisted constantly and manfully too; loosing no opportunity of plundering and turning out the intruders. There was no peace, but war was constant; first the English and then the Irish gaining some advantage.
On the first arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland, their numbers were small, and the native chieftains were very apathetic as to their acts; and individually were quite indifferent as to what happened to other chieftains if they themselves were not interfered with. The Irish entirely misunderstood character of the Anglo-Normans; the latter, though driven back from many parts of the country that they had seized, yet never relinquished it; and small expeditions occasionally arrived from England as re-inforcements to their comrades. But the Normans never landed a large army in Ireland as they had done in England; principally on account the sixty miles of dangerous sea that separated the two countries, and from so large a fleet being required to convey a large body of men; also for the reason that the majority of the English men-at-arms were required for the continental wars in France that the Norman Kings were continually engaged in, and also on account of the great attendant expenses. Thus the invaders landing in Ireland in such small numbers, the mixture of the races that occurred in England after the different invasions was prevented; so that the Irish learnt little from the English, and the latter degenerated into the Irish adopting their manners and customs; and this was much objected to. When the small armies of Englishmen arrived, they found the old colonists whom they had regarded as brothers, had degenerated, as it was termed, and had become more Irish than the Irish themselves.
Then the difference of the laws created another complication. The Irish were governed by the old Brehon laws, which were of a milder character than those in use by the Normans. An Irishman killing an Englishman was, by the Norman law, condemned to be hanged; but an Englishman killing an Irishman only suffered the imposition of a fine; and this unequal administration of the laws tended to aggravate the existing discontent between the two races.
And so affairs went on, - perpetual wars between the English and Irish, and among the Irish themselves. Intestine war between the chiefs of the provinces had always been the bane of Ireland; there was no one recognized as a natural leader, and there was no general sympathy among them to create a desire to combine, to join their forces, and get rid of the stranger; and therefore the English, by occasional aid from England, for a long period gradually increased their foothold on the country.
To keep the races apart - the English and Irish, a law was passed in the reign of Edward III, called the Statute of Kilkenny, by which it was made high treason for the English to marry with, bring up, or stand sponsor to any of he Irish; no Englishman could use an Irish name, or speak the Irish language, nor wear the Irish dress, or grow a moustache: it being the English custom in those days to shave the face altogether; nor ride without a saddle as the Irish did. If an Englishman disobeyed, all his possessions were sold in atonement; and if a poor man he was condemned to imprisonment for life. These laws did not bring about a good feeling between the two peoples. Still human nature asserted herself, and as time went on these laws were gradually disregarded; saddles, which were worn out, were not replaced; first one and then another spoke Irish, or neglected to shave the upper lip, and even risked imprisonment for life by marrying the women.
These laws were very unwisely conceived; but in the time of Henry VI a law was actually passed rewarding any Englishman who beheaded any Irishman that he met, and believed to be a thief or an intended thief. At this time not half the country belonged to us.
King Richard II visited Ireland about A.D. 1400, taking with him the largest force that had ever landed in Ireland from England: some 4000 men-at-arms, mounted, and 20,000 archers, with the view of bringing on a great battle with the Irish and really subduing the country; but the Irish judged that resistance to so large a force was worse than useless, so they retired to their fastnesses, as they invariably did on similar occasions. Shortly after, their chiefs came in considerable numbers and made their submission to the King. No less than seventy-five chieftains from different parts of Ireland on this occasion made homage to the King. It would have been almost impossible for an English army to have followed the Irish; and to shew the difficulty the English had to make war in Ireland, I may mention the account given by an English gentleman named Henry Castide, who was at the Court of Richard II of England, and who had lived for some years in Ireland. He had been captured by the Irish in a skirmish, but had been well treated by the Irish gentleman who had taken him prisoner, and who afterwards gave him his daughter in marriage; he thus acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and was employed by the King of England to instruct four Irish Kings or chieftains that were to be knighted by King Richard, in such things as might be necessary for the ceremony. This gentleman, Henry Castide, told Froissart, the French historian, who was also at the Court of the King of England, many details about Ireland, which are curious. “To tell you the truth,” said Castide, “Ireland is one of the worst countries to make war in or to conquer, for there are such impenetrable and extensive forests, lakes and bogs, that there is no knowing how to pass them. The country is so thinly inhabited, that whenever the Irish like, they desert the towns and take refuge in the forests, and live in huts made of boughs like wild beasts; and whenever they perceive any troops advancing towards them, they fly to such narrow passes between bogs and forests, that it is impossible to follow them; and no man-at-arms, be he ever so well mounted, can overtake them in such a country. So active are some of them, that they leap from the ground behind the horseman and embrace the rider, - for they are very strong in the arms, - so tightly that he can in no way get rid of them.”
Castide then goes on to relate that four of the most potent Kings of Ireland made homage to the King of England, and that they were placed under his governance for a month at Dublin in view to teach them the usages of England. He mentions that “how they refused to sit at dinner unless their minstrels and attendants were allowed seats at the same table, as they did in Ireland; and that at first they objected to receive knighthood, as they said they had been knighted when seven years old in their own country;” but ultimately they acceded to the wishes of King Richard in everything, and were knighted by him in the Cathedral in Dublin, and dined that day at the table of King Richard in robes of state; “where,” says Castide, “they were much stared at by the lords and those present not indeed without reason, for they were strange figures, and differently countenanced to the English and other nations.”
I was speaking of the continual broils among the chiefs in Ireland; but in England at that time, unfortunately, affairs were little better, as the struggle was going on during a number of years between the rival houses of York and Lancaster, to decide which family should sit on the throne of England. This contest, spoken of as the Wars of the Roses, - the White Rose and the Red Rose, —had taken up the entire attention of the English, and claimed all their martial ardour; and during the thirty years that this family quarrel lasted, more than 100,000 Englishmen were slain. In consequence, few if any troops were despatched to Ireland; and as a result the power of the English in that country gradually declined, and became especially weak during the turbulent reigns of Edward V and Richard III; and at the accession of Henry VII it was found that a number of the old Anglo-Norman families in Ireland, the original conquerors from England, and who were subject to the English King, had maintained their old character as lawless marauders, and opposed all interference, and at last had thrown in their lot with the natives; and thus was formed an additional element in Ireland for the English to control. Even the English Pale in Ireland, as it was called, and consisting as you will remember of the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Louth and Meath, was not free from dissension. There were in the Pale, old Irish who were quite indifferent to the merits of either red rose or white; old Irish who acknowledged the English King, and old Irish who altogether refused to recognize him; then there were Anglo-Irish, as the original settlers were called, who despised the old Irish; and Anglo-Irish who were more Irish than the Irish themselves. Under such circumstances peace was impossible; a feud broke out between the Ormonds and the Talbots, who had originally come from England; and, to use their words, they prayed the King to send a mighty lord from England, and said that the people would more readily obey him than any man of Irish birth; as Englishmen keep better justice, execute the laws and favour more the common people than any Irishman ever did, or is ever likely to do. Other families too had differences. The Butler family were Lancastrians, and the Fitzgeralds were Yorkists. The King, Henry VII, was confident that he would receive every assistance from the Butlers, and so neglected them; the Fitzgerald family, on the other hand, as a matter of policy he thought it prudent to patronize; so he invited the Earl of Kildare to pay him a visit in London, but Kildare declined, as he well knew that such visits sometimes terminated in forced admission into the tower of London; and in addition to this Kildare wished to seize the present opportunity of prosecuting his own designs.
At the risk of being tedious, I cannot pass over several events in Henry VII reign. The Yorkist heir to the throne was Prince Edward Earl of Warwick; he was kept a close prisoner in the tower, but few had seen him, so it was easy to persuade a people so remote from London as the Irish that this Prince was not a prisoner; so one Lambert Simnel, the son of an Oxford bootmaker, was trained to act the part of the Earl of Warwick, and then they took him over to Ireland. His manners and bearing were so charming and suitable to his assumed position, that the Irish were delighted with him. The Earl of Kildare that I was speaking of and the other chiefs, were equally convinced, and the dislike they had to the King had assisted them in arriving at that conclusion; the Irish people, from generosity and kindness, also believed in the impostor. Two thousand veteran German troops were sent to Ireland; and they, with an army of Irish, landed in Cumberland and advanced as far as York; here they met the English army, from whom they sustained a severe defeat, losing half their numbers, no mercy having been shewn them. Simnel was taken prisoner and confessed the imposture; was pardoned, and made scullion in the Royal Kitchen. Kildare and the other chiefs craved the King’s pardon, which was at once granted; he acted wisely; and the chiefs must have felt into what a despicable predicament their gullability had brought them.
It would have been thought that the ridiculous part the rebels had played would have sickened the Anglo-Irish with imprisoned princes; yet, when five years later a supposed Duke of York was sent over to Ireland as a claimant to the throne, they were quite ready to place confidence in him. But there was more mystery about this impostor named Perkin Warbeck, as he really in personal appearance resembled Edward IV. This rebellion was also put down, and Warbeck taken; he confessed his imposture - said to have been extorted from him, was condemned and executed. There is really some doubt whether he was an unfortunate prince or only a crafty impostor.
The Earl of Kildare was suspected of complicity in this rebellion also; he was secured and sent to an English prison, and allowed to plead before the King, whose friendship he gained by his straightforwardness and apparant simplicity. One charge brought against Kildare was, that to revenge himself on the Archbishop of Cashel, he had set fire to the cathedral; but Kildare disarmed his enemies and created a general laugh by pleading that “he would never have done it had he not thought that the Archbishop was within it.” The King gave him leave to choose his own counsel, and Kildare said thoughtfully that he doubted if he would be permitted to choose the good fellow he would select. The King gave him his hand as a token of good faith, and then Kildare said, “I can see no better man in England than your highness, and I will choose no other.” This pleased the King, and it was easy to see the good impression that had been created. The Butlers and Ormonds, and the aggrieved Archbishop, were desperate; they said, was this traitor going to be ‘acquitted through such bare-faced audacity? All Ireland could not govern the Earl of Kildare, they cried; “Then,” said the King, “the Earl of Kildare shall govern all Ireland;” and true to his word, the King sent him back as Lord deputy, and with a relative of his own for his wife. This policy answered admirably; the authority of the crown was maintained better in the Pale than it had been for the past half century; and Kildare lost no opportunity of repressing the native chiefs and Irish rebels.
It was Sir Edward Poynings who put down the Warbeck rebellion; he assembled a parliament in Ireland, and the famous act entitled Poynings’ Act was now enacted, and which remained on the statute book nearly three hundred years, and was repealed in 1782. It provided that no act passed by the Irish Parliament could become law until it had been approved of by the English Privy Council, whose members might revise and alter it, and then the Parliament in Ireland must pass it as altered or reject it altogether. The Irish objected to this, and difficulty and delay always arose from it; at the time it was enacted it may have been necessary to hold such a check over hasty legislation in Ireland; but for a long time Poynings’ Act was an unfelt restraint, as the statutes of the Irish parliament were not even nominally in force beyond the Pale.
We have now arrived at the time of the Reformation when England shook off the control of the Pope of Rome. The public mind of Europe had been influenced by the writings and preachings of Martin Luther in Germany, and of Erasmus in Holland, whose works had been translated into English. And Wickliffe, more than one hundred years previously, had preached against Popery, and his doctrines had gradually spread. Previously, the Pope of Rome had been supreme in England in all ecclesiastical matters, and could excommunicate the King, and absolve his subjects from their allegiance to the sovereign. The seed had been sown to bring about a change in religion, but it was developed with more rapidity than it might have been otherwise in consequence of King Henry VIII wishing to divorce his queen, Catherine of Arragon, his brother’s widow, and to whom he, Henry, had been married for twenty years. Cardinal Wolsey undertook by Henry’s command to influence the Pope, Clement VII, to pronounce for a divorce, but he failed to effect his object, and was disgraced, persecuted, and finally arrested for high treason, and died at the Abbey of Leicester. Reference was now made to the Universities and other learned establishments, who gave a majority for the King. But the Pope issued a bull against a second marriage, and the King was ordered to return to his wife. Then the King denied the necessity of obtaining Papal sanction at all for the divorce or marriage, and determined to assert his supremacy over all persons, lay or ecclesiastical, in his dominions. In this way alone, he said, could he be sovereign of England, and while he divided the rule with another, he was only half a king.
The reformers at once stopped all dues and customary offerings to the Pope, and this was an immense saving to the nation; for the amounts under various names of first fruits, Peter’s pence, oblations, &c., were greater than the revenues of the crown or the expenses of the government. Henry assumed by Act of Parliament the title of supreme head on earth of the Church of England. The monasteries were next dissolved, and the lands divided among numerous families of influence; the upper classes were bought over by these confiscations and the middle classes saw large tracts of land laid open to their ambition; yet the poor and ignorant were attached by custom and belief to the ancient faith. They had been in the habit of receiving doles of bread and other gifts at the monastery door, and had been on terms of friendship with the monks; and now they found them reduced to poverty by the orders that were carried out. The feeling was particularly strong in the northern counties, and risings of the peasantry took place in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire; numbers of gentlemen joined them; their object was to restore the Church lands and get rid of heresy. But the rebels were soon quieted, and some of the leaders were seized and executed.
Now we must direct our attention to Ireland again, and observe how the principles of the Reformation progressed in that country; and we shall understand it better from the brief survey we have taken of what occurred in England. A Royal Commission was sent to Ireland. to prepare the way for the introduction of Henry’s spiritual supremacy. George Brown, a Friar, of London, and a confidential agent of Archbishop Cranmer, was one of the principal members, but it did not succeed as desired, though Pierse Butler, Earl of Ossory, and his son Viscount Thurles, had become converts, and in 1534 undertook the government of Kilkenny, Waterford, and Tiperary, and pledged themselves to assist the Bishop of Rome; but the Irish people generally, as if by instinct, threw themselves on the Roman side. The Celts of Wales and Cornwall, supposed to have been of the same race as the Celts of Ireland, were strongly Protestant; but the Irish saw that their adhesion to Rome was in their eyes patriotism, or acting for the good of their country, as in all England’s quarrels they were invariably inclined to take the opposite side.
No sooner had England shaken off the Italian priest, and declared herself capable of managing her own affairs both civil and ecclesiastical, than Ireland, disliking to be meddled with by Henry, declared themselves champion of the true faith. The Pope told them that he had the right to absolve them from their allegiance; and then rebellion became with them almost a duty. The house of Kildare set the example: Lord Thos. Fitzgerald, the eldest son, with his three uncles and followers, ravaged the district of Fingal and besieged Dublin castle; and after a stormy career of three months were compelled to surrender; they were conveyed to London and executed. The Kildare Geraldines were attainted, i.e. declared guilty of treason, and deprived of civil rights; but their estates were left untouched, and few if any of their allies were punished with the loss of their lands. The English absentees who had estates in Ireland but lived in England, were threatened with confiscation of their lands, unless they discharged. the duties entailed upon them by having possession of such lands. Then the Abbeys in Ireland were suppressed; and the, estates of the Church were divided among the neighbouring families of influence, as a bribe to them to carry out the statute and become Protestants. Some people would not receive lands upon such terms, believing they would be acting contrary to the interests of religion. Others were not so conscientious, and could not resist such, tempting terms through which to possess property. The chiefs and nobles or those in the Pale, for the most part, consented to share the spoils, and gaining such benefits, they as it were forgave the spoiler.
At this period also, Henry was enabled to persuade many of the Irish nobles, as the O’Brien’s, the McCarthies, and Q’Neils, to alter the mode of tenure of their lands. The King induced them to surrender them to him, and then take them back again subject to the English mode of inheritance. They accepted Earldoms, giving up their chieftancies, and consented that the system of election on the death of a noble should no longer hold good, but that the eldest son should succeed, to the title and inheritance, instead of the Irish custom, by which the strongest of the Sons would seize and contest the chieftancy until acknowledged. This being carried out, everything seemed to promise good understanding and peace. Henry was, with the consent .of the Irish styled King of Ireland, while hitherto he had only borne the title of Dominus, or Lord of Ireland.
One historian remarks, that as usual, when England shewed strength and resolution, Ireland became submissive; and it is believed too, that had Henry only lived a few years, and maintained, as he doubtless would have done, a firm hand on the administration of Ireland at a critical time, as that period was, that, the future difficulties, confiscations, spoliations and rebellions might never have taken place. For although Henry acted with injustice we must allow in dividing the church estates in Ireland, yet he had not confiscated the lands of the nobles for the benefit of Englishmen; he always disavowed this, and with perfect sincerity; but he insisted, as he stated in a letter to the Earl of Surrey, that “The Irish, ill-trained as they had been, should not at once submit to English law; but that they should conform their mode of living to some observance of reasonable law, and not live as they had been used.” This is taken from a state paper about A.D. 1520.
As heretofore, social order was altogether wanting amon1 the Irish; might being regarded as right. Even at this time the greater part of Ireland was in the hands of the “Irish enemies,” as those outside the Pale were usually called; and it was divided into more than sixty separate states or regions; some as big as a shire, some more and some less; and these regions were ruled by as many chief captains, whereof some styled themselves Kings, some King’s Peers in their language, some Princes, some Dukes, some Archdukes that only live by the sword and obey no other temporal person but only him that is strong. I may mention a few of their names: in Ulster there were the O’Neils, O’Donels, and McGuires; in Leinster the McMurroughs, the Murphys, and the O’Tooles; in Munster the McCarthys, McSheehys, and O’Sullivans; and in Connaught The O’Kellys, O’Flahertys, and O’Roorkes. Subsequently, as we know, these names have been abbreviated: the O’s and Mac’s, - meaning the son or descendant of, being disused.
Then followed the reign of Edward VI and Queen Mary. During the former the efforts to establish the new religion in Ireland were unsuccessful; it was adopted only by a few officials in the Pale. During Mary’s short reign there was a continual effort to restore in England what had been unsettled in the religious condition of the people. In Ireland the restoration of the old order of things met with no difficulty, and there was no persecution on account of religion in Ireland during Mary’s reign. At this time, in Mary’s reign, four protestant families went to Ireland from Cheshire, viz.: those of John Harvey, Abel Ellis, John Edwards and Henry Hough; also a protestant clergyman named Thomas Jones, a Welshman. The above were the founders of respectable mercantile families in Dublin.
When Elizabeth ascended the throne another revolution in religion took place, and this did not surprise the English, the majority of whom were still Catholics. There certainly seemed a remarkable pliancy of conscience among public men at that time: in Ireland the Lord Lieutenant under Mary continued in office under Elizabeth, reversing his own acts at once. The population of Ireland however did not alter, as yet there was scarcely a convert to Protestantism. Two religions could not have existed side by side in those times; heresy was looked upon as the direst of crimes. But there was an important difference in the behaviour of the people of the two countries; in England, when the Catholic powers meditated war, and Spain sent the Armada to invade the country to put an end to Protestantism, the national spirit pronounced for the reformation. In Ireland this was not the case; they considered politics and religion inseparable, and thought that when their religion was threatened their freedom was endangered too. But Elizabeth failed in her policy to obtain converts in Ireland. Her meaning towards the country was good, but she did not, as she ought to have done, establish Protestant colonies in the Pale. There was an abundance of Church lands, Abbeys, and Bishops’ estates to have supported Protestant colonists and to have paid the Protestant clergy; but on account of want of money she farmed the Church lands, and even the benefices themselves. The Churches were vacated; and in co. Meath, out of two hundred and twenty four parish churches one hundred and five had fallen into decay, without roofs, doors, or windows. The spirit of rebellion was in the country of Ireland on account of this difference of religion, though for a long time its ways and means were scanty. There were very few troops to keep the population in order, they rarely received any pay, they could not starve, and they were compelled to plunder, and in doing so committed cruelties which justly brought retaliation from the Irish; revenge followed, and it is said that the natives in some eases were killed or strangled like foxes. One author says that the cruelties of the garrisons were really only a copy of the treatment of the Irish to one another in their own fights. At that time the Irish wished to live without law; freedom to them was the right of every one to make war upon his neighbour, and without outside interference.
An insurrection broke out and gradually spread; the people enrolled themselves as soldiers of the Pope. They had allied themselves with Spain at the time of the Armada. O’Neil of Ulster had received the title of Earl of Tyrone; the rightful heir to the title was murdered, and Shane O’Neil, the next brother, assumed the title of “The O’Neil,” and tried to establish himself as King of Ulster. He subdued, after much bloodshed, some of the chiefs, and terrified others into submission, and then he fancied that with a little help he could free Ireland from the English yoke, and urged the King of France to send him 5000 men; to this no response was given. O’Neil gained several advantages over the English in battle, but was at last persuaded to submit to Elizabeth, who invited him to London; he went, determined that they should see what an Irish King was like. Camden describes the rude pomp with which ‘Shane O’Neil appeared in London, escorted by a body guard of forty gallow-glasses, as their best soldiers were called, and generally the sons of smaller chieftains, with bare heads, their hair being long and curled on their shoulders, and cut in front as a fringe; their costume consisted of saffron-coloured shirts, wide sleeves, short jackets, shaggy cloaks, and they carried broad battle axes; while we learn from Campion that the hauteur of the Irish prince excited the merriment of the affected gallants of Elizabeth’s court, who styled him “O’Neil the great, cousin to St. Patrick, friend to the Queene of England, and enemy to all the world besides.” However, the natural grace of O’Neil’s manner, and his shrewdness gained him the Queen’s good graces. He returned to Ireland pleased with his visit. The other chiefs were jealous of his influence, and from this Ulster drifted into war again. The Scotch had proved Shane’s friends, bet be was guilty of treachery to them; so they invited him and his retainers to a banquet, and then fastening the doors slaughtered them, all.
The south of Ireland next rose, and this was called the Desmond rebellion; this was ultimately quelled with dreadful losses to the Irish and English too; much of this loss had been inflicted by the Irish on their own countrymen. The Butler family were allied with the English, and they bore great hatred to the Desmond family; the Earl of Desmond himself; was at last hunted down, - betrayed by his own and stabbed in his bed. The state of Munster was horrible; the harvests had been destroyed year after year, and famine had followed; the cattle had been driven in camp and slaughtered, and the country became like a desert; and it is said, what poor wretches remained looked more like anatomies than human beings.
After Shane O’Neil’s rebellion in Ulster, a Parliament in Dublin called by Sydney passed an act annexing O’Neil’s territory in Tyrone to the royal possessions, and then Protestant colonists from England were sent to Ards and co. Down in the territory of Tyrone, but through mismanagement this attempt to plant, as it was called, failed. It was tried on a larger scale after the Desmond rebellion was quelled. The Desmond estates were confiscated to the crown, more than a million acres. They were granted to Elizabeth’s favourites; to soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the war, and to persons called “Undertakers. The land was divided into plots from 4000 to 12000 acres; any one obtaining that amount had to settle eighty-six English families there, and so on in proportion, No rent was to be paid for three years, then half rent for three years. The Undertakers were for the most part the younger sons of country gentlemen, who took their labourers with them; but even this attempt at colonization was carried out in an irregular and unsystematic manner; residence of the new owners was not insisted on, and thus was created a number of absentee proprietors; the lands in many cases were given in leases to the Irish peasantry, who took every opportunity of revenging themselves on the new-comers. The government too had neglected the necessary defences of the colony, such as placing garrisons on the borders, &c., as they had promised.
Eleven years of comparative quiet now happened; then Hugh O’Neil, who had been educated in England as a Protestant, and who had been granted his father’s title of Earl of Tyrone, returned to Ireland, promising that he would do all he could to establish Protestantism and further English law. He was seduced to rebel however, pronounced himself “The O’Neil,” an independent King, and became a Roman Catholic. It was soon found that after being nurtured in England, educated in English ways, and his rank restored, he was all the more dangerous as a conspirator. Yet the government were lenient with him and were willing to pardon him. But he then demanded that all soldiers and officials of the English should be dismissed from Ulster, and that the church lands should be restored. These terms could not be listened to, the rebellion broke out, and the war which followed lasted six years. This Hugh O’Neal was the best Irish general and politician who had as yet opposed the English; he had fought on the English side during the former rebellion; and now he nearly destroyed an English army not far from Armagh. At last Lord Mountjoy was sent to command the English, and he was too astute to allow himself to be entrapped into woods and morasses, and thus beaten. A body of Spaniards landed near Kinsale, and supported by an Irish army, sustained a severe defeat from the English under Mountjoy, and then the war was practically over. Hugh O’Neil submitted, also the other chiefs, and he was not disturbed in his Earldom. Everything seemed quiet, and this fancied peace lasted four years; and then O’Neil, with others, rebelled again; the plot was discovered, O’Neil fled from the country and died in Rome, A.D. 1616. These wars in Ulster had been essentially religious wars, and there is no doubt that injudicious economy in leaving the country without a garrison had assisted in bringing them about.
Now the English government had always wished to govern the Irish through their own chiefs, and they had never resorted to seizure of lands except in the last extremity; but through the treason of the Earls, six counties were escheated to the crown. These counties were Donegal, Derry, Armagh, Tyrone, also the counties of Antrim and Down, which had for three hundred years been occupied by Scots. These counties mentioned contained two million acres; and of these one and a half millions acres of bog, mountain, and forest, were restored to the Irish - the poor people. The rest were planted with new colonists, who consisted of merchants, farmers, weavers, mechanics, and labourers; smaller grants of land were given case, and stringent laws were passed against absenteeism. The colonists were of a different religion to the natives, and kept apart from them. They built towns and villages, and established trades and manufactures. It was the chiefs who suffered, and who had been the mainstay of these rebellions; the poor, the earth tillers, were left alone, and in peace among the colonists. This was a great success over former attempts to plant Ulster.
After a time many of the settlers, tiring of their exile from England and Scotland, sold the interest in their holdings, and the value of the improvements they had made; and from this arose the practice of buying and selling the tenant right peculiar to Ulster, and known to us as “The Ulster Tenant Right.” The plantation system was then extended to Leinster; titles were examined to determine the rights of the owners, the late rebellious chiefs, and if flaws were found the lands were taken, and there is no doubt that many cases of cruelty occurred, and proprietors dispossessed without compensation.
Charles I was now King, and from his known moderation the Catholics thought that they would secure great advantages, so that their religion might be tolerated more than it had recently been; the King was much in debt, owing to the prodigality of his father, and was at his wits end how to raise money; however, the Irish Catholics, perceiving how the King stood, offered a voluntary subsidy of £120,000, to be paid in three annual instalments, and in return certain concessions were to be made to the Catholics, which were promised but not carried out. Wentworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, exercised much oppression, and on all sides he was active in raising money for his master, and he was particularly rapacious in extracting money from people whose title to their estates he considered defective; he extorted £17,000 from the O’Byrnes of Wicklow, and £70,000 from the corporation of the city of London, the great Undertakers in Ulster; but in this he over-reached himself and this act was one of the final causes of his overthrow; he was subsequently impeached, tried, and beheaded. Still, he had founded and encouraged the linen trade, but he repressed the increasing wool trade.
Now we come to the great rebellion of 1641, - the gravest event that had as yet happened; the causes were numerous. The Irish complained that they were regarded as a conquered nation; that the six counties had been escheated to the crown and divided as I mentioned: that great severity was exercised on the Roman Catholics in England, and that it was intended to have those in Ireland treated with similar severity; they saw that the Scotch, by pretending grievances and taking up arms, had gained many privileges and £300,000 in addition; they also saw the coming storm and difficulties growing greater and greater day by day between the King and his parliament in England; and they believed that the King, thus engaged with the Scotch difficulty and with that of his parliament, was losing influence, and that then was the time to demand and to secure almost anything in reason; and that if they could not obtain all they wanted, they would certainly have granted more than they could otherwise expect; in fact England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity. The Irish Catholics also appeared or affected to dread that it was the intention of England and Scotland to extirpate their religion root and branch. Again, after the unsuccessful rebellions in Elizabeth’s and James I time, thousands of Irish had flocked over to the continent of Europe, many went to France, but far greater numbers went to Spain, were well received there, and having entered the armies of France, Spain and Flanders, achieved considerable military eminence in those countries; these men and their descendants were at all times ready to embark in any undertaking, however desperate, if by so doing, they could shake off English authority. The Irish saw the new colonists settled in their midst and becoming prosperous and thriving; the English interest was ever increasing, theirs was decreasing; the English offered them prosperity, they refused the boon. They did not seem to appreciate that towns should be built, bogs drained, mills and warehouses erected; they looked upon them as so many signs of subserviency to England. One of them said, the Irish thought and will ever think the English government a yoke of slavery, and they wished to shake it off. They believed too, that if the Puritan party in England became in power, that they would show no mercy to the Catholic religion.
It now began to be whispered that insurrection was brewing; numbers of friars and priests and old soldiers had been seen passing from France and Spain through ‘England to Ireland. The priests had been busy with their meetings all the summer of 1641; they had been seen haranguing groups of people on the highways, and had been heard persuading disbanded soldiers in Ireland not to leave the country, but to stay where they were, as very shortly there would be work for them. The Catholic leaders were now considering their plans. The natural chief of the Irish at this time was the nephew of the Earl of Tyrone, Owen Rory O’Neil – Owen Roe, as he was called; he was in Flanders, and promised to return when the rebellion had broken out.
It was arranged that Sir Phelim O’Neil, a member of the same family, should conduct the outbreak in Ulster, and Rory O’More undertook to manage the rising in Dublin, and the 23rd of October was the night fixed for both risings to take place. O’More had organized his part with great want of secrecy, as he believed they had nothing to fear. He intended to seize Dublin castle by surprise, and secure the thousands of arms in store there; being so careless, the result was that the conspiracy was divulged by a servant to one of the Lord Justices. Several persons were arrested, but O’More and the other leaders escaped, excepting two, - Lord Macguire and McMahon, who were captured, taken to London, and hanged. Dublin was thus saved. The failure of the insurrection in Dublin did not prevent its success in the north. Sir Phelin’ O’Neil got possession of Charlemount Fort; Newry was seized; Castle Blarney, Mountjoy Fort, and a great number of small stations were seized by the insurgents. The native Irish in Ulster, about 30,000 untrained labourers, who remained in Ulster at the time of the confiscation, egged on by Sir Phelim, now took their revenge and committed hideous cruelties. The Catholic historians either deny or slur them over, and say they were enormously exaggerated, and that the Protestants commenced the violence. However, there can be no doubt of the general accuracy of the accounts that are found in all histories. Eye witnesses were examined in Dublin before commissioners of known integrity, and the sworn depositions remain as I understand to this day in Trinity College, Dublin.
I will dwell very briefly on what happened; but it is said that parties of armed Irish appeared before the houses of the Ulster farmers and their tenants and demanded possession, and on being admitted, turned out entire families, and stripped most of them to the skin. Many resisted, the young men especially, and were killed. The ground was hard and white with snow; the settlers were driven naked into the woods, to perish there, or to find their way as well as they were able to Dublin, Derry, Carrickfergus, or Coleraine. Many died of cold and hunger; many too were hanged, or ripped up, or driven into the rivers. A universal massacre does not appear to have been anywhere deliberately intended, but passion once let loose could not be controlled. Even the farm stock - the sheep and oxen, were slaughtered. It is difficult to arrive at a correct estimate of the numbers that perished; at the time it was thought 150,000. Clarendon says 40,000; Sir Wm. Petty 37,000; but even these figures are too large; but it is a fact that as a consequence of these dreadful events, peace was not restored until out of a population of one and a half millions, as many as half a million had perished by sword, pestilence, or famine.
The rebellion soon spread to the southern counties, but there the Protestants were not taken by surprise, but collected, and soon made themselves felt. Sir Charles Coote led a few hundred troops into the Wicklow Mountains, and treated the rebels he met there with great barbarity. The Scots sent over an Army under General Munro into Ulster who gradually quelled the rising there, but in doing so was guilty of much cruelty. The English enrolled an army to send to Ireland, as the Lord Justices in Dublin could do little on account of want of means, and this army was on the point of embarking for Ireland; but the King was being pressed so hard by the Parliament that he was compelled to detain the troops; and then seven years passed before the Long Parliament of England could again pay effective attention to Ireland. There were now four parties in Ireland; the old Irish who began the rebellion; the Anglo-Irish who warred against the Irish government only and not against the King; there was the King’s party, composed of Catholics and Protestants, but who remained true to the King; and lastly the Parliamentary or Presbyterian party, very small as yet, but destined in the end to overcome the others. Owen Roe now joined the rebels from Flanders, and took over the command in Ulster. The King was desirous of making a truce, after much loss in various unsuccessful battles, and a truce was agreed upon for a year. Ormond advised his master the King to let his countrymen alone, as he said they would be sure to ruin themselves from their own incessant quarrels. Owen Roe gained a signal victory over the Scotch General, Munro, at Benburb, not by dint of numbers, but by sheer good generalship and gallantry. The royal party had become too weak to make much headway against the rebels, and the confederates, as they were called, signed a peace, but this was invalidated after seventeen days, as the King, Charles I, was executed.
The parliamentary army in Ireland, under Colonel Jones, who had just recently brought reinforcements from England, engaged the Irish under General Preston at Dungan Hill, co. Kildare; he hunted Preston’s whole army into a bog and cut it to pieces; he also sallied out on Ormond’s camp at Rathmines, defeated him, and took all his artillery and 2000 prisoners. The parliament was now supreme in England, and were thus able to devote their attention to Ireland, where the war had been dragging along for about nine years; so Oliver Cromwell was ordered over and appointed Lieutenant General, and landed on 14th August, 1649, with an army of 9,000 foot and 4,000 horse.
Now the great Irish leader Owen Roe died, and is said to have been poisoned; but against his character, except that we regarded him as a rebel, not one word has been said; of great military skill, merciful, considerate, courageous, and the type of chivalry; he had been the hope of the native Irish. After the fall of the King and his party thousands of the cavaliers in England had flocked over to Ireland to help to save her from the parliament. Drogheda was garrisoned by 3000 of their best troops, under Sir Arthur Ashton. Cromwell at once laid siege to it, and a summons to surrender being refused the place was stormed, the third assault being led by Cromwell himself; the town was taken and the whole garrison killed. Cromwell says in his letter to the parliament in London describing the affair, “And indeed being in the heat of action I forbade them to spare any that were in arms in the town.” On this Dundalk and Trim surrendered at once. Wexford was then approached and summoned; the Governor parleyed for security of lands and goods, in fact for all things that the Catholics could desire; he was told to open the gates in an hour; this not being complied with, the place was stormed and the garrison put to the sword.
Now the Irish insurrection had cost, it is said, nearly 500,000 lives, and it was most essential that, if possible, the war should be put an end to. The garrisons only suffered what the letter of the laws of war permitted, and dreadful as it was, there is no doubt that the severity exercised prevented further effusion of blood, for in fact the war was now virtually ended. Limerick surrendered to General Ireton; and Galway to Sir Charles Coote. Ross Castle, on Killarney, was thought to be impregnable, and still held out, but General Ludlow, having taken a vessel to pieces, had it taken over the mountains, and Ross gave in. As many of the original conspirators as could be secured, or remained after this ten years war, were tried and executed—about two hundred of them, including the Bishop of Clogher, who was the brain of the revolt, and Sir Phelim O’Neil, who headed the original outbreak in Ulster. The war following the rebellion was now over; the King had been beheaded, and the parliament of England were now supreme over Ireland as well as England. As for the state of Ireland, war, pestilence, and famine had done their work; the country was desolate; agriculture had been almost abandoned, the harvests having been destroyed, and the live stock had been eaten up. Irish and English equally suffered from this. It cannot be denied, however, that they who had brought about the insurrection could not be allowed merely to suffer disappointment; their motives may have been good and conscientious, but they had taken up arms against the government, and had been the direct cause of enormous loss of life and misery, and it was the bounden duty of the ruling powers to prevent them renewing the struggle when opportunity might arise. The retribution that followed in those days was forfeiture of the land; and accordingly an Act of Settlement, as it was called, for Ireland, was passed in 1652. Pardon was granted to all husbandmen and others whose lands or goods did not exceed the value of £10. The chiefs and landed proprietors were deprived of their estates. Officers of the Royal army who had fought against the parliament were to be banished, but allowed to retain one third of their Property for the support of their wives and children. The Irish soldiers were offered either to go into the province of Connaught or into exile; the majority chose the latter, and to the number of 35,000 left Ireland and entered the armies of France, Spain, and Austria. The priests were declared guilty of high treason; some, about 1000, left the country in haste, others were shipped off to Spain, and others sent to Barbadoes. Some of the gentry, who though opposed to the parliament might be found worthy of mercy, were to forfeit two thirds of their estates, and to receive an equivalent for the other third where the parliament would grant it to them. Those who were not proved to have been engaged in the war, but who had given no help to the government, forfeited one third of their estates, and received an equivalent for the two thirds elsewhere. Allotments were granted to them in Connaught, as it was determined if possible not to have the two nations intermixed again.
The expatriation or banishment of the Irish gentry into Connaught was a harsh measure, and attended with much suffering, owing to the lateness of the season and the state of the roads; death was the penalty if they returned. Some of the women died from exposure. But a writer, states that this measure was not conceived or carried out in an ill will to those removed. Clarendon says that no one was exported who had not forfeited his life by rebellion, and he always writes adversely to the parliament.
1n 1642 the English government, requiring funds to carry the war, had raised money by issuing debentures that would be paid in land to those who took them, and at the end of the war bonds for a million acres had been taken up.
Again, when it was found imperatively necessary to send Cromwell to Ireland, bonds were again issued to the troops in place of pay; no money was raised on the bonds as before, but lands would be given to the troops instead of their pay money. The officers or soldiers who had lent the government £200 would receive a thousand acres in Ulster; for £450 a thousand acres in Munster; but the highest value upon the land at this time was four shillings an acre, some being only valued at one penny per acre. The regiments drew lots for the various localities, and the lands were divided among them, troop by troop and company by company, each man receiving his plot of ground; and then they were disbanded and settled in their new homes. Some sold their plots to officers, and they to each other; some became farmers, and others, tired of long fighting and bloodshed, turned Quakers. And so was the settlement carried out; very severe indeed upon the real authors of the rebellion and the cause of the lasting misery throughout the land. The religion too, out of which so much strife had unfortunately arisen, was proscribed.
Now let us look on the other side of the picture. England and Ireland were for the first time identified together; all the advantages that England had were, shared by Ireland. The separate Irish parliament that had been the fruitful source of bickerings and difficulty was done away with, and the Irish representatives came to Westminster, and the two countries shared alike under Cromwell. All restrictions on trade that had been imposed in Charles I time were removed, and entire freedom given to every industry. No English jealousy was allowed to operate to the detriment of Irish commerce, but Ireland was ruled for Ireland’s good. The well disposed among the Irish became reconciled to the new order of things; some rented or bought lands from the settlers who wished to return to England. Three years after the settlement General Fleetwood wrote, that the country was perfectly quiet, and that there was little difference between that country and England, and that considering the devastation in Ireland at first, it was wonderful what improvement had taken place. Dr. Jones (afterwards a Bishop), wrote to Fleetwood, and said that some of the priests still in the country and the owners of lands who had forfeited them made mischief, but that the peasantry were well satisfied to enjoy their present ease and quiet; and he added, that what the priests might afterwards persuade them to he knew not, but he was certain that the gentry would not be able to move them,
It is stated that Ireland never shewed signs of greater prosperity than during the time of the Protectorate under Cromwell; but his death in September, 1658, prevented the full fruition of his laws to have been brought about, and people only remembered the great severities he had been guilty of when he first went to Ireland as Lieutenant General commanding the army of the parliament. It is believed that had the system now instituted been adhered to with vigour and free from incessant change, that the permanent prosperity of Ireland would have followed, and a good understanding with England maintained, to the mutual advantage of both countries. Cromwell nominated his eldest son, Richard, to succeed him as Protector, but he was of a gentle nature and quite unfitted to occupy such a position and very shortly signed his resignation and retired into private life. All that we subsequently hear of him is that about fifty years afterwards, during a great debate in the house of commons, in the reign of Queen Anne, an old gentleman was observed to be very attentive and interested, and somewhat excited at the scene going on, and that on being asked by a bystander if he had never been there before, he answered, “Yes, and when last I was here I sat in that chair, pointing to the throne. It was Richard Cromwell, who was looked upon as a contemptible character because he preferred a tranquil life to one of uneasy power. He again returned to his continental retreat, but ended his days at Cheshunt, in the south of England, 1713. His brother, Henry Cromwell, who was in command in Ireland, and from his ability quite equal to assume power, very honorably agreed not to oppose the restoration of the Stewarts; and in less than two years from Oliver Cromwell’s death, King Charles II arrived in London, and with, general acclamation was crowned King.
Now the King was restored the Irish landowners who had fought on behalf of Charles I and made many sacrifices, supposed that their estates would be restored to them; and some, with more zeal than discretion, began to turn out the settlers without waiting for the authority of the law to justify them in doing so. The Irish Church was again re-established, the Union which had lasted only during Cromwell’s rule was dissolved, and the political constitution was restored, - that is, the separate parliament was again allowed. The first Irish parliament that had been held for twenty years met on 8th May, 1661. Out of 260 members, the Catholics had only one.
In answer to the agitation that the Act of Settlement of the lands should be investigated, a Court of Claims was instituted, so that each individual case should be examined, and every Irish claimant for his land to be restored should be pronounced nocent, that is, not deserving; or innocent, that is, deserving of being re-instated in his lands. During the first three months of these trials, 168 were adjudged innocent, and only nineteen nocent; and afterwards about 700 more eases were decided to the great loss of the Protestants; some 3,000 claims were left unheard from want of time, but the result went very much in favour of the Catholics. Two classes were refused any favour whatever; those who were proved to have been in active participation in the rebellion; and those who were directly instrumental in the death of Charles I, as Generals Fleetwood, Ireton, Ludlow and others.
As I said, the claims of the old owners of the land were very favourably considered, and many settlers were ejected and lands granted to them elsewhere. Also many of the settlers consented to accept two thirds of the land they were in possession of, and to part with one third, so that they could secure a valid title to what they retained, - that is, two thirds. In this way sufficient land was obtained to meet the claims of those who appeared to have been unjustly dispossessed; and it was the fact that of the five millions and two hundred thousand acres that had been forfeited, two millions and three hundred and forty thousands were restored to the Catholics. Sir William Petty states that seven out of’ eight claims were allowed to those who stated they were innocent, and then he adds that of those adjudged innocent, not one in twenty was really so. And thus, amid much confusion, disappointment and heart-burning, once more the ownership of the land in Ireland was determined after twenty-one years of fighting, confiscating and restoring. But still the old owners were not satisfied with what land they had recovered, and the Cromwellian settlers were equally discontented as they found their old enemies, the men against whom they had fought, settled in their midst; they felt insecure with regard to their property, and more than all, they found that the Established Church exercised its authority. The Archbishop and Bishops manifested much activity in advancing their designs; they carried through parliament a bill that no one should act as a clergyman or minister unless he had been ordained by a Bishop, and this would, in the end, have deprived two thirds of the Protestants in Ireland attending their own places of worship, and to the Established Churches they would not be forced to go. In addition to this, the Bishops had it ordered that every clergyman should, before his congregation, acknowledge his acceptance of the prayer-book; also that the oath to the League and Covenant, always taken by ministers during Cromwell’s time, was illegal and impious; unless this was done no minister could preach or teach in church or chapel, or administer the sacrament. This stopped at once all Nonconformists from England and Scotland going to settle in Ireland, which otherwise they would gladly have done. These laws were most unwise: one writer calls it a lunatic policy, and the results of them most unfortunate. Some of the Puritans and Presbyterians sold their holdings and left the country; and then began the emigration of these same classes to New England in America which went on for a hundred years, and drained that part of Ireland, the south, of that powerful leaven of Protestantism the fount country could so ill afford to lose. If they had remained, it is probable, nay almost certain, that the characteristics of the population of the south of Ireland would have borne strong resemblance to those we find in Ulster at the present day. And it is scarcely necessary to mention that the same causes which drove out these Nonconformists from Ireland prevented foreign Calvanistic Protestants going to Ireland. In Ulster, the Protestants, much more numerous than in the south, by resolute means managed to induce if not compel the Bishops to disregard the neglect and non-fulfilment of these laws. By such ill judged proceedings the Established Church failed to make any converts from the Catholics. Another fact I may mention, viz.: that some of the clergymen and Bishops were permitted to reside in England for years, obtaining a renewal of leave of absence from time to time. This conduct militated against the Established Church being able to extend their religion throughout Ireland; and at this time almost every circumstance was favourable to the extension of Protestantism if they had been rightly taken advantage of.
In thus criticising the policy of the Bishops, the result of which proved to be so grievously in error, we must not forget to observe how differences of religion were estimated in those days. As I mentioned before, heresy was regarded as a deadly sin, and difference of doctrine would be considered to merit repression and legal prohibition. Well, as we have seen the Presbyterians and Independents and other Protestant sects not belonging to the Established Church were hampered in the discharge of their religious duties; but although this was the case, the Bishops had acted according to the views held on these subjects at that time. But they were wonderfully tolerant when compared with the Catholics, whose system was not merely to discourage or repress when they had the power, but to stamp out any belief at variance with their own. They thus acted with regard to Protestantism in Spain and Italy, where no liberty of religion was allowed. But in Charles II time toleration was little understood, so much so, that the offerer of it was always suspected of some bad motive.
Now we must turn to a consideration of the commercial interests of the two countries. Agriculture had not much developed in Ireland; even in Elizabeth’s time the pastoral tendency of the Irish had been deplored. The population having been so thinned by war and famine this tendency was not attended by such baneful results as were noticeable in subsequent years, when the population had enormously increased. But at this period nearly all the wealth of the country was in cattle; rent and taxes, &c. were paid in kind, which was inconvenient enough. A great part of Ireland’s trade consisted in the exportation of beasts to England and Scotland. The condition of affairs in England was bad, owing to the unsettled state of the country; but the politicians of the day did not discern this, but believed that the importation of Irish cattle was the cause, lowering the price of English farm produce, so the trade was prohibited by law; but Charles II was persuaded to allow Ireland to have free trade with foreign countries, and this enabled them to increase their linen and woollen trade with Flanders, Still the prohibition to send cattle, and even salt beef and bacon, butter and cheese, to England, injured their trade immensely. The shipping interest likewise suffered from these restrictions. In fact this hostile legislation against the commercial interests of Ireland now begun, in the end it is said quite destroyed the chances of Ireland becoming a thriving Protestant country. But at present the injury was not so apparent as subsequently. The King was now persuaded to order a Commission Inquiry into the Act of Settlement relating to the land; investigate how it was executed, &c., and with the real object of effecting still further considerable modifications of the Act to the detriment of the Protestants; but the Puritans were furious, and created such an agitation both in England and Ireland, that the King saw that he had gone too far and hastened to recall his Commission at once; but in consequence efforts were made to repress the Catholics, and proclamations issued ordering all Bishops and Jesuits out of the country.
A Popish plot was now thought to have been discovered in England, and the government believed that it extended to Ireland, and that it would be there carried out with the aid of a French army. The Duke of Ormond, the Lord Lieutenant, treated it with becoming gravity, but in his letters to England he stated that he had no belief that the Irish were implicated in it. The Catholic historians ridicule the idea that these suspected plots had any foundation in fact. It is not improbable that for such a superstructure there may have been some slight foundation of truth; however this may be, the evidence adduced was contradictory, and the men who gave it were of notoriously infamous character, and therefore the charge may be abandoned, and indeed after considerable excitement it was generally discredited. Ultimately, when the uproar had subsided, the Penal laws against the Catholics were relaxed, and the Duke of Ormond, previously their enemy, openly befriended them, believing such a policy to be just and conciliatory. The King, although apparently in robust health, and only fifty-five years of age, was seized with a fit of apoplexy, and died on 6th February, 1685, and was succeeded by his brother, the Duke of York.
During Charles’ reign of nearly twenty-five years, the material prosperity of Ireland had advanced to a great extent; and in spite of the restrictions on their cattle trade, they still had almost perfect freedom in commercial matters with foreign countries. The impetus to improve the condition of the land and the peasantry first brought about by the Cromwellian settlers had not yet been spent; the country had also been free from the desolation of war and famine, and in comparison with succeeding times in the next century, this period was viewed as one of unusual prosperity; and it was in fact looked upon as Ireland’s golden age.
I will conclude by saying that the Irish are a fine race, and possessed of many magnificent qualities, both physical and intellectual; and all the more on this very account they require to be well governed; and when they are so, which is not difficult when a judicious system, and, one suited to their temperament and circumstances is steadily and persistently carried out, they are an honour to the Empire.
In the first discourse we took a review of the early history of Ireland, including the times of St. Patrick, and up to the so called Norman Conquest; pointing out how we effected a settlement there known as the “Pale.” That on account of the distance from England, and the civil wars, we were compelled to neglect Ireland; and that consequently our power declined, but again to be consolidated from and after Henry VII time. Then we noticed the Reformation in England and Ireland, and the frequent rebellions against the English power in Henry VIII and Elizabeth’s reigns; that to curb the lawless spirit of the people Elizabeth was constrained to escheat certain lands of the chiefs; and that settlers from England were placed or planted in Ulster, and that this experiment was repeated on a larger scale and with more success in James I time. That in Charles I time the Rebellion of 1641 broke out; and after ten years’ war was ultimately quelled by Oliver Cromwell, and resulted in the loss of half a million of the inhabitants; its object on the part of the Irish having been to free the country from English authority, and to re-establish Popery; the Irish taking advantage of the difficulty and strife that Charles I had with his parliament. That to prevent the repetition of such horrors, further estates were again taken from the chiefs and distributed among the English soldiers of the parliament, who paid the government for the land and settled down peaceably as colonizers. The Irish chiefs were expatriated into Connaught; many, including 35,000 Irish soldiers, preferred exile to the continent of Europe, where they served in the armies of France and Spain. The great improvement in Ireland during the Protectorate of Cromwell was then noticed; and it was produced by granting to Ireland equal advantages to England in commerce; and by establishing one parliament for the two kingdoms, which prevented incessant quarrels between the two legislatures, and by compelling an observance of English law. Even the Earl of Clarendon, the Royalist historian, admitted the success that attended these measures; and he was nearly in everything else adverse to the policy adopted by the English parliament under the Protectorate. But this lasted only ten years. After Cromwell’s death, and during Charles II reign, the unfortunate plans adopted by the Established Church affecting their fellow Protestants in Ireland, were the means of a large proportion of the settlers leaving the country; and they prevented other Calvanistic Protestants on the continent—where they were dreadfully persecuted by the Catholics— from migrating to Ireland. Nearly half of the forfeited estates were restored to the Catholics in Ireland. Then the Commercial interests were passed under consideration; English jealousy had again influence with Charles II and his government, so that restrictions were placed on the woollen trade and on their custom of exporting cattle, bacon, cheese, &c. to England; but that notwithstanding these disadvantages, the material prosperity of Ireland, having free trade with foreign countries, had wonderfully advanced during this period.
In 1685 Charles II died, and was succeeded by his brother, the Duke of York, an avowed and bigoted Catholic, as James II. The two brothers differed much in their characters. Charles was a bad King and a bad man, but of gay and affable manners, and possessed both of good sense and sound judgment when he chose to exercise them. James, only three years younger, was of an arbitrary, despotic temper and morose disposition, and was one of the most unpupular men in England. His brother, Charles II, had said of James, that should he ever succeed him, so restless and violent would he be, that he was certain he would not continue to rule for four years to an end; which happened exactlv as foretold. He would probably never have been crowned, being a Catholic, but that he was fifty-two years old, and had no legitimate son. His daughter, the wife of William Prince of Orange, was next heir to the throne.
Catholic Ireland was naturally pleased at the accession of a Catholic King, while the Protestants in Ireland were much distressed. However, a Protestant, Lord Clarendon, was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but a Sir Richard Talbot, a bigoted Papist, was created Earl of Tyrconnel, and given command of the army; he was an Anglo-Irishman. James II had not been on the throne three days before he committed an illegal act by ordering the levy of the customs, which he had no authority to do without the sanction of parliament. The acts that followed partook of a similar unconstutional character. He announced that he intended to establish religious equality, which was approved of by the Papists, but the Episcopalians, i.e. Protestants, saw in that announcement the first step towards Catholic ascendancy. Jealous as the King knew the people were of Popery, he blindly proceeded to force an obnoxious creed on the nation.
But we must confine ourselves to the progress of events in Ireland. The King ordered that all dangerous characters as he considered Protestants were, should be removed from the army. Tyrconnel, a man of some talent, but hardly any judgement, of an irascible and over-bearing temperament, and who bore the soubriquet or nickname of “Lying Dick,” undertook to carry this out, and in a short time became the real director of Irish affairs. The Lord Lieutenant, Clarendon, soon found that he was surrounded by Roman Catholic officers and magistrates who received their orders direct from London, instead of through him. He represented this to the King, and stated that the English planters had become alarmed and were leaving the country; James replied that he regarded all the colonists as his enemies. Tyrconnel then re-modelled the army; numbers of the officers were got rid of, suspected of cherishing revolutionary principles; and in consequence many in disgust sold their commissions for little or nothing; every fourth man among the privates was discharged, either on pretence of old age or deficient stature. Their places were soon filled with native Irish, and it was said at the time, that in a few months not man of English race would be left in the whole army. The officers went to Holland and accepted service under the Prince of Orange in the British regiments there; and four years later they had the pleasure of driving their successors before them on the banks of the Boyne. The Lord Lieutenant, Clarendon, saw that his influence with the King’ had passed away; he therefore resigned, and left the country, and fifteen hundred English families accompanied him.
Tyrconnel was now appointed Lord Lieutenant, and soon re-commenced his intrigues for rendering the country, Ireland, independent of England. He proposed to the French envoy Bonrepeaux, that in case of the succession of the Prince of Orange, Ireland should be an independent state under the protection of France; and to this project the French King gave a willing assent. The envoy met a confidential agent at Chester; and Tyrconnell even indulged in the idea of being crowned himself. The Irish Royalists thus encouraged, petitioned the King for a reversal of the Act of Settlement of the land, and a restoration of their estates. The Tories (the word is derived from the Irish “Toirighim,” - to pursue for prey) as, they were called, the lawless set of men who had been deprived of their estates in consequence of rebellion, were thus encouraged by the defenceless condition of the settlers who had been deprived of their arms under the pretence that they might be hostile to the King; these Tories made raids on the Cromwellian farms, carried off the cattle, and destroyed thousands of beasts out of mischief and hatred for the owners; murders and outrages were also committed; and an idea got abroad that the Papists intended to massacre the entire Protestant population. These outlaws encouraged the tenants to refuse rent on the plea that the landlords had no right to the land, and that it would soon be their own; but in the meantime to pay it to Tyrconnell, who would use it in the service of the King. There was an agrarian question in those days, we see, as there has been up to the present time.
The English Catholics, noblemen and statesmen, with whom the King was in the habit of taking counsel, disapproved of the Act of Settlement being interfered with. Tyrconnell turned out of office all the Protestants; and it thus followed that all the Privy councillors, judges, and mayors filling the vacancies were Irishmen and Romanists; so that the lives and fortunes of the settlers were at the mercy of the natives. Tyrconnell felt confident that he had secured a majority who would repeal the Act of Settlement; and so solicited the King’s license to call a parliament through whom he hoped to carry out his designs. Chief Baron Rice too said that he would soon drive a coach and four through the Act. But Tyrconnell had advanced too rapidly; the King saw this, and now becoming thoroughly alarmed, the parliament was not called.
We see the use that on this occasion would have been made of an Irish parliament. But as it was, for the moment the English ascendency in Ireland was overthrown. However, in June, 1688, the birth of a Prince of Wales brought matters to a crisis. Coincident with the above events in Ireland, the King had been guilty in England of many acts of bigoted folly. His object was to overthrow the Protestant Church, and to establish absolute power and personal despotism; and he had so far apparently triumphed. London was beginning to assume the appearance of a Catholic city; monks and friars paraded in their appropriate costumes. Seven of the Protestant bishops were commited to the Tower and tried for refusing to read in the Churches, by order of the King, and a fatal step on his part, a Declaration of Indulgence, which was a violation of the laws of the realm, and hostile to the interests of the clergy. They were acquitted; and on that night London was illuminated and the Pope burnt in effigy. The kingdom was now thoroughly aroused; the birth of an heir to the throne hastened on the crisis which demonstrated to the King that his fancied triumph was fallacious. William, the Prince of Orange, James’s son-in-law, was invited to invade England by the national leaders; they assured William that nineteen twentieths of the English people would rally to his standard, and that the present time was the most favourable opportunity, as the army and navy shared in the general discontent. All the English Catholics did not approve of the King’s projects.
Now the repeal of the. Test Act would have enabled the King to fill all the offices with Papists. Lord Litchfield’s regiment, chiefly recruited from Staffordshire, at that time the most Catholic county in England, actually laid down their pikes and muskets and refused to sign an engagement to do away with this Test Act, which the King in person asked them to sign. The breach between James and his subjects had now become irreparable; and James saw in all its magnitude the danger which threatened him, as he had received accurate information of the advanced preparations made by the Prince of Orange, which the latter had carried on under pretence of opposing the pretensions of the French King with reference to Cologne. He had increased his navy also, feigning that it was in view to destroy some Algerine pirates. James now made desperate efforts to avert the fate he saw awaiting him; he hastened to repair his errors; he made some concessions every day; he solicited the advice of the seven Bishops that he had immured in the Tower of London and tried just previously; and he ordered that the Deputy Lieutenants and magistrates he had removed, be restored. He did all this under the influence of fear. The leading peers professed to receive them joyfully, and told the King they were faithful to him. James made every exertion to augment his army and navy. The latter consisted of thirty seven men-of-war, and the army was raised to 40,000 men. In the meantime, William Prince of Orange had issued his declaration of war, in which he set forth the violation of their laws, liberties and customs, to which the people of England had been subjected; and the various acts by which the Popish religion had been forced upon the nation. He mentioned the duty that lay on him and in the interest of his wife, to maintain the Protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of the nation; and to do which he had been invited earnestly by many lords spiritual and temporal, by many gentlemen and others of all ranks; and for these reasons he had decided to go to England with a sufficient force to defend himself; and that he had no other design than to have a free and lawful parliament assembled, to whose decision he pledged himself to leave all questions. The English were impatient for the arrival of the Prince; but the gales obstinately blowing from the west prevented him sailing; but brought fresh regiments from Dublin to Chester. The people anathematized this, and called the weather Popish, and prayed for a Protestant wind. At length William set sail with fifty men-of-war, 10,000 foot and 4,000 horse, and soon passed the straits of Dover. The Protestant wind was now blowing full and strong, and on the 5th of November the expedition reached Torbay, in Devonshire, where the troops landed. In the market place of Brixham there is a block of stone with this inscription: “On this stone and near this spot, William Prince of Orange first set his foot on landing in England, 5th Nov. 1688.” He marched at once to Exeter; and finding that no demonstrations were made in his favour he was disappointed at his reception. However, Lords Danby and Lumley called their adherents together in Yorkshire; Lords Delamnere and Brandon in Cheshire; and the Earl of Devonshire in the midland counties.
Prince William marched direct on London, and slept at the Palace of St. James’s on Nov. 18th, and at once assumed the provisional parliament. The King (James II) fled to Rochester, and escaped to France, being received by King Louis, and a residence was assigned to him. A parliament was at once called, who declared that James had abdicated, and the throne was vacant. A Declaration of Rights was also drawn up, which gave the power of making laws, raising money, &c., to parliament, and of keeping a standing army. This was read and accepted by the Prince and Princess of Orange, and they were declared King and Queen of England.
Thus was what is called the glorious Revolution of 1688 brought about. Now what was to be the fate of Ireland? The revolution in England was followed by a war of three years duration in Ireland, and a war on both sides like that of 1641, for self-preservation. The English could count upon no friends in Ireland, except the persecuted Presbyterians in Ulster. The Irish thought that if the King was disowned in England, that need not cause them to disown or disobey Tyrconnell, his representative. The Irish regiments in England threw down their arms, and their officers were under arrest. General Hamilton, one of them, returned to Dublin and told Tyrconnell that William’s cause was desperate. Now William was not desirous of having a quarrel in Ireland, as in England there was great confusion; and for several months it seemed likely that peace would continue in Ireland; but the Irish construed William’s wish for peace as weakness. Tyrconnell soon called Catholic Ireland under arms. The Irish regiments sent to England, and that were landed at Chester, had formed the garrison of Londonderry, and Tyrconnell ordered Lord Antrim with his regiment to take their place; but the people of Derry shut their gates and refused him admission. Enniskillen acted with the same resolute spirit; the gentlemen of Ulster had collected their tenants, and organized them in place of their disbanded militia. Two English regiments were on board ship in the lough near Derry, but they were assured by the enemy that if they landed they could not be fed, and so they sailed away, leaving Derry to its fate. Colonel Lundy, the commander, insisted that the town was indefensible from its weak and crumbling fortifications, and its inexperienced garrison, and he prepared to surrender; but for such conduct he with difficulty escaped being torn in pieces. The shopkeepers and apprentices, - seven thousand English settlers, - prepared to defend an unfortified city against a disciplined army of 25,000 men. King James had obtained the promised assistance from France, and landed at Kinsale, co. Cork, on 12th March, bringing with him Marshal Rosen, about 12,000 troops, and arms for 10,000 men. He soon arrived in Dublin and called a parliament. Meanwhile at Derry every assault failed to take the town. The siege was turned into a blockade; the garrison underwent incredible hardships; they suffered from famine, cholera, and fever; their children pined and died; horses, dogs, cats, rats and mice, and even starch and tallow and salted hides became at last the only food of the garrison, and these were nearly exhausted. The enemy had placed a boom across the river, so that General Kirke, who had arrived with supplies, could not sail up; but he encouraged the garrison to hold out. The garrison had become so wasted that they could scarcely handle their firelocks on the ramparts. At last Kirke made an attempt with three ships to break the boom; one ship was driven aground from the shock, but firing a broadside was righted; another effort, amid the thundering of the batteries from both sides, and an attempt to board, which was frustrated, succeeded in breaking the boom; and then the three vessels sailed up to the town. That very night the besieging army retired, having lost 9,000 men before the heroic town; the besieged had lost 3,000, nearly half their original number. The Irish camp was broken up, and Derry was saved. The Enniskilliners behaved equally well, and defeated the Papists whenever they encountered them.
James had called a parliament in Dublin; he wanted to obtain money from them; the Irish wanted to get a constitution for their country out of him. James disliked the Irish, and he was most unpopular personally with them; and before they would grant James any means they required certain acts passed. The Catholics were too impatient. A parliament could not legally be summoned unless by the King of England; if the Irish were victorious then they might have done so; but they should have waited until the fighting was over. If they were defeated they might be certain that their acts would fall through and be ignored; in fact they were in revolt against England, and their object was the severance of the two countries, The Irish pleaded that James was King of Ireland, and had not abdicated the crown, and had done nothing that could be regarded as abdication; but the King of England was really King of Ireland, and William Prince of Orange had been elected King. The Irish however would not abide by that, and the sword alone could determine.
Well, the acts that this parliament—which almost exclusively consisted of Catholic members, there being six Protestants in the lower house and eight in the upper house, as if to give a semblance of justice to their proceedings, - passed, were: first - they repealed Poyning’s Act, by which repeal as I before explained, all control of the English Privy Council over proposed Irish legislation was removed; secondly—they practically disestablished the Irish Church. But the great bill of the session was the reversal of the Act of Settlement of the land. All the lands, and estates that had belonged to the Catholics before 1641 were forfeited, and the Catholics re-instated. The ejected colonists were to receive compensation when they could get it. They had bought their estates in good faith, and with a state title; the wild and barren country had been drained and fenced, manufactories established, and the farms had as abundant stocks on them as there were in England. They were told that they would be indemnified for their losses; but how could they expect to be dealt with equitably when they would have no voice as to the indemnification? In fact, they would have the compensation when they could get it. The Chief Justice implored James to pause before allowing or sanctioning so unjust a measure; its injustice must have been obvious to James, but he was swept along in the torrent of Irish revolution, and it was carried.
But they did not stop here; but attainted 2000 persons of treason, including almost all the leading Protestants of Ireland, by which their estates would be forfeited because they were adherents of the Prince of Orange. Each member it is said of this house of parliament gave, in a list of his Protestant neighbours, and all were considered guilty.
William’s general, Duke Schomberg, who had landed with 20,000 men in county Down, was not prosecuting the war, satisfactorily; the Irish, under the French general De Rosen and his officers had kept Schomberg in check, though they were badly armed and in want of money; but James would not allow them to attack Schomberg in his encampment; so fever and disease fought for the Irish and swept off half of Schomberg’s army before they went into winter quarters.
In the spring of 1690, the French generals, D’Avaux and De Rosen had obtained their recall; but not before De Rosen had so far forgotten himself as to tell James that if he had ten kingdoms he would lose them all. General De Lauzan was then sent over with 5,000 men.
The English parliament were becoming impatient; so William proceeded to Ireland to conduct the war himself; he said he did not intend to let the grass grow under his feet, and after a few days, with 36,000 men, he began his march on Dublin. James determined to risk an engagement, but it was against the advice of his best officers. The Irish were confident he said and his army was larger; so he advanced to Oldbridge and took up a position there on the right bank of the river Boyne. On the 30th June William arrived with his army at the Boyne, and nearly lost his life, a cannon shot grazing his shoulder, tearing his coat and the flesh. The next day William’s army forced the river, and passed it in three divisions; William wounded and in pain at the head of his cavalry. James, it is said, viewed the action from a distance. The Irish had the advantage of position, but they were not considered to have made a very creditable stand. Their cavalry was routed and the commander taken prisoner; but the infantry, after several hours fighting, retreated. James, rather too hurriedly for his reputation, spurred on to Dublin, and never rested, except one night in Dublin, until he got on board a ship that he had provided for himself, and was safely landed at Brest, in France. A contemporary writer - Pepys - a friend of James’s, gives a different view of his character; and states that no man ever did braver things than he in the business of Dunkirke; and that in a desperate service he had more judgment than at other times. James himself in his memoirs blames Tyrconnell for his advice to leave Ireland so quickly. It is only fair to mention these facts; indeed it is in human nature that the best of men cannot act with equal resolution at all times.
On the third day after the victory William arrived in Dublin. He offered forgiveness to all the inferior people engaged in the war, but excepted the leaders. He was inclined to deal leniently with them, and wished to excuse men who believed that they were contending for their natural sovereign; not regarding the Irish in a state of revolt as rebels. He misunderstood the character of the people, and believed, as many have done before and since, that such lenient treatment would cause them to realize how wrongly they had acted, and to become faithful subjects. But William failed to perceive that the true reason for their hostility and resentment was the presence of the English at all in Ireland, and the English settlement. So he was, it is thought, dilatory, as if enabling them to offer conditions which he might be, able to grant. He reduced Waterford and made an attempt on Athlone. The Irish retreated to the south and west, and congregated chiefly at Limerick. De Lauzan, the French general, when he saw the antiquated fortifications of the town, sneered to Sarsfield, the Irish general, “Are these your ramparts? Then the English will want no cannon as they can take them with roasted apples.” But Sarsfield had a better opinion of them.
The English awaited the arrival of their field artillery, but Sarsfield by a skilful manoeuvre, intercepted the convoy, dispersed the escort, and burst the guns. Other cannon were, however, obtained by the end of the month. Limerick was bombarded and stormed, but the Irish made a gallant defence; the besiegers were forced to retire, and shortly afterwards the autumn rains and floods compelled the English to abandon the siege for that year. William remained in England, and General Ginckel, who commanded the English in Ireland, could not take the field before June, when he laid siege to Athlone, a very strong town in the centre of Ireland, and after much resistance took it. The Irish army fell back upon Aughrim, five miles from Ballinasloe. Ginckel advanced to meet them, his army numbered 18,000 men, the Irish 20,000; and on Sunday, the 12th July, took place the battle that really decided the fate of the country. The contest was long doubtful; the ground was trenched in all directions, and lined with Irish sharpshooters, who drove back the English several times. At last the English after floundering through a bog attacked in front; at the same time on the right a portion of the English cavalry under General Tollemache pressed forward through the fire of the enemy, while General Mackay acted similarly on the left; the centre, rather in confusion, seeing the efforts of their comrades, made unusual exertions and rallied; the whole now went forward, and after an obstinate struggle the Irish began to give way. Their General, St. Ruth, at this critical moment was killed. The English pressed on vigorously, and the Irish broke and fled, and in the action and during a bloody pursuit of three miles 7,000 of their army were slain.
They lost all their cannon, tents, baggage, eleven standards, and thirty-two colours. The English loss was 1,500 killed and wounded.
Galway surrendered on honourable terms, and Ginckel prepared to end the war by the reduction of Limerick, the last stronghold of the Irish. The same terms were offered that Galway had accepted, but the Irish wanted more. Old Tyrconnell, the instigator of the whole business, was ill in Limerick, worn out with fatigue and sick with disappointment, advised the Irish to accept the offer of a conqueror so liberal, but they would not listen to him, and he died, some said from poison. Ginckel understood the difficulty he would meet with at Limerick, and he proceeded very cautiously, he saw that to ensure success he must invest the town on all sides; a fleet was in the Shannon, his army on the land side, but the Irish had the county Clare open to them by means of the Thomond Bridge. Ginckel constructed a bridge of tin-boats over which he got troops to the Clare side of the river, and by much desperate fighting he succeeded in capturing the bridge and completely surrounded the town, and thus the Irish were at his mercy. The garrison proposed a cessation, and sent the terms of surrender, which were thought much too favourable to the Irish, but they were at last, after negotiation, adjusted. The stone on which this treaty was signed in General Ginckel’s camp in October, 1691, is still to be seen at the north end of Thomond bridge in Limerick, and is pointed out to every visitor. There were forty-two articles in all; thirteen civil and twenty-nine military; the latter related chiefly to the arrangement for the transport of the Irish troops, their baggage, &c., at the expense of the government. There has always been a mystery about this treaty. The terms that the Irish generals signed, it is said, were not exactly what they had believed they would be. They were, that the Catholics in Ireland should enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as they enjoyed in the reign of Charles II; the King, William, promising to summon a parliament, to ratify this; secondly; that the inhabitants of Limerick, the officers and soldiers in arms, commissioned by King James, in the counties of Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Sligo, and Mayo, and so the words stood in the original draught: “All such as are under their protection in the said counties should retain such estates as belonged to them in the time of Charles II, and that they who made their submission must only take the Oath of Allegiance and no other.” The old oath of supremacy by which the English King was declared supreme head of the Church was omitted. So long as the second article contained the words about protection, nearly every Catholic belonging to the counties named, and who were absent, but who were compromised in the revolt, would retain their estates, and the rebellion would go unpunished. King William stated that the omission was not taken notice of until after the generals had signed it, although before the town surrendered; but that for himself he did ratify and confirm the omitted words. The more probable explanation, an able investigator says, is that the Lord Justices who had arrived at the camp while the treaty was in progress altered the treaty, extorting harder terms than the King would have granted; and it is thought that the omission was not therefore accidental. There was a conditional character attached to the articles, viz.: that the Lord Justices would use their utmost endeavour that the treaty should be ratified in parliament; but there was reserved to the parliament a power of revision.
King William hoped to win the loyalty of the defeated Irish by kindness; but the fact was, and nothing could alter it, the articles as signed by the Irish generals did not contain the protection clause. Scarcely was the ink of the treaty dry, but the promised help from France sailed up the Shannon, men, money, and 10,000 stands of arms, but too late. Some of the Irish wished to ignore the treaty, but their general, Sarsfield, indignantly refused to countenance such treachery. About 12,000 of the Irish troops were shipped to France, and took service under the French King; and this body of men, under Mountcashell, Dillon, and Clare laid the foundation of the famous Irish brigade.
For many years the supply of Irish soldiers was kept up by recruiting, and the number taken must have been very great, since during the succeeding fifty-four years up to 1745, as many as 450,000 Irishmen died in the service of France alone, and this number has been officially accounted for by the French documents. Patrick Sarsfield, or Earl of Lucan, accompanied the Irish troops to France. In July, 1692, he distinguished himself at the battle of Steenkirk, and was created a Major General by Louis XIV; in 1693 he was killed at the great battle of Landen in Flanders.
At the foot of the treaty of Limerick I see the names of Gravensmore, H. Mackay, and T. Tallmash, three generals who witnessed the signatures of the Lord Justices Porter and Coningsby, and General Ginckel. This general, Thomas Tallmashe, was the same who led a portion of the cavalry at the battle of Augbrim, and whose distinguished conduct I referred to when describing that action. He was the second son of Sir Lionel Tollmache of Helmingham, Suffolk. In 1693 he held an important command at the battle of Landen, where Sarsfield met his death. As you know the family, it being a Cheshire: one, and on that account alone let us follow his subsequent career. In 1694 an expedition of thirty sail under Lord Berkley, with 6,000 troops on board, was sent to destroy the French fleet and the harbour of Brest; the troops were commanded by this General Tollmache. On their arrival outside Brest they found that the French fleet had sailed. Tollmache made a desperate effort to land, but received a mortal wound and lost 700 of his men. He declared that “he felt no regret at losing his life in the performance of his duty, but it was a great grief to him that he had been betrayed.” And betrayed he certainly was. Before the expedition sailed, the Earl of Marlborough had written to the dethroned King James, in France, on account of its strength; and Godolphin, one of King William III ministers, is said to have done the same, so that the French fleet had been enabled to escape from Brest before the arrival of the English expedition. These facts give rise to sad reflections as to the morality of some of our public men at that time.
We must now return to events following the treaty of Limerick. It is unfortunate that this last conquest of Ireland had not been more complete, and then there could not have been a treaty that proved to be a source of bitterness, and that had unduly raised expectations on the part of the Irish, which not being fulfilled enraged them and engendered accusations of bad faith against the English. If in addition a more thorough subjugation there had been a determined exclusion of Catholic clergy from Ireland, and strict laws against the introduction of Priests from abroad; if all the Protestant sects had been unhampered in the exercise of their religion and in political and social life; if absenteeism had been repressed by a heavy tax; if there had been a legislative union of England and Ireland, and only one government for the two countries, it is thought that the grievances of Ireland would have gradually faded away, and have been in time almost obliterated from memory. This however was not done. When James II, as I described, endeavoured to overthrow English liberty, and when he had recourse to Ireland for help, and assembled a parliament, they at once took advantage of the opportunity and reversed the Act of Settlement; turned out every Protestant of consequence and seized the land for themselves. I may mention a case in illustration to shew the character of one of these evictions. A Colonel John Barrington, a Protestant, whose land had been originally acquired in James I time, and its possession confirmed by Cromwell, resided at Cullenaghmore in Queen’s county. Almost immediately after the acts of James’s parliament were passed, all those who were not for, James II were considered to be against him: so this Col. Barrington was ousted from his mansion and estates by a man named O’Fagan, a Dublin wig-maker, and a violent partizan of the Jacobites. Colonel Barrington was allowed £40 a year as long as he behaved himself. This he did for a couple of months, and then with a party of his faithful tenants surprised the wig-maker, turned him out, and again took possession of his house and lands. O’Fagan laid his complaint before the authorities in Dublin, and a company of soldiers were ordered to seize the house and make short work of it. After some firing on each other by both sides, the mansion was stormed and broken into, Col. Barrington taken prisoner, and at once tried by drum-head court martial and sentenced to be hanged in half an hour. He was tied up to his own gatepost and the sentence on the point of being put into execution, when a trooper rode up exhausted, declaring that he had just arrived from the battle of the Boyne, and called upon them all to desist. The Colonel was rescued. O’Fagan’s people hearing of the defeat of James at the Boyne, hurried away from the spot, leaving the rightful owners in possession. Now this narrative is perfectly correct, and related by a member of the family during the present century. These Protestants had many of them bought their land forty years previously, and by its cultivation had changed the aspect of the country and increased its value enormously. The Irish strove to confirm these acts passed by James’s parliament by force of arms, and as we have seen they failed. It was all the more important to have adopted the measures above mentioned, i.e. exclusion of the priests and a tax on absenteeism, &c., as ever since the Reformation every rebellion that had taken place had been encouraged, and to a great extent, brought about, by the Catholic Bishops and Clergy. It was observed that Irishmen who became Protestants were good subjects, but English settlers who became Catholics soon became troublesome and disloyal. By a strict adhesion to the principles referred to, Ireland, there is little doubt, would have become before many years had elapsed a Protestant country. And in the prosecution of these measures their severity would have been far less than that resulting from the treatment meted out by the Catholics to the Protestants. In Spain and Italy there was no liberty of religion; Protestants were in these countries regarded as a danger to the state. In France their liberty had been withdrawn by the revocation of the edict of Nantes, which was equivalent to the expulsion of Protestants from that country, numbers migrating to and settling in England. In no Catholic country in the world had so much liberty been accorded to Protestants as had been shewn to Catholics in Ireland, and the different rebellions that had taken place, the real object of which was to sever Ireland from England, resulted from the forbearance of the English. When these rebellions had been quelled, with great loss of life and at enormous expense, the Irish lands had been forfeited as a just punishment, and to assist in defraying the expense, in accordance with the custom of the age. And most probably at the present time the instigators of similar outbreaks, being men who had landed property to lose would be dealt with in a corresponding manner. In former times, and with people who had less of the quality of mercy than the English had, the Irish would have been transported to foreign lands, or other means employed by which their rebellious nature would have been held in check.
The war was over, and in addition to the tremendous loss of life to the English, the cost had been over nine millions; for William’s army amounted to 35,000 regular troops exclusive of the Protestant militia. The English parliament were determined that this cost should not altogether be borne by the English taxpayers; they were very irate and dissatisfied with the treaty of Limerick; they considered the terms far too liberal, and took every opportunity to curtail its provisions and insisted upon acting in accordance with its conditional nature. They also notified that the treaty must be ratified by them before they should admit that it was binding. They ignored William’s power to have had inserted the words about “protection of compromised parties in the rebellion,” and adhered to the wording of the treaty as actually signed by the Irish generals at the time. Some affect to believe that had the treaty been carried out in the way in which the Irish desired, that it would have brought about that mutual goodwill and understanding between the Irish and English that was certainly found subsequently not to exist. But others are of opinion that had the treaty remained as they wished, the Catholics having enhanced power would have been persuaded to try the issue of another rebellion at no distant date, seizing their opportunity when England happened to have complications with any hostile state. And this indeed would only have been in accordance with their character, for the Irish with many fine qualities, are a most unchanging people. If there had been no articles connected with the surrender of Galway and Limerick, 3,921 Irish resident Ian-owners would have been liable to lose their estates, as also fifty-seven absentees. The extent of the estates amounted to 1,060,000 acres, their value to two and a half millions sterling. By the treaty articles, a greater proportion than the people generally would have consented to, was at once restored to the Catholics. The King, William, now exercised his undoubted prerogative, and bestowed lands and estates on various courtiers and favourites and on others for “service done” as it was termed. The domains of the late King James and the grants to Tyrconnell were thus distributed. Lord Sydney received 50,000 acres, and 40,000 were given to Ruvigny, created Earl of Galway, and who held a command in William’s army; £2,000 were given to Lord Raby, and £7,500 to Lord Albermarle. Many instances of a like kind occurred.
Supplies were needed to pay the army, and for this and other reasons a parliament in Ireland was called. There were no Catholics in it, as the English act required them to take oaths which they objected to take. This Protestant assembly met, and everything promised an easy and peaceful session. But they soon declared their objections to the way the forfeited estates had been bestowed on Court favourites; and also complained that the Protestant owners who had been evicted as a result of James’s pretended parliament could not get back their farms. They alleged too that the commissioners who were empowered to manage the proper distribution, &c. of the estates had taken land to themselves, and at last they agreed to grant a portion only of the money required, and threw out a part of the bill because “it had not taken its rise in their house.” The English parliament too at this time also told the King that he had promised that parliament should regulate the bestowal of the forfeitures. So this Irish parliament was dissolved, and two years passed before another was called. Now the Catholics had been leniently treated, it was thought by order from William, inasmuch that they had been allowed to retain commissions in the army, and to serve on Commissions of the Peace, &c. This was much disliked by the Irish Protestant parliament and the English parliament also.
In the winter a report arose that the French meditated an invasion in the spring, and the Lord Lieutenant, Sydney, found himself embarrassed with the condition of the army in which were so many Catholic officers. He was obliged to order that Catholic convents, schools and colleges should be suppressed, and also that priests should be arrested, and finally issued a warrant for the dismissal of the Catholic officers. From the necessity of these measures the King saw that the Protestant gentry of Ireland must be allowed at this juncture to have more to do with the government of the country. The King had agreed to permit his Protestant Irish subjects to do as they liked, and he made several concessions to them for which he thought they would be grateful; such as allowing the estates of those Catholics who had been killed during the rebellion: or who had died on foreign service ,should be included in the forfeitures; but now the Irish parliament turned round and objected because they imagined that the government would dispose of these lands in an unjust manner as previously; so they wished to favour the Papists; the Outlawries bill as it was called was also opposed but afterwards passed. Then they confirmed the articles of Limerick, excepting the protection clause; but to make the concessions a reality, they allowed the secular priests to perform their usual clerical duties, as saying mass, hearing confessions, &c.; while the Archbishops and Bishops should leave the country. The Protestant parliament was very determined on these points, that the entire staff of Jesuits and friars must take themselves off, as the rebellions - as I have before observed - had been notoriously encouraged by the religious orders, and hence the cause of this severity. Now the English parliament was disposed to be lenient in their treatment of the Irish Catholics, but the Irish parliament acted in a contrary spirit, and the greatest difficulty and bickerings resulted in legislating for Ireland by means of these two parliaments.
Other penal laws were enacted, such as forbidding any Papist from sending his child to be educated abroad; and Catholics were prohibited from keeping schools in Ireland. A search for arms was authorized in the houses of Papists by night or day. A Protestant woman having real property and married to a Papist was pronounced dead in, law and her estate devolved on the Protestant next of kin; but the spirit of equity rendered this barbarous enactment of no effect, and few if any properties were lost by it. A Protestant man marrying without a certificate, (and this certificate was only given when he married with one of his own faith), became in law a Papist and was unable to sit in parliament, or to hold any office military or civil. These measures were very unwillingly conceded by William III. During the reign of Queen Anne a much sterner penal code was framed. At this time a Catholic plot to murder the King was discovered, and a project for extirpating all Protestants in Ireland. The English were very indignant, and an association was formed and agreed to universally throughout England and Scotland, that they would stand by the King in defence of English liberty against the late King James and his adherents. They gave the Irish an opportunity of shewing their loyalty. The different resolutions in the bill were applauded and passed in the commons; objections were raised in the house of Lords, and the bill eventually thrown out. This exasperated the English, as they believed that this was strong evidence of disloyalty, that the proposed bill was most reasonable, and that its rejection was proof that the only resource was to keep Ireland weak to prevent her having any aggressive power, as they felt convinced from past events that any authority she had would be exercised inimically to England. In fact the Irish had objected in throwing out this bill - the Security Act - to submit to any test of loyalty. Its unfortunate rejection it is said proved to be one of the main causes of the measures adopted which gradually destroyed the woollen trade in Ireland.
But before we allude to the commercial restrictions, let us take a glance at the condition of Irish society at this time, which we can understand from the following narration. A certain gentleman named Stephen Fitzgerald, with his wife, Lady Elizabeth, possessed the castle of Morét, near Bally Brittas; during the troubles in James II time, the O’Cahill’s, who claimed the property, which they said that Queen Elizabeth had turned them out of, attacked this castle with a numerous party of retainers; they were beaten off with the loss of over a hundred of the assailants; but unfortunately on the following day Stephen Fitzgerald himself was seized while walking not far from the castle. Stephen’s captors demanded the surrender of the castle, and this being rejected by Lady Elizabeth, he was inhumanly hanged in view of the gates. After her husband’s death, her hand was eagerly sought for by the neighbouring squires, whose properties were frequently very small. She refused them all, averring that she had tasted the sweets of independence and intended to remain single. She was esteemed very rich, and her castle a durable and safe residence, which was important. Overtures had generally been made to her by a messenger, and she was so teased that she gave notice that she would hang the next who presented himself. The suitors to her hand decided that one of them should run away with her. They met at an adjacent castle and drew lots; the person of Elizabeth, her fortune, and Moret castle fell to one Cromarty O’Moore, as able-bodied, stout a man as any in the county. They appointed one o’clock, a.m. as the time to surprise and seize Elizabeth; but she had been informed of their intention, and determined to anticipate their attack by one from her own dependents. The latter, twenty-five in number, arrived before midnight at the rendezvous of Cromarty’s men, and first set fire to some stacks at the rear of the castle. The garrison inside, as I may term them, coming out to ascertain the cause of the uproar, were set upon by Elizabeth’s men, and nearly half of them were annihilated before they knew the foe by whom they were surprised. It was now their turn; and by a feigned retreat they were enabled to attack Elizabeth’s men with more advantage and certainty of success. The contest, with varying fortunes, lasted until nearly daylight. Lady Elizabeth’s warders lost six men killed, six badly wounded, and thirteen returned home to their mistress. The squire’s men suffered about equal losses; Cromarty O’Moore himself was discovered dead with half his face cut off, and several dagger wounds in his body. His men had at last submitted by means of a stratagem to superior numbers, as they believed of Lady. Elizabeth’s warders, and it was agreed that they, O’Moore’s adherents, should throw their weapons into a well, and they swore before the priest that they would never disturb Lady Elizabeth or her castle of Moret again. Early in the morning the dead were buried without noise or disturbance, and the parties had breakfast together in cordiality and good humour. Both stipulated that no man should be called upon by law for his fighting that night. This history is little known, but is strictly matter of fact, and exhibits the lamentable and lawless state of Irish society and manners in or about the year 1690. In England at this period assaults and frequent robberies, with much injury to property and person, often passed unpunished; but a murderer had quickly to flee from his neighbourhood, hide in disguise, or exile himself from his country, or justice swiftly overtook him.
I must now enumerate some of the chief penal laws that were enacted at this time and during the reign of Queen Anne. To pervert a Protestant to the Roman religion was punishable with imprisonment for life; Papists were forbidden to buy land, and were forced to leave their estates in equal portions to all their sons; if the eldest son of a Catholic became a Protestant he inherited the whole property, and could force his father to allow him one third of his income during his life time No Papist could raise money on his estate, or take a lease of more than thirty-one years. The civil services, municipal offices, the army, navy, the learned professions (excepting medicine), and all positions of public trust were closed against the Catholics; and they were also required in addition to take the oath of allegiance, in fact to take an oath declaring that no foreign prince or prelate should have jurisdiction or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within the realm. The English parliament added to this, that any person entering the courts, civil service or place of public trust, should receive the sacrament. The Irish parliament confirmed this, and so Protestant “dissenters” were also debarred from every public office. Papists were nominally excluded from the cities of Limerick and Galway. Catholic gentlemen were not permitted to go more than five miles from their houses without a passport, nor keep a horse worth more than £5. If a farm held by a Catholic yielded one third more than the yearly rent, any Protestant might, by swearing to the fact, evict the tenant and take possession.
There were to be 3,000 priests registered for the whole country, and any one unregistered was liable to be put to death; no bishops were allowed. So a race of priest hunters grew up; if a bishop were discovered, a reward of £50 was given; £20 for an unregistered priest or friar; £10 for a schoolmaster. Still many of these classes continued in the country and performed their duties; but they resided hidden in the mountains or in the cabins of the peasantry. Sometimes they were caught, imprisoned, and banished. At the accession of George II, Papists were not allowed to vote in the elections of members either of parliament or civil corporations. These laws were chiefly brought about by the action of the Protestant parliament in Ireland, and in some cases “unwillingly sanctioned” by the English parliament. Some of these laws applied to England, and succeeded in so repressing Popery that it almost ceased to exist, and has only within recent years revived again. Their application to Ireland, did not answer in the same way, as what was suited for one country was injudicious for the other. But the Catholics had no right to complain, as such laws had been enacted by themselves whenever they had the power.
There is no doubt that these laws were barbarous as they appeared on the statute book, but they were tolerably mild in practice, except during the reign of Queen Anne, when they were enforced with severity. I believe that the chief disadvantages the Catholics felt were their exclusion from all offices, and from the legal profession and the inability to acquire landed property. Their strict observance interfered so much with personal liberty that these laws were frequently ignored. Vindictiveness and private malice often furnished the motive power to the informers or “discoverers” as they were termed.
Now we come to the commercial restraints that England at this time imposed upon Ireland. The penal laws affected the Catholics, but the restrictions on commerce fell alike both upon Protestants and Catholics. In Charles II time cattle, meat, bacon, cheese and butter had been excluded from the English market, and in consequence the Irish farmers had to a great extent relinquished cattle breeding, and turned their unrivalled pastures into sheep-walks. After a very few years they produced some of the best wool in Europe. Large quantities were exported both to France and Spain, and in the north of Ireland woollen goods were manufactured both for home use and for exportation. Both houses of parliament in England now passed a law that the Irish should not export wool either in a raw or manufactured state to any foreign country, or any colony under the penalty of £500, together with the loss of the ship and cargo; so that now Ireland could dispose of her wool only to England, and the latter would have it at her own price as there would be no other buyers. The Irish were only permitted to send their wool from the six towns of Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Kinsale, Cork, and Youghal. The Irish house of parliament, in dread of abolition if they refused to agree, acquiesced in it, receiving a promise that their linen trade should be encouraged. The success of the Irish woollen trade had excited the envy and jealousy of the English clothiers, who thought that the trade of England would decline, the value of land decrease, and their population diminish. But the real causes of this policy were as follows.
The re-conquest of Ireland had cost the English taxpayers over nine millions sterling. The sale of the forfeited estates it was believed would realize a great portion of this enormous sum. But as we have seen, many large estates were bestowed or given away by the King. The commissioners appointed to manage the disposal of the remainder are supposed to have been influenced by base motives; some individuals who had nothing at the commencement ended by being enormously rich; the lands had disappeared, and no money was in the treasury. A committee investigated the subject, with the result that all these estates were recovered from the holders of them, and they were made over to thirteen trustees, - men supposed to be thoroughly honest and of’ strict integrity, - to sell them to the highest bidders for the benefit of the nation. The estates, i.e. the remainder, were worth about two millions. The trustees sat for two years; and all these estates during this time were disposed of. The rents, it was stated, were required for the expenses; and in the end it was found that a great part of the purchase money had been frittered away. The trustees had shewn in all their acts a decided leniency and partiality for the Papists, and the result was general indignation throughout England; and the impression grew that, whatever just dealings they undertook relating to the affairs of’ Ireland, they were certain to be outwitted by unsuspected dishonest means. There was also wide-spread exasperation against Ireland on account of the difficulties they had met with in her government, and the different rebellions that had arisen requiring such expensive means to be adopted to put them down.
The clothier merchants of England had frequently complained of the extension of the Irish woollen trade, and had represented that in consequence their own would deteriorate; and it was then that the legislators of England, imbued with the feelings that I have described, listened to the overtures of the clothiers and determined to keep the Irish weak and wretched by prohibiting their exportation of wool. Any hesitation they had at once ceased when the refusal of the Irish government to submit to the proposed and reasonable “Security Act” had been made known. The English parliament was called upon to “make the Irish remember that they were conquered.” A very unwise policy to have adopted, but this was not understood at the time; it was selfish, and by no means magnanimous, but under the circumstances a policy that does not occasion much surprise. In fact the English looked upon the matter in a purely mercantile spirit, influenced by the facts I have mentioned, and they determined that as they had been compelled to pay so heavily on account of Ireland, they would reimburse themselves by stopping their trade and diverting it to their own markets.
This plan impoverished Ireland, not merely the farmers, but the weavers in the north, who were chiefly Protestants, and who numbered some thousands. They thus lost their trade and occupations, and many were compelled to emigrate. As the Irish could not sell their wool to advantage, a huge illicit trade sprung up, by which they smuggled their wool to France; so much so that there was not a cave on the Kerry or Cork coast that was not stocked with wool. The French cutters brought brandy, priests and prelates to Ireland and carried away wool, and a commodity that was spoken of as “wild geese,” but in reality Irishmen recruited as soldiers for the service of France. The Irish linen trade was discouraged by adverse legislation also, and the Irish were thus thrown back upon the land, the demand for which became something unheard of; and people thus were willing to offer exhorbitant rents.
Large tracts of land were often let out by the owners, who disliked the trouble of collecting rents from small tenants, to middlemen on long leases; the owners living out of the country. These middlemen sub-let the lands to tenants or to other middlemen, so that on some properties there were as many as five or six middlemen between the landlord and the actual tiller of the soil. Thus an extortionate rent, often a rack rent, - that is, a rent higher than the value of the total production of the land - was charged, which in good seasons could scarcely be paid in full, and in bad seasons much misery resulted. Famines took place, the most terrible of which was that of 1746, when it is said there were instances of mothers devouring their own children, and children their dead mothers.
In 1703 the Irish parliament petitioned for a legislative union with England; they pointed out that Irish trade lay under great burdens; that the Protestant interest had met with severe discouragement; that Protestant families were leaving the country; that the government officials were dishonest; and that the only way to bring about a return of prosperity was union with England. This petition was unfortunately refused by the English government, as they thought that a union would enrich Ireland, and in a spirit of commercial jealousy wished to keep her poor to benefit themselves.
In 1707 a legislative union was arranged between England and Scotland; at first two-thirds of the Scotch objected, but ultimately it was apparent that the step was to the mutual advantage of both countries, and on 1st May, 1707, the two kingdoms were incorporated into one. The rebellions in Scotland in 1715 and 1745 on behalf of the Pretender, as the son of James II was called, met with no response from Catholic Ireland; and the reason was that the Catholics, though they had not improved in their loyalty to England, yet looked to the English government for protection against the Protestant parliament in Ireland, and therefore they remained quiet; and in addition the Pretender’s cause was never popular with the native Irish.
Now also there occurred a great rise in prices owing to the war carried on between England and France. There was a great demand for salt beef, and Ireland not only supplied the fleets of England, but those of Spain and France as well; and this brought about a great change in the disposition of tenancies and of agriculture in the south of Ireland, the tillage land being converted into pasture. In the counties of Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Tiperary, Clare, and Meath, there were to be found the greatest graziers and cow-keepers perhaps in the world; some rentals amounting to £3,000, and in other cases to £10,000 a year. But these men were the cause of great hardship to the peasantry, as they, the owners and middlemen, evicted the smaller tenants to form these large grazing farms, and enclosed the common lands on which the peasants had had their cows, so that they were now compelled to subsist on the produce of their potato gardens. The grass lands were at that time exempt from tythes, while the potato plots were subject to them. The government had not been instrumental in altering the cultivation of the land. But for the reasons mentioned the Irish cottiers were in great distress, and in revenge almost suddenly, for there had been little notice of such an outbreak, men were seen flitting at night throughout the fields, destroying cattle in hundreds and thousands; and the Munster hill sides rang with the cry of the dying beasts. Thus began the “Whiteboy” outrages, so called from the white garments worn by those engaged in them. Owners who had laid down their lands in grass were murdered or maimed, and their dwellings burnt; tithe proctors also suffered, as well as several clergymen and priests. The movement had been conducted with great secrecy, and its original leaders were not for a long time known. Letters were affixed to doors, ordering that certain lands should be abandoned, and if not complied with, the occupiers were often tortured with great barbarity. For three years, from 1762 to 1765, the White-boys were masters in Tipperary; the parish constables were no match for them, and the police did not exist. At last bodies were formed of armed volunteers, and by their action the movement was gradually suppressed. But it was discovered that the wrongs of the peasantry were not only instrumental in their development, but that the rising of the Whiteboys had for its object the advancement of the Catholic faith, with the help of France. This was confessed by one Father O’Brien. A priest named Nicholas Sheehy was implicated, and it was found that he had been one of the chief actors; he was tried and executed. Many other offenders were either hanged or shot. Two Catholic Archbishops and two Bishops had, been leaders, and the Pope himself had encouraged the movement.
As to the French assistance, they had two fleets, one at Brest and the other at Dunkirk; the first was defeated by Admiral Hawke; the second, under Thurot, a Franco-Irishman, who landed at Carrickfurgus but was soon compelled to re-imbark, was encountered off the Isle of Man, the French ships were taken and Thurot killed.
Almost simultaneously with the Whiteboy outrages, an organization was formed in Ulster arising in consequence of the extortions practised on the poor by the levy of the county cess for the repair of the roads and bridges, amounting to £50,000 a year, in the five northern counties, and yet in no part of the world were the roads worse. Combinations were formed to resist the assessment of this tax, but they never became formidable; the members called themselves “Oak-boys,” as they wore oak branches in their hats. The Marquis of Donegal’s farms in county Antrim were let on leases, and when they had ended, he demanded £100,000 in cash for their renewal. The tenants, nearly all Protestants, offered the interest of the money to be added to the rent, but this was refused; then merchants from Belfast paid the money and took the farms to sub-let. Another great proprietor in Antrim did the same, and a great number of the farmers had to quit their holdings, and these, forming about 7,000 families, left the country. Some were too poor to emigrate, and calling themselves “Peep-o’-day Boys,” and “Hearts of Steel,” worried and in some cases expelled the men who had their farms, (generally Catholics who offered a higher rent) destroying their cattle and homesteads. Their action was against the landlords and middlemen, and not against the government.
The King, George III, disapproved of the conduct of Lord Donegal and other landowners, the English cabinet also, and the Lord Lieutenant, Townshend, saw its iniquity, but the Irish house of commons upheld it. A committee stated that the increase of rents had not been exhorbitant. The disturbances became of such a character that an army was sent to quell them; but these people did not intend to rebel, there was nothing political in their proceedings; but the harshness so began was not persisted in though its bad effects remained, and during the following two years, 30,000 Protestants left Ulster for America. Different Protestant settlements in Ireland disappeared, and the deserted places were left to the priests and the old race of Catholics. During these years in the eighteenth century, from the repression of the Protestants in Ireland as I have described, and the want of sympathy with them in England, they had gradually become more or less assimilated with the Catholics; their common poverty and the difficulties under which they suffered softened party feelings and created mutual interests between the two creeds; so that as years rolled on a feeling of nationality gradually developed itself. Many of the Catholic gentry had saved their estates from division into equal shares among their children by conforming and becoming nominal Protestants. The original Protestants, labouring under many vexatious disabilities, gradually, as the English had done ages previously, lost their distinctive characteristics, and acquired the habits and modes of thought of the people by whom they were surrounded, and also shared, though not fully, their animosity to the English government. Absenteeism, always practised by the landowners, gradually increased, as Ireland was not then so pleasant or so enjoyable a place of residence as London or England. Living away from the country, they were little more than nominal landlords, one of the most important duties of whom is a kindly interest in the well being of their tenantry; so the latter were consigned to the control generally of the middlemen, who dealt with the poorer tenantry on purely business principles and with little sympathy as to their wants.
The mutual interest that had grown up between Catholics and Protestants had been to a certain extent also developed by the vast smuggling trade in wool with France, in which all classes had been associated; and as early as 1722 they had laid aside their animosities, and exerted themselves side by side to withstand the country being inundated by Wood’s half-pence, as it was termed, and the meaning of which I must explain. There was a great want of copper coinage in Ireland, and an English hardwareman named William Wood procured a patent for coining £108,000 worth of half-pence and farthings. Wood paid £30,000 for the patent, so his expected profit must have been enormous. Dean Swift argued that the admission of this half-pence would ruin Ireland, as the amount would have been more than one fourth of the currency of the country, and in England the copper coinage had never exceeded one hundredth part of the currency. Swift prevailed upon the Irish to refuse it, which they did, with the result that it had to be withdrawn; and Wood for his losses was compensated by the government. But a victory, and a peaceful one, had been gained by the Irish, and from the success of this affair they began to realize that by agitation and steady representation of their grievances, more could be gained than by armed resistance, from which all the forfeitures of their estates had followed. This peaceful programme was not altogether adhered to as yet, but a commencement had been made, and the results were encouraging. From this good feeling engendered between the different creeds, the Protestants began to have increased anxiety relative to the conversion of the people to their faith, and to understand that penal codes and persecutions in this respect had effected nothing.
The education of the Catholic children had been. attended to, although it was against the law that a Papist or Presbyterian should open a school or teach in the four provinces. But the Catholics had done so, and instructed their children in the fields, under ruined walls, and even in dry ditches they taught the rudiments of English, arithmetic, and Latin. The Irish Protestant gentry now came to the rescue, and on this occasion thoroughly performed their duties. After a time endowments were created amounting to £2,000 a year; the King granted £1,000 more. As much as £30,000 were collected by private subscriptions in England, and the American colonies even contributed. Lands were purchased, and the “Charter Schools” as they were called were built and established; at first one in each province, and gradually a great number throughout the country were started. Noblemen and wealthy men built such schools on their estates and supported them. They were of two kinds: day schools and boarding schools; the children were educated and taught various trades, and by these means numbers of Catholic children were converted and put out as apprentices to farmers or artizans. The Charter schools were a great success wherever they were fairly tried. The Bishops of the Established Church began to think that they had at last discovered proper means for increasing their Protestant flocks. The priests, as we can imagine, disliked the system intensely; the advantages offered to the children were so great that their advice had no effect. The government grants increased from £2,000 a year to £20,000 a year. There could not possibly have been a better system for the Irish than this had it been honestly carried out. After a few years the number of schools was found not to have increased; the day schools disappeared; and the warnings and advice of the priests at last deterred the peasantry from sending their children. But the system really failed because dishonesty became rampant in their management. It is said that all the officials filled their pockets and starved the children, and that they only followed the example of those around them. Members of parliament jobbed the taxes, the county cesses were improperly expended, the Lord Lieutenant used the Irish revenues to bribe the opponents of government, - unfortunately almost the only mode by which the influence of the government could be maintained at that time. The managers of schools could not be expected to be superior to high state officials. From the successful result of the combined action of Catholics and Protestants in objecting to the use of Wood’s half-pence, in fact from the national spirit at this period evinced, arose what was called the “Patriotic Party;” a small body of men represented in parliament, and who maintained a constant though apparently a hopeless agitation for the control of the revenue and a reform of the pension list. But before I give a survey of the parliamentary legislation from the middle of the eighteenth century up to the establishment of Grattan’s parliament in 1782, I must notice very briefly the constitution and origin of the Irish parliament itself; but time will only permit me to mention the prominent points connected with it.
The native Kings of Ireland had no parliaments. When King Henry II took or occupied a portion of Ireland, he endeavoured to establish English laws, customs and language; gave charters to the great towns, began a division into counties, appointed sheriffs and judges, erected supreme courts in Dublin, and perhaps assembled parliaments. His successors did the same as far as was required, and when King John granted Magna Charta it was sent over to Ireland at once. After this every general measure, as granting a subsidy or enacting a statute was effected and passed by that assembly known as the Anglo-English parliament of the Pale. ‘But its power only extended nominally to the five counties of the Pale and to the cities - of Waterford, Wexford, &c. In A.D. 1295 the sheriff of each county was directed to return two Knights to a parliament held by Sir John Wogan, an able Lord Deputy corresponding to the Lord Lieutenant of the present day. The admission of burgesses - citizens or freemen - appear in 1341; before 1359, according to Lord Coke, “the conventions in Ireland were not so much parliaments as assemblies of great men;” but this was not strictly correct. The Anglo-Norman barons were of course summoned to these parliaments, and often refused and disdained to attend. The commons are mentioned as forming an essential part of the parliament of the Pale in 1359; so that there were barons, knights, and burgesses forming each parliament. They were selected from the Anglo-Norman colonists; the more distant as well as the neighbouring barons were summoned, but I cannot find any mention of native Irish chieftains having been even summoned, much less that they ever attended. Some few of the seaports in Munster had been ordered to send deputies, but they could not make their way to Dublin from the impassable and lawless state of the country. The parliament of the Pale was so constituted.
The earliest statutes on record are of the year 1310, but no more are found until 1429, though many parliaments had been held in the interim. A parliament at Drogheda in 1495 passed Poyning’s Act; and all statutes made in England prior to that date were equally valid in Ireland; while it is said that none of later date were, unless adopted by the Irish parliament; but as I read the act they were valid and binding in Ireland as they were in England; however it is a question much disputed. By this act, no parliament could assemble in Ireland without the King’s license, and all statutes that they wished to pass must be affirmed by the King and his council. Thus a check and a right of veto was placed on every Irish parliament; and in course of time proved to be the means of preserving the subordination of the island to England; but previously the parliament of the Pale had been controlled by the English King and council. In the province of Connaught there is no trace of a claim or any exercise of any parliamentary franchise until late in the reign of Elizabeth, and in Ulster none until the reign of James I, who gave to Ireland the first assembly which can be regarded as a national parliament, that is, for the whole of the island. James I created new counties in Ulster, and incorporated as boroughs some of the chief towns occupied by the settlers, giving them the franchise to enable them to send members to the parliament. This was the origin of the “nomination boroughs.” Parliaments were called together only when it was necessary to consider and pass some important measure, or for grants of money, &c., sometimes at long intervals.
In the seventeenth century parliament did not meet at all for eighty-five years out of the hundred. Then it became the custom that when a parliament was elected, it remained so for an unlimited number of years; and was usually dissolved, only by the death of the sovereign. For instance; the parliament elected after the death of King William III in 1702, sat throughout the fourteen years of the reign of Queen Anne, and so on. The Irish parliament of George II sat during thirty-three years, and was dissolved at his death in 1760. When the celebrated Mr. Flood entered that parliament he was in his twenty-seventh year, but the parliament was several years older than he was. Vacancies usually arose from deaths. The Lord Lieutenant only resided in Ireland for half of each year, until the administration of Lord Townshend in 1767; and the government was confided in his absence to the Primate, the Chancellor, and the Speaker of the House of Commons as Lords Justices; and some leading families, as the Ponsonbys, the Fitzgeralds, the Boyles, under the title of Undertakers, managed the public affairs in parliament, the Patriot party that I spoke of were in opposition to the government and the Undertakers.
The House of Commons consisted of 300 members, and it was an extremely corrupt assembly. Of the 300 members, 200 were elected by one hundred individuals, and nearly fifty by ten individuals. Two hundred members were returned for closed boroughs and manors mostly owned by members of the House of Lords. Lord Shannon commanded sixteen seats, Lord Hillsborough nine, the Ponsonbys fourteen, and so on. The Peers made large sums of money by the sale of their seats. From forty to fifty boroughs contained no more than ten electors each. England, in 1759, felt how dangerous the almost unlimited power of the aristocracy was to return members to the House of Commons, as a combination of half a dozen Peers might entirely alter the character of the lower house; and to meet the difficulty it is said they proposed a legislative union, but the people of Dublin created great riots, and the House of Lords was invaded, as they fancied that the parliament was about to be suppressed. A change, we see, had taken place in the mind of the populace since 1703, when they had begged for the union.
The Patriot party was in a very small minority, numbering only twenty-eight votes in George II time; but at the accession of George III they had become a formidable minority. During Lord Townshend’s government from 1767, a bill was passed after having been three times rejected, limiting the duration of the Irish parliament to eight years; in England it was and is seven.
In 1763 the war with France closed, and it had cost England more than one hundred millions; Ireland had contributed; her debt was increased by £500,000; during the war she had given £50,000 a year in addition to the half million annually expended on her military establishments; not a great contribution by a country that had belonged to and been occupied by us for six centuries. On the other side, the Irish Brigade in the service of France had turned the scale against the English at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, so that the advantage of Ireland had been to us really as nothing.
This action at Fontenoy is always referred to by some Irishmen with considerable pride, as the English were defeated, and nearly altogether in consequence of the furious and gallant onslaught of the Irish Brigade. I cannot resist giving you a very few details of that celebrated event. No sketch of Irish History, however brief, can be said to be at all complete without a short notice of it. Fontenoy was a general action fought between the French, under Marshal Count Saxe, a general of great military-talent, and the Allies, whose forces consisted of Austrians, Dutch, and English, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, a young man only twenty-four years of age, and of very little experience in war. The French outnumbered the allies by some thousands, and had intrenched themselves up to their necks, and thus almost secure from danger, at the village of Fontenoy, near Tournay, in Belgium, a position which the Allies assaulted. The English Brigade, after great efforts, turned them out at the point of the bayonet, and successively routed the finest troops in the French service. Now, toilworn and decimated, they were attacked late in the day by the Irish Brigade of seven regiments who had not been seriously engaged, and had acted as a reserve to the French during a great portion of the battle. Inspired with hatred, says Mackinnon, and shouting “Remember Limerick and Saxon faith,” and supported by two French regiments, they advanced against the almost exhausted English and Scotch batallions, who were quite isolated and unsupported. The encounter was fierce, the fire constant, and the slaughter great, and the loss on the side of the British was such that they were, compelled at last to retire. The Irish lost one quarter of their officers and one third of their men. Under the circumstances related I cannot but think that the exultation at this exploit should be moderated, and when this is so, all the credit justly due is willingly conceded by Englishmen. The official despatch which was published in Paris five days after the battle, and written, I conclude, by King Louis XV, as he was present, in describing the event terminates with this expression: “We gained the victory, but may I never see such another.”
Lord Townshend made immense efforts for the good of Ireland; he endeavoured to obtain permission for them to export woollen cloth to Spain and Portugal, and also to have remitted a thirty per cent duty on all linen imported, but the manufacturing interests in the English parliament stood in the way. He was a man of considerable talent, of genial manners, and a generous disposition; at the same time possessed of a resolution that his office as Viceroy of Ireland required, and he might be said to wear a glove of velvet with a lining of steel. He was sent to get rid of jobbery in Ireland, and he certainly did get rid of one corrupt set of politicians, but those succeeding them he found open to the same influences, so that no radical change was effected.
In 1775 Henry Grattan, only twenty-five years of age, entered parliament; and he soon succeeded Flood as the idol of’ the people; and just at this time England was in serious difficulties with the American colonies. Lord North and his government had wished to impose taxes there for the benefit of England, though they were unrepresented in the English parliament, and to this they objected. France shortly after became allied with America, and the difficulties of England were thus aggravated. Ireland was expecting an invasion from France at Belfast, and there were no troops to defend the place except sixty men, as the army was abroad. In fact it was plain that Ireland must defend herself, and it was so intimated to her by England.
To this cause was owing the establishment of the volunteers. In every town and village there sprung up a corps of volunteers, so that before long they numbered forty thousand men; the highest in the land were their officers, chiefly Protestants, but the Catholics helped with money and after a time with men. The English government sanctioned the movement, but coldly and with distrust. The volunteers soon began to meddle in politics, and to consider that powerful as they had become they might be able to wring some concessions from the English government. There is no doubt that their presence had prevented a landing of the French, and had kept their warships from the Irish ports. Accordingly Grattan and Hussy Burgh, in 1780, brought forward a motion in the House of Commons for colonial free trade. The whole country became very much disturbed; riots occurred in Dublin, and the mob seized each member of parliament and compelled them to swear to vote for free trade and a six month’s money bill. The armed volunteers paraded their strength outside the parliament house, and knew that there was no armed force in the country capable of opposing them. The few troops in Dublin were of no service; the mayor was intimidated and gave no orders to them, and so they rode away as they came. In fact Dublin was in possession of a band of ruffians for a whole day. The parliament would not grant the imposition of new taxes, and passed only a six months’ money bill, which gave so little as practically to be of no use.
The consideration of the iniquity of the commercial restrictions had gradually forced itself upon English opinion, and the ministry also concluded that they must be repealed to restore peace to Ireland. As we know, the English parliament had persistently refused to alter these laws, the mercantile interest being clamorous against their doing so. They had been imposed in the last century, and had become as it were a part of the constitution. But now under pressure their repeal was brought forward and passed rapidly through both houses, and Ireland was allowed free trade with the colonies.
But this did not satisfy the volunteers or the Patriots; their ideas expanded with success. Flood joined them, sacrificing office to do so. The Test Clause in the act of Queen Anne was also now repealed; so that Presbyterians could hold office civil or military, which they had not been allowed before. They had always been the backbone of Protestantism in Ireland. The celebrated Mr. Grattan was the leader of these movements to extort the alteration of laws from the English government.
England at this period was in great difficulty, and engaged in a life and death struggle. She was at war with America; both France and Spain were against her; Holland and Russia were in the position of an armed neutrality also against her. Hyder Ali in the South, and the Mahrattas in the West were doing their utmost to destroy her power in India; and only a few months previously an English general, Cornwallis, and his army, had been compelled to surrender to Washington in America. There were losses of islands in the West Indies, and of Minorca in the Mediterranean. All these disasters caused the Irish to believe that England was on the brink of ruin. The Irish now turned upon her. It was their received maxim to take every advantage of any foreign war to press forward their claims with rancorous hostility. Lord North was the, English premier; Mr. Fox headed the opposition, and encouraged through party motives Grattan’s proceedings. The latter now brought forward the following demands. First: an independent legislature which would follow from the repeal of Act 6, of George I, which declared the right of the English parliament to legislate for Ireland. They demanded its repeal, and this they said would remove what the Irish called one if not the greatest cause of their discontent. Secondly: the repeal of Poyning’s act passed in Henry VII time, and by which all Irish bills had been modified and altered by the Privy Council and which bad been abused beyond the original intention of the act. Thirdly: a biennial mutiny bill. Fourth: a surrender of the right of appeal to England from the Irish courts of law. If these were granted it is said that the Irish would be attached to England even to bigotry. These subjects were thoroughly understood by the English government and parliament, and they determined to grant them; so that in neither house was there any opposition, and they gave way, some say in a moment of panic, on all four points.
The Irish had now gained, or believed they had gained,. what they termed their legislative independence. Grattan’s triumph was rewarded by a grant of £50,000 by the Irish parliament, their first act in gratitude to their deliverer. Whether Ireland would have resorted to force had Grattan’s demands not been complied with is open to question. Grattan says yes, but Lord Clare says that the Viceroy, the Duke of Portland, was deceived, and that he was perfectly confident that no gentleman of Ireland would at that time have drawn his sword against England. A ray of light was however shed on the gloomy prospect just at this moment, for the fleets of France and Spain were nearly destroyed by the English navy in the West Indies and at Gibraltar.
The new parliament - Grattan’s - working harmoniously at present, quickly passed some measures long delayed. Among them may be mentioned that Catholics could purchase freehold land like other subjects, before they could only take leases for 999 years; Presbyterian marriages were made valid in law, which the Bishops had so long objected to. The concession of colonial free trade and parliamentary independence had certainly given a great impetus to trade in Dublin and the large provincial towns. The looms were at work, streets and bridges were built, but the general state of the country altered but little; the potato crop had failed, and an absolute famine threatened. The peasantry paid in some cases as much as £6 an acre for potato plots, part paid in coin and part paid by labour. Absenteeism, the bane of Ireland, had not diminished; in fact the general prosperity which was expected was as far off as ever. Feuds raged between the two creeds; the Orangemen turned their Catholic neighbours out of house and home, and the latter in resistance formed themselves into a body they styled “Defenders.” The government passed a Coercion Act to keep in check the outrages. The volunteers now elected delegates of the same number as the parliament, and demanded that the elective franchise should be given to all Catholics. The leaders of this convention were several peers and men in high position; they, the representatives of the volunteers, formed an antagonistic body to the parliament of Ireland, and wished to dictate to it and to supplant it. But their demands were debated and rejected, and the political power of the volunteers from this time waned, and the delegates dispersed never again to re-assemble. Grattan and Flood were at open enmity; the two chief patriots between whom there should have been the best understanding.
As yet the Irish seemed little benefitted by either free trade or an independent parliament; but too great benefits had been hastily expected; for increased trade could not develop in a month. They had certainly prevented the disorder that would have arisen had they permitted the dictation of the volunteers. They now called out for protection for Irish manufactures. The press preached assassination of the Irish members unless they would bring about reform. The regular army had been replaced, and had it not been for their presence there would have probably been an insurrection.
Grattan’s parliament was composed altogether of members of the Established Church. The thirty-two counties returned two members each; the boroughs and cities two hundred and thirty-six. Of the three hundred seats, one hundred and seventy-six belonged to bishops, peers, and commoners, and the seats were regularly bought and sold openly. A single seat sold for £2,000 in a single parliament of eight years, and a purchaser would sell his vote to repay himself; the full ownership of a borough was worth £8,000. The English government, to maintain their influence, and which nothing of course could induce them to forego, were constrained to bribe, not to frame iniquitous laws, but to prevent laws being passed that would result in anarchy. Both peers and commoners had more power in this independent parliament, and accordingly they rated their services at a higher price to the English government. They all were willing to receive either money or appointments; or offices, or titles for their services. Such a condition was alike disgraceful to England and to the Irish aristocracy.
Mr. Pitt, the English premier, wishing to benefit Ireland in her commercial interests, sent to her parliament a scheme eminently favourable to Ireland and based upon the equalization of duties in both countries. Linen from Russia and Germany was to be excluded from England in favour of that from Ulster, and the Irish were to have protection for their mercantile navy both at home and abroad. It was doubtful if the English parliament would permit the scheme. The only return Ireland was desired to make to Great Britain was that when her hereditary revenue exceeded £650,000 a year the surplus should assist in the support of the Imperial fleet. Ireland refused it; Grattan headed the opposition to what must have proved a boon; paying money to England they said was making Ireland a tributary nation. Foster, the greatest financier in the house, tried to persuade Grattan to agree, but to no purpose. Pitt determined to make another effort, and the scheme was remodelled into a Treaty of Commerce; not so liberal for Ireland as the rejected one which gave Irish trade no local limitations; but now England required Ireland to re-enact all navigation laws she passed, and though they might trade themselves with the Dutch, Spanish and French colonies, they could only re-import into England produce from the West Indian Colonies. These articles were passed through both the English houses of parliament. The changes in the proposed treaty were plain enough, but the Irish said that the English had laid a snare for them, that the treaty was a menace and an infamous attack on their independence. Grattan said that it was a revocation of the constitution. Fitzgibbon, their only really eminent man and true statesman, pointed out the manifest advantages of the treaty, offering all that British subjects enjoyed. He told them that Ireland could not exist without the support of Great Britain in her trade relations. They answered him that Ireland was insulted, and the propositions were rejected again.
England on this occasion had nurtured no ill will against Ireland, their legislative independence having been wrung from her when she was almost overwhelmed with embarrasments; but England was now proposing and urging legislation highly creditable to her magnanimity and honour, in a measure to compensate for the neglect and harshness she had manifested during the past century. Ireland refused these offers with scorn, as one of her members shrieked out. The behaviour of the Irish parliament in their treatment of this subject displayed a lamentable want of statesmanship.
In 1788 a much more serious event occurred, which but for an unforeseen circumstance would have brought the English and Irish parliaments in direct collision. King George III had been long ailing mentally, and the affection became rapidly aggravated, so that he was pronounced incapable of performing his regal functions. The appointment of a Regency was necessary, and by act of parliament the Prince of Wales would of course be the regent, and the question was what powers would it be expedient to give him, unlimited or with restrictions. Mr. Pitt thought the latter, and he considered it advisable; to prevent him from squandering the royal property, that he should not be able to appoint to offices for life, or to create peers. The Irish parliament heard of the intention to appoint a Regent, and hastened, as a proof of their independence and to anticipate England, to offer him, that is the Prince of Wales, unlimited powers. To do so would be exceeding their authority, as such action was beyond the letter of the constitution. They had really no more power to invest the Prince with royal authority than they had to give it to the King of France or to the Pope. Grattan was the prime mover in the matter. They prepared an address and requested the Viceroy to forward it. He refused, and then they decided to forward it by a deputation. Fitzgibbon warned them of the consequences that might follow, and implored them to desist and be satisfied with the constitution they had received, and not assert an impossible independence. The lawyers opinions were that to do so was treason, which rather alarmed the delegates, and Grattan refused to decide. Time passed on, and the King began to recover. Then the deputation hastened to England and presented their address. The Prince replied that he could not answer them as the King’s health was nearly restored. The Regency bill was then given up, not being required. Now the delegates were paid servants of the crown in Ireland and were expected not to offer opposition to the Viceroy, but as we see they proved false to their engagements; the band was broken up and dismissed, but bribery had to be resorted to, and the pension list was increased by £13,000 a year. This business exasperated Pitt with the conduct of the Irish parliament, and he never afterwards gave up his determination to deprive Ireland of her separate legislature or parliament.
This was an age of political associations; societies were springing up in every part of the Empire. There was a Whig club in England, one was established in Ireland, but Catholics were excluded. The French revolution was in progress, and the public mind was much disturbed in consequence. So with a view to bring about reform and Catholic emancipation a society called the “United ‘Irishmen” was formed. A Samuel Neilson of Belfast was the originator, and Theobald Wolfe Tone, a young barrister born in Dublin, was the organizer: and the object, he writes in his diary, was “To break the connection with England, and to assist the independence of my country.” Grattan still demanded in parliament extension of the franchise to Catholics. Some were willing to give them full civil toleration, but not political power. Reform and Catholic emancipation meant revolution in the opinion of the lush parliament, and they would not sanction them. But Pitt was determined to force on the Catholic question, and under pressure of a renewed war with France a Relief bill was brought in and passed in 1793, by which Irish Catholics gained the elective franchise. They believed that the right to sit in parliament, could not long be withheld, and they were encouraged by Pitt, who hitherto had opposed it. His object was not then exactly known, but it is believed that he was aiming at a union, and thought that Catholic emancipation would force the hands of the Protestant parliamentary patriots, i.e. would cause them to consent to a union so that the Catholics should be held in check. Mr. Grattan brought in the bill, and all seemed ready for its accomplishment, when the King protested against the admission of Catholics to parliament, as it would lead to the separation of the two kingdoms, and that he would never consent to reverse the entire policy of the past century. Pitt sacrificed his policy, but not his office. Grattan persisted with his bill, and in advocating it had recourse to all his powers of eloquence; but the bill was lost, Grattan only being supported by a minority of forty-eight. If it had passed, nothing but evil could have followed.
The United Irishmen were enraged. They had already been debating as to the propriety of applying for help to France. They endeavoured to bring to their fold the Orangemen and the Defenders - an impossible task. Tone, their leader, to gain influence, took the Defender’s oath: he was then informed against and had to fly to America. Great numbers of the Defenders joined the United Irishmen, and as they were a party of outrage the society was looked upon as an illegal organization; a government raid was made upon their premises, their officers arrested, their papers seized, and their newspaper type destroyed. They now formed themselves into a “Secret Society,” with the avowed aim of separating Ireland from the British Empire. Baronial, county, and provincial committees were formed, and thousands of members were enrolled all over the country. Armed insurrection was openly preached. The gentry were outraged in the performance of their duties, and assassinations were frequent. Wolfe Tone went to France to persuade the French government to assist, and the Irish soldiers and sailors in the crown service were solicited to desert their colours.
To meet the military development of this society an Insurrection Act was passed, but there were acts on the statute book already had they been carried out. Searches were made for arms, and if not surrendered, in some cases houses were burned down, and much cruelty it is said by the Irish historians was practised to wring confession from suspected persons, and that this caused the insurrection of 1798. But this is opposed to the truth, for as a general rule the orders were carried out with mildness.
Wolfe Tone, in France, had been successful in inducing the Republican government to help him; and not unmindful of an old fifteenth century rhyme that “He that England would win, with Ireland must begin,” the French sent an expedition under General Hoche consisting of forty-three ships altogether, 15,000 troops and 45,000 stands of arms with artillery. In Xmas week, 1796, the fleet left Brest, and in three days arrived opposite Bantry Bay; a storm arose and drove them out to sea; they struggled for Bantry again, but a more furious gale met them. They beat against these adverse winds for a month, and no British sail in sight. At last, all hope of a landing having deserted them, they retraced their course towards Brest, and eventually arrived there having lost four of their ships. What had become of the British fleet? Several ships had been sent from Cork, but the tempest had dismasted them. The fact was that the English cabinet had placed little credence in the report of the French expedition and made no efforts to destroy it. The peasantry too had not risen in arms, and some from this supposed they were not disaffected; but they had remained quiet as they had received no special orders; the local committees believed the insurrection to have been postponed; indeed before the facts were really known the expedition had arrived off the coast and disappeared.
Wolfe Tone was still undaunted, and actually prevailed upon the Dutch republic to give him an expedition. An east wind had prevented the French fleet from landing, and now a west wind kept the Dutch in the Texel, sixteen sail of the line and ten frigates. The English Admiral, Duncan, lay outside with the blockading squadron. The Dutch Admiral, De Winter, sailed out of the Texel to destroy the English fleet, but after a desperate engagement his own was utterly ruined. On this occasion the Irish gentry could not complain that the English fleet had neglected to defend them.
The Insurrection Act had failed to pacify the country, though tens of thousands of pikes and muskets had been discovered and seized. The English government had throughout the movement been kept well informed by spies of the intended measures of the leaders of the revolutionary committee. In March, 1798, nineteen of them were arrested, and this rather hastened the development of the insurrection, and it was resolved that they should not wait for further help from France, but that five counties should rise simultaneously on the 24th May. Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur O’Connor, who had taken a chief part in inciting the rebellion, were arrested, the former died from a wound received in resisting his capture. However, the number of gentlemen implicated was not by any means numerous; but some of them were naturally impressed by the murders perpetrated on their order; they knew that if the rebellion succeeded they would be exterminated, and in consequence many were wavering and apathetic in the discharge of their duties as magistrates; they were also well aware that after the suppression of a rebellion the most loyal to the crown had never been rewarded at all according to their merits. The outbreak was not however confined to the lower classes; many of the officials in the public departments, especially the legal, enrolled themselves; the clerks in the bankers’, merchants’ and traders’ houses were all revolutionists. The number of men throughout Ireland who were prepared to take arms was over 280,000. They had been preparing for seven years.
To oppose the rebels we had to depend upon the Irish militia and the yeomanry; the latter were thoroughly loyal but had little military training; the former were not at all reliable; nearly all the English line regiments were abroad on service. The Viceroy hesitated to call upon the Orange-men, that is, to arm Protestants against Catholics. Five counties rose on the 24th of May, and in a few days after the Kildare and Wexford rebels held nearly the whole of their respective counties. The rising round Dublin was quelled rapidly, but with much bloodshed. Matters were the worst in Wexford, where there had been no branch of the United Irish Society until the very eve of the outbreak, when they were found to be secretly arming. The people were almost all Catholics; the gentry Protestant; much confidence had been reposed in the inhabitants, and the troops had been withdrawn from the county. When arms were found the priests said that a harmless people were being insulted, but further discoveries of guns were made, and on Lord Fitzgerald’s arrest a paper was found in which it was stated that Wexford would welcome with joy the landing of a French force.
The county was then placed under the Insurrection Act; orders were given for the surrender of arms, and troops were sent among the villages to secure them, and doubtless in different instances were guilty of cruelty. News came that the rising had begun in Kildare, and this hastened the outbreak here. Headed by a priest, Father John Murphy, the Catholics assembled in thousands. A Protestant clergyman, his son and seven parishioners were the first victims of the pikemen, then they destroyed the Bishop’s palace at Ferns. The outbreak assumed the character of a war of creeds or religion, and for a whole month a sanguinary struggle went on, the horrors of which and many of the facts attendant upon them must be known to most of you. Enniscorthy, New Ross and Wexford were successively the scenes of the strife. The chief stronghold of the rebels was on Vinegar Hill outside Wexford, this was stormed by the royal troops and taken, the rebels suffering considerable loss, but a large proportion were allowed to escape. They abandoned Wexford; a numerous body of them passed over the Barrow into Kilkenny and from thence into the Wicklow mountains; as banditti in detached parties they carried on the struggle in the midland counties, committing savage atrocities, for which merciless Revenge was taken. Father John met his deserved fate on the gallows; also Father Roche and others; several priests were killed in battle. Three or four gentlemen of large property who had miscalculated the result of the revolt and joined the insurgents were also tried and hanged.
In Ulster the insurrection had fortunately taken a different complexion, although the organization had been most complete. The rebellion there was spirited but brief and partial, confined to the town of Antrim, where a body of insurgents were dispersed and their leader taken and hanged. Also in the county of Down, at Ballinahinch, in Lord Moira’s park, the rebels were severely punished and subsequently surrendered their arms, and their leader, Munro, was secured, tried and hanged at Lisburn, opposite his own door. It is believed that when the Presbyterians of Ulster, who had joined the United Irishmen to fight for Irish independence, heard that the rebellion in Wexford had assumed the old form of a war of religion, and when they heard of the massacre of Protestants at Scullabogue, their resistance melted away, as a war of races had never entered into their calculations, and they now joined the Orangemen in thousands, a very fortunate occurrence for the government. The members of the committee arrested immediately prior to the outbreak were tried and the majority imprisoned in Fort George, Scotland, and released in 1802. Wolfe Tone, one of the chief conspirators, had again prevailed upon the French to give help, and having arrived off the mouth of Lough Swilly with a small expedition, they were set upon by several English ships of war; Tone was taken, tried and condemned, but he anticipated justice by attempting suicide and died from the wounds he had inflicted. With him perished the last hope of the United. Irishmen.
So ended the Irish rebellion of 1798, in which about 40,000 lives had been sacrificed. Plowden estimates the number at 70,000. It was not a Catholic outbreak, the Irish historians aver, the priests in general not being active agents in it, indeed some were eminently loyal. It is true that the original intentions of the United Irishmen were to combine the sects of Catholics and Protestants in view to create a Republic; subsequently the society became as I said a secret one, and more and more Catholic, as they numbered four fifths of the population. They carried on their proceedings so openly that the government were compelled to search for arms, the harshness attending which; and the revengeful nature of the people being roused, may have contributed towards an earlier explosion of the rebellion that otherwise might have happened. The contest then rapidly degenerated into a war of creeds or races, that is, between the native Irish and the English settlement. Bad government had been the original cause, especially the encouragement given to Grattan’s demands by some English statesmen, and the conciliation policy of Pitt and Fox, the results of which had been clearly foreseen and the successive steps of which we have briefly traced.
In the early portion of the eighteenth century, long previous to the establishment of Grattan’s parliament, the surroundings of the Irish parliament were such as to destroy all hope of successful legislation. High position was valued in the direct proportion to the amount of patronage appertaining to it; the power and force of parliament remained in the hands of, a few families, the Leinsters, Ponsonbys, &c., who owned the nomination boroughs and had choice of the representatives. George III had earnestly advised that Ireland should be ruled without a parliament, and indeed the direct control of the crown would then have been more suited to the necessities of the Irish. The King had hoped that Lord Townshend would have succeeded in putting an end to corruption, but although he broke up the oligarchy of leading families, in accomplishing this he had to bribe his supporters with office, and when there were no vacancies he was forced to adopt the disreputable practice of increasing the pension list. The members quickly perceived that support to the Viceroy obtained for them more remunerative spoils than could be offered by their former patrons, and therefore they transferred their allegiance from them to the Castle. The whole public service was pervaded with peculation.
Under these adverse conditions we have seen what a failure the Irish government had been. The Patriots, headed by Grattan, at last obtained the Constitution of 1782; Poyning’s Act and the statute of 6 George I, which had prevented direct collision with the crown, were repealed, and the independence of the Irish parliament was now expected to effect a transformation scene in the course of legislation; but it proved a melancholy repetition of failure. Their absolute independence of the English government could not be tolerated, and there were many anomalies in the constitution of 1782, as it had been rapidly brought into being at a critical period. They proposed measures which under the then existing system were utterly inadmissible. The Regency difficulty had demonstrated to England the lengths to which the Irish parliament were prepared to go. The Absentee tax and the commercial treaty would have procured for Ireland inestimable benefits, yet they were opposed by Grattan and his impracticable followers. It was said of that parliament - Grattan’s - that the statute book had been loaded with laws of unexampled rigour passed to repress the horrible excesses of the masses, “they being the unfortunate victims of delusion and the instruments of faction.” After sixteen years’ experience of their independent parliament, during which in 1793 their house of commons was actually set fire to by a mob: it was invaded by a tumultuous rabble in 1794; it had to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in 1796; it passed the Convention Act in 1797; and in 1798 the disaffection culminated in a sanguinary rebellion. We can only judge of the success of an institution but by its works, and we have reviewed the proceedings of Grattan’s parliament from its formation under the constitution of 1782 up to the rebellion of 1798, and the most partial observer cannot pronounce that success attended its legislative efforts, or that the happiness or prosperity of the people of Ireland had materially increased under its government.
And there is every reason to believe that if no control had been exercised by the Cabinet of Great Britain, the misery produced would have been aggravated. In Henry VII reign, when the adventurer Simnel assumed the royal character, the Irish had summoned a parliament of their own, which at once denounced all who presumed to resist it, particularly those loyal in the territory of the Pale and in the city of Waterford whose possessions were declared forfeited. In other words, when they possessed the power, that is, the government over the executive, they rapidly upset all the statutes previously enforced, producing general confusion. Shortly afterwards, Lord Gormanstown held a parliament of the same character and without due authority, and passed various objectionable statutes. It was found essential that England should exercise legislative control over Ireland, and accordingly Poyning’s act was passed. Again we have seen when James II summoned a parliament, uncontrolled by England, in Ireland in 1688, the forfeitures inflicted on account of rebellion years before were reversed, acted upon and produced bloodshed and anarchy. There was a constant craving in Ireland after power of uncontrolled legislation, and these ideas received an impetus from statements in a book written by a Mr. Molyneux, who tried to prove that the Irish parliament had that power. The English government at once condemned the work as one of dangerous tendency. And in the sixth year of George I it was found necessary, to place the matter at rest, to pass an act that the British parliament had power to bind the people and kingdom of Ireland. This was had recourse to in order to preserve the peace of the country, and to a great extent had succeeded in this as well as placing a check on too hasty legislation.
The rebellion had now been suppressed, and its smouldering embers were almost extinguished. The country being quiet, the government took in hand the great measure of the Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland. Mr. Pitt considered that the moment had arrived. The political necessity for a union of the two islands had been brought home to every English statesman in consequence of the perpetual disturbances in Ireland. It was first proposed on 22nd January, 1799; pamphlets were written on the subject and debates took place in the Irish house of commons. The rebellion of 1798 sealed the doom of Irish legislative independence. The constitution they had was not representative, four fifths of the population being excluded; and at the time it would have been unendurable to have handed over the parliament to the Catholics, as attempted separation would have inevitably followed. An independent or separate parliament helped to keep up the idea of a separate nationality, which England always regarded as an impossibility The proximity of Ireland alone, and its insular situation with respect to the much larger island of Great Britain, irrespective of other weighty reasons, precluded the most cursory consideration of that point.
It was thought that a union would give greater security against foreign invasion of Ireland, which had great weight with English statesmen. Had Napoleon taken his fleet to Ireland instead of to Egypt, the power of England might been imperilled, and Ireland have become a province of France for a time at least. Napoleon himself did not admire the Irish leaders or their plans. It was confidently believed that a union would cause an increase of Irish commerce, that English capital would flow into Irish trade and English skill improve Irish agriculture. Between the two countries commerce was to be freed gradually from all restrictions, and taxation was to be proportionately distributed between the two peoples. Mr. Pitt held out the prospect of Catholic emancipation whereby the wants and necessities of the Catholics would be ventilated and attended to. The union was advisable also, for as long as there was a separate parliament in Ireland it would insist upon having full control over the finances; and this power had always hampered the English government, and had compelled them to have recourse to corrupt practices, which were ever increasing, which demoralized both the givers and receivers and became a national scandal. If ever there was a country unfit to govern itself, said Lord Hutchinson, it was Ireland; “a corrupt aristocracy, a ferocious commonalty, a distracted government, a divided people.” I need not again refer to the disputes over the regency question.
The proposed measure was unpopular in Ireland; but the chief opponents were the people of Dublin, the professional men and the owners of houses and land, who saw in it a loss of their consequence and diminution of the city trade on removal of the parliament to London. It was proposed that the Irish Peers should send twenty-eight elective representatives and four bishops to the Imperial House of Lords, and one hundred members to the House of Commons. The borough owners disliked the measure because as two thirds of the Irish seats were to be done away with, they would be deprived of the considerable incomes they had made by the sale of seats, and which had been paid for either by themselves or their fathers, and to give them up would to many of them be almost ruinous, and which was perfectly true. The Peers, some of whom had returned six or eight members to the House of Commons had been rewarded by the crown for the support they had given by having the patronage of their respective districts, and were thus able to give away or to sell appointments to their relations or friends, or in fact to sell them as they chose. The custom had been long established, and its political immorality was as it were sanctioned or ignored. The anti-unionists also asserted that the removal of men of influence to the London parliament would increase absenteeism, thus suddenly becoming alive to the baneful effects of the custom. But it was contended with justice that the action of one parliament for the two kingdoms would be able to place more effective checks on the practice than the Irish legislature ever had, as self interest had prompted them to neglect its consideration and countenance its continuance.
Both parties sought to arrive at the real opinion of the country by means of petitions, and the opposition party, there is no doubt, obtained a great majority of signatures. But as Lord Clare observed, that considering the condition of the people and the fact that four fifths of the population were Catholics, Great Britain could not be expected to sacrifice the integrity of her existence to the pleasure of a mere numerical majority of the Irish people. The anti-unionists also urged delay, as from that they alleged no danger could arise. But Mr. Pitt and the English government were convinced of the necessity and justice of the union, and resolved to carry it at all hazards. As I said, it was first proposed at the opening of the parliament of 1799, the paragraph hinting at union caused a stormy debate, but was rejected by a majority of five only, and was dropped for that session. But the government did not look upon this discouragement as a final defeat.
It was a measure that rendered imperative the abolition of a number of sinecures, pensions and lucrative appointments in the various public departments, in addition to the almost ruinous losses that would fall upon the Peers and borough owners from the surrender of their seats and the incomes accruing from their sale. The course was adopted as formerly in Scotland, viz.: that arguments were addressed to their interests more than to their reason. They insisted upon being compensated for the losses they would sustain, and their demands increased when they understood the anxiety of the government to come to terms. Lord Cornwallis was the Viceroy; and believing the union was absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the British Empire, had to negotiate with the Peers and borough owners, and stooped to a course of bribery to induce them to support the union, a task which he describes as rendering his life miserable. Lord Castlereagh, the Chief Secretary, was still more instrumental in bringing about the desired end.
Under the name of “compensation” each owner of a borough was to receive £15,000, and this alone cost £1,260,000; the Marquis of Downshire had £52,000 for his share; Lord Ely £45,000; Lord Clanmorris £23,000 and a peerage; and others in proportion to the number of boroughs at their disposal. The price of a union vote was £8,ooo down, or where ready money would not be accepted an honourable or profitable office. Each member who had purchased his seat in the parliament was to be repaid the amount from the public treasury. The support of many who could not claim compensation for the surrender of their patronage was purchased by the lavish distribution of honours.
The last session of the Irish parliament was opened on the 15th January, 1800. In February the proposition for a legislative union was brought forward. Grattan, the father of the parliament, had long been ill; and it is said that, pale as death, thin and worn by sickness, he tottered into the house and proceeded to address the assembled members. For two hours his eloquence rivetted the attention of the commons, but the minds of his listeners had been made up, and after a debate of eighteen hours the division took place; the unionists obtained a majority of forty-three. In the upper house the ministerial majority was seventy-five to twenty-six. The progress of the bill in its various stages occupied the time up to the 1st August, on which day the royal assent was given to the act of union, and on 1st January, 1801, it came into operation.
Directly after the passing of the union, twenty-two Irish Peers were created; five received English peerages, and twenty were raised a step in the peerage. Places, pensions, judgeships and posts of honour were also bestowed on other supporters of the government. And thus, as I have endeavoured to describe, though very imperfectly, terminated the career and existence of the Irish parliament; and also simultaneously was accomplished the Union of Great Britain and Ireland. It must be regarded as a measure, though brought about by somewhat questionable means, yet as being absolutely necessary for the mutual prosperity of the two kingdoms, and calculated to prevent Ireland from eventually lapsing into anarchy; a union that all of us, as members of a great Empire, should consider our imperative duty strenuously to maintain.
Anglo-Norman ideas of possession of land, 13
Act of Settlement as to land and people, 36, 37
Aughrim, battle of. 57. 58
Absenteeism, 77, 102
Assimilation of Catholics and Protestants, 77
Brehon laws and Norman contrasted, 14
Boyne, battle of, 55, 56
Barrington, Colonel, eviction of, 61, 62
Conquest of Ireland gradual, causes of and results on English. 13, 14
Condition of parties in the Pale, 17
Cheshire, emigration from to Ireland, 24
Cromwell at Drogheda and Wexford, 34, 35
Court of Claims. 39, 40
Catholics, action of, 42
Commercial interests, 42
Charles II death of, 43
Character of King Charles and James, 46, 47
Composition of Grattans Parliament, 89
Compensation to effect the Union, 103, 104
Catholic Clergy, policy of, 62, 63
Charter Schools, origin of, 78, 79
Commercial Restrictions, repeal of, 86
Druidism, reference to, 8
Danish invasion, defeat at Clontarf, 12
Desmond Rebellion, 27
Duration of Parliament in 17th and 18th Centuries, 81, 82
Difficulties of England, 86
Defenders, origin of, 88
Elizabeth’s Irish Policy, 25
Established Church, policy of and effects, 40, 41
Emancipation, Catholic, 92, 101
Formorians, account of, 7
Fenians, origin of, 8
First, second, and third attempts to Plant or Colonize in Ulster, 27, 29, 37
Fleetwood’s opinion of state of Ireland, 38
Fontenoy, battle of, 83, 84
French Expedition to Ireland, 93, 94, 97
Gold, discovery of, in Ireland, 10
Government mode of raising money, 37
Ginckel, General, 57, 58
Grattan’s Parliament, establishment of, 87, 88
“ “ remarks on its policy, 99
Henry VII policy, with leading Irish families, 18
Henry VIII treatment of Ireland, and results, 23
Hugh O’Neil’s Rebellion, and results, 28, 29
House of Commons, Constitution of, 82
Ireland, notice of its various names, 8
“ division into regions, names of families, 24
Irish, ancient, houses, occupations, and dress, 10, 11
“ Parliament, abolition of, and results, 37
“ prosperity in Charles II reign, 43, 44
“ character of, 44, 64
Insurrection Act, 93, 94
James II policy in Ireland, 48
Irish Parliament, its acts, 54, 55
Kilkenny, Statute of, 24, 25
Kildare, Earl of, trial at Court of Henry VIII, 19
Kirke, General, 53
Legendary Fables, 6
Law of Gavelkind, 9
Land, division of, 10, 11
Londonderry, Siege of, 53
Limerick, Siege and Treaty of, 58, 59, 61, 63, 64
Monasteries, suppression of, 21
Nomination Boroughs, 81
Norman Invasion under Henry II, 12
Oak Boys, Peep-o’-day Boys, Hearts of Steel, 76
Pagan Irish, civilization and mode of worship, 8
Provinces, division into, 8
Pale, the formation of, 12
Poyning’s Act, 20, 81, 98, 100
Parties during Rebellion of 1641, 33
Policy of Cromwell, its effects, 38
Popish Plot, account of, 43
Pepy’s view of James II character, 56
Penal Laws in William III reign, 66
“ “ Effect on Woollen trade, 73
Petition for Union in 1703, 73, 74
Patriotic party, 79
Parliament of the Pale, origin and constitution of, 80, 81
Pitt’s Commercial Schemes for Ireland, 89, 90
Queen Anne’s reign, Penal Laws in, their mild action, 69, 70
Reptiles in Ireland, legends of, 11
Richard II visit to Ireland, 15
Reformation in England, 20, 21
“ influence on Ireland, 22
Rebellion of 1641, causes of, &c., 30, 31, 32
“ of 1798, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97
Roe, Owen, Character of, 34
Richard Cromwell, anecdote of, 38, 39
Resumé of first discourse, 45, 46
Revolution of 1688, events leading to, 49 to 52
Restrictions, Commercial, 70, 71
“ causes of imposition, 71, 72
Regency Bill action of Grattan’s Parliament, 89
Scoto-Milesian Invasion, 8
Saint Patrick, his birth and works, 9, 11
allusion to, 7
Simnell Rebellion, 18, 99
General, 57, 60
Security Act, its nature, 67
Society, Irish, in 1690, 67, 68
Scotch Union, 74
Smuggling, 73, 77
Sale of sets in Grattan’s Parliament, 89
Successive Irish Parliaments, notice of, 99, 100
and monuments of, 7
Tyrconnell, character of and intrigues, 47, 48, 49
Tories, definition of word, 48
Test Act, efforts to repeal, 50, 86
Tollemache, General, 57, 60, 61
Townshend, Lord, policy of, and character, 84
Ulster Tenant-right, origin of, 29
United Irishmen, origin and objects of, 92, 97
Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 100, 101
“ “ “ Arguments for and against, 101, 102
“ “ “ Lord Clare on, 102
“ “ “ Course adopted as in Scotland, 103
Volunteers, origin of, 85, 88
Warfare in Ireland, difficulties of, 15, 16
Wars of the Roses, 17
Warbeck Rebellion, 19
Wentworth in Ireland, his fate, 30
in 1642, et seq., 33
William of Orange at Torbay, 51
William III, Grants of Land by, 64
Whiteboy Outrages, causes and suppression of, 74, 75
Wood’s Half-pence 77, 78
Wolfe Tone, 92, 93, 94
Thomas Egerton Hale was born on 24th September 1832 at Faddiley, near Nantwich, the son of G.P. Hale of Faddiley. His education was at Grove Park School. Wrexham, and Kings College London. He qualified MRCS England 1854 and MD St Andrews in 1855. The same year he entered the army after basic training as Assistant Surgeon to the 7th Foot (1st Battalion The Royal Fusiliers) and won the Victoria Cross in the first three months of his new appointment, at the Siege of Sebastopol during the attack on the Redan.
Dates of Acts of Bravery: 8 September 1855.
1. For remaining with an officer who was dangerously wounded (Capt H. M. Jones 5th Regiment) in the fifth parallel on 8 Sept 1855, when all the men in the immediate neighbourhood retreated, excepting Lieut W. Hope and Dr Hale; and for endeavouring to rally the men, in conjunction with Lieut. W. Hope 7th Regt, The Royal Fusiliers.
2. For having on 8 Sept 1855, after the regiment had retired into the trenches, cleared the most advanced sap of the wounded, and carried into the sap, under heavy fire, several wounded men from the open ground, being assisted by Sgt. Charles Fisher, 7th Regt, The Royal Fusiliers.
At the time of winning the Victoria Cross, Assistant Surgeon Hale was aged 23 years. He served in Turkey and the Crimea from 1854 to 1856 and was also present at the Bombardment of Sebastopol. In addition he gained the Crimean Medal and clasp, and the Turkish Crimean Medal.
In 1857 Surgeon Hale was present during the latter part of the Indian Mutiny being in medical charge of a field force detached to the Trans-India Frontier. Thereafter he was in medical charge at Cherat in the Peshawar Hills in 1860 and Civil Surgeon at Ferozepore in 1863. From 1864-66 he was medical officer for the Punjab Infantry and for the European detachments on the Punjab Frontier. In 1867 he was promoted Surgeon Major, being placed in charge of Naini Tal Hill Sanatorium.
Surgeon Major Hale was appointed medical officer to the 43rd Regiment of Foot in 1869, and to the 94th Foot four years later. He retired in 1876. On the Jubilee of the Crimea (1905) he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
Surgeon Major Hale was a man of wide interests: a Justice of the Peace, a keen cricketer, an accomplished rider and a skilful shot. His publications included aspects of Irish history, and he was a fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society. He died in 1909, on Christmas day at his home at Faddiley Lodge, Nantwich, Cheshire aged 77 years. A memorial tablet can be seen in Acton church, Cheshire.
Text supplied by Royal Army Medical Corps Historical Museum, Aldershot, England, where his medal is displayed.